Daria vs. Predator

(It will help a lot if the reader has some familiarity with the Predator movies and Universe created by Dark Horse comics.  Needless to say, a decent understanding of the Daria universe won't hurt either especially since there are a couple of inside jokes contained in the following tome.  Other than that, I'm going to go ahead and throw in the obligatory copyright and violence etc. rating right here..You won't have to worry about that in the first chapter but number two and three could easily do some damage to the sensitive.  With all that taken care of, on with the show, because I know you guys don't want to hear all the front notes baloney I previously appended to this chapter when it was first written.)

Chapter 1
(Setting: our perspective is oddly tinged with strange shades of color ranging all across the spectrum, strangely enough, it seems we are watching this scene unfold through the eyes of something that sees heat.  The image that first appears coalesces into a definite perspective, those who are familiar with the layout of Lawndale will recognize it as an above and to the side view of a sidewalk in a quiet suburban neighborhood, in the background we hear a melange of odd sounds varying between static-like feedback sounds to odd clicks and whistles.. wherever we're watching the street from it's fairly above street level...the background noise we can't identify is joined by snippets of conversation and radio like sounds, we hear... "The Middleton area and it's suburbs continue to weather the consequences of rising temperatures and rising tempers..." and "July of this year has resulted in record statistics in terms of heat and humidity..."  The perspective we're looking down from shifts abruptly as outside sounds interrupt what we've heard...we're now looking down the stretch of boiling hot sidewalk where two forms appear trailed by a third... the heat false-color images gain definition as whatever is watching zooms in and we find ourselves looking at two teenage girl's trailed by a thinner boy...body language and the conversation makes up for what we lose in terms of picture definition.  We're looking down at Quinn Morgendorffer and her friend/sycophant Stacy as they approach our perspective...behind them..appears one Charles Ruttheimer III, Lawndale's resident rich loser...obviously on the lookout for potential love interests...our perspective shifts back to the normal picture we get for a certain animated show, we're looking at our buddy "Upchuck" as he closes in for the kill)

Upchuck: Ladies, come now, the indoor pool at my humble abode has been looking particularly cold and wet as of late.  Surely, you two fine, young women wouldn't mind taking advantage of the aforementioned for the small price of me getting a close look at your, "attributes" as showcased by bikini's?

Quinn: (stopping to blow him off) Stop following us you loser.  I wouldn't go out with you if you were the last man with an indoor pool on Earth!

Stacy: Yeah, leave us alone you creep.  (Both young women resume their march through the hot summer afternoon, leaving our buddy Chuck in flames, since it's late in the summer, he's obviously run out of people his age to hit on..)

(Sudden perspective shift...we're back to the heat based image as whatever's eye's we're looking through looks directly down at Upchuck as he watches the subjects of his ardor move farther up the block)

Upchuck: Fiesssty!!! (with this, he turns and starts walking back down the hot pavement from whence he came)

(Moments later our perspective shifts drastically, almost as if the viewer is falling towards the ground below before we come to a dead stop...our viewpoint is now looking at the backs of the retreating girls as they head away a solid block from the viewer's location..a lightning quick turn brings us level with the retreating back of Upchuck as he strides off, remaining unconvinced of his lack of studhood apparently...sudden shift back to the normal animated image...we're looking at the spot Upchuck just vacated on the pavement and something is there...a crouching, chameleon like apparition, matching the surrounding scenery perfectly appears to take one final look back at the retreating women before standing up...Without warning, the seven foot tall wraith springs nearly soundlessly for the tree we now realize it was watching the recent exchange from.  Suddenly, we're back to the original heat based image as our perspective rushes through the trees, whatever we just saw is swinging from tree to tree to cross the suburban wilderness...Again without warning, a set of oddly colored block letters comes into focus as the shot moves along..."Daria vs. Predator" cue theme music from the first Predator Film (Dummm...Dum...Dah..Dah....Dummm....Dum.Dah.Dah.Dummm...Dummm..Dummm....Dah...Dummm...DAH...DAHHHHH!!! that isn't all there is to it but trust me it's cool sounding) opening credits role after which we end up back in the standard animated (re Daria) color and picture scheme...we're in another location again looking down at the street but it ain't exactly suburban...this area is just off the Lawndale shopping district near Mcgrundy's Pub and a few old apartment buildings and shops..

Our focus zooms in to reveal a darkly and heavily dressed (despite the heat) form trudging through the sweltering streets on her way to an out of the way club where a friend of hers note told her to meet her.  A close shot reveal's the form of our heroine, one young, cynical, teenager named Daria slowly plowing ever onwards through the heat scorched urban/suburban wasteland.  She's doing her best to make headway through the silent and muggy streets but we can see her sweating regardless, abruptly she looks up from the white expanse of sidewalk.

Daria(questioning tone): (thought VO)Well, I guess it can't hurt.  (Out loud) OH GOOD, I WAS FEELING TOO DRY?  (No response from the empty district, we get a bit of an echo off the nearby buildings, she looks skyward) Nope, no rain, good to see my belief in the total indifference of the almighty to my lowly problems is still accurate..(looking back down at the street, she turns into a slightly shaded alley that is the most direct approach to her goal...a little relief from the oppressive sun but not much....talking to herself under her breath) Maybe if I hit a rock with a big stick, or better yet, a fire hydrant? (she moves on down the dirt stained alley)

(Sudden shift, we're looking down from above as a slightly shadowed form lit by weird shades of orange and red moves on a background of darker hues...we're seeing Daria from the earlier perspective we saw the other Lawndalians before, whatever sees her is relatively close, maybe only two or three stories above her...in the background the sounds are back..we hear "TOO DRY?" repeated a couple times as a sort of helical, red, sidebar in the display blinks..our perspective zooms to an extremely close view of the young lady below..we can see the side of Daria's glasses and one of her eyes as she moves....)

(Again a sudden shift, a loose piece of masonry from one of the nearby building's roofs falls. Narrowly missing our leading lady, it clatters on the concrete alley floor before coming to a stop)

Daria(pausing before looking up): (heavy sarcasm and still being biblical) Oh good, ask for rain, get falling rocks, what's next, a plague of locusts?  (Noticing something above as she looks up) What the?

(There's something standing atop the roof of the building to her left, a massive, nearly invisible, form mirroring the empty sky above her looks down at her, almost quizzically if we could see the rounded head better.  Abruptly, the shape, incredibly, leaps across the almost ten foot space between the two buildings and is gone... Daria is genuinely floored, she shakes her head to get a grip on the image but as she looks back up, nothing but heat waves are moving as they waft off the pavement ahead. An odd look crosses her visage before she resumes walking, faster this time, towards her objective, something extremely out of the ordinary has just occurred.)

(Moments later, our heroine has just made it in the door of a certain club a certain band plays quite often.....Why was she doing this in the first place?  What the hell else is there for her to do during the Summer? And most importantly, what the hell was that thing she saw on top of the building on her way to the Lawndale shopping district?  She doesn't know, and it obviously bothers her because she made her entrance in rather a hurry and we can tell from her expression, which has shifted from the usual mask of complete boredom to a look approximating, can it be, worry?  Possibly a hint of fear?  Even over the general noise produced by a standard Mystik Spiral jam in progress, Jane picks up on this immediately.)

Jane: You look like you've seen a monster.  Quinn break a nail?

Daria: (flustered but hiding it well) Thankfully no, however, we need to talk..

Jane: (over-solicitous sarcasm) Oh I see...ladies room?

Daria: Ladies room...

(As we all know..this is about the only place you can go during  a jam session if you want to have a coherent conversation, we cut immediately to the next scene)

Jane: So what's the story?  I assume this will be good but it better be very good..Trent and company mastered a whole new chord last week and they were going to premier it today.

Daria: (deadpan) I'm truly sorry to pull you away, but....I saw "something" on my way over here...

Jane: "Something?"  Do me a favor and paint me a picture in words of "something."  This is what you're supposed to be good at, natch?

Daria: The sound of your overwhelming support is uplifting..  If I could describe in words what this thing was don't you think I'd do better than "something!"  I'm a little worried about my sanity right now! (Sits down on convenient bench seat)

Jane: (softening) My best friend Daria, actually expressing something approaching emotion as opposed to her usual total, glacial, unapproachability.  Okay, this might be worth missing a new chord, how about you start at the beginning.(sits down next to her).

Daria: Well..I'm on my way over here (recounts in simplified form the events we just witnessed, Jane makes sympathetic noises at appropriate interval's)

Jane: So, this could have been a normal old heat ripple, right?

Daria: Heat ripple's, mirages, whatever, don't jump ten feet spans in a single leap, this thing looked, bipedal for one, but it was the size of a gorilla and there were other things that didn't make any sense.  The head was all wrong for one thing and the shape was, well, distorted.

Jane: You're killing me here.  It's sounding like you don't know what you saw.  On the other hand, I wish I'd gotten a look at this thing, an artist can tell the difference between random movement and coordinated movement..Where'd you say you saw this "phenomena" again?

Daria: The alley between McGrundy's and the old apartment building...

Jane: Okay, you feel up to another battle with the heat?

Daria: Uhm, why do you ask?

Jane: I say we go back there and see if we can get another look at this thing.

Daria: (miming schoolgirl enthusiasm while still deadpan) Ooh, ooh, Ms. Lane (raises hand) can I ask why we'd want to do that?

Jane: Welllll, for one, you seem worried about your sanity and if I see this thing at least we'll be insane together.  Secondly, I've been low on material for new sketches for a while now, I mean, there's only so many different ways you can depict Quinn suffering massive, multiple impact, trauma.

Daria: Not bad, but, I'm still not so sure about this.

Jane: Did I mention the A/C on the tank hasn't worked for the past week?  If we stay here, we'll either have to hitch a ride back to my place with several sweating musicians (under her breath: And Trent) along with that general aroma you get in there magnified by the heat conduction principle or foot slog back through the furnace the way you came anyway.  Why not check this out?

Daria: I'm beginning to see your point, this may even be a way to dispel the ever-present pall of absolute bovine contentment mid-summer Lawndale exists under, at least for a few seconds anyway.

Jane: (evil smirk) That's my girl, see, we can't go wrong!  Let me go tell Trent we're outta here and then a-freak hunting we shall go!  Meet me at the "tank" in five.(ducks out)

Daria: Hmmm..I guess it beats reorganizing my sock drawer for the seventh time (she goes to a semi-functional wash-basin and splashes some water on her face before following Jane back out into the club proper).

(Minutes later...our shot focuses on a side view of the tank with Jane pulling out a backpack with her sketch book and various other brica-brac...she then reaches under the front passenger seat and removes the small, well-oiled, matte black form of a Glock-9 pistol in time for Daria to catch a glimpse as she walks into the shot...Lady D is a bit surprised at the site of an Austrian jackhammer to say the least)

Daria: Jane, where did you get that?

Jane: (removing the clip with obviously practiced ease and then pulling the slide back to make sure there's no round in the chamber, she turns) Oh, this ain't mine, Trent bought it back in his insecure High School days from a crazy buddy of his.  That was before Mystik Spiral and him sleeping for days on end.  You'd be surprised how much a guy can change in a few years..

Daria: I guess so, isn't pepper spray enough?

Jane: Generally, but this looks cooler. Besides, the last time they tried to foreclose on our house, pepper spray wouldn't have gotten them to back off.

Daria: (Mona Lisa smile) The Lane family, gun-toting maniacs.  I'm glad you're on my side.

Jane: (slaps the clip back into the powerful weapon, safeties it, gives Daria the frenetic evil-eyed look you see in war movies like "Platoon" we're reminded strangely of DeMartino) JUST DON'T MESS WITH ME, MAN....(slips the Glock into an outer jacket pocket and shoulders her backpack) Naw, most of us Lanes don't have the kind of personal commitment and energy it takes to be the "natural born killer" type, wire fraud or stuff you don't have to get off your butt to do is more our line...

Daria: That's very reassuring, Jane Rambo.  Can we get this over with?  I can hear my socks calling out for attention from here.

Jane: You lead, I'll cover you...(mimes slinking along a wall ala "Mission Impossible" before resuming her standard walk next to Daria as the two head off through the blazing heat)

(Cut to the alley where the second scene took place, Daria is shielding her eyes as she looks up at the roofs of both buildings, Jane is leaning against the wall of the alley looking bored)

Daria: Well, this did sound promising, I wonder if my shirt is completely welded to my back by sweat yet?

Jane: Do me a favor and don't check, I ate recently, wait a sec...(from Jane's vantage point we get a glimmer of movement on the roof across from her..then it's gone)..

Daria: What?

Jane: I got an eyeful of "something" all right, why not, let's head up there and check this thing out once and for all.

Daria: Thanks a lot, Annie Oakley, but I'm honestly not that curious about whatever it was, I'll pass..

Jane: Come onnnn....Where's that writers sense of adventure I tell everyone about?

Daria: Right where I tell everyone it is, submerged deep beneath my common sense, where it belongs.  Besides, the heat is killing me..

Jane: Don't tell me you've never been on top of a run-down tenement building before?  It's where I've gotten ideas for some of my best work!

Daria: That explains a lot..  I suppose it would put off the inevitable return to the absolute tedium that is life in Lawndale...  But..

Jane: With any luck, you can see your house from the top, I'll tell you what. Even if we find nothing of interest, I'll let you borrow the gun and you can take a shot at Quinn's bedroom window.  Maybe you'll get lucky?

Daria: That's a nine millimeter, right? It doesn't have the range. Though, I suppose, it IS tempting...

Jane: You never know, if we adjust for windage...

Daria: Oh okay, you've talked me into it.  How do we get up there?

Jane: Right through the front lobby and up the stairs, this place has a lot of redeeming qualities but security ain't one of them.

Daria: Lead on...

(Moments later..the dynamic duo emerges on the sweltering roof...Jane taking point..)

Jane: Now that wasn't so bad, was it?

Daria: (panting slightly) Coming from  a dedicated distance runner, that means a lot.  (Beat) What smells like that!?

Jane: Uh...Daria...I'm not sure you really want the answer to that question (Jane's voice is tinged with absolute fear as she trails off, Daria looks over towards her)

Daria: Very not good...(the two ladies are looking at the sprawled body of a young African-American male who is extremely dead.  The corpses head is gone at the neck along with what appears to be the majority of the spinal column, the work is fresh but the spilled blood has already begun to rot in the blazing afternoon heat, that's the more pleasant smell..then things get worse)<ulp>...(Daria feels her feet leave the ground as an inhumanely powerful force exerts pressure on her neck and right shoulder, she's pulled upward a full eight feet where she hangs suspended in the air, the massive translucent shape crouching on the parapet above the roof access door regards her like a child examining a particularly interesting insect, a surprisingly apt simile in this case.  The invisible grip hurts her slightly but it's not unbearable and from our perspective we can see Jane react in total dumbfounded amazement before thinking to go for her gun, our perspective shifts..)

(We're back to the familiar heat image perspective as whatever has Daria by the neck brings her closer for examination, we can see Daria's skull in shades of heat difference marred only by the slightly hotter lines of her glasses as the thing examines it's catch.  The familiar clicking is back again as are many of the odd sounds we heard before..then)

Predator: (in a perfect imitation of Upchuck during the conversation we witnessed earlier)..."Fiesssty."

(From the other nearly invisible hand, two wickedly edged cutting blades extend suddenly right around Daria's neck and under her skull, they're spaced wide enough that they just miss her skin, so no blood is spilled.)

(A side angle shot from normal perspective.  Daria hasn't really reacted at all except for further disbelief, what the creature said hasn't really gotten through to her yet.  Jane on the other hand is all business.  She has the gun free of her jacket and has assumed a modified firing stance, she's looking for a line of fire clear of Daria..)

Jane: (clicks off the gun's safety) Hold it!!  Put her down, now!!

(Perspective shift again, the heat waves emanating from the roof give a surreal landscaping effect as whatever has Daria looks away from her and focuses on Jane...Avalanche quick, three glowing red lines tumble onto our field of vision and form a glowing red triangle, highlighting the area right below Jane's head, she's readily visible in glowing shades of yellow and orange. Abruptly we shift back to a shot looking at Jane from above as three red dots appear on her neck, quick shift again to near Jane's perspective, looking up at the thing holding Daria as the source of the red dots becomes apparent. What appear to be three low-power lasers are emanating from what would be the creatures head, further, something where it's shoulder should be is also moving with a slight whirring noise...and then...)

Daria: (fighting to speak because of the way the thing has a death-grip on her and due to her own native intelligence or maybe just old fashioned women's intuition): Jane...drop.....gun...JANE!!

(Sideshot, Jane again, she's obviously confused by Daria's reaction and her own warring impulse to shoot first and ask questions later, luckily for her, rational consideration wins out over instinct. Without really thinking, she lets the gun fall to the hot, tar-stained parapet.)

Predator: (flawlessly playing back Quinn's voice from the encounter with Upchuck we heard before) "I wouldn't go out with you if you were the last man with an indoor pool on Earth!"

(Jane is just plain floored at this point as is Daria who looks about ready to faint. Luckily for Jane, the three red dots wink out as the creature realizes a threat no longer exists.  It briefly turns it's attention back to the pinioned and unmoving Daria as the camera zooms in to watch the invisible shadow-shape regard her again...Then, just as quickly and efficiently as she was hoisted up, the hand blades retract and the see-through being releases Daria from its iron hard grip. She falls backwards a solid five or six feet to the roof as the chameleon creature stands up from it's position on top of the access door alcove.)

Daria: OOOMMMPHH!!(I'll leave the sound of her hitting the roof up to you..)
(Jane barely even reacts as her best friend falls to the hot roof, she's staring at the fully seven foot tall bipedal silouhette apparently looking right back at her. From where a head should be, two slitted red eye's flash briefly before the form moves, like lightning. The thing is gone before Jane can blink..)

Jane: (taking a deep breath)OH...OH...dear. (Jane's shaking like a leaf at this point.  Finally, it dawns on her that Daria is on her coccyx, back near the door, staring vacantly into the space whatever it was had just occupied, this is the jolt Jane needs to make it back to reality.  She scoops up the discarded Glock pistol and immediately high-tails it over to the still out-of-it form of her best friend..[Florence Griffith-Joyner, recently deceased world-class sprinter, would have been proud.] Getting a shoulder under Daria's vaguely catatonic arm, Jane stagger steps her through the access doorway and into the disused stairwell as the door slams shut behind them.  Both girl's collapse on the landing behind the door, in total shock from what they just witnessed.)

Daria: (trembling a bit) Jane?

Jane: Yes?(Out of it look in her eyes, something we don't see too often.)

Daria: I think...(trailing off and focusing on her hands which she's balled into fists).

Jane: You think?(Doing a quick visual check on Daria to make sure she didn't sustain any major injuries when she fell.)

Daria: (Very matter-of-factly)I'm gonna throw-up.  (Our fearless heroine manages to lose the entire contents of her digestive track on the steps just below the landing.  Jane averts her gaze just in time.)

Jane: Sensible stress reaction (still a little shakily).  You okay, otherwise?

Daria: (licking her lips clean with obvious distaste) Uh, No.

Jane: Neither am I.

Daria: Jane, what the HELL was that!!!

Jane: I don't know, but it sure wasn't human.

Daria: (Now that the encounter has faded a bit from immediacy she has the sense to check herself over for damage, her rear is obviously a bit sore but she seems basically okay, then she sees the red marks under her jacket where the apparition had a hold of her.  The red imprints approximate a five fingered hand with claws, big claws...)  Good call. (Almost her normal deadpan) Any other observations you'd care to make at this time, Spock?

Jane: (Seeing Daria seems to be dealing with the situation for the time being, she's already fast-drawn her sketchbook and a pencil and started a depiction of what they saw) Nothing, Daria, nothing, moves like that!  I've scared up herds of deer when I've run out by the old quarry, and even they don't move like that!! (she's still working away at the tablet, the Glock-9 lays forgotten on the warm concrete step.)

Daria: (obviously trying to organize her thought processes, she shakes her head to clear it.)  No offense,  but the reason you can say nothing moves like that is because you've never seen anything like that before!  Am I right?

Jane: (she's already finished a fast sketch of the basic shape we saw..it's downright menacing)      Okay, okay, reality check, you're right.  Let's deal with this objectively.  What do we know?

Daria: Well, starting with before the acid flashback (gets a slightly shaken grin from Jane), we get out on the roof and we see a dead body, which, by the way, would have been pretty cool under other conditions.

Jane: Okay, that covers the not impossible part.  Then?

Daria: I get a rather abrupt trip skyward caused by what feels like your standard chain hoist attached to my shoulder, talk about your standing starts by the way, and then....

Jane: You seem to be dealing with this surprisingly well...go on.

Daria: Actually, I'm kind of embarrassed about how we reacted out there, what happened to your well-honed shooting skills anyway?

Jane: (sheepishly) I could lie and tell you I dropped the gun because of what you said or I couldn't get a clear shot but, to be honest, I forgot to put the first round in the chamber.

Daria: That's all!?  I'm beginning to wish we'd seen "Escape from New York" instead of "Attack of the Killer Shrews" at the last "Bad Movie Night" at your place!

Jane: It's the simplest, dumbest, mistake possible, I know, but at least that way it didn't go off when I dropped it.

Daria: Score one for team hairless ape.  But I digress, now what?

Jane: Well, first things first, (she pulls back the slide on the Glock putting a round in the chamber this time) we check on what we know is real.

Daria: We are not going back out there.

Jane: No duh, but we ought to open the door and check that the body we saw is still there, there's no way that smell could have been manufactured by my heat-crazed brain.

Daria: Okay, it would be nice to have some form of evidence, but let's keep the artillery out of sight, huh?

Jane: It didn't help much after all, huh?  Deal.

(Daria hoists herself back up with Jane's help and they both crouch to open the door a little bit, enough not to draw attention hopefully.  What they see isn't good once again, the body is gone completely, leaving only a puddle of blood in it's wake...Jane let's the door click shut again before sitting down and apparently giving the situation some thought, Daria it seems, already has)

Daria: Okay, no evidence of what we saw except a bloodstain and the fact that you're packing firepower (gives Jane a dirty look) doesn't help our case, my Mom would crucify me if all I have is this story (winces) and my aching butt.  So what?

Jane: Pretty much makes going to the police out of the question.  But I can't help thinking that what we just saw reminds me....(she trails off  in thought)

Daria: So much for logging onto the Area 51 chat channel as someone who pretends to give a damn..(notices Jane staring off  into space) What?

Jane: (Coming to a realization, her memories and everything she's seen finally click) Oh man, Uncle Dutch...

Daria: Who?

Jane: (her twisted sense of humor kicks in but she's still serious) I'm sorry, thank you for playing, but what I meant is this whole thing reminds me of something I heard about a long time ago.  Trent should remember more, I just hope he's still awake..(helps Daria up again) let's get outta here.

(Jane and Daria use a combination of each other's strength to make it down the stairs and out of the building together...luckily no one notices them once again, they immediately set course for Casa Lane)

(Exterior establishing shot, Lane Manor, Daria and Jane fast walking and sweating on the way to the front door, shot closes in.  Jane appears nervous and seems to be trying to look everywhere at once, we know why.  Daria's still a little too out of breath and overheated to be as concerned, Jane's obviously been hurrying her back from the place they had they're little encounter at...finally, Jane makes it to the front door first and finds it unlocked [good old Trent] she then pulls her partner in crime inside and slams the door behind her and locks it.  The two downright bedraggled looking young ladies sink to the floor, exhulting in the feeling of air conditioning, [you can visualize this one] and relieved to at least be out of harm's way for the time being. Jane looks over at Daria..)

Jane: Gawd that feels good....

Daria: I can't believe you actually run in this!

Jane: I don't, generally, I've been running after sunset the past couple of weeks.  The air quality's better.

Daria: For you, that's surprisingly sane. And here I thought runner's liked pain and discomfort.

Jane: Hey, it's just something I do, like art..(focuses back on their mission again) Now where's Trent?

Daria: (looks at Jane, vaguely surprised) Where else?

Jane: (gets up and starts for the abovementioned) Ask a silly question....

(Daria follows along after her...obviously giving some thought to what she heard from Jane earlier...her thoughts VO:  "Uncle Dutch?")

Jane: (absent-mindedly and mumbling as she heads downstair's to the basement) Dammit, Dutch, why here....

Daria: Jane, hold it a second, what or who are you talking about? (Jane ignores her as she's already downstairs, Daria follows)

(All is serene inside the Lane basement... [invent your own, details....I'm writing here] until Jane barges on in)

Jane: Trent!  Wake-up, we have to talk!

(Janey's older sibling is out cold as pro forma for him practicing guitar, he does have the instrument in question still in his loving hands however...Daria finally catches up with her best friend)

Jane:(sensing she isn't having the desired effect and with increasing urgency, she sits down right next to him): TRENT!!

Trent: (finally, something approaching a reaction) URRrrggghh...(no, no witty variations on his standard "But officer" reaction, ain't my style) (blinking sleepily) Janey, what?

Daria(coming into the basement from the stairwell): Jane!  Will you please give me a straight answer!  Who is "Dutch?"

Trent:(suddenly surprisingly animate, and not just because Daria's in close proximity [throw you Trent and Daria maniacs a bone] he sits up) Dutch?  (Interested) What about Dutch!? Uncle Dutch?

Jane: Good, you remember. Daria and I just ran into something we can't explain and....

Daria: (cut's her off, by this time...she's about a full second away from strangling Jane) Talk to me, people!! (a surprising amount of emotion for her but she's had a very, very, weird day and her curiosity is getting the best of her)

Jane: Okay, okay, (patronizing) Daria, do we need a time out? (Smirks, typical Lane humor, even after the events we witnessed, but before Daria can finish stalking toward her to commence a variation on the ballet "Assault with intent to commit murder") Here's the story, when I told you our branch of the Lane family were the black sheep, I wasn't telling the whole truth..  (Daria's back to non-committal) There was one other person.

Trent: (smiles that slightly evil smile we all know and love) Cept he wasn't exactly a family black sheep, more like a black wolf . Uncle Dutch.

Jane: Yep, you've seen Swartzenegger in those big, dumb, action flics? (Daria takes a seat next to Trent, no tension now) Well, Dutch was built like that, he looked like he could take apart a truck with his bare hands.  I can't remember how he was related to us exactly, marriage or something, but he was..

Trent:(finishes the thought) A real badass, you know anybody who's a soldier or ex-military, Daria?

Daria: (mind's eye..considers her Dad's experience with Military school) Not really.

Trent: Well, (full artist appreciation mode, like in "See Jane Run") that's something really, being able to point a gun at someone and take a human life.  I'm not just talking macho bullshit either.  Uncle Dutch had that, whatever it is.

Jane: Which kind of made him an odd commodity at Family Reunions, especially after he got out of the regular military and went freelance...

Daria: Freelance?
Trent: The way I heard about it later, he got tired of getting screwed with by people higher up than him, so he formed his own rescue unit and worked outside the system...

Daria: Great, a mercenary in the family, I still don't see what...

Jane:(cuts her off) I'm getting to that part, anyway, Dutch would show up with buddies from his unit at Family Reunions, I can't remember why, which didn't exactly endear him to OUR family, no sir. But since Trent and I were always looking for a way out of there even then, we spent a lot of time talking with Dutch..

Trent: It was better than dealing with our other relatives the whole time.(smirks)

Jane: Eventually, it got to the point were Dutch would show up for whatever reason and then let us come with him just so we could get away for a while.  And that was interesting!

Daria: (deadpan) Anything is more interesting than a Family reunion, what else?

Trent: Well, we met a couple of people on his team, (remembering) Billy, Mac, Hawkins...

Jane: And this big, bear of a guy from Texas named Blaine, (reminscing) he used to carry me on his shoulders when Dutch and the guys went bar-hopping..

Daria: And you were how old?

Jane: Not very, but nobody messed with these guys, they were that tougher than hell looking and I did get my first exposure to drawing on cocktail napkins as an art form..

Trent: And I got my first exposure to wine, women, and song...(crafty smile).

Daria: (Mona Lisa smile) You people are more interesting than I imagined.

Jane: You don't know the half of it, sister.  Spending some "quality" time with Dutch was also where me and Trent picked up some basic fire-arm skills.

Trent: Dutch and the guys would pick up a couple cases of beer and then they'd go out in the woods and blast empty bottles.  It wasn't my idea of fun, but it was better than listening to Grandma Lane scream at us. It seemed like they had every kind of gun in the world too.

Jane: Dutch taught us how to shoot just about anything and I used to be kind of good.

Trent: (smirks) When Dutch held your arm straight anyway. (finally dawns on him what he's been talking about) What brought this on?

Jane: That's where I was going, Trent, you remember when Dutch showed up here that time?

Trent: Oh yeah, the last time we ever saw him. So what?

 Daria: (patience wearing thin) About time, yeah, so what!

Jane: (distracts Trent again, no difficult task)You remember what he told us Trent?  About his team?
Trent: Oh man, that's right, he said they were all dead, but the whole thing was weird, I thought he was on drugs or something..

Jane: Don't know how he knew where we lived, but he said he needed a place to stay, (shrugs) and Mom didn't care, so he was with us for about a week. Then he took off and we never saw him again.

Trent: But there was that last day, before he left, man was that odd...

(Daria's losing patience with the whole thing fast but she senses Jane's about to make a major point)

Jane: Dutch took us out to do some shooting like we used to with his buddies, but we could tell he was on edge.. I can actually say he looked like he was afraid of something which I'd never, ever, seen in him before.

Trent: He'd had a couple of beers, but it was something more than that and losing his friends.  I think he really wanted to talk with somebody and we were about it, no one else in the family ever really seemed to care.

Jane: So he told us, in technicolor, what happened, he told us about something that comes with the heat.

Daria(getting a glimmer): The heat?  As in during the summer? (Getting a bit of a major realization.)

Jane: Dutch and his people got sent  in on some kind of rescue mission in South America and they ran into something that just plain blew them away, some kind of creature that was nearly invisible and had weapons you couldn't even begin to imagine.  It killed everybody but Dutch and it would've got him too if he hadn't managed to kill it first.

Trent: I was sure he was totally nuts, but there was something about the way he talked about it that made me believe him a little.  But hey, that was a long time ago.(re-occurs to him finally to ask why again). So what, Janey?

Daria(making the connection): So you're saying, that's what we ran into today!?
Jane(nods with satisfaction): I know it's a weird coincidence but what we saw today sounds too much like what Dutch talked about!

Daria: Your Uncle said this thing or things likes the heat.  But what else does it want?  And why Lawndale?

Jane: I wish I knew, Dutch was never specific about what this thing was exactly, whether it was something supernatural or from outer space or whatever (Daria's still looking a bit skeptical).  But he sure was convinced it was real.

Daria: And now this thing or something like it shows up here.  So what do we do about it?

Jane: As much as the deeply ingrained mistrust of authority imbedded in my Lane family genetic code screams bloody murder otherwise, I'd say we're going to have to talk to the police.

Daria(a bit sarcastic): Oh good, this should go over well, "Pardon us officer, we just had an encounter with an invisible, seven foot tall, killing machine that my friends Mercenary relative may have had something to do with, could you perhaps do us a big favor and call in the Marines?"

Jane(eye's narrowing): I said I didn't like it, but what other choice do we have?  We saw one obvious victim of this thing and I really doubt that he's the only one.  You have a better idea?

Daria: Well, other than going home, locking myself  in my room and pretending that this whole incredibly strange experience never happened, no.

Jane: And as for the insanely lethal threat to the general populace of greater suburban Lawndale posed by this thing ?

Daria(shrugs, deadpan): Screw them.

Jane(mockingly hits herself  in the head): I keep forgetting, no conscience, no particular motivation, has dream wherein people spontaneously combust, I'm talking to Daria alright, what was I THINKING!! (turns and walks back upstairs.)

Daria(sensing she has offended): Jane, hang on. (heads off after her friend leaving Trent still trying to figure out what the whole conversation was about in the first place.)

Trent: Janey wait, what was?  (Shrugs to himself, and resumes afternoon practice session or evening, whatever.)

(Back upstair's Lane house, Jane's almost to the front door by the time Daria catches her, she looks determined and no-nonsense)

Daria: Will you just wait a second, dammit!?  (Jane's about to open the door, she turns to regard her friend)

Jane(really determined set to her shoulders): Look Daria, I don't particularly like this town or it's inhabitants any more than you do, but I do know that this thing that's out there plays by it's own rules and doesn't give a damn about anything that gets in its way!!  Dutch told me that much!  (pausing a moment).

Daria(hurt look): No offense, but you picked a hell of a time to get idealistic! (shivers) You weren't the one who nearly got filleted today!  That thing......(trails off)

Jane(self-righteous): That's my point!  I don't particularly care if this thing decides Princess Grace would make a fun new target, but what if some five year old rugrat gets in the way when this thing comes calling?   Maybe it'll let the kid be or maybe it'll decide toddler skin would make a great belt!  This thing (yelling, totally enraged) JUST DOESN'T GIVE A DAMN, DON'T YOU GET IT!!! (Daria has never seen her this angry, she flinches noticeably)

(Jane finally lets out the fear and anger that's been building in her since their first encounter with the creature, she sags noticeably against the door near tears.)

Daria(quiet voice, no trace of her usual deadpan): Jane, I'm scared too and you're right. (Moves close to her partner in crime and puts a comforting hand on Jane's shoulder, we see a new expression on Daria's face, definitely never seen before, her regular, cool, emotionless mask is filled with a raw expression of cold determination, not just anger, but total commitment to a cause) Somebody has to do something, but it's going to take both of us.  (Jane looks up, renewed, she almost smiles and she's at the very least impressed by Daria's show of emotional force.)

Jane(mustering her reserves): Okay, let's do it. (Jane's determination is back, with Daria behind her, she opens the front door to reveal......... four Lawndale Police Department cruisers parked right out front sans flashers or sirens, several officer's are just getting out..)

Jane(heavy irony): Well........ this is, convenient.  (Jane's truly surprised but hiding it well).

Daria(notices the irony of the situation as well): Somehow, I don't think they're here about the commune that took over your basement.

[A tall, well built man in a light summer suit is leading the police contingent as it converges on the front door of Lane manor, he wears a Police badge on a chain around his neck and the bulge of a shoulder holster is visible from the girl's perspective, overall he's handsome in a laid back way (if this were a movie, he'd be played by Bruce Willis, in this case maybe voiced by Bruce Willis).  As if on cue, he notices Jane at the door and smiles at her as he walks up to the girls]

Detective Williams: Hey Janey, long time no see.

(Daria is genuinely surprised, she's never heard anyone but Trent refer to Jane as "Janey", what is even more surprising is that Jane and the detective obviously know each other)

Jane: Either I'm improving as a criminal or you and the LPD are getting sloppier (has to get in a dig at him, turns to Daria behind her) Daria meet Detective Rob Williams, one of Lawndale's... better than average (Williams just smiles at this) Detective meet my friend Daria.

Williams(nods to Daria): It's a pleasure, I trust Jane's criminal tendencies aren't rubbing off on you?

Daria("Say what" expression on her face): This day just keeps getting more interesting and no, I have my own criminal tendencies to worry about, thank you.

Williams(evil law enforcing smile on his face): You mean Janey hasn't told you about her bust? (Jane's eyes narrow a bit at this, it's obvious that Williams is one of the few people who can really get under her skin, much the same way Jane teases Daria about Trent) Yes sir, one of the more interesting cases I've had here in ho-hum suburban Lawndale. Two years back, somebody does a full scale spraypaint job on Lawndale's beloved "Big Strawberry",  bunch of stuff that has the local's screaming in a heartbeat.  I'd just transferred in from the LAPD and I ended up on the case because of my forensics background, didn't take us to long to track down the hit and run artist after we got some prints off a discarded spray-can.  Little Jane Lane, two counts defacement of public property, two hundred hours of community service.

Jane(obviously doesn't like the way he off-handedly calls her Janey): That wasn't a crime, it was art!  Besides, that eyesore's been asking for something like what I did for a long time.  I made a point!

Williams(smirking, he's enjoying getting to generally cool Jane): You also broke the law, but hey, I'm not really here for the nostalgia, the LPD needs to talk with you (beat) and your friend here.

Jane(crosses her arms): Am I under arrest or what?

Williams(looks a little uncomfortable): Not exactly, I'm supposed to bring you in for questioning.

Daria: What about?

Williams(all business now, totally serious): We want to talk to you about the murder of one Jesse "Rollo" Riggins, your basic small-time drug dealer found dead about two hours ago, hanging by a piece of phone cable from the third story corner of Apartment Building 2126, Lawndale Shopping District, missing his head and most of his spine.

(The two girl's manage to hide their reactions to the pronouncement well but Williams is already sure they know more than they're letting on.)

Williams(continuing on): Needless to say, things like that do not make the Mayor of Lawndale happy and our good pal Jesse isn't the first to end up that way. The Lawndale PD and Middleton Township Force have, as of this month, logged a total of fifty-eight killings involving the exact same MO and frankly, whoever it is that's out there doing this to people makes the Manson family look like the Walton's!

Jane: Well, I certainly feel more secure, but why come to me?

Williams: After we found the body, believe me, we went over that building with a fine tooth comb and guess who's prints we came up with when we checked the roof area?  Yours.  I'm really hoping you aren't involved in this Janey, but to be honest, you're the only hot lead we've had in quite a while.

Daria(thought VO, "Oh hell", out loud in her usual deadpan): Not good...I assume you have a warrant?

Williams(definitely getting sterner if not less uncomfortable): Not exactly, what I'd like you to do is come down to the station with me of your own free will so I don't have to bring in the legal guns and make this official and you can tell me what the story is, I'm asking you to trust me.

(Daria is looking very unsure about the whole thing but Jane obviously trusts the Detective even if she doesn't like him)

Jane: You helped me out once before when the town wanted my head for the strawberry thing, so I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you should know that you probably aren't going to like or  even understand the story.  (turns to her friend) Daria.. you coming?

Daria(even though the whole thing sounds thin she's still prepared to go to any length to help Jane): Sure, but I'm probably going to regret this.

Williams: You two are making the right decision, those fifty-eight dead people weren't all just scumbags and perps, some of them were cops and I'm personally going to find the bastard's responsible for this and nail them to the wall!!  But I need your help to do it.

Daria(remembering the earlier encounter): I just wish it was that simple.

(The two girl's follow the Detective as he turns and heads for his cruiser where the other Police officer's have been waiting during the exchange, unfortunately, just then, a massive black limousine flanked by additional Lawndale PD cruisers roars up to the house and stops neatly, from the two escorting cruisers a number of additional police officer's issue forth including a slightly overweight man wearing the bars of a Captain, he's decidedly not happy as he heads straight for the Detective and the girl's.  Further, the CIQ or Captain in Question is none other than Williams direct superior, Captain Randall Hollinsworth, LPD, a career officer who's been at a desk a little to long for Williams to like him .)

Captain Hollinsworth(extremely pissed): Robbie!  I specifically ordered you, not, I repeat, NOT, to come down here!!

Williams: Sir, Rollo Riggins was my collar!  I worked narco for a solid two month's getting what I needed to bust that weasel and then two hours ago he gets strung up like a deer?  That just stinks, SIR!

Hollinsworth(heading for apoplectic): Robbie, you're not listening to me again!!  I ordered you off  this case!!  The Chief of Police ordered you off this case!!  The Federal Task Force has jurisdiction over this entire investigation and that is the end of it!

(The girl's are pretty surprised at this exchange, but waiting for the two principle's to finish before drawing attention to themselves.  It's already become clear to them though that Hollinsworth is a real turkey, no professional police officer would engage one of his subordinates in a shouting match with civilians present.)

(Williams looks like he's about to object to the last pronouncement but the Captain cuts him off)

Hollinsworth: You have five minutes to leave before I bust you and your squad down to Boy Scout's.

(Williams would obviously like to kill the Captain at this point but he knows he's beaten.  Wearily he turns to the girl's)

Williams: You two keep your heads down...  (He walks to his cruiser and the waiting member's of his narc squad and they commiserate briefly before starting to leave)

(Hollinsworth watches him go with a fat smirk of triumph before turning to the ladies.)

Hollinsworth: Jane Lane......(before he can finish his sentence he's cut off by a tall caucasian with sun blonde hair cut short in a military crew-cut and wearing an expensive black suit, we didn't see him emerge from the black limo because of the exchange we witnessed earlier, for identification purposes his name is Colonel Kelly Vaught)

Colonel(southern accent): We'll be taking it from here, Captain Hollinsworth.  (The authority in his tone of voice is incredible, Hollinsworth immediately kow tows to the older man)

(This having be said, he addresses the girl's much the same way)

Colonel: Ladies... I'd like to have a brief word with you if possible (the if possible is obviously just a formality, his voice seems to negate any possibility of resistance, the girl's are still absorbing the significance of the exchange between the Captain and Williams but Jane isn't going to take this lying down.)

Jane Lane: Sorry, my friend and I would love to chat, but we have high tea scheduled with Prince Charles at the British Embassy in a half-hour, can we pencil you in for later?

(No one laughs, the Colonel gives her a look that would have shattered glass, he regards the Police officer standing next to him with a withering glare as well)

Colonel Vaught: Captain, would you mind if I spoke with these two fine examples of American youth alone for a few moments?  (There is no real question here, it's an order, our buddy Captain Randy gets the point)

Hollinsworth: Of  course, just let me know if the Federal Task Force requires any more assistance from the LPD, won't you?  (He strides off trying to look determined)

(The Colonel's eyes lock right on our two heroines with laser like intensity)

Colonel Vaught: Let me describe your options for you. (total contempt) I can either turn you over for arrest to "Dudley Do-right" of the Canadian Mounted Police over there right now, or you can come with me and answer a few questions, both of you.  What'll it be?

(Again not much choice, Jane knows they have her fingerprints and God knows what else)
Jane: And if we take choice B?

Colonel Vaught: That may depend on your answers but I can assure you that the Federal Task Force under my command has taken jurisdiction over this matter from the local authorities, the upshot is, you cooperate and we let you walk. The police will have no reason to touch you.

(Jane obviously doesn't trust this guy farther than she can spit but she knows he's one serious juju man.  She also knows she's going to have to tell her story to someone and it might as well be someone with serious power, maybe even the power to do something.)

Jane: What choice do I have?

Vaught: None, please follow me.

(Daria's been weighing all this in her mind for a while and been silent, thinking everything that's happened in such a short time through apparently.  She now knows she's playing in the Big Leagues and that knowledge doesn't make her feel any better, especially with the strong arm tactics being used.)

(Reluctantly, Jane follows the Colonel toward the waiting limo that's been parked at the curb for the past five minutes, an unseen person inside has already opened the door so the Colonel and his charges can enter. Daria trails along about a step behind Jane wishing she had her mother along for her legal expertise at a time like this.)

(The Colonel holds the door open as Jane steps into the stretch limo and Daria prepares to follow but before she gets in).

Daria(usual cynical deadpan): I think it's important to point out now that my mommy always told me never to accept rides from stranger's.

Vaught(sneering at her, his accent is pure Southern): Colonel Kelly Vaught, United States Air Force, there, now we're not strangers (heavy sarcasm, beat)...get in the car.

(Interior shot of the limo, it's dark but heavily air conditioned and a blessed relief from the heat outside, Jane is sitting opposite another man across from her whose face is lost in shadow, Daria takes a seat next to her friend as the Colonel climbs in and shuts the door before taking a seat next to the unidentified man.  Vaught precisely knocks on the sealed dark glass seperating the passenger space from the driver of the vehicle, the driver obviously knows the routine because he immediately takes the car out of park and drives off down the street leaving Casa Lane behind.)

Jane(still refusing to take the situation seriously): So, you guys got a VCR in here too?  And are we being kidnapped as well as questioned?

(Vaught doesn't particularly like her tone of voice, but before he can answer Jane, the man next to him cuts in)

Unidentified Man: You'd be surprised exactly how much lee-way the United States government has in that regard when dealing with a possible threat to National Security.  But to answer your question, no, we're just putting some distance between us and the immediate area while we discuss what you girl's know.

Daria(guessing): Which also guarantee's no interference from anyone else who might have seen us get picked up?

Vaught(has about had it with these two): You two are real smart, too smart for your own good, but maybe smart enough to work with us.

Jane(shoots Daria a smirk): The story of our lives.  Now can you finally tell us what it is you want to know?

(As this is going on Daria has been taking in her surroundings, she's noticed the guy Vaught is sitting next two is definitely in a military uniform of some kind though she can't really see his face.  She also notices what appears to be an interior light switch on the hand rest on the nearby door, needless to say, that could be useful.  The unidentified man is speaking again.)

Unidentified Man: First, the Colonel and I would like to know exactly what you saw at the scene of the murder of the drug pusher the local police found.

(As you may have guessed, it isn't good to leave Daria along to her own devices when you're building up to a major plot point, taking the initiative, she hits the light stud on the door armrest bringing up the interior low-watt illumination and showing us the gentlemen sitting next to Vaught in living color, he's a much older man in perhaps his late sixties or early seventies dressed in a U.S. Class A dress uniform, two stars indicate the rank of Major General and a name tag above the campaign decorations on his left uniform jacket breast reads "Philips.")

Vaught: Goddammit!  You!

(Philips quickly moves to restrain the younger Air Force Colonel with pure composure and authority)

Philips: It's alright, this cloak and dagger business doesn't make much of a difference anyway.

(Through all this Jane's artist eye for detail has already picked up on the older man's numerous decorations and rank insignia, finally, however, her eye comes to rest on the nametag and another factoid clicks in her head)

Jane(louder than usual): Philips!!  Dutch!!

(Jane cuts herself off before she finishes showing her two adversaries her hand but she realizes she's goofed big time. Daria however, only knows Jane had something new about Dutch spring to mind)

(Unfortunately both men pick up on the name big time, Philips expression lights up)

Philips: Dutch?  How do you?

Vaught(royally pissed): Great, just great.

(Jane realizes she inadvertantly created a big opening here for some much needed information, she presses on)

Jane: General Philips!  Dutch worked for you!

Philips(he's obviously remembering): My God..

Vaught(ready to explode): Okay, that's it.  Now you listen to me girlie!!  You and Janeane Garofalo here are going to tell us everything you know, heard, dreamed, imagined, or felt about Major "Dutch" Schaefer and how you came to know it or the IRS will be taking a very specific look at your finances, assuming we don't just let the police have you!

Philips(thinking it through): Colonel, that's enough.

Vaught: I'm not going to ask you again!!

Philips(obviously angry now, he expects people to follow his orders): I said, THAT'S ENOUGH!

(Vaught finally manages to get himself under control, but he obviously doesn't like having to bow to the General's superiority, major inter-service rivalry here.)

Vaught(subsiding): Yes, sir.
(Jane is waiting for an answer while Daria looks intently at the General, he composes himself)

Philips: Ladies, I propose a mutual (obviously uncomfortable) "understanding" in regards to the matter we're both concerned with.  You tell us what you know about Dutch and the murder we know you at least have some knowledge about and in turn we let you walk away from this whole thing, with a little added information that may help you later.  Acceptable?

(Vaught obviously doesn't like the fact that he's lost control over the situation but he isn't quite ready to buck the General's authority, Jane appears about ready to deal)

Jane: In that case, I think me and my friend can cooperate with you.

(Daria is still obviously more comfortable with Jane doing the talking, she after all knows more about Dutch than her.)

(Vaught isn't about to remain out of the power loop, he's back under control and in a hurry to find an advantage again)

Vaught: Alright, now why don't you tell us what you saw at the murder scene?

(Jane's willing to give up this much, but she's obviously thinking about ways to get as much out of the two soldiers for the least amount of hard fact.)

Jane: Honestly, not a lot, we saw a dead body on the roof of that building.

Vaught(back into his role as Grand Inquisitor): Anything besides that, anything "unusual?"

Jane(dissembling, she's not going to make it easy for them): Define "unusual." As in more unusual than a dead guy on a roof?

Vaught(isn't going to take any crap no matter who makes the deals): Missie, I'm going to remind you that you're dealing with the United States government here, we're the big leagues and we need some information from you, nominally an upright U.S. citizen (Jane isn't impressed).  Now, did you see the person or persons who killed that man?

Daria(obviously isn't going to give away their trump card): No, we didn't see anything other than the stiff.  (Jane nods as well)

Philips: And you're sure about that (giving them a loophole though he doesn't expect them to tell the truth).

Jane: Nope, nada, zip, zilch, we just happened to be on the roof because I wanted some more sketch material and Daria was scouting locations for an assassination (Philips gets the joke but Vaught only scowls some more because he hasn't been able to intimidate Jane).

Vaught(laying the sarcasm on again): Well, I'm glad we cleared this situation up. (he knocks again on the drivers window signalling him to pull the car over.)  Now what is it you two know about a certain Major Dutch Schaefer, maybe you know his current whereabouts, maybe he told you something important, warned you about something maybe?

(Daria looks over to Jane to lead off, she obliges)

Jane: I haven't seen Dutch in about ten years, but he did warn me about something, yes.  (She's ready to hint about what she knows or at least that she knows more than they do) (nonchalantly) Something that comes with the heat.  (The Colonel and Philips try to look undisturbed but Jane knows she's just hit a major nerve.)

Philips(isn't going to divulge anything more than he has to): Really, well, I'd certainly take anything Major Dutch Schaefer told you might be a threat extremely seriously.  And with that in mind, I'm going to do Dutch a favor because he was one of the finest soldiers I've ever known and a good friend, apparently a mutual good friend of us both in this case.  The person who killed that thug on the top of that apartment building not only likes the heat, he likes the sport.

(Daria isn't going to sit on the sidelines for this one)

Daria: Sport?

Vaught(isn't going to let Philips go on): The General's already said more than it's really safe for you to know.  But think of this as a friendly warning from a concerned member of your civilian controlled, highly advanced, Armed Forces. Do yourselves a favor, stay indoors as much as possible, don't carry a weapon of any kind in public, and don't act in a way that could be mistaken as aggressive.  You do all of that and stay out of places that might be hazardous to your health and as soon as the heat is gone, the "problem" will be gone too.

(Jane obviously smells a cover-up but she's still willing to play along)

Jane: That's real interesting, but what exactly are you doing about this "problem?"

Philips(lying because he obviously doesn't like the truth): The Federal Task Force under the command of the Colonel here and myself  is handling this matter.

(Daria can read these guys like a book and she obviously doesn't like a single page.)

Daria: "Handling" as in how?

Vaught: That is a matter of National Security madam.  Now, if you've told us everything you're going to tell us, we'll drop you off wherever you'd like.

(Philips concurs reluctantly)

Jane(obviously disgusted by what she's hearing): No thank you, you can just let us out here.

Vaught: As you like Ms. Lane.

(The limo is stopped way out past the Lawndale shopping "area" nearer the extreme edge of town by the railroad station.  This neighborhood lacks the upscale development of the houses nearer Daria's pad but it still is no where near rundown, just lower-middle class.  It's much later in the day, so the temperature is heading for nearly tolerable levels as the sun sets and a cloud front from the South approachs.  The two girls get out and Jane walk part ways up the corner of the sidewalk while Daria turns to address Vaught before he can close the car door.)

Daria(usual deadpan, vague sense of resignation): You won't do a damn thing about this, will you?

(Vaught looks pissed off while Philips gets a vague look of sadness in his slate grey eyes)

Vaught(sneering at her): I'll remind you of what I told you before, be a good little girl, keep in mind what the General told you, and we won't squash you and your girlfriend like bugs. The Police understand that and so does every other major figure in this one-horse, yuppie burg.  Don't bother trying to use the media against us either, even those "Sick, Sad, World" bozos wouldn't buy into whatever you decide to tell them and our Task Force takes a very dim view of people who interfere with it's operations..

(With that, he closes the door and the limo heads off down the semi-empty streets, Jane is still looking away but Daria watches them go.)

Daria(out loud to herself): The hell I will!

Jane(kicks an innocent pebble down the street, she's incredibly angry but resigned): You know, it's really kind of a let down when you find out that everyone who told you again and again that the government is composed of a bunch of fascist, power-hungry, morons are actually right!

Daria(seeing an opening as usual, deadpan): Not easy when you realize your parents told you the truth for a change, huh?

Jane(the joke lightens her mood slightly but not much): I can't believe those clowns treated us that way!  And the fact that they're just going to keep this thing covered up until it decides to go away doesn't make me feel any better!

Daria(walks up to her friend): Well, I guess that would put us back at.......square...one....?

(Daria feels the hairs on the back of her neck stand up as whatever sixth sense told her to tell Jane to drop the gun kicks back in, something is out there, she's fast searching the area even as Jane reacts in surprise)

Jane(still vaguely angry): What?

Daria: It's here!!  Look!!

(Across the street a nearly invisible form crouch's on the roofed over portion of a gas station, suddenly it jumps effortlessly, springing down and onto the hot pavement moving with gargantuan leaps faster than imaginable, without thinking, Daria takes off after the efficiently moving apparition. Jane is  surprised by her partner's sudden display of agility and it takes her a second to remember she's a distance runner, once she's come to that realization though, she sprints after both figures.)

Jane: Daria! Dammit!  Wait!

(Both girls are hampered by their usual mode of dress and boots but Daria has the head start and manages to keep the ultra-fast presence in sight, though it may or may not be aware it is being pursued. The unexpected chase is also taking the duo and their invisible target farther and farther towards the railroad tracks and the quarry beyond.  As the foot race continues, a passing car has the misfortune to have a close encounter with the lightning fast creature as it bounds right off  roof of the unfortunate automobile leaving a massive foot shaped dent and using the momentum from which to enhance it's leap for a nearby series of trees.  Finally after swinging along and leaving a moderately winded Daria behind, the creature ducks into the traffic tunnel connecting suburban Lawndale with the abandoned rock quarry.  Moments later, a gasping Daria [hey, every heroine has her weaknesses] with Jane close behind rounds the corner of the sidewalk and heads into the tunnel, an event which does not go unobserved by the inhabitants of a nearby city basketball court carved out of the less than gentrified neighborhood.  From above, our shot closes in on a darkly dressed basketball player dribbling at about half-court as she looks up from her adversaries and notices the two young ladies disappearing into the tunnel.  We're looking at Andrea, dressed as her basketball alter-ego, while she momentarily stops to consider the significance of what she's just seen.  Abruptly she picks up the ball she was just dribbling and looks at the two massive African-American youth's she was playing with, both of whom look muscled and skilled enough to play NBA ball)

Andrea(usual expression and tenor): Joey.  Leon.  Take five, something is going down.

(Both of the guys nod imperceptibly as Andrea walks off the court and makes to follow our stars down the tunnel, they're obviously used to her going off on an impulse.)

(From here we shift back to the chase scene already in progress, as Daria [by this time, Jane is neck and neck with her] and Jane charge from above over the dirt berm seperating the slowly descending quarry access road from the city streets leading there. Directly below them is the aforementioned road occupied only by a solitary car with a certain couple [yep, Kevin and Brittany, I couldn't resist] making out in earnest, a process which is very nearly interrupted by the sudden presence of an all too familiar eight foot tall form slamming an invisible foot down on the luvin couples car hood before bounding off into the weeds further down the slope from the road.)

(Shot of steamy interior of the car)

Kevin: Babe, like, what was that?

Brittany: Like, does it matter?

(They resume lip to lip combat)

(Daria comes sliding down the dirt slope to a halt and prepares to head off into the weeds along the road after the creature, but before she can, Jane snags her from behind)

Jane(winded but not as winded as Daria who having just remembered to resume breathing is now gulping air down as she leans next to the oblivious couple's car): Easy tiger!  As much fun as this little workout was, can I ask what in the name of Jesus H. Christ we are doing chasing that thing!?!!

Daria(her turn to be all business, that icy calm we saw earlier is back in force): Jane, go and get Trent, the National Guard, whoever you can find!  Then bring them here, because one way or another we're going to finish this thing! Oh yeah (finally notices the car she is leaning against is occupied, grimaces with distaste) and tell those two to get out of here!

(Having delivered this pronouncement the first lady of cynicism heads off into the weeds bordering the causeway as Jane looks on.)

Jane(looking visibly unimpressed): Daria!  (yelling) DO YOU EVEN HAVE A PLAN!?

(Daria is about to head down the ditch following the path of beaten down vegetation and brambles the creature left in its wake, hearing Jane, she turns slightly and gives her a distinctly un-nineties gesture, a confident thumbs up before slide-stepping down below the edge of the road and disappearing from view)

Jane(reacting, has no idea what this means, replicates the gesture with her hand): OooooKAY!!

(Mumbling to herself, she turns to the totally oblivious teenage hormone storm on-going in the backseat of the car, before coming to a realization)

Jane(still a little disgusted, but back to normal): Ahhhh, the hell with them.

(Leaving the two lovebirds to their nest, she commences climbing back up the berm to street level before setting out for Lane acres at a brisk run, meanwhile..)

(Daria has just made it to the bottom of the next segment of the access road, in the background "Mason's Walk" from "The Rock" soundtrack is playing. [I know, I didn't want to use outside music in this sucker but I'll explain the significance of all this in the endnotes] Ahead of her, the slowly setting sun highlights her long hair as she calmly steps over the dried out dirt roadway and into the next section of rock and overgrown grass leading ever downward towards the bottom of the quarry and further towards the unknown..)

(Daria has just made it across the aforementioned access road drainage culvert and through the weeds to the furthest most extension of the cliff above the next lower section of the quarry, shoulder's square and with a rather purposeful stride.  The last strain's of Mason's Walk [if  you have "the Rock" soundtrack CD and want to know exactly what this sounds like, load up Track 5 and start at about the 8 minutes and 11 second mark for full effect and ending at about the 7:50 mark, trust me it's cool] can be heard as she examines the surrounding overgrown hillside for any sign of the creature, carefully, she walks to the edge of the cliff to see if the object of her chase could have made it down the steep incline.)

Daria(thought VO; Hmmm.. What was that Jane said?  Something about a Plan?  Now that would be a good thing to have when you're chasing after a giant, invisible, killer.): (to herself) Now where did it?

(Unfortunately, our leading lady has mis-judged the load bearing capacity of the dried out cliffside, without warning, the part she is standing on gives way)

Daria(Thought VO: not good...): (Her expression changes to absolute horror as the cliff edge falls apart in a shower of loose dirt and she ends up in near free fall above the next level of the quarry, it happens so fast she doesn't even have time to scream. The camera angle shifts to directly behind and underneath her as she falls, tracking downward with her a solid thirty feet in your usual action-movie slo-mo sequence, luckily for her, a relatively deep pool of algae fouled water breaks her potentially painfull fall.  The viewer is treated to Daria's decidedly surprised impression of a reverse entry into the shadowy, disgustingly lukewarm stuff as the abrupt stop knocks the wind out of her.  Luckily, however, the swimming she did at the Highland Pool pays off as she surfaces through the muck and uses a few quick freestyle strokes to make it to the edge of the pit.  Once her Doc Martens touch the warm, muddy bottom, it takes her another second to crawl halfway out of the slime vat after which she pauses to gasp for air. The roiling turbulence in the water generated by Daria's impromptu cannonball is already beginning to subside even as she tries to spit out the taste the polluted water left in her mouth, from our view she looks totally trashed.  Residual slime from the surface of the pond has stuck to her long hair and the feel of the mosquito larvae infested, quarry tailing infused water is indescribable, not to mention the smell.  A full five seconds later, the syrupy stuff has already resumed it's normal, un-disturbed configuration, the only indication of Daria's accidental plunge being the entry hole and subsequent trail she cut through the surface scum. Finally, Lady Dar recovers enough from the landing to begin examining her situation.)

Daria(sardonic thought VO: Smooth, Morgendorffer.) : (coughs again to clear her throat, she's still on her stomach half out of the run-off puddle) Well... that would pretty much fill my humiliation quota for this week, (spits again, the taste is still with her) what the hell is in this stuff!?  (Deadpan thought VO to herself) And will it kill me quicker than that thing...

(Suddenly, Daria's attention is drawn back to the pool behind her as a massive impact sends wavelets racing across the scummy surface, something big and unseen has just plunged in.  As the splash wavelets again subsides, a moving trail of bubbles marches directly toward Daria's position at the pond's edge, she scrambles back on her hands and butt as a massive and by this time familiar form emerges, criss-crossed with oddly sparking energy discharges.  Finally, feet still partly submerged in the watery pit it just entered, the fully seven foot tall whatever it is does something to it's left wrist, shutting down the shorting-out invisibility screen and giving Daria her first full-bore look at her adversary.  The up to now invisible head appears to be covered with some kind of smooth, dun-colored mask, framed by what look for all the world like plaited dreadlock's on each side of the visage, though at second glance the matted, thick stuff might be composed of some kind of inhuman tendril's.  Below, a sort of armored set of shoulder pads (matching the helmet) flex under the pressure of massive, mottled, lizard colored muscle as the tall entity looks at the pitiful human staring up at it with shocked awe.  What appear to be some form of ultra-tech wristbands on each massive, humanoid arm are held poised and ready for attack or defense at the creatures herculean sides and the remainder of it's body is covered in what appears to be a sort of open metallic mesh (part of the invisibility screen?) terminating only in a sort of armored groin protector and hardened leg grieves adding to the total alienness of the hunter.  Finally, Daria's amazed eye's alight on the finishing touch to the barbaric ensemble, a linked chain of skulls (some of them human) encircling the things chest.  This is the creature that could have torn her throat out with a flick of its wrist a few hour's earlier, the warrior, the ultimate hunter, the Predator.  Daria is paralyzed by what she is seeing.)

Daria(shivering a bit, and not just from the now cooling water dripping off her): Who....what the hell are you!?

Predator(mimicking her voice from much earlier): TOO DRY?

(With an imperceptible inclination of the left hand, the lethal-looking wrist cutting blades extend as the creature takes a massive step towards a still shocked Daria.   Suddenly, from behind, a perfectly aimed regulation basketball thrown from the cliff above nails the creature right in the back of the head, causing it to pivot away from it's prone target and search for the source of this new annoyance.  The aforementioned is Andrea looking down at the alien warrior with a calm expression on her face.)

Andrea(smirking slightly) Hey scumbag, why don't you mess with someone who's familiar with your plane?

(Even as the turret the creature carries on it's shoulder swivel's to track the new target, Andrea is already dodging and sliding down the cliff face giving Daria enough time to get a hold of herself and sprint for the nearest available cover, a large pile of fill dirt a few meter's away from the pond's edge. She just barely makes it ahead of a blast of high-energy plasma from the Pred's shoulder weapon that on contact with the dirt mound leaves a glowing swatch of fused silica in it's wake.  Andrea manages to make it down the rest of the way while the alien is focusing on Daria again and she joins our still water-logged misery chick in cowering behind the marginal cover provided by the dirt heap as further plasma bolts carve molten glass runnel's in their de facto sanctuary.  The Predator is either slightly annoyed at missing the two targets in the first place or concentrating on playing with its prey a bit before closing in for the kill, either way, not a good situation for the two ladies to be in. Daria directs a surprised look at her unexpected deliverer in between flinching at the impact of successive packets of hot death while Andrea regards her silently in return.)

Daria(dirt and debris smeared as well as wet now): Where the hell did you come from!?

Andrea(taking all this in stride): Basketball court, I sensed something wasn't right. I guess you could say, I went where I was needed.

Daria(ducks again, her sense of irony kicks back in): And you couldn't maybe have brought a machine gun along with you when you answered the call?

Andrea(looks up at Daria): Such weapons would be of little use against that being.  It is not of this world.

Daria(not ready to argue with her at this point): It really would have been a good idea to have a plan before I came down here, huh?  You have any ideas?

Andrea(resignedly): We're running out of hiding place, I suggest we both run like hell in different directions bearing in mind it had a hard time hitting two simultaneous targets earlier.

Daria(flinches again at another impact, but still deadpan): Good plan, potentially suicidal, incredibly risky, probably futile.....I know I'm excited to be a part of it.

Andrea(grinning): You have a better idea?  (Daria shakes her head no) Well then, on three.

(Another burst sprays molten debris over the two girl's heads as they both get ready to run for their lives.)

Andrea: One....

Daria(flinches as another burst chips away at their cover): Two...

Andrea(taking a sprinters crouch to the right of Daria): THREE!!!

(Daria is already gone, dashing from the left of the pile as Andrea sprints from the right, she manages to get a solid yard away from where she started before a plasma burst explodes nearly right at her feet throwing her forward into the air and over the rock outcropping blocking off the bottom-most level of the Quarry...She lands hard on her chest, slithering down the dust and rock surface before impacting against a bigger boulder and ending up lying on her back, the explosion and the violent landing have managed to render her unconscious.)

(Meanwhile, at the top of the access road leading down to the Quarry a familiar blue car turns in and stops.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's the Trentmobile to the rescue and Daria's good buddy Jane (carrying her bag with the Glock in it) has already jumped from the shotgun seat and headed for the upper section of the access road while her youngest brother and his friend (and rhythm guitarist) Jesse take slightly more time to get out and follow her (you know these guys).  Eventually, though, all three end up on the first section of access road right next to (you guessed it) the car where "Thunderback" and "Lighthead" are still going at it (for your intestinal comfort we won't elaborate).  Jane is already looking for the path Daria followed after the creature but before she can come to a decision, Trent taps her on the back. He and Jesse are obviously a bit behind the curve, information wise.)

Trent(frowning): Janey, you mind running what we're doing out here by us again?

Jane(obviously tired of trying to explain): Trent, listen to me. Basically, we're here because Daria went after the thing that put the dent in that car!!(She points to the massive, oddly shaped, depression in the car hood.  This gets the guys attention.)

Trent(impressed): Damn.

Jesse(equally impressed but with his usual, quiet, laid back diction) Heavy.

Jane(relieved she's starting to get somewhere): And that was just because something happened to be in the way!  I think Daria was going to try and confront it.....the crazy(shakes her head)!!  Come-on, we have to find her and get her out of here!

Trent(finally sees how serious this is even if he doesn't totally understand): For Daria...anything.  You have some kind of plan?

Jane(smiles wrly despite the tension): I asked her the same thing, but I guess the fastest way to find her is to head for the bottom level of this place and then work our way up if she isn't there.

Jesse(low-key as ever): Cool.

Trent(looking determined): Let's do it.

(All three head off at a fast walking pace which quickly takes them down around the next bend in the access road and farther downward towards the quarry pit.  To the West, the sun is getting ever closer to setting and the clouds which were moving in earlier definitely appear to be forming a major black mass several miles distant, if nothing else, the heat wave looks like it might break.  As the would be Daria-rescuer's make it around the bend they see something very interesting, something that accounts for the massive new wheel and track scars ripped in the dirt road that they hadn't noticed before.  A massive black-painted Marine NCB (Nuclear, Chemical, Biological) mobile laboratory is parked on the overhang back from the next section of road leading down. The big vehicle is flanked by two M-2 Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles equipped with standard weapons packages but no crew appear to be present.  Then once again, things get worse.  From behind our three hero's, what looked before like harmless shrubbery takes on inimical movement as two man-sized shapes spring from each side of the road and neatly flank the rescue party with practiced ease, we're looking at two men wearing full sniper "Ghillie" suits and armed with massive, scoped, rifles.  Jane doesn't even have time to react before the ambush has her and her back-up surrounded.)

Sentry 1: Hold it, do not move!

(It's difficult for even Jane to argue with two guys holding extremely mean looking rifles on her, she puts her hands up quickly and Jess and Trent follow suit.)

Sentry 2(talking into a headset): Hunter to Game Warden, we just picked up some uninvited guests, advise?  10-4...

(The first sentry motions for Jane to hand over her pack and she complies before the second soldier signal's the first to get their prisoner's moving. At gun-point, Jane and company are marched over to the mobile lab where they are brusquely pushed to the side of the vehicle and efficiently but not brutally made to spread their arms and legs police arrest style.  Another soldier (apparently dispatched from inside the carrier) then professionally frisks each prisoner focusing on Jane especially because she appeared to be in the lead, Jane may be in no position to make trouble but she's not going to give up that easily.)

Jane(nasty smile): You're being kind of forward for a first date, fella.  (Get's no response as the trooper in urban assault camo BDU's leaves no stone unturned [no, no body cavity stuff, you people have sick minds])

Trent(like brother like sister): You guys don't talk much, do you?

Jesse(still not sure what the story is): We come in peace, man.

(Still no response, the sentry with Jane's bag hands it over to the guy in standard BDU's along with the weapon he found inside.)

Sentry 1: That's all they were carrying, sir.

Soldier: Good work Lieutenant, carry on, the Colonel wants to talk to these three.

Sentry 1(forgo's saluting in a potential combat zone): Sir, yes, sir!

(Both soldiers head off back the way they came as the guy in BDU's [Battle Dress Uniform..for the uninitiated] unslings the submachine gun he had on his back and directs his three captives up the loading ramp behind the vehicle and through a sort of airlock in the back.  On the inside, a massive interior door cycles to allow them inside and we finally get a glimpse of the interior of the vehicle, a huge bay occupied by two other soldiers working at communications console and another man dressed in BDU's identical to the guy in charge of the prisoners off to the side, apparently checking several security camera's and read-outs.  As the soldier behind Daria's three friends directs them into the quiet, computer intensive bay, the man off to the side turns, revealing a familiar superior grin.)

Colonel Vaught(usual Southern drawl): Well...Well, isn't this a welcome ray of sunshine, I had a feeling I'd be seeing you again Ms. Lane.

Jane(visibly unimpressed again): I know running into you again makes my day.

Trent(not getting it): Who the hell are you people?

Vaught(shaking his head tiredly as he leans against the computer terminals): You just couldn't leave it alone, huh?  You just had to wade into my business with your suburbanite tunnel vision and oh so moral and tidy teenage world-view didn't you?  Well frankly, I'm not even going to bother with the IRS, as soon as this operation is concluded my dear, you will not pass go, you will not collect two-hundred dollars, you and your boy wonders here are headed straight to Federal Prison, sans due process.  The shit you have just stepped in girlie is what the airhead's on television call a "Black Op" totally deniable and you are up to your eyeball's in it, do you understand me?

Jane(disdainful look slips a notch, she wants to draw Vaught out): Okay (shrugs), you got me, but what exactly are you trying to hide here Colonel?  What is this thing and what does Dutch have to do with it?  (She's lying about how much she knows, hopefully she'll get him to tell her more.)

Jesse(along for moral support as always): Yeah!!

Vaught(laugh's with disgust, then smiles that winning smile): You know what, since I'm going to be rid of you once this is over and you went to so much trouble to get in my way in the first place, I think I'll tell you.  (Looking at the two men manning the consoles in the bay) Captain Harrison, Captain Wilson, head on out to the M2's and finish briefing the mop-up team's as to final target assignments, Major Keyes and I will join you shortly. (The two men move out smartly and with efficiency walking past the prisoners and the man the Colonel referred to as "Major Keyes" and out of the airlock. Jane's eyes momentarily alight on a set of storage spaces to her side as the two soldiers go by, one is dominated by a gun rack loaded with massive Pancor Assault shotguns looking blunt and deadly in their secured individual foam storage shells, she immediately faces back towards the Colonel before he notices her sideways glance.)

Trent(still trying to figure out what's going on): How do you know my sister?

Colonel Vaught(Oblivious): Frankly that isn't important, what is important is the thing that's been tearing people apart for the past month and which has your yokel police department chasing its tail.  The thing that Dutch told you "comes with the heat" am I right?  (Smirking again.)

Trent(beginning to understand): Oh man.

Vaught(Dripping contempt for Jane's brother): Not a man, oh no, not a man Mr. taxpayer.  You want a name...we don't have one.  You want a place.... we can't even begin to imagine.  The most we have is what the natives down Nicaragua way named it, "The Demon that makes trophies of men."  Real poetic, don't you think?

Jane(concentrating on Vaught): Why?

Vaught(meeting her gaze head on): Philips let that one slip to you earlier, they like the sport, little girl.  (The Colonel punches up a display on the terminal and directs Jane's stunned eyes to it, it's composed of images of massive amounts of destruction, Vietnam, Cambodia, Desert Storm, finally a ghostly fast moving shadow illuminated using doppler imaging makes it's time-lapsed way across the screen in black and whites through the upper part of the quarry Jane and her friends were just walking on.)  These things are hunter's and we're Bambi's mom.  Anywhere there's heat and conflict, hell our scientists theorize back to the dawn of human warfare, these things show up for the party.  The Earth is one big safari park for these good old boys and we're the lions and tigers and bears...(pauses a moment)...Oh my.

Jane(looking disgusted): You admire these things, don't you, you sick.....

Vaught(isn't going to take any crap): YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT I DO YOU LITTLE PUNK!!  (The Major glances over worriedly, however, the Colonel composes himself and starts lecturing again.)  But not just because they're tough, smart, bastards, that's not really it, what's important here is the technology these things have.  Do you have any idea how much this country would benefit if we could get a hold of the powers sources and materials these things have?  I'm talking about a whole new standard of living just waiting for us if we can figure out a way to take down just one of these things, just one.  And now that and a whole lot more is waiting at the bottom of this quarry and as a dedicated, loyal, soldier of my country, the greatest country on Earth, I am certainly not going to let some bunch of smartass dead-beats screw that up.

Trent(not looking at all impressed): I know I'm impressed.

(Jane flashes him a dirty look, this is just gonna put Vaught even further over the edge):

Vaught(gives him a dangerous look): No.....worthless, hash-sucking, welfare cases like you don't get impressed do they boy?  Hell, people like you are the reason we've had to keep this operation secret ever since Dutch and his boys ran into one of these things way down South. It's sorry, gutless, momma's boy's like you who elect other coward's to public office so they can lie and tell you everything's all-right because honestly, deep down, you don't want the responsibility of dealing with real problems!!  That's why people like me have to lie and cover up and fight battles no one ever hears about because candy-ass, punks like you can't handle the truth!  But tonight, I am personally going to do my duty to this country and even people like you. Why? Because I am a patriot.

Jane(desperate to figure out what Vaught's planning): And what about Philips?  Why isn't he here?

Vaught(smirking again): I'm afraid the good General is on his way to Washington right now to give a project update to the Pentagon, in fact, this entire operation you might say falls under what we in the military call "personal mission initiative" and therefore I'm in command.  Anything else you'd like to know before we lock you down and start this little party?

Jane(looking a little desperate, she obviously wants to stall him a bit more): Just one other thing, what are you going to do here tonight?

Vaught(Incredibly smug, he's obviously really proud of himself and he's taking his time to mock her): Well, I'm glad you asked dear heart.  In approximately fifteen minutes a group of fighter/bomber's loaded with enough firepower to turn this whole white tax-shelter you call home into charred rubble will be making a bombing run right on top of this hole in the dirt and those monster's down there, along with whatever they're using for a base, will be so much charred meat!  Then the troops waiting outside in the fighting vehicles and I will personally secure the strike zone and recover as much of their technology as possible, all and all, a textbook surprise attack using overwhelming firepower.

Trent(a bit incredulous): Don't you think someone's going to notice the explosions?

Vaught(smirking and nodding his head at Trent's naivete): Please, the official story will read as a Top Secret Air Force spy plane having crashed during a classified training mission, no one around here is going to ask questions and even if they did, the town government and the police are far to complacent and friendly with us to look any further, everything turns out nice and tidy.

Jesse(listening with a dawning sense of disgust at the Colonel's machinations): Figures.

Trent(face lights up as he remembers something important): Janey, what about Daria?  If she's out there when this goes down!

Jane(she's been too absorbed in the whole discussion to remember why she originally came down here): Jesus.....

Trent(cutting to the chase): Listen Colonel, Jane's friend Daria went down the gorge after one of those things about a half-hour ago, you can't just let those planes......(trail's off as he sees Vaught couldn't care less.)

Vaught(ruthless look): The hell I can't, your girl here's little friend should have known better than to walk into a potentially dangerous area all by herself (shakes his head in mock sadness).  What a tragedy...but you never know, sometimes miracles do happen..

Trent(wrath of God in his eyes all of a sudden): You Son of a bitch!!  (Steps towards the Colonel before the Major makes a slight movement toward his slung submachine gun.  Trent is as pissed off as we've ever seen him.)

(Jane isn't the center of attention anymore, Trent has stepped in front of her blocking the Major's view of her left arm and she slowly raises it towards the rack with the shotguns, it's become obvious to her that she's out of options.)

Vaught(still focused on Trent): It's a little late to be a hero now, don't bother. (Nodding to the man standing next to him) The Major here can hit a dime five feet away with an off hand shot.

(Jane's got the pistol grip of the massive riot gun in her left hand, deftly she nudges Trent with her left foot sending him stumbling forward and drawing enough attention for her to swing the gun out of it's rack and into her hands.  The action clicks authoritatively putting a round in the chamber and catching the Colonel and the Major totally off guard.  The Major is a full second behind, he's only able to get his submachine gun up to waist level while Jane has him totally covered.)

Jane(dead serious): Okay, change of plan.  You shitheels are going to let us out of here right now so we can get my friend the hell out of this mess!!

Vaught(looking angry, but glacially calm, responding to the implied threat): Or what?

Jane(staring him down): Or I splatter you and your pretty boy bootlick all over the walls!

Vaught(not looking at all impressed): Major, disarm her!

(The Major is sweating, he obviously doesn't like being in this situation, his gun isn't exactly pointed at Jane but it isn't pointed away.)

Major Keyes(he's going to try reason): Come on kid, you're no killer, if you fire that in here...

Jane(finger tightens on the trigger, safety off): I could pick up some ricochet, but you and Vaught are a fine, red, mist...Now back off!  Right NOW!

Vaught(yelling at the Major): Major, that was a direct order!!

Jane(smiling evilly, shifts her point of aim down to the Major's crotch): Give it some thought pal. Is the last thing you ever want to feel the total annihalation of your family jewel's?

(The Major stops dead, he can see in Jane's eyes that she'll do anything to get out of there.)

Major Keyes(dread in his eyes, he lowers his gun): Colonel, I can't obey that order.

Vaught(outraged now): Bobby, you worthless chickenshit!

Jane(all business, her eyes never stray from Vaught or the Major): Trent!  Get the Glock!  Jesse! Open the door!

(Jane carefully, starts walking backward covering the two soldiers as Trent pick up her discarded bag and the pistol and trains the recovered gun on Vaught who is apoplectic with rage.  Jesse is already at the door, looking for a way out.)

(Jane and Trent both move backward nice and slowly in order to give their adversaries no chance to recover.)

Jesse: Jane, it's an electronic lock!

Jane(again training the massive shotgun on the Colonel and his aide): Give us the code for the door!

(The Colonel obviously wants to go for his side-arm but the Major knows he's beaten, he isn't willing to die for this.)

Major Keyes(calmly): It's 6252.

(Trent takes a second to help Jesse with the keypad and the massive airlock door cycles open, the two guys rush through and then cycle the outer door as Jane backs through never straying from covering her two targets, the inner door then cycles cutting Jane off from the interior bay and she breaks and runs for it with her two cohorts.  Meanwhile, the Major is already picking up a discarded headset to call for help but the Colonel stops him.)

Major Keyes: Uh, sir, we're not just letting them go are we?

Vaught(smiling evilly): Forget it, I've had it with all of them, they want to go join their friend at ground zero, that's their choice, one less problem.

(The Colonel looks grimly satisfied while the Major sits down again with a slight shiver.)

(Meanwhile, outside, Jane and company dash past the idling armored vehicles and down the hill towards the very bottom of the quarry, while already at the bottom....)

(Our scene changes, we're back over the quarry floor watching the sun already at half-set as the massive storm clouds role in from the East, from above we see the prostrate form of our heroine, Daria, as her eyes abruptly flutter open, her glasses are askew and her impact after nearly getting blasted by the Pred has shaken her up quite a bit.  Shocked she sits up too fast and feels her head swim as blackness threatens to overwhelm her, her hard landing has obviously resulted in a light concussion.  Finally, she manages to sit up and take stock as far away lightning thunders.  Suddenly, a light flashes in front of her and a wavering shape snaps in and out of focus, it takes Daria a second to properly reset her glasses on her face and get a look at the massive shape that seems to have appeared out of nowhere... things have just gotten weirder yet again.)

Daria(amazed tone of voice): Okay, I admit it, I'm impressed.

(The huge object taking up most of the quarry floor is a massive alien ship of startling design and complexity, parts of it look nearly organic and the dominant color is a sort of dark bronze, here and there, vapor trails seem to issue from massive ports and engines.  Apparently, the ship was using the same kind of invisibility device the Predators carry with them or Daria would have seen it before her surprise landing, she regards the vast, silent, bulk with a mix of wonder and disbelief before starting to come to a decision.)

Daria(Thought VO, "Oh hell"): Why not?  I've been dropped on my butt, nearly drowned, shot at and blown up, might as well get something out of all of this!

(Wearily she starts up the side of the construct towards a dark, cave-like opening that seems to lead into the interior of the ship.  Once inside, she pauses to catch her breath and shake her head again to get rid of the pounding in her brain she's experiencing, the inside of the ship is incredibly hot and if she wasn't sweating before she's really perspiring now.  As Daria heads farther down the corridor into the alien environment, a sort of thick, white, mist or fog seems to cover the oddly textured ground.  Finally, the corridor ends in a massive, open area, lit with a weird yellowish light, several pillars around the "courtyard" like space connect the bronzish material of the floor with the ceiling, the whole effect is totally alien.)

Daria(looking around her for any sign of movement): Richard Dreyfus, eat your heart out.  (Refering to "Close Encounter's of the Third Kind")

(Finally, Daria notices something totally different from the oddly high-tech bas-relief  "stuff" that makes up the curving walls and ceiling, walking over she stands in front of a massive alcove in one of the walls which appears to be a trophy collection of some kind.)

Daria(looking at the contents of the alcove): Puts my collection to shame.

(The interior of the alcove is occupied with a number of skulls, monstrous and alien things mounted on the interior wall and stuck on protruding spikes of material, some are dinosaur-like while other's are smaller and more blunt, other's bear no resemblance to anything on Earth and one huge bleached white skull would be familiar to fan's of a certain Sci-fi series [you know this one, if not, see Predator 2, and you'll know what I mean].  Finally, Daria's gaze comes to rest on a series of human skulls, two of which appear to be oddly deformed and elongated and look vaguely silly with their whitened teeth locked in ghastly eternal grins [see the cover of B&B's "Ensucklopedia" to see what this looks like.] Unbidden, a memory surfaces.)

Daria(Thought VO, the voices of Beavis and Butthead, distorted and ghostly, "Diarrhea, cha, cha, cha!!  Diarrhea, cha, cha, cha!!" She looks pensive for a moment before shaking her head):  Nahhh, what kind of sport would those two idiots be.  If someone gave them guns, they'd end up shooting each other.

(Daria turns away from the grisly trophy collection before that feeling she got when all this began resurfaces..She looks around quickly and worriedly.)

Daria(A little scared and questioningly): Anyone there?

(Meanwhile, Jane and the guys have just made it down to the bottom of the access road when Lady Lane comes to a screeching halt with the shotgun still clutched to her chest, moments later, Jesse and Trent, being the relatively out of shape future rock stars that they are [Trent anyway], catch up with her.)

Jane(looking at the massive alien shape dominating the quarry floor as the incoming storm stirs up dust and debris around it): Oh good, like I haven't had enough X-files weirdness for one day!

Trent(catching his breath): You think Daria is in that thing?

Jane(letting the business end of the shotgun drop to the dirt): I think we're going to have to get closer.  Listen, Trent, get rid of the gun, we'll be history if we try to get any closer armed.

Trent(He respects her even more than before): Whatever you say, little sister.

(Trent pulls the Glock pistol out of his pants pocket and hits the clip release, with apparent ease he discards the weapon's magazine and pulls the slide back to drop the round already in the gun out of the chamber, then he throws it away as Jane does the same thing with the riot gun.)

(Suddenly, Jane gets "that feeling" again, something is coming towards them from the level above and it ain't human, quickly she turns and grabs a handful of Trent's shirt dragging him after her while yelling at Jesse to follow, but Jesse remains where he's at...waiting.)

Jane(looking back towards the unmoving rhythm guitarist): JESSE!  COME ON!!  JESSE!

Jesse(An odd kind of fearlessness in his eye's, he slowly shrugs out of his leather vest revealing his dark and muscular build): Go Jane.  Get Daria out.  I'll buy you some time.

(Jane looks like she wants to argue but Trent's seeing something he's never seen before in his friend and he pulls her with him as the two break and run for the area under the ship.)

(Jesse, meanwhile, has calmly let his leather vest drop to the dirt by his feet, still staring straight ahead he slowly reaches up and with a powerful jerk of his arm rips the pendant around his neck off.  With great care he wraps the severed strands of the necklace around his right fist before taking an open fighting stance, waiting.)

(Perspective shift, we're now looking at Jesse straight on in the shades of heat difference of a Predator's vision, it's coming right at him.)

(Jane and Trent have made it to where Daria was standing outside the ship not to long ago.  From where they left Jesse a loud shout is heard and then silence.)

Jane(looking scared): Oh no, Jesse..

Trent(looking worried but he's obviously in tune with the overall picture): He wasn't armed, he ought to be okay. Janey, we have to hurry, this place is gonna be Dante's inferno in a few minutes!

Jane(spotting where Daria landed): Look!  (She sees the footprints Daria's boot's left in the rock dust all over the surrounding area) Great...she's in there all right!

Trent(showing definite resolve): Then we'd better get her out in a hurry!

(Both Lane's start out onto the ship's hull and then into the apparent entrance with Trent in the lead)

(Again we're back inside the massive ship where Daria is looking around trying to localize the feeling she got moments earlier, she knows something is in here with her and she's done running.  Suddenly, she's distracted by a noise, from where she came in earlier, Jane and Trent suddenly emerge into the open space and is she ever glad to see them!)

Jane(spotting her friend): Daria!

Daria(actually smiling): Jane!  Trent!!  Am I glad...Damn!!

(To Daria's dismay, as Trent heads towards her he is suddenly sent flying into the nearby wall where he hits hard..  Mystic Spiral's lead guitarist is caught in something that looks like a spider's web, apparently some kind of alien net launched from thin air. The landing has obviously knocked the wind out of him and even if he could breath he's totally immobilized, Jane, seeing what happened, sprints over to help her brother.)

Jane(trying to pull out the imbedded anchors of the heavy net): Trent!  Hang-on!  (Suddenly she turns as a noise draws her attention in the hot, yellowish chamber.) Oh hell...

(Daria can do nothing to prevent what happens next, from the far right side of the room a massive silvery spear cleaves the air at an unbelievable speed slamming into the top of Jane's right shoulder and pinning her to the wall like a butterfly being mounted.  Daria's partner in crime has the time to let out a shriek of mortal agony before the electrical charge in the collapsible Predator "combi-stick" makes her convulse horribly before it mercifully renders her unconscious.  Daria is stunned as a massive familiar form appears out of the ether and admires it's catch before looking at Daria again, the masked visage shows no feeling at all.)

Daria(This is it, what just happened is to much for her): NOOOOO!!!  (Sprinting right at the interloping Pred screaming in absolute terror and anger, she lets the creature have it with a right hook to the masked face.  Even though she got a running start, her best effort only knocks the creatures head to one side slightly.  Daria's hand feels like she just rammed it into a brick wall and she stops dead in her tracks.)

(Slowly, the creature again faces her with a deliberance born of shear menace.)

Daria(her anger is snuffed out like a match in a hurricane, she's about to learn one of those universal truth's you only arrive at once in a life time, in this case, you should never, ever, make a Predator angry.  Quietly as absolute fear blooms in her chest): That was, really...stupid.

(Daria never even sees the blow coming, in a heartbeat, the impact of a powerful, clawed fist sends her flying into one of the interstitial columns where she lands with a sickening "thwack" before falling to the floor.  The massive alien warrior lets out a roar like a hunting lion before stalking towards potential prey that dared to challenge it.)

(Our heroine is crouched on the mist shrouded floor of the hothouse. Gasping for air as the creature comes towards her, she manages to cough up a streamer of blood onto the floor before the Predator appears, towering over her.  Instead of finishing her off, the creature reaches up to it's shoulder where the miniature cannon it shot at her with before rests, with practiced ease it detaches it from it's position and lets the device drop to the floor. Next, the creatures clawed hand removes several tubes that appear to connect the mask it wears with the high tech mechanisms on it's back, these come loose with puffs of hissing gas.  Finally, with both hands, the alien removes the flat inhuman helmet to reveal an insane parody of a face, more alien than Daria has ever imagined.  Four white, glistening, fangs frame a complex and obviously carnivorous mouth with an interior set of teeth farther in, there is no visible nose.  Two sunken, striped eyes regard the wounded human with amusement?  Hatred?  The visage is far too different for Daria to know.)

Daria(Looking up with fear combined with a horrible fascination, she spits out more blood before adding in a raspy whisper): Boy....are you ugly!

(The Predator cuts her off as the outer flaps of it's complicated mouth split in a feral, resounding roar, before she can move, a kick to her shoulder sends her flying out into the middle of the chamber.  Daria tries to rise, but can't.  Another powerful punch to her chest sends her stumbling back away from her assailant looking for some way out.  Finally, yet another punch sends Daria's head rocking back on her neck as her glasses go flying off in a spray of blood.  Trent watches the one-sided battle with horror, unable to help.)

Trent(horrified and struggling with the net): No, dammit, leave her alone!

(Blood from the side of her head is trickling down into Daria's eyes as she collapses to her knee's almost unable to see and crying out from the pain up and down her body, trying to get some air into her lungs as the creature comes for her.  The two deadly cutting blades on the creatures wrist extend out as it lunges forward for the kill but the death blow is suddenly stopped by an unseen force!  As Daria's now impaired eyes try to focus on the creature in front of her she can see an odd barely visible shape holding the attacking creatures arm back, it's another Predator!  The attacking Pred is obviously angry about being checked but as the other creature shuts down its invisibility screen it appears to be in command of the situation.)

Head Predator(looking at the one it stopped from attacking and in a ferocious semi-alien voice): ENOUGH!!

(The creature now before Daria has skin that is a much darker shade of mottled green and wears no mask, un-like the other one. Abruptly, it looks down at her before violently releasing the attacking Pred's gauntlet covered arm, sending it back a step.  Tensely, the two warriors regard each other for a second before the one standing over Daria makes a disgusted spitting motion and brings it's own fist up, the attacker bows it's head slightly, as if accepting a rebuke before it turns and falls in with a whole crowd of seven or eight of the creatures who have appeared out of no-where while Daria stared up at her savior.  Daria can only gape in total amazement before recovering enough of her strength to stumble to her feet raggedly and face the one near her, the look on it's face might almost seem apologetic as it watches her.)

Daria(fighting to stand up straight after the damage she's taken): Okay....now what?

(Almost in unison and again to Daria's surprise all of the creatures as if on cue execute formal oriental bows, not low, but obviously as a sign of respect.  They apparently wish to apologize for the attack upon her by the one Predator and perhaps recognize her bravery in trying to help her friends.  This done, the creatures turn away and each disappears as their invisibility fields are turned on, all except for the one that stopped the attack.  As Daria looks on, the apparently "head" alien reaches down to the floor and retrieves her glasses which were knocked off during the fight, it looks at them with a definite aura of curiosity before regarding Daria again expectantly.)

Daria(not really understanding anything that's happened, questioningly): Why? Why are you?  What are you?

(Reaching down to the massive belt encircling its waist, the alien hunter removes something and tosses it with amazing accuracy.  It lands right at Daria's feet and she bends over to pick it up off the mist covered floor so she can examine it.  Even through her now more than slightly blurry eye's, Daria can see that the object given her is a short sword, possibly Japanese and extremely sharp, she hefts it gingerly as the Predator takes her damaged glasses and adds them to it's belt, it then looks at her for the last time.)

Head Predator: TAKE IT!

(The creature then turns and disappears after it's fellows.)

Daria(still in shock and not understanding, her deadpan voice and sarcasm are finally back, however): Wait!  What is this?  Ginzu knives of the God's!!

Trent(Trying to get her attention): Daria, we gotta go!  Help!

Daria(finally coming to her senses after the whole ordeal): Trent!

(Daria stumbles over to where Trent is still pinned against the wall, using the short sword it takes her about a second to cut through the fine net strands holding Trent and he's free in short order.)

Daria(looking up with genuine relief in her eyes): Are you okay?

Trent(still all business): Forget about me, we gotta help Janey!

(Trent rushes over to the wall where Jane is still pinned down by the massive spear, her red jacket is stained with a much darker red splotch of flowing blood.  Quickly, Trent pushes up on the lethal looking "combi-stick" in an effort to release his sister, the thing just barely moves as Jane moans slightly and coughs.)

Jane(weakly and coughing, she mimes Daria): Oh Trent my darling (cough) are you okay?

Daria(glares at her): Jane, if this thing doesn't kill you, I will later!

Trent(doesn't get it, thinks Jane is just talking to him): Janey I'm fine, but we gotta get out of here!  That psycho Colonel said he had an air strike on the way in fifteen minutes, fifteen minutes ago!

Daria(Thinking about how the Pred's rarely seemed surprised by anything): That's probably the least of our worries but I definitely don't want to stick around here no matter how far these guys would take me from Quinn!  (Thinking fast) Trent!  You push up on that spear while I pull down on Jane's shoulder, maybe that'll work!  Jane, this is probably going to hurt!

Jane(wincing in pain): Like this doesn't hurt now?  Go for it.

(Trent waits for Daria to sidle up to Jane's side and then he pushes up while she pulls down while trying to avoid the wounded area, Jane's jacket tears out from under the spear leaving some skin as well but she's loose, with a low moan Jane nearly slides all the way to the floor before Trent grabs her under her good arm.  Daria's having a hard time breathing all of a sudden as Trent grabs her up as well and starts for the exit.)

Daria(breathing raggedly): I think I might have busted a rib or something..ow.

Trent(struggling to support both ladies as he heads down the corridor to the outside): Just hang on, we're almost there..

(Finally, all three make it out of the massive ship as it starts to rumble and shake, it's obviously not going to stick around much longer.  Outside, the storm that was just coming in is now right on top of the quarry, trees thrash back and forth in the wind as the first droplets of rain begin falling, Trent struggles mightily to get the girls back up to the road before a familiar face shows up, it's Jesse!)

Jesse(yelling to be heard over the approaching storm and the sound of the giant alien vessel): Are you guys okay!!

Trent(shouting as well, he's still pulling Jane and Daria along): Daria and Janey are both hurt!  What happened to you anyway?

Jesse(grabs a nearly unconscious Daria from Trent so he can finish pulling Jane up the hill seperating the quarry floor from the next level): They weren't interested in me!  Come on, let's book!!

(Both guys proceed to hall ass up the next rise past the pool Daria fell in and up the slope, Trent supporting Jane and Jesse with Daria under his shoulder outright.  With a massive roar, the alien warship takes off in a blast of loose dirt and debris and rises majestically into the sky, then it's gone as our brave band hits the top part of the access road and just keeps running for it.  Trent is looking pretty ragged with Janey hanging on as best as she can while Jesse, despite his run in with the Pred's earlier, is looking fairly unfazed even though he's half-carrying Daria up a decent size incline.  Just as Daria and company reach the top of the switchback, the fury of the storm is blotted out by what sounds like a thousand human screams followed by a massive series of detonations on the quarry floor as the missiles hit, everybody is knocked flat by the ensuing shockwaves, then it's over.  It takes several minutes for the flattened member's of team Daria to re-orient themselves but everyone appears okay.)

Jane(feeling the damaged bone in her shoulder as she lies on the ground with the rain falling lightly on her): Everybody...(cough)..In one piece?

(Unfortunately, no one hears Jane because of the noise of the explosions, it's going to be a while before their hearing comes back, possibly longer for the musicians among them.)

Daria(pointing to her ears, she can't hear anything even as she speaks): I think I'll just pass out here for a while.. (which she proceeds to do before Jesse and Trent can finish getting back up, our last view of the whole aftermath is from Daria's VO as her eyelid's flutter from where we saw Jesse let her fall to the ground, then blackness)

(Several hours later, rain pours out of the sky above the now heavily illuminated quarry which is occupied by a hodge podge of people and cars including everything from police cruisers to media and television mobile units.  A line of soldiers in standard green disruptive BDU's covered in rain poncho's and armed with M-16 rifles keeps the crowd of on-looker's back while police and military personnel do their thing under the glare of massive sodium arc-lights like the kind you see at sports stadiums.  Our shot zooms to a close-up of one of the massive Bradley IFV's with it's rear loading door open and a tarp suspended over it, Daria is sitting on top of the door with a compression bandage over the gash she sustained during the fight with the rogue Pred and draped in a standard issue Red Cross blanket to keep the rain chill off [the effect of her sitting there all wrapped in a blanket and missing her glasses is incredibly cute, just try to imagine it].  Nearby, a female military medic of African American extraction is working on Jane who is fairly out of it and shocky on a portable field litter.  Trent is of course right there with a concerned look on his face and Jess right next to him, waiting patiently.)

Medic: Okay, we can move her!  (Turning to Trent) She's lost some blood and she's going to need some work done on that collar bone but otherwise it looks like she lucked out, if that piece of debris had hit any lower we're talking world of hurt.

Trent(his expression lightens a little): Thanks a lot, for everything.  Can we get her out of here now?

Medic: Already on the way, the General ordered up an ambulance as soon as he heard and they'll probably want to keep her for observation after the surgery.  Say maybe a month or more on the outside in a cast once everything is re-set.  She'll be good as new in no time, fella (she smiles).

Trent: Excellent.  (Turning to Daria as she sits looking down at Jane) Daria, you okay?

Daria(looks up surprised, blushes a little before trying to stand): Yeah, I'm uffff...  (She ends up back on her butt with an embarrassed look on her face as the tech hustles over with a disapproving expression)

Medic(frowning): I told you to take it easy, girl!  I taped up the ribs, but you've still got a concussion to worry about, so slow down or I ship you out of here on your back like your friend!

Daria(blushing once again but manages to retain her cool): Okay, okay, I wasn't aware I enlisted, sir.

(She gets a chuckle out of Trent despite the circumstances)

Tech(sees some of herself in Daria's wise-girl attitude, but has to get a shot in): That's ma'am or Specialist Dawn to you and I happen to work for a living so don't "sir" me!  Also, a concussion  isn't a joke, if you don't take care of yourself you could do permanent damage and you really don't want that, you read me 5 by 5, chica?

Daria(wants to be a smartass but she basically understands the female medical tech is trying to help her): Yes, Specialist Dawn.

Spec Dawn: Okay then. (Turning to the soldiers who are ready to carry Jane out) Let's get her to that ambulance!

(Jane smiles weakly and gives Daria a thumbs up with her good hand as the four troopers heft the litter in unison and one of them grabs the IV connected to her arm off the stand set up in the impromptu medical bay, then she's gone as Trent prepares to follow her.)

Daria(looking more tired than anything else as something occurs to her):  Oh great, you didn't call my parents, did you?

Dawn:  As a matter of fact, I think the Old Man did have someone working on that, yes.  You worried?  Don't be.

Daria(now deadpan after her first reaction):  You don't know my family, right Trent?

(Trent is watching as Jane is carried off, but he immediately smirks back at her)

Trent:  Oh man, now I'm beginning to appreciate the fact that my parents are in Australia this week.

Dawn(gets an odd look on her face, she doesn't get it):  Well then, you better go along with your sister to the hospital, they'll need you for the paperwork at the very least.

Trent(hadn't occurred to him yet):  You're right, come on Jess, Daria you with us or what?

Dawn(clearing her throat):  Uh, not so fast, General Philips wanted to have a talk with Ms. Morgendorffer here before we send her out to the hospital too.

Trent(eyes narrowing, he may or may not remember Philips like Jane did):  Oh.....really, Jess, you mind staying with Daria while I go with Janey?

(Their mistrust of the people around them is obvious after the encounter with the Colonel)

Jesse:  Cool, I won't let her out of my sight, man.

Trent:  Good.  See you later, Daria.

Daria(finally manages to reply without blushing):  Yeah, later.

(Trent heads after his sister through the rain which is beginning to taper off as soldiers and support staff hustle and bustle around the quarry and it's environs.  Dawn is still looking a bit confused, she's obviously not in on the cover-up.)

Dawn(watches him go and then starts re-stowing some of her gear in her uniform cargo pockets before looking at Daria again):  Nice guy.  You have a five alarm case of the "hots" for him, huh?

Daria(can't believe it, she groans and puts her head in her hands before replying):  Is it "that" obvious?

(Jesse is of course standing close-by but he misses the exchange as a familiar form dressed in the same load bearing gear and issue poncho as every other soldier appears out of the now drizzling rain and makes his way towards the back of the M2, General Philips is back.)

(Dawn immediately comes to the position of attention from her crouch next to Daria as soon as the General ducks under the tarp keeping the rain out of the vehicle, she salutes with precision as soon as he halts in front of Daria's sitting form)

Dawn(she's pretty by the book):  Sir, General sir!

General Philips(a bit gruffly but with obvious professionalism, he returns the salute):  At ease soldier, how are your patient's doing?

Dawn(comes to parade rest as soon as the General tells her):  Sir, I already had Ms. Lane moved to a local hospital due to the injuries she sustained, she is now stable and in relatively good condition given her initial wound, I was about ready to do the same thing with Ms. Morgendorffer here, Sir!

Philips(showing some obvious relief):  Good work Specialist, would you mind giving me and Ms. Morgendorffer a moment alone, please?  (He notices Jesse looking at him suspiciously)  And would you mind taking the fellow in the vest with you?

Dawn(takes it as an order):  Sir, yes, Sir!(she salutes again, neatly about-faces and prepares to take Jesse to the side with her, but he resists a bit)

Daria(looking up at Jesse):  Jess, it's okay, I have to talk to the General here, alone.

Jesse(looks like he might say no, but relents):  Okay, but don't go anywhere.

(Satisfied, he follows Dawn's lead)

(Daria lets the blanket fall a bit from around her shoulders as Philips looks down at her.)

Philips:  Do you mind if I sit down?

Daria(deadpan):  It's your tank.

Philips(sitting next to Daria on the door):  I'm...not particularly happy that this turned out this way.

Daria(getting angry, but still deadpan):  Yeah, bit harder to cover-up, huh?  How's the Colonel by the way? Trent filled me in on what he was planning.

Philips(can tell where this is going):  Right now, he's up for court-martial pending a full psychiatric evaluation, none of which makes my job any easier, but I hope you can understand why it has to be this way?

Daria(smirking and rolling her eyes a bit):  Oh, I can see the thought process behind the decision even if the decision in itself is a load of bullshit.  But is that all you really want?

Philips(he's been expecting this):  I realize you've been through a lot in the past twenty-four hours but..

Daria(starting to lose her glacial calm just a bit):  That's the understatement of the millenium.  My friends and I very nearly got killed today because you Pentagon guys are too scared to do your job's!

Philips(looking saddened):  I'm sorry you feel that way, but look at it from our perspective, if we went public about this thing we'd have farmer's shooting at shadows every time it gets hot!  The United States is just plain not ready to deal with this situation, we aren't even close.

Daria(subsiding slightly):  I suppose I can see that, but there are people out there who would think about this thing rationally and keep their heads and as long as the lie continues you never really know when it's going to stop or what the consequences will be when it does.

Philips(that same look of sadness we saw earlier):  You don't know how many times I've argued the same thing to myself awake nights dealing with this situation, but, in the end, it all boils down to a risk we can't afford to take. This planet can't sustain an open conflict with these things simply because if we lose, then everyone loses.  Do you understand?

Daria(that expression of resolve we saw much earlier):  I can understand it, but I can't accept it.

Philips(smiling grimly):  My friend and your friend's relative, Dutch Schaefer, couldn't accept it either... And that's really why I need her and your help.

Daria(definitely surprised):  My help?  How?

Philips:  Except for Dutch, easily one of the toughest human beings I've ever known, you and your friends are the first to survive a close encounter with these creatures, except for one or two other extremely rare cases. That makes you very valuable to me because we need to know more about these things and how they think.

Daria(looking tired):  There's no real secret there General, all of us were unarmed and that made us no fun by their standards, I guess.  If you think about that and how these things seem to be hunter's, it all adds up, when hunting isn't a challenge anymore, you don't do it.  My parents could learn a lesson from that now that I think about it.... But, in my honest opinion, we were really dumb and really lucky.

Philips(still searching):  That may be, but I also believe your native intelligence may have significantly contributed to your survival and with that assumption comes the possibility that you might have observed more about these creatures behaviour and technology than you can recall now, which brings me to my request.

Daria(isn't surprised):  Which is?

Philips(trying to look as harmless as possible):  A team of scientists and I would like your permission to discuss in detail with you everything you saw during your encounter. You would be doing your country a service of incalcuable value, if you agree.

Daria(definitely unimpressed): Gee, what a politely phrased request from the head of what appears to be a totally unaccountable military operation with all the hallmarks of the Gestapo..  I'm almost afraid to ask what the consequences of refusing would be?

Philips(a little angry but still trying to negotiate):  I don't play the kind of covert operations head games my subordinates are occasionally guilty of, child.  If you refuse to cooperate with me then that's the end of it, but I can't promise you other people with looser codes of ethics won't take an interest in what you know, that I can honestly tell you.

Daria(definitely heading for pissed off because of the implied threat):  I think I'd better make my final position clear.  Go to hell, General.  Go directly to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect 200 dollars and if you have any other "requests" you'd like to make, you can talk to my attorney.

Helen(from offscreen):  All right you overbearing, jack-booted, military thugs!!  You have approximately five seconds to let me see my daughter before I sue the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army and every Jack and Jill in this three ring circus wearing dog tags and greasepaint!!

Daria(smile):  Speaking of whom....
Philips(looking defeated):  Then can you at least answer me one question?

Daria(considers it a bit):  Why not...what?

Philips(standing back up):  What exactly is it with your mother, anyway?

Daria(deadpan once again, she winces as she finally manages to stand up):  Don't ask, just be quietly grateful you don't live with her.
(Philips is still looking rather troubled by the whole thing as Helen bursts onto the scene accompanied by Jake, commence reunion etc.)

Helen(gushing, surprisingly enough for her):  OH Daria, we were so worried when we heard what happened and we would have been here much sooner if not for these military moron's and your father's insane driving!!!!

Jake(swept up in the moment, doesn't notice Helen's anger):  Oh God, Helen, is my little girl okay!!!

(Totally oblivious, he immediately gives Daria a bear hug, like in the musical, which causes her to wince and catch her breath because of her ribs.)

Daria(having a little trouble talking):  Dad.....broken ribs......release...heel...desist...please..

(Spec. Dawn has just returned with Jesse in tow and has been watching from the sidelines, she immediately steps in to take the focus off Daria and her superior officer.)

Dawn:  Sir, would you mind releasing my patient, she's not too badly beat up, but frankly, you're not helping matters.

(Jake finally comes around while Helen, of course, focuses on the female soldier as her primary target.)

Jake(unsure again):  I'm terribly sorry....(he's been out of Military School too long to figure out the specialists subdued rank tabs) err Lieutenant?

Spec. Dawn(manages to hide her reaction to his screw-up in rank fairly well):  Specialist Joyce Dawn (offers him her hand) enlisted medical.....(Helen cuts her off).

Helen(not particularly happy):  Are you a doctor, Specialist?  And if not...General...

(Philips is again looking resigned and fiercely dignified preparing for another of Helen's legalese assaults)

Dawn:  No ma'am, I'm not, but I am a certified EMT technician with ten years of experience at Middleton shock/trauma ward along with the additional training I received during the past two years with the Army National Guard and Reserve. If you're wondering why I'm here and not someone with more rank that's because my unit happened to be on field maneuvers when the General heard about the crash and if that doesn't assure you enough, I'd also like to tell you that I'm very good at what I do, Mrs. Morgendorffer, as you yourself appear to be.

Helen(slightly mollified by the description and the off hand compliment):  I see......but if there is any question of negligence when our doctor looks her over...

Dawn(amazingly calm after that accusation):  There won't be Mrs. Morgendorffer and you can bank on that.

Jake(as out of it as usual):  Thank God!!

Helen(warning glance at Jake): Jake!  Let me handle this!  (Turning to Philips, she's not done with him yet.)  Well, with all of that out of the way, I'll be taking my daughter to a hospital without any additional interference from the U.S. Military.

Philips(Bristling a bit at Helen's obvious lack of respect but somehow keeping his cool, he is a General):  I want to thank your daughter and you personally madam for cooperating with us throughout this entire ongoing situation, you must understand that we aren't particularly happy about the accidental destruction of a United States Air Force vehicle due to an entirely unforeseen set of atmospheric conditions.  The fact that civilians were injured when the unmanned prototype crash landed is even more regrettable...

Helen(Smelling legal blood):  Oh please, don't think that you're going to get off the hook that easily!  I will personally be looking into this entire affair as soon as I'm sure my daughter won't be suffering any permanent injury due to the ludicrous levels of incompetence that led to this disaster!

Daria(deadpan, it isn't lost on her that her mother is more interested in the legal action than in getting her out of there):  Just the emotional trauma of seeing two equally overfed ego's go at each others throats while I stand here and.... (winces as she experimentally takes a step and gives up on the sarcasm, she's too beat) General, good luck with the spin control on the "crash." (It's obvious she's going to stick to the story since no one would believe the truth.)  That hospital sounds better and better..

(Daria's interjection is enough to get Helen back on what is most important, her eldest daughter, giving one last imperious look to Philips she immediately assumes command of the situation.)

Helen(back in charge):  Jake!  Get over here and help me get my daughter out of this uniform infested hole!  And as for you General, this is far from over...

(Daria quickly manages to fend off her father's attempt at picking her up but she does let him help her up the incline and straight to the family car which has been cordoned off from the media circus by armed soldiers, she manages a quick wave to tell Jesse she'll be fine before letting herself be hustled into the car.  Jesse looks momentarily clueless but then remembers the Trentmobile is still in the immediate area and the extra set of keys are still under the hood.  Philips is still slightly furious at Helen's temerity but he has a command to run and he finally composes himself and walks off.  Jesse is about to leave himself, but Dawn stops him and hands him Jane's much abused bag which he accepts before he thanks her for all her help to her apparent delight.  Neither of them notices the increased weight of the stripped down pack or the oddly curved sharp piece of metal that protrudes from a rent in the material, Jane or Daria obviously had the foresight to stash the proof of their battle before it drew any attention.  Jess then heads for Trent's car while the enlisted technician gets back to work as we zoom out to an overhead shot as what is left of the rain tapers off, the storm is over, for now......)

(Cue Predator Theme....as before, you'll just have to imagine it, we pause at the overhead shot then fade to black.....now we get a relatively close shot of Daria looking at us with her Mona Lisa smile, arms crossed near the cliff where she fell, sunset in the background then the shot freezes, we then get a montage of shots meant to be a Darianite version of the shots shown at the end of the first "Predator" film consisting of Dutch/Arnold S. and his supporting cast...in sequence we have...)

close-up, Jane, sitting with one leg up, part ways inside the "tank's" side door, she winks at the camera....

close-up, Andrea, dressed for basketball as before, standing, she catches a basketball from off screen and tucks it under her arm before inclining her head slightly from our perspective with no change of expression.

close-up, Upchuck, as seen in the first chapter being blown off by Quinn and Stacy...this shot is taken without acknowledgment of the camera however.

close-up, Trent, the way he looked when Jane first woke him up in chapter 3 at first, then he gives us that sly smile of his we all know and love straight at the camera.

close-up, Jesse, leaning against the side of Trent's car, he nods directly at the camera.

(we then fade to black and of course this little journey into the totally bizarre wouldn't be complete without.....)

                Originally starring...... Kevin Peter Hall as, the Predator.

(I know he's dead, but he deserves a mention as he was a great actor and a really nice guy who did a heck of a job as the star of the original Predator movie.  Besides, this is a fan fic and I can put in whoever the hell I want, nyah!)

        And that ladies and gentlemen concludes our little epic.  Now for some quick end notes.  First off, if you've been paying attention, you've probably noticed my deliberate bits of homage to action movies of all sorts including the scene with Jesse (that was a take off on the scene from the Predator movie where Billy gets killed, I think he and Jess look a lot alike).  I also had a lot of fun with Andrea's cameo in this fic and I've always wanted to make use of her character's alter ego's, at least once in any case.  Other parts include famous lines from such movies as "A Few Good Men" and the scene where Daria goes off after the Predator by herself was taken semi directly from the Simon&Bruckheimer actionfest "the Rock" (remember Jane's reaction?  That's also why the music, "Mason's Walk" from the movie soundtrack.).  Other than that, the story doesn't really end at this point, however, I was stuck on the epilogue for the whole thing and since it was taking so long to write out, I just did some quick editing and everything basically works now.  If anyone really cares, I can always release a director's cut version of this turkey but what are the odds of that happening?  As for the usual question, why bother doing this at all?, the primary reason is because I can and because you serious Daria fan fic reader's need some fluff every once in a while to balance out the heavy hitting, right on the money, fiction (like C.E. Forman's for example).  My hope for this piece to be totally honest is that, maybe, you read something hard hitting like one of Martin Pollard or Michelle K-H's stories and then say, "Wow, that was real tear-jerker, now I need something to lighten up on, hey "Daria Vs. Predator" what the hell."  That was always the stated purpose of the original "Predator" movie, to be a fun, Saturday afternoon, actionfest with a cool story and hopefully that's what you have here now that I'm done, something that doesn't take itself too seriously but still makes for an interesting read if you've got a few minutes and like action/sci-fi.  Or not, hey, you be the judge.
        In closing I figured I'd leave you with a bit of information about the character Colonel Vaught, in this story.  Obviously he looks like a pretty solid rip-off of the character from the movie "Predator 2" and I can't deny that that was my inspiration even though I brought General Philips from the first movie into the fic.  That's of course another point that doesn't seem very realistic in that, Philips was already pretty old in the first Predator film and how he would still be around now seems a little unlikely but (as in the world of the "Predator" novel's and comics) I like to think it's possible.  The name "Vaught" by the way (for the Colonel) is another bit of homage to another person entirely, specifically Brigadier General Jim Vaught who was an integral part of the failed "Operation Eagle Claw" who's objective it was to rescue American's held hostage in Iran.  After the mission failed in a horrendous debacle at "desert 1" the staging area for the Op, the General got hung out to dry along with his subordinate Colonel Charlie Beckwith, the man who single handidly designed and built Special Forces Detachment: Delta from the ground up and who would, I believe, have succeeded in his mission had he not been hamstrung by the multi-starred  bureaucrats and micro manager's in the Pentagon at the time.  Something very similar also happened to the original commander of SEAL Team 6 and General Vaught in my opinion, deserved a lot better than he got.  So that's our history lesson for today kids.  If you want to comment on or deride me for putting this sucker out, e-mail me at ncript@hotmail.com.   Have fun.

Bob Marley