Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged. This is part of the Worldburner shared world developed by Erin Mills and is related to various Tales of the Ringbearers stories. Reach Out lyrics by Pete Comita and Bob James.
Agency Sector Headquarters. Earth SCR-001
Seated at his workstation, Hypersphere Supervisor Richard listened to music from his pre-Agency days while he studied a multiversal display on a computer monitor.
"That's odd," he said out loud. In the middle of a bundle of green lines, there was a gap – a gap where an entire universe should be.
He picked up a desk telephone and entered a code. "Hey, Tech Services. Do you have a glitch in the Reality Tracking Sensors?"
The responding technician said, "No, sir. All systems are online and operating within optimal parameters."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, sir," the technician said with a hint of irritation.
"I'm looking at a data gap right now. I'll copy my data stream to you." Richard tapped a command into the computer.
After a pause, the technician said, "There should be a universe there, sir."
"Then something isn't working within optimal parameters."
"All sensors are working properly. Something is hiding that reality."
"How in the hell do you hide a universe?"
"I have no idea, sir."
"Then we need to figure it out."
"I'm going to need to call in some help."
"Call whoever you need."
The Foundation officer Reiko Tsereba studied the display and said, "I don't see anything."
"Exactly," Richard said. "There should be an entire universe there."
"Could it be one that Judith has destroyed?"
"There would be traces if it had been destroyed. There's nothing showing up there. Something is blocking even our sensors from penetrating."
"What could do that?"
Richard shook his head. "Nothing that we know of."
"Then how can you be sure? May it's just a blank space."
"There is a force akin to gravity in the void between universes and the effect is similar to how the gravity of planets in the same solar system influence other planets. If there was no universe, there would be no structure to the void. Instead, we see that gravity-like effect in the nearby universes. There is something there. Something hidden."
"The source of our greatest headache."
"Judith's home universe?"
"Nobody has been able to track down where she's from. Now, I think we know."
"This is important. I'll have to pass it on to my superiors."
"I've already informed mine." Richard said. "As for the Ringbearers, I've sent them a message, but since they implemented Kerensky, I haven't received a reply."
Reiko said, "Now how can we get there?"
"I don't know, yet. We've got our R&D staff on the project, but until then, I can think of one other way to find out."
Lawndale. Earth D-1451
Her cloak rustling in the wind, Judith looked at the house on Glen Oaks Lane and said, "Looks pretty much as it always does. It even has Trent's old POS parked in the driveway. Let's see who's home."
Judith sauntered up to the door and rang it. After a minute, Daria opened the door. "Can I help you?"
"Well, what do you know? You ditched the green jacket. Good for you."
"Excuse me, do I know you?"
Judith grinned and pushed her way in. "More than you think, and also a lot less."
"Who is it?" a male voice said.
Looking past Daria, Judith saw the young man and said, "Ah, John Lane. Or is it James?"
"So that explains the blue bomb in the driveway. How's old Casa Lane doing?"
"I wouldn't know. I live here," John said.
"Oh, that's interesting."
Daria said, "Who are you?"
"Oh, just a long-lost relative. Call me Judith."
"Judith," Daria said, unbelieving. "A long-lost relative."
"She looks a lot like you, Daria," John said.
"If I ever decided to wear an Emma Peel catsuit."
Judith said, "John likes it."
"Um," John said, blushing.
Judith grinned. "He'd like to see you in it."
Daria's blush made Judith grin even more. "Ah, isn't that cute. You're a couple."
Daria moved closer to John and took his hand. "Yes, we are."
Faux-dramatically, Judith brought her hand to her mouth. "Oh, my. You're not even pure anymore." She dropped the hand and winked at Daria. "So you were able to pull the stick out of your ass long enough to get laid. I'm mildly impressed."
John said, "What do you want?"
Judith walked over and sat on one of the sofas. "Oh, to eventually go back home. But until then, to destroy every universe possible until I find it."
Daria and John started to back away.
Judith tsked and said, "You're not going anywhere." A particularly nasty-looking pistol was in her hand and pointed at the couple. "Come over here and have a seat. Now."
Frightened by the sudden appearance of the weapon, Daria and John slowly edged over and sat down on the opposite sofa. Daria said, "What do you want from us?"
Judith kicked her feet up onto the coffee table and said, "Oh, I'm just taking a little time off between destroying universes. Thought I would stop by and look at one of the old homesteads and say, 'hi,' to everyone."
"Homesteads?" John said.
Daria slowly said, "Judith, you don't just look like me. You are me."
"You're catching on." Judith leaned forward. "I even have the scar on my left hip from being thrown by that horse at Camp Grizzly."
"This is crazy."
"I've been called that before." Judith sat back and held her arms wide. "Just look at what you could be."
"I don't think so," Daria said.
"Oh, you have it in you. Trust me. I'm not even the most evil version of us out there. Well, maybe I am now. I killed off the others."
Richard and Reiko stepped through a portal and stood in front of the Morgendorffer home. After Richard confirmed a large time-space anomaly with his hand computer, Reiko said, "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
He shrugged. "No. But at this point, it's worth a shot. The worst Judith can do is to try to kill us, and that wouldn't be the first time."
"If she does try to kill us, do you have a backup plan?"
"We get out of here."
"I hope that we're fast enough."
"We have been so far."
"There are times you are just as exasperating as Archangel."
Richard laughed. "That's probably why we get along so well."
"I shouldn't be surprised. I'd feel better with some backup." Reiko turned to Richard and said, "Don't even start in on the 'St. Crispin's Day' speech. I'd rather have the backup."
"If we succeed, we don't need backup and if things don't work, we don't have anyone else to get out of here."
"I understand the logic. I'm stating my preference."
They stopped and Richard pressed the doorbell. "Here we go."
"What's your plan if she just blasts us through the door?"
"I'll get us out of the way. I have good reflexes."
Inside, Judith sighed and said, "Are you expecting anybody?"
"No," Daria said. "Probably kids selling school candy. There's been a lot of that going around lately."
Judith moved the pistol under her cloak and stood. "Now, be good and don't try to run away. It'll only take a moment to scare off the kids."
Judith opened the door and then stepped back. "You two."
"Hello, Judith," Richard said. "Do you have a minute to talk?"
"Sheesh, is this a Monday or something?" Judith said. "You might as well come on in."
Daria said, "You know these people?"
"Just a couple of busybodies trying to stop me from destroying the multiverse." To Richard and Reiko, she asked, "Where's Captain Sunshine?"
Richard said, "If you mean Archangel, I have no idea. Believe it or not, the Agency is capable of operating without the Ringbearers permission."
Judith laughed. "Oh, don't be so coy. You've been pulling their strings like a cheap marionette. I have to admire how you've used the Ringbearers as cannon fodder. Very nice."
Richard shrugged. "Their choice, not ours."
"And people call me a cold-hearted bitch. Well, I am, but you...you take it to a whole new level."
"You're not the first person to say that. Now, can we talk to you about a little proposition?"
Judith made an exaggerated bow and said, "Why not?"
Richard took a seat on the remaining sofa while Reiko remained standing behind it. She nodded to Daria and John. "I'm Reiko and this is Richard. We represent organizations that work toward stability in the multiverse."
John said, "Multiverse?"
"An associated group of universes," Richard said. "It gets complicated."
"They're here to stop me," Judith said. "So, what's your annoying threat this time?"
"No threat," Richard said. "An offer."
"That's a change of pace, as if I believe you. I'll bite. What kind of offer?"
"We know the location of your home universe."
Judith's eyes narrowed. "What?"
"Your home universe. We know where it's at."
"And what, you want to tell me where so that you can threaten me somehow?"
"Now that we know where to begin, I'm offering you the chance to restart your life and avoid everything that pushed you to where you are now."
"You want to save me. How generous. I'm sure that you're doing this out of the goodness of your heart." The sarcasm was heavy, even for Judith.
"Not really. I'm trying to avoid a lot of work."
"You're not going to have any work when I'm done, so problem solved."
Richard's hand computer beeped. "Excuse me," he said. "If I'm getting called, it's important to what we're talking about."
While he read the computer display, Judith said, "If I wanted to hang around with someone who can't put their cell phone down, I'd bring along my bitch of a mother."
Reiko said, "Think about it, Judith. What is more important to you, getting revenge or avoiding the events that started all this? Having those that are important to you back?"
Richard whistled and looked up. "We found a trace of the wormhole that first brought you in contact with other realities. It has a very familiar signature."
Reiko leaned over the sofa to read the display. "An Architect's Gate?"
Richard nodded. "It was unanchored. Possibly an error or a malfunction. Or not. The AGI is well known for manipulating travelers. Whatever the reason it was there, all we have to do is block it and you never leave your home universe. Think about, Judith."
Judith's shoulders lowered as the temptation started to sink in.
"We all head back to your home universe and reset the past. It won't take that long. All you have to do is lead the way."
Judith's shoulders straightened. "You can't get there."
"No, not yet."
Frustrated, Judith said, "I've got news for you; neither can I. I've tried everything. The locket, magic, technology, Reality Compasses, transmats, TARDISes, human sacrifice, everything. Nothing works!"
Richard said, "You're intelligent, but you're only one person. Do you think that, maybe, an interdimensional organization like the Agency with billions of experts might come up with something that you overlooked?"
"We can work this through. You can go home – and have your life back."
Judith studied Richard for several seconds. "But, as you are so fond of saying, I've chosen my path."
"You don't have to stay on it. You have a choice.
Judith shook her head and stood "I'll stay with it."
"Even though you may have been maneuvered to that path?"
"You mean like you are trying to do now? I've made my choices. They are mine and mine alone. You're not going to talk me out of them." Judith walked around the sofa and toward the front door. "But, good try. For a moment, you almost had me. Almost. I'll get home on my own."
Looking around, Judith opened a portal and said, "I've got other things to do and I don't have any more time for you. This universe, maybe I'll destroy it later."
As Judith stepped up to the portal, Richard said, "One more thing. We also know that which has been protecting you will be your undoing."
Judith snorted and looked back. "That was really sad. I protect myself. Always have. Always will."
The portal closed and Reiko said, "It didn't work, but it could've been a lot worse. She didn't leave an annihilation sphere."
Daria said, "That was very strange. Would you care to fill us in on a few things?"
"For instance, will she be back?" John said.
Richard said, "The less we tell you, the better. As a matter of fact, we really should leave now, too.
Following Richard and Reiko to the door, Daria said, "With all of this, I would suspect something was in the brownies, but we haven't had any brownies."
At the door, Richard turned and said, "That was a forgettable conversation we just had."
Daria and John watched them, as if trying to figure out what to say.
Richard politely nodded and said, "You're not interested in what we had for sale."
Daria said, "We're not interested."
"Have a good day."
"Have a good day," Daria said and closed the door.
Walking away, Reiko said, "You just made them forget the whole thing."
"It's best that way. No reality alteration."
On the way to the kitchen, John said, "What were they trying to sell?"
Daria went to a sofa and sat down. "Don't worry about. Whatever it was, it is best forgotten."
"Yeah, you're right."
Agency Sector Headquarters. Earth SCR-001
Alone in his office, Richard stared at the display. "How often did you reach out when nobody was there?"
He turned off his computer, then the lights, and locked up as he left. "Enough that she couldn't accept someone reaching out to her."
Walking along the corridor, he said, "So that now, she has chosen her endgame."
Thanks to Erin Mills and Brother Grimace for beta reading.