|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.* * *
Two handsome brown stallions galloped over a grassy hill. Riding atop one of these horses was Maggie Beckett with Diana Davis seated behind her. Steering the other horse was Rembrandt Brown with his fellow slider, Mallory, sitting behind Remmy while clutching onto Remmy's shoulders.
The four friends were being pursued by a mob of burly cattle ranchers who drove a fleet of other horses chasing after the two stolen stallions.
"Maggie, you just HAD to get us involved with an illegal horse cartel!" accused Remmy, noticing that their pursuers were picking up speed.
Captain Beckett snapped the reins of her own horse. "Can you blame me? I always wanted a pony as a little girl, but I was stuck in boarding school! The only animals we had to play with were mice!"
"Quit arguing and keep moving!" Mallory looked back at the cattle ranchers. "They're gaining on us!"
"Besides, Remmy, how was I supposed to know they were exploiting colts on the black market?!" Maggie shouted.
"It's almost time!" Diana informed them, trying to avert an argument. From where she sat right behind Maggie on their horse, Diana extended out the timer and opened the vortex.
The sliders rode their horses straight into the wormhole. Moments later, it closed up.* * *
On the other end, the pink vortex spewed out the sliders on their horses from its rift. They found themselves on a city street in the middle of a busy urban area.
Rembrandt, Mallory, Diana, and Maggie dismounted their horses. The two stallions galloped away, freely.
"What is our rule about not bringing others through the vortex against their will?" Rembrandt looked down at Maggie using a fatherly tone of voice. "Not to mention our pact to avoid interfering in other worlds' business!"
"Oh, they're just horses, Remmy. It's not like they'll know the difference." Maggie noticed the window of a nearby jewelry store fully stocked with shiny gems. "Pardon me for a moment while I window shop."
"It looks like we're back in San Francisco," observed Mallory, pointing toward the Golden Gate Bridge which could be seen in the far off distance spanning across San Francisco Bay.
"We've got two hours here," Diana reported, looking at the timer. "Let's see if we can find a place to rest for awhile."
Rembrandt had to practically pull Maggie away from the jewelry store window. The four of them walked down the street.
After awhile they came to what looked like an outlet mall with endless shops.
All of a sudden, a bright yellow portal opened only a few feet away from the sliders. A tall, red-haired man wearing a business suit and carrying a briefcase jumped out of the wormhole.
"Whoa! Where did you come from?" Maggie asked him. She saw in his other hand he was holding a timer.
"I was THIS close to being late for work today," he responded, positioning his thumb and his index finger only an inch apart for emphasis. "Thank God for sliding!"
"Look!" Mallory pointed off toward the end of the busy avenue. A few more vortexes were opening and closing with people casually jumping in and out of them.
"It looks like this world has developed its own sliding technology," inferred Diana.
Rembrandt let out a whistle. "Slidetronics?!" he exclaimed.
"What are you talking about, Rembrandt?" Maggie cocked her head.
The Cryin' Man pointed to what seemed to be an electronics store in front of them. Its large sign read "Slidetronics."
"Wow, I'm checking this out!" Without hesitation, Mallory hurried into the store.
"Mallory, wait!" Diana called after him. She, Maggie, and Rembrandt followed their comrade.
"Hello, welcome to ‘Slidetronics' - - where we strive to make your slides more enjoyable." Once inside, they were greeted by a nicely-dressed man of medium height with creamy brown skin. He wore a professional-looking blue blazer and black slacks. "Are you first-time customers?"
"Um . . . you could say that," answered Rembrandt.
"Pleased to meet you. My name is Karl, and I'll be your host here at ‘Slidetronics' today. Would you like a complimentary tour of our store?" The salesman wore a huge smile, showing off his bright white teeth.
"Uh . . . sure, why not?" Diana volunteered. She exchanged glances with the other three, and they nodded in compliance.
"We sell the finest in contemporary, cutting edge sliding technology," pitched Karl, as he led them through the store. "Both ‘Class A' and ‘Class B' equipment is manufactured by our company."
All around them, wormholes of a variety of different colors were opening and closing as people jumped in and out of them. A majority of the customers seemed enthusiastic and naturally accustomed to sliding.
"What do you mean by ‘Class A' and ‘Class B'?" asked Maggie.
"Yeah, we only know of one type of timer," Mallory said, directing his head toward their own timer that Diana held.
Karl viewed the sliders' timer. "May I?" he asked Diana.
Reluctantly, Diana handed him their timer to inspect.
"Hmmmm, an earlier model," Karl observed. "Quite primitive compared to what we sell, actually. An early ‘Type B', I see." He handed it back to Diana. "Would you folks be interested in updating your current model?"
"No thanks," Rembrandt decisively replied. "I think we'll probably stick with what we've got."
"You said we have a ‘Type B'?" Diana inquired from Karl. "Could you explain what you mean by that?"
Karl laughed. "Not familiar with our lexicon, I take it?" He removed an odd-looking timer from a nearby rack. "This is a ‘Type A' model. It allows you to move from one point to another while still on this Earth. You could be right here in San Francisco one moment, punch in the coordinates to take you to a specific part of Tokyo, open the vortex, and you'll slide there within seconds."
"I thought sliding only transports you between alternate dimensions?" asked Maggie, mystified.
"That's what a ‘Type B' timer does," Karl chuckled. "It's the model you guys have." He gestured to their timer that Diana was holding protectively. "I can see from your display panel that you have one hour and sixteen minutes remaining before your next slide. Where are you headed to next?"
"We don't know," said Mallory.
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"We're sliding randomly," explained Rembrandt.
"I see. Isn't that a bit dangerous?" Karl launched into sales pitch mode. "You know, with the new B-2000," he showed them another model of a timer, "you can take as many as twenty friends with you at a time to any alternate reality of your choice!"
"You mean, we could control our slides?" Maggie gasped.
"Hold on, guys." Diana ushered the three of them over to a corner. "Pardon us for a moment," she called to Karl. Turning back to the others, Diana lowered her voice. "I wouldn't be so quick to trust these people."
"Diana, just think," proposed Maggie, dreamily, "we could choose where we want to slide, set the timer for however long we want, separate the coordinates of the bad worlds from the good . . ."
"We're not familiar with their sliding technology," Diana pointed out. "We only have an hour left here, I think we should stick with what we have."
"Diana's right," admitted Remmy. "As much as I'd love to be able to slide at will, there could be unforeseen consequences if we take any goods from this world. If it breaks, Diana might not be able to fix it."
"So we bring a couple of timers with us," Mallory suggested. "That way, we'll always have a spare. And we can always slide back here to get more."
"I'm with Mallory," agreed Maggie. "What if we miss the sliding window for some reason? I don't want to be stuck on some unknown world for 29 years!"
Diana sighed. "IF we did this, and that's a big ‘if', I'd have to find out more about the sliding technology of this world to determine how safe it is."
"You can take a free ‘test slide' if you're undecided," Karl offered them, calling over to where they were huddled.
"No thanks," Rembrandt took charge. "I think we'll probably be on our way now."
"Remmy! Please!" whined Maggie like a little child.
Another wormhole opened next to the sliders. This one was a soft, majestic shade of deep green. A thin Asian woman with long, black hair leaped out of the vortex. She was clutching her own timer.
"Yo!" The female slider nodded at all of them.
"Ah, Janine. Welcome back." Karl turned to the sliders. "This is one of our sliding tour guides, Janine," he introduced them to his coworker. "She scouts out suitable worlds for us to collect the coordinates of, and she also takes interested tour groups of prospective new customers through the vortex so they can test out how they like sliding." Karl added with a smile, "for what it's worth, ‘Slidetronics' traditionally has a very high customer satisfaction rate."
"I just visited the most awesome world!" exclaimed Janine to Karl. "It has tons of circuses and carnivals and fantastic frybread - - I nicknamed it ‘Fun World'. I think we should put this one on our ‘family-friendly' list."
"Sounds great." Karl had a very pleased expression on his face.
"I'm going to scout out another world," said Janine, entering and recording a new set of coordinates into her timer. "I'm giving myself about 70 minutes on this Earth."
With that, Janine reopened her vortex and disappeared through it.
"Janine is one of our best salespeople," Karl raved, smiling again.
Diana stared at all the excited customers around them. "Don't these people realize the potential dangers of sliding?"
"Of course there's risk involved," Karl agreed. "But around here, sliding isn't just an activity anymore . . . it's a way of life. People love the thrill of visiting alternate dimensions. Once they slide, they're hooked!"
"It can be addictive," admitted Mallory, listening to all the shouts and squeals of joy coming from customers inside the store.
"Well . . . I suppose it wouldn't hurt to just look at some more stuff," Rembrandt complied.
"See, Diana, Remmy's on board with us!" claimed Maggie.
Sighing deeply, Diana gave in. "Okay Karl, show me some more of the equipment you sell."* * *
"I can't believe these people actually slide for their amusement!" Rembrandt moved from one display to another, taking in the sight of all the sliding equipment.
"Look at this gadget," Maggie said, picking up a strange T-shaped device. "It says this is called a ‘slidometer'. It's supposed to measure and rate the ‘safety' of the coordinates you punch in."
"I guess they have teams who go out and explore certain worlds beforehand," deduced Mallory. "Then they recommend the most interesting dimensions to their customers."
A little girl walked by the sliders, holding onto her mother's hand as she eyed all the timers on display.
"Mommy! I want a vortex!" cried the girl. "When can I have my own vortex?!"
"Ssssh. Not until you turn thirteen, dear," the mother replied, leading her daughter away.
"So I take it on this world kids receive timers to slide with from Santa Claus on Christmas morning," chuckled Rembrandt, hooting with laughter.
Diana and Karl returned from another section of the store. Karl had been showing Dr. Davis the more high-tech gizmos which "Slidetronics" had to offer.
"So what did you think?" Maggie asked her, eagerly.
"I'm very impressed," Diana admitted. "The engineers on this world have built timers that can store coordinates, control which coordinates you slide to, set the timer for whatever duration of time one desires, determine the wormhole's magnitude so the vortex holds a large number of people, and has an adjustable sliding radius to span whatever distance you program it for. People here can also reset their timers if they miss a slide, and slide early with no repercussions in case of an emergency."
Mallory's eyes glazed over. "You lost me at ‘store coordinates', Diana."
"Unfortunately," elaborated Diana, "this equipment is way too expensive for us. There's no way we can afford to pay for it."
"We have extremely flexible payment plans," Karl brought up.
"No thanks." Remmy turned to the group. "I don't feel comfortable with owing people unpaid debts. It's bad enough we've skipped out on our hotel bills so often."
"Come on, live a little, Remmy!" encouraged Maggie.
"Yeah, swipe some cash from your double's ATM account like you usually do," Mallory suggested.
"No," Rembrandt put his foot down. "My mama always told me if something seems or sounds too good to be true then it probably is."
"We haven't got much time to decide," Diana informed them. She showed them the timer's display panel on which the final seconds were counting down.
Maggie pouted. "Okay, fine. But we're saving these coordinates so we can come back here again. I'm gonna get you two to change your minds!"
The sliders' pink vortex popped open, and Maggie ran into it, disappearing into the interdimensional abyss.
"Way to rain on our parade!" Mallory immaturely stuck his tongue out at Rembrandt and Diana, and jumped into the vortex after Maggie.
Rembrandt shrugged as he looked at Diana. "I guess we can't please everyone all of the time?"
"It's for the best!" shouted Diana over the roar of the vortex. The two of them leaped in.
Only a few feet away from the sliders' open vortex, another vortex reappeared, this one a shade of deep green. Janine, the saleswoman whom the sliders had met earlier, harshly fell out of her green wormhole and hit the ground hard. She rolled over across the floor several times, accidentally dropping her timer . . . and unintentionally rolling straight into the sliders' pink vortex right before it closed up behind her.* * *
"Are you okay?" Diana helped Remmy to his feet, after he'd landed in a puddle of mud.
"Yeah, just a little muddy." Rembrandt trudged his way out of the sludgy liquid. Mallory and Maggie had landed on a softer patch of grass.
"Well, it looks like we're near a wooded area," observed Maggie, seeing the trees of a nearby forest. "We should probably look for signs of civilization."
All of a sudden, they noticed a fifth person still sitting on the ground in their vicinity.
"Hey, aren't you that lady from the ‘Slidetronics' store?" Rembrandt asked Janine.
"Maybe its her double?" surmised Mallory.
"I remember you too!" Janine stood on her feet, more than a bit miffed. "You were some of Karl's customers, weren't you? Well your vortex seems to have sucked me up like a vacuum!"
Diana stared at Janine apologetically. "Oh no. We're sorry . . ."
"What do you mean it ‘sucked you up'?!" interrupted Maggie.
"I was returning to my world from a previous slide," Janine explained, her eyes narrowed. "But I had a rough landing and I fell out of my wormhole and into YOURS!" She seemed to imply that her situation was their fault.
"Well then maybe you should have watched were you were going a little more carefully," Maggie countered.
Janine bristled at Maggie. "How was I supposed to know that your stupid vortex would digest me whole when I landed?!"
"Okay, okay." Rembrandt held up his hands. "Let's cool down here. This situation can be fixed."
"Good. Then bring me back to my world. Now!" demanded Janine, in an irritated huff.
"We can't quite yet," Diana told her. "We've still got four hours left before we can leave this world."
Janine tilted her head. "You can't slide at will?" she snorted.
"No, we slide at random," Mallory explained.
Janine snorted again. "That's stupid. Don't you people even know how to operate your equipment correctly?"
"For your information, I've been sliding for almost four years," Maggie declared.
"Over six for me," added Remmy.
Diana came over to Janine. "We have your world's coordinates stored in our timer's memory chip. I can program it to slide us back to your homeworld when our timer hits zero."
Janine stared at the group. "So you're not from my Earth?"
"Perhaps some introductions are in order?" Rembrandt suggested. "I'm Rembrandt Brown, and I've been doing this the longest. These are my friends."
"Maggie Beckett," Maggie nodded at Janine. "Formerly Captain Maggie Beckett of the U.S. Marines."
"Quinn Mallory," Mallory introduced himself.
"Dr. Diana Davis, physicist," Diana stated. "I specialize in quantum physics."
Janine looked at them expectantly. "Well you'd better specialize in getting me back to my own world!"
"And you are . . . ?" Maggie indicated for Janine to introduce herself.
"Janine Chen," the newcomer replied. "Professional slider."
"Really?" Diana sounded intrigued.
"Yeah, I scout out alternate worlds, I take ‘Slidetronics' customers on guided tours through the worlds I've visited, your basic interdimensional duties," she explained, non-chalantly. "So you people ARE going to get me home?"
"Listen!" piped up Mallory. "Do you hear that?"
From off in the distance they could detect a familiar noise rumbling closer and closer to them. In a split second, a massive manta ship appeared overhead.
"Kromaggs!" seethed Remmy.
"Kro-what?" Janine stared at Rembrandt blankly, looking at him as though he'd gone insane.
"No time to explain," stated Maggie. "We've got to get out of here, quickly!"
"Great! Let's go back to my world!" suggested Janine.
"Too late," squeaked Mallory, as a jeep pulled up to them with two armed Kromagg officers inside. The two soldiers pointed their weapons at the sliders. Diana tried to hide their timer behind her back.
"So, humans," grunted one of the officers, "I see you possess a quantum probability translocation device." He strode over to Diana and grabbed the timer away from her. "You do realize that the Dynasty forbids human possession of this technology, punishable by death?"
"Yeah, we kinda figured," mumbled Rembrandt, sarcastically.
Janine grimaced at the sight of the Kromaggs. "What are you?!" she exclaimed. "You look like some kind of mutant monkeys!"
"Janine!" hissed Maggie, glaring at their new arrival in a warning tone.
"Well, they do!" insisted Janine. "Who do these ugly beasts think they are, anyway?!"
The other Kromagg soldier marched over to Janine. "Do not insult us, human!" he warned her.
"Oh, I am so sorry, Kromagg!" Janine retorted snidely.
He reached out and pervertedly caressed Janine's face. "You will make a very . . . useful addition to one of our offworld breeding camps, human."
Janine made a disgusted face. "Like I'd actually have sex with you!" she sneered, swatting the Kromagg soldier's hand away.
"That is enough!" snapped the first Kromagg. "We shall bring them to the base for interrogation!" He gave the five sliders a sinister smile. "Welcome to Kromagg Outpost 227, humans . . . your temporary new home."* * *
Led at gunpoint down a cold, unfriendly corridor in the Kromagg military facility, Rembrandt, Maggie, Mallory, Diana, and Janine were directed by their captors into a prison cell, enclosed by an electromagnetic force field. One of the Kromagg officers activated the force field, encasing the quintet behind an energy barrier.
"So," Janine angrily eyed the four strangers whom she'd just become acquainted with, "how do you plan on getting me home now?!"
Maggie stepped toward the newcomer. "Don't blame us for this! We didn't choose to slide into a Kromagg-infested world!"
"Speaking of which," Janine squinched up her face, "who are those apes, anyway?"
"Kromaggs," explained Diana. "They're a race of genetically mutated humans who slide into other alternate universes and conquer any human beings they can find."
"What right do they have to do that?" demanded Janine, brushing a strand of her sleek black hair out of her face.
"They don't," Rembrandt said, bitterly. "But that doesn't stop them from invading the multiverse."
"I thought you're supposed to be an experienced slider?" Mallory challenged Janine. "Do you mean to tell us that out of all the years you've slid, you've never seen a world inhabited by Kromaggs?"
"Not a one," confirmed Janine. "If I had known about these creeps, I would have quit sliding a long time ago."
Diana gently put her hand on Janine's shoulder. "Well, our vortex brought you here, albeit by accident. We're going to get you home."
"How?!" Janine tilted her head, skeptically.
"We tend to find our way out of sticky situations," Maggie stated, defensively. "You're going to have to trust us."
"Yeah, well, you have to earn MY trust," mumbled Janine, slouching down on the floor with her back against the wall, pouting.
Maggie came over to Rembrandt. "I don't think I like this girl," she murmured to Remmy, through gritted teeth.
"Easy there, Maggie," whispered Rembrandt, calmly placing his fingertips on Maggie's shoulders. "Try to be nice to this one, okay? You remember all the ruckus it caused when you and Wade used to go at it."
"So how do we get her our timer back?" Mallory asked the group.
"You don't." A burly, mean-looking uniformed Kromagg general had marched into the room, flanked by a few of his subordinates. "I am General Kyaris, your superior during your stay on this base." General Kyaris fixated his gaze on Maggie and pointed at her. "She will be first!" he instructed to the other Kromagg guides.
One of the guards deactivated the force field, and the other two grabbed ahold of Maggie. The ex-Marine struggled against their grip.
"Where are you taking her?!" Rembrandt demanded from them.
General Kyaris cackled. "To be interrogated. Do not worry, Mr. Brown. You will be next!"
Rembrandt stood there in shock.
"Oh, didn't I mention?" Kyaris sported an evil gleam of superiority. "The Dynasty has put a bounty out on your head for the past two years, Mr. Brown. Ever since your . . . escape from the reeducation center on your homeworld." He stepped closer to them and cast his gaze on Janine. General Kyaris reached out and touched Janine's cheek. "You will make a delicious specimen, I can tell. I cannot wait until I have the chance to taste your lovely eyes."
Suddenly, Janine reached out and fiercely scratched Kyaris against his face. As the general shouted out in pain, a bloody gash surfaced on his cheek. He reactivated the energy barrier, and then stormed away with his guards dragging along Maggie, cursing in his native Kromagg tongue as they exited the room.* * *
"It's been hours!" groaned Diana. "When are they going to bring Maggie back?! We may even have missed the slide."
"The ‘Maggs probably dissected our timer already," Mallory grumbled.
Janine stared up at the ceiling. "What did that pervert mean when he said he couldn't wait to ‘taste my eyes'?"
Mallory frowned. "The Kromaggs feed on human eyeballs."
"Eww!!!" Janine shuddered, grimacing as she shook her body. "You've got to be kidding!"
"He isn't," lamented Diana. "They consider human eyeballs a delicacy. The Kromaggs also use human women to breed with, because the females of their own species die immediately after giving birth to their infants."
"How do you know so much about them?" Janine asked.
"We've run into them before," answered Mallory, taking a deep breath.
Rembrandt was just staring in silence at the walls from beyond the barrier of the force field. He hadn't uttered a word in a long time.
"Remmy . . . ?" ventured Diana.
"I don't even wanna think about how they're torturing Maggie right now!" Rembrandt scowled. "The Kromaggots are no doubt messing up her mind!"
"The general only said he'd be interrogating Maggie," Diana reminded Rembrandt. "He seemed to imply that they'd be bringing her back."
"Yeah, and that the rest of us will each have the ‘pleasure' of being interrogated too." Mallory kicked the floor, uselessly.
"Well, I'm not gonna just do nothing." Rembrandt removed a Swiss army knife from the back pocket of his cargo pants.
"What are you going to do, carve a hole in the invisible wall?" Janine sarcastically quipped, referring to the energy barrier.
"Not exactly." Rembrandt sliced a gash in his arm, allowing the blood to ooze out from beneath his skin. "But when you scratched Kyaris, that got me to thinking . . ."
Diana hurried over to his side. "Why did you do that?" she gasped.
"Well, apparently I'm carrying the anti-Kromagg virus in my bloodstream," Rembrandt reminded them. "Now's as good of a time as any to see if it works."
Mallory grinned, catching on. "I get it. Since the virus is airborne, it will kill the Kromaggs instantly when they return with Maggie."
"Dr. Alvarez said the virus had integrated itself with your blood," Diana pointed out to Remmy. "So it may have lost its potency. On the other hand, it may have permanently bonded with your bloodstream, and it could be kept alive by the cells in your body through molecular cohesion."
"Huh?" Janine had no idea what they were talking about.
"A couple of worlds back, Remmy injected himself with an anti-Kromagg virus," Mallory explained. "If the virus is part of his bloodstream, then . . ."
". . . I'm a walking, talking, living, breathing typhoid!" Rembrandt smiled.
"Hey, if it kills the Kromaggs I'm all for it," grumbled Janine, laying her head back.
Suddenly, the Kromaggs burst back into the room with Maggie. General Kyaris walked up to the energy barrier. "Ms. Beckett was of limited cooperation. Perhaps you will have the wisdom to comply with us, Mr. Brown?" He deactivated the energy barrier to put Maggie back in it and to take Rembrandt out.
However, the moment Kyaris deactivated the force field, he began gagging and gasping for breath, as did all of the other Kromaggs in the room. Several seconds later, they had all collapsed on the ground.
"Ding, dong, the ‘Maggs are dead!" whistled Rembrandt, as they all stepped out of their entrapment.
"What happened?" Maggie asked. Then she remembered. "The virus?"
Rembrandt nodded as he held up his bloody arm. "In my bloodstream. Airborne and lethal!"
"So what does this mean?" Janine solicited, folding her arms.
"It means," provided Diana, "that thanks to Remmy, this entire world will be infected within a matter of days."
"And Kromagg-free!" added Mallory.
"Are you all right?" Rembrandt rushed up to Maggie. "What did they do to you?"
"Nothing much. Just the usual threats and mind torture," Maggie shrugged.
"Did you see the timer?" Diana asked.
"Yeah, one of the ‘Maggs had it in the interrogation room."
"Great, let's go get it," Mallory said.
"Finally, I can get out of this hellhole!" exclaimed Janine.
As they walked down the hallway, numerous Kromagg officers laid dead on the ground. Maggie kneeled down and took the pulse on the neck of one of them. "They're dead," she confirmed.
"How can you even stand touching one of them?!" Janine grimaced, carefully stepping over another Kromagg corpse.
"I used to be a Marine. I touched a lot worse things in the mess hall on our base," joked Maggie.
They entered the interrogation room to find many more dead Kromagg bodies. One of the deceased Kromaggs held the timer clutched in his hand.
Diana removed their timer from the corpse's grip. "We're just in time. We only have two minutes left on this world."
"Great!" Janine clapped her hands in the air. "Take me home!"
"Uh, guys," Diana said, examining the timer. "We have a problem. For whatever reason, the Kromaggs must have erased all the stored coordinates from our memory chip."
"What?!" screeched Janine. "But you still can get me home, right?"
"Well, I can attempt to track the photon trail of our last wormhole," Diana told Janine. "That might bring us back to your homeworld, but there are no guarantees."
"Then do it," insisted Janine. "I've got no other way to get home. I accidentally dropped my own timer before I fell into your vortex."
"Why would the Kromaggs erase all of our coordinates?" Maggie squinted.
"There's no telling. I don't even wanna imagine getting inside the mind of a ‘Magg," scowled Rembrandt.
"It's time," Diana informed them. She activated the wormhole, having programmed the tracking device to focus on a pathway based on emitted photons from their previous slide.
One by one, Diana, Janine, Mallory, Maggie, and Rembrandt jumped into the interdimensional gateway and disappeared.* * *
As the portal reopened, the sliders landed abruptly on a patch of frozen ice.
"It's cold," shivered Mallory, hugging himself in order to create warmth amid the frigid weather.
"Mallory, the human thermometer," Maggie commented dryly.
All around them were mountains of ice overlooking the edge of an ocean. Icebergs floated by in the water, and a flock of penguins ran past the group of humans.
"We've got five and a half hours," Diana reported, reading from the timer.
"Well girl, I think it's safe to say this isn't your homeworld," Rembrandt apologetically pointed out to Janine.
"Oh great!" Janine stomped her foot. "We've landed in the middle of Antarctica!"
"No, we're still in California," Diana said. "Our timer has a 400-mile radius that always keeps us between Los Angeles and San Francisco."
Mallory stuck his finger into the water at the edge of the icy ground. "Yikes! This ocean is freezing!!"
"I've seen a world like this before," Remmy recalled, thinking back to his first slide with Quinn, Wade, and the Professor, "where the polar ice caps froze over. Something similar probably occurred on this world."
"So how do I get home now?" demanded Janine, glaring at all of them.
None of them had an answer for her.
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