|Disclaimer: The Sliders television series' characters and storylines are property of Universal and St. Clare Entertainment, series creator Tracy Tormé and Fox Broadcasting Network and The Sci-Fi Channel. No copyright infringement is intended and no monetary profit is being made off of this work. All other characters who are not found on the Sliders television series were created by me, and should only be used with my prior permission. Posting to archives is encouraged as long as my name and title stay with the story.|
Author's Note: Beware of spoilers. This story is part of my Season 6 Sliders series, picking up where the episode "The Seer" leaves off. You should be familiar with most, if not all, of the original Sliders series, as well as the preceding episodes of my fanfiction, before reading this story.* * *
"Tiiiimber!!!" The loud vocals of a gruff, burly lumberjack echoed across the forest. With tremendous clamor, a gigantic Sequoia tree came crashing to the ground.
Wade's eyes nearly popped right out of their sockets as she gaped, horrified, at the sight of majestic Sequoias being sacrilegiously chopped at their trunks.
"On Earth Prime, those lugs would have been fined thousands of dollars," huffed Wade, her heart aching for the fate of those precious trees. "The Sequoias are rare and dying out! They're a national treasure!"
"Not on this world," Diana gently reminded Wade, putting her hand on her friend's shoulder. "In this version of Northern California, the giant Sequoias are abundant and plentiful. The effective arbor programs on this Earth ensure that lumberjacks will replant every tree they chop down."
"But Sequoias take hundreds of years to grow this tall!" protested Wade, craning her neck upward to view the treetops which stretched vertically for hundreds of feet. "They're way too valuable and irreplaceable to use for lumber!"
"Oh, they're just trees, Wade!" scoffed Maggie, rolling her eyes at Wade.
"Go climb a tree, Maggie!" shot back Wade, pointing at the nearest Sequoia.
Diana spread her arms out to separate Maggie and Wade from each other. "Don't make me send you to opposite corners of the forest, ladies," she lectured them.
Mallory then came staggering out of the nearby Chandler Lodge, a Swiss chalet-style inn nestled beneath the high, towering Sequoias of that Northern California forest. He was firmly clutching his stomach, wincing in pain.
"Damn," he moaned, hobbling over to the others, "I shouldn't have eaten those extra pancakes!"
Rembrandt and Janine tagged along behind Mallory; Remmy was playfully poking Mallory in his back.
"I told you not to pour too much syrup on them flapjacks, boy," laughed Remmy, slapping Mallory heartily on the back. "This is what happens when you overeat."
"All that syrup you piled on your ‘cakes was disgusting!" Janine grimaced, recalling Mallory's sugary breakfast from earlier that morning.
"He does that all the time," Maggie teased, grinning at Mallory.
Mallory released another feeble groan of nausea.
"This is the first Chandler Hotel we've been to in Northern California," Malcolm casually observed, glancing over his shoulder at the wooden "log cabin"-style lodging accommodations.
Arturo nodded in agreement. "Quite right, Mr. Eastman. Except this one is officially called the ‘Chandler Lodge'. Not to mention its arguable rustic quality, compared to the numerous other hotels we've frequented."
Wade looked at Diana, who was holding the timer. "How long until we slide, Diana?"
"Not long," Diana replied, examining the timer's blinking lights. Only 15 seconds remained on its display panel.
Maggie gaily spun her body around in a small circle. "Time for another whirl across the space-time continuum," she light-heartedly announced.
As Diana activated the wormhole and a pink stream of quantum energy ejected from the timer's nose, Malcolm and Maggie prodded Arturo toward the swirling vortex.
"Go ahead, Professor," Malcolm encouraged him.
The Professor knew what they were up to. "Why must you people always insist upon using me as your human cushion?!" he sputtered, irritably.
Maggie grinned. "Because you're big and soft."
"Go, Professor!" Malcolm pushed the British academian through the interdimensional gateway. Arturo wailed as his body propelled across the inside of the Einstein-Rosen-Pudalski Bridge, Malcolm and Maggie eagerly leaping into the vortex behind him.
Mallory was the fourth one to approach the open wormhole. As he neared its translucent rift, Mallory's body became illuminated against the glimmering nova which was the portal's energy-based gateway.
Wade gasped in disbelief at what she saw next.
"Quinn?" she ventured, hoping against hope.
There stood Quinn Mallory, clearly visible, layered upon the profile of Mallory.
Remmy recognized him too. "Q-Ball?!"
"Remmy! Wade!" Quinn recognized them as well, his familiar vocals shouting out to them.
Diana and Janine stared, receiving their first glimpse ever of the original Quinn Mallory . . . the man who had invented sliding on Earth Prime, who had started their entire adventure.
Then, both Mallory and Quinn, sharing a melded body that was one and the same, were sucked into the interdimensional abyss after their body lost its balance and strayed a little too close to the portal's vacuum.
"We have to save him!" Wade had sheer terror in her eyes, frightened for the well-being of both Quinns.
"Come on!" Rembrandt called over his shoulder at Janine and Diana. The Cryin' Man grabbed Wade's hand and pulled her into the vortex with him. Diana and Janine followed.* * *
Even as they fluttered through the seemingly endless, winding tunnel composed of pink and red quantum energy, Wade and Remmy could see Mallory/Quinn flailing far ahead in front of them, throttling back and forth. His screams of excruciation echoed off the walls of the ERP Bridge.
Only minutes later, all of the dimension-jumpers had plummeted onto a new world. Their bodies were scattered in the parking lot of what looked like a busy strip mall bustling with tourists. Scads of onlookers took in the sight of the sliders' unexpected arrival.
"Miss Beckett!" growled Professor Arturo, discovering Maggie atop his stomach.
Maggie laughed as she nimbly rolled off of the Professor's belly.
"Quinn!" Wade shouted again, running over to Mallory's side. The young man was morphing back and forth between his own image and Quinn's, at a faster rate than ever before.
Mallory's words, as he cried out for help, became slurred and inaudible against his heavy panting and perspiration.
Immediately, all seven of them were gathered around him. Diana took Mallory's/Quinn's pulse, which was beating rapidly along with the racing of the communal heart shared by both Quinns.
"We've got to get him to a hospital!" Diana insisted.
"QUINN!!" Maggie shrieked, clutching the hand of the man she loved.
"Q-BALL!!" Tears were clouding Rembrandt's eyes, slipping down his shiny brown cheeks.
"Mr. Mallory, don't die on us now!!" bellowed Arturo.
"Somebody help us!!" Wade yelled out, as pedestrians assembled around the sliders, watching in horror.
In the distance, an ambulance siren could be heard, getting closer and closer with every passing second. Janine and Malcolm had dashed into a nearby gift shop in order to call the paramedics. Their response was fortunately prompt and efficient.
The next few minutes were a teary blur for the other five sliders, the lives of both of their Quinns hanging in the balance. Medics swarmed the area; strapping Mallory/Quinn to a stretcher while jamming all kinds of recessitation tubes into his body.
"Only one of you can ride in the ambulance with him," the head paramedic informed them.
"I'm not leaving Q-Ball's or Fog Boy's side!" Rembrandt declared, piling into the ambulance.
"Neither am I, Mr. Brown!" asserted Arturo, staunchly. He was right on Rembrandt's tail.
"I'M riding with him!" Maggie proclaimed. "I was closest to Quinn!"
"Like hell you were, Maggie!" flared Wade, charging toward the ambulance. "I knew Quinn way before you ever did!"
"I'm coming too!" said Diana. "I'm the most familiar with Mallory's condition."
"Only ONE of you!" repeated the head medic, in an authoritarian manner.
"Get out of my way, Wade!" Maggie was trying to climb over Wade into the back of the ambulance.
"Both of you, get in!" Rembrandt extended both of his arms and hoisted Wade and Maggie collectively into the ambulance.
"Wait for me!" Diana was attempting to climb in, as well.
"No time to argue, Dr. Davis!" protested Arturo. The medics were beginning to shut the ambulance doors.
But Diana managed to shuffle in right before they closed. "Where are you taking us?!" she demanded from one of the subordinate trauma assistants.
"Van Nuys Hospital," he replied.
With a quick, forceful motion, Diana thrust open the sliding ambulance door and called out to Malcolm and Janine, "Meet us at Van Nuys!" She did this even as the ambulance veered away down the street.* * *
"I said only ONE of you!" the head paramedic reprimanded Remmy, Wade, Arturo, Maggie, and Diana, with harsh severity riddled in his voice. "It's too crowded in here!"
"Look . . . George," responded Rembrandt, reading the head paramedic's nametag, "that's like asking us to choose only one family member to save from drowning. We're a tight bunch . . ."
"I don't care how ‘tight' you are! I'm the one in charge, and you violated my authority! . . ."
George's words were shrewdly cut off by the mortified gasps from the attending medics who were nursing Mallory/Quinn. The body of Quinn Mallory was alternately morphing between the facades of both Quinns at its fastest velocity yet.
"Help him!!" Wade commanded to them. She was distraught, in tears, her face buried in Remmy's chest as she wept.
George's eyes looked like they were ready to bulge right off of his face. "Amp him with 500 spics of ethyrelmycline, stat!" Not even Diana, who was well-versed in medical terminology, could understand George's extraneous jargon. But the attending medics did. Totally comprehending George's medical vocabulary, they injected Mallory's/Quinn's arm with a syringe, rendering the Quinns unconscious.
"What's ethyrelmycline?" Diana asked.
"It's a surgical vaccine composed of potent endorphins," answered George, in a serious tone of voice. He sized up the five sliders, in bewilderment. "What . . . what is happening to him?" George had been taken aback, to say the least, by the previous morphing between the two Quinns. "I've never seen anything like this before, during my entire 16 years of medical experience!"
Diana looked at the others. "The two bodies are fighting for dominance," she confirmed for them.
"TWO bodies?!" Stark confusion was stapled upon George's aging face.
"I know it sounds unbelievable," Maggie clarified for him, "but this body actually belongs to two different people, both friends of ours. They were merged in a lab experiment with unforeseen consequences."
George shut his eyes, trying to process all of this. "Assuming I believe your story, HOW are we supposed to treat him?! . . . them?!"
Wade frowned. "You're the doctors! You figure it out!"
"The ethyrelmycline will only sustain him . . . them . . . for so long," George admitted.
"Then you'd better get another batch ready," Rembrandt told them, matter-of-factly.
"Pavel, step on it!" George ordered to the ambulance driver through a handheld intercom device.
The medics heeded Rembrandt's orders as the ambulance pulled in front of Van Nuys Hospital.* * *
Minutes passed, but they seemed like hours. Diana, Rembrandt, Wade, Arturo, and Maggie were all jammed in a sterile, well-furnished waiting room at Van Nuys Hospital. Rembrandt paced back and forth across the floor, wringing his hands, plainly agitated. Wade's face was buried in her lap while she sobbed. Maggie impatiently tapped her foot against the Persian carpet beneath her designer shoes. Diana was hunched forward, her hand clamped against her forehead with her eyes closed. And the Professor half-heartedly nibbled on a jumbo Milky Way bar which he'd purchased from a hospital vending machine.
"How can you eat at a time like this?!" Maggie demanded from Arturo, as he nervously munched on his candy.
"When I'm stressed, I eat," Professor Arturo answered crisply, devouring the Milky Way.
"You must get stressed out an awful lot!" commented Maggie, rudely.
The Professor glared furiously. "Don't take your ire out on ME, Miss Beckett! . . ."
"Come on, Maggie. Don't be like that," Rembrandt pleaded weakly. He was too worn out to sound assertive.
"I'm sorry, Professor," sighed Maggie. "I'm just on edge about Quinn. Both of them."
"We all are, Maggie," responded Diana. "But we've survived worse together."
Wade's crying had died down as she turned to her friends for support. "I was just getting to know Mallory, but he seemed like such a great guy. Different from Quinn . . . but still a wonderful person."
"Yeah, we've had some good times with Fog Boy," Rembrandt recollected, a hint of a smile forming on his lips. "He taught me how to swim; that saved me from drowning on Pirate World when we slid in underwater." Rembrandt let out a chuckle.
"Mallory and I were always there to lean on each other," Diana recalled, "back when we first began sliding with you guys." She nodded at Maggie and Rembrandt. "We were the two newbies in the group and we came from the same homeworld . . . he and I shared sort of a common ground while adjusting to the sliding lifestyle. We still do."
Wade had a faraway look in her eyes. "I remember the day I first met Quinn," she fondly dug up the memory. "Freshman year: we had ‘English Lit.' together. I was having a tough time finding my way around campus, when I ran into Quinn at the Student Union. We swapped schedules and realized we were in the same session. He offered to buy me lunch, I insisted on paying for half, he let me, and we became friends for life." Wade allowed a solitary tear to slip from under her eyeball.
"Yeah, Q-Ball always did have a way with the ladies," remarked Rembrandt, grinning slightly.
"You're telling me!" Maggie exclaimed. "Quinn and I spent an entire lifetime together in our bubble universe. He captured my heart . . . and never let go."
Wade sheepishly made eye contact with Maggie. "I guess that's why I kinda got . . . jealous of you at times, Maggie. When you joined our team, you and Quinn seemed to grow so much closer than he and I ever were. I felt I was losing him to you." Wade looked like she was going to burst into tears again. "And when I first found out about the life you and Quinn shared together in the bubble universe, I felt as though he ended up choosing you over me."
Maggie moved over to the sofa where Wade sat, and slid in next to her. Putting her arm around Wade comfortingly, Maggie said, "Wade, I had no idea. I wish you and I had started off on a better note, but I thought of myself as this big-shot know-it-all. The truth was, I actually felt threatened by YOU. You were able to show so much emotion, compassion, and sensitivity - something that I always lacked in my life while I was growing up."
Wade huddled close to Maggie, feeling a sincere connection with this woman for the first time in her life. "I don't wanna lose Quinn!" she wept.
"None of us do, Miss Wells," spoke up Arturo, soothingly. "Mr. Mallory holds a special place in all of our hearts. Throughout my entire educational career, he was my only student who ever inspired me to think bigger, grander, to break the barriers of our finite dimension by embarking on a transdimensional journey. Oh sure, I had the scientific theorems down pat . . . but Mr. Mallory possessed the necessary vision to actually realize his dreams. Of course, he was initially attempting to invent an anti-gravity machine . . . but the end product turned out to be even more extraordinary than the prototype."
Everyone was quiet for the next few minutes. They all realized that if it hadn't been for Quinn, none of them would have met. None of them would even be right there together at that moment. They wouldn't be there biting their nails as the lives of Quinn and Mallory hung in the balance.
"Damn him," whispered Wade, as the waterworks started up again.* * *
"Are any of you related to Mr. Quinn Mallory?" A short, lean female doctor stepped into the waiting area. She wore a white labcoat and had her pale blond hair styled in a short, spiffy cut.
"We're his family," Rembrandt declared, standing up.
The doctor gave Rembrandt an odd gaze. "I'm Dr. Ferber, Quinn's attending physician. How are you related to Mr. Mallory?"
"I'm his brother." The words just slipped out of Remmy's mouth, although he truly meant that . . . even if not in a biological sense.
Dr. Ferber did a double take and then proceeded, tentatively. "Okay . . . I need to talk to you about his situation." She decided not to question him on her suspicions regarding a hypothetical interracial marriage and divorce. "Can we go somewhere to talk in private?" Ferber was glancing with uncertainty at the other sliders.
"I'm his wife," Maggie piped up. It wasn't a complete lie - she had been married to Quinn in their bubble universe, and technically they'd never been divorced.
"And I am his father," added Arturo, with masculine grandeur. The Professor truly had felt he was a surrogate father figure to Quinn.
"I'm his sister," Wade put in. She thought that was as close to the truth as she could get.
"So am I," Diana said, thinking of her brotherly bond with Mallory.
Ferber eyed all of them critically, and then resigned himself from pressing the issue any further. For all she knew, they could theoretically be telling the truth as a family of interracial mixed blood. Besides, the news which Dr. Ferber had to deliver to them was so dire that she didn't have the strength to argue with them.
"Quinn is dying," she stated, bluntly. "He went into cardiac arrest a short while ago, and we had to recessitate him through artificial life support. We've fed 2000 spics of phenozine into his bloodstream . . . the ethyrelmycline just wasn't doing the trick. But I have to be honest with you," Ferber somberly scanned the five of them, "it doesn't look good. Quinn's condition is deteriorating rapidly, and I don't know of any cure for his foreign symptoms. Pardon my frankness, but what's been happening to him is the most bizarre medical enigma I've ever seen in all my years as a physician."
"Damn you, Dr. Geiger," muttered Diana, bitterly, under her breath.
Maggie sniffled, her eyes overflowing with tears at the doctor's news. "Can we see him?" Her hand was clutched in mourning with Wade's, their fingers interlocked, trembling.
"Yes, but please, not all of you at once. Two at a time, maybe?" Dr. Ferber gave them a brutally honest assessment. "I must caution you, though, you'll be extremely shocked at his physical appearance. Quinn is unconscious again, and somehow these alleged . . . two bodies have interwoven with each other to a visible exterior degree. He literally looks like a patchwork quilt combined from two people."
Rembrandt shut his eyes, trying to hold his tears back. He heaved a tired sigh. "Who wants to go first?"
Wade looked at Remmy and Maggie. "You two go ahead. I'm not quite prepared to see him yet."
"Go on, Mr. Brown, Miss Beckett," agreed Arturo, compassionately. "The rest of us will wait our turn."
Maggie and Rembrandt reluctantly allowed Ferber to lead them into Mallory's/Quinn's hospital room. Lying immobile in the bed was the body of Quinn Mallory, with facial features from both Mallory and Quinn meshed together upon the body's face, as though they'd been in some kind of awkward car collision.
"Quinn," whispered Maggie, in a decibel so low that she could hardly even hear herself. Maggie slunk to her knees, kneeling by the bedside.
"Lord, how could you let this happen?!" Rembrandt yelled up toward heaven, outraged that a supposedly benign deity would permit such an inhumane disaster to occur in his universe. "Why?! WHY?!?!"
Tears streaming down her cheeks, Maggie choked out her next words. "Well, I know one thing. I can't do this anymore, Rem. I just can't do it." She craned her neck, searching for some sign of life or consciousness in Quinn's/Mallory's eyes. There was none. Only tubes protruding from his mouth and chest, hooked to a life support machine. "We've been searching this entire time with naïve hope that we could find a way to separate them. I guess we were just kidding ourselves."
Rembrandt didn't want to think this was the end. But he could find no other conclusion to draw. "Diana said the two bodies would battle each other for dominance. I guess they've reached a stalemate."* * *
Janine and Malcolm came running down the hallway toward Arturo, Diana, and Wade.
"Thank God we finally found you guys!" Malcolm exclaimed.
"How's Mallory? . . . and Quinn?" Janine solicited, scanning their faces anxiously.
Wade closed her eyes to keep from crying, and buried her face in Diana's arms.
"Not good, Miss Chen," admitted Professor Arturo, ominously. "They claim there is no treatment for our two Quinns."
Malcolm looked around the waiting room. "Where are Remmy and Maggie?"
"They went to see Mallory and Quinn," Diana sighed, deeply depressed. "I can't say I envy them."
Janine stared at them, an unresolved hint of apprehension in her eyes. "So . . . what are we going to do about our next sliding window?"
Diana checked the timer. "9 hours before the next window of opportunity."
"Good heavens, I hadn't even thought of the timer this entire time!" realized the Professor. "We've all been so preoccupied with our Quinns . . . I honestly don't believe I could in good conscience leave them behind in their present state."
"I'm with you, Professor," declared Wade. "I know one thing: when that vortex opens, I'm not going through it unless both Quinn and Mallory are with us."
"And if Remmy stays, I stay," Malcolm asserted.
Solemnly, Diana handed the timer over to Janine. "You'll have to go on without us, Janine. If we can't separate them . . . I'm not abandoning Mallory."
Janine had a gaze of disbelief spread across her face. "Are you people serious?!"
"You're our only hope, Janine," Wade stressed to her. "If you can find a way back to your homeworld, you can come looking for us again. Your homeworld has advanced sliding technology which can control transdimensional travel, right?"
Janine nodded, speechless.
"Keep the coordinates of this world stored and saved in the timer," Diana advised. "When you reach your homeworld, download the coordinates into some controllable sliding technology and send a team to help us out. There might still be a world out there someplace where our Quinns CAN be separated. It's the only way." Diana locked her gaze with Janine's, seriously. "I'm not leaving Mallory's side. I made a promise to him . . . and to Quinn and Colin."
"Aren't we forgetting our multiple missions here, folks?!" Janine spat out, secretly terrified at the thought of having to slide alone with such a crucial burden on her shoulders. "I'm glad you all still want to help me relocate my homeworld, but what about your other commitments? Wade, Professor, don't you and Remmy want to liberate Earth Prime from the Kromaggs? And Diana, you and Mallory's homeworld is overrun with Kromaggs too! How are any of us going to kill the ‘Maggs without the virus that Rembrandt is carrying? You can't expect me to face an army of hormonal apes all by myself!"
Arturo offered a proposition for Janine. "We could transfer some of the viral fluid from Mr. Brown's bloodstream into yours, Miss Chen. That way, you would be a carrier of the anti-Kromagg virus as well. If you encounter any Kromaggs, all you will need to do is sever some part of your skin to release your viral blood into the air."
Turning to Malcolm, Janine sputtered, "Malcolm, what about finding Gretchen? I have no idea what she looks like! If I run across her, how would I even know it was her without you there to identify her for me?"
Malcolm didn't have an answer.
"And what about Logan and Rickman? Each of them has been tracking us for the past several months . . . do you expect me to face either or both of them - ALONE?! And are you forgetting Colin? He's still floating around out there somewhere, and I'd have no idea how to anchor him. And even if I did, I've never met Colin either, so how would I know it was him?!" Janine clasped her hand against her forehead in exhaustion. "It's not that I'm afraid to fly solo . . . I did that as an occupation for many years. But we have all these obligations . . . there's just got to be a better way."
Malcolm reached out to help physically steady a frantic Janine. "Why don't we tell them what we found out about this world?"
Nodding, Janine turned to address Wade, Arturo, and Diana. "You are not going to believe what happened on this Earth!"
"After Zombie World, Vampire World, and Hybrid World, I think I'd believe almost anything," commented Wade. "Try us."
"We found this out by snooping around the hospital and talking with some of the staff. In 1985, Uri Gellar went public with claims of his psychokinetic abilities . . ." Janine started to explain.
"Ah, Uri Gellar," Arturo proclaimed with knowing recognition. "He was a master of telekinesis who hailed from Britain on Earth Prime. His claims of possessing psychokinetic powers stunned and astonished some, while others skeptically disregarded it as a load of hogwash."
"Oh, I remember him," said Wade. "He's the one who could bend spoons with his mind."
Arturo nodded his head. "I have witnessed Mr. Gellar's mysterious abilities in the flesh. Although it defies all scientific logic or reason which I embrace, his ability is certainly more than a mere magician's bag of tricks."
"Well on this world, EVERYONE takes him seriously," Malcolm revealed. "Uri Gellar went on to become a surgeon, and he discovered ways to apply telekinetic powers in medicine."
"Yeah, he's able to use his mind to heal people," Janine stated. "He can psychically disintegrate tumors and then the doctors flush them out of a person's body. He also repairs arteries or broken bones by realigning body and skin cells . . . all by using his mind! Literally!"
"Plus he taught other doctors how to do it," Malcolm supplied. "And now they offer instruction on it in medical schools. Uri Gellar is the world's most respected physician . . . he says that all you need are magnets in the operating room and a brain that's able to channel psychokinetic powers."
"About 10% of the population is trained in psychokinesis," continued Janine. "Uri Gellar contends that telekinesis is a dormant, esoteric power which only a select few within the population are able to effectively activate. These individuals who have such powers are called esotericists, and they're the ones expected to help other people by becoming professional surgeons."
Hearing this was absolutely amazing for Diana. "So you're saying that on this world people can psychically manipulate matter, and use that process to perform less intrusive surgeries?" Janine's and Malcolm's eyes confirmed it for Diana. "This is unbelievable . . . though not impossible. It seems similar to the Kromagg healing techniques which you've all told me about."
Rembrandt and Maggie suddenly emerged from the Quinns' hospital room, both of them with red, swollen eyes. They looked disheveled and defeated, as though a herd of elephants had just trampled over them.
"Come along, Miss Wells, Dr. Davis," the Professor quietly spoke to Wade and Diana, silently patting Remmy on the shoulder as the three of them headed in to see Quinn and Mallory. Malcolm cuddled Rembrandt in a hug, and Janine politely offered Maggie a handkerchief.
None of them were ready for the drastically altered appearance of Mallory/Quinn.
"Dear God!" gasped Arturo, at the sight of the two Quinns' faces smashed into each other, hideously manifested upon the facade of their joint body.
"Oh, Quinn!" wailed Wade, throwing her arms around Diana as she burst into tears again. Wade quickly veered her head away from the discombobulated body of Quinn Mallory; she couldn't bear to look at their helpless appearance.
Diana frowned, her face growing pale. "I can't accept this. I just can't! I won't!"
"You must, Dr. Davis," resigned the Professor. "The doctor said she could not diagnose them . . ."
"No!" Diana protested, breaking away from Wade. "There has to be a way! There just has to! We can't give up!" She was nearly hysterical.
"Miss Davis, listen to me." Professor Arturo gripped both of Diana's shoulders to steady her. That was the first time he'd ever addressed Diana as "miss", rather than "doctor." Speaking to her in a rational tone of voice, Arturo said bluntly, "There is nothing we can do at the moment. I wish there was, but the reality is that the odds are stacked against us. All we can do is stay with Mr. Mallory and pray for a miracle. It is all up to Miss Chen now, to seek out a feasible solution." Arturo was trying his best to hold back his own tears. "I want to revive Mr. Mallory just as badly as do you and Miss Wells. But we must face the inevitable. You cannot place the burden upon yourself to discover some miraculous cure all by your lonesome." He made direct eye contact with Diana. "Because I shall help you with such a task, Dr. Davis."
Wade brushed away her tears, only for them to be replaced by more. "Diana, there must be SOMETHING we're overlooking. You stabilized me from the multiverse, after all."
Diana's eyes suddenly lit up. "That's it!" she realized.
"What's it? What are you thinking?" Wade wanted to know.
Looking straight at Wade, Diana explained, "When we anchored your body in the Sperryology O.R., I juiced up the power of one of the Sperryology lasers to build up a maximum concentration of power. Your body particles were drawn to the energy in the electromagnetic radius I created, because you were right there in the O.R. with us, gradually fading away. If we hadn't stabilized your body matrix when we did, you'd probably be a goner by now."
"So what does that have to do with Quinn and Mallory?" asked Wade.
"Wade, we rescued you from the other end of the astral plane," Diana explained. "But Mallory and Quinn are already within our own dimension, so separating and stabilizing their body matrices should be a snap!"
"I still don't understand." Wade looked confused. "How are we going to do that without a Sperryology laser?" But Wade was still clinging on to her last morsel of hope.
"The esotericists," answered Diana.
Professor Arturo caught on. "I see what you're speculating, Dr. Davis. If psychic manipulation of matter on this world is legitimate, an esotericist should be able to filter out Quinn's body particles from Mallory's, thus separating our two Quinns through psychokinesis!"
"Exactly!" Diana was so excited that she wanted to jump up and down. "Theoretically, the human body is chemically composed of atoms - the building blocks of all living matter. The atoms are comprised of basic subatomic particles: protons, electrons, and neutrons. If we apply magnetic energy, as Malcolm said the esotericists do, then the protons and electrons should be attracted to each other within both Quinns' bodies."
Wade still seemed baffled, so Arturo explained further, "the protons possess a positive charge, Miss Wells, while the electrons possess a negative charge. A proton and an electron need to pair up with each other and bond, in order to create an atom. Several atoms bond to form any one of the various chemical elements on the periodic table, the particular element depending on the number of atoms."
"Okay, I think I remember this from high school Chemistry." Wade tried to follow, with uncertainty. "But how will the correct atoms from each of our Quinn's original body be transferred to the correct matrix? What if we end up with two different Quinns whose bodies are each a jumbled mix of cells and genes from both Mallory and Quinn?"
"No plan is foolproof," Diana admitted. "But my theory is that since Quinn and Mallory each possess distinct quantum signatures within their respective matrices, the original atoms of each Quinn should naturally line up according to each Quinn's unique quantum signature. Even if both Quinns were identical doubles rather than fraternal doubles, this same theorem would apply."
Wade shrugged. "It's our best bet."
"Now it's just a matter of finding a capable esotericist," Arturo pointed out. "But if 10% of the population can perform esotericism, as Mr. Eastman mentioned, than there should be at least a dozen of them in this hospital alone."
"But what about a magnet to attract the protons to the electrons and vice versa?" Wade scratched her head. "The esotericists probably haven't done anything measuring up to this magnitude of science before. They'll need the extra electromagnetic energy."
"Magnets are generally made from iron," Diana said. "If we can synthesize an energy field from a large quantity of magnetic iron, we'll be in business."
Spontaneously, the IV attached to Quinn's/Mallory's life support defibrillator began to beep furiously. It had obviously alerted the nurses' station electronically and automatically, because a nurse rushed into the room only seconds later.
"Oh my God!" shouted the nurse. Mallory/Quinn was hyperventilating through the tubes, his face so red it looked as though it was about to explode.
"What's happening to him?!" Wade demanded from the nurse.
"He's having a heart attack!" The nurse grabbed a speaker that was attached to the wall and clicked it to speak into it. "Code Green! Code Green! Dr. Ferber to Room 704, stat! Code Green!" The nurse's shaky voice could be heard reverberating over the hospital intercom.
She scrambled across the room toward Quinn/Mallory and placed a mechanical thumper strategically on the body's chest. The nurse positioned the contact pad on the Quinns' chest, performing compressions with the paddles by using the device to pump down on their abdomen at fixed intervals.
The defibrillator beeped off like an alarm clock.* * *
"This is it, Mountain Girl. We're counting on you." Rembrandt cringed in discomfort as a male nurse extracted blood from Remmy's arm via a syringe. "If Diana and the Professor can't separate Quinn and Mallory, you're gonna have to jump through that vortex alone. It'll be up to you to find our silver lining."
"Yeah, I'm looking so forward to it," Janine sarcastically responded. She braced herself, clenching her teeth, as the nurse injected Janine's arm with Remmy's blood using a clean syringe. They'd updated Rembrandt and Maggie on the previous discussion, and it had been decided that Janine would continue sliding by herself if worse came to worse. The others were unwilling to leave Quinn or Mallory behind. Diana had then comprehensively reviewed the functions of the timer with Janine to make sure she could operate it properly, mainly for setting and storing coordinates.
Rembrandt gave Janine a half-hearted smile. "Well, you've got my blood running through your veins now, girl. At least, some of it."
"It actually feels quite liberating," said Janine, with a wink, "just to know that all I'd have to do is prick my finger and the entire Kromagg Dynasty would be wiped out."
The two of them left the nurses' station and headed back to Room 704. Maggie, Wade, and Malcolm had been scouring the hospital in search of any forms of iron which they might be able to use. Meanwhile, Diana and Arturo pulled Dr. Ferber aside to explain the situation. Having restabilized Quinn's/Mallory's heartbeat, Ferber and her team drugged Quinn Mallory's body unconscious once again.
"We need to talk with you," Diana disguised her statement as a request as she and the Professor ambushed Dr. Ferber.
Ferber looked at them suspiciously. "Are you people even aware that your friend's life is perilously close to its finale?"
"Madam, as the patient's next of kin, we would like to seek a second opinion," stated Professor Arturo, scratching his nose. "Can you recommend to us a competent esotericist who is a resident at this hospital?"
Dr. Ferber folded her arms. "I am an esotericist. 12 years of experience to back me up."
Arturo and Diana exchanged ecstatic glances. What a stroke of luck!
"Dr. Ferber, we need your help," Diana pleaded. She and Arturo told the doctor about their scientific theory and plan.
"That's the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard!" protested Ferber, when they'd finished explaining everything to her.
"Please madam, I beg you." Arturo's serious expression pierced through Ferber like a dagger. "This is our only hope for saving our friends."
Dr. Ferber sighed. "I can't guarantee that I'll be able to do it. I'm flying by the seat of my pants here."
"So are we. All we're asking is that you TRY," Diana assured her. "Please."
"I still don't know about this," Ferber skeptically negated, as Arturo and Diana flanked her on their way back to Room 704.
Wade had already returned to Quinn's/Mallory's bedside, and was waiting for them. "We found a source of iron . . . in the staff weight room. We ‘borrowed' some of their free weights." She gestured to some vertical free weights which had been strategically placed around Mallory's/Quinn's bed. "Maggie and Malcolm are bringing some more up."
Soon Malcolm and Maggie had reappeared, bearing more weightlifting equipment via a wheeled cart.
"When my superiors find out about this . . ." Ferber groaned, almost ready to back out of the ordeal.
Rembrandt and Janine entered the room; Janine shut and locked the door behind her. "The deed is done," she informed them.
Arturo summoned Dr. Ferber forward. "It is all up to you, doctor." He turned to the others. "I need several of you to hold the weights around Mr. Mallory in a close circle . . . we need tight quarters in order to maximize the energy field." Each of the seven sliders, including Diana and the Professor, picked up a free weight and held it up; they each stood along the outer rim of the hospital bed, creating a rectangular formation which entrapped Quinn and Mallory.
Dr. Ferber fixated her eyes on Quinn/Mallory, concentrating, all of her focus on the two Quinns' collective body. Using all of her strength, Ferber channeled the esoteric vibes from her brain into Mallory's/Quinn's body. Invisible waves of psychic energy rippled from Ferber's mind, pulsating through the Quinns' body like a typhoon. The spatial proximity encased by the sliders and their iron weights became visibly translucent, and then it glimmered a sparkle of grainy silver.
"Something's happening!" shouted Diana. "His subatomic particles could be filtering out."
Two separate bodies were gradually drifting apart from the former singular matrix, taking shape amid the cloudy mass of transparent, electromagnetic energy. Before long, both of the fleshy bodies had fully materialized, one belonging to Mallory . . . the other belonging to Quinn.
"Oh my God!" Ferber snapped out of her esoteric trance, dumbstruck at the sight of what she'd just made happen.
The recessitation tubes had snapped out of the body's chest and popped out of its former collective mouth . . . but neither Quinn nor Mallory seemed to have any trouble breathing. They both were totally nude, however, the fabric of their original hospital gown having ripped apart while the separation was taking place.
"Q-Ball?! Fog Boy?!" Rembrandt dropped the weight he'd been holding and leaned forward. "Are you both alive?!" He could hardly believe it.
"Guys?!" Quinn's familiar voice rang out to them, recognizing Wade, Rembrandt, Arturo, and Maggie. Then, instinctively, he shyly grabbed onto the white bed sheet, pulling it forward to cover both his and Mallory's nakedness.
Mallory seemed dizzy and disoriented. "What happened?" he asked, groggily.
Diana circled over to the opposite side of the bed, reaching out to Mallory. "It's going to be okay, Mallory. We did it." She smiled. "We separated you from Quinn."
"You did?" Mallory glanced over, spotting a man whom he didn't recognize lying in the bed next to him.
"Who are you?" Quinn asked Mallory, returning Mallory's astonished gaze.
"I'm Quinn Mallory. Who are you?"
"I'm Quinn Mallory."
Both of the Quinns stared at each other for the longest time. Then, each Quinn looked down to examine his own body under the sheet, then began visually gaping at each other's body.
"They're making sure everything is in the correct place," grinned Arturo, good-naturedly.
"Professor?!" Quinn's attention returned back to Arturo and the others. "Maggie?! Wade?! Remmy?! . . . Malcolm?! . . ."
"Auntie Em?! Uncle Henry?!" joked Mallory, picking up from Quinn's amazement.
Up until now, most of the sliders had been rendered immobile, as though they each were frozen in time while marveling at the fascination of this much-anticipated event. In the next second, all of that became undone as Maggie, Rembrandt, and Wade pounced on Quinn, smothering him with hugs. The Professor was more tactful, politely but eagerly awaiting his turn to embrace his young protégée. Diana, meanwhile, hugged the bare-chested Mallory in her arms. Malcolm, Janine, and Ferber watched this touching - and slightly comical - spectacle unfold.* * *
Mallory and Quinn sat side-by-side together in their hospital bed, now adorned in hospital gowns. The others had wanted to go out and buy new clothes for Quinn and Mallory, but Ferber insisted that they must wear the gowns - hospital policy. As it was, Ferber had no idea what she was going to tell the hospital board . . . how exactly could she explain the unauthorized fission of a body allegedly said to have been fused in some fluke lab experiment on another dimension?
"So," Mallory jammed a spoonful of strawberry Jell-O into his mouth, grinning at Quinn. "I finally meet the man who's been living inside of my body for the past two years."
Quinn spooned a bit of Jell-O into his own mouth; he and Mallory were sharing from the same bowl. "It seems like a lot less time than that has passed . . . I've virtually lost entire gaps of my life!"
Maggie, Rembrandt, Arturo, Wade, and Diana were all sitting around Quinn and Mallory's hospital room, trying to catch up on everything that had happened since the merger via Geiger's Combine. Janine and Malcolm had left the room, to let the longtime friends reminisce.
Maggie reached out and took Quinn's hand. "What was it like being stuck inside someone else's body?"
"Hey! ‘Someone else' has a name!" Mallory crossed his eyes, pretending to be insulted.
Quinn swallowed another mouthful of Jell-O. "So much of it is a blur to me. I must have become dormant after Mallory's body took active control. But I can recall bits and pieces from both during and after Geiger's experiment." He switched his gaze to Diana. "I remember watching through Mallory's eyes as you saved Remmy's and Maggie's lives . . . and then made the snap decision to join us."
"I'd already made the decision," Mallory looked at Quinn, "for both of us. I had to. I was the one in control."
Nodding, Quinn conceded. "You did the right thing, man."
"All I know is that I needed to undo the mess Dr. Geiger created," Diana admitted. "Plus I couldn't very well stay there in his laboratory . . . I would have been arrested by the security guards and police, no with dependable witnesses to vouch for my innocence, since you all were going to go through the vortex with or without me. In fact, when we returned to me and Mallory's homeworld, the four of us," she gestured at herself, Mallory, Remmy, and Maggie, "were arrested. But we managed to escape in the midst of the Kromagg invasion. The Kromaggs now rule our world." Diana's voice stopped dead at that final thought. The pain of that somber reality prevented her from saying anymore.
"I remember trying to communicate with you, Maggie," Quinn told his friend. "You were showing Mallory all the images from our past slides, to reconnect with me. I kept attempting to break through, but I couldn't."
"It was hell for me too," Mallory empathetically agreed with Quinn. "I suddenly was experiencing all the memories from a life that wasn't mine . . . your life. Seeing images of zombies, Kromaggs, robots . . . and of these people I'd never met . . . Colin, Wade, the Professor . . . it was like being forced to skim through someone else's photo album."
"And eventually, I lost all awareness of what was going on . . . like I'd fallen into a coma. I did occasionally resurface and live vicariously through Mallory." Quinn looked at his fraternal double, their eyes connecting in a mutual exchange which only the two of them could truly understand. "That feeling of universal bliss . . . where you were me, and I was you."
"The nanotechs," Mallory caught on.
"And I remember a garden, with many strange voices . . ."
"Dr. Alvarez's talking vegetables." It was all coming back to Mallory, as well. "When I first started having seizures."
"And I remember seeing you guys in a prison cell." Quinn pointed at Rembrandt, Maggie, and Diana. "Logan was there too. I tried to warn you about her."
"Yeah, she's been tracking us this entire time, Q-Ball," said Rembrandt. "She still is, for all we know."
"This is an absolutely incredible account, Mr. Mallory," proclaimed Arturo, advancing closer to Quinn's bedside. "My boy, do you realize you have literally experienced life through another person's body?"
"But in some ways, we're like the same person," Mallory interjected. "Quinn and I have been talking, and we've realized we both had the same father . . . Michael Mallory. But different mothers. Before my foster parents took me in, I was born to Jessica Mallory on my world before she and my father died . . . and Quinn and Colin were born to Elizabeth Mallory on Kromagg Prime."
"But then, we still can't figure out how my mother from Earth Prime gave birth to my identical doubles on so many other parallel worlds," added Quinn, referring to Amanda Mallory. "Unless there are multiple Kromagg Primes out there which my doubles were born on."
"So the Amanda Mallory from our world was like your foster mother?" Wade stated to Quinn. "I still can't believe you were adopted, Quinn."
"Well it does explain the genetic differentials between Quinn and Mallory," said Diana.
Quinn was now staring at Wade, a sulk of guilt upon his face. "Wade, looking back on it, I feel so ashamed. I really abandoned you as a friend when Maggie and I started to fall in love . . . and when I finally found Colin, my priorities changed. I never should have given up on you, Wade . . . you were stuck in that awful breeder camp for so long!"
"Quinn, don't worry about it. It's in the past." Wade lightly touched Quinn's arm with her fingers. "I never stopped thinking about you while in the breeder camp. I never gave up on you guys. I knew that you'd find me someday."
"When we finally did find her, the ‘Maggs had turned her into a human computer," spoke Maggie, quietly, pointing at Wade.
Wade nodded. "I wouldn't cooperate in the breeding camp, so I was assigned as Christina's mid-wife. After Christina gave birth to her Humagg son, Colonel Kesh ordered my relocation to Outpost 88. Then I was drugged, and the Kromaggs reengineered me to be their guinea pig."
Quinn's chin was quivering, uneasily. "Wade . . . the Kromaggs didn't? . . . I mean, did they? . . ."
Wade shook her head. "I've always been stubborn," she said, trying to smile, "you know that. The Kromaggs wanted to use me as a surrogate mother, but I was one of their feistier prisoners. I kept resisting and eluding impregnation . . . I think that's why Kesh finally had me reassigned to the cyberiad project."
Releasing a sigh of relief, Quinn tried to smile back at Wade. Rembrandt gripped Wade's hand, supportively.
"And Professor," Quinn smiled at Arturo, "we took your evil alternate with us by accident after all, huh? THAT'S been my biggest surprise so far out of everything that I've learned about today!"
Arturo gave a chortle of laughter which was both jolly and pompous. "Mr. Mallory, I still cannot fathom how a genius with an astronomical IQ such as yourself could possibly be deceived by that insidiously putrid rogue of a double of mine."
"He fooled all of us, Professor," Rembrandt reminded him. "The guy was like a freakin' chameleon. He WAS you, and knew everything about your personality. Sure, we were suspicious, but . . ."
"He was your spitting image, Professor," Quinn finished off, exchanging knowing grins with Remmy and Arturo.
Professor Arturo's lips formed a half-smile, humbled.
"So tell me again, how did Malcolm rejoin our group?" Quinn asked.
"We slid back to the world that you and I found for the refugees from my homeworld to colonize," Maggie told him. "The Kromaggs had invaded that world too, so we brought Malcolm with us on the slide. He'd narrowly escaped from imprisonment."
"The little dude has adjusted really well," Rembrandt put in, his voice full of fatherly pride. He added in a quieter voice, "especially considering how he's lost a close friend of his. The Kromaggots hauled Gretchen off to a breeder camp on some other Earth, and we're trying to find her."
Diana shifted her posture on her chair. "That Primitive World we rescued Malcolm from was also the second dimension where we got to test the anti-Kromagg virus. The one Remmy is carrying in his bloodstream. It immobilizes and annihilates Kromagg DNA immediately."
Quinn looked at Remmy. "How'd you discover this virus again?"
Rembrandt chuckled. "Long, complicated story, Q-Ball. But it's similar to the one they used on Christina's homeworld. Janine is carrying it too now . . . we transferred some of my blood into her body, in case we couldn't separate you two." He nodded at Mallory and Quinn. "Janine was prepared to continue sliding without us, if we hadn't been able to separate you guys."
"Tell me again, how did Janine join you?" Quinn solicited another clarification.
"She accidentally got sucked into our wormhole," Maggie explained. "On Janine's homeworld they have advanced sliding technology, and she was a professional slider and interdimensional saleswoman who scouted out alternate worlds for her ‘Slidetronics' company. They manufactured timers so people could slide for recreational pleasure. As Janine was jumping out of her vortex, she fell into ours."
"Why didn't you slide her back to her homeworld?" inquired Quinn.
"We tried," said Diana. "But the world we'd landed on following our departure from Janine's homeworld was a Kromagg colony. The five of us were captured, and the Kromaggs confiscated the timer. They erased all of our coordinates. That's when Remmy first tried out the anti-Kromagg virus by puncturing his skin, and we were able to escape. When I attempted to track our previous photon trail from Janine's homeworld, we slide randomly. We're still trying to get her home."
"Boy, our team has gotten so huge!" Quinn observed. "How does the vortex support all the extra body mass?"
"You sure ask a lot of questions," Mallory noticed, shoving some more gelatin into his mouth.
Quinn laughed. "I'm a scientist, Mallory. It's in my blood."
Arturo gestured at Diana. "Along with Dr. Ferber, you also largely have Dr. Davis here to thank for your retrieval, Mr. Mallory," he said to Quinn. "She thought of the idea to use esotericism to complete the separation."
"Thank you, Diana. I owe you my life." Quinn extended his arm out to Diana, and she took his hand.
"I still am shocked that it actually worked." Diana blushed.
"Why? You used a similar procedure to bring me back from the multiverse, Diana," pointed out Wade.
"How did you separate us anyway, Di?" Mallory was still confused as to what Diana and the Professor had done.
"Well, Dr. Ferber has the esoteric ability to move atoms with her mind, conceivably by psychically emitting rays of electromagnetic energy from her brain, through channeling her mind." Diana had launched into full-fledged scientist mode. "This atomic movement causes matter to be physically altered. That's how we completed the unraveling of your bodies."
"It's actually quite simple, Mr. Mallory." The Professor addressed both Quinns concurrently. "Each of your individual body particles, which were combined within your shared matrix, all contain a unique quantum signature originating from your homeworlds of birth, each signature belonging to either of you. The magnetic energy we produced by generating the electromagnetic field from exercise equipment caused certain atoms to attract or repel one another. Then the electrons and protons aligned with each other, positive charges bonding with negative charges and vice versa. The applicable subatomic particles filtered out to restructure both of your original bodies. This sequence was assured by Dr. Ferber's mind-over-matter capability."
Mallory blinked. "Over my head."
Rolling up one sleeve of his hospital gown, Quinn displayed his bruised shoulder. "I guess this belongs to me." He was revealing the scar left over from his gunshot wound over two years ago.
Maggie craned her neck forward. "That's the bullet wound from when you were shot at the Chandler casino."
Mallory rolled up his own sleeve, exhibiting his now-clear shoulder flesh. "Finally back with its rightful owner."
"Hey! You patients up for more visitors?" came Malcolm's voice. He and Janine were poking their heads in the doorway.
"Come on in, guys," Rembrandt beckoned them.
"Heya! Malcolm!" Quinn greeted the young teenager.
"Quinn!" Malcolm came over to the bed and gave Quinn a high-five. He turned to the other Quinn. "Mallory!"
"Hey, buddy! Slap me some skin!" Malcolm high-fived Mallory too as they grinned at each other.
Janine approached the bed. "Welcome back, Mallory."
"Good to see you again, Janine," Mallory gave her the thumbs-up.
Janine switched her gaze over to Quinn. "So . . . you must be the famous Quinn," she awkwardly acknowledged him. "I finally meet the man who started it all."
"Janine . . ." Maggie spoke up, warningly.
"I'm sorry you got dragged into this adventure with us," Quinn sincerely expressed his sympathy to Janine.
Shaking her head, Janine told him, "I don't blame you . . . anymore. I now realize that it was nobody's fault, just a fluke of fate."
"I promise you, we're going to get you back to your homeworld," Quinn vowed to Janine.
Janine just pursed her lips together, thoughtfully.
Wade now had the timer. "Well, we slide in one hour." She shifted her gaze to the Quinns. "Are you boys up for the ride?"
Quinn and Mallory exchanged enthusiastic glances. "You better believe it!" they both exclaimed in unison.* * *
Mallory and Quinn were the last ones out of the vortex, landing with a dusty thud on the sandy desert floor.
"Wow, a pink vortex now, huh?" Quinn whirled his head around as the wormhole closed up. "It's changed color before, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised."
"I'll say one thing . . . that hospital served up some damn tasty Jell-O!" Mallory licked his lips cutely.
Quinn punched Mallory's arm in fraternal camaraderie. "I must have acquired some of your taste buds, man," he said to Mallory. "I suddenly have this incredible craving for sugary pancakes."
Maggie laughed. "Yeah, that's Mallory all right!"
Glancing around, Rembrandt studied their locale. "Well folks, looks like another barren Desert World. How much time, Wade?"
"One week," she answered.
"Maybe not so barren, Remmy," suggested Diana. She pointed to a row of exotic, spiny cactuses, growing in anomalous shapes and dotted with prickly thorns. An elderly man in rugged denim overalls was maintaining the cacti with a watering can.
"What odd-looking cacti," remarked the Professor.
"Them ain't just any cacti," drawled the old man, setting down his watering can. His voice carried a hint of a Southwestern accent. "These is herba levamenti . . . its juice cures most anything - from cancer to crow's feet. Don't be thinking of swiping any from our here nursery, you hear? This here's our private breeding ground."
"Breeding?" Janine asked.
"Yeppers. For baby cactuses."
"So Quinn," said Malcolm, "what's your first order of business gonna be, now that you're back on the team?"
Quinn didn't even have to ponder that once. "We find Colin," he asserted, "and then locate our homeworld."
"Kromagg Prime," breathed out Remmy.
"Don't worry, Quinn. We'll find Colin. And your parents." Maggie placed her hand softly on Quinn's shoulder.
He returned her smile.
Somehow, he just knew they would.
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