GOD SAVE THE ESTEEM
Ep 15: Kneel Before Zon

Quinn

Mr O'Neill had just asked the class if they had any comments they wished to make about their grades. Joey got things off to a flying start by asking "Is an F Plus the same as a D Minus?"

Quinn leaned back in her chair, comfortable in her grade: another C Minus. There'd be a brief and horrible moment when she'd started getting some C Pluses, but she'd got her grade back down to proper, up-the-man's standards. There was no way she was ever going to follow the man's educational dictat!

Except in Science, when it came to dissections. Obviously.


The Maleficent Eleven gathered together in the hallway, comparing grades in their last Language Arts classes.

"C Minus!"

"C Minus!"

"C!"

"C Minus!"

"D Plus!" crowed Spike, a lanky black-haired punk who kept his hair-spikes spiky with a pencil-sharpener.

"Straight D," growled Dave, not one to be outdone.

"C Minus," said Andrea sadly, beaten.

"We had papers back?" asked Burnout.

"C Minus!" said Angel, a bit too quickly – her name came from her hair, angelic golden-blonde and permanently set into a feathered shag cut that paid undying tribute to the 80s.

Her hair made it hard to lie. The tension in her body reverberated through her many fringes, wiggling them. Quinn looked at her with confusion.

"Angel? Everything okay?"

Burnout looked at Angel's paper. "Huh. Why did your C Minus get drawn like a B?"

There was a horrified silence.

"Oh Angel," said Andrea, a mix of sorrow and disgust.

"It's a fluke! A fluke! I just remembered some things, I'm still against the man! I am, I am!"

Quinn folded her arms. "Sure, fair nuff," she lied: something would need to be investigated.


For some reason, Shaggy was really good at blending into the background – it was like a strange power he had. This left him able to tail Angel and bring back a recon report. The report wasn't good: she'd spent a quick visit to the library. Add that to Scarlett noticing that Angel looked knowledgeable in Maths and Quinn knew there was a problem.

And she had an idea of who it was.

Lunch-time was the time she would make her move, when Angel was late as usual (was the weed-smoking behind the bins a lie too?).

"Alright, I need a distraction. Slutty Girl!" she barked, pointing at the group's slutty girl. "Go make out with Kevin!"

"Done."

"Dave and Andrea: with her, you know what to do." She turned grimly to her other agents. "Koichi and…." She stared at the long-faced, drooping-nose junior and, despite her best intentions, said on instinct: "Butt-head Two-"

"Shane," he intoned.

"That's what I said, Butt-head Two. Block off the other avenue, you know how! Everyone else, with me. Let's start some shit."

The manoeuvre was flawless. Slutty Girl reached the football player's table in record time and immediately started sucking on Kevin's face; the players cheered. Within two seconds, Brittany was out of her seat and advancing with fists raised, Angie futilely yelling "Remember your happy place!". Just before Brittany made contact, Andrea and Dave yelled "FIIIIIIIGHT!" and pre-emptively waded in.

At the other end of the cafeteria, Koichi and Shane solemnly pulled each other's fingers, right next to the Fashion Club's table. A stampede broke loose "(Huh huh huh!" hurred Shane in triumph).

With chaos at two ends, Quinn, Spike, Scarlett and Shaggy advanced to the target table, home of their nemesis: Bob. Bob, the hugely muscled, pierced-nose, blue-haired punk. Bob, the hugely muscled, pierced-nose, blue-haired punk who had never misbehaved in school once. Bob, who had been seen having good grades.

And at his table, they found Angel, mortified with guilt, reading a textbook.

Also, Burnout.

"Jennifer!" snarled Quinn. (You only mentioned an Elevener's real name if they'd fucked up bad) "We thought you'd forgotten where the table was again – did you know all along?"

"Know what?" asked Burnout.

"Q-Q-Quinn, I can explain-" said Angel.

"Nothing needs to be explained," said Bob, rising to his feet, all muscle and temp tattoos. "You're just trying to raise your grades."

"That does require explanation." Quinn's eyes were burning hells. "We had a fucking agreement, Bob. You signed the Bike Shed Accords of your own free will, you agreed to the policy of separate but punkual! Ha, more like cuntqual I guess!"

"I knew Angel before you did," growled Bob, his tone containing all the swear words he'd never say on school grounds. "She came to me looking to buck them up. That's what we're in school for, Killer."

"You may not have the balls to live the life, but don't you take my crew and turn them into one of your weekend wall-banger types!" She jabbed a dyed-nail finger in his face. "We don't need The Man's in punk clothing!"

"Just because you can't moderate and merge learning with punk, don't mean no one else can! You get inside the system and smash it when it's not looking, you win more than total opt-out!"

"Yeah, I hear that's a popular view for sell-outs. Before they become bank managers."

Quinn's gang took a step back. Bob's nostrils flared and his fists were tense, every inch of him poised to attack.

"Killer, that was too far," said Scarlett.

"If you want to do this, we do it outside of school," said Bob, low and menacing. "You know where."

Quinn's lips curled back to show teeth. "Zon."

"Zon."


Tom

Tom's mother was out of town, visiting Grandmother Hilda. Tom's father was at work earlier than usual, having received a Code Red call from the office about the Korean stock markets. That meant there was no one to stop Tom from eating nothing but massive, artery-killing waffles for breakfast.

"Neeeeeeoooooowwwwwwwnnnnnnnn-" he airplane-mimed with his waffle before crashing it into his mouth ("pfff-KFFFF!"), only to realise to his horror that Elsie (to her horror) had seen that.

"You are so adopted," she said. "I pray to God that you are adopted."

"Yy lff yttt-" After a few swallows, he made out: "I love you too, sis. Well, okay, no I don't."

"Feeling's mutual. You gonna eat all those waffles?"

"No, feel free."

She took one, chomping on it. As she chewed, she eyed Tom with a mix of suspicion, concern, and irritation. Especially irritation. That said, Tom was used to this from his sister, who had been irritated by his existence since she was old enough to realise it. He'd felt the feelings back, for reasons long lost in the mist of time. It was a clearly destructive conflict, but one his parents ignored.

Their class did that a lot, Tom noticed. You didn't sort out a problem; you covered it up with politeness and pretended it wasn't there until it started to leak onto the carpet. It was one of the things that he detested about this world he was half in.

Look where it had got everyone with his brother.

"Tom," started Elsie, "about this… Daria pers-"

"Oh man, am I late, I promised some of the Fielding guys I'd give photographic evidence that Quinn Morgendorffer exists!" Tom grabbed a fistful of waffles and sped off.

Hey, I'm avoiding a problem because it's not leaking yet, Tom thought. I am my father's son. I feel closer to him.


"I realise I am not as great an authority of scientific matters as Artie the pizza delivery guy," said Daria, "but I hypothesise that if intelligent life reached Earth, the last place it would go would be Lawndale."

"Highland?" asked Tom, smirking.

"Fine. Second-last place is Lawndale."

"Ah, ye of little faith," said Jane, nibbling on the cafeteria's excuse for a taco. "Aliens have been sighted around town since before Roswell. Trent's seen five UFOs, and he was only drunk or stoned on four of those occasions."

"Sick, Sad World has done two episodes in the last year on Lawndale alien rumours though," said Daria. "Why a third? Even TV audiences can remember that far back in the past. Most of them."

"But none of them had your Aunt Amy doing them," pointed out Jane. "She'll find evidence of weird beings."

"Of course she will, she's staying at our house and intends to visit the Zon." Daria smirked. "I told her about the bathrooms, and she just couldn't resist."

"I'll be peeing in something Awesomely Amy Barksdale looked at," whispered Jane with awe.

"I didn't want to hear that," said Tom.

"See what I had to put up with when dating him, Daria? Total fear of the female body."

Tom was going to respond with something cutting when his phone buzzed: a text from his sister, asking him to cm 2 tbl. He sighed, made his apologies to the girls, and walked over (better that than Elsie come over and start a three-way snark war). The idea of standing next to the Fashion Club filled with dread, but thankfully two malcontents farted – eggy ones at that – and the girls scattered.

"Elsie!" he greeted as she lurched from the blast site. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your new friends?"

"Did you put them up to this? I bet you did!" She fixed him with a glare, then spat out: "We need to talk about your girlfriend."

"Okay. Her name's Daria Morgendorffer and she's my girlfriend. Tada! Job done!" He didn't even bother to hide his irritation, he never did with her. "I don't know what this is about, and I don't-"

"Damn it, Tom! One conversation! One!"

He almost walked away, but relented. "Okay. Fine. But not at school, or at home. Somewhere we won't be heard, and where your cabal won't be and our parents can't overhear."

"Fine. Where?"

"Zon."

"…Zon?"


Amy

Breakfast at the Morgendorffers was a time for breakfasting, though Amy was quite interested to see that Jake and Helen were still using beer on their cornflakes. (She filmed it) Erin and Brian sat together in clear 'bliss' where Brian talked and Erin had a fixed smile, while Daria and Jake hid behind newspapers – the headline showed a paintball-mask wearing figure, "VIGILANTE PAINTS THE TOWN".

"We need to cover that story," she mused, making sure to get some film of the headline. "So, Daria, any places worth visiting for fun around town?"

"No."

"Let me rephrase that: for people who aren't you-"

"Cashman's, football games, the Doodad Shop…" Daria lowered the paper and smirked. "Okay, the Zon should be your thing. It's the local alternative club, apparently it used to be grunge and they just never remodelled." She paused and leaned in, eyes lit up with conspiracy. "The toilets may have whole new species of germs on their seats."

"Well damn, that's where I'm going after work! How about you, sprat?"

"Jane and I have plans. We're going to sit at home being lazy."

"Live the dream."

The house phone rang suddenly. Helen picked it up, spoke, and then her voice took the consistency of sharp glass:

"Why Rita. This is about the wedding, right?"

Everyone around Amy pulled out ipods and started the tunes fast, as if they'd been drilled for this. To her horror, she realised she'd left hers in the guest bedroom and would have to listen to her sisters talk.

"Oh, I know you wouldn't fucking phone any other time! And I'm glad, bitch! Glad! Anyway, where is little Erin getting….. fucking Windsor Resorts, Leeville? Oh. Oh yes, Mother, of course – you know what I mean, Rita! Yeah! YEAHHH! SAME TO FUCKING YOU!" Pause. "Hold on-" She handed the phone over to Erin. "Erin, honey, it's your mother."

"I know," she said, pulling the headphones out.

Everyone else started to take off their ipods, except Jake (Amy doubted he would until he was sure Helen wouldn't want to talk about Rita).

"Windsor Hills?" Amy whistled. "How will Mum afford that new ivory backscratcher now?"

Daria looked a bit irritated at the comment; Helen didn't notice. Amy tried not to let on she had – if her niece wanted to continue contact with the Hell-Bitch That Walked Like A Grandmother, Amy wasn't going to stop her. That would just make Edie Barksdale seem like the victim, and letting Daria think that would be a disservice.

"Nothing too good for the favourites," growled Helen, before wincing and yelling: "I only meant your cunthole of a mother, Erin, not you!"

"Hey….." said Jake, his face tightening. "I don't think these Daft Punk people are punk at all DAMN IT!"

Amy tried to avoid laughing… but not too hard, which is why she laughed. Brian joined in, apparently wanting to seem like he 'got it', which just made Amy laugh harder.


"…and this, viewers, is a map showing the alien hotspots and sightings in Lawndale!" Amy shoved the camera at the map she'd scribbled crayon all over. "As you can see here, there seems to be no pattern or rhyme to these sightings… but since they decrease dramatically once you exit Lawndale, there's a pattern we just can't see! But starting with the alley behind McGrundry's Brew Garden, we'll just see if we can find one!"

She didn't mention that half the sightings were around bars, clubs, former weed farms, and similar places. Hey, she had a job to do.

As she threw her kit in her car, Amy pretended she still couldn't see Erin nervously watching her. Let the girl come to her in her own time.

"Um… Aunt Amy?"

"How's my favourite screaming poppet?" she said – that got an embarrassed smile out of Erin, reminders of her (loud) baby days always did. "Suppose I can't call you a 'poppet' now you're about to become a convict – oh, sorry, I mean married woman. Wait, no, the first one still."

Erin didn't grin at that. Oh dear.

"Ummmm…. Can I talk to you? Not now, obviously, we have to work, but there's…"

"Something you don't want to talk about at home?"

"Yeahhhh." She bit her lip. "And… er, after eight? I'm… busy after work until around then."

"Sure, Erin. How about that club Daria mentioned? Pretty private there, nobody will hear us including us! What was it called again? The Zen."

"Zon."

"Zon..."


Jake

Helen was already in a bad mood when she answered the door, and it was not improved by the sight of a policeman on the doorstep.

"I knew this day would come," she said. "SNAKE, GIRLS, OUT THE BACK I'LL HOLD THEM OFF!"

"I have an appointment to see Morgendorffer Consulting?" he said, unsure of himself.

"…oh. FALSE ALARM! Jake didn't mention taking a pi- a fas- a policeman as a client." Not missing a beat, she whipped out a form from its holding place next to the door. "Please sign this waiver of any criminal investigations and questioning inside this house (hereby called "the house") for at least a 24 hour period, subject to extension."

"Uh… sure."

The girls, Amy, and Erin were off to school and work respectively, and gave the copper a good eyeball on their way out (Quinn flipped the bird and Amy started to sing "Hey Walla, I'll see you in a-Walla Walla!", the bitch). Jake was busy screaming abuse at the newspaper comic strips – "Let Garfield live how he wants DAMN IT!" – and immediately turned friendly when the officer walked in.

"Officer Rankin! Good to see you! Find the house okay then?"

"The giant anarchy sign spraypainted on the wall was a help."

Rankin, a big man who was only thirty but looked like he'd been grizzled since birth, sounded like he was no longer sure he wanted to be there. It was too late though, Jake was pumping his hand enthusiastically.

"So, looking to manage the Dega Street beat and unsure how to open relations, eh? Well, you've come to the right place! We'll get your image spruced up so well you'll be arresting yourself!"

"Mr Morgendorffer was not making any comment implying criminal activity will take place," said Helen.

"So, Rankin – hmmm, the Rankman! Rank-and-Roll! We'll get back to that… Anyway, I've called in some favours from my crew down in Dega and will be taking you round their places-"

Helen rushed off to her car, mentally drafting the possible legal defences and waivers.

"-and we'll get you fit for purpose!" He raised his fingers in a two-finger salute. "FUCK DA MAN!"

Rankin slowly did it himself. "Fuck da man?"

Jake winced. "Ehhh, we'll work on it."

Brian Danielson entered the kitchen, looking happy: "Oh! You're getting arrested?"


The shop owners of Funky Doodle and The New Black had agreed to an alliance for Jake, who'd helped them stop Hot Topic getting a foothold in Dega. They circled Rankin with clinical eyes, quietly muttering about fabric, colour, material, and price tag.

Rankin walked out with his shirt's sleeves torn off in artful ways, ripped leather jeans replacing the uniform's, a British police helmet on his head, retro shades, big stomp boots, and a facial expression like a first-year economics student who'd just been asked to handle the national deficit.

"I look ridiculous."

"Hell no, man!" cried Jake, slapping him on the back. "You totally fit in!"

A passing metalhead saw Rankin and cheered: "Right on! Show them pigs!"

"See? You're cuddly now!"


Axl's Tattoo Parlour had Helen waiting with a waiver to sign regarding licenses and health regs, which Rankin signed in a daze. Axl himself went into immediate discussions with Jake about what tattoos to put on the man's arms:

"We do need to remind people he really is the police – but not police police, y'know?"

"I got this NYPD badge tat with 'PIG' instead of the PD name."

"Perfect! Oooh, how about that Judge Dredd?"

"Better throw in the 'MUM' heart, that's traditional innit?"

In the end they went with two "PIG" badge tattoos, one for each shoulder, so he'd be identifiable from both sides.

"Excellent!" Jake showed Rankin the mirror, and Rankin tried not to cry. "Now we just need to test your resilience to environmental issues…"


As the amp-at-11 combined roars of as many punk songs as possible thundered around Vinyl Suit, Rankin decided he was going to fucking kill Captain Lauderdale when he got back to the station.


"Well, I think it works," said Jake. "What do you think, Hellion?"

"I wouldn't mind him arresting people," she replied.

"Score! But, of course, there's only one place to truly field test this…"

Rankin sighed. He had an idea what was coming.

"Zon?"

"Zon!"


Upchuck

Charles Ruttheimer III woke up to a glorious day: the takings for Ultrasuave Ltd were staying steady, the Force for Families First had condemned his new Fun Nuns sub-site as being an abomination (hits would triple!), and Detective Sergeant Kilpatrick had accepted his latest bribe to ignore that he was an underage porn baron. Only one thing could make it better…

And yes! His email account did have a message from someone looking to be a new 'actress'!

"Feisty!"

At lunchtime, around the time a fight broke out at the football player's table, he got a second email from this mysterious dame, agreeing to a meet-up. He began to type Let's meet at but then got stuff thinking for a place. Where would be fun?

At that point, Steve and the other security guards came storming in to break up the fight, or would have if the guys at the front hadn't slipped on spilt food.

"MAN DOWN!" screamed Steve, firing his taser in panic at, it turned out, his own guys.

The crashing and the violence and owies reminded Upchuck of a good place:

"Zon!"

Zon.


"Holy shit, he actually fell for the 'oh I'm a model' trick!" laughed one gangster to the other. "Man, is this Ultrasuave guy a horny kid or something?"

"Whoever he is, he's going to regret muscling in on the Congress gangbang fetish racket when he was told not to! Nobody crosses the Five-A-Side Gang!"

The delinquent quintuplets roared an agreement.

"Where are we hitting this prick, anyway?"

"Some club in this Lawndale place. They call it… Zon."

"Zon…"


Zon (ZON)

"Shocking new revelations of the French Secret Services crack poodle assassins! The Dogs of War, next on SICK, SAD WORLD!"

"And after that, they're showing Manos and Krull," said Daria. "This is going to be a fun night in."

"Odd no one else in your family's here," said Jane, relaxing into the sofa. "I wonder where everyone else is?"

"Me too. Then I get over it."


"This is stupid!" raged Max, throwing the Santa hat to the ground. "I'm not wearing this! Whoever heard of a Christmas theme night in spring anyway?"

"Don't diss the birth of Our Lord and rocker," said Nick, upset.

"A gig's a gig," said Trent. "We can finally use that alterna-grunge-metal version of White Christmas."


The Zon was more packed than usual, and also more full of body odour and spilt drinks. Quinn got the gang to split up and enjoy themselves (this was her shout), while Upchuck passed the time by hitting on random people (Andrea crossed his path and responded to the hitting with her own), Amy Barksdale and Erin cornered the bar, and at the other end, Elsie Sloane wondered with horror what she was walking in.

Jeffy looked at this in confusion, and turned to his girlfriend Stacy. "Why are we here on a date again?"

"I… don't know," she said. "It seemed appropriate for some reason."


"I can't believe people live like this," grimaced Elsie, clinging to her chair to escape everything else. "You come here by choice?"

"The sooner you get to the point, the sooner you can leave and buy replacement shoes," said Tom. "So let's hear it."

"Daria. You should break it off."

Tom started to get up "We're done here-"

"Have you told her we're going to Fielding next year?"

He paused. "Dad hasn't said for certain yet."

"We went to Pleb High because cutbacks were needed, but Dad's company has been improving for almost a year now, which you know because that's how you get Dad's good old car," said Elsie, smiling contemptuously. "You know it's coming, Tom. We weren't going to be in public school once we didn't have to be."

"Okay, we might be changing schools. We're not moving."

"It's Fielding, dear Thomas. That's a move in every way that counts. You think Daria would ever get into Fielding, even if she could afford it or get a scholarship? You think this fleapit is where the kids from Fielding go, unless they want to boast about how they slummed it?"

"I like the music."

"You're wearing a damn sweater, Tom. This isn't where you belong; this is just where you go to do the nice, comfortable rebellion and pretend to the plebs that you're one of them before you go back to a mansion."

"You have no idea why I go to places like this," he said quietly.

"Oh, bull! And Daria – you think that'll work in Fielding? How about Bromwell? You're not going to pass them up, they're where you want to be!" There was anger in her voice. "Look where she is, who her family is! You're in a different world and you want to be there – how will this last? How long do you think our parents will go along with it?"

"They like Daria-"

"Now, when she's a high school fling, but beyond that? Marriage? You're deluded if you think they'll put up with it. That's not what a Sloane marries into. You've known that for months."


"Bob."

"Quinn." The huge punk turned round, taking a defiant swig of alcohol; Angel stood nearby, nervous. "So. Pick your battlefield."

"Mosh pit," she growled. "Last one standing wins."

"Done."


"Wow, that mosh pit sure looks nasty now," said Amy, glancing at it. "Guess someone must be really into Oh Little Donkey."

"Isn't that Quinn over there?" asked Erin.

"Ah, that explains it. So!" She smiled, hoping to set her niece at ease. "What's on your mind, screaming poppet?"

"Um… well…. It's the… er…" She clasped her hands together like she was trying to block something. "You've dated a lot, right?"

"I get around."

"And you've had some really weird boyfriends?"

"That could be said."

"And you've sometimes cheated on people, and Mum said you did some really, um, weird stuff a few times-"

"There's a point to this, yes?" asked Amy in a distinctively frosty voice.

"Well, um, I've kind of been seeing… someone else, and it's a bit weird, and I wanted to get advice from…"

"From someone who knows about cheating and kinky sex," said Amy in sub-zero tones.

"Yes! That's right!"

"…"

"It's like this…"


Shaggy was about to get weed from the usual dealer, Pothead Ed, when this hulking tattooed thing with a tit attached to its head loomed out and grabbed Ed.

"You're under arrest."

A dozen hostile eyes glanced round, ready to prevent any action by the Fascist pigs, but at the sight of Officer Rankin they all glanced away again, their minds instinctively filing him as someone who must clearly be a dude.

Jake slapped Rankin on the back. "It works!"

"It really does," said the officer in wonder.

While Rankin wandered off to test it further, Jake had a freckled ginger kid in a very silly pimp suit hand him a sign: "Excuse me, but I'm trying to meet someone; could you hold this up so they know where I am?"

"Sure thing, m'man!" Jake studied it. "The… Ruttster? Ewww-www-wwww!"


Quinn and Bob crashed into each other like continental drift, sending metaphorical earthquakes through everyone else (who pushed back). She tried to work his legs and back with repeated pounding while he aimed for stomach and chest to knock her down; failing that, they resorted to using two metallers as weapons (the metallers were quite happy about this).

Throwing her bloodied 'weapon' aside with a roar, Quinn charged and took Bob careering backwards…


"Elsie, you ever thought that maybe I'm not that bothered if not every facet of my life fits with the grand plan?" He looked her dead in the eye. "Not since Angier."

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"Our brother was the damn plan. The heir to the throne, the one who'd be going to Bromwell first, doing all the right things socially and in school and with sports-" Tom got to his feet, teeth bared. "And friends with all – the – right – people."

"Stop it-"

"Except oh wait! Lionel Parkeston wasn't 'right', he was taking drugs and guilty of a few 'little' things that were quietly hushed up and that nobody wanted to talk about. So nobody knew how far down the rot went, certainly not Angier the Sequel who thought he was just some cool older kid at school." Tom's voice was neutral but his face wasn't. "And nobody wanted to notice, or mention, what Angier was getting into running with that gang. Boys will be boys. All rumours. Don't make a fuss.

"Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if I'm killed because I was in a car driven by someone who was wired, it doesn't really matter if the driver was one of our sort or if he was one of Killer Quinn's posse. I'm still goddamn dead. So frankly, Elsie, I don't really care about sweating the small crap or whether I'm keeping the side up. If Daria doesn't fit into our world, our world can suck it."

Silence.

Broken, quite suddenly, by Quinn and Bob crashing through the place and knocking their table (and them) flying.

"Now that's a mood wrecker."


"I don't think, in all my years, I have ever done anything that…" Amy struggled to find a fitting word. "…weird."

Erin looked down. "Um."

"You didn't have to go into that much detail, Erin, really, I got it earlier." She gulped down more of her drink. "Dear, oh dear. So: you want advice?"

"Yes please."

"Andrew Landon's your boss, it's never going to work. I slept with one of my old bosses and that just led to some really icky negotiations over the Christmas bonus, I can tell you. No, it's just a mess, he's always going to be your boss first and foremost, you'll never get anything else out of him in the long run and it'll lead to Takashi Miike level creepy."

"I don't know how I can get out of it."

"Well, I once did that by phoning up the wife and telling her and that worked really well. I recommend that!" After seeing the look on Erin's face, she added: "That's a joke, honest. But you should find another job before you break it off. Tell him you're doing it so you can see him without work getting in the way, so he'll give you a good reference; then, once you're out, dump him really viciously!"

"But what if-"

"If he doesn't want you to leave, then you do the worst possible job ever and make it so he has to dump you if he doesn't want the company to tank. I did that once. He let the company tank, but it could work this time!"

"Thanks, Aunt Amy. That's… a lot of think about."

Over to their side, in earshot, a shell-shocked Jeffy and Stacy tried to finish their drinks.


"I'm going," said Elsie, no longer trying to wipe the drinks and dirt off her clothes. "Don't follow me."

"Like I would now," said Tom, "Quinn and that other guy have just ended up on the stage. I'm waiting to see how this ends."


The Five-A-Side Gang entered the club like a gang of five people, scanning for their target. And they found it.

"Man, doesn't he know punk is dead?"

"It will be."

The five of them strode over to Jake and, once he could see them, the lead slipped on his brass knuckles-

And did not expect Jake to yell "HOOLIGAN RULES!" and headbutt him.

"No one butts Bruno Uno in front of his bro's and lives! YOU'RE DEAD!"

"I BET YOUR BALLS LOOK LIKE DAD'S FACE GAAAAAAHHHHHHH!"


Up on the stage, Quinn and Bob hadn't noticed their blows were now in synch with Away In A Manger, but they did notice the fight breaking out.

"That's my dad!"

The two of them glanced at each other, and on the unspoken agreement they ripped Mystik Spiral's amplifiers away ("Sorry Trent!") and rushed down to batter people with them.


Jeffy saw the fight, which showed no signs of coming over to where he and Stacy were, then thought how many boyfriend points he could get for protecting her.

"They're coming towards us! I'll protect you, Stacy!" he yelled, charging off.


Amy and Erin gasped, Amy with shock: "It's the Five-A-Side Gang, outside of Vegas! Good thing I had my camera – Erin, cover my drinks! I smell bonus!"


Jake crashed to the ground and began to take a kicking, but the gang had to back off when Lew Deux and Clive Five took amps to the spinal cord.

"SOLIDARITYYYY!" roared Bob.

Bob took a roundhouse punch to the face and Quinn to the stomach, but Jake had time to get up and hit with the nearest weapon (Upchuck's sign). Guy Drei would have jumped him if Jeffy hadn't rammed into him saying "TAKE THAT!" and then proceeded to injure Guy's knuckles with his face.

Around the battle, Amy ran about with her camera, trying to get the best shots: "Jake the Snake, any comments on this beating you're taking?"

"I CAN WIN FIGHTS I'LL SHOW YOU OLD MAN!"

In the chaos, nobody had noticed that Stacy had vanished.

Elsie Sloane had looked at the battle and walked on, muttering about lower classes. Tom, by contrast, was staring and had said "Mr Morgendorffer?" That was overheard by Joe Quatro, who grabbed the youth by the neck.

"We've got your pal, Ruttster! Back down now or—"

A long spray of seltzer spray hit him in the eyes – "YOWWWWW!" – and he dropped Tom. Joe took another blow to the sides and fell, only barely able to notice the paintball-masked figure above him, a seltzer sprayer in hands (well Stacy couldn't smuggle the paintball gun about her person).

"Nobody needed help, damn it!" yelled Quinn through blood. "We're hardcore!"

The outcome at this point could have gone anywhere, except Officer Rankin had got to the stage and commandeered the Spiral speakers and instructed Trent to play the loudest possible note he could with the remaining amp. And that was pretty fucking loud.

"POLICE!" roared Rankin, advancing through the parting crowds to the Five-A-Side Gang. "YOU'RE UNDER ARREST FOR BREACH OF THE PEACE, ASSAULT AND BATTERY, CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT HARM, AND PISSING ME THE FUCK OFF!"

"You'll never take us al-"

Rankin, acting on a primal instinct, headbutted Bruno Uno unconscious.

The Zon cheered: "WHOOP WHOOP! THAT'S THE SOUND OF THE POLICE!"

It was at this point that a squad of Lawndale PD's finest burst into the Zon. They looked at all involved, then looked at Rankin, and under primal instincts held by all normal coppers they instantly zapped him with every taser they had.

"The Nazis are picking on that policeman!" roared one Zon-goer. "GET THEM!"


"Well, the news is saying there's a riot going on in Dega Street, but other than that it's pretty dull," said Daria into her phone. "Oh, I have a friend around. Say hi, Jane."

"Hi, Jane!"

"Very droll," replied Grandma Barksdale.


As everyone moved very fast away from the riot police, Angel caught up with Quinn.

"Quinn, I just wanted to say-" Then she smashed a bottle on Quinn's shoulder. "-tell me what to fucking do with grades and this goes on your fucking face!"

"Whoa, she's not a sellout!" said Spike happily. "Cool!"

"…alright, whatever," muttered Quinn, angry.

Bob, physically dragging two riot policemen along as he ran, overheard this and smiled. My work here… is DONE.


"Daria, about young Erin's wedding-"

"Don't worry, she got Mum, Dad, and Quinn to sign a contract saying they'd wear normal clothes."

"No, there's something else," said her gran. "I've pulled a few strings with Rita – I've made sure you'll be a bridesmaid."

Daria's jaw dropped. She struggled for an appropriate thing to say in response.

And at that very moment, a totally battered but triumphant Jake and Quinn came in, followed by Erin and Amy yelling "PULITZER WOOOOOO!", so instead Daria said "holy shit " .

THE END

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This fic was nominated for Favourite Character Growth and Favourite Weird Idea ion the 2010 Daria Fanwork Awards, though it missed both (And The Mall Won seized two awards though). It was first written at Christmas 2010, hence Spiral's odd gig.

Bob is one of the "backgrounders", the recurring background characters in Daria – specifically, the large blue-haired punk who turns up now and again (his name can be seen on O'Neill's seating chart in Café Disaffecto). He was always well behaved in that background… ("Butt-Head II" was a nickname given to a backgrounder by another writer, cos he laughed like Butt-Head once)

"Delinquent quintuplets" were a Sick, Sad World story in "Sappy Anniversary".