How many times had it come to this point? How many times had this scene played over and over? This time it would be different.
Angus Rickman hid in the shadows. He would deal with these “sliders” beginning with Professor Arturo. Arturo was too close to figuring all of it out. The others were fighting amongst themselves so they would be easy to pick off later, but Arturo had to be dealt with now.
He slowly crept towards Arturo, needle in hand. The old fool would never know what hit him.
Rickman was within inches of Arturo, when from the shadows he was tackled and forced to the ground by Rembrandt Brown. The two began to struggle on the ground and Rembrandt wrestled the needle form Rickman’s hand.
“Mr. Brown? What the devil?” Arturo screamed.
Rembrandt couldn’t allow himself to be distracted, too much was riding on this. He was able to free one of his arms from the struggle and began punching Rickman. He would not stop until Rickman was unconscious.
“Rembrandt! What is going on?”
Rickman’s limp form fell to the ground and Rembrandt began kicking him. “You bastard! Do you have any idea what you’ve cost me?”
“Rembrandt, stop this madness!” Arturo screamed out, but Rembrandt would not acknowledge him.
Arturo took a step toward his friend. “Rembrandt. Look at me.”
Rembrandt would not face him.
Arturo grabbed Rembrandt by the shoulders and spoke, “Look at . . . Good Heavens!”
Arturo was staring Rembrandt in the face, only this couldn’t be his Rembrandt. This Rembrandt was at least ten years older, his hair was graying, he had no mustache and there was a scar across his left eye.
“There isn’t time to explain. Take this.” This older Rembrandt handed Arturo a rolled up document. “Artemis says you and Quinn should be able to finish this before the pulsars hit.”
“What? Who are you?” Arturo was full of questions.
“I wish there was more time.” A loud beep began emanating from a wrist watch-type device on Rembrandt’s arm. “Just get that to Quinn. You two can figure it out. And Professor . . . Max don’t let them take each other for granted.”
“Wait . . .I don’t . . .” Arturo didn’t have the chance to finish his sentence as he watched this older Rembrandt simply fade from existence.
He unrolled the documents to see it was blueprints. “Slide wave device?” He puzzled over the workings of it and as it dawned on him what this was he exclaimed, “Good Heavens! I have to get this to Quinn!”
Little did Arturo realize Rickman had regained consciousness and slithered away. He wasn’t finished yet.
“What’s the status, Artemis?” Margaret Beckett hoped the answers would be promising.
[Rembrandt was successful in preventing Arturo from being attacked by Rickman. The timelines are in constant flux. The Dynasty worlds have decreased by a factor of 35%.]
“So nothing is set in stone? Arturo could still die?” Maggie almost anticipated Artemis’s answer.
[Possibly, but everything has been thrown into temporal flux. It could be Arturo . . . or one of the others.]
“That’s the last thing we need to happen. They all have to live or all of this will be for nothing.”
Professor Arturo stormed into the research lab. “Quinn!”
“What is it Professor?”
“I think I have the solution to our dilemma. We can take everyone to the new world!”
“What are you talking about?” Quinn wasn’t sure what his mentor was getting at.
Arturo unrolled the blueprints and spoke, “With this. A few modifications to the sliding equipment and we can create a ‘slide wave’. It will transport all the inhabitants of this world to the world that has been selected.”
“Where did you get this?” Quinn was in shock. Laid before him was the means to save this entire earth.
“Rembrandt gave this to me. Only it had to be an alternate Rembrandt, he was older, different somehow. He attacked Rickman. I think Rickman was after me. This other Rembrandt told me that someone named ‘Artemis’ said that you and I would be able to complete this before the pulsars hit.”
Quinn eyed Arturo strangely.
“Damn it boy! I know it sounds unbelievable, but so does people who travel from parallel earth to parallel earth! We can save these people and we can go home. We can recalibrate Jensen’s timer to activate the slide wave. Then on the new world we will be able to use it to return to Earth Prime.”
Quinn shook his doubts aside. “Let’s get to work Professor. We tell no one of this. Not yet at least. Especially Maggie or Rickman.”
Rickman heard voices. It was two of the sliders. Rembrandt, the one he had fist met, not the one that had attacked him, and Wade. He could smell her perfume. The scent was intoxicating. She would do nicely.
Loud crashing sirens began to blare in the complex. Margaret Beckett quickly took her post.
“Artemis, report. What is going on?”
“What caused the shift?” Margaret’s words were quick.
[Rickman killed Wade Welles.]
“Prep the gateway. I’m going back. Wade can’t die!” Margaret Beckett wasn’t about to let all their work go down the drain. Too many good people had sacrificed their lives to get them this far. She wasn’t going to let Rickman ruin things again.
[I do not think that is wise.]
“Let her go Artemis. She knows the risks.” Andrew Summers words were quick.
[I still do not think this is wise.]
“I have to stop him. Wade can’t die.” Margaret was almost pleading.
“Mags, I understand what you’re feeling. When you and Rembrandt came to me and the other Travellers we understood what had to be done. Quinn mucked with time once and because of that the multiverse is still pliable. Events can be changed, but the flux is subsiding there isn’t much time. We’ve already lost Rembrandt. Are you sure you can finish the mission? Because there is only one other who can withstand the journey into the past and I’m not sure he will be willing.”
“Andrew, I am grateful for everything you have done for us. If I don’t stop Rickman, if the Four don’t survive, then the multiverse will fall under the complete control of the Kromaggs.”
“Godspeed Margaret. It’s been an honor to know you. Artemis. Activate the gate.”
[Activating gate, Andrew.]
The gate was similar to the wormhole that Maggie had traveled through for so many years, but the color was different. It had a gold and silver hue and the journey was quite painful. The pain was worth it though. Margaret believed in her mission, regardless of the fact that she had a limited amount of time to complete it in and then she, just as Rembrandt had, would fade from existence. If there was one thing her time with Rembrandt had taught her it was that sometimes you have to sacrifice what’s important to yourself for the greater good. The Four had to survive their encounter with Rickman and she knew what this would mean for her past self.
“So we’ve saved Malcolm?” Rembrandt Brown feared for the life of his new friend.
“His name is on the list. They should let him slide to the new world.” Wade paused. “Remmy. You and Quinn can’t keep this up. You’re friends.”
“I know, girl. I just want to go home. I’m tired of sliding and I feel like he’s not putting us first.”
“Give him time, Remmy.”
From the shadows, Rickman grabbed Wade. Rembrandt quickly made a move towards him.
“Not so fast Brown. Or you can watch her die.” Rickman cracked a smirk as he sniffed Wade’s hair. She shuddered with revulsion.
“If you hurt her . . .” Rembrandt held himself in check.
Rickman grimaced, “Oh I will hurt her. It just depends on if it will be now, in front of your eyes or after I’ve killed you.”
“You sick bastard!”
“Patience Mr. Brown. You can sacrifice your life for hers. Give me what I need and I will spare your precious Wade . . . for now.”
“Remmy, don’t!” Wade screamed as Rickman pulled her tighter.
“Your choice Mr. Brown. You or her?”
From the shadows appeared yet another figure. “I think there is a third option you’ve missed Colonel.”
“Maggie?” The words rolled off Rickman’s tongue.
Wade and Rembrandt were confused. This woman did resemble Captain Maggie Beckett, but she was older. Her hair was tinged with shades of black, red and gray and her face showed signs of aging, as if she had endured five lifetimes in the span of a few years.
“I’ll offer you a trade. Let Wade go and I’ll give you what you need.”
Rickman eyed Wade and his eyes slowly shifted to Margaret. “Maggie, I could never hurt you. Not after all we’ve been to each other.”
“A mistake, Angus, an indiscretion that should have never occurred. Let her go. Take me instead.”
“ A tempting offer . . .but I’m afraid I must decline.” Rickman smirked and pulled Wade closer.
“I knew you’d say that.” Maggie quickly drew a gun from her side and fired at Rickman. The bullet pierced his knee.
Rickman screamed in pain and dropped to the ground. He released his hold on Wade and she ran to Rembrandt’s side.
“Run you two! Find Quinn and Arturo. Stay safe.”
“But how? Who are you?” Wade asked.
“No time to explain. I’m a friend. Now run!”
Margaret turned to deal with Rickman. He was struggling through the pain. He grabbed her leg and forced her to the ground.
“You’ll pay for your disobedience!” He screamed.
Margaret reached for her gun, but was distracted by the beeping sound from the device on her wrist. Her time was very short. Rickman landed a right upside Margaret’s head. She was stunned. She knew she only had one chance. Rickman reached for his needle and Margaret fired her gun. Rickman screamed in pain yet again.
“Damn!” Margaret screamed as she faded from existence.
Rickman clenched the wound in his shoulder. The turn of events had stunned him and the searing pain from his two gunshot wounds was almost unbearable. One name escaped his lips as he formulated his revenge.
“Mallory . . .”
[Andrew, the temporal flux is continuing to subside. The Dynasty currently has control of 98% of the worlds in the multiversal spiral. It would appear Margaret’s intervention has had an unforeseen side affect.]
“What is it, Artemis? How has the timeline realigned itself?”
[Andrew. Quinn Mallory is dead.]
“Damn it! How could this happen?” Andrew Summers could not believe the turn of events. In the new timeline, Quinn Mallory was destined to die.
[It appears that after the sliders activated the slide wave device, they were disoriented from the journey. Rickman used this opportunity to take Quinn Mallory unaware and ended his life. The group was shaken to its core. Rickman stole their timer and slid off into the multi-verse. Arturo tracked him with Jensen’s timer and the group finally had their revenge against Rickman, but in the process, Jensen’s timer was damaged and the coordinates to their home world were lost.]
“But that doesn’t explain how the Dynasty has control of almost all the worlds in the multiversal spiral.”
[It appears that the remaining three sliders encountered someone who claimed to be an alternate brother of Quinn Mallory. His name was Colin Mallory and he claimed he could get them home. It was a trap. He led them to their deaths.]
“Colin Mallory? The same Colin Mallory Rembrandt and Maggie use to slide with?”
[There is insufficient information to distinguish that.]
“So somebody has to go back and keep Rickman from killing Quinn. And I’m not sure about the most likely candidate anymore.
[The temporal flux is subsiding. If something is not done to rectify this situation, this will become the new timeline.]
“Sounds like we don’t have much of a choice.”
“It was the weirdest thing! This older version of Maggie just appeared out of nowhere and saves us from Rickman.” Wade Welles could scarcely tell her companions the tale.
“Yeah, downright weird.” Rembrandt Brown was still shaken from the event.
“Mr. Brown, I had a similar encounter with an older version of you. He attacked Rickman and gave me the blueprints for the slide wave device.”
“This is too weird. I can only guess that the people you encountered had to be sliders from worlds where time runs at a different speed.” Quinn Mallory tried to sound sure of himself. He knew with sliding most of the rules didn’t apply, but this sounded even too strange for sliding.
Arturo tried to quickly change the course of the conversation. “Quinn and I have made the necessary changes to the sliding equipment. All we need do is activate the timer and the slide wave should envelop this earth and transfer everyone to the New World.”
“Does Maggie know about this?” Rembrandt asked.
“No, she’s been too busy trying to get the groups organized for the slide. We thought it best not to get anyone’s hopes up just in case this doesn’t work.”
“So what are we waiting for?” Wade’s tone almost made it sound as if she was trying to say “GET ON WITH IT!”
Arturo raised the timer device and turned the dial. The sliding equipment roared to life and began to blanket the room in a strange reddish light. It continued to spread outward to engulf the base, the city, the state, North America and so on until it enveloped the entire Earth. In the blink of an eye the entire populace of this particular version of Earth vanished.
On another earth in the multiversal spiral, a world where man has not yet pulled himself from the Stone Age, Quinn and the others appeared.
Quinn was woozy; his eyes could barely focus. “Is everyone okay?”
“Not for long Mallory.”
Quinn was able to focus his eyes, only to see Rickman, wounded and bleeding still, holding a gun to Quinn’s face.
“It’s over Mallory! You! You are the cause of all of this. You ruined everything! And now you pay with your life!”
Rickman cocked the gun, but as he was about to fire, a single bullet pierced his skull and he dropped to the ground.
“Who?” Quinn voice was unsure.
“What is going on!” Arturo exclaimed.
“Who is this guy?” Rembrandt asked.
“He sort of looks like . . . Quinn?” Wade’s words were unsure.
“Who are you?” Quinn asked.
“My name is Colin Mallory and I just saved your life. Rickman would have killed you.”
“But how did you know?”
“I’m from the future. The timeline had to be changed.”
“Colin Mallory? Are you Quinn’s son?” Wade asked.
“No I’m his brother.” Colin replied icily.
“I don’t have a brother. Must have me confused with one of my doubles.”
“No you are the Quinn Mallory I’m looking for. I couldn’t let Rickman kill you.”
“We want answers! This is getting insane even for us! How many of you have they sent back, or is this simply a Kromagg mind trick, like when they had captured us?”
Colin smiled, “I couldn’t let Rickman kill you. Six people have given their lives to avert what originally happened here.”
“But . .” Quinn’s words were cut off.
“Because none of you could die.” Colin began to laugh. “Because I wanted to be the ones to kill you!”
Colin aimed his gun at Wade. “She’s first!”
Colin’s wristband began to blink, he simply ripped it from his arm and spoke, “What that fool didn’t realize is I was ‘unstuck’ their precious ‘rules’ don’t apply to me. I won’t fade away like the others and when I’ve finished killing you four I’m bringing the Dynasty here! Prepare to watch her die dear brother. MWAHAHAHA!”
A ray of light enveloped Colin. He couldn’t move. “What the hell!”
Another player joined the game. He was probably in his late twenties. None of the group recognized him.
He spoke, “I’m not a fool Colin. I told you that you were the last who could go back. I lied. I too have been exposed to the dark matter from a sliding vortex. Once, but that one time was all I needed to make the jump back. I knew you’d betray us and for that, I cosign you to where we found you. Unstuck, without form trapped in between worlds in the multiverse. Rot in hell, Colin.”
He turned a small dial on his wristband and Colin simply seemed to implode into himself.
The sliders were stunned.
“Young man we demand some answers!” The boisterous voice of Arturo was the first heard.
“And I’ll tell you what I can in the limited time I have left. My name is Andrew Summers. What Colin told you was true. One of you was destined to die and it had to be averted. I know, time travel shouldn’t be possible due to the nature of the multiverse, but thanks to Quinn here, there was a loophole. When he changed history on Time’s Arrow world he set off a chain reaction that allowed the history around the four of you to be altered.”
Andrew’s wristband began to blink.
“Which one of us was going to die?” Rembrandt asked.
“I think it’s best if that information remain a mystery.”
The blinking became faster
“But who or what are you?” Wade asked.
“Maybe someday we’ll meet and you will have your answers. Take care of each other. The multiverse depends on you four.”
And with those words Andrew vanished from existence.
“I think I’m more confused than ever,” Rembrandt said.
“How much time is on Jensen’s timer?” Wade asked.
Arturo raised the device, “6 days 12 hours 32 minutes.”
“Guess we should find Captain Beckett?” was Quinn’s response.
“Do we have to?” Wade responded.
“Well, I’m sure she might like to know what’s been going on here.” Arturo responded.
“C’mon gang. Let’s go face the music.” Rembrandt immediately burst into laughter after his statement. “Get it? Music? I’m the Cryin’ Man!”
The others shook their heads. They were family; they wouldn’t have it any other way.
[It seems Andrew has succeeded. The temporal flux has almost completely subsided. The Dynasty has only possession of 3% of the worlds in the multiversal spiral and that number appears to be dropping. In a few moments time will completely realign and this unit will cease to exist in this form. The only question I have is what became of the sliders? Did they make it home? There is not enough information to successfully conclude what happened, but I think I know the answer.]
And if the Traveller unit Artemis could have smiled, it would have as it faded from existence.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Captain Maggie Beckett’s voice was loud and forceful.
“We saved lives,” was Quinn Mallory’s response.
“And how many people will die of starvation or be eaten by dinosaurs? How many people will make it 6 months here?”
“If I might speak Captain Beckett, “ Professor Arturo’s words were slow and polite.
“Granted, we did not completely think through our actions, but you must agree that more lives were saved then if only a select few had been allowed to slide to this new world.”
Maggie Beckett chose her words carefully. “Look, it’s not like I don’t appreciate what the four of you have done for us. You saved millions of lives. You gave everyone on my world a chance to live, but you could have told me what you were planning. We could have been better prepared for our situation.”
Quinn Mallory pulled the Egyptian timer from his pocket and handed it to Maggie.
“What am I suppose to do with this?”
“Look, I made a few modifications to it before we activated the slide wave. I knew it would be useless to us. Hit the red button.”
Maggie pressed the red button on the timer and a vortex opened. It was different from the usual sliding vortex and had a green-ish hue to it.
“It’s a vortex, but not a sliding vortex. It has a 400 mile radius on it, point to point transportation and the regenerative power source only needs about half an hour to recharge.”
“In English, Mallory.” Maggie tried not to roll her eyes at Quinn’s endless techno babble.
“In English, it’s the means for you to communicate with the other survivors.”
“Thank you, Quinn. It will help.”
“Well then, if all the formalities are taken care of I say we find a nice location and slide home,” The boisterous voice of Professor Arturo rang out.
Rembrandt was quick to speak, “Maggie, promise me you’ll take care of Malcolm.”
“I will Rembrandt.”
“Let’s get this show on the road gang, I’m ready to sleep in my own bed!” Wade Welles was ecstatic; soon she and her friends would be home.
The group said their goodbyes and headed north of the camp. Quinn held up Jensen’s timer and spoke, “Are we ready?”
“What kind of question is that Q-Ball?”
“Yeah Quinn, of course we’re ready.” Wade noticed something in Quinn’s facial expression. “What’s wrong Quinn?”
Quinn looked at his friends, he chose his words carefully. “After everything that’s happened, I’m not sure I can go home.”
“God Heavens lad! What madness has taken you? Home Mr. Mallory, it’s what we’ve been looking forward to since this journey began.”
“And that’s the point Professor. I don’t think our journey is over. Something just doesn’t sit right with me. The other Rembrandt and Maggie, they gave their very existence to save our lives. One of us was suppose to die and if that Colin character would have had his way all of us would have died. I just don’t know if I can go home.”
“Q-ball, listen to yourself. If everything you say is true, then don’t you think we deserve this?”
“Quinn, it’s what we’ve all wanted.” Wade wasn’t sure how to ease her friend’s pain.
“I know. I just can’t shake the feeling like there’s something we still have to do.”
The timer began to beep.
“It’s time.” Quinn’s voice was almost devoid of emotion. He raised the timer and two bolts of red shot from it. A reddish rip in the fabric of reality began to form. Wade and Rembrandt were the first in.
Arturo turned to Quinn and spoke, “Quinn, I know you are troubled by all that has transpired here, but we are going home. You’ve finally done it.”
Quinn cracked a smile, “Yeah. Let’s go home Professor.”
The two jumped into the vortex and it collapsed. Home waited at the other end of the tunnel.
Andrew Summers sat at the control station of his Traveller unit DALIUS.
“So what happened next DALIUS?”
[The sliders returned home to Earth Prime.]
“Everyone knows that, DALIUS, but what happened to them?”
[3 months later the Kromagg Dynasty attempted to invade Earth Prime. Quinn and the others slid off in search of help. The interdimensional task force they created still exists even with the threat of the Dynasty nearly eliminated]
“And everyone knows that too DALIUS. What happened to the SLIDERS?”
“Why don’t you just ask us Andrew?” Quinn Mallory spoke with a smile.
“You know lad, you look very familiar. Summers is it?” Arturo grinned from ear to ear.
“What those two are trying to say is we’ve met before, of course you wouldn’t remember it and of course it wasn’t actually you, but . . . DAMN! Time travel is a headache!” Rembrandt Brown clutched his temples.
“Andrew we’re all fine. The Professor was cured, me and Quinn got married and Remmy here is a smash sensation on just about every world in the multiverse,” Wade flashed her wedding ring.
[Why was it so important for you to know what happened to the Sliders, Andrew?]
Andrew cracked a smile of his own, “Because DALIUS, every fan wants a happy ending.”
The group laughed. Rembrandt spoke, “A fan huh?”
“Come on guys, they need us on Earth Delta 5. Stop by whenever you feel the need Andrew and even though you won’t understand why, Thanks.”
Quinn pulled the timer from his pocket; it looked almost identical to the original. He opened a vortex and his three comrades dove in. He flashed a grin at Andrew and spoke as he dove into the vortex, “You have got to love sliding!”