Before I start the story, I need to give a bit of background. There was one time on the Dominion bboard, where there was a fun war. On one side were the women who kept mentioning "berets" and on the other side was the men who wanted to eradicate every mention of the headwear. There were also those who were neutral and those 'reporters' who took neither side. I have to say that I was on the BFA side (Berets for all). Bear that in mind while reading this fanfic.
* * *
A shimmering blue vortex opened in the sky and deposited four people into a garden. They all tried to land on their feet, but somehow, none quite managed it and they ended up in a heap in the middle of a bush. Luckily, it didn't have any thorns. The three guys and one woman manoeuvred their way out of the tangled mess they were in and observes their surroundings.
"Looks kinda peaceful," said Maggie.
"It almost seems like a paradise," agreed Colin.
"Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm hoping that it has good food because I'm starving!" Rembrandt Brown wasn't really a selfish person, except when he was hungry.
"Come on then. We'd better get out of here anyway; it's private property and I don't think we want to get arrested again!" Quinn was always the leader, no matter how hard he tried to delegate responsibility.
The Sliders strolled out of the beautiful garden, enjoying the nature around them. Colin especially. His world had been more agriculturally based than the others and at times he missed the peacefulness.
They came to a wooded fence and climbed over it, now free of the charge of trespassing. A path led away from the house, surrounded by trees and bushes. There was a concrete bit to walk on, but that was the only sign of anything industrial. Quinn tried to look for the tall buildings that were a characteristic of industrial society, but found his vision obscured by leafy trees. Eventually, they came to the end of the path.
All four of them were amazed at what they could now see. There were the tall buildings Quinn had looked for and there were other things such as cars.
"An industrial society that's considerate to the environment? That's certainly a rarity," commented Maggie in her understatement tone.
Quinn led them in the direction of the nearest place they could find some food. It happened to be a small café with an outside seating area. They sat down at a circular table and were almost immediately approached by a waiter in a white beret. Maggie was the one who appreciated the fact that he wasn't wearing a shirt.
"May I help you sirs? Madam?" He was the most polite waiter any of them had seen in a long time in any world.
Rembrandt ordered first and was followed in quick succession by Quinn, Colin and finally Maggie.
When the waiter had finished, he disappeared inside the café, but not before performing a little bow to the Sliders.
"We must be quite important here," said Colin.
"I'm not so sure, returned his brother. He gestured towards another waiter serving another group of customers. "They're all doing it."
"They must just be a world of very polite people. And the men just happen to like not wearing any shirts." Maggie couldn't help being observant under the circumstances. She wasn't being a slut, just a woman. It wasn't her fault if some of the native males didn’t like wearing shirts. And she wasn't gonna complain either.
"Peaceful as well. It's not often we find one of them. I wonder what happened here to create a society like this?"
"How long do we have here, Q-Ball?"
Quinn reached into his pocket and retrieved the timer. "Uh, only 6 hours?"
"6 hours!" Maggie screamed at him in disbelief, "Are you sure you're not reading the readout wrong? Are you sure it doesn't say 6 days? Please let it say 6 days!" She had also noticed the plethora of beret shops and wanted to buy one. They seemed to come in all colours and she wanted a blue beret. She lost the last one running from something on another world.
"It definitely says 6 hours."
Remmy let out a chuckle. "It figures. We get several days on oppressed worlds and 6 hours on a peaceful world."
"Brother, why is everyone wearing berets?" asked Colin inquisitively.
For the first time, Quinn actually noticed that almost everyone around them was wearing a beret. There were lots of different patterns and colours, but everyone was wearing them. "I don't know," he whispered, "I really have no idea whatsoever."
That topic was the bulk of their conversation until their food and drinks arrived, which wasn't very long. As the waiter placed the plates and glasses on the table, the conversation turned to food and the various varieties they had tasted on different worlds.
"Man, that was good!" Rembrandt laid back in his chair and sighed. "If all the food is as good as this, no wonder everyone's happy." Everyone did look happy. Even business people and mothers with several beret-clad kids.
As the waiter arrived to give them their relatively cheap bill, he asked a question. "Where are you berets, if I may be so rude as to ask."
Quinn sat up, not quite sure of how to respond. "We… er…lost them."
"All of you?"
This was where Maggie butted in, "We're shopping for new ones."
"Ahhh. Very good. I hope you enjoyed your meal." With another of his bows he walked off and began to serve another customer.
"I guess it's shopping time then."
The guys looked at Maggie in a peculiar way. "Why?" asked Quinn.
"He said we needed berets, so we'd better go and by some. We have to blend in with the natives and it that means buying berets then so be it!"
"But I wanted to check out the library to see how this all came about. It's obviously quite recent and effective."
"We can do that afterwards. If we wander around without berets for too long, we'll stand out and usually when that happens the effects are not great." She looked Quinn straight in the eye so he could see she was completely serious. In the end, he conceded and Maggie stood up, ready to shop. "Oh and you may have to remove your shirts as well," she added to tease them.
However, the effect was somewhat lost because the guys were so full of delicious food that they were a little slow on the uptake. Eventually Quinn realised what she had said and replied, completely seriously, "Doubt it. Not all of the men are. It seems to be a choice."
Maggie looked at him, hands on hips.
"What?" he protested.
"Never mind." Maggie gave up. She couldn't be bothered to explain it to a group of men who were still recovering from lunch. It was a good thing she hadn't eaten too much or they'd never get anything done. To save time, she just dragged them to the nearest beret shop and helped them choose a suitable beret.
"I feel peculiar," said Colin as they exited the shop.
"I feel stupid." Quinn turned around and used the glass in the window as a mirror as he tried to alter the positioning.
"Leave it alone." Maggie's voice was firm and she physically pulled his hands away from his beret. "It looks fine." She relished the opportunity to look at him in detail.
"But…" Quinn started to say, but Maggie cut him off again.
"We don't have much time here and if you want to check out the library, we'd better go now."
Quinn just stood there, trying to sulk, but he wasn't very good so he looked more stupid than he did with just the beret on. Then he had an idea. "Why don't Colin and I check out the library and you two go off and look around." He was so pleased with the idea that he forgot to mask his mischievous expression.
"I'm not stupid Quinn. I'm not falling for that one. If I leave you two alone, you won't wear your berets and then the locals will know we don't belong here. Either that or they'll arrest us." Then she had a thought. "There are a few guys around who aren't wearing berets, or anything else for that matter except for towels. You could always follow their example."
This time it worked better than her last jibe. Neither Colin nor Quinn said anything, but grimaced at her, knowing she'd won. Still, it stopped them from fiddling with their berets.
Rembrandt was trying hard to stop laughing at Quinn and Colin's child-like behaviour. He didn't mind wearing the beret too much. He also understood that it was necessary to blend in. When he regained his composure he expressed that thought before moving on to another. "We should probably stay together anyway. We haven't got that long have we?" He looked at Quinn for an answer.
"4 hours," replied Quinn.
"Well then, we don't want to get separated and miss the slide."
Quinn agreed and they all moved off in the direction of the library with berets on their heads.
* * *
Quinn Mallory sat at the library computer sifting through information on the history of this world. His brother and two closest friends were huddled around him, trying to read as he did. However, he read far quicker than they and so they ended up only catching parts of sentences.
"Ah-ha!" Quinn stopped part way down a text. Not knowing where to start, he'd had to go through the history in a nutshell. It wasn't very informative so now knowing what to look for, he took out the disk and inserted a more complete encyclopaedia.
"Great," said Maggie sarcastically, "And it only took you nearly two hours! Plus the hour and a half it took to find the place. We must be going for a record(!)"
Quinn chose to ignore her at the moment. "Here." He pointed at the screen and the others peered closer. Even Maggie. "I was right. It didn't start that long ago."
He then launched into a speech because it was difficult for them all to look at the screen at once without hitting each others heads. "It seems that on this world, there was a television show called Sliders and they did an episode where two of the characters wore berets."
Rembrandt noticed the similarity. "Didn't we do that once?"
Quinn nodded before continuing. "This world had the internet and on one of the bulletin boards dedicated to the show, a war began to break out. In general it was a sex war. The female fans began mentioning berets in most of their posts and a few of the men got so annoyed that they formed a league to eradicate all references to that headwear." Without realising he put his hand up to his own beret before receiving a glare from Maggie. He removed his hand and continued. "The women formed a retaliatory group which promoted the wearing of berets. What began as a fun little disagreement spread beyond the realms of the television show and after some time it spread to almost everyone. Of course not everyone actively participated. Some of them couldn't care less who won and others were just concerned with violent news reports. Anyway, the "Berets For All" fighters won in the end. There were many reasons for this. They had more intelligent fighters, there were more of them, their leader wasn't captured among others. They took over the world. It seems the only downside to their rule was that everyone had to wear a beret. Or men were allowed a towel if they didn't want berets. They had a love of the male body."
"It sounds like one of their leading members was deranged," observed Colin innocently.
Quinn and Rembrandt laughed at his comment, but Maggie didn't agree. "Or maybe they had one who just like men in towels. She didn't have to be deranged."
Again, Quinn took little notice of her comment. With Maggie it was best not to. "Because the world was now women run, proper wars rarely took place. They also helped the environment back on its feet. This world is thriving and all due to the berets. There is of course still an anti-beret league, but considering the good the BFA has done, they'll be unlikely to overthrow them."
"It’s a shame we can't stay. It’s a nice place. How long do we have?"
"I guess we'd better take our last looks at paradise then."
Rembrandt didn't agree with Maggie. "Actually, I think we should find a secluded place to slide from."
"I'm with Remmy," added Quinn.
"Me too." Colin joined his voice with theirs.
Maggie had nothing to do but follow them outside and round to the back of the building where Quinn pointed the timer in front of him and pressed the activation button.
Unlike usual, Maggie was the last through the vortex. She wanted to get a last look at every woman's idea of paradise.
* * *
The Sliders exited the wormhole in a place very different from the last. They landed quite near a busy street, but the people were so busy fighting that they didn't notice. There were two groups shooting at each other down the street.
"Please don't tell me we have a week here." Maggie enjoyed the exhilaration of fighting, but she didn't want to after the last paradise-like world.
"Nope, we have exactly 9 minutes and 36 seconds."
"Are you sure? I didn't think the laws of sliding worked like that."
"They do now."
"Hey guys," ventured Rembrandt, "I think that on this world the beret war is still going on." He was right. There were berets spray-painted on the walls and then sprayed out by another group. There were also a few berets flying around in the midst of fighting.
"Collaborators!" screamed one of the anti-beret men. At first the Sliders didn't understand. Then they realised. Quinn and Colin had thrown off their berets at the first opportunity and now they were standing with the beret-clad Maggie and Rembrandt.
"I think we'd better run." Quinn didn't even wait for an answer. He turned and ran in the opposite direction of the closing fighters. Maggie and Rembrandt followed his example and Colin somehow managed to come in behind them.
They ran until they thought they'd lost them. "30 seconds!" called Quinn.
Just before that time was up, the fighting factions rounded the corner and saw them.
"Aw, Hell," muttered Quinn. He hated being seen sliding. Before they could fire any shots, Quinn had activated the vortex and the locals stood staring. The four Sliders leaped into the vortex fairly close together, none of them wanting to take a bullet.
On the next world. They landed in a huge pile, but somehow they all managed to avoid hospitalisation.
Alternate Earth 117
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