Categories > Cartoons > Daria > 15 Years On

Hunting ET?

by DrT 1 review

Who’s Hunting Whom?

Category: Daria - Rating: G - Genres: Drama,Sci-fi - Characters: Daria - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2017-08-22 - 3666 words - Complete

15 Years On – Chapter VII
By Dr. T

Hunting ET?

Who’s Hunting Whom?

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


The morning meeting quickly wrapped up after these revelations, after a reminder not to reveal the information, especially for those attending the afternoon session of the C-3 group. Daria managed not to react to the generalities given out to this group, something not made easier by the fact that she was sitting next to her Aunt Amy. Amy wondered a bit at Daria’s body language, but attributed her reactions largely to being the only new member introduced to the group.

Daria had been asked during the first group’s lunch to stay after the general meeting and to see the Director. Again, Amy wondered about this, as except for a few of the military members, there were rarely any high ranking government types associated with their meetings, yet both the FBI director and the Secretary of Homeland Security had been present at the start of the afternoon meeting so that they could be seen as ‘sponsoring’ Daria, which had rarely happened in the past. Daria simply told Amy that while she didn’t know why they had done so, the Director was staying at least in part so he could take the opportunity to talk to her about some internal FBI politics afterwards. Daria did invite Amy to lunch the next day, which Amy was happy to take her up on before heading back to her job in northern New Jersey.

What the Director wanted to do was introduce Daria to the Associate Director of the FBI who oversaw ‘visitor’ related cases. Both assured her, without her asking, that there were no ‘X-Files’, and especially no cases associated with the alien plot-lines of the old TV show. The AD did however present Daria with a special laptop. This could not be connected any standard network; in fact the one data port on the machine had a configuration Daria had never seen before and there was no Wi-Fi capability. Other than the one unique data port and the power cord, the only other port was for earphones.

The laptop was loaded with all the medical data and such other data that the Director and others wanted Daria to familiarize herself with. Unless called for early or she finished reviewing it early and wanted a report seen (any information/notes/reports she wrote were only to be done on the machine of course), she would return it at the next meeting in March.

Daria was glad that her Melody-based series had not only been accepted for publication but was finished except for some polishing of the later novels. Working through this new information was easily taking up all the time she normally would have used to write, and some of her other free time as well. The information was not well-organized, but was rather the accumulation of over a century of reports from around the world. The most detailed came from the US and British Commonwealth and former Empire, but there were few parts of the world totally left out.

Granted, most of the information were listings of alien contact, from the confirmed to the downright silly. Daria noted that Artie had a small file devoted just to him. None of the confirmed information, however, had anything like the last incident she had been involved with. Even though a few of the ‘probable’ contacts/examinations had been somewhat intrusive, none had resulted in the death, mutilation, or dissection of people. On the other hand, a few listed as ‘possible’ had included the death and/or dissection of some animals. None, however, had been treated with the preservative methods the corpses had been. Daria’s conclusion was that while the dissections she had been called in on had actually been caused directly or indirectly by aliens, those aliens responsible were likely new to human contact.

Therefore, one thing Daria searched for was information about attempts to contact the aliens. While there was a file on SETI and similar attempts, she couldn’t find anything else, which made no sense to her, unless such information had simply not been included. Surely, at some point at least one (and likely many more than one) government agency from some country had to have tried to contact ships in areas where they knew there should be ships hiding. It was not unreasonable to think it was at least possible that those other cultures which might be interested in the solar system if not the Earth itself might be willing to at least prevent people from being killed, for no other reason than to lessen the chances of their presence being known to a more general public. However, no such file existed. Daria could only draft a memo on the subject and leave it in the folder where her comments could be stored.

Daria was glad she could turn the annoying laptop over to the AD in early February, and concentrate on what was personally important to her: Valentine’s Day with her partner and family; and professionally, the release of the first of her rewritten Melody Powers novels. While she knew there were likely important events happening someplace connected to the files she had returned, she could only hope they would not directly affect her or her family.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Daria was happily digging through the mud. To be precise, she was using a trowel to clean up the damp subsoil, one thin layer at a time, which was underneath the skeleton she had just removed. As she did so, with a motion long perfected, she scooped the now-loosened material into a small tray. Once she was finished going down on this layer, she would hopefully have removed at least three undisturbed layers. At that point, she might have finished the excavation, although she would still need to run the material from each tray through a sieve with a fine mesh, collecting anything relevant. If there was nothing relevant in any of the three trays collected underneath the skeleton, she would be finally be finished, and could move on to the actual bones.

The body’s clothes had mostly rotted away, as had any of the flesh that had not been stripped away by other natural processes. In addition to most of the bones, the metal associated with the body (buttons, a zipper from the trousers, a watch, a few coins), only the soles and a few associated bits of a pair of Keds had remained. Daria had mentally aged and sexed the skeleton as she had removed it. Hopefully, it was the remains of a boy who had wandered off from a hiking party in the late 1970s. Ironically perhaps, she was very near where her high school camping trip had nearly been stranded by a freak snow storm.

Daria stopped stretching and went on alert as she heard someone coming down the step deer path from the camp site they had been stranded in. She was surprised when she saw it was Associate Director Mitchell, her main contact with the Contact group.

“Isn’t this a bit out of your usual habitat?” Daria asked drily, eyeing his suit.

“It is,” he acknowledged. He looked over the dig. “If this is the lost hiker and there are no surprises, will you be finished tomorrow?”

“I should be,” Daria agreed.

“Then we have a situation you might be interested in, one that you could contribute to.” He gave Daria a twisted smile. “And yes, I am here instead of waiting until you return because no one can overhear us.”

“Alright,” Daria answered. “If it won’t take long, we can talk here, but I do want to process this soil so that I will know if I have to dig down anymore.”

Mitchell nodded, but then frowned. “Obviously, you know how worrying the situation with that lab and the bodies was last fall. I am not privy to how it was done, but someone, probably the Air Force, believes they have identified three more possible sites where something similar might be going on. Obviously, there are a limited number of people who know about any of this, so keeping an eye on three sites is difficult.” Daria nodded, the more people who knew, the more likely the chance of a leak, which could cause panic. “The Air Force is looking at a site in Idaho, and aiding some friends of ours to the north in doing the same thing.” Daria wasn’t really surprised that the Canadians might have similar groups to those the US Government had, although she was a little surprised at this level of cooperation, or at least that she had been told about it. “The third site is in southwest Pennsylvania, but it’s really only about a hundred and twenty miles from here, on a straight line. A group from the Bureau and a technical team from the Air Force are working together there. If nothing happens at any of the sites to change the schedule, all three will be raided this weekend. The team could use you, in part because there aren’t any other medical personnel we can deploy there and in part because of your familiarity with the first lab.”

“The first lab was in a somewhat urbanized manufacturing area; are these?”

The AD shook his head. “All three are very rural, hunting cabins or old farmsteads in fact. If it weren’t for the fact that we could access fairly nearby hunting or fishing camps in all three cases, we would have been hard pressed to do anything.” He paused, and looked a bit indecisive.

“In other words, there are likely other possible labs that can’t be raided because any buildup of forces would be too apparent, or could cause problems with either publicity or even casualties to civilians,” Daria stated.

“I don’t know,” Mitchell admitted, “which is worrisome, to be honest. So, it does make one wonder if it’s possible. . . .”

“Or to wonder if these three are traps?” Daria speculated.

Mitchell just nodded, adding, “I have no reason to think either, but it’s part of my job to wonder about those kinds of possibilities.”

“Have a driver for me tomorrow at one,” Daria said. “If I haven’t finished, he’ll just have to wait.”

“Fair enough.”


Daria was indeed finished by the time the driver arrived just after noon. As he seemed accommodating, and they had the time, Daria had him stop in a small town on the route where she quickly did her laundry – she really didn’t want to go through the next few days without doing so unless she had to. Since the driver was also picking up groceries for the surveillance team (to fit into their cover in the hunting camp), he did that while her clothes were being washed and dried.

The ‘hunting camp’ was just a collection of five small cabins and a larger main cabin. Daria wrinkled her nose slightly when she saw the ‘facilities’ for the small cabins were old fashioned outhouses and those cabins lacked electricity. At least the main cabin had electricity from a generator, and even a shower albeit with at best warmish water and, in a separate cubicle, two toilet stalls. Daria was glad she had been able to do her laundry.

Each of the small cabins could sleep a dozen people (four sets of three storey bunkbeds). Four of them were full – two with men from the Army, one from the Air Force, and one with FBI agents. The main cabin was currently empty, but nine Special Forces people would arrive the next night and set up there. With Daria, the fifth cabin now held nine women – three from the Army, five from the Air Force, and Daria. The female major from the flight Daria had taken the previous August was in overall control, and she introduced herself as Jane Loomis.

Their target was one ridge south of the hunting camp, and was a large cabin with three outbuildings: a slightly ramshackle six stall garage; a small generator building which also housed a water pump; and what appeared to be a smaller cabin. The target buildings were set slightly back from the old logging road which also had the turnoff for the observer camp. Once past the turnoff road, the targets were a little more than a half mile further down the dirt road, just past a bend. The first building was the old small cabin, then the garage with the generator building behind it, and then the main cabin, which was set back from the access road a bit further than the small cabin or garage, but not as far back as the generator hut. The main cabin was also likely to be the only one using the electricity; or at least there was no sign of it being used in the garage or smaller cabin.

Most of the activity spotted by the observers was concentrated in the small cabin. In fact, over the many days there had been observers (a number had been rotated in and out of the camp while others had gone into the woods as if hunting, so make it look at least somewhat normal), there had been no one seen going into or out of the larger cabin, although lights had been seen going on and off.

The real surprise had been sprung on Daria that first night after dinner, when Loomis had met with Daria to bring her totally up to speed on what might be going on.

“Alright,” Daria had asked, “are those lights on a timer?”

Loomis shook her head. “No, they seem somewhat random. What we now know is that the main cabin has a cellar. Whoever is in that cabin spends most of their time in the cellar.”

Daria rolled her eyes. “A secret lab in a basement? Whoever this is, could they be much more stereotypical?”

“Sometimes these things become clichés because they work?” Loomis suggested with a shrug. “In any case, look at these.” Loomis pushed six photographs towards Daria.

A bit surprised at the hard copies, Daria had to take a moment to decipher what she was seeing. “Are these thermal images of the main cabin?”

“They are. What do you see?”

“On this one, I can see two heat sources, one an overhead light bulb, the second a person, although the image looks rather uniform. We usually aren’t a single temperature. . . .”

“This one is a photo taken in the daytime; we were just curious what it might pick up.”

“Two seemingly uniformly heated people.” Daria looked back at the first two photos she had tried to decipher again. “It’s not so clear in the first photo, but in the second, their heads look too big, and in both, the figures are rather squatish and bulky.”

“Here’s one of the figures from the second photo by itself and on a larger scale, so the minor temperature differentials show a bit more clearly.”

Daria looked at it for a moment, and then reached over to where she had seen a magnifying glass laying on the table. She examined the photo again. “Whatever that is, it’s wearing something like an isolation, or maybe insolated, suit and a bubble helmet of some sort.”

Loomis nodded. “And to give off that amount of fairly uniform heat, the outside of the suit is probably around a hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit, plus or minus three degrees. The helmet itself is a few degrees hotter . . . and the head in the center of the helmet a few degrees hotter still, around a hundred and forty-two to forty-five.”

Daria clinically observed that the hand holding the photo was shaking, although her right one, holding the magnifying glass, was not.

Loomis nodded at Daria’s shaking hand. “I see you understand.”

Daria set the photo down and managed to calmly say, “If it weren’t for the implications of the bodies found in that other lab, I would be very tempted to pack and quietly leave.”

“Is that why you turned down the FBI’s offer to become a regular agent?”

Daria nodded. “I don’t think I’m a coward, but I have responsibilities I put above going on adventures.”

“Going on adventures?”

“I won’t insult you or the others by saying ‘playing the hero’ or ‘wanting an adrenaline rush,” Daria replied. “My curiosity quotient is more than fulfilled by my normal work. Other than ‘someone has to do it,’ why do you do what you’re doing?”

“Well, it’s not to be a hero,” Loomis said firmly, but then sent on, “But the curiosity and the adrenaline probably both play more of a role than I would want to admit, even to myself. Just so I know what resources we have, are you armed?”

Daria nodded. “The same two pistols I had with me before. Is the raid still on for Saturday morning, barring any changes in the situation?”

Loomis nodded. “The Special Forces people will arrive today, and they will break into the main cabin, while twelve people back them up, and another twelve will go for the smaller cabin. Nine people will hold at the tree line on this side of the road, and act as communications. The rest of us, including you, will follow the second wave and position ourselves between the two cabins and act as needed. I saw you have your medical kit, but if we can secure the lab you might have to go in there and let the army medic take care of anything he can handle without you.”

Daria simply said, “I figured as much.” Daria’s mouth quirked. “I doubt either of us would know how to render much more than first aid to whoever is in those suits, if those reading reflect reality.”

“Granted that their capabilities are unknown, but I assure you, we’d rather have prisoners than bodies.”

After Daria went back to her cabin, she thought deeply for a few moments, and realizing at least some of things which could go very wrong, she wrote Jane and her children letters, which would pass any censors but still express her feelings for them, should anything happen.


The team Daria was on was woken up at 4:30, and shared a very quiet light breakfast. Two Special Forces teams were already leaving the compound by that time. Daria was armed with both of her pistols, and had her medical equipment transferred from her bag into a backpack and a pair of pouches on her belt. Everyone had been well-briefed on the plan and likely contingencies the night before, so there was very little talking.

It was a short, tense walk through the quiet woods well before dawn. Daria followed Major Loomis, and just before they crested the last ridge before the road and the cabins across it, their group halted. Loomis looked at her watched, and whispered, “Eight minutes before the first check-in. If anyone has to pee, go now.”

Three of the men went off in one direction, while Daria went in another to find a convenient bush to squat behind. All were back in less than five minutes.

Loomis’ radio emitted two groups of low beeps, which showed the two Special Forces assault teams were in place across the road. One would be storming the main cabin, the other would take the power generator and go towards either the smaller cabin or, if necessary, the main cabin. A third set of beeps came – this group of Air Force Security and FBI agents would be going after the small cabin and garage. Loomis then sent the signal that her group, which would also head towards the main cabin, was ready. That set in motion the timeline for the actual assault.

Three minutes later and moving low, they slowly crested the ridge and moved down the slope to the tree/bush line, about six feet from the shallow ditch on the side of the road. One of the soldiers stopped and pointed – there were six devices now visible in the matching ditch across the road – obviously some sort of parameter warning system. Once they crossed the road and over that ditch, they would set off some sort of alarm. They did not dare warn the other groups; they could only hope they noticed any similar devices before they crossed one too early.

One of the soldiers had a small hand-held device, and he showed it to Loomis – the small screen showed a thermal image. As Daria was standing behind Loomis, she could see that there were four people, obviously still in bed, in the small cabin. The larger cabin showed the two bulky figures standing over some sort of machine. They could only hope the two were occupied with something other than their presence.

Loomis flashed the group a two minute warning. Everyone checked their weapons, mostly assault rifles, although, like Daria, Loomis had a pistol.


Daria was not a sprinter, and so she was well behind the group. She was therefore barely on the road just before the first of the Special Forces crossed the alarm line. Obviously, either the alarmed area was a bit wider than they anticipated, or someone from one of the other groups had crossed the line first, as siren-like noises came from the two cabins. ‘At least that answers if someone was detected early,’ Daria thought.

Gunfire erupted from the attack area as an orange beam of light burst through one of the main cabin’s windows, just missing one of the agents. Just as the Special Forces soldiers were about to return fire, the entire area was bathed in bright white light, and Daria collapsed into the ditch she was just crossing.
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