This fan fiction and associated stories were written for entertainment purposes only.
No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV with all appropriate rights reserved.
Fullmetal Alchemist is owned/distributed by Madman Entertainment and Enix/Square Enix with all appropriate rights reserved.
"Sorry about your guitar," stated Daria Morgen sheepishly, unable to think of anything else to say at the moment.
"It's cool, I needed a new axe anyway,""replied Trent Lane through his operating mask without taking his eyes off of the wires he was threading into place. "And I can't really blame you under the circumstances."
"Though I expect you to be more careful with this when we're done Daria," chastised Trent as he reached for a screwdriver and began tightening down a tiny bracket over wires.
Although chastised may not have been an appropriate description given the laid back manner in which the comment was delivered. Even more so when one factored in the deep and sultry voice of the speaker.
The 16 year old Daria, who had long harbored a crush on the older man and would typically have been blushing so brightly she could be seen from space, simply nodded and looked away.
She didn't care about the fact that the only thing separating her from nudity was a flimsy cotton tank top and a pair of g-string style white panties. She turned away from the young man, unable to meet his eyes.
"OK, this might hurt a bit…" came Trent's voice.
"Don't sugar coat it for the girl, boy," grumped Bernice Lane-Rockbell from her place near the girl's lower body.
"OK, it will hurt a bit…" he continued.
"Hell with 'a bit', it's going to hurt a lot," stated Trent's aunt and guardian as she watched her nephew carefully and expertly slide the ends of the wiring into the exposed flesh around the girl's clavicle.
Daria winced at the piercing intrusion, then again as the fitted bearing was extended into the empty socket that once held her right arm. She struggled to hold still again as Bernice moved next to Trent and began ratcheting the ball socked snugly and painfully into the proper position in her empty right shoulder socked.
As the old woman claimed a micro-filament sauter and moved it towards the exposed wiring and flesh, Daria thought, 'That was unpleasant. Not something I'd put down as enjoyable, but not any worse than I exp…'
Her thoughts were violently interrupted by a sensation not unlike being stabbed repeatedly with an electrified filet knife that had been coated in lemon juice, acid, glass shards and salt... and was on fire.
She repeated a string of swears and curses that would make the saltiest sailor blush rapidly in her head as she squeezed her eyes closed as tight as she could.
An image of her sister's face formed in her mind.
'This pain is nothing. I've experienced worse... and SHE went through worse than that. I'll endure it for her… I have to.'
Unbidden and unwanted, memories of the past week flooded into Daria's mind and drowned out her perception of the present.
An image of Daria and Quinn a week ago, in the basement of their parents' house formed in her mind. Before them in the middle of an intricately drawn chalk diagram sat what could only be described as a quivering mass of burnt smoking meat and bone that should have been their Mother, brought back to life by the power of Alchemy.
The sight of it triggered the memory of her mother's death in Daria, and the girl had simply stood there in shock and terror, staring at the collection of ill shaped bones, partially formed organs loosely covered and mingled with pounds of burnt and bleeding flesh.
Daria likely would have stood there indefinitely in terrified awe had her sister's sharp scream not broken her from her stupor. Daria turned to face Quinn and saw something that would easily rank with the abomination on the floor and the memory of her Mother's death. She saw Quinn writhing on the ground, screaming in agony as black tentacles that seemed to come from the shadows methodically ripped the girl apart. Where they pulled though, there were brief splashes of blood that splattered wetly against the floor. Each time a tentacle struck, there was tiny hellish flash of red light and the smell of ozone. Then the piece of the girl's flesh they had struck was simple gone, only a bloody furrow left in its place.
Daria tried to run to her sister, but she tripped and fell flat on her face. One of the lenses of her glasses cracked spectacularly. When she recovered from being momentarily dazed, she reflexively looked back to see what had caused her to trip. She was greeted with the sight of the same black tentacles wrapped around her left ankle and a searching pain that began in that same leg and knifed right into her brain.
She tried to scream, but no sound would come as she saw more tentacles shoot out of the darkness and wrap around her leg all the way up to the middle of her thigh. Smoke and blood began to trickle from the limb for a second or two before the tentacles went taut. Then in a flash of unimaginable agony her leg came free of her body and was dragged back into the darkness by the tentacles. As soon as the leg was bisected, a huge gout of blood began to issue from the ragged stump and the scream that had been trapped within the girl's throat was released.
She cried out, and rolled over and used her hands and remaining leg to scramble as far away from the spot her leg had vanished into, leaving a bloody trail behind her on the stone floor. As she did she saw Quinn reaching out. Her sister's body was missing from just above the navel down. Her eyes wide with complete horror and unimaginable agony.
Daria managed to pull herself within reach of her sister and grabbed her extended hand. Unfortunately she was unable to stop them both from being pulled towards the darkness. Quinn cried out her sister's name then was pulled into the darkness completely.
Daria felt her sisters hand dissolve in her grip and she screamed. She fumbled in the impenetrable black and her hand closed into a fist, wrapped around an almost intangible something. There was no physical aspect to what she held but if 'felt' small and warm. She had a flash of Quinn's face and a whisper of the girl's terrified voice. The warmth spread from her unseen arm through the rest of her body.
She tried to move back from the darkness only to find her arm would not budge. Then she felt the same searing pain in her submerged arm as there had been in her leg. With a sudden lurch, she was pulled forward, her entire arm shrouded in the inky blackness just past her shoulder. One of the infernal tentacles slowly extended from the darkness near her and lashed at her face. It struck the undamaged lens of her glasses, which disappeared in a flash like her and her sister's flesh had. She screamed again, pulled with all of her might, and flew back away from the darkness that was holding her. When she looked down, her right arm was completely gone at the shoulder. Only a bloody raged gaping wound remained.
Daria's whole body was alive with pain. But she felt the same warmth she had grasped in the darkness. Again she heard the faint sound of her sister's voice. She then realized what she had, while her body had been sundered, she had managed to pull Quinn's soul from the abyss. But it was fading.
She managed to battle through the haze of agony and blood loss. Her eyes fell on something and her frantic mind provided her with one desperate course of action.
While she had been unconscious for what happened next, Bernice's vivid descriptions had allowed her tormented imagination to fill in the blanks. She could clearly visualize Trent and his aunt standing in shock at the door to their clinic as they stared at a huge armored figure holding a bloody unconscious Daria in its arms. She could almost see her own torso tightly wrapped with a section of blood soaked tarp that did nothing to obscure the fact that there was obviously no arm underneath and the stump of her leg tied off with a tourniquet made from the strings of a guitar… the one Trent had loaned her after she had convinced him to teach her how to play. And she could easily envision the shocked faces of the Lanes as the imposing six and a half foot tall armored figure begged for help with the voice of her little sister.
None knew for sure how the fire started. Daria assumed it had been the candles they were using as lighting to avoid drawing unwanted attention to their activities by having the house lights on at the ungodly hour they had chosen to perform the transmutation. But knowing how it happened wouldn't change the fact that the house had burned to the ground that night.
Daria opened her eyes as the memories ended. She rested her head back on the operating bench she lay on. She still felt the incredible pain as Bernice continued to "sauter" the hair thin leads directly to the remaining nerves in her shoulder. But she no longer fought against the pain. She accepted it... embraced it... made it a part of herself.
She stared unflinching at the ceiling as Trent and Bernice worked and a single thought rang clear in her mind.
'I'll take any thing... do anything... suffer anything... to get Quinn her body again.'
Jane Lane hurriedly approached the front of the large three-story house. She looked up at the old faded sign which read Rockbell Automail & Medical Clinic and adjusted the wooden crate in her arms. She noticed her Aunt Bernice was sitting on the porch puffing away at her pipe and fanning herself with one of her ridiculously large straw hats.
She had been on the return leg of a two months long exotic parts run as part of her machinist's apprenticeship, following her most recent session of General Education classes at Lawndale Academy. She had still been two weeks' travel away, when her aunt informed her of some of the details and the fact that her best friend was having her arm and leg replaced with automail facsimiles.
Despite the favors, bribes and open threats she'd used to secure a string of non-stop travel arrangements, it had still taken Jane over a week to get back Lawndale.
"How's she doing?" Jane asked worriedly as she carefully set the small crate she had been sent to retrieve down near the front door. She leaned against the porch rail in front of her aunt and waited for the woman's reply.
"Your brother and I just finished up about an hour ago," Bernice informed before she took another long pull from her pipe and slowly blew out a cloud of smoke. "The procedure went smoothly. No connection issues and impulse response looks good in the limbs. Though we'll have to watch for rejection as usual, but she doesn't have any of the usual biological abnormalities that would typically cause it."
"Glad to hear it, but why do I think there's something else wrong?" responded Jane as she crossed her arms in front of her overalls and stared at her Aunt.
"I don't have to tell you how much the connecting process hurts," continued Bernice. "Lord knows you've been my operating assistant more than a few times."
"Thank the lord for ear plugs," stated Jane offhandedly.
"Normally, I'd agree with you… but that girl never let out anything above a whimper the whole time we were working on them," Bernice continued.
"Christ!," sword Jane "Wait… limbs?... them?… You did them BOTH!"
"Yeah," replied Bernice with a scowl. "And before you even start, it was either do them both in one sitting or watch her try to make good on her threat to 'do the damned job herself if we wouldn't'. And knowing that girl the way I do, I believe she would have tried."
"Yeah, she would have," agreed Jane as she leaned her head against one of the posts holding up the porch's awning.
She remembered the many times she'd been there when people had the operations performed to attach their automail. Surgeries that directly connected the control inputs of the mechanical limbs to the living nerves at the connection points. The process was delicate tedious work that generally took hours, if not days to complete. On top of that, because of the nature of the work being done, anesthetizing the patient wasn't an option because it made it virtually impossible to ensure the connections that transmitted the nerve impulses to the automail servos were properly mirroring the former limbs muscle responses.
In short, the process amounted to hours of torturous unfiltered pain. Jane had witnessed grown men, more than a few hardened soldiers among them, who had never shown a sign of weakness their whole lives, screaming like banshees and crying like newborn babes as their automail was attached. But the end result was an artificial limb that responded as well (and in some cases, better) than the original flesh and blood one did.
Jane looked up at the sound of the clinic's door opening to see her brother carefully push a wheelchair onto the porch. In the chair, arm bound and wrapped in antiseptic soaked bandages and a blanket draped over her legs, sat Daria.
"Hey," greeted Jane.
"Hey," returned Daria tiredly.
"Hey Janey," greeted Trent who accepted the nod in return from his sister.
"Um…Aunt Bernice," called Trent after the awkward silence managed to stretch past even his impressive comfort point. "I could use some help cleaning up the operating room."
Bernice glanced back and forth between her niece and her most recent patient and rolled her eyes.
"Fine," she huffed angrily after tapping her pipe out over the rail. "I need hot bath and something to eat anyway. I'm not as young as I used to be."
As she moved toward the door she paused at Daria's side.
"Don't stay out here too long," Bernice advised in a tone much more tender than her usual gruff manner. "You've got a long recovery period ahead of you."
With that she patted the girl's good shoulder before she entered the clinic and quietly closed the door. Once they were alone, Daria and Jane sat and stood respectively, in awkward silence.
"So…" began Jane to break the extended awkward silence that hung around the two friends. "Finally let Trent get his hands on you, huh."
"You know, I think I should field test this new foot. How about you come over here and bend over," replied a blushing Daria as she moved the blanket aside and revealed her slate metal gray automail leg.
Jane kneeled to examine the prosthetic more closely. She carefully ran an index finger over the exposed inner casing that housed the delicate wiring and hydraulics.
"Wow. This looks more… intricate than I usually see," commented Jane.
While she was more than capable at servicing automail, her aunt and brother were vastly better than she or anyone else she'd ever worked with by a wide margin. It was the reason people frequently came from the furthest reaches of Amestris, just to have the Lanes design, install and service their automail. Examining Daria's new limb told even her less talented eye that, this was far and away vastly superior to even the most costly custom jobs she remembered Trent or Bernice ever building. She imagined the arm would be the same incredible quality.
"I can't wait till you've recovered enough to get the outer shell," commented Jane.
"Trent offered to make one… but I wanted you to do it," stated Daria.
The raven haired girl looked up at her friend's impassive face.
"I mean Trent's OK, but we both know you're the best machinist in three territories," praised Daria. "Besides, I know you'd never forgive me if I didn't let you have the opportunity to finally stick a Jane Lane original on me.
"Seriously?" inquired Jane.
"I know it's not the tattoo you've been trying to convince me to get, but in a lot of ways its better," added Daria. "I mean you can't redesign or change a tattoo as easily as you could rework an automail outer casing."
Jane merely sat at her friend's feet with tears welling up in her ice blue eyes.
"God, I thought we'd lost you," stated Jane as she lurched up and wrapped her wheelchair bound best friend in a tight hug.
"While I appreciate the sentiment," stated Daria through clenched teeth. "My torso is on fire and would appreciate not being squeezed just yet."
"Oh my god, I'm sorry," gushed Jane as she released her friend and settled back to a seated position.
"I can't believe you had your arm and leg done in one day," stated Jane in awe.
"It had to be the most painful and unpleasant thing a person has ever subjected me to," stated Daria seriously.
"Even worse than Lawndale Academy?" asked Jane with a smirk.
"Yeah, even worse than Lawndale Academy… But not by much," affirmed Daria with a semblance of her old subdued smile.
Jane chuckled when something caught her eye. She reached up and lifted the section of the blanket that had been folded back to reveal Daria's new leg and hip.
"I see you went all out trying to catch Trent's attention," comment a grinning Jane.
"Huh, what are you talking..." began Daria before Jane hooked a finger in the string side of her barely there under garments and tugged a few times. "Eeep!"
"Never saw you as a slinky sexy undies kinda girl," teased Jane as she stood and leaned against the porch rail.
Daria quickly flipped the blanket back down over her exposed hip and leg, then proceeded to glare at her friend.
"Bite my shiny metal ass Lane. Bernice put them on me because she said regular panties might get in the way but I had to have something on since Trent would… be… help… ing… her…" the girl returned, her eyes grew wide with the final trailing statement.
"And she has seeeeen the light," quipped Jane as she saw the realization dawn on her friend.
"First things first, from what Aunt B told me over the phone, your ass is quite intact and still made of meat... dough… pizza… or whatever massive, and I do mean massive, biological experiment is going on back there," she teased Jane. "And secondly, you just now remembered that my brother was helping Aunt B. install your automail?"
"Think Bernice would be mad if I died from embarrassment right now?" Daria stated as she leaned back in the wheelchair and covered her eyes with her flesh and blood left arm.
"Don't joke about that Daria. Don't you dare joke about that right now!" stated Jane with a slight hitch in her voice. "I don't think I can take jokes about you dying right now."
"Sorry," returned Daria without unshielding her eyes.
"I have something for you," Jane announced after a few seconds and a clearing of her throat.
She wiped a few tears from her eyes and reached into the front pouch of her coveralls. She drew out something wrapped in a cloth and placed it on her friends blanket covered lap.
"What is it?" asked Daria as she lowered her arm from her eyes and unfolded the cloth.
She simply stared at the item resting in her lap for a moment before lifting it to eye level.
It was a pair of round, metal black-framed glasses.
Her glasses… or what was left of them.
One lens was completely gone, while the other looked more like a spider web trapped in glass. Only the thickness of the glass and the frame kept the remaining lens from falling out in pieces.
Daria squinted at her frames and thought of her father.
He had given them to her the day after she had gone to see the optometrist, right after her 7th birthday. She remembered being sad that she wouldn't be able to see the meteor shower that was supposed to happen that night. Not because of a problem with scheduling, but because her eyesight was so poor that she literally wouldn't have been able to make out anything in enough detail to matter to her.
Her father, Jakob Morgen, had woken her up at dawn the morning after the shower and taken her out to the fields. There, after an enthusiastic search (and more than a few rounds of hide and seek), Jakob found what he was looking for: surviving chunks of meteor.
The two had returned home and went immediately to his lab. There, Daria watched entranced as her father spent about an hour transmuting a kilogram of meteor rock into a set of round glass frames that seemed to weigh next to nothing at all and that nothing seemed to be able to bend or even scratch once he'd helped to have the lenses fitted into them.
Daria remembered father's words when he gave her the frames.
'Sorry you didn't get to see the meteor shower Kiddo. But now you'll have a piece of the stars with your everywhere you go!'
He had left two weeks later and never returned. Her mother, Helen, hadn't been the same since. After Jakob left, Helen had thrown herself into the farm-work.
She argued with the farmhands so much that most had gotten fed up and quit for jobs on other farms. Eventually the family had to sell most of their land because they couldn't manage it without the additional help.
Then it had happened. When Daria was 10 and her sister Quinn was almost 9.
The girls had been playing in the small garden behind the house when a thunderous explosion resounded from the small field that was all that remained of the once acres of farmland their family once owned. Daria grabbed Quinn's hand and the girls rushed to the field where she saw an image that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
The tractor, or what was left of it, sat in the middle of an unfinished row of newly tilled soil. The engine block was shredded and on fire, as were the two front tires that lay several feet away from the burning chassis. On the ground a few feet away from the wreckage, Helen lay still on the hard soil. Her worn overalls were smoldering and half of her face blackened from the explosion.
Jane and Trent arrived shortly after the sisters, followed closely by their Aunt Bernice and Erik, the one remaining farmhand their mother hadn't managed to run off. Trent and Erik rushed forward to the burning vehicle and dragged Helen away from it while Bernice managed to usher the shocked Morgan children away from the field as well.
The old woman and the Morgan children arrived on the spot the men carried Helen to in time to see them lay her limp frame down and roll her over on her back. It was then they knew without a doubt that the Morgan matriarch was dead. Her face and one of her hands were burnt black from the heat of the explosion, and most of the hair on her head had been burnt off as well. But most telling was the fact that her chest and abdomen looked like little more than burnt partially cooked hamburger. Large chunks of metal from the tractor's engine and front assembly impaled her torso and neck.
Unfortunately Daria managed to escape Bernice's grasp and get close enough to see the mangled remains of her mother. She stood there and stared silent and unblinking for several minutes until Trent, who was recovering from retching at the sight of Helen's ruined front noticed the girl and managed to quietly lead her and Quinn back to the Lane Clinic.
"I found them in what was left of the house," came Jane's voice, cutting off Daria's mental replay of the previous week's events. "After I managed to get Aunt B to tell me what happened over the phone, I knew I had to go there and see what was left for myself. I found them on the floor next to... I found them on the floor."
Daria looked at the glasses for another long moment before she raised her gaze to her friend's face.
She had started crying and hadn't even noticed until Jane began to gently wipe the tears from her face.
She opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted by the sound of a truck engine coming from the driveway.
She and Jane glanced up the drive to see a small covered flatbed approach quickly with "White's Hauling and Delivery" printed on the side.
The cloth on the back rose briefly and a metallic clank resounded. Jane blinked a few times as what appeared to be a large man wearing an ornate Gothic style suit of full-plate armor, moved toward the house from the rear of the truck. The menacing figure moved with a determined rolling-hipped gait that was very out of place on such a masculine frame.
"Hi Jane," came the resonant, slightly echoing and cheery voice of Quinn Morgen, from the hulking armor as she carefully moved around her wheelchair bound sister and inside the clinic.
"That's really Quinn?" remarked a blinking Jane.
"Yeah," answered Daria sadly.
"Wow!" exclaimed Jane.
After a brief moment of awkward silence Jane's brow furrowed in confusion and she said "That doesn't sound like a 'desperately depressed little girl' to me."
Jane had clearly remembered the exact words her aunt had used to describe Quinn after it was discovered what the Morgen sisters had done and the subsequent consequences.
"Guy's bring the stuff in already!" shouted Quinn from inside the clinic, interrupting Jane's train of thought.
At that command, three sets of arms grabbed medium sized crates and three sets of feet pounded up the driveway and porch.
Jane barely had enough time to move Daria's wheelchair out of the way as three young men stampeded into the clinic's front door.
"Thanks guys," came Quinn's voice. "Could you just take those back to the workshop area please."
"What in the world…" asked Daria.
"I don't know but I'm gonna find out," remarked Jane as she tried to figure out how a voice could be both metallic and saccharine at the same time.
"You mean we're going to find out," corrected Daria as she swiped her hand across her face to remove any remaining evidence of tears and hooked her thumb back to point at the at the handles of her wheelchair.
"Thanks Joey," said Quinn as the dark haired Joseph Smithe pried the top off of a wooden crate filled with several rods of various metals from his father's blacksmith shop.
"Jeffy, be a dear and set those over there next to the bench," requested Quinn as Jeffery Marsh carefully set down another small crate filled with coal.
"Careful Jimmy," Quinn fussed. "Don't mess up that circle. It took me a day to get it perfect."
"It's Jaime!" complained Jaime White as he reversed his step away from the intricate chalk diagram that took up a good portion of the workroom's center.
"Whatever," replied Quinn as she began to transfer rods from Joey's crate to lay them in a carefully aligned interlinked circled in the triangular center of the diagram.
Jane wheeled Daria to the workroom's entrance in time to see Quinn using the thick metal lids from two of the refuse drums, one in each armored hand, to efficiently render a good portion of the lumps of coal to a fine black powder.
"Is that what I think it is?" asked Jane as she observed the large chalk drawing in the center of the workroom floor.
"If you think it's a transmutation circle, yes," answered Daria with a frown after putting on the pair of glasses she'd Jane grab from "her" room at the Lane clinic and home. "Quinn, just what the hell are you doing?!"
"Don't worry Daria, this is gonna be great," Quinn answered enthusiastically.
"Quinn, whatever this is it won't give you your body back so just stop now," stated Daria.
"Gawd, Daria, you can be such a drama queen," returned Quinn. "I know this won't give me my real body back."
"Then what is it for?" asked Daria worriedly.
"You'll see," was Quinn's only response.
If it wasn't for the fact the helmet that served as Quinn's head did not actually have eyes, Jane would have sworn Quinn had just winked at them.
Everyone watched silently as the armored figure lifted the heavy steel drum with one hand and began pouring the fine black dust onto a heavy duty scale. When she was satisfied she had enough, the transformed girl returned to the intricate diagram and began to slowly pour the coal dust into a circle within the ring of metal bars at the center of the alchemical array.
Finally Quinn looked at James and stated, "Bring that box over here."
Jaime picked up a long wooden jewelry box and set it a few feet outside of the circle.
"Quinn? What are you doing with Mom's jewelry box?" asked Daria. "And is that a wig?"
Jane noted a display bust on the workbench behind the transmutation circle. On the bust was a blonde wig simulating a very simple but stylish hairdo. The front bangs would have come to about the middle of the wearer's forehead and the remaining tresses would fall to about the middle of an average woman's back.
"Quinn, you're scaring me! What is this about!" Daria begged.
"Man, Daria, you never did like surprises did you," replied Quinn with frustration evident in her metallic voice. "Well too bad, because you're just going to have to wait and see like everyone else. Now get in here and close the door."
At this point, the group had been joined by Trent and Bernice, who stood by the doorway behind Daria and Jane. Trent wheeled Daria fully into the room and against the wall, ensuring there was nothing to obstruct her view. He then slid into a chair between Daria and Bernice, who had claimed her own favorite bench to watch.
Jane plopped down in a chair on the other side of Daria and looked to her friend with questioning eyes.
Daria shrugged, as best as she could and returned her worried gaze to her sister.
The boys had moved to the outer edges of the room with the others and took up seats on the various benches and stools available.
The only sounds in the room were the sounds of Quinn's metal feet and the slight squeak of her armored body's joints as she carefully stepped into the center of the circle and assumed a cross-legged sitting position.
After placing several of pieces of silver jewelry from the wooden box on top of the coal dust, she slid the wig onto the top of her helmeted head as best she could. She then lowered two thick gleaming copper rings over the wig to rest on the crown of the helmet.
After a few moments, that Daria recognized were being used to properly visualize the final result of a transmutation, Quinn clapped her hands together with aloud metallic retort and placed them onto the ring of iron and coal.
Almost immediately, there was a spark of lightning and the ring of minerals began to glow at the points Quinn's hands rested on. The glow then slowly spread out from there to encompass the entire cirle. At that point the iron and coal rose in a white glowing ring that hovered at Quinn's seated shoulder level.
The rooms breathing occupants let out a collective gasp as both the chalk alchemical array (which was also glowing brightly white at this point) and Quinn also began to rise from the floor. The diagram then rotated 90 degrees and expanded so that its center framed the suit of armor, which floated still in a cross-legged sitting position.
"Quinn! This isn't Funny! What are you doing?!" demanded Daria hysterically.
As if in reply, the glowing array began to spin clockwise around her sister's metal body. At the same time the glowing ring formed by the iron and coal shifted into a smooth ring of light as opposed to the arrangement of straight rods in circular pattern. The new glowing ring then contracted until it made contact with Quinn's armored frame, which had also begun to glow.
At that moment the room was filled with a blinding white light that forced everyone present to cover their eyes.
"Quinn!" screamed Daria as she lurched out of her wheelchair and reached out with her flesh arm towards her sister.
Trent dashed from his place on the bench and wrapped his arms around Daria to shield her from the blinding light.
Almost as soon as it had begun, the light receded and everyone blinked, looking around to make sure they were still alive.
"You OK, Daria?" asked Trent as he looked down at the frantic girl in his arms.
"Quinn! Is she Alright? Dammit! Let me go I have to make sure she's alright! She has to be alright!" screamed Daria as she struggled futilely against the larger and stronger young man.
"Like I said, total drama queen," came a familiar voice from the center of the room.
Everyone turned to look at the source of the comment with wide eyed expressions. Trent carefully lifted Daria, who wrapped her free arm around his neck for support, and turned to see what everyone was gaping at.
"Woah," came Trent's whispered reply.
Quinn was sitting in the center of the room. The metal bars rods, coal, wig, copper rings and jewelry were gone.
The only thing that remained was Quinn. But she was not the same being that they had seen moments before. The differences were apparent even before she gracefully stood and stretched her arms.
"Well what do you think?" she asked with a voice that sounded much more melodic than the reverberating, echoing sound her voice had been before.
With that question she struck a pose; turned slightly to the side, one fist on her hip and her opposing leg extended forward.
Her bulky and intimidating six and a half foot frame was gone. In its stead stood something that looked more like a metal statue than a suit of antique armor. Her body was now closer to her original five and a half foot height. The sharp angles and spikes were gone, replaced by rounded curving lines with beveled edges at the joints and seams. The upper portion of the armor, once an undefined negligibly tapered metal barrel, was now a feminine hourglass shape with the unmarked triangular breast plate now a segmented ellipsoid that mimicked the curve of a woman's bosom and created the illusion of a woman's ornamental breastplate over a fitted tunic.
The waist was no longer an almost vertical tube of iron but a curved shape that again mimicked a woman's hips. The legs were no longer simply connected to the torso by open leather seams, but appeared to be articulated ball joints with a true fauld made up of curved close-fitting segmented skirtlike plates that hung from Quinn's waist over the hips and open in the front to give the appearance that she wore form fitting trousers. The legs and arms were much more slender, in line with the smaller frame. The arms were less bulky and appeared to be those of a moderately athletic woman. Her legs above the knee we similarly less bulky. But the vambraces that served as her forearms and greaves that were her lower legs, which were basic and unremarkable before, bore fluting and lines of silver along the edges.
Also notable was not only the absence of the tattered loincloth that hung from the center of original belt in front and back, but the glint of silver at practically every rounded edge and at every point that the armor gave way to the flexible leather seams that allowed the hinged joints in her hands, elbows and knees to bend freely. She even had a few decorative links of chain that hung along her waist, connected to circular copper and silver discs spaced evenly over her navel region and on each hip above the greaves.
As impressive as the changes to her body were, they paled when compared to what her head looked like. No longer did the helmet simple sit atop the neck hole of the torso. A gorget was visible, that gave her a slender, feminine neck. The rather plain, but intimidating fanged face helmet was also gone. In its place was a head in proportion to her new dimensions with a 3-dimensional metal replica of Quinn's flesh and blood face where the fanged visor once was. Her face was cast with a stern expression with a subdued smile. The face was the only portion of the "helmet" visible, as it was covered by a flowing mane of glinting reddish tresses identical to the now gone wig. She even had thin streaks of copper above the ovals holes that were her eyes. Within the holes, a pair of small red glowing orbs could be seen, as they were before her redesign.
Before, Quinn's body looked like exactly what it was, an authentic but unadorned suit of Gothic armor from several centuries ago. Now she looked like a living statue of silver and steel with a mane of (literally) copper hair. The affect was stunning to say the least.
"Ho… Ly… ****!" exclaimed Jane.
Joey, Jeffy and Jaime simple stared, with their mouths silently hanging open, at Quinn's new body.
"I need a drink," stated Bernice grumpily as she slowly stood from her bench and struck a match to light her pipe before exiting the workshop.
"Quinn?" Daria asked in a confused and almost whispered voice.
The metallic girl stopped posing and padded quietly to stand before Trent, who still carried Daria.
"Yeah Sis, it's still me," she answered sheepishly.
"Are… are you alright?" asked Daria with worry in her voice.
"Yeah I'm OK," answered Quinn. "I just couldn't stand being stuck in that ugly shape anymore."
"I… I'm sorry… I'm so sorry," stuttered Daria, her eyes welling up with tears. "It's my fault you ended up like that in the first place. I never should have convinced you to... to … help me. If it wasn't for me you'd... we'd…"
"It's OK," whispered Quinn before her hushed tone returned to a more perky one. "So you like my improvements?"
Daria nodded as Trent lowered her back into her wheelchair, which Jane had recovered and pushed over to rest beside her brother.
"I saw the coal," Daria began, her logical mind fully rebooted. "And it's pretty evident what the wig and the copper rings were for. That was pretty creative."
"Thanks. It was driving me crazy not having hair," informed Quinn laughingly.
"I can guess about the rest but I want to make sure," continued Daria. "Those bars were what... nickel, maybe vanadium, I'm not sure."
"Yes and yes. With chromium thrown in too," added Quinn. "Last thing I need to worry about it long term metal fatigue. Plus, The stainless treatment is sooo much better than that rusty tarnished museum look."
"So someone was paying attention to Mrs. Barch's lessons on metallurgy," Daria teased.
"Like I had a choice," complained Quinn.
"Now aren't you glad I tricked you into studying for her exam?" asked Daria with a satisfied smirk.
"Alright! You might have possibly, conceivably, maybe been right this one time about something. There, happy now?" she admitted angrily as she crossed her arms in front of her.
"I am happy to see your face again," admitted Daria.
While Daria's was the only one of the two whose face showed it, the warmth between the two sisters could be felt by everyone in the room.
"Why do you sound different?" asked Jane as she recovered from her initial shock.
"What do you mean?" asked Quinn.
"You were all echoey and stuff before." stated Jane. "Kind of like when Nick doesn't adjust the speakers before Trent sings with Spiral. Now you sound more like you did… before. Not so… artificial."
"It's probably the smaller frame," informed Trent smoothly. "Her voice isn't bouncing around inside her head as much as it did before."
"And changing from a glorified upside down bowl, to something with the actual shape of a real head probably helps too," added Daria. "Wait a minute, your… previous body was a lot bigger than your current one. Not to mention the fact that you added several kilos of coal and other dense metals to the mix. What happened to all the extra material."
"It's all still here," informed Quinn as she lay a hand over her chest plate. "Equivalent exchange. A lot of it went to making the ball joints for my shoulders and hips, and all the extra stuff that old armor didn't have... Like a neck. The stuff that was left after that I used make making some pieces like, solid. And the rest, I just used to make the armor thicker than it was before."
After a moment of contemplation, Daria sighed and said "Only you would figure out a way to actually gain weight while improving your looks, and make it a good thing."
The older girl then grabbed a small screwdriver from the table next to them and used the plastic handle to rap her sister's steel head a few times.
"Still nothing up there though, but that's not any different than before," she joked, which drew a roll of Quinn's 'eyes'. "We'll have to get some wool or cotton to stuff in there. Might even increase your IQ a few percentage points."
"Next time why don't you pick something that isn't made out of metal if my voice is that big of an annoyance," retorted Quinn.
Daria blinked a few times, taken aback by the comment.
"And you could have picked something a little more stylish. I mean Gawd Daria, a crusty old antique suit of armor?" complained the literal coppertop, completely breaking the mood.
"What!" bellowed Daria.
"I was a guy's suit of armor for crying out loud. A guy's suit of armor Daria!" Quinn whined. "I mean it didn't even have like a proper crest or anything! And that horn in the middle of the forehead? Yuck! I mean what was the designer thinking?"
"Oh, I'm sorry princess Grace," returned Daria angrily. " Next time you get your oh so fashionable body ripped apart and dragged into the Void, I'll be sure to find something to stuff your cute little soul in so you don't melt away into the aether, I'll try to choose something a little more chik… Like a bed pan or an enema bag!"
With that statement Daria kicked Quinn in stomach with her automail leg. An action that knocked Quinn flat on her steel butt and prompted a string of pained swearing from Daria.
"Daria! Oh my God! You better not have scuffed my new finish!" yelled Quinn angrily as she began to examine her midsection and run her leather padded fingers over it.
"You know… I think they are gonna be just fine," stated Trent calmly with a smile as he grabbed the handles of Daria's wheelchair and turned the cursing girl towards the doorway.
"I think you just might be right Oh brother o' mine," agreed Jane aloud with a chuckle as she nudged her brother aside and began to wheel her friend out of the room.
"Let me help you up Quinn," stated Joey as he recovered and rushed to the fallen girl's side and grabbed her left forearm.
"No, allow me," offered Jeffy as he came to her opposite side and got a grip on her right arm.
"I'll help too," announced Jaime as he hurried to the girls back and placed his hands under her upper arms.
The three grunted with the effort, but were able to help the girl up.
"You look amazing Quinn!" exclaimed Joey. "Can I polish your boots?"
"I think you look incredible Quinn," added Jeffy. "I'll oil your arms for you."
"Yeah you look great Quinn. I can wipe off your… maybe I can shine your… um…" stuttered Jaime as his gaze wander across multiple areas of the girls metal frame that would have likely gotten slapped had he been staring at their flesh and blood counterparts. "Got anything else?"
"I'm gonna eventually need some copper tarnish and cleaning solution for my hair," informed Quinn. "Last thing I need is smudged blackish-green hair. Ick!"
"I go get you some," announced Jaime.
"No way Jimbo! I'm the one that's apprentice to a jeweler. I know all about how to slowly polish precious metals until they sparkle," affirmed Joey seductively to Quinn.
"Don't listen to them Quinn," stated Jeffy confidently as he nudged Joey aside to hold Quinn's hand. "My dad's a blacksmith, and he taught me all about the proper care of beautiful pieces of metalwork. Why don't we go back to my Dad's forge and we can work out any dents your sister might have made."
"Watch who you're pushing loser!" yelled Joey as he forcefully shoved Jeffy.
"Who you calling a loser, loser?" returned Jeffy as he shoved Joey even harder into Jaime.
"Hey watch it you idiots!" complained Jaime as he shoved both of the other boys.
"Who are you calling an idiot, delivery boy?" challenged Joey.
Jaime responded by punching Joey on the chin. After recovering from the momentary daze the punch had cause, Joey swung at Jaime, but missed, hitting Jeffy on the nose.
At that moment the three way brawl was on, and Quinn's would-be suitors were rolling on the ground trading punches, elbows and kicks.
"Oh guys… stop fighting over me," stated Quinn disingenuously as she moved to the back of the room and took a seat on one of the benches to watch the boys fight.
Jane and Daria shook their heads, having paused in the doorway since the boys had begun to fawn over Quinn. Jane turned the wheelchair back towards the doorway and wheeled her friend slowly away from the fracas raging behind them.
"I swear, you'd think losing your body would put a damper on your dating schedule wouldn't you," commented Jane.
"Hey Jane," began Daria. "Remember how I said having my automail attached was the most painful and unpleasant thing I'd ever experienced?"
"Yeah," returned Jane with a raised eyebrow.
"I think we have a new Number 1," deadpanned Daria.
Jane simply smiled and continued to push her friend's wheelchair back towards the guest bedroom that Aunt Bernice had told her was set up for Daria.
'It may take a little more time... But, you two are gonna be just fine,' thought Jane with a widening smile.
The original title for this was Fullmetal Pessimist. It never really fit, neither the story nor the character of Daria in general. Eventually I remembered the word "pragmatism" and boom, perfect fit with both Daria and the play on the normal Fullmetal Alchemist title :D