(c) Copyright July 1996

This document can be freely distributed with the condition that it is not modified or sold in any way. Some characters and elements of this story are the property of St. Clare Entertainment, used without authorization. The author receives no compensation from the distribution of this work.

SLIDERS: ALL FOR ONE (1 of 2) by Nigel G. Mitchell

Author's Note: The following story takes place sometime between "Rules of the Game" and the third season premiere, "Double Cross." It was inspired by the short, but deeply introspective and character- oriented Sliders fanfiction written by Diana Jones which changed my view of how SLFIC could be written. I'd also like to acknowledge that some technical elements mentioned in this story are entirely my invention with no basis on the show whatsoever.

PART ONE

That night, Quinn sat at the small table in a corner of their room at the Dominion Hotel. A nearby window was filled with the darkness of night, the glass streaked with the pouring rain. It was calming in a way, but Quinn ignored it. His immediate concern was the timer he had open on the table next to him. He had reset the counter display to show a graph. Quinn was intently studying the graph, writing careful notations in a notebook he had carried with him for the last fifteen slides. The extra mass had been a risk Quinn had been willing to take. It was too important not to.

The others were scattered around the hotel room. Wade lay back on the couch, watching TV. Arturo was sitting by a lamp, reading a copy of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." Rembrandt was making his presence known by the swishing crunch coming from the bathroom as he brushed his teeth. It was quiet. Too quiet.

Quinn glanced up from his work to look at the others. Tension was a shroud hanging over the room. They had been stuck in this hotel for the last three days because of the heavy rains. The next window of opportunity was in two. The close confinement had already begun to take its toll.

Even before Rembrandt walked into the living room, Quinn knew the fight was about to begin again.

Rembrandt hummed "Tears In My Pillow" to himself as he scrubbed his teeth with a green toothbrush. He moved to Wade's side to look at what she was watching.

"What's this?" he asked around his brush.

"Baywatch," Wade murmured.

Rembrandt pulled the toothbrush out of his mouth. "On tape? Haven't you already seen this one?"

"There's nothing else on."

Rembrandt ducked back into the bathroom to spit and rinse. When he came back out again, he pointed at the TV with the toothbrush. "Well, turn to channel nine. There's a special on the Spinnin' Topps comin' on."

Wade glared up at him. "Hey, I was here first."

"But you've already seen this."

"So? You *lived* the Spinning Topps. Is there anything about it you don't know already?"

Rembrandt lowered his toothbrush. "I like to flashback to the ol' days, okay? Now, come on, shut it off."

"I said, no." Wade settled back to glare at the TV.

Rembrandt snatched up the remote off the coffee table and shut off the VCR. As he changed the channel of the TV, Wade shot upright.

"Hey!" she yelled. "Gimme that!"

Arturo looked up at the two of them over the rim of his glasses. He was about to settle back to his book when he did a double-take at Rembrandt's toothbrush.

"Mr. Brown," he said, "is that my toothbrush?"

Rembrandt looked down at the object in his hand. "Yeah."

Wade made a grab for the remote. "I said, give it back!"

Arturo closed his book. "Good lord, man, what the devil are you doing brushing your teeth with my toothbrush?"

"I lost mine in the last slide. Haven't had a chance to get a new one. Don't worry, I'll wash it after I use it." Rembrandt raised the remote higher as Wade made another swipe for it. "Wade, you been hoggin' the TV for hours. I just wanna watch one show."

"I said, no!" Wade yelled. "I was here first!"

Quinn tightened his grip on his pencil and tried to go back to work. These calculations were so delicate...

"Wash it?" Arturo asked. "That's not the point, Mr. Brown. Have you no decency? Or a sense of other people's property? Why didn't you ask me?"

Wade stood up on the couch so she could twist the remote out of Rembrandt's hand. When she had wrenched it free, she aimed the remote at the VCR like she was trying to stab it and turned it back on.

"Hey!" Rembrandt yelled. "What's the idea, Wade?"

Wade jammed her thumb into her chest. "I said, I was here first. Wait your turn." She flopped back down onto the couch.

Rembrandt turned back to Arturo. "Professor, I did ask you, remember? I asked you last night."

"Yes," Arturo said, "when I was half-asleep. And if I recall, I said nothing. That meant no."

"I thought it meant yes. And you wouldn't have been half-asleep if you haven't drunk all that wine." Rembrandt turned back to Wade. "So when's my turn, girl? Next Tuesday?"

Arturo threw his book onto the floor, rising to his full height. "Mr. Brown, are you calling me an alcoholic?"

"Your turn," Wade sneered, "is when I say it's your turn. And that'll be when pigs fly, thanks to that little stunt you pulled."

"No, professor," Rembrandt said. "I'm just sayin' you had a little too much to drink last night, that's all."

He walked over to the VCR. He reached behind the TV and yanked out the VCR's plug. Rembrandt held up the end.

"*Now* it's my turn," Rembrandt snarled.

Wade scrambled off the couch to stand in front of him, her eyes blazing. "Plug that back in, right now."

Arturo thrust a finger at Rembrandt. "The only reason I drank that much last night is that there is nothing else to do in this forsaken hotel. I am sick to death of this place. I am sick of sliding. And I am sick of you, Mr. Brown, and your lowbrow idiosyncracies."

Rembrandt glared at him, then down at Wade. "No."

Wade balled up one hand into a fist. "Remmy, I swear..."

Quinn wrote down one last number in his notebook. He felt a chill sweep over him as he read it. He looked up.

"Guys," Quinn whispered.

"You're gonna fight me over an episode o' 'Baywatch?'" Rembrandt asked Wade.

"Guys," Quinn said.

"I am sick of all of you," Arturo roared.

"No," Wade yelled, "I'm gonna fight over you being a selfish jerk again. Now, plug it back in or I'll..."

"Guys!" Quinn yelled.

The others stopped. They glared at Quinn, all breathing hard.

"Oh, what is it, Mr. Mallory?" Arturo asked. "Can't you see we're busy?"

Quinn stood up. "Sorry, guys, I hate to interrupt you killing each other, but I thought you'd like to know...I found a way home."

Wade lowered her fist. "What?"

Quinn held up his notebook, tapping frantically on a page. "Okay, you all know the guidance system's been erased, right? We don't know the coordinates to home, and that's why we can't get there. But I've been tracking the timer's tachyon emissions. The emissions that allow it to stay connected to our machine back home. It's a faint transmission, but I noticed that it fluctuated, getting weaker and stronger over time in a wavelength..."

"Get to the point, Mr. Mallory," Arturo said.

Quinn slammed his book shut, letting it rest by his side. "Fine. Tonight, the emissions'll be strong enough to get a fix on our world. It'll only be for about two seconds, but during that two seconds, I'll be able to open a bridge that'll lead straight to home."

"Home?" Wade whispered. "We're going home?"

Rembrandt clapped his hands and yelled, "Yes! I knew it! I knew you wouldn't let us down, Q-Ball! No more hotels, no more lousy food, no more runnin' from monsters..."

"No more you," Arturo snarled. "I'll finally be able to go back home and forget this motley crew ever existed."

Rembrandt's smile faded into a cold glare. "Yeah? Well, the same here, pal. I didn't wanna get involved with you guys, anyway."

"Oh, brother," Wade said. "Have you said that enough times, Rembrandt? How many times do we have to say it was an accident?"

"Enough to get me home." Rembrandt strode towards Quinn, gesturing with the toothbrush. "Okay, Q-Ball, should we start packin' or what? I mean, how's this gonna work? When do we slide?"

Quinn swallowed. This was the part he had been dreading. "It'll, uh, be in about three minutes, guys. But there's one problem."

Arturo took a step towards him. "Problem? What problem?"

"The window to home will only last a couple of seconds," Quinn said. "That's not long enough for all of us to go. In fact, to tell the truth, only one of us will be able to go home."