Magic Is Something or Other

Chapter One: Three Done

"Students, teachers, cleaners, admin workers and people who probably aren't supposed to be in school, I urge you to listen now and hear every word! This is not a revolution! This is not a rebellion! This is… a rebelution!" Tom Callis threw his arms out in a grand gesture to encompass all of the cafeteria from where he was standing on his table. Crowd of eating students suitably included in his statement, Tom turned his palms up and lifted his hands in the air in an upward motion, urging the crowd to roar.

There was a roar. Of laughter mostly. Tom Callis' cafeteria theatrics were well known at Stonemoor High School. It was rare that a lunchbreak went by without some important announcement from Stonemoor's much loved most delusional student.

"That's not even a word!" cried one voice.

"What does that even mean?"

"What are we rebelling against?"

"No, no, you're getting it all wrong!" cried Tom, "it's not rebelling, it's rebeluting. Entirely different. And it's against the reptilian shape shifters who have infiltrated our society. If you think anyone has been acting suspicious you must grab them and douse them in pineapple juice to reverse their transformation."

"You know what's really funny?" asked one boy, "is that he actually believes every word of that." Tom was about to insist that it was all true when a furious lunch monitor, alerted by all the noise, stormed into the room.

"Mr Callis!" she snapped, "How many times do I have to tell you not to stand on school property!? And not to shout indoors!? It's unhygienic for a start to have filthy shoes all over the table." Tom looked down at the mud he'd tracked all over the table and shrugged apologetically.

"Sorry, I forgot to clean my shoes after our family went out UFO hunting last night. We nearly ran right into the swamp; my shoes are still covered in muck."

"It's fine miss," said a random girl, "nobody else eats at that table but him and if he gets food poisoning he'll blame aliens instead of the school. You'll be fine." Uh, when I said Tom Callis was much loved, I meant they loved to laugh at him. He didn't have any friends, just a few similarly delusional associates. People he was supposed to be meeting pretty soon, provided he didn't get slugged with a detention.

"It is not fine! Mr Callis, please get off that table and join me outside the cafeteria." The lunch monitor, Miss Fields, was putting her foot down and ending this now. Tom looked rather dejected by his failure to move anyone and awkwardly jumped off the table, nearly falling over in his haste. He suddenly looked rather small is his bulky coat as he trekked out of the cafeteria amidst student jeers. Miss Fields held the cafeteria doors open and ushered Tom out of the room before shooting a quelling look at the noisy students. "Everyone just mind your own business," she said, closing the doors and turning around to address Tom.

"I was really getting through to them that time, miss," complained Tom before she could speak. "I've just come up with this great new concept. It's a not revolution or a_"

"Mr Callis do you enjoy the idea of spending your entire schooling career in detention?" she asked him in interruption. "Your grades are falling through the floor and you're turning yourself into a laughingstock. When are you going to realise that this isn't good for you?"

"I just don't understand; my father believes the same things I do. My brothers believe the same things I do, whenever I try to help people by telling them no one cares. Or they think it's a joke. I'm not trying to turn myself into a laughingstock, this is serious information."

"Mr Callis, you are young. I hope that one day you will realise just because your father has told you something doesn't necessarily mean it's true. I'm not calling your father a liar, but everyone knows he's been confused for a long time now. Now, I really don't want to give you an official detention for causing a disturbance and damaging school property. Your record is already bad enough and we'd hate to see you expelled. I'd appreciate it if you spent more time in the library to catch up on all the work you're falling behind on. Oh and please try to pay attention in class, that'll help too. I don't want to be doing this again Mr Callis, do you understand?"

Tom shook his head so fast his mirrored sunglasses nearly flew off his face. He left them hanging askew, apparently unconcerned. "No, I mean yes I understand but I can't go to the library today. My club is meeting in a couple of minutes and I can't get kicked out for non-attendance. These are the only guys who at least listen to what I have to say."

Miss Fields sighed but nodded all the same. "I don't think that club is doing you much good either but I suppose if there's any place appropriate to discuss your ideas I guess that's it. Fine, go to your meeting but I expect to hear you've been spending more time in the library. You can get back on track Tom, you've just got to try."

"Thanks miss, by the way, what do you think of the rebelution?"

"I think it's better I don't answer that, don't be late now Mr Callis," switching back to the formal address told even someone as socially oblivious as Tom that he was being dismissed and he nodded and set off down the hallway. You might be wondering exactly what kind of club Tom would show any interest in. It certainly wasn't one that was found in most schools. He was one of very few members of the not so prestigious Search for Truth Society or STS for short. It was a haven for all sorts of conspiracy theorists and burgeoning development of early psychosis. They discussed monsters, aliens, government cover ups, ghosts and ancient mysteries among other things. If there was little evidence for it chances were the STS spent the whole lunchbreak talking about it.

You'd think that considering the fact the rest of the school widely believed all of them to be delusional that they'd stick together a little more but that wasn't the case. None of the members called each other friends, they had far too many arguments over rivalling conspiracy theories that they couldn't reconcile. It didn't help that paranoid types like them made for poor friends in the first place, not trusting anyone as far they could throw them. Hence, they were only Tom's associates instead of the real friends he needed. Still, they debated his ideas instead of outright dismissing them as pure lunacy so it was an improvement on most of the student body. So that's where Tom was headed now, hoping he'd fine a more receptive audience to his rebelution in the STS.

One member of the STS didn't quite belong and before Tom arrives at the meeting it'd be a good time to investigate that. Zoe Barker had never said a single word in her entire history at the STS and while the other members sat in a circle she had her own chair in the back corner of the room. The other members seemed to have genuinely forgotten she existed, never being very observant with mundane things and just continued their meetings like she wasn't there.

In reality Zoe had no interest in the things discussed by the STS but she was there for one key reason, her parents. Zoe had never been a particular popular girl but in the past she had at least played soccer for the school before circumstances forced her to quit. She was incredibly meek and didn't make friends easily so after leaving the team she was pretty much on her own, a fact her parents didn't think much of. When they learned their daughter had no friends and barely existed in a sociable way they insisted she join another of the school clubs to make more friends.

As anyone knows, sometimes friendships just happen between people and sometimes you can't force them no matter how hard you try. Zoe thought the whole process of befriending people was terribly awkward and would rather avoid it so she had selected a club with this in mind. The STS was small, its members probably had worse social skills than her and would happily ignore her in favour of ranting their heads off. Sure people said they were loonies but in Zoe's experience they were completely harmless and had never bothered her. It was perfect, she could join a club to give the illusion of trying but in reality make no effort towards securing friendship. Maybe her parents would eventually catch on and demand she join a better club but for now it was fine. She hadn't even explained what the STS was, just that she was in a club that discussed events.

So, like she was every meeting, Zoe was sitting in her back corner of the room, being perfectly ignored by everyone present. She always liked to arrive first so no one would see her walking through the door and wonder why she never said anything. Sure enough pretty much every member had filed in without so much as looking at her. Zoe knew she could probably stop attending all together but that felt dishonest. She'd done what her parents wanted and joined a club, so long as she kept attending the meetings she wasn't being deceitful in the slightest.

Zoe eyed the clock, knowing the meeting was about to start in a couple minutes, they were only waiting for one last member. Tom Callis always arrived last because he was trying out some harebrained scheme in the cafeteria. He'd blamed bad hair days on alien interference in a failed effort to get female students on his side. He'd told the athletes and sportsmen that referees and judges were all evil cyborgs out to get them as well. All his schemes were laughable and never had much success. You could respect his perseverance though, even if you didn't like his tardiness. He wasn't missing much by being the last to arrive either, the room was mostly silent. A few members were muttering under their breath as they studied the notes they'd brought for the meeting. Their rants were too long to rely purely on memory.

"Greetings!" the door swung open as Tom burst in, "would you believe that I just narrowly escaped being oppressed by serving a propaganda driven detention? Being locked in a silent room all lunch, we all know it's really isolation and noise deprivation torture. Making us do work is just a pretence, they really want us to crack in the silence. Luckily I escaped punishment and made it to this meeting. You said there was big news?" Tom took his seat amongst the group and looked to the impromptu leader, a girl named Jane Ellis.

"Callis, seriously you have to stop getting detentions," she said, "it's too risky. You we all know they play subsonic audio waves to brainwash delinquents into becoming productive drones. You've resisted so far because of your illogical thought patterns but you might turn on us and sell our secrets. Stop grandstanding in the cafeteria, it's too blatant and it's getting us negative attention. Everyone thinks this group is nuts or something. But yeah, there is big news that'll blow this school wide open. Listen closely because I'll only say this once. The Phys Ed teacher is a werewolf!"

Zoe had to stifle a chuckle as the STS meeting quickly devolved into a shouting match. The Physical Education teacher was certainly very hairy but it was high unlikely that he ever transformed into a wolf. This was why the group was so perfect to just hide in, they'd already divided into different factions. One side claimed he was actually an android instead, another group said they wouldn't believe it until they cross referenced the teacher's days off with the full moons. Then there were a few that believed the entire subject of Physical Education was some sort of complex torture in the first place. Needless to say the discussion was getting nowhere and Zoe could hide comfortably for the rest of the lunchbreak.

"Enough!" cried Jane, it had gotten to the point where arguing members had started throwing things at each other in between shouting at the top of their lungs. "Sometimes I hate you moronic imbeciles! You're not the brainwashed masses but sometimes you're just as stupid. Can't you see that all these rival theories you keep putting out are just misinformation campaigns? Callis! Turn the music on so everyone knows what the appropriate speaking volume is!" Again, this was another pointless idea the STS had, whenever there was too much shouting going on they turned on their strange music. It never made anyone quieter because now they had to speak over the music as well.

Tom headed over to the old tape player the group had requisitioned and popped one of the numbered tapes in and hit play. There was a moment of silence before, of all things, The Ants Go Marching starting playing. No one but Zoe found this a weird choice.

"Alright," continued Jane, "Now If I can't hear the music, you're being too loud. Can we have a civil conversation now? Forget about the full moon, werewolf recovery times are still debatable so that doesn't mean he'd have to take days off afterward. I'm telling you this because he clearly has stamina and strength beyond that of a human. Not to mention the fact he's very, pack, or as he calls it, team oriented."

"That's no sounder than my theory that he's an android," complained another member. "Haven't you see how stiff his walk is? And of course he's strong if he has hydraulic powered limbs. Ignore the team stuff, everyone knows that's just conformity brainwashing. Trying to get to us join a group mind where we don't act for ourselves anymore."

Probably at this there would have been another shouting match, completely drowning out the children's song that seemed to be playing into infinitum in the background but today something different happened. Something magical. A strange energy seemed to fill the room, hair stood on end and everyone fell silent for a moment. Every single one of them had a conflicting theory as to what was going on but none were as fast as Tom who leapt out his seat.

"This is a prelude to an abduction!" he roared, "we need magnets to counteract the tractor beam, you're all wearing metal aren't you? Come on_!" his exhortations were cut off by a shriek from the tape deck that sounded like the dying howl of some unnatural beast. A glowing point of light appeared on Tom's hand, flashing briefly before vanishing once again. Before anyone had a chance to digest this an ethereal voice began to speak, supposedly coming out of the tape player.

"A magical hexagon is forming in your world, there must always be six or the magic will rage untamed. The one who spoke first, he who possesses a quick mind and yet no accompanying logic will be the first member."

There was a flash of blinding light and then, as if burned there by flame, was a message on the wall.

1. Tom Callis

2. –

3. –

4. –

5. –

6. –

"The hexagon is incomplete, please prepare for wild magic."

"Can someone please explain," said Jane Ellis in a deadly calm voice, "If Callis is using alien technology or ancient sorcery to accomplish that." All hell broke loose, with the STS looking set to form a lynch mob. Tom, who had yet to resume his seat backed against wall of the room as everyone leapt up and starting shouting over each other.

"He's one of them!"

"I knew we'd been infiltrated!"

"Alien!"

"He's a bloody wizard, we all know they want to enslave mankind, we need to_"

"Callis! His last name has six letters, like a hexagon's sides!"

"Stop!" cried Tom, his voice was trembling and yet it contained an unnatural reverberating power that sang around the room and called everyone to heed him. "I can't explain of that but_" the clock on the wall above Zoe's head suddenly exploded sending pieces flying all over the room. Oh, and it also had the unfortunate side effect of making everyone aware that Zoe was sitting there. There was a moment of indecision as to who was at fault here. Tom was a known element, everyone considered him relatively harmless, whereas Zoe was completely unknown in a place where trust was scarce. It didn't take long for the decision.

"It's her! She's some kind of spy!"

"How the hell did she get in here!?"

"The same magic she used to nearly get us to banish Tom! We have few enough members and she was trying to weaken us by dividing our ranks!"

"Who is she working for? Who wants to silence our group so badly?"

"Well unless you've mastered mind reading leave the interrogation to me!" snapped Jane, "block the exit until we get some answers. You!" she pointed at Zoe, "What is your name and what you are you doing here?" Zoe was immediately revising her idea that these people were harmless as she went deathly pale and backed up against the wall.

"Please just leave me alone," she pleaded, "I didn't do any of this, I swear. I've been in this group all year, please just check. My name is Zoe Barker." Zoe realised it was a bad idea to give her full name about a second before everyone else did but it was too late then.

"Barker, six letters! That all ties in with this hexagon!"

"So wait? It's both Callis and this Barker girl working together? Or just one of them. Or everyone with six letters in one of their names?"

"I'm trying to find a reference to this hexagon," announced one boy, riffling through a thick tome he seemed to have produced from thin air. "I'm fairly sure it's a satanic symbol meaning we're dealing with a demonic threat here."

"Is that why Tom always hides his eyes? Because they're red and glowing?"

"It's to protect from mind readers!" protested Tom but he needn't have bothered because they'd already moved on to Zoe.

"She's really pale and has dark hair, does anyone have a mirror to check if she's a vampire or something?"

"No! We break the pipes in the walls so she can't cross the running water!"

"Vampires aren't real, please don't break anything," said Zoe feebly, begging everyone to calm down but no one was listening to her right now. The world was too busy going completely crazy and what little confidence Zoe had was rapidly fading. Jane Ellis had the floor once more.

"Listen everyone! This is all very clear when you think about it. We're all the most observant people in the school right? We see the things nobody else does. If Tom was some kind of supernatural spy we'd have detected it by now. It has to be this Zoe girl, she's snuck in here for the first time and started up some sort of dark ritual to divide our group, framing Tom is the process. Only she's slipped up and revealed that she has six letters in her name too. So the solution is simple, everybody grab her and throw her out right now!" Zoe let out a squeak and tried to press herself even further back against the wall as most of STS advanced menacingly towards her. They probably weren't going to hurt her overly much but this was bringing back bad memories and she was paralysed.

"Hey, enough of that," called out Tom ineffectually, "come on guys, leave her alone and just check the signup sheet. Her name is on there," unlike everyone else Tom had actually confirmed her story but it didn't matter because no one was listening him. They were all approaching Zoe like a dangerous animal, no one really seemed too keen on being the first person to reach her. What with the vampirism and everything. "Oh for pities sake can somebody do something!?"

"I can."

That voice was back, this time appearing to come from all sides at once. The auditory assault only spurred the STS on and the nearest members lunged at Zoe, prompting another blinding flash of light. When the dust cleared everyone bar Tom and Zoe was sprawled on the ground and apparently stuck there despite protesting shouts.

"Very clever noticing the six letter thing. I follow themes. A second is chosen in order to defend her from harm. Two points of the hexagon have formed. Until all six are bound there will be no end to the magic."

Now two points of light appeared on Tom's and Zoe's hands, joined together by a glowing line before that vanished as well. The previous message on the wall was erased and the six-person list was updated with Zoe's name.

1. Tom Callis

2. Zoe Barker

3. –

4. –

5. –

6. –

The walls began to rumble and grind with untamed magic, dust raining down from the ceiling. Chairs started rocking by themselves and others began to levitate or fly across the room like rockets. The STS members were still pinned to the floor by an unseen force, something the two of them were grateful for judging by the dire threats they were issuing. Tom and Zoe shared a look and spoke simultaneously.

"Run!" In that instant their lots were thrown together by the simple fact the points of light, the beginnings of a hexagon, had appeared on their hands. Whether it was their own will, or that of Magic, two people who had never said a word to each other were suddenly allies in this unnatural series of events. Zoe had no idea what was happening, Tom had too many ideas as to what was happening, both them just ran from the room. The pair burst out of the classroom and made it halfway down the hallway before Zoe's values reasserted themselves. She reached and grabbed Tom, pulling him to a stop.

"We can't run in the hallways!" was all she said, a penchant for following rules kicking in at the worst possible time. She suddenly realised she'd touched Tom's arm and recoiled in shock. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to_"

"You're right," Tom agreed immediately, ignoring her apology "That attracts way too much attention," he was attributing different logic to her decision but she didn't mind. If the whole world was going to fall apart no one could say it was because she was running in the hallways. Though ending up in detention seemed ludicrous when you looked at how the last people to come after her were left stuck to the floor by magic. "Listen, I'm not saying you're the spy," started Tom, startling her back into reality, "but did you cause all this? I'm not mad, I mean angry, everyone says I'm mad. I've been looking for working magic for ages now, everyone in STS has but I've never seen you there before and_"

"No one ever sees me," muttered Zoe rather morosely, cutting off his rambling and seemingly not realising she had spoken aloud. She was mortified when she realised Tom had heard her and went bright red. "I_I mean, no sorry, I don't have anything to do this." Every word was stumbling out of her mouth, oh why did she have to be so awkward. "Um, do you know what's going on?"

"Magic," said Tom, like that explained everything. When Zoe continued to look blank he shrugged. "Okay, too much magic then, is that better? Oh and you haven't been hit by a vasodilation blast have you? Only your face has gone all red so the blood vessels must have opened right up. It's the first stage of a dangerous weapon designed to boil your blood, I didn't know they were using them on civilian targets."

"No, I'm perfectly fine," Zoe assured him in a faint voice, sure her face looked even worse now, the world was falling apart and she still couldn't hold a conversation! "Listen your explanation didn't really_" Tom lifted a hand to silence her as his head cocked to the side, indicating he'd heard something. In a moment Zoe heard it to, a muffled crashing sound somewhere in the vicinity.

"That'll be more magic!" he sounded greatly enthused by this, for once life was matching up with all the nonsense he'd believed in for so long. Life was turning into a fantasy novel and Tom for one was enjoying every minute of it. "Follow me, I think this whole keeping the hexagon thing together is important." It was not really a decision anyone should have to make. Option A was to follow a boy who was clearly insane in search of magic and Option B was to go back the way she'd come from and risk running into a free and angry horde of STS members. There was also Option C of pretending to follow Tom then running of and hiding in a dark hole but that would mean disobeying the scary magic and that probably wouldn't lead to anything good.

Tom set off at a brisk walk, remembering not to run and Zoe found herself with little choice but to go after in him in search of the origin of the crashing noises. Judging by what had happened by spending a few seconds standing still is STS room is was a bad idea to wait around too long or else more property would be damaged. Zoe knew you could hardly expel Magic for vandalism so she'd probably be first on the chopping block if this didn't all resolve itself nicely. With Tom involved that was unlikely though and she had the distinct feeling this crashing noise wasn't going to lead to anything good.

It turned out not to be anything to do with magic as they rounded the corner and found the source of the noise. It was a much more garden variety type of nuisance, the school's resident delinquent and vandal Extraordinaire Jody Winter was busy wrecking lockers. She had come prepared with a crowbar and was prying locker doors off their hinges and letting them clatter to the floor. It didn't appear she was robbing them as the ones she had previously destroyed all appeared to have their contents intact. No, this was for the sheer thrill of disobedience, making her the near opposite of Zoe who wouldn't even run in the hallways if an angry horde was after her.

Jody didn't pay the slightest bit of attention to her two visitors and just kept smashing away at locker doors. She probably wouldn't have stopped even if the principal had strolled up because she had a really serious problem about opposing authority. Hence why she had ignored the school ban and dyed her short spiky hair bright blue. She'd done this out of pure defiance, not because she wanted attention. She proved this by threatening to beat anyone who looked at her for too long. Of course she was always threatening to beat people so that was par for the course. That wasn't to say she was a bully, she focussed more on objects than people, though she was overly aggressive at times.

But none of this gave her the magical quality that Tom was searching for when he'd first head those noises. He'd expected more supernatural forces, not a common vandal. Of course Tom, being completely oblivious and jumping to the wrong conclusion didn't realise she was just a vandal. In the depths of delusion, he actually believed his 'rebelution' had started. To him this teenage girl with anger management problems was just the first of many and he couldn't wait to join in. Startling Zoe with a savage cry Tom ran forwards and started kicking at one of the lockers.

"This is the rebelution!" he crowed, "down with the alien oppressors!" This, finally proved too much for Jody to ignore and she stopped what she was doing to shot Tom an annoyed look.

"No brainiac, this is called vandalism and I don't need your help," she waved the crowbar at his threateningly, "can't you see I'm busy here?" and then quieter, "freaking Callis'."

"Are you kidding? I thought the people had finally rebeluted," said a crestfallen Tom, he stuck his hands in his coat pockets and his shoulders slumped miserably. "Well maybe this isn't a total waste of time, I don't suppose you've seen anything magical around here? That's why we came here." Jody's look of annoyance changed into of incredulity swiftly followed by recognition.

"You're kind of unhinged aren't you?" she asked, "Wait, that doesn't need to be said does it? You're a Callis. What are you doing here Tom?" She turned her attention to Zoe who had been quietly attempting to fade into the background. "Who've you roped into your latest mental idea? Looking for magic, seriously? Why would you even listen to that?" Great, now the most violent girl is the whole school was talking to her, Zoe made herself look as small as possible before answering.

"Well, I'm sorry we disturbed you but there's clearly no magic here and the bell is about to ring so we should all just forget about this and head back to class," blurted out Zoe. Yes, ignoring this and going about the day as normal would solve all of this. Jody looked less than impressed by that idea and Zoe hurried to keep talking, desperate to get rid of the violent girl. "Uh yes, I'm not saying your vandalism is a bad thing, just that it's not magic and please don't hurt me_"

"I know you too!" announced Jody suddenly, cutting off Zoe's bumbling attempts to placate her. "You're that girl who was_" Zoe's face immediately blanched and if she'd been braver she would have shouted for Jody to stop, that she didn't want anyone talking about that. It turned out she didn't need to be brave because there was magic for that instead. The half broken locker door next to Jody suddenly exploded off its hinges, slamming into the girl and knocking her down. The sharp edge gashed her arm as it skittered away and fresh blood began to run onto the floor.

"Oh no, oh no, oh no," Zoe was near having a panic attack, "did I do that? I just wanted her to stop speaking I didn't mean_"

"It wasn't you, it's the magic again!" Tom was practically bouncing up and down and craning his neck around looking for more magic. "It's caught up with us again." He didn't seem at all concerned that Jody had been injured and looked at her on the floor like he was surprised to see her there.

"This is all crazy bullshit! There's no freaking magic!" snapped the girl angrily as she started to climb back to her feet, "though by the time I'm finished with you won't remember it! What the hell do you think you're doing attacking me!?" Jody had fallen back on the time honoured tradition of blaming the local lunatic whenever something went wrong but Tom and Zoe were far more interested in her last name.

"Winter, that's six letters," muttered Zoe frantically, "Oh no I can't believe this, she's next!" Jody just assumed that Zoe had gone insane too and was just drawing her fist back when a curious itching sensation overtook her arm. To her amazement the cut on her was knitting itself closed right in front of her eyes. The blood on the floor even formed back into a neat stream and flowed upwards through the air and back into the cut before it healed. Now this was something even she couldn't blame on Tom Callis. The lights returned and now all three of them had three points of light appeared on their hand with half the hexagon drawn.

"Why can't the magic just go away!" groaned Zoe, suddenly weak at the knees. A fully recovered Jody was only more bad news for them. Thankfully before she could take out her frustration on either them, magic owned up by burning another message onto the wall.

"That's three done, I'll find two, and finally one. Magic will search elsewhere, the three of you are about to vanish into thin air."

1. Tom Callis

2. Zoe Barker

3. Jody Winter

4. –

5. –

6. –

"Magic rhymes now! This is awesome," insisted Tom, completely ignoring the bit about how they were going to vanish into thin air. Jody didn't however, in her mind this was still some kind of horrendous prank and anything about making her vanish was a threat.

"Shut up you nut!" she snapped, "listen, we've got to get out of here right now before whoever is responsible for this sick joke turns up and disappears us!"

There was a sharp crack in the air and suddenly a voice. "It's too late for that." A whole group of people had materialised out of thin air to form a quite a crowd in the hallway. One man was holding a strange device with an antenna that was pointed right at them and beeping loudly. The speaker, and apparently the leader of the group was a tall woman with a smirk on her face. Despite what they'd already seen, Jody and Zoe were rendered speechless by this sudden arrival. Tom however was never short on something to say.

"Aliens!" he roared, "You made a mistake coming here today you reptilian freaks, I know your weakness!" Before anyone could stop him he'd reached into one of his many coat pockets and pulled out a flask. The whole group who had stiffened when he reached into his pocket visibly relaxed when they saw it was just a flask. The woman just rolled her eyes.

"A bit young to be drinking aren't you?" she asked mildly. Tom's only reply was to unscrew the lid and thrust the flask forward, dousing her in the contents. There was a panicked cry of alarm and many of the men lifted empty hands and pointed their palms at Tom like it was some sort of threat. The woman just spluttered and laughed. "Water? Calm down everyone, it's just water. I think I can guess what movie you've been watching." Tom frowned and turned the flask around so he could examine the front. A W had been written on it in marking pen.

"Whoops, wrong flask. You won't be so lucky next time, I'll find the actual pineapple juice and you'll be in real trouble," he warned her, stuffing the flask back in the pocket he found it and continuing to rummage around looking for another one.

"Stop," said the woman quietly and while Zoe could detect something funny about the voice it did nothing to stop Tom who just kept looking. Now it was the woman's time to frown at the boy. Really, what was she expecting? How many people actually stopped just because you told them to? Okay, Zoe might but she was in a minority here. Jody and Tom were both habitual rule breakers and something as simple as telling them to stop was pointless. "Stop," the voice came again and this time there was definitely something wrong with it, it echoed with power and Zoe felt herself automatically freezing and saw Jody doing the same. Tom seemed visibly pained and resisted for a moment before his shaking hand left his pocket and rested still by his side. "Thank you, now that's over with_"

"Mind control? But my sunglasses!" protested Tom, "you couldn't see my eyes at all. If anything your power should have bounced back because my glasses are mirrored!" The woman just sighed and decided to ignore him, looking at Zoe as the most normal person in the group.

"Was he like this before magic chose him or did today's events just completely blow his mind?" she asked.

"Oh, he's always been like that," answered Jody instead, in a tone that was far too conversational for this situation. "His whole family went loopy a few years back. Shame he didn't carry an actual weapon like a sensible person. That would have made this a lot easier." With that over with her voice changed to one of dangerous calm. "Now can one of you teleporting freaks explain what's going on here before I lose my temper?" The woman raised an eyebrow, visibly impressed that someone so outnumbered would issue such a threat.

"Listen, this is pretty simple. My name is Sandra, I work for the Magical Administration and in short, magic exists and you're about to be part of it. I'll explain more when I have all six of you together okay? I think you must have gathered the whole hexagon thing by now." Actually Jody had no idea but the other two were reasonably clear on the fact there was supposed to be six of them. "Now, judging by the writing on the wall, you've sent magic elsewhere and that could make our job a heck of lot harder. For all we know it could have gone to the other side of the world meaning another department will have to round up the rest of you. I only work in this region."

"No worries," said one of the men, "magic is still showing up on the sensor as being within the school complex. We just have to wait for it strike and we'll get the rest. It's going to pick two from somewhere and then go elsewhere for the last one."

"I gathered as much," said Sandra rather rudely, "well we can't hang around in the hallway much longer anyway. The bell is about to ring and this place is going to be packed with students. We'll have to pull the next three out of class so that means a lot more memories to wipe." She turned her attention back to the three teenagers in front of her. "You guys left quite a mess in that classroom back down the hall. Lucky it was a small meeting but we've still got guys in there altering memories. The last thing any of them will remember is falling asleep during whatever the hell you guys were doing there. Something that shouldn't be too hard to believe thanks to all the tapes of nursery rhymes you have playing in there."

"They'll never believe that," snapped Tom, "you've gravely underestimated the ingenuity of the STS."

"So, then we go back and fix their memories better next time. Or just leave them, no one will believe a word of it anyway. Half the room being destroyed by magic? We fixed all that too. Now fun as this is, we've got to get out of here." She turned back to her men. "Secure these three on the edge of the school grounds under an invisibility bubble. I'll explain everything else once all six are there." Tom heard the word 'secure' and flew into a panic.

"You'll never take me!" he cried and set off at a run down the hallway. Sandra lifted her arm and bolt of light arced from her palm and struck Tom in the back. He stumbled but kept going, causing Sandra to swear loudly. Unfortunately, the other men all fired off blasts of their own and their combined force slammed into him and froze him in place, stuck mid stride. One of the men walked over to him, grabbed him by the arm and then both of them promptly vanished. Jody let a long string of curse words that would have made a sailor blush and started swinging her crowbar around violently.

"Holy shit!" she yelled, "none of you come near me okay!? Step the hell back!"

"Listen, you're just as delusional as the last guy," said Sandra impatiently. "Come quietly and we won't have to freeze you."

"I'm Jody Winter, I don't do quietly!" she snarled and drew her weapon back to strike before a blast of light hit her and she froze in place with the same feral look plastered on her face. One of the men moved to take her but paused in indecision.

"Should we leave the crowbar behind?" he asked quietly, everyone seemed to be completely ignoring Zoe who was frozen entirely without the aid of magic.

"Of course, that'll make the most sense when people come here. The vandal heard the bell, dropped the crowbar and ran before this place was crawling with students." The man nodded in agreement and muttered some sort of spell under his breath that caused Jody's frozen hands to snap open and let the crowbar drop to the floor. A moment later he teleported away, taking Jody with him. That left only Zoe and Sandra finally paid some attention to her. "One out of three isn't too bad, are you going to come quietly?" Zoe fought against her frozen limbs and managed a feeble nod. "Good, take her away." Zoe was vanished without a word and Sandra sighed in relief and spoke to the remaining men. "Good, that's done, throw up invisibility and intangibility spells on yourselves and let's wait for the sensor to pick up the next two."

Author's Note: Right off the back, just wanted to say this isn't required reading, I don't usually do author's notes so I wouldn't put anything vastly important in there. Firstly, thanks for making it through the first chapter, I'd appreciate any feedback you have, though I understand it can be hard to organise thoughts about a piece of writing so I'll ask specific questions later. Anyway, this story is already finished, my new policy is to never post a single word of a story until the entire thing is done. That way I have no abandoned stories on my profile. Any feedback in regards to problems with my writing will go towards my next project. I'll be noting everything down and referring to it frequently.

So, questions. On a more general note, this story took some time to write, and the style is different in the beginning than it is towards the end. If you could be so kind, it'd be good to know the exact point the style changes in later chapters. I need to address my consistency. Also, I'm not overly happy with this chapter, I prefer Chapter Two a bit more. So when that comes out it'd be nice to hear some thoughts. Now for chapter specific questions. Was that an interesting enough introduction? I'm not sure if it was the right approach to start with dialogue. Secondly, does Tom need more introduction before the events continue? I just kind of moved on from him. I never know if you need to stop and introduce people first. On a related note, were the brief introductions I gave Zoe and Jody necessary or could they have been thrown right in? Thanks again, answers to those and anything else you can think of would be appreciate. Have a nice day!