Remember the summer of 1997? After what everyone agreed was a disappointing third season, Sliders was cancelled. John Rhys-Davies had left the show several months earlier, and we were told that he left willingly to pursue other projects. Not too long after the cancellation, Sliders was picked up for a fourth season by the Sci-Fi Channel... but we lost Sabrina Lloyd, who had supposedly become unavailable in the time after it was cancelled and before it was picked up.
What if all these rumors were true? What if FOX had renewed the show after all, and were able to retain the same cast of Jerry O'Connell, Sabrina Lloyd, Cleavant Derricks and Kari Wuhrer? What if John Rhys-Davies really did leave willingly, and although he would not return in a reoccurring role he was willing to guest star? What if FOX made an attempt to return the show to its roots of plausible parallel universes with alternate histories?
We have found that world. Welcome to Earth 5732!
by Tyler Russ
After realizing they were not on Earth Prime, Quinn and Maggie decided to walk around the technologically advanced world that they randomly slid into and survey their surroundings. It appeared as if they were in San Francisco, but a version of San Francisco that you might see in a science fiction movie. The Golden Gate Bridge was there - but it resembled the futuristic Golden Gate Bridge that Quinn had seen in the world where he encountered Logan St. Clair, with an added Greek column motif. There were extremely tall buildings all around them with elevators just whizzing by, also apparently supported by Greek columns. Other buildings resembled Greek temples, but built with modern architecture. It was as if they had landed in a futuristic version of ancient Greece.
As they walked by, flying cars were zooming all over the place. Quinn wondered if this world had discovered the secret of anti-gravity. Most of the people were dressed fairly normally, which surprised Quinn a little. Given what this city looked like, he half expected them to be wearing shiny metallic jumpsuits.
"So you really think that this is the future?" Maggie asked Quinn, in awe of their surroundings. "I thought you told me that time travel is impossible while sliding."
"No, not really," Quinn replied. "That was just the first thing that came to my mind upon seeing this world, and you're right. Many worlds advance technologically faster than others. This is probably just one of those worlds. Now, the real question is what happened to Wade and Remmy."
Maggie had almost forgotten about that problem after landing in their new surroundings. After thinking about it she had to feel a twinge of guilt, because this would have never happened had he not stuck behind to save her. "Don't worry Quinn, I'm sure they got home safely. I think the real question is what will happen to us."
Quinn pulls out the Egyptian timer and looks at it. "Well, Wade and Remmy are either home or sliding with Rickman's timer. We've apparently lost both my home co-ordinates and the ability to track wormholes. I guess we have no choice but to keep sliding." Then he takes a moment to think about Maggie's situation. "Well, I have no choice. I keep forgetting that you're from a different world. I'm pretty sure I can fix this to get you back to the world that your people colonized, and you can stay there."
"Don't be silly, I'll keep sliding with you," Maggie said, trying to make up for being responsible for stranding him here. "I mean, you'd probably go insane doing this alone."
"Listen to me," Quinn said back to her. "For the past three years I've been responsible for three people being stranded away from their home, and I've already lost one of them... maybe all three. The last thing I want is to be responsible for one more."
"No, you listen to me, Quinn," Maggie shot back. "I know you feel responsible for the professor's death, but it wasn't your fault. And as for me, if it weren't for you missing the slide to help me fight Rickman, you'd probably be home by now. So in many ways, I'm now responsible for you. And you might now have to keep sliding randomly. If you can fix the wormhole tracker in the timer you can find your homeworld, and if any world has the technology to let you do that I think it's this one."
As they were talking, two people appeared running after them. Maggie recognized one of them as her late husband Steven Jensen, who on this world was clearly not confined to a wheelchair. Quinn soon realized the other one was Logan St. Clair. They approached the two sliders and stopped.
"Hello," Logan said to them. "We've been following you."
"Logan!" Quinn said upon seeing her, shocked.
"Steven..." Maggie said, just as shocked.
What if you could slide into a thousand different worlds?
Where it's the same year...
And you're the same person...
But everything else is different?
And what if you can't find your way home?
"You know us?" Logan asked after Quinn practically shouted her name.
"Well, in a way," Quinn replied. We've seen different versions of you on alternate worlds. Lemme guess, your name is Logan St. Clair, and you can track wormholes, which is how you found us?
"It's Logan Mallory, actually. But you're right about the rest."
"And who is this lovely lady?" Steven asked gesturing at Maggie.
"Maggie Beckett. And you're Steven Jensen. I'm guessing you're a scientist helping to develop sliding technology."
"Right also," Steven said to his alternate wife.
"And what about you? What's your name?" Logan asked Quinn.
"You said you knew me on your world? Were we related?"
Quinn hesitated. "No. Mallory is a fairly common name." I guess our father is still alive on this world, Quinn thought. It was weird running into another world where he had been born female, but this Logan seemed to be completely different.
"How do you know me?" asked Logan.
Quinn decided it would be best not to mention that they are technically the same person for now. "You were a childhood friend of mine. You helped me discover how to track wormholes, which is how why I guessed that you can do that on this world."
"You thought my last name was St. Clair. How come?"
"On my world, your father died and your mother remarried. You took your stepfather's name."
"My father is alive on this world," Logan replied.
"That would explain it then." Quinn had guessed correctly.
"So how do you know me?" Steven asked Maggie.
"On my world, we got married."
"Oh really? How did it work out between us?"
Not wanting to relive that painful memory right now, Maggie tried to change the subject. "We're not together anymore. So why did you want to see us?"
"We tracked your wormhole," Logan explained, "and wanted to know if you could help us develop sliding."
"We may need your help to get us home," Quinn replied. "What have you done so far?"
"We can track wormholes, identify dimensional coordinates, and we're on the way to opening our own wormholes. But so far everything we've sent through..."
"Has burned to a crisp," Quinn cut in, thinking back to the first time he met Logan.
"How did you know?" Logan asked.
"Call it intuition," Quinn replied. "So if you can open your own wormholes, would that make it possible to control the slide?"
"Theoretically, yes," Logan said back to him.
Quinn had been told just what he wanted to hear. "This just might be what gets us home," he turned and said to Maggie.
Quinn and Maggie went with Logan and Steven and got into a set of flying cars with them, Quinn going with Logan and Maggie with her husband's double. Logan pulled up an image on a video screen in the car which showed a map, with one flashing point that appeared to represent their car. She pressed some buttons below the screen and another image began flashing, then the car started taking off. Quinn guessed that this must be some kind of satellite guiding system that controls the car automatically. The use of satellites to provide maps had in cars has started on his world before they left, but this was far more advanced.
Logan pressed a few more buttons and a screen came to life on Quinn's side of the car and several buttons which resembled a keyboard showed up underneath. "Feel free to use the computers if you like," Logan told him. "We've got connections to the Internet." Quinn was happy to hear this, having been curious about the history of this world and what other kinds of technology they possessed ever since he first landed here.
After a lengthy trip where they talked to each other about whatever they felt was important, the two cars arrived at a research center, which was the most advanced building they had seen yet. As the cars approached, a tube opened up along the building which the cars entered before coming to a stop. To Quinn and Maggie's surprise, once the cars stopped, the ground started moving and their parking spaces came to them.
Once they got inside the building, they noticed that it was supported by more of those ubiquitous columns, while Greek artwork was displayed everywhere. Men and women wearing lab coats walked in and out of the various rooms. Once they got to the hall they found a moving walkway and stood on it to be taken to the lab where Logan and Steven told them to meet.
"So what's up with this world?" Maggie asked Quinn, assuming that he'd have found out by now.
"From what I've gathered," Quinn started, "apparently the Greek's influence was much bigger in this world." By now Quinn assumed that his world and Maggie's world had similar if not identical ancient histories and they had diverged much later.
"The New World was settled by the Greeks?" Maggie asked.
"Not exactly," Quinn replied. "But the ancient Greeks on this world were more united and they never fell to the Romans. In fact the culture of Greece is just as strong today as it ever was. They continued to explore the world, and spread their customs and their technology to different cultures, while they also learned from the customs and beliefs of others, advancing much quicker than on our worlds. The period in history that we know as the Dark Ages never existed here, as if they went straight from ancient times to the Enlightenment. That's what allowed them to advance so far ahead of our worlds. They'd already explored all of this planet, and much of the solar system before we even made it to the moon. But there was one thing they had yet to conquer."
"Exactly! The next big project soon became to discover sliding. The Logan of this world was a scientist who helped with the development of anti-gravity, which makes sense because that's what I was working on when I discovered sliding. That's how the flying cars we saw out there work. She went on to become a scientist with the sliding project along with your husband, who was a famous theoretical physicist."
"So, can you tell me who exactly this Logan character is? Your story about her being a childhood friend didn't exactly sound all that authentic."
"Sorry, I keep forgetting you haven't been with me for the whole journey. Well, she is me."
"What do you mean she's you?"
"I met her on a world where her company was trying hard to develop sliding. On that world she was born in my place. I mean, the Y chromosome that I received from my father on my world was an X on hers. I guess it's possible for your double to be the opposite sex, although it doesn't look like it happens too often. Then I discovered that she was attempting to slide to alternate worlds in order to strip them of their natural resources. But I screwed up her timer, and sent her wandering aimlessly through parallel worlds, like us."
"You think that could be her?"
"I don't think so. She would have acted differently towards me. And her name was Logan Mallory. As I mentioned earlier, on that world she was St. Clair. But still, keep an eye on her, just in case. Because from what I learned, she really can be a shady character."
"I just have one more question," Maggie asked.
"I can do my best to answer," Quinn replied.
"Why is it that this world with all of its futuristic technological advancements can't perfect sliding, but you were able to create it by yourself in your basement? I asked similar questions about why my husband couldn't perfect it when he was attempting to develop it for the military, when he had access to materials I can only assume that you didn't, but he didn't have access to the technology of this world."
"I've asked myself that question many times when I came across more advanced worlds that didn't have sliding technology. I can only guess that some scientific advancements were meant to be made by accident, like penicillin. Remember, I said I was attempting to develop anti-gravity when I accidentally discovered parallel universes. On this world, with all its advanced technology, my double successfully discovered anti-gravity. He...I mean she must not have discovered what I did in my basement by accident with my inferior technology."
Maggie nodded, satisfied with his answer. Just then the walkway stopped in front of two big metal doors. A sign above them read "New Athens Institute of Sliding." These two doors automatically opened, and revealed a lab, with many scientists working around sliding machines, which Quinn recognized as similar to the ones he was working on in his basement. Logan and Steven walk up to Quinn and Maggie.
"Welcome to the New Athens Institute of Sliding," Logan greeted Quinn and Maggie. "I'd like you to meet some of our scientists." She led them around the lab. "This is Professor Conrad Bennish, Jr."
Bennish turned around, and has short nicely combed hair, and is wearing a lab coat with the suit underneath. He stands up and shakes Quinn's hand. "Hello, it's nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too," Quinn said, thinking about how strange this world was.
"And now I'd like you to meet the most important man on the project," Logan said as a man began to walk through the door. "This is Professor Maximillian Arturo."
Quinn was a bit shocked to see his old teacher again, but had to accept that after sliding long enough he was bound to run into doubles of his old friends. As he could do was exclaim "Professor!" in a surprised voice.
"How many of us do you know?" Steven said in response to Quinn acting as if he knew yet another one of their scientists.
"You know me?" Professor Arturo responded.
"I knew your double on my world," Quinn answered. "You went sliding with us. You were a brilliant scientist."
"Well he's one on this world too," Logan proudly said about her Arturo. "He was the one who figured out the formula on how to open wormholes. He's the father of the sliding project."
"What have you been able to do with our timer?" Quinn asked Arturo. He had handed it over to Logan shortly after they arrived at the institute and told her that they needed to lock in on a photon trail of some other sliders who they had previously tried to track. In exchange for this, they could use his technology to see if they could send an object through a wormhole without burning it.
"For one thing, it's now possible for me to send an object through a wormhole without it all of a sudden burning up," Arturo answered as he walked up to some sliding equipment with a video screen. "And combining that with what we had before you came here, we can open stable wormholes at will. It now seems entirely possible to control the slide. You can slide anytime, and anywhere, so long as you know that world's coordinates." He then turned on video screen. "This is an interdimensional probe I sent to some coordinates I found on the timer you gave me." They watched the screen and see the primitive world that Maggie's people colonized.
"That's my world!" Maggie said, recognizing it.
"You're from that world?" Arturo asked.
"No, not originally. My world was destroyed by pulsars, and we colonized that one."
"Than why did you go sliding with Mr. Mallory?" Arturo then asked her.
"Revenge," Maggie confessed with a grim look on her face. "His friends and I went chasing after a psychopath from my world who stole a timer..." She paused before continuing. "...and murdered my husband."
Professor Jensen was shocked to hear this. "That's what happened to me?!"
"Yes," Maggie replied. They could tell this was painful for her to remember. Maggie spent most of the time sliding with the group trying to forget this and hide it under a tough exterior but seeing her husband in the flesh forced her to confront these feelings again.
"What happened to my double?" Arturo inquired. "You said he went sliding with you, where is he now?"
"You were killed too. By the same person," Quinn answered. Just as seeing her husband again was painful for Maggie, seeing a double of the professor forced Quinn to remember the events surrounding his death. "But he was killed on the last world we were on. We used his timer to send the other two sliders back home, while I stayed behind to help Maggie fight him. He fell off a cliff into the ocean, but not before damaging our regular timer's wormhole tracking ability. Which brings me to my next question: is there a way for me to find the world that I sent the others back to?"
In response, Arturo pulled out the Egyptian timer and handed it to him. "You opened the vortex and sent the two other sliders through the vortex on the last world you were on before this one, correct?"
"Correct," Quinn answered.
"We just had a probe sent to that world, and it's presently scanning for photon trails," Arturo said moving back to the video screen. He turned it on and a picture of an island came up. "Is this that world...great scott, what are those things..." Arturo said noticing some kind of animal hybrids running around the island.
"Long story, I'll tell you later," Quinn answered.
"Reminds me of something I read in a bad H.G. Wells novel," Arturo added. "It made everyone afraid of the dangers of genetic engineering which was becoming big in his day. That's one problem with science fiction writers, they tend to make people scared of advancement."
"But that is the world we were just on," Quinn said, getting back to the subject. "Do you think you can pick up the photon trail?"
"It says here that two vortices were opened recently in this spot," Arturo said, examining some data on a computer below the video screen. "One of them went to this Earth's coordinates, the other one is unknown. I assume that this is the world you are looking for." Arturo punched something into the computer and a vortex opened on the screen. The probe entered it, and then the picture on the screen showed an image of San Francisco, right next to Quinn's house.
"This looks like my home world," Quinn said delighted. "Does this mean I can go home now?"
"As soon as I get these coordinates you will surely be able to," Arturo answered, "but I'd like you to help me a little more to make sure we've got everything working properly. We greatly appreciate all the help you've given us Mr. Mallory."
"I'll do that," Quinn said back to him, "but I'd like to go back first, and check up on my friends."
"Sounds reasonable," Arturo said. "But I have one more request. I'd like you to take me with you. This will be my first visit to an alternate universe."
"Of course you can come, professor," agreed Quinn.
Just then, Bennish walked up to Quinn and Arturo holding a new timer that looked similar to the one that Rickman had been using. Quinn guessed that Jensen had designed this one, too. "Professor Wing made the final adjustments to this timer and downloaded the co-ordinates to Mr. Mallory's home world," Bennish said handing the timer to Arturo. "All ready for you to make your first slide."
"Miss Beckett, would you like to come with us?" Arturo offered.
"I can't, I can't breathe on that world," Maggie replied. "That's why Quinn needed to stay behind to help me fight."
"You can stay here as long as you need to," Steven said to Maggie.
"Thanks," Maggie said to Steven. "While we're here I have some things I'd like to talk to you about."
Maggie and Steven walked off together while Arturo approached Quinn. He picked up the new timer and pointed it at a wall, opening up a big red vortex. "After you, my boy," Arturo said to Quinn gesturing toward the wormhole. Quinn ran through, knowing that his home world was on the other side.
Quinn landed on the other side of the vortex with a thud. He quickly remembered that Arturo would be coming out of it any second now, so he got up and out of the way, thinking that he should have made him go first. But this didn't distract him too much, because if all went according to plan, he was finally home.
As Arturo flew out of the wormhole, Quinn surveyed his surroundings. He was in San Francisco as the interdimensional probe had indicated, and should only be a short walk from his house. He began walking in that direction and gestured Arturo to follow him.
"This gate has squeaked ever since I was a boy," Quinn said, pointing at the gate outside his house once they finally reached it. He opened the gate and there was no squeak. Quinn stared at it in disappointment. Just then the door to his house opened and out came Wade and Rembrandt. "Then again, I always wondered if that test was flawed," he said to himself as he ran toward them.
"Quinn," Wade yelled with delight as she ran to him, giving him a big hug. "You made it back!"
"We were getting worried about you Q-Ball," Rembrandt said as he also gave him a hug. "After you didn't return, we thought maybe something happened to you on the animal world."
"If you didn't come back soon enough, we were going to come for you," Wade told him, slyly switching to an impression of Maggie's voice. "We're a team. If any one of us is still out there then the mission is incomplete. Anyway, it's great to have you back," she finished, grinning.
"I appreciate the sentiment," Quinn replied, "but you know I can take care of myself. We've gotten through every other jam we've been in, so why should this one be any different?"
Wade and Rembrandt were so excited to see Quinn again that they never noticed Arturo's double with him.
"Hello, my name is Professor Maximillian Arturo. I was head of the interdimensional research project on my world," he said, noticing the odd looks they gave him. "I understand that you knew my double from your world and recently had to endure losing him. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss."
"He was a great man," Rembrandt said solemnly. He could tell that they didn't want to relive the experience of losing him again either.
"Well this Professor Arturo is also a great man, and a brilliant scientist," Quinn said, trying to break the ice. "After Maggie and I fought off the hybrids on the last world, we tried following your wormhole, but the timer was damaged. We ended up sliding randomly to his world, which is where Maggie is waiting. If it weren't for the Professor I'd probably still be sliding alone with Maggie right now."
"Now that's a scary thought," Wade said, smiling. Quinn shared a chuckle, although he was hoping that she could start treating Maggie a little easier now. He decided he'd have to have a talk with her about the events that happened on the last worlds, especially Rickman's death and Maggie meeting Steven's double, which he could tell was already having an effect on her.
"I promised the professor that I'd go back with him to make sure he's got everything working right," Quinn said. "Is there anything else I need to take care of while I'm here?"
"Well, your mom is inside," Wade answered. "Once we got home, we headed for your house because we thought that's where you'd go once you made it. She's so excited about you coming home. She even oiled the gate again because she wanted everything to be just perfect for your arrival."
Quinn walked through the door of his house, knowing that the journey was finally over.
"Guess who's home," Quinn ecstatic as he opened the door and walked through.
"Quinn," his mother practically screamed as she got up all excited and ran up to give him the biggest hug of his life.
"I'm finally home, and this time I'm here to stay," Quinn assured his mom.
"I was so worried about you," she told him, "but I always knew you were all right. After you disappeared, I found your video journals and knew where you were. There was an FBI investigation and they pieced together how you and the others disappeared. Your friend Conrad explained to me about the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky bridge and how you had probably disappeared to a parallel universe. I missed you terribly, but from the journals I knew that going through that vortex was something you had to do in the name of science, and you were probably even having a good time. When you showed up several months ago but suddenly had to leave again I got scared that was the last I'd ever see of you. But now I'm just so glad you made it back."
"Glad to be back," Quinn replied to her.
Quinn told her about everything that happened during his journey. About how well he had come to know Wade, Rembrandt and Professor Arturo and some of the interesting worlds they visited. About the worlds where he was able to see his father again, and the world where time moved differently, allowing him to change his double's life during the period after his father died. He recounted the low point of the journey where the professor had sacrificed his life to save the other sliders, how they had met Maggie and chased Rickman, and how he was finally killed and they got to go home. He also mentioned the events that occurred on the Greek world and how he had to go back.
"Are you sure you'll be coming back?" Quinn's mom asked him as it was time for them to go back. Several hours had gone by since Quinn's return but after being gone for so long it just didn't seem like enough to her. After what had happened the last time he returned, she felt very nervous about him leaving her again.
"I'm positive," Quinn replied. "This is just gonna be a short trip to do some favors for the people who helped me get back here, then I'm coming home for good."
During the time Quinn spent talking to his mom, Wade and Rembrandt had met with their friends and family and told them about their journeys. Some of them had a tough time believing that they had been traveling between alternate dimensions, while others felt they were trustworthy enough, and the FBI had talked to them about this during the investigation. They decided that they were going to go back with Quinn because they wanted to see what that world was really like, and see Maggie again, who despite being so hard on them sometimes had almost become a part of the team now.
"Did you know there was an FBI investigation into our disappearances?" Rembrandt asked Quinn.
"My mom mentioned it to me," Quinn replied. "I can understand it, I mean four people suddenly disappearing in San Francisco is something that would call attention to itself, especially when a pretty big science experiment may be involved. We can question exactly what it was about later, but we've got other matters at hand right now."
"Ready," Arturo asked the group as he held the timer in his hands about to open the vortex. The rest of the group nodded and the big red wormhole opened up.
"I never thought the four of us would all be sliding together again," Wade admitted. "Even if you're not our professor, it's sure nice to see you again."
"Since you're the guest of honor, you go first," Rembrandt said to Arturo.
"I'd be delighted," Arturo said having no idea of Rembrandt's intentions and with that he ran through the gateway.
The rest of sliders all looked at him funny. "Sorry, I just couldn't resist. For old times' sake." They all started laughing, and then they ran through the vortex one by one before it closed.
Luckily for Arturo, the timer was now better calibrated, creating a much more stable vortex. Once it opened in the lab, the four sliders just walked out, making it unnecessary for any of them to try and land on one another. Even though they didn't get as striking a first impression of this world's technological achievement as Quinn and Maggie had by sliding into the middle of the city, Wade and Rembrandt were still impressed by what they saw.
"Wow," Wade said looking around. "You were right about this place, Quinn. I always knew we should have looked into the wisdom of the ancient world instead of being so quick to throw away their knowledge."
"You said that Maggie is still here," Rembrandt mentioned. "Well, where is she?"
As if on cue, another red vortex opened up in the lab and Maggie and Steven walked out, holding hands. Both had smiles on their faces and were laughing. Wade had never seen Maggie this cheerful before, and she almost wondered if this was really the Maggie they knew or just one of her doubles.
"I see you've returned," Steven after exited the vortex, "and brought your friends along with you. We were testing the new sliding equipment more and started sending the probe to random coordinates. Then we thought it would be a good idea to start exploring."
"We found a nice world in the Victorian era," Maggie cut in, "and thought it looked romantic." They could tell that Maggie was developing a liking to this Steven Jensen.
"Well the setting looked romantic," Steven added, "but the locals didn't take to kindly to public displays of affection. It's almost as if they people there have something against sex in general." The rest of the group couldn't help but laugh given their knowledge of this time period.
"I assume that your world didn't go through that time period," Quinn said always wanting to learn more about this world's history.
"The nineteenth century on this world was a lot different than that," Steven answered. "It was just around this time that the space program took off, based on the ideas of visionary Jules Verne. The science in this man's work was amazing for his time. We got a man on the moon just before the close of the century."
"We had some real business to discuss though," Maggie cut in saying. "We're going to try and deliver some supplies to the people of my world. We might even be able to let them move here."
"This world has plenty of resources," added Steven, "but I don't know if the city could handle the sudden introduction of another hundred or so people right now. But once the use of sliding technology becomes commonplace, we'll never have to worry about lack of resources or overpopulation again."
"Of course," Quinn said. "I never really thought about practical applications, but the possibilities are endless. Sliding could put an end to all overpopulation."
"We have several colonies in space," Steven continued, "but those are very expensive to run and can't house any more than a few hundred people. If we can settle in parallel universes, the problem would be solved. We could find uninhabited worlds or ones with limited populations and set up new colonies there. Unlike space stations or terraformed moons, another version of Earth would supply us with its own resources and we'd just need to transport the equipment. Maggie's world could be the first one we colonize and the people would be given a choice to stay there or move here."
"I understand how this technology can help us," Wade cut in, "but what about the ways this power can be abused? We've seen people try and use sliding to conquer other Earths and steal their natural resources." Quinn told Wade about the Logan of this world and how she was different, but seeing her face again made Wade think of everything that Logan tried to do the last time they crossed paths.
"I'd have to agree with her," added Rembrandt. "Shortly after we started sliding and we thought we had gotten home, the professor we knew said we should destroy the timer to avoid this technology falling into the wrong hands."
"My double sounds like he was very wise," Arturo replied, "but I have to disagree with him in this matter. Maybe in the wrong hands the ability to travel between worlds can be destructive, but that can be said about almost any scientific advancement. We could help a lot of people with this technology and that makes it worth pursuing."
Just then Logan walked in. "We've finished loading up the cars with supplies and we've got the coordinates set to Maggie's colony world. We recently completed testing on our vortex and know that it's strong enough to take several hundred pounds of material to the next world. I'm staying behind to observe the operation, who is going?"
"I'll go with you," Quinn replied.
"I can't say I agree with everything you're planning," Rembrandt replied, "but delivering new supplies to those people sounds like a noble cause. And I'd love to see Malcolm again. You can count me in."
"If you're all going, I will too," Wade added. "I don't want to be here by myself."
"Will you go with us?" Maggie asked Steven.
"I would, but they need more people to help operate the equipment here. I'll be waiting right here for you when you get back. You can count on it."
"What about you, professor?" asked Quinn.
"I have the most experience operating the equipment from the other side as a slider. I'll be going with you and reporting back from there."
"Well, let's get moving, Logan said to them as she led them toward the back room.
As they entered the room there were two flying cars all loaded up. Arturo entered one and gestured toward the others to enter whichever one they wanted; it didn't matter because they would be remote-controlled from the lab. After they all got in, the scientists fiddled around the controls in the lab and a huge vortex, the biggest that any of them had ever seen, opened up, covering the entire wall. The cars took off, and flew through the wormhole into the next world.
It had been about an hour since they landed on Maggie's world now. Maggie had spent the whole time telling her people about what had happened since they last met, such as the death of Rickman and the possibility of them being able to leave this world. Meanwhile, Rembrandt was hanging out with Malcolm, and Quinn and Wade were standing around talking.
"Do you promise that once we get home and you win the Nobel Prize that you'll still remember us?" Wade asked Quinn.
"Of course I'll remember you," Quinn replied. "How will I ever be able to forget the people whose lives I destroyed with my invention?
"As I keep telling you, Quinn, I do not think you ruined my life by involving me in sliding. When I think of all the things I've seen that others can only dream about and all the people we've helped, I'm actually glad this happened. If I could go back I wouldn't change a thing. And anyway, you were just the inventor. I was the one who told you we should go sliding."
"I can think of a few things I'd like to change. The professor is one of them."
"Quinn, you've got to stop beating yourself up about that. It wasn't your fault. You did the right thing by giving up the chance to go home to help those people survive. Look around you, this entire world is evidence of how your invention can help people. All of these people would be dead now if you hadn't found them a new home."
"Is it? Maybe it's a good thing for these people, but what about the native population? Rickman was planning on using them for slave labor and relocating them to less desirable land. Instead they were all killed off by diseases that we brought over. This is just like what happened with the Native Americans on our world. I hate to think that this kind of terror can be carried over to other worlds. And I've just been handing over sliding technology..."
"Quinn, about what happened in the lab. Even though I do have major apprehensions about colonizing other worlds, I don't think there'll be a major problem with the one we were just on. What Professor Jensen said about ending overpopulation did make sense and it looks like they have everyone's best interests in mind, that they'll explore other worlds without conquering them and only set up colonies and unpopulated or sparsely populated worlds and share their customs while learning from others. That's how you told me that world became so technologically advanced."
"That's what I hope, but you never can be totally sure. I told you about how my double who gave me the equation for sliding also gave it to the Kromaggs which allowed them to conquer all the worlds they have. I just handed it over to Logan St. Clair when her plan was to raid universes of their natural resources, and now she might still be tracking us. And when I gave it to Maggie's world, that allowed Rickman to go on his interdimensional killing spree. I'd like to think that the last world I gave the technology to will use it wisely, but from past experience, how can I be sure?"
"You should quit worrying so much, Quinn. In a short matter of time we'll be home, and there you can work on perfecting sliding to your heart's content. With the power to control the slide you'll be able to visit future worlds as much as you want and work with them to make sure they don't abuse the power. Can you believe it, after all these years of sliding we're finally going home?"
After spending some time with Malcolm, Rembrandt approached Quinn and Wade. "Can I talk to you Q-Ball?" Rembrandt asked him.
"Sure Remmy," Quinn replied. "What is it?"
"Now that we're all going home, I'd just like to take this time to apologize for all the remarks I've made over the years about how this is all your fault, and about how selfish you are."
"It's OK Remmy. You've apologized before, and I know that this really is my fault."
"But this time, I want you to know that I'm actually glad that this happened. Let's be honest, if I had actually made it to sing the national anthem at the Giants game, it's doubtful that that would really give my singing career the boost that I was hoping for." Both of them smiled at each other and laughed. "But time I've spent with you is an adventure I'll never forget. At least now I know that in other universes there are Rembrandts who have achieved the type of success that I always hoped for. And I've met lots of interesting people, you Wade, the Professor, Malcolm, even Maggie, and a countless number of people and parallel worlds."
"Glad to hear you got something good out of this Remmy."
"And now that we're going home, this has to give me the career boost I was hoping for. I mean, I'll be the first blues singer to ever cross the interdimensional barrier. If that won't make me famous again I don't know what will." The two of them started laughing some more, and gave each other a hug.
"I've got something else to ask you about," Rembrandt added. "Once we get home will we be able to slide anywhere anytime we want? It would be nice to be able to visit Malcolm in the future. And to see how Maggie, who was with us for the end of this journey is doing."
"The new timer developed on that last world can control the slide, so once we get it from them, we should be able to. When we get back I'll have to check out my old sliding equipment to see what I can do with it. Maybe I can develop a way to control sliding myself."
"That's what I'm asking myself right now. When I invented sliding, I never really thought about what I'd do with it. But as we learned on the last world, sliding has practical applications, which can be used for good or for evil. As the inventor of sliding I guess it's my job to make sure it's only used for good."
"Do you think there'll be any problems?"
"I sure hope not. My mom said there was an FBI investigation after we left. Whether they were simply investigating us as a missing persons case or they have other motives we don't yet know. We've encountered plenty of people so far who can't be trusted with the ability to travel between worlds. What we need to do is make sure none of them ever get it."
Steven Jensen was observing the sliding equipment in the lab, when all of a sudden everything started going berserk. The graphs on the computer monitors started going haywire and some of the lab equipment started blowing up. Steven backed away as he saw Logan walk up to a flying car that had started to take off on its own.
"Miss Mallory," Steven called to her, "What's going on?"
"That's Miss St. Clair to you," she said as she pulled a weapon from her pocket. As she fired it a beam of energy came out and struck Steven who found himself pinned to the floor, and could not feel anything below the waist. He was unable to move as he watched Logan get into the car. A vortex opened against the wall and closed shortly after the car went through.
"How much longer do we have to stay here?" Wade asked. It had been a few hours now since they traveled to this world and Maggie had now rejoined them. No more than a day before they had said their goodbyes believing they were going their separate ways and now it was happening again.
"Anytime now," Quinn answered. "As soon as we find the Professor it should be time to go."
"I've said this before, but, goodbye... and I hope things work out for you at home," Maggie told them. "I know I haven't always been easy to get along with," which they all knew was an understatement but didn't feel like getting into right now, "but I really learned something from you guys. You taught me how to be a team player. Thanks for putting up with me so long. And thanks for giving these people a new home Quinn, we all owe our lives to you."
"Goodbye Maggie," Quinn said to her as he approached her and shook her hand, then giving her a small hug. The others followed his lead, not letting any feud they had going get in the way of this. They had traveled this far together and the journey was now over; it was no time for fighting. "Do you know what you'll be doing next?" Quinn asked her.
"I should be moving back and forth between this one and the last one, working with Steven to see what we can do with these people," she answered.
"I might be traveling to that world too," Quinn said back to her. "We might see each other.
"Well as long as you've got my coordinates, feel free to visit whenever you like. You're good company, and we can all learn a lot from you. I sure did."
Just then Arturo walked up to the rest of the group. "There you are Professor," Quinn said to him. "Is it time to go back now?"
"It should be just about time, right now," Arturo said looking at his watch. As if on cue, a red vortex opened up right in front of them and a flying car flew out. The door opened up, and Logan walked out. "There you are," Arturo said as she came out of the car, "I was wondering when you'd show up."
"What's going on?" Rembrandt asked.
"You didn't honestly think I was going to just let you get home without a hitch," Logan answered. "You forced me into a life of random sliding, now I'm here to return the favor." It was clear to everyone by now that this had really been Logan St. Clair all along.
"We've already been doing this for three years," Quinn told her. "How did you pull this off?"
"I started out by tracking your wormhole hoping to catch up to you," Logan said. "I almost lost you toward the beginning when I landed on a world that appeared to be electrically charged with lots of twisters where my timer didn't function properly. I fell behind you there and eventually lost your photon trail when it appeared that you stopped using your original timer on a world where apparently sliding must be commonplace because there were several different trails. After that I was forced into completely random sliding, until I met this man," she said gesturing to Arturo.
"Who are you," Quinn asked Arturo with surprised tone in his voice.
"Oh, you know who I am," Arturo replied. "I could have became a famous scientist on my world had you not took off and left me there without any sliding technology." Quinn, Wade and Rembrandt now knew exactly who he was. "After you left and ruined my career the pressure was on me even more to rediscover sliding so I could retake my claim but I could get it right. Then I heard on the news that a vortex was seen opening and the sliders had returned, but this time it turned out to be a different slider. I found Miss St. Clair and explained my situation to her, and we found out we were both after the same people so we joined forces."
"We started sliding together," Logan said taking over, "but my timer wasn't designed for two people and after a few worlds it started burning up. But after we landed on one world that at first glance could pass as the far future, we were met by two people who turned out to be our doubles who said they tracked our wormhole. After we went to the lab with them and they explained their situation we discovered that we could take advantage of this, so we got rid of our doubles and took their places, waiting for you guys to slide in. After waiting long enough we finally got lucky, and now revenge is ours."
"What are you going to do to us now?" Quinn asked.
Logan reached into her pocket, and pulled out their regular timer which she tossed to Quinn, who quickly caught it. "After increasing the power, I used this to reach this world after it hit zero. When it hits zero again you can use it to slide off this world. We've erased all previously saved coordinates so don't think you can go back. And don't even try to track us, we never restored the ability to track photon trails. If you ever fix it we'll be long gone by that time and you'll never know if you're following the right sliders."
"What did you do to Steven?" Maggie asked with real concern in her voice.
"He's still alive," Logan answered. "He was incapacitated, but he should survive." Maggie looked relieved as she heard this. "But don't expect to ever see any of us again. It's a big multiverse out there, and the chances of finding one particular dimension are small. You'd be better off finding a new world that's hospitable enough and settling down there."
With that Logan walked toward one of the other cars with her weapon drawn on the other sliders while Arturo followed her. "I'm truly sorry," Arturo said as Logan walked into the car, "but you people didn't leave me many options and this is the only way I could get the technology I needed." He then got into the car which took off, and opened up a vortex, disappearing while everybody just stood and watched.
"Well, we have three options now," Quinn said to break the silence after Logan and Arturo's double disappeared. "If we keep on sliding, either we find home again like we've been hoping to for the past three years, we find that last futuristic world again and see if they can find a way to send us home, or we find Logan and the Professor's double again. Any of you are free to stay here, or try and find a new world to settle down on."
"Well that's a better chance then we ever had before," Rembrandt said. "You can count me in."
"Of course I'll be going," Wade said. "I can't let you guys go sliding by yourselves."
"Last time there was one other member of the team," Quinn added looking over at Maggie. "What's your decision?"
"I'm going with you guys," Maggie answered.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Quinn asked her.
"Even though I haven't always shown it," Maggie responded, "you people are probably the best friends I've got now. You helped me to overcome everything that happened after the destruction of my world and death of my husband, even when I treated you so terribly. And now there's a chance I might see Steven again. Last time I was on a mission of revenge against the madman who murdered the love of my life, this time my mission is to reunite with him."
"Keep in mind," Quinn added, "I can't guarantee you we'll ever get back to that world. You heard what Logan said about it being a big multiverse, and that we can't track them for now. It may take me a while to restore the timer's ability to track wormholes, and when that happens they may be long gone."
"It's a risk I'm willing to take," Maggie responded. "Anyway, we still have the coordinates to this world so you can return me anytime I feel like it."
Several hours had now passed since they learned that the journey they thought was over would now be continuing. Maggie went off to tell the people of her world that the plan to possibly have them relocated would no longer work for now and she would continue sliding to see if she could find the world that might take them in, while Rembrandt said goodbye to Malcolm again, promising that he would once again return. Once it was almost time for the timer to hit zero the reunited foursome met in the same spot they were previously, ready to continue the journey. Quinn opened the vortex and they all jumped through one by one, not knowing what would be on the other side this time.
It had been almost a week now since the four sliders left Maggie's new world to continue their journey. They were on a backwards looking world, where everyone lived in small villages and technology was decades behind what the Sliders were used to. Rembrandt had gotten a job as a cook at the local eatery while Wade and Maggie both became waitresses. They let Quinn spend his time trying to repair the timer so it could track wormholes again, but with this world's antiquated equipment he wasn't too successful. He had taken the timer apart very carefully and examined it, but was afraid to do too much tinkering because if he accidentally broke it they may not be able to fix it on this world. Nothing cost very much on that world so Quinn was able to use the money the others made to buy some electronics for possible spare parts, but nothing worked very well. They had a lot of money saved, but unfortunately this world used a different currency so they most likely would not be able to use it on the next.
After the incident on the last world, they explained to Maggie exactly who "Evil Arturo," as they called him, was, and what happened with him in the past. After they first left the world that they thought was their home where Arturo never slid, they had a fear that they took the wrong Professor with them. After a while they assumed that they had the right one, until he was shot by Rickman, when they began to hope that they took the wrong one meaning their Professor was still alive and safe on the world with the Azure Gate Bridge. Now they had confirmation that they took the right Professor, but finally had to realize that their Professor was gone. Quinn did notice that the Arturo double who helped Logan seemed sort of sympathetic to them, and maybe he only helped Logan because he was forced to. After all, their lives probably weren't that different up until the day that the group slid and he was left behind.
As Quinn was examining the timer to see what he could do with it here, Maggie walked into the room. "Quinn, time to take a break," she told him. "We found a carnival just at the end of the village, and since we can't use the money we made here on the next world we thought we should have some fun before we slide in a day."
"But I can't go," Quinn replied, "I'm making some real progress with this timer. I think I've identified what the problem is and am pretty sure I know how to fix it. Now if only I could get the right equipment..."
"Quinn, give it a rest. You've been working on that thing all week, and we all know this world doesn't have the right tools to finish the job. Lets just try and relax for now, you'll have time on the next worlds."
"Time is all I've got now," Quinn said with hopelessness in his voice. "Once again I've failed to get them home. Three years of sliding and I finally find home, only to lose it once again. What kind of a leader am I?"
"Quinn, you need to quit beating yourself up like this. The others do not blame you for what happened. If they did you wouldn't get along the way that you do. You taught me a lot about what it's like to be a team player. And in all the missions I've been on, you're probably the best leader I've ever seen. I'm sure you'll find a way to get them home."
"Thanks. I really do appreciate your support right now."
"Quinn, I'm sorry you didn't get home this time," Maggie said in a somber voice.
"And I'm sorry you were separated from that world you grew fond of and Steven," Quinn replied.
"That's OK," Maggie said, still sounding grim. "It wasn't really my world, and he wasn't really my Steven. I'll never be able to get those back." Quinn could tell that this was still something that she would rather not discuss right now. Hiding under her tough exterior was how she used to try and deal with the pain, but as time went on she couldn't keep doing that. Maybe finding Steven again would give her a new mission and one with some hope this time, which in the past she lacked.
"So, what kind of attractions would you find on a carnival in this world?" Quinn asked Maggie, trying to lighten the mood.
"That's what I was just asking," Maggie replied. "The whole thing was Wade's idea, of course. I would bet that a carnival on this would be boring as hell, but it'll give us a way to kill a day before we go sliding again."
They walked off to meet Wade and Rembrandt at the carnival. Quinn decided he could make the final repairs to the timer at a later time, and have try to some fun right now. Most importantly, if he was ever going to get them home, he needed some hope for the future.
Steven Jensen walked into the lab, leaning on a cane. Ever since the skiing accident several years ago which had left him paralyzed, he had had some trouble walking occasionally, but they were able to successfully reconnect his nerves so he usually had no problems. Being shot by Logan had brought back some of his old injuries, but he was almost fully recovered by now.
"What's the extent of the damage suffered?" Steven asked Professor Bennish who was presently working in the lab.
"Well most of the lab equipment is toast, and the sliding equations and world coordinates we had saved have been wiped," Bennish replied.
"Do you think we'll be able to repair this?"
"We should be able to eventually fix the machines because we still have the designs, although it'll take some time. Most of them were pretty complicated. Some of the equations have been copied down other places but it will be more difficult to find some others, especially the new ones we just got from the sliders who showed up. I don't know about any of the coordinates, but there's a chance we may be able to either bring them back and pick up the traces of photon trails once we get the equipment up and running again."
"And what about the sliders?"
"They, along with Professors Arturo and Mallory have apparently vanished. We know that Mallory was involved in the sabotage of the lab, and suspect that Professor Arturo may have also played a role. The sliders, for now appear to be lost in the multiverse."
It was worse than Steven thought. But there was still a chance of getting it fixed. He was now the highest ranking scientist of the sliding project and felt it his duty to try and restore what they once had. "Well don't just sit around there," he commanded all the other scientists in the lab, "let's get to work here. Get to work on those interdimensional transport machines, and let's see if we can't find those sliders."
This is based on a story that I first came up with all the way back in the summer of 1997 when Sliders was cancelled by FOX and before we knew it would be picked up by Sci-Fi. I wanted to write what at the time I believed to be a plausible way that the series may continue had it been picked up for a fourth season. At the time I knew nothing about what was going on behind the scenes, and assumed that if it were renewed they would continue with the same cast. I also believed, as we had been told originally, that John Rhys-Davies had chosen to leave the show, and probably would not return as a regular but might be willing to guest star. So I set out to write a continuation of Sliders based on those premises. Although it's been touched up and new parts have been added, the story has remained practically the same over eight years.
Once I learned Sliders was coming back for a real fourth season, I lost interest in continuing. But at various times over the years I developed an interest in pulling it out again. After all the cast changes that occurred during the real fourth and fifth seasons, the cast of the late third season when it was Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Maggie has been largely ignored. This is probably due to the fact that most of the episodes featuring that cast were awful, but could it work with better writing?
I pulled it out again a few years later and posted it to a Sliders fan fiction mailing list where I got good reviews, and I also posted most of my second story in this series. But the list eventually folded, and I had other things I needed to move on to other things. The story you just read is the version I posted to that list, with a few additions and modifications.
Now to move on to the part of my story which is sure to make many Sliders fans angry with me, and get me death threats from others. By bringing back the wrong Arturo from Post-Traumatic Slide Syndrome, I essentially confirmed that the original Arturo is indeed dead and there's no way to bring him back. Before you get ready to beat me silly with a pillow case full of Mountain Dews, cut my body to pieces with an X-acto blade and feed the pieces to a pack of wild iguanas, let me attempt to justify my decision:
Well I hope you enjoyed my first Sliders story, which took me eight years to finally get up. Stay tuned for the next instalment.
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