(Fade in to Morgendorffer living room, late August 2000. Jake is pacing. Helen is watching him, slightly exasperated.)

Jake: Where ARE they? They were SUPPOSED to be back six DAYS ago!

(overtext: "Anglo-Canadian Studios...")

Helen: Jake, will you get a grip? They were driving around the COUNTRY; it's not surprising that they're a LITTLE off-schedule.1

(overtext: "In association with Ben Yee Short Films, Inc.")

Jake: Six DAYS? That's nearly a WEEK!

Helen: (sigh) Jake...

(The sound of car motors is heard. Jake springs towards the window and looks out.)

(overtext: "Presents a Canadibrit production")

Jake: They're back!

(He and Helen sprint for the front door.)

(Scene: Morgendorffer house, exterior. Helen and Jake burst out the door.

(overtext: "of a Canadibrit/Ben Yee screenplay")

The Mercedes [with what look like bullet holes in the rear passenger door], driven by Jane, pulls up in front of the house. Quinn steps out of the back, carrying a plain black tote bag and wearing travel-stained blue jeans, a white T-shirt and a deep pink leather jacket. A fading bruise is visible up one side of her face. As the Mercedes pulls away, Quinn walks up the walk and stops in front of her parents, who are staring at her.)

(overtext: "Directed by Canadibrit and Ben Yee")

Helen: QUINN? What happened to your FACE?

Jake: I'm gonna KILL the bastard that...

(overtext: "Original story by Canadibrit.")

Quinn: Dad ... somebody already did. I'm going up to my room - I'm tired. Good night.

(Quinn brushes past them and into the house, leaving Helen and Jake to stare at her. Then another motor is heard and a van that looks incredibly like the one the A-Team drove pulls up in front of the house, closely followed by Trent's blue Plymouth.

(overtext: "Daria Morgendorffer")

Trent's behind the wheel of his car; Max is driving the A-Team van. Daria [black jeans, white shirt, forest green leather duster coat, lethal deep green boots] steps out of the front passenger side of the Plymouth, circles the car, and leans to talk to Trent.)

Daria: I don't want her staying in that house on her own. Not until...

(overtext: "Jane Lane")

Trent: She's staying over at our house. Janey's gonna set up Penny's old room. (beat) Those two are gonna be okay, right?

Daria: Eventually. (beat) I hope. (beat) I'll call later.

(overtext: "Lynn Cullen")

(Trent nods at Daria, who opens the rear passenger door, pulls out her duffel bag and steps away from the Plymouth.)

(overtext: "AP McIntyre")

(It drives off, followed by the A-Team van. Then she shoulders the bag and starts up the walk. When she reaches the door, she stops by Helen and Jake, who are staring at her.)

Daria: Mom. Dad.

Helen: (stunned) Daria? Sweetie? Are you...?

(overtext: "Quinn Morgendorffer")

Daria: (holding up a hand) We had ... a long, strange trip. That's all you need to know.

(She slips past them and up the stairs, leaving Helen and Jake to stare after her.)

(overtext: "Trent Lane")

(Scene: Daria's room. She drops her duffel bag in a corner, then takes off the coat, draping it over the bed. She sits down on the bed and kicks off the boots so hard they hit the wall opposite.)

(overtext: Jesse Moreno
Nicholas Campbell
Max Tyler)

(Then she lays back and sighs, staring at the ceiling for a moment. Then she sits up, seems to ponder, and then heads for her computer. She switches it on, waits for it to boot and then fires up a word processing programme. Close-up on Daria as we hear the sounds of her typing.)

(overtext: "And Tom Sloane in...")

Daria: (writing VO) The names and faces will be changed when I get around to it. For now, I'll just tell it like it was. (beat) Then again, may as well just leave our names. No one's going to believe this anyway.

(Cut to the screen. In bold block capitals, centred, we watch the following words get typed:)


(Black screen. Music: "School's Out" - Soul Asylum. The sound of a combination lock turning can be heard. A door opens, revealing Lynn's face as she peers into the space speculatively. Daria comes up behind her and looks in over her shoulder.)

Daria: It's clutter, Lynn, but not as we know it.2

(Pan back and out to see that they're looking into Lynn's locker.)

Lynn: Last day of any school year is fine, but I'm really looking forward to the last day of senior year.

Daria: Aren't we all.

Lynn: (casual) It's not even so much the getting out of this white-collar-nimrod factory. I'm just looking forward to piling my shredded notes and gym clothes into the bottom of my locker, dousing the lot with lighter fluid and tossing a match ... without having to worry about being expelled. (to Daria's look) You think I'm kidding.

Daria: No, I HOPE you're kidding. (when she sees that Lynn isn't) You think it'll be that satisfying?

Lynn: Imagine, if you will, the smell of burning paper and cloth. The crinkle-crinkle sound of paint being blistered by the heat. The warmth and light of the flickering flames fuelled by the symbols and results of efforts you never wanted to make. Knowing that, after four years in the stocks, you are now as free as ashes on the wind.

(Short pause as Daria and Lynn both peer into Lynn's locker.)

Daria: Synchronised arson?

Lynn: Talk to me about it next year.

(With that, Lynn scrapes all the clutter out of the locker and into a big trash can she's placed underneath the door.)

(Scene: LHS parking lot. Music plays on. Daria and Lynn approach the Merc. Jane and AP are leaning against it but straighten up when the look-alikes appear.)

AP: Hey ho, Twin Terrors!

(Daria and Lynn exchange a look)

Daria: (graciously ignoring this) You guys were quick. Finally build a matter transporter a la Star Trek?

Lynn: (not) And please don't call us that, because a boot to the coccyx often offends.3

Jane: We got let out early. (nod towards AP) He made Mr Titchmarsh cry.

Daria: Again?

AP: (shrug; mild scorn) Well, if he didn't have loopholes in the student server system big enough to drive a bus through...

Lynn: (to AP; surprised) Not the screen trick. (to AP's replying grin) I thought you were saving that for senior year.

AP: Nope; that's when I rewire all the mice and keyboards to work at different computers.

Daria: Wait a minute. 'Screen trick'...?

Lynn: (by rote; bored) Set background colour to black. Set foreground colour to black. Set everything else to black. Logoff via the keyboard. Leave.4

AP: (wicked grin) And see how many monitors they throw away before someone wises up. (beat) Oh, that reminds me, can we go down the road nearest the computer science wing? They chucked a gorgeous 19-inch...

Lynn: Sure, sure, fine, fine. (beat) Now, does anyone have any questions about next week? (as they all open their mouths) That do not involve leaving Quinn behind, selling her to an LA pimp or mummifying her with duct tape.

AP: Alum?5

Lynn: (sigh) AP...

AP: Well, why does she have to come with us anyway? I mean, we're a band and assorted tech/manager types, not ... not ... not babysitters to narcissistic poseurs with the brains of an concussed peacock. (to the looks) Direct quote. Purple Peril. March 19, 2000.

Lynn: Oh yeah. The campaign to win over Bubble Boy's parents.6 (looking surprised and a little flattered) You remembered that verbatim? AND the date?

AP: (blushing) Um ... what's that thing when you find JUST the right word...?

(Daria opens her mouth to answer but decides to let this play out.)

Lynn: Le mot juste.

AP: Oh yeah. Well, that was it.

Lynn: (blushing slightly but desperately trying not to show it) Oh. Right. Thanks. (beat; businesslike) Okay, English lesson over, serious questions...

AP: Why DOES Narcissa have to come? Erudite Emerald?

Daria: (sigh) Mom and Dad are going on a couple's retreat to try to patch their marriage up properly and they don't want Quinn in the house on her own. There have been ... incidents when Quinn's been left to her own devices with a big empty house.7

Lynn: (raised eyebrow) Do I WANT to know?

Daria: Probably not. But either Quinn goes or I stay behind. Take your pick.

Lynn: Why is it always Hobson's Choice with you?

Daria: (sigh) Well, how bad could it possibly BE? I mean, she HAS improved a lot.

AP: Yeah, but two MONTHS on the road with her?

Daria: Unless you want me to stay behind.

Lynn: (jumping on dim hope) Well, if it's going to cause trouble, maybe you should...

Daria: (killing it) Let me put it another way. I'm NOT staying behind. So what time are we heading out?

Lynn: (stifled sigh) We're meeting Tuesday morning, say around eight a.m. I'd prefer discussing itinerary while the band's around; I'd hate going over it twice. We're doubling back on ourselves a few times over the trip and it gets a bit complicated.

Jane: And is there a particular reason WHY your aunt Lorna couldn't have organised it so we could go in a straight line?

Lynn: (obviously anticipating the question; slightly too glib) Most of the places we're playing in do have other bookings, you know. Just because they want to give us a try and stay in Lorna's good books doesn't mean they're going to bend over backwards to do it.

Jane: ('it'll do for now') Okaaay...

(Lynn's phone starts bleeping "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".8 Jane, Lynn and AP look at her, faces clearly saying, "That is just SO you." Lynn shrugs and wanders off, looking for privacy. The other three exchange looks.)

Jane: You were pretty adamant about going along on this thing, Daria. (beat) Either the idea of spending over two months on the road with Trent is too good an offer for you to resist or...

Daria: (serious) I want to keep an eye on her. (beat) And are you so determined to start the yenta act up again?

Jane: Hey, I gave it a decent interval. And he still really likes you.

Daria: (raised eyebrow) Or someone who resembles me a great deal...

AP: Actually, I think you look like her. Not the other way around. She's older.

Jane: And anyway, you really think that Lynn and Trent have something going? (to Daria's "We-ell" look; not noticing that AP wears an identical one) On, come ON, Daria!

Daria: Well, there was ... New Year. (beat) And they have been on a date...9

Jane: Which bombed. He ... had his mind on someone else, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more...10

AP: (grin in which relief can be seen) That's Purple Peril's line, Art-Smart Scarlet...

Jane: Whatever; and anyway, she... ('stop right there...') doesn't feel that way about him either. Either she has rules about not dating someone she's in a band with or she's pretending to so she doesn't have to try letting Max down gently.

Daria: (thoughtful) Oh. (beat) Why doesn't that relieve me more?

Jane: (groan) Don't tell me you're OVER him! I mean, you weren't even over him when you were dating AP! You CAN'T be over him NOW!

Daria: Why not? It's been months since he acted like he gave a damn. (Jane throws up her hands in disgust. Daria smirks.) Don't let it get you down, Jane. I'm sure you'll find some other way to meddle in my love life.

AP: Just don't try setting her up with Casey Wright. He doesn't deal well with women who talk more than he does. (to the stares) He doesn't get out much. (changing subject NOW) How are things with Goat-boy, anyway?11

Jane: Well, the second date went a bit better. He's a tough guy to get to know - I wonder if I like him or just the challenge of finding out whether or not he really IS a jerk.

(Re-enter Lynn, looking fed up.)

Lynn: Sorry, guys, pizza's off. We meet on Tuesday in front of Casa Lane. Pack light. Later.

(Without another word, she gets into the car and drives away. Neither Daria, Jane nor AP look impressed in the slightest.)

Daria: You see why I want to keep an eye on her?

Jane: Oooooh yeah.

(Scene: Tom's room. Music: "Americana" - Offspring. Tom is packing a suitcase. Lynn is sitting on his desk, legs crossed, looking irritated.)

Tom: (inserting double-handful of socks into suitcase) Okay, New York.

Lynn: Hook up with Leopard; ask about the merchandise, check the inventory, do the books. Can't we trust these people to do ANYTHING?

Tom: Mr Smythe prefers a family touch. (digging through his closet) Pittsburgh.

Lynn: Dinner with Eco, Aph and NCM; check what's happening with the site and the networks, see if they've liased with Chopper on some business that happened with legits back in March. If possible, get out to where Chopper is and talk to him personally.

Tom: (coming out with kevlar vest, which goes into the suitcase) Highland.12

Lynn: We're not staying very long in Texas, but we're supposed to at least talk to SS Rat and see if he's got through on that stupid little bunch of upstarts. (sigh) See, I know this; do I HAVE to spend the next four days repeating it to you?

Tom: (pointedly ignoring the complaint; piling folded T-shirts on top of the kevlar) San Francisco.

Lynn: (deeper sigh) I've got to have discussions with Warlock, Scar and Pagebert about the fact that Jensen's nosing around the contacts again. Propose that they look into hiring DJ on the matter.

Tom: (stopping mid-pack; wide-eyed) WHAT? But DJ's...

Lynn: DJ is what Dad suggested as the best method of dealing with someone like Jensen. She's good at what she does.

Tom: He's serious about Jensen, isn't he?

Lynn: We-ell... yeah.

Tom: (suspicious) What do you know?

Lynn: (smirk) Not telling. Unless, of course, you'd like to give me the evening off to actually talk to my friends for a change.

(Short pause.)

Tom: (adding a pair of jeans to the pile in the suitcase) Mississippi.

(Lynn sighs)

(Scene: Casa Lane, exterior. Music plays on. Trent and Jesse are loading an amp into the back of the Tank. The Merc, pulling a trailer covered by a tarp, pulls up in front of the Tank, parking nose to nose with the van. Lynn steps out of the car and walks towards the back.)

Lynn: Hey guys.

Trent: Hey Lynn. Daria and her sist... I mean, her OTHER sister are here.

Lynn: (raised eyebrow) How'd Narcissa pack?

Trent: Light. And it's killing her. Slowly.

(Lynn gives a small smirk of satisfaction. AP ambles down the block wearing a very large camper's backpack that's threatening to tip him over with his weight. As he approaches the Merc, Daria and a whining Quinn step out of the Lane house.)

Quinn: ...isn't FAIR! I can't SURVIVE two months with just those clothes! They'll get OLD! They'll go out of FASHION! All that stuff I bought last week won't even be worth WEARING when I get back! It'll never have had its CHANCE! And I STILL don't understand WHY we couldn't have asked TED to come TOO! I mean, he's REALLY smart and he could be REALLY useful and YOUR boyfriend gets to come and I don't see WHY...

Daria: Quinn, could you please save the whining until we're actually ON the road? And he's not my boyfriend anymore.

Quinn: WhatEVER. Once a guy likes you, he ALWAYS likes you. Unless he never really liked you in the first place, which happens too, though never to ME, of course...

Daria: (too close to home) Shut UP, Quinn.13

Lynn: (to AP) Maybe I should reconsider the alum.

AP: (weak grin; panting) Thought ... you'd ... say that.

Lynn: (sigh) Oh, here, give it to me.

(Lynn takes hold of the back of the bag as AP shrugs out of it and she tosses it into the back seat of the Merc with little effort. AP sags and sighs with relief.)

AP: Thanks, Purple Peril.

(Jane wobbles out of the house and staggers towards Lynn.)

Jane: (groggy) You. Coffee. Now.14

Lynn: (raised eyebrow) Yes, O master...

(She heads for the front passenger seat of the Merc and rummages underneath. As she does this, Daria approaches and looks in the trailer in back. She shifts the tarp to reveal Lynn's purple Laverda Strike.)

Daria: You brought Amethyst. (beat) And I was worried about QUINN packing heavy.15

Lynn: Look, no way in HELL am I not taking advantage of nearly deserted mountain roads. KILLER ride.

Daria: (nearly under her breath) Oh yeah, killer. And the rest of us can then have a rock-paper-scissors competition to see who scrapes your battered remains off a canyon wall.16

(Lynn, who caught that, looks sidelong at Daria, who gives Lynn a reproving look. Lynn looks a bit taken aback at the bitterness in that statement, but lets it go and goes back to the coffee hunt. She comes up with the thermos and undoes the cup lid, pouring some coffee into it. As she goes to hand it to Jane, we hear the sound of a damaged engine at work and Tom's rustbucket approaches around a corner. Jane's eyes narrow, she grabs the thermos from Lynn and heads for the Tank, climbing into the shotgun seat and slamming the door behind her. Daria and Lynn raise eyebrows at each other.)

Lynn: If there's going to be a problem with those two, maybe she should stay behind.

Daria: (raised eyebrow) HER? Why not HIM?

Lynn: Well, he ... I... (sigh) Never mind. Let's just say leaving HIM behind is not an option.

(Daria glares at her. Lynn shrugs and downs her thermos lid of coffee. Tom's car stops nose to trunk with the Merc and Tom steps out. He heads for Lynn.)

Tom: Cullen. Private word.

(Lynn heaves a sigh and wanders towards the rustbucket with him. Daria's scowl gets deeper. AP approaches from behind Daria and glares after Lynn and Tom as well.)

AP: They gonna do that the whole trip? Cos I'd like to keep a meal down in the next two months.

Daria: AP ... whatever's going on, I don't think it's ... that.

AP: And how do YOU know?

Daria: (seriously considering) I don't know. But they're not giving off the right signals.

AP: You mean like spending all that time together?

Daria: How WILLING does it seem?

AP: (considering) Point. (beat) But still. I want... I hoped... (sigh) Never mind.

(AP wanders away. Daria looks after him, then sighs and wanders over to the Tank. She watches Jane guzzle coffee from the thermos, then knocks on the window. Jane looks out, sees Lynn and Tom in discussion in the rustbucket and rolls the window down.)

Daria: (looking at the rustbucket) Ever wanted to hit people until they see what's good for them?

Jane: (looking at AP, who's digging through his rucksack in the backseat of the Merc) ALL the time.

(Trent walks up to the rustbucket and hammers on the window.)

Trent: So what's our itinerary?

(Lynn steps out of the car, followed by Tom.)

Lynn: We were just discussing that. (unfolds a map on the rustbucket hood and traces the route with her finger) First we're taking a stop in some little burg in Texas. From there, through Louisiana to Mississippi - Long Beach, specifically. I thought direct to Florida from there - Yes, we're stopping in Disney and I don't want to hear any arguments - I was denied the fromage in my childhood and I feel I'm owed. (Look that dares anyone to argue. No one does) Anyway. Trundle up through the Carolinas until we reach Washington DC. From there through New Jersey - don't even ask. Then back through New York, Pennsylvania, across the northern states until we hit Nevada, then California, and on through Arizona, New Mexico ... and back here.

Daria: (suspicion) What 'little burg in Texas'?

Lynn: Highland.

Daria: Oh, GOD, no.

Jane: Can't take the heat, Daria?

Daria: You heard about the uranium in the drinking water in Highland, didn't you?

Jane: Oh, yeah. Sick Sad World Exclusive the week before you got to Lawndale. But that's one I DIDN'T believe; I mean, those two cerebrally deficient morons, one of them going (sticks her arms in the air and drags her shirt over her head) 'I AM THE GREAT CORNHOOOO...

(She sees the look on Daria's face ... a mixture of contempt, resignation and horror, and slowly puts her arms down. Her chant fades away.)

Jane: You mean...

Daria: OH yeah.

Jane: At your SCHOOL?

Daria: Beavis and Butthead.


Daria: I don't know that it's his real name. Rumour had it that Butthead's mom was on a mescaline high when she was giving birth. (beat) I'm not discussing it. (They all look at her. She looks back.) Well? Are we going or not?

Lynn: (shrug) We're going. Pick a car. Any car.

Jane: That was BAD, Lynn.

Lynn: Puncrime. So shoot me.

(AP clambers into the shotgun seat of the Merc and gives Tom an excrement-eating grin. Daria rolls her eyes and gets in the back. Lynn gets behind the wheel. Max, Nick and Jesse pile into the Tank and Jane and Trent clamber into the Plymouth.)

Quinn: (disgusted) I don't BELIEVE I'm doing this. I wouldn't be seen DEAD in this car.

Tom: (under his breath) If it were up to me, you would...

(Quinn gets into the passenger seat as he says this so misses it completely. Tom gets into the driver's seat. Lynn waves a hand and starts driving. The others follow.)

(Montage sequence. Music: "Open Road Song" - Eve 6.

The rustbucket. Tom is resolutely ignoring Quinn, who is sulking on her side of the seat. After awhile, she digs in a bag at her feet and takes out a tube of lipstick, folding down the sun visor on her side and pouting when she finds no mirror there. Then she reaches up and grabs the rearview mirror and wrenches it around to face her. It snaps off in her hand. She looks at it, then at a DeMartino-esque Tom, then shrugs and starts applying lipstick.18

The Merc. AP is sifting through a box of CDs, alternately pulling slightly confused looks and making faces. Daria looks bored and somewhat fed up - this seems to have been going on some time. Eventually, Lynn rolls her eyes and, without looking, takes a hand off the wheel and digs in the box, pulling out a CD seemingly at random and handing it to AP. AP looks at it, then at her, then at it, then shrugs and puts it into the CD player, pressing Play. A moment later, he looks very sorry he did so, but Daria doesn't look too bothered and Lynn even gets a small smile. AP notes that and schools his facial expression.

The Tank. Jesse is driving, and Max and Nick are arguing. As usual.)

Max: Look, when I'm going foom-foom-foom-foom, what damn good does it do to have you going badda-dah, badda-dah, badda-dah, blat?

Nick: It's not blat, Max -- it's blam.

Jesse: Haven't you two had this conversation before?

Max: Well, he keeps going blat.

Nick: Blam, man, it's blam!19

(The Plymouth. Jane is asleep, and Trent is nearly there himself.)

(Scene: roadside rest area [picnic tables, information booth, snack stand, that sort of thing]. Music: "Gone The Dream" - Ash. The gang have shoved two picnic tables together and are sitting at them. They are all picking at their food and no one looks happy - in fact, they all look tense as hell. Max looks around and kind of tries a grin.)

Max: I'm going to the pic...

Group: NO!20

(Max looks like he's been slapped and shrinks in his seat. The others go back to their intense study of their food.)

Tom: We have GOT to have some kind of passenger rotation going here. I can't drive all day. (beat; grumble) And ESPECIALLY not with HER.

Quinn: HEY! You're not exactly the kind of person *I* want to be spending hours with EITHER, you know! Cute you may be, but you have NO taste in music. (beat) OR clothes.

Tom: Has anyone ever told you that, when you reach a certain state of whine, your voice could peel paint?

Daria: (aside to Lynn) Is this deliberate?

Lynn: (suspiciously innocent) Is WHAT deliberate?

Daria: Making him sit in a car with Quinn for hours on end. Is this some kind of cruel and unusual punishment?

(Lynn, deadpan, looks towards Daria for a moment ... then gives a very small smirk that answers the question perfectly clearly. Daria raises an eyebrow at her.)

Lynn: What, you don't approve?

Daria: Oh, I approve. Nice to seeing you operating to your usual standard - low-key subversive irritation.

(Lynn shrugs.)

Quinn: (frustrated as hell) OOH!

(She dumps the contents of a bottle of soda over Tom's head and goes to lounge in the backseat of the Merc. Everyone looks at her, and then at Tom.)

Tom: Don't ask.

Lynn: You're depriving us. This is not good.

Tom: (sigh) I asked her, if she's so up on fashion, why is she, a redhead, wearing pink?

(Daria, Jane and Lynn look at each other. Then they drop their heads on the table and choke on suppressed laughter. AP, Tom, and the male members of Mystik Spiral look at each other, bemused.)

AP: Uh ... was that funny?

Tom: Not THAT funny.

Max: What WAS that, CHICK humour?

(The rest of the guys look at him in horror, then at the girls - Lynn particularly - expecting the wrath of the Furies. Daria, Jane and Lynn, however, are still laughing.)

Daria: (choked) I ... don't ... BELIEVE ... no one ... ever ... ASKED that... (dissolves into chuckles)

Jane: I'm an ARTIST and I never... (hoots with laughter)

(Lynn, head in her arms, just keeps laughing.)

AP: I'm never gonna understand girls.

Tom: (slightly sad) Your first mistake is expecting to. (to Lynn, loudly) HEY! CULLEN! VEHICLE SWAP ROTA!

(Lynn sits up and wipes her eyes a little.)

Lynn: (mirthful voice) You never let me have any fun. (businesslike) Right. Vehicle rota.

(AP looks really sad - "I miss that happy voice." But Lynn doesn't notice; she's already head to head with Tom, having a businesslike conversation.)

(Cut to some time later. Music plays on. This time Jane's behind the wheel of the Merc, with Trent riding shotgun and Quinn still in the backseat. Jesse's behind the wheel of Trent's Plymouth with AP in the backseat. Nick is driving the Tank, Max shotgun; Daria is climbing into the back, careful of her head this time. And Lynn and Tom are in the Rustbucket. Tom starts the engine and it makes some nasty noises.)

Lynn: Do I even want to know when this thing last saw a mechanic?

Tom: I'm not worried. You made the Tank run, didn't you?21


Lynn: Point. Drive.

(And the Rustbucket leads the caravan out.)

(Scene: In a store. Music: Depeche Mode - Somebody. Lynn has an assortment of hardware - screws, clips, and a really large hammer. She also has a folding lawnchair.)

Daria: Lynn... what are you going to do with all that?

Lynn: You know where the Tank used to have a luggage rack?

Daria: Yes...22

Lynn: It will now have a lawnchair. (beat) And me.

AP: I'm going to run to men's clothing real quick.

Daria: (not quite sure she should ask) For?

AP: (glance at Lynn, who's wearing a maniacal grin) A belt or three.

(Scene: parking lot. The Depeche Mode continues. Which is not dissimilar to what it did to us while we wrote this. Lynn is balancing on the roof of the Tank, attaching the lawnchair. AP clambers up and watches her work for a moment. Then...)

AP: Hey ho, Purple Peril...

Lynn: (spinning fast) GAH!

(She nearly goes over the side. AP, fears now perfectly justified, makes a grab for her - winds up holding her shoulders while she finds her balance.)

AP: Sorry...

Lynn: (slightly meek) S'okay. (beat; nearly reluctant) You ... can let go now.

AP: (equally reluctant) Oh. Right. Kay. (after a second, he does)

Lynn: So ... you wanted something?

AP: Uhhh... (holds up the belts)

Lynn: Oh. In the seatbelt vein, I take it. (AP nods. Lynn looks at them a moment, seeming almost touched, then takes them.) Uhhh ... thanks.

AP: (feeling a need to explain) Well, you know, we've been friends a long time, and you've saved my life kinda and ... well, it'd hurt like hell to see you splattered all over the road... (beat) I ... y'know, I ... (nearly under his breath) icareaboutya...

(Lynn looks at him. Their eyes meet and the look lasts. Lynn opens her mouth...)


Lynn: (over the side) AND IF I *AM*? WHO DIED AND MADE *YOU* MY MOTHER? (to AP; shrug) Excuse me.

(Lynn clambers down past AP and looks back, confused - a little. Then shakes her head and heads for the Rustbucket. Pan back to AP, who's looking after her.)

AP: Damnit.

(He sits down... the chair's back reclines and whaps the back of his head into the roof of the Tank)

AP: AUGH!!! *thump* Owwwwwwww...

Max: (alerted by the noise) Wha? (beat) Lynn! What were you thinking? That seat will never come off!

(Scene: A bar. Music: "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone" - Paula Cole. Someone is taking down a sign that says "The Viper Club" and replacing it with a sign that says "The Feeding Trough Bar And Grill". Lynn looks a bit fed up.)

Daria: Um ... what are they doing?

Lynn: Sticking us straight into Blues Brothers hell.

(Scene: Bar interior. Music plays on. Think that godforsaken bar in "The Blues Brothers" - same long rows of wooden benches, same grubby bar, same cage around the stage area. Lynn is conversing with a lanky older man in a pair of overalls, a chambray shirt and a ten-gallon hat.)

Lynn: What do you MEAN, you bought them out?

Man: Well, weren't much call for that racket the young'uns play out in this part o' town. Place went bust.

Lynn: I see. And yet you still want us to play for you.

Man: Indeedy, miss. I mean, it's like this. We ain't got the time to go rustlin' up an act for opening night. And you're under contract for us already.

Lynn: No ... we're under contract for the owners of The Viper Club.

Man: Which, for the moment, is me, missy.

Lynn: And what kind of music do you expect us to play?

Man: Oh, we ain't fussy. We like both kinds.

Lynn: BOTH kinds?

Man: Country ... AND western!23

(Lynn sighs.)

(Scene: Outside "The Feeding Trough Bar And Grill"; stage door. Music plays on. The gang are standing around, waiting for Lynn to come out, looking a bit uncertain. Lynn comes out, looking fatigued, and heads for the gang and the stage door they're surrounding.)

Daria: So how'd it go?

Trent: Did we get out of it?

Jane: Where are you going?

(Lynn stops at the door and looks back at them, resignation on her face.)

Lynn: I am GOING ... (sigh) To go look up the lyrics to "I've Got Tears In My Ears From Lying On My Back While I Cry Over You".

(She goes in through the stage door, slamming it behind her. The gang looks REALLY confused.)

(Scene: a grubby backstage area with minimal scarred wood furniture and windows that last got a wash in 1968. [AD, we hope.] Music plays on. Lynn is online on her laptop, and a pile of papers is sitting by her small printer. Daria enters behind her and starts leafing through the paper.)

Daria: (reading titles from the papers) "I Don't Know Whether To Kill Myself Or Go Bowling"?

Lynn: (not looking up) That about sums up my feelings right now.

Daria: (still reading) "How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away"? "I'm So Miserable Without You It's Like Having You Here"? "If I Had Shot You When I Wanted To I'd Be Out By Now"? "Mama Get A Hammer [There's A Fly On Papa's Head]"?

Lynn: If I have to sing country western, I'm going to do it MY way.

Daria: Frank Sinatra?

Lynn: Sid Vicious.24

(There is a pause. Then a title catches her eye and her eyes widen. She looks at Lynn.)

Daria: You made this one up.

Lynn: No I didn't. They're ALL traceable on the Net. (beat) They probably didn't used to exist before that e-mail forward about Worst Country/Western Song Titles of All Time, but people built on that and...25

(Daria looks at Lynn incredulously)

Daria: Somebody actually sat down and made up lyrics to "My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink And I Don't Love Jesus"?

Lynn: (smirk) That's for the encore.

(Scene: the bar. It's fairly crowded. The band is on, tuning their instruments and looking really uncomfortable. Lynn, in the stage outfit she adopted in "Thrash of the Titans", steps onstage and approaches the mike with an "I can't believe I'm DOING this" expression.)

Lynn: (sigh) We are Mystik Spiral. Live with it.

(And the band starts playing a rendition of "You Got the Ring and I Got the Finger" - I'm forbearing on real lyrics out of respect for the literate. People start chucking bottles at the stage.)

AP: Is that the good kind of bottle throwing or the bad kind of bottle throwing?

Daria: Good, I think. They don't seem to be strictly AIMING.26 (silver lining, anyone?) Well ... their technique's improved.

AP: (head in hands) I can't watch. This hurts.

Tom: They're not that bad.

AP: (looking at Tom, angry) NOT THAT BAD? Look, Rusty-come-lately, if you knew Purple Peril at ALL you'd know that she always said that if she goes to hell when she dies, she'll be locked in a room with a guitar and a guy with a cattle prod and be forced to play "The Gambler" for the rest of eternity! (Everyone stares at him.) What?

Tom: Most people don't share their personal hells with me on short acquaintance. (beat) And that has put a really unwelcome image in my head.

Jane: She. Knows the words. To "The Gambler".

AP: Summer camp. LONG story.27

Daria: (from experience) Probably best not to think about it. (Jane looks at Daria with a "you're holding out on me" expression.) Another time, Jane.

(Scene fades out with Daria, Jane, AP and Tom lost in their own little not-very-fun worlds.)

(Scene: backstage, The Feeding Trough Bar And Grill. Music: "Iron Man" - Black Sabbath. Two VERY familiar faces pop their heads round the door. [Yep - I FINALLY succumbed to temptation and included a Beavis & Butthead cameo].)

Beavis: This sucks! Yeah! Mhehhehhehheh. What happened to all the rock music?

Butthead: Shut up, dill-hole! Huhhhuhhuuhuhuh. That was Diarrhea up on stage!

Beavis: YEAH! Mmehhehmhehhehheh! Diarrhea-cha-cha-cha! Diarrhea-cha-cha-cha!

Daria: (OS) Oh, GOD...

(Enter Daria and AP. Daria looks disgusted and resigned. AP looks confused.)

AP: Who ... sorry, WHAT ... are THESE?

Daria: The result of irradiated drinking water in Highland, Texas.

AP: (points to Beavis) It's wearing a Metallica T-shirt. (beat) I think the word Purple Peril uses is 'sacrilege'.

Beavis: Diarrhea-cha-cha-cha! Diarrhea-cha-cha-cha!

Butthead: Shut up, ass-wipe! (to Daria) Hey, Diarrhea. Uhuhhuhhuhhuhhuh. I thought you were on stage.

Daria: (sigh) No, that's just Lynn. She just LOOKS like me. (beat) A little.

(Daria turns around to see Beavis about to guzzle something from a thermos.)

Daria: Oh, GOD, no...

AP: What? It's just Lynn's coffee. It only causes temporary blindness in about 5 percent of the population.

Daria: When he gets a caffeine high...

(Beavis guzzles the coffee, goes through his convulsions, then pulls his shirt up over his head and you all KNOW what's about to happen...)

Beavis: NYAAAAAAH! I AM THE GREAT CORNHOLIO! I want some TP for my bunghole!

AP: He wants WHAT?

Daria: (resigned) If I recall correctly, TP for his bunghole.

Beavis: Are you threatening me?

AP: (freaked-out look) Wouldn't DREAM of it, man.

Beavis: You cannot escape the Almighty Bunghole. My people, they have no bungholes. There is but ONE bunghole among the people of Lake Titicaca! You will lead me to the Almighty Bungholio!

AP: Demented...


Daria: I always thought that someday I'd get used to this.


(The sound of smashing bottles signals the end of the set. Lynn steps offstage and stops short when she sees what's going on.)

Lynn: Who are these morons and what are they doing backstage?

Butthead: Hey, baby! Wanna do it? Huhhuhhuuhuhuhhhuh!

(With no hesitation whatsoever, Lynn punches him in the nose, then in the stomach and then knees him in the groin when he doubles over. Butthead drops to the floor.)

Lynn: (to the now fetal Butthead) Even if I HAD left you capable ... no. (beat; to Daria and AP) Now will SOMEONE tell me...

(Beavis, who's been walking in circles around the room, comes up behind Lynn.)

Beavis: Are YOU the Almighty Bunghole?

(Lynn doesn't even look around. She just brings her fist up directly into Beavis' nose. He drops.)

Lynn: (as if nothing had happened) ...who those pieces of waste ARE?

Beavis: (OS; weak) Mheh-heh-heh! Hey, Butthead! Mheheh! This chick kicks ass!28

(Lynn lashes out with a foot and Beavis falls silent.)

Daria: THIS is why I don't discuss life before Lawndale with anyone.

Lynn: Get security.

Daria: You think this place has security?

Lynn: (sigh) Figures. Then get Jesse to haul them out. (beat; prods Beavis with her foot) But before you do, can you take the Metallica T-shirt off this one and burn it? That is SUCH sacrilege.

Male voice: (OS from doorway) Need a hand?

(Pan to see the owner of the male voice; early 30's, quite thin, relatively tall, negligible tan for someone living in Texas. Black T-shirt, blue jeans, longish shaggy hair.)

Lynn: Nah; I think the band can handle things. You must be Rat.

Rat: Yep. Yo.

Lynn: Give me a sec; I'll be right out.

(Rat nods and leaves. Lynn starts unbuckling the boots as an excuse to lower her head and avoid the stares she's getting.)

Daria: Who was THAT?

Lynn: Rat. (beat) A ... sort of friend of mine.

AP: But ... but ... but I'd KNOW if you knew him!

(Lynn shrugs and gives up on the boot buckles, opting instead to go for the jacket hanging on a hook by the door. She slips it on and looks at the effect of stage outfit plus flack jacket and frowns in disapproval.)

Daria: And you couldn't have made introductions?

Lynn: I could have.

(Lynn grabs her book bag off another hook and leaves without another word. Daria and AP stare at each other. Max comes in lugging a bass drum and looking really pissed off.)

Max: (indignant) Who's the weasel Lynn's with?

Daria: (sigh) Not a weasel, but a Rat.

(Max looks askance at her, obviously puzzled.)

(Scene: the bar. From in front of the cage, the Darians are watching as, across the room, Lynn and Tom sit at a corner table and converse with Rat.)

AP: It's just like that dream. Business-talking, not friendly-talking. (beat) What GIVES?

Daria: Would any of your 'Methods' happen to involve eavesdropping on a conversation?

AP: None of the ones *I* came up with. Purple Peril does all that stuff. I do that ... what was that word you used when we were moving around the school for Operation Ace of Spades?

Jane: (rolling her eyes) Skulking.29

AP: Yeah, that one. (beat) Well, I suck at it.

Daria: And anything else that requires any degree of physical control.30 (beat) What are our chances of prying information out of her on this?

Jane: I'm guessing two - slim and none. (beat) Damn Tom anyway. I bet this is all HIS fault.

Daria: Quick to place blame on the ex.

Jane: Daria, that's what exes are FOR.

(Daria raises an eyebrow and goes back to watching the threesome at the table. Then her eyes drift across the room and she stares for a moment, then sorts of shifts so that she's a bit behind the others.)

Trent: Uh...

Jane: See an old flame?

Daria: Now there's a thought guaranteed to lose me my dinner. Not a flame, just a ... no words fit Todd.

(She discreetly gestures, and we see Todd standing in another corner of the room. He eases further back and pulls out a cellphone. He hits a speed-dial button and leans against the wall. Daria looks suspicious.)

Jane: (noting the look) I don't want to know, probably, but...

(Lynn steps over to where the others are, shooting a sidelong glance at Todd in the corner as she approaches.)

Lynn: Daria, you're a native. You know the grub in the corner?

Daria: ('Excuse me?') Well, yeah. His name is Todd - he's known as a small-time criminal waiting for a shot at the bigger leagues.31 (shrug) He hasn't got much chance around here, though...

Lynn: (narrowed eyes) I see. Thanks.

(And she walks away without another word. The gang stare at her.)

Nick: She's a good singer, and she cracks the whip like a ringmaster but ... does anyone GET her lately?

Daria: (suspicious and depressed) No. I don't.

(Cut to the table in the corner, to which Lynn has returned. She nods to Tom, who stands.)

Rat: Hmm?

Lynn: We're bailing. But you see the guy in the corner? (Rat looks discreetly, nods) Routine factfinding mission. I have an unpleasant hunch.

(Rat nods. Lynn and Tom walk back towards the gang.)

Jane: Have fun?

Lynn: No. We're gone.

(Lynn and Tom walk out. Jane turns to Daria.)

Daria: Not asking. This time, I have a feeling I REALLY don't want to know.

(She follows Lynn and Tom out. The others follow, in varying states of bemusement. Cut to Todd in the corner.)

Todd: Yeah, Jensen? They're mobile. Highland now, headed east, I think. I...

Rat: (OS; lethal) I want to talk to you, kid...

(Todd, looking very much like he feels the cold point of a stiletto knife somewhere in the region of his kidneys [he does, by the way], drops the phone on the floor. A heavy workboot drops on it.)

(Scene: the Merc. Lynn driving, AP shotgun, Daria and Jane in the back. After a moment, AP looks sidelong at Lynn.)

AP: Could we just ... maybe ... have the radio? I think we've heard everything in your shoebox three times running now.

Lynn: (sigh) Fine.

(AP turns on the radio ... and it's partway through Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". AP grins widely; Lynn wears a reluctant smirk and Daria and Jane look like they know what's going to happen and they're not sure they like it.)

AP: Oh, come ON! We've GOTTA do this!

Daria: No. We don't.

AP: At least the headbanging!

Daria: AP...

(It's got to the headbanging point. AP does. Lynn joins in, but carefully so she can watch the road. Daria and Jane look at each other.)

Jane: When in Rome... (starts headbanging)

Daria: I'll never live this down. (and she joins in too.)32

(Scene: a small, cosy restaurant, Mississippi. Music: "Blaze of Glory" - Bon Jovi. Daria, Jane, Lynn and AP are sitting at a table by a window, looking at menus. They are rather quiet. Eventually, Daria looks up.)

Daria: Tuna melt?

Lynn: (yuck-face) I wouldn't. Saw a movie once - on a plane, so don't ask for title or plot - where some couple had tuna melt in a place like this and they were sick as the proverbial dog.

Jane: Life imitates art?

Lynn: No, art imitates life. Remember the writing comp from hell?33

(dead silence for a moment.)

All: (in unison) Note to self - no tuna melt.

(Pause for a moment)

AP: Hey, Purple Peril ... gotta ask. Why the hell haven't we stopped since Highland?

Daria: We did drive clear across Louisiana, Lynn. And the only stops we made were brief leg-stretches and drive-through windows.

Lynn: (trapped) Umm... we have an itinerary? (to the "not good enough" expressions) Look, it's a long story. Suffice it to say that we have to keep a move on. (beat) Anyway, we've stopped now, right? And there has to be a local delicacy to try. This is Mississippi. Good for seafood.34

Daria: But we're avoiding the tuna melt ANYWAY?

Lynn: I bet it's the cheese.

AP: Yeah! Seafood! Think they got shrimp?

Lynn: It's called a menu. Inarticulate though you can sometimes be, you're far from illiterate.

(AP blushes and turns to the menu. Jane stretches and sighs.)

Jane: Damn, but I'm glad to be out of the cars for awhile. You know the Tank STILL smells of antique peanut butter? I bet it's gonna take a BLOWTORCH to...35

(The Tank blows up. For a second, all four of them just stare out the window at the flaming wreckage.)

Daria: (completely casual with shock) Well, that's ONE way to do it...

Lynn: (same) At least Max'll stop bitching about the chair.

Daria: (still stunned) At least Quinn won't have to worry about her clothes going out of fashion anymore...

Lynn: (it hits) Oh craaaaap. We have to get out of here. Right. Now.

Daria: Lynn, what we have to DO is call the police. I mean, someone just...

Lynn: I know what someone just. But we have to voom. NOW.

Jane: But...

Lynn: Get the guys together and go out the back way. (speaking up) RUST! PROBLEM!

Max: (OS) What the HELL was that?

Lynn: You don't want to know! (to Tom, who has approached from another table) We sweep the other cars. They go out the back. We take any untowards off the rest of the vehicles, collect them and get the hell out of here.

(Tom nods and takes off out the front door. Lynn looks at Daria, Jane and AP.)

Lynn: AP, distract the service staff and make sure they all get out the back door. Daria, once there, take charge - head count, dissemination of info, that kind of thing...

Daria: What INFO? All I know is that the Tank blew up and we're evacuating without calling the police about it!

Lynn: (sigh) Well, tell them THAT, then. But I'd prefer Jane to break it to Max about the Tank. She knows him best. (mutter) If there's anything wrong with the Merc... (shakes her head) Never mind. I'm out of here. You guys do the same.

(Lynn exits from the front door. The other three look at each other.)

AP: We don't wanna know?

Daria: Not yet. (beat) Do what she says.

(AP thinks a moment... then steps over to the kitchen door, opens it and pokes his head in.)

AP: (OS) Wow, never seen an industrial kitchen before... (steps into the kitchen) Ooh ... what does THIS... (crash and clatter) Soooorry...

(Daria and Jane look at each other.)

Jane: Somebody's been watching too much Dexter's Lab.

(Scene: a hotel lobby. Music "Trust Me" - Jesus Jones. Daria, Jane and Quinn are standing by what remains of the group's luggage - AP's large backpack, another one, equally large [the "Parental Advisory - Explicit Lyrics" patch sewn on the front suggests it's Lynn's], Tom's suitcase, Daria's duffel and a small black tote bag. Quinn is shocked white.)

Quinn: Those ... were ... my best ... things...

Daria: Quinn, look at it this way. It could have been a lot worse. It could have been YOU inside that van.

Jane: (sotto aside to Daria) That would have been WORSE?

Daria: (not amused) Jane.

(Pan to a sofa nearby where, much like in "Speedtrapped", Trent, Jesse and Nick are comforting a weeping Max.)

Max: Somebody blew up my BABY! AND my drumkit! I mean, I... (incoherent blubbering)

Trent: We're all hurting, man. We had some good times in that van.

Nick: Damn, what are we gonna do NOW? Our big break and it blows up in our faces.

(Max sobs louder.)

Jesse: Not funny, man.

Nick: What? (beat) Oh, sorry, Max. But come on, we've got no instruments, we've got no van ... we're screwed to the WALL, guys.

Lynn: (approaching) Now THERE'S an attractive mental image.

Trent: Hey, Lynn. We registered?

Lynn: Uh-huh. Hope you guys don't mind sharing a room.

Trent: No problem. (beat; pulling her aside) Is Nick right? I mean, ARE we screwed?

Lynn: No. We're not screwed. Give me three days and I think I can get all the stuff we lost replaced.

Trent: (stunned) ALL of it? Where are we going to get the money to do THAT? I mean, we've barely PLAYED anywhere. And you're not THAT loaded.

Lynn: As far as you know. (handing over a key) Look, take the guys up - it's room 6. And for God's sake, don't let Max hit the bottle. I'll need him coherent tomorrow.

(Trent looks at her strangely, then nods and moves back towards the guys. Follow Lynn as she wanders over to Daria, Jane and Quinn.)

Lynn: Tom and AP not back yet?

Daria: They're outside. Tom thought it might be a good idea not to bring AP in until his nose stopped bleeding.

Lynn: Damn tempermental chefs. (beat) Anyway, I got three rooms - the band's in one and...

Jane: I'm not sharing with Quinn or Tom.

Lynn: (sigh) *I* paid for these rooms and I don't want to share one with Quinn either.

Daria: Why not me, Tom and Quinn?

Quinn: (distant) Ew.

Lynn: He'd kill me if I made him share a ROOM with her. Jane, pick the lesser of two evils and make my life easier?

Jane: Quinn. DEFINITELY Quinn.

Lynn: (okaaay...) Then you, Quinn and Daria can share a room. That'll keep Quinn from whining about sharing with 'guys' and I don't mind so much. (mutter) Glad ONE of us can compromise...

(Re-enter Tom and AP, who's sporting a bruise across his cheek.)

AP: Damn cook with his damn tenderising mallet...

Tom: He could have BROKEN your nose instead of just bloodying it. Count your blessings.

Lynn: We ready?

Tom: As I'll ever be. Let's go.

Daria: Wait a minute. Where the hell are you two going? It's getting late and we've been through a lot today...

Lynn: We have business in Biloxi.

Tom: We'd invite you, but...

Lynn: No. We wouldn't. (hands Daria one room key and AP another) I got a spare for one - we'll be back but I don't know when exactly so don't wait up, AP.

(Lynn and Tom exit the building.)

AP: So we follow them, right?

Daria: (reluctant) No. We make sure everything's okay here. We're assistant managers and that's our job. (sigh) Damnit.

(Scene: a casino, Biloxi. Behind a desk sits a man of what we can assume to be average height - dark hair, glasses, hooked nose. Enter Lynn and Tom. Tom looks dubious. Music: "Money for Nothing" - Dire Straits.)

Tom: You know, I know very little about the Mississippi contact...

Lynn: I know a fair bit. He's a friend of my cousin's. This is... (to the man behind the desk) it's Tuxedo Slack now, isn't it?

Slack: (nods) It used to be Zedd but ... (sad headshake) Zedd's dead, baby. Zedd's dead.36

Lynn: My hypothesis is correct. You're all a bunch of quotehappy psychotics. (beat; hand creeping towards her jacket) And I have a gun and a misquote of my own. Don't call me 'baby'.37

Slack: (shrugging that off) So, H...

Tom: So, "Zedd"...

Slack: Did you not hear me?

Tom: As well as you heard ME say it's not H or Missing H anymore...

Lynn: Gentlemen ... before I have to maim.

Slack: Okay. Since our meeting wasn't until tomorrow, I assume there's some sort of problem.

Lynn: Oh, there's a problem, all right. Our chief mode of transport and ALL of our instruments got blown to hell this evening. What with the cost of re-establishing our cover on top of the other expenses, this little (quote marks audible) "tour" is getting expensive.

Slack: Not my problem.

Lynn: Want me to MAKE IT your problem?

Slack: Is that a threat?

Lynn: Not particularly. It won't BE your problem if you can find an acceptable way to get (audible quotes) "The Falcon" to reimburse. It's HIS problem, really.

Slack: (seeing the opportunity ... and liking it) All right.

Tom: (sullen) Is there any point in my BEING here?

Slack: (moving towards his computer) Sure. You're a more than adequate piece of cannon fodder, H.

Tom: That's RUST! (beat) And HEY!

Slack: (typing VO) asap make available funds of $250,000...

Lynn: (who has been watching over his shoulder) A-*hem*!

Slack: What? What's wrong with a little profit?

Lynn: Not that. (beat) I want a cut!

Slack: You really *are* the Falcon's fledgling ... you and that other one, you could go far together...

Lynn: (sharp) Leave 'that other one' out of it, if you know what's good for you.

Slack: Don't you think she can take care of herself at some point?

Lynn: I don't want to have to find out. (beat, changing subject) Did he approve it?

Slack: Yep.

Lynn: Good. If he thinks I'm tapping my trust fund for *this*, he's sadly mistaken. When'll the funds be available?38

Slack: Soon.

Lynn: Define 'soon'. I don't want to have to wait around. If it's the Merc next time, it comes out of your hide.

Slack: 12-36 hours.

Lynn: Great. Lovely. Wonderful. (beat) I'm getting some sleep.

(fade to black as she exits... fade in, interior, store. Music: "I Will Buy You A New Life" - Everclear. Montage follows.

Scene: Trent and the band head into a music store.

Scene: Quinn picks up a pink shirt ... looks at Tom ... then sighs and picks up a simple white T-shirt.

Scene: AP shows up carrying ten pairs of identical black jeans, twenty black T-shirts, and a new pair of boots. Quinn, carrying what looks like a fabric rainbow (but no pink) in her arms and flanked by a couple of similarly burdened cute stockboys, just stares at him.

Scene: AP stands outside a dressing room, looking impatient. A door opens behind him and he turns just in time to see Lynn surveying herself in the mirror, wearing a pale purple halter top and short black jeans shorts. His jaw drops - the "nrgh" is not spoken but implied. He tries to cover it when Lynn turns to look at him. She goes a bit pink and spreads her arms in a "how do I look?" gesture. Trying to be casual [and not quite failing], he nods. Lynn turns away to hide a smile and a blush.

Pan to where Daria is looking at a pair of shorts similar to the ones Lynn had on with a great deal of trepidation. A stockboy cruises past and she sticks out a hand to get his attention.)

Daria: Aren't these shorts, well, a little ... TOO short?

Stockboy: (shrug) That's the fashion this season. (walks off)

Daria: (mutter) That's the problem.

Jane: (cruising by herself with what looks like an armload of black leather) You're TAKING them...

Daria: (calling after her) I hate you.

Jane: (OS) Does me good to hear you say that!

(Scene: Daria trying on a forest green duster. Lynn and Jane step into shot wearing similar coats in very deep royal purple and blood red respectively. AP peeks around a rack of jackets and then steps out wearing a black duster of his own. They survey the effect in the mirror - altogether, they look like something out of the Matrix. Lynn looks thoughtful ... then shakes her head and moves away from her friends, who look after her curiously.

Pan to where Quinn is looking longingly at a deep pink leather jacket. She looks at Tom, who shrugs and turns his back. She gets a "what the hell do I care about what HE thinks?" look and grabs the jacket.

Scene: Music shop. Trent is drooling over a Gothic Les Paul, Satin Black finish. Lynn wanders over and points him at an R Nicholas Miller design Ibanez USA Custom Infinity series in Transparent Black. Trent just gapes. Lynn gives him a querying look and Trent answers with a spastic nod. Meanwhile, Jesse holds onto the Gothic.

Scene: Nick looks undecided. Lynn points at a 4-string fretless Ibanez Soundgear. Nick looks intimidated. Meanwhile, Max is happily bashing away at a set of Tama Artstar IIs [Zildjian Brilliant cymbals].

Scene: everyone in the parking lot loading the Merc, the Rustbucket, and the Plymouth.)

(Fade to black, fade in to... Cheerful Charlie's Used Vans. Music: "Cars" - Factory feat. Gary Numan. Enter Cheerful Charlie - a tall, thin man, wearing a very bad toupee, blue jeans, very VERY loud plaid shirt, and a habit of waving his arms around wildly when he talks)


Lynn: (wince) Insert the word Chemically in there somewhere and I think we might have accuracy.

Trent: Um... hi. Hey, do you know a guy named Happy Herb?39

Lynn: (mutter) Herbally Happy Herb...


Trent: We need a van.

Max: Nothing can ever replace the Tank, man!

(They split up... time lapse to)

Max: (OS) Wheeeeee!

Lynn: Huh? (peeks around another van to see Max sitting behind the wheel of a van that rather resembles the A-Team's) Oh God.

Max: Ah pity the fool!

Lynn: Oh GOD.

Max: Hey Lynn! I think I'm in love!

(She raises an "oh, ARE you" eyebrow)

Max: (misunderstanding) With the VAN!

(Lynn raises the OTHER eyebrow)

Max: We'll call it (dramatic pause) The A-Tank.

Lynn: (deadpan) The A-Tank. How original.

(Enter Charlie with Trent et al. tagging along.)

Charlie: Hey there, let me tell you about that beauty you're sitting in!

Max: All I want to know is the price.

Lynn: (under her breath) Way to go, Chief Negotiator...

Trent: (aside to Lynn) You're not gonna let him BUY that, are you? I mean, he'll be quoting ...


Lynn: Would you prefer him quoting that, or whining about his 'baby'?

Trent: (raised eyebrow) Right.

Charlie: Right, let's go close the papers. (expectant silence)

Max: Lynn... you go do it. I just want to sit here. (relaxes into the driver's seat.)

Lynn: Yeah. Right. (grabs him by scruff of neck and literally drags him out.)

(Hold camera on the van, literally seconds later, Max runs up with keys jingling, climbs in, starts it.)

Max: Ahh... listen to that PURR!

Lynn: (dry) Listen to that knock in the engine.

Max: Lynn, get into it! We're criminales FOR REAL now!

Lynn: (awkward) Uhhh... yeah. Right. I doubt if the A-Team qualifies as criminales.

(Fade as they pull out of the lot.)

(Scene: outside the hotel. Music: "What Might Have Been" - Little Texas. The A-Tank pulls up ... Daria facefaults and Jane starts LHAO [laughing her ass off, to the uninitiated].)

Lynn: (stepping out of the shotgun seat) Just. Don't. Say it. Now come on, let's get into the cars and get a move on - we're a day behind schedule.

(They start collecting luggage and loading up, and Trent walks up to Lynn.)

Trent: Thanks, Lynn. That's some high-end stuff we got to replace the instruments.

Lynn: (shrugging the thanks off) Hey, we're going places. You can't go places with a battered old Gibson.

Trent: (slight suspicion) Where'd you get the cash for all this, anyway? I mean, I heard you had a trust fund - it doesn't stretch THIS far, does it?

Lynn: (not looking him straight in the face) Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies. None of your business anyway. (beat) Now let's get moving - we have time to make up.

(She steps away. Trent raises an eyebrow after her and then moves towards Jane.)

Trent: Hey Janey.

Jane: Yo.

Trent: (indicating Lynn) You know whats going on with her?

Jane: Not really. (glance at AP) Depends what you mean.

Trent: (follows Jane's gaze, bitter) Yeah, SOMEONE has feelings for that little geek.

Jane: (jumps) You knew?

Trent: It's pretty obvious, isn't it?

Jane: Well, for HER ... I guess...

Trent: (continuing) especially after the dance...40

Jane: (gets it that he's talking about Daria and she's talking about Lynn) Oh! Um... yeah...

Trent: I was going to sing a song for Daria at that dance...

Jane: I know. (beat) She knows.

Trent: SHE knows?

Jane: I assume that was that sheet of paper you threw aside.

Trent: And she read it?

Jane: Yep.

Trent: Which means she knows how I feel. (sigh)

Jane: Felt, Trent, felt.

Trent: Huh?

Jane: She doesn't know how you feel now.

Trent: But...

Jane: Trent ... you. Lynn. New Year. Dating. What the hell is she SUPPOSED to think?

Trent: Oh. (beat as it REALLY hits) Oh HELL.

Jane: (very little sympathy) That's about it, brother dear.

Trent: Janey...

Jane: I hear a "you've gotta help me" coming there.

Trent: (sheepish) That obvious, huh?

Jane: Yup.

(Silence falls.)

Trent: Well?

Jane: Faint heart ne'er won fair lady, big bro. Do this one yourself.

Lynn: (OS) Get a MOVE on, people! We haven't got all freakin' day!

(Trent and Jane look at each other, realising they never talked about what Trent started to discuss, and then walk away towards the cars.)

(Scene: the A-Tank, back of. AP is throwing an old racquetball at the ceiling and trying to catch it on the bounce. This being AP, he misses quite a lot. Daria sits in the back, watching him.)

AP: This sucks. (toss; bounce; ball hits the floor of the van five inches from AP's left ear. He retrieves it, starts again.) We hit Texas; she talks to that Rat guy. (toss; bounce; ball hits him in the chest. He grabs it, starts again.) We hit Mississippi; the Tank blows up and I don't even KNOW who she was talking to. (toss; bounce; ball hits the floor three inches from his right ear. He retrieves it, starts again.) Rotation means I haven't talked to her in days. And NEVER alone. (toss; bounce; ball hits him square in the forehead.) Ow. (grabs ball with one hand, rubs forehead with the other, then sits up.) This REALLY sucks, you know.

Daria: I think you may have mentioned.

AP: It's just so screwed up! I mean, maybe she and I never WILL ... be ... thing...

Daria: Is that your usual lack of eloquence or a complete shying away from the concept?

AP: (sheepish) Both? (sigh) All right, all right, all right; maybe we'll never be a couple. (beat) That hurts. Just SAYING that hurts. (Daria raises an eyebrow in sympathy) But I want some time with her - the way it used to be. Before Lawndale and that Rust guy and all the rest of the crap.

Daria: (shrug) That's easy enough.

AP: (raised eyebrows) Are you KIDDING? This trip, I've barely SEEN her.

Daria: We're headed for the Sappiest Place on Earth, right? (AP nods, not understanding) Trent and the rest of the guys are going to hole up in a bar to hide from the childishness. Quinn will shop herself to death to the same end. So all Jane and I have to do is distract Tom for the three days we're in theme-park purgatory and you and Lynn can run around like immature idiots to your heart's content.

(AP gives her a grateful grin. Daria returns it with a Mona Lisa smile and goes up to the front, tapping Nick on the shoulder and getting him to move out of the shotgun seat. She takes it and looks at Jane, who's driving.)

Daria: We're babysitting 'Rust' during our Disney stay.

Jane: (hadn't heard the conversation in back) Why? I don't want to spend three days in Mouseketeer Hell with... (from her point of view, getting it) Oh. FINALLY noticed, huh?

Daria: I've known for a long time, actually.

Jane: Well, I guess you would have. (beat) So we're letting the two subversive sweethearts have some time alone?

Daria: Don't ever let Lynn hear you say that. If she thought we were meddling she'd ... well, I don't want to know what she'd do.

Jane: I hear you. (beat) Three days distracting Tom. The things I do for yenta-ing.

Daria: It could be worse.

Jane: Oh, COULD it now? Are we showing some interest in my ex?

Daria: Jane, he's ... he carries a gun, is completely secretive and rather smug with it, and is systematically destroying any sisterly bond I might want to form with Lynn. Does it sound to you like I'm interested in your ex?

Jane: (smirk) In a "methinks the lady doth protest too much" sort of way...

Daria: (blushing) Yeah, well ... yeah ... shut up.

(Scene: Disneyworld, Florida, Main Street USA [a.k.a. main entrance]. Music: "Tragic Kingdom" - No Doubt. The entire gang enters through the front gates and just stop and look around. [People do this. I'm not sure why.])

Daria: Well. Here we are.

Jane: And you look positively THRILLED to be here.

Daria: (frowning in Lynn's direction) Isn't this remotely too cheerful for you?

Lynn: (shrug) Two words: Haunted Mansion.

AP: (like a six-year-old) Space Mountain! Space Mountain!

(He grabs Lynn by the wrist and starts hauling her away.)

Lynn: ('eep' expression; while being dragged) Six o'clock, main gates of the cast... (now OS) ACK! AP, I'm gonna NEED that hand someday!

AP: (OS; excited) Come on, come on, come ON!

(Lynn's mutters of protest [which go along the lines of 'okay, okay, stop pulling, damnit...'] fade away into crowd babble. And then there were eight.)

Trent: (looking dubiously at his surroundings) Y'know what? I think I'm just gonna find a bar or something.

Jesse: Cool.

Nick: Good call, man. One day I'm gonna have to take Rachel here; once is enough.

(Max looks obscurely disappointed but follows Trent and the others as they wander away towards Frontierland or wherever. That leaves Tom, Jane, Quinn and Daria, who look at each other.)

Daria: (get it out of the way) I don't do rides, mouse hats or amusingly shaped food.

(The other three look at her.)

Jane: Three days of living hell for the Erudite...

(Scene: a random area of Disney. Music plays on. Lynn is standing outside a shop, looking at various souvenir things in the window. AP steps out of the shop, manic grin, hands behind his back.)

AP: (didactic; with the grin) Okay, first thing we do is get you into the kiddie frame of mind. We've got a decade of childhood to fit into three short days so we don't stint, okay?

Lynn: (horrible suspicion forms) You DIDN'T.

AP: (grin widens) Did too!

(He brings his right hand forward, revealing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears. The hat bit is purple. Lynn blinks at this [this is rare - when I went, they were pink, black, red and blue...] and then looks at the name inscribed on the back in yellow thread. It reads "Peril".)

Lynn: I'm not going through this alone, Maverick...

(He brings his other hand around and slams a pair of Mickey mouse ears - blue hat bit - on his head. He turns around to reveal "Maverick" inscribed on it in yellow thread.)

AP: (sheepish) Well, you wanted childhood. Thought you should go full throttle.

(Lynn looks at him, then at the mouse ears, then back at him. Then she gives a sweet little smile and puts the mouse ears on.)

Lynn: Well ... maybe just for today.

AP: ("I made her happy! Whoopee!") All right, Purple Peril! Okay, next step, way too much sugar and a few rides to get the adrenaline going! C'mon; I saw some cotton candy sellers that way - that's hyperactivity on a stick!

(Before she can even move, he has her by the wrist and is dragging her along.)

(Scene: a line of people. A very LONG line of people. Music plays on. Daria, Jane and Tom stand in it, looking a bit blank.)

Tom: What are we waiting to get onto again?

Daria: I thought YOU knew.

(Lynn and AP go running past, mouse-ears askew and generally dishevelled. They stop, look back at Daria, Jane and Tom, and start laughing hysterically. Then they run away. Daria, Jane and Tom look at each other.)

Jane: (utterly bemused) Lynn on a sugar high is a very different creature than Lynn on a caffeine high.

Tom: Makes you wonder what they were laughing at US for. THEY'RE the ones in Mickey Mouse ears, running around like eight-year-olds.

Daria: (slightly sour) Six. (beat; mild realisation) Something about our current situation really amused them, though...

(And they fall silent. The line moves forward. And, very dimly, they can hear the thin strains of "It's A Small World After All..." This is the line they are now stuck in.)

Daria, Jane, Tom: (in unison) Oh, god...

Jane: Lynn! LYNN! (beat) Dammit, she's out of earshot. Probably doesn't have her crossbow on her anyway. (to the looks) Oh, come ON. Those little dolls would make great targets. (beat; to Tom) Did you bring your BFG?41

(She kind of wilts under the stares she's getting.)

("Small World" exit gate, some time later. Music plays on. Daria, Jane and Tom stagger out, looking dazed.)

Daria: (distant) A small world for tiny minds...

Jane: (reliving the horror) I can still hear the singing. Oh God, that song is going to be stuck in my head for DAYS. This is worse than John Jacob Jingleheimer ... somebody.42

Tom: Make it stop. (beat) Please make it stop.

(At this point, Tom is liberally sprayed with water from two different directions. He puts up his hands to defend himself and all three of them look to see Lynn and AP, both bearing SuperSoakers, laughing at them. Lynn's Mickey Mouse ears are sticking out of her pocket; she has replaced them with silver star deely-bobbers [which kind of look like insect antennae - glitter-covered balls or hearts or stars on springs attached to a headband].)

Daria: What is WITH you two?

AP: (manic grin) Too much of that freeze-dried ice cream crap from Future-place that way! On top of about three things of cotton candy! If you wanna go hyper, that's the ONLY way to go! (He then lets out a Rebel yell and douses Jane in the face with the SuperSoaker.)

Jane: (sputtering; trying to shield herself) ACK! HEY! STOP!

Lynn: (giggling slightly) I will deny I ever enjoyed this, you realise. (She then gets Daria in the face with water and she and AP both run off laughing.)

Daria: (taking off her glasses to wipe them off) Thanks. I needed that.

Jane: (disgusted) That is SO immature! Aren't second childhoods supposed to happen when you're a lot OLDER?

Tom: That kind of depends on you having a first one.

(Jane looks at Daria, who nods slightly at Jane. Jane a look that clearly says, 'if I stick my foot any further into my mouth I may gag on it'.)

(Scene: the spinning teacups. Music: "Get Off" - Republica. Lynn and AP, still in deely-bobbers and mouse-ears respectively, clamber into one of the cups.)

AP: (looking at the crash barriers) There's a lot of air between this and us...

Lynn: It's because these rides are designed to fit the average adult. We're probably a bit...

(The ride starts. The cup lurches and Lynn winds up right in AP's lap. Their lips are perhaps ten centimetres apart. Lynn tries to move, but is pinned by centrifugal force and let's be fair - she's not trying very hard. AP looks frightened, embarrassed and pleased all at once.)

AP: (stammer) Hey...

Lynn: (blush) Hey. Um...

(The cup lurches again and she's almost thrown off his lap. Instinctively, he grabs for her and ends up holding her by the shoulders. She grabs for him when she feels herself falling and ends up with her arms around his neck. They look right into each other's eyes and no longer feel the teacup's spinning - because their minds are doing a good impression of it.)

Lynn: (stunned, at the ride and at herself) um ... thanks.

(For the voice tone of the thanks, reference Daria's "thanks" to Trent saying "good one, Daria". AP goes wide-eyed and does a spastic head nod.)

(Another lurch, and this time, AP's thrown forward and Lynn's thrown back, and their faces do collide in a kiss-like way. AP hauls his head back and they look at each other with identical expressions of "eep".)

Lynn: Gihh...

AP: Uhhhh...

(The cup lurches again. Lynn's thrown off his lap and drops down next to him, shoulder to shoulder.)

Lynn: (awkward) Maybe ... (She slips an arm over his shoulder; nervous, awkward, feeling the need to explain) To keep us up...

(AP's not going to argue with that. He slings an arm over Lynn's shoulders and they hang on to each other.)

(Scene: spinning teacups exit gate. Jane happens to be passing as Lynn and AP, arms still slung across the other's shoulders, reel out the exit gate like drunks. They teeter a little, still dizzy, and lean on each other for balance. Jane kind of hides herself with an expression of "Awww... how CUTE...")

(Scene: somewhere in Liberty Square, the outskirts. Lynn and AP are taking a breather, sipping sodas. Lynn looks at her watch.)

Lynn: Nearly six. We ought to start heading back. Crowd navigation is a nightmare in this place.

AP: (extreme disappointment) Aw, you're growing up again! Damnit, be irresponsible! One more ride, come on!

Lynn: AP ... (sigh; giving in) Okay, okay, one more. Which one?

(They both look up. There stands the Haunted Mansion. They look at each other.)

Lynn & AP: (in unison) One more time.

(And they go pounding off towards the line.)

(Scene: in front of the Castle. Tom is pacing, looking at his watch every so often. Daria and Jane are looking at him oddly.)

Tom: Okay, it's ten past six. Where ARE they?

(Cue Quinn's entrance, carrying a shopping bag and looking irritated.)

Quinn: It's all geeky tourist TRASH in this place! I mean, who the hell wants to wear jewellery with some stupid MOUSE on it?

Daria: (slight amazement) We agree on something, for once.

Tom: Okay, we have a fashion fiend. We need four musicians, one Peril, and a Maverick who is getting booted into next YEAR if he let anything happen to her.

Jane: ("what the hell?") Tom ... it's Disney. There's security everywhere, she has enough sense not to get sunstroke, and they maintain the rides regularly to avoid lawsuits - you know as well as the rest of the world how much a negligence suit could take Disney for... So what the HELL are you so worried about?

(Tom looks away. Daria and Jane look like they're about to advance and beat answers out of him. Now enter Trent, Nick and Jesse, the latter two supporting a weaving Max.)

Trent: (to the stares) He should know better. (to Max; loud to cut through the alcohol haze) You're supposed to ALTERNATE, man! Beer; not beer. (beat) No, sorry, you did that. But the 'not-beer' should be something that isn't tequila.

(Tom looks at his watch again and keeps pacing. Daria and Jane share a look, getting somewhat interrupted by Trent's looking at them as if to say "What's with HIM?")

(Scene: the Haunted Mansion, interior. Lynn and AP get into one of those black pod-things, the barriers are settled and off they go into the black.)

(Scene: outside the Castle. Tom is pacing. Daria looks ready to join him.)

Nick: She's DOING it again!43

Daria: (convincing herself) Just calm down. Sometimes the rides freeze up. They could be stuck in "Pirates of the Caribbean", for instance, the way we were a few hours ago.

Tom: (convincing himself) You're right. I mean, Jane had a point; this is DISNEY. They've covered themselves both ways from Sunday to avoid legal issues. Nothing is going to happen to them.

(There's a certain element of "Sound like you BELIEVE what you're saying, mate..." in the looks levelled at him.)

(Scene: Haunted Mansion. Lynn and AP are cruising through, in a sort of companionable silence. They each have a hand on the crash barrier. AP flicks a longing sidelong glance at their hands, [his right, her left] resting on the seat bare inches apart, then sets his eyes on the special effects - they're gliding through a corridor and every so often, doors bang and there is cackling laughter ... all the clichés done with typical Disney extravagance. AP's eyes drift back to his hand and Lynn's, this time with a more thoughtful air.)

AP: (thought VO) What if I...

(And the ride lurches to a halt in front of a door with a grasping hand sticking out of it. Cue overdone 'sorry for the delay' message in Vincent Price tones and couched in more puncrime than I care to remember verbatim. Pause. Lynn and AP aren't looking at each other.)

Lynn: (mutter) Figures.

AP: Yeah. (beat) Well, it's not so bad. Haven't had time to talk to you much lately.

Lynn: ("excuse me?" look) No, I guess not. (awkward) Um ... well, we're here. Talk.

(Dead silence. Both look uncomfortable. AP, slow on the uptake as ever, should probably have taken a hint from the awkward tone of Lynn's last statement but hasn't.)

AP: (hit on something) Yeah. The play.44 (beat) Fun, right?

Lynn: ("the HELL?") Cutting me own throat, you mean? That was interesting, but I don't know about 'fun'.45

AP: (in for a penny, in for a pound) No, I ... I mean, the dance scene was kinda fun...

Lynn: (he can't be talking about what he sounds like he's talking about) Whaling on Upchuck, you mean. Yeah, that had its advantages...

(AP's eyes, if Lynn could see them, get really determined.)

AP: ("This is it. I'm just gonna say, 'I mean THIS...' and kiss her. Here we go.") I...

(The ride starts moving again. AP lets out his breath in a hiss.)

AP: (mutter) Damnit!

Lynn: What was that?

AP: Uhh... just checked my watch. We're late as hell. Think we're gonna get in trouble with that Rust guy?

Lynn: (patting his hand) I can deal with 'that Rust guy'.

(AP is too dazed by the show of affection to reply. Pan to Lynn, who takes her hand away and then gets a "what the hell did I just do?" expression.)

(Scene: in front of the Castle. Tom is glaring at Lynn and AP as they approach slowly.)

Tom: And where the hell have YOU been? Do you have any idea what time it is?

AP: (snide) Gee, Dad, didn't realise we had curfew...

Tom: It's seven o'clock. You were SUPPOSED to be back at six.

AP: It's an hour. Live with it.

Tom: Look, we had an appointment. You don't just blow off an appointment.

Lynn: Excuse me...

AP: We're here to have some fun for a change. We can blow appointments off if we want to! And anyway, it's only a stinkin' HOUR.

Lynn: (more insistent) EXCUSE me...

Tom: We're HERE at my displeasure. *I* didn't want to spend three days in DisneyHell. And in case you haven't noticed, it's not advisable to blow off appointments when...

Lynn: (completely fed up) EXCUSE ME! (everyone stares at her) We got stranded in the Haunted Mansion. On behalf of us both, sorry we're so late. Now can we get past this and not COMPLETELY blow my day to hell? (ignoring the sheepish looks of Tom and AP) We have a gig in Kissimee. (looking at Max) If you can sober HIM up... (sigh) Let's go.

(And she walks off, any benefit of a childish, worry-free day completely gone. The band looks confused, but follow. Quinn is rummaging through her shopping bag, missing the episode she wouldn't have cared about anyway. And Daria and Jane raise eyebrows at the two guys.)

Daria & Jane: (in unison; mild scorn) Way to go, guys.

(Tom and AP look at each other with "oops" expressions.)

(Scene: a faceless, grubby bar. Mystik Spiral hasn't taken the stage yet. Music: "The Bartender and the Thief" - Stereophonics. Daria, Jane, AP, Quinn and Tom are at a table. AP is lost in a fuzzy little world of his own, a grin on his face. Jane and Tom are sitting quite far apart, not looking at each other. Daria keeps looking at AP speculatively.)

Daria: So ... have a good time?

AP: (lovesick) Yep. Just like old times. (back to earth with a *thud*) Except that last bit when she blew up at us for fighting.

(Tom looks fairly guilty. Daria looks sidelong at him, then shrugs.)

Jane: I'm going to the bar. Anyone want anything?

Tom: I'll go with you. (beat) Well, they won't serve YOU - you're underage.

Jane: And you're...

Tom: I have ... connections.

Jane: (frustrated sigh) Fine. Fine. I don't care.

(She gets up and heads bar-wards. Tom looks a bit hesitant, then joins her. Daria looks at AP.)

Daria: So...

AP: (needs to spill it) I TRIED! I WANTED to say something but ... but ... but...

Daria: Whoa. AP. Calm down a second. Breathe. (AP does, with an effort) Now. Start again.

(Scene: same bar, backstage. Music plays on. Lynn is picking at Trent's guitar. Trent approaches.)

Trent: Thought you were never gonna play again.

Lynn: I got some callouses back. (beat) They're in funny places, but... (sigh) And anyway, a little won't tear my fingers to shreds.46

Trent: You okay?

Lynn: Not really.

Trent: Want to talk about it?

Lynn: No. (beat; hesitant) Did you ever think that maybe ... someone was trying to say something you really wanted to hear, but for some reason you just couldn't believe it?

Trent: (puzzled) Not really. Or I didn't notice.

Lynn: (downcast) Oh. (beat; sigh) Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, I guess.

Trent: You're not going to bring up the Lewinski thing, are you?47

Lynn: (yuck-face) God, no. (beat; smirk) But I suppose I COULD do...

(She starts playing the opening to Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar". Trent chuckles/coughs, reassured that his singer's not going to screw up out of depression.)

(Scene: the bar. Music plays on. Jane and Tom are standing, apparently waiting for their drink orders. They're a good foot apart and nearly have their backs turned to each other. Tom eventually turns around with a sigh.)

Tom: Look, Jane ... it would be a lot easier if you could stop being so hostile...

Jane: ME? Look, I'M not the one with the BFG, okay? Don't talk to me about hostile.

Tom: Jane, what is your pro...

Jane: (turning to face him, pissed as hell) Look, Lynn's dad screwed up and so some other stupid people let that psycho Li out of jail - you think she would have stopped at killing Lynn? She hated all FOUR of us, in case you didn't realise!48

Tom: That has nothing to do with me!

Jane: (as if she didn't hear him) You and Lynn meet up - all of a sudden, she's acting weird. Pulling away. And it hurts me but I can deal with it but it's messing with AP and, more important, it's screwing Daria up a LOT. Daria LIKES the idea of having Lynn as a sister and you come along and screw it all up!

Tom: Jane, will you just...?

Jane: And THEN she doesn't want us along on this tour but we're worried and YOU don't mind, so we go and the next thing we know the Tank blows up! What if one of us had been IN that, Tom? Would it have had nothing to do with you THEN?

Tom: Jane, this isn't the place...

(Jane just makes an exasperated noise and leaves. A bartender, who has done their order, gives him a shrug. Tom sighs.)

(Scene: the table again. Music plays on. Quinn is listening avidly as AP finishes his tale.)

AP: ...and then the damn ride started up again and I just ... couldn't ... do it.

Quinn: You're STUPID, that's all! Completely STUPID! I mean, you should have done it ANYWAY!

Daria: Quinn, since when is this any of YOUR business? And I REALLY hope you took your recent lesson on the dangers of gossiping to heart.49

(Quinn blushes and shrinks back in her chair.)

AP: Anyway, I couldn't. She wasn't taking ANY of the hints and she's really quick about the uptake so if she'd wanted to, she would have.

Daria: (slight thoughtful frown) We-ell...

(Jane storms back up to the table and drops into her chair, scowling. Tom follows not-so-far behind with a tray of drinks, which he sets down before settling into the seat farthest from Jane.)

AP: What gives?

Jane: My patience.

Tom: YOUR patience?

Daria: Guys...

Jane: Yes, MY patience! You are a COMPLETE and utter...

AP: SHUT UP! (They all turn to stare at him.) I don't think you understand. Let me make it clear. (beat) I ... want ... this ... to be fun. So just for the rest of the Disney thing - no more fighting. No more secrecy crap. No more talk about whatever the hell Purple Peril and Rust here have been up to. This is gonna be fun if I have to beat the idea into you all.

Tom: I could kick you across the room any day of the week, Maverick.

AP: But could you do the same to Purple Peril after? You KNOW she'd come after your sorry butt and I don't care WHAT connections you have.

(Tense silence.)

Daria: I agree. Just for a few days, can we actually BE on vacation?

(Reluctant smiles. Montage sequence follows.)

(Scene: Florida day 2. Epcot Center. The gang walks by, marches in... and marches right back out two minutes later, with disgusted expressions.

Establishing shot: Sea world, main entrance, group filing inside. Music: "Underwater Love" - Faith No More.

Scene: "Terrors of the Deep" exhibit, int. It's shark feeding time and even Lynn is looking a bit green at the frenzy. Quinn went bathroom hunting a long time ago.50

Scene: Sea Lion & Otter Show Stage. Group (late for the show) runs up and notice a mime making exaggerated running motions, obviously mocking them. The rest of the gang run past with scornful looks at the mime, but Lynn and AP share a mischievous glance. While AP distracts him with a pitiful attempt at the "Trapped in a Glass Box" routine, Lynn sneaks up behind him and flips him over her hip into the tank. They scarper.

Scene: The dolphin area. Quinn looks with some disgust at the raw fish she's holding, then with some longing at the dolphins. She sees Lynn holding out her last fish to a dolphin while [not half-badly] imitating the noises it makes.51 Quinn watches with interest, then swallows her disgust and holds out a fish, making a really pathetic squeaking noise to a dolphin, who takes the fish. But another one, with a more grinlike grin than usual, grabs her hair, which has fallen over one shoulder as she leaned forward.)

Daria: (bemused) Shouldn't she be screaming with pain?


Daria: Oh. (beat) Well, I guess, for HER...

(Scene: Stingray tank. Lynn and AP are at the same one. They're both petting it... until AP's hand wanders onto Lynn's. Lynn, instinctively, flips her hand over and squeezes AP's. AP squeezes back. They both stare at their hands, then into each other's eyes, and start blushing. AP opens his mouth to say something... and suddenly a hand drops on each of their shoulders. They spin to see two stern security guards and one very wet mime doing a good Waxing Sorely Pissed.

Scene: Main Entrance/Exit. Security kicking Lynn and AP out, after taking Polaroids of them. Someone in line sees Lynn and does a double take, then whips out a cell phone.

Scene: Shamu stadium. Gang does a headcount, comes up two short. Tom gets jittery. Suddenly, a slightly damp mime walks by, facefaults, then starts SCREAMING at Daria, who looks bemused and nonplussed. Trent pulls out his wallet and removes a photograph - Daria, Jane and Lynn at the Trafalgar Square lions [Jane spocks an eyebrow at that, while Daria turns slightly pink.]
52 - which he shows to the mime. The mime looks at the picture, lower lip trembling [obviously he thinks it's a family trait], then runs away gibbering.

Scene: Sea World. Parking lot. Lynn and AP walk up to the Merc. Lynn starts digging in the trunk, AP opens his mouth to say something, Lynn comes up with two Gameboys and a connector cable and smiles at him. As soon as she turns her back on him, his face goes disappointed.

Scene: interior, Merc. Lynn and AP are sitting in the front seat, playing the Gameboys. Suddenly a commotion catches their attention and they look up to see a mime in a straitjacket being loaded into a white van marked "Florida State Rest Home for the Bewildered."53 They shrug at each other. AP goes back to the game, but Lynn watches him for a fraction of a second more and gets a fond smile on.)

(Scene: Florida day 3. Universal Studios, ext. shot. Music: "This Is My Hollywood" - Three Colours Red.

Random Hollywood-style street. Gang is faced with a sign reading "The Gory Gruesome & Grotesque Makeup Show". Everyone grins and goes in. Well, except for Quinn and Tom, who are hanging back with 'eww' looks on. That is, until they notice the other has the same reaction. Then they both leap towards the door.

Scene: Men in Black attraction. AP looks, grins, and tries to drag Lynn in by the wrist. She's clearly thinking that playing with guns is only fun when it isn't your job. Max [resident Spiral criminale] comes over and cocks an eyebrow at AP, who shrugs, and they go in together, AP giving Lynn one last pained look. Lynn flops down on the ground and lets out a sigh. Tom comes over, perhaps trying to offer comfort. She glares at him and walks off.

Scene: San Francisco street sets. The gang walks right by, probably after Lynn points out they'll be in SF later on.

Scene: Jaws ride. Jaws jumps out, splashing Quinn. She screams and tries to dry her face on Jane's shirt - the latter looking QUITE unpleased. In the row behind, Lynn, similarly soaked [somewhere, a mime is laughing] jumps practically into AP's lap. He gets the famous eep expression on. She realizes where she is and blushes like mad. Torn, she finally decides to move back off his lap [eliciting a wince from him] instead of settling down like she obviously wants to.

Scene: Kongfrontation. As they get in, Jane sits herself so that Daria and Trent wind up sitting next to each other. Sudden jet of flame spurts up, causing Daria to cower into Trent. This doesn't bother Trent at all - neither does it bother Jane, as they are both wearing near-identical smiles. Then Daria realizes, blushes, and scoots away, effecting Lane-ish disappointment. Meanwhile, AP and Lynn, sitting next to each other, don't notice flames, since they are both fixedly and uncomfortably staring straight ahead.)

(Scene: Washington, DC. not-overly-sleazy strip club. Music: "Rag Doll" - Aerosmith. Trent, Jesse, Nick and Max are sitting at a table, nursing beers.)

Trent: (morose) How did I let you guys talk me into this?

Nick: Hey, look, I want to enjoy my months of freedom, man! Live a little! (beat) And take your mind off that chick!

Trent: (startled) What chick?

Nick: You know damn well what chick. I'm guessing you finally fell for you-know-who you were freaking out about a few months back. The maybe-mother.

Trent: You said you weren't gonna mention that, Nick.

Jesse: Waitaminit. MAYBE-mother? We're talking about Lynn here, right?

Trent: DAMNIT, Nick...

Jesse: Aw, MAN, man...

Trent: Jess, you gave me enough hassle over that after the Battle of the Bands - do we REALLY need to go through that again?

Nick: So? Did you?

Jesse: No. He didn't.

Max: Of course he didn't! He's hot for Daria! (beat) A criminale can tell!

Nick: So why can't THIS (slap upside Max's head) criminale see that Lynn will NEVER be hot for HIS scrawny bod?

Jesse: She likes the Techno-Weasel. That's a scrawny bod if I ever saw one. (beat) But Trent's hot for Daria.

Nick: Duh! Doesn't mean he doesn't want Lynn in the...54

Trent: (sullen) You guys gonna talk about my love life all night?

Nick: Well, most of us haven't got any of our own worth talking about, right, Max?

Max: Get f...

(Jesse, who has started watching the show after his last comment, interrupts, wide-eyed.)

Jesse: (stunned) Whoa.

(Something about his tone gets the guys' attention and they all turn towards the stage. And Lynn, wearing two handkerchiefs and a prayer, is strutting her stuff onstage. For a moment, a stunned silence falls over the table as the guys just stare.)

Trent: What ... the hell ... is she doing?

Jesse: Stripping. (beat) Whoa.

Nick: Huh. Well, I guess we know where the money to replace the Tank came from.

Max: She'd be making a LOT, I bet.

Trent: (fraternally protective) We can't let her do this. This is sick.

Max: *I* don't think it's sick!

(For a reply, Trent grabs Max by the sleeves of his shirt and yanks the shirt off over his head.)

Trent: Jesse...

Max: HEY! Where d'you think you're going with my shirt?

(Trent just gives him a scornful look. Jesse stands up and the two of them head towards the stage. A bouncer steps over.)

Bouncer: Hey, where do YOU two think...

(Jesse hits him. The bouncer goes down. Trent hurriedly climbs on stage, followed by Jesse. Lynn has just enough time to look at him with wide, "Oh, crap" eyes before Trent pulls Max's shirt over her head, pinning her arms to her sides. At this point, Jesse flings her over his shoulder and the two of them hurry offstage to indignant crowd noise. Back at their table, Nick and Max look at each other ... then at the two large bouncers who are starting to nudge their way through the crowd towards the stage [and, we presume, Trent and Jesse] ... then back at each other.)

Nick & Max: (in unison) Riot.

(They each turn and deliver a punch to the nearest person to them - Nick gets a portly, sweaty balding man in a suit and Max gets a fairly burly redneck type. The recipient of each punch takes a swing at their attacker ... only to hit each other. A fight ensues, which the bouncers get caught in. Nick and Max edge away with smug expressions ... until the redneck grabs them by the scruff of the neck and drags them bodily back into the fray.)

(Scene: a very small, very crowded dressing room in extremely bad repair. Trent walks in, followed by Jesse, who dumps Lynn unceremoniously into a chair in the corner. Lynn, an indignant look on her face, struggles to get her arms into the sleeves of Max's shirt.)

Lynn: Well, that was incredibly stupid. Who died and made you Forrest Gump, Jesse?

Jesse: (shrug) Stupid is as stupid does.55

Lynn: So? What hornet stung your asses? Or do I even care to know?

Trent: Why the HELL are you stripping off for these...

Lynn: Testosterone-fuelled lumps of male meat? I have my reasons. And they don't concern you. Now get out of here before security gets here.

Trent: If you're doing this to ... to help us make ends meet, Lynn...

Lynn: My bag's hanging on the third hook from the right over there. (she points) Why don't you have a look at the grey hardback notebook that's in there. Then talk to me about making ends meet.

(Trent looks at her. Lynn looks back. Trent then shrugs and does what she asks, glad enough to have an excuse to break that stare. He opens the backpack on the hook, pulls out the notebook, and opens it to the first page. Then he blinks at the page. Then he turns a couple of pages, looking briefly at each with even wider eyes.)

Trent: What the hell...?

Lynn: That's the result of my negotiating skills. You're seriously on the up, financially speaking. So when I tell you I'm in here for reasons of my own, take me at my word. And lest you think I'm enjoying ANY of this crap, I should...

(The door opens and a tall, thin man enters, followed by two monolithic bouncers. Trent and Jesse look at each other, a little worried, and then they look at Lynn ... and it's all they can do not to stare. Her entire demeanour has changed. She wears a vapid little smile and bats her eyelashes at the tall, thin man.56)

Man: Everything all right in here, Jackie?

Lynn: (nearly Brittany-esque voice) Oh, yes, Mr Abrams! It's just that... (nervous giggle) Mr Abrams, this is my brother Morie and his best friend Nate.

Abrams: And they dragged you off in the middle of your act?

Lynn: Well ... (nervous giggle) I didn't exactly tell my family where I was going, you see, Mr Abrams, and I...

Abrams: (sigh) I lose more and more strippers this way. (to Jesse) You come to take your sister home?

Jesse: (stunned) Yeah.

Abrams: (patronising) It's a family trait, isn't it?

Lynn & Jesse: (in unison, sounding equally clueless) What?

(Abrams smirks at Trent, who glares at him. Abrams looks a bit taken aback, but recovers and turns to Lynn.)

Abrams: (mock regret) Can't pay you for the whole show, Jackie, but ... (hauls a wad of cash out of his pocket, peels off a couple of bills, hands them over) I guess I owe you something.

Trent: (livid) She doesn't want your money.

(Trent looks at Lynn, who has a very Quinn-like sulky look on her face. But her eyes flash very briefly - "you're not helping..." But Abrams laughs.)

Abrams: So, Nate, just her brother's best friend, huh? (Trent glares at him.) Well, whatever. You take care now and... (chucks Lynn under the chin; Lynn dimples) if you can shake the narcs here and start looking for this sort of work again, remember my name first, hey?

Lynn: Of course I will, Mr Abrams! And thanks! (blush) I know it seems silly, after ... (nervous giggle) but ... could you...?

Trent: She wants a little privacy to get dressed in, man.

Jesse: (feeling something else is needed) Yeah.

(Abrams raises an eyebrow at the two men, then shrugs, turns around and waves out the bouncers, following close behind. As soon as the door closes, Lynn's demeanour is normal again.)

Lynn: (disgusted) Gah. See what I mean? God, that patronising little... Okay, you've blown this right to hell; can we get out of here? I could really use a drink.

(Trent and Jesse are staring at her.)

Jesse: 'Morie'?

Lynn: Derived from your last name. And before you ask, Nate is a character in "Hearts in Atlantis" and it just sort of sprang to mind, I don't know why. (beat) Jackie is a derivation of my middle name - do NOT ask.57

Trent: What was the bimbo act for?

Lynn: None of your business.

Trent: You say that WAY too much these days, Lynn.

(Cold silence.)

Lynn: I DO need to get changed, you know.

(Another short pause while Trent looks at her.)

Trent: We'll be right outside.

(Lynn just looks at them impassively until they leave and shut the door behind them. Then she stands up and kicks the chair she had been sitting in. Then she grabs her mobile and hits a speed-dial button, waiting for pickup.)

Lynn: (into phone) Rust? Cullen. (beat) You don't have to talk; just listen. There's been some bad luck and we're royally screwed. This is going to have to be done the hard way.

(Scene: strip club. Exterior. Night. Music: "Cold Genius [Poleaxe Mix]" - Attrition. Up rolls the Merc. Out step two figures with backpacks. They use hand signals in the semilight, and walk up to the door. Bare seconds later, they are within. Hold exterior shot as we hear voices wafting from within, which we recognize as those of "Rust" and "Peril".)

Lynn: (OS) Rust, pass the pliers.

Tom: (OS) Just a sec, let me finish with the glue.

Lynn: (OS) This way?

Tom: (OS) No, other way up.

Lynn: (OS) Interesting reading collection this man has.

Tom: (OS) Had. Pass the matches.

Lynn: (OS) Hang on... (sifting-paper noises) Have that one ... have that one ... taking this ... taking this ... have that one ... ooh, taking THIS... Okay, torch the rest. (beat) What? You've seen my bookshelf.

Tom: (OS) No, I haven't...

Lynn: (OS) You know me. GUESS my bookshelf.

Tom: (OS) Oh. Right.58

Lynn: (OS) Rust, pass the toothpaste.

Tom: (OS) The what?

Lynn: (OS) The toothpaste.

Tom: (OS) Why do you want... (trails off; beat) Oh, that's EVIL.

Tom: (OS) Peril, pass the ... the ... thing!

Lynn: (OS) This thing?

Tom: (OS) No, the OTHER thing!

Lynn: (OS) THIS thing?

Tom: (OS) Yeah, *that* thing!

Lynn: (OS) Rust, don't touch that.

Tom: (OS) Why not?


Lynn: (OS) THAT'S why not. Pass me some more paperclips.

Lynn: (OS; calling for equipment, as a doctor might say "Scalpel?") Caltrops?

Tom: (OS) Caltrops.

Lynn: (OS) Banana?

Tom: (OS) Banana.

Lynn: (OS) Brick?

Tom: (OS) Brick.

Lynn: (OS) Shoe polish?

Tom: (OS) Shoe polish.

Lynn: (OS) Pass the dishsoap.

Tom: (OS) Okay, Peril, NOW you're getting weird.

(sfx: porcelain banging into porcelain)

Lynn: (OS) The next time some unlucky git flushes...

Lynn: (OS) Pass the lightbulbs.

Tom: (OS) I still don't see why you bro... hey. They're all black.

Lynn: (OS; and you can just HEAR the smirk) Gunpowder.

Tom: (OS; admiration) Oh... hey, this one's sloshing!

Lynn: (OS) Be CAREFUL with that!

Tom: (OS) What's in it?

Lynn: (OS) Napalm.

Tom: (OS) Eep.

Lynn & Tom: (OS; unison) Tell me that was YOUR stomach growling... oh *bleep*.

(They race back out the door and into the Merc, which peels out. Behind them, the growling and barking repeats from start, obviously a recording. Blackness falls)

(Fade in to Glen Rock Jr/Sr High School [as a movable-letter sign outside it proudly proclaims] in Glen Rock, New Jersey.)

Lynn: (into phone) Will do. Tonight. (beat) No, my pleasure. (casts a dark look at Tom.) I'm in the mood to destroy something.

Trent: Lynn! We're on in fifteen!

Lynn: Right.

(fade out, fade in to a motel room, midnightish)

Jesse: Man, am I glad to be out of there.

Nick: That was worse than that bar in Texas.

Trent: Hey, where'd Lynn go?

(fade back to the school, ext shot. Music: "Jack's Smirking Revenge" - Dust Brothers)

(Scene: principal's office. Lynn calling out the door.)

Lynn: Rust, go to the art room. Get me paint, glue, plywood, and ALL THE GLITTER YOU CAN CARRY!

(Tom raises an eyebrow at Lynn, who makes shooing motions with both hands. He scarpers.)

(Scene: Hallway, with lockers adorning the walls)

Lynn: Syringe?

Tom: Syringe.

Lynn: Ink?

Tom: Ink.

Lynn: Locker!

Tom: Lock... oh!

(Scene: science wing [just another hallway, really])

Tom: Thermos of blue Kool-aid? Thermos of orange Kool-Aid ... where are you GOING?

Lynn: Chem lab. (beat) And it's not Kool-aid.

(Scene: side lawn. Lynn is pouring white stuff from a box onto the ground to spell out words)

Tom: Okay, Peril. WHY lawn fertilizer instead of... say, baking soda?

Lynn: Think about it, Rust. What's the FIRST thing the groundskeeper will do when he sees this?

Tom: Pick up the hose and... wash... it... away...

Lynn: Soaking it into the ground.

(Scene: random hallway)

Lynn: Now, the finishing touch.

Tom: What?

Lynn: The toothpicks and superglue.

Tom: Huh?

Lynn: Toothpick into glue. Toothpick into doorlock. Break off.

Tom: You evil...

Lynn: Credit the Psycho-Maverick. (brief fond smile)

Tom: Every doorknob in the school?

Lynn: Every one.

(Scene: exterior; they're leaving, and then:)

Lynn: Oh, and you-know-who had a request about that sign.

(Dissolve to Lynn and Tom working on the sign)

Tom: Peril - this lock?

Lynn: Give me ten seconds... damn, Maverick's better at this.

Tom: He is?

Lynn: (proud) You'd be surprised. I taught him everything he knows... hell, everything *I* know about picking locks.

Tom: You trust him that much?

Lynn: (defensive) Yes.

Tom: Bad habit to get into.

Lynn: If I can't trust him, I can't trust anyone.

(Tom looks like he's about to say something, but *click* goes the lock.)

Lynn: Rust. The bag of letters?

Tom: Right here.

(Cut to: them sitting in the Merc - admiring Lynn's handiwork.)

Sign: Bumblefuck Jr/Sr Hellhole.59

Lynn: Think they'll suspect us?

Tom: Not a chance in hell.

(Scene - a store in New York City. Everyone's poking around when Daria notices Tom and Lynn going into a building across the street)

Daria: Those two are *not* going into what I *think* they're going into.

AP: A quickie wedding place?

Daria: No...

AP: (quiet relieved sigh)

Daria: Worse.

AP: Eep.

(Daria just points to the store. AP goes WHITE.)

Jane: What's the 'eep'ing about? Oh, hey look, a dirty bookstore. (turns to Trent) May I PLEASE go in?

Daria: Tom and Lynn beat you to it.

(Group facefault.)

Nick: Hey, first the strip joint, now... (elbow in the ribs from Trent) OOF!


(The Spiral goes quiet [and there is much rejoicing]60.)

Daria: Strip...

Jane: Joint...

AP: (heading for the door of whatever store they're in) I'm going over ... there...

(He freezes as he sees that the door of the bookstore is now closed and the lights are out.)

AP: (frozen in midstep, remembers, spins on Trent et Spiral.) So. Strip joint?

(Trent throws a GLARE at Nick.)

(Fade to: later. Tom and Lynn step out, shutting the door firmly behind them, and start walking.)

Tom: Well, that was ... interesting. (beat) We'd better get a move on. Pitts next. And Aph's a bit of a stickler for punctuality.

Lynn: Oh?

Tom: Ten minutes off schedule, she'll assume we're dead on the road after a ten-car pile-up.

Lynn: Drama queen? (Tom nods) Fine. The rush getting out will keep us from having to answer questions.

(By now, they're nearly at the cars. Daria, Jane and AP are standing in a row, arms folded, faces saying, "We want to TALK to you two...")

Tom: No time.

Lynn: Questions later. Deadline to hit. Let's go.

(Scene: random dingy corridor. "Bad Boys" - Inner Circle. Abram's ghost-pale presence next to a door indicates that this is the strip club from back in Washington. The door opens and out steps an extremely tall, dark-haired gentleman, followed by a small, lean, greying man in a very good suit, who shuts the door behind him before we can get a look inside. Abrams presses himself back into the wall as far as he can.)

Abrams: Mr Merritt, I...

Tall Man: I wouldn't try grovelling to Mr Merritt if I were you, Abrams.

Merritt: Jensen, please. We won't get any information out of him if he's about to shit himself. (beat) Now, when did this happen?

Abrams: Last week... I think...

Merritt: Anything missing?

Abrams: Don't know, sir! The damage was so ... so TOTAL we can't make head or tail of anything in there!

Merritt: And was there anything unusual about last week? Any new faces?

Abrams: Well ... there was the brainless brunette...

Merritt: Glasses?

Abrams: Not that I saw.

Merritt: Anyone else with her?

Abrams: (calming down a little) Big brainless guy - her brother, she said. And a tall, skinny guy with black hair.

Jensen: (producing a picture) Any of THESE people look familiar?

(CU on the picture he holds. It's black and white - probably a promotional shot - Mystik Spiral in stage kit standing against a brick wall. Abrams peers at it.)

Abrams: Well, (pointing) that's the skinny black-haired one and that's the brother.

Merritt: And the girl?

Abrams: (squinting at it) Well ... COULD be... Hard to tell with the sunglasses.

Merritt: Thank you. I think we'll leave it at that. (beat) Do you even know a dismissal when you hear one? (Abrams flees. Merritt looks at Jensen.) Your evaluation?

Jensen: That's a Smythe job. Thorough, inventive ... nasty.

Merritt: And if that's true, they took the information with them. (beat) Do you know where they are?

Jensen: On their way to Pittsburgh, sir.

Merritt: All right. Put a stop to this. Get whatever data they have if you can, destroy it if you can't - better no one has it than letting the Smythes have it - or worse, the police. (beat) And try to avoid hitting anyone but the Smythe girls and the Sloane boy. I'd rather keep civilians out of this - too many questions.

Jensen: (nod) Sir.

(Fade up on - Scene: An alleyway. Music: "Fifteen Minutes of Fame" - Sheep on Drugs. [o/`"It's easy to die/when you're young, when you're famous - when you're rich..."o/`] Lynn and Jane step out a stage door, through the alley and out onto the street, carrying cymbals and a snare drum respectively. We hear a *bang*.)

Quinn: (OS) Who's letting off firecrackers?

(Lynn, however, has noticed a bullet hole in the rear passenger door of the Merc and gone very still.)

Lynn: (shocked into total calm) That wasn't... (snapping out of it) Get BACK!

(Further gunshots are heard as Lynn turns and shoves Jane towards the alley mouth. Jane nearly topples into Quinn, who steps back in alarm and knocks AP, who has just stepped out the stage door, to the ground. He picks himself up and, looking indignant, opens his mouth to say something ... then shuts it again when he sees the expressions on Lynn and Jane's faces.)

AP: ('Okaaay...') Guys...?

Lynn: Not now.

(Lynn moves towards the mouth of the alley, unzipping her jacket as she goes. Jane frowns and follows her. Lynn cautiously pokes her head out of the alleyway - Jane follows suit - and we see, from their P.O.V, a black car parked so that it blocks the street.)

Jane: Same people who blew up the Tank?

Lynn: (casual) Probably.

Jane: You think they'll stop shooting at us long enough for me to thank them?

Lynn: Doubtful.

Jane: Oh. (beat; it registers) What the hell do you mean, PROBABLY?

Lynn: There are too many people who have a reason to shoot at me to be specific. (beat; to Jane's look) I guess I HAVE to explain now... (gunshot/ricochet noise; they duck back into the alley) ...but can it wait until we're less busy?

AP: ('let me get this straight') People are shooting at us. (Lynn nods, checking her pockets for something.) With guns. (Lynn nods, heading over to the alley mouth again; AP grabs her arm) Then maybe it would be a good idea not to go anywhere NEAR that street where the shooting is?

Lynn: (shaking him off) I'm not going to stick my neck out. (beat; painful honesty) Yet.

(AP and Jane scowl at her for that. Lynn stands at the mouth of the alley - across the street, there is another alley, and Tom is standing in the entrance to it, and he holds up both hands - one with all fingers extended, one with the index finger up. Lynn holds up a hand, thumb tucked in: all Jacketeers, Spiralites and related personages accounted for.)

Jane: They're all okay? (Lynn nods.) Thank GOD...

(Tom pats his hip pocket and does an elaborate shrug. Lynn pats the right pocket of her jacket and nods once.)

Quinn: What are you DO-ING? I mean, people are SHOOTING at us and YOU'RE playing Charades!

Jane: AP, did you bring the duct tape?

(Tom beckons to Lynn, who nods backwards to the others she's with and shakes her head. Tom then points; Lynn frowns until Tom strikes an 'artist at the easel' pose, at which point Lynn shakes her head violently.)

Jane: What? (when Lynn won't meet her eyes) It's about me - I want to know.

Lynn: (sigh) He wants to send you across the street.

Jane: (blink) He either hates me a lot or has a damn good reason.

Lynn: (resigned) If they get hold of me, I'm screwed and so is anyone who's with me. But if they get hold of me with this... (reaches into her right jacket pocket and pulls out a CD) ...a LOT of people are screwed. (beat) He wants me to hand this over to you and send you across.

Jane: But ... why don't we just...? (makes throwing motion)

Lynn: (raised eyebrow) Okay. As soon as Tom yells "Pull!"61

Jane: Right. (beat) Okay, so you're telling me that I cross the road and get shot or stay with you and...

Lynn: We're the smaller force with the faster car so we're going to be the rabbit. So you get shot at anyway. (beat) But from further away.

(Silence while Jane thinks about this.)

Jane: (holding a hand out) Hand it over; I'm going.

Lynn: Jane, I...

Jane: I leave in thirty seconds. You either give me that stupid CD or I go without it and then what do you gain?

(To press the point, Jane starts doing some leg stretches. The others watch.)

AP: You're not gonna LET her...?

Lynn: (sigh) Looks like I have to.

(With that, she hands the CD to Jane, who slips it into the front pocket of her shirt. Lynn reaches into her jacket and pulls a silver .45 Magnum from her shoulder holster. Everyone takes an unconscious step away from her, and you can almost hear the shared thought - "Lynn with a gun; God help the world". She raises it with a pointed look at Tom across the street, who pulls his own weapon and takes position against the alley wall. Lynn does the same and Jane follows her.)

Lynn: If you get yourself shot, I'm having "Jane no baka" carved on your tombstone. Just so you know.62

Jane: Where'd you come up with that much Japanese? You don't DO anime...

Lynn: It's part of what I'll have to come clean on, so survive and you'll find out.

Jane: Fine; wish me luck.

Lynn: (musing) Good luck is ill-omened ... even 'break a leg' is ominous in THIS situation... (sigh) Ah well... (Lynn hugs Jane, who looks shocked as hell. Then Lynn lets go and turns away slightly, not looking at Jane) I will deny to my dying breath I ever did that. Now get ready - Tom and I will cover you.

(Jane gets into a starter's crouch. Lynn holds the gun, spending a second in the same meditative calm she was in while handcuffed to Upchuck's locker. Then...)

Lynn: (eyes still closed) Three ... two ... one.

(She opens her eyes and, in unison, she and Tom lean out from cover and start taking shots at the car. Jane runs out behind their cover fire and runs like hell - we hear the black car's passengers returning fire, but hesitantly. Then Jane dives for the safety of Tom's alley and Tom and Lynn pull back.)

AP: Did she make it?

(Lynn looks towards Tom and raises three fingers. Tom raises seven and nods.)

Lynn: (sigh of utter relief) She made it. (beat) Now it's our turn to make a run for it.

Quinn: NO! I mean, I CAN'T! I mean, I can't RUN in these heels! And blood would TOTALLY clash with my shirt!

Lynn: (sigh) Quinn, we only need to get as far as the Merc; then we drive.

Quinn: Well, GOOD, because this alley SMELLS! I REALLY need to change my clothes and...

AP: I say we don't wait for LA. They have pimps in Pittsburgh, right?

Lynn: (temper badly frayed) If the two of you don't SHUT *UP*... (they see the dangerous look in her eyes and shut; Lynn takes a breath and calms down) As I said, we're going to be the rabbit to their greyhounds. We need to get that car out of the road.

Quinn: DUH! The road's open BOTH WAYS...

Lynn: (deep breath) Quinn. The people shooting at us have one car. If Daria, Jane, Tom and the others get into the cars and drive off, the car follows THEM. This is bad, because we do not want them catching the people with that CD. And, because of the dubious state of repair of the engines of at least two of their cars...

Quinn: Dubious...?

AP: (even he knows this one) They could faw down go *boom* VERY easily. (beat) Engine go down the hoooooooooole.63

Lynn: (sideways look at AP) You've been on IRC too long. Or you had another Tiny Toons marathon.

AP: (sheepish) Little of both?

Quinn: (a bit nervous) Um ... can we get ON with this?

Lynn: It's likely they'll get caught if they try to outrun these goons. But if WE get into the Merc and drive off, they follow US. Which is fine because we can stay ahead of them and, though they don't know it, we don't have what they want anyway.

AP: Wow! A high-speed chase through the heart of the city!

Lynn: (to Quinn, tossing her the keys, which she barely catches) You drive.

AP: (shocked) Purple Peril, are you out of your freakin' MIND? We're talking about NARCISSA here! She's not LICENSED! She's too damn YOUNG! She...

Lynn: We are going to be driving through Pittsburgh as fast as we can push the Merc to stay ahead of these goons and I have to have my hands free. YOU want to do it?


AP: Okay, Narcissa drives...64

Lynn: Okay, people, on my mark.

(Scene: the other side of the alley. Music plays on. Daria and Tom are watching Lynn, Quinn and AP take ready-to-run positions across the street. Trent, Jesse, Nick and Max are hovering further back, looking somewhat stressed.)

Max: Have they stopped shooting yet?

Nick: I'm not liking this, man. I don't want to end up like Lennon.

Trent: WORSE than Lennon. WE never made it anywhere.65

Jesse: This sucks. (to the looks) Well, it does! We're getting shot at! I mean, even playing McGrundy's, the only kind of shots we had to deal with were alcohol shots!

Daria: (paying attention to her sisters and ex-boyfriend) Uh ... what are they doing?

Tom: You don't want to know. You'll only worry.

Daria: TOM...

Tom: Look, would you calm DOWN? She's GOOD at cut and run.

Daria: And you know this HOW?

(Before Tom can answer, Lynn breaks cover and starts shooting at the black car. Behind her cover fire, AP and Quinn make for the Merc. Quinn takes the wheel and starts the car; AP jumps into the shotgun seat. Lynn makes a break for it, diving for the back and getting in as Quinn floors the accelerator, does a very sharp U-turn and speeds off away from the car. There is a scuffle as the passengers of the car get in, and then it revs and follows the Merc away. Daria looks at Tom, who seems to be trying not to show how worried he is and isn't doing all that good a job.)

Tom: Okay, they did their job. Let's go.

Daria: But they're CHASING...

Tom: We have to go. NOW. Before someone shows up to do clean-up.

(He leaves the alley. Trent, Jesse, Nick and Max shuffle forward, Trent less nervously than the others.)

Jane: He had BETTER start explaining SOMETHING or I'll get a hold of that gun and...

Trent: (aghast) Janey!

Jane: (continuing) ...no, that'd be too easy. I'll find one of Lynn's knives and...

Daria: Jane. (This stops Jane in her tracks and she turns to stare at Daria.) He's right that this is not the time. (beat) But if he doesn't spill something soon, whatever it is you plan to do to him, I'll help.

(Trent looks a little frightened, Jesse vague, Nick and Max slightly impressed. Jane looks at Daria for what seems like a long time ... then nods. They leave the alley together, followed by the band. A moment later, we hear car engines start.)

(Scene: a pizza restaurant somewhere in Pittsburgh. Music: "Three Friends" - The Levellers. Four people sit at a window table; we recognise one of them as Jan from "Rue Britannia". She is accompanied by a young woman with short bobbed black hair in a hunter green blazer, grey blouse and jeans and two young men - one very tall with short sandy hair and the other with long blond hair and a quiet demeanour. Both men are in T-shirts and jeans. Jan looks slightly put out.)

Jan: Tell me again why I'm here?

Blond Man: (slightly smug) Well, Kes, you got suckered into the same bet Aph here did.

Woman (Aph): (giggle) Yeah. You should have known better. But come on, aren't you having fun?

Jan (now Kes): But I don't like fun.66

Tall Man: Like you don't like Spam?67

Kes: Please don't mention Spam, NCM. I'm rather looking forward to dinner.

NCM: (grin) Aw, come on, it's not so...

Kes: Eco, can you make him shut up?

(The blond man [Eco] shrugs. And Tom's rustbucket bombs past the window, catching their attention.)

Eco: Wasn't that H's heap?

(The rustbucket is followed by the A-Tank, and then the Plymouth. The foursome at the table exchange a look.)

Aph: (suddenly serious) Let's go.

(They get up and leave the restaurant.)

(Scene: the street. Music plays on. The foursome approach a white convertible. Kes gets into the shotgun seat - Aph gets behind the wheel. Eco and NCM pile into the back and do up their seatbelts quickly, nervous looks on their faces.)

Eco: So what's the plan?

Aph: We get to the Hideout before they do and let them in...

Kes: (dropping her head on the dash) We're all gonna die.

Aph: (indignant) I'm not that bad a driver!

Kes: (doing up her seatbelt) Who says she IS? (Eco and NCM raise their hands. Aph scowls.) You're outvoted. Now just drive. I've been in worse.

(Aph scowls at Kes and floors the accelerator. They jolt forward.)


(Scene: the road. Abrupt music cut to "Burning Highway (Crisis - Run with Anger)" - Bubblegum Crisis OST. Tom is driving, looking grim. Daria, in the passenger seat, is watching him.)

Daria: Where are we going? Come to that, where are THEY going?

Tom: Tell you later, but don't worry. She can take care of herself. We're going to get some advice and protection for YOU guys. (beat; grim) If you get hurt she'll skin me alive and give me to a junior biology class for an exhibit.

(Daria glares at him ... then looks past him at the window, where a white convertible has caught them up. Kes is leaning out the window and making a cranking motion. Daria blinks.)

Daria: There's someone out there who wants to talk to you...

(Tom looks out the window and then blinks himself. He rolls the window down and leans out a bit.)


Daria: (taken aback) "Kestrel"?

Kes: (leaning way too far out the window) You ARE headed to the Hideout, right?

Tom: Yeah, but...

Kes: Good! We'll meet you there! And you'd better have a DAMN good reason for shooting through Pitts like a bat outta hell!

(The white convertible speeds ahead of them. Eco and NCM wave at Tom as they go past, big excrement-eating grins on their faces. Tom rolls the window down and puts his full attention back on the road, trying to ignore Daria's glare. He doesn't manage very well and visibly squirms.)

Daria: 'Kestrel'?

Tom: It's like Rust. (grudging) Or H. It's a codename.

Daria: And ... 'you all' have them?

Tom: Well, yeah.

(Slight pause)

Daria: (casual 'just letting you know' tone) When we get to ... wherever it is we're going, I'm going to tie you down, take out Lynn's torture manual, and start prying out either the information I require or your spleen, whichever is easier.68

(Tom blinks at her)

Tom: You've been hanging around her too long.

Daria: (shrug) Maybe it's a family trait.

(Scene: the Merc, travelling at speed, a nervous Quinn behind the wheel. AP is not wearing his seat belt, preferring instead to lean over the back of his seat and watch Lynn, who is rummaging through the backseat and singing under her breath, with no little confusion.)

Lynn: (singing) o/` And we will all go together when we go...o/`

AP: (slightly worried) Purple Peril...

Lynn: (a bit louder to drown him out) o/` What a comforting fact that is to know...o/`

AP: Um...

Lynn: (louder still) o/` Universal bereavement/An inspiring achievement!/Yes, we all will go together when we...o/`

AP: *WILL* YOU SHUT *UP*? (to Lynn's look) What was that word you used when we were six and I calculated just how long it would take Fuzz-Wuzz to die of asphyxiation if I sealed him in a shoebox-sized airtight container?

Lynn: (still looking at him) Morbid. (beat) Oh. I see. (going back to the rummaging) Perhaps you'd prefer the Masochism Tango? Or how about... (singing) o/` All the world seems in tune on a spring afternoon/When we're poisoning pigeons in the park... o/`

AP: (watching Lynn swing the backseat upwards - it's hinged) Uh...

Lynn: o/` Every Sunday you'll see my sweetheart and me/As we poison the pigeons in the park... o/`

AP: I don't... (she pulls a sawed-off shotgun out of the back and shoves the seat back into place) AUGH! What the HELL...?

Lynn: (taking aim; bracing herself between the backseat and the back of AP's seat) o/` When they see us coming, the birdies all try and hide... o/`

(*boom* and the windshield of the pursuing car is shattered. The car swerves and the driver sticks his head out his window; someone pokes his upper body out of the passenger seat and takes a shot at the Merc, which goes wide.)

Lynn: (aiming again) o/` But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide... o/`

(*boom* and the car loses its right front tire. The car swerves harder as Lynn reloads)

Lynn: (sliding the shell home) o/` The sun's shining bright, everything seems alright...o/`

AP: (white with shock) NOW what?

Lynn: (speaking) Gas tank. (singing as she aims) o/` When we're POISONING pigeons in the... o/`

(She squeezes the trigger just as AP smacks her in the arm - the shot goes way high and Lynn turns and scowls at AP.)

AP: You'd regret it later.

(Lynn glares at him some more ... then sighs, drops the gun and slumps into the backseat, sulking slightly.)

Lynn: (singing still) o/` We've gained notoriety, and caused much anxiety/In the Audobon Society with our games... o/`

AP: What IS that, anyway?

Lynn: Well, you remember that guy who did the song with the elements? (AP nods with a grin) Well, him.69

(There is silence for a brief time. The Merc turns a corner and we hear...)

Lynn & AP: (OS; singing [AP as badly as usual]) o/` There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium/And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium... o/`

Quinn: (OS) How GEEKY can you GET?

Lynn & AP: (OS; louder) o/` And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium/And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium...o/`

(As they fade out of earshot, we hear Quinn's groan of despair.)

(Scene: Hideout [basically a large, rambling house in a reasonable state of repair - functional and comfortable but not possessing a decor so much as a lived-in feel]. Music: "A Day in the Life" - the Beatles. Cluttered living room, everyone squeezed in like sardines. Aph is pacing the front of the room, looking irritated and worried.)

Aph: Where ARE they? I mean, how long does it take to lose a bunch of ... well, THOSE people in one of those ... nondescript tortoises they call cars?

Eco: Aph, this is PITTSBURGH. Try navigating the streets here without a map your first time here.

Aph: (rueful) I DID, remember? Circled the city three TIMES to find the place when I moved from Cincy.

NCM: Well, maybe you would have been able to read the street signs if you drove below 60 just once...

Aph: (glaring at NCM) ANYWAY, they should be BACK by now. You don't think...

Eco: Will you calm down, Aph?

NCM: Yeah, don't let your drama-queen tendencies get carried away. (beat) Oh, wait, look who I'm talking to...

Aph: (to Tom; livid) H, you were SUPPOSED to be keeping an EYE on her! When the Falcon finds out about this...

Tom: (utter panic) He's not GOING to find out about this! The Peril will come back safe and sound and there will be NO need to mention this to the Falcon!

Eco: Ah, the sweet, misguided optimism of youth.

(Tom glares at Eco. Jane turns on Aph.)

Jane: "The FALCON"? Why do I feel like we've fallen into a really bad spy movie?

Kes: (slightly bitter) Actually, I always felt that Jerome was more the cuckoo bird type.

Daria: (puzzled) Aren't those the ones that lay their eggs in other birds' nests and then... (it hits) OH.

Kes: Exactly.

Jane: What, Lynn's ... I mean your ... I mean ... how the HELL do YOU know?

Daria: Oh, I forgot you wouldn't know. His middle name is Peregrine. Like the raptor.

Jane: And so Falcon. Right. Uh-huh. So we have him and his little niece the Kestrel...

Kes: Oi, watch it. Lynn's not the only one who can use a crossbow, you know.

Jane: And ... 'Aph'...?

NCM: It's short for Aphrodite. Goddess of love. (beat) But it's more smoochiness in her case.

Daria: (blink) Smoochiness.

Eco: Don't ask. It's an Aph word.

Daria: And I'm guessing 'Eco' for Ecology. (Eco nods) And ... NCM?

Kes: (raises hand) My bad. Stands for Non Compos Mentis. (beat) Suits well, doesn't it?

Trent: So ... wait a minute...

(And the door bursts open and Lynn and AP step in, doing a sort of clumsy half-assed tango. Quinn just stands in the doorway with a really disgusted look on her face.)

Lynn & AP: (in unison) o/` Your eyes cast a spell that bewitches/The last time I needed twenty stitches/To sew up the gash/That you made with your lash/As we dance to the Masochism Tango! o/`

(On the last two beats, AP tries to dip Lynn and winds up dropping her on the floor. Aph's face wears an "Awww... how cute!" expression; Eco and NCM look amused. The Darians, however, don't. They advance on Lynn, who's still sitting on the floor [like the students did on Quinn in "Antisocial Climbers", if that had happened in this continuum].)

Lynn: Uhhh... hey?

Jane: HEY?

Trent: People were shooting at us.

Eco: Actually, I think people were shooting at HER. And at Missing H there.

Tom: That's RUST!

Lynn: (anything to change the subject) What's WITH that, anyway?

(Eco, NCM and Tom look at Aph. Eco and NCM grin. Tom is glaring.)

Aph: Long story. I used to know a guy and ... well, anyway, if it's short for Thomas ... well, it ought to be T-*H*-O-M, that's all!70

Daria: I already heard that story. I want to hear a different one. (beat) The one about why people are shooting at you. And, by association, the rest of us.

Lynn: (to Tom) I TOLD you this was a bad idea. I've been successfully hiding this for MONTHS...

Jane: SUCCESSFULLY? You're KIDDING, right? I mean, we've known since ... God, since that stupid tutoring thing that something weird was going on!

Daria: Before. *I* started getting suspicious about (snide) 'The Falcon' while Lynn was still...

Lynn: Yeah, yeah, in the Valley of the Shadow.

Daria: And your tact and decorum still amaze me.

AP: So come ON, Purple Peril. Give. Why are people shooting at you? AGAIN?

(Aph sees the look on Lynn's face and steps in.)

Aph: You know, you guys really should respect Peril's boundaries... (to the glares) ...and you haven't got the time for long stories anyway. Right now we have to figure out what we're going to do about this.

Lynn: I don't suppose I can vote for sending them home?

Eco: Bad idea. You go back now, they KNOW there's a reason.

Tom: They know that anyway. Oh, yeah, this is yours.

(Tom hands over the CD. Eco looks at it, then hands it to NCM.)

Eco: Any trouble getting it?

Tom: (sidelong glare at Mystik Spiral's male element) A little. But we managed.

Aph: And they'll never be able to get this stuff again?

Lynn: (smirk) Oh, no. Not after Methods 3, 19 and 24.71

AP: (eyes REALLY big) All THREE?

Lynn: (mischievous) And I THINK I came up with a 26.72

Tom: And a 27 through 33, I think...

Lynn: At least.

AP: (eyes, if possible, wider) What did you do? What did you DO?

Lynn: Fun with toothpaste.

AP: (awestruck) There are days I WORSHIP you.

(Both parties turn, blushing.)

Aph: How kyoooooot!

(Aph shrinks under a pair of death glares.)

Jane: I still don't understand ANY of this.

(Lynn shoots Jane a grateful look.)

Eco: It's not so important that you understand. What's important is what you do now. And no, Peril, they can't go back.

AP: (stunned) Waitaminit - PERIL? What are THEY doing calling you that? Even Rust here calls you Cullen...

Lynn: Yeah ... and I WILL start calling him Missing H if he keeps THAT up... (Tom blushes and glares all at once.) I needed a code name. I've had one I like since I was six. You think I WASN'T going to use it?73

Jane: Is that REALLY all that important, AP?

AP: Matters to ME...

(Aph tries to take charge.)

Aph: Okay, so you can't go back. I guess you keep going. But you can't just leave the way you are now.

AP: Come again?

NCM: Oh, here we go. Drama-Queen Aph goes on a cloak and dagger trip!

Aph: Come ON, NCM, you know as well as I do if they leave the city without making some kind of false backtrail, Jensen'll be on them like a cheap sweater.

Lynn & Tom: (in unison) JENSEN?

Tom: Aw, crap, by rights we should ALL be dead by now.

Lynn: You're absolutely sure? (beat) Oh, listen to me; after the Capital, of COURSE it was going to be Jensen.

Tom: Well, we kind of deserved it after that thing with the light bulbs.

AP: You ... you DID the light bulb thing?

Lynn: Oh, it was NOT as bad as fun with toothpaste.

AP: I will NEVER forgive you for not letting me in on this.

Tom: And he followed us from WASHINGTON?

Lynn: No, I'd assume he was at least watching us since Highland, Rust.

Tom: Aw, CRAP!

Kes: EVERYBODY SHUT UP! (everyone turns and looks at her.) Thank you. Now. You have some things to sort out. Like how you're going to get out of Pittsburgh incognito. The stories about who Jensen is and why he's after you and who's going to kill whom for not letting this information out sooner are going to have to wait.

NCM: And what are YOU going to do?

Kes: If you're lucky, keep my mouth shut.

NCM: THAT'LL be the day.

Kes: For a change, be serious. Do you have any clue what Uncle Jerome will DO to H if he finds out what came of this mission?

(Tom goes extremely pale.)

NCM: I thought you LIKED watching people get tortured...

Kes: Only from a virtual standpoint. And anyway, he seems to be friendly with this lot.

AP: Not really.

Lynn: AP...

Kes: Are we starting this again? (beat) Now what's your idea, Aph?

(Aph gets a scheming look on her face that the Darians don't seem to like much at all.)

(Scene: a grubby theatre backstage area. Lynn is holding a garment bag and looking beyond pissed off. The others don't look a whole lot more thrilled.)

Lynn: (livid) JANET? Are you NUTS?

Tom: Cullen...

Lynn: (to Daria) Why can't YOU do it?

Daria: Ever heard me sing?

Lynn: Then why can't JANE...

Tom: You don't want to hear HER sing either.74

Jane: HEY!

AP: Hey, look, I can't sing either. Why this Brad guy?

Aph: (entering in time to catch this last) It doesn't matter if Brad can't sing. He's supposed to be a non-hero anyway.

Daria: Magenta. Huh. Why not the Narrator? I can do deadpan...

Aph: Who would you RATHER see as Magenta - HER?

(This is directed at Quinn, who's sitting in a chair in the corner, lost somewhere in the first few pages of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire".)

Daria: No, HER.

(This towards Jane, who's looking at a glittery top hat with some interest.)

Jane: (nearly to herself) Rocky Horror Show actor-types. Not a bad way to go out, I guess... (does a half-assed tap step) Eat your heart out, Ann Miller...

Aph: Try to sound like your little friend there when you say that...

Jane: Eich. Do I HAVE to?

Lynn: If we're going to do this ... let's do the bloody thing right.

Aph: Goodie! Let's go! Oh KES...

(Kes steps out looking really pissed off, wearing a French maid's uniform in livid pink.)

Aph: *ahem* The shoes...

Kes: (after a glance at her Doc Marten shoes) You can have my Docs when you pry them from my cold dead feet. Are we going to argue about this?

Aph: Well, okay ... but you're going to look like an idiot.

Kes: "Going to"?

Aph: *giggle*

Kes: Have I extemporised lately on just how much I hate you?

Aph: Awww! The feeling's mutual, amiga!

Jane: (to Daria) Why does that exchange sound so familiar?

(They look at Kes and Aph ... then at each other ... and then facefault as they see the resemblances)

Daria: (deadpan) Behold our future.

(After a moment, they shudder in unison.75)

(Scene: stage. Jane as Columbia doing tap-dance routine to "Time Warp". As she does, the audience chants...)

Audience:2, 4, 6, 8 Show us how you masturbate
3, 5, 7, 9 We know you do it all the time
4, 6, 8, 10 Do it for us once again
5, 7, 9, 11 Suck my dick and go to heaven
6, 8, 10, 12 She's so hot she'll blow a valve

(Trent, watching in the wings, clenches his fists until his knuckles go white.)

(Trent, onstage in full costume.)

Trent: I see you shiver with antici - (Three seconds)

Audience: (all in a jumble) SAY IT!/This movie would suck without audience partici.../Say it! Say it! Master! Master!/Say it! Say it! Consta! Consta!

(Trent, completely flummoxed, forgets the line. Jane blinks, realises what's happened...)


(The audience cheers and catcalls. Trent looks gratefully at Jane.)

(Scene: silhouette of Lynn and Trent as Janet and Frank in bed.)

Trent: Yes, yes, I know, but it isn't all bad, is it?

Audience: It isn't Brad either!

Trent: I think you really found it quite pleasurable.

Lynn: Oh, stop...

Audience: Don't, stop, don't stop, don't stop!

Lynn: I mean help... Brad Brad!... Oh Brad!!

Audience: He's not down there. He's never been down there!

(Cut to AP, who looks like someone just cut his heart out.)

(Scene: theatre ext. Dawn. Gang piling into various vehicles. Lynn talking to Kes.)

Lynn: You're not going to talk to Dad about this, are you?

Kes: Not even going to TALK to Uncle Jerome, honestly. Just said that to shut NCM up.


Tom: (stepping over) We're out of here. Rota?

Daria: (from behind him; pointedly) We're not following the rota. Jane, AP and I are in the Merc. With Lynn. We have some things to discuss.

(Lynn looks trapped, then shrugs with a sigh and walks off.)

Quinn: (OS; indignant) OOOH! The next person who calls me Narcissa is going to get a ... a ...

Lynn: (OS; audible smirk) The Furnunculus charm ... Mrs Malfoy?76

Quinn: (OS; even more indignant) OOOOOH!

(There are chuckles from all concerned and the closing of car doors.)

(Scene: the Merc. Music: "Policy of Truth" - Depeche Mode. Lynn behind the wheel, looking miserably out at the road. Daria [shotgun], Jane and AP [backseat] are not looking at her, in case it comes out looking accusatory.)

Lynn: (sigh) Okay, where do you want me to start?

Daria: (not sure she wants to know anymore) Basics, mainly. What does Jerome do?

Lynn: It's not obvious yet? (beat) He's a crime baron, Daria. A Don. A Godfather.

Daria: (after a long pause) Oh.

Lynn: Not your average, though. The Smythes got their start back around Prohibition, when Great-Grandfather Gerald and his wife Amanda conned enough money for passage to America out of a Coventry shopowner. They wound up on the same boat as some Sicilian Family who had just buried their Consigliore... (to AP's confused blink) Advisor, AP. Anyway, word got around about how they got the money together for the trip and, after watching Gerald for a few days, the Sicilians decided that they could do worse than to ask HIM to take the position. They had no one better within the Family anyway. So by the time the boat docked, Gerald and Amanda were Mafiosi.

Daria: But they became a family in their own right?

Lynn: Not six months later, in fact. Gang war - the Don and his immediate family murdered, the Family structure in ruins. So Gerald rallied the survivors ... and decided to build a better mousetrap.

AP: What, they went into carpentry?

Jane: Shut up, AP, I want to hear this!

Lynn: He figured that, if he kept on in the same vein as the Sicilians had, he'd meet the same end. But if he stopped competing with the other Families and started CATERING to them, he'd be sure to survive. So he dropped the gambling, whoring and drug rings and went into weapons dealing, espionage, information, sabotage and the very occasional, very quiet expert assassination.

Jane: I should have guessed. I SO should have guessed.

Lynn: Gerald's plan worked out better than he could have hoped ... and he had a thriving Family name to hand on to his children. Fraternal twins, if you care - Janus and Judas.

Daria: The Smythes have the weirdest sense of humour.

Lynn: Hey, MY name means 'beautiful serpent' - don't talk to me about sense of humour.77 (beat) Anyway, Janus is Jan's grandmother - Jan the elder changed the spelling of her name to J-A-N-I-C-E, got married and distanced herself from the Family. Judas, on the other hand, took to it like a duck takes to water and set out on a recruitment programme - picking only the experts in the Family specialities. And so HE got married, and he and his wife had Dad, and then Lorna. And so it went.

Daria: Until...? (to Lynn's look) Come on. Things are not going so well three or four generations in.

Lynn: That would be Kate. Or, as she is referred to within the Family, Jezebel.

Daria: Ouch.

Lynn: (shrug) Can you blame Dad? Fine, he never really displayed what you'd call parenting instinct, but what can you expect from someone who spent most of his life at an English boarding school?

Daria: (blink) Boarding school. (beat) In England. (beat) Not Hertfordshire.78

Lynn: Yes, actually. (Daria goes white) Called St Christopher. By all rights, I should have been sent there when I hit eleven - about five generations of Smythes have gone there; it's sort of a tradition. (beat) WEIRD-ass place, Jan tells me. The chemistry teacher has a thing about explosives and the PolitSci teacher quotes Machiavelli. Founded by ex-Quakers, vegetarian, with a senile headmaster and a Theatre Studies teacher who'll pass you on the convincing delivery of your excuses as often as your homework.79 (beat; looking askance at her) Why?

Daria: Tell me you've never heard of St Francis.

Lynn: Have, actually. Strict Catholic boarding school a quarter-mile down the road from St Chris. Why?

Daria: Don't. Even. Ask.

Lynn: ("Okaaay...") Anyway, Dad may not have had a clue, but Jezebel was, if anything, worse. Her idea of parenting was shoving a square peg, i.e. me, into a round hole, i.e. the same power-suit-and-stock-market mentality she'd developed.

Daria: And this interfered with Jerome...?

Lynn: Not until I was five, and Grandpa Judas died. Then Dad had to take his place as ... well, Don, for lack of a better word. Which meant he felt he had to tell Jezebel all about it.

AP: Eeeep. (to looks from Daria and Jane) You don't get it. You barely met Kate, so you don't get it. She doesn't ... like ... rule-breaking. She makes Ms Li look slack when it comes to that.

Lynn: (confirming) Jezebel hit the roof and severed all ties with the Family ... taking me with her for reasons I'll never understand. And all that went well until I was about nine and...

Daria: And it became obvious that you were nearly scarily like Jerome.

Lynn: (sigh) At which point she denied Dad visitation rights, threatening to expose him if he came anywhere near me again. She hoped that cutting him out of my life completely would stop me being ... well, me.

Daria: (wry) Fat chance. I never even KNEW him until a few months ago and look how *I* turned out. (beat) But what would have happened to the Family if Jerome hadn't remarried and had another ... successor?

Lynn: Jan had what it took, Dad thought. That's why she went to England - she went to St Chris to finish her *ahem* 'education'. Just in case. Dad didn't really want to marry again anyway.

Jane: So, after all that, why did people come after YOU?

Lynn: The Smythes have a few rules that so far have never been broken. For example, we don't hit many people, so our few assassins are sort of on semi-independent hire, and they are not allowed to take a contract on any Smythe affiliate. And the main one is total neutrality in the case of inter-Family war. We may do the sabotage and get the information that will bring a Family down, but everyone knows that it's only for profit. And we don't double-cross. (beat) Bryce Merritt wasn't accepting that.

Daria: Merritt?

Lynn: Another Don, so to speak. It's not just Sicilians anymore. He wanted Dad to arrange for some double-agent work that, by his own rules, he couldn't accept. Merritt tried everything from bribery to blackmail ... then threatened to do damage to Dad's "estranged family". (shrug)

AP: (livid) And he STILL didn't do anything?

Lynn: He watched Oakwood.

Jane: But you weren't IN Oakwood anymore...

Lynn: But he didn't KNOW that. So while Dad was watching Oakwood, Merritt got Jensen - his right hand - to set up a team to free Ms Li. That way their hands were clean AND their threat was carried out. (beat) They were keeping better tabs on me than he was, it seems.

Daria: Lynn...

Lynn: (overriding; anything but sympathy) Anyway, the rest you basically know. Dad found out and came to the hospital, Jezebel's threats be damned. And when he found out that she'd hauled ass for Tokyo and wasn't coming back until I was a legal adult, he fixed things so that I could cut all ties with HER if I wanted to.80 And made sure I at least got some rudimentary training in Family matters. Next thing I know, I'm driving around the US running errands and getting myself - and you guys - stuck eye-deep in Smythe/Merritt rivalry crap. (sigh) I'm really sorry, guys. This was NOT my idea.

AP: (snarl) That RUST guy.

Lynn: Pretty much. He announced it awhile before the play. I took off because he wanted to make sure I saw some contacts, like I said ... but he also saw that I was beyond what training he could give me and sent me out to ... some experts. That's where I picked up the Japanese, by the way. There's these two firearm NUTS in San Francisco... (glum) well, you'll meet them, I assume. No point in keeping you out of it NOW...

Jane: There was *EVER* a point?

Lynn: (starts to get hacked off, thinks about it, sighs) Of COURSE there was a point. I didn't want you to be where you are NOW. (beat) Yeah. THAT worked.

AP: Well, YOU at least TRIED. (beat; grumble) Not like that RUST guy, who just...

Daria: AP...

AP: Well, he...

Lynn: He has a point, Daria. He pretty much forced this on us. If you want more info on this tour, I'd suggest going and beating it out of HIM.

Jane: We already considered that.

Lynn: (wry) And...?

Daria: Somehow, we never got around to it. (beat) But with YOUR help, maybe. So, that story about that bookstore?

Lynn: Just that. A story.

(Flashback: Come Again, that bookstore in New York.81 Music: "Pornograffiti" - Extreme. Lynn is hiding behind a shelf, whilst Tom approaches the proprietor [diminutive stature - about 5'1" - light brown hair, attractively pouty seriousness in her face], henceforth "Leopard".)

Tom: Um... hi.

Leopard: Heydy! Don't feel ashamed!

Tom: Um...

Leopard: So, what kind of entertainment are you looking for?

Tom: Well...

Leopard: We have all kinds, from A for...

Tom: (cuts her off) I'm not here for books.

Leopard: Magazines, then?

Tom: Yes. (meaningful) And NOT the kind you read.82

Leopard: (cautious) Indeed?

(Leopard looks Tom up and down... is he an undercover cop?)

Tom: I'm not a cop.

Leopard: That's what they all say.

(Tom flounders. Lynn steps out from behind a shelf.)

Lynn: He's clean.

Leopard: (doubletakes at Lynn, seeing the family resemblance to Jerome) You must be... (takes in jacket) the Purple Peril I've heard of.

Lynn: That would be me, yes.

Leopard: (to Tom) And you'd be Missing H, Remora's son.83

Tom: That's RUST!

Leopard: (disdain) Whatever. Elliot! Cover for me for a bit?

Elliot: Will do.

(Cut to the back of the store where Lynn, Tom, and Leopard are conferencing. Music plays on.)

Lynn: Tom, take a look at this.

Tom: They wanted WHAT? (spins on Leopard)

Leopard: What about it?

Lynn: It's illegal in this country.

Leopard: So?

Tom: SO we can't get it to them. Not for THAT price, anyway. And what's this... an M40A1 for THAT price?

Leopard: To one of our own. You know who out in SF, for you know who.

Tom: Who?

Lynn: (slight smirk) OH.84

(Tom looks Leopard over and cocks an eyebrow.)

Tom: Speaking of guns, what's that at your hip?

Leopard: The Love Gun.

Tom: The WHAT?

Leopard: The Love Gun. Combination firearm/vibrator.85

Tom: Must take care of the problem of oiling it. (beat, blush) Ican'ttbelieveIjustsaidthat.

Lynn: (professional interest) How do you shoot straight with that thing?

Leopard: Experience. Practice. (sly grin) Intimate familiarity.

Lynn: (TMI, changing subject with sledgehammer) A rocket launcher?

Leopard: A rocket launcher.

Tom: Where did this rocket launcher GO TO?

Leopard: One of our own.

Tom: You SURE about that?

Leopard: Yup. He came by to get it himself. Him and... well, you know. His umfriend.86

Lynn: Riiiiight. We're done here.

Leopard: Good. Oh, Rust?

Tom: Yes?

Leopard: Piece of advice. Watch this game, kid, or one of these days you're gonna be five-oh-dead.87

Tom: I told you. I'm NOT undercover.

Leopard: Doesn't matter. You TALK like an undercover.

(end flashback)

Daria: Good. Somehow, Tom never struck me as the adult book author type.

Jane: Yeah. Write what you know and all that.

(Second or two pause as that comment sinks in and then everyone laughs.)

(Scene: A Motel 6 somewhere in Iowa. Everyone's lounging in one of the rooms eating.)

Tom: Crap. Crapcrapcrap.

Lynn: What is the matter now?

Tom: We forgot Michigan.

Lynn: Hmm? Oh, Chopper.

Tom: It was an if possible, but still. After Pitts...

Lynn: Which reminds me. (edged politeness) Tom, conference (beat) if you would.

Tom: (glances up) Um... sure.

(they exit, headed for one of the other rooms the group has)

AP: (mutter to Daria) And there they go, sneaking off to be alone...

Daria: I'm sure its just business.

AP: (dark) That's almost as bad.

(Smash cut to another room, cookie cutter identical to the other one, where we find Tom and Lynn in mid yellout. Tom is flat on his back on a bed. Lynn is pacing like a caged Peril.)

Tom: You had perfect cover.

Lynn: Ye-es... but "What part of 'I don't want any part of this' don't you GET?"88

Tom: You're a Smythe. You're the Falcon's blood and heir. And, as you already know, you HAVE a part of this. Wanted or not.

Lynn: Choice or not.

Tom: Afraid not. This is the life you were born to.

Lynn: And I find out about my so-called bloody 'birthright' eighteen years later. Way to GO, Falcon.

Tom: More like way to go, Jezebel.

Lynn: (dropping on the other bed) Maybe. But Mister Criminal Mastermind could have found a way, no? No phone calls at midnight? No postcards in code? No anonymous notes in my locker?

Tom: Take that up with him.

Lynn: What about DARIA?

Tom: What ABOUT Daria?

(Lynn hops to her feet and makes as if to backfist him... then stops dead.)

Lynn: I'll take it you're just being a smartass.

Tom: Yeah. (beat) Daria changes everything. The two of you could do a lot of damage together.

Lynn: So Dad orchestrated this to get her IN on it? (to Tom's look) It was what he wanted. (to Tom's sheepish nod) Well, what about what *I* want?

Tom: You didn't even give Daria the choice.

(Lynn stops dead... thinks... and then slams out of the room.)

(Scene: Lynn in a dirty backstage.)

Lynn: I'm dressing as WHO? And singing WHAT?!

Tom: Kill me later. Do it NOW.

Lynn: You'd better BELIEVE kill you later, you little...

Tom: You know the lyrics?

Lynn: Regrettably.

Tom: Wow. That's even more amazing than the Gambler.

Lynn: (maroon) How the HELL do you know about THAT?

Tom: Erm...

Lynn: Later for you. (mutter) And later for a certain technoweasel. (normal) Now scoot.

Tom: Scoot?

Lynn: I'm not changing into this in front of you! If I had any choice, I wouldn't even WEAR this in front of you!

Tom: "Me."

Lynn: *ANY*one.

(Tom exits and walks into the rest of the group. Lynn pokes her head out behind him and surveys the group.)

Lynn: I see ANY of you in the audience... Method 27.

AP: Eep. (beat) But there ISN'T a...

Lynn: (*ahem*) Yes there IS. And you don't want to know.

AP: (remembering) EEP.

(Scene: Lynn on stage in the outfit Britney Spears wears in the "Hit Me, Baby, One More Time" video. When the music starts, however, she turns out to be singing "Oops I Did It Again".)

(Scene: The Rocky Mountains. Music: "Joyride" - Roxette. Lynn, in the lead, flashes her hazards and pulls the Merc over at a lookout point. The rest of the caravan pulls in around her. She passes Jane (in the passenger seat) her keys and gets out, walking around to the trailer. Tom gets out of the Rustbucket and runs over to her.)

Tom: Lynn, what are you doing?

(Lynn starts unwrapping Amethyst. Rest of group gathers around)

Lynn: I didn't haul my bike all this way for naught.

Tom: Oh no you don't.

Lynn: (fed up) Oh no I don't WHAT?

Tom: (backing off, a little) At least you don't go alone.

Lynn: (sarcastic) What, you volunteering as a passenger?

(Jane smirks and literally shoves AP at Lynn)

Tom: What about the Psycho-Maverick? He's light.

(Scene: Curvy mountain road. Music plays on. Lynn is at speed, obviously enjoying the hell out of herself. Meanwhile AP has a death grip on her midsection (which, truth to tell, Lynn doesn't exactly mind either) and has his eyes tightly shut. If one listens *very* carefully, one can almost hear him muttering what sounds very like the 23rd Psalm.89)

(Scene: Reno, Nevada. Daria and Lynn in a casino; they run into the manager - a rather pathetic, entirely bald, extremely fat man of middle years. He squints at them.)

Manager: You must be the sister act. (beat) You don't look THAT much alike...

(In unison, Daria and Lynn pull their glasses off and look the man square in the face.90)

Daria & Lynn: (in unison) Excuse me?

(Dead silence as the man stares.)

Manager: (recovering) All right. (to Lynn) Do something about the hair. You're on in thirty.

(He waddles off. Lynn looks at Daria.)

Lynn: He wants me to...

Daria: Best not to think about it. (beat; realisation) We're on in THIRTY? What the hell can we cook up in thirty minutes?

Lynn: (still in shock) He actually expects me to...

Daria: (taking her by the shoulders and shaking her) LYNN! You're the stage-oriented one! Think. Of. Something!

(A thoughtful look passes over her face ... then she raises an eyebrow at Daria.)

Lynn: Play it for all it's worth?

(Daria looks at her dubiously.)

(Scene: Reno. A really ritzy-looking bar-floor-show kind of place [do they have names?] The gang is sitting at a couple of tables near the front. Tom looks EXTREMELY nervous.)

Tom: Guys, why don't we go find something else to do?

Quinn: This place is LAME! I want to go do something FUN!

Max: Come ON, guys, this isn't so bad!

Jane: I'll stay but if that curtain goes up and I see Tom Jones standing behind it, I'm going to scream.

Tom: (really twitchy) Guys, if so many of you think this is...

AP: Rust ... you said the Twin Terrors were onstage here tonight. Why the hell don't... (it hits him) They'll kill you if they see us here, right?

(Tom gives a miserable nod. AP settles back in his seat with a smirk. As Tom looks to the others for help, they do the same with equally evil smirks. Tom slumps his shoulders in utter despair.)

(Pan to the stage. We hear soft voices behind the curtains.)

Daria: (OS) Icantbelieveimdoingthisicantbelieveimdoingthisicantbelieveim...

Lynn: (OS) Shut UP. I can't believe I'm doing this either but I'm dealing with it.

Daria: (OS; deep calming breath) Okay. But you have plans for Tom?

Lynn: (OS; hear the smirk) With a role written specially for you.

(At this point, the curtain comes up to reveal a CU on Daria and Lynn, both without glasses [Lynn has bangs cut in her hair and, without the glasses, they are entirely identical] peering over feathered fans. Pan back to see that they are wearing skimpy Vegas flow-show costumes. Quick cut to the rest of the gang in their seats - they all look gobsmacked bar Tom, who cringes even further back into his seat.)

AP & Trent: (in unison) Nrgh...

(They look at each other suspiciously.)

Daria & Lynn: (in unison; singing) o/` Sisters, sisters/Never saw two more devoted sisters... o/`91

Lynn: (sweetly) o/` Never had to have a chaperone, no sir... o/`

Daria: (speak-singing deadpan) o/` I'm here to keep my eye on her... o/`

Daria & Lynn: (in unison) o/` Caring, sharing, every little thing that we are wearing... o/`

Lynn: (sweetly) o/` When a certain gentleman arrives from Rome... o/`

Daria: (nearly bitter) o/` She wore the dress, while I stayed home. o/`

Daria & Lynn: (in unison; harmonising [Lynn high, Daria low]) o/` All kinds of weather, we stick together/the same in the rain or sun.../Two different faces, but in tight places/we think and we act as one...o/`

(Quick cut to the gang at the tables, who are, as one body, mouthing something that looks like "Two different faces my ass.")

Lynn: o/` Those who've seen us...o/`

Daria: (nearly sweet) o/` Know that not a thing could come between us... o/`

Daria & Lynn: (in unison; harmonising) o/` Many men have tried to split us up, but no one can... o/` (They go into a very brief can-can step, and you can oh-so-nearly hear Lynn muttering to Daria, "Can-can-and-two-and-three-and-four-and...") o/` Lord help the mister/Who comes between me and my sister/And lord help the sister/Who comes between me and my man! o/`

(They go into a very brief can-can-style dance routine, music ends, curtain goes down. Pan to the rest of the gang at the table.)

AP: How ... did you get them ... to do THAT?

Jane: (she knows) You didn't tell them, did you? (Tom shakes his head sheepishly) Front row seats for the carnage, ten bucks.

AP: I'll bring popcorn.

(Tom glares and shrinks at the same time.)

(Scene: backstage corridor. Music: "Sunset Gun" - The Damage Manual. Daria and Lynn coming offstage.)

Daria: You are BEYOND evil.

Lynn: (pleased-with-herself smirk) And aren't you proud to be related to me?

(They stop for a moment, look at each other ... then blush a bit and keep going. As they reach a door, Lynn freezes and cuts her eyes to the side. Daria follows her gaze to a couple of fairly burly types who are looking at them and talking amongst themselves. One of them pulls a gun. Daria stares.)

Daria: Lynn ... they...

(Lynn has, by this time, got the door open and yanked her inside. The door slams and locks.)

(Scene: a fairly nice dressing room. Music plays on.)

Lynn: Okay, grab whatever you literally cannot live without and let's go.

Daria: But you locked the door; we have time...

Lynn: Door lock. Gun. *BANG!* (Daria jumps) No more door lock. Now let's GO!

(CU on hands grabbing jackets from pegs and glasses from table under pegs. Scrape of a window opening. Predicted *BANG*, and pan to the door with the now shot-out lock, which bursts open and the burly guys come in... only to find the room empty.)

Guy 1: Window? (gesture to open window)

Guy 2: Doubt it.

(He gestures to a door on the other side of the dressing room, then moves to it and opens it. It opens up onto another corridor ... and we can just hear running footsteps in the distance with the door open.)

(Scene: a casino. Music plays on. In a shadowed area at the back, a door opens and Daria and Lynn, in glasses and jackets over the skimpy flow-show outfits, step out. Daria looks behind her, listens, then jerks a thumb over her shoulder. Lynn nods and goes that way while Daria goes in the other direction. A moment later, the burly guys enter the casino through the same door and look around. To the left, Daria's green jacket disappears behind one row of slot machines. Lynn's purple jacket disappears in a crowd of people around a roulette table to the right.)

Guy 2: You take the Morgendorffer girl. I'll go after the Peril.

(The first guy nods and takes off to the left.)

(Scene: A parking lot. Music plays on. The Lawndaleite's vehicles are parked and the entire gang is waiting impatiently. We hear running footsteps.)

Tom: Peril, you look like hell! What...

(Pan to Daria in Lynn's jacket and glasses, blinking at him.)

Daria: (slightly stunned) "Peril"?

(She looks at herself ... at Lynn's jacket ... then at Tom ... and just about everyone facefaults.)

Tom: Aw hell.

(Guy 2 rounds a corner and finds himself faced with 9 unimpressed teenagers, one of whom pulls a gun out of the waistband of his trousers and points it at him.)

Tom: Go. Away. Or I. Will shoot you.

(Guy 2 thinks about this ... decides he doesn't like the odds, and scarpers.)

AP: Now where's Purple Peril?

(Scene: A row of slot machines. Music plays on. Most of them don't seem to work and it's deserted. Guy 1, gun drawn, steps in cautiously. As he passes, a foot lashes out and trips him. He goes down, and he's stricken hard in the back of the head with the broken-off arm of a slot-machine as he falls. Lynn steps out from behind two slot machines, takes his gun, points it at Guy 1's head ... then sighs and puts it away.)

Lynn: (mutter to herself) And Dad says I have what it takes to be an assassin. Like hell.

(She takes off the way Guy 1 came in.)

(Scene: the cars. Music plays on. Lynn jogs up, taking off the jacket as she does, and proffers it to Daria.)

Lynn: I believe this is yours?

Tom: Took care of business?

Lynn: (shrug) In a way. Can we get out of here before someone comes looking?

(Tom seems to want to press, but is in no position to as he is hustled rather sharply towards the Rustbucket by Trent.)

Trent: Give Nick the keys. I want to talk to you. About getting us all in this kind of shit.

(Tom looks like he'd rather face Daria and Lynn's wrath, but complies out of sheer fear.)

(Fade from a shot of the gang getting into the cars and driving off to...)

(Scene: large room. Music: "Family Business" - Fugees. A map of the US is pinned to one wall. Pins at Highland, TX; Long Beach, MS; Orlando, FL; Washington, DC; Pittsburgh, PA; Detroit, MI; and Reno, NV.)

(Jensen walks over and pushes a pin into New Jersey.)

Merritt: New Jersey?

Jensen: Read that article about that high school?

Merritt: No...

Jensen: (hands over a piece of paper) Read.

Merritt: (after a pause) That's a Smythe job, all right.

Jensen: Yep.

Merritt: Any idea where they're headed?

Jensen: Down I-80. Straight for us.

Merritt: Beautiful. Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.

Jensen: I still want those two redheads from Pitts. Bait.

Merritt: They're still civilians.

Jensen: No one's a civilian.

Merritt: Jensen... nothing permanent.

Jensen: Fair enough.

Merritt: To the redheads, anyway. On the Peril, you get carte blanche. (Jensen grins.) Just don't let them link up with Warlock and his group.

Jensen: I'll make sure of it. Don't want them leaving town before I can pick off the redheads.

(Scene: San Francisco, hotel parking lot. Music: "Achilles Heel" - Toploader. Quinn is struggling across the darkened space with her duffel bag, cursing under her breath. She passes the van and a hand grabs hold of her shoulder. She screams.)

AP: Chill out, Narcissa! Damn, my eardrums! I'm already gonna get tinnitis from all this band crap!

Quinn: (shock) AP?!

AP: Where the hell d'you think you're going, Narcissa? (beat) And with the luggage?

Quinn: I ... I ... I...

AP: BREATHE, Narcissa. Erudite Emerald would kill me if you asphyxiated on me.

Quinn: HEY! Don't be rude!

AP: I wasn't... I didn't... (sigh) Never mind, you can talk now, so where the hell d'you think you're going?

Quinn: I want to go home. I ... I miss Ted, and Stacy, and even Mom and Dad, and ... and I'm sick of being CHASED by people and ... and...

(Quinn starts to cry. AP looks panicked.)

AP: Um ... um ... um ... can you not do that? (Quinn keeps crying. AP digs around in his pocket and comes out with a blue bandanna. He hands it to Quinn) Um ... it's clean. Promise.

Quinn: (taking the bandanna, drying her eyes) I ... I mean ... I'm NOT going back and I don't care WHAT you do or say or ANYTHING! I'm not...

AP: Sorry to interrupt, but you sound like Ponytail Barbie and I can't take that. Slow. Down.

(Quinn blows her nose. AP looks slightly disgusted - his poor bandanna)

Quinn: I'm gonna get to the Greyhound station and I'm gonna get a ticket home and you can't stop me!

AP: Um ... (takes out a small spray canister) Yes I can. Did you hear about the guard dogs?

(Quinn's eyes go wide. She has indeed heard about the guard dogs ... and Kevin.)92

Quinn: You wouldn't. I mean, you ... you couldn't CARRY me back there...

AP: No-oo... but I COULD tie you up and throw you in the van ... get the guys to haul your ass back to the hotel. (beat; kinder) Look, why not go back, sit down, and we can talk about this. I mean, at least let someone make sure you get to the station all right. I mean, we're up to our necks in gangsters and who KNOWS what...

(There is the nasty little sound of a gun being cocked. AP's eyes go very wide and he slowly cuts his eyes to the side. We pan back slightly to see that someone is pointing a gun at his head.)

Jensen: (OS; smirk-voice) Good morning, campers...

AP: (trying to hide the fear) Lemme guess. You are Uncle Ernie and you welcome us to Tommy's holiday camp. (beat; real amazement) I don't believe I got a music ref...93

(That sentence is cut off abruptly as Jensen pistol-whips him and he goes down. Quinn screams, and that is stifled too.)

(Scene: the parking lot again, some time later. Music plays on. Focus on the door.)

Lynn: (OS) ...don't CARE. I'm gonna KILL that little...

(Door bangs open, cutting off Lynn's last word. Daria scowls at her.)

Daria: Look, she's a little freaked out right now and can you blame her? If she came through the parking lot, AP will have seen her and stopped her.

Lynn: (freeze) AP's out here. On his own. (beat) No one has any sense.

Daria: Um ... did we get a ticket or something?

(Pan to the Merc. There's a scrap of something colourful tucked under the windshield wiper. Daria and Lynn look at each other.)

Lynn: Bad bad feeling about this.

(She breaks into a run and heads for the Merc. Daria follows. On closer inspection, the scrap is actually two scraps of cloth. One is pink - a scrap of Quinn's T-shirt. The canister of knockout spray is tied to the end - they obviously thought it was breath freshener, as that's what the canister looks like. The other is blue - the sleeve of AP's jacket. Both are stained with blood. Lynn goes very still and a strange expression crosses her face. We've seen it before - someone has not only pushed the insanity button but hammered the bastard repeatedly. Daria looks scared as hell.)

Daria: Oh, God, no...

Lynn: (removing the bloody scrap of blue cloth from under the windshield; dead tone) God has nothing to do with this. (beat) Excuse me.

(She walks away. Calmly, to outward appearances. Lynn's behaviour is scaring Daria even more.)

Daria: You're not going to do anything STUPID, are you?

Lynn: (OS; getting angry) Define "stupid"!

Daria: (aloud to herself) That's a yes. (grabbing the bit of Quinn's shirt, then running OS) LYNN!

(Scene: Hotel room. Music plays on. Tom is working on a laptop when the door bursts open and Lynn walks in, her stride indicating that she doesn't much care what or who she steps on. Tom looks up and seems to recognise that look.)

Tom: Cullen, stand DOWN!

Lynn: No. Someone dies for this.

(Daria runs in and talks directly to Tom.)

Daria: They're gone. Both of them. They... (she makes a choked noise and hands over the scrap of Quinn's T-shirt and the canister of spray.)

Tom: (examining the shirt scrap, then looking at the piece of blue cloth still clenched in Lynn's hand) Jensen.

Lynn: No, some OTHER crooked-ass piece of criminal garbage that's been following us across the bloody country. Of COURSE, Jensen, you stupid... (chucks a shirt across the room) Do you see NOW why I didn't want them involved? Shit.

Tom: Cullen, I'm sorry, but... (recoils as Lynn pulls a silver .45 Magnum out of the suitcase and unzips her jacket, stuffing the gun into a shoulder holster) No, Cullen. Not this way. We wait and see ... this could...

Lynn: YOU wait. Someone DIES for this. And they die at MY hand.



(Tom takes three steps over to her and slaps her across the face. She takes it on the jaw and swings a fist, which he catches.)

Tom: See? Are you in any frame of mind to attack anyone, let alone THEM? Now sit down (shoving her down on the bed) and shut up and let me think.

Lynn: (springing up) Rust, you...

Tom: (shoving her down again) You're not going to listen to me, are you. (to Daria) Talk to her. Maybe she'll listen to YOU. I'll leave you alone. This requires some thought.

(Tom heads for the door and Daria follows him a few paces.)

Daria: Tom, if she tries something...

Tom: (handing her the canister of knockout spray still tied to the shirt scrap) Use that.

Daria: Easy for you to say. YOU don't have to deal with the consequences when she comes to.

Tom: Would you prefer her a little angry or a lot dead?

(Daria looks at the floor, conceding the point, and Tom stalks out. Lynn sprawls out on the bed in the 'something eating at my soul' pose, still clutching AP's jacket sleeve. Daria sits down on the bed next to her, looking worried.)

Daria: You do see why you can't go after them, don't you?

Lynn: No. I see why you won't LET me. There's a difference. (beat) But I also see that it's something I have to do.

Daria: Look, I know how much you feel you owe him...

Lynn: (sitting up and looking at her) No you don't.

Daria: Lynn ... when you were... (sigh) We thought you were going to die. I'd only just found out about how we're related. I wanted ... I wanted to know you better. So I asked AP for some anecdotes. (beat) Your tenth birthday?94

(There is a long silence. Lynn looks at the piece of cloth in her hand and sighs.)

Lynn: Death by Drano, right. One of his better pieces of alliteration, as I recall. (beat) Well, you would have found out how warped I am eventually, I suppose. (beat) If you're worried, I don't think it's genetic.

Daria: It's a different situation now, Lynn. He may have saved your life, but not at the expense of his own.

Lynn: (miserable) Yeah, but in that situation, it wasn't his fault. In this case, it's mine. (beat; admission) And anyway, that's not the point. It's not a question of friendship or debt. It ... it goes deeper.

(Daria studies Lynn carefully ... and her eyes go wide when she realises what Lynn means.)

Daria: Wait ... wait, you're not saying you...

(Lynn takes the opportunity to take a swing at Daria, getting in a glancing blow to the side of Daria's head. As Daria sits back, dazed, Lynn reaches for the spray-can next to Daria but Daria gets hold of herself enough to hang onto it. As they struggle, the canister gets raised to the level of their faces. Both their thumbs are on the button.)

Daria & Lynn: (in unison) Don't make me do this.

(They stare at each other for a moment. Close up on the thumbs on the button. One thumb - whose, we can't tell - presses down.)

(Scene: a darkish room. Music: "Surprise! You're Dead!" - Faith No More. Quinn and AP are sitting up against a wall, hands locked behind their backs. Quinn looks terrified. AP looks very pale and a bit frightened but pissed off as well.)

Quinn: What are we DOING here? Who are those PEOPLE? I mean, what do they want with US?

AP: You've probably seen enough cartoons to know what we're here for. (beat; to Quinn's blank look) BAIT, Narcissa; we're bait.

Quinn: But for WHAT?

AP: Would you shut UP a minute? I'm trying to think! (silence for a moment; then *ping* expression) Hey, Narcissa, you got a bobby pin or something on you?

Quinn: DUH! Like I'd go anywhere without hair accessories...

AP: Where?

Quinn: Front right pocket, but...

AP: (thinking) Okaaay ... (shifts himself forward and to the side) Now don't think I'm trying to grope you. I have taste.

Quinn: HEY!

(He slides a hand into her pocket and pulls out a packet of bobby pins, then starts struggling to remove one from the packaging. When he manages, he starts trying to pick the lock on the cuffs with it. He's moving very slowly, lest he lose the pin and have to start all over again.)

Quinn: What are you DOING?

AP: Shutup, shutup, shut UP! I've just about... (*snap*) YES! Thank you, Purple Peril!95 (he rubs his left wrist with the right [from which the handcuffs still dangle]) Now, let me just...

(Before he can move, the door bangs open and Jensen stands there.)

Jensen: All right, you... (noticing that AP's free) You little...

(AP tries to break and run, only to be stopped by a fist to the gut. Quinn screams as AP goes down; Jensen then kicks him in the head.)

Jensen: Try that again and I'll break your fingers ... in fact, I won't risk it. (to underling, who has appeared behind him in response to the noise) Wily. Get out a straitjacket. (kicks AP again; then looks at Quinn) YOU'RE not going to try anything stupid, are you? (to Quinn's spastic head-shake) Of course you're not. You don't have the brains.

(Quinn glares at Jensen, who smirks and takes the handcuffs off AP's right wrist. Re-enter underling with straitjacket; Jensen and Wily bundle AP none-too-gently into it, then drop him on the floor. Jensen grabs him by the hair and forces his head up.)

Jensen: It'd be so damn satisfying to blow your head off. (pause for effect) Damn shame I can't.

(He drops AP's head none-too-gently, then administers another kick to AP's ribs. Jensen turns to leave ... and Quinn sticks a leg out, tripping him. He hits the floor hard, then gets up into a kneeling position and smacks Quinn hard across the face. Quinn falls over, obviously trying not to cry.)

Jensen: And what was THAT supposed to accomplish?

Quinn: (choked) Not telling.

(Jensen looks at her speculatively.)

Jensen: (scornful) You're not worth the effort.

(He gets up and leaves. Quinn hauls herself back into a sitting position, then starts crying, head buried in her knees.)

(Scene: hotel corridor. Music: "Mea Culpa" - Enigma. Jane and Tom are hovering outside a closed door with obvious concern. The door opens and Daria steps out, a hand over her forehead, face turned towards the floor.)

Tom: Daria? Are you okay?

Daria: She blindsided me. I had to use the knockout stuff. And now I'm going to get some aspirin - I have a headache. Excuse me.

(Daria walks off. Jane and Tom look at each other, and then they go in.)

(Scene: hotel lobby. Music plays on. 'Daria' stops by the little shop [they normally have stuff like this in hotels somewhere]. She looks at it ... then walks past it. As she passes the reception desk, she stops. We only see her back as she writes a short note and then writes something on an envelope. She takes off her glasses, puts them into the envelope, puts on another pair we can't quite see and walks out of the building.)

(Scene: hotel room. Music plays on. Jane and Tom are looking with some concern at 'Lynn', who is sprawled facedown on the bed with her hands tied behind her back. Tom crouches at her head.)

Tom: Sorry, Cullen, but... (He lifts her head and blinks into the face he's presented with.) Oh no...

(The sound of a motorcycle revving up is heard outside. Tom drops 'Lynn's head and rushes to the window, flinging it open.)

Jane: What the...?

Tom: (out the window) DAMNIT, CULLEN! (he turns, running out of the room.) Crap! Crapcrapcrap!

(Jane watches his exit, blinking in astonishment. Then, with sudden horrified realisation, Jane looks into the unconscious girl's face.)

Jane: (stunned) DARIA?

(Daria, for indeed it is, lets out a quiet mutter from somewhere in deep sleep. Jane looks at Daria, then at the door Tom ran out through, then gives a long-suffering half-sigh, half-groan and starts untying Daria's hands.)

Jane: (as she undoes knots) Daria? Come on; rise and shine.

(Daria makes some blurry noise that's obviously trying to be coherent English. Jane struggles with the knots, then makes a really frustrated noise and gives up, throwing up her hands in disgust.)

Jane: They didn't teach me THIS damn knot in Girl Scouts!

(A nasty little *snick* noise is heard behind her and she nearly falls off the bed when a knife is thrust into her field of vision. She looks up; Tom looks sheepishly at her, then at the blade, then reverses it and holds it out to her by the hilt.)

Tom: It worked for the Gordian knot. Why not this one?96

(Jane raises an eyebrow at him, then takes the knife and saws through the knot. Together they get Daria into the recovery position [just in case], and then they look at each other. Tense silence.)

Jane: I guess you didn't catch up with her?

Tom: She was long gone by the time I got to the lobby. She left this.

(He holds out Daria's glasses and the note. Jane ignores the glasses and grabs straight for the note, reading it while Tom puts Daria's glasses on the bedside table. Jane frowns at the note, then reads it aloud, as if that will help her to understand.)

Jane: (confused) "Mea culpa"? (beat) That's Latin, isn't it?

Tom: (nodding, nearly as confused as Jane) It means 'my fault'. Or maybe it's 'through my fault'; I'm not quite sure.

Jane: Some scholar YOU turned out to be.

Tom: (sharp) Hey, that's not fair!

(Daria stirs, opens her eyes ... and then sits bolt upright. She manages to stay that way for about 1.4 seconds before she gets a dizzy look and has to lower her head to keep from keeling back over.)

Daria: She ... she... (looking at the purple jacket she has on; grudging) You have to give it to her. When it comes to wanton disobedience, she's the pro.

Tom: (handing over her glasses) What happened? How did she get the jump on you?

Daria: (putting on the glasses and looking up at him) You have to ask? You TRAINED her.

(Tom stands up and starts pacing. Daria sighs and gets up, heading for the closet - she unzips the jacket and throws it aside on her way. Jane sits on the bed, looking livid.)

Jane: "Leave the sisters alone", you said. "Daria will be able to talk some sense into Lynn", you said. Damnit, Tom!

Tom: Do you get some kind of sick pleasure out of rubbing salt in open wounds?

Jane: No, I prefer vinegar, actually; cleaner that way. (beat; ignoring Tom's scowl) Can't you call someone? If you and Lynn are to be believed, Jerome has connections EVERYWHERE. Why not in San Francisco and surrounding areas?

Tom: Because it would be more than my life is worth. (beat) Look, if he finds out that I let his daughter go tearing off after rivals on her own with no regard for her own personal safety, he would probably have my intestines for bootlaces.97 I'm supposed to be keeping her OUT of this sort of trouble! (sigh) Anyway, it might not be an issue. I don't even know if she knows where she's going.

Daria: (looking in the closet) She'll be able to find that out soon enough, Tom. (points out a book on the bedside table - it's "Beginner's Guide to Hiring a Hit Man".98) She can track a criminal if she has to. (beat) And she really thinks she has to.

(As Daria pulls out a green jacket identical to the one Lynn left in, Tom growls something very impolite under his breath and continues pacing. Jane, however, grabs the note and waves it in the air.)

Jane: She left a note. "Mea culpa". (to Daria's stricken expression as she tosses the jacket onto the floor) You know what it means.

Daria: (bleak nod) The least religious penitente on the planet. (beat as she pulls a forest green leather duster coat out of the closet and shrugs it on; grimly explanatory) She blames herself for getting us into this. So if anyone's going to risk getting killed getting Quinn and AP back, it's going to be her.

(Tom stops pacing and stares at Daria. Jane, from her vantage point on the bed, does likewise. Daria looks at herself in the duster coat and shrugs with a heavy sigh. Tom makes a hissing noise that's almost worse than profanity and goes back to pacing. Jane thumps a fist on the bed.)

Jane: What are we going to DO?

Daria: Correct me if I'm wrong, but it might be dangerous to make any move before we know what Lynn's doing. (she looks at Tom, who gives a distracted nod) Then we wait. One way or another, we'll hear how this turns out.

Jane: But...

Daria: (near breaking) I don't like it any more than you do, Jane, but I'm dealing with it; now SHUT *UP*!

(Jane and Tom both stare at her. She turns away. Jane is the first to turn away, starting to fold the note into a paper crane. Tom looks at Daria a moment longer and then resumes pacing.)

(Scene: the "hostage" room, some time later - it's quite dark now. Music: "Guided By Voices" - Kill To This. AP, straitjacketed, lies in a broken heap in a corner of the room. He moans slightly as he tries to move. Quinn is curled up in a ball in another corner, hands tied behind her back, whimpering. One whole side of her face is badly bruised. There is a scuffling noise, very slight, behind the door and Quinn shrinks back. Then the door opens and a familiar figure stands silhouetted in the doorway. Quinn has her head buried in her knees and is not looking, but AP seems to try to focus on the figure ... and fails because of the pain he's in. Something of the familiarity gets through, though, for he does not seem threatened by the new presence.)

AP: (nearly incoherent) H... Whuzzere?

Lynn: (the truth of the words evident in her voice) Someone who loves you.99

(Quinn looks up as the figure steps into the room. She sees the green jacket and clears the conclusion from a standing start.)

Quinn: (surprised but very relieved) DARIA!

Lynn: (stifled sigh) Yeah. Whatever.

(Lynn steps into the room as Quinn staggers to her feet, using the wall as support. Quinn turns and allows Lynn to cut deal with the locks on the handcuffs.)

Quinn: How'd you FIND us? Where are the others? I mean, you didn't come ALONE, did...

Lynn: Can we save the questions for when we're out of here?

(Quinn's handcuffs spring open and Quinn massages her wrists for a second, until Lynn thrusts a knife at her.)

Lynn: Cut him loose. (Quinn complies) We've got to get out of here before...

Jensen: (OS) Well, well. I never thought this would actually WORK.

(Lynn's reaction is almost too quick to see. While Quinn is still busily sawing at the straps on the straitjacket, Lynn reaches for the man, catching him enough by surprise that she pulls him forward and presses her own gun to his head. The sound of three other guns cocking is heard.)

Lynn: You all could kill me, but what's the bet I could get a bullet through his skull before I died? (The three men in the doorway freeze, but do not lower their guns. Lynn thinks fast.) One of you go and get the one in charge. I'm prepared to offer an exchange.

(The men exchange looks, and the smaller, wirier one of the trio lowers his gun and moves quickly out of the doorway. The other two keep their weapons trained on Lynn, who seems to ignore them. She never takes her eyes off her captive.)

Quinn: (freaked) Daria? Daria, what...

Lynn: Cut. Him. Free.

(Quinn nervously goes back to work on the straps, finally getting through them and easing the straitjacket off AP. As she does this, Merritt arrives, observing the scene with no little contempt.)

Merritt: Okay, this isn't what I expected to come of this. (beat) Wily here said something about an exchange?

Lynn: You let them go, I let him go. Fair trade.

Merritt: I don't think so. You see, you get two people and I only get one. Far from fair.

Lynn: That's where you're wrong. (beat) They get their freedom. He gets his. And you ... you get me.

Quinn: Daria, NO!

AP: (blurry, from the floor) Hwt?

Lynn: (ignoring them) That's what you wanted, wasn't it? They're of no use to you. Your problem is with the Smythes. And that means me.

Quinn: But DARIA...!

Lynn: Do we have a bargain?

(There is silence. Quinn looks wildly from one set face to the other, not understanding what's going on. Finally...)

Merritt: Bargain struck, Smythe. Now drop the gun.

Lynn: Not until I know they're out safe.

Merritt: You don't trust my word?

Lynn: Can I afford to? (inclining her head) Quinn. Come here.

(Quinn steps over to Lynn, looking panicked. Lynn eases Daria's jacket off, making sure the gun never leaves Jensen's head. Eventually, she holds it out to Quinn.)

Lynn: You'll need this. You should find the motorcycle fairly easily and you'll need it. (beat) Take care of him.

Quinn: (desperate) Daria, you can't DO this! I mean, you're not REALLY a...

Lynn: Go.

(The tone forces obedience out of Quinn. She hauls AP to his feet and helps him stagger past the gangster types and out the door. She looks back upon hearing the *clunk* of a gun hitting the ground and is in time to see Lynn grabbed by the goons. A syringe is produced from somewhere. Lynn looks straight into Quinn's eyes ... and Quinn frowns, realising that something isn't quite right...)

Lynn: GO!

Quinn: (resolute) I'll bring help. I...

Lynn: Will you just get OUT of... (she is injected and slumps into her captives' arms) ...ah...

(Quinn turns and flees as quickly as she can under AP's nearly unconscious weight.)

(Scene: outside the mansion house. Music plays on. Quinn staggers along; AP is walking as best he can to spare her, but he can barely hold himself upright. Amethyst is parked a block away from the building, and when they reach it, Quinn sets AP down and looks at it. She shivers and stuffs her hands into the pockets of Daria's jacket ... and frowns. She pulls her right hand out of the pocket, coming up with a matchbook. It is black, and a blue motorcycle is embossed on it. Quinn frowns deeper and turns it over, finding an address. She shrugs, pockets the matchbook and then goes to help AP to his feet again.)

Quinn: Come on, AP. You've gotta DO this.

AP: (totally dazed) But ... she said... She 'n I broke UP 'n we...

Quinn: Think about that LATER! We HAVE to get out of here! Now stand up for just a second!

(AP manages to stay on his feet [though he weaves like a weak tree in a gale] as Quinn mounts the motorcycle.)

AP: (some connection to the real world) Don' think I c'n...

Quinn: (nearly hysterical) You HAVE to! Now get ON! (AP somehow manages to get his leg over the cycle and settles behind Quinn.) Now you're gonna have to hang on tight cos I don't know if I can drive this... (fix on Quinn's face, which goes very set) But ... not ... there...100

AP: (shifting his grip to her waist) S'rry, Narciss...

(Without waiting for him to finish, Quinn kicks the bike to life and roars off.)

(Scene: The Blue Motorcycle; a bar [darkish, scarred wooden furniture, long bar. Most of the tables are on the near side of the room, nearly blocking the front door. There is an empty space in the middle of the room that indicates a dance floor or a Fight Club set.] Music: "A Step Forward Into Terror" - Neon Genesis Evangelion. A stocky, swarthy young man with dark hair and glasses [the one we see in "Love's Labour", in fact] is polishing a glass when he hears the screech of tires and a motorcycle motor. Then there is a *thud* and...)

Quinn: (OS) OW!!! GOD!!!101

(The man behind the bar frowns and puts the glass down as the motorcycle engine cuts off. Then the door bursts open and Quinn staggers in, a barely-conscious AP leaning on her for support. They get in five feet and collapse, nearly hitting a table on the way down. The man watches this and blinks loudly as Quinn staggers to her feet and leans against the table.102)

Quinn: Help... I... Gangster ... people...

(The man blinks again. Quinn looks very put out.)

Quinn: LISTEN ... to ... me! Smythe ... people ... owwww...

(At this, the man raises an eyebrow)

Man: Smythe.

Quinn: (finally! A breakthrough!) YES!

Man: (tapping intercom) Scar. Pagebert. Drop whatever you're ... doing ... and get down here. We have a situation. (to Quinn) Now maybe catch your breath and start again? Maybe with what happened to you and how you know about the Smythes?

Quinn: (sigh) Long story - TOO long. He needs HELP! And so does my sister, so can you please DO something?

Man: I think I'd like some answers first.

(thump thump thump on stairs... enter a mid-height young woman dressed all in black, with an air of "mess with me and I kick you across the room". Following behind her is a slightly taller guy with reddish hair, glasses, a friendly face and something about him that just screams 'geek'. Music fadeup to "Wait and Bleed" - Slipknot.)

Woman: "Situation", B... (sees Quinn) Um... Warlock? Aren't they kind of underage?

Warlock: Yeah, and they're bleeding on my clean floor. (beat) And they invoked Smythe.

(The geek and the woman exchange looks)

Quinn: Look, will you people DO something? Who ARE you people, anyway?

Woman: We could ask YOU the same thing.

Quinn: Look, no time! Some ... some GUY named Jensen and a bunch of gangster goon-type people have my sister and she sent me to YOU so you'd better DO something or the Smythes will be SO pissed off with you!

(Now all three of them exchange looks. There is silence.)

Woman: I say we shoot her.

Warlock: Scar...

Scar: Well, she annoys me!

Quinn: HEY!

Warlock: Me too. Deal.

Quinn: Eep!

Pagebert: Well, maybe we can convince her NOT to shoot you if you can tell us who you are and why you're here.

Quinn: Look, my sister's a Smythe. Fine, she's not a SMYTHE Smythe, like, it says Morgendorffer on her birth certificate and everything, but she IS one and she did a REALLY stupid thing and let Jensen and those other people have her and you've gotta DO something, cos, like, she wouldn't have SENT me here if you couldn't help!


Scar: The other Smythe kid is related to THIS? No way in hell. She's lying. Shoot her.

Pagebert: Scar...

Warlock: (to Quinn) Got any proof of that? Aside from your word.

Quinn: Um ... (remembers AP; turns to him for help) um ... AP...

Warlock: Waitaminit. AP? As in McIntyre?

Quinn: (completely confused) Yeaaaah...

Warlock: (to Pagebert) She might be for real. Get in touch with Kestrel.

(Exit Pagebert. Scar looks at AP, then at Quinn, who's about to faint. Then she looks at Warlock.)

Scar: So what do we do in the meantime?

Warlock: Just let me slap some bandages on these two so they stop bleeding on my floor. It gets that enough in a night as it is.

(Re-enter Pagebert, brandishing a digicam. Scar and Warlock look at him.)

Pagebert: (to their looks) Visual proof. Kestrel looks and confirms they're who they say they are.

(Warlock nods. Scar raises a grudging eyebrow. When Pagebert points the camera at Quinn, she looks panicked and starts trying to smooth her hair.)

Quinn: Oh NO! They bruised my best side! (beat) But they bruised BOTH sides. (beat) Whatever; they're STILL both good.103

(Scar, Warlock and Pagebert share a look. Pagebert snaps the picture and heads upstairs again. Quinn returns to her slump, leaning on the table heavily for support.)

Scar: I still say we shoot her.

Warlock: Look, *I* do ballistics, *I* say who shoots people. When and if we find out she's a fake, THEN you can shoot her.

Scar: You never let me have ANY fun.

Pagebert: (OS from intercom) Guys... Got Kestrel. Bring 'em up. I think they're clean.

Warlock: You THINK?

Pagebert: (OS from intercom) Just get up here.

(Warlock looks at Scar. Then he swings up a section of the bar, walks over to AP, grabs a hold of him and half-carries, half-drags him behind the bar and through the door. Scar steps over to Quinn, looks at her ... then sighs and grabs her by the shoulder.)

Scar: Come on, you.

(Scar leads Quinn away.)

(Scene: the Inner Sanctum [large open-plan space; three desks - two facing each other, identical workstations set up on them; one in the corner with a more impressive workstation set-up. Other side of the room is arranged something like Lorna Smythe's living room - a couple of sofas and several armchairs, a battered coffee table with a compound bow currently lying across it. The walls are dim grey and the curtains are black and look like cut-down shower curtains]. Pagebert is at the impressive workstation in the corner. Quinn is sitting on a battered armchair, looking at the trio. Scar is leaning against a wall, phone to her ear. Warlock is wrapping a bandage around AP's arm.)

Warlock: So you're telling us that, while touring the country with a rock band and the relatives of an underworld family, you wandered San Francisco on your own, dragged someone else out with you, got yourself AND him taken as hostages, and let someone kidnap a Smythe. (beat) How stupid are you, exactly?

Scar: Got Missing H on the line.

Tom: (from phone, audible) That's RUST, Scar!

Scar: Yeah, whatever. You missing a couple of redheads? (beat) AND a Smythe, great. That pretty much confirms... (beat) WHAT? Oh, shit... (beat) No, that's not what SHE said! (beat) Hang on. (to Warlock) Missing H says the Peril's the one missing. What's the deal here?

Pagebert: Well, Mr Smythe DID say they look a lot alike...

Scar: So that even a SISTER can't tell? She's lying; let's shoot her.

Warlock: We're not shooting anyone yet, Scar. (beat) Now just tell him to get his ass over here so we can sort this out. (beat) And get him to bring the band. (to Scar's look) Cannon fodder, if nothing else.

Scar: You hear the man, H? (beat) WhatEVER! Now get over here now and bring the rest. (hangs up) This is one God-awful mess. (to Quinn) What are you pulling here, kid?

Quinn: I THOUGHT it was Daria! I mean, I mean... (*ping*) Oh CRAP, no it wasn't! Daria's more TIMID!104

Scar: I'll repeat the question - just how stupid ARE you?

Pagebert: Come on, that's not fair. The kid's taken a beating.

Quinn: I HAVE a name!105

Warlock: Narcissa.

Quinn: NO!

Pagebert: Look, we all have codenames. Get used to it.

Quinn: Look, I'm Quinn. Don't YOU all have names?

(The trio look at each other, then at her.)

Warlock: (throws a box of Band-Aids at her) Patch yourself up ... Narcissa.

(Quinn glares at him)

(Scene: The Blue Motorcycle. Music: "Prizefighter" - Bush. Warlock is back behind the bar. He is mixing ... something. The noise of car motors is hears. They stop. Doors slam.)

Tom: (OS) If we get her out of there alive I am going to kill her!

Jane: (OS) Look, shut up! You shouldn't have left Daria to guard her alone! You KNOW Lynn can kick any of us into the next decade! If you'd been there...

Daria: (OS) Look, will you two stop arguing for five minutes...

(They walk in and Warlock blinks loudly. Again.)

Warlock: I guess they perfected cloning technology.

Daria: (tired) You watch "Sick Sad World"?

Warlock: Oh. That was you two. That makes sense.106 (beat) Come on. You all have some explaining to do.

(Scene: the Inner Sanctum. Music plays on. Scar is throwing knives at a dartboard. Pagebert is online. Quinn is curled up in her armchair, looking petulant. Everyone is ignoring her and she doesn't like it. Enter the gang. Daria heads over to Quinn, while the others look around.)

Daria: You okay?

Quinn: Yeah. But HE isn't.

(Cut to AP, who's not quite conscious but moaning a little. Daria heads over to him.)

Daria: AP?

AP: (groggy) Purple Peril? You got to do something, Erudite Emerald's gone NUTS, she...

(He opens his eyes and looks at her. He scans her face ... and his eyes go big.)

AP: But ... she said ... she quoted ... she MEANT it... (whimper) No...

Daria: (concerned) AP?

AP: Damnit! Damnit, damnit, damnit! (beat) I mean, she ... I ... we... (beat) Damnit, damnit, DAMNIT!

Quinn: (to Daria, sotto) She said she loved him. He thought it was you, but... And she DID mean it.

Jane: (who overheard) Of course she MEANT it! She's been in love with him since she was TEN! She just didn't say anything because she didn't think it was mutual.

AP: But ... that ... GAH!

Warlock: Look, if you're finished going over the sordid details of your star-crossed love lives, we have some detail work to do. For starters, anyone know what they WANT with her?

Tom: That's kind of obvious. Trophy hunting.

Scar: Yeah, but are we talking in-for-the-kill, or breaking-the-girl?

Tom: Probably both. In reverse order.

Daria: 'Break'?

Warlock: We're to the criminal world what a 'brain' is to a high school. Our chief weapon... (catches a look from Scar) ...not going into Python, promise... is intellect.107 Breaking a Smythe mind proves something. (beat; bitter) And Jensen's a PRO.

Pagebert: Well, by all accounts, the Peril's good. If they're going to try breaking her, we have some time.

AP: No we damn well don't! You're not going to wait and let them...

Daria: She's the heir to your damn empire. Why aren't you more committed to this?

Tom: (suspicious) You ARE going to DO something about this, AREN'T you?

(Long silence as Pagebert, Scar and Warlock look at each other.)

Warlock: We'll help as much as we can. But we have other responsibilities.

Jane: 'OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES'? She's a bloodydamn SMYTHE!

Warlock: Missing H...

Tom: RUST!

Warlock: ...Rust, whatever ... knows how much we're responsible for. We can't just drop everything. Not even for a Smythe kid.

Tom: Look, Warlock, if the Falcon finds out about this, I'm a grease spot. But before he starts slicing me thinly from the feet up, I will be forced to tell him that you could have saved her, but instead you let her die on your home turf!108

Warlock: I don't deal well with threats.

(Tense silence as they try to stare each other down.)

AP: Then let US do it.

Group: (all staring at him) WHAT?

AP: If you won't go after her, then arm us and let US go. WE haven't got 'other responsibilities'. In fact, keeping Purple Peril out of trouble IS Rust's responsibility.

Scar: Get a clue, kid. You're too young, too inexperienced...

AP: Get BENT, lady! If YOU won't do it...

Daria: (musing) Then again, they don't KNOW how inexperienced we are...

Pagebert: Excuse me?

Scar: You'd better not be thinking what I think you're thinking.

Warlock: It's a gamble, kid. If they DO know which one they have, they'll have you cold.

Daria: It's a risk I'm willing to take.

Trent: Wait a minute. Someone want to fill the rest of us in on what's going on?

Warlock: Cannon fodder only get info on a need-to-know basis.

Max: Who're you calling CANNON fodder? We're CRIMINALES!

Warlock: Criminales? YOU guys? Don't make me laugh. You guys are about to deal with some REAL criminales. If you listen to me, you might just make it back alive.

Scar: Oh, drop the drill sarge impression.

Warlock: A drill sergeant is exactly what I'm going to be for the next few days. You too. (sigh) It's against my better judgement, but I think we let them try.

Pagebert: I know we have a lot to do, Warlock ... but they're tired, they've been through a lot today. Why don't we show them around a bit and let them calm down before we start anything drill sergeant-like?

(Warlock gives a grudging nod. AP, curious despite himself and desperate to have something else to think about, gets up cautiously [and with a wince] and moves towards the workstation at which Pagebert sits.)

AP: Quad Xeon 700? Whoa.

Pagebert: (proud) Yep. 2MB cache for each CPU, 2GB RAM and 400GB of hard disk space. (quoting something) "It's even more powerful than ftp.freesoftware.com."

Warlock: (slightly rueful) We get a LITTLE less power than that.

Pagebert: (lofty) But YOU are not the ÜberGeek, Warlock. You and Scar can make do with the Pentium III 800mhz systems. What would you need with more than 512MB RAM and 100GB hard disk space anyway?

Warlock: Storage of .wav files?

AP: (to Pagebert; still craving distraction) The firewall? You guys must have one.

Pagebert: An 'old' Quad Pentium Pro 200, 1MB cache per chip. Handles the data scrambling for the T-3...

AP: ('Eee') You have a T-3?

Jane: (nearly afraid to ask) What's a T-3?

AP: (slightly distant) 45 megabit-per-second internet connection.

Quinn: (confused) Huh?

Pagebert: Put it this way - you can get the latest boy-band group .mp3 in SECONDS.

Quinn: Ooh!

Pagebert: (accepting the interruption with good grace [I assume geeks get used to this]) ...and alerts me to ... security issues.

AP: (deep misery) This should impress me more. I mean, it impresses me, but it just...

(Daria looks at AP, eyes full of worry, and goes to put a hand on his shoulder. He closes his eyes and turns away, and it takes Daria a moment to realise why. When she does, she looks uncomfortable and tries to stay out of AP's line of sight.)

Jane: (astounded) What do you DO with all this shit?

Pagebert: For the job? Can't tell you. But in my off hours? Plot take-overs of small countries. Or just chat on IRC, whichever seems easiest at the time.109

(The only people who don't look at him in utter bemused shock are AP [too miserable], Warlock and Scar [used to it].)

(Scene: inner sanctum. Music: "Cemetary Gates" - the Smiths - softly from computer speakers. Scar is sprawled out on the sofa, looking vastly put out. Enter Pagebert, who takes a look at her and nods.)

Pagebert: That bad, huh?

Scar: Do not TALK to me about the redheaded twerp. There's a connection loose between his brain and his body, I swear.

Pagebert: He's not so bad. He's good with the equipment.

Scar: (derisive noise)

(Enter Warlock. He looks annoyed as all hell.)

Warlock: Is it so hard?

Scar: Is WHAT so hard?

Warlock: ANYTHING we do! Narcissa kept snapping herself with the bowstring. The Erudite came close to strangling me with the bowstring. And Scarlet won't drop the knives no matter how many times I tell her that they're no good for long range!

Scar: Well, if you carry a lot of them...

Warlock: Scar...

Scar: The Maverick?

Warlock: I had about fifteen seconds of coherent discourse with him. Then he turned into a quivering, tear-streaked wreck.

Pagebert: I told you; get him in geekspeak. It's the only thing he can focus on right now.

Warlock: This is not Geek Wars, Pagebert! They are NOT going to beat Merritt by ... geekspeaking him to death!

Pagebert: (shrug) It works on Kestrel...

Warlock: (disgusted) Why do I even bother talking to you? (sigh; slightly apologetic) Sorry.

Scar: Don't be. This whole situation's putting us under a lot of stress. (beat) Y'know, YOU should probably talk to the twerp. You're closer to speaking the language than I am.

Warlock: (half-sigh, half-groan) You're probably right, God help me. (beat) But that means YOU'D have to take on Narcissa.

Scar: (evil grin) Throwing her around a practice room for a few hours sounds like a great stress reliever to me.

(As Scar smirks to herself, Warlock and Pagebert share an amused look.)

(Scene: a shooting range [the one seen in "Love's Labour]. Music: "Sometimes It Hurts" - Stabbing Westward. Warlock is standing with AP just behind the firing line; a .22 is on the counter by his side. AP, however, is staring at a wall with a blank look to him.)

Warlock: Okay, now real life is NOT like video games.

AP: ('now tell me something I DON'T know') Mmhmm...

Warlock: For one, in a video game, everything is sharp and clear. (beat) Well ... okay, depends on the age of the game...

AP: (zones out) Mmhmm...

Warlock: (brief sideways glance at AP; mild suspicion) That's not the case in real life. (hint-hint tone) If you focus on one thing, everything else goes blurry.

AP: Mmhmm...

Warlock: (watching AP closely) You're not listening at all.

AP: Mmhmm...

(Warlock picks up the .22 sitting by him and fires it downrange. AP jumps about three feet in the air.)

AP: (hand to his throat) Eee...

Warlock: (stern) I know you're thinking about her. Push it out of your mind and concentrate.

(AP nods in a spastic manner, still a little freaked.)

Warlock: Now, to continue, focus on the front sights. Downrange will be fuzzy - that's okay. Just aim centre of mass - pretend the gun is your index finger and just point - and squeeze off shots. Look for bloodspray to tell if you're hitting.

(AP turns green at the word 'blood' - he's seen too much of it lately, and too much of it his own. Warlock notices.)

Warlock: (gentle) I know... (normal) Now. Always doubletap at a minimum, follow up as necessary. None of this cowboy headshot, hit-him-in-the-hand-disarm him, legs-take-him-down bullshit. Centre of mass, right where the heart is... (to AP's still-nervous face) and if you have trouble doing it, think about what they did to you... and what they're doing to Lynn.

(AP's face turns hard.)

AP: Give me that gun.

(Warlock looks at AP ... and gets a very brief flashback: Lynn, standing in the same spot, wearing the exact same expression.)

Lynn: I got him shot. Nothing like that will ever happen again...

(Warlock gets a self-satisfied look and hands the gun over. AP aims it down the range.)

Warlock: Okay, there are three rules you have to remember. One, always treat it like it's loaded.

(AP nods)

Warlock: Two, you don't point it at anything you don't have a problem putting a bullet through.

(AP nods. Warlock looks at him and decides to inject some humour.)

Warlock: And the third rule ... no poofters!110

(At that, AP looks like he's been slapped. He throws the gun down and turns his back on Warlock, who looks confused for a second. Then he realises and sighs.)

Warlock: (mutter) Shit. (thinks about it, sighs) Look, Maverick. I know. I've been there, done that, more times than I want to count. But you're not helping her this way.

(AP turns around and glares at him. His hand creeps back to the gun.)

Warlock: That's it. There's pain, use it. Make it anger. Cut them up. For her. For both of you.

(AP looks at him, hand still on the gun, eyes still angry. Then he picks up the gun and points it down the range again.)

AP: You said three rules? (beat) And call me a poofter again and I use you for target practice.

Warlock: (under his breath) Thank God for the Dark Side of the Force...111 (aloud) Okay, the third rule is, take your finger off that trigger.

(AP does as ordered. Warlock looks almost proud of him.)

(Scene: a closed door. Music: Rocky IV soundtrack - Vince DiCola - Training Montage. We hear a *thump*.)

Quinn: (OS; indignant and pained) OW!

(Cut to the inside of the room. Quinn, in sweatpants and bra top, is sitting on the floor mats, rubbing her shoulder. Scar, still all in black, is looking down at her scornfully.)

Scar: You could at least ROLL when you hit!

Quinn: Well, you COULD go a little EASIER on me! I mean, I'm all BRUISED!

Scar: Who gives a crap? Maverick got it worse than you and he let me throw him around here! And he STILL at least bounced back for more without WHINING about it!

Quinn: Well, HE has a REASON! I don't even want to BE here! I mean, why should *I* go along with this?

Scar: (livid) WHY? The Peril went into a rival's base and gave herself up to SAVE your whining, over-cute ass, and you ask WHY? What the hell is your PROBLEM, you self-absorbed, shallow little TWIT? (Quinn, through this, is getting steadily angrier. Scar appears not to care) If I didn't know that SOMEONE would do bad things to me if I did a REAL job on you, I'd ... I'd...

Warlock: (from the doorway) BOOT TO THE HEAD!112

(Scar turns a little to look at him ... and Quinn lashes out with a roundhouse kick to Scar's head that sends the other woman to the floor. Quinn turns wide-eyed to Warlock, who stares back at her.)

Warlock: I meant that the other way around. (beat) But this works.

Scar: (from the floor) Ow...

Quinn: Uh ... I'm sorry. I didn't ... I mean...

Scar: (getting up) You took advantage while my attention was somewhere else. (Quinn looks ashamed.) You got mad and took it out on me. (Quinn shrinks back.) Maybe there's hope for you yet. (Quinn blinks at her.) Do it again.

Quinn: You ... you're NUTS!

Warlock: But didn't it feel good to wipe the sneer off her face?

(Quinn considers this ... and this time sweeps her leg low, kicking Scar's feet out from under her. Scar, who had expected another high attack, goes down and only just rolls out of the way of the kick Quinn delivers towards Scar's midsection. Scar gets up quickly and faces her.)

Scar: Not bad. Try again.

Warlock: I think I'll leave you two alone.

(He closes the door and there's another *thump*, and two howls of pain - Quinn's and Scar's both. He shakes his head and moves on. Montage follows, same music:

Scene: Mystik Spiral on the range, Max trying a cowboy-style gun twirl and dropping the weapon. Warlock slapping him upside the head for it.

Scene: dojo. Practice fight, Quinn v. Jesse. Jesse reluctant, tries a punch, Quinn uses his momentum against him and tosses him halfway across the room.

Scene: dojo, later. Scar instructing Jane on best use of the knife - pointing out where and how best to stab - on a dummy. She indicates where the ribs would be, pointedly showing that the knife blade is going in parallel to the ribs, then shrugs and just takes a swipe at the dummy's throat, cutting the head half-off. Jane nods.

Scene: range. AP handling a rather large gun, aiming, firing and getting knocked over by the kick. Warlock looking somewhat despairing.

Scene: range. Daria and Tom doing target practice. Pan to the targets - Daria's better than he is. Daria gets a smirk on, Tom glares at her out of the corner of his eye.

Scene: Warlock at the front of a room with a blackboard, addressing the Spiral, diagramming fire team formations - line, column, right and left echelon, square, cross. Flash cut to him, Scar, Pagebert, and Rust demonstrating each. Pan to the Spiral trying to imitate - and tripping over each other. Warlock sinks his face in his hands in despair.)

(Scene: basement. Music plays on. Warlock unlocks a door, goes inside, and rummages around. He comes out with a box, which he loads with handguns and a machine pistol or two, along with ammo. Heading back to the stairs, he bumps into Scar, who glances into the box.)

Scar: No armour?

Warlock: If it comes down to a shootout (beat) they're done for anyway.

(Scar grits her teeth, starts to say something, then nods.)

(Scene: Inner Sanctum. Music plays on. The entire group is gathered. Warlock, in the manner of orator, is standing in front of them all.)

Warlock: (addressing entire group) Statistics say that 20-25% of people can actually point a weapon at another person and use it with intent to kill. In my experience, it's more like 5-10%. If you guys have any... reservations, morally or otherwise, the time to work through them is NOT in combat. Remembering what's at stake, I want you to ask yourselves, and answer to yourselves, whether you could kill. You can lie to me, you can lie to any of us. But get right down to it, you can't lie to yourself. This above all! To thine own self be true! (Daria looks at the floor at this. Tom notices and seems to gather himself to approach her when the time is right.) Okay, people, get any last-minute stuff done.113

(Everyone scatters. Music fadeout as Tom approaches Daria.)

Tom: Daria.

Daria: (mocking) Tom.

Tom: Daria ... look me in the eye and tell me you could shoot someone.

Daria: (looking him straight in the eye) I ... I... (looks away)

Tom: (mutter) Damn.

Daria: (bitter) I suppose *she* could.

Tom: That's right, she probably could. But you're not her.

Daria: For once. (beat) How does she do it?

Tom: The Peril has a lot of anger kicking around.

Daria: (raised eyebrow) Duh.

Tom: (nearly laughing at himself) Oh yeah. You'll have seen the house.114

Daria: (still eyebrow raised, nodding slightly) Mmhmm. (beat) But WHY?

Tom: Put it this way. You found out the Peril was family ... and then she shut you out. How did you feel?

Daria: (looking down) Rejected. (beat) Hurt. (beat) Mad as hell.

Tom: Now imagine if your entire family had been doing that to you every day for most of your life.

Daria: (a little stunned) I knew it was bad, but...

Tom: Well, now you know how bad. (to Daria's slapped expression) Oh hell, I'm no good at this. If Warlock knew Lynn better, I'd say talk to him. But ... (sigh) Listen to me, Daria. All we really want is to get Lynn the hell out of there before they do something permanent. You may not HAVE to shoot anyone. What counts for now is LOOKING like you can.

Daria: Look like Lynn? I can do that...

Tom: Not really. Not how it counts.

Daria: What do you mean?

Tom: Ever seen her angry?

Daria: ('excuse me?' look) Well, a time or two...

Tom: I don't mean when her face goes maroon and she screams. I mean ... I mean when she gets hurricanes in her eyes.

(Daria thinks about that for a moment ... and remembers the look on Lynn's face when AP was shot.)

Daria: (sombre) Yes. (beat) I don't know if I can do that.

Tom: (looking closely at her) What do you think they're doing to her? (And Daria's eyes go stormy. It's not quite the same thing, but it's close.) It'll do. Hold that thought. Let's go.

(Exeunt. Fade out.)

(Scene: The Blue Motorcycle, exterior. Jane, decked out a la Trinity in "The Matrix", is doing a last-minute check. She flicks both wrists and winds up holding a couple of fairly lethal looking knives. She smirks with satisfaction and stuffs them back into what we presume are spring-loaded clips strapped along her upper arms. Trent approaches her, looking grim.)

Trent: Janey...

(Jane turns and looks at him. Trent hesitates in a big way, then takes a breath and continues.)

Trent: (playing the 'big brother - I can order you around' card) Janey, I don't want to see you hurt. You're staying here and...

(His voice fades under her glare. He clears his throat and goes on.)

Trent: (trying guilt) I mean, what do I tell Mom and Dad if...

(She raises an eyebrow at him and he realises just how dumb that actually sounds. He stops, thinks...)

Trent: Is there ANY way I could convince you not to do this?

(Jane just looks at him some more.)

Daria: (OS; practicing Lynn-voice) Come on, people. We haven't got all day.

(Trent looks at Jane, who considers him for a moment.)

Jane: She's my friend and I'm going.

Trent: (seeing the futility of the argument) Just let me watch your back.

Jane: If you let me watch yours.

(They hold each other's eyes for a second longer ... then nod with satisfaction and get into the A-Tank, which drives off almost before the door is shut.)

(Scene: exterior, Merritt compound. Music: "No Brand Heroes" - koko wa Greenwood soundtrack. The A-Tank drives up and the Spiral exits, swinging around pistols and the like in all directions. They make a surprisingly good fire team. Or at least they look it. They scramble up to a side door, gather around it...)

Daria: Hurry UP, A... er, Maverick.

AP: Ten seconds... okay, I'm in!

(Hold exterior shot and fade to...)

(Scene: TBM, the inner sanctum. Warlock is pacing. Scar, no less nervous-seeming, is scrawling something in a notebook. Pagebert is looking at his workstation but not doing anything with it. In all, none of them seem to be doing anything productive.)

Warlock: Does this feel wrong to anyone else?

Scar: We didn't lie to them. We DO have other things to do.

Pagebert: Notice, on the other hand, that we're not doing any of them. We're sitting here waiting for word.

Warlock: (stops pacing abruptly, having reached a decision) To hell with 'other responsibilities'. We're going after them. Pack up your gear and be at the bigwhitevan in ten minutes. (whips out a cell phone, dials from memory, wandering toward the door) DJ? (beat) Warlock. (smiles) Yeah. Hey, listen, how soon can you get to The City? (beat) Okay, but come anyway. Things may go bad.

(Warlock exits. Scar and Pagebert share a look.)

Scar: You heard the man.

Pagebert: Guess I have to pack light.

Scar: (wry) Only taking one laptop?

Pagebert: Yeah. That, the cellphone and the digital camcorder. (to her look) Well, you never know!115

(Scene: a corridor. Wily [the underling what fetched the straitjacket] has walked straight into the Darians.)

Wily: Wha ... who...?

(Quinn kicks him in the stomach and he folds. Daria then gets in his face with her gun.)

Daria: (Lynn-voice) We wish to register a complaint.116

Wily: (gasping) Oh. Smythes.

Daria: Blood-tied and hireling both.

AP: (over Daria's shoulder) Take us to your leader...117 (to Tom's scowl) Spend too long on the range with Warlock, you get quotehappy. My bad.

Daria: (to Wily) You heard the man. Let's go.

(Wily looks from Daria, to Jane [who does the knife-flick thing] to Quinn [who looks eager to kick him again] and then back to Daria with the gun. He looks undecided. Then AP whips out a Colt .45 and sticks it practically up Wily's nose.)

AP: Remember me? I'm the one you stuffed in the straitjacket.

(Wily pulls himself upright and leads them down the corridor.)

(Scene: big, airy and predominantly bare room; hardwood floor, large windows. Music: "Hold Her Down" - Toad the Wet Sprocket. Gang are standing at the wall by the window and Merritt and assorted underlings are blocking the door. Merritt looks collected enough [his holster is pointedly empty] and our gang looks cold and pissed off. The scene just screams "parley".)

Merritt: Now what can I do for you? (beat) Oh, and put the weapons away; we'd prefer not to have to kill anyone.

Daria: Except my sister.

Merritt: (shrug) Oh, that's just business. The Falcon can't fly forever. So it's in my best interests to clip his daughters' wings.

Daria: If that's what you're looking for, I think we're in a position to negotiate. IF I can see what I'm dealing for.

Merritt: (smirk) I don't think you want...

Daria: I. Want. My. Sister. (beat; reaches for her gun) NOW.

Merritt: (mock alarm) Touchy! (hard) Take your hands off the weapon... (she does - reluctantly) and I'll bring you ... Lynn. (to the suppressed winces) It was a good try, though. (to two random underlings) Bring her out.

(Exit underlings. The gang watches Merritt and the remaining gangster-types)

Daria: You're so sure of which sister you have?

Merritt: Oh yes. There's the matter of that lovely tattoo...118

Tom: (losing it slightly) Cut the Victorian melodrama bullcrap!

(Merritt just raises an eyebrow at his unprofessionalism. The underlings return, dragging Lynn by the armpits. She's obviously incapable of the effort needed to even find her feet. Daria, Tom, Jane and Trent are trying to hide fear; the others either won't or can't do the same. As the goons drop Lynn on the floor, AP takes a step forward but Daria puts her arm out, blocking his path. Jensen steps over to Lynn and grabs her by the hair, lifting her head. Her eyes are vague - the lights are on but no one's really home. AP gasps.)

Jensen: (to AP, smirking at his distress) It was a labour of love. (to Lynn) Say something to the nice people.

Lynn: (unfocused) I wasn't ... expecting ... the...

(She trails off and Jensen lets go of her hair, letting her head drop carelessly. The expression on Daria's face suggests that she has taken a great deal of anger and pain and locked it behind a very thick steel door.)

Jensen: (smug, cold, triumphant) NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition.119

Daria: (cold) Let her go. You've done enough.

Merritt: (checkmate) Sorry, but I can't. Business, you understand.

Daria: (the doors are not holding) Let ... her ... GO!

Merritt: You're in no position to give me orders.

Jensen: (smirk) Leave now and maybe we'll give the Purple (beat, sadistic) *Poofter* here a quick death.

(At that, AP appears to snap. He steps up on the windowsill behind him [for a clearer shot] and raises the gun in the same motion. He fires just as Jensen, who's noticed, raises his own gun and fires at him.)

(Scene: exterior of the house, maybe a block or two away. Warlock is riding shotgun in the bigwhitevan, staring hawklike out the window. Two gunshots are heard from a distance and a figure in black leather with red hair is seen falling out a window and into a dumpster beneath. The lid, jarred by the impact, slams shut.)

Warlock: (yelling into the van behind) Break out the bandages again! (mutter) He's gonna be the Psycho-MUMMY if this keeps up...

(Scene: the room. CU on Jensen, head pretty much pulverised, sprawled on the floor next to Lynn. His gun - a Soviet Makarov120 - has landed near her hand. Not that this does a lot of good, as she still isn't moving, despite Jensen-spatter having hit her. Pan up to Merritt's rage-reddened face. Pan across to Daria, looking no less angry but a lot more horrified. It's so silent you can almost still hear the echo of the gunshots. Then...)

Jane: (whisper) Oh, Jesus, AP...

(Scene: exterior. Bigwhitevan pulls up, Warlock leaps out the passenger side, shotgun in hands. He glances around, clearing the area and then runs up to the dumpster.)

Warlock: Maverick? (beat) MAVERICK?!

Scar: He's either dead or unconscious, Warlock. Either way, he's not going anywhere. Inside.

Warlock: But...

Scar: He's probably dead. THEY (pointing up) might not be. Come ON!

(Warlock sighs and leads his team on.)

Warlock: (mutter) Once more into the breach... dear friends...121

Scar: (anxious for battle) Lay on, Macduff!122

Pagebert: Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. (Warlock and Scar just look at him.) What?123

(They run up to the side door, which still stands open, and cautiously enter.)

(Scene: the room. Merritt turns on Daria, incensed.)

Merritt: That ... was NOT smart.

Daria: (gun out and trained between Merritt's eyes) Neither was HE.

Merritt: (raised eyebrow) You can't shoot me. You're not her. (beat) Then again, neither is she, anymore.

(In the pause that follows, you can hear time passing. Daria begins to tremble slightly, and she lowers her eyes ... and the gun.)

Daria: (defeated) You're right. I can't shoot you.

Merritt: Good girl. Now leave before any more of your little friends gets...

(A shot rings out. Merritt screams and crumples. All eyes turn to Lynn, who has picked up Jensen's Makarov and put a round through Merritt's knee.)

Lynn: She... (*cough*) can't shoot you. (beat) But I can.

(At this point, WCB bursts in, Scar and Pagebert have pistols and Warlock has a sweet little pump action shotgun.)

Warlock: (assessing the situation) Hands up! Against the wall! Now!

(The Merritts look at each other and do as told.)

Lynn: (ignoring everything but Merritt) You ... cheap-shit ... bastard.

(Daria opens her mouth to speak. Warlock, who's seen this in other people before, shakes his head at her. Lynn has got to her feet and advanced on Merritt, who's whimpering on the floor.)

Lynn: I haven't been doing this for long. But there's something even *I* know. (beat) YOU DON'T (*bang*) MESS (*bang*) WITH CIVILIANS! (*bang*)

(Pause. Merritt is fairly well riddled by now, and beyond screaming. Lynn takes a moment, breathing hard.)

Lynn: Not nice, is it? Dying a piece at a time? (*bang*) Wondering which is going to be the last? (*bang*) One thing I'll give you and your bastard companions - Maverick (slight choke) died clean. (*bang*) Which is more than I'll be giving YOU. (*bang*)

(Pause. Lynn is breathing heavily and the effort she's using to hold herself upright is obvious. Merritt is conscious - how he's staying conscious, we don't know. [but hell, he's a criminal overlord; they must get trained in stuff too...])

Lynn: You know what I'd really like? I'd like you to ask me to kill you. I want you to ask for a merciful death. (beat) Beg, actually. (*bang*) Through the gut or through the head. Your choice.

Merritt: ...kill ... me...

Lynn: That's happening anyway.

Merritt: (incoherent sputtering noise)

Lynn: Close enough.

(Lynn fires her last round through Merritt's head and sends bloodspray all over the floor. Tableau. The band is staring at Lynn in awe and shock, Jane is wincing at all the gore, and Daria is just plain staring, suddenly not able to believe her life.)

Warlock: (under his breath) "If any spark of life be yet remaining / Down, down to hell; and say she sent thee thither."124

(Lynn drops Jensen's gun and one of the Merritts sees his chance and goes for the 9mm pistol at his hip. Two shots ring out from Scar's weapon and he drops dying next to Lynn. Lynn looks at him for a second, completely blank, then picks up the dead man's weapon and faces a random gangster.)

Lynn: Now I want all of you to take out your weapons slowly, drop them, and clear the building ... and I want you to remember this. (beat) You don't. Fuck. With the Smythe family.

(Lynn steps backwards and turns away from the man and Warlock lowers his gun, nodding at the others, who do the same. The Merritts run like hell. Then the assembled group just stands and watches Lynn, unsure as what to what she'll do next.)

Lynn: Are they gone?

Warlock: Yes.

Lynn: Good.

(With that, she sags against the wall, clutching it with the hand not holding the gun to keep from falling. Daria takes a step forward but then stops, wondering whether it would be wise to approach. Eventually she looks at the WCB. Warlock nods towards Lynn.)

Daria: Lynn... (step forward)

Lynn: Don't. (Daria freezes) Come. Near me.

Daria: Lynn, I...

Lynn: Just. Don't.

(Daria, Jane, Quinn and the band look to the WCB. Scar and Pagebert just look at Warlock, who sighs.)

Warlock: Peril...

Lynn: Leave.

Warlock: (suspicious) Unload the gun?


(Silence. Warlock turns to Scar and Pagebert.)

Warlock: Get them out of here. Go see to the... (looks at Lynn, won't go on.)

Pagebert: Yeah. (quiet) Is she...

Warlock: She's not going to do anything just yet. Now blow.

(The others leave. Warlock watches Lynn, who still stands motionless, leaning against the wall.)

(Scene: staircase. Jane and Daria look somewhat blank. The Spiral is, as a unit, white with shock. Scar and Pagebert just look sad. Quinn, however, looks somewhat annoyed with all of them.)

Scar: What's with YOU, Narcissa? You could at least PRETEND!

Quinn: Pretend WHAT? What are you talking about?

Pagebert: You may not have cared about him, but the man is dead.

Quinn: No he's not! (to their looks) He was wearing the Kevlar! I mean, GOD, why else did you think he looked so BULKY?

(They all look at Quinn, who meets their eyes with a look that clearly says, "What, are you BLIND?" Then they realise she's right and run past her down the stairs.)

Quinn: WHAT?

(Scene: Outside, by the dumpster. Scar and Jane hit it first and heave the lid open... and their eyes go wide. Inside, AP is moaning and stirring, sitting up with great effort.)

AP: Damn ... thing...

Jane: (nearly choking) AP?

AP: No one ... told me ... it would ... still hurt...

Tom: You never asked. (beat) Never asked if you could wear the stuff, either.

AP: Sorry ... but it was ... the only ... way I could think of to make her ... mad enough to snap out of it...

Jane: You PLANNED that?

AP: (sheepish look, then wince) I figured ... she got mad enough to attack Ms Li when ...

Tom: You used her temper to your advantage.

Jane: And now she thinks you're DEAD. On top of everything else. Do you have any clue what that's doing to her?

(AP's turn to go wide-eyed. With a speed that you just know is going to cost him when the adrenaline wears off, he hauls himself out of the dumpster and tears into the building. Scar and Jane look at each other and sigh. Daria, however, looks a bit apprehensive.)

Daria: If she thinks he's dead ... and he just turns up...

(The facefault manoeuvre is performed by all concerned. Pagebert makes a gesture to Scar and the Spiral, who follow along. Daria, stunned and really confused, wanders towards the vehicles.)

(Scene: the room. Warlock is collecting up the weapons. Lynn is watching him out of the corner of her eye.)

Lynn: (VO, remembering) I got him shot. Nothing like that will ever happpen again... I got him shot. Nothing like that will ever happpen again... I got him shot. Nothing like that will ever happpen again... I got him shot. Nothing like that will...

(She looks at the gun in her hands like she's never seen one before.)

Lynn: (VO, remembering) Ever...

(She blinks rapidly, then looks at Merritt's face, now curiously peaceful, in contrast to the pain he had been in.)

Lynn: (VO, remembering) happen....

(She checks to be sure Warlock's not looking.)

Lynn: (VO, remembering) again....

(She raises the gun to her head.)

Warlock: (who IS watching) You want his death to be wasted?!

Lynn: (jumps, shock crosses her face, followed by new determination) BUGGER *OFF*!

Warlock: (holds out a hand) Hand it over. And I will.

(Lynn looks at him for a long moment. He stands there patiently. Then she throws it at him and turns her back. Warlock catches the gun, looks at it and then sets it down with the others. Then he makes a move in her direction ... and the door bursts open and AP stops in the doorway, worn out from the run and in no small amount of pain.)

AP: (gasping) Lynn...

(Lynn turns around and looks at him, eyes wide and completely disbelieving. Warlock blinks at AP but recovers quickly, figuring out what AP must have done. Lynn opens her mouth as if to speak ... then falls over in a dead faint. Warlock is just close enough to catch her before she hits the floor and he lowers her gently. Then he looks at AP.)

Warlock: (half-sarcastic) Way to go, Maverick.

(AP keeps a firm grip on the doorframe and looks at Lynn, guilt and worry on his face. Then he loses his grip and falls over with a groan. Warlock puts a hand to his forehead in slight despair.)

(Scene: outside the compound. Daria is standing by the door of the bigwhitevan, peering inside, desperate for something else to think about. Something under a tarp catches her eye and she steps into the van and pulls the tarp off, revealing a rocket launcher. She looks at it. She looks at the compound. She looks back at the rocket launcher...)

Lynn: (memory voice) So ... how did it feel, indulging in a random act of violence?

Daria: (answering the old question aloud) I think I see what you get out of it.125

(Scene: outside the bigwhitevan. Pagebert is heading a kind of grim little caravan of people. Jesse is carrying Lynn. Warlock and Trent are pretty much dragging AP. The others follow in a ragged knot behind ... and they all stop dead when Daria steps out of the bigwhitevan bearing the rocket launcher. Her face wears Lynn's "someone's pushed the insanity button" expression. Warlock looks stunned. Pagebert looks horrified.)

Pagebert: Daria! Put that thing...

(Daria does a quick headcount, making sure all 12 friendlies are outside, then aims the rocket launcher at the house and triggers it. *click* *whoosh* *BOOM* and the house is so much flaming wreckage.)

Pagebert: ...down.

Scar: It seems to be raining bricks.

(For a moment, everyone stares at Daria, who wears a cat-that-caught-the-canary smirk. Then sirens sound in the distance.)

Warlock: Time to voom!

(He nods to Trent and they start dragging AP again. Quinn looks from the building to Daria and back again with wide eyes.)

Quinn: What ... what ... what...?

Scar: (grabbing the rocket launcher off Daria and manhandling it into the back of the bigwhitevan) What NOW?

Quinn: What'd she do THAT for?

(Everyone stops what they're doing for a second to stare at her.)

All: (perfect choral unison) Duh!

Quinn: (continuing absence of cerebral event126) But ... but ... but...?

Scar: (grabbing her by the arm) Oh, shut up and get in the van.

(They pile into bigwhitevan and the A-Tank, Warlock and Pagebert slam the back doors shut and head for driver's and shotgun seats of bigwhitevan respectively. As the doors are shut and seatbelts fasten, we hear the following from inside bigwhitevan.)

Warlock: (OS) Pagebert ... where the HELL did you find that toy?!

Pagebert: (OS) Getting me in trouble?

Warlock: (OS) No! (beat) I WANT one!

(The engine revs and bigwhitevan drives away from the flaming wreck that was once the Merritts' hideout as the sirens get louder.)

(Scene: the Inner Sanctum. Music: "Successful Mission" - Hayashibara Megumi. AP is sprawled on a camp bed on the floor near one of the armchairs. He stirs, and the movement causes him to wince and groan in pain. He looks up and Warlock is watching him.)

Warlock: How you feeling?

AP: Like someone threw me out a wind... (realising) oh.

Warlock: And right into a dumpster. (beat) Nice aim.

AP: (sheepish smile) Well I wasn't... (more realisation) Lynn. (beat; more forceful) How's Lynn?

Warlock: (deep breath) She's ... alive.

(Warlock nods towards the rest of the room. It's been laid out to allow more space - a few more cots are in the space. Jane is curled up on one of the sofas; Quinn on the other. Daria is slumped asleep in a chair next to a cot upon which Lynn is ensconced. She looks too close to the way she looked when in the coma for comfort. AP looks at Warlock, almost pleading.)

AP: She's ... gonna be okay...? (The 'isn't she?' comes through clearly. Warlock debates long enough to edge AP towards speed-rant) Is she gonna be OKAY?

Warlock: Get some sleep. We'll talk in the morning.

AP: (cold but fearful) Answer me, damnit.

Warlock: She hasn't woken up yet.

AP: (one statement guaranteed to panic him) Will she?!

Warlock: ('when will I learn to keep my mouth shut' expression) Almost definitely.

AP: (officially freaked) What the hell do you mean, "ALMOST"?

Warlock: You want me to lie? I'm an archer, not a doctor, damnit!127 (AP takes a swing at Warlock, who blocks it easily.) That's not going to make me know anything more.

AP: You're so ... damn ... COLD.

Warlock: It's my job. (sigh) Look, 'almost' is going to have to do. (beat; faux cheery) Now, I have here hot tea, sleeping pills, and a really large hammer. Which would you like? (It having all caught up with him, AP slumps back onto the pillows in a heavy doze. Warlock looks at him for a moment, bemused.) Sheesh, I was kidding about the hammer.

(Warlock sighs, stretches and walks over towards Lynn, careful not to wake Daria. He flashes a glance back at AP to make sure he's out and then presses his fingers to Lynn's wrist. After a second, he gives a slight sigh of relief. He then walks over to his workstation, turns it on and waits for it to start up.)

Warlock: (quiet) Shit. I am SO not looking forward to this.

(Cut to the screen of his workstation as he opens a word processing programme:)

Report: Operation Siege Perilous - 17/8/2000128

(Pan down to his fingers on the keyboard as they flash over the keys, fast at first, then slower and slower. Finally, they slow to a stop. Camera follows his hands upwards to his face as he rests his chin on his folded hands and stares at the screen, which reflection we can just make out in his glasses, but can't read anything - from the screen or on his face. Then, for a bare second, his mask slips and stress and confusion are visible in his eyes, forehead and mouth. Then *bam* - the mask comes down again and he grits his teeth, nodding to himself. He reaches for the mouse; pan along his arm as he positions it, hesitates for a second ... then sighs in semi-defeat as he shifts the mouse slightly and clicks the button. The printer hums, and then the reflection of the screen vanishes from his glasses. He takes them off, rubs his eyes and gets up as Scar comes out and settles herself in a chair, apparently to take her turn at watch. Warlock walks over to her.)

Warlock: (handing her the paper) Wanted a second opinion. If it works, retype and send it.

Scar: (looking at the single page in her hand) And if it doesn't?

Warlock: (slight exasperation showing through) Then MAKE it work and send it. This has to go out to him tonight.

(Scar sees the exhaustion in his face and nods. Warlock nods back in thanks and walks off.)

(Scene: the same, next morning. Music: "Zombie" - The Cranberries. AP stirs, moans and turns his head. He opens his eyes to see Lynn sitting up in bed. She's not moving, but she is awake, and AP's face lights up.)

AP: (excited whisper-yell) Lynn! (no reply; slightly louder) Lynn... (still nothing; confused, slightly worried whisper) Lynn?

(Lynn is still not responding. She only moves to breathe and blink occasionally. AP gets up, wincing, and moves to the bed, careful not to wake Daria on the way. He sits down and looks closely at Lynn's face.)

AP: Lynn?... Lynn... (even this close, she doesn't seem to be hearing him; realising something is very wrong, he gently turns her face towards his and looks in her eyes, which are utterly blank. AP becomes very afraid very quickly) Oh... God, Lynn...

(AP looks up, rage and fear in his face, and sees Warlock looking at him.)

Warlock: (reading the accusation) I didn't know. I swear.

AP: BullCRAP! Even if you didn't know, you would have suspected.

Warlock: I didn't know till this morning. Not for sure, anyway.

AP: But you thought...

Warlock: I told you, I'm not a doctor...

AP: One more Bones ref and...

Warlock: (remembering the reaction to the poofters line, backing off) Okay. Fine.

(Stony silence)

AP: How long will she be like this?

Warlock: I've no idea.

AP: I'm not taking that answer.

Warlock: It's the only one I've got.

Scar: (from another room) Warlock? Get in here. Quick. We need to talk.

(Exit Warlock. AP sits next to Lynn and watches her sadly. He looks around for spectators, then cautiously puts one arm around her and holds her, running his other hand through her hair. He makes choked noises that sound like he's trying not to cry. Daria opens an eye, sighs and goes back to sleep. It might make her feel better to know that AP is watching out for her too.)

(Scene: a too-small, brightly-lit kitchen. Scar is sitting on one of the kitchen units, staring accusingly at a mobile phone on a nearby table. Warlock looks at her in an assessing way.)

Warlock: What's the situation, Scar? Fit about to hit the shan?

Scar: OH yeah. (beat) We have to get them out of here.

Warlock: (command tone) Are you out of your mind? She's not tracking! He can barely move! They're not going anywhere!

Scar: Warlock. We're about to be up to our eyeballs in it. You really want them around during that?

(Slight pause. Warlock rolls his eyes heavenwards as if to say, "Why me?")

Warlock: Get H in here.


Warlock: WhatEVER.

(Enter Tom.)

Tom: What?

Scar: Turns out there are some very unimpressed rivals out there. You need out and we're not sure we can move some of you...

Tom: WHAT?

Warlock: You're the closest to Mr Smythe's right hand. Get me the number of a doctor.

Tom: But...

Warlock: LISTEN to me. Ever read the Godfather? (Tom nods, slightly shakily) Well, we have better guns now. There is going to be a war. And we're in enough trouble already for letting this happen to the Peril without compounding it by having her sitting in a war zone in the state she's in. I need to know if and when we can move them so get ... me ... a frigging ... DOCTOR.

(Tom sighs and grabs the cordless phone, heading out the door. He stops in the doorway and looks back at them.)

Tom: Thanks. For coming after us after all.

(Warlock doesn't look at him, obviously thinking 'that bit too little, that bit too late'. Tom gives him a weak little smile and walks out.)

(Scene: The Blue Motorcycle. Music: "Self-Healer" - Idlewild. Warlock is behind the bar, reading Terry Pratchett's "Mort". Enter Kes. Warlock looks up and blinks at her.)

Kes: Good choice; though I prefer the Watch books. (beat) And you must be Warlock. Nice to see you in person at last.

Warlock: Kestrel. Likewise. (beat) You're a little far from home.

Kes: Oh, I was here anyway. Or had you forgotten that I was (rueful; scare quotes) 'on tour' this summer?

Warlock: We had ... other things on our minds. (beat) Oh. The bet.

Kes: (rueful nod) Never agree to a wager with a criminal underworld type. They NEVER play fair. (beat) It was just as well I showed up anyway, given. You need a medical professional, I hear, and I'm as close to it as you're going to get. (beat) Anyway, I believe in fair warning.

Warlock: ("why me?" expression) Let me guess. The Falcon flies.

Kes: Stoops, actually. Talons extended.

Warlock: (wince) Ow.

Kes: Yeah. I'd better stick around after this - Lynn and the geek may not be the only ones who need medical attention when he gets a hold of H ... or that's Rust. Oh, whatever. (beat) Going to tell him?

Warlock: I don't think so. He might find some pressing business on another continent. Say, Four Ecks.129

Kes: (slight smirk at the ref) True. And I wouldn't miss Uncle Jerome's reaction for the world. (beat) Which reminds me; mind showing me the patients?

(Scene: the Inner Sanctum. Music plays on. AP has his shirt off and is submitting to Jan's checking him for sprung ribs.)

AP: Ow. Ow. OW!

Kes: Jesus H Christ, kid, what did you DO?

Scar: (slightly snide) Took a bullet to the chest wearing kevlar. Fell through a window. Into a dumpster.

(Enter DJ [diminutive stature, long black hair tied back, sweet face, glasses], clad in black.)

DJ: Hey... (taking in the scene) Am I, like, interrupting something?

Kes: (sarcastic) Yeah, we're playing Doctors and Nurses. (beat) Warlock's on the range.

Warlock: (entering) Not. (beat; to DJ) Hey.

DJ: Hey. Turns out I was supposed to be here anyway. The Falcon wants Jensen's head on a pole.

Warlock: A bit late, since the Maverick splattered that head all over the Merritt compound floor.

DJ: (rather stunned) Huh. (walks over to AP) Looks like this is yours. (hands over an envelope)

AP: What the hell is this?

DJ: Deposit. You offed Jensen for me. I guess you get the pay.

(AP looks at the envelope. Then he throws it at DJ and turns his head away. Kes looks at him and then starts checking his head.)

DJ: (to Warlock) What's with him?

Warlock: Don't ask.

Kes: (getting up) Okay, that's it. (to Scar, Warlock and DJ) Conference?

AP: No; you checked Lynn and I want to know...

Warlock: (warning) I still have that hammer, Maverick. (beat; to Kes, DJ and Scar) Downstairs.

(Scene: The Blue Motorcycle. Music plays on. Warlock, Scar, DJ and Kes have now been joined by Tom and Pagebert. Nobody looks happy.)

Kes: The Maverick's main problem is a lot of bruising. Pad whatever he's sitting in and he can be moved.

Scar: No damage to the ribs?

Kes: None that I can find. Just be gentle with him for a few days and he should be fine.

Warlock: The Peril?

Kes: That's trickier. When I say 'she can be moved', I mean you to take that literally. She's in a fugue state and, bar extensive psychiatric treatment or a great deal of time, I don't know what'll move her past that.

Scar: But...

Kes: (sigh) But she can be moved.

Tom: Tell me again why we have to go back?

Kes: Does the phrase, 'bloody gang war' not mean ANYTHING to you? (to the others) Who signed THIS nimrod up?

Warlock: When it goes down, it'll go down in the major cities first. And sending them back to Lawndale is just stupid enough to not be thought of as an option, so odds are the Merritts won't look there right away. It buys you all some time.

Scar: And anyway, the Merritts...

Kes: Or the FORMER Merritts, from the sound...

Scar: (raised eyebrow) Pedant. Anyway, whoever takes over might take awhile finding out where the Smythe kids live - not only are they going to be in chaos for a few days since the Erudite blew their compound to hell, but Merritt was really need-to-know with his information. You get into that habit in this business. Or you don't survive long. Falcon told Jezebel too much years ago, and look what happened...

(There's some thought about that.)

Warlock: When it comes down to it, things that happen routinely in big cities get noticed in suburbia. It'd be harder to hide an assassination attempt in Lawndale than here. (to a disbelieving sputter from Kes) They were lucky that time. They had something to work with. What are the odds of them having that kind of opportunity again?

Scar: ('thank God, they see reason') So we send them back?

Warlock: Yeah. (beat; sigh) Yeah.

(Scene: Inner Sanctum. Music: "Father of Mine" - Everclear. Everybody's on couches or chairs or the like. Pagebert's at his station, splitting his attention between the talk and IRC/whatever information source. AP is sitting with Lynn and paying attention to naught but her. Tom's pacing about - He walks to a window... looks out... and facefaults.)

Tom: (various incoherent noises)

Warlock: (tired; sarcastic) What, more Merritts? Police? Singing Vikings?130

Tom: Worse! (scarpers)

Scar: (curious) Worse? (takes look out window, beat) Oh. (slightly worried) Houston, this is Tranquillity Base... although not for long. The Falcon has landed.131 (beat) And BOY does he look pissed.

(The band looks mildly impressed, especially Max - a chance to meet a real true criminale! Scar, Pagebert, and Warlock are a little tense. Daria gets this utterly cold look on. Jane looks pissed. Quinn is motionless with either anger or fear or maybe both - it's hard to tell.)

Warlock: By the pricking of my thumbs, something wingéd this way comes. (We get *bang bang bang*) Do I hear the sound of someone rapping, tapping at the barroom door?132

Kes: MUST you with the quoting?

Warlock: Yes. I must. I'm as quotehappy as they come.

Scar: Okay, who gets to let him in?

(All eyes turn to Kestrel.)

Kes: Oh great. Muggins here gets it.133

Warlock: You're probably the one he's least mad at.

Kes: Yeah, yeah, whatever. (exits to get the door) Why do *I* get all the messy jobs?

(Kes exits. In the worried silence, we hear a door open downstairs, then murmured conversation, then footsteps on the stairs ... Re-enter Kes quickly, footsteps behind her.)

Kes: How sturdy is your bathroom door? Cos he kind of plans to blow holes in it.

Scar: Eap.134

(Cut to inside of bathroom. Music plays on. Tom has his ear against the door.)

Tom: (frightened little whisper) Oh... shit...

(He looks to the window. Which is about a foot square. He moves towards it ... And then *bang*, smoking doorhandle falls out of door, Jerome stands in doorway.)

Jerome: We don't run from discipline, my lad.

(Cut back to the Inner Sanctum. Music plays on. Re-enter Jerome, practically dragging Tom.)

Jerome: (scanning the room) Lynn?

(Daria points. Jerome looks ... and does a double-take as he sees the blankness of Lynn's expression. AP gives him a look, one of the kind that suggests the looker is planning the demise and entombment of the lookee - and possibly not in that order - and tightens his arm around Lynn protectively.)

Jerome: (somewhat stunned) What...? (recovering, turning on Tom) What ... did you let them do to her?

Tom: (nearly wetting himself) I...

Warlock: (sigh; "Why am I bothering?") Falcon - sir - the Merritts knew what buttons to push. The kid did try, but his only real crime is ... (bitter) utter incompetence.

Jerome: (to Rust) Just like your father. (turns on Warlock) Your report was rather ... vague.

(There is a pause as Warlock considers)

Warlock: So is my medical knowledge.

Jerome: Kes?

(Kes stammers futilely for a moment ... then sighs.)

Kes: I'm not a shrink. So I can't say for sure how bad it is. But ... she is NOT well.

Scar: She's going to be a lot WORSE if we can't get her out of this city.

Jerome: (in nearly Cullen-esque fury) Someone ... is going ... to DIE for...

Daria: (interrupting) Someone already HAS. (beat; cruel; pointing to Lynn and AP across the room) Thanks to THEM.

(That gives Jerome pause and he looks at Lynn and AP again. AP gives a very slight nod.)

Jerome: (having to try very hard to make his mouth work) They... (turning on Warlock again) Was there any reason you didn't accompany these ... CHILDREN to the stronghold straight away?

Max: We did FINE! We're CRIMINALES!

Scar: (patience gone) Oh, don't start! They had you cold until we got there and the Peril started plugging holes in their leader!

Jerome: The PAIR of you shut it! Your excuse?

Warlock: (guilt evident) We have other responsibilities...

Jerome: To HELL with "other responsibilities"! My daughters are more important!

(AP reaches to his hip for a weapon that isn't there anymore. Daria stands, walks calmly over to Jerome, and decks him in the face. He reels backwards and puts a hand to his face. She's given him a nosebleed. Everyone facefaults but Jane and AP, both of whom wear "Way to go, Daria" expressions. Daria looks at the flabbergasted expression on Jerome's face and lets out a brief bitter bark of laughter.)

Daria: (Lynn-voice) What a load of faeces tauri.135

(Jerome and Daria lock eyes for a moment. You can nearly see sparks ... and then Jerome looks away, focusing on Kestrel.)

Jerome: Can she be moved?

Kes: Yes, she can be moved. I wouldn't really advise it, but...

Jerome: Then we put them on a plane and...

Kes: (sarcastic and impatient) Oh, yeah, great; oh, and be sure to prepare the flight crew for when she leaves the fugue state and has an attack of the screaming meemies. (to the looks) Look, I'm sorry, but I'm no good at subtle. There's no way of knowing how she'll come out of this - when or if she ever does - and if she has some kind of panic attack, it had better be in a vehicle that can be stopped on demand. Otherwise there's no telling WHAT could happen. Now do you WANT a mid-air mishap? (to the sheepish looks) Fine. They drive.

Warlock: They stay out of major cities and they'll be fine.

Jerome: (blink) Wait. Why should they have to stay out of major cities? (beat) WARLOCK?

Warlock: (sotto; to Jerome) Sir ... I'd rather discuss this elsewhere. I don't think some of us need to relive this.

(Jerome raises an eyebrow at Warlock and then heads towards the door. He stops there and turns back.)

Jerome: Daria. Please. I'll need your views on this.

(Daria looks at him ... and then at Warlock, who shrugs and nods. She looks at Jane, as if for support, and Jane nods and stands. The two follow the group out. Quinn gets a brief thoughtful look, then shrugs, gets up and goes after them. AP looks from the stairs ... to Lynn ... back to the stairs ... then back at Lynn with a sigh. He shifts position - carefully, and wincing all the way - and puts his head on her shoulder for mutual comfort.)

(Scene: The Blue Motorcycle. Music plays on. Warlock has broken out a bottle of wine 'for medicinal purposes'. They sit around a large table.)

Quinn: ...And then Daria took out a rocket launcher and blew up the house and I don't know WHY!

(The entire group, including Jerome, facefaults)

All: DUH!

(Slight pause.)

Jerome: (consulting his copy of the report) What did you mean, left 11:15, came back 12:15? What happened in between?

Warlock: Um ... we broke in... got the drop on the Merritts while they were parleying...

Daria: You sure have an odd definition of parley.

Warlock: Used loosely. (to Scar's look) VERY loosely. ANYWAY. While they were parleying with THAT group (hand gesture at Daria and Quinn) ... destroyed the building... came back here...

Jerome: So the upshot of your little mission was you came, you saw, you destroyed.

Warlock: More like, they took hostages, we kicked ass, we got everyone back alive.

Jerome: (raised eyebrow) Point. (beat) How did Jensen die?

Warlock: Gunshot to the head. (to DJ's raised eyebrow) He got the job done. Centre of mass or not.

Jerome: And Merritt? How did he die?

Warlock: (wince, remembering) Slowly.

Jerome: (summing up) So basically speaking, this means war.

Warlock: (with a frown) That's how I see things.

Jerome: (bland) Wonderful. Three generations of my family have worked to avoid this sort of thing. (Tom looks very uncomfortable) Alright, fine, for those of you who don't like war, there'll be war.136 (to the looks) Well? Where do you think she got it from?

Daria: (to Warlock, pointedly not looking at Jerome) So what do WE do now?

(Scene: the Sanctum. Music: "Girlfriend in a Coma" - The Smiths. Daria steps over to Lynn and AP. Lynn is either asleep or unconscious - hard to tell. AP is sitting on the bed, one hand on her wrist, the other over his eyes. He looks up as Daria gets to a chair and sits down, but he does not let go of Lynn's wrist.)

AP: So now what?

Daria: (holding back) We need to be sent back. We're going to go slowly ... on account of your injuries and Lynn's ... condition. (to AP's wince) I'm sorry.

AP: Daria? (beat) She ... is going to be okay ... right?

Daria: Do you want honest, or reassuring?

AP: (forcing out the word) Honest.

Daria: (sigh) I don't know. We don't even know what was done. (beat) But ... she HAS survived a lot before now.

AP: She's strong, but ... he looked so... (sigh) She has all my words. I think this one started with V...

Daria: Either vicious, vindicative or vindicated?

AP: That last one. (beat) I never thought I could kill anyone.

Daria: (curious) Do you regret it?

AP: (stubborn, sullen) No. (squeezes Lynn's wrist slightly) No. (Daria looks at the floor. AP takes her hand with his free one.) But maybe I'm just not a nice guy.

(Daria chuckles slightly under her breath, and pats his hand with her free one.)

Pagebert: (entering) Need to talk to you, Emerald. You know you guys need out of here and fast. We're thinking tonight. Or VERY early tomorrow at the latest. What works?

Daria: (businesslike) As late as possible. We need to recuperate.

(Pagebert nods agreement and walks back out again. Daria turns back to AP and finds him staring at her.)

AP: Gonna follow in Big Sis' footsteps?

(Daria goes pale at this.)

(Scene: TBM exterior. Music: "Red Rain" - Peter Gabriel. A-Tank and other vehicles being loaded. Warlock and Scar supervising. Daria steps out of TBM and moves to stand next to Warlock.)

Daria: You're sure this is going to be safe.

Warlock: Just keep your head down. You and the Maverick especially. Use your judgement.

Daria: (stunned) MY judgement? But Tom...

Warlock: (unfathomable amount of contempt visible in his face) Oh, sure, get his opinion. Then do what YOU think is best. (beat) Oh, and take these for now.

(He hands Daria a set of keys. The keyring reads "51% Angel, 49% Bitch". Daria stares at them, swallows and tries to hand them back.)

Daria: No. I ... the last time I drove it, I... She'd...

Warlock: Things have changed, Emerald. The situation. You. (beat) Her.

(Daria looks at him. He looks back impassively. A moment passes... and then Daria closes her hand over the keys.)

Warlock: Collect everyone else, willya?

Daria: Mmhmm.

(The groups assemble in two rough lines, facing each other. In one, Daria, Jane, AP, the Spiral, and Quinn. In the other, Warlock, DJ, Pagebert, Scar, and Kes.)

Warlock: Okay, guys, there's going to be a little trouble getting you home.

Scar: Try to keep out of sight and out of major cities.

Quinn: But those two (reffing Merritt and Jensen) are dead! Who'll you be fighting?!

Warlock: (exasperated) Whoever rises to the vacancy. A Family isn't like that. You can't kill a couple people, not even the leaders, and kill it. The Family survives.

Daria: (bitter) Unfortunately.

(Enter Jerome and Tom. Jerome is wincing; he obviously heard that. The Lawndalians look up and, as one, step back from the new arrivals.)

Warlock: Oh, and one more thing.

(He holds out his hand, one finger extended. From it hangs a keyring with an amethyst in a silver setting - the keys to Amethyst. AP reaches out a hand, takes the keys, looks at them for a second.)

AP: Her... but...

Warlock: (shrug) Hang on to them for her. Safekeeping.

(AP blinks at Warlock, mouth opening and closing - this is a note of hope. After a moment, he just gives up and hugs Warlock. Warlock facefaults, standing stunned for a second, then pats AP awkwardly on the back.)

Warlock: (trying to make light) I wouldn't do that in THIS town, kid. People talk.

AP: (pulling back; sheepish shrug) Sorry. No words.

(Warlock gives a sort of half-smirk.)

Warlock: Now get out of here. Daylight's wasting.

Daria: (sigh) And miles to go before we sleep. (beat; slaps her forehead) Damn! Now you've got ME doing it!137

(This breaks some of the tension; there are slight chuckles. The lines break up as they load into the vehicles.)

(Scene: cottage. Music: "Turn Back Time" - Aqua. AP shifts in his sleep and puts his arm out ... and then pats the empty cushions beside him. He opens his eyes and props himself up on his elbow just in time to hear the cottage door close. AP looks towards the cottage door, face full of a combination of hope and fear.)

(Scene: outside cottage. AP steps quietly out the door, closing it behind him and just standing, watching silently, for a moment. Lynn is standing on the balcony, almost but not quite leaning on the rail, looking at the stars. Her eyes don't seem as empty.)

AP: Purple Peril? (no reply) Lynn?

(still nothing. He steps up behind her but she doesn't move. He puts his hands on her shoulders and makes to lead her away ... but she won't budge. Instead of allowing herself to be led, she stands firm and keeps looking out. AP shifts so that he's standing next to her, an arm around her waist. He looks into her face.)

AP: Talk to me. (beat) If you can...?

Lynn: I shot someone. (beat) I blew holes in him in the places I knew it would cause him the most pain until he begged to die. (beat) It scares me that I could do that.

(Long silence. AP doesn't know what to say to that, but his arm tightens supportively around her waist.)

AP: (change of subject) You said...

Lynn: I know. (beat) You don't have to worry about it. I'm not going to ... follow it up or anything. I just thought it should be said. Before... (shrug)

(Short silence)

AP: You've said a lot of stuff to me. Some of it made me think. Some of it made me laugh. Some of it just made me confused. But that... (nervous swallow) I only have one problem with what you said. (weak smile) Why didn't you say it before?

(Now Lynn turns to face him, eyes wide.)

AP: We wasted years.

(Lynn stares at him a moment longer ... then lowers her head and starts to cry. AP, not even trying to find words, pulls her close and holds her, stroking her hair. After a moment, she looks up.)

Lynn: Why didn't...

(AP shuts her up with a kiss; the first one they know is mutual. When AP pulls away, he looks into Lynn's eyes again. She seems to have blanked out again. AP looks hurt and angry - not at her but at what has been done to her.)

AP: (pulling her close) It's gonna be okay. It's over now, I swear...

(Pan to the doorway. Tom is watching them, with an expression of extreme guilt and sadness. Daria stands behind him, and at this she puts a hand on his shoulder. He covers it absently with his own.)

Tom: How am I supposed to tell him?

(Daria opens her mouth to speak, then just shakes her head with a sigh. Her hand tightens a little on his shoulder. Pan into the house, where Trent is watching them, hate and sadness in his face.)

(Scene: Daria's room, present day. Music: "Cruel Summer" - Bananarama. Daria stops typing, looks at what she's written, sighs and shuts the computer down. Then she turns towards the phone, picks it up and dials. Split screen slides over to show Jane picking up the phone on the other end.)

Daria: Jane?

Jane: Daria? Do you know what time it is? What are you doing up?

Daria: Yeah, and I could ask you the same thing.

Jane: Yeah, well, we're both bound to be too keyed up to sleep, I guess.

Daria: Yeah.

Jane: To answer the questions I know you're calling to ask, everything's ... well, I can't say 'fine' but as good as we can hope for. Trent seems okay, but mention the band to him and he freezes up. Same with the other guys - I talked to them on the phone to make sure they got back okay. And... Lynn's set up in Penny's room for now ... (sad) I'd say she's comfortable, but there's no way to tell right now.

Daria: No, I understand. Thanks for this, Jane.

Jane: No big deal. Just wish the news was better.

Daria: And AP? Did he get home okay?

Jane: He didn't 'get home' at ALL. I think it'd take a crowbar to pry him away from Lynn right now.

Daria: (groan) He called his parents, at least?

Jane: Well, *I* did. Pretended to be stranded in a bar in Albuquerque. Told them he'd be back in a few days. Thought I'd give him some time, y'know.

Daria: Well, that's something, anyway. Thanks for letting me know.

Jane: Hey, no problem, amiga. Take care. And try and get some sleep, okay?

Daria: Yeah. Thanks. You too. Later.

(Daria hangs up the phone, moves to the bed, nearly falls onto it and is asleep, fully clothed, before her head hits the pillow. Pan to the window, where dawn light is filtering in through the curtains. Dissolve to the window in Tom's room, and pan to his bed. Music plays on throughout. Tom wakes up and stares at the ceiling.)

Tom: Okay, he was already going to slice me thinly from the feet up. What could be worse? (2-3 second pause) *Slowly* slicing me thinly from the feet up. (beat; eyes flicking to his computer) Hmm. Mail...

(Tom gets up, moves to his computer and starts his email program.)

Tom: Spam, spam, spam... Warlock. Uhoh. Okay, decrypt... and... (reading, muttering to himself) from Warlock, to me, cc... oh shit, Falcon Himself... Merritts... an eye, preferably BOTH... second... and last (*gulp*) chance... He found worse. Trust a Smythe.

(fade to black, roll credits "in order of appearance")

Jake Morgendorffer
Helen Morgendorffer
Quinn Morgendorffer
Jane Lane
Trent Lane
Max Tyler
Daria Morgendorffer
Lynn Cullen
AP McIntyre
Tom Sloane
Jesse Moreno
Nicholas Campbell
Redneck Bar Owner, Tx.
John 'mouserr' Smith - S.S. Rat
Austin G Loomis - Tuxedo Slack
Cheerful Charlie
Silent Random Bartender, Fla.
Bouncer 1
Portly Sweaty Balding Suitwearer
Burly Redneck
Nigel Abrams138
Bouncer 2
Bouncer 3
Jill Friedman - Leopard
Tony "Wind Lane" Jensen - Jensen
Bryce Merritt
Canadibrit - Kestrel (or Jan, whatever)
Diane Long - Aph
Jon Kilner - Eco
Crazy Nutso - NCM
Fat Club Manager
Hotel Receptionist
The other two random goons
Ben Yee - Warlock
Kara Wild - Scar
Chad Page - Pagebert
Shelby McGowan - DJ
Jerome Peregrine Smythe


1] As stated in "Sets and the Single Girl" and "Love's Labour", the former Flack-Jackets and the Spiral, with Tom in tow, have spent the summer on a US tour.[Back]

2] This is from the original "Star Trek" - misquote of 'Bones' McCoy's "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it". [Back]

3] coccyx == tailbone. Wonderful word to use in Hangman, says Ben. I borrowed it from "Brave New World".[Back]

4] Thanks to the bored BOFHs that posted to the Dilbert Lists of the Day back in 1999. [Back]

5] alum - a double sulfate of ammonium or a univalent metal (such as sodium or potassium) and a trivalent metal (such as aluminum, iron or chromium): it is used as an astringent, as an emetic and in the manufacture of baking powders, dyes and paper; the commonest form is potash alum (potassium aluminum sulfate). It causes shrinkage of tissues - in cartoons it's the mouth, but I've seen it in teenybopper sitcoms screwing with the vocal chords. So he's suggesting feeding it to Quinn to shut her up. [Back]

6] Daria, Jane and Lynn gave Quinn some advice on extortion in "Quinn-tessence". You think Lynn DIDN'T complain to AP? [Back]

7] I think "Gifted" mentions some of Quinn's exploits when given carte blanche to turn Morgendorffer Home Base into party central. And a fair number of fanfics deal with this idea as well. [Back]

8] "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" is, of course, a Monty Python song. We first see Lynn use the cellphone in "Admission: Impossible". [Back]

9] 'New Year' has kind of become a code word for Lynn and Trent's sexual encounter in "Rue Britannia". And Lynn and Trent tried a date in "An Irony of Errors". [Back]

10] Monty Python again. Sketch literally called "Nudge Nudge, Know What I Mean". [Back]

11] We first meet Casey Wright, bassist of "The Back Alley Name-Droppers" [past and present] in "Rock Banned", and he makes a reappearance around when we first meet Guy 'Goat-Boy' Mann, in "Thrash of the Titans". Jane gives a date with him a shot in SATSG. [Back]

12] We hear about Tom's Kevlar vest in "None of Your Affair" - that's part of why he and Jane broke up in my continuum. As spectacular as DDMD? *shrug* [Back]

13] In "Relation-slips", AP admits feelings for Lynn that go back a LONG way. He dated her anyway, figuring he could get past it. Wrong, geek-boy. [Back]

14] One of Lynn's better-known traits is an affinity for coffee that could peel paint and keep you awake for weeks. [Back]

15] Amethyst is a Laverda 750 Strike - a racing bike. She got it in "Mercedes Bends" to stand in for the Merc when it was trashed. [Back]

16] Put it this way. She remembers all too well Lynn's 'kamikaze run' on the thing in "Miss Conception". [Back]

17] Leave us never forget that our darling Daria got her start as the female-interest in "Beavis and Butthead". [Funny story - when I was told there was going to be a B&B spin-off, I was ready not to watch it on general principles. Look what's happened since.] [Back]

18] In "The Daria Database", she's mentioned to have done the same thing to Jamie's BMW.[Back]

19] Dialogue ripped off almost wholesale from "Jane's Addition". [Back]

20] This is a reference to their playing of "The Picnic Game" in "Lady and the Tank", which in turn reffed "The Road Worrier". One of those vicious 'things' indeed. [Back]

21] "Lady and the Tank" again. Lynn manages to bring the Tank back from the grave, so to speak. [Back]

22] The Tank once possessing a luggage rack is pure speculation on our part. [Back]

23] This is mostly ripped off from "The Blues Brothers". I would have said "Duh", but... [Back]

24] There are two versions of "My Way" - one by Frank Sinatra and the other by the Sex Pistols. Guess which one I prefer. [Back]

25] I assume most people have seen that e-mail forward by now. [Depressing fact: I heard a version of "I've Got Tears In My Ears From Lying On My Back While I Cry Over You" in a pub once. Obviously SOME sad git is coming up with lyrics...] [Back]

26] A similar remark was made in a Pratchett novel - I think it was "Soul Music" but not sure... Anyway, it involved axes. [Back]

27] This will be one of the anecdotes in "Growing Cynical", which I promise to finish before I die.[Back]

28] Credit this line to Austin L. He thought it up back in February, when I first started thinking about this fic. [Back]

29] The fact that AP doesn't do this word [or any other really obscure ones] in "The Flack-Jacket Mafia". [Back]

30] AP's lack of physical grace is mentioned in "A Hard Day's Write", "A Sporting Mischance" and "Gym Dandy". [Back]

31] Every fanfic I've ever read has pegged Todd as a crim. So I assume everyone did their research - I've never seen him but I hated B&B anyway. [Back]

32] Anyone who saw "Wayne's World" will know where I got this from. Those of you who haven't ... go watch it. It'll give you a giggle. [Back]

33] Daria and Lynn wrote about their plot to bring Ms Li low for a Subversion_is_we writing comp in "A Hard Day's Write". [Back]

34] Or so Austin tells me. [Back]

35] Another ref to "The Road Worrier". That peanut-butter sandwich Daria sat on. [Back]

36] Another line credit to Austin L. Well, at least credit him for stealing it from "Pulp Fiction". [Back]

37] I was thinking of "Barb Wire"'s "Don't call me 'babe'" slogan at the time. [Back]

38] I think it was in "World Geek Show" that I first mentioned Lynn's trust fund. But it was so long ago I'm not sure. [Back]

39] "Happy Herb", according to Ben and to the transcript to "The Lawndale File", was the used-car dealer Trent had to write a jingle for. [Back]

40] The mandatory LHS dance at which Trent tries and fails to express his feelings for Daria in song happened in "Kiss and Tell". [Back]

41] Lynn first produced the crossbow in "Many are Culled". And Tom is first mentioned as having a BFG [or big fscking gun to the uninitiated] in "None of Your Affair". [Back]

42] This song was recorded as the bane of Jane's existence in "Antisocial Climbers". Just because the ep didn't happen in my continuum doesn't mean the event leading up to the comment didn't. [Back]

43] Nick was the one to get really stressed out about Lynn's being late for a rehearsal - "Thrash of the Titans" [Back]

44] The play - "Romeo and Juliet" - started up in "An Irony of Errors" and continued as a greater or lesser plotline all the way up to "Love's Labour". [Back]

45] There's a character in the Discworld novels called "Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler". That's her refcrime. [Back]

46] In "Blind Audition", Lynn pulls a Bryan Adams and, in standing in for a wounded Trent, plays until her fingers bleed. [Back]

47] Anyone remember Zippergate? The incident that made the most asked question in American homes be "Mommy, mommy, what's a 'semen-stained dress'?"? After that fiasco, a cigar will never be 'just' a cigar again. [Back]

48] The attack on the gang by Ms Li took place in "Liaisons". In "None of Your Affair", Jane finds out the whole story. [Back]

49] In "Sister, Sister", Quinn's gossiping about Daria's biological father reaches the wrong ears [i.e. Jake's]. That situation doesn't rectify itself until "Admission: Impossible". [Back]

50] "Terrors of the Deep" also contains barracudas, lionfish, and the rest of the sea's nastier element. *Very* much the gang's kinda place. [Back]

51] I used to 'talk' to dolphins this way. Way fun and they nearly seem to understand no matter how much you don't know the language. [Back]

52] The pic was taken in "Rue". And "spocking an eyebrow" is a Loomis-ism and used by Ben, who's a self-confessed phrase-stealer. [Back]

53] Ben says to credit "(state) State Rest Home for the Bewildered" to Tom Lehrer - it's from the monologue from Ben's copy of "We Will All Go Together When We Go". He really expanded my 'mime' gag, so give him a hand for this bit. *I* just dunked him in the tank. [Back]

54] Brother Grimace's "Shipping Overnight" wrote Jesse [and probably, by gossip factor, the rest of the band] knowing about Trent's sleeping with Lynn, Lynn's feelings for AP and AP's feelings for Lynn. As soon as I read that, I went and rewrote this scene because it really added something. Thanks, Grim![Back]

55] Forrest Gump 'rescues' his friend Jenny from a strip club at one stage early in the film. Parallel. And the "stupid is as stupid does" line goes without saying. [Back]

56] After "Misshapen Identity", "An Irony of Errors" and the rest of the 'the play's the thing' plot thread, you know Lynn can act. Deal with it. [Back]

57] Lynn's middle name is Jaquennetta, as we first hear in "Liaisons". Jackie is an acceptable short form. [Back]

58] Lynn's bookshelf contains everything Stephen King's ever written ["Sister, Sister"], the "1001 Ways to Manipulate" series ["Run Away From Homecoming"], "GTA or Getaway - The Fugutive's Guide to Auto Mechanics", ["Lady and the Tank"] "So You Finally Realised You're A Doormat" ["Grating Expectations", "Protest March"] "Hideaway -Places to Stash Incriminating Evidence that Even FBI Agents Wouldn't Suspect!" [Again, RAFH], The Art of War, Get Even and Get Even II [Ben's speculation, but he's likely right].[Back]

59] My best friend in the US was, ironically, a Brit named Leanne, who referred to the town we lived in as "Bumblefuck". A shout out to Leanne Toffell for this line - hey, if you're reading this, mail me, you silly bint! [Back]

60] Another Monty Python ref. "Holy Grail". No, we never get sick of Python, really. [Back]

61] Anyone ever shot skeet? You yell, "Pull!" and out comes the clay pigeon. [Back]

62] Definition of "Jane no baka" = "Jane's (an) idiot". Ben would have used "Jane wo baka deshita" [Jane was an idiot] but hell, he actually WATCHES anime. [Back]

63] I know that "[whatever] go down the hoooooole" comes from Tiny Toons [baby Plucky Duck, correct me if I'm wrong] but I don't know where the hell does "faw down go *boom*" came from. Both refs are used in #Daria+ when someone's connection goes down - either "cookie go down the hooooooole" or "kechara faw down go *boom*". [Back]

64] As we find out in "Mercedes Bends", AP has a fear of operating vehicular transport - mainly because the odds are high that he will crash it. [Back]

65] John Lennon, of course, died of a gunshot wound on 8th December, 1980 [and let's all thank Ben for catching my error - I had the wrong decade]. [Back]

66] Yes, this is Daria's line from "Too Cute". [Back]

67] More Monty Python - the Spam sketch this time. [Back]

68] We learn in "A Meeting of the Brains" that torture is one of Lynn's hobbies. From a purely academic point of view? We can only hope. [Back]

69] "That guy" is called Tom Lehrer - I first heard of him through my AP chem teacher. Seemed tame enough until LWB found out I liked Lehrer and introduced me to "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park". Oh, and this scene was the result of too much coffee and a Lehrer binge. [Back]

70] Apologies to everyone who's sick of the alternate spelling. I did get begged to spell his name T-H-O-M by someone 'intheknow', but refused. And the alternate codename can be put down to Ben, who suggested this as his ACTUAL codename. [Back]

71] Back in "And Then There Were Four", AP is first introduced to us as the author of "25 Sure-Fire Ways to Drive Any Teacher Into Early Retirement", shortened to "the Methods". [Back]

72] At this point I should nod to Brother Grimace's "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" - he came up with Lynn creating a Method 26 first, and it was WAY more evil than "Fun with Toothpaste" [Back]

73] AP came up with the "Purple Peril" codename for Lynn the day they met, as he tells Daria in "Hail Cullen, Well Met". [Back]

74] Remember Jane's rendition of "Ol' MacDonald" from "Jane's Addition"? Keep in mind that happened in this continuum. [Back]

75] In-joke. "I am Not Daria". She is Smoochy_Jane. Ha ha ha, right? [Back]

76] I laughed myself sick when I finally read "Goblet of Fire" and found out that Draco Malfoy's mother's name is 'Narcissa'. And of course, I'd made up Quinn's codename prior to its publication, so... I couldn't help but ref it. [Back]

77] Credit to Neo Hippy Purple at this point for looking up the name Lynn and finding out it means "beautiful serpent". [Back]

78] In "It's a Passable Life", Daria was shown Lynn in a Hertfordshire boarding school - St Francis - committing suicide. [Back]

79] And this might be a good enough time to give a shoutout to Louise Baxter, Bryony Watson, Gopi Flaherty, Libby Ward, Helen and Caroline Taylor, Jerome Green, Finn Pollard and the rest of the St Chris gang, if they happen to have tracked me this far. There should be an e-mail address for me on here - get in touch, huh? [Back]

80] Kate took off for Tokyo in the framing sequence to "Protest March", and in "Sister, Sister", Lynn bought the house out from under her. [Back]

81] Ben and I would like to inform you that you can place all blame for that store name on Jill Friedman, the Leopard Lady. [Back]

82] A "magazine", aka clip, is what holds the rounds in a firearm. I figured most Dariafans would know this without being told, but given some of the spelling we've seen in the nagmail... [Back]

83] A remora is a kind of fish that attaches itself to larger sea life so it can travel without effort and eat scraps of said larger creature's prey. Not a very nice codename, but appropriate. [Back]

84] Ballistics Ben says: M40A1 - one sweet sniper rifle. Those of you who've played Half-Life: Op-For know the one. [Back]

85] We blame this on Leopard_Lady too. But it WAS too priceless not to use. [Back]

86] The definiton of 'umfriend' is, as Ben puts it, "at least friend, maybe more. But no one is quite sure." [Back]

87] And another Ben-note: five-oh (5-0) is street talk for a cop; thus five-oh dead is a dead cop. what she's saying is that someone's gonna kill him b/c that someone *thinks* he's a cop, and it doesn't matter if they're right or not, he'll still be dead. [Back]

88] Her exact statement to him in SATSG, when this plan first got reffed. [Back]

89] "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. / He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." etc. One of those ones they say at funerals. [Back]

90] Daria and Lynn look a lot more alike without the different glasses - "Trick or Trent", "The Blind Leading the Blunt". [Back]

91] This is from the soppy Christmas classic 'White Christmas', if any of you have seen it or even care... [Back]

92] AP comes up with a knockout spray that works on dogs and humans [well, it worked on Kevin, anyway] for a project in "World Geek Show". [Back]

93] Anyone familiar with The Who's "Tommy"? [Back]

94] I've reffed this incident a few times in other fics. So here's another promise to finish "Growing Cynical" before I die. [Back]

95] "The Lawndale Witch Project" suggests AP knows how to pick SOME locks, at least... [Back]

96] According to Ben, prophecy had it that whoever undid said knot would become ruler of the world. Alexander (the Great) "undid" it with a blade. [Back]

97] The Bootlace Threat: my weapon in the battle to keep great authors writing. Oh, Ben? MEGID. [Back]

98] I think "Poetic Injustice" is when we first see this one. [Back]

99] Leia's words to Han Solo as she rescues him from Jabba's lair in "Return of the Jedi". [Back]

100] Paraphrased from "Equal Rites", Terry Pratchett. [Back]

101] Quinn's cry of anguish when she got hit by cars in Daria's "Write Where It Hurts" story. [Back]

102] "Blinking loudly" = from blink into facefault [which in turn is basically a wide-eyed, jaw-dropped stare]. Both anime terms. [Back]

103] Remember her ranting about her best side in "Monster"? [Back]

104] This is the "Speedtrapped" running gag - Daria's so-called 'timidity'. [Back]

105] This little gag started in "Gifted", and I've always seen it as comeuppance for the "Quinn's Cousin" thing. [Back]

106] In "The Blind Leading the Blunt", Daria and Lynn were Sick Sad World-ed. Again. [Back]

107] Scar's afraid that Warlock is about to say "Our chief weapon is surprise, surprise and fear, fear and surprise ... our TWO..." or, in brief, start in on Monty Python, "The Spanish Inquisition" [Back]

108] I'm really proud of this line. Credit to "Pulp Fiction" for the general set up and Terry Pratchett's "Carpe Jugulum" for the "slicing thinly from the feet up" thing. [Back]

109] Credit Chad Page for this entire scene. Sorry if I bastardised it in the editing. [Back]

110] Monty Python, "The Philosophers". For those of you keeping count, this is the sixth time we've reffed the comedy team of Cleese, Idle, Palin, Chapman, Gilliam and Jones so far. [Back]

111] The Dark Side of the Force ref courtesy the Star Wars Trilogy. [Back]

112] "Boot to the head!" is 'Warlock's fave /kick message and a sketch by the Frantics. [Back]

113] "To thine own self be true" is, of course, from Shakespeare's "Hamlet". The rest of the speech is Ben's. [Back]

114] Referring to what Lynn did to it in "Sister, Sister". [Back]

115] Again, Chad Page gets credit for that bit. [Back]

116] Monty Python, "Dead Parrot Sketch" [Back]

117] Do NOT mailflood me if I'm wrong, but I believe "Take me to your leader" is a "War of the Worlds"-ism. [Back]

118] I don't ref it often, but Lynn DID get that shark tattoo on her left shoulder blade in "Misshapen Identity". [Back]

119] Oh, take a wild guess where this is from. [Back]

120] More wisdom from Ballistics Ben: the Makarov was standard issue to the KGB. Eight or ten round clip. Takes 9mm, .380, or some silly Russian chambering. [Back]

121] "Henry V" - Act III, Scene I. [Back]

122] "Macbeth" - act V, scene VIII [Back]

123] Monopoly quote. [Back]

124] "Henry VI" - Act V, Scene VI [Back]

125] Read "Job Lots" for the background to this little exchange. [Back]

126] "Continuing absence of cerebral event" is a Loomis-ism, freely borrowed. Great phrase, Austin. [Back]

127] Star Trek. Bones. Again. Ironic or WHAT? [Back]

128] Lancelot's castle, if Ben's recalling this correctly. [Back]

129] More Terry Pratchett, "The Last Continent" this time. [Back]

130] The ones that sing o/` "Spam spam spam spam... o/` in Monty Python's "Spam" sketch. [Back]

131] Bastardisation of the famous moon landing announcement. [Back]

132] Shakespeare's "Macbeth and Poe's "The Raven". Two refcrimes in one! [Back]

133] "Muggins here" is a Britisher-than-thou and extremely sarcastic way of saying "it's down to ME, isn't it." [Back]

134] For the record, I *hate* spelling 'eep' this way. But it's how she spells it. [Back]

135] Lynn's term from "Poetic Injustice". [Back]

136] Monty Python, The BBC's New Schedule Sketch.. [Back]

137] Taken from a Robert Frost poem. [Back]

138] Thanks to SkippY, Psychic Refugee for coming up with the first name [Back]


Daria Morgendorffer et al are the creations of Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn but are owned by MTV, a Viacom company, copyright 1997, 2000. [Apparently, this is possible by 'work for hire', a concept that eludes me]. Lynn Cullen, AP McIntyre, Jerome Smythe, Bryce Merritt and other completely fictional characters, on the other hand, were created and are owned by me, one Janet 'Canadibrit' Neilson, copyright 1999, 2000. Touch my characters without consulting me and it will go hard with you. All cameo characters were used with permission. This is a "substantially transformative" derivative work, apparently [what a highfalutin way to say fanfic], and is protected by the Supreme Court's decision in re Campbell v. Acuff Rose Music, so keep the copyright notice where it is and don't post it for money. If you do so without my permission and that of MTV Networks, I WILL pull a Lynn Cullen on you. And then I'll call lawyers.