Interdimensional Bonds

by Loui

Earth: Final Conflict is copyright © Tribune Entertainment and Roddenberry/Kirschner. Sliders is copyright © St Clair Entertainment and the SciFi Channel. No infringement of these copyrights is intended by this story.
"Interdimensional Bonds" is copyright © Loui.

A deserted alley in Washington DC was the sight of something quite extraordinary that night. A swirling green vortex suddenly appeared at its far end, even more amazing, someone came flying through - from goodness only knew where - and landed in the alley. To slow his forward momentum the man fell into a shoulder roll and then sprang to his feet.

From the ease with which he carried out the move it would have been apparent to anyone watching that the move had become instinctive. Thankfully for the unknown man nobody was watching, in a USA in 'partnership' with the Taelons it was wise not to draw attention to yourself.

Mallory looked at his watch. Slide technology had come a long way, Diana had seen to that. They had eventually been reunited with Rembrandt - Thank God - and the Kromaggs had been sent packing from his homeworld. The Sliders had been reluctant to part; they shared bonds of friendship so strong it made them family. So they stayed. Diana had taken the opportunity to study and improve the technology of Sliding. Thanks to her and her team, breakthroughs had been made. Now it was possible to control the slide properly. Duration of the slide and destination were all programmed into wrist devices that looked like a simple watch.

The people of Rembrandt - and the never forgotten Quinn's - homeworld had created the Slider Exploratory League. Grateful for the second chance afforded them by the courage and tenacity of the Sliders they decided to explore these dimensions. If they found a world in need of help then they offered it. No world deserved to be put through such devastation as theirs had endured.

If no help was needed then the teams explored for the sheer joy of finding new knowledge. Obviously, some worlds, were left alone. These were the worlds too dangerous, too evil, and too unstable to visit.

Diana ran the scientific end of the SEL, Rembrandt ran the rest. Mallory and Maggie became the two senior team leaders. As the years passed they became the stuff of legend. Their teams were the best; and when a team was too conspicuous they went by themselves. As a pair, or as individuals, they had explored more worlds than any other SEL team members.

Which, of course, was why Mallory was here. Maggie was off helping a world throw off the yoke of Kromagg domination. Mallory had been on a much-deserved R&R break when an emergency call had brought him back to the SEL HQ. He was being briefed by a flustered tech as Diana swept in.

A harried Diana caused Mallory great concern, she rarely looked harried these days - it must be bad. Indeed it was. Someone or something in an alternate Earth was doing something, God alone knew what, that was disrupting the stability of four neighbouring dimensions. They had to be stopped and soon.

A worried look on her face Diana had said, "Be careful, Mallory. I'd feel much better if I could be sending Maggie with you. No heroics - you hear me?

"Try to locate the source of the problem. We're giving you a week. If you can stop the problem by yourself though then do it. If you can't we'll come back with a larger team if necessary. I know that goes against our most basic rules but this has to be stopped."

Jogging himself out of his recollection Mallory quietly exited the alley and headed for the nearest library, he had some reconnaissance about this world to do.

Four hours later, Mallory was still sitting in the library, stunned. This wasn't the first world he'd encountered where alien contact had been made. It was the first where the aliens weren't Kromaggs or Roswell Greys though.

This was going to be much trickier than anybody at SEL had thought. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the Taelons must be the cause of the problem; it wasn't going to be easy stopping them. This Resistance would probably be the best bet but would they listen? Another article caught his eye. No! This was impossible!

Staring at the face on the screen a shaken Mallory said, "Liam! Oh my, God.

"What are you doing working for these Taelons, cousin?"

Liam Kincaid was bored. He was sitting in the Flat Planet CafŽ and trying not to look fed up. Augur's recent comments about his lack of a life outside anything to do with the Taelons, be it working for them or leading the fight against them, had rankled. The reason being it hit too close to home.

The problem was he didn't know what to do about it. Being what he was had caused more mundane problems than he had even conceived possible. No old friends from school or university - he had never attended one.

No old army friends, he'd never been in the army! No family to have a connection with - Sandoval was all that was left. While he held out a faint hope for a future where he and his father could at least be civil, that time wasn't now. No childhood friends either, no childhood, so no friends.

Ninety-nine percent of the people he dealt with on a daily basis were people he would trust no farther than he could throw them. Liam sat there thinking about his life and got more and more depressed as he did so. Sighing, he decided a walk might clear his head.

Leaving the Flat Planet, he headed off not paying attention to where he was going. An hour later he found himself passing a huge library. His feet had seemed to take him there of their own accord. Distracted, he carried on his way; he never even noticed the person coming jogging down the library steps, and he stumbled into the other person.

The first to recover, Liam pulled the other man to his feet and said, "I'm sorry. I wasn't paying attention to where I was going." Then he realised he was staring at the other man - who himself was staring half-stunned at Liam. Feeling warmth coming from his palm he looked down at their interlocked wrists and saw something unexpected. Why was this happening? The last time this had happened he had just rescued Da'an from the replicant at Boone's funeral.

Whispering he said, "Who are you?"

Mallory still shaken by their initial encounter and bewildered by what he was feeling coming from Liam's palm gave a resigned sigh.

"Is there somewhere we can talk, Liam? This is going to take a while."

Sitting in Liam's apartment an uneasy silence had descended. Neither Mallory nor Liam quite knew how to begin this conversation. Instead, they sat there and cast uneasy confused glances at each other. They each recognised a strange familiarity about the other but at the same time they both realised there was something strange about the other too.

Mallory decided to take the plunge. He knew from what he had read that Liam worked for the people who were the most likely cause of the problem he had been sent to locate and deal with. Even so, and for no reason he could put his finger on, he trusted Liam.

"Okay, I'll go first. I tell you about where I'm from and why I'm here and then you, at the very least, can give me an explanation about what happened outside the library.

"My name is Mallory and I'm not from this Earth, I'm not even from this dimension. I came here via a technology called Sliding. We explore other Earths via, in layman's terms, dimensional wormholes. It's always Earth, it's always the same year, each Earth differs though. Different choices, different evolutionary paths, cosmic accidents, no two Earths ever turn out the same.

"Anyway, we also monitor disturbances in these other dimensions, anything that is a potential hazard to these worlds or our own. I'm here because we found one.

"An anomalous reading was traced to this dimension. Somewhere on this planet, someone is experimenting with dimensional wormholes and it's affecting the stability of four neighbouring dimensions. That's the entire population of four other Earths besides your own being put at risk. I was sent here to locate the problem and stop it, if possible.

"I have a week. If I can't stop it by myself then another team will be back. This violates some of our most basic rules but we'll be left with no other option. There are too many lives at stake.

"Visiting the library I read up on your world. Unsurprisingly, I'm thinking the Taelons must be responsible. Tell me I'm wrong."

Mallory's last sentence had the ring of challenge to it; unfortunately Liam agreed with him, it was practically certain to be the Taelons. He said, "I'd love to disagree with you, Mallory, but you're probably right.

"What I want to know, before I give you my own story, is why you're even talking to me? You must have read up on Companion security. You know I work for them, why are you talking to me?"

An assessing look in his eye Mallory replied, "To be honest, I'm not sure. I just have this unshakeable feeling that you won't turn me in."

Liam blinked at that. Why did Mallory trust him? What was this strange connection between them?

"Well, you're right. I won't turn you in. I serve the Companions true; I'm also the leader of the Resistance. I'm sure you read up on us too.

"I've a good idea as to who might be behind these 'experiments', I'll help you look for your anomaly, and I'll help you stop it. You are right, there are far too many lives in potential danger.

"As to the incident outside the library... That will require some background on my peculiar heritage..."

Mallory listened in astonishment to the tale of Liam's conception, birth and accelerated growth. Well, that explained that. Sandoval and Beckett existed on this Earth too. The story of Liam's Kimera heritage was fascinating and Mallory longed to ask Liam more. Liam's narrative was drawing toward the library so Mallory focused his attention.

"I was feeling a bit depressed and lonely tonight and I went a walk to clear my head. I chose a random direction and found myself drawn towards the library, drawn towards you. Why?

"That reaction when we clasped hands, that showed an instinctive recognition of you on my part. How is that possible? You're not even from this dimension."

Liam was surprised to see the starts of a tear glistening in the corner of Mallory's eye. Mallory began to speak; he was talking so quietly he was almost whispering.

"Long before I became a Slider, I was just a young punk kid that had ran with the wrong crowd. However, I was also a young punk kid with a degenerative disease that ended up in my eventually being confined to a wheelchair. God, I hated every minute of that.

"Only one thing made my life bearable at that point. My cousin. He was a few years older than me and I worshipped the ground he walked on. People always saw the chair and not me and treated me accordingly. Not him. He just saw me.

"He was a jet pilot but he loved to fly old planes, museum pieces really. He'd take me flying, let me feel free; let me escape gravity, at least for a while.

"He was an only child. According to family stories his father had been a government agent. My aunt met him in Ireland when she was there visiting her relatives in the old country. They had a whirlwind romance and by the time she came home she was engaged to be married, and, unbeknownst to her, pregnant.

"He was killed by a terrorist bomb - he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. My aunt never fully recovered from the loss but she lived for the baby. She raised him, she loved him, and she filled him with stories of his father's courage and devotion to duty. My cousin grew up and joined the air force.

"He was killed in an accident, a mid-air collision caused by a rookie pilot. He wasn't just my cousin, Liam, he was my best friend."

Mallory had tears streaming down his face as he looked at Liam and said, "My aunt's name was Siobhan Beckett. Had she had the chance to be married it would have been Sandoval. My cousin... my cousin's name was Liam."

Liam sat there stunned. What could he say? What should he say? He heard his mother's voice chiding him in his head, "Say what's in your heart, my son." Liam smiled and said silently, Yes, mother.

Liam got to his feet and approached Mallory. Dropping down to sit beside him he put his arm around Mallory's shoulder pulling him close.

"You've got another cousin now. Here. If you want him."

Mallory made a strangled sound. Half sob, half chuckle. "Of course I want you, cousin. Family... we're family."

After what had been an intense evening of conversation and revelations from them both, they decided to get some rest and start fresh in the morning. They had a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it in.

The next morning Mallory and Liam began their search. Liam searched - discreetly - through the list of projects currently in progress with the Taelons and their human partners, well the ones that he was supposed officially to know about. He knew damn well there would be several more that Zo'or, Da'an, Sandoval and even Renee had completely neglected to tell him about.

Mallory had commented on this, he was amazed Liam ever managed to get any work done with the level of mistrust and back-stabbing that went on in his daily life. Liam shrugged saying that was the life he seemed fated to live here. Mallory eyed him in concern. Such a fatalistic attitude was probably unavoidable considering the people Liam dealt with on a daily basis, but it still worried him to see such a good person twisted in such a way.

Liam interrupted Mallory's train of thought by saying, "Well, unsurprisingly enough there's nothing setting off an alarms here.

"Mallory, I have to get to the Embassy. I'm going to take you to see an acquaintance of mine. He's probably one of the best hackers on the planet. I'll ask him to help you do a more unofficial search while I see what I can dig up from more direct sources."

Mallory said sure. This world was very different from his. He knew he needed help to find what he was looking for. He barely blinked at Augur's sanctuary under a church and his appearance and manner just made him smile, he'd seen far too many bizarre things in his many Slides to be shocked by simple appearances.

Augur had given a pronounced double take when Liam had introduced Mallory. His eyes had darted form one to the other noticing the similarities in their appearance, the way they dressed, and the way they acted; their ease in each other's presence. Why had Liam never mentioned this guy before?

Augur was intrigued enough by what they were asking him to look for to agree to help - just as well from the look of determination on Liam's face. Leaving Mallory scanning the official news sites Augur hurried to catch Liam before he left. Tugging at Liam's arm before he got into the elevator to take him back up to the surface he hissed quietly, "Who is he, Liam? Really?"

The look in Liam's eyes and his tone chilled him, even though he knew he had no right any more to expect more. Liam said, "Right now he's the only person I trust. Remember that."

Liam spent the rest of that morning either performing his duties for Da'an or searching for information that would help Mallory. By lunchtime he was frustrated enough to throw a data pad down on his desk in disgust, he was getting nowhere fast. Naturally enough, Sandoval took the opportunity to walk in just then and witness his fit of pique. Perfect. Could this day get any worse?

Then Liam got the surprise of his life. Sandoval approached his computer terminal and quickly placed a small device on it's back. Pressing a few keys a sudden burst of information appeared on the screen. For the first time since he put in his surprising appearance Sandoval spoke.

"You have less than five minutes to copy this information to somewhere more secure before a trace will be launched. If you need any further help then just ask."

Stunned, Liam quietly asked, "Sandoval, why?"

"This is too dangerous, the Taelons can't see it, though. There have been too many close calls already. I can't act against it; I'm supposed to be supervising it.

"Stop it, Major. At this point I don't even care why you're doing this, just stop it."

As soon as he could, Liam made his excuses and left for the day. Wary of possible treachery on Sandoval's part, though for some reason he actually felt he could trust him this time, Liam took a circumspect route back to Augur and Mallory.

He entered the sanctuary; Mallory smiled a greeting, though Augur just looked at him in frustration, saying, "Sorry, Liam. We've not had any success in locating this yet."

Silently, Liam handed him his global. Confused Augur looked down at the device in his hand, then he realised what he was seeing.

"No! What did you... how did you... Liam, where did you get this?!"

Liam said two words. "A friend."

Turning to Mallory he grinned and said, "How about some dinner? It's about time I showed you around."

Feeling distinctly left out, Augur cleared his throat to get Liam's attention. Waving the global in his hand he asked what Liam wanted done with this.

"I want you to do your usual magic. Find out what's going on, and what Mallory and I are going to need in order to stop it. Call us when you get anything."

Mallory sent a concerned glance at Liam. His tone was, well his tone was wrong. What had happened between these two? He could see the hurt coming from Liam as clear as day. Augur himself appeared resigned, defeated.

Quietly, Mallory vowed to get to the bottom of this. There was no way he could leave the situation as it was, Liam needed friends. Augur had obviously been one, once. The breach in the friendship had to be fixed; Mallory had to be sure that when he left there were people looking out for his 'cousin'. Nothing was going to happen to this one, not if he could help it.

Over a dinner at a local restaurant Mallory sat thinking how to delicately raise the subject of Augur. Liam was the one who spoke first.

"Mallory, who's Quinn? You were talking in your sleep last night. That was one of the names you mentioned, who is he?"

Mallory opened his mouth but no words would come out. How did he explain this?

Liam was looking at Mallory with a concerned expression on his face. He hadn't expected his question to cause such a strong reaction. He was just about to speak again when his global signalled a message. Flipping it open he was surprised to see Augur's face, he hadn't expected the cyber-wizard to review the information from Sandoval that quickly. Then he saw the expression on the other man's face.

"Augur, what is it? What's wrong?"

In a fear-filled tone Augur said, "Liam, get back here, now! If this data is right then we are in so much trouble I don't even want to think about it..."

"Okay, Augur. Calm down. We're on our way."

Liam closed his global and turned to see that Mallory was already signalling for the cheque. They hurried back to Augur's hideaway and entered in time to see Augur still frantically pacing from side to side. Liam looked on concerned; Augur only ever got that worked up when the situation was one of extreme meltdown. Lili's death had been the last time he'd witnessed such an outburst.

Augur stopped pacing as soon as he saw that Mallory and Liam had arrived. "Liam, thank God you're here, kid.

"Do you realise what they've done? Do you realise what those insane aliens you work for are trying to do?!"

Liam grasped Augur by the shoulders forcing him to look him eye to eye and said, "No, Augur. You haven't told me what's going on yet, so how could I know what they're up to now?"

Angrily, Augur shook off Liam's hands, didn't he realise...? Well, actually no he probably didn't, as he hadn't been told yet. Get a grip, Augur. Tell him what you've found.

"Liam, the Taelons are attempting to manipulate existing ID technology to allow them to create a vortex that will link Earth to various worlds in Jaridian space. There is a huge research centre in the jungles of Peru.

"According to the information your 'friend' provided they have had several serious accidents in the last two weeks. Several dozen Volunteers and their shuttles have been either severely damaged or destroyed outright as they tried to navigate this vortex.

"One unmanned probe made it through to somewhere, it sure as hell wasn't Jaridian space though, it wasn't even our dimension. Something on the other side destroyed it and the resulting shockwave at the edge of the vortex travelled back through and destroyed an entire wing of the research complex.

"The Taelon scientists have refused to admit defeat, they seem to think that increasing the amount of ID cores being used will solve their problems. They're wrong!! All they're going to do is create a bigger explosion in the vortex. If these figures are right it'll wipe out most of Peru on our end of the vortex, and God alone knows what at the other end!"

Augur stopped his recitation of doom upon seeing the grim faces of the other two men, particularly Mallory. Obviously they had been expecting something like this. Liam looked at Mallory saying, "We'll have to destroy the entire complex.

"According to what you've told me about what Diana said, the fate of five planets is at stake. Destroying the equipment will stop this, right?"

Mallory sighed and shrugged. He said, "It's the only option that we can try. All research files will have to be destroyed too. This can't be allowed to start up again somewhere else."

Liam stood there for a moment frowning.

"Okay, we can do this. I hope.

"Augur, contact Renee and explain what's going on. Ask her if she'd care to help blowing up a big, nasty Taelon experiment from hell. Stop grinning! You'll come to, won't you?"

Liam asked the last question a little tentatively, Augur's field excursions had been much curtailed in recent times. He smiled, relieved as Augur insisted that 'he'd need the help'. He'd missed working with him like this.

Mallory gently reminded him, "The files. Don't forget the files. Will there be records on the mothership?"

Augur frowned; that could be the trickiest part of this whole endeavour. Any files had to be buried deep and guarded. Attempting to reach them would be bound to set off a whole load of bells and whistles. Why didn't Liam look more concerned?

"That's OK, Mallory, I'll have a talk with a 'friend' about them."

Liam excused himself for a while and left Mallory and Augur making arrangements for their excursion to Peru.

Upon reaching the Embassy, he sent a coded message to Sandoval. He set about making himself look busy doing work at his desk. About twenty minutes later Sandoval put in his appearance. After a few moments of chitchat he suggested they leave for the night.

Sandoval gave Liam his second surprise of the day by inviting him to his apartment. Drinking coffee and sitting glancing round Sandoval's living room, Liam almost missed the quiet question Sandoval directed at him. Almost.

"What do you need, Liam?"

Taking a deep breath Liam began to speak. All the while hoping that he wasn't hanging himself out to dry.

"I've reviewed the information you gave me and steps are underway to rectify the situation. This can't be allowed to start up again at a later date. There is the question of the data files.

"If the situation elsewhere is handled in a noisy enough manner it should provide an opportunity for someone to deal with the files while attention is diverted elsewhere."

Liam quirked his eyebrow as he said the last part, Sandoval smiled and said, "Someone will."

Liam nodded his understanding. Getting up to leave he placed his coffee mug on the table. As he turned towards the door he heard Sandoval say, "I'll inform Zo'or and Da'an of your illness, Major. I hope you recover soon."

Just as Liam was exiting the door he heard Sandoval say one final thing.

"Watch your back, Kincaid."

Liam woke up as he heard the soft cry from the other end of the apartment. Getting quietly to his feet he made his way over to where Mallory was sleeping. The other man was tossing restlessly and muttering soft cries, then he heard one distinct word - Quinn - this was the second night he'd heard that name cried out and Liam vowed silently that he was going to get to the bottom of whatever was troubling his adopted cousin.

Mallory eventually fell into a deeper level of sleep, blissfully unaware of the fact that Liam had curled up on a chair close by watching over him for the rest of that night.

The next morning the two of them were having breakfast before going to meet Renee and Augur, and setting off for Peru. Liam eyed Mallory from across the table and said softly, "Tell me about Quinn."

Mallory gave a start and looked up into Liam's concerned eyes.

"It happened again, didn't it? Damn, I thought these dreams had gone for good."

Mallory sighed and dropped his gaze to the glass of orange juice he was holding. He could feel Liam's gaze on him though so he set his shoulders and began to talk, although he studiously avoided eye contact with Liam.

"I told you about Remy, Diana and Maggie. What I didn't tell you about was the other Sliders. Somebody else invented the system. Four people set off from Remy's Earth and, of the four, Remy was the only original one left when they got to my world.

"One had been killed on the world where Maggie joined the team, another had been taken as a prisoner by the Kromaggs when they returned to their home world for the first time. She was later killed saving us all from another group of Kromaggs.

"Quinn Mallory was the name of the person who invented the system and he was one of my alternates. Most times the alternates are identical but not this time - we look nothing alike. His brother Colin was another one of the Sliders, but again he never actually made it to my world.

"A man called Dr Geiger cured me of my illness, he was our world's greatest scientist and I worshipped him - he gave me back my legs. Diana worked with him too. What neither of us realised was he was evil; he was experimenting with these alternate dimensions that exist, collapsing them into one another, all to save himself.

"He had an instability in him at the molecular level, he was trying to stabilise himself and damn how many millions he killed in the process. One of his experiments pulled the Sliders out of their current Slide in an uncontrolled manner. Colin was lost in the dimensional vortex.

"We still don't know if he's dead or alive and trapped on an alternate Earth or even unstuck in the vortex never able to stay on one Earth. Maggie and Remy made it through OK, but Quinn; oh dear God, Quinn... he was merged with me. Two alternates trapped in the same body. My personality proved to have the stronger hold but Quinn is still in here too.

"Diana, Maggie, Remy and I managed to stop Geiger before he did any more damage on our world. The damage to the Sliders had already been done. Diana and I joined the remaining two Sliders in the hope that Diana would eventually be able to reverse what was done to me, and separate Quinn from me.

"We tried on several occasions, but the last time we tried we found that we had been merged too long. To separate Quinn would kill me, Maggie and Remy stopped trying at that point, saying that Quinn would never want that. So I live, while Quinn remains trapped and there's nothing we can do about it."

Mallory looked up with a haunted expression to see compassion and understanding in Liam's eyes. "It wasn't your fault, Mallory. You know that don't you?"

"My head tells me that, Liam, my heart is another matter."

Liam gave him a speculative look and said, "We've a couple of hours till we meet the others, this trip has to be made at night. Can I try something? Can I try to talk to Quinn?"

Bewildered, but trusting Liam, the other man nodded his assent. Liam moved them to the couch. He placed Mallory's left palm and his own together and meshed the fingers together. Softly he told Mallory to close his eyes, and then he placed his right palm over Mallory's heart. Then, he went on instinct.

About fifteen minutes later, he felt a shudder run through Mallory. Quietly he said, "Quinn, is that you?"

"Yes, I'm here."

Liam smiled. "Hello, Quinn, have you been aware of everything that has been going on here?"

"Of course, Liam, I've been here too."

"Oh yeah, right. This is a little odd. Look these dreams hurt him; I know it's not your fault. I want them to stop, though. You know about my heritage and I have a suggestion. There is a way I think I can help.

"I can free your consciousness from his body and through a dimensional doorway to a new plane of existence, one where your mind creates it's own body. Do you want this?

"I can keep you here for the next hour or so and allow you to write some messages for Mallory to take back to your friends before I send you on your way; or I can leave you where you are. If we do this, we have to do it soon. Mallory will need a couple of hours to recover before we set off to Peru."

Several moments passed in silence while Quinn considered the stunning proposal from Liam. There was only one option though. Mallory had carried this burden long enough and he was so tired himself.

It was time, and he wanted a rest. Constant Sliding; losing friends and family, the merging... the toll was too great... he was ready to rest. Mallory was a worthy successor; he'd look after his friends. Looking at Liam, he said in a determined tone, "Give me an hour and then I'll be ready."

Liam nodded, respect, understanding and sorrow in his eyes.

'Quinn' looked over at Liam from where he was sitting writing his letters. He had completed his goodbyes to Remy and Diana, as well as to his brother Colin whom he hoped was still alive, somewhere.

That left two to go, Maggie and Mallory himself.

Quinn needed to have a good talk to Maggie, and he had some very important things to say to Mallory too, but not now. Now, he didn't need the distraction, he and Liam had a job to do. He said, "Liam, can I talk to you a moment?"

Liam looked up from the book he had been reading.

"Yes, Quinn, what is it?"

"I've got two letters left and then I'll be ready. The problem is, they are the two most likely to distract Mallory from his current task. Is there any way you can put him to sleep for the next twenty minutes while I write these? He will see the contents; he just can't yet. Can you do it?"

Liam's face took on a perplexed look as he said, "You know, I'm not exactly sure. I can try, though. Come here for a minute."

Quinn approached Liam and crouched down in front of his seat. Liam raised his hands and placed his fingers on Mallory's forehead and murmured, "Sleep."

They stayed that way for several moments until Quinn gave a sigh and said, "You've done it. Thank you, Liam, this is more important for his future than you know."

Twenty minutes later, the final letters had been written and Quinn had made his goodbyes and given his thanks to Liam. Liam had then sat on one end of the couch and instructed Quinn to lie down so his head rested in Liam's lap. Liam had placed his fingers on Mallory's temples and told Quinn just to relax and drift.

If Liam had been able to see himself he would have seen his hands begin to glow - not the burning fire of shaquarava, just a nimbus of light. They sat there for a while until Mallory began to stir. His eyelids began to flutter and Liam drew in a deep breath; had it worked?

Mallory fought his way back to consciousness and the first thing he saw was Liam's concerned gaze. He smiled, "You did it, Liam, he's free. Quinn's finally free. Thank you."

With that he gave a huge yawn and fell asleep. Liam smiled, relieved. Obeying Quinn's final request he gathered all the letters, except the one for Mallory, and sealed them all in a huge envelope. Quinn had requested that he keep Mallory's letter and give it to him the minute after they came back from Peru, and Liam had promised he would.

Three hours later, a refreshed Mallory accompanied Liam to meet up with Renee and Augur. Six hours later, they were in Peru and on their way to the facility they had to destroy.

Night had fallen in the jungle, shrouding it in darkness. The eclectic little group there to 'save the world' pulled out their night vision goggles and slipped them over their eyes, and then paused for a moment while they adjusted to their new outlook on their surroundings.

Liam kept quiet, not even telling Mallory that he had discovered some time ago that he didn't actually need the goggles. His eyes adjusted automatically, one part of his heritage that he didn't mind; but not one that he wanted to open a discussion on here and now. They had far too much work to do.

Surprising Liam, the journey to the facility had been uneventful and it had given Renee and Augur the opportunity to get to know Mallory a little. They still didn't know who he was, where he had come from or why Liam seemed to trust him so much. They could work with him though, and considering what was at stake if they failed, then that was good enough for just now.

Liam motioned for silence and for Renee to come forward. Obeying quietly, she adjusted her gaze in the direction that Liam indicated and saw what he had called her forward to see. The outside perimeter of the facility was just across a clearing ahead. No cover. Shit. Liam didn't seem too disconcerted and then Renee realised why.

Overconfident in their security, the Taelons had only allocated two Volunteer guards to patrol. Augur could jam the security systems from here, and that would only leave the Volunteers to deal with. Tampering with the security system would cause alarm eventually, but first they would have to check it for glitches, and that would give them the time they needed to act.

Later on it didn't matter how much noise they made - in fact, according to Liam and Mallory - the more noise the better. It was a bizarre way to carry out an attack but Renee assumed Liam knew what he was doing. All that was in the way was the Volunteers. Raising her weapon Renee selected silenced projectiles for the job at hand only to find herself blocked by Liam.

"What are you doing, Kincaid? Get out of my way!" she whispered fiercely.

Just as determined, Liam quietly responded, "I'd rather not kill any more Volunteers than are absolutely necessary!"

Renee looked as though she was about to protest at Liam's peculiar morality. How many times would she have to say it before Liam believed that, while he was on Resistance business, that Volunteers were fair game?

Liam motioned to Mallory to come forward too and explained the situation. Mallory nodded and pulled something that looked suspiciously like a blowgun from one of the pouches on his jacket. Even Liam gave him a strange look.

Mallory just murmured, "Trust me. I've been some very peculiar places in my time, and learned some very strange things."

He put one dart in the gun and held another between two fingers ready to act quickly. He took aim across the clearing and fired quickly and surely. One of the two Volunteers slumped silently to the ground. In less than a minute the other had been neutralised too. Mallory just shrugged at the stunned looks on the faces of Renee and Augur.

"They'll be out for about ten hours, should be plenty of time."

They moved forward after Augur disabled the security system and made their way inside.

Things went to plan so well that it made Liam nervous. Augur and Renee quickly found a quiet spot to hack into the computers running operations in this facility. They had a few tense moments with security firewalls but they were able to bypass them successfully.

Augur sent in one of his tailored computer viruses to wipe all the data stored and all the plans for the future experiments - assuming Liam's mysterious 'friend' could deal with the files on the mothership, the data was gone for good.

Renee and Mallory had then hooded up and headed off to round up the night staff. It had been decided it was far too dangerous for Liam to go with them, he couldn't be seen here, Renee was a big enough risk as it was. Working in tandem the two swept the facility accounting for every person.

They escorted them outside to the two 'sleeping' Volunteers, where they then forced the frightened people to kneel facing away from them with their hands on their heads. The staff complied readily, the Volunteers did too, but they radiated rage. A couple of the staff sobbed quietly fearing they were about to receive a bullet to the back of the head.

Renee administered the stun pulses to the bases of the prisoners' necks; it accomplished the same thing as Mallory's sedative darts but would hurt a hell of a lot more when they woke up. They'd be alive though, and Renee's feeling was that they should count themselves lucky.

Making their way back to Liam and Augur, they found that Liam had planted the necessary explosives to destroy the facility. He had also done something to the ID cores - something that even Augur didn't understand fully - and they were neutralised. They'd be destroyed in the explosion but they wouldn't explode themselves. Just as well, such an explosion would easily have destroyed most of the jungle and surrounding area.

The four made their way back out of the facility and, when a safe distance away, Liam gave the signal and Mallory activated the detonators. The noise was unbelievable, the destruction absolute. The four said nothing, they just looked on their night's work and were satisfied - disaster averted. Liam raised his eyes to the sky thinking Noisy enough, Sandoval?

Sandoval had been on the bridge for the last three hours, ostensibly running some routine scans, stalking about and generally getting on the nerves of the Volunteers. He looked like he was in a bad mood and that was never good.

He'd been on the mothership since early yesterday, after informing Zo'or and Da'an that Major Kincaid had called in sick, saying that the Major had been advised to rest for the next three days. Da'an had given him a curious look; Zo'or had just muttered something snide about feeble humans.

Suddenly a warning alarm resounded around the bridge. The Volunteers jumped to action as the Taelons, especially Zo'or, demanded answers. Volunteers began calling in reports of a huge explosion at the jungle facility in Peru and, while Zo'or concentrated on that, Sandoval surreptitiously pressed a command into the small device he was carrying, and suddenly one of the consoles on the bridge began to emit strange and discordant sounds.

The Volunteer stationed at it jumped back, swearing harshly, and calling for immediate assistance. Sandoval rushed over and made attempts to bring the errant station under control while at the same time palming the device he had placed their earlier and hiding it in his pocket. That was risky, but it was his only option.

He pressed a few more commands on the console and looked at Zo'or with an aggrieved expression on his face as he said, "The files in three of the sub directories of the science databases have been wiped.

"All data - except the Peru data - can be retrieved from stored back-ups. As per Se'li's instructions, the only other copies of the Peru data were stored at the facility there so we will have to retrieve it from there, if possible."

Zo'or looked furious and Sandoval stood there with a non-committal look on his face, all the while silently cheering. Kincaid had done it! Disaster averted.

He had the feeling he and the Major were going to have to have a little chat but that was for another time. Now all he wanted, was off this ship and to dispose of these devices before he got caught.

Mallory and Liam both hung on for dear life in the back of the jeep, while Augur kept his eyes firmly shut as he sat in the front seat muttering silent prayers; the reason for these actions? Renee was driving.

Liam vowed quietly, and not for the first time, that he was never again getting into a vehicle that Palmer was driving. He was too young to die.

Deciding to take his mind off his impending death, he nudged Mallory's arm to get his attention and said quietly, "I have something for you. Quinn made me promise to give you this as soon as we were on our way back from Peru.

"The rest are back at my apartment with instructions for when they should be given to their intended recipients, but he was insistent that you get this first."

In a simple and eloquent gesture, Liam handed Mallory Quinn's letter. Mallory looked at it with an unreadable expression on his face before sighing and breaking the seal on the envelope.

Liam turned to look out of the window at the scenery of the jungle as it streaked by at a disturbing rate, giving Mallory the privacy he needed. Silently Mallory scanned the words and, shocked as he was, he schooled his expression to reveal no overt emotion. Apparently Quinn had been as determined as he was to ensure that Liam was looked after.


Friend... brother. You weren't either, but fate has made us closer than that. One body and two souls.

I don't blame you for anything that happened to me; please believe that. Thanks to Liam, I am going on to a freedom I never dared to hope for after our last encounter with Dr Geiger. I'm looking forward to the peace and quiet.

I'm sending back letters for Remy, Diana and Colin. Obviously Maggie gets one too. I'm asking you here and now to continue to watch out for her the way you have always done.

I do realise that most of the time she doesn't need looking after but it has made me feel better these last few years to know that you have always been there for her. I also know that your feelings for her have been growing and I just want to tell you I approve.

I get the feeling you haven't acted on these feelings because I've been here within you and it would have been a little awkward to say the least. I'm saying follow your heart, Mallory. It would never allow you to hurt her.

In one world I lived a lifetime with her as her husband and I lived another life as her friend - two times a blessing. I believe she feels the same way about you and that's one of the things I've talked to her about in the letter I've sent her. After you get back to the SEL take those first steps, it's my hope you'll both enjoy the journey.

Anyway, the reason you are reading this letter now rather than at home with the others is simple. Liam. Your intentions are right; he needs the support.

Talk to Augur. Bridge the gap in their relationship. Start them talking again, it'll take time for their relationship to heal. It can never be what it was, but with effort on their part it can be stronger than before.

'Mallory, tell Renee. I know you don't think it's a good idea, just do it. Trust me on this one.

That's all I really have to say.

Stay safe. Look after the others. Live your life.


Mallory stuffed the letter in a pocket and spent the rest of the journey back from Peru thinking on what he had read, and what he had to do.

When they had all safely returned to Augur's sanctuary, Mallory told Liam that it was time for Renee and Augur to be told the truth about who he was and where he was from. Liam eyed him in askance, was he sure?

The determination on Mallory's face was apparent and Liam surmised that it must have something to do with Quinn's letter. Reluctantly, he agreed.

Mallory was in the middle of relating his amazing tale when Liam's global signalled a message. Excusing himself he went to a private corner to take the call and was only vaguely surprised to see Sandoval on the screen.

"We have to talk, Major."

Liam sighed. "I had a feeling you'd say that. How much time did you buy me?"

"You are due back at work the day after tomorrow."

Liam smiled. Perfect. "Fine. Meet me at the following co-ordinates tomorrow morning at dawn. I'll explain everything."

Sandoval nodded his agreement.

Liam returned to the others as Mallory was winding down his explanation. They appeared to be taking it well; then again bizarre was normal around here.

It was decided that all four would remain where they were for the night. Liam turned in early, Renee and Augur were asking Mallory questions - questions that he seemed quite happy to answer - so Liam left them to it.

When he was sure they weren't going to be interrupted, Mallory turned the conversation to Liam. By the time he was finished with Augur the cyber-wizard had promised to take the first steps towards mending his friendship with Liam. Augur smiled as he heard Renee murmuring, "It's about damn time."

Then Mallory turned his attention to Renee. He did ask if she wanted to hear what he had to say in private, but Renee said it was all right to talk in front of Augur. Mallory shrugged, he had asked.

"You know that Liam's alternate was my cousin and that he was killed. There is something I haven't - and will not - be telling him, and that is the fact that my cousin was married.

"I had no intention of mentioning it at all until I saw you would be accompanying us to Peru. Renee, my cousin was married to your alternate. They were so happy together... She almost died of a broken heart when he was killed. I don't know how you feel about him, or how he feels about you, I just thought you should know."

Renee was surprisingly silent and Augur eyed her speculatively. The look in her eyes revealed far more than she knew. Mallory saw it too. He looked at Augur and raised an eyebrow, Augur smiled in response. Liam was definitely in for a few surprises in the weeks to come.

The next day came all too soon, Liam and Mallory slipped out quietly as Mallory didn't see the point of causing a lot of fuss and bother with a goodbye scene. Liam had explained that they would be meeting Sandoval. Mallory had agreed readily, he wanted to meet his fabled uncle, or at least his alternate.

Sandoval was waiting as requested in the same alley that Mallory had entered almost a week ago. He'd seemed surprised to see that Liam had brought someone with him but had listened quietly, and without comment, to Liam's explanation for his reasons in going after the Peru facility.

Liam understood, even if Mallory didn't. After meeting Maiya and experiencing Jason's memories, Sandoval was far more open minded about alternate Earths and alternate versions of people.

Sandoval noted the closeness between Liam and Mallory with interest, though. It was a strong tie to have formed in less than a week. He saw Mallory grab Liam in a bear hug; he was directly in Mallory's line of sight, and clearly heard him say, "Bye, cousin. Stay safe."

Cousin? How could he...? Ah, of course... alternates again.

Sandoval was startled when Mallory grabbed his hand and shook it heartily and then he heard Mallory say quietly, too quiet for Liam to hear, "Goodbye, uncle."

Sandoval took a deep breath and tried to ask Mallory what he had meant by that, but he had turned away and activated a device on his wrist. Liam and Sandoval both gaped at the vortex created, Mallory grinned and gave a jaunty wave to them both as he leaped into the vortex and went home.

Sandoval and Liam eyed each other carefully. This incident had caused a shift in their relationship but, unspoken between them, was the fact that it was too soon to push it further. They went to get some breakfast and two words kept spinning in Sandoval's thoughts.

'Cousin' and 'Uncle'. What had Mallory been telling him?

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Last modified June 2nd, 2002.
Trudy A. Goold/