The Triad Image

An unusual Daria fanfic

A trademark of MTV & Viacom


"Some people believe a handful of extraterrestrials may have come here, even during primitive times, reminiscent of the book, Chariots Of The Gods, possibly the forefathers of the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Toltecs, the Egyptians, the lot...... some believe they may had come before the world nations even existed, even before the United Kingdom, America, Russia, Japan, Canada, Germany, et al......who knows if they may live amongst our own population............?"


541,000,000,000 B.C.

The only remaining civilisation--beasts, reptiles, birds and such--were the only ones that saw the multicoloured diamond shaped image streak across the primordial sky, with the speed of a meteor, plummenting down to a vast carpet of jungle in prehistoric California, then, with 1200 times greater than a single hydrogen bomb, crashed with a 300 kilometre radius in a small clearing, huge blue white spreading waves of energy wiping out everything in its path, scattering in the blast four different coloured crystallised triangles in four different directions, until all that remained beneath the smoke and dust........was a deep black crater.......

2000 A.D.

It was Daria Morgendorffer's birthday, and already she was depressed. With good reason. For starters, much of the guys from Mystik Sprial--Trent, Jesse, Nick and Max--had given her a few gag gifts, which Daria thought were somewhat tasteless when it came to male humour standards. For another, the fashion club had given her an assortment of make up for a gift, and worst of all, Kevin and Brittany had invited Daria to a special party at Brittany's mansion in Crewe Neck (which was understandable since most parties were held there anyway) for Daria's birthday.

Anyhow, Daria and her long time friend Jane Lane were walking over to Crewe Neck, Jane saying, "I mean it, Daria, it was definitely 'cranberry sauce,' not 'I buried Paul.'"

"Then how do you explain all the other evidence," said Daria, "like when Paul was walking bare foot on Abbey Road, with a morgue wagon, its licence plate reading 21IF?"

"21IF?" said Jane.

"21 if, as in if he had lived," said Daria, darkly. "Then he wears an OPD patch--Officially Pronounced Dead--on the Sgt. Pepper cover. Then there's that black carnation he wore on the Magical Mystery Tour, whilst the other Beatles wore red ones. also, in that album's booklet, Paul was behind a sign reading 'I WAS.'"

"Quite a lot of strange conincidences," said Jane.

"Strange, huh?" said Daria. "Well, here's something strange."

So saying, Daria pulled out from her coat pocket, a triangular green crystal half larger than her palm, clear green as if it had been cut with a precision laser, with a smooth surface and detailed edges.

"Wow," said Jane. "Where'd you get that, from a cereal box?"

"No, under my pillow when I woke up," said Daria. "Seems the tooth fairy stopped giving change and started sticking useless crystals under the sheets."

"I don't think it looks THAT useless," said Jane, who was examining the green crystal. "You've got quite a sparkler there, just like mine."

So saying, she pulled out from her pocket, another crystal just like Daria's, only that crystal was red.

"Where'd you get THAT?" said a surprised Daria, her eyes sparkling like the two crystals.

"Same place you got yours," said Jane, "under my pillow when I woke up. Say you don't think they're an invitation to the Secret Society Q?"

"As long as the Q don't stand for Quinn," said Daria, a bit bored.

Upon arriving at the gate for the Taylor mansion, the guard at the gate said, "You got a reservation?"

"Just put me down as Jonas Salk, aka Daria Morgendorffer," said Daria.

"Miss Taylor's been expecting you," said the guard, who opened the gate and said, "Right through here, Jonas."

"Another kind of strange," said Jane as she and Daria entered the gate, "strange relationships."

"Let's just get the appointment we got with No. 1 and No. 2 Dummy Son over with," said Daria. "Got the morphine to kill the pain?"

"Never leave home without it," said Jane.

They had arrived at the front door and Daria knocked on it, before it opened, Kevin Thomson standing inside, saying, "Happy birthday, Daria, you're right on time. Come on in."

Upon entering, Daria and Jane followed Kevin into the main dining room, Daria saying, "Let's just get the hoo hah over with before I report in for decontamination."

"It ain't no hoo hah," protested Kevin, "it's a birthday party, with a special surprise that Britt came up with." Coming to a stop, he set up his laptop computer, which had been emblazoned with the logo of one of Kevin's favourite football teams, The New Orleans Saints, placing it on the table which had been set up with plates, paper cups, a pitcher of punch, knives and forks, paper plates and a huge cake with white buttercream frosting and green icing, including the writing that said (what else?) HAPPY BIRTHDAY DARIA, with some unlit candles. Making some adjustments, Kevin muttered, "Just got to hit Play," before calling out, "We're all here, babe, you set?"

"All set, Kevvy," called Brittany from one of the doorways, "let 'er rip!!"

Clicking onto a tab onscreen, Kevin had an MP3 file play More, More, More, sung by Andrea True, just as Brittany Taylor entered, wearing an ornate belly dancer outfit, which was fitted with seed pearls and yellow satin and silks, as she danced before a nonplussed Daria, with Andrea True singing from the computer speakers: "More, more, more/how do you like it?/How do you like it?/More, more, more/how do you like it?/How do you like it?"

Taken back at what she saw, Daria stood like a zombie, with Jane looking amused; when Brittany finished, Daria said, "What the hell was that all 'bout?"

"Can't you guess?" said a hurt Brittany. "It's a birthday dance for you. Like my outfit? It cost $155 to buy--or was it $338? Oh, well, with so many taxes hidden within the cost, what's it matter?"

"You're weird, you know that, Blondie?" said Daria.

"Hey, you wanna know what else is weird?" said Kevin. "I got a strange costume jewellery thing coloured yellow under my pillow when I woke up. Anyone know if it came from the Doo Dad shop in The Mall Of The Millennium?" Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out yet another triangle shaped crystal, just like the one Daria and Jane had, only it was yellow--and that was when Daria and Jane produced their own crystals....and so did an equally surprised Brittany, who produced a blue triangle crystal, the four surprising each other with their latest discoveries. each one staring at each other in wonder and puzzlement, and at each other's crystals.

"And I thought we were the lucky ones," said Jane. "You don't think it's a popular thing sold all over Lawndale, like the Pokemons?"

One thing I CAN tell you is," said a nonplussed Brittany, "is that it's all high quality crystal, like from my crystal bull horn that broke--but it's NOT like any other crystal I've seen before. Y' know, I once belonged to a girls' club that had crystal thingies of different colours, but not like that."

"Maybe the one that passed these crystals out," said Daria, "must be some practical joker like Quinn, Sandi, Upchuck, or whatever......." Then, she spotted something engraved in the center of her crystal and added, "On the other hand, no practical joker in his or her right mind, would use a lot of expense to engrave something like an IV on my crystal."

"Now that you mention it.......," said Kevin, who stared at his crystal and said, "Wow, mine says VI."

"Hey, I got a V on mine, " said Brittany. "What's yours say, Jane?"

"I only got a single I," said Jane. "To quote from Alice In Wonderland, curiouser and curiouser."

Daria, on the other hand, had been doing some thinking as she muttered, "Red, yellow, green and blue.... I, VI, IV, V........sounds like a combination code."

"From just a bunch of Roman numerals?" said a puzzled Jane. "That translates as one-six-four-five."

"Sounds like a bunch of house numbers, or some kind of famous year," said Kevin. "maybe the number of Big Macs sold last year. What do you think, babe?"

"A combination to a safe, maybe?" said Brittany. "It's so Greek to me."

"More like it's so Roman to you," said a smirking Daria. "Well, to quote Fredrick Jones of the Scooby saga, it seems we've got a mystery."

"Well, right now," said Brittany, who crossed over to the table, "let's get to the party and the cake. I baked it myself, from quadruple chiffon, white, with green filling and lemon buttercream frosting."

"Sounds like something for The Incredible Hulk's birthday," quipped Jane.

"Well, I should remember what the school nurse said," said Daria, "'Avoid starches, chloresterol, fats and lousy cooking.'"

"Anyhow," said Jane, "let's get to the birthday cake so you can make a wish, blow out the candles, and see Brittany eat it all."

At that moment, a furious Brittany stuck her face in Jane's, yelling, "I heard that, and it's not nice!! I had expected Kevvy to botch up the party, but you.......!!"

Outside the mansion, people could hear a punch land and Jane saying, "OUCH!!" along with Daria saying, "Oucheroo," and Kevin muttering, "Better her than me."

Eventually, if not thankfully, Brittany calmed down and forgave Jane for her immature behaviour, before she and the rest settled down to the cake, then Brittany lit the candles, and Daria said, "I wish we could solve the mystery behind those crystalline triangles," then blew out the candles.

"Daria, what's the matter with you?" said a hurt Brittany, as she took out the candles and started to cut the cake. "You shouldn't tell everyone your wish when you blow out your candles, otherwise, it won't come true."

"Rubbish," said Daria. "Who believes in stuff like that? It's like believing that three on a match is bad luck."

"So what 'bout that one-six-four-five thing?" said Kevin. "Sounds like one of those secret codes used in the imported game called Secret Society Q."

"As long as the Q don't stand for Quinn," said a black eyed Jane.

"Deja vu," said a smirking Daria. Tasting a bite from her slice of the cake, she grinned before saying, "Brittany, you may be a lot of things, but strange as it seems, it seems you've got a hidden talent when it comes to making cakes."

"You mean you like it?" said Brittany, whose eyes lit up.

"You could put Giada to shame," replied Daria. "I'd be red faced to admit it, but that cake of yours rates an A+."

Standing up, Brittany chirped, "Daria, you just made my day!! Thank you S--------------O much!!" then came to where Daria was, grabbed her in a big hug and kissed her cheeks.

"And you just UNmade my day," muttered a chargrined Daria who took a napkin to wipe off the lip prints from Brittany's candy pink lip gloss.

"Someone alert TMZ," said an amused Jane.

Turning to her friend with a look that could peel paint, Daria said grimly, "Hey, don't you start."

Picking up her pitcher, Brittany poured the punch into each cup and gave each filled cup to all, then set down to her slice of cake. but even whilst they were eating, Daria couldn't help but stare at the crystals which were on the table near the cake. "For some reason," she said, "I can't help but sense some kind of connection with those crystals.."

"Like a love connection?" said a quizzical Kevin.

"I remember that show," said Brittany. "A shame it got canceled in the 1990's."

"For all we know," mused Jane, "those crystals could be some kind of publicity gimmick for Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon, when that album got digitally remastered."

"Oh, great," moaned Daria. "Now we got to deal with lunatics in the grass, money, half a page of scribbled lines, brain damage and an eclipse. But seriously, the clue's got to be in those crystals, if not those Roman numbers."

"Like Kevvy said," stated Brittany, "those crystal thingies, and that one-six-four-five could be some sort of secret code, like something straight from James Bond."

"James Bond sucks," said a disgusted Kevin. "He may have many Bond Gals, but I got my own Bond Gal,"-- he gestured to a blushing Brittany--" right here, which is all I can ask for."

"Ooooo, you flatter me, Kevvy," cooed Brittany. "But who or what're we dealing with? What's the story behind those crystals? Where'd they come from?"

"FBI," said Jane, "CIA, CONTROL, KAOS, UNCLE, THALIA, CELINE, who knows? On the other hand, just as equally as possible, they COULD be from outer space......."

"I get it," brightened up Kevin. "like something from Dr. Who."

"Who?" said Brittany.

"Oh sure," said Daria, "If that were so, those crystals would've carried a notice reading 'Property Of The Time Lords Of Gallifrey.' and if not from Dr. Who, then maybe from The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Tripods--maybe from Red Dwarf."

"Well, Ms. Sladen did say," stated Jane, "that life was an adventure. Hey, maybe they came from the Stargate universe, since those crystals look pyramid shaped. Star Trek or Star Wars--you make the call."

"But what's all that got to do with four crystal pyramids marked with the Roman version of one-six-four-five?" said a puzzled Daria.

"Sorry to interrupt," said a new voice in the house; it belonged to Brittany's dad, Steve Taylor, who added, "I couldn't help but overhear, but you came across some crystals. When in doubt, why not take them to an expert in the field? If they could be jewels, they'd be quite a value for Antiques Roadshow. As for that one-six-four-five, that part sounds familiar. Given the fact I earned my spurs as a businessman, I did a lot of travelling to clients world wide, and when you travel, you always should read a lot of maps to know where your destinantion. Having read maps and globes like the huge one I got in my office, those numbers sound familiar--like global coordinates. You see, we'd have 16 degrees latitude and 45 degrees longitude. But it's just my theory on it."

"Latitude and longitude.....," said Daria, who sensed a clue. "Listen, can we take a look at that globe of yours afterwards? Just to see if what you said could be right?"

"Sure," said Steve., "just don't scratch it, huh? Good day."

After Steve departed, and the four finished their cake and punch, they ran for Steve's office, a fearful Brittany saying, "Be careful you two!! We're dealing with a $2500 dollar globe here!!"

"Fear not, Milady Brittany," said Daria in her deadpan way, "we'll take good care of your dad's precious globe."

Entering the office, Daria and Jane found the globe--the size of a bus inner tube-- in its stand, near a book of street maps from the Thomas Brothers catalogue.

"Let's get to it, amiga," said Jane.

"I'll take the latitude," said Daria, "and you take the longitude."

"And we'll be in Scotland before then, right?" said the scatterbrained Kevin.

"Close," said Daria. Then turning to the globe, she traced the globe's surface, down to 16 degrees latitude, east/west, whilst Jane did the same to 45 degrees longitude, north/south.......until their fingers stopped at a spot in the state of California, in North America.

"Well, Daria?" said Jane.

"I could be mistaken," said Daria, "but only one spot I know is the spot we just found here in California-- and it's somewhere on the outskirts of Lawndale."

"You mean........?" said a surprised Jane.

"Could be," said Daria, who turned to Brittany and said, "Does your dad have a map of California?"

"You sure you didn't get these from a Zelda convention?" said Artie.

"Positive," said Daria. "You're the only expert on sci fi, and we'd like your idea if they meet your credentials."

Daria and Jane, along with Kevin and Brittany (who changed back to her trademark cheerleader togs) were in Artie's home, in the dining room with a sliding door, the sunlight streaming through. To the other end of the room was a long hall with mirrored walls on either side, and whilst Artie was looking over the four crystals on the table, the four quarreled amongst themselves.

"Can we trust Artie?" said Jane. "He always loses a job all the time."

"Steve Taylor," said Daria, "said we should consult with an expert in the field on those crystals, and Artie's number one when it comes to all things sci fi."

"Listen, you didn't believe all that stuff," said a doubtful Brittany, "that he rode in a lot of space ships and met little green people, ew, and went to a lot of planets, do you?"

"Hey," said Jane, "you weren't there--he was."

"Besides," said a testy Daria, "you two buttinskies didn't need to tag along."

"And why not, may I ask?" shot back Kevin. "You and Jane weren't the only ones that found crystals under you pillow, so Britt and me deserve a right to know what's up with them, and stuff."

"You tell them, Kevvy," said Brittany. "We're just as involved in the mystery as you two, take it or leave it. Besides, inquiring minds want to know."

"What now, amiga?" said Jane. "Seems we got a no win matter here."

"Just don't botch it up, you two," said Daria. "Got it?"

"Whatever you say, boss," said Kevin.

"Ditto," said Brittany.

But even as Daria and the rest were muttering amongst each other, she couldn't help but glance at the near hallway, at the half wedge like sunlight on the ceiling, and combined with the reflections of their corresponding rays of light in the mirrored walls, they formed two sunlit triangles, the same shape as the crystals.......then glancing up, she could see the shadow of the mirrored wall, and reflected in it, the other side of the shadow. In all, that formed one triangle atop the other two below, and in the process, forming an upside down triangle in the centre.

"Hey guys," said Artie, "I figured it out---and you're in seems those legends were real, just like the last alien race that took me on their UFO said."

"Took you long for that," said Jane. "So some other group of E.T.s told you some tale of some RPG based saga."

"Get on with it, Art," said Daria.

"They told me, according to the legend, that once every--was it 1200 years or 12,000?--whatever," said Artie, "that an ageless peace loving crystalline shape shifting race known as the Staalvas from the planet Staalva, located near the star Spica, in the constellation of Virgo, would launch one of its ambassadors to reside on the planet of their choice, waiting for some worthy inhabitants to share their secrets on something amazing, that they--the Staalvas, I mean-- would be the new guardians of their planet, that if they ever needed any help from any major strife, the Staalvas would help them."

"You mean like space angels?" said Kevin.

"You could say that," agreed Artie. "Anyhow, once one of their ambassadors settled on a planet, the next task was to distribute all over the planet four crystals, just like the ones you've got, and that those that found them, were the chosen ones to meet up with the ambassador at a specified meeting place where something special would be revealed--you with me so far? If they're right, you should consider it an honour to meet with what they say is one of the most helpful and friendliest space races in the galaxy."

"The E.T.s call home," said Jane, "coming up next on Sick Sad World."

"Hey, come on now," said a skeptical Brittany. "you all believe in such a half baked story? It's rubbish!! It's absolute hogwash!!"

"Don't underestimate the Staalvas," said Artie. "You should be honoured that they picked your planet from the start."

"Staalvas, my foot!!" shot back the indignant Brittany. "Come on, Kevvy, Daria, Jane, we don't wanna listen to that reject from MST3K!!" Turning on her heels, she started to walk out, but noticed the others didn't budge. Then she grabbed Kevin's arm, and pulled her QB boyfriend saying, "Will you come on, Kevvy?!?"

"Wait, babe," said Kevin. "He may be right, y' know. It could be Lawndale's first close encounter-- in fact, I was thinking what that Arnie said....."

"......which you don't do much for years," said Daria.

".........and maybe these crystals may be," said Kevin, who took the crystals, "straight out of Zelda's land of Hyrule." With that, he arranged the crystals in the Tri Force pattern familiar on Link's sheild, on the table, the red I crystal on top, the yellow VI crystal below that and the green IV and blue V crystals below the yellow--and upon seeing that, Daria did a double take, glancing back at the shadow/sunlight/mirror pattern she had been transfixed with before.

Already beyond livid and annoyed, Brittany tried to grab the QB by the ear, snarling, "Kevvy, will you stop acting like a tosser of a knucklehead?!? LET'S GO!!!!"

Suddenly, the crystals began to flash brilliantly and glow, their brilliant colours light up the dining room, and then, the crystals gave off a synthesised glissando like tone, in a melody of A, C, D and F, then played a special sequential sequence--the red crystal flashing once, the yellow flashing six times, the green flashing four times and the blue one flashing five times, each crystal also playing the same amount of tones as with the flashes, resulting in everyone galvanized at what they just saw.

"Y-you sure you didn't rig up some kind of light device in those crystals....?!?" said a hesitant Daria.

"Positive," said a surprised Artie. "Then that proves it!! The legend was right!! You've been chosen by the Staalvas!!"

"I see it," said a breathless Jane, "and I don't believe it."

"EEP!!" said Brittany, "Did you see that, Kevvy?"

"See?" said a hyped up Kevin, "I told you it was a close encounter!!"

"Of the Lawndale kind," said a breathless Daria.

As if it was the ultimate capper to the whole thing, the crystals each shot out a lightning bolt, each bolt matching the same colour as the crystal it came from, which struck one wall of Artie's place, engraving, or to be precise, burning traces into the plaster wall, like a laser cutter, a woodburning tool, for that matter. After the bolts stopped and faded from sight, almost obscured by the smoke, was the following burnt into the walll: the triad image that Daria saw on the celing and which Kevin formed into that same shape with the crystals, next to an outline of the state of California, with an X mark and what looked like an image of a crater, with next to it, 16 DEG. LAT. and 45 DEG. LON. Below that was: 5/5/2000, 5'55''00''' P.M.

Seeing something like that, the five were spellbound, Artie saying, "You people might make history."

"Jane," said Daria, "get your sketch book and pen and copy all."

"If only Claude Lacombe were here to see that," said Jane, who pulled out her sketch book.

"Did you see that, babe?" said Kevin. "Now we know there's people from space."

"It's over 9000," said a trance like Brittany who snapped out and said, "No, that ain't it. Wait, Kevvy, I saw it.......and now I believe it, I think."

"Babies have been trained as geniuses before even stepping into kindergarten," said the announcer. "Goo Goo U., next on Sick Sad World."

It was back at Jane's house where the four saw another broadcast of Sick Sad World unfold on the telly; Jane had just painted the four colour "Triad Image," as she now called it, complete with the Roman numbers on the triangles--the same image that Kevin put together on the table before they started making that sound. Near her was Daria, whilst the said Kevin, with Brittany at his side, chose to, in Daria's words, "play kissy kissy, smoochy smoochy," yet glancing at the telly for a sample of some Sick Sad World fare; at one point, Kevin yelled out, "POW!! BLAM!! KABLOOEY!! Busted!!" and Brittany called out, "Kick her to the street, girlfriend!!"

"At least those dum dums got the hang of our standard programming fare," said Daria, before turning to Jane and saying, "So, Jane, what was it you were saying before?"

"Remember that book report we did for O'Neil," said Jane, "on that book written by Erich Von Daniken?"

"As in Chariots Of The Gods?" said Daria. "I remember, but you don't believe the hypothesis that the technologies and religions of many ancient civilizations were given to them by space travelers who were welcomed as gods, do you?"

"Then how do you explain," said Jane, who finished cleaning her paintbrushes, "the existence of structures and artefacts have been found which represent higher technological knowledge than is presumed by Däniken to have existed at the times they were manufactured? Not to mention the interpretations of ancient artwork throughout the world as depictions of astronauts, air and space vehicles, extraterrestrials, and complex technology, as well as what Ezekiel saw?"

"Coincidence," said Daria. "and faulty, pseudoscientific evidence; I mean, do you truly believe a handful of extraterrestrials drew those Nazca lines in Peru? Somehow, I couldn't get used to ETs living for years in a town like Lawndale, but then again, with so many freakazoids living here, as well as Highland, it wouldn't be surprising."

"Maybe the stories Artie said then were real," said Jane. "but somehow I'll take that Staalva story over the stories of ETs as the descendants of the Egyptians, Mayans, Aztecs, Toltecs and the lot anytime."

Looking back at Kevin and Brittany, who had resumed their making out during the commercial, Daria said, "I remembered something else--Artie also said the Staalvas were a race of shapeshifters, as in chamelons that could change into any shape or form.......if they could change into human don't suppose our QB and his girl Friday/head cheerleader could be one of them as humans?"

"As if you had to ask," muttered Jane. "Maybe, maybe not; it's hard to say, given their lack of brains, but then, given the fact those Staalvas were supposed to be an intelligent race, we can say the blunder busses ain't from outer space."

"Maybe some other race?" said Daria. "Anyhow, let's get to what you copied sketchwise from what those crystals burned onto Artie's wall."

Opening up her sketch book, Jane found what she had copied and said, "We know one thing: that the I, VI, IV and V numbers were a multi purpose sequence of numbers; it's not only a set of latitude and longitude for that crater where we're to meet that Staalva ambassador, it's also the music based combination lock thing on the crystals, but for what purpose?"

"To unlock something by touching the crystals in the same amount of times, I guess," mused Daria. "And when it comes to that 5/5/2000 and the 5'55"00''' P.M., it no doubt means, if you may pardon my Russian, that we're to meet our ET friend at the crater on May 5, 2000 at 5.55 P.M."

"May 5......," said Jane, "it's to-day, and the time is at 3.55 even now. Let's get a move on."

Turning to Kevin and Brittany, Daria said, "OK, jokers, let's snap to it, we've got to get to that crater--and Jane, bring all four crystals."

"Yay!!" said Kevin. "Bout time. It was getting dull here."

"We'll take your jeep, Kevvy," said an equally ecstatic Brittany.

It was 5.50 P.M. when Kevin drove his jeep to the vast California deserts, with Brittany, Daria and Jane piled in, coming to a stop at a clearing of rocks, bushes and some basalt and granite landscapes. Ahead, was the huge crater, spanning 50 metres (150 feet) in width and an equal 50 metres in height. For the moment, all seemed quiet, almost no wind blowing, the sky getting darker and the billions of stars in the sky getting more prominent. Upon climbing out from the jeep, the four stood before their destination, staring in fascination.

"To think that was there since prehistoric times," said Jane.

"Not the kind of place to meet an ambassador from outer space," said Daria, "yet the look kind of suits the mood just right."

"But what created the crater?" said Brittany, "some volcano that went 'rumble, rumble, varoom?'"

"If it was," said Kevin, "it sure made a big fat mess here."

"I don't think so," said Daria. "If it was a volcano, there would've been a lot of lava, pumice pahoihoi and aa all over the place."

"Pahoho an ah what?" said the quizzical Brittany.

"Pahoihoi," said Daria, "which is Hawaiian for ropy which is what it looks like, whereas aa is sharp jagged volcanic rock; its name means 'anything painful,' so just imagine stepping on that with bare feet, you'd say 'aa' yourself."

"In any tongue," said Jane, "it hurts."

The sky had gotten dark, sprinkled with stars at that point, and a strong wind could be heard from the crater.........then from within that said crater could be seen flashes of blue white bolts of lightning.....then, like a plant shooting up from its pot, a blue white cylindrical cololum of light shot up from the crater, its heights reaching as high as the sky, punctuated with flashing bolts here and there on the tube of light, and at the same moment, a section of the crater's base, which was facing Daria and company, crumbled from whithin, and fell apart before a gust of wind blew it out, revealing a cave entrance with wind blowing, flashes and a glowing ray of blue white light at the other end of the tunnel.

"Shades of The Twilight Zone......" said Kevin in amazement. "Did you see that, babe?"

"And how," breathed Brittany, her eyes wide like wheels. "It's like we're right there in The Sci Fi Channel, only it's the real thingy."

"The Lawndale Files couldn't hold up a candle to that," said Jane, "and how convinient for our Staalva ambassador to open the way for our expedition........"

"Then it's time," said Daria in her usual deadpan way, "to enter the tunnel of love and get to know our host--or is it hostess? Anyhow, let's stay on our toes. Forward, march."

The four walked up to the cave, and into it, the winds blowing from it getting stronger as they neared their goal, the light up ahead accented by some flashes.........upon exiting the tunnel, entering the crater, they were in the thick of intense blowing winds and flashes, coming to a stop, unmindful of the winds, the light and the flashes, then looked up, standing and staring in fascination and amazment. And no wonder: ahead of them, a handful of yards, in the centre of the crater, was the cylindrical cololum of blue white light, swirling all around a high rocky mesa within the cololum, lightning flashes here and there along the cololum's sides, just as they had seen before, and for the most part, all that was a breathtaking sight that no-one in Lawndale had ever seen before, until now, so it was no wonder Daria and company stood transfixed by it all.

"All that time all that was there in the crater?" said Jane. "Reminds me of that Voyager 6 pit near the end of Star Trek, The Motion Picture."

"V'ger needs the information," quipped Daria. "I wonder if the Staalvas came across the Voyagers NASA shot up there years ago?"

"Maybe we could ask them?" said Kevin.

"And maybe ask then if there's a man in the moon," added Brittany.

"All in due time," said Daria, just as the cololum stopped swirling, then broke up into several gaps, like light shafts circling the mesa.

"Seems like," said Jane, "that our meeting place is atop that mesa."

"Looks like," said Daria.

One by one, each of the four ran through the gaps between the light, making it safely to the base of the mesa before the cololum refomed back to its original self and resumed swirling. After that, they climbed up the side of the flat hill, with many footholds and handholds to help them in their ascent. Finally they were atop the mesa which had in the centre, a 2.0 metre (6 foot) square marble platform; in the platform's centre, was engraved hole like spaces, shaped like the triangle crystals, arranged in The Triad Image, with the I,VI, IV, V engraved in the holes. Seeing that, Daria, out of instinct, took out from her back pack, the four crystals, and placed them in the holes, the red one in the top, the yellow in the centre hole, the green in the left hole and the blue in the right, forming the right image just as Kevin had done at Artie's; after that, as before, the crystals flashed in sequence, playing their tune of first A, C, D, F, then the I, VI, IV, V sequence. Then after a long pause, as if on instinct, Daria knelt before the crystals and touched each crystal in turn, the red once, the yellow six times, the green four times and the blue five times--and that was when the sound of a brass bell, sounding like the Big Ben bell in London could be heard, taking the quartet by surprise, before a section of the platform, where the crystals had been placed, rose up on marble cololums, just as Daria jumped off and ran to the others, a heavy duty motorised whirr from within the shaft beneath the rising platform until it stopped, the whine dying out.......and then, with a startling sound of rushing wind mixed with thunder, another shaft of white light rushed up from the shaft, engulfing the platform and its cololums, followed by something diamond shaped which rocketed up the shaft and out into the sky, before descending down as the smaller light shaft faded, an empty shaft beneath, the platform and its supports gone, and coming down, floating and hovering a metre or so over that shaft, facing Daria and friends a yard or so.

It was made of the same sharp crystal material as the four triangle crystals, only it was clear with the detail of Baccarat and Princess House precision crystal. with unending brilliant white streaks of white light streaking from the outside of the crystal to the center core and its size was that of the refridgerator in House Morgendorffer. Overall, it was a breathtaking ornate work of art that not even Jane was able to do; it was like meeting a fragment of a giant chandelier. For the moment, the four were spellbound by what they saw, the possibility of their first contact with an alien race.

"What do you think, amiga?" said Jane.

"No doubt," said Daria, "our Staalva ambassador."

Suddenly, the crystal spoke, in a whispered, vocoderised echo ridden female voice which echoed, the end of each sentence fading with each echo. "Affirmitive. Your unique Terran based logic serves you must be Daria Morgendorffer..........Jane Lane....... Kevin Thomson..........and Brittany last, you, the chosen have arrived, after so many years, decades, millenniums, eons, and so forth.......I am Nomead Reliam, viceroy and Earth ambassador for The Staalva Empire, on planet Staalva, near the star Spica, in the constellation of Virgo The Virgin, and indeed, you've done well in solving our traditional riddle ritual as part of our invitation for something special."

"Say, how'd you know our names?' said a puzzled Kevin

"We Staalvas," replied Nomead, "tend to be telepathic, particularlly in matters of identity, ambitions, and so forth. Anyhow, now that you're all here, we can carry on with the reasons why I called you here.......for generations, we Staalvas have been an ageless shape shifting peace loving race, dedicated to perserving humanity, no matter how good, if not how evil the human may seem, keeping the peace and preventing trouble, and helping out many people, for the honour of the Hevenly Father and his only son, the real king of the universe, Lord Jesus Christ."

"You were right, Kevvy," said a surprised Brittany, "they're space angels, all right."

"We've been opposed to war, violence, even the force of arms," said Nomead, "even in defence, as well as crime, abuse, racism, discrimination, and all other evil strife, as such, we've been also dedicated to dealing with that in an effort to outlaw such strife, especially when it comes to using non violent and non lethal methods to keep the peace. Indeed, throughout the eons, many races, including that of you and your fellow Terrans, even before and after your primitive standards, have avocated nonviolence for peaceful solutions, such as the prophets, even Jesus himself, the apostles, Gandhi, the list goes on, even when a lot of other races reverted to their old primate ways of war and revenge, as did your own people as well. More's the pity. We've also observed the handful of other planetary races that have, now and then landed on planets like yours over the centuries, some of which the Egyptians, the Mayans, the Incas, the Toltecs, the Aztecs, and such, took to be their so called pagan gods, and in some cases, became as one with them. If only those lost souls believed in the one God........!! But then, 'For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.' Romans 3:23, I believe."

"You said you were a shape shifting race," said Jane, convinced that Artie's story was real.

"Affirmitive," replied the ambassador. "By using our unique sight and our telepathy, we can attain a characteristic print of anything we can morph into........," At that point, the Staalva morphed into Daria, then Jane, Kevin and Brittany, saying with each transformation, "any.......shape.....and/or form..........we select." Then after morthping back to her original form, Nomead added, "It's quite a unique way to move around a planet, don't you think?"

"That must be quite a talent," said an admiring Brittany. "You had me down to a tee."

"There's more," said Nomead. "We Staalvas can utilise a unique way of projecting an illusionary pesudo holographic way of illustrating our stories-- it's got to be seen to be believed. Also, time is insignificant to a Staalva, since we're ageless. In fact, we can travel in space, from planet to planet, using a combination of hyperspace and hypertime, faster than light and faster than time respectively. Also, we can teleport ourselves, any thing and anyone, anyplace, anywhere, be it on a different planet, even in a different time, be it the past, present and future, you name it. As such, we call our method as 'The Staalva Way.' Anyhow, through my illusionary projections, allow me to show you our planet's history as well as drill you on a session of postgraduate hyper education........"

The instant the Staalva had said those words, then everything surrounding her, Daria, Jane, Kevin and Brittany started to change, as if they were standing in a starry galaxy, a well detailed planeterium, with stars everywhere, as if the were in the midst of the universe.

"Behold, the universe as we know it," said Nomead. "God's creation, and with the starry sky, what the pundits call God's Jewel Box. An infinite map of world with many worlds within, some stars with a planet circling it, some planets with moons, and some that can support humanoid life. And with it, several different parallel universes, dimensions, planetoids, moons and whatnot. So intricately and ornately created during the first seven days in the book of Genesis, and God saw it was good........long before the dark times, long before the temptation and the fall of man and woman.......behold........!!"

Instantly, appearing out of nowhere, before the group, with the stars in the background, was a huge ornate map of the solar system, an ancient one at that, with several writings in Latin depicting the planets and such, yet another breathtaking sight.

"The solar system," said the Staalva ambassador. "First envisioned by Ptolemy, then improved and verified by Coprenicus; your planet was first thought of to be in the centre of the universe, when in reality, the sun, named by the ancient Greeks as Helios, is in the centre. In truth, the earth, also known as Gaia, is the third planet from the sun, hence its conditions make it habitable for all living. But as we will soon see, is the ultraworld of our home planet known as Staalva........"

The map was soon replaced with a planet the size of Uranus, a crystalline rainbow coloured surface in ornate gradient hues and details with deserts and oceans with a few clouds here and there, in such incredible high definition detail.

"Planet Staalva," said Nomead, "located near the star Spica, out homeworld, our defintion of paradise, only we've no serpent to instill temptation. Here, we believe in hope, of peace, where the strong never victimise the weak, no racism, no strife whatsoever. A planet to spread the good faith all over the galaxy."

"All that time," said Daria, "those planets were there and the Voyager probes never discovered them."

"It's a whole other world out there......," said Jane.

"Fascinating," said Kevin.

"Fascinating's not the word for it," said Brittany, "it's like something from those Sailor Moon anime."

The illusionary scene changed again, to a rocky desert landscape of orange red colours in the sky and in the dunes, the craggy hills and the Y shaped monolith like rock structures ahead of them spanning the horizon.

"What you see before you," explained Nomead, "is one section of our planet, in the continent province of Remi. Almost every Staalva makes a journey to see all these when on a spiritual pilgrimage. And now, allow me to point out yet the planet's west hemisphere, now that we've seen the eastern hemisphere."

Again the whole thing changed to a tropical setting, with purple skies and a wide ocean, with a vast beach, trees a Mars sized moon in the sky and to the left, a landscape of Lego like box shaped buildings.

"That is the continent of Arev, and the city is Khol," said the Staalva ambassador. "It's a unique paradise. Last of all, is the capital nation of Minios, and its capital city Fiorevolta."

All at once, the scene changed to a vast landscape of a city outlined in blue lights, only now the group were skimming over the surface as if they were fliying over it. the spawling city, with the lights below reminded Daria of a lit up carnival midway, as they "flew" over city streets, buildings, railways, spires and countless Staalvas like Nomead, darting here and there, some practising their morphing abilites, others flying in the skies, and even some teleporting. Afterwards, for the next hour, Nomead showed Daria and friends the many other places, cities, towns and continents of her home planet, till at last, the illusionary images gave way to the reality of the mesa top and the now dissolving blue white cololum as well as the crater's interior.

"Well," said the ambassador, "what do you think?"

"Quite a strange trip," said Kevin, "like somthing straight from Walt Disney World."

"And the best part," said Brittany, "we didn't need no E ticket."

"A rewarding experience," said Jane. "I may do a painting of what I saw."

"A worthy hobby, indeed," said Nomead. "And what of you, Daria?"

"I'd say.......," said Daria, "that life DOES exist out there, and at least there's friends out there.....only no-one's going to believe what we've been through."

"Perhaps," said Nomead. "It's typical of some people to disbelieve you, as it is in sci fi films like The Blob. No matter; sastified that I have succeed with my task, it's time for me to go back to Staalva and report my good news to my people. Only time will tell when I come back, with some of my own, to establish a place to live on your planet, so that we can be there, should you need our help. Before I do, I wish to give you some parting advice: when good and evil choose up sides for battle, no-one can be neutral. Also, to you, Brittany, take heed: be careful how you treat Kevin, lest there be some dire consequences for you two in the distant future. And now, it's time we part ways; when the time is right, me and my fellow Staalvas will come back, in the name of peace and the good word. Perhaps, we'll meet again someday........the peace of the Lord be with you all."

"And also with you," said Daria........before a bright light engulfed everyone, Nomead rocketing up into the sky in a flash.........when the light faded, the mesa and the cololum were gone, with only Daria and friends standing on the centre bottom of an empty crater.


Daria and company walked out from the crater tunnel and back to the jeep prior to the long drive back home; only when they were on the road did Jane say, "Did we just witness the beginning of a new life form?"

"More like the proof that there's life out in outer space," said Daria."We definitely owe Artie an apology."

"If only Spielberg were here to see what we just saw," said Kevin.

"I still don't like it," said a disdainful Brittany. "That ambassador got a lot of nerve, thinking she's some prophet, saying I should treat Kevvy nice, or bad things may happen."

"Tsk, tsk, B.T.," warned Jane. "Be careful what you say, it just may come true........and it all started with four coloured crystals we found in our beds......"

"Just think," said Kevin, "those Staalvas coming back to help, there may be many other cool aliens coming here as well to help out."

"If that happens," quipped Jane, "we may just set up a customs and immigration office with one section for friendly aliens and another for hostile aliens."

"Well," deadpanned Daria, "there goes the neighbourhood......."