Daria in 'In The End, I Can Be Only Numb'

Rated: R, for language, bloody wounds, and a few decapitations

Short summary:

Headless corpses are turning up in Lawndale, and Daria may be next. A Daria/Highlander crossover/parody.

Note: This story stands alone, outside of any continuity my other stories may have.

Daria (and associated characters and locations) is copyright © 1997-2000 MTV Networks

Highlander is copyright © 1986 by Highlander Productions, Ltd.

Song lyrics are copyright © 1991, Core Music Publishing.

This story is copyright © 2001 Mystik Slacker (mystik_slacker@hotmail.com) and has been written for personal enjoyment. No infringement of the above rights is intended. Besides, this is a parody, so there's legal precedent allowing me to use elements of a copyrighted work.

Intro, with title 'Daria, in "In the end, I can be only numb"':


Establishing shot: Exterior. The Zon - Night.

Interior. The Zon.

Another night at the Zon, Mystik Spiral is playing onstage, and the place is packed. Daria and Jane are surrounded on all sides by people trying to dance, drink, or do both, with limited success.

DARIA: (shouting) Trent's new amps are a quite loud, aren't they?

JANE: (shouting) What? Yes, it is quite a crowd!

DARIA: (shouting) No, I said it's loud!

JANE: (shouting) I can't hear you, the new amps are too loud!

DARIA: (shouting) I feel queasy, I think I'll go outside and get some air!

JANE: (shouting) What's wrong with your hair?

Daria heads for the door. Jane shrugs, and goes back to listening to the band.

Cut to: outside the Zon.

Daria steps out, and almost trips over someone being violently sick in the gutter. She holds her nose against the smell, and moves quickly down the sidewalk, passing a homeless person sleeping in a doorway. A lone light above the Zon entrance throws a dim light on the street; overhead the moon peeks in and out of the clouds, adding a slight amount of illumination. The overall effect is one of desolation.

DARIA: (aloud, speaking to herself) Ah, that wonderful nighttime urban ambience.

Behind her, the sound of footsteps approaches rapidly, she looks over her shoulder, and then turns as she sees the homeless person from the doorway following her. As he enters a shaft of light, we see that it's a man in a business suit, wearing mirror sunglasses, with a long London Fog style overcoat, and not a homeless person at all.

DARIA: Isn't it a bit dark for sunglasses?

The man takes them off.

MAN: Oh, that's better. I thought the streetlights were too weak. (beat) Well, I'd heard you were in town, but I didn't expect to find you this quickly.

Daria reacts with surprise.

DARIA: Huh? I think you've mistaken me for someone else.

MAN: No, I'm not likely to forget your face. Vazilek still bears the scar you gave him in Sevastopol, or he did, until last week.

Daria's really beginning to get weirded out, this man seems delirious. She puts her right hand in her pocket.

DARIA: Look, I don't want any trouble, but I'm armed and I will defend myself. Stay back.

The man stops, and reaches under his coat, as if for a gun.

DARIA: (voice over) Uh oh, and all I've got is pepper spray.

The man draws a long sword, and moves into a two-handed guard position.

MAN: Let's do it.

Daria freezes, incredulous.

DARIA: Are you nuts? If this is some crazy role-playing game, I'm not part of it!

MAN: Stop whining and draw your weapon.

Daria backs up slowly, as if preparing to run.

MAN: Are you going to die empty-handed? Where's that Barksdale courage?

Daria stops abruptly at the mention of her mothers' maiden name.

DARIA: Who the hell are you, and what do you have to do with my mother?

The man steps forward, and raises his sword. Suddenly there is a soft thud, and he jerks sideways. As his body falls to one side, his head separates and topples to the other. Behind him can be seen a shadowed figure, wearing an ankle-length greatcoat, and holding yet another sword, a long, curved, Japanese katana, with blood dripping from the blade.


The body hits the ground, and the second figure lowers its sword to a one-handed side hold. As Daria watches, sparks begin to outline the body and the head on the ground. Gradually they increase, and begin to arc into the standing figure, which thrashes as if being electrocuted. The light over the Zon entrance explodes, unnoticed by the drunk, who is now passed out in the gutter. The sparks die down, and all is quiet. The standing figure steps over the headless corpse, moving into a shaft of light from a second-story window.

DARIA: (shocked) Aunt Amy?

Amy Barksdale smiles, and wipes the blade of her sword with a cloth, then sheathes it.

AMY: Hello favorite niece, we need to talk.

Exterior. Amy's Car - Night.

Amy is driving her car, a convertible with the top down, along a residential street, with Daria riding beside her.

DARIA: Aren't you going to call the police?

AMY: They'd just arrest me for murder. I'd rather not deal with that right now.

Daria reacts with incredulous surprise.

DARIA: But it was self-defense! If you don't turn yourself in, and they catch you, it'll be much worse.

AMY: They won't catch me. I've had lots of practice avoiding the law.

Daria looks thoughtful.

DARIA: What's going on, anyway. That man seemed to know who I was, but he thought we'd met in Sevastopol, and I'd given someone named Vazilek a scar.

AMY: That was me. I looked even more like you when I was younger.

DARIA: You were in the Ukraine when you were my age? That would have been during the Soviet era.

AMY: Actually, it was during the Crimean War, in 1855.

DARIA: Funny, you don't look a day over thirty.

AMY: I bathe frequently in the blood of virgins, it's an old family beauty secret.

DARIA: What! (beat) So, that's what Quinn's been doing with all of her dates.

AMY: Kidding. (beat) Actually, I'm not really your Aunt. I'm your grandmother, a few "greats" back. I'm an immortal. One of many, including the now-headless Faisel back there, and his friend Vazilek, whom I killed in Highland last week.

DARIA: (don't scare the crazy woman tone) Okay. Do you kill people often?

AMY: I'm not crazy. (beat) Well, okay I am, but that doesn't have anything to do with this.

Amy pulls over on a deserted stretch of road.

AMY: Give me your hand.

Daria extends her right hand, and Amy takes it, pulls a knife and places the hilt in Daria's hand, then wraps her hands about it and proceeds to stab herself in the heart. Blood sprays over her hands, as she folds forward over the knife, releasing Daria's hand.


Daria pulls the knife back, and stares at the bloody blade, then at Amy, who's sitting back up, and breathing heavily.

AMY: Oh damn, that hurts! I always forget how much it hurts.

DARIA: You're alive.

AMY: Yep. It's a great party trick.

Amy restarts the car, and pulls out into the street. Daria checks the knife blade, and cuts her finger.

DARIA: Oww! That's a real knife. I really stabbed you. And you're still alive. What the hell?

AMY: Like I said, I'm an immortal. The only way to kill one of us is to cut the head off. Or to blow us into tiny pieces with a bazooka, but a sword draws much less attention in most cities.

Daria pulls some tissues out of her backpack, and cleans the knife and her hand off.

DARIA: So, why are you guys trying to kill each other, and how many more of these nutcases are running about, who might mistake me for you?

AMY: The gathering is upon us, and most of the others are dead now. There's probably less than a half-dozen left.

DARIA: The gathering? Is that some kind of convention of sword buffs?

AMY: The gathering is when we come together, to fight one-on-one to see who will survive. The winners gradually take on the energy of the losers, until in the end there can be only one, who will attain the prize.

DARIA: This sounds like the plot for a video game. (beat) And this prize isn't just a new suit of clothes to replace the ones you'll have spilled blood all over, am I right?

AMY: It's nirvana. Total cosmic consciousness. The ability to understand everything, to know everything. Godhead.

DARIA: I suppose I can see where that would be worth murdering a bunch of strangers, but it still seems wrong.

AMY: Hey, I didn't make the universe work this way. (beat) I'm just planning to be the one who remakes it in my image. When I'm God, there will be no more network television! No more MTV! No more sitcoms about FBI agents!

DARIA: It's nice to have a goal to live for. (beat) So, how long before you knock off the others, and I can stop hiding under my bed?

AMY: To be safe we're going to need to teach you to defend yourself. Your mother had you studying martial arts, right?

DARIA: Well, I took a self-defense course.

AMY: Any fencing or kendo?

DARIA: No, just Judo and pepper spray. The kind of skills that are useful in the real world.

AMY: I've always found swords useful. You just need to wear long coats year-round. And avoid post-offices, airports and stores with metal detectors. And not bump into people on the street who might notice a yard of steel strapped to your waist.

DARIA: Really useful, I can tell. (beat) So, does mom know?

AMY: About the gathering? No. She knows I'm some kind of relative other than her sister, but not who I really am. You'll need to come by my place tomorrow, and we can begin training you to fight.

DARIA: Your place? Isn't that a fairly long drive from here?

AMY: No, I've moved my antique business to Lawndale so I could be closer to my family. I'm in one of the buildings downtown, just past the town hall.

DARIA: Antiques. You must have an advantage in that line of work.

AMY: You'd be surprised. I've got warehouses full of junk that never came back into fashion. I still don't understand why spittoons aren't in more demand. Real estate has always been a better investment. But even there it's a crapshoot. I bought up all the land along a ten-mile stretch of the Erie Canal, and then some idiot invented the railroad.

DARIA: Gee, life as an immortal just sucks, doesn't it?

AMY: Well, no. I never age, and if I'm not a Rockefeller, I'm still quite wealthy.

DARIA: So, can anyone get in on this racket?

AMY: It's easy. You just have to die, and be the one person in ten billion who survives the experience.

DARIA: I think I'll pass.

AMY: (laughs) I thought you'd say that.

Amy pulls the car into the Morgendorffer driveway, and stops.

DARIA: Going to come in and say "hi" to mom?

AMY: No, I think the blood all over my shirt would spoil her appetite for dinner.

DARIA: It certainly had that effect on me, but that could have been just the stabbing part.

AMY: Sorry, but I needed to convince you. Did I?

DARIA: I don't know. I half believe someone spiked my drink at the club tonight, and I'm lying in an alley hallucinating.

AMY: Well, I'll call you tomorrow, and tell you it wasn't a dream.

DARIA: Gee, how can I thank you?

Daria climbs out of the car, and heads into the house. Amy pulls out of the driveway, and drives off.

Exterior. Lane House - Sunday Morning.

Daria walks up to the front door, and knocks. Nothing happens. She waits a while, then knocks again. Jane, who seems to be half asleep, eventually opens the door. Her hair is disheveled, and her eyes don't seem quite open. She peers at Daria, squinting against the bright sunlight.

JANE: Daria?

DARIA: Hi Jane, up already?

JANE: No. (beat) Where'd you go last night? The band was worried. Someone was murdered outside the club.

DARIA: I know. I was there.

Jane seems suddenly more awake.

JANE: Well, come on in, I'll make coffee and you can tell me about it after I wake up.

Interior. Lane Kitchen.

Daria and Jane are sitting at the kitchen table. Jane is cradling a steaming cup in her hands, and sipping from it. She's more alert now.

JANE: So, did you see who killed the guy? The police said there were no witnesses.

DARIA: Oh yeah. My Aunt Amy did.

JANE: Your Aunt was there? She saw who killed him? What didn't she go to the police?

DARIA: She killed him. With a sword. To keep him from cutting my head off. Because he thought I was her.

JANE: What WERE you drinking last night?

DARIA: I wish it was that easy. Amy called me this morning, to assure me it all really happened. When I stopped banging my head against the padding on the walls, I came over here.

JANE: Oh. (beat) So, why did this guy want to kill your Aunt?

DARIA: That's the part that I'm having difficulty with.

JANE: I'm having difficulty with all of this.

DARIA: Oh, it gets much worse. (beat) Amy says that she's immortal, and so are a bunch of other people. They all have to kill each other off, until the sole survivor becomes God.

JANE: So, now the question is, what was she drinking last night?

DARIA: I asked her pretty much the same thing last night. To prove that she was telling the truth, she had me stab her through the heart. There's dried blood under my fingernails to prove my memory is real. She sat back up and kept on talking.

JANE: Well, that proves she's related to Quinn, nothing shuts her up. (beat) Okay, so what comes next?

DARIA: You believe this?

JANE: Hey, I believe an obvious incompetent like Ms. Li was made responsible for several hundred innocent children. A belief in dueling immortals is easy.

DARIA: Good point. (beat) Now, I go downtown, to Amy's shop, and learn to defend myself. Want to come?

JANE: Try to keep me away!

Interior. Amy's Antiques.

Daria and Jane stand at a counter, in a stereotypical antique shop. Light filters dimly through dusty windows. A bell stands on the counter, next to an ancient cash register. Nobody is in sight.

Daria reaches forward, and rings the bell once.

AMY: (off-screen) Just a minute!

Amy enters through a curtained doorway behind the counter.

AMY: Daria! And you would be Jane, right?

JANE: If I could manage it, I would be.

Amy smiles.

AMY: Sarcasm, it's a great way to deal! (beat) Ready to start your training Daria?

Cut to: The shop's storeroom.

The storeroom has a few boxes piled around the outside, but the center has been outfitted with mats, giving the impression of a martial arts dojo. Racks of various types of swords stand along the edge of the room. Light fills the room from high windows along one wall.

Amy, Daria and Jane enter through a door. Daria and Amy are wearing padded white clothing, such as a fencer would wear.

AMY: Okay, lets get started.

Video montage:

Daria and Amy fencing with short, straight swords, with narrow blades. Daria is hit often, but doesn't hit Amy.

The two swashbuckling with curved sabers, looking like a fight scene from an Errol Flynn pirate movie. Daria actually hits Amy a couple of times, Amy hits Daria much more often.

The two flailing away with long, straight, two-handed swords, which seem to outweigh both of them. Daria doesn't appear to have the strength to manage her sword, and falls over several times. Amy isn't doing much better.

End video montage.

AMY: (panting) Well. (pant) I think you should stick with saber. (gasp) We don't have time for you to learn the finesse of real fencing, anyway, (pant) and you don't have the muscles for a broadsword. (gasp) Neither do I, for that matter.

DARIA: (also panting, but not as badly) For someone who's been doing this for several centuries, you're really out of shape.

AMY: I've been meaning to give up cigarettes for twenty years now, but when you've been a smoker as long as I have, it's not that easy to quit. (beat) Besides, I haven't had to fight with a sword in eighty years.

DARIA: So, how did you manage to kill Vazilek over in Highland last week?

AMY: (smiling) The same way I killed Faisel. From behind. Never give a sucker an even break.

DARIA: Works for me.

AMY: (serious) There's one thing you need to understand. Being related to me, even if it doesn't give you any benefits, makes you a target. You won't always have the luxury of waiting for someone to attack you. If you see someone else who appears to be one of us, strike first. Surprise is your only chance of survival, with the level of skill you have.

DARIA: That isn't much of a chance.

AMY: I'd like to say something reassuring, but the reality is that your odds of surviving the next week aren't good. (beat) Another thing: You are safe only on holy ground. None of us will violate that law. It's tradition.

DARIA: Any holy ground? Does the shrine to Trent in my closet count?

AMY: The bigger the religion, the better, but even a small shrine is safe if it has a large group of worshippers. I wouldn't bet your life on the shrine in your closet.

JANE: I don't know, Daria and Trent have lots of worshippers.

Amy raises her eyebrows, but doesn't reply.

DARIA: So, how long do I have before the vultures start to gather?

AMY: They're probably already here.

Interior. Flophouse Motel - Day.

This motel has seen better days. Long ago. On a post-card from Atlantic City. It's run down, and occupied now by people who have no other alternative and by those who want privacy.

A large, mean-looking man, the Kurgan, wearing a torn black leather jacket, with chain mail on the shoulders, stands before the desk clerk, checking in.

CLERK: It's twenty dollars a night. Another five if you want a phone. In advance. No noise after eleven. No long-distance calls. There's a payphone in the lobby if you need it. Name?

The Kurgan speaks as if his larynx is full of sand. A dry, raspy sound, that belongs in a tomb.

KURGAN: Freddy Kruger.

The clerk looks up. The Kurgan smiles, an evil expression, the clerk writes the name in his ledger.

CLERK: Right, Mr. Kruger. Do you want a phone?


CLERK: That'll be twenty dollars.

The Kurgan pulls a wad of bills from his pocket, peels off two tens, and slams them on the counter.


CLERK: Here's your key. Room 120. Sleep well.

KURGAN: I don't sleep.

CLERK: (bored) Fine, whatever.

Exterior. Downtown Lawndale - Day.

Daria and Jane exit Amy's Antiques, and walk down the sidewalk. Daria's jacket has an obvious bulge on the left.

DARIA: Well, that was fun. I can't wait to try sneaking a saber into school tomorrow.

JANE: Think of it as a challenge.

DARIA: I'm thinking of it as a good excuse to stay home sick all week, but I can't figure out how to explain it to mom.

JANE: Tell her the truth?

DARIA: Right. Mom, your sister is really your great-great-great-grandmother. She's teaching me to fight with a sword so I can defend myself from murderous immortals while she waits to become God. I need to stay home from school this week because they can't tell the difference between a seventeen-year-old high-school student and a four-hundred-year-old swordswoman. That'd work for sure.

JANE: Well, it would probably get you sent to a nice quiet place with a lock on the door.

DARIA: If I thought I'd be safe there, I'd go for it in a flash. But I can't help thinking I'll be better off if I'm able to try to defend myself.

The Kurgan steps out of a doorway ahead of the two girls, drawing a very long broadsword.

KURGAN: You'd be better off hiding, but it's too late for that.

He swings, as Daria leaps back, trying to draw her sword, which seems to be caught in her jacket.

DARIA: Oh damn, I'm not ready for this. (to Jane) Go get Aunt Amy, I'll hold him off.

Jane looks rather doubtful at this, but runs back the way they came anyway. Daria finally gets the sword out. It's a saber, which looks quite small and light compared to the Kurgan's sword.

KURGAN: You call that a sword? THIS is a sword!

He swings, Daria actually manages to deflect the swing enough to duck under it. He steps back.

KURGAN: Heh, little girl, you're better than you look. I missed you in Highland last week. Well, ex-Highlander, I won't miss this time.

He swings again, as Daria goes to block, he pulls back, the swing was just a feint. While she's off balance, he thrusts straight forward, and a foot of bloody steel emerges from Daria's back. He pulls the sword out, and she crumples to the ground. He raises his sword overhead, for a decapitating blow, and as he brings it down, it's blocked by another sword. Amy has entered the fight.

AMY: Why don't you pick on someone your own size?

KURGAN: I'd rather fight helpless little things like you.

The two trade blows, as Jane goes to Daria, and lifts her head up on her lap.

DARIA: (weakly) Well, I'd expected to survive a little longer than this.

JANE: Hush, I called 911 and the ambulance is already on the way. You'll pull through.

DARIA: (weaker) I don't think so. I can't feel anything, and I'm cold. I think he hit something important.

Daria's head flops backwards, and Jane bends over her.

Cut to: Amy and the Kurgan, fighting.

Sirens can be heard in the distance.

AMY: The police are on their way. You can't kill me before they get here.

KURGAN: No, probably not. Another day, then.

With that, he turns and runs down the street, ducking into an alley. Amy sheaths her sword (she's still wearing the greatcoat), and walks over to Jane.

AMY: How is she?

JANE: (wails) I can't find her pulse! She's dead!

Amy looks down at Daria's body, her face a mask of anger.


Interior. Hospital Waiting Room.

Amy paces nervously about the room, while Jane just sits in a chair, with a vacant look on her face. As they wait, Helen charges into the room.

HELEN: (fast, nervous) Amy, I came as fast as I could, how's Daria?

Amy turns to Helen, with a sad look on her face.

AMY: She's in surgery. No word yet. But she was clinically dead when we arrived.

Helen stops, all expression wiped from her face.

HELEN: (in a small voice) My baby?

Amy walks Helen over to one of the couches, and sits her down.

HELEN: (weakly) What happened?

Amy looks like she's trying to decide what to say. While she's thinking, Jane looks up.

JANE: (wooden, lifeless voice) She saved my life.

Helen looks over at Jane.

HELEN: Jane, what happened? How did she save your life?

JANE: (wooden) The guy with the sword. She fought him. While I ran for help. He killed her. So I could get away.

HELEN: (incredulous) She fought someone with a sword? How?

The doors open, and a doctor walks in. He goes up to Amy.

DOCTOR: Ms. Barksdale, are you the next of kin?

Helen stands up, relieved at having a situation she can deal with.

HELEN: I'm Daria's mother. How is she?

The doctor looks at Helen, and takes a deep breath.

DOCTOR: I'm sorry ma'am. We did everything we could, but we couldn't save her. The wound was too severe, and she'd lost too much blood.

Helen stumbles back, and collapses on the couch. Jane doesn't react. Amy seems disappointed, but not surprised. The doctor turns to Amy.

DOCTOR: We've put her in one of the rooms down the hall, so you can see her. We'll need to move the body to the morgue in a half-hour or so.

AMY: Thank you.

The doctor exits. Amy bends down to Helen.

AMY: Helen? (beat) Helen?

Helen looks up, with tears streaking her face.

AMY: You should come see her. It will be easier to deal with if you confront it now.

Helen nods, and slowly stands up. Jane just sits there.

HELEN: Jane, would you come with us? Amy's right, we should accept this now. It will be easier in the long run.

Jane doesn't respond, but she stands up. Moving stiffly, like a puppet.

Cut to: a hospital room.

Daria's body lies on a bed, with a sheet pulled up over it. There is blood on the sheet around the chest.

The three women walk up to the bed, and Helen pulls the sheet down so they can see her face. Helen brushes her hand softly across Daria's cheek.

HELEN: (softly) My poor baby. She's so cold.

Helen turns to Jane and Amy, with a determined look in her eyes.

HELEN: (strictly business) Okay, you two. I want some explanations. What was my daughter doing fighting some psycho who was armed with a sword? She knows... (Helen catches herself) ...knew, better than to try Judo against a blade if she could run.

JANE: (still lifeless) She had a sword too. She held him off, so I could run. If we'd both run, he'd have killed us both.

Helen turns her gaze on Amy.

HELEN: I don't need to guess where she'd get a sword, but if you were going to arm my daughter, why not a gun?

AMY: I run an antique store, not a gun shop. Besides, a gun wouldn't have changed anything. He caught them by surprise; she'd have been dead long before she could have pulled the trigger. He only waited for her to draw the sword because he likes a challenge.

JANE: It's all my fault. If I hadn't been distracting her with talk about school, maybe she'd have seen him coming in time for us both to run away.

Helen looks at Jane, with a maternal look.

HELEN: (firm, but not harsh) No Jane, you can't take responsibility for someone else's behavior. Daria wasn't a fool. I'm sure she knew just how little skill she had with a sword. You were in a no-win situation. If she chose to fight him so you could escape, I'm sure she knew what was likely to happen.

Helen pauses, and takes a deep breath.

HELEN: There are some causes worth dying for. I don't mean the big causes. Politics. Ecology. The Super Bowl. But the little causes. Friends. Family. Innocents. My daughter gave her life, so that someone else could live. What could be nobler than that? Dulce et decorum est. It is right and proper, what she did.

JANE: (angry) But she's still dead! What's so right about that?

Unnoticed, as they speak, Daria blinks, and opens her eyes.

DARIA: (weakly) Nice speech mom, are we back in the sixties? Damn, my chest hurts. Can someone ask a doctor for some painkillers?

Helen collapses soundlessly on the floor. Jane leaps forward, and grabs Daria in a bear hug.

DARIA: (weakly) Oww! Not the chest, not the chest!

Amy looks past Jane to Daria, and smiles.

DARIA: (stronger) What's all the excitement about?

AMY: You died. And survived. One in ten billion. Maybe it's inherited. How's it feel to be immortal?

DARIA: Painful.

AMY: Get used to it. Life is pain.

DARIA: Shouldn't someone wake mom up?

AMY: I'll call the doctor. They'll probably be relieved to have a simple fainting to deal with. At least until she recovers enough to start suing everyone in sight for malpractice.

Fade out and back in.

Daria lies in bed, with Jane and Amy in attendance. Helen is no longer in the room.

JANE: I need to call my sister. Can I use the phone at your store, Amy? Trent forgot to pay the bill, and our long-distance service cut off international calls.

Amy seems a bit distracted, and hands Jane a key ring without seeming to pay much attention.

AMY: Sure Jane, don't worry about the cost.

DARIA: Which sister?

JANE: Penny. There's some stuff I need her help with. (beat) You going to be okay here?

DARIA: Sure, as long as no homicidal bikers crash the joint.

AMY: I'll be here. Don't worry Jane.

Jane heads for the door.

JANE: I'm not worried. I'm mad. Nobody messes with my friends.

With that, Jane exits.

DARIA: Jane seems upset. What happened while I was dead?

AMY: You died. It's not the sort of thing friends get over easily.

DARIA: But I'm back.

AMY: Grief isn't a light switch. Give her a few days and she'll be fine. I imagine she needs someone to talk to, and her sister's the one. Where is her sister, anyway?

DARIA: Somewhere in Central America, last I heard. Selling handcrafts.

Helen enters with two men, police detective Frank Moran and his partner. Frank is a heavyset, middle-aged man, and the partner is younger and thinner.

HELEN: Excuse me, Amy, the police have some questions for Daria.

AMY: Okay, I'll be in the hall.

Amy leaves, Helen remains with the two officers.

FRANK: Ma'am, if it's okay with you, we'd like to talk to your daughter alone.

HELEN: It most certainly is not all right. I am both her mother and her attorney, and anything you need to say to her you'll say in my presence.

Frank sighs, and turns to Daria.

FRANK: Young lady, you've had a stressful day, and I don't want to add to it. But, so far, you, your friend, and your Aunt are the only witnesses we have who can identify the killer. I have a police artist's sketch we did from your Aunts description, and I'd like you to look it over and tell me if you remember any other details. I'd also like to hear anything else you might know that could help us identify or locate him.

Frank waves to the other detective, who hands Daria a sketch. Daria studies it for a while.

DARIA: Amy has a good memory. There's nothing I can add to this.

FRANK: Anything else? Any idea why he picked you and your friend as targets? He's always gone for solo male targets before this.

DARIA: Maybe we were just convenient. He seemed to have been waiting in the doorway for someone to walk by.

FRANK: Fair enough. (beat) Now, you were carrying a sword, which is illegal in this town as it happens. Could you tell me why, and where you got it?

HELEN: Daria, don't answer that. (to Frank) Detective, you seem to have forgotten to read Daria her rights, and I don't think we'll be answering any questions along this line even if you do.

FRANK: Ma'am, we're not charging your daughter. The DA's office might, but I think it's unlikely given the circumstances.

HELEN: Unlikely or not, what she says to you can be used as evidence against her later, even if you don't collect it for that purpose.

FRANK: (annoyed) There's a killer out there lady. He stabbed your daughter. He's killed at least two other people. Do you want to sit here and argue legal technicalities while he's stalking his next victim?

HELEN: No, but I won't let my daughter incriminate herself under any circumstances. You want her to talk freely, get me a written agreement from the DA's office that they won't prosecute on the weapons possession charge.

Frank turns to his partner.

FRANK: Go call 'em. See if they can fax us something. (to Helen) Do you mind if I continue on other subjects?

HELEN: Of course not. Go right ahead.

FRANK: (turning to Daria) Had you ever met the killer before, or seen him around? I know you were at the club Saturday night before the first man was killed, and you left early. Did you see him there?

Helen is surprised, she doesn't seem to have known that Daria was at the Zon that night.

DARIA: I never saw him before. I would have remembered. I left early Saturday because I wasn't feeling well, and walked home to clear my head. There was a drunk sleeping in the gutter right in front of the door, but nobody in a biker jacket. The Zon doesn't really get the biker crowd anyway, and certainly not when Mystik Spiral is playing.

FRANK: It's just a coincidence that you've been near this "Headhunter" twice now, and are still alive?

HELEN: Detective, are you suggesting that my daughter is somehow involved in these murders? If so, you'd better have something stronger than coincidence to back up that suggestion.

FRANK: No ma'am, I'm not suggesting anything. Just making an observation.

Fade out and back in.

The other detective enters the room, and hands Frank a paper. Frank reads it, and hands it to Helen, who also reads it.

HELEN: Okay, Daria, you can tell them anything about the sword that you want to.

DARIA: There's not much to tell. I was worried about being out on the street with only a pepper spray, so I swiped it from a case in Aunt Amy's shop.

Helen shows some surprise at this statement, since she knows Amy gave Daria the sword, but the police are not looking in her direction.

FRANK: That's about what we expected. Did you know that sword's an authentic civil war cavalry saber, probably worth ten or twenty thousand dollars before today?

Daria is surprised that Amy would casually give her such an expensive weapon, but the detective assumes her reaction is because of the cost.

FRANK: Yeah, surprised me too. Such a plain little thing. Hope your Aunt wasn't too attached to it.

AMY: (from the doorway) It's a sword, my niece means a lot more to me. In any event, if it were really valuable, I'd keep it locked up.

FRANK: Ten thousand dollars isn't valuable?

AMY: Hell no, I've got paperweights worth more than that, the sword is one of the cheaper items in the store.

FRANK: (shaking his head) Sheesh. And people buy this stuff? (turns to his partner) C'mon, we're out of here. (to Helen) Thank you for letting us talk to your daughter.

The two detectives leave. Helen walks over to Daria, as Amy waits just inside the door.

HELEN: And when were you going to tell me you'd been at the scene of the first murder?

Daria looks guilty.

DARIA: Um, I didn't want to worry you. It's not like I saw him there. I didn't even know he'd killed anyone until later.

HELEN: Worry me. I'm a parent, it's my job. (softer) I'm glad you're all right sweetie. Do you need anything from home? They're going to keep you here overnight for observation, but I can bring you anything you need.

DARIA: Thanks mom, but I'm fine. I've got some books to read in my pack. If I'm getting out of here tomorrow, I could use some clean clothes, and another jacket, before I leave. I expect the old ones are too bloody to wear.

HELEN: I'm sure they are, dear.

Helen goes over, and gives Daria a gentle hug, avoiding her sore chest.

DARIA: Mom, did anyone tell dad I was in the hospital?

HELEN: Jake? Oh God, I was going to call him after I checked on you, and then you died... (Helen looks a bit disturbed by what she just said) Uh, or whatever happened. I'll drive to work and tell him in person. Bye!

Helen runs out the door.

DARIA: (to the swinging door) Bye mom, say "hi" to dad for me.

AMY: Be nice, Daria, she's had a bad day.

DARIA: I know, but to forget to tell dad I was in the hospital?

AMY: Anyway, I'm going to stay with you tonight, just in case the Kurgan decides to come back. When you leave tomorrow, keep a low profile. I'll get you another sword after you're home, and we can practice in your basement. The shop's not safe now.

DARIA: But Jane went there!

Amy looks blank, and then remembers giving her keys to Jane.

AMY: Damn, what was I thinking? Well, he's probably nowhere near there, but I'll go check just to be safe. There's a big policeman in the hall, which should buy you enough time to run if he comes here. I'll be back as soon as I can.

DARIA: Just go! And call me when you know Jane is safe.

Exterior. Downtown Lawndale Sidewalk - Day.

Amy is walking down the sidewalk, glancing about her frequently. The only other person in sight is an African-American man wearing a sandwich board sign (two large boards, front and back, connected by straps over the shoulders). The sign reads: "Tonight at McGrundy's Pub. Mystik Spiral. Limited Engagement". The paint on the sign is faded with age.

As Amy walks up, she gives a start of recognition. We, too, recognize the man, it's Andrew Landon.

AMY: Kastagir, what's with the sign?

ANDREW: Hello Amy, I'm going by Andrew these days. (beat) The sign's a disguise. I figure nobody would expect to find an entrepreneur in a job like this. Besides, do you know how hard it is to find clothing that will hide a sword, without looking like a reject from The Matrix?

Amy, who's still wearing the ankle-length greatcoat, blinks, as if this is a new thought.

AMY: Have you considered a caftan?

ANDREW: That's so stereotypical! Just because I'm Black, I should look like I wandered out of the desert last week?

AMY: And this is better?

ANDREW: Well, no, but it is good advertising.

He turns around, on the back of the sign is the legend: "Folding Coffee Cups. Just $2 with a large coffee. Lunchtime at McGrundys."

He turns back.

ANDREW: My daughter phoned earlier to tell me your niece had been attacked, and taken to the hospital. Is she...?

AMY: Dead? No, she managed to hold the Kurgan off until I could get there. She's punctured, but that will mend. How do you have a daughter, anyway? Immortals can't have children.

ANDREW: Two daughters and a son, actually. I think my wife is cheating on me.

AMY: You think? Aren't you sure?

ANDREW: Well, she claims it's parthenogenesis. How did you end up with a granddaughter?

AMY: Immortals can't have children, but nobody ever said we couldn't have kids before we became immortal. I was a teenaged mother. I've tried to raise my family to a better standard.

ANDREW: That line might fool someone else, but I've known you for too long. Do you remember how you got into the duel on Boston Common?

AMY: The duel? (embarrassed) Oh no, I thought you were too drunk to remember that.

ANDREW: Hell no, that was the best entertainment I had that century.

Cut to: Flashback, Boston Common.

Two men in American Revolution era clothing stand in a field, overlooked by brick houses. They are preparing to fight with swords. One man looks suspiciously like Amy. Both appear slightly drunk, and weave as they walk. Various supporters and onlookers run about in the background, among them is Andrew Landon.

Superimposed title: Boston Common, 1783.

BASSETT: Are you ready Barksdale?

AMY: (slurred speech) I was born ready.

The two face off, and salute with their swords. Amy's eyes seem to cross as she looks at the blade in front of her.

AMY: Oh my, you can see the river in the edge of the blade.

As she stands there, Bassett staggers up, and runs her cleanly through. She collapses. One of his seconds runs up, ineffectually brushing at him with a handkerchief.

SECOND: Oh, very well done sir. He never saw it coming.

Bassett turns around, and begins to weave away from Amy drunkenly. Amy stands back up.

AMY: Wait, sir, we are not done here.

Bassett stops, with a surprised look, and turns back to face Amy. He raises his sword, and moves towards her, Amy moves to meet him.

BASSETT: I missed? Damn, that's good whiskey!

Bassett steps up, casually beats Amy's sword aside, and runs her through. She collapses. He turns and begins to walk away. The Second runs up and brushes lint off his shirt. Amy stands back up.

AMY: Wait, sir.

BASSETT: God damn!

Bassett looks at his sword, it's bloody. He turns, and looks at Amy. Her shirt is bloody.

BASSETT: Damn you, man, have the decency to die when I kill you!

He raises his sword, and starts toward her.

AMY: Sir, I apologize for trying to kiss you. I was drunk. (beat) I am drunk. And honor has been satisfied. (she looks at her chest) And I'd forgotten how much it hurts. Can we call it a day?

BASSETT: I suppose so. I need to go buy a new sword anyway, this one's defective.

End flashback. Return to Amy and Andrew in Lawndale.

AMY: That was quite the duel.

ANDREW: (chuckles) Yes. You know, it would never have happened if you hadn't tried to out drink Sam Adams. The man was a fish.

AMY: But he didn't kiss like one.

Exterior. Alley behind Amy's Antiques - Day.

The alley is a dead end, wide enough for a delivery truck, despite several trash dumpsters along one side. Amy's convertible is parked beside the back door to the store. Jane sits in the convertible, while Amy stands next to it.

JANE: Are you sure it's okay for me to take your car?

AMY: Yes, just leave it at the hospital, I'll take a cab there as soon as I make sure the store is secure, and I won't need it until Daria is released tomorrow morning.

Jane nods, and drives away. Amy watches until she turns the corner onto the street, then turns to reenter the store.

KURGAN: (off screen) Going somewhere?

Amy turns, and sees the Kurgan step out from behind a dumpster. He draws his sword, and Amy draws hers.

AMY: Back so soon?

KURGAN: I wouldn't want to keep you waiting. You and the African are the last two, and then I'll have the prize.

Amy smiles, relieved that he doesn't know about Daria.

AMY: Confident, aren't you?

KURGAN: You're a soft female. Even if you tried, you'd never be as good as me, and you never really tried to learn the sword. Amateur!

He lunges, weilding his heavy sword one handed. Amy parrys, and returns the swing, cutting him superficially across the chest.

AMY: You were saying?

The Kurgan takes his sword in both hands, and swings with more strength. Amy dances back out of his reach, and as his momentum takes the sword past her, lunges forward, skewering his left shoulder. He grimaces.

KURGAN: Are you forgetting I'm an immortal? A little pinprick like that won't stop me.

AMY: Just shut up and fight.

The Kurgan returns to using only his right hand, his left arm seems stiff from the injury. The circle each other, feinting and disengaging without either ever launching a serious attack. In the middle of one feint, Amy suddenly steps forward, within his reach, and swings her sword at his neck with both hands. He jumps back, and the sword cuts a long gash across the front of his throat. Bloody, but it doesn't seem to slow him down.

AMY: Getting weaker? Even an immortal feels pain, and is weakened if he loses enough blood.


While Amy is talking, he begins a swing, and as Amy moves to parry, he changes to a thrust, running Amy through just above the waist.

AMY: Oh, damn, I'd forgotten how much that hurts!

KURGAN: Now who's losing blood?

Amy throws herself backwards, off the blade, but stumbles. She's moving slower, and with less self-assurance than she was earlier. He moves in, and presses her with a continuous series of attacks. She avoids or parrys them, but is obviously on the defensive. During one parry, she loses hold of her sword, and it spins off to the side, into a pile of trash. Before she can move to regain it, the Kurgan takes advantage of her loss, and swings, taking her head clean off.

KURGAN: Ha! One more to go, and then it's all mine!


Exterior. A Car - Monday Night.

Mr. DeMartino, wearing camouflage fatigues, is driving through downtown Lawndale. On the seat beside him is an Uzi sub-machinegun. As he passes alleys, he slows to look down them, shining a spotlight attached to the outside of the car around to illuminate them.

DEMARTINO: (talking to himself) It's quiet tonight, TOO quiet. There's a MADMAN around, and nobody is SAFE. I've GOT to be on my GUARD. He COULD be anywhere.

As he passes the village green, a grassy park with a statue and a couple of park benches, plus a few shrubs and trees, something catches his eye. He stops the car suddenly, and looks out. Following his gaze, we see two silhouetted figures fighting with swords on the grass, next to the statue.

DEMARTINO: (talking to himself) Hot DAMN, this is IT!

Cut to: exterior view of the green.

He grabs his gun, and exits the car. Moving across the green in short runs, from shrub, to tree, to shrub.

DEMARTINO: (talking to himself, quietly) Hut, hut, hut. Two men with SWORDS, but which is the KILLER? Hut, hut.

He stops behind a shrub, about fifteen feet from the two. We see that the two are Andrew Landon and the Kurgan. Andrew is wearing a business suit. The sandwich board lies abandoned in the background.

ANDREW: It's just you and me now, isn't it? Amy was the last of us.

KURGEN: And when I have taken your head as I did hers, the prize will be mine!

He swings, and Andrew parries. The two seem evenly matched. DeMartino has been listening, and overhears the comment about Amy. He rises from behind his shrub, pointing the Uzi at the Kurgan.

DEMARTINO: Drop your WEAPONS! You killed Amy Barksdale, and I WON'T hesitate to SHOOT if I have to!

The two ignore him, and continue trading blows. DeMartino jerks the slide on the Uzi to chamber a round, and yells:


Andrew, distracted, looks over at DeMartino. The Kurgan swings, knocking his sword aside, then quickly reverses, taking his head off. DeMartino yells, and fires his gun into the Kurgans chest, stitching him with numerous bullet holes, until the clip empties. Yelling all the while.


The Kurgan lurches backwards against the statue, until the gun goes silent, then he quickly moves forward and runs DeMartino through with his sword. DeMartino collapses against the back of a park bench with a look of surprise, and lies back, holding his bleeding torso with his hands. The Kurgan moves back to Andrew's body, and throws his arms wide, as the electrical sparks begin to fly, shorting out the park lighting.

The sparks die down, and the Kurgan stands there, motionless for a short while.

KURGAN: (frustrated yell) Where's my damn prize?

Interior. Hospital Room - Tuesday Morning.

The two police detectives are interviewing DeMartino. The sun shines brightly through an uncurtained window.

DEMARTINO: I'm telling you, I put a FULL clip into his chest from ten FEET away! And it didn't even SLOW him down! He's not HUMAN! I was in 'NAM, and I never saw ANYTHING like it!

FRANK: And after you shot him, he cut off Mr. Landon's head?

DEMARTINO: Yes, and THEN there were electrical SPARKS all over the place, and the PARK lights exploded!

FRANK: What did he do to cause the sparks? Did he cut a wire or something?

DEMARTINO: He didn't DO anything, they just HAPPENED!

FRANK: And you say he admitted to killing Miss Barksdale?

DEMARTINO: Yes! Yes! Good God man, WHAT are you doing in here TALKING to me? There's a madman LOOSE out there, and we're all helpless! DO something!

FRANK: We're doing everything we can, but right now we need to learn what you know.

DEMARTINO: I'm a TEACHER dammit, I don't KNOW anything! There's an invulnerable MADMAN with a sword running AROUND town, there are black helicopters flying over Lawndale, and you're wasting TIME here!

FRANK: Black helicopters?

DEMARTINO: Yes, helicopters. I SAW one outside the window not more than an HOUR ago. Black, no numbers, lots of ANGLES, probably a stealth configuration.

FRANK: And what makes you think this has anything to do with the swordsman?

DEMARTINO: Isn't it obvious? INVULNERABLE supermen, black helicopters? He's an ESCAPED supersoldier, and the CIA is trying to recover him BEFORE he blows their cover!

FRANK: Right. We'll look into that. (beat) You don't know anything else? You didn't see anyone else, or his car, or a motorcycle, anything?

DEMARTINO: No, nothing!

FRANK: Very well sir, there'll be a policeman outside your room. If you think of anything, tell him and he'll get word to me. Thank you for your cooperation.

DeMartino just stares at them, and they turn and exit the room.

Cut to: the hallway.

Frank turns to his partner.

FRANK: What do you think?

PARTNER: He's paranoid. We can't trust anything he says. Black helicopters, Christ, what next, little green men?

FRANK: Yeah, if he'd really hit him with a clip from that Uzi, we'd have a second corpse to look at. (beat) Did the Morgendorffer girl leave her house last night?

PARTNER: Nope, the surveillance team said she was in the living room with her parents until 11:30, then she went to bed. They had her under visual observation when DeMartino was stabbed. Should we pull the team? We need them elsewhere.

FRANK: Not yet, she's our only lead.

Interior. Church - Later that day.

Daria is sitting, alone, in the front pew, wearing her usual clothes. Aunt Amy lies in a coffin at the front of the church, with only her face visible. Various altar boys move about the church, lighting candles, but none are near. The Kurgan walks down the aisle, and stands beside Daria.

KURGAN: She's dead. Why do you bother sitting here? It's not like she's going to know.

Daria starts, and stares up at him with a panicked look. Then remembers what Amy had said the other day.

AMY: (voice over) You are safe only on holy ground. None of us will violate that law. It's tradition.

DARIA: It doesn't matter if she knows. I know. (beat) What do you want? You've killed her. Go collect your damn prize.

KURGAN: It seems there's a new immortal in town, so I still can't collect it. I thought I'd managed to kill you, and now I'm sure I did. But look who's up and about. I'm going to have to do something about that.

DARIA: You can't touch me, this is a church. The service will be starting soon, and I'm not leaving here until after the police take you away.

KURGAN: Oh, I can't touch you here. But that doesn't matter. There's nowhere you can hide that I can't find you. I won't make you wait, little immortal. It's better to burn out, than to fade away. Enjoy immortality while you can, it will burn out quickly. (beat) Oh, and if you're talking about the two cops tailing you, I got rid of them.

He turns, and strides rapidly out of the church.

Exterior. Trent's Car.

Trent and Jane are driving to the church. Both are dressed more formally than usual. Trent in clean slacks and a dress shirt and tie, Jane in a dress. A large number of cars are parked alongside the road up ahead.

JANE: Trent, I can't believe we're going to be late for Amy's funeral. How could you forget to buy gas?

TRENT: Hey Janey, it happens. I was working on some lyrics and I got stuck. I just sort of forgot everything else. Oh, yeah, some boxes came for you, too. The delivery guy left them on the front doorstep.

JANE: Boxes? Oh, I know what those are. Where'd you put them?

Trent looks a bit distant.

TRENT: Uh... Oh, yeah. They're in the dining room we never use.

JANE: Great. I'll bring Daria over after the service, they're for her.

TRENT: Okay, I think we need to park here, it looks like the lot by the church is full. We're going to have to walk.

Trent stops the car, but before he can shut it off, his door opens, a black-clad arm grabs him, and throws him across the street. The Kurgan slides into the car, and grabs Jane by her arm.

KURGAN: Hello there, I'll bet your friend will be quite upset you missed the service.

He floors it, and the car screams out into the street, as Trent picks himself up.

TRENT: Whoa, Janey, someone actually stole my car.

He looks around, and notices Jane is missing.

TRENT: Janey?

Trent looks grim, and walks quickly and purposefully towards the church.

Exterior. Church.

The two detectives are talking to Daria. Trent and Helen are standing nearby.

DARIA: (upset) Jane could be dead, and you're not doing anything!

FRANK: Miss Morgendorffer, I know you're upset about your friend, but there's nothing I can do except put out an APB on the car and hope he's dumb enough to keep it. Frankly, if he was that dumb, we'd have caught him before this. If you'd tell me what the connection is between you and the killer, maybe I could make some progress!

HELEN: (coldly angry) There is no connection, and you'd be well advised not to make groundless accusations in public, unless the police department wants to be defending itself against a libel suit.

FRANK: (upset) Then why are the two men I had tailing your daughter dead?

HELEN: You were TAILING my daughter?

FRANK: Of course I was! She's been near one murder scene, and she's one of two people who've survived an attack, and the other one's insane. (beat, to Daria) But you're on your own now Miss, I don't have any more men to spare for clay pigeon duty.

DARIA: I'm sorry about your men, detective, but there's nothing I can tell you that will help you find him. If I knew anything useful, I'd tell you.

Interior. Daria's Room - Later that day.

Daria is lying on her bed, dressed as usual. The phone rings once.

QUINN: (off-screen, yells) Daria, it's for you! Some guy!

DARIA: (to herself) Well that was informative, dear sister.

She picks up the phone.


Split screen: with Daria on the left and the Kurgan at a payphone on the right.

KURGAN: If you want your friend to continue breathing, come to the giant strawberry in less than an hour. Come alone.

He hangs up.

Return to: full shot of Daria.

DARIA: (to herself) Alone, huh? Never give a sucker an even break.

She picks up the phone, and dials. The camera remains on her (no split screen).

DARIA: Hey, Trent. He called. I'm on my way over, tell everyone to get ready.

Interior. Morgendorffer Living Room.

Jake and Helen are sitting on the couch, as Daria comes down the stairs.

HELEN: What was that call, Daria? Any word on Jane?

Helen notices that Daria is headed for the door.

HELEN: Daria, you shouldn't go out. You just got out of the hospital, and there's a killer out there. (louder) Dammit, talk to me!

Daria pauses with the front door open, and turns to Helen.

DARIA: Mom, that was the killer on the phone. He's got Jane, and I'm going to get her back. And this time, we're playing by my rules.

Daria steps out, closing the door behind her. Helen leaps up, and runs for the door. As she opens it, we hear a car pulling away.

HELEN: Daria! Come back here! You're grounded, forever! (beat) Oh Daria, be careful.

Jake walks up behind her, and puts his arm around her shoulder, but doesn't speak.

Exterior. The Giant Strawberry - Day.

The Giant Strawberry is a Lawndale landmark. A twenty-foot high building, with a shuttered window on the front, and a door on one side. It looks like it was once a vegetable stand, although it is now abandoned. On the top, a wooden post serves as a stem, and Jane can be seen, tied to the post, still wearing her dress. The Kurgan stands next to her.

KURGAN: It's been nearly an hour, perhaps she isn't coming after all. (turns to Jane) That's smart of her, but it won't do you much good.

Jane glares at him. As she does, a van can be seen pulling up a short distance down the road. It's the Z93 radio station van. Bing and the Spatula Man, wacky morning DJ's, get out, and start assembling a stage on one side.

KURGAN: What the hell?

They continue, bringing out large amplifiers and building amplifier stacks quickly. The finished stacks look exactly like the ones Mystik Spiral was using at the Zon. Bing grabs a microphone. His voice booms out loudly.

BING: Test, test. Okay, we're working, base. Take us live in three, two, one (beat) Hi there Lawndale, it's Bing and the Spatula Man, live on ZEE 93, coming to you from Lawndale's own Big Strawberry, home of the annual strawberry festival. We're a little early, and the rest of the folks haven't arrived yet, so we're going to play some requests while we wait. This one is from Trent to his baby sister, he says to be cool, now here's Bravado, by Rush.

MUSIC: (thirty-second instrumental intro plays)

Although it's not a particularly loud song, the volume from the amplifiers makes talking difficult. Jane smiles.

KURGAN: What an infernal racket. What are you smiling about?

JANE: I like Rush. I saw them in concert a couple of years ago.

A blue Lexus pulls up, past the van and the strawberry, coming to rest about a hundred feet away.

Cut to: The Lexus.

The door opens, and Daria steps out. She's wearing her usual boots, black skirt and orange t-shirt, but her jacket has been replaced with an ankle-length green leather coat, which hangs open. She looks past the strawberry at the van, and smiles. Then she walks around the car, and heads towards the strawberry. She stops about twenty feet from her car.

If we burn our wings
Flying too close to the sun
If the moment of glory
Is over before it's begun

DARIA: (yelling over the music) I'm here! Let her go!

Cut to: the strawberry.

KURGAN: I can't hear a word she's saying over this noise. No matter. (he turns to Jane) I'll be back to kill you when I've finished your friend.

He jumps down off the strawberry, and walks towards Daria.

If the dream is won --
Though everything is lost
We will pay the price
But we will not count the cost

Cut to: Daria.

She lifts the lapel of her jacket, and bends forward to speak into a microphone sewn to the inside of the lapel.

DARIA: The objective is clear. Repeat. The objective is clear. Everybody go.

She straightens up, and waits for the Kurgan. As he approaches, an unmarked, black, and very high-tech helicopter moves quickly towards the strawberry behind him, any noise it makes is drowned out by the music. The helicopter hovers over the strawberry, and several figures in black fatigues drop quickly on ropes to the top of the strawberry.

Cut to: the strawberry.

Jane looks around in amazement as figures descend around her, then she gets a look at one.

JANE: Brittany? What are you doing here?

Brittany, dressed in black fatigues, pulls out a knife and starts to cut the ropes holding Jane. In the background, the Kurgan can be seen, about halfway to Daria. As Jane looks around, she realizes the other figures atop the strawberry are the other members of the Lawndale High cheerleading squad.

BRITTANY: (perky) Hi Jane, we're rescuing you!

JANE: I see that, it's the believing I'm having trouble with. Why?

BRITTANY: Well, you were almost a cheerleader once, and once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader! We have to stick together!

JANE: Brittany, that makes absolutely no sense, but I'm glad to see you anyway. Where'd you get the helicopter?

BRITTANY: Your sister brought it! Isn't it cool? Here, put this on.

Brittany hands Jane a harness, which Jane belts on. After checking it, Brittany waves to the helicopter, and the ropes go taut, and begin to lift everyone off of the strawberry.

When the dust has cleared
And victory denied
A summit too lofty
River a little too wide

Cut to: Daria.

The Kurgan stops about ten feet from Daria.

KURGAN: Draw your weapon, and prepare to die.

DARIA: Okay, but I think your other guest has decided to run out on you.

The Kurgan turns to look at the strawberry, and sees the figures being hoisted back aboard the helicopter. When he turns back to Daria, she's pointing a very large shotgun at him.

If we keep our pride --
Though paradise is lost
We will pay the price
But we will not count the cost

KURGAN: Your Aunt didn't teach you anything, if you think that will kill me.

DARIA: It doesn't need to kill you. (she fires, blowing his right knee apart) It just needs to immobilize you (she fires again, the left knee this time) If you can't move, you can't fight. (a third shot, in the right shoulder) And it seems to be working (a final shot, in the left shoulder).

The Kurgan drops to his bloody knees, but remains upright. Daria lowers the gun, which swings back under her coat on a lanyard. From the other side of the coat, she draws Amy's katana, and walks behind the Kurgan.

MUSIC: (refrain)
We will pay the price
But we will not count the cost

DARIA: This is for my Grandmother, you bastard.

She swings, separating his head from his neck. The body flops forwards, and after a short interval sparks begin to fly. Behind her, the helicopter lands at a safe distance.

MUSIC: Instrumental

DARIA: (yelling as sparks arc into her) The quickening overpowers me! I know! I know everything! I am everything! Oh! Oh!

As the sparks die down, Daria slumps to her knees. Behind her, the doors of the helicopter open, and Jane and the cheerleaders pile out. The pilot climbs out more slowly, and as she takes off her helmet, we see that the pilot is Jane's sister, Penny.

And if the music stops
There's only the sound of the rain
All the hope and glory
All the sacrifice in vain
And if love remains
Though everything is lost
We will pay the price
But we will not count the cost

Cut to: the helicopter.

JANE: Penny? When did you learn to fly a helicopter? And where did you get this one?

PENNY: Well, you said you needed weapons, and it was the biggest one I could find.

JANE: I was expecting a few guns, and if I was lucky some grenades, from those rebel friends of yours. I didn't know they had stealth choppers.

PENNY: They don't. I borrowed this from work.

JANE: Work? You sell handcrafts.

PENNY: I'm also the CIA station chief for Panama City. The war on drugs has been good to my budget.

We will pay the price
But we will not count the cost

Daria walks up. Brittany and the cheerleaders get themselves organized, and begin a cheer.

BRITTANY: Who's the one who can't be beat? Who's the one, cuts her foes to meat? Daria! Daria!

CHEERLEADERS: Goooo Daria! Yay!

DARIA: Why thank you, Brittany. And you too, Lisa, Angie and Nicky. So, has anyone seen the Spiral?

PENNY: They radioed in while you were occupied. The Tank broke down.

Daria smiles.

DARIA: Good thing I didn't need them for anything critical. We should get out of here before the cops show up. We haven't exactly been inconspicuous.

PENNY: I'll say. You throw a hell of a party Daria. Can you give my passengers a lift? I should really head south.

DARIA: No problem. Thanks for the assist.

PENNY: Hey, anything for my sister. Good plan, by the way. If you ever want a job with lots of exotic travel, call me. I can always use someone who can think on her feet.

DARIA: Doesn't sound like my kind of job, but I'll keep it in mind.

JANE: By the way Daria, I was a bit worried when I saw wacky morning DJ's arriving, but I knew you were behind this the moment I heard the song. Only you would pick such depressing lyrics for a rescue.

DARIA: Thanks. I didn't want you to think Trent was running the show, although he did manage most of the organization. Besides, I needed something to mask the helicopter, and if I let Trent pick the tune we'd have been listening to "Behind My Eyelids", and I just couldn't take that.

JANE: Trent? My brother? He's never been organized once in his life!

DARIA: I guess he makes an exception for his "baby sister". (louder, to the others) Everyone into the car, it's time to move out!

And if love remains
Though everything is lost
We will pay the price
But we will not count the cost

Everyone piles into the car. As the helicopter takes off, Daria pulls out and drives past the Z93 van, waving to Bing and the Spatula Man.

DARIA: Thanks guys! It's a wrap!

Exterior. The Giant Strawberry - Some time later.

A police crime scene team is examining the Kurgan's body, while the two detectives stand and watch. Our heroes are long gone.

FRANK: Great, we have our murderer, but someone's nearly dismembered him with a shotgun, and cut HIS head off. Not only that, but we have multiple reports of an unmarked black military helicopter, and whoever decapitated the killer left shotgun shells for a military shotgun, but without any of the manufacturers marks. I can see this case is going to remain unsolved. I hate unsolved cases!

PARTNER: Well, there's the boot prints.

FRANK: Right, five pair of very small U.S. Army issue combat boots, one pair of Doc Martens, and a pair of woman's dress shoes. That's even worse than the helicopter. If I ignore the shoes, I can at least comfort myself that it was some kind of classified operation and I just don't need to know. But who sends midgets on a black op? And what is the Morgendorffer girl and her friend involved in that would require one?

PARTNER: Maybe the midgets were aliens.

FRANK: Oh, that helps. I can see the chief's face now.

PARTNER: We could question the Morgendorffer girl again, and see if her boots match the Doc Marten impressions we took.

FRANK: Without something more to go on, her mother will never let us make that comparison. Even if they match, it just puts her near the scene again. I can't arrest her for that, and she's not going to talk. (beat) I think this is as far as we're going to get on this one. Damn!

Exterior. Lawndale High School Lawn - Day.

Daria and Jane are sitting on the lawn behind the school. Other students are elsewhere on the lawn, or walking around.

JANE: Trent finally figured out that it was you who removed the distributor cap from the tank yesterday. The band's really mad at you for leaving them out of the "fun", although I think Trent may be secretly relieved. He's just not an action hero at heart.

DARIA: Yeah, Trent and that word just don't seem to go together, do they? (beat) There's no way I would let those "criminales" near someone as dangerous as the Kurgan. He'd have eaten them for lunch.

JANE: I'm not objecting, I like having my brother intact. So, can you tell me about the prize?

DARIA: It's like a whirlwind in my head. But if I concentrate , I know what people are thinking all over the world. Presidents, Diplomats, Scientists. I can help them understand each other.

JANE: What am I thinking?

DARIA: You're thinking, whether or not we can still be friends. We can. I'm just like you, I can love and have children, live and grow old. (looks up to the sky) You never prepared me for that, Aunt Amy!

AMY: (voice over) (laughs) Patience ex-Highlander. You have done well. But it will take time. You are generations being born and dying. You are at one with all living things. Each mans thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, granddaughter, don't lose your head.

DARIA: Oh God, now I'm hearing voices. (beat) Amy says I'll figure this out in time, but right now I seem to be drowning in all the stupid thoughts out there. I'm afraid that in the end, I can be only numb.

End credits roll to "It's a Kind of Magic" (Queen)

Authors Notes:

Why did I write this? I don't know. A discussion of crossovers on the Paperpusher's board planted the seed (someone mentioned trying to write a Highlander crossover last year, but not being able to). A week later the first scene jumped into my head, fully formed, while I was driving my car. A quick viewing of the movie to refresh my memory, and three days later I'd written the first draft. It's been through a few drafts since then, but it didn't really change that much, just gained a bit of coherence. Unfortunately I couldn't find the original posting that planted the seed, and when I asked on the board nobody took credit for it. If it was you, thanks, I think. It usually takes me much longer to write something. This was an interesting experience, but I'm not sure it's one I'd care to repeat.

The problem with a crossover is explaining the jokes to someone who doesn't know one or the other of the sources. Since I'm writing this as a Daria story, I'm assuming you know that background, but I'm putting in notes to explain the Highlander aspects for anyone who might not be familiar with the movie.

I can be only numb - A variation on the tagline from the movie, In the end there can be only one, which is repeated endlessly throughout the movie.

Highlander Canon - This is based loosely (very loosely) on the events in the original Highlander movie. I don't know the TV series well enough to use any elements from that, and I refuse to have anything to do with the second Highlander movie (the pseudo-SF one where Sean Connery's character is resurrected several centuries after the first movie, and everyone turns out to be an alien). All names and spellings are from the subtitles on the Director's Cut DVD. While this story repeats some events from the movie, and rambles in the same direction as the plot, it's a bit free with the details. I'm not attempting a strict retelling of the movie with Daria characters. I'm parodying it, and the whole pretentious-battle-in-a-noble-cause genre of adventure movies. People pointing out "inaccuracies" will be gleefully ignored.

MacLeod - Daria fills Christopher Lambert's role, Connor MacLeod, here, although I took quite a few liberties with her history and relations with supporting characters (for example, a passionate romance with Brenda Wyatt, the forensics expert, seemed too out of character, so I threw that subplot out and used Daria's friendship with Jane as the motivation for the final battle). I also gave the antique business to Aunt Amy, as well as some earlier history (the fight on Boston Common).

Ramirez - In the movie, Sean Connery's character, the Egyptian immortal Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, acts as a teacher to Connor MacLeod. Aunt Amy fills that role here. Note: MacLeod refers to him as Spanish because he was serving as the chief metallurgist to Charles V of Spain when they met. Presumably that's why he has a Spanish name. But Ramirez does claim to be Egyptian.

Fasil and Vazilek - The first two casualties mentioned in the movie. Vazilek died off-screen "in Jersey", while Iman Fasil is the man MacLeod kills in the parking garage.

Freddy Kruger - The Kurgan checked into the motel as Victor Kruger in the original movie. The Nightmare on Elm Street joke seemed too obvious to miss.

Zon vs. Zen - Zon seems to be the currently accepted spelling of the club that was formerly known as the Zen. I don't have an opinion on it myself.

Highland, TX - The town where the Morgendorffers lived before moving to Lawndale (as seen on Beavis and Butthead). I don't know that Amy lives there, but I don't know that she doesn't. Having her be from there, and the Kurgan mistaking Daria for her, set up the ex-Highlander joke nicely (in the movie, the Kurgan refers to MacLeod frequently as "Highlander" because of his origin in the Scottish highlands, as does Ramirez). Having Vazilek die there also drew a nice parallel between there and Jersey, another place known for toxic waste. But I'll bet you missed that, didn't you?

Helen's Speech - What would a bad movie be without someone dropping out of character to club you over the head with the author's message? I don't think I have a message, and if I do it isn't "some things are worth dying for", but I just couldn't resist the opportunity. Actually, I probably do have a message, it's one of the usual Daria ones: There's no problem a smart person can't think her way out of.

Dulce et decorum est - The full quote is "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (It is sweet and proper to die for ones country). It's from Horace's Ode, "Discipline". The general thrust of the stanza is that it's better to be a hero than a coward, because both end up dying. Cheerful fellow, Horace. Helen, a lawyer, should have some familiarity with Latin, although she obviously only quoted the part that supported her point, and restated the rest in her own words. Then again, she's a lawyer, and twisting words to fit the situation should come naturally. I like the original, because it parallels Daria's initial approach in dealing with the Kurgan; she knows she can't win either way, but she'd rather go down fighting. Later, she realizes that there's a third choice: change the rules.

The quickening overpowers me... - Daria's line here is an exact quote from the movie. I take no responsibility for this ridiculous text.

Brittany and the Cheerleaders - Well, who did you expect for an acrobatic role like this? Mystik Spiral? Besides, I can't help thinking of Brittany's familiarity with tactics in The Daria Hunter.

Epilog - the dialog follows the original closely, although I made changes to fit the satirical nature of this story. The original was:

Brenda: Can you tell me about the prize?

MacLeod: It's like a whirlwind in my head. But if I concentrate, I know what people are thinking all over the world. Presidents, Diplomats, Scientists. I can help them understand each other.

Brenda: What am I thinking?

MacLeod: You're thinking, whether or not you can love me. You can. I'm just like you, I can love and have children, live and grow old. You never prepared me for that you Spanish peacock.

Ramirez: (voice over) Ha. Ha. Ha. Patience Highlander. You have done well. But it will take time. You are generations being born and dying. You are at one with all living things. Each mans thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, my friend, don't lose your head.

Fanfic sources - I didn't consciously plan to reference fanfic, I prefer to base my stories strictly on canon, but some crept in (and given how stream-of-consciousness the writing of this was, others that I don't recognize may be here too). Here are the ones I noticed, or did on purpose: Daria's shrine to Trent is a reference to Brian Taylor's Through a Closet Darkly. The character of Amy is based on Ramirez, and other mentors like Obi-Wan Kenobi, but various bits from Kara Wild's Abruptly Amy crept in. I realized after the fact that I'd based the description of Amy's Antiques on the shop in C. E. Forman's Corona, Corona. I deliberately added Kara Wild's signature Amy quote (Sarcasm, it's a great way to deal) there to reinforce that. Amy's line: "No more sitcoms about FBI agents" is another deliberate Abruptly Amy reference, added after I realized what my subconscious was up to. Setting the climactic battle to music references all sorts of movies, including Highlander, but I was also thinking of the Ballroom Blitz scene from Erin Mills' Daria vs. the Lawndale Zombies, a far more cinematic use of soundtrack music than what I've managed here.

Music - Highlander has a soundtrack by Queen, so why use Rush? Well, using Queen seemed too obvious, and when I remembered the ironic lyrics of Bravado, it seemed like something Daria would find appropriate.