"Fill out this request form and return it to the window to the left, dearie", the shrewish clerk told Daria.
"Sure thing. Nothing like filling out more forms to liven up the day."
For the fifth time in just the past twenty minutes, she muttered a string of deprecations under her breath about the cruel fate that brought her back to Highland High for the day. Somehow, both the Lawndale High adminstration and the usually diligent Helen had lost their copies of her student transcripts from Highland, and the school board policy required that new requests be filled out, in person, at the school itself.
Cruel fate. She had the distinct feeling, a feather-light hint on the winds of Time, that fate was indeed involved. Not only did she have to return here for this, but - at the exact same time - Trent's band, Mystik Spiral, gets an offer to play here. Just out of the blue, they got an offer for a paid three day gig in some dirty dive thousands of miles from Lawndale, in the same cruddy town Daria happened to need to be in. Both she and Jane knew better than to think it was coincidence, but she couldn't figure out what was going on, and that bothered her more anything.
She chose a table a bit out of sight, and with a bit of concentration, caused time to compress slightly. She figured that, that way, she could have the form filled sometime before the end of the year. With a sigh, she started answering a series of pointed questions that were, to her eyes, in no way related to whether or not she had the right to ask for her own school records.
I hope things are going better for Jane and Trent, she thought.
As the Tank pulled into the front of Danny's Roadhouse, Jane declared, "Well, its sure nice to see you guys play in such a classy joint for once. I'll bet they serve their Perrier at just the right temperature."
"Hey, Janey, at least were getting paid for it this time," Trent replied.
"Whatever it is, it isn't enough. I hope you set aside money for some bodyguards."
"Naah, a place like this'll have a cage for us to play in. Should be safe enough."
"Maybe they should have a cage for the clientele, too. Most of'em probably belong in one." Jane scowled. She'd had mixed feelings about this weekend ever since Trent mentioned it to her, but she felt that she couldn't pass up going along. The fact that Trent's little-known band got an offer to play in an obscure Texas border town - the same one that Daria lived in for a few years - at the same time Daria and her family were back to take care of some leftover business seemed far too much to believe. There was a sense of convergence, of fate, that she couldn't shake no matter what. Even spending most of the ride fooling around with Jesse in the back didn't help much, if only because the van was cramped and overloaded with sound equipment.
"We oughta get set up before dark," Trent stated.
"Or better yet, just leave before dark."
"You're not helping, Jane. This could be a big chance for us."
"Sure Jess. This place is just crawling with paparrazzi from Spin and Rolling Stone."
"Just help us with the amps, Janey. You can wait in the van later if you want."
"No way am I staying out here alone. Maybe me and Daria can be flygirls for you or something."
"Daria's showing up?" Trent asked, suddenly distracted.
Me and my big mouth, Jane thought.
As Jane carried an equalizer out of the truck, an enormous man stepped in front of her at the door. "You can't come in here, kid."
"I'm with the band. The lead singer's my brother."
"I don't care if your the goddamn owner. Rules are rules."
"I'm sure you can bend them just a wee bit this time", she retorted, and she backed it up with a mental push that left him looking a bit dazed.
"Well, now that that's settled..." Jane walked in, only to find that another band was already setting behind one of the two stage cages.
"Hold on Janey, there must be some mixup. I'll go talk to them about it." Trent said as he walked toward the back office.
Inside, one of the members of the other group was looking at Jane. "Hey, Harry," she said to a burly middle-aged man with a ponytail, a wild red beard and striking features , "Where have you seen that trick before, huh?"
Harry put down the half-stack he was carrying, looked toward Jane, and with hint of a smile said, "Must be some kind of convention in town." He kept looking at her, and she at him, for considerably longer than she felt comfortable with.
Jane walked over to the girl who had noticed her. She looked no older than Jane was, and was dressed in a psuedo-19th century Goth style. "I have no idea what you mean," Jane said.
"Yeah, right. Who are you with, anyway?"
"Uh, Mystik Spiral. My brother's the lead for them. I'm just helping out, you know?"
"I'll take that to mean your an Orphan, then." Noticing Jane's confusion, she added, "I guess we'll have'ta talk later."
"Who the hell are you, anyway?"
"Oh, I'm Jim," she said with a distant look in her eyes. "The drummer there is Keith", pointing to a distinctly Hispanic and female figure setting up the drum set, "and the guy over there is John," gesturing to an Asian man a few years older than her and wearing some kind of white robes.
"Somehow I don't think those really are your names," Jane answered.
"Well, not anymore, I guess." Her smile grew wider. "The band's name is Persistent Vision, which is a name I thought of for my old band years ago."
"What band was that?" Jane asked, not sure why.
"I told you," she said, giggling a bit, "I'm Jim. You figure it out."
"Uh, right." Just then, she felt a stirring of...something. Off in the corner, the guy she'd called John began chanting in some unfamiliar language, and as he started, Jane felt a constricted feeling, as the barrier between worlds seemed to grow thick around her. "What the hell..."
"Don't worry. Yoshi's just casting a spirit ward around the bar. Man," she added, "you really don't know much about this stuff, do you? We really need to talk."
Jane nodded. She was suddenly certain about why she had come here.
When Trent returned he explained things to the rest of them. "Were supposed'ta be the warmup act. A group called Persistent Vision is the headliner."
"That's wierd. Why would a place like this book two acts?"
Trent shrugged. "Who knows. I guess its the only place around, so they carry a lot of different stuff."
"Great. And this is supposed to go until Sunday night?"
"Yeah. But it still a big chance for us."
"Sure." She didn't sound very convinced.
Meanwhile, Katie Lehrer called the rest of Persistent Vision together.
"OK, folks, I got some news. It looks like tonight's a bigger thing for our Quest than we expected."
"You mean Jimi's here now?"
"I think so, or at least he will be soon. I was already pretty sure of that, but now I'm absolutely certain. But there's more. I'm getting the feeling someone else is gonna be here. I don't know for sure who, and I don't think its someone we're looking for, but..."
"Shit, Katie, I don't think the trailer has room for two more people." That was the roadie and occasional sax player, Harry Gunn.
"Don't worry, I'll work on the space thing later. I don't think this one'll be coming with us, anyway. If it were Janis...nah. I don't think she's in this world right now. Whoever it is, its just a side thing for us, but its got to be important or it wouldn't have happened like this."
"OK. What's the deal with the other band, anyway?"
"No clue, except they're called Mystik Spiral. Sounds like a Doors cover band from the name." The remark drew chuckling from everyone. "One other thing. There's another mage here, with them. She said she was this Trent Lane guy's sister. I want to keep an eye on her, but I don't think she'll be a problem. We've got a couple of days here, and I'll see what she has to say."
"OK. Harry, Lila, you watch the door till our set's up. When Jimi comes in, you'll probably spot him before I do. I have to work at seeing through the Veil a lot more than you do."
"You're sure this is the right place? The owners are already giving Yosh and me the evil eye. I don't think..."
"Trust me, he'll be here. Don't expect him to be black just because he's an Eshu. You're not exactly a typical Satyr, are you?"
"Tu madre," she answered, adding with it the inevitable gesture.
[Insert later - Daria with parents, then Daria coming into bar. May meet B & B along way]
Count Tiomon pulled his motorcycle into its accustomed space at Danny's, next to a beat up van with the words 'Mystik Spiral' painted on it. Probably belongs to whatever crap band is playing here tonight, he thought. Climbing off his hog, he looked back toward the gently sloping hill that gave the town and the county it was the center of its name.
Master of all I survey, my ass, he thought bitterly. The County of the High Lands was a miserable waste on the southern edge of the Kingdom of the Burning Sun, and Tiomon would have liked nothing better than to leave. But, at the time of his Chrysalis, five years before, he'd been the only changeling anywhere in the county, and the Duke of Riogrande laid it on him, still a wilder and a commoner at that, to rule this otherwise forgotten corner of the Kingdom.
Now, more than ever, the wanderlust in his heart burned at him. When he was given his title, it was little more than a formality; now it was a joke. The only two other changelings for a hundred miles around were a pair of dickwad Redcaps whose Faerie names were Butt Munch and Cornholio. They were such idiots that they couldn't always tell the difference between their mundane lives and the workings of the Fae, and they pestered him endlessly. He resolved, once more, to put cold iron between himself and them if they ever showed up again.
"Todd!", a familiar voice cried, bring him back to the real world, "how's it hangin', dude?"
"Not low enough, ya know what I mean?" he replied, and walked into the bar to get the night's drinking started.
[Insert later - the first sets by the two bands. Harry pointing out Todd to everyone, PV approaching Todd and explaining who he was in a past life]
...It was as if the Gods of Rock and Roll has stepped out of the heavens to play for them that night...
Harry was leaning against the back wall, as if he knew that the young noble was going there. He handed Tiomon the bottle of Scotch he'd nearly finished.
"Been figuring you'd head this way. Need t'talk about it?" He took his saxaphone out of the case lying by his feet, and started absentmindedly cleaning it.
"Eat shit and die, you old bastard."
"What's got up your ass more, the fact that you don't want to take Katie's offer or who you were before this life? If I were you I'd move heaven and earth to party with that band. Hell, I did do that already."
"I'm not you. I can't leave this fucking town."
"I must be hearing things. I thought I just heard an Eshu refuse to hit the road."
"I can't leave. I'm the Count of this shithole." he drained the last of the bottle and threw it against the wall.
"And your letting that stop you?"
"No," he replied, "I'm letting the fucking hoodoo Duke Cyrano put on me stop me. He said that if I left town for more'n four nights, I'd drop."
"Four nights? That's pretty fucking short....wait a minute. Did he say four nights or a fortnight?"
"What the fuck is a fortnight?"
"21 days. I'm guessing you're not as fucked as you think you are. Listen, they can't hit you with a geas that will ruin your mundane life, even if they're Shadow Court."
"Yeah, right.What the fuck do you know about us?"
The look on his face said he'd caught the us part, but he kept going. "I know 'cos it wouldn't make sense. Dicking around with things you can't change won't do them any good." Harry paused for a moment. "I'm guessing they knew you were too fucking ignorant to know what they meant, and they're having a good laugh behind your back."
"DON'T CALL ME IGNORANT, YOU OLD HIPPIE FUCK!" Tiomon started reaching for the chimerical sword at his belt.
"Cool you tool. Everyone's ignorant of something. You're too young to know what I mean, I guess, but trust me, this Duke of yours is slicker'n snot just to be what he is, and Unseelie politics mostly means screwing over small fry like yourself."
"I'm a fucking COUNT, not some pissant."
"You said yourself that it was a punishment, but you didn't know what for. Now you do."
"You made a lot of noise in your last life, and pissed off a shitload of folks royally. Trust me, I was there. I'm guessing this is payback for your success thirty years ago."
"Fuck. You don't think I believe any of this past lives shit?"
"You believe in faeries and wizards, so yeah, why not? If you weren't Hendrix then, how the hell did you play that guitar earlier?"
Todd stared for a long time, a look of anger and frustration on his face. After a minute, he whispered "I was a fucking nigger in a past life. Crap."
Harry turned to the younger man and shoved him against the wall, hard. "I've changed my mind. You're not here for punishment, you're probably here because the Eshu don't want some goddamn lowlife hick cracker like you ruining their image."
Harry continued, "Don't look at me that way, for chrissake! You know what you are. The Eshu are from Africa, so what did you expect? Get your fucking head together about that or someone will coming laying out for you with a fucking iron pipe. Hell, maybe I will."
"GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME, DAMN IT."
"Fine. Go fuck yourself, kid. I'm not gonna waste any more time on you." Harry picked his sax case off the ground and walked off toward the trailer that Persistent Vision was using on the road.
[Insert later - PV and MS, and Daria and Jane, hang out after Todd leaves. Katie explains to Daria and Jane about their past lives and their 'quest'.]
Daria and Trent stepped outside for a moment, and stood together looking up at the night sky. A solitary figure was sitting up on the top of a trailer, and the sweet, mournful sounds of a saxaphone drifted out across the desert night.
Daria sighed deeply. "In all the time I lived here, I never knew..." her voice trailed off.
"Knew what?", Trent asked, as he un-self-conciously put his hand in hers.
"That...it could be so...beautiful out here."
"Yeah. You can't see it when its right in front of you, I guess."
"Uhm, no, I guess sometimes you can't." she drew herself closer to Trent. The two sat down together, and for what seemed an eternity held each other in the crisp night air, soulful music penetrating every part of their being.
"Daria..." Trent started.
"I...Trent, I ...". Words weren't working for her. She reached up and kissed him on the lips.
He pulled back from her. "Daria...I..."
"What?" She looked up.
"Nevermind." He stood up, dusted himself off and walked away. Daria watches him, eyes filled with tears, as he heads towards the van. The music seemed to become a dirge as she sat shivering from the chill that was blowing across her heart.
She didn't notice when, half an hour later, a much smaller figure climbed up on the trailer roof, and the music got set aside for more important things.
Jane felt as if her eyes had been glued shut. With great effort, she managed to open one, only to find a view too blurry to be comprehensible. Her head and other body parts felt like they belonged to someone - or several someones' - else.
As she pushed her body forward, a wine bottle that had been sitting on her chest rolled down the bedsheet, coming to rest at the three or possibly more pairs of feet she thought she saw. She realised at that point that she was naked underneath the covers - and that Jesse's hand had been lying across her until she sat up. Her hand clamped down hard on her mouth as she struggled to keep her stomach under control. As her senses awoke more, she noticed that the third pair of feet were in fact real - no, not feet, she saw, hooves. On the other side of Jesse lay a diminutive form, her face wearing a peaceful, contented smile.
It was only because of her gift for running that Jane made it to the toilet in time.
[Insert later: Yoshi teaches Jane a few things about Shinto magick, and explains to her and Daria about the Traditions and the Ascension War - and why Katie is no longer with the CoX. Katie mentions that she thinks either Trent or Jesse is the 'other person' she mentioned, and then disappears into town for a while. Harry retells the story of the week-long drinking contest between himself, Jim, and Mick Jagger (a Fianna Garou, if you have to know).]
Katie looked up from the book she was reading. "Harry," She said, "I wanna talk to you about something."
"Sure. What's on your mind?"
"Uh, listen, I told you I was pretty sure this Trent guy was the other person I sensed, but I didn't know who it was? I think I've figured it out."
"No. I don't want them to know about this. Especially Daria, there's no way she'd take it well."
Harry looked down at the book she was reading : No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs by Johnny Rotten. It suddenly clicked what she was talking about. "Christ Almighty, you don't mean..."
"I'm not sure. I just don't know. But even if I'm right, it doesn't make a difference."
Harry looked up at the sky, and then shook his head. "I think you've lost your fucking mind. I don't know him too well, but Trent just isn't like that."
"Yeah, but it fits. I keep telling you about how different people are from one life to another, and here's exactly the kind of thing I mean.
Listen, I've been reading about this guy since yesterday. I had a feeling, and I'm pretty sure it was right.
This Sid Vicious, he was carrying around a huge karmic burden when he died, and had a lot of unresolved anger and shit. I think its part of why Trent is so much more quiet. I mean, on some level, I think he knows that he has to pay for his past actions, and its exactly what he's doing,
Look at the way he and Daria are to each other. The tension is so thick you could cut it with the proverbial knife. He's got so tight a rein on his feelings even his own sister can't get through it. Daria's the same way, but that's a personality thing, I think. I can't see why he'd be like that, but this would explain it.
I think he's afraid. Somehow, the past is haunting him and he can't let it go."
"Shit. This is too much for me. Give me some time to think about this."
"Whatever you do, don't mention it to anyone."
[This part has to be cut. I screwed up the math - Sid Vicious died in February of 1978, in which case Trent would have been, at most, 18 when the series started in early 1997. I don't know why I wanted to write this bit in the first place; it doesn't seem to fit with any of the rest of it, but without it there's a feeling of something missing. I may have it that it turn out that Jane is the one in question, but that would be too wierd.]
[Much later : Katie inevitably drags the whole crew out into the middle of the desert and starts passing around peyote. Daria joins them in their circle, but refuses to take any.]
After a few minutes of waiting, Daria stands up. "This is pointless. I'm just gonna wait over here and make sure you guys don't go hurting yourselves."
As she turns around she finds herself face to face with a female figure on a motorcycle. "it isn't that easy," the woman says,"You need to do this, and you need it now. Refusing to take part just means we'll have to do it the hard way."
"Amy? What are you doing here?"
"Good guess, but not quite." The woman removes the helmet, and Daria sees...herself, several years from now. "If you won't take the trip voluntarily, I'll just have to make you go." The older Daria walks up to the real one and gives her a shove.
It seems as if she's falling forever, and the impact when she finally hits the ground seems like it should have broken every bone in her body. After several minutes in a daze, she manages to pick herself up off the ground, miraculously unharmed.
She sees Quinn a few feet away from her. "God, Daria," shes says, "why are you, like, always so clumsy? You'd think that someone who can do what you can would be more careful."
"She's right, you know." says Jane, walking up from behind her. "You never seem to pay enough attention to what's going on."
"What? Don't you mean my father?"
She found herself in a dusty hallway, with the sound of a typewriter coming from a nearby room. As she entered the room, she saw a familiar seeming old man, wearing his trademark white suit and panama hat, a cigar tightly clenched in his teeth.. He sat at an antique desk, dimly illuminated by a small window.
"Consarn this device to Hades!" he cried out, "To think I'd ever tried to make money from this..." he then looked up, as if noticing Daria for the first time. "Ah. It's about time you showed up here, young lady. I was beginning to think I would have to take matters into my own hands, which are none to sturdy these days as you can see." His voice had a singsong quality to it, with an accent that was an odd mixture of Missouri, California, and New England.
"Excuse me? How can you be here in the first place?"
He chuckled, his snow-white mustache waggling a bit. "My dear, I have always been here. But then, perhaps you're not sure about where here is, are you?"
"Well...I suppose its in my mind, or something like that? And you are the form my conscience takes. Really nice."
"Conscience? Why not at'all, my child, not at all. I'm...well, perhaps I'd best leave that to you to figure out. Let's just say I have a stake in the whys and wherefores of you actions, but that it goes beyond that alone. For now, you might say I am your tutor, your Aesop as it were. I assure you, I shall be a stern but fair taskmaster, no more and no less."
"OK, let me get this straight. I refuse to take drugs with a bunch of reincarnated rock stars, but have a hallucination of my older self anyway. I push me down a hole, where I get verbally abused by everyone I've ever known. And now I'm to take lessons in magic from the ghost of Mark Twain."
"Close enough for the government's standards, I'd say," he replied with a grin.
"Great. OK, the men in white coats can come in now, I'm ready for my shock treatment."
[to be continued, maybe]
Daria Morgendorfer [Ian Curtis]
Arete 4, Will 8, Avatar 4
Forces 3, Matter 2, Mind 2, Prime 3, Time 3
Sanctum 2, Node 1, Fae Affinity, Intuition 2, Expression 3 (writing)
Jane Lane [Sid Vicious]
Arete 3, Will 8, Avatar 2
Correspondence 3, Entropy 3, Mind 3, Spirit 2, Time 3
Arcane 2, Library 1, Dream 1, (Haunted -2), Enigmas 2, Expression 3 (painting, sculpture)
Todd Bricklin/Count Tiomon [Jimi Hendrix]
Expression 5 (guitar)
Yoshi Shimura [John Lennon]
Arete 4, Will 5, Avatar 3
Life 3, Spirit 4, Time 2
Enigmas 2, Expression 4
Lyla Monterez [Keith Moon]
Katie Leherer [Jim Morrison, Bessie Smith, Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart... and on and on into the depths of time]
Arete 8, Will 10, Avatar 5
Life 4, Mind 3, Matter 3, Spirit 4, Time 5
Arcane 2, Past Life 5, Expression 5 (music, lyric poetry)
Harry Gunn [formerly no one in particular]
Beavis/Cornholio and Butthead/Butt Munch
Trent Lane and Jesse Moreno
ordinary humans (there had to at least a few around, didn't there?)