By Laura Brigandi (Robin14334)
Jerry O'Connell as Quinn Mallory
Cleavant Derricks as Rembrandt Brown
Kari Wuhrer as Maggie Beckett
Charlie O'Connell as Colin Mallory
Robert Floyd as Michael Mallory, Jr.
Quinn Mallory awoke to find himself in a Kromagg prison cell. He put his hand to his forehead to ease the tremendous headache he had, and felt a bandage wrapped around his head. He tried to think back to what had just happened, but had trouble recalling anything. The last thing he remembered was being captured by the Kromaggs and being separated from his friends. Just then, the force field surrounding him was deactivated and a Kromagg entered the cell. He grabbed Quinn and dragged him out of the cell and down the hall to another room where he was strapped to a chair. Quinn didnít try to resist, he just sat and waited for the Kromagg to speak.
"You know why you are here, donít you?" the Kromagg asked him.
"Actually, no, I donít," Quinn replied. It was true. He hadnít done anything. Of course, with the Kromaggs, you usually didnít need a reason.
"You have had a tracking device implanted in your brain for quite a while," the Kromagg told him. This was news to Quinn. He had known nothing about a tracking device. Did this mean the Kromaggs had been following him all this time? What if they took over Earth Prime? He had just found his home, and at the same time he could have caused its demise.
"We did not put it there, it was implanted by other Kromaggs. But we have been able to use it," the Kromagg explained. "We have been following you, hoping you would lead us to our homeworld. However, you could not get past the slidecage. Now we have decided you are of no more use to us. You cannot get us to our homeworld. The tracking device has been removed. We are going to eliminate you and your friends."
"What!?" Quinn exclaimed in horror.
"You serve us no purpose, and you know too much," the Kromagg told him matter-of-factly. They were vicious killers who had sworn to destroy the human race on all earths, and didnít think twice about eliminating humans. As the Kromagg began to prepare some type of laser that looked like its purpose was frying human eyes, the sound of gunshots was heard in the hall. The Kromagg whirled to face the door, drawing his weapon. Maggie burst through the door, shooting wildly. The Kromagg fell before he had a chance to fire. Rembrandt and Colin ran over to untie Quinn.
"Nice timing guys," Quinn remarked somewhat sarcastically, although he was, indeed, incredibly grateful. "How did you escape?"
"We had a little help from a friend of yours," Maggie said, inspecting the dead Kromagg and taking his weapon. "A certain Conrad Bennish. He was another prisoner, from this earth, but he escaped and has been hiding ever since the Kromaggs took over this world. Remmy said you knew him from back home. Come on, we donít have much time, and we still have to find the timer." She got up and tossed the Kromagg weapon to Quinn.
The four of them ran down the corridor until Quinn stopped at an open door. "Here," he said, peering in. He could see all kinds of sliding technology and if they were going to find the timer, this was the place. They went in and began to ransack the equipment in search of their device. Suddenly something on a computer screen caught Quinnís eye. "Oh, man," he muttered. He couldnít read all the Kromagg words, but one thing stood out loud and clear. A picture Ė of him. He grabbed a disk and began downloading the file.
"Found it," Colin called, waving the timer. "We donít have that much time leftÖ Quinn, what are you doing?"
"Iím downloading a file," Quinn told him. "Hopefully I can translate it on the next world."
Rembrandt and Colin stared at him incredulously, and Maggie rolled her eyes. "Come on, time to go," she said. She pointed the timer in front of her and a vortex materialized. She jumped into it, followed by Rembrandt.
"Come on, brother," Colin urged.
"Wait, Iím not done yet." Just then, they heard the sound of Kromaggs in pursuit. The file finished and Quinn grabbed the disk as the Kromaggs rounded the corner.
"Letís go!" Quinn shouted, shooting at the Kromaggs as they entered the room, and he and Colin jumped into the vortex. It closed behind them.
The vortex opened in an alleyway, and the sliders tumbled out.
"Man that was close!" Remmy said, relieved. "Those Kromaggots better not follow usÖ."
"I hope not," Quinn agreed. "Meanwhile, letís get to the Dominion and check in. We only have 20 hours and I want to check out this disk." With that, he walked out to the street and hailed a cab. The rest of the sliders followed him.
"The Dominion? I thought we always stayed at the Chandler," Colin said, confused.
"Thatís in Los Angeles, pal. Weíre back in San Francisco, and when weíre in San Francisco we stay at the Dominion," Rembrandt told him. "Unless, of course, weíre staying at the Motel 12, or the Royal ChancellorÖ." he trailed off, lost in thought about past adventures. Quinn laughed as Colin just shook his head.
Later, in the hotel room, Quinn was sitting at a computer. Luckily they had slid to a high tech world where computers were everywhere. He had just translated the Kromagg file using a decoding program and was shocked by what he had discovered. "Guys, you will not believe what I just found out," he said. The others gathered around as Quinn told them what the file said.
"Remember, since I wasnít from that other world, I thought that the microdot I got from my mother in the Kromagg prison really belonged to my double? Well, get this: there is no other Quinn. It was all a Kromagg illusion designed for me to believe that I had a brother. Colinís not really my brother, heís my double!" Quinn looked around at the othersí shocked faces, and he continued. "Heís from the Kromagg homeworld, and he held the key to getting there, the microdot from his parents. If he had used it to get home, the Kromaggs could have followed him and found a way around the slidecage. That was their plan. But there was no way for Colin to discover sliding on that technologically deficient world. The Kromaggs needed someone to help him. So they created the illusion to fool me. The world we thought was Earth Prime was really a Kromagg world and we were led there, led into a trap."
"But why you?" Remmy asked him. "Why not some other double?"
"Because they were already tracking me," Quinn said. "There was a tracking device planted in my brain three years ago when we first ran into the Kromaggs, and they had been using it to track where I slid to. They were going to follow me to their homeworld. Of course, when I couldnít get past the slidecage, they decided I wasnít of any more use, and they were going to kill us."
The rest of the sliders just looked at him, stunned.
"This is getting really weird, Q-Ball," Rembrandt finally said.
Quinn nodded in agreement. "It certainly proves our theory that the last world was home."
"So what now?" Colin wanted to know.
"I guess weíll just stick to the same plan as before," Quinn said thoughtfully. "As soon as I know you guys are in good hands and can maybe still find Colinís world, Iíll go home."
"ĎAs soon as weíre in good handsí? How are you planning to pull that off?" Maggie asked skeptically.
"Well, I thought maybe if I could find a double of mine who had sliding technology or somethingÖ. Iím not really sure. Iím just playing it by earÖ." He grinned playfully. "Why do you always expect me to have all the answers?"
Rembrandt grinned back at his longtime friend. "Cause you usually do."
"So, what do we do? Just keep sliding until we find someone else to slide with?" Colin asked curtly. He was a little miffed that Quinn didnít think he was responsible enough to take care of the group. After all, he was Quinnís double, tooÖ.
"Yeah, I guess," Quinn replied. "Why? You got a better idea?"
"Well, no," Colin admitted. He shouldnít be upset. Quinn was just doing his best. And he supposed it would be a good idea to have someone who knew about sliding, if Quinn was gone.
"But wait," Maggie said to Quinn. "Thereís one thing I donít understand. Howís Colin your double? I mean, youíre not the same personÖ."
"Different mothers, same father," Quinn explained. "My momís name is Amanda, the mother from Kromagg Prime is Elizabeth. I just figured it was a quirk of parallel dimensions that I had a different mother, but I think thatís the cause of the slight differences between Colin and me. I guess you could call him my Ďhalf-doubleí."
"Like a half-brother, I get it," Maggie nodded.
"Well, I guess thatís it until we slide," Rembrandt said. "Iím going down to the bar, anybody want to join me?"
Quinn spotted Rembrandt as soon as he walked into the bar area and went to sit down next to him. Remmy looked up as he approached.
"So you decided to join me, huh?"
"Yeah," Quinn replied, pulling up a chair. "I want to talk to youÖ itís important."
"Sure, whatís the matter, Q-Ball? Something else in those Kromagg files?"
"No, itís not thatÖ itís, wellÖ." He took a deep breath. "Were you planning to keep sliding? I mean, after I go home?"
"Yeah, I suppose," Rembrandt sighed. "I donít have anything to go back to, and besides, itís sort of become a habit now, you know? Itíd be weird not to be sliding. But we can always go home if we want to, right?"
"Oh yeah," Quinn assured him. "I adjusted the timer so that we can program it to go home at any time. But, if youíre going to keep sliding, thereís a favor I need to ask you, something I donít want to leave unfinishedÖ." He trailed off, not knowing just how to say what he wanted to.
"What is it?" Rembrandt prompted him. "Iíll do anything, man. Whatever you want." He would, too. Over the past four years, Quinn had become his best friend. He would give his life for this guy, if Quinn asked it.
Quinn sat silently before answering. He had spent so much time trying to put it away, to shelve it in some far remote corner of his mind, so he wouldnít feel the hurt, wouldnít torture himself over it. Now, as he tried to formulate the words, he could feel the emotions flooding back. The pain, the longing, the guilt. Oh God, all the guilt. How he had ripped himself apart inside, knowing it was all his fault. "Wade," he said finally, heaving a deep sigh. "Youíll find her, wonít you? Youíll bring her home to me?" The look on his face was one of such pain, one Rembrandt hadnít seen in a long time.
"Of course!" Rembrandt was surprised. Lately Quinn hadnít seemed to care. But, Remmy surmised, heís got to be preoccupied trying to keep us alive. He doesnít have time to think of anything else. He told Quinn aloud, "Iíd never give up trying to find her."
Quinn looked extremely relieved, but something was still bothering him. "I donít know how Iím ever going to make it up to her for all the time weíve spent traipsing around parallel universes while she was stuck in a breeding camp. If we ever find her, that is," he added, crestfallen.
"We will," Rembrandt assured him. "Weíll find her, and weíll bring her back to Earth Prime to you."
"Thanks, Remmy, youíre the best," Quinn leaned over and hugged his best friend. "I want to find her myself, but MomÖ I canít leave her again. Iím worried about her, you know? My being gone, itís been so hard on her. I canít leave her again, not evenÖ not even to find Wade." He almost seemed to surprise himself with that statement. The cruelty of fate, to make him choose between the two women he loved more than life itself. His handsome features contorted, and Rembrandt thought he was crying, but there were no tears, only that look of pain that made Remmyís heart ache.
After a moment, Quinn looked up, composing himself enough to continue. "I guess part of it is, though, I donít know if I could face Wade after all this time. We just left her stranded there, a prisoner. She probably hates me by now and I just love her so much, I donít know what Iíd do ifÖ." He couldnít bear to finish the sentence. What if she didnít want to see him again? What if she didnít want anything to do with him? Heíd be destroyed. Then something else occurred to him. "My God, Remmy, if those íMaggs so much as touched herÖ."
"I know, man. I know." Rembrandt was just as possessive as Quinn. He loved Wade like a sister and would have found it difficult to handle if anything had happened to her. He was glad Quinn had finally come to his senses. How he could have been so blind, how he could have not even realized what he had, was beyond Remmy.
"Well itís that time again," Quinn said, the next day. The group had assembled in the hotel room as the timer counted down to zero. "Letís go!" A vortex opened and he jumped in, followed by Colin, then Maggie and Rembrandt.
As soon as he came out of the vortex, Quinn could see that it was going to be a tough landing in a small space. He could see all kinds of clutter, but it wasnít until Colin barreled into him, flinging him into a large machine, that he realized where they were. His basement. Before he could shout a warning, Maggie and Rembrandt flew out into a table, knocking it over and sprawling on the floor, along with the contents of the table.
"Oh my God!" they heard a voice say from the stairs as the vortex closed. They looked up to see an attractive, dark-haired man standing on the steps. Had the sliders been paying closer attention they would have seen that he looked slightly like Quinn and Colin. However, they were too preoccupied with their unpleasant landing to notice, as the man came running down, a look of shock on his face.
"Who are you? What have you done?" he wailed as he saw the state of his basement. Maggie and Rembrandt guiltily picked themselves up off the floor, trying to put the table to rights. As Remmy stood they all heard something crack under his foot.
"Oops," he said, bending to pick up whatever he had stepped on. "I guess this belongs to you." He held out what looked like a mangled timer. "Sorry, man. Didnít mean toÖ."
"Oh great," the man said. "There goes anti-gravity down the drain."
"Well, if itís any consolation to you, it wouldnít have worked anyway," Quinn told him, trying to be optimistic.
"What?" the man turned to him. "What do you know? And who are you anyway?"
"Quinn Mallory," he said, extending his hand. The man took it reluctantly. "And I know it wouldnít have worked because I tried the same thing, and I ended up with this." He held up the timer. "Itís a timer, we use it for traveling between parallel dimensions. Who might you happen to be, by the way?"
"Michael," the man said, unsure of what was going on. "Michael Mallory, Jr."
The slidersí jaws dropped. "Do you mind if we come upstairs?" Quinn asked, raising his eyebrows. "I think we need to talk."
"So youíre my double from a parallel universe and you justÖ Ďslidí here through a vortex using an anti-gravity device?"
"Uh, yeah, something like that," Quinn answered. He knew Michael was a little skeptical but perhaps this was the guy he was looking for. A scientist to help the group. He knew he was rushing into it, but he couldnít help being overeager. He wanted to get home so badly, he was willing to take Michael along after only knowing him a short while. He knew heíd have to discuss it with the others though. After all, they were the ones whoíd be sliding with Michael. "Listen, weíd love to stay and chat, but weíve got to get to our hotel. See you later, all right?"
"Yeah, sure," Michael agreed, escorting them out.
"And I promise," Quinn called as he was leaving, "Iíll make it up to you for the damage!" He waved and then hurried to catch up to his friends.
"So," he started. "Whatíd you think of that guy?"
"He seemed okay, I guess," Maggie offered. "But so did a lot of people before we got to know them. Remember our friends from snake world?"
Everyone groaned. Well, except Colin. He just looked confused again. Man, he wished someone would fill him in on all these past adventures.
"But really," Quinn continued, "I think heís a pretty good guy. What would you say about taking him along?"
"You serious, Q-Ball? We donít even know the guy!" Rembrandt looked slightly perplexed.
"And I have a question for you," Maggie chimed in. "Howís he your double, too? Donít tell me itís another different mother."
Quinn nodded. "Probably."
"Well, that makes three," Rembrandt said, shaking his head in mock disbelief. "Man, Q-Ball, your old manís a real player."
Maggie and Colin burst out laughing, while Quinn just stared at Rembrandt, trying to look angry. He failed. His lips curled into a smile as he spoke, "You just better watch it, Crying Man." He punched Remmy lightly on the shoulder. "Now what about Michael?"
"Well, I guess he can slide with us," Colin conceded, "if he wants to."
"Yeah, sure, why not?" Rembrandt chimed in. Maggie nodded in agreement.
"Then itís settled," Quinn announced. "We slide around noon tomorrow, weíll go back and talk to him in the morning."
"Do I what!?" Michael was considerably shocked by the offer.
"Do you want to slide with us when we leave this afternoon?" Quinn repeated. "See, Iím the only one who knows how the timer works, and Iím going to be leaving soon, so I need someone to take care of my friends for me while Iím gone. You game?"
"Yeah!" This was the chance of a lifetime for a scientist like Michael, and he wasnít about to pass it up. "Do I need to bring anything with me? Should I pack? Iíve got to leave a note for my mom!"
"Donít bring anything you donít want to carry for the rest of your life," Quinn advised. "But a note is definitely a good idea. I left my mom without telling her the first timeÖ." He trailed off into silence. All those times when he had wished he could see his mother again. Now he was going home for good. Words couldnít describe the way he was feeling.
"So whatís it like, sliding?"
"You wouldnít believe us if we told you," Maggie said. "Youíll just have to wait and see."
"What do I do? Just jump in?" Michael shouted over the swirling wind of the vortex.
"Yeah, like this!" Maggie was about to leap into the vortex, when Quinn stopped her.
"You got your medication?" he asked. "We donít want you dying or anything."
Maggie held up her inhaler. "All set!" She turned and jumped into the vortex. Rembrandt and Colin jumped in after her.
"You ready for this?" Quinn asked, patting Michael on the shoulder for encouragement.
"Yeah I think so," Michael replied.
"Then follow me!" Quinn jumped in after his friends, and then, with one last glance around, Michael Mallory, Jr. began the most exciting journey of his life.
Alternate Earth 117
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