earth 30858
Episode 6.18
Slide Into Darkness
by Slidemania
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.

* * *

"Hey, Wade!"

Wade Welles swerved around upon feeling the tap of a finger on her shoulder. She shrieked, startled, coming nose-to-nose with the hideous, acrylic face of an extraterrestrial being.

Quinn Mallory removed his alien costume mask which had been made from plaster and covered with pastel-colored fabric. "Gotcha!"

Angrily, Wade gave Quinn a resentful shove. "You scared me half to death, Quinn!" However, Wade couldn't hide the inevitable smile which was beginning to curve upward across her lips.

Rembrandt was pushing his way through the massive crowd toward his two friends. "This dimension is ‘outta this world'! Literally! There are freakin' sci-fi conventions everywhere!" Remmy's arms were filled with Lost in Space paraphernalia, including coffee mugs, bumper stickers, visors, and action figures. "It's like a flea market around here . . . Star Trek booths, Star Wars booths, Babylon 5 booths, Time Tunnel booths . . ."

"Get away from me, you degenerate nitwit!" bellowed Professor Arturo, swatting at someone dressed as a Klingon who'd been light-heartedly dogging him. Arturo joined the others. "What is with these people and their petty obsession for the science-fiction genre?! The blistering idiots..."

Rembrandt chortled his famous "Cryin' Man" laugh, and Wade smiled at her three male friends. "Do you guys realize that the four of us have finally been reunited?"

"Yeah, the original Fab Four," grinned Quinn, draping his arms around Wade and Rembrandt.

The Professor sighed contentfully and dreamily. "Friends, ever since I was left behind on Azure Gate World, I have longed for this day. Finally, that day has arrived." He stared at each of them in turn. "Almost seven years ago when we made our first slide, I would not have believed that we would end up experiencing as much as we have together. But Mr. Mallory, Mr. Brown, Miss Welles, I can honestly say that you are the best friends I have ever had in my entire life." He gave an additional snort along with a twitch of his eyes. "Even if you do get on my nerves now and again."

They all laughed. "We get on each other's nerves," agreed Quinn. "But would it be as interesting or fun if it were any other way?"

"I suppose not, Mr. Mallory."

"But remember," Rembrandt reminded them, "it's not just the four of us anymore. We have five other people along for the ride who we're responsible for. We've got worlds to liberate from the ‘Maggs, people to find, places to go . . ."

He trailed off as the strenuous realization hit all of them.

Before long, Mallory, Diana, Maggie, Janine, and Malcolm came bounding toward the original quartet of sliders, sifting their way through the crowd.

"Look at all the autographs I got!" raved Maggie, holding up several slips of paper covered with pen signatures. "George Lucas, Jonathan Frakes, Leonard Nimoy, Gene and Majel Roddenberry! . . . Tracy Torme! . . ."

The Professor rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Miss Beckett! Such superficial, starstruck fervor is the very reason I cannot stand L.A.!" He grimaced in repulsion.

"Come on, Professor, lighten up!" Diana slapped Arturo on the back. She was carrying some stuffed Tribbles which were obviously collectable souvenir toys.

"Yeah, this place is pretty cool if you give it a chance," Malcolm added.

Mallory was wearing plastic "Spock ears" on his earlobes. "Don't I look cute?" he asked them, gesturing with flamboyance at his ears.

"Just adorable," Janine wryly commented.

Quinn had the timer in his palms. "Just under a minute, gang." He turned to Remmy. "So one of my doubles invented this, huh? Its structure is very similar to the Egyptian timer, and it has the same capabilities as Logan's and Rickman's timers, with slight differences in the design."

Rembrandt narrowed his eyes. "It doesn't make me feel any better to know that both of them are probably tracking us even as we speak."

Quinn shook his head, regretfully. "So Rickman really didn't die on Hybrid World after all?"

"Nope. But he will. Soon." Maggie had a determined scowl of vengeance planted in her eyes.

"We've also gotta find Colin," spoke Quinn, watching intently as the remaining digits counted down on the timer's display panel.

Remmy put his hand on Quinn's shoulder. "Don't worry, Q-Ball. You've only been back with us for less than two weeks. We found you, we found Wade . . . and we'll find Colin too."

Quinn tried to give Rembrandt a grateful smile - grateful that the Cryin' Man was there for him as a friend.

In another moment, the nine sliders jumped into the active vortex as they headed for their next random spin in this game of interdimensional roulette.

* * *

The novtet of quantum space-time travelers plunged from the glistening pink opening of their vivid portal. Thrust forward, they suddenly found themselves hovering in mid-air, as though they were floating through desolate space.

"Where are we?" Maggie asked. Her voice echoed starkly across the dimension they were in, as though it was a large, dark, empty auditorium.

Mallory, still wearing his "Spock ears", glanced over his shoulder and noticed that the portal was gone. "Wherever we are, we can't go back. The vortex has disappeared."

"What the . . . ?" Quinn gaped at the timer's display panel. Numbers were blinking and being scrambled in senseless, irrational patterns. "The timer's going haywire!"

"That's happened before, hasn't it?" Wade ventured, her voice quivering a bit.

Janine stuck her nose in the air. "It never happened to ME while I was traveling alone."

"It's a whole new ballgame sliding with us, Mountain Girl," Rembrandt reminded Janine. He'd let go of all his souvenirs from the previous world, allowing them to freely float away from his grasp toward a dark abyss.

"I can barely see my own hands!" complained Maggie. "It's one notch above pitch black in here."

"Diana?" Malcolm was leaning over, taking in Diana's face. The physicist had a dazed expression on her face, her eyes filled with bleak emptiness as though she was in a trance.

"Hey, wake up, sleepyhead!" Janine snapped her fingers next to Diana's ears, but Dr. Davis didn't even flinch.

"What's wrong with her?" Mallory wondered.

Wade tried her best to float her way over to Diana, but it was like wading through gelatin. "Diana?!" She shook the scientist's shoulder.

"Dr. Davis appears to be in some sort of trance," observed the Professor.

"Voices," Diana whispered, all of a sudden. "I can hear voices . . . trapped in this dimension."

Quinn blinked in confusion. "Voices? What's she talking about?"

It lit up like a light bulb above Rembrandt's head. "Diana has extrasensory perception . . . ESP! She was able to tap into the universal consciousness on Idiot World, where they did the neural ‘remapping'. Ever since Diana had her mind remapped, she's been able to detect paradimensional presences." They all looked at Rembrandt, impressed with his wordy vocabulary. "She explained it to me," Rembrandt blushed, sheepishly.

"So Diana hasn't lost consciousness?" clarified Malcolm.

"On the contrary, Mr. Eastman, she has conceivably adopted the knowledge of an entirely new state of being." The Professor's rotund body looked funny, as though he was a planetary sphere orbiting in mid-air. "Dr. Davis may be our only veritable link if we are to discover what kind of a place we have wandered across."

In another instant, a massive flood of light shined upon the sliders, and a gust of windy energy whirled toward them. There seemed to be a sort of transparent wall dividing the sliders from another compartment within which shadows began to take shape. The explorers could make out the images of what appeared to be the silhouettes of humans, similarly floating through the abundant space.

Quinn was motivated by his scientific curiosity. "I've got to try to break through," he declared. Quinn slowly but gradually gyrated his body toward the translucent "wall", extending his arm in an attempt to touch it. Quinn's fingers stopped against what felt like a solid surface. "It won't let me in."

"This is too weird!" exclaimed Janine.

"Are we ever gonna be able to get out of here?" Malcolm inquired.

"I don't know, partner." Rembrandt cupped his hands over his mouth and yelled out to the shadowy outlines of humans. "Hey!! Can you hear us?!"

"Are you humans?!" Wade shouted at them as well. "Can you tell us where we are?! What is this place?!"

The humans seemed to be calling back to them, but their voices were muffled and heavily distorted.

Quinn edged as close as he could to the "wall" of this dimensional cell. Suddenly, he spied a figure directly on the other side, facing him. The dark silhouette reached forward as if to match its palm up with Quinn's.

"Brother?" came a hauntingly familiar voice.

Quinn's lungs nearly collapsed.


* * *

As the light from the adjacent dimensional compartment became greater, it cast a revealing brightness upon Colin's facade. The young man looked exactly the same as he had two years ago when Quinn had last been with him on Gunfight World; Colin even wore the same clothes as on the day he'd become "unstuck".

"Colin, how . . . how did you end up here?" asked Quinn, staring back at his brother.

"I don't know." Colin's lips began to tremble, as he finally once again met the gaze of his brother whom he'd been thinking of for the past two years. "I was separated from you and Maggie and Rembrandt in the vortex . . . I began moving from dimension to dimension, almost by magic, as though I could not control the movements of my body. Eventually, this is where I stopped. Myself and all of these other people."

"Other people? Who are they, Colin?"

"I do not know, brother."

Quinn wanted to burst into tears. "Colin, I'm going to get you out of here! Somehow . . ."

"Quinn?" Maggie's voice piped up. She had floated over next to him. "Is that Colin?"

"Farm Boy?!" Rembrandt called out, also propelling his body over to join Quinn and Maggie.

"Rembrandt? Maggie?" Colin helplessly gazed at them through his caged puppy eyes.

The other five sliders also advanced toward the dimensional wall, Wade and Mallory pulling a comatose Diana along with them.

"Quinn . . . I feel so weak." Colin's voice was getting more frail.

"Hang on, Colin! Just hang on!" Quinn snapped his head around. "There's got to be some way to penetrate through this cell wall!"

"I certainly hope so, Mr. Mallory," agreed the Professor. "But please keep in mind, my boy, that without an operable timer we will all be stuck here indefinitely . . . even if we do manage to extract your brother from his entrapment."

"I know, Professor." Quinn's head was throbbing like crazy, beads of sweat trickling down his neck.

Diana's eyes suddenly popped wide open. "The people," she was able to coherently speak again. "On the other side of the divider. They're trying to reach us."

Indeed, the countless human figures were wafting steadily toward the dimensional wall, desperately heading toward the nine newcomers from within their prison.

Diana pressed her nose up against the cell wall, peering through at the innumerable silhouettes. "They know our troubles . . . they know where we are . . ."

Diana's babbling was cut short as her vision was confronted by a stalky, blurred image. The figure manifested itself from behind the wall, revealing to Diana its identity which gave her frosty tingles.

"Dr. Geiger?!" Diana gasped, shivering.

* * *

"Yes, Diana. It is I." Dr. Geiger's thick, scratchy voice stuck like a needle into Diana's eardrums.

"How? . . ." Diana scanned her memory. "When I last saw you, you were lying on the floor, dead. Someone had shot you!"

Mallory swam over next to Diana. "Geiger?!"

"Hello, Mr. Mallory."

"You bastard!" Mallory wanted to kill Dr. Geiger, yet, they were divided by a barrier which could not be broken through.

"I was wounded by the pain of a bullet, Diana," Dr. Geiger confessed to his former student. "I was intoxicated with premature delusions of a death which was never my own. But after you departed through the vortex, the dimensional nexus I created spontaneously collapsed."

"But I pulled the correct switch to send your ‘subjects' back to the world you'd taken them away from," Diana protested. "They should have been transported to their homeworld."

Geiger shook his head. "All of us became unstuck . . . one of these idiots - that imbecile bellhop, I believe - pulled another switch after you vortexed out . . . he didn't seem to trust your competence, Diana . . . that switch complicated the stability of my world . . . sending all of us here into a nether region of hyperspace." He bristled. "The fool should have just let me die."

"Yeah, he should have!" spat out Mallory, glaring with contempt at Geiger.

"Geiger?!" Rembrandt had orbited over to join Mallory and Diana, catching sight of Dr. Geiger. Maggie followed Remmy. "Man, don't you ever die?!"

"Dr. Geiger's experiment took an unexpected turn, Rem," Diana told him. "Thanks to him, those innocent people from that chunk of a world he created have all become unstuck along with Dr. Geiger!"

"There's more," Dr. Geiger quietly and regretfully continued. "The energy barrier I'd synthesized . . . when it shattered, not only was I unanchored, but it vortexed itself into surrounding dimensions, seeping into other parallel universes and pulling bits and pieces of those parallel worlds into this bleak oblivion. I have been a witness to this for the past year." Geiger gestured around at all of the objects which hovered through hyperspace in the distance: people, animals, plants, structural buildings, miscellaneous objects - all swirling erratically in circular formations from beyond the dimensional wall.

Maggie gritted her teeth. "Yikes."

"So what does that mean?" Diana demanded.

"It means," stated Geiger, "that this unbridled nexus we are trapped in will proceed to meld with every parallel Earth it encounters, gobbling up both living organisms and inanimate objects."

"I thought the multiverse was infinite?" countered Mallory.

"In theory, it is," confirmed Dr. Geiger. "So this savage nexus will have vainly embarked upon an eternal conquest of the never-ending multiverse."

"Billions of innocent people will die!" Diana was horrified, realizing that Dr. Geiger's original goal of collapsing infinite parallel universes into each other may very well be realized . . . all because of a fluke occurrence caused by one of Geiger's innocent human victims who'd been acting out of senseless desperation and ignorance. The twisted irony was that Geiger would probably remain perpetually unstuck the entire time, never able to reanchor himself - as would be the case for everyone else, as well.

"I'm sorry, Diana. I truly am," Geiger apologized.

"Sure you are!" Diana sarcastically sneered. She highly doubted the authenticity of his sincerity.

Quinn had floated over next to Mallory. "How do I get my brother back, Geiger?!" he demanded, through gritted teeth.

"Who are you?" Geiger asked.

"I'm Quinn Mallory . . . the Quinn who you merged with the Quinn from your homeworld!"

Dr. Geiger raised his eyebrows. He'd never actually seen this Quinn in person before - he'd only detected Quinn's incoming matrical signature from the laboratory at Geiger Applied Research. "So you . . . separated yourself from Mallory?" Geiger switched his gaze to Diana. "How did you do it?" he asked her, in wonderment.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Diana chided him with another sneer.

"Quinn!" Colin called out meekly.

Quinn glared at Geiger. "You owe us! Help us save my brother!"

Geiger smirked at Colin, who was trapped on the same plane as him. "Ah, so this is the mysterious Colin." He shot a devious, maniacal smile at Quinn. "I'm terribly sorry, but I'm afraid your dear brother will be trapped forever within this dimensional cell just like me. Unless, of course," he aimed a pointed look at Diana, "you'd be willing to help me out."

A warning flag immediately went up in Diana's brain. "You've lied to me and double-crossed me on three separate occasions, Dr. Geiger. Probably more. WHY would I trust you a fourth time?"

Dr. Geiger grinned. "Because you have no other option. Either you work with me, or we'll all be stuck here together for the rest of eternity."

His words were met with a tense blanket of silence.

"Diana," Rembrandt spoke up, pointing toward a lone object that was floating near Colin, "isn't that your PDL?"

Diana's heart nearly jumped up out of her throat. "How did it get here?!" she cried, recognizing her Portable-Dimensional-Laboratory, even from behind the translucent energy barrier. Then she saw some giraffes, elephants, and other animals which could be found in an African savanna floating past them. "This nexus must have invaded African World . . . that one Earth where I accidentally lost my PDL!"

Geiger and Diana both stared longingly and cravingly at Diana's PDL, as it shifted past Colin's head.

They both needed it.

* * *

"Colin, grab it!!" Diana shouted out to Quinn's brother.

"Grab what?"

"My PDL?"

"What's a PDL?" Colin was becoming dizzy and disoriented.

Rembrandt pointed toward Colin's head. "That little gizmo that's hovering right next to you, Farm Boy! Grab it!"

Colin reached out and clasped his fingers around the PDL.

"Give it to me, Colin," Dr. Geiger slyly beckoned him. "I know how to operate it . . . you don't."

"Dammit!" Diana banged her body against the dimensional wall. "Don't give it to him, Colin! Don't trust him!"

Colin grasped the PDL in his grip even tighter, somehow sensing that it was wiser to trust Diana, who was surrounded by his brother and several of their friends, rather than trusting this robust, suspicious, graying curly-haired stranger whom he'd never met.

Wade grabbed ahold of Rembrandt's shoulder, turning to him for comfort. "Is there any way we can get out of here?" Her eyes darted to Quinn.

"Diana, can't you use your PDL to recharge the timer?" asked Maggie. "You did it before, back when we were using the Egyptian timer."

"I could try," Diana nodded. "But we'll need to get Colin over here to us . . . that means finding a way to break through to his dimension."

"So Colin is stuck in, like, a dimension-within-a-dimension?" Janine asked.

"That is one way of describing it, Miss Chen," affirmed Arturo. "Colin and Dr. Geiger appear to be trapped on the same dimensional plane within this nexus . . . some kind of gravitational barrier has formed a wall between our plane and theirs."

Geiger's gaze was fixated on Colin. Diana knew she needed to distract him. "When we last spoke, you'd told us that your original quantum equation for dimensional melding turned out to be flawed on a macroscopic scale. How about your theory on being unstuck . . . one of my friends here may have been unstuck herself, but we encountered one of her doubles shortly after stabilizing her." Diana was, of course, referring to Wade.

"I already explained this to you, Diana," snorted Dr. Geiger, impatiently. "I encountered my alternate, Oberon, after creating the three-square-block radius from Wilshire Boulevard on an alternate world. Unfortunately, the Oberon whom I'd pulled from that chunk of a parallel Earth was a mental case. He had a neurological disorder affecting his brain, and his body would have been chemically unsuitable for me to live in. I tried replicating his DNA in other test subjects, to no avail."

"So that's why that one dude who looked like you was disfigured?" Remmy had caught on to Diana's strategy to keep Geiger talking to stall for time.

"Precisely." Geiger turned his attention back to Colin. "Come here, young man. Let me have that device."

"Run!" Malcolm shouted out to Colin.

"Give it here! Now!" Dr. Geiger growled, advancing toward Colin.

Reacting quickly, Colin slogged his way through the hyperspacial atmosphere, as fast as his body would transport him. Geiger moved even slower, being of a heavier bodily mass than Colin.

"We've gotta do something!" cried Maggie.

Diana swiveled around to face Quinn. "Give me the timer!" she demanded from him.

"Why? . . ."

"Just give it to me!!"

Quinn handed off the timer to Diana, who hastily aimed it at Colin and pressed the activation button. Although the blinking digits on the timer were still flickering around in a confused disarray, a transparent stream of energy ejected from the timer's nose, penetrating through the dimensional wall and formulating a cocoon of ionic energy around Colin's body.

"Whoa!!" exclaimed Malcolm, nearly jumping out of his shoes. "What did you do to him?"

"I acted on a hunch," Diana explained. "Even though we can't actually slide out until our window of opportunity opens, the timer itself can be activated at any time. With such a mass concentration of energy, I was hoping that an exertion of the timer's gravitational force would isolate Colin from his surroundings, causing a ‘bubble' of sorts around him." She craned her neck backward, admiring her handiwork. "And I was right."

"Colin!" Quinn instructed to his brother. "Can you move across the barrier toward us?!"

At a snail's pace, Colin trudged forward within his spherical orb, causing the "bubble" to roll along with his gradual movement. Approaching the gravitational barrier, Colin eased his way through it, as though he was stepping out of one room and into another.

"No!" Geiger growled at Colin, banging his fists helplessly against the cell wall. "Come back here!"

Both Maggie and Rembrandt reached forward to touch the protective spherical "bubble" which Colin was enmeshed within. Despite its translucent appearance, the bubble had a hard, solid surface.

"How do we get him out?" Maggie asked.

"What've we got to lose?" Quinn was getting an idea. He took Diana's hand and the two of them inched away from the rest of the sliders. Rotating the timer's nose toward himself and Diana, Quinn pushed the activation button. A forceful surge of energy splattered out of the timer, producing another ameba-like bubble - this one housing both Quinn and Diana within its internal pouch.

"Q-Ball?! Diana?!" Rembrandt called out with uncertainty.

"Don't sweat it, Remmy," said Quinn, as he and Diana began using their bodies to shift their own bubble toward Colin's. "We're scientists - we know what we're doing."

All of the sliders moved out of the bubbles' pathways as Colin's orb collided with Quinn and Diana's orb, the two "bubbles" intermingling and enjoining into one. Quinn, Colin, and Diana were now all encased within the same protective orb.

"Welcome back," Diana greeted her PDL with a lippy kiss, as Colin gave the apparatus to her. "Come home to momma!" Flipping open the lid of her familiar contraption, Diana began recharging the timer's energy supply using the unlimited frequency generated by her functional PDL.

"Bro, is it really you?" Quinn reached over and curiously touched Colin's face.

"I think so." Colin touched Quinn's arm, praying that the sight of his brother wasn't merely an apparition.

The two Mallory brothers hugged, finally reunited. Everyone else watched them with intrigue.

"Okay, we should be all set, if my calculations are correct," Diana announced. She addressed Rembrandt, Malcolm, Wade, Mallory, Janine, Maggie, and Arturo. "You guys crowd together."

They did as they were told. Activating the timer yet a third time, Diana created another bubble which enveloped the remaining seven sliders. Repeating the previous sequence, Colin, Diana, and Quinn edged their orb toward the new one until the two bubbles merged.

"All right, now everyone shift the bubble toward the line of division," Quinn commanded. "And straddle that line."

The ten sliders, now all encased in the same spherical orb, walked their bubble over to the dimensional wall, edging the circular formation halfway through. Geiger's blurry face could be seen from inside the sliders' sphere . . . the megalomaniac desperately slammed his paws against the side of their bubble, uselessly attempting to break through.

"17 seconds," counted Diana. Once inside their orb, the timer had been randomly reset and was ready to be reactivated when it hit zero.

Quinn surmised, "If we direct the timer's frequency toward the ‘skeleton' of this nexus, it should cause a chain reaction that will shatter all of the dimensional cells, bouncing all these people, animals, objects, and structures back to their homeworlds."

"What about us?" Remmy asked.

"Our bubble should pop, and then we'll be sent forward through the vortex randomly, like always," Diana predicted.

"And what'll happen to Geiger?" inquired Wade.

"Who cares?!" spat out Janine. "As long as we get as far away from him - and here - as possible."

Quinn activated the timer a fourth time, as it reached zero. The ripple effect took place, causing a quantum surge of pinkness to diffuse across the nexus. With a bright, blinding explosion, the dimensional walls and their outer cells evaporated; formerly "unstuck" humans, organisms, and inanimate objects bounced back to their points of origin.

And as the courageous dectet of sliders were thrust forward into their expanded vortex, Dr. Oberon Geiger felt himself propelling backwards through the interdimension.

* * *

"I missed you, bro," Quinn said, fondly smiling at Colin.

"Same here, brother," replied Colin.

The two of them were sitting tailor-style on the floor inside of their bamboo hut, shucking husks of bamboo which Wade and Malcolm would later weave into baskets.

Diana and Janine burst through the narrow door of Colin and Quinn's hut, laughing and chattering; both women carried bales of additional bamboo branches which they unloaded in a messy pile on the floor in front of the Mallory brothers.

"Better pick up the pace, guys," Diana advised them. "Maggie's running a tight ship this afternoon."

"Come on, ladies! We're burning daylight here!" they heard Maggie call to them from outside of the hut.

"Slavedriver," Janine muttered, rolling her eyes as she and Diana headed back outside to take more orders from Maggie.

"Miss Beckett, I'm an old man! I can only work so quickly!" they heard Professor Arturo snap at Maggie in an irritated retort from outside.

Quinn and Colin looked at each other and burst out laughing.

A few moments later, Rembrandt ducked into their hut. "Heya, Q-Ball, Farm Boy!" He slapped both brothers on their shoulders. "Are we keeping busy?"

Colin flinched as he tried to scrape some excess peeling off of his bamboo stalk with a jackknife. "This material does not seem to want to cooperate, Rembrandt."

Remmy hooted with laughter, and Quinn began showing Colin how to scrape off the peelings properly. "I still wonder how we can go so quickly from flying through hyperspace to doing this menial grunt work," Rembrandt remarked.

"Hey, we gotta earn our keep somehow. No ATM machines on this world," Quinn pointed out, maneuvering Colin's hands as he helped his older sibling scrape the stalk correctly. "It's actually a pretty good deal, considering that we're receiving free room and board. Given that bamboo is the principle North American export on this Earth, we could be doing a lot worse labor."

Outside, they could hear Maggie and Janine nosily arguing with each other about something, and the Professor could be heard shouting at Mallory, "Quit shooting those pinto beans at me, Mr. Mallory, or I'll . . . !"

Rembrandt snickered. "I'd better get back out there to play referee."

Quinn and Colin were finally alone again.

"So are we going to continue to search for our parents?" Colin asked Quinn.

"You can count on it," affirmed Quinn. "I've finally gotten you back . . . I want my whole family to be together at last. Of course, we're going to have to reconstruct the equation to pinpoint our homeworld . . . you up for the challenge?"

Colin nodded. "You bet."

"I'm having a hard time keeping perspective on all we've been through," sighed Quinn. "Today alone we managed to anchor you AND thousands, or maybe millions, of other unstuck people."

"How do you know they got back safely?"

"I'm pretty sure of it. We overloaded the matrical stability of the nexus, so that should have erased or disintegrated all of the hyperspacial energy invading those dimensions. At least, that's what it indicated according to Diana's PDL readings." Quinn recalled the saved file which Diana had shown him on the screen of her PDL.

"So we were able to reverse the damage that had been done to me and all those other people?"

Quinn nodded. "And apparently, your doubles WEREN'T killed when you became unstuck, after all."

"Just one more question." Colin stared at his brother with inquisitive big doe-eyes. "What happened to Dr. Geiger?"

Pondering that thought, Quinn took a long pause, contemplating a question he did not have the slightest answer to.

"I don't know."


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