Stars and Sliders
A Crawling from the Wreckage crossover
What if you could find brand new worlds right here on Earth, where anything is possible — same planet, different timeline? That is the question Ted Knight, alias Starman, must face when he finds the gateway and accompanies a group of Sliders to visit unknown alternate timelines. But where does that leave his sons, David and Jack?
San Francisco, California:
“This is what you brought me to see, Professor?”
Ted Knight looked at the group assembled before him — Professor Maximillian Arturo, a brilliant physics professor from the University of California; Quinn Mallory, the professor’s star student and supposed inventor of a method to traverse the universal barriers; and Wade Welles, Quinn’s childhood friend and a computer expert in her own right.
“And have you field-tested this yet?”
Quinn looked a little sheepish. “Well, that’s part of the problem, and why Professor Arturo brought you here.”
“Oh, really? Max, I thought it was I who was seeking you out.”
The professor smiled that gregarious smile of his and clasped his hands behind his back. “Well, yes, indeed, Mr. Knight, that you did. However, I must confess that young Mr. Mallory and I had also discussed your involvement in these matters as regards a power source.”
Quinn looked at the professor, then handed over what looked like a remote control to Ted Knight. “You see, the professor has been a fan of your work with cosmic power for quite some time, and he thought that you might provide the type of stable power source that we will need to make this experiment a success. It will allow us to slide from world to world while maintaining an anchor to our world.”
“Using the timer,” explained Quinn, “you can open a vortex to another world and just jump into it, sliding to the next world.”
“I see. And you’ve opened this vortex already?”
The professor turned on the television monitor next to the equipment and played back a tape of the vortex. “Quinn was able to open a small vortex using the power so graciously provided by the local power company, but it was neither strong enough nor stable enough to sustain it for very long. It was our hope that you could assist us with this problem.”
“I see. Well, Max, considering that you already know who I am, I suppose I can help these kids out.”
Opening his jacket, Ted withdrew his cosmic rod. Quinn and Wade simply stared at Ted and the object, not sure of what to make of it. “What is that?”
“Surely you recognize Starman’s cosmic rod.”
Wade peered at Ted’s graying hair. “You’re Starman? God, you’ve been around since World War Two. Shouldn’t you be in a nursing home?”
The professor quickly jumped in, somewhat embarrassed by Wade’s remarks. “Yes, well, thank you, Miss Welles, for the history lesson. Now, Mr. Knight, if you would be so kind, we can hook up your cosmic rod to the computer and make sliding a reality.”
Quinn took Wade aside. “Way to go, Wade. Nothing like ticking off the man who can help us make our dreams come true!”
“Your dream, Quinn. I’m just here for the moral support.”
“And a fine job you’re doing, too!”
Around them, Quinn’s equipment hummed into life. He could barely contain himself. “Power’s at optimal level. All systems are a go, Professor.”
“Excellent, my boy, excellent. Mr. Knight, would you care to do the honors?”
Ted took the timer from the professor’s hand and pointed it toward the wall. A swirling gray vortex opened. It crackled with energy, almost creating a wind tunnel.
“My God! It’s beautiful!”
“Would you care to accompany us, Mr. Knight?”
Ted looked at the group, all smiles and wonder. Earth-One would be the next stop after they returned from this journey. “I would be honored.”
With that, Quinn jumped into the vortex and vanished. Professor Arturo was next. Ted took Wade’s hand and smiled. “Care to keep an old man from being scared?”
Wade smiled back, a little nervous herself. “Only if you’ll do the same for me.”
They jumped in the vortex as well, just as Ted realized that he’d meant to take the cosmic rod with him. Oh, well, they’d be back soon enough. And with a flash, they were gone.
The vortex, however, kept growing until it reached outside of Quinn Mallory’s house to bring Rembrandt Brown, driving unsuspectingly down the street, toward his date with destiny.
The vortex abruptly vanished, then, the sole sound in the basement being an incessant beeping from the cosmic rod — a JSA signal that would never be answered.
David Knight awoke from his slumber with a start. His father was dead, or worse. Please let it be a dream. David wasn’t ready to take his father’s place, not yet. But something deep inside David told him otherwise. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong. As he looked out his window, David could see a light on in his father’s observatory.
Quickly, David grabbed his cosmic rod from the dresser and bolted out the door. That damn Jack was messing around with his pot-smoking buddies again in their father’s observatory. This time, David was going to kick their asses, cosmic rod style.
As David entered the observatory, he was overwhelmed by an acrid smell that permeated the entire complex.
“Jack! Where are you, you little bastard?”
Up by the telescope, which was stronger than any other on the face of the planet, David Knight saw a lone figure peering through the lens on the top.
“Jack? Answer me!”
Using the power of the cosmic rod, David flew up to the figure, but it was definitely not Jack.
Tipping his hat to the young hero, the Shade dismounted from the telescope. “The view through your father’s telescope is nothing short of remarkable. Why, I can almost see the Talos star group from here.”
“What are you doing here, Shade? And where is my father?”
“No need to be defensive, dear David. I am here to warn you. Give up being Starman before it’s too late. Your life may depend upon it.”
“Are you threatening me, Shade? My father said that despite what you might appear to be, you’re an honorable man. Was he wrong?”
“Your father said that, did he? Hmmphh. I never could fool him or that Garrick fellow. No, David, I am not here to harm you. Merely raging against the dying of the light. I fear, though, that it is a futile gesture. Destiny, it seems, cannot be denied.”
“And what have you done to my father?”
“You insult me, sir. Your father is lost on a grand inter-dimensional journey. You may see him again one day, or you may not. You will find his cosmic rod at this address in San Francisco.” The Shade handed David a card. “When you retrieve his marvelous invention, David, remember my words. Be Starman no more.”
And with that, the Shade melted into the shadows of the observatory, leaving a very confused David Knight pondering the meaning of his words.