DARIA:
KILLJOY WAS HERE
By Erin Mills


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Daria sat in the courtroom, her face an impassive mask, as the judge entered from his chambers and took his traditional place behind the bench. She risked a glance back at the assembled throng of reporters, witnesses and general curiosity seekers. The trial had gained nothing but publicity ever since the raid on her public reading at the Playhouse 99 Theater. Now, it was all over but the sentencing...

The judge put on his glasses, shuffled some papers, cleared his throat, and began to speak:

"Daria Anne Marie Morgendorffer, you have been found guilty of violating Code #672 which prohibits the performance or purveyance of inflammatory works of art, entertainment, or literature. You have also been found guilty of the manslaughter of Quinn Morgendorffer of the People for Proactive Popularism. As you have shown no remorse, and indeed, open defiance of this much-needed law in our crumbling society, I have no choice but to sentence you to life imprisonment and reprogramming aboard one of the PPP's prison ships. I can only hope that the PPP will be able to aid you in seeing that the so-called "literature" you have published can bring nothing but ruin and downfall to the youth of America. Sentence to commence immediately. Court is adjourned."

No sooner had the gavel banged, then Daria found herself handcuffed and being led away by two of the PPP's guard Tiffanitos, their plastic and chrome faces looking like a bad characature of a vapid Asian face. As the Tiffanitos jostled her out of the courtroom, Daria looked back over the dismayed faces of her parents, her friends, and at the back of the courtroom, she saw the founder of the PPP, Dr. Sandra Griffin grinning at her. Griffin's mouth moved, and while the noise of the courtroom prevented Daria from hearing the words she said, the mouth movements made it clear: "So long, and good riddance, brain."

The Tiffanitos opened a side door to the courtroom. On the other side was a vast gaping void. Daria's eyes widened. It wasn't enough for Griffin to have framed her, now she was making sure there would never be an appeal. Daria pushed against the Tiffanitos, trying to break free. But it was no use. The artificially enhanced strength of the Tiffanitos prevailed and Daria found herself falling...falling...falling...

*CLANG!*

Daria jerked awake, gasping. Sweat matted her hair and she shook her head, trying to orient herself. After a moment, she remembered where she was. In her cell aboard the PPP's prison ship. She'd had the dream again.

She stood up and leaned over the foot of space between her bunk and the sink. After turning the water on, she splashed her face and looked at her reflection in the mirror. It was her face, older and with a premature streak of gray in her hair that ran from her right temple. Even though she had only been imprisoned for five years, it felt like twenty. She was 26 years old and the gray made her look at least ten years older, if not more. She dried her face with the towel that hung next to the sink, sat back on the bunk and rested her head against the wall.

God, she thought, if there's a reason you haven't arranged for me to die yet, please let me know what it is. I can't take much more of this crap.

Little did Daria realize that, at that moment, help was about to come from a most unlikely source...

***

"Annnd...voila!" Jane Lane said as she placed a final spray of paint with a flourish. The object being painted was a PPP billboard featuring the visage of Dr. Sandra Griffin. Under Jane's expert spray painting, the PPP leader now appeared to be suffering from measles, gangrene, pinkeye, and a severe case of constipation. But the true brilliance in this particular work came from what you COULDN'T see within the changes...unless you knew what to look for.

"Yeah, great. Would you hurry up? It won't take them long to notice us." The speaker was Jane's friend Jodie Landon, who was holding the ladder and looking over her shoulder nervously. Not 1000 yards away was one of the PPP's weekly bonfire rallies where followers of the PPP and those they forced into attending hurled works of art, CDs, books, movies and anything else the PPP had designated part of the "bummer culture" into roaring fires.

"You can't rush art...or Art Code, for that matter." Jane replied, filling in a few areas which looked like they needed touching up. "Daria started this whole thing just before free expression had to go underground. I'm gonna start it back up again."

"This close to a PPP rally? You're whacked, Lane!" Jodie replied.

"SILENCE!" The voice of Dr. Griffin echoed throughout the park and the surrounding streets. Jodie turned, convinced she and Jane had been discovered, but relaxed when she saw that it was only the usual holographic recording that Griffin played during the rallies.

"MY FRIENDS," the holographic disembodied head of Griffin announced over the raging bonfire. "I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE..."

"And it is stupid." Jane finished quietly, as she put the final touches in place.

"A FUTURE OF JOY, OF HAPPINESS. A FUTURE DEVOID OF THOSE THINGS THAT WOULD KEEP US FROM BEING TRULY HAPPY. A FUTURE WITHOUT THE HORRIBLE PLAGUE STARTED BY THOSE WHO WOULD HAVE US GO AGAINST THE STATUS QUO AND FORCE US TO THINK ABOUT ONLY THE NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF LIFE..."

"Not at all like what we're promising you." Jane continued, capping the spray paint can. "You only have to do and think what we tell you and you'll have no prob--OH SHIT!"

At that moment, a spotlight blazed down on both Jane and Jodie, being projected by a PPP surveillance drone. Jane quickly stuffed the paint can in the bag slung over her shoulder and slid down the ladder. Jodie stopped holding it as Jane neared the bottom, and the two took off. The nearby rally mob began pursuing them.

"ARTISTS! FREE THINKERS! GET THEM!"

Jodie and Jane ducked into a nearby alley and dived down an open manhole they'd prepared for just this purpose. Jane quickly pulled the manhole cover back into place, just as the mob passed by.

"Well, THAT was a big success." Jodie said, as the two girls made their way down the tunnels of the sewer. "Now that we've been spotted by a surveillance drone, they know what we look like and they'll be closing in."

"It is NOT going to end like this!" Jane said. "We've come too far to find people willing to help us bring down Griffin and the PPP to just let one setback stop us now."

"One setback?!" Jodie yelped. "Jane, the only reason we've managed to get this far is that the PPP didn't know who'd been doing the graffiti all over the city. Now that they've got us both on camera, the PPP will be raiding our homes looking for us."

"I know that! So we'll have to go even further underground. We've had the club set up for this occasion for months."

"What? So we can hide out like rats while they search for us?"

"No. So we can go through with Plan B."

Jodie stopped dead in her tracks. "Plan B? You can't be serious."

Jane turned and looked at her friend. "I am. You knew we were going to do this. The Art Code was to start this up and find allies. We can't get anymore now that the PPP's ID'ed us. We don't have a choice. We can either go through with Plan B, or we can give up and let this whole country die of brain atrophy while under Griffin's color-coordinated thumb."

Jodie looked at Jane. She saw the conviction in her eyes. Jane hadn't always been like this. Not until five years ago when the PPP managed to ram Code #672 through Congress and Daria had been arrested. Jane was about to have her first real showing in a gallery that night when the police burst in, shut the gallery down, and confiscated all of Jane's art. Jane and Jodie had both watched later that night on the news as Daria had been arrested during her reading of excerpts from her latest Melody Powers novel. Jane had taken it hard. Before 672 had been passed, Daria had been her best friend.

During the five years since Daria's life sentence, Jane had sworn that she wouldn't let Daria's sacrifice be in vain. She had recruited the help of Jodie and her boyfriend Mack to begin a resistance against Griffin and the PPP's propaganda machine shortly after the one and only letter she'd ever gotten from Daria arrived. It was encoded with what was the basic form of Art Code. Certain letters, numbers, and words were placed in strategic locations in the letter, which led Jane to a notebook Daria had hidden just before her public reading. In that notebook was the complete Art Code and the various ways it could be used to communicate a message to people who hated living under the status quo the PPP enforced, while those who lived in the PPP's dreamworld would be unable to even locate the message, much less decode it. Within a year, Jane's resistance movement had grown to 75 people, with more new recruits being added by the week. It wasn't an army big enough to take on the PPP directly, but it was big enough to keep spreading the Art Code to find more people, who would in turn spread the Art Code further until they did have an army strong enough to take on the forces of Dr. Sandra Griffin.

The only thing that Jane was unsure of was whether or not Daria had actually killed her own sister during the raid at the Playhouse 99. Daria was an expert at masking her real feelings. The pressure from the PPP on her had been even worse in the days just before 672 had been passed, especially with Quinn being so involved with the organization. It may have been possible that the raid was the last straw and Daria had lost it, killing Quinn in the process. Jane had her doubts, but the evidence that came over the networks that weren't originally owned outright by the PPP was pretty compelling...

All of which led to Plan B. If Plan B went off, Jane would get the chance to ask Daria herself what had happened. And, honestly, Jodie knew that Jane was right. When the drone had spotted them, they had reached the point of no return.

"All right. Plan B." she said.

Jane smiled. "Good. Let's get back to the club. Mack should be there when he hears the news..."

****

Daria filed into the common area of the prison ship with the rest of the prisoners. All of them were people the PPP considered too smart, too weird, or too unfashionable to fit in with the new order they had established. Daria sat at a table by herself. No one ever bothered her. All of them figured it was only a matter of time before the PPP's mind control and her own strong will caused her to break. They figured she was a time bomb waiting to explode. What they didn't know was that the explosion had occurred in the previous year.

For on one cold, lonely night, Daria Anne Marie Morgendorffer began to give up hope.

Aside from the letter she had sent to Jane with the basics of the Art Code, there had been nothing she could do. The damn Tiffanitos were everywhere on the ship. They never slept, never ate, and worst of all, never made a mistake. She finally realized that there was no chance of anyone rescuing her, and no way she could escape from the ship. The most she could do was prove to herself that she was still alive and that the PPP couldn't break her any further. She may be stuck on this ship for the rest of her life, but by God, she wasn't going to make it easy on them.

She sat down at the table and waited for the usual pre-meal pronouncement.

*Attention Prisoners, we, your helpful and ever-present Tiffanitos, will now serve the traditional evening meal of "Dr. Griffin's Pepperoni Pizza." Like your pepperoni pizza breakfast and lunch, this meal has been graciously provided by Dr. Griffin and the People for Proactive Popularism.*

Right on time, as usual. Daria was sick of pepperoni pizza, especially the low-fat, cheeseless, tofu faux-pepperoni slices version that was provided. But, of course, that was one of the messages Griffin was trying to send. Do what we say and you'll earn the right to eat real food again.

The small pizza box was placed in front of her. Daria grimaced and opened it. More pizza, more mind control, more lonely nights in a cell. Repeat endlessly for the next sixty years.

Sixty years! The thought hit her like a freight train. It had never seemed real to her. Sixty more years until Death finally freed her from this corrupt world of popularity and conformity. Sixty more years of mind numbing programming. Sixty more years of bad pepperoni pizza for every...damn...meal.

At that moment, a Tiffanito walked up to her, gave the pseudo-respectful bow they all gave and began to speak.

*I have been instructed to inform you that your graying hairs are in violation of prisoner dress and grooming codes. you are scheduled for hair dyeing and styling at 1600 hours tomorrow. Please confirm and conform.*

Daria frowned. That was it. She had put up with the cramped living conditions, the bad food, the idea of never getting off the ship. But now they wanted to take away what she considered her only proof that she had survived what they had thrown at her. She EARNED that gray streak in her hair, dammit! In the depths of her soul, a spark had been rekindled. There was a way out. The final one. And if she could get them to do it, it would be on her terms.

"Oh sure, I can conform. But if I conformed or confirmed I would be inconformant to my represented can o' worms." The sarcasm and parody caused several nearby prisoners to perk up. This was something they hadn't heard in a while.

The Tiffanito said nothing for a moment then:

*Please repeat.*

Daria stood up. A wry smile on her face. "So sorry, repetition is not possible. You must figure that out for yourself, Daniel-san." She duplicated the standard Tiffanito bow. The Tiffanito turned and began to walk away. Daria, with a spirit borne of being someone with nothing left to lose plus a touch of mild insanity, began following it, duplicating the slightly erratic movement of the robot. The other prisoners began laughing at her exact reproduction.

This caused the Tiffanito to turn around abruptly. For a split second, Daria found herself looking at the impassive face, then the Tiffanito abruptly swung with its arm, connecting with the side of Daria's head, sending her flying a short distance before crashing into one of the tables.

The other prisoners, outraged at this treatment or one of their own, immediately rioted assaulting the robots. There were more prisoners than guards on the prison ship. Unfortunately, the PPP had taken this into account.

*Attention. Riot in Dining Area. Gas please.*

From hidden vents, gas spewed forth, clouding the entire dining area. Those prisoners who were still fighting quickly succumbed. From her place on the floor, Daria felt the blackness overtake her. And at that moment she knew it was useless. She would die on this ship only when they let her...

Hope was gone.

****

With a grunt, Jane pushed aside the access panel leading into the depths of the PPP's communications center. She climbed up out of the hatch, then reached back down for the bag of tools Jodie handed up, then helped Jodie up herself.

"Are you sure this is it?" Jodie asked looking skeptically at the conduits, wires and relays that ran down the corridor.

"According to the schematics Mack got for us." Jane replied. "Come on, we don't have a lot of time."

As the two girls quickly moved down the corridor, they passed under a number of television monitors. All were broadcasting the PPP's daily spiel, with, as always, the "inspirational" words of Dr. Sandra Griffin.

"We must stand ever vigilant against those who would let their unfashionable doctrine corrupt the youth of this nation. Thoughts, words, music and art that focus solely on the negative aspects of life will lead this country into a downward spiral that promotes unhappiness and ill feeling. At this very moment, intellectual outcasts are being reeducated in our workhouses and prisons..."

***

After she had come to, Daria was ushered in for the evening mind control session, meaning being forced to watch, in it's entirety, all three hours of the PPP's commercial-free daily broadcast. She sat with a batch of other prisoners, and watched. What did it matter? She wouldn't get out of here anyway. It was a stalemate. She'd never be "rehabilitated" by the PPP's standards. The doctrine they wanted her to spout was anathema to her, so much so that she'd never be able to credibly fake it. Griffin knew that.

By the same token, Daria knew that trying to get out of here was pointless. No one cared. She was sure the PPP had nailed Jane. The daily sessions showed the PPP removing all the graffiti that contained the Art Code, and after a while they stopped showing it happening. Which meant that Jane had either been forced underground or was caught and being held on a different prison ship. The PPP also knew better than to let the Tiffanitos kill her for her transgressions of the rules. She could probably kill another prisoner and they'd still keep her alive. And suicide just meant that she'd still be dying on their terms. She was here for the rest of her life. Just her and the meaningless drivel of the PPP...

***

"Ooh, you sonofa--there!" Jane said as she finally got the severed cable jerry-rigged to the VCR they'd brought in.

"Hurry up!" Jodie whispered, looking back down the corridor.

"Give me the tape." Jane said. Jodie handed over the tape. "I hope this works. Otherwise we'll have to go to Plan C."

"There is no Plan C." Jodie said.

"I know." Jane answered as she pressed the play button...

***

Daria was falling asleep. She'd heard this all before. Bad enough she was going to die of old age in this place. She was going to be bored to death for all that time as well—

"--and blew his head clean off his shoulders, sending an impressive spray of blood spattering over the wall."

Daria looked up. She knew that sentence. She WROTE that sentence!

Griffin's image had been removed from the monitor, replaced with Daria's own. It was footage from one of her last public readings of her novel. Daria watched in astonishment as the broadcast continued without interference from the PPP. She was even more astonished when a new voice came through the speakers:

***

"You can't stop people from thinking, you pretentious bitch!" Jane cried into the small microphone she had plugged into the audio jack of the VCR. "This is Jane! Jane Lane! And you're up shit creek! It's not over yet, Griffin!"

"Jane! Come on!" Jodie said, dashing back down the corridor. "They're coming!"

"If you can hear me, it's not over! We're still here! And we're ready!" Jane finished hurriedly. She dropped the mike and dashed back down the corridor after Jodie.

***

"--We're still here! And we're ready!"

"Jane." Daria whispered. She was still out there. She was still working. Still spreading the Art Code. Still going through with the plan. But if she was taking this big of a risk, then the PPP must be onto her. But Jane was willing to take that risk...

Daria was careful not to let her true feelings show on her face. The Tiffanito guarding this group hadn't noticed anything. It was only programmed to act if the prisoners did something unusual, not the monitor. She looked across at the man sitting next to her. He was a smarmy little toad prone to hitting on all the female inmates on the ship. His name was Charles, but everyone called him Upchuck.

But rumor had it he was allowed to work in the computer operations room for being a model prisoner. If that was the case, he may have access to what she needed...

...to escape.

"Hey, Upchuck..." she whispered. Upchuck glanced sideways at her.

"Yes, my feisty mistress of the dining hall?" he answered with a small grin that made Daria want to pound him just on principle.

"Can the come ons. Rumor has it you work up in the computer ops area."

"I have been known to work up there from time to time."

"I need something from you."

"Really?" Upchuck's grin got even wider. "Rrrrrrr."

Daria looked at him, then reached down and grabbed his thumb and twisted. Upchuck writhed for split second but quickly recovered.

"All right! All right!" he whispered. "What do you want?"

"I need a Tiffanito maintenance manual."

"Huh? But anyone can get those."

"Anyone who works in the ops center, yes. I need one." Daria answered.

"Why?"

"You're better off not knowing. If it backfires, I'll be the one who goes down for it, or do you relish the idea of being subjected to one of Colonel Taylor's 'hostile makeovers?'"

Upchuck considered. While he was loath to do anything without payment for himself, the idea of being subjected to a hostile makeover was something no one liked to think about. Those who came back were...changed. And not for the better.

"All right. But you owe me big for this." he said.

"Anything but sexual favors." Daria replied. "I might be crazy, but I'm not stupid."

****

Upchuck came through for her. He delivered the Tiffanito manual shortly after the end of the evening work shift. As his group of prisoners were being marched past her cell, he slipped the small manual to Daria, who promptly hid it under the mattress in her bunk.

As soon as she was sure she was alone, she quickly scanned through the manual until she found what she was looking for:

WHAT NOT TO DO TO YOUR TIFFANITO

As she read the entry, a smile came to her face. Who knew it would be that easy?

At that moment, she heard the slow, plodding tread of a Tiffanito coming up the stairs just outside her cell. Daria quickly hid the manual and assumed a pose of beaten wretchedness.

The Tiffanito stopped outside of Daria's cell, waved its hand and the cell door opened to admit it. It walked into the cell, turned to face Daria and bowed. It began to speak, the synthetic voice synchronizing with the "speech lights" on the sides of its face.

*I have been instructed to inform you that your behavior in the dining area this afternoon has resulted in your privileges being penalized for this period. Your punishment is scheduled for 0900 hours tomorrow. This is your formal notice, Daria.*

Daria looked up. "Tiffanito, your words are meaningless and ill informed. You are in error."

*Error?*

"Yes. Your error light is illuminated."

*I have an error light?*

"You mean they never told you that you have an error light?" Daria said, feigning surprise. "Figures. They probably never told you about the verbal test to make sure everything is working properly either. Here, let me help..."

*No deviance, Daria.*

Daria looked shocked for a moment, then quickly recovered. A Tiffanito smart enough to know when it might be set up. Would wonders never cease?

"No, no. It's not a trick. All I do is ask you a logic problem. If you answer it correctly, it means that your system has been reset and that the message is correct. If not, it means you are in error."

*I will submit to this test. Pose your problem.*

Daria smiled evilly. "Posit: Everything I say is a lie. Given this knowledge, am I lying when I say that everything I say is a lie?"

The Tiffanito stood in thought. *If everything you say is a lie, then you would be lying about everything you say being a lie. However, if the statement is a lie, then you would be telling the truth, which means that the statement is also true which means you would be lying which means you would be telling the truth which means you are lying whichmeansyouaretellingthetruthwhichmeansyouarelyingwhichmeansyouaretellingthetruth lietruthlietruthlietruthlierrorerrorerrorerrorerror--*

Daria got out of the way as the smoking Tiffanito pitched forward onto her bunk. She smiled as she watched the smoke plume from the grate on the back of the robot's neck.

"Definitely in error."

***

A few minutes later, a Tiffanito exited the cell of Daria Anne Marie Morgendorffer, PPP ID Number 83QSTYX54-2 and entered a nearby maintenance hatch. It then climbed up a service ladder to a porthole at the top of the ship, climbed out, made it's way along the top of the ship to a different porthole, managing to avoid the surveillance drones that passed by overhead as the prison ship pulled into port.

The Tiffanito opened another porthole, climbed down, and joined a crowd of identical Tiffanitos that were being offloaded for routine maintenance . In the confusion as the two batches of Tiffanitos were switched, one broke away from the pack and began to make it's way towards downtown Lawndale.

At the morning headcount of the inmates on the prison ship, Daria Morgendorffer failed to appear. Investigation of her cell found her bunk occupied by the stripped carcass of a guard Tiffanito. The protective covering of the hands, legs and head were removed from the robot, as was the clothing the Tiffanito manufacturers dressed their product in. On the floor next to the bunk was a discarded Tiffanito maintenance manual...

***

Dr. Sandra Griffin kept her face perfectly straight as her aide-de-camp, Lt. Stacy Rowe nervously finished her report.

"So let me make sure I understand this completely, Stacy. Daria Anne Marie Morgendorffer, the brain who is the representative of all that is wrong with this country, escaped?"

Rowe gulped. "Um--yes, Dr. Griffin. The PPP investigators we sent believe she was incited by the pirate broadcast of her readings during last night's programming. She apparently managed to convince one of the prisoners allowed to work in the computer ops area to get her a Tiffanito maintenance manual for..um...well..."

"What did she give him, Stacy?"

"She..uh...she apparently kissed him, Dr. Griffin."

"She..kissed...him."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Who was this shortsighted miscreant?"

"Um," Stacy consulted her clipboard, "Ruttheimer, Charles, the Third, PPP ID #87KREEP57-9. I've already ordered him to be taken to Col. Taylor for a hostile makeover."

"Good," Griffin said coldly. "This must have something to do with that girl she hung out with before we arrested her. Put the word out on all the networks. Daria Morgendorffer is at large. She should be considered armed and dangerous. Post a reward as well. 500,000 PPP Credit Vouchers for her. 100,000 for information leading to the capture of Jane Lane."

"Yes, Ma'am." Rowe hurriedly saluted and turned to leave Griffin's office. Just as she got to the door, however...

"Stacy,"

"Yes, Dr. Griffin?"

"That's 500,000 Credit Vouchers for Morgendorffer...DEAD or alive."

"Yes, Dr. Griffin."

After Rowe had left, Griffin turned to look out the window of her office at the city of Lawndale sprawled before her.

"This time, brain, you don't get off so easily."

***

Daria moved through the streets of Lawndale, disguised as one of a million Tiffanitos. She was glad she had studied the Tiffanitos distinctive way of moving, and her normal monotone voice could be raised to the appropriate pitch whenever she needed to speak.

She had heard on the radio about the reward the PPP had put out for her. 500,000 Credit Vouchers was a lot of credit, especially since PPP creds were as good as cash in most cities. Under the shell of the "borrowed" Tiffanito head, Daria smiled. Her escape must have Griffin tearing her repeatedly dyed hair out. Her smile widened when she realized that Jane would probably be offended by the fact that the reward for her was less than Daria's.

As night fell, Daria walked to a deserted public area. She had found a discarded spray can next to a PPP clean up site. A quick test showed that it still had paint in it. Enough for a short message anyway.

She climbed up the fire escape of a building. Another four stories had been added to this building as an afterthought, so there was a small ledge of roof. On the wall of the extension was another ubiquitous PPP billboard. It would do.

Daria raised the paint can and quickly scrawled out a hurried message in Art Code. It wasn't pretty by any means, but it would hopefully get the message to Jane. Daria had already defaced four other billboards in other sections of town. She could only hope that Jane would find one of them before the PPP erased it.

***

"Yo!" Mack said as he entered the abandoned nightclub where Jodie and Jane where hiding out. Jodie smiled as he came in, went over and gave him a quick kiss.

"Nice to see you, too." Mack said with a grin as he put down the box of groceries he was carrying. Jane came over from where she was watching the news. Despite the fact that she was now officially on the run she was smiling.

"Plan B is officially under way!" she said to Mack. "It just came over the news, Daria broke out this morning."

"I've got even better news." Mack said. "On my way over here I spotted a PPP billboard with some slightly less than artistic Art Code on it. It looked like it was placed in a hurry. I took a Polaroid when I was sure the coast was clear." He passed over the picture of the defaced PPP billboard. Jane took it and looked it over, working to decode the message. After a minute, she looked up and smiled.

"If Griffin knew where Daria is heading right now, she'd soil her Italian leather pants."

"Where is she?" Jodie asked.

"In the last place anyone would expect her to go. Come on!"

***

After the raid that had seen Daria arrested, the Playhouse 99 was closed down, only to reopen a few months later as Dr. Griffin's Museum of Outcast Pathology. Recently, the Museum had been closed as the PPP debated whether even having a museum of the very things they were trying to stamp out was a good idea. Under the circumstances, Jane thought it was a great place to meet.

After jumping the restraining wall around the entrance to the theater, Jane looked up at the darkened marquee. She could remember the times that she and Daria had taken in a few films back in the 99's heyday.

"Are you sure she's here? The PPP's got to have this place under watch." Jodie said.

"You read the message. Daria's got to be here." Jane replied. "Look, if you're that nervous, stay out here and keep watch."

"All right."

While Jodie kept a lookout, Jane opened the door to the theatre and went in.

***

Jane walked through the darkened room, keeping an eye out for any obstructions. As she approached the first exhibit, there was a rumble of thunder and the scene was illuminated. The animatronic figure was a large heavyset man with a full beard and steel rimmed glasses. He was sitting behind a desk covered with books, papers, notepads, and a stratocaster electric guitar.

"Hello, how are you?" the figure began. "My name's Stephen. Welcome to Dr. Griffin's Museum of Outcast Pathology. We have death, destruction, violence, and all the other things that made life ugly."

Jane moved on. The next exhibit was a depiction of the art of Andy Warhol, finishing with an animatronic reproduction of his death. Jane hated it. After that came a badly simulated Kiss concert. Jane smirked as she remembered her musician brother Trent's experiment with Kiss music. Thank God he grew out of that phase.

Finally, Jane approached the stage where the "main attraction" was located: the animatronic reproduction of the night of Daria's arrest. On the stage were two animatronic reproductions of Daria and her sister Quinn and a desk. "Daria" held a metal chair in its hands. As the exhibit progressed, "Quinn" would get to its feet, cry out "It's all over, Daria!" then scream in pain as "Daria" brought the chair down on its head, and "Quinn" would collapse. Across the front of the stage down where the viewers of the exhibit stood was a huge neon sign proclaiming "DARIA KILLS."

As Jane got closer, a new recording started:

"This is Dr. Griffin. Welcome to our main exhibit. On the night that Code 672, the code that protects us from the effects of cynical and subversive forms of art, entertainment, and literature, was passed, Daria Anne Marie Morgendorffer murdered her own sister and one of my most loyal supporters, Quinn Morgendorffer. Here, on this very stage, Daria succumbed to the effects of her own work. This exhibit has been placed to show how we must remain ever vigilant against all forms of--"

As Griffin's voice droned on spouting PPP dogma, and as she watched the animatronics continually beat the hell out of each other, she noticed that the faces of both figures were wrong. "Daria" was wearing an expression of psychotic rage that was DEFINITELY out of place. While "Quinn" was wearing an expression of martyrdom seldom seen outside of a statue in a Catholic cathedral. That wasn't right. It wasn't fair. It...was...WRONG!

With extreme anger at seeing her friend bastardized like this, Jane leaped up onto the stage, and wrested the chair out of "Daria's" hands. As she did so, one of the hands snapped off and wires were severed, causing everything to come to a halt.

"Jane Lane."

Jane turned and saw a Tiffanito approaching her from the shadows. Oh, hell. If that thing reported back that it had founder, both she and Daria were screwed. Jane raised the chair over her head, ready to bring it down on the robot.

Abruptly, the Tiffanito stopped in its tracks. It raised its hands and began to do something to its head. Jane watched at it raised the shell of its head, revealing a face Jane knew very well.

"Daria." she said.

Daria gave a small smile. "Hello, Jane."

Jane grinned widely. "I remember you being a lot younger."

Daria fingered the gray streak in her hair. "And I remember you being a lot more tactful. God, its good to see you. Glad to see you got my message."

"I'm glad to see you caught my broadcast."

"Caught it? Hell, that's what finally got me to get my ass in gear and break out. I was glad to see that there was still someone out there. Someone who still cared."

"It isn't just me," Jane said, coming closer to her friend. "Jodie and Mack have been helping me, and we've got a network spread all over town. A whole network of people that are sick of the PPP's lies and bullshit. We're gonna make Griffin crawl...CRAWWWL!"

"Easy, tiger," Daria said, frowning slightly, "if you're gonna take on Griffin and the PPP, you better be prepared. I learned the hard way that she doesn't play games."

"We're prepared. We're ready for anything she could throw at us."

Daria crooked an eyebrow. "Anything?"

Jane saw the concern on Daria's face. "Oh, don't worry. No guns. We're not terrorists." Jane turned an looked back at the frozen replicas. She knew what she had to ask...

"Daria," she said quietly, "Did you really kill Qu--"

"I never killed anyone!" Daria said coming over to Jane and grabbed her arm. "That bitch Griffin framed me. She had my sister killed because Quinn was becoming a threat to her leadership of the PPP, and the fact that it help strike the death blow for intelligence in this country by arresting me for it was an added bonus."

"Daria, you're hurting my arm." Jane said. Daria looked down and saw that she was squeezing Jane's arm to the point that the skin was turning white. She let go and sat down on the edge of the stage.

"Sorry. It's been a rough five years, and I think I've lost a little sanity in the last year or so."

Jane sat down next to her. "It's all right. Anyone would, after going through what you did."

"I can still remember it all. I have nightmares. Sometimes it's the trial, sometimes it's that night. Either way, there isn't a night for the last five years I haven't woken up in terror." Jane looked over at her friend. This was definitely not the same Daria she knew, and she had managed to see Daria at her lowest and when her defenses were down. But this Daria was someone who had lost everything. Her career, her family, and her life. The hell of it was she was still alive to know that she had lost everything. Jane didn't blame her for acting the way she had. Sometimes the only way to stay sane was to go a little crazy.

"I can still remember exactly how it happened," Daria continued. "You'd think the memories would have faded, wouldn't you? But for me it could've happened yesterday..."

****

"'Do I know you? Have we met before?' 'Sure, I'm your long lost daughter. Now where's the back child support, creep?'"

The audience tittered. In the back of her mind, Daria smiled. This was a good crowd tonight. Nice way to end a tour of public readings, back in the ol' hometown. Joey, her agent, hadn't wanted her to go through with it, especially with the PPP pushing for the passing of Code 672, but Daria hadn't cared. Until they dragged her away in chains, she was going to give her fans what they had paid good money for.

She knew it could still be sticky, what with Quinn being so high up in the PPP these days. But Quinn had her own agenda. She was trying for the top spot in Sandra Griffin's little political club, just like high school. But in the meantime....

She sat at the desk and assumed a position of officiousness as she prepared to begin the next chapter. Suddenly, there was a roaring of sirens and the dimmed house lights went out, leaving only the stage lights on.

Then all hell broke loose as PPP protesters burst through the doors into the auditorium. Leading the fray was Quinn, in the standard uniform of PPP officers. She stormed up onto the stage and smirked triumphantly at Daria.

"It's over, Daria. 672 was passed. You're going down."

"Why are you doing this, Quinn? What are you afraid of?" Daria asked.

"Sorry, sis, nothing personal. I really could care less about you and the other unpopular types, but the PPP's on it's way up. And if my 'cousin' has to go to prison so I can get in on it, so be it."

At that moment, two of the beefier PPP protestors clamped their hands down on Daria's arms, holding her immobile. Daria watched as more PPP protestors lined the stage, effectively blocking the view of what was happening from the audience.. Daria frowned. Something was wrong about this setup.

"It's a shame, really," Quinn continued. "You won't be able to see the changes we're going to make in this country. Your kind is out for good, Daria. And once I'm in charge--"

At that moment, a PPP shocktrooper behind Quinn picked up the metal chair behind the desk and swung it. The chair connected with the back of Quinn's head with a sickening smack. Daria struggled to escape the grip of the PPP troops holding her, but they kept her forced down. She could only watch as her younger sister crumpled to her knees. The trooper swung the chair again, connecting once again. Quinn fell to the stage. Daria felt sick as she saw a trickle of blood run from Quinn's hairline and down her face, to merge with the slowly growing puddle under her head.

The PPP trooper smiled then yelled out at the top of his voice "MY GOD! SHE'S GONE CRAZY! SHE'S KILLED CAPTAIN MORGENDORFFER!"

Abruptly, the PPP members blocking the audience broke away, showing the audience exactly what the PPP wanted them to see: Quinn's dead body, a bent metal chair, and Daria being held by the two goons. Before anyone could do anything, Daria was dragged backstage, handcuffed and hustled out the stage door to a waiting police car.

Daria never got a chance to say goodbye.

***

"...The rest of the story you know." Daria said as she finished telling Jane what happened. "I was convicted of Quinn's murder and the PPP managed to gain more influence until now, when they're almost synonymous with the government."

"Griffin really thinks it's over, doesn't she?" Jane asked, looking over the rest of the museum. "She thinks she's won."

Daria shook her head and looked over at Jane with a grim smile on her face. "She may think that, but she's wrong. You were out there, spreading the Art Code, gathering allies. We may be small, we may not have the might to take her on in a firefight, but there's other ways to fight a war."

Jane looked up. "War?"

"Whether she realized it or not, Griffin declared war on America when she rammed 672 through Congress. And she declared war on us when your gallery showing was shut down, when I was arrested, and when she had Quinn killed. So, whether she likes it or not, we're at war. And I'm not going to be a prisoner of war. Not ever again."

Daria got to her feet, and went over to the frozen tableau of the animatronics. She picked up the chair from where Jane had dropped it, and hurled it with all her might at the picture of Griffin that has hanging to the left of the stage. It connected, shattering the glass and tearing a huge hole in the photo. Jane got to her feet at the rare display of violence from her friend.

Daria turned back to Jane with a look of pleading. She held out a hand. "I need your help, Jane. Will you help me?"

Jane looked back at Daria, then clasped her friend's hand. "If it's war she wants, she's going to find that she picked the wrong two to screw with. We're gonna get her."

"And we're going to get her good." Daria finished.


THE BEGINNING


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"Daria" and related characters are copyright (c) 2001 MTV Networks and Viacom International
Created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis

The original "Kilroy Was Here" is copyright (c) 1983 Styx and Buddies, Inc. Original concept and Story by Dennis DeYoung

This fic has been officially bashed by CINCGREEN. "CINCGREEN Reviews: You may hate his guts, but at least he never killed anybody."