Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. Eureka and associated characters are owned by Universal Studios. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
An It's Eureka, Daria story.
Stepping away from a well-manicured house that looked like it was straight out of the fifties, Daria turned and waved to the teenaged boy standing at the door. "See you tomorrow at school, Patrick."
"Good night, Daria," he said.
Daria adjusted her backpack and briskly walked down the street for several blocks and then cut over a couple more to reach a house that could best be described as an experimental blend of Frank Lloyd Wright and Stonehenge.
Jane Lane opened the front door and said, "Welcome, once again, to Casa Nueva Lane."
"Hi, Jane," Daria said, stepping inside.
Closing the door, Jane said, "Good study date with Patrick?"
Daria dropped her backpack on the sofa and turned. "We were studying. There was no date involved."
"If you say so."
"Trust me when I say that there is nothing romantic about Calculus."
"Are we going to talk about my nonexistent love life or are we going to do something more valuable and watch Sick, Sad World?"
Jane picked up a remote and turned on the room TV. "Priorities. Your love life can wait."
The TV announcer said, "They know your deepest and darkest secrets and will sell them on the open market! Feline telepathy, coming up on Sick, Sad World!"
Poking her head into the room from the kitchen, Amanda Lane said, "Oh, hi, Daria."
"Hi, Mrs. Lane," Daria replied.
"I was just going to ask Jane if she wanted me to order delivery from Café Diem. Would you like me to include something for you?"
Jane said, "Vincent won't let Mom near the place after she tried to use his fusion reactor as a kiln."
"I really should eat dinner with my family tonight," Daria said. "But I suppose one of his strawberry muffins wouldn't be too much."
"Jane?" Amanda said.
"Oh, I'll have a Tritium Burger all the way with those addictive sweet potato fries."
"Got it," Amanda said. "I'll call it in."
After her mother left, Jane said, "You know, it's kinda freaky having Mom and Dad around all the time. Before we moved to Eureka, they were away far more often than they were home."
"Who looked after you?" Daria said.
"Yeah. Come to think of it, I think it was more like I was looking after him." Jane shrugged and said, "Either way, it worked."
"I thought my family was weird."
"They are, mine are just weird in a different way. Though I can say one good thing about Eureka; it gave Dad a real darkroom. No more developing film in the bathrooms or storing bottles of silver nitrate in the fridge."
"I'd have thought by now that GD would've gone completely digital."
"For some things, you still can't beat large format films."
"Anyway, shh. I wanna watch this."
Pointing to the two tabby cats resting on the window sill, Jane said, "I want all the intel I can get on those furballs."
"I can see where they might want to get even with you for naming them after a dead president, but…"
"Hey, they know things. Now, hush."
When they heard the doorbell, Daria said, "I'll get it."
Intently watching the show, Jane waved and grunted.
Daria checked the peephole and then opened the door. "Henry?"
In his usual coveralls, Henry Deacon said, "Oh, hi, Daria. I was expecting one of the Lanes to answer."
"As far as I know, Mr. Lane is still at GD, Mrs. Lane is in her ceramic lab and Jane is learning about the mind reading ability of cats."
Henry pointed over his shoulder toward his tow truck. Attached to the back was a battered black van. Even a casual observer would've noticed that there was something odd about the van, like it was sitting on the wrong frame. A lanky young man with black, spiky hair and a goatee climbed out of it and started to walk up. Henry said, "He claims to be a relative."
The young man said, "Hey, you're not Penny."
Jane bolted off the sofa and wrapped her arms around the man. "Trent!"
"Janey. Cool, I found the place."
Henry said, "Okay, since you belong here, I'll drop you off and take the van back to my shop."
Trent said, "Cool."
"Do you want to give me a hand in waking up your friends?"
"Yeah, good idea. Jesse gets all confused if you don't wake him up the right way."
Jane let go and turned to her friend. "Daria, this is my brother Trent. Say hi."
When Daria continued watching Trent without reply, Jane waved her hand in front of Daria's face. "Hello."
"Like what you see?" Jane said.
Jane laughed and pulled her friend into the house. "Think I should warn Patrick?"
"Bite me, Lane," Daria said.
A couple minutes later, Trent led three more young men into the house. He looked around and said, "Nice digs. Hey, the TV even works."
"Don't light a fire in it this time," Jane said. "Oh, this is my friend, Daria."
Trent said, "Hi."
Daria waved but found she couldn't talk.
Trent said, "These guys are the rest of my band, Mystik Spiral. That's Jesse, Nick and Max."
The boys said, "Hi," and Jesse said, "Is there a burger joint around here? I'm hungry."
Max said, "You're always hungry."
Jane said, "I'll have Mom call in extra food."
Surprised, Trent said, "Mom's home?"
Watching Henry get into his truck and drive off with the van, Jane said, "What did you do to the Tank? It looks – different."
"Oh, we took the good parts off of my old Plymouth and put them on the van so that it would make the trip."
Jane said, "They're not the same brand of car."
Max said, "I'm the duct tape king!"
"It's a wonder you made it this far. Speaking of which," Jane said. "What are you doing here?"
"We're on our way to Seattle," Nick said.
"What's in Seattle?" Jane asked.
"We're on a pilgrimage," Jesse said.
Jane sighed. "Pilgrimage to what, the home of grunge?"
"I knew you would understand," Trent said.
Placing her lunch tray down first, Jane sat next to Daria and said, "So, are you going to have a little love triangle problem?"
Daria looked over at her friend. "A what?"
"Love triangle. You – Patrick – and my brother Trent."
"There's no triangle, Jane," Daria said.
"But you like my brother."
"I rest my case."
Daria said, "Okay, I find him – interesting."
"I was thinking love, or maybe just lust. Either one seems to leave you speechless around him."
"I will kill you, and recycle your body through my home."
"That's not what I usually mean when I say, 'Eat me.' Anyway, now that we've established that you like my brother, there's the little problem of Patrick."
"There is no problem with Patrick."
"Other than you go over to his house on a regular basis."
"We're friends." Daria pulled a Calculus book from her backpack and opened it on the table. "Do you want to help me?"
"Sure. I bet you've always wanted a straight C in math."
"I rest my case."
"Then why don't you study with anyone else in your class?"
"They never asked."
"Well, he did. That should tell you something."
"He was being nice to a new student."
Jane laughed. "Forget Cleopatra; you're the Queen of Denial."
"I'll leave you to your little fantasies," Daria said, "while I finish my lunch."
Before getting into the back of Sheriff Carter's SUV, Quinn waved at Daria and called, "Tell Mom that I'll have dinner with Zoe and her dad."
"Mom's going to get jealous of SARAH's cooking."
"You know that's only going to last until Mom figures out how to get frozen lasagna from the Bio-Home garden."
Jane said, "Nah, the chemical warfare sensors around town would never let that stuff through the perimeter."
"How would you know about chemical warfare sensors?" Daria asked.
"I'll just say that it involved an attempt to make my own pigments and leave it at that."
Quinn got into the car and said, "Later, Daria."
As the vehicle pulled away, Sheriff Carter said, "Tell Jake I said hi and that I hope we're still on for poker tonight."
Daria said, "I'll tell him."
After a couple minutes of waiting, Jake arrived and pulled to a stop. "Hey, kids. Where's Quinn?"
Jane was already climbing into the back of the car. "Went over to Zoe's."
Daria got in the front seat. "Sheriff Carter says to remember the poker game tonight."
"Got it written down on my planner! I hope Henry and Taggart remember," Jake said.
When Jake pulled into the driveway at Jane's place, they saw that the black van was parked, somewhat crookedly, there. The band members were slowly and inefficiently unloading instruments and gear.
Trent saw the car and said, "Hey, Janey," when it stopped and his sister opened the door.
"I see that you got the Tank running again."
Max said, "Of course. It's indestructible."
"Except when it breaks down every couple hundred miles," Nick said.
Trent saw the other passenger and said, "Hi, Daria."
She mumbled, "Hi."
Jane said, "Trent, this is Daria's dad. Mr. Morgendorffer, this is my brother, Trent."
Jake got out of the car and hurried around it. "Hey there, young man. Jake Morgendorffer. Genius Consultant."
Jane whispered, "He's a genius?"
"No," Daria whispered. "He thought it sounded better than 'Consultant to Geniuses.'"
Trent said, "I'm a musician."
"Doctor of Music, huh?" Jake said.
"Nah, I play in a band."
"A band? Wow!"
"Yeah. Mystik Spiral." Trent scratched his cheek. "Did you say consultant?"
"We really could use a gig."
"You know, someplace that'll pay us to play."
"Oh, yeah. Sure."
"Can you find us something?"
"You bet!" Jake said. "I'm the man you need."
Jane said, "I thought you were on your way to Seattle. Wait, you need more money to get there."
"Don't you think you should warn them…?"
"Yeah," Trent said. "We can be a little loud."
Jane gave up, shrugged and turned to Daria. "They can't do any more damage than that doomsday device coming up in the middle of town last week."
"Would we know if they did?" Daria said.
"You've got a point. Say, do you want front row seats while they practice tonight?"
"It has to be better than spending the night bonding with my mother, but the price she would extract is something I'm currently not willing to pay."
"She's been planning all day, hasn't she?"
Dr. Alison Blake rose behind her desk and said, "Helen, Daria. Please come in."
"Thank you, Alison," Helen said as she led her daughter into the office.
Daria nodded and said, "Hi, Dr. Blake."
"Please, we're being informal tonight. You can call me Alison."
As she took a seat, Helen said, "How's your son doing?"
"Kevin's doing very well. He's with Nathan tonight working on a new therapy." Seeing Daria's confused look, Alison added, "That's Dr. Stark."
"Ah. I wasn't aware of the level of informality around Global Dynamics."
"Habit. He's also my…soon to be ex-husband."
"That's got to be complicated."
"Daria," Helen warned.
Alison smiled and lifted her hand. "She's right. Our relationship is complicated, but I've never doubted Nathan's dedication to Kevin."
Helen reached over and placed her hand on Daria's shoulder. "Dedication to your children is always important."
"So, Daria, "Alison said. "How do you like living in Eureka?"
"It's certainly a giant leap up from Highland. There may be uranium in the drinking water, but around here, you know how to neutralize it."
"I think she's settling in nicely," Helen said. "She's already made a couple of real friends, unlike those two you used to hang around with before."
"They were amusing," Daria said.
"I swear that at times, you treated those boys more like lab specimens than people."
"Only once. Eh, maybe twice."
Helen shook her head. "It even looks like Daria's taken a fancy to a boy here in town."
"Mom, we study together. That's all."
Alison smiled and tilted her head. "I'm sure. Who is it?"
"Patrick Gallatin," Daria said.
"Nice boy," Alison replied. "Both of his parents are valuable researchers at GD."
Helen said, "Plus, she and her friend Jane are almost inseparable the rest of the time."
"Jane Lane?" Alison asked.
"She claims that is her name, but I wonder at times," Daria said.
Alison sighed. "Mr. and Mrs. Lane have been…interesting…additions to the community." Remembering something, she said, "I heard that Jane's brother is in town. Have you met him?"
Daria faintly blushed and said, "Um, uh, yes."
Alison smiled again. "I take it he's cute."
"Can we please change the subject?"
"Sure. Helen, how is your husband doing?"
"Surprisingly well. I think it's wonderful that he's already made some good connections around town. That's what he's doing tonight."
"Mom, he's playing poker. Good thing it's penny ante, because Dad's lousy at it."
Alison said, "Is he in the game with Dr. Deacon, Dr. Taggart and Sheriff Carter?"
Daria said, "That's it, and I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in this town!"
"Please don't ever mention that to Sheriff Carter or he'll start doing a Humphrey Bogart impression."
Wearing a dealer's visor, Jack Carter swiftly dealt cards while saying, "Okay, boys, time to man up for some real poker. Five-card draw with nothing wild. Crap or better to open."
Dr. Nathan Stark said, "The standard is jacks or better."
"More opportunity to bluff," Jim Taggart said with his Australian accent.
"Different opportunities," Henry Deacon said, waiting for all of his cards to be dealt before looking.
"Five-card draw is what my old man used to play," Jake said. "For my allowance!"
Also at the table, a boy of about fourteen silently listened and picked up his cards one at a time, intently studying each as he placed it in his hand. The large pile of chips in front of him belied any idea that his ability was limited by his age. In a quiet voice, Kevin Blake said, "Five-card draw. Each possible hand has a simple mathematical probability based on the combination of five cards drawn from a pool of fifty-two."
Jack said, "Can anybody open?"
Nathan threw in a chip and said, "Open."
Around the table, Henry, Kevin, Jake and then Taggart matched the opening ante. Holding the deck, Jack said, "This table's just overflowing with confidence. Stark?"
Jack dealt the cards and moved on. "Henry?"
"You'll never fill it. Jake?"
"Two, no, three."
"You're not going to fill it, either."
Seeing his draw, Jake muttered, "Dammit!"
"Give me one," Taggart confidently said.
"Done, and the dealer takes two," Jack said, completing the deal and checking the cards in his draw.
"Open with five," Nathan said, throwing in a chip.
"I'll see it," Henry said.
"Fold," Jake glumly said, dropping his cards.
"I will raise two," Kevin said, slowly counting out his chips and neatly placing them in the pot.
"The kid's not getting my money this time," Taggart said, folding.
"I'll see that," Jack said, throwing his chips into the pile. "And I'll raise three."
"Match," Nathan said.
Henry said, "I'm out."
"I will raise two," Kevin said.
Jack glanced from Kevin to Stark and then back at his hand. "Call," he said, adding two more chips.
Nathan looked at Kevin once and neatly placed his hand on the table. "Fold."
"Okay, Kevin. Let's see what you've got," Jack said, showing off a diamond flush.
"Full house. Two of hearts, two of spades, two of clubs, three of diamonds and three of spades."
After Taggart whistled, Henry said, "It may be deuces and threes, but it still beats a flush."
"How does he do that?" Jack said while Kevin picked up the chips one at a time and stacked them.
"It would be a major breakthrough if we could figure that out," Stark said.
"While we have a break," Jake said. "Is there a concert hall or something in town?"
Stark said, "There's Rutherford Hall. Why do you ask?"
"I represent a fresh, new band that's looking for a proper venue for a concert. Something hardcore."
Henry lifted both eyebrows. "Are you talking about the Lane boy and his band?"
"Mystik Spiral. That's their name."
"I'd think that Bunker 23 would be a better place for them."
"Where's that?" Jake asked.
Stark said, "That's where they used to store the experimental atomic rocket engines."
"Atomic rockets?" Jake said, excited. "You mean like Buck Rogers? When are we going to see them? Think of the marketing possibilities!"
"They had a few issues," Henry said. "They won't be going into production."
Jack said, "Why am I not surprised?"
Stark said, "I take it that this is a band that would appeal to the younger members of the community."
"You bet," Jake said.
"What do you know about producing a concert?" Stark said.
"Hey, I know about concerts. I went to Altamont!"
"They've got a local connection. They'll be great."
Taggart said, "Hey, why not. Kids always like music their parents hate."
Jack thought for a moment. "For musicians, they're pretty laid back. I don't see a problem with them performing and besides, Zoe has been bugging me about the lack of live concerts in town."
"I'm sure I can talk them into writing a Global Dynamics jingle as part of the deal," Jake said.
Nathan looked around the table. "I've got a feeling I'm going to regret this, but okay. You can use Bunker 23."
Kevin finished stacking his chips and picked up the card deck. "Seven-card stud," he announced as he started to deal.
Following Jake and Henry, Trent and the rest of Mystik Spiral looked around the old reinforced bunker in awe.
Max said, "This is awesome!"
Seeing a faded emblem on a wall, Jesse said, "Orion. Great name for a band."
Henry said, "That was the name of the atomic engine project. Don't worry; even though they built a launch pad, none of the prototypes were tested here. It was strictly storage."
Trent said, "Cool."
Running his hand along the concrete, Nick said, "Good acoustics compared to the places we usually play."
Jake said, "So, are you in?"
Trent shook Jake's hand. "It's a gig."
Joining up with Daria at lunch, Jane held up a small Mystik Spiral poster and said, "What do you think?"
"It has a tune and you can dance to it?"
"But would it get you out of the house and down to Bunker 23?"
"If I talk to my brother, I'm sure I could get you a backstage pass."
Daria blushed and very quickly said, "That's not necessary."
Jane laughed and said, "Not necessary, but fun as hell."
Patrick stopped at the table and said, "Hey, is that poster for a concert?"
"The one and only Mystik Spiral," Jane said. "Friday at Bunker 23."
"Hey, Daria. Would you like to go? It sounds like fun. Or at least a change of pace for Eureka."
Patrick smiled and stepped back. "Tell you what. Think about it and get back to me."
After he left, Jane said, "He likes you."
"So you have to choose between handsome, mysterious musician – who happens to be my brother – and cute but geeky guy that is intelligent enough to carry on a real conversation with you."
"You're not helping."
"Stating your options."
Daria said, "I liked my life before I had options."
"Or you could avoid choosing and grab both."
"You're really not helping."
"But I'm still having fun."
Daria frowned back.
Changing her tone, Jane said, "After what you told me about your old place, you have to admit that it's a huge improvement."
"So enjoy it. Go to the concert with Patrick."
"I thought you were pushing for your brother."
Jane shrugged. "It's fun to tease you, but I know him too well. The first time he fell asleep in the middle of a conversation, you'd be pissed off."
"Was that a hint that I'm boring?"
"No, it's the fact that my brother can fall asleep at any time and under any circumstances. Come to think of it, I hope he doesn't fall asleep during the concert."
"Nope, though it's amazing how someone can sleep while standing up and holding a guitar."
"So you don't want me to go out with your brother."
"A year ago, maybe. But now, I wouldn't do that to you."
"Thanks. I think."
Seated at the dining table of the Bio-Home, Daria opened her calculus book, but set her pencil aside. "Patrick, I've been thinking."
Across the table, he was still taking his book from a backpack. "About what?"
"The concert. I think I'd like to go."
"Great!" he said.
Daria dryly said, "Okay."
"Don't get too emotional on me."
"I don't want you to read too much into it."
He offered his hand to shake. "We're going as friends. Agreed?"
Daria shook his hand. "Agreed."
"Yes!" Jane said after Daria told her about the date. "I knew that there were a few hormones hiding in there somewhere."
Daria sighed and said, "What is your fascination with trying to set me up with someone?"
"Because it was so obvious you and Patrick have a thing going on."
"We do not have 'a thing.'"
"Whatever you say."
"Then what was all that with your brother?"
"Means to an end. He's young; he'll get over it."
"Remind me again why I invited you over?"
"You didn't want to face your family alone when you told them."
From downstairs, Jake called. "Kids, dinner's ready!"
Daria looked toward the stairs. "I'm glad the house has a biohazard safety override. Dinner's a lot safer since we moved here."
Jane said, "That's encouraging."
"Let's go down and face the music. And the Penne a la Milano."
Following Daria, Jane said, "I was meaning to ask, 'What is that?'"
"Some kind of pasta. The rest we'll discover when we get down there."
Helen and Quinn were already at the table with Jake when they arrived. Helen said, "Good evening, Jane."
"Hi, everybody," Jane said. "Daria here has an announcement."
As an aside, Daria grumbled, "Thanks."
"What is it?" Jake eagerly asked.
"Yes, Daria," Helen said, more guarded.
"Jane really is making too much of a production about this."
"I do what I can," Jane said.
"Come on," Quinn said. "What can be so important?"
"Don't worry about it," Daria said.
"Oh, come on, kiddo," Jake said.
"Fine. I'm going to the concert with Patrick."
Jake, Helen and Quinn looked at her for several seconds before Quinn said, "You have a date?"
"I said don't worry about it."
"That's great!" Helen said.
"Wow, anything can happen in this town," Quinn chirped.
"Patrick? Who's Patrick?" Jake said. "Have we met him? What's he like?"
"Yes, you've met him. He's the guy I've been studying with."
"What are his intentions?" Jake demanded.
Helen placed her hand on his arm. "Jakey, calm down. He's a nice boy."
"That's taking her to a concert. I remember what goes on at concerts," Jake said.
Helen looked at Daria. "What are Patrick's intentions?"
Daria covered her face. "To run away screaming when he meets all of you again."
Helen said, "Oh, dear. I'm sorry, sweetie. We appear to have overreacted a bit."
Helen said, "Jake, why don't you tell them about your little surprise?"
"Oh, yeah! I've got special seating for everybody, even your young man, Daria."
Jane said, "Special seating? That's not next to the speakers, is it?"
"No, no no. You get to sit in the control booth!"
Jane said, "Cool. That means we won't be hit by things thrown at the band."
"Daria, you're not wearing that, are you?" Quinn said in shock.
Daria looked down at her regular clothes. "Why not?"
"You're going on a date."
"I'm fully aware of that."
"Don't you want to dress up?"
"How are you going to impress your date?"
"I don't know, perhaps I will use conversation."
"That's funny, Daria," Quinn said, laughing.
Daria shrugged and walked away.
"Wait a minute. You're serious."
"I have to warn you," Daria said, "that the rest of my family will be up there, as well as Sheriff Carter, Zoe, Dr. Blake and Kevin."
"I can deal," Patrick said.
"Are you sure?"
"Nothing is ever sure. But, reasonably confident."
"Well, there they are up ahead."
"That sounded nervous."
"Okay, a bit nervous." He reached over and grasped her hand. "But a good nervous; let's go."
Jane waved at them and said, "Hola. Ready to have your ears abused in the worst possible way?"
Jake said, "Okay, everybody. Follow me. The concert is going to start in about ten minutes."
He opened a steel door and started up a set of narrow stairs. Daria shrugged and said, "That which does not destroy us."
Patrick said to Jane, "Is your brother really that bad?"
Patrick relaxed. "Good."
Zoe said, "If they're so bad, why are we here?"
"It's like a train wreck. You've gotta stop and watch," Jane replied.
"What do you think?" Jake said as he led the others into the control room of the bunker complex.
Jane said, "It looks like Mission Control."
Seated at a console, Henry said, "At one time, they planned to launch an orbital test Orion from here. It was a fairly simple matter to convert a console over to run your brother's sound system."
Jane's eyes suddenly opened wide. "You didn't do anything to the band's equipment, did you?"
Henry grinned. "I think that they can do enough damage on their own without my help."
"Whew," Jane said, relaxing.
On the newly built stage, Trent walked up to the microphone while Jesse, Max and Nick limbered up. At the mike, Trent said, "Hey, Eureka. We're Mystik Spiral."
Jesse said, "We are?"
Trent shook his head. "We haven't changed our name." Back to the audience, he said, "This first song is called, 'Icebox Woman.' One, two, three…"
The sound crashing from the stage caused Henry to wince at the control panel.
"Wow, that's really bad," Zoe said.
"I know," Quinn said. "I always thought Grunge described their clothes, not their music."
Nodding along to the beat, Jane said, "What they lack in talent, they make up for in volume."
Her hand on Jake's shoulder, Helen said, "They're not as bad as some of those bands that played at the Middleton Coffee House."
Alison put one hand to her ear. "I've played worse, but we were only twelve years old at the time."
Kevin listened without speaking, though there was a confused look on his face.
Almost half the original crowd were still around as the band howled, "Wedgie the Man! Wedgie the Man!" as Max slammed extra hard into a drum finale.
In the control room, red lights flashed and the panel in front of Patrick flashed a warning:
PREMATURE IGNITION OF ORION PROPULSION SYSTEM DETECTED. INITIATING FAILSAFE.
Jack looked over Patrick's shoulder and said, "That can't be good."
Henry looked over from his console and said, "The band's percussion must've trigged an old safety system."
Helen said, "What kind of safety system?"
"From the warning," Henry said, "it thinks one of the propulsion bombs of the Orion engine detonated prematurely."
"I've heard of the band bombing before," Jane said. "But I don't think that they've been mistaken for a bomb."
Alison said, "What kind of force is this failsafe system designed to handle?"
Henry said, "For the orbital test vehicle, each one of the bombs had a yield of zero-point-zero-three kilotons."
Jack said, "Zero-point-zero-three. That doesn't sound too big."
"That's the explosive power of thirty tons, or sixty thousand pounds of TNT."
"And it was designed to detonate one every thirty seconds."
"Okay, that sounds bad. No wonder I'm starting to hate the word 'failsafe.'"
Daria said, "Exactly what kind of failsafe does this place have?"
Heavy metal and concrete doors dropped down from the ceiling, sealing off the entire bunker complex.
"Blast doors designed to contain the detonations inside the bunker and prevent radiation leakage." Henry went over to the panel next to Patrick, saying, "We'll just override the system from here and go about listening to the rest of the concert."
Henry turned a knob and nothing happened. He returned it to its starting position and tried again. "Uh-oh."
Jack said, "Now that is one of the things I really don't like to hear around here."
"Hey!" Jake said. "I know when I say uh-oh, something's gone wrong." Jumping up, he shouted, "What went wrong?"
"The override isn't working."
"So we're stuck in here until the end of the concert," Zoe said. "What's the big deal?"
Quinn pointed at the crowd. "Yeah, the band is so loud, nobody even noticed the door things come down."
"The problem is that we're sealed in here and the bunker was designed for complete containment."
"Exactly how complete are we talking about?" Daria asked.
"Stray neutrons can't get out."
"So this whole breathing thing that all of us are doing is going to be a problem if we don't open those blast doors."
"Well, that sucks," Jake said. "Wait a minute. We're all going to die!"
Helen said, "Jake! Calm down. We're not going to die."
"Oh, good," Jake said, relaxing.
"There's simply no way I can fit it into my schedule."
Quinn said to Zoe, "That's Mom."
"Kind of like my dad," Zoe replied. "If he ever developed a schedule, that is."
Jack said, "Okay, Henry. What can we do?"
"I doubt if the band's playing is really creating shock waves as strong as a small nuclear device. I suspect that there is a loose wire in the detector that's sending a false signal. All we have to do is tighten the wire."
Jack said, "So where is this detector?"
Henry pointed to a small access hatch at one end of the room. "Inside there."
Jack walked up to the hatch. "Isn't it a bit small?"
"The main hatch is down in the main bunker. Which, unfortunately, we can't get to until the failsafe has been turned off."
Jack looked at his waist and back at the access hatch. "Henry, neither of us will fit in there."
"We'll need a volunteer small enough to crawl through," Henry said. Looking over at the teenagers in the room, he said, "That means it will have to be one of you."
Jane said, "Sorry, but back in Lawndale, I blew out the power grid for two blocks around our house when I tried to fix one of Trent's amps."
"Does that mean having to decide between cutting a blue wire or a red wire?" Quinn said. "Because I'm not real good at deciding between red and blue."
"I'm about as safe around wires as Jane," Zoe said. "Remember the VCR back in LA, Dad?"
Jack said, "We don't send Zoe in there."
Daria sighed and lifted her hand. "I'll…"
Patrick gently grasped her wrist and lowered it. "I'll go. You're not going to be able to crawl through a tunnel very well in that skirt."
"Are you sure?" Daria asked.
"I'm sure. It's not like there's a real Orion engine in there."
"I wish you hadn't said that," Jack said.
Patrick ignored the comment and said, "Just tell me exactly what I need to do, Dr. Deacon."
Henry took a couple minutes to explain what was needed and then he opened the hatch for Patrick, saying, "Good luck."
"Thanks," he said, crawling into the small space.
After he disappeared in the dark tunnel, Jane said, "Damn, talk about trying to impress you."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, just saving everyone's lives while on a first date? That's got to count for something."
"She's got a point," Quinn said.
"You, too?" Daria said.
"Looks like a little sibling rivalry," Zoe said. "Quinn gets guys to fight over her and you get a guy to save half the town. Talk about your one-upmanship."
Daria shook her head. "And people wonder why I'm so reluctant to date."
"Uh-oh," Patrick said, seeing thick, tan foam dripping from a heavy valve crossing the tunnel. The valve was part of a pipe running from somewhere deeper in the structure to the bunker area where the band was playing. There was a bent linkage connecting the jammed valve to an actuator set in the wall. Squeaks and groans from inside the valve told him it was under pressure.
"I hope I can get a signal," he said, opening his cell phone. He dialed and, after a second, said, "Dr. Deacon, we have a problem. I'm shooting you a picture."
After receiving the photo, Henry said, "Do you see any markings on the valve or where it connects to the wall?"
Patrick looked and said, "I see a plate that reads, 'Neutron Absorbent Foam.'"
"Oh, boy," Henry said. "Don't touch it."
"Very. That's why it was discontinued. If it floods the bunker, it will kill everybody."
Listening, Jack said, "That sounded bad."
Henry covered the cell phone. "The bunker was designed to be flooded with Neutron Absorbent Foam. Patrick found a broken feeder valve of the stuff and it's leaking."
"That sounds pretty cool," Jack said. "Why didn't they use something like that at Three Mile Island?"
"Because the toxic residue would've been worse than the radiation."
"What about Patrick?" Daria said.
"Just a moment." Uncovering the phone, Henry said, "Patrick, can you reach the sensor?"
"No. The valve is in the way."
Alison said, "He needs to keep an eye on that valve while we get a containment suit to him. Daria, you were willing to crawl in there before. Are you now?"
"Saving the town together. Now that's a romantic evening," Jane said. "But, you know, if the job's only a pack mule, I am in better shape."
When the others shifted attention to her, Jane shrugged and said, "I like my brother and want to keep him around."
"I'll still go," Daria said.
Helen said, "Sweetie, are you sure?"
"I might not be much for dating and all that stuff, but even I don't want the reputation that goes with someone dying on their first date with me."
"Go get 'em, kiddo!" Jake said, suddenly hugging Daria.
"Um, sure Dad. As soon as you let me go."
Zoe said, "All this is good, but do we happen to have any containment suits just lying around?"
Henry pointed to a door at the back of the control room. "I saw some in there when I was setting things up. I'm afraid that they'll be rather baggy."
"Not like I haven't done that before," Daria said, walking to the storage room. If you'll excuse me, I doubt if a skirt will work properly inside one and I'd like a little privacy to change."
Helen said, "Dr. Blake, isn't there anything else we can do besides sending a couple of teenagers into danger like this?"
Alison said, "Ordinarily, Sheriff Carter would be the one in there, but as you know…"
"My butt's too big," Jack said. "I don't like this either. Wait a minute, Jo would fit in there. I can give her a call."
Henry said, "Based on the damage I saw in Patrick's photo, we need to get those blast doors open and everyone out of there as soon as possible. We don't have time for Deputy Lupo to get here. Besides, she can't get through the blast doors."
"Dammit," Jack said, sounding a lot like Jake.
After a short delay, Daria exited the storage room, wearing a full-body protective suit designed for someone almost a full foot taller and carrying a second rolled up into a bundle. "Doesn't anyone make protective gear in a size small?" she asked.
"Special order only," Jack said. When everyone looked at him, he said, "I had to order them for Jo."
Before she could get to the access tunnel, she was smothered by Jake and Helen. He said, "Be careful, kiddo."
"Trust me, Dad. I have no intention of doing anything else."
"You can do it, Daria," Helen said.
"It's a fairly simple task, but thanks."
Quinn approached and said, "Good luck."
"Thanks, Quinn," Daria said, a little surprised.
"Though you've got to promise never to go around like that in public."
"Cross my heart," Daria said. "But if time's so important, I better get going and skip the rest of the heartfelt good-byes."
She crawled into the tunnel. After a couple feet, she turned and waved back at her expectant parents watching from the entrance. "I'll be back."
"Ow. Ow. Ow." Daria's knees were getting sore and she was tiring by the time she reached Patrick.
"My heroine to the rescue," he said.
"I assure you that I'm doing this only to escape from my family."
"A perfectly logical reason," he said, taking the bundle from her. "Excuse me; this is going to be a little cramped for me to put the suit on."
"I have an idea. Open the suit and set it on the floor. Then you can just sit down; pull your legs in and then your arms."
"I like it."
With much less fumbling than he had originally anticipated, Patrick was in the suit. "You'd better get back to the others."
"I think I'll stay here. In case you need any help."
"We can save the day together. Great way to top off a first date."
"Which means everything else will be downhill from here."
Patrick laughed. "In this town – probably not."
Patrick crawled under the valve and wiggled through to the other side. Some of the foam stuck to his containment suit in the process. "Eww, sticky."
"I saw some decon supplies in the storage closet," Daria said, watching.
"Excellent. And there's the bugger," he said, examining the detonation sensor and finding a wire had fallen loose from a screw-top terminal. "Quick fix."
"I may have found a fix here," Daria said while wiping a thick layer of dust and grime from a labeled panel set in the wall next to the pipe.
He rolled the thumbscrew tight against the wire and said, "Got it."
"Emergency shutoff," she said, reading the label.
"What was that?" Patrick said just before the valve groaned under pressure and moved a fraction of an inch, releasing a trickle of foam.
"Something I better use right now," Daria said, pulling the panel open. Inside was a red, D-shaped pull ring. She grabbed it and yanked. Like the main valve, it was also stuck from years of disuse. "Dammit! I need a hand, here."
More foam fell from the valve onto Patrick as he crawled back. "Give me a little room."
Daria slid over as he squatted next to her. They both grabbed the ring and she said, "Might as well do it on three."
The valve groaned again and the pipe rattled as the valve arm slowly started to move.
Daria quickly said, "One-two-three."
The combined force snatched the D-ring from the wall and activated the shutoff. They heard a loud, metallic slam inside the wall as a guillotine blade severed the pipe and sealed it. Just past Patrick's shoulder, the valve squealed and gave way, opening fully.
"That was close," Patrick said.
Not noticing, Daria leaned against him and looked. "Closer than my excitement allowance for the night."
Patrick said, "But I don't object to you being this close."
Daria moved slightly away and said, "We'd better get you back for decon. That stuff's all over you."
"Some of it's on you, too."
Daria closed her eyes. "Crap."
"Let's just say that a skirt doesn't fit well inside one of these suits."
"Oh. Look, all GD research personnel are required to have hazmat training. Dr. Blake should be able to help you decon."
"It's a small improvement, but I'll take it."
"Kiddo!" Jake called out as he rushed toward Daria.
Jack Carter was barely able to tackle Jake before he reached her. "Not until they've been deconned!" Jack warned.
Jake rolled free and scrambled to his feet. "That's my daughter!"
"I know," Jack said. "But wait until they get her out of that suit, okay?"
"Out of the suit."
"Oh, yeah. Bet that's a good idea."
"The brains around here tell me it is."
Daria said, "Dad, I'll be right out. Promise."
Wearing a containment suit, as was Alison, Henry said, "We'll get them back as soon as possible." After he and Alison had given the teens a quick inspection, Henry added, "Yep, you'll both need to decon."
Alison said, "Daria, we can decon you in the storage room."
Daria nodded and followed Alison into the room. There, Dr. Blake carefully peeled the containment suit off Daria, taking care to roll it inside-out to prevent any of the external surfaces from touching. After Daria stepped out of it, Alison turned her back and said, "You can get dressed, now."
"Thanks, Dr. Blake," Daria said, reaching over to take her skirt off the top of the box where she had left it earlier.
Sealing the used suit in a bag, Alison said, "That was a brave thing you did in there."
"And the two of you saved a lot of lives."
The soiled suit fully sealed into the bag, Alison peeled back her suit in the same fashion. "Something tells me that you want me to keep this low-key."
"I would appreciate it."
"But I will have to file an official report."
"I don't suppose I could convince you to use the name Melody Powers instead of mine?"
"Sorry, no pseudonyms."
"It was worth a shot. Okay, I'm decent."
Alison turned back. "Don't downplay what you did."
Daria shrugged. "It was the most reasonable thing to do."
"So it was, Daria. So it was."
Trent hit a closing flourish on his guitar and said, "We're Mystik Spiral! Good night!"
"Yeah!" Jesse said.
Watching from the control booth, Henry said, "And with that, we close down Bunker 23 as a concert venue."
Entering the room, Dr. Stark said, "I'm sorry, Mr. Morgendorffer, but they're not exactly the image we want to present for Global Dynamics."
Jane said, "Yeah, they kinda suck, but they grow on you. Like a fungus."
Dr. Stark said, "We recorded an alarm from here. Any problems?"
Everyone looked around for several seconds before Dr. Blake stepped forward. "I will explain later."
Kevin said, "They play as well as Dr. Taggart plays poker."
Alison turned to Dr. Stark. "Poker?"
He said, "I will explain later."
Collecting their pay from Jake, Trent said, "Whoa."
Nick looked over his shoulder. "We've never made this much from a gig before."
"Think of all the Cluster Burgers we could eat."
"We could buy a real fan belt for the Tank!" Max said.
"You know," Trent said. "With this much dough, we might even be able to make it to Mirage after we see Seattle."
"Mirage? Cool," Jesse said.
"We're there!" Nick said. "We'll take the art world there by storm!"
"We're going to blast them like a nuke," Max said, opening the side door to their van. "Let's get on the road."
"Yeah, we better go," Trent said. He hugged his sister and said, "Good seeing you, Janey."
"Good to see you, you oaf. Why do you have to take off so fast?"
"We're like rolling stones and don't smoke the moss," Jesse said.
"That explains it," Daria said.
"We're a band on the move, Janey," Trent said. "It's what we've gotta do."
"Who broke Mom's pottery?" Jane asked, deducing the reason for their hasty exit.
"She doesn't know, yet," Trent said. "Better that way."
"I'll tell her a strange ground tremor from GD hit the house. Again."
"No problem, Trent."
The band climbed into the van and after Trent closed the driver's door, he said, "Don't worry, we'll be back."
"When you get hungry enough or need laundry, I know," Jane said. "Take care, you slacker."
"Later," Trent said with a wave as he drove away.
To Daria, Jane said, "There goes your last chance."
Daria half-stepped to be closer to Patrick. "I like my chances here."
Jane smirked and said, "I need to get me one of those."
Thanks to Louise Lobinske and Kristen Bealer for beta reading.
November – December 2010.