Strictly Business is the fifth story written by Jim North for the primary storyline of the Daria: Hunter series. It is a science-fiction adventure novella and is set in a reinvented alternate universe.
It was nominated for Favorite Science Fiction in the 2010 Daria Fanworks Awards.
When the identities of the people backing the mysterious 'doctor' are finally revealed, Daria and Jane decide to take care of business personally . . .
Warning: The following may contain plot or ending details.
Daria and Jane finish up their negotiations with the Department of Extra-Normal Affairs, officially becoming contracted special agents for the US government with the mission of aiding the department in the location and apprehension of the so-called "doctor" and his partners in crime. To this end, they use their new lines of credit to hire their informant Charles to dig up anything and everything he can on this mysterious organization.
After weeks of searching, he contacts the bounty hunters and hands over two names, Michael (aka Mack) and Jodie Landon, vice presidents of Lawndale City-based Landon Enterprises. Though Daria and Jane disbelieve him at first, the information he presents them with convinces them that the Landons are indeed the financial backers behind the doctor.
The following week, Quinn Morgendorffer and her team from the Greenstar Investigative News Network meet with the Landons for an interview. During the meeting, the two technical assistants excuse themselves to find a smokeroom, where they are revealed to actually be Daria and Jane in disguise. They procure a hidden stash of their equipment, change their disguises to appear as janitors for LE, and take an elevator down to a high-security area that DENA suspects holds some of the illicit technology developed by the Landons and the doctor.
Once inside, Daria and Jane find the area mostly deserted except for row upon row of mostly half-finished robots that have been modified to operate as mobile weapons platforms. They find one of the more completed robots that has an energy bomb disk similar to the one on Kevin Thompson's powersuit, and they begin to take recordings of it as evidence of the Landons' wrongdoing.
One of the robots activates and orders them to stand down. Jane almost immediately recognizes the voice of the person manipulating the machine as Axl. Axl remembers her, but upon learning their true identities, decides that instead of handing them over to security, he is going to take them in himself to claim the reward that had been placed on their heads.
A protracted battle takes place between Axl and the bounty hunters in which Axl jumps effortlessly from one robot to another to take them off guard. When it looks like they might possibly succeed at escaping, however, he activates the full potential built into both the machines and his own brain by the doctor and mentally jumps into every single robot in the storage area simultaneously.
Because doing so is uncomfortable, he pulls back to controlling just five of the machines at once after opening the door that Daria had shut and hacked closed on him. He enters the massive room that Daria and Jane are hiding in, confident that he can take them with just the five robots, but they defeat him through a combination of stealth attacks, ingenious use of the tools with which they were provided, and quick-witted tactical maneuvers. Once the robots are mostly destroyed, the approach him with a mutually beneficial deal.
Soon after, Quinn receives word of Axl's capture and defection, then launches her interview in earnest, asking the Landons about their illicit activities and informing them that DENA has frozen their assets and put warrants out for their arrest. Her camerawoman Stacy broadcasts this part of the interview live on GINN, ensuring that the Landons' ability to run off before they can be apprehended is severely hampered.
They are captured by airport security as they try to flee in their personal craft, but Daria, Jane, and DENA's investigation continues as the doctor - who's identity is still unknown - remains at large.