Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. Taarna and associated ideas from Heavy Metal are owned by The Guardian Trust Co. and Metal Mammoth Inc. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Original plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske. 2005.

Richard Lobinske

The Pact

Daria felt sick to her stomach and knew that there was trouble when Ms. Li appeared before the mandatory pep rally wearing a necklace featuring a small, glowing green orb. Her mood fell deeper as Li's oratory whipped the crowd into what literally sounded like a murderous frenzy. It took all of Daria's will and strength to keep Jane from charging to the waiting school buses with the rest at the end of the rally.

After the buses left, Jane shook her head and said, "Whoa. That was freaky. It was like Li had some kind of mind-control device or something. And when did you get that strong?"

"Jane, just listen. Something really bad is going on."

"It's not like you to play drama queen."

Daria started to fast walk toward home, dragging Jane behind her. "Whatever. Look, when you get home, wake up Trent by any means necessary."

"Hey, are you finally getting the real hots for him?"

Daria blushed and shook her head. "No. I need a ride to Oakwood."

"You're going to the game?"

"I'm not going to watch it."

"Daria, you're starting to get freaky, too."

"Trust me; things are going to be freakier than you think."

Daria was relieved the house was empty when she got home. "Good, no awkward questions."

Uncharacteristically, Daria ran up the stairs to her room. On the way, her full, auburn hair fell back to reveal a sword-shaped birthmark on her neck that it normally concealed.

In the far distance, sirens faintly wailed.

Inside, she closed the curtains and pulled a long box out from under her bed. Deliberately, Daria undressed and then stood still, with her eyes closed. Starting at the roots, the color drained from her hair until it was all snow-like white.

Silent, she knelt by the box and opened it. She removed a series of belts and straps of black leather. One she buckled around her neck as a collar. Attached to the collar was a narrow strap that fell straight down to form a brief thong and then came up her back to also connect to the collar. A wider belt fitted with two pouches was set at her waist, from which a leather loincloth hung in front. An armored brassiere faced with black leather was fitted in place next. She sat back and pulled up black, soft leather, leggings on that came up to mid-thigh. This was followed by boots fitted with armored greaves, all of a deep green. Daria slid a green, two-piece pauldron up her right arm to cover the shoulder and pulled the support strap across her chest and under the left arm. A heavy, cuffed fencing glove of green leather next graced her right hand. Finally, a gold-hilted sword in a green scabbard was buckled to the hanger straps on her belt.

An ancient voice sounded in her head, confirming her fears. "To defend: this is the pact. But when life loses its meaning and is taken for naught: then the pact is to avenge."

Watching from the arched window of the stair landing, Daria saw Trent arrive. She purposefully strode downstairs and straight out to the car.

When she reached it, Trent looked up from his momentary nap to a sight that snapped his eyes open. "Whoa. That's a new look for you, Daria."

Silent, Daria only nodded as she sat in the passenger seat of the car as Trent looked on in wonder. She pointed and nodded her head again.

Trent gulped and said, "Um, Janey said you wanted a ride to Oakwood, right?"

Daria nodded again and pointed.

"Oh, um, yeah." Trent backed out of the driveway and headed toward the neighboring town.

"I wonder what's going on?" Trent asked, seeing smoke billowing from several locations around Oakwood High school and seeing the cluster of emergency vehicles that included, local, county and state jurisdictions.

Daria pointed to an empty parking space and Trent pulled into it. Daria gave a short nod of thanks and a brief smile before she got out of the car.

"Um, do you want me to go with?" Trent asked.

Daria slowly shook her head and rested her hand on the car roof.

"Ah, stay here for a quick get-away."

She nodded once before pivoting and walking toward the chaos around the high school.

"What the hell?" The state trooper asked his partner when he saw Daria walking toward them.

His partner responded with, "Just what we need. This mess is bringing out all the local nutcases."

The first held up his hand. "Listen lady, you can't go any further. There's some kind of civil disturbance in there and you won't be safe."

Daria continued walking toward them.

The second said, "If you approach further, we'll arrest you for carrying that oversized pig-sticker around like that."

Daria continued walking.

"Okay, lady," The first said as he and his partner moved to grab Daria's arms. Her two punches left them stunned on the ground.

Dead and dying Oakwood students and faculty littered the burning campus. The occasional prowling Lawndale students she encountered were dispatched with quick sword strokes. The green blood falling to the ground from them telling her the real students were already lost.

"Hey, Daria. When did you become such a babe?" Kevin Thompson said, leading the football team toward her.

Robert said, "I thought her name was Darcy."

A third player said, "She doesn't need a name for what I have in mind."

He grinned and stepped toward Daria, stopping when his head tumbled from his shoulders.

Kevin frowned, "Daria, that's like, really uncool."

A fourth player said, "Heh, she doesn't really need to be alive."

The team rushed Daria, who calmly waited for them. Half a dozen seconds later, Kevin watched in shock as Daria wiped her sword blade clean on the uniform of the last football player to fall. When she straightened and took a step forward, he turned and ran to the stadium.

"That look really doesn't do a thing for your cousin or whatever, Quinn," Sandi said.

Stacy's hands when to her mouth. "Eww. Look at those shoes."

"Yeah, and strapless at this time of year?" Tiffany said in dismay.

"It's not like she's real important or anything," Quinn said, eying Sandi and Daria. "We should just kill her."

"If you say so," Sandi replied.

It took almost no effort to dispatch the four. Daria stopped for a couple of seconds to look down at the lifeless body of her former sister.

"Death! Death to all that oppose us!" Ms. Li shouted from the roof of the announcer's booth. The PA system made her voice fill the stadium and the gathered students, now a mix of Lawndale and Oakwood, roared approval.

Beside her, Jodie and Mack watched the gathered crowd as her lieutenants. Taking advantage of the focused attention, Daria silently made her way to the back of the booth stand and climbed up.

"Rrrrowr." Upchuck purred evilly from within the booth when her saw here. "The wondrous Ms. Morgendorffer is even feistier than before. I see you have an interest in leather that I'd barely dreamed possible."

Daria's sword blow was aimed lower than usual, but the overall final effect was the same.

Ms. Li spun in anger when Daria stepped onto the roof. "So, you've come to die."

Daria could see that Li's right arm now ended in a mechanical nightmare. A spinning saw blade appeared and Li advanced.

The snap shot to Li's head was intercepted by the mechanical arm and Li countered with a swipe to Daria's midsection that was barely dodged.

The gathered crowd shouted in excitement and tried to push closer. Jodie and Mack watched with unemotional detachment as Daria and Li traded blows and parries.

Li feigned high with her spinning blade and dropped low, slicing across Daria's thigh. The shock and pain caused her to step back and cover the wound with her free hand. Seeing the opening, Li advanced to deliver a killing blow.

The risky diversion worked and Li opened her guard as she raised her arm. Daria spun and cut upward from a low guard to strike Li just below the armpit and slice through to the opposite collarbone.

The crowd stopped and stared in shock at the fall of their leader. Fighting the pain in her leg, Daria stopped to catch her breath. Seizing the chance, Jodie snatched the necklace from Li's severed upper torso and placed it around her neck.

Her eyes flashed green and she smiled in a way that broadcast pure evil. "Mack, please remove her from my sight."

To Daria's horror, Mack set one foot solidly on Li's arm and he wrenched the mechanical attachment free and placed it on his arm. The device instantly attached and a curved saber-like blade emerged.

His technique was awkward, but the strength of his blows partially compensated, along with the ferocity of his advance. Daria defended herself and limped back, waiting for an opening to counterstrike.

Her foot reached the roof edge and Mack's lips formed a sinister grin. He pressed forward with his attack and Daria slipped to the left, parrying his blow as she drew her sword upward. Using a snap of her wrist, she brought the blade down onto the top of Mack's shoulder and drove his severed body over the side.

"Kill her!" Jodie screamed to the crowd.

Gunshots erupted from the crowd. Daria rushed toward Jodie, only to be stopped by a bullet that entered just below her ribs and traveled diagonally up into the opposite lung. The bullet's momentum pushed Daria off her feet and she fell onto her left side. Laboring to breath, she watched Jodie approach.

"Li was always too much of a micromanager," Jodie said. "Wanted to deal with you personally to make sure it was done right."

Daria looked up at her former friend and felt a tear at the corner of her eye.

Jodie maliciously smiled. "What's that? A sign of emotion from the ice woman? And all for me. I'm touched."

Daria looked down, almost as if in shame. Jodie was still beaming in triumph when Daria's sword lashed out and crashed through the center of the green orb and into her chest.

A blinding green light poured out of the shattered orb and a deep, distant voice cried, "Nooo!"

Daria awoke with a start and looked around her room. "Ugh." She shook her head and crawled out of bed. Feeling achy, she went to the bathroom and started to splash water on her face. The coolness cleared the fog from her head and she started to breath easier from the dream's aftermath.

There was a gentle tug on the back of her hair and Quinn said, "God Daria, you're already getting gray hair? We can't let you walk around school like that."

January, 2006