|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.* * *
"Surf's up, dudes!"
An alternate version of Conrad Bennish Jr., a slacker college student who had been Quinn Mallory's classmate on Earth Prime, emerged from the ocean carrying a large surfboard under his arm. Alternate Bennish wore wildly colorful, jazzy-patterned trunks, and a silver necklace hung around his neck. The surfer dude stepped onto the humid beach, his bare chest glistening from the refreshing ocean water, and his shoulder-length, stringy brown hair matted down against his head.
Maggie gazed at Alternate Bennish, savoring the sight of his smooth, well-toned body. "What I wouldn't give to spend the night with him."
Rembrandt laughed. "Do you even know who that is?"
"No, all I know is he looks damn good half-naked." Maggie was now admiring Alternate Bennish's behind.
"That's Conrad Bennish," Rembrandt informed her. "Or more accurately, one of his doubles. He was a modern-day hippie who Q-Ball went to school with."
"Well you can have him, Maggie," smiled Diana at her friend. "He's not quite my type."
"He's not my type either," grinned Mallory. He stared longingly at a voluptuous, buxom woman who walked by wearing a skimpy jungle-patterned string bikini.
"Mine neither," Janine agreed with Mallory. She was also staring at the scantily clad woman, a satisfied twinkle in Janine's eyes. "She's got a niiiice chest!"
Maggie noticed this. The ex-Marine cocked her head. "Janine, aren't you kind of gazing at the wrong gender?"
Janine made eye contact with a baffled Maggie Beckett, and then burst out laughing. "What's the matter, Maggie? You've never slid with a lesbian before?"
Maggie's mouth dropped wide open, and Mallory did a double take. Diana bit her lip to contain her laughter; she was amused by Maggie's flabbergasted reaction.
Rembrandt had removed the timer from his pocket. "We've got just under a minute left," he told them, trying to change the subject before another spat occurred between Maggie and Janine.
The beach was filling up with more surfers and beachgoers seeking a good suntan. Maggie stared at Janine critically.
"So . . . you like other women?"
"Hey, what can I say? Venus is my favorite planet," Janine winked.
"But . . . that's just wrong!"
"Uh, Maggie . . ." Diana started.
"Who are you to tell me what's right or wrong?" Janine challenged Maggie. "I'm the only one living inside my own body!"
"All I know is what I learned growing up," frowned Maggie. "There are certain rules you live by. That's just the way it is."
"Oh, give me a break!" Janine rolled her eyes. "I don't give a damn who you get it on with, so why should you care who I'm attracted to?"
At that moment, Rembrandt activated the vortex. Janine sprinted forward and jumped into the pink, gyrating swirl of quantum energy.
Maggie pushed Mallory toward the portal. "You go ahead of me," she commanded. "I don't want her to try to make a move on me as I come flying out of the wormhole."
Mallory leaped in, followed by Diana. Rembrandt came over and stood next to Maggie. "I wouldn't make a big deal out of this if I were you," he cautioned her. "Only Janine knows herself well enough to make that determination. She is who she is."
"Yeah . . . whatever," Maggie grumbled, proceeding toward the vortex. Rembrandt sighed and crossed over the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky bridge with Maggie.* * *
Janine, Mallory, Diana, Rembrandt, and Maggie all tumbled out of the vortex and onto a grassy green knoll. Rembrandt opened his eyes and recognized their familiar surroundings. They were in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
"At least its nice to see a familiar place," Rembrandt commented, brushing blades of grass off his pants.
Mallory was staring upward. He'd landed at the base of a stately marble statue. "Uh, Remmy . . ."
"Oh boy, this is not good," remarked Janine, following Mallory's gaze to the statue's face.
There stood the sculpted, domineering posture of Adolph Hitler.
"Chancellor Adolph Hitler," read Diana from the embossed platform of the base of Hitler's memorial statue. "Born 1889, died . . . 1974?"
"What the devil?! . . ." Rembrandt gasped. "He's supposed to be dead! I nearly flunked history in high school, but I do remember there was no Hitler alive on Earth Prime!"
Maggie silently tapped Remmy on the shoulder and pointed at a nearby flagpole. At the very top of the pole was a flag waving in the breeze - - a flag bearing the bold symbol of a large swastika.
With dread, Mallory took the timer from Rembrandt. "Three days here?!" he exclaimed, reading the timer's digits. He quickly jammed the timer inside the pocket of his lather jacket. "HOW are we going to survive here for three days?!"
"Can't we just hide somewhere?" Janine asked them.
Diana nodded her head. "Janine, I must admit, in this situation THAT sounds like a good idea!"
"Don't look now," Maggie observed ominously, "but here comes trouble."
A humvee driven by a couple of Nazi soldiers was headed straight toward the sliders.
"Okay, just keep it cool," Remmy advised his friends. "Don't act like anything's up."
The officers had gotten out of their vehicle and approached the sliders, armed with semiautomatic machine guns. One of them harshly blurted out what sounded like an inquiry in German.
Taking the other four sliders by surprise, Janine suddenly answered the officer in German. He said something else to her as a reply.
"Janine, you speak German?" asked an astounded Mallory.
"What are they saying?" Diana probed.
"They want us to show them our identification," Janine translated for the group. "I told him that we don't have any."
"Ah, so you folks are speakers of English?" the second officer spoke up in his thick accent. "Why do you have no identification?"
"We . . . left it at home," Maggie lied, awkwardly.
"You are aware it is illegal to be in public without your identification," the first officer said.
"No . . . we didn't know that," replied Diana.
"Every citizen knows that. I will have to assume your reason for failing to carry identification masks underlying intentions of treason or espionage." Both officers raised their machine guns. "You will come with us."* * *
Over the course of the afternoon and evening, the quintet of sliders was transported from San Francisco to Berkeley and further south from there. All along the way they saw Nazi soldiers on guard everywhere. Nazi flags towered above the cities they passed through. By dawn, they had reached Bakersfield.
"This is Bakersfield Reorganization Camp," an English-speaking Nazi officer informed them. "Your new home."
Soon they arrived at a barracks where the soldiers led them to a processing room.
"I don't get it. What are we being arrested for? What did we do?!" Rembrandt demanded.
"Silence!" A burly male Nazi commander gave Rembrandt a swift slap across the face. Remmy cringed. "You are suspected of attempting to infiltrate or betray the Nazi empire. You will be detained until further notice. Take them to their bunker!"
A husky female guard with an angry scowl plastered across her face pointed her semiautomatic weapon at the sliders. "I will escort you to your new quarters. Since you were all apprehended together, you will all be sharing the same living space."
The guard, accompanied by some more of her peers, guided Maggie, Remmy, Janine, Diana, and Mallory through the camp at gunpoint. They passed by several lowly wooden bunkers in decrepit condition. Dusty desert sand covered the ground beneath them. The golden morning sun blazed in their faces and caused the prisoners to sweat in the day's immense humidity.
"These will be your quarters." The female head guard directed them into an empty barracks with only a gas stove and four beds inside the open room. The outside of the barracks was made of rotting wood. A rancid stench filled the air around them.
"What, no mints on our pillows?" Janine sneered sarcastically.
The guard ignored her. "To bathe, you will use the communal facilities and outhouses located on the east end of this camp. On the west end is a dining hall. Breakfast is served at 7am every morning. Dinner is at 5pm every evening. If you miss a meal, you will not eat. Do not try to escape this reorganization camp. It is surrounded by an electric fence. If you are not lethally electrocuted by the current of the fence, you will be shot and killed by camp guards on duty. Make the best of this; it is your new home and your new life - - however long you may last."
They left the sliders sitting inside the barracks, to fend for themselves.
"I guess it's safe to assume that Nazi Germany won World War II on this Earth," Diana surmised.
"Yeah, on our world we dropped the atomic bomb on Berlin," Mallory recalled the history of his and Diana's homeworld. "We defeated those bastards before Truman took office. Hitler was killed in the blast."
"We had to bomb our own soil," sighed Maggie, remembering the Battle of California on her own homeworld, "in order to drive the Japanese off the west coast. We destroyed Los Angeles, San Diego, and millions of American lives. Germany surrendered along with Japan, and Hitler and Hirohito were both taken prisoner and publicly executed."
"On my Earth, World War II dragged on into the 1950s," recounted Janine for her new friends. "Erwin Schrodinger had immigrated to America and was working in collaboration with the Allied nations. He finally perfected sliding to a point where Allied troops could launch strategic surprise attacks on Axis nations through the wormholes. That basically won us the war, and Hitler was exiled offworld to another parallel dimension."
"Wow!" Remmy was captivated by hearing all their accounts from the histories of worlds other than his own. "On Earth Prime, we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. Germany and Japan surrendered, and we helped them to rebuild."
"This makes you look at history in a whole different light," Diana asserted, intrigued by the conversation.
"Well," said Mallory, "we only have to lay low here for the next two days, and then we can slide out."
"Assuming they don't have any little ‘surprises' in store for us," grumbled Maggie, folding her arms.
Rembrandt glanced toward the doorway. "Still, we gotta eat. We might as well check out their mess hall, get us some vittles."
"I hope they at least serve something edible," sighed Diana, as they stood us to exit their barracks.
"Yeah, well don't hold your breath," Janine mumbled skeptically.
They headed off to search for the dining hall.* * *
"I don't even want to KNOW what they put in this Mystery Meat!" exclaimed Mallory, setting his tray down on the cafeteria table.
"Flatfoot," grinned Maggie, sitting down next to Diana. "We used to gobble down earthworms for wilderness survival training in the Marines."
"That must have been yummy," Janine remarked dryly, taking a bite of her tossed salad. "This lettuce tastes like plastic."
"How would you know what plastic tastes like?" Maggie asked, biting into a slide of buttered bread. "And I'm sorry, but I really don't get this thing about you liking women!"
"Maggie, would you give it a rest?!" Rembrandt lectured her.
"No, I'm serious. In the military on my homeworld you would have been dishonorably discharged," Maggie told Janine.
"Good thing I'm not in the military on your homeworld," snorted Janine, apathetically. She chomped down on a forkful of cottage cheese. "This tastes like plastic too."
"So how do you think things got so bad here?" Diana asked her friends, lowering her voice. She'd decided to change the subject. "Obviously, the Nazis broke through Allied lines in Europe, but what divergence was there compared to the histories of all our homeworlds?"
"It all started with the bombing of London," croaked an old woman seated next to Diana who'd overheard their conversation. "Everything went downhill from there. Don't you young folks keep up with your history?"
"We're . . . not very studious," Rembrandt fibbed. "We're kind of like nomads, so every place we travel to has a different background." He knew that "We're from Canada" probably wouldn't work on this world, since Canada was most likely also Nazi-occupied.
"You're stuck here now," the woman informed them, matter-of-factly. Her hair was silvery gray and shorn in a simple, short cut. "My name's Gert, by the way. I was just a little girl when the Nazis invaded. Too bad you young folks never knew what it was like to be free." She had a faraway look in her eyes.
"So tell us what happened with the bombing of London," Diana encouraged Gert.
Gert sighed. "Way back in 1940, the Nazis bombed London and blew it to smithereens. Completely wiped out the rest of the British Isles. Genocide at its worst." She gulped down another forkful of Mystery Meat - - which she seemed to have grown almost immune to - - then continued. "German citizens settled on the British Isles, since their army had taken over. No one was really left, except for a small minority of British and Irish women and children . . . who were shipped off to concentration camps, of course."
"And the Nazis gained control of the massive British navy and its naval resources?" concluded Maggie.
Gert nodded solemnly. "Damn Nazis poured into the eastern seaboard. Wiped out Boston, New York, and every other port city in the east. Thousands of Americans died fighting them on our streets." Her eyes contained a gaze of emptiness. "Meanwhile, the Japanese invaded from the west. Took out Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and moved across the desert. People tried to defend themselves . . . our military tried to defend us and our own soil . . . but there were too damn many of them flooding in. They'd overtaken Canada and Mexico, and bombarded us from the north and south. Washington D.C. had already collapsed, so our central government had crumbled." She stopped her narration to take a deep breath.
Rembrandt reached across the table and held Gert's hand. "Take your time," he softly encouraged her.
A tear slid down Gert's cheek. "Those of us who did survive the slaughter were placed in reorganization camps like these. They bring people here who are suspected of being spies or committing treason against Nazi Germany . . . or anyone else who the Third Reich can't keep tabs on. I was brought here because the rest of my family was killed in the war . . . they stormed our home in Topeka, killed my mother and sisters . . . took me prisoner. I've been at this camp for the past sixty years. The people here are all the family I have left."
Diana put her arm around Gert caringly, and stroked the old woman's hair. "If the Japanese conquered California, then why are there Nazis in control?"
Gert sniffed, brushing away her tears. "The Germans and the Japanese fought each other for control of North America. The Nazi monsters won . . . drove out the Japs straight into the Pacific Ocean! Japan still owns most of Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. But Nazis rule everywhere else . . . Central America, South America, Africa . . . and in Europe, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, and even the Soviets fell into German hands once America had fallen."
"Earlier, we saw a statue," Janine recalled, "marking Adolph Hitler's death in 1974. So according to my math, he lived to be 85?" Gert nodded, her face bearing a repulsed reaction at the mention of Hitler's name. "So now that he's dead, who rules the Nazi empire?"
"Hitler's son, Alois," said Gert, through gritted teeth. "Adolph named him after his father and his half-brother. Alois took over as chancellor when his daddy croaked from throat cancer. All them blasted cigars!" She seethed, her voice heavy with contempt. "But the new Hitler is even more ruthless than his father." Gert's tears had returned, now streaming down her wrinkled face. "I'm sorry . . . it's just . . . when I think of all the American children he's still butchering . . ."
Her sobs became so heavy she could no longer talk. Diana hugged Gert, trying to comfort her. But Gert broke away from Diana and ran out of the cafeteria.
"The memories must be too much for her to bear after all this time," Mallory presumed.
"I just hope we can get out of here without being butchered ourselves," spoke Maggie.* * *
The desert night had been extremely cold, with only one small stove to keep the five of them warm in their barracks. Finally, morning arrived and the sun beamed down its scorching rays upon the camp.
After a disgusting, greasy breakfast in the mess hall, the group immediately returned to their barracks. As the morning and early-afternoon slipped by, the sliders remained inside their barracks. It was nice and cool in there, shading them from the muggy, permeating environment outside.
Around noon, people could be heard shouting throughout the camp. A young blond girl who couldn't be older than 16 years of age poked her head into their doorway.
"She's here! Mrs. Hitler is touring the camp!" the girl shouted to them. She moved on to inform the next barracks.
"Mrs Hitler?" Mallory said in confusion.
Curiosity got the better of Maggie. "Let's check it out. It's obviously not someone who frightens the people here."
The five sliders followed the stream of camp prisoners to an empty courtyard in the middle of the reorganization camp. Escorted by Nazi guards, a plump, white-haired old woman with a bubbly, enthusiastic expression on her face, made her way toward the crowd. She blew kisses to her audience and waved, soaking up the attention.
"Who's she?" Remmy asked a nearby fellow spectator.
"You don't know who she is?!" exclaimed the man. "That's Eva Braun Hitler, widow of the late Chancellor Adolph Hitler. She's touring some of the camps this week."
"Why would she make a personal appearance here?" Diana asked.
"Mrs. Hitler is celebrating her 88th birthday this week, and she enjoys interacting with people of the Nazi empire, even us prisoners-of-war," the man explained. "Despite the man she married, Mrs. Hitler believes in universal tolerance of others' differences and opinions. She disagrees with the way her son, the new chancellor, runs his inherited empire."
Eva Braun Hitler patted the head of a little girl standing before her, and gave the girl a peck on the cheek.
"I'm sure Mrs. Hitler would free us from the camps, if she had the power to," inferred the spectator. "Unfortunately, Chancellor Alois Hitler does things HIS way. Period. His mother is merely a figurehead."
All of a sudden, a blast of gunfire roared before the crowd. Several of the apparent Nazi soldiers had turned on their colleagues, firing deadly gunfire at the other Nazi soldiers. Men and women adorned in camouflage suits seemingly appeared out of nowhere, visibly armed with weaponry. Mrs. Hitler squealed loudly in fear and began shrieking. She dropped to her knees and desperately covered her head with her hands.
"What's going on?!" shouted Janine over all the commotion.
Dozens of additional camouflaged invaders piled into the courtyard, shooting certain soldiers while other soldiers helped them corral the prisoners. Each of the sliders was firmly grabbed by the camouflaged raiders, and Eva Hitler was being carried away by a squad of both uniformed Nazi guards and camouflaged invaders.
"This is a liberation raid!" One of the female invaders spoke to the camp prisoners through a bullhorn. "Do not be afraid! We're busting you all out of here! Just come with us, and you'll no longer be imprisoned!" Her yells echoed as they spewed out of the bullhorn, loudly resonating above all the noise.
Many prisoners cheered aloud, while others willingly allowed the camouflaged raiders to guide them away. Still others ran, following the outgoing flow to the exterior of the camp, where at least two dozen vans were waiting for them. Mrs. Hitler was being carried toward the vans as well, screaming as she was pulled along against her will. There were even some specific Nazi guards piling into the vans, assisting the escapees.
"Where are they taking us?" wondered Mallory.
"Who cares?!" exclaimed Janine, as she and the other sliders climbed into one of the cramped, crowded vans. "We're getting outta HERE!"
The caravan of liberation vans headed away from Bakersfield Reorganization Camp.* * *
By the early evening, the liberation raiders had transported all the Bakersfield refugees underground, to a secret hideaway where the American resistance centered one of its headquarters. Of course, the Bakersfield refugees were not immediately aware of this, as they were confined inside the dark vans compressed with bodies.
"Must be an underground hideout," concluded Diana, as they began filtering out of the van.
"Welcome to the American resistance movement," a hefty Latino man spoke to the refugees through his bullhorn. "You have all been recruited to join our team. Together, we WILL defeat the Nazi menace!"
Cheers arose from the crowd of refugees.
"If any of you attempt to return above ground without prior consent," he continued, "you will be immediately executed. We cannot run the security risk of our operation being exposed to the Nazi government."
Rembrandt noticed some of the freedom fighters removing their Nazi uniforms. "I guess some of the camp officers were double agents incognito," he hypothesized.
"Well, we're obviously safe here," Maggie said. "All we have to do is wait until the next sliding window opens tomorrow."
A few feet away from them, Eva Hitler struggled against the grip of the man who held onto her. She screeched at them in German. They were attempting to calm her down, speaking soothingly back to her in Eva's native tongue. When Eva screamed and resisted the soldiers' authority, they held a more firm manual lock on her.
"Hey, take it easy on her!" Mallory intervened, running over and trying to get the freedom fighters to soften their grasp on Mrs. Hitler.
"Back off!" one of them growled at Mallory in English. He gave Mallory a gruff shove, causing Mallory to backpedal and crash right into the paper thin wall behind him. A hidden compartment suddenly slid aside in the wall, opening up to reveal an entranceway.
"What the?! . . ."
"Move it! Move it!" called a woman, who briskly made her way through the thick crowd. She had long locks of red hair and wore a decorative military uniform. "I'm Captain Melinda Sawyer, head of this California branch of the American resistance. What the hell's going on here?!" She glared at her two subordinates who were holding Mrs. Hitler; and then shifted her gaze to the sliders. "Okay, you now know who I am. Who are you?!"
"Your punks hassled our friend," Maggie spat out, indignantly stepping up to Captain Sawyer.
"My ‘punks' just broke you out of a Nazi reorganization camp!" Sawyer folded her arms. "I'd think you'd be grateful."
"I just wanted them to be less rough with Mrs. Hitler," insisted Mallory.
Diana gestured to the entranceway that Mallory straddled. "Where does that lead to?"
Captain Sawyer blinked. "I really don't know. This underground compound used to be the basement of a certain university - - although I can't tell you WHICH university. We've suspected there are secret rooms around here which we haven't yet uncovered."
Dozens of other awestruck refugees stared at the mysterious entrance to the secret compartment.
Mallory reached into the darkness of the room and felt against the wall next to the doorway. Within a matter of moments, he'd found a light-switch and flicked it on.
"Wow!" gaped Mallory, peering into the room. It contained shelves upon shelves of books and documents. There was a cluster of computers in the center of the room.
Rembrandt, Maggie, Diana, and Janine followed Mallory inside, with Sawyer and her soldiers at their heels.
Janine picked up and unfolded a paper scroll from one of the tables. "Hey, this is a copy of the Declaration of Independence."
Maggie unfolded another document. "And this one is a replica of the Bill of Rights."
Diana made a beeline for the computers, excitedly. "This must be a lost archive that was stored before the war. If this place was once part of a university, some of the college librarians or history professors may have stashed this stuff here."
Captain Sawyer stared around the room. "I have no idea. The Nazi bastards burned all the documents of our recorded American history when they ransacked our homes, schools, and libraries . . . or so I've been told by my elders." Sawyer joined Diana over by the computers. "Then they took control of our schools and began teaching THEIR OWN version of history."
"Can you access electricity to power up these babies?" Diana asked the resistance leader with an eager glint in her eyes. "I'm a techie."
"I suppose so. We feed off of the electricity and power above ground to keep our operation running," responded the captain. She frowned, confused. "And what's a ‘techie'?"
"Never mind." Diana bit her lip to keep from giggling.
Sawyer addressed one of her sub-officers. "Tell Marta to fire up the power," she instructed. "I want to see if - - what's your name? . . ."
"Diana. Dr. Diana Davis."
". . . to see if Dr. Davis here can help us out."
"Whoa! Check this out!" Rembrandt had dusted off a picture frame sitting on a desk, revealing a framed photo of . . . Professor Maximilian Arturo. "The professor must have taught at this university."
Maggie and Mallory gathered around Remmy, reading Arturo's name off the bronze nameplate of the framed picture.
"But how can that be? The professor would have had to have been born sixty years earlier on this world," Maggie pointed out.
"Our doubles aren't always the same age as us on every Earth," Rembrandt explained. "On one world, Q-Ball met an alternate version of himself who was ten years younger!"
"Yeah, I think he told me about that," Maggie recalled, mentally browsing her memory.
"What do ya know!" grinned Mallory. "The professor may have saved this world!"
Meanwhile, Janine had joined Diana at one of the computer monitors.
"These look pretty similar to the computers back on my homeworld," Janine observed.
"Different dimensions advance their technology at different rates," replied Diana.
"Well I know THAT. I'm not dumb," Janine huffed.
Diana found some floppy disks in a plastic diskette box. "I may be able to download any pertinent information that the people who built this archive left on these disks," she offered to Captain Sawyer.
Sawyer nodded. "We don't have any computer gurus in our movement . . . the Nazis confiscated all citizens' computers too."
Diana got right to work.* * *
The next morning, the sliders were preparing to leave. They'd been given a decent breakfast, along with all the other reorganization camp refugees, by the freedom fighters. In return, Diana had spent the whole night giving some of the liberation officers a crash course in the basics of how to operate a computer database.
"We owe you all a great debt of gratitude," Captain Sawyer admitted to them. She turned to Mallory. "If you hadn't ‘stumbled' upon this hidden archive, we may never have acquired these valuable documents."
Mallory shrugged and blushed.
"We'll be sending much of this information above ground with our agents, to distribute it to other resistance movements across the country," Sawyer added. "Who knows? We could still save this planet yet!"
"We're glad we could help you out," said Rembrandt, "but unfortunately, we have to slide out of here." He winked at the others.
Captain Sawyer shook her head firmly. "I'm thankful for your help, but I can't just authorize you to come and go as you please."
"Sorry, but it isn't up to you," Janine informed her.
Maggie had the timer cradled in her hands. She'd been keeping track of the continuous countdown. "Eleven seconds."
"Eleven seconds until what?!" Sawyer's eyes darted to their timer in Maggie's palms. "What is that?"
Stretching out her arm, Maggie clicked open the radiant pink vortex. One by one, the five sliders dove into the wormhole, disappearing through the glimmer of its textured abyss.
Sawyer, her subordinates, and many of the refugees stared in shock, wide-mouthed at the open portal which soon had vanished into thin air.* * *
Diana, Mallory, Janine, Rembrandt, and Maggie landed in a heap on a quaint, cobblestone tiled lane. Around them were simplistic buildings in what appeared to be a homey village.
"Janine, please don't grope me as I'm flying out of the wormhole," Maggie reprimanded her peer, inching away from Janine whom she'd collided against upon landing.
"Hey, it's your fat ass that landed on top of me!" Janine shot back, standing on her two feet.
"Why are you looking at my ass?" demanded Maggie, tingling a bit uncomfortably. "And I'm NOT fat!"
"I didn't say YOU were fat, just your ass."
"Am I going to have to put a muzzle over both your mouths?" Rembrandt lectured Maggie and Janine impatiently. "Because I'm getting sick of playing referee between you two!"
"Let's just be glad we're off Nazi World," Mallory reminded them, reasonably.
"Oh my!" Diana suddenly piped up. She was staring at the villagers who were walking through the town.
All of the denizens of that community, both men and women alike, were each wearing a plain, bland unisex uniform. Every person's uniform had a specific identification number printed on the upper right-hand chest area.
They looked down the street and saw a cathedral-like building several meters away with a high bell tower at its peak. The large brass bell began ringing merrily, clanging back and forth repeatedly as it summoned the town's residents. Townsfolk were all plodding in an almost robotic manner toward the building at the end of the street, pouring through its entrance doors.
Rembrandt stopped one of the passers-by. "What does that bell mean?" he asked the resident.
The passer-by stared Rembrandt straight in the face and answered him matter-of-factly, "Breakfast."
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