Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
A dual PPMB Iron Chef response, I Challenge You from DJW that included permission for characters from his martial arts AU, plus [1) the title of a martial arts movie must be used as either a quote or something similar 2) some form of reference to power rangers 3) something must explode]. This also is a response to The Bard Spinning in His Grave. An alternative history and crossover:
Band of Bothers
O for a Muse of fire, that would descend
The greatest depths of insanity.
A college for a stage, students to act
And readers to behold the dreaded scene!
Then should the implike Clovis, like himself,
Assume the port of Discord; and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hamsters, should fist, sword and fire
Crouch for unemployment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unwashed writers that have dared
On this unworthy message board to bring forth
So great an object: can this post hold
The vasty theatre of Raft? or may we cram
Within this browser O the very comments
That did affright the air from Our Heroine?
O, pardon! since a crooked word may
Replace in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this least attempt,
On your imaginative minds work.
Suppose within the confine of these frames
Are now confined two aberrant AU's,
Whose high warpage and nuttered writers
The perilous ocean no longer sunders:
Piece out our screwups with your thoughts;
Into a several parts divide on man,
And make imaginary almost real;
Think when we talk of Beetles, that you see them
Printing their humble tires o' the mocking pavement;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must garb our students,
Drag them hither and yon; jumping o'er days,
Turning the accumulation of many weeks
Into an hour-glass: for the which we forgot to supply,
Admit me Chorus to this disaster;
Who prologue-like your humble mercy pray,
Gently to read, kindly to remark, our play.
Daria settled into one of the theater seats at Raft. A lazy contentment settled on her as she started the second week of summer session. Survey of Theater. I've already read most of the plays listed in the syllabus. Jane will enjoy meeting the theater trash and I get an easy A.
Professor Paine read from his notes. "One question, does anyone here have any background in speaking French?"
Daria, one other woman, and several of the males raised hands. As one of only four women in the class, she felt a little singled out.
Prof. Paine smiled and scribbled a bit on his notes. "Okay, I have the student production cast. Because of the large preponderance of males in the class, I chose the Bard's Henry V." He began to read through a list of men for each part, reaching the female roles at the end. "For Nell Quickly, Ms. Wendy Anderson; Alice, Ms. Sandy Devers; Queen Isabel, Mrs. Janice Tolen; and for Katherine, Ms. Daria Morgendorffer."
Daria sat up straight. "What? I wasn't aware that I auditioned."
"Last week's readings were all auditions."
"But…I don't have…"
"That is why this is an introductory course. Besides, you and Sandy are the only women in the class that can speak French."
"Wonderful. This is a great part to get your feet wet with."
"But…I only wanted…"
"Ms. Morgendorffer. This is your assignment. Do the role, or fail the class."
With a grimace, Daria said, "Um…okay, you win."
"I thought you'd see things my way."
"Slap one on and go. Caffeine patches, the latest craze for students. Next, on Sick, Sad, World."
Daria looked at the television. "Better not let Jane see that."
"See what?" Jane Lane called from the front door of the south Boston apartment they shared.
"A new delivery system for you."
Jane looked at the television. "Those things? They don't have enough caffeine to jumpstart a mouse."
Daria rose from one of the folding chairs that constituted the total extent of seating in the room. "I better get back to learning lines."
"I got stuck with a part in the class play. If I refuse, I fail."
"Bummer. So, what'd you get?"
"Katherine, in Henry V."
"You don't look like Emma Thompson."
"Hey, it's one of the things I do best."
"Not only that, the director envisions a different look to the play."
"He's doing it as a Kung-Fu flick."
"A martial arts movie. Kicks, punches, improbable wire work. Oh, and everyone will wear medieval Japanese costumes."
Jane grinned. "I've got to see you in a Kimono."
"At least I didn't get the part of Quickly…they're dressing her up as a geisha."
Prof. Paine waved a hand to the side of the stage. "I'd like to introduce your martial arts choreographer, Mr. Clovis Lee-Daniels."
A young man with piercing eyes and black hair held in a long braid protruding from under a cap walked on stage. He said in a precise English accent, "Please, call me Clovis. So, these are the vict…students?"
Prof. Paine introduced the various cast members; Clovis raised an eyebrow at hearing Daria's name.
While everyone was packing up, Clovis approached Daria. "Did you, by chance, live in Lawndale a year or so ago?"
Daria warily answered, "Yes."
Clovis rubbed his chin. "When we were seniors, a mate of mine dated a girl by the same name…do you know Tom Sloane?"
Daria was a little surprised, but recovered quickly. "You must be one of the 'friends' he made sure I never met."
"Well, after we met the girl he dated before--Jane, I think, was her name--he swore he wouldn't allow us near anyone he dated. He reiterated that after we accidentally blew up his Pinto."
"He said his dad had it towed away in the middle of the night."
"That is the literal truth. Mr. Sloane had the burned carcass towed away overnight."
"And I thought he led such a sheltered life."
Clovis gave her a one-sided grin. "Tom…sheltered?" He rapidly moved his right arm up at his side and swept it back. The motion intercepted a thrown drink cup, deflecting the cup but knocking the lid off, allowing much of the liquid inside to continue on its original trajectory.
Jane yelled from across the stage, "What the hell are you doing here?"
Soggy, Clovis turned in surprise. "Jane?"
"Uh…I'm the fighting choreographer."
"Choreographer? Well, I suppose that is a step up from randomly getting into fights."
"Those were not random fights!"
Daria looked from one to the other. "My, you seem to have made an impression on Jane."
Jane looked from Daria to Clovis. "This man is a psychopath. That night Tom took me bowling with his friends…"
"Clovis did imply something went wrong…"
Clovis extended his hands to the side. "They picked a fight; I only defended myself."
Jane pointed her thumb at Clovis. "He beat the crap out of a small biker gang."
Clovis shrugged. "Better than them beating the crap out of me."
Jane narrowed her eyes. "Depends on your point of view."
Clovis leaned back, a little defensive. "Bloody Hell. They were trying to hit on you."
"And Tom and I were leaving quietly."
"You shouldn't have needed to."
"But we weren't welcome back because of your actions, especially after your green-haired friend used the..."
Daria interposed. "This is all very interesting, but can it wait?"
Jane shrugged. "I guess. I've waited this long to chew him out. Tom wouldn't let me near him after."
Clovis said, "Look, how about a peace offering. I'll buy you both dinners, as long as you don't mind the Chinese around the corner."
Jane looked at him suspiciously. "It's not a 'Good Time' franchise, is it?"
"Ack!" Daria yelled as she desperately jumped over the naginata blade. "Careful with that thing, I'm short enough as it is."
Sandy looked down in embarrassment to say, "I'm sorry."
Daria took a few moments to catch her breath, leaning against the five-foot wooden haft her naginata, the two-foot blade rising past her shoulder. "I thought I was getting a lazy afternoon with this class. I'm working out more than I did in my freshman P.E. classes."
Clovis walked up and clapped his hands together sharply. "A little more practice, girl talk later."
Daria glared at Clovis. "How would you like one of these fitted nasally?"
He grinned back. "You're welcome to try."
"Can't we at least use some kind of practice weapon?"
"You'd get used to the weight and balance of it, only to have to relearn once you got the final prop. That can be more dangerous than starting out with the real thing."
"Why the hell are we doing this? Alice is supposed to be a lady-in-waiting, not a sparring partner. How is she supposed to teach Katherine English while swinging that farm implement?"
"Hey, talk to Prof. Paine. He wants almost continual martial arts action. I'm only doing what I was bloody well hired to do."
"How did you get this job?"
"He couldn't beat my price."
"A year's supply of ramen noodles. Now, pick up from where you left off."
Daria recited as Katherine as she brought the naginata blade to a guard position:
"De foot et de coun! O Seigneur Dieu! ce sont mots
de son mauvais, corruptible, gros, et impudique, et
non pour les dames d'honneur d'user: je ne voudrais
prononcer ces mots devant les seigneurs de France
pour tout le monde. Foh! le foot et le coun!
Neanmoins, je reciterai une autre fois ma lecon ensemble…" With careful motions, she pointed the blade tip at each body part on Sandy in turn, who blocked away each time. Daria continued, "…de hand, de fingres, de nails, de arm, de elbow, de nick, de sin, de foot, de coun."
Sandy replied as Alice, "Excellent, madame!" and saluted with her weapon.
Daria recoiled in horror when she saw Clovis exit the bathroom of the apartment. "How the…? I don't care, just get out…Now!"
Clovis looked at Daria in confusion. "But…"
Jane looked into the living room from the kitchen. "Uh…I let him in."
"What did you do something like that for?"
"Daria…he's my date tonight."
"I thought you couldn't stand him."
"You know…after I chewed him out, I realized he was kind of cute."
"You called him a psychopath."
"I hang around with you, don't I?"
Jane took Clovis' arm. "Why do I have a feeling you're very good at loitering and vandalism."
Daria rolled her eyes and gave her good friend a small smile. "Have a good time tonight." She stretched a sore shoulder. "I think I'll turn in early tonight."
Jane gave her a wink as she left. "Enjoy your dreams."
Tom Sloane couldn't believe what he was hearing over the phone. "I thought you liked Jane."
Daria's slightly terse reply was, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You let Jane go out with Clovis?"
"Tom…she's an adult. Besides, he may be a bit of jerk to the class, but he seems to behave himself around her."
"Jane can probably take care of herself. At least Clovis isn't bringing anybody in to assist with the play."
"He mentioned somebody named Wasabi for some technical help."
"Daria…do you have good insurance?"
A young man with brown hair and thin mustache spoke as Chorus:
"Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege;
Behold the ordnance on their carriages,
With fatal mouths gaping on girded Harfleur.
Suppose the ambassador from the French comes back;
Tells Harry that the king doth offer him
Katharine his daughter, and with her, to dowry,
Some petty and unprofitable dukedoms.
The offer likes not: and the nimble gunner
With linstock now the devilish cannon touches,
And down goes all before them. Still be kind,
And eke out our performance with your mind."
Prof. Paine slapped Clovis on the back. "Are you sure this friend can give us a good cannon shot for the show?"
Clovis nodded. "Wasabi has a talent for making things go boom."
Wasabi grinned at Clovis as he opened the trunk of the Beetle. "Check out my new toy," he said as he pulled a stout tube from the trunk. "Enter the Dragon." He hefted the anti-tank missile launcher onto his shoulder.
Clovis stepped back in concern. "Bloody Hell! Where did you get that?"
"Honest Herb's Used Munitions had an incredible deal." He pointed the tube out into the harbor. "All you have to do is put the reticule on the target and hold to guide the missile." He set a harbor buoy into the sight. "Really quite…oops." With a bright flash and roar, the rocket exited the tube and flew toward the hapless buoy, dissolving it into a myriad of tiny fragments on impact.
Clovis grabbed Wasabi by the ear and dragged him to the car. "When I say drive…Drive!"
Jane was impressed to see Daria in a blue kimono with a white sash, the long naginata resting on one shoulder. Jane raised the camera and smirked. Thousand speed film and a low-light aperture. She'll never know until she sees the prints. After snapping several shots, Jane hid the camera and approached Daria. "Whoa, sexy and dangerous."
Daria looked over nervously. "Can it, Lane. I'm nervous enough."
"Break a leg?"
"That's what I'm afraid of, or of having one hacked off."
"It can't be that bad."
"Well, Sandy and I have gotten things flowing pretty well. The one I'm worried about is King Harry. I hope the wirework to get him away from the cannon shot works right tonight, or he is going to be in a world of pain."
"A little problem?"
"The blast throws him forward toward the front of the stage. Kind of a tricky angle, and he hasn't quite got the somersault right yet…"
"At least he hasn't broken any bones yet."
King Harry said,
"Then, Richard Earl of Cambridge, there is yours;
There yours, Lord Scroop of Masham; and, sir knight,
Grey of Northumberland, this same is yours:
Read them; and know, I know your worthiness.
My Lord of Westmoreland, and uncle Exeter,
We will aboard to night. Why, how now, gentlemen!
What see you in those papers that you lose
So much complexion? Look ye, how they change!
Their cheeks are paper. Why, what read you there
That hath so cowarded and chased your blood
Out of appearance?"
The characters of Cambridge, Scroop and Grey threw aside their cloaks to reveal themselves as ninjas. They drew blades and soon King Harry and his attendants were locked in combat. After a spinning kick pinned Grey against an attendant, a pommel punch knocked Cambridge against a wall, and a swift stroke stopping at his neck made Scroop stop and drop his weapon.
Cambridge pleaded, "I do confess my fault;
And do submit me to your highness' mercy."
Grey and Scroop both added, "To which we all appeal."
Harry replied with, "The mercy that was quick in us but late,
By your own counsel is suppress'd and kill'd:
You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy;
For your own reasons turn into your bosoms,
As dogs upon their masters, worrying you."
At the beginning of the Siege of Harfleur, the Chorus said, "…
The offer likes not: and the nimble gunner
With linstock now the devilish cannon touches,"
The force of the blast knocked Harry to the edge of the stage. He grasped the wire for support. Plaster, wood, shattered lights, and fragments of gridland fell onto the stage. A gentle breeze wafted through from the breach in the roof. Turning with shock, and covered with soot, the poor actor spoke as King Harry:
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead."
From their perch in the light booth, Clovis looked at the falling debris. "I think this would be a bloody good time…"
Clovis and Wasabi looked at each other and said in unison, "…to leave."
Jane looked in awe at the surprising new sky-view from backstage. "Got to give them credit for enthusiasm."
Daria looked at the panicking stage hands grabbing brooms and dust pans. "And take some away for good sense. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes when the techies get a hold of them."
Jane tapped her chin with a finger. "Somehow, I suspect that they're already out of the building."
Daria as Katherine and Sandy as Alice entered the stage, Daria in blue kimono, Alice in red. Both took ready stances with naginatas.
Daria said as Katherine, "Alice, tu as ete en Angleterre, et tu parles bien le langage."
Sandy replied as Alice, "Un peu, madame."
"Je te prie, m'enseignez: il faut que j'apprenne a
parler. Comment appelez-vous la main en Anglois?"
Sandy used her weapon to gesture at Daria's hand. "La main? elle est appelee de hand."
Daria replied in kind, while releasing with one hand to move her fingers. "De hand. Et les doigts?"
They continued amid the fine debris of the lost roof, as the faint sound of automobiles and city life filtered down from the roof over the breeze. By some hand of fate, both survived the ordeal.
With relief, Daria exited the stage after the curtain call. She smiled at Jane. "As luck would have it, all further performances have been canceled…due to a lack of roof. But, we will get full credit for our efforts."
Jane clapped a hand over her shoulder. "Now, how lucky was that?"
"I would say it was an act of God, but that would only inflate their egos."
"Hate to see things end though. Clovis has been rather entertaining."
"Jane, are you getting a soft spot for him?"
"With him, more likely a soft spot on my head, but he is fun to have around."
Sticking his head in the side backstage door, Clovis said to Jane and Daria, "Hey you two, bloody good to see you're okay. We better get going before the director finds us. Sorry about the…overly enthusiastic boom. I hope nobody got hurt."
Daria shrugged. "King Harry got a little singed; I think the roof was the primary casualty. Though, in a way, I should thank you for getting the rest of the show run canceled…"
Clovis lingered. "Whew, no injuries. You're welcome on the show ender. Bloody well glad I insisted on getting paid up front." He looked from one woman to the other. "Jane, it has been fun. I'll see you the next time I'm in town."
Jane gave him a lecherous smirk. "You better."
Clovis looked at Daria. "Next time I see Tom, I'm going to give him a swift kick in the brain-damaged arse. He screwed up letting you get away."
Daria tilted her head to one side. "Don't be too hard on him. In another reality, it might have worked between us…but in this reality, we needed to go our separate ways. Now, I'm happy with someone I never would have considered if I had stayed with Tom."
Clovis looked to the side. "Need to run. Laters." He sprinted down the loading dock and into Wasabi's waiting Beetle. Faintly, Daria and Jane heard him yell, "Drive!"
Jane looked at Daria. "Why do I see them in some kind of Power Rangers in the future…for real?"
Daria looked back over her shoulder at the hole in the roof. "That…is what I am afraid of."
Thus far, with rough and all-unable keyboard,
Our bending author hath the story pursued,
In little room confining twisted mind,
Mangling by starts the full course of the story.
Small time, but in that small most cynically lived
This star of Lawndale: Fortune made her pen;
By which the world's best sarcasm be achieved,
And of it left her mark upon the impersonal world.
Clovis, in hungry bands again accursed work
Of Lawndale and Starfield, did this rogue avoid;
The employment so many had endured,
That they lost sense and made his mind sore:
Which oft our stage hath shown; and, for their sake,
In your fair minds let this acceptance take.
Henry V by William Shakespeare.
Thanks to Kristen Bealer for beta reading.
Revised February 2005