|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 the third episode 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, and read my previous stories "Lady of the Lake" and "The Garden" before reading "The Garden."* * *
A waitress set down a steaming mug of hot chocolate in front of Dr. Diana Davis, who sat alone in the cozy restaurant of a ski lodge. Diana's table was located right in front of a crackling fireplace which bore the fragrant scent of crisp hickory.
"Thank you," Diana smiled at the waitress in gratitude and sipped her steamy, warm hot chocolate. Its cocoa flavor tantalized Diana's lips and tongue. The young physicist savored her treat as she finished programming some certain coordinates into the timer.
Minutes later, Rembrandt, Maggie, and Mallory came bursting into the lodge restaurant, shivering from the frigid winter air outside. They flocked to the fireplace, huddling before it in an attempt to warm their frosty bodies.
"Have fun skiing?" inquired Diana.
"Brrrr!" Mallory said in response. "The powder out there is perfect!"
"Yeah, I never would have imagined a California with this much snow," Rembrandt raved. "Although I suppose it makes sense, this being the Sierra Nevada range."
"The slopes were wild!" Maggie removed her fuzzy blue earmuffs. "It reminds me of when Steven and I used to ski together . . ." Maggie's voice trailed off as she recalled her late husband's tragic skiing accident that had left him paralyzed from the waist down on her homeworld.
"Oooooh, Diana! Hot chocolate!" Mallory leaned in and sniffed a whiff of Diana's cocoa. "I think I'll get me some of that." He began to flag down the waitress.
"Sorry Mallory, no time," Diana interrupted him. "We're due to slide out of here in barely a minute."
"Aw, and just when I was beginning to fall in love with this place!" lamented Rembrandt.
"So are we heading to your homeworld?" Maggie addressed Diana, taking off her fuzzy blue gloves.
The scientist nodded. "I think so. That is, assuming Dr. Geiger gave us the correct coordinates."
Mallory rubbed his hands together. "It'll be nice to go home again. My parents are probably wondering what happened to me."
"Oh, ya think?" Maggie sarcastically elbowed Mallory and grinned. His statement had been rather rhetorical.
"Here we go!" Diana extended out her arm, pressed the button on their timer, and opened the wormhole right in the middle of the ski lodge's restaurant.
The circular, bright pink portal appeared in the middle of the room, producing winds that blew menus and silverware off the tables. People who were sitting and dining in the restaurant gaped at the massive anomaly that had just entered their dimension.
Diana rushed forth, timer in tow, disappearing through the vortex. Mallory followed her, then Maggie, and then Rembrandt.
* * *
The sliders flew out of the vortex, falling straight into a dumpster in a back alley.
"Ick!" grimaced Maggie, brushing a rotted banana peel off her head. "We're knee deep in garbage!"
"Well, at least we didn't land on hard cement," Remmy pointed out.
The four of them crawled out of the dumpster and stood on the pavement of the alley.
"This looks like it might be our world," ventured Diana, glancing around. "But it's hard to say when we've only been here for a minute or so."
"So let's have a look around," said Mallory.
They walked onto the street.
"This is definitely Los Angeles," affirmed Maggie, recognizing some of her favorite L.A. area shops.
"But worlds can be very similar, with subtle differences," Rembrandt reminded them.
"Either way, we've got just under twenty-four hours here," Diana read from the timer's display panel. "If we can't confirm anything definite by this time tomorrow, I can always program the timer to slide us back here from the next world we land on."
"Uh, I'm pretty sure this is our world, Di," asserted Mallory, halting in his tracks in front of a boutique window.
"Why do you say that, Mallor - -" Diana stopped short as she followed Mallory's eyes straight ahead to where he was fixating his gaze.
Taped against the boutique window were two criminal "Wanted" posters: one of Diana, the other one of Mallory.
"Oh mercy . . ." whispered Rembrandt.
"It says here we're wanted for the murder of Dr. Oberon Geiger," observed Diana, as she read the posters.
"I guess when the security guards saw us zap Geiger with his Combine, they thought we'd killed him," Mallory speculated to Diana.
Dr. Davis slapped her hand against her forehead. "How could I forget?! Of course we'd be wanted for Dr. Geiger's ‘murder' . . . how else would the authorities explain us having blasted Dr. Geiger back into the multiverse?!"
"It makes sense. They didn't know much about your experiment, did they?" Maggie solicited from Diana. "You and Geiger were the head honchos of that entire project."
"How could I be so ignorant as to think I'd actually win a Nobel prize when I returned here?!" Diana smacked herself on the forehead again.
"Now don't beat yourself up." Remmy put his hand on Diana's shoulder. "Right now, we've got to get you two out of sight before someone recognizes you."
"Let's check into the Chandler," suggested Maggie. "We can sort things out once we've settled into a nice hotel suite."
* * *
An hour later the sliders sat on the comfortable, cushy furniture of their suite at the Chandler Hotel.
"So what are we going to do?" Rembrandt asked his fellow sliders. "Should we hang around here until the next slide?"
Diana sighed. "I know now isn't the best time to bring this up . . . but there's something important back at Dr. Geiger's lab that could really help us."
"What is it?" Maggie tilted her head, curiously.
"If I can get my hands on Dr. Geiger's notes, which are probably still stored in his laboratory," Diana looked straight at Remmy and Maggie, "those notes may hold the answer to retrieving Colin from his unstuck state."
Maggie's and Remmy's eyes lit up like lightbulbs. They leaned forward, listening more intently.
"You mean to tell us that Geiger just left his notes lying around conveniently for us to find one year later?" Mallory folded his arms.
"No, I'm serious!" Diana scanned the faces of her three comrades. "He kept all of his notes on quantum physics stashed in a safe. Dr. Geiger and I were the only two people who knew the combination to that safe. I'm positive that if I can get my hands on those notes we'll be able to find a formula or equation that will help us to track down Colin's location in the multiverse."
"We have to do it," Maggie declared. "Colin's our friend . . . we can't just let him stay unstuck for the rest of eternity!"
"Maybe there'll be some info on how we might go about separating our two Quinns?" Rembrandt turned to stare amicably at Mallory. They considered both him and Diana as "family" by now, rather than just two additional passengers in the vortex.
"Ever since Dr. Alvarez injected me with that cocktail, I've felt great!" Mallory told them. "I can still sense your Quinn inside of me, but I haven't had a seizure in days. I don't know why he and I began to have seizures again."
"Perhaps all of the sliding we've done has caused Quinn's energy matrix to finally resurface?" Diana theorized. "The fluid Dr. Alvarez gave you may restrain him temporarily, but we need to unravel you two before we potentially lose both of you!"
"And there may be something in Geiger's lab to help us do that," Rembrandt added.
"So it's settled," resolved Maggie, clapping her hands together. "Tonight we'll break into Geiger's lab . . . that is, if we can find a way in without getting caught."
"I know the laboratory's security code," said Diana. "All we have to do is slip past the night guard."
Maggie crossed her legs seductively and reclined back on the plush settee she sat atop of. "Piece of cake!"* * *
"I can't believe I'm wearing this ridiculous getup!" exclaimed Diana, fingering the surprisingly realistic-looking red wig situated upon her head.
"Hey, at least you don't have to wear artificial facial hair," Mallory complained, scratching the itchy fake mustache and goatee pasted against his face.
"You guys, it's the only way you both can move around freely without being recognized," Rembrandt reminded them as their group approached the Geiger Applied Research facility, slinking amid the shadows of early evening.
"Are we clear on the mission plan?" checked Maggie, facing her allies. "I'll distract the night guard while you three sneak up to Geiger's lab."
"Boy, you can take the girl out of the military . . ." remarked Remmy, with a sly smirk.
Maggie gave him an evil look.
"I'm ready when you are," Mallory told the group.
"Same here," echoed Diana.
With a toss of her hair, Maggie declared, "Let's do it." She went first, sauntering her way into the lobby of Geiger Applied Research in plain sight. Maggie sashayed right up to the guard who was on duty. He nearly choked on his donut as he caught a glimpse of Maggie approaching him, wearing a low-cut, scanty crimson evening gown.
"Pardon me, officer," breathed Maggie in a deep, sensuous voice. "My car broke down outside, and I would be ever so grateful if I could use your telephone to call a tow truck."
The guard sat there in shock for several moments before realizing that his mouth was hanging wide open. "Uh . . . uh . . . certainly, ma'am," he stuttered.
Meanwhile, Remmy, Diana, and Mallory crawled across the floor of the lobby on their hands and knees, making sure to avert both the guard and any security cameras in sight.
Minutes later they stood in an empty hallway outside of Dr. Geiger's laboratory. Diana hurried to open the security panel and punched in the correct code that would open the locked laboratory door.
"I can't believe they didn't change the security code after all this time!" Remmy exclaimed.
"Yeah, especially after dear old Geiger's untimely ‘death'!" added Mallory.
Diana pushed the door open. "That's because Dr. Geiger and I were also the only ones who had exclusive access to this security code," she explained. "He even encrypted it in coded computer language, so no one else at this facility other than myself could have known how to unscramble it."
Geiger's lab was the same as they had left it a year earlier, with the exception of new attempts made by the leftover scientists of that world to resurrect Dr. Geiger's work. From the disheveled appearance of their work stations, none of those attempts appeared to have been successful.
In no time flat, Diana had cracked the safe and removed a stack of papers from it. This consisted of Geiger's notes and research which Diana had previously referred to.
"Come on, we should get a move on!" Rembrandt hissed to them.
Suddenly, a blaring alarm sounded off. The sliders covered their ears and made a run for the exit.
Unfortunately, before the sliders could reach the lobby they were stopped by a fleet of uniformed police officers.
* * *
Many hours later, the sliders found themselves locked in an empty holding cell at the local prison. After being apprehended earlier, they'd been transported to the jail where they were fingerprinted, had their mugshots taken, and were placed in that lowly holding cell for the time being.
"I'm really sorry," Maggie apologized to her friends for what must have been the twentieth time that day.
"Maggie, it's not your fault," Diana sighed. "We should have known there were hidden cameras which we couldn't dodge."
"Man, we've been here all morning with nothing to eat . . . where's the food?" Mallory exclaimed.
"Ugh! How can you think of eating at a time like this?" groaned Maggie.
"That's easy," provided Mallory. "I'm hungry."
"Mallory, don't you understand?" Diana wore a pale, pained expression. "We're wanted for an alleged murder here. On our own homeworld! They are going to put us away for life!"
"Not necessarily," countered Rembrandt. He unzipped his leather jacket and removed the timer from a secret compartment inside of his coat. "We've got barely two hours left on this world," he read from the timer's counter. "If we can hold out for that long then we'll just slide out of here from this prison cell."
Maggie's eyes had bulged open. "Remmy, HOW did you sneak our timer in here?!" she whispered.
Rembrandt had a small but devious grin on his face. "When they frisked us, I guess they didn't feel the timer in my coat pocket. The rest of my jacket is so bulky, and our timer didn't set off the metal detectors . . ."
"You're a genius, Remmy!" grinned Mallory.
"Now we just have to hope they don't come for us during the next two hours," Maggie pointed out.
Diana still had a barren, lifeless gaze in her wide brown eyes. She stared at the floor in silence.
"I've lost any home I ever had here," she whimpered.
Maggie put her arm around Diana, trying to comfort her.
"And I don't know how we're going to ever find Colin," heaved Rembrandt. "The police confiscated Geiger's research when they brought us in. That was our only . . ."
Rembrandt's words were cut off by an immense swishing noise that could be heard resonating from outside.
"What's that?" asked Mallory.
The four of them hurried over to the barred window in their holding cell. As they peered through the glass at the outside world, Diana pointed toward the sky. "Look!"
A hoard of familiar, sinister red wormholes were opening up against the afternoon sky. Kromagg manta ships emerged from the wormholes, invading the city of Los Angeles with unrelenting force. Beams of destruction flashed down upon the city from the noses of the manta ships, pulverizing anything that moved. The shouts and cries of pedestrians, the honking of horns from vehicles, all became louder and increasingly more chaotic.
Diana closed her eyes as tears slipped down her face, Rembrandt glared a stone cold expression of anger, Mallory buried his head in his hands, and Maggie seethed in an acidic whisper, "Kromaggs!"
Time crept along slowly for the sliders even amid the ensuing hoopla. Other detained prisoners yelled from their cells as more and more manta ships filled the sky. The prison guards were nowhere to be seen, obviously departed to consult with their superiors. A zoo-like atmosphere had eroded the prison, with only the sliders realizing the true magnitude of threat posed by the incoming Kromagg forces.
It was only a matter of time before the uniformed bodies and scowling faces of at least half a dozen Kromagg officers appeared in the hallway outside of all the cells.
"Listen up, humans!" barked one of the Kromagg commanding officers, capturing the human prisoners' attention as the humans stared wide-eyed at these foreign Kromagg beasts from behind the bars of their cells. "You are all now property of the Kromagg Dynasty for the rest of your lives! Any and all resistance shall be met with torture or immediate execution!"
His words were met with angry verbal yelling and obscenities from the mouths of the prisoners.
The Kromagg officers growled loudly to quiet down their prisoners. Their commanding officer raised his gruff voice to be heard above the racket. "This entire prison ward and all of its occupants have been designated to be vacated from this facility. You will all be shipped off to alternate worlds so you may begin your new lives as slaves of the Dynasty. Your removal and transportation from this facility will make room for other humans of your Earth who are currently civilians."
Rembrandt discreetly slipped the timer back into the secret pocket of his leather jacket. Kromagg officers were now thrusting open cell doors and forcibly vacating humans from their cells. Moments later, the sliders' cell door was unlocked and yanked open. An oafish Kromagg colonel gabbed ahold of each slider and individually directed each of them out of their cell, shoving them along with the outgoing line of other human prisoners whom were being led outside. He held a Kromagg weapon of torture in one of his hands for intimidation.
The four sliders were involuntarily pushed along with the flow of the other captive humans, being led out of one prison and toward another.
* * *
As the prisoners were directed by their Kromagg captors onto the avenue outside of the prison, they found themselves wandering into a discombobulated mess of noisy and bloody pandemonium. People frantically ran all across the streets in every imaginable direction. Enraged, militant Kromagg soldiers chased down many of the excited humans with guns, tranquilizers, and other torture weapons. At least three good-sized manta ships hovered over this section of the city, firing deadly rays at any human whom appeared to be on the brink of a successful escape. Along the streets were apartments and other buildings from which humans yelled and swore at the Kromagg invaders while sticking their heads out their windows. Uniformed Kromaggs were storming into most of the buildings, taking prisoners left and right.
Rembrandt, Maggie, Mallory, and Diana were soon surrounded by a disorganized maze of Kromaggs and humans battling each other. The well-armed Kromaggs obviously had the upper hand, but the humans wouldn't give up without a thorough fight. Human pedestrians used anything they could scrounge up - - knives, handguns, metal tools, or even their own fists and feet - - in a vain attempt to combat the Kromagg assailants.
Diana and Mallory watched helplessly as their homeworld was ravaged and plundered right before their eyes. At one point, they noticed that the chaotic crowd had separated them from Maggie and Rembrandt.
"Remmy! Maggie!" shouted Mallory, cupping his hands in front of his mouth so he could yell through them like a bullhorn.
"Mallory! Diana!" called back Rembrandt, as he and Maggie waded their way through the crowded mess of warring humans and Kromaggs. They treaded over a maze of bloody bodies simultaneously amongst other Kromaggs and humans whom were alive and actively running around in a mad panic. Eventually, the four friends were reunited in the midst of all the fighting.
"Come on!" Maggie hissed to them, and she motioned for the other three sliders to dive under a Kromagg jeep parked against the sidewalk.
Crawling on their stomachs under the vehicle, Diana, Maggie, Rembrandt, and Mallory came out on the other end. They made their way into a narrow back alley that was right in front of them.
Diana was panting heavily, in tears. Mallory's face was colored a hot, sweaty, infuriated shade of red. Remmy unzipped his jacket and pulled out the timer.
"Eight seconds," he read from it.
Maggie cringed. "Just get us out of here!"
Echoes could be heard from beyond the alley they stood in. The frenzy of the crowd was becoming even stronger.
Without hesitation, Rembrandt opened the vortex and the sliders jumped through. Behind them remained Mallory and Diana's homeworld, boiling over in dire turmoil.
* * *
Soon they arrived on the next world, in a sandy California desert. As the vortex closed up, the interdimensional travelers saw a group of scantily clad Aztec natives watching them.
"I guess this is Aztec World," sighed Rembrandt, recognizing the architecture that surrounded them. Elegant Aztec pyramids and structures covered the spacious desert floor surrounding where they stood. He looked at the timer. "Six days, twelve hours, and thirteen minutes here."
"Yep, Steven and I vacationed in Mexico one summer," recalled Maggie, agreeing with Rembrandt's assessment. "This place definitely screams Aztec."
The Aztec spectators had dropped to their knees and were now bowing to the sliders, as though they regarded the new arrivals as deities.
"Aw, man! Not again!" Rembrandt exchanged embarrassed glances with Maggie. "Didn't we already go through this a few worlds ago?"
The two "senior" sliders then noticed that their "junior" sliders, Diana and Mallory, were missing. After scanning the vicinity, Maggie spotted them a few feet away. Diana sat on the bottom steps of the nearest Aztec pyramid, sobbing hysterically. Mallory was situated next to Diana, draping his arm around Diana while trying to comfort her. The young man also looked dismayed and worn out.
Rembrandt and Maggie joined their two friends at the bottom of the pyramid.
"Our world . . . completely gone . . ." Diana cried out between heavy sobs.
Mallory hugged Diana. "We're gonna liberate our homeworld, Di. They won't beat us that easily!" But even he sounded unsure of himself.
Maggie sensitively placed her hand on Diana's shoulder. "Mallory's right. Remmy is still carrying the anti-Kromagg virus in his bloodstream. Once we figure out how to utilize it, we'll drive some Kromagg ass right off both your world and Remmy's."
Diana was finally able to compose herself. "But how long will that be? By the time we get back to our homeworld with a plan, the Kromaggs will have already conquered most of our planet. So much of what I accomplished in my career . . . destroyed." Diana thought back to the various elements of her world. "We cloned humans and elephants, developed foolproof vaccines, generated new body parts for medical transplants . . . and now all of that is gone! All because of some Neanderthal apes who think the entire multiverse belongs to them!" The emptiness in Diana's eyes had been replaced by outrage.
Mallory closed his eyes. "God knows if I'll ever see my family again."
"I wanted so badly to make things right with my parents!" Diana fumed. "I wanted to show my father that I didn't need the lavish spoils of his Brentwood mansion to be a success!"
Maggie hugged Diana supportively, while Rembrandt put his arm around a grief-stricken Mallory.
Mallory's eyes instantly ignited with fire. "I want revenge!" he declared. "For myself, and for your Quinn! For both our Earths!"
"You're ‘our Quinn' now too, Fog Boy," Remmy reminded him, soft-spokenly and affectionately.
"And we'll get revenge," affirmed Maggie. "You can count on that! The Kromaggs will regret ever having messed with us!"
Maggie took Diana's hand, Diana's free hand clutched Mallory's, and Mallory used his other free hand to grip Remmy's.
"Here's to the Kromaggs," Diana proclaimed softly but bitterly. "May they rot in hell."
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