Daria and Jane Go to the Moon
Part 1 Ė Ticket to Ride
Daria and Jane get invited to take a little trip.
"The failed assassination attempt in 1963 actually had the effect of assuring President Kennedyís re-election the following year." Dariaís glasses slipped down her nose; she pushed them back in place and continued to read her report. "His realization that the war in Vietnam was getting out of control led to the United States entering into negotiations with Hanoi and the war coming to an end in 1966."
"Still too late to prevent ME from having to spend a year in that CESSPOOLÖ" Mr. DeMartino muttered. "Just because the war only lasted a couple of years everyone IGNORES the poor Vietnam vetÖIím sorry, Daria. Please continue."
Daria sighed and went on. "It is speculated that if the war had gone on any longer, U.S. preoccupation with it would have had a detrimental effect on the Apollo Moon program, causing it to peter out after the first landings in the early 70ís, or perhaps being cancelled altogether. Instead, the lunar program continued, and thanks to recent breakthroughs in superconducting maglev launch technology, we have the beginnings of a thriving lunar base today."
"Thank you, Daria, for that intriguing report on the 1960ís space program," said DeMartino. "Please be seated." Daria returned to her desk. In the distance, a faint "whup-whup-whup" sound signaled an approaching flyover from the Lawndale National Guard post. As it got louder, a pensive look clouded his face. "War makes a MAN of you, they said. Two weeks in country and Iím in a squad set down to find a missing pilot north of Da Nang. I was LUCKY to make it back ALIVEÖ" He walked over to the window and stared, still muttering.
"Missing would be a good thing to be right now," Daria turned to say to Jane when she snapped her head back and stared into space. "MissingÖ. I thought something was wrong. Jane, whereís Andrea?"
"Andrea? Sheís right"óJane stopped. "Come to think of it, I canít recall seeing her since last year."
"Uh-huh. I havenít seen her in here or any other of our classes this year. How could we not notice that she hasnít been in school?"
Itís not like she keeps a high profile...I just assumed she was in a different class or something. Maybe she transferred to another school."
"Yeah, thatís probably it. I just thought it seemed strange."
"Look, Daria, If youíre really concerned, we can go check the PayDay after school today. If sheís still working there, we can ask her what sheís been up to."
The girl looked up from her laptop. This was D-Day, and they promised they wouldnít alert the media until she had this letter ready and sent. "Look, Ron, I appreciate the offer, but Iíve still got work to do, and it wonít finish itself. Maybe next time."
"Well, the new dome was finished this morning, and we wanted to have at least one game inside before they started on the interior."
"I know. Itís hard to play a decent game of basketball in the hangar; that ceiling is just too damn low. They keep saying theyíll devote a habitat to a gym eventually, but-"
"Itís not a high priority. Iíve heard it before. Well, if you change your mind, be at the entrance in about ten minutes." Ron left.
The girl set aside her laptop, strode over to the dispenser, and punched up a cup of coffee, extra sweet, extra cream. Her deadline could wait a few minutes, she thought as she looked out of the cafeteria window.
Sunrise was in a few minutes, and she never missed one if she could help it. She watched the construction equipment crawling in the valley below her, headlights twinkling while the first rays of the sun flared on the lunar peaks in the distance.
Daria sat at her desk in Computer Lab. "You know, I wish the National Guard would quit flying their Hueys over the school," she said. "Every time they do, Mr. DeMartino gets all gleamy eyed and starts telling us his war stories."
"Yeah, gleamy AND bloodshot," replied Jane, sitting next to her. "Someday heís gonna develop heat vision."
Jane logged on to the SSW website and clicked on to the trailer for tonightís show. "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! Secret Identity, the deodorant for superheroes, next on Sick Sad World!"
"Kevin bursting into flames? I can only hope," said Daria. She typed in her password and logged on herself. During her research on the space program she had stumbled onto a discussion site where a lively "What If?" argument was raging about what would have happened if Oswald had actually succeeded in killing Kennedy, and she was anxious to see what had been said in her absence. Before she could click onto the URL, Daria noticed she had mail. "Hmmm," she said, thoughtfully.
"Itís an e-mail with an attached file. The virus scanner says itís clean."
"Are you sure?" Jane asked.
"I updated it yesterday." Daria replied. "Besides, itís the schoolís computer. What do I care? "Lemme see who itís from." Daria studied the screen.
Daria read a couple more lines and let out a whuff of exhalation. "What is it?" asked Jane.
"Itís Andrea," Daria said, not taking her eyes off the screen. "Sheís on the Moon."
"Yeah, right. Artieís delivering pizzas again, eh?"
"Read for yourself," said Daria. Jane slid over and joined her.
In case you noticed, I guess you now know where Iíve been this school year. Why am I writing to you, of all people? Well, you and Jane, because I am assuming she is reading this with you; for reasons, which will become apparent later.
How did I get on the Moon? Well, it had to do with me trying to find a scholarship which would get me the furthest from Lawndale. Lunacorp was in the first year of its engineering scholarships, which not only paid full tuition, but also had a lunar intern program, the first tour taking place the freshman year.
I figured: what the hell? I did pretty well in Barchís classes, and at any rate it was better than that miserable job I had at PayDay. I applied. A few weeks later I discovered I was a finalist; they were going to interview me at LHS before they made their final decision.
I played it straight at the interview Ė just a blouse and slacks, and only a bit of makeup. I neednít have bothered, though; the interviewer came in, took one look at me, shook my hand and said, "Hi, Iím Rudy. Youíre a Goth, arenít you?" It turned out that he was one too, in college. He still liked to freak out unsuspecting colleagues.
The interview went pretty well. Lunacorp is always on the lookout for robotiscists, and I think that my research paper I did for Barch on VR and teleprescence sealed the deal.
During the interview, Rudy mentioned that they were looking for some new kind of publicity angle, perhaps inviting an artist or a writing student to come up to the base and give their stories to the press from a young personís point of view.
A flash of inspiration hit me. "I know where you can find bothÖ"
To make a long story short, he looked at some of your essays that OíNeal had copied and some drawings of Jane that Defoe had. "Hmmm. Shows promise," Rudy said with a gleam in his eye. "Iíll show my bosses copies of this stuff, and we may have an announcement to make."
"I can see Andrea getting a scholarship, but how did she keep it a secret?" Jane said. "I mean a Lawndale High student going to the moon? Ms. Li would get a heart attack just thinking about that kind of publicity."
I got the scholarship, and since I actually had enough credits for a diploma last summer, Li agreed to let me graduate early. I spent three months training Earthside and then hopped the Slingshot. Iíve been here at Shoemaker ever since, majoring in robotics and learning how to be a Lunatic.
"That explains Andreaís absence," said Daria, "but I would still like to know how in hell she managed to keep a thing like that out of the press?"
The intercom interrupted. "Ms. Morgendorffer, Ms. Lane, Please report to my office," it rasped.
"Iíve got a funny feeling I may know the answer," Jane said, listening.
I hate publicity, though, so I struck a deal with Lunacorp, and they did with Ms. Li. In exchange for my quietly getting out of Dodge, they get to announce their "Artists - To - The - Moon" program with all the pomp and fanfare their black little hearts can muster. Theyíre finally ready, so when you logged on today, this email was sent; and the press notified. Enjoy.
Daria clicked open the attached file. "Greetings," it said. "Lunacorp congratulates you and cordially invites you and Jane Lane to be our guestsÖ"
Liís voice again interrupted their reading. "Ms Morgendorffer, Ms Lane, we Ė er, Iím waiting."
Daria looked at Jane. "Oh, no!" she said. "I donít believe it!"
"Iím afraid so," said Jane. "Andrea got back at us for that whole PayDay thing by sending us to the Moon."
Daria swung around and faced Jane. "The Moon? No way. I donít even like field trips."
"Come on, Dar, Itíll be a blast."
"Very Funny, ĎValí. I think, though, that this is a little further out than New York. Besides, spacecraft havenít Ďblastedí in years. Itís more like Superman flinging a rock into the Sun. Thatís where the name Slingshot came from."
"Well, I think that itís a golden opportunity. I have books on space art by Bonstell, Freas and Summers. Last year, the Lawndale Museum had an exhibit by Al Bean. I spent almost an hour just gazing at one painting he did of an astronaut hitting a golf ball on the Moon, flying hundreds of yards away from him and his shipÖfrom the ballís perspective! He has remained the only artist who has ever been in space, and he took up art only after he had been to the moon. Can you imagine what a trained artist in space could create?" Jane had a faraway look in her eyes, no longer seeing Daria. "I may not get another opportunity like this the rest of my lifeÖ.Iíve decided." Janeís gaze returned to her friend. "With or without you, Daria, Iím going to the Moon. But Ė I would like my best pal with me."
"Youíre really passionate about this, arenít you?" said Daria. She thought. "I remember reading those early stories about trips to the Moon. I admit I daydreamed a lot after reading Clarke and HeinleinÖ. Okay. Iíll go. If I can sell my folks on it, that is."
As they approached the principalís office a sea of reporters standing at the door left Ms Li and rushed over to the duo, pushing cameras and microphones in their faces.
"How does it feel to be the first teenagers on the Moon?"
"Get that thing out of my face!" said Daria. "You know there are already-"
"How does it feel to be the first artists on the Moon?"
"Jane, are you going to paint something to mark this occasion?"
"Daria, we look forward to you sending us thrilling accounts of your sojourn to the starsÖ"
As the cacophony rose among shouts of Li yelling "For the glory of Llaaawndale High", Daria sighed and said to Jane, "Well, Tom always said he would follow me to the Moon. Letís see him put his money where his mouth is."
Andrea returned to her quarters, snapped on the light, and flung herself onto her bed, immediately bouncing back into the air. She grabbed a desk edge to steady her, and came down again with no further bounces. She loved the low gravity, but every once in a while, habits of a lifetime still took over. Her four hours in the telepresence lab were brutal. The visor pinched her neck, and the harness chafed. She really had to get it better adjusted before her next session.
She got up to and headed for the bathroom, intending to take a shower and a nap. Just then her door chimed. "Come in", she said, and the door, keyed to her voice, unlatched.
Ron burst past her and into the room. "Whereís your remote?" He spied it on the bed, grabbed it and tapped a couple of keys.
"Hey! Donít change that! Ralph matches my mood right now."
"Later. Look whatís on CNN!" Andreaís wall painting of a werewolf stalking a strolling couple on a fog enshrouded night in 1870ís London instantly became an announcer speaking over the graphics of Daria and Jane wearing bubble helmets riding a rocket, cowboy style, into outer space.
"-endorffer and Jane Lane have been chosen by Lunacorp to be the first participants in their "Artists To The Moon" internship program. This serves as more evidence that the Moon is fast becoming just another place to live and wo-" Andrea muted the sound.
"Is that all it takes to get to the Moon?" Ron quipped. "If I had known that, I would have just paid more attention in art class; forget all that physics stuff. DariaÖHmm. Arenít she and Lane the two friends youíre always going on about from high school?
"I never said they were my friends."
"Yeah, right. You just talk about them more than you do anyone else." Ron thought a bit. "Hey Ė did you know about this?"
Andrea chuckled. "Well, letís just say that I had a debt to pay."
Daria came through the front door and thoughtfully shut it behind her.
"Oh, hi, Daria," said Quinn. "Listen, could you give me a ride to Cashmans? All my usual guys have football practice and Mom wonít be home for two hours."
"Iím going to the Moon," Daria said woodenly.
"Look, Daria, if you donít want to take me, just say so, donít make up weird stories."
"No, really. Iím going to the Moon."
"Whatever. Just donít let them make you wear one of those horrible outfits with the big helmet thing, nobody looks good in something like that."
"Quinn Ė read my lips: I. Am going. To the Moon."
Quinn looked at Daria for a moment, then turned to yell up the stairs. "Daaad! Dariaís losing all sense of reality!!"
CYA time. I donít own Daria, I know who does, Iím not making any money off this, please donít sue. There, that should do it.
Authorís note: Yes, I do intend to send Daria and Jane to the Moon in later parts of this serial. This story got its start a couple of years ago while I was watching "From The Earth To The Moon". It got me thinking about the way it should have been; we should have Moonbases by now. I thought, Why not?" and came up with a ficlet about Andrea as a lunar explorer writing to Daria at home. Then I realized that I had to send Daria herself. Thus, the story as written. Tell me what you think.
My thanks to beta readers Robert Nowall, Gabby Patel, Um, and especially to Mike Yamiolkoski, who gave me permission to use his kitchen scene at the end.
January 19, 2002