Categories > Cartoons > Daria > 15 Years On

Where’s Mulder when you need him?

by DrT 1 review

Daria is drawn more deeply into what now looks like a conspiracy.

Category: Daria - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Sci-fi - Characters: Daria,Jane - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2017-08-15 - 5106 words - Complete

15 Years On – Chapter VI
By Dr. T

Where’s Mulder when you need him?

Daria and the other associated characters are owned by its creators, MTV, et al. I am just playing.


It was a quiet afternoon in mid-December, and Jane Lane was happily painting away. Her various commercial projects were up to date and she was spending the week working on a mid-sized still life as well as making the final touches of a figure study, both in acrylics. Long practice with TJ and now Joy meant that so long as one or both of the children were playing quietly in her studio she could keep most of her attention on her painting. Fortunately, both children enjoyed (fairly) quiet playing. TJ loved assembling the large sets Legos or old-fashioned Lincoln logs he had acquired over the years into abstract jumbles, while Joy still preferred doing the same with the simpler (and slightly noisier) sets of various blocks both children had been gifted with over those same years. Jane had even used some of their assemblies as the basis for a few of her more surreal paintings.

Since Joy did so without making a fuss about it, Jane didn’t notice her carefully (as Joy didn’t want to disturb Jane) taking her latest assemblage apart and packing the blocks away in their canvas sacks. However, when Joy moved behind her, Jane was instantly aware of the change. “Where’re you off to, Sweets?”

Joy looked at Jane quizzically. “Mommy’s home.”

Jane frowned, and called out, “Daria?”

Joy shook her head. “I heard the garage door open, but Mommy hasn’t come up yet.”

It was then that Jane noticed that all the blocks had been put neatly away. Considering the number the children had, and that Joy had dumped them all out, not to mention that the last time Jane had noticed over two thirds of them had been carefully arranged, she knew the cleanup would have taken several minutes. Actually, considering how quietly Joy had done so, it would have taken well-over five minutes to accomplish if not ten, especially as Joy tended to separate the blocks into different, if often-changing, sets.

“Hold up, Joy,” Jane said seriously. She went over to the hall door, which she shut and locked. She then sat down at her computer desk and called up the security cameras. She was glad she had turned the machine on earlier.

Jane was in no ways paranoid, but Daria was at least very careful. Both knew that Daria worked in a job that could potentially lead to trouble, which could follow her home. In addition, they lived in a very upscale neighborhood, and most of the families had two-career parents while few if any had live-in servants, which meant many of the houses were empty during the day, potentially tempting for burglars. Nearly every house had notices advertising the home security companies that they hoped would protect them, and Daria had had the house well-wired for security cameras as well as the alarms. While their security was no-where near the level Ms Li had installed at Lawndale High, they were well-protected even by the standards of this neighborhood.

The two cameras in the two-car garage did not quite cover the entire garage, but one did cover the garage doors, while the other covered the doors into the main house and the over-garage apartment as well as the door to the back yard. The latter showed nothing. The first showed, to Jane’s relief, that Daria’s car was now parked next to hers, while the garage door behind her car was open. The trunk of Daria’s car was also open, and then Jane saw a puff of smoke emerge from in front of open trunk. Daria was obviously sitting on the back of the open trunk, smoking a pipe.

“Mommy must be unhappy,” Joy commented from beside Jane.

Jane looked at her.

“It’s only Thursday, and we haven’t eaten yet,” Joy pointed out.

Jane could only nod. Except on those few occasions when Daria smoked while in the field, she generally limited her pipe smoking to once or twice during the weekdays and once on the weekends, nearly always after dinner. She had done so the night before. “Let me rinse out my brushes a bit and we’ll go see.”

Joy looked pointedly at the locked door. Jane opened it, but said, “Don’t open the other door.”


Since Jane was working in acrylics, it only took her a few minutes to rinse her brushes and spritz the paints, which she then covered so they wouldn’t dry out. The pair then went down the enclosed stairs. Even before they reached the bottom door, Joy wrinkled her nose and said, “Mommy’s smoking the stinky stuff.”

Jane knew she didn’t have the best sense of smell after spending most of the day painting, even if acrylics had little smell compared to oils and paraphernalia associated with them, but a careful sniff made her agree.

Daria usually smoked three tobaccos. In the field, Daria smoked a blend called Ennerdale Flake, a medium-strength Lakeland, with moderately strongly infused with florals and botanicals, especially almond. At home, she usually smoked a different Kendal Lakeland called Grasmere Flake, a somewhat stronger tobacco with a lighter infusion of Rose and Geranium. When she was feeling a bit upset or depressed, she smoked Revor Plug, a much stronger, darker tobacco, which had a lot of the slightly smoky and bitter Kentucky blended in. Jane understood that; when she felt that way she usually drank sweetened expresso or Turkish coffee for much the same reason.

On those few occasions when she was really upset, however, Daria smoked a very different tobacco from a second Kendal company, called Black XX Rope. To Jane, it smelled like a grease fire and the one time she had tasted it, it reminded her of what the burnt fat on a grill probably tasted like. That Daria was smoking at all on a Thursday afternoon was a bad sign; that she was smoking the XX was worse.

Still, Jane was not totally surprised. Daria had gotten a call the previous Sunday evening, informing her that she would be needed to help with a massive find that week. She had put in long hours on Monday and Tuesday, and then another major case had come in, and she had worked even longer the night before. In those three days alone, Daria had put in over a full week’s work. That she was home before 2:00 was both a sign that her active part in the cases were over and that she was likely exhausted and needed some help relaxing. Her pipe-habit was not a good one, but under similar circumstances Jake would have likely downed a large pitcher of Martinis far too quickly, while Helen would have had at least one too many Margaritas. Smoking might be bad, but smoking one bowl of tobacco not as bad as that much alcohol over a short period. However, Jane would have expected that if Daria had a bowl under these conditions, it would have been the Revor, not the XX.

Joy ran over and stood in front of her mother. Daria, who had seemingly been lost in an internal fog, immediately noticed. She sat her pipe down and accepted a hug from her daughter. Jane was glad to see that Daria came out of whatever internal mindscape she had been in – that wasn’t always easy for her to do. She was also glad that Daria was smoking a fairly small-sized corn cob – she had feared Daria might be using one of her larger pipes.

“You’ve had a rough week,” Jane said. “Is it over, or just for today?”

“Eh, just for today really. I’ll have to go in tomorrow and finish up some of the paperwork, but if nothing new pops up I’ll hopefully be done by lunch.”

Since Daria was now looking at her, Jane mouthed, ‘Bad?’

Daria merely nodded. They would talk later that night.


Joy of course always went to bed first. When Jane had tucked TJ in half an hour later, she was surprised to find the master bedroom empty. However, the bathroom door had been left open a crack, and faint light was showing from inside.

Jane frowned; Daria had taken a shower that afternoon and she only left the bathroom door opened at all if Jane was invited in. So she made her way in, and saw that Daria was enjoying a deep bubble bath, and had also lit two candles. “Looking for company?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t say no, or you can just sit and we can talk.”

Jane simply stripped and entered the tub so that she could sit behind Daria. Daria leaned back and Jane wrapped her arms around her partner.

“Want to tell me what was so bad this week, beyond a lot of hard work?”

“No, but I need to,” Daria answered. “The first case, I was called in by the regular unit. The Bureau had been called in because the locals were just overwhelmed. Neither the town nor county involved had the resources. The ‘alleged’ perp seems to be a combination of Norman Bates, Hannibal Lector, and the crazy nephew from ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’.”

Jane thought about that. “A motel operator who killed people, ate them, and then buried the remains in his basement?”

“Yeah, a rundown old motel, mostly used by transients or by locals who paid for a room by the hour. Over the last ten years, he killed at least fifteen young women, probably mostly prostitutes or other pickups who stayed after their partner left the motel. He’d slice off and cook their buttocks and sometimes their breasts. There was a dirt floor in the cellar under the actual motel rooms, and he was burying them there. The ground wasn’t damp at all, and wasn’t acidic, so even the oldest hadn’t completely been reduced to a skeleton. At least it doesn’t seem that any were tortured.”

“Still . . . yech. They caught him?”

Daria nodded. “In the act of cooking dinner, and we’ll leave it at that.” Jane was glad to do so. “No remorse; he might technically be insane.” Jane merely nodded; she knew that there would be no details about the location or criminal. “It’s cases like this one that reminds me why I’m glad not to be in the regular unit.”

Jane merely hugged Daria a bit tighter. “What made this worse than some of the other cases you’ve dealt with? The number? The selfish insanity? You’ve dealt with worse.”

“Yes, but not often,” Daria replied. “Most of the cases I see are from people who got lost in some wilderness area, or who were killed and then dumped there. Except for the three times someone accidentally dug up a forgotten cemetery or that one Indian burial ground, I don’t really have to deal with multiple bodies except when assisting the regular unit. Most of the time, I have to deal with death, not barbarity.”

“Is there more than that?”

“Having to deal with the last two days right after the motel bodies,” Daria answered. “Jane, it was an Artie, maybe a genuine Artie.”

That startled Jane, to say the least. ‘Artie’ was their new personal code word for something that had to do with alien conspiracies, while a ‘genuine Artie’ could mean actual alien involvement.

“Really?” was all a startled Jane could say.

Now it was Daria who merely nodded, before going on, “I don’t know who stumbled on a lab; it wasn’t regular law enforcement or the Bureau. Maybe it was one of the other Federal agencies looking for a drug lab? In any case, I was called in ten minutes after I got to work yesterday and got there just as several unmarked cars were leaving. Air Force security people had just taken over the site.” Daria sat up and let out some of the cooling bath water, before adding some more hot water.

Snuggled back into Jane’s arms, Daria continued. “At first glance, it looked like some mad scientist’s laboratory.” She gave the last word its British pronunciation. “It was clear, whoever was using it was dissecting people – there were two complete bodies that looked like they had been expertly opened up like in an old-fashioned med school anatomy lab. There were three other partial bodies. There were two other rooms, one some sort of reception area. The other, along with the dissection room, had all sorts of what looked like the right equipment for a full range of testing, right down to basic DNA sequencing, and a number of seemingly-linked computers.”

“That’s a fair number of conditional statements, even for you,” Jane commented.

Daria nodded. “Imagine you walking into an artist’s studio, where you first see three finished photorealistic oil paintings and two others that were partially completed, and all sorts of paint tubes, bottles and cans of mediums and varnish, brushes, rags, and all the other assorted paraphernalia.”


“Then you notice that all the paint seems equally very fresh.”

“Not possible. In photorealism, you end up working on small areas at any given time. While they might not be completely dry, they can’t all be equally fresh, at least not very fresh.”

“Exactly. Then you notice that even though there seems to be more paint tubes than any artist, even you, could use, most of them aren’t oil paints, and the acrylics, water colors, and other tubes are jumbled up together, and what oil paints are there don’t explain more than a third of the fresh paint. Most of the brushes are too large or coarse to produce such fine work, or both. There are even a few paint brushes you’d only use for house paint mixed in. Could you believe what those paintings were telling you about the studio?”

“No,” Jane answered firmly.

“Most of the lab equipment was old, and in fact most looked like they hadn’t been used in years. It turned out over half of the electronic equipment wasn’t even plugged in, although some radiation detectors in the autopsy room were still on. The chemical equipment was dusty, and most of the bottles of chemicals were either unopened, out of date, or both. The computers appeared to be linked, but again, just by looking behind them, it was clear that none were linked or even plugged in, although there was an empty spot where a laptop might have been. It made for an effective staging of a two-room medical lab, but it was not a functioning one. However, some testing of the floor showed that the one area near the autopsy tables where there seemed clear had various objects at some point – nearly all of whatever real equipment there was before we got there had been removed.”

“But you had the bodies.”

“And the bodies were real, not props, otherwise I might have thought we were in a set for some indie film project. And yet, the bodies, even the newest one – the dissection was about eighty percent complete – had all obviously been preserved, but not with anything I could recognize, and more importantly as of early this afternoon, the lab can’t figure it out either. The older bodies were perfectly preserved, and seemed only hours old, which they couldn’t have been. Testing revealed plenty of blood had been cleaned off the dissecting table the latest body was on, but there were no bodily fluids of any kind around and no signs of how it had been disposed of. Not counting the bodies, there were only two objects left leaving any clue. One was a small device which I couldn’t identify and was not allowed to touch, and one was an antique scalpel, which was left next to the body. And by antique, I mean mid-Victorian, the kind a real high-class surgeon would have had as part of a set.”

“Still, why an Artie, let alone a genuine one?”

“I don’t know of any method or combination of methods which would leave the bodies in that good a state of preservation,” Daria simply stated. “There was nothing present which could have generated the sort of radiation levels the detectors were designed to detect, and be protected from. A few months ago, I would have imagined some mad scientist scenario, but under the current circumstances, alien tech if not aliens seem a less unlikely scenario. Is it likely? I don’t know.”

“Maybe you’ll find out a week from Saturday.” The C-3 team met four Saturday afternoons a year. When a solstice or equinox fell on a Saturday, they met then, otherwise they would meet on the previous Saturday, which was a week from the coming Saturday.

“I guess we’ll see if this in mentioned, or maybe if I’m asked to come in early.”

Daria was not surprised to find a message waiting for her the next morning, asking her to attend an earlier meeting, three hours before the regular C-3 meeting.


The meetings were not held in the same building Daria and Jane had visited, but in an equally anonymous Federal building, one which again held various support offices. However, this building had been built in the 1950s, and the subbasement had been built as a fall-out shelter for government officials. It was therefore considered secure, and also had two conference rooms and a small auditorium.

The early meeting was already going on in the larger of the two conference rooms when she arrived. She saw another person was already waiting, the lead scientist/technician who was in charge of the tests on the cadavers recovered in the lab site; therefore she knew him slightly. They merely smiled slightly in greeting, and they both sat down to wait the few minutes until their appointed time to enter.

Only a few minutes past 10:00, the door to the conference room opened and the two were ushered in. There where 29 people seated along the far side of the long conference table, which had 30 seats. Daria saw that the group was predominantly military officers, all at least with the rank of full colonel (for the army, air force, and marines present) or captain for the one of the two naval officers. Of the officers, Daria only knew General Springfield. She also saw that the Director of the FBI and the Secretary of Homeland Security were seated with the one empty seat between them. She hoped this did not signify any problems between the two, as in most ways she answered to both.

She and the other scientist were seated across for the panel, and it seemed like General Springfield was chairing the meeting as he was the person who spoke up. “Doctor Reese, we were wondering if you had anything more to report about the bodies found.”

Daria nodded, saying, “I said in my report that all the bodies were dissected according to the same general plan. I did some research, and can say that the plan is the same as an older general format. This format was developed in Britain during the Victorian era and widely adopted in most of the anatomy texts used by medical schools through the 1960s. The actual pattern exactly matched one of the later formats, which came out of Germany in the 1930s. I should also point out that while the patterns were the same, there were multiple options for which organs should be emphasized – that is, choices made as to what was cut and what was exposed. In all five cases, the reproductive system was highlighted. I of course can’t say if either is significant or not. The marks left by the exchange of blood for the preservation fluid also match standard industry practices which were used as early as the 1920s and which are still common today.”

There were several nods, and the General asked, “Assuming for the moment that the people doing the dissection were human and then assuming they were alien, what conclusions would you draw?”

“To be honest, if they were human, I can’t really see the point of their doing this at all. There are straight forward classes available which would give anyone the same, and perhaps slightly more up-to-date, information. I can’t put forward a theory which would explain why anyone would need to practice this unless they were training to be a physician, and any medical school would provide the training more fully than anyone could learn this way on their own or even under most types of supervision. However, if it were done for either reason, then it would imply that the person doing the teaching had been taught this method of dissection. Anyone trained under the American version could have gone through this method up through the 1960s; anyone undergoing training in a European medical school could have done the same as late as the 1970s or even the early 1980s in some places.”

“And if it was aliens?” one of the army officers asked softly.

Daria shrugged. “The obvious answer would be that they had acquired the texts earlier and were using this methods to check to see how accurate they were, or were using the texts they had available to explore human anatomy.” She frowned. “At the most obvious if possibly absurd level, we seem to have the choice between a mad scientist or group, who may have chosen what could be called a Nazi methodology, or aliens. Neither is a very comfortable choice.”

After a moment where there were no questions, Springfield turned and asked, “Doctor Proctor, what is the latest on the ‘preservation fluid’?”

“We were able to determine a bit more since Doctor Reese examined the bodies,” he answered. “As you know, neither Doctor Reese nor we were at first able to determine the cause of death. We now know that the blood was not immediately exchanged for the fluid. There was at least a four stage process, more likely more. In the first step, the blood was exchanged for an artificial plasma. A bit of this fluid was found in some of the smallest blood vessels and it has some differences with anything produced that we know of. This was then exchanged for a mixture of the plasma and the fluid, perhaps multiple times with increasing amounts of the fluid, although we cannot be sure of that. It was this process that caused death. At some point, the bodies were heavily irradiated, which helps account for the state of preservation. While we have the chemical formulae for the two fluids, we still have no idea of how they, especially the embalming one, would actually work—we have nothing like them on record. Just as Doctor Reese noted in her reports, the machinery present could not exchange the blood for either fluid, nor was there any machinery or mechanism present which could have irradiated the bodies. Either these were done elsewhere, or that was what at least some of the missing machines did.”

“Please keep up your fine efforts, Doctor Proctor. Doctor Reese, could you please stay a moment?”

Proctor realized he was being dismissed, and so reluctantly left. When he had left, Springfield said, “Doctor Reese? If you could take your seat on this side of the table?”

Daria blinked in surprise. “Excuse me?”

“Doctor Reese,” the Director stated firmly, getting her attention. When he saw he had it, he pointed at the vacant seat between himself and the Secretary.

“Why?” she asked the General.

“We have a situation,” the Secretary told her before the General could. “There is at least a chance we are dealing with an alien threat, one which may or may not have, well, let’s call them ‘medical overtones.’ As a group, we consider policy recommendations. Some of the military people, the Director, and myself have people who may have to deal with the situation on the ground. You are, like it or not, one of the people who may have to be called in deal with this on the ground as well, and you are certainly a medical expert. We’ll be talking to some of our other people on the ground separately, but you’re already here.”

“Yes, sir,” Daria replied, almost meekly. She was well aware that in any flowchart of this group, she was occupying the next-to-lowest level at best (since she didn’t know what the role of the air force captain at the door was).

Springfield picked up a small laptop from beside him and opened it up. From her new vantage point, Daria could see there was a large view screen on the wall now in front of her. “Everyone here knows the basics: we have been visited multiple times in the past and there are visitors at least as close as the asteroid belt on the opposite side of the sun from us some if not most or even all of the time. Some of you, especially Doctor Reese, know little more. Few know all of this. I hope you can bear with us.”

The view screen sprang to life. “We seem to have more than one type of visitor. There are five different varieties of capital ship, which at least implies the possibility of at least five different types of alien cultures. Three have been fairly common, at least compared to the other two.” The screen showed five images: two blurry photos, two drawings, and a computer graphic. There were no real details, but the ‘ship’ was a near-globe, as if the top and bottom 10 percent were flattened. “These globe ships have never been spotted closer than the asteroid belt, and mostly are out past Uranus, and even then mostly before 1970. They vary in size, and have given amateur astronomers some false positives for larger asteroids or even minor planets. The largest of these is estimated to have been about a quarter to a third the size of our moon.” Daria was not the only person shocked at that.

“So far as we know, there are no smaller craft from these ships that have visited Earth itself.” The screen changed, and the photos/computer renderings of these ships would be identified by most people. It was a variation of the classic ‘Star Trek’ saucer attached to a cylinder, which in turn had engine nacelles, only these had four nacelles attached to an assemblage which in turn was connected to the saucer. “These ships have been fairly rare, actually the next to least common of the five. However, if these landing-capable-craft go with them. . . .” Now the screen showed a variation of the classic ‘flying saucer’ – a disk with a small engine assemblage of some sort covering about an eighth of the disk. “These are by far the most common of the so-called ‘teaser’ or ‘visitor’ craft, accounting for over three quarters of the total claims, and just over half of the verified ones. Of course, just because the capital ships and the atmospheric ships have saucer shapes, that does not mean they have to go together. We have evidence for five different general types of capital ships and four kind of atmospheric ones. They could go together in any combination.” This gathered some understanding nods.

“Of course, the aliens associated with these crafts are the classic ‘ETs,” sometimes called ‘Striebs’. These are the only aliens connected with the few known abductions, and most of the popularly associated ones. The other aliens encountered come from these crafts.” The new images showed what looked like elongated versions of the classic Star Trek shuttles, except with two narrower nacelles above the body along with thicker ones on the landing supports. “These aliens seem to be tall and bulky, and in some sort of environmental suits. It was these aliens that Roosevelt and Hoover encountered. They may be associated with the previous capital ships – note that both have four nacelles – or with these ships.” The new images were for the large block ships Daria had seen an example of. “These large ships are the second most common, but the shuttles are one of the two least common we have records for.”

The screen cleared and then showed two different shapes only. “These two types of capital ships are less uncommon but still fairly rare, and have only been glimpsed in the asteroid belt.” One looked rather like a large slipper, the other a pointed cylinder. The screen cleared again, and was replaced by what looked a bit like the ships from the old 1930s Buck Rogers serials, a pointed cylinder with engine pods on the back. “These are new. One was seen briefly in lunar orbit about six years ago, and reports of similar craft are rare.” The next screen showed what looked like an egg with eight small nacelles near the rounder end. “These are actually the second most common of the confirmed sightings. The one report we have of the occupants would link these to various robotic probes about the size of a riding lawn mower and a flying drone with about a meter-wide wing span that have been spotted over the years.”

The screen went blank. “If the reports of the Striebs are accurate, they’ve conducted up-close research on us in the past. They wouldn’t seem to need to dissect people. The aliens in the suits seem to have examined the people contacted with some sort of scans – both Roosevelt and Hoover reported being bathed in lights from devices held by the aliens. These halted for a while, but recently, aliens which may be the same or may be a somewhat shorter species in equally bulky suits, have been reported, perhaps associated with the probes, although that isn’t certain. The probes seemed more interested in examining our communications grid. The few reports of the cylinders, however, have been associated with some destruction – six vehicles, two cars and four trucks – and three isolated homes. The twelve people associated with those incidents are still thought to be missing.”

“Not totally accurate,” the FBI director said softly. He swallowed nervously and stated, “Four of the five bodies found in that lab have been identified. All four were missing from these incidents, even though the oldest of them had been missing for nine years.”
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