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Author Topic: Invasion from the 8th Realm: a story of fairies, witches, elves, and others....  (Read 10408 times)

Offline Sparky

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Chapter 16


Two minutes later, and Poppy joined them. Serena and captain Hughes explained the situation. "Ok, give me a few minutes to go and sort the FAS team out. Probably best we all go straight to Reading. You guys heading there too?"

"I guess so... John?".

"Yeah, I'm kinda hoping that Serena can give us a lift there, that going to be ok with you, Serena?"

"Sure, but I'm going to need Samantha. Ok, Poppy, why don't we meet you there. I don't suppose you can give us some fairy comms, can you?"

"Sure, hang on..." Poppy waved her - ok, rather smaller than Wanda - wand, and a set of earpieces appeared on the table, one for Serena, and another 1 for ech of the rest of the SAS troop, plus a couple of spares. Serena and John each grabbed one. "Can you hear me ok?" said John.

"Loud and clear" said Poppy. "See you on site shortly....".

Now, you're possibly wondering where Elida is in all this? Well, Poppy happened to know that Elida was having a rare romantic evening with Puck, her boyfriend, so had decided that she wouldn't disturb her unless it became essential. If she needed her, she knew that Elida could join her at almost a moments notice... such are the joys of being a fairy that can teleport!

"Ok, let me call Samantha.... and Wanda, can you prepare to do a long-distance summons?"

"Sure can, boss!"

"Hi, Samantha..." said Serena when Samantha answered the call. "Look, this is best described as a 'code red'... I'm with John, and we need your help like now. I'll explain more when you get here. Let your mum know, suit up, and I'll summon you here.... Oh, and bring a couple of the pills with you, will you?". Captain Hughes knew that Serena could use ecstacy to boost her dark magic abilities, he had seen her demonstrate it on one of their training missions.

"Ok, I'll leave the call open....". Serena could hear as Samantha spoke with her mum, then ran the magic needed to put her 'work clothes' on. "Ok, I'm ready!".

So, long distance summoning: it's dark magic, and if it's just one person then Serena can cope ok, but a 'boost' from Samantha helps a lot. But she knew that she was going to need to get her and Samantha both over to Reading, then summon the rest of the SAS troop - so 17 of them - over there, which would definitely need Samantha's skills to keep Serena going. While Serena was doing all this, captain Hughes explained to the others who Samantha was, and why Serena needed her help. He had seen the pair of them 'working together' on their training many times, and understood how important her abilities were to Serena.

When Samantha 'landed', she put her hand on Serena and instantly applied a simple 'recuperation' spell. Then Serena explained to Samantha what was going on. "Tell you what, can you give me a quarter of a pill now, I think it will make my work a bit easier tonight.". These were the same ecstasy tablets that they had managed to 'steal' from a drug dealer a while ago, in the previous story.

"So, I'm thinking that I'll start by taking John over to Reading: I'll need him to explain who I am to anyone who sees us. Then I'll summon you, Samantha, and you can 'recharge' me. After that, we can find a suitable 'landing pad', and I'll get the rest of John's team over". This was something they had done before when training up in the Welsh mountains, although the distances involved had been a lot shorter. "Then we can have a word with the FAS guys, and decide the details of what we're going to do."

"Sounds like a plan," said captain Hughes. He turned to his team: "Ok, everyone, grab a fairy earpiece. Jock, once we're there, can you liaise with the other team there, and get your group close enough to be able to teleport in: by the time we do that, we should know exactly what you'll expect, so landing accuracy won't be as important. The rest of you, stay with us."

"Hi Serena, it's Poppy!" said a voice in Serena's ear.

"Oh, hi, can hear you loud and clear!". It goes without saying that these earpieces were using magic to communicate: they were more advanced versions of the ones that Puck had designed for Elida and Lilly and the rest of the team when they were working on the 'Dark Fairy' case.

"So, we're onsite in Reading, found the site. We have a suitable location for you to land... want a beacon?"

"Please.... Ok, John, get yourself ready, transport is nearly ready to go.... Wanda, I'll need to do a long-distance teleport with a passenger, followed shortly after by a long distance summons for Samantha. Once Samantha does her stuff, I'll need to summons the other 16 guys.... We've done it before, just not such a long distance!"

"Understood!".

"Braces, you ok with this?"

"We'll do our best!"

"Can't ask you to do more than that...."

Serena was still wearing her dark jewellery: she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and concentrated. She had a map in her mind: she knew where they were, and she knew roughly where Reading was. (Ok, yes, it was quite a distance. But that's why she used the dark magic teleporting spells!) As she zoomed in, she could work out where in Reading she needed to be, and started to do a wide probe. Yup, there was the 'beacon' shining brightly. She homed in on it, and could see the fairies: they were in a suitably discrete courtyard... a good landing place. "Ok, Poppy, I can sense your beacon, with you in a moment!" Serena stood up, and held out her hand. "John, ready to go?".

While Serena had been preparing herself, he had grabbed everything he would need. Unlike his men, who would be carrying several weapons each, he just had a small pistol, a radio, and a few other small bits.

Serena felt a tiny bit dizzy when she landed: a long distance teleport with a passenger did that to her. She looked around to see the fairies waiting for them. Poppy explained to them both where they were.

"Ok, let me check in, then we can find out where we really need to be." He pulled out his small radio. "Captain Hughes, comms check?"

"Good evening sir, we were told to expect you. What can I do for you sir?"

"Need a small space for 2 of us to land indoors, without too many people around. Describe me a suitable place...".

"We're in the big red building, almost opposite the primary. Give me a moment, sir, I'll find a room....". Serena was listening in, and whilst she realised that they were at the back of the big red building, she needed to work out where he was.

"I think I have him, get him to lift his left hand and wave, will you?" asked Serena. This is a trick they had used before, and John relayed the message. "Got him...".

"Ready when you are, sir!". Serena teleported them both the short distance, and the fairies followed. John recognised who he had been talking to. "Follow me sir!". They were lead to a room where a small group of senior officers were talking: John recognised most of them.

"Good evening everyone, this is Serena. She's civvy, but treat her as one of us for the moment. She'll bring the others here in a moment. And THESE guys are fairies, of the military type, I think they will be able to give us some very useful information in a bit". It was clear from the way they were talking that they were fully aware of the 'special abilities' that captain Hughes' men had, and had heard about fairies, even if they had never seen them before.

"John, I need to bring Samantha here..."

"Sure. Guys, Serena's going to call her number 2 in.... go ahead, Serena!".

"Ready Wanda?". Serena said the words to summon Samantha, and as before, she cast some recuperation spells on Serena after she landed.

"Ok, where do we stand? How much time do we have?" asked captain Hughes.

"Things seem to be relatively stable for the moment, I'd say we have maybe 15 minutes before we need to worry. What we do need is some good intel on what's going on over there." On the table there was a map and a floorplan of the building, and one of the guys gave them as much detail as they knew."

Captain Hughes addressed the FAS guys: "Guys, want to get over there and take a look around?". He turned to the others in the room "don't worry, noone over there will see them, the only reason we can see them is because Poppy cast a special bit of magic."

"Sure can.... Poppy, you stay here for the moment...". The FAS team flew off.

"John, want me to do a probe, or get the men over here first?" asked Serena.

"I think knowing what's going on over there is probably more important, I can't imagine it's going to take you that long... I'll let them know that there will be a short delay."

"Ok....." Serena sat down and concentrated, sending her probing mind over the road, and into the building. All she knew was that there would be a whole load of people. Some of them would hopefully be easily identifiable as terrorists: they would be the ones with the guns she guessed. It was scary, given that this was a real live situation, but she felt safe, knowing that there were several solid walls between them and her.

"There's a lot of people over there..." said Serena. She knew she needed to try and describe who was where. "Ok, they seem to be in THAT room..." she said, pointing at the plans of the building. "Group of 'normies' over towards there...." she said, pointing  again. "Two guys with some sort of rifles looking out the windows at the front.... sorry, one each side....". She 'wandered' around the room, knowing that the FAS guys would be there in a moment too.

"Ok, we're in.." said a voice in her ear.

"Guys" said captain Hughes, "Serena's doing a sweep of the main room where most people seem to be, can you do a careful sweep of the rest of the building, we don't need any surprises...."

"Roger that..."

"One here, another here, they seem to be watching the hostages.... so that's four of them...." said Serena, once again pointing at the plans. As she spoke, someone else scribbled notes on the plan.

"We have another two in a room adjacent" said one of the FAS guys in their ears. "They're watching the back of the building..."

"Thanks for that! Serena, can you carefully check all the hostages, they could easily have a 'stooge' planted there, seen that sort of trick before....".

Serena started homing in on the group of hostages. "What am I looking for?"

"Hidden gun, ear comms, anything that doesn't seem quite right...."

"Hmm, one guy with a Bluetooth headset... why would he still have THAT in I wonder. Hmm, interesting, he has two phones. Shit, I think he's got a gun under his arm too!". She tried to describe where he was, and his clothes.

"Well spotted... keep going.."

"Want us to check him out" said one of the FAS team in their ears.

"Good idea, do it!" said captain Hughes.

Serena continued 'walking around' the room, but didn't see anything else that seemed out of place. "Not seeing anything else..."

"Serena" asked a voice in her ear, "THIS the guy you meant?".

Serena 'went over' to the guy she'd found with the gun, and could just about make out the fairy hovering in front of him, and waving. "If that's you waving then, yes, that's him...."

"Can you scan all the terrorists, see if any are witches? Go lightly, and stop immediately if you find one...". This was, of course, what Serena had done to captain Hughes' team, several months before. "No, they all seem normal. Let me scan the hostages..."

Serena started to scan the hostages. "John, I think we have a witch in the hostages, want me to make contact?"

"Not yet, I think we have enough intel from you for the moment - well done by the way! - I think we need to get the other guys here now.....". He lead her and Samantha out, and into the room where they were before. Serena sat down with a large space in front of her, then Samantha stood behind her, hands on her shoulders.

"Ok, Wanda, braces, let's get this done... I'll do a few summons in a row, then take a short break! Ready there, Samantha?"

"Yes... go on...".

"Oh, I'd better tell them what I'm about to do!" Serena reached out to one of the team over the fairy comms, asked him to warn everyone what was about to happen. Then she issued the first summoning spell, and the first member of the team arrived in front of her. The captain got him out of the way. She managed to summon five of them before needing a short break (and some healing / recuperation spells from Samantha), during which time captain Hughes gave them a brief update. Then another five, another short break, then four, then the final two.

"Serena, take as long as you need to recover, I'll sort these guys out!". Serena thought back to the first time she'd ever teleported over to Samantha's place, using light magic, and how exhausted she had felt. And how Samantha had helped her recover. Well, she felt a bit like that, but she was aware that the 'Ecstasy boost' had made her job a lot easier.

Offline Sparky

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Chapter 17


Captain Hughes returned a few minutes later. "Thanks for doing that, it would have been a long drive without you! So, Jock's part of the team team are getting themselves into a location from where they should be able to teleport in. You feeling better now? If so, let's go back, I have a feeling we could use your skills a bit more."

"Why don't I have a quiet word with that hostage that's a witch?" suggested Serena, as they walked back to the main incident room.

"Ok, so where are we at the moment?" asked captain Hughes.

"They are asking for some water to be sent in...." said one of the men.

"My FAS team are keeping an eye on things over there, they'll let us know if there's anything to worry about, but they say things are pretty calm for the moment," added Poppy.

"In that case, Serena has identified a hostage who's a witch, I think she should try and talk to her."

"She can do THAT?"

"Yes, worked well with Major Tom and myself..."

"In that case, do it, just make sure he or she doesn't give themselves away."

"Serena, go very gently, lot's of reassurance.... you'll be ok..."

"Poppy, could do with one of your men keeping a close eye on my witch target...."

"Claude, you in the main room?" asked Poppy.

"Yes!"

"Speak to Serena..."

"Yes, Serena?"

"In the middle of the hostages, there's a lady with long hair, and a coat or cardigan that looks like it's orange or yellow...."

"Let me go over to her.... this lady? It's an orange cardigan by the way..." Serena probed, found the lady with a fairy in front of her.

"Yes, that's her, she seems to be a witch. Keep an eye on her, I'm going to talk to her, let me know if she does ANYTHING that might indicate that she's getting distracted."

"Sure will...."

Serena gently 'reached out' to the hostage that she'd felt earlier, the witch. "Hi there!" she said calmly and gently. "Don't panic. I'm Serena, and like you, I'm a witch. You can hear my voice only in your head, noone else can hear me. Just say hello to me in your head.... Whatever you do, don't say anything out loud!"

"Err.. like this?"

"Just like that. Ok, stay relaxed, don't do anything that might attract any attention to you... you gonna be ok?"

"Yes, I think so..."

"Ok, so first of all, who are you?"

"I'm Lizzy..."

"Hi there, Lizzy! Like I said, I'm Serena, I'm also a witch. I'm not far away from you, I'm with a large team who's working out how to end this situation, without anyone getting hurt. So hang on in there... ok?"

"Yeah, ok..."

"By the way, if I stop talking to you for a bit, it's because I need to tell someone else what I'm doing. I'm gonna do that now, but you can still 'think' to me, I'll still be listening."

"Ok!"

"Claude.. how she doing?"

"I'd say she's doing really well, especially if you're talking to her. I assume she has no idea that I'm here?"

"No, and not planning on telling her." "John, her name is Lizzy, she seems pretty calm... In case you need to identify her, long hair, orange cardigan..."

"Good, continue..."

"Ok, Lizzy, just so you know, I'm a very powerful witch. I've been able to scan the room you are in, and can see where everyone is, so I can see there's 4 guys in the room right now with rifles, that right?"

"Yes, and I think there's 2 others, but they aren't here right now."

"Yes, I've seen them too, they are in an adjacent room, keeping an eye out at the back. So, let me repeat: at the moment, you are quite safe. But don't do anything that could hint that you're 'talking' with me, ok?  Now, a simple question: why are you in that building today?"

"I work here...."

"Ok, sounds reasonable! What about the others there?"

"Some of them work here, some are visitors."

"Anyone seem.. well, 'out of place' at all?". There was a short pause.

"Yeah, there's a strange guy in a blue stripe shirt... "

"The guy that's over to your left? The one that has a phone earpiece in his ear?"

"Yeah, that's him..."

"What's strange about him?"

"He's been strangely calm all the time."

"Ok, so how do the guys with the guns seem at the moment? Stressed? Relaxed?"

"They seem to be pretty relaxed right now, I guess they feel they're in control.."

"Ok, let's let them stay like that. Ok, I need to talk to people here. Relax, think to me if you need me.... "

"Ok... Serena ... thanks!"

"That's ok...." Serena told captain Hughes everything she knew. "So, what's the plan? Anything more I can do?"

"The main problem we have is that there's 7 targets in total, even if the team teleports in, there's a big risk someone would get shot, and we'd like to avoid that. Anything you might be able to do that could help?"

Serena thought for a bit. "I suppose I could just kill them..." suggested Serena "although seven of them might take a while!" Clearly the darkness of her recent magic was affecting her, and she suddenly realised that fact. "On second thoughts, maybe that's not such a good thing to do!"

"You ARE kidding me, right? You can't REALLY kill people at a distance?" said captain Hughes.

"Not kidding at all - I killed my grandfather remotely.... although it was more of a mercy killing: I just stopped his heart..."

"Shit, remind me never to upset you!" said captain Hughes. Serena smiled, and thought again.

"I could summon their weapons... would that help?"

"I guess it depends how quickly you could summon them?"

"Oh, wow, now you're asking. If you think it could seriously help, why don't I see what I'm capable of. Get some of your team into the room next door, and I'll give it a go. In the meantime... Claude, you there?"

"Yes, Serena..."

"Could you guys do a quick recce, work out exactly what weapons the terrorists have there? I was detecting rifles and handguns, but need to know the total, I'm thinking about summoning them.... the weapons, that is"

"We'll get onto it. Your lady has behaved quite normally by the way..."

"Oh, good, I've finished talking to her for now..."

Captain Hughes got 4 of his men, and they all went into the room next door.

"I'd prefer to do this bit with unloaded weapons, if that's ok with you? So what you guys got on you? I can see your rifles, and guns in their holsters, anything else of interest?"

The guys quickly described the other stuff they had about them. "Ok, I'll go for all your guns and the stun grenades.... I'll work my way from left to right, and put the stuff on the table here in front of me. John, can you stand opposite me, other side of the table, it might be easier to just pass stuff to you. Ready? Guys, take a suitable pose.... Actually, John, you come this side and I'll go over there, I'd like to do this without being able to see what I'm actually doing..."

Serena concentrated, scanning to locate the weapons that she was about to teleport. After warning Wanda and her braces, she lined up over a dozen copies of the same spell, one for each item. "Ok, let's do it... Samantha, start timing me....". Serena cast her first spell, a rifle appeared in her hand, she pretty much slammed it into the table. Then the next... and the next.... ". Last one...." said Serena as she passed the last stun grenade to captain Hughes. Samantha stopped the timer, then threw some recovery spells at Serena.

"How did I do, Samantha?"

"Nineteen seconds..."

"That's too long: with seven of them you'd be looking at 30 or 40 seconds, and they're going to realise something is going on..." said captain Hughes.

"I could take the rifles first..."

"That would help..."

"I have a suggestion," said Samantha, "Is there any way we could maybe stun them, freeze them? And when I say 'we', I mean you, of course""

"I can't but.... Poppy? you there?"

"Yes..."

"Can you come through here a moment, please?" 2 seconds later and she was there.

"Poppy, do your guys know any magic that could somehow 'freeze' a human, stop them from moving? Would only need to be for maybe 30 or 40 seconds."

"I'm guessing you'd like to freeze them so you can take their weapons." said Poppy, looking at the table which was now covered in guns. "Yeah, I could do that easily, but not on seven of them without them realising. Let me have a word with the guys, see what they can do... Preston?"

"Yes, Poppy?"

"Do you guys know how to freeze or paralyse a human?"

"Yeah, could probably do it for about thirty seconds or so...."

"That's possibly long enough....thanks! Prepare yourselves to do it, will you?".

"So, what do you think, John? Get the FAS team to paralyse the 7 targets, I grab their weapons, rifles first, then the team can teleport in with close to no worries."

"It's a plan, but what things could go wrong?" asked captain Hughes.

"Well, I just proved that I can get the weapons, the slight extra distance is trivial. I guess there could be a live weapon..."

"That's ok, I can run a Fairytime spell each time you bring a weapon over, check things out..."

"Fairytime?"

"I slow down time for a bit from your perspective, gives me time to check things out..."

"Nice one, like it!" said Serena.

"Are we sure the FAS guys can paralyse for long enough? Poppy, why don't you call your guys over, let them practice on these guys?" suggested captain Hughes.

While captain Hughes went to talk to the others, the FAS team came over to where Serena, Samantha and Poppy were. After the SAS guys had got all their weapons back, they tested the complete scenario: the FAS guys froze the SAS guys. Serena started to summon the weaons. Poppy did a Fairytime spell each time a weapon arrived. Samantha helped Serena to cope.

It turned out that the fairies could knock a human out for most of 45 seconds!

Captain Hughes returned with another, more senior officer. "We just tested the scenario" explained Serena, "worked a treat. These guys were out for most of 45 seconds. Tell you what though: Samantha, I think I need to take another quarter tablet..."

"Of course, there is one big problem with what we're planning on doing... we're going to have seven terrorists and a load of civies who will see what we're doing, and discover our guys abilities. Not so good..." said the senior officer.

"I could always just mind-wipe them all after we're done..." suggested Serena.

"Mind-wipe? You can wipe a person's mind?" commented the captain.

"Yeah. It's pretty shitty dark magic, not something I really like doing - other than simple demos - but in this case, I think it is well worth doing. Used it on the drug dealer we got these E's from, he had no idea we'd taken all his E's!" explained Serena, smiling.

Captain Hughes was seeing another side of Serena, a darker side that she'd not really shared with him before.

"How does it work? I mean, do you completely wipe their mind?"

"No, nothing as nasty as that. It's more like 'forget everything that's happened in the last 10 minutes...' or maybe just 30 seconds. Want a demonstration? I'll just wipe 15 seconds from your memory. That way you'll understand the way it works."

"Is it really safe? I mean, I don't want to forget the last few hours!"

"Don't worry, I've used it as a bit of a 'party trick' on a couple of occasions, never had a problem..."

"Ok, so what do you want me to do?"

"Get your phone out, then look at the clock. Call out the seconds...."

"Ah, ok.... so 16, 17 18 ........ 40, 41, 42..."

"Ok stop there. You'll forget the last 15 seconds...." Serena said the words of the spell. "What was the last time you remember?"

"Um, 25 ... shit, it's 50 seconds now.... I just have a complete blank after that."

"Do you know that you lost the time?"

"Sort of... vaguely... something doesn't feel quite right. Shit, that is so scary! But if you could do that to everyone over there, yeah, that could be VERY useful. We can do it when we're happy all seven targets are 'secure'".

"And we'd need to wipe the hostages too. In fact, they are the ones you don't want blabbing about what they see"

"Very true."

Offline Sparky

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Chapter 18


"Ok,so I'm thinking we ought to have TWO people running a timer, just in case something goes wrong with one: I don't want to be doing stuff by guesswork. Samantha, you could do one..."

"I'll get one of my guys to do the other. Ok, let's go and explain what's about to happen to everyone, see if they are happy."

They went back to the main room, and explained what they would be doing: everyone seemed to be very happy with the plan. Then they went back to the room they were in before: they needed the space to retrieve the weapons. A couple of the senior guys came through with them, to watch.

"Hey, Lizzy, you still there?" said Serena silently.

"Yeah... what's happening? The guys with the guns seem to be getting a bit impatient."

"Ok, first of all, stay relaxed. In the next few minutes, strange things are going to happen, things that you will probably understand, but noone else there will. I need a big favour from you: if anyone looks like they want to do something, get involved, even just standing up, I need you to TELL them to just 'sit down, keep out of it, let the soldiers do their job!' or something like that. Use an 'angry teacher' voice! Is that something you think you can do?"

"I can try!"

"Thanks, that's great! But no hints to anyone about what's about to happen, that's important! Ok, so watch and enjoy the show!" "Claude, how's Lizzy reacting?"

"She's looking amazingly calm, considering what you just told her."

"That's good." said captain Hughes. "Ok, Serena, are we ready to do this?".

"Give me a few moments, will you? Samantha, could do with one of your 'calm' spells, please!" As Samantha cast her calmness onto Serena, she could sense that Serena was feeling calm yet also very tense: she understood that she needed to be tense and alert to be able to do what she needed to do.

"Ok, Wanda? Braces?"

"We're ready!"

"John, is Jock's team ready?"

"Yes, they are!"

"You guys ready to disarm these weapons I'm about to bring in? I have no desire to be hit by a stray bullet!"

"Ready, Serena!"

"Poppy? Ready to do your FairyTime magic?"

"I'm ready!"

"Ok, start the timers...let's do this!" said Serena.

Serena loaded up multiple copies of the 'summon objects' spell, then reached her mind out to the small room at the back of the other building where the two targets were still keeping an eye out the back. Serena nodded.

"FAS team: stun the seven targets and confirm..." added captain Hughes.

"Two stunned at the back". "Two at the front...". "Three and four at the front". "Mr blue stripy shirt too... we are done, over to you, Serena!" said the various FAS guys.

"Ok, six rifles incoming.... one... two... three... four... five... six!". As they appeared in Serena's hands, Poppy 'did her thing' to check they weren't about to go off - not that anyone noticed, as the Fairytime spell made it happen in an instant! Serena quickly passed them over to the three SAS guys on the other side of the table, who took them to the side to ensure they were unloaded and made safe. They were quickly replaced by four other guys.

"Eight grenades incoming in pairs .... two... four... six... eight!" Again, as they arrived, she quickly passed them over, and Poppy checked them. Again, they moved out of the way, and another four guys moved in.

"You're doing well, Serena..." encouraged captain Hughes.

"Right, seven handguns incoming... one... two... three... four... five... six...". There was a pause. "Oh, SHIT!""

"What's wrong?"

"I think Mr blue stripy shirt has more than just a handgun!"

"What do you mean?"

"He's got something down his pants, and I don't mean his dangly bits - that's quite small by comparison! There's a wire going from it to one of the two phones in his pocket. Shit, why didn't I see that before!!"

"Take a breath, Serena!" said captain Hughes. "Ok, maybe you can bring just him over here? We'll deal with it here..". The idea of summoning a guy over who had both a gun and a lump of explosive down his pants was a very scary one, but she was definitely pumped up, and realised that, if they wanted it to all work, she would need to just do it.

"Yes, give me a few seconds to load up the summoning spell."

"Ok, wait till I say so. Mike, Hussein - sounds like we have a phone controlled explosive coming in, get ready!". Mike and Hussein were two of the SAS team in the room with them.

"I have an idea, just give me three seconds...." said Poppy very assertively. She disappeared, and re-appeared two seconds later, with Claude. "Ok, when stripy shirt gets here, I'll knock him out really hard, then run a 'Fairytime' - that will pause time as far as you're concerned. I can then put a sort of force-field around his dangly bits and the phone, which will contain any potential explosion, and Claude can carefully remove the explosives, wire and phone as-is, then I'll teleport us out of here, and find somewhere safe to put the bits."

"You sure that will work?"

"The 'Fairytime' most definitely will, and it will give us PLENTY of time to work out what to do! I can't think of anything better in the few seconds we have."

"Ok, let's do it. Jock, get your team ready to go in... Serena, do it..." said the captain.

Serena ran the summoning spell, and dropped Mr blue stripy shirt in the clear area in the middle of the room. When I say 'dropped', I mean he dropped maybe three inches onto the floor with quite a bump - I'm sure Serena did that on purpose! He started to 'wake up', so Poppy hit him with the strong spell to 'disable' him.

"All done!" said Poppy moments later.

"What do you mean?"

"I left Claude with the explosive out the back and well away from anyone: he's made the explosive safe. And Mr blue stripy shirt's gun is on the table. We're done!" Several of them looked over at My blue stripy shirt: his trousers were down around his knees, his underpants just above that, with his 'dangly bits' very visible! There was no sign of wires or explosives, nor of the gun under his armpit.

"Ok, Jock, you are a go! I repeat, GO!" called out captain Hughes.

The six terrorists in the building opposite had no idea what just hit them: each had a burly SAS man next to them, with a gun at their heads. "On the floor, legs and arms spread! Do it!!!!" shouted Jock. The terrorists, who by now were coming out of their 'stun', suddenly realised their guns were gone, and discovered themselves being hurled down onto the floor! "Spread I said!!". While six of the team stood over each of the terrorists, another three went around, and secured their arms and legs with zip ties.

One of the hostages started to get up for some unknown reason. "Stay down!" shouted Lizzy. "Let the soldiers do what they need to do! Wait for them to tell us what to do!" Serena was both listening on the comms and was probing, so knew what was happening. 'Well done, Lizzy!' thought Serena.


"Hey, Samantha, what's the timer showing?"

"Coming up to a minute and a half.."

"Oh, that's not bad at all!" Serena could hear the SAS team checking that everything was ok.

"Ok, we are clear over here!" said Jock over the fairy comms.

"Right, Serena, Samantha, shall we go over, sort out the mind-wipes?" said captain Hughes.

"Why don't I wipe Mr stripy blue shirt before we go?"

"Good idea...."

"Coming up to two minutes" said Samantha.

"Sod it, he can lose the last 5 minutes!". There was another word at the end of the sentence - it started with a 'B' and ended with a 'd', but Serena said that silently under her breath. She went over to him, and did the mind-wipe: a big smile came to her face. "That's what you get for screwing with me! Just be grateful I didn't chop off your tiny d***!!" she commented to the still unconscious body. She turned to John. "Ready to go? Want a lift?".

John and Samantha held onto Serena, and she took them over into an empty space. She took a look around: the six terrorists were being held over to one side (with guns still pointed at them, of course!), the hostages were on the other side of the room, well separated. Serena decided that she needed to have a few quick words to the hostages. "Hey, everyone, I'm Serena. Just want to let you know that you are all safe now. But please stay where you are for a few minutes, I'm sure someone will be wanting to take you all somewhere to have a few words with you about what happened here today." As she spoke, she made eye contact with Lizzy, and smiled.

"Nicely said, Serena. Ok, ready to 'process' the six targets?" asked John. Serena definitely like the word 'targets', it was so much less worrying than 'terrorists'! They walked over to the first target: like the others, he was sat against the wall, hands and legs tied together, a gag in his mouth, and a blindfold over his eyes: to Serena, he looked to no longer be any sort of threat to her, which made her feel so much better. Captain Hughes had already told Jock's team what Serena was about to do, so they were ready to move out of the way as needed (guns still pointed, of course!)

"How's the time, Samantha?"

"Just under 4 minutes..."

"Ok, I'll cook him them 5 minutes!". She walked along the row of targets, and wiped them all. "Ok, they are all done..."

"Thanks Serena. Jock, you can start moving them out.... Ok, hostages next..."

"Does anyone need to debrief them about the last few minutes first?"

"Probably not.... maybe you can have a quick word with your witch though, before you wipe her?". Serena went over to Lizzy, and took her a bit away from the other hostages.

"Hi Lizzy! Thanks for what you did. You managed to stay remarkably calm the whole time - yes, I was keeping an eye on you, mainly for your own safety. Quick question: what did you see after we last 'talked'?"

"Umm... well, they all seemed to stop moving... then their guns started disappearing. Ah, yes, then Mr stripy shirt completely disappeared. Then the big guys suddenly appeared.... Then you got here..."

"That sounds about right. Anything else?"

"Can't think of anything."

"That's fine, I wasn't expecting anything else. Ok, now I'll be honest with you, what you just saw me do to the targets over there was to wipe their minds of the last few minutes, we don't want them remembering what we just did. And I'm afraid I'm going to have to do the same on all of you guys too..."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, I mean, what we just did isn't the sort of thing we'd like the general population to know about."

"Yeah, I can see that, makes sense. So who ARE these guys? SAS or something? And are you one of them?".

Serena was actually able to be quite honest with Lizzy, as she knew she'd be forgetting it all in a minute! "Yes, they are SAS, great bunch of guys, but no, I'm not actually with them, just helping out... tell you what, I'll explain a bit after I wipe your mind...."

While she was talking to Lizzy, a couple of the other SAS guys had lined up all the hostages, ready for Serena to 'do the wipe', then take them out for their debrief.

"6 minutes, 25 seconds..." confirmed Samantha. Serena wiped the hostages for 8 minutes, just to be safe. "Ok, everyone, don't worry, you are all absolutely safe now. The guys with the guns have been taken away. Please, can you go with these handsome gentlemen, they need to talk to you all, to understand what went on here today." John smiled at the concept that the SAS team were 'handsome gentlemen'!


Offline Sparky

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Chapter 19


Serena went over to Lizzy again. "Sorry about this, but I'll let you remember our earlier chat." Samantha held her phone in front of Serena so she could accurately see the time, and she cast an accurate mind-wipe spell on Lizzy. "You ok there, Lizzy?"

"Yeah, what just happened?"

"I'm Serena, we 'spoke' earlier on. I just had to wipe your memories of the last 5 minutes or so, didn't want you to remember the details about what happened. But you're safe now, and the guys with the guns are all gone."

"Oh, that's good. Thank you!"

"So, I promised I'd explain to you who I am. Let me start with a simple question: has your coven been reunited with the other covens yet?"

"Yes, we have."

"And have you heard about the prophecy?"

"Yes, the reuniting of the covens was all part of it, wasn't it?"

"That's right. So... I'm Serena, I'm actually the witch that the prophecy is all about. I had to reunite the covens, and now I just have to defeat a nasty dark invasion at some point in the future. So I've been doing some training with these army guys, and that's why I'm here tonight, although I'm not actually in the army myself. And this here is Samantha, she's the 'healer' in our team, and she's been doing a really great job keeping me going this evening...."

"Oh, wow! So nice to meet you both. And thanks for doing whatever you did tonight! I'm so relieved it's all over!"

"Yeah, me too! Hey, Lizzy, thanks for your help this evening, but now I need to leave you so you can be debriefed."

----

A little while later, captain Hughes called Serena, Samantha, and all the fairies into the room they had been using earlier. Mr Blue stripy shirt was long gone, and the bomb team had relieved Claude of the phone-controlled explosive device.

They were joined by the senior officer who had watched the operation earlier.

"First of all, I need to say a thank you to you all, especially you, Serena. Today we ended up with the best possible outcome: no injuries, no shots fired, all the 'targets' safely secured, and the hostages unharmed. I don't think we could have asked for better." said the senior officer. "I have no doubt that, without your rather different ways of doing things, there would have been several fatalities. Now, Captain Hughes suggested I should also specifically thank you, Samantha: whilst Serena was doing all the 'fancy stuff', I'm very aware she couldn't have done it without your help, so thank you!"

"Thank you." said Samantha, smiling widely: it wasn't often that 'the backroom team', which is effectively what she was, received official appreciation.

"It's too easy to forget that we work as a team, and you guys - Poppy, I'm including you and your FAS team too - all worked together very well. And Serena, you lead the team very well." said captain Hughes.

"Yeah, I kinda noticed you were letting me take the lead..."

"That was my choice, I wanted you to see how how well you coped leading us all. If there had been any problems, I would have stepped in, but I didn't need to. All of our hours of training together have been very worthwhile. I'd kinda been hoping something like this would happen, to give you all a chance to do something for real."

"As part of our appreciation," added the senior officer, "please expect to see a substantial payment in your bank account to cover your 'Professional Fees' for you and your team's work here this evening. You can also expect some large and important doors to be opened to you as a result of tonight."

Offline Sparky

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I thought I'd do something a little different for today's episode, I hope you enjoy it!

----------------------------------


Chapter 20


Several weeks after the excitement of helping out at 'the Reading Incident', Samantha had had another meeting, as the ambassador for the witches and humans, with the other ambassadors from the other realms: this time she went by herself, along with the fairy ambassador. Whilst a little unsure of herself, she soon realised they were all feeling the same way. The fact that she was a member of 'Serena's team' had definitely been noticed by the other realms, and the meeting was very positive, with agreement to provide relevant assistance.

There was also reports of progress made of the previously requested research, with meetings planned so that the researchers could pass on the details.

But for the last couple of weeks, Samantha's life had been surprisingly quiet. Yes, she had some college work to do, but that was all now done, and she was alone in her room. She was currently in her bedroom, sat at her dressing table, and looking into the mirror. More specifically, she was looking at her teeth. Whilst Samantha's actual teeth were really good (she had no fillings) her teeth weren't perfectly straight. Don't get me wrong, they were not badly out of line... they were sufficiently ok that, as a teen, there was no way she would have qualified for braces on the NHS. And there was no way her parents could have afforded for her to get private braces, especially for such a minor 'defect'.

----

Elida went over to the kitchen area to get herself a coffee, when Faylinn arrived there too. "Hey, Elida, not seen you for a few days, nice to see you! I guess you've been busy apprenticing over at FI5?" said Faylinn, with a bit of a smile. Whilst, as far as most fairies were concerned, Elida was mainly a tooth fairy but was doing an apprenticeship over at FI5, Faylinn was one of a very small number that knew the real truth: far from being just an apprentice, she was actually helping to run the place!

Now, if you're trying to remember who Faylinn is, then she was the fairy that Elida worked together with, when they were fixing the 'trail of braces' left by 'The Dark Fairy' (and who we now know as Sebby!).

"Hey, Faylinn, how's things? Keeping busy?"

"Yeah, had a young kid this morning, braces, expanders, elastics and a facemask, he was not a happy boy. Lots of calming and soothing spells got used to relax him. Need to check in with him later, see how he's coping."

"Oh, yes, it's sad when kids need such extreme braces... but so much pretty shiny metal!"

"Yes, plenty of that! So what have you been up to recently then? Were you involved with that thing with the FAS the other week?"

"No, that was Poppy. I was having a lovely evening at home with Puck, and the first I heard of it was the next day when Poppy filled me in. Tell you what, Poppy is starting to give me a run for my money, she's getting really good, and self confident too. Luckily we get on really well, and our skills seem to complement each other really well. Tell you what though, I'm so glad I still get to do some work here, it's almost 'relaxing' to just be dealing with teeth and braces! Especially shiny metal brackets... I do hate it when they get ceramic brackets, or those new plastic 'aligners'... I mean, how can you call those aligners 'braces'? They don't even shine or sparkle!"

"Oh, definitely with you there! I mean, when they first started doing aligners, it was relatively easy to use a few 'nudge' spells to persuade them to use metal brackets, but it's getting a lot more difficult now..."

"Hmm, maybe we should just burn down the places where they make those horrible aligners?" suggested Elida.

"Nah, they'd just build more! I think we're just going to have to get used to the fact that more people are going to get treated with aligners. At least, the good news is that the total mumber of people getting orthodontic treatment has been going steadily up. Plus, with the problems caused by a lack of NHS dentists, we have plenty of people with other, non-braces, teeth problems to keep us busy!" said Faylinn.

Just then, Elida's tablet beeped. "Oh, looks like I'm needed, better go, see you around!"

"Yeah, we must have lunch together some time, have a proper catch-up." Elida was very pleased that, after the 'time loop' events, she had become friends with Faylinn.

'So, what's this call then?". She opened up the tablet to see who and what was needing her attention: she got a bit of a surprise to discover that her 'customer' was one 'Samantha Parsons', a very familiar name.

----

As Samantha looked at her teeth, some words inadvertantly crept out of her mouth: "I wish I had nice straight teeth...".

Of course, the magic of the fairy's wish scheduling system had predicted Samantha's wish in advance, and Elida was there to hear her say it. Whilst she would normally have made herself visible to Samantha, this time she stayed invisible, so she could take a look at Samantha's teeth. Yes, her actually teeth looked really nice, lovely and white (but not TOO white!), and while their positioning wasn't actually all that bad, there was definitely room for improvement.

Now, normally when someone made a wish like Samantha had just made, it would be up to the fairies to work out a way to fulfil the wish, without the human customer actually realising what was being done. However, Samantha knew about fairies, so Elida decided to take a rather different route.

"Hey there, Samantha!" she said gently, making herself visible, and flying into her line of sight. "You made a wish...."

"Did I?"

"Yeah, you wished you had nice straight teeth."

"I guess I did, didn't I? And of all people, YOU got the call?"

"Well, it's the way the wish scheduling system works: it remembers which fairies have interacted with a customer before, and allocates them again if they are available. So, you don't like your teeth then?"

"Well, I like them, I just wish they lined up a bit better."

"Whoah, there you go, another wish!" said Elida, giggling. "So, straight teeth: normally I'd have to do something to get you in to see an orthodontist, work out how to pay for it, and all that. But we can simplify things for you. So, the big question is: do you just want them straightening up, or do you REALLY want to have braces, and do things the more traditional way? If you just want them straight, I can do that for you now."

"You know, that's a very good question!" replied Samantha, looking in the mirror at her teeth again.

"I think braces would actually look nice on you" commented Elida. "Hey, want to try some? I mean, they'll be kinda like 'fake braces', they won't DO anything, but you could see what you'd look like."

Samantha thought for a bit. "Ok, yeah...."

Elida called up her wand, and cast a spell on Samantha: it wasn't often she could be quite so overt with braces - a normal human getting braces all of a sudden would get quite a big surprise, so it wasn't something she got to do very often. She put a simple set of medium-sized metal braces onto Samantha's teeth, with a suitable archwire, and dark blue ligatures. She felt a cetain excitement at being able to blatently give a human lively shiny metal braces, and realised that maybe this was how Sebby (aka The Dark Fairy) had felt when giving her victims braces. "First impressions?" she asked.

"Yeah, I kinda like the look.... you're right, they do look good, don't they!"

"Ok, so you like the idea of actually having your teeth straightened with braces?"

The more Samantha looked at the braces that Elida had put on her teeth, the more she liked them. She was also starting to have some rather nice 'feelings'. The idea of being a 'metal mouth' for a while was becoming quite appealing.

"Yes, I think I'd like that."

"Right, so the next question is whether you are interested in the experience of going to an orthodontist to actually GET the braces, or whether just getting the braces is good enough. I mean, if you just want the braces, I could probably get Faylinn to treat you."

Samantha thought about if for a moment: what did she actually WANT? She wanted to have straight teeth, and wanted the experience of having to wear braces. The thought of all the faffing around if she had to go to an orthodontist wasn't that interesting to be honest. "I think I just want the braces. So what options do I have?"

"Ok, there's plenty of options for the actual braces. But whilst I can show you what they look like, I haven't learned the skills needed to give you a proper braces treatment. I think we need to ask Faylinn to join us, she knows all about what needs to be done." Elida pulled out her phone, and was about to call Faylin, when she changed her mind. "Nah, let's have a bit of fun: Samantha, could you say 'I wish Faylinn was here to give me braces'"

Samantha smiled, letting Elida see the braces that were still on her teeth. "I wish Faylinn was here to give me braces". Seconds later Faylinn appeared. "Oh, hello there, you must be Faylinn, that's a lovely name and I DO like your outfit - it's nice to meet you!"

"She can actually SEE us?" asked a rather surprised Faylinn.

"Yeah, I made you visible to her as soon as you arrived. She knows all about us, we've been training together, along with some of the FAS guys. And I've probably just said far more to you than I should have said!"

Faylinn smiled. "So why am I here?"

"I could do with your help: Samantha here would like some braces"

"You're kidding? She wants braces? Can't you handle that?"

"I asked Samantha if she wanted to actually go to an orthodontist to get braces, and she wasn't that keen: she just want to have braces, to get her teeth straight. Now, Samantha knows about us fairies, and I'm thinking that YOU could give her braces to straighten her teeth, kinda like an ortho would... I'll put it through the system, plus we have three wishes now!"

Faylinn took a breath, and turned to Samantha. "Well, hello there, Samantha." Samantha looked back at Faylinn and smiled.

"Oh, yes, they DO look good on you! I'm guessing Elida put those on you so you could see what they look like?"

"Yeah, I did." said Elida. "I thought I'd leave you to go through all the options she has. I'm just gonna sit here, and enjoy the show!"

"Fine with me! This is going to be such fun! So, Samantha, you want to go through a 'real treatment' with braces, letting them slowly move your teeth into a better position?"

"Yes, I think I do"

"That's VERY ok with me, I'm sure that you know by now how much we fairies LOVE shiny things. And braces ARE nice and shiny!" said Faylinn. "Ok, so let me talk to you about the options you have: let's start with the size of the brackets: what you have on right now are quite typical for modern treatment. If you were to get treated privately, at a more expensive orthodontist's, then you'd probably have much smaller brackets, like these." She waved her wand, and the brackets became a lot smaller. "Much more discrete, but not the sort of thing we fairies like to suggest, just not enough shininess!"

Samantha looked at herself in the mirror. Faylinn was right, they did look a bit TOO small. "Nah, you're right, too small!"

"Ok, well, if you were getting NHS treatment, they would possibly look like this...". Again, Faylinn waved her wand, giving Samantha MUCH larger brackets. "We fairies do everything we can to encourage the NHS orthos to use these, for rather obvious reasons!".

Again, Samantha looked at her metal smile in the mirror. She knew that Serena had MUCH larger braces, full metal 'bands' that actually went all over her teeth, and she now realised that, in a strange way, she was a bit jealous of Serena's braces. These large brackets were giving her some rather nice feelings! And the molar bands looked good too!

"I get a feeling you like those, don't you?" suggested Faylinn. Samantha nodded.

"Ok, so large brackets. Any idea what colour ligs you would like?"

"Ligs?"

"Sorry, ligatures. The small rubber bands that hold the wire to the brackets. I could use wire, if you'd prefer that! At the moment you have dark blue ligs, but you can go lighter, or go for pretty much any colour. There's also silver and clear to choose from. And you can always ask me to change them at any time."

"Let's stay with these blue ones for the moment, they look pretty nice."

"Ok. Now, having looked at your teeth, I can say that I could treat you with the braces you have on your teeth right now. However...."

"However?"

"However, if you're up for it, either now, or in the future, I could give you a few interesting 'additions'"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, one very obvious option would be either headgear or a facemask, you know what they are?"

"I remember a friend having a headgear at school, a few years ago."

"Like this?" asked Faylinn, waving her wand. Faylinn was rather ejoying this 'wish. it was so much more fun tha the majority of wishes that she handled.

Samantha looked into the mirror: she had a metal facebow between her lips, connected to a neck-strap. "Well, the bit at the front is the same, but she had straps over her head?"

"Ah, a high-pull.... like THIS?". Another wave of the wand.

"Yeah, that's the one!"

"Of course, if you had both at the same time, we'd call it a 'combi headgear'". Faylinn waved her wand again. As the extra strap appeared on Samantha's head, a slight tingle went down her spine... Samantha was rather enjoying the experience! "Maybe you'd like a second facebow?" Another wave of her wand, and things got reconfigured: the upper facebow was on the high-pull, the lower on the neck-strap. "Oh, yes!" exclaimed Faylinn, "those two shiny facebows look good, what do you think, Elida?"

"Oh, yes, very nice!" replied Elida "Lots of shiny metal!". Samantha was being strangely quiet. "You know, I reckon a facemask could suit her, I think she should try one...".

"Why not: Samantha, ready to see what a facemask is like?". Samantha nodded, at the same time holding her legs tightly together. Another wave of Faylinn's wand, and the headgear disappeared. She had added in a couple of thick extra metal wires onto her braces - onto the molar bands to be exact - with loops on the front, adjacent to her canines. From there elastics connected to the bar on the front of the facemask. The facemask she was wearing was the modern style with a thick bar down the middle, pads top & bottom for the forehead and chin, with the lateral bar in the middle for the elastics. "Of course, there's a couple of other types of facemasks you could have."

Once more, Samantha looked at herself in the mirror, and liked what she saw: the most confusing thing for her was trying to work out where the strange - yet very nice - feelings had come from.

"Tell you what, let's leave that facemask on you for the moment, as you DO seem to be enjoying it, and talk about other options. I guess we can start with expanders: you don't ACTUALLY need one, but you might want to experience an expander."

"I remember a boy at school had a lumpy removable one of those, he hated it!"

"Yeah, I've seen that they are hard to wear. But no, I'm thinking of one that made of metal, non-removable. Tell you what, let's give you both an upper and lower expander to try out! Ready?" Samantha took a big breath - she was just so glad all of this wasn't for real. Well, yes, it WAS for real, but if she asked Faylinn, she would take it all off her - well she hoped she would. Except...

She nodded her head: her tongue was moved out of the way, and she discovered that she now had metal wires just inside her lower teeth, with a big lump at the front, plus a big lump in the roof of her mouth, with wires from it going to her molar bands... oh, she now had two more molar bands.

"Oh, googneth, icth fiwwing my mowf!" said Samantha with a big lisp.

"Yes, it does, doesn't it. Here, use this small mirror to take a better look what I just put in your mouth. Samantha put the mirror into her mouth, then looked in the big mirror, all of which let her see what was in her mouth a lot better. She was getting those nice feelings again....

"Why don't you just go the whole way," suggested Elida, "and give her a tongue crib and a herbst too??!!"

Samantha wasn't quite sure what Elida was talking about, but she soon discovered a moment after Faylinn waved her wand again. Shit, her tongue was now caged in, and she couldn't waggle her jaw from side to side any more, something to do with the metal rods that had appeared at the sides of her braces. Not forgetting that she was still wearing the facemask! Samantha's breathing rate was becoming shallower and faster, and she held her legs even more toghtly together, trying to cover up the very nice feelings that she was having. She was really having trouble understanding WHY having these braces were making her feel the way she was, although she wasn't really complaining, they WERE rather nice feelings after all!

Finally, she managed to calm down, and her breathing returned to normal.

"You ok there, Samantha?" asked Faylinn.

"Yes, I think so" said Samantha. Well, that's what she TRIED to say: I'll leave you to imagine how it actually came out. But she DID have a big smile on her face!

"Ok, let's go back to the basics....". Once more, Faylin waved her wand, removing everything except for the 4 molar bands (2 on top, 2 on bottom) and the large metal brackets. "So, those are normal stainless steel brackets. I can think of two possible 'tweaks'. The first is what is called 'self-ligating brackets'. Some people think they are more comfortable, but it would mean that you wouldn't need the ligs... like this...". A wave of the wand later, and Samantha was sporting a set of very modern self-ligating brackets. Normally they would be a lot smaller, but Faylin had magicked up some special large versions.

Samantha looked in her mirror: for some reason they didn't 'look right'. Yes, they looked a bit odd without the small rubber ligatures on the brackets. "No, don't really fancy those..." she said.

"That's fine with us, we much prefer the normal ones, much more sparkly! Now, the OTHER possibility is to have the normal brackets, but gold plated. Want a look?"

"Oh, definitely!". Her brackets changed back to the more normal type, with the dark blue ligs on again, but this time they were golden. They DID look rather nice!

"Like the self-ligating ones, they WOULD normally be much smaller - after all, if you can afford gold plated braces, you'd not normally want them to be QUITE so obvious, would you? But I think they look so much nicer when they are bigger, don't you agree, Elida?"

"Oh yes, so much nicer and far more sparkly and shiny!"

"I think that's about it as far as fixed braces go - well ignoring lingual braces that is, but who wants to have braces that noone can see? How stupid! Of course, I could treat you with removable braces, with springs in them...."

"You know," said Samantha, admiring her smile in the mirror, "I do rather like these braces!"

"Actually, I just thought of something you've missed, Faylinn: a removable bite plate!" suggested Elida.

"Oh, yes, silly me! Although I have a feeling that Samantha won't like it. No reason we couldn't try it though....". Faylin waved her wand, and suddenly Samantha could feel a big lump of plastic appear at the front of her mouth, at the top. She ran her tongue over it: it felt strangely nice.

"You know, it thort feelths nithe" said Samantha. "Ith it re... we... wrrwwremovable?"

"That one is, although I could give you a fixed one?"

"How do I wrrwwremove it?"

"Clips that go just above your rear molars. Tell you what, look in the mirror, and I'll show you how to get it out." As Samantha looked in the mirror, Faylin used her magic to slowly pull out the clasps enough to go over Samantha's brackets, then pulled gently down: the bite plate fell into Samantha's mouth, and she was able to remove it.

"You know, I don't think I'd want to wear this all the time, but it could be fun to wear it, like when I'm in bed."

"Yes, that would be ok, if you'd like that."

"So, how long will it take for my teeth to move into place with these braces?"

"For you, any time between 1 day and 5 years! And you can change your treatment length any time you like. How long would you like to have them? I mean, normal treatment for your teeth would probably be something like 9 months, they really aren't all that bad. But don't forget, you'll have to wear retainers afterwards! Ok, only joking about that bit, you don't HAVE to have retainers, if you don't want them: the magic will hold your teeth perfectly in the right place."

"Nine months seems fine to me! And I guess we can talk about retainers nearer the time?".

Samantha sat looking at her teeth and lovely braces in the mirror. Next to her were two small fairies, also having a good look....

Offline Sparky

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Chapter 21


"So, how's it going, being an ambassador then?" Serena asked Samantha.

"Yeah, it's a lot easier than I thought it would be, probably helped by the fact that almost everyone else is inexperienced too. It's a bit weird talking with elves and cylops and goblins though."

Serena had actually been talking with Samantha for most of five minutes when she realised something was different about her. She watched Samantha's mouth carefully. Yes, no doubt about it, she had braces.

"Hey, Samantha... so when did you get the braces then?"

"Ah, yes... my braces... I got them last night."

"Last night? I wasn't aware there was an 'all night orthodontist' around here!"

"Yeah, it was  ore of a 'home call service'." Serena was being abit slow today. "From Faylinn and Elida Orthodontic Services!"

"Ah, so they're fakes then?"

"No, absolutely not. I actually need my teeth fixing, and I was looking in the mirror last night, and it seems I said something with the word 'wish' in it. Next thing I know is that Elida was there!"

"Oh, I bet Elida enjoyed THAT!"

"Oh, we both did. She put some braces on me, so I could have a look..."

"And something tells me that you actually LIKED the look.... so where does Faylinn come into this?"

"Well, whilst Elida could 'give me braces', it seems Faylinn is more experienced at actual treatments, so Faylinn is being my ortho, giving me braces that will slowly sort out my teeth. She's good, she showed me all sorts of options..."

"And something tells me that, while she did that, Elida just looked on?" said Serena with a smirk.

"You clearly know Elida far too well, Serena!"

"I probably do. But I have a LOT of time for her and Poppy too, they are both very capable fairies, but also have no problems enjoying themselves with a bit of fun at the same time. The only thing you have to watch with the fairies is that they really DO like anything that's shiny and sparkly! So, how the braces feeling? Any soreness?"

"Oh, come on Serena, I'm a healer, I never have to suffer pain!!"

"Sorry, yes, that was a stupid comment!"

"Hey, Serena, did you ever get the money the army guy promised?"

"Oh, yes, it arrived yesterday. Quite a substantial sum too! I think we four need to sit down together, and work out how we want to use it. It'll cover any expenses for a while, and then some..."

"When you say 'substantial', HOW substantial?"

"Put it this way, there's a comfortable 5 figures, and that's NOT including the pence..."

"Oh, THAT substantial!" said Samantha after she realised what Serena had just said. "But why so much?"

"I guess when you consider the cost of what COULD have happened without our help, it's quite small in comparison. I'm also thinking that certain people have realised that, if we don't manage to stop the 'invasion' when it actually happens, then even a couple of million would be no more than a pee in a bucket. They need us as much as we need them. And by comparison, we're cheap."

"When you put it like that, yes....

"Yeah, so the pressure of us needing to get a job is pretty much gone now. We can concentrate on our magic and stuff...".

They sat quietly for a moment.

"You know, I never PROPERLY thanked you for what you did the other night: you just kept on doing exactly what I needed, and exactly when I needed it. All our training is starting to pay off." commented Serena.

Samantha had a big smile on her face (one full of metal of course): while she knew that what she did was important, and was appreciated, it did feel good when someone actually SAID it!



Offline Sparky

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Chapter 22

Time skips forward a bit here, by several months.

It is clear that 'one of those doors' as mentioned a couple of chapters ago, has been opened for them. As a brief explanation, the "Chiefs of Staff Committee" is the small group of military big-wigs that basically run the military in the UK: everyone else reports to them.

Kinda Like Lilly, Tats and Elida over in the fairy realm, I guess!

--------


"Good morning, gentlemen, thank you all for your time." The audience was the Chief of the Defence Staff, and the other 5 members of the Chiefs of Staff Committee... in other words, the top 6 UK military guys. The man talking was Brigadier General Smith, head man of the SAS.

As well as the 7 men already mentioned, Major Tom and Captain Hughes were also present at the front of the room. In addition, there were 4 other chairs at the front, currently empty. In addition, a non-descript army member stood by the door, holding a loaded semi-automatic weapon.

"The briefing you are about to receive may seem rather 'far fetched', but I can assure you that it is 100% authentic, and something we need to take 100% seriously. I'm now going to hand over to Captain Hughes, 22 SAS."
 
"Thank you sir. We have recently become aware of a rather serious and major military event that will occur sometime in about 15 months time, in the south of the country. It will be in the form of a 'magical invasion', which we actually need to ask our traditional miltary forces to completely ignore." There were 6 very confused high-ranking officers listening to this.

"I need to invite 4 special visitors to join us: for the benefit of the lieutenant by the door, the four visitors HAVE been invited, so please do NOT shoot them! Serena, when you're ready..."

10 seconds later, Serena, Harper, Sarah and Samantha all suddenly appeared at the front of the room. Rather than being in their normal clothes, they had decided that the 4 outfits that had come with all their weaponry would probably make a much better impression.

"Sorry for the delay, I screwed up the teleportation spell first time around!". The 6 big-wigs were visibly shocked at what they had just seen.

"You'd better put these on...." said Captain Hughes, passing them all 'visitor' badges with photos on.

While the other three sat down, Serena remained standing and addressed the audience.

"Good morning sirs, my name is Serena, and I am a rather powerful witch. What you just saw there was a teleportation spell, a way to get from where we were, to here, a distance of about a mile: I felt that if I just walked in through the door, you might have problems appreciating that magic actually exists. And as you can see, it most definitely does! Although I'm sure you must have already been briefed about Captain Hughes' troop of witches.".

Five minutes ago, Serena had felt distinctly nervous: it not often that a 19 year old girl gets to address the top 6 military guys in the UK. But, of course, help was to hand: Samantha ran a couple of calming spells on Serena, so when she had started to speak, she had not felt at all nervous.

"Let me introduce my friends: Sarah is my mentor, Harper is now a very able fighter, and Samantha is an impressive healer. I am here today to deliver a very important message, but before we get there, I think I need to explain a bit about the history of witches in England, who I actually am, and why I am here today."

Major Tom had explained that she needed to be authoritive, and simply present facts. As long as she did so, she could expect to not be interrupted, until she asked for feedback.

Serena explained how, in the middle ages - so over 500 years ago - witches were actually quite common, providing back then the sort of services that doctors do now: helping with hurting arms and legs, reducing headaches, and that sort of thing. Some of the witches were more able - just like many trades today - and could carry out stronger magic. And whilst there were a few 'bad witches', the vast majority practiced good magic.

"Then, about 500 years ago, people started to get scared of witches, and that's when many witches got burned at the stake, or drowned. The number of witches was clearly reduced, and those left tended to keep quiet about their abilities, lest they were also killed by the mob. The many covens who had previously interacted with each other became isolated. And around this time, just before the 'troubles', a prophecy was made. Of course, back then, it was passed down verbally - few people could write - and that is why each coven appears to have a slightly different prophecy," explained Serena.

"Gentlemen" interrupted Captain Hughes, "If you take a look at your briefing packs, then items 3a through 3d are copies of four of those prophecies. I'll let Serena explain further."

"So, yes, whilst different, the message is very similar in all the prophecies I've seen. The first - so 3a - comes from my own coven. But if you look at 3b instead, you should be able to see that the first part pretty much describes things from our very recent history. You'll note there's a bit there about "the plague of the mask", which I think describes the recent Covid issues rather well. Before I go any further though, I think I need to tell you a bit about myself..." Serena paused for a moment.

"Up until I was 16, I was like you: I knew nothing of witches and magic: our coven was what we would call a 'closed coven', whereby under-16's were simply not told anything about witches or magic. On my 16th birthday, my parents told me that I was, like them, a witch, and that I would be able to learn to do magic. Good magic, of course. So what sort of thing do I mean? A child falls over in the playground, hurting themselves, so a good witch parent might cast a calming spell, or a simple healing spell. For most people, my parents included, that's about as far as it goes.". A short pause for breath.

"In fact, I picked up magic very quickly: to me it was really obvious and simple. Then, on my 18th birthday, I was expected to make a pledge in front of the members of my coven. A pledge to the light, of course. But for some unknown reason, I wasn't able to do that. There was no way I could pledge to the darkness, so I instead pledged to the 'light grey', which upset most of my coven! Luckily one of our elders had recently read the prophecy - specifically the one that's item 3a - which seemed to describe me rather well. If you've wanting to know about that 'mouth of metal', then you may have noticed that I have orthodontic braces: if you were to look closely, you would see that the braces are quite extreme, meaning that I do indeed have a 'mouth of metal'. You'll see that the prophecies all go on to say that I will re-unite the covens of the land, which is something that I am doing at the moment. It goes on to say that I will go on to 'defeat the attacks of the darkness', and if you turn to item 3c, and look at the same part in that version, you'll see that I will have 2 others by my side - Sarah and Harper here - and a third one who does not fight: that is Samantha, a powerful witch, with the skills of healing and calming."

Once again, Serena paused for a moment.

"So you are saying that you are the four named in this supposed prophecy?" asked one of the big-wigs.

"First of all, there's no 'supposed': these are examples of many very old documents which  seem to describe events of the last couple of decades very accurately, plus clearly describe the the four of us - if you'd like to waste time, I could describe many more things which back up our 'claim'".

Once again, Captain Hughes stepped up to the front. "Gentlemen, I can assure you that my troop have all seen evidence to back up Serena's claims. Plus, as you already know, we are all witches too".

While Captain Hughes was talking, for some reason Serena felt she should lightly scan the 6 military bigwigs: she got a bit of a shock to discover that one of them was actually a witch.

"Excuse me, the gentleman who is third from my left.." Serena pointed to who she meant. "Who are you, please sir?". The man introduced himself as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Major General Disorder.

"Major General, let me put this simply: would you please like to tell the rest of us the 'special skills' that you have? Or maybe you would prefer me to tell everyone?".

The room went silent, with eyes looking first at Serena, then at the Major General.

"Major General?" prompted Serena silently, speaking directly into the Major General's mind.

"Um, yes... Ok, so I AM actually a witch myself, although I never use any magical powers... But how did you know?"

"Thank you, sir, for confirming that. How did I know? Did I mention that I am a witch who pledged to the 'light grey'? Which means that I am able to use certain dark magic spells,  including the ability to scan people to see if they are witches. By our reckoning, there's maybe several hundred witches within the armed forces, although the vast majority - like you - don't use their skills. Some, like the members of Captain Hughes' SAS troop, actually use the limited amount of magic they are able to do. But Major General, can you confirm what I've been saying?"

"Well, I'm not actually familiar with the prophecies that you mention, although I have heard of its existence. Your description of the history, what most witches do, and the pledging are all quite accurate."

"Thank you very much, sir, for your honesty: it will hopefully make the rest of my job here today a lot easier. So, on to the next bit of those prophecies. The bit about having to fight and defeat some sort of dark threat: that's the real reson for us being here today."

With the 'outing' of Major General Disorder, Serena's job had just become a lot simpler. The next bit should be interesting though...

"We recently received some very credible intelligence from one of the other six realms about that dark threat, and how it could affect all of the seven realms." Serena was looking at 7 very confused high-ranking military officers.

"Oh, sorry, I forgot to explain about the realms, didn't I? So, we humans are not alone, there are 6 other realms, invisible to most of you: the fairies, the Elves, the Cyclops, the Leprechauns, the Goblins, and finally the Centaurs." There were still 6 very confused faces looking at Serena.

"Well, assuming they found us all ok, there should be a couple of fairies here with us, in this room. In fact, I am hoping they've been here all the time. Wanda, visible to all please!". The seven faces were starting to expect strange things to happen, so Wanda's appearance wasn't so big a surprise. Serena cast the spell, and the two small fairies became visible: they were actually both sat cross-legged on the table in front of the 7 military big-wigs. Jaws dropped as they saw the small creatures.

"Let me introduce two very important fairies: Elida and Poppy. They are both very powerful fairies, in the same way that I am a very powerful witch. Elida helps to run FI5, the fairy equivalent of MI5. Elida, maybe you can explain a bit more about the realms?"

"I certainly can, Serena. Good morning everyone. So yes, you guys are all part of the human realm. We fairies have our own realm, although it is very close to the human realm. And as you may or may not know, we fairies exist to help humans, and grant their wishes, using magic: for example, by training, I'm a tooth fairy, and I help kids with anything to do with teeth, including braces. The other five realms are, as Serena said, the Elves, Cyclops, Leprechauns, Goblins, and Centaurs... We all live in our own magical realms, but there is an uneasy peace between us, so we all tend to stay in our own realms, although we have recently needed to visit all of the other realms. Does that make some sort of sense?" asked Elida. Several heads nodded.

Now, you may be thinking 'hey you just dropped a load of weird shit on these military guys, and you REALLY expect us to believe they are ok with it?'. The reallity is that, if anyone is going to give a briefing to these guys, then you can GUARANTEE that whatever is in that briefing will be 100% true and correct. You wouldn't have got anywhere near these guys if your information was dodgy!

"I got to know Serena a little while ago, almost by chance," continued Elida. "She told us about the prophecy, and I promised that we fairies would help, if we could. So, I'm a bit of a special fairy..." and she explained how she and Poppy were 'Protectors'. "Anyway, some time ago, Poppy and I were in our Royal Library, when Poppy found a book, hiding in a dusty corner. When we eventually persuaded the book to open, we found a message written to us, by name, from our future selves - yeah, don't ask, it's far too complicated! The message was written in such a way as to not directly give details - we think that the universe probably wouldn't like that, in case the timeline got screwed up, I'm sure you've all seen those time films. However, the message cryptically told us to expect an invasion from an eighth realm. It hinted at a location, and it hinted at a time: just under 2 years time from back then. It also hinted that the invasion would involve magic. And I think that's where I need to pass back to Serena...".

"Any questions so far?" asked Serena.

"Yes," said one of the 7 big-wigs. "How credible is that information really? I mean, messages from the future..."

"Major General Disorder, you are a witch, and aware of magical stuff, maybe you'd like to comment?" said Serena.

"Well, it may all sound far-fetched, but you might be surprised what can actually be done with magic. I mean, these 4 ladies all magically teleported in at the start of the meeting; and who thought that fairies actually existed? I think there must be a high level of credibility placed on any information we are presented with here today."

"Thank you, sir. We too believe it is highly credible: parts of the message specifically related to me. So this is where we get to the most important part of our presentation today. As Elida said, the invasion will be a magical one. And what really worries us is that when it happens, the army, the air force, and maybe even the navy, will want to get involved - would I be right in saying that?" asked Serena.

"I think that we would see any invasion, of any sort, to be a threat to the country, and we would therefore respond suitably." replied one of the big-wigs.

"And the problem is that anything conventional you guys could do would have absolutely no effect. Zero. Zilch. You could probably drop a tactical nuclear missile on the site, and all you'd do is contaminate half the country, but you'd have not killed off the invaders, and probably not injured them either. How do I put this gentlemen? When the invasion happens, as we are sure it will, you need to leave it to us. Us witches, and the fairies, and all the others from the other realms. We can do magic. And I have no doubt that we WILL defeat the invasion."

"Sirs, if I might interject for a moment." said Major Tom. "Captain Hughes' men have seen many of the weapons that have been 'made available' to Serena, and have used many of them: they are magical and they are very powerful. Serena, too, is highly skilled at magic, the men have seen her in action. These two fairies here can do some powerful magic as well... it's a different sort of magic from us witches, and I'm guessing that will apply to members of the other realms too. We have also seen the original 'message from the future', and can vouch for it's existence. Yes, it is written very carefully, but both Serena and Elida have explained the reasoning behind it. We believe that there will indeed be an invasion from another realm, in around 15 months time, and that it will be done with powerful magic, by magical creatures. Our 'normal' forces really need to stay out of things, and just leave it to us, otherwise there will be a huge number of needless casualties. In this case, we magic users are 'the professionals': leave it to us." 

"Also," added Elida, "the prophecies that you have seen copies of clearly indicate that Serena WILL succeed in defeating this dark threat. Serena.... not human armies! If you can believe the rest of the prophecies, then you must believe that bit as well. And yes, I am in no doubt that Serena will indeed become Queen of all the witches, thus completing the prophecy... although I know that the idea of her becoming queen is an incredibly scary one to her right now."

"Gentlemen, I believe that is the end of the formal presentation," said Major Tom, "but I'm sure you have questions..."

"Yes, I think we do. Why don't you all come and join us at the table here?" suggested Major General Disorder.

As they sat down, Serena asked "I don't suppose there's the possibility of a cup of coffee is there?"

"My pleasure!" said Elida, magicking up drinks, cakes and biscuits for all present.

Offline Sparky

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Chapter 23


So where are we?

The meeting with the Chiefs of Staff had gone very well: after several further meetings with them, some of which included members of the other realms, Serena felt that they had their support, and was much happier that the military would indeed leave things to them.

The 'team of 4' have been working on and off with the SAS witch troop, joining them on many more training exercises. The 4 'human weapons from Ireland' have also been joining them, and after a while, members from the other realms started visiting the human realm, and joined in the training too. As, of course, did Elida, Poppy, Annabelle, and a load of the FAS guys. Annabelle's abilities have come along in leaps and bounds, and she has thoroughly enjoyed working with the FAS and other 'people'.

The purpose of all the training was many-fold: getting Serena's team fit and up to speed to be useful; improving the SAS troop's magic abilities; letting the members of the other realms become familiar with the human environment, and see how effective their magic would be; and letting the many different teams discover how they could best work together.

Serena picked up the skills she needed amazingly well. Harper's gymnastic abilities were pushed hard, and combined with some interesting magic, making her a very proficient fighter. Sarah, whilst maybe not as 'flamboyant' as Harper, was finding that her magic and fighting skills were also improving well. They had spent a lot of time practising using their magic weapons, and had become quite familiar with them, as had the SAS guys.

Even Samantha got involved: if she was to be able to provide healing, she'd need to be wherever the healing was needed, so needed to be fit and able to protect herself - and her skills were certainly needed a few times during the training.

The four witches had also been trying out a lot more 'power of 4' magic, and were starting to understand the sort of things they could do with it.

Even more importantly, as time passed, Serena was feeling very much more confident, both in herself and those around her, and soon found that everyone, human and non-human alike, was very willing to accept her as their ultimate leader.

No pressure then....

Offline Sparky

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Chapter 24

So, it's a couple of days before Serena's 21st birthday. If you remember, they interpreted the message from the future to mean that the invasion would happen on her birthday... give or take a couple of days. In the same way that they interpreted the location as being 'somewhere near' the old fairy castle (the place important to Sebby), which was at the back of a farm, not far from Runesdale.

So the reality was that a large area adjacent to Runesdale had been made 'off-limits' to the public, 'due to a large military training exercise' that was 'scheduled for a few weeks'. And as far as the more normal military forces were concerned, they had put out a story of a 'special, restricted, military exercise' happening, with certain new 'classified weapons', so all forces should simply keep well away!

All throughout the area was a mix of trained creatures - witches and fairies included - all watching and waiting for something to happen. And that included Serena, Harper and Sarah too: they took their turns in watching and waiting. Not only did Serena want to show that she was very willing to 'lead from the front', to be honest, her team's magic was probably much stronger than most others, so being 'out there' made a lot of sense.

So, they just sat and watched and waited. And chatted. Some of the fairies would come around every so often, providing drinks and treats for them. But it was boring. They were spread out quite thinly, to cover the large area of potential attack. Once they knew the actual 'where' then everyone would be able to come together into a smaller area, to do the actual fighting.

Of course, they knew absolutely NOTHING about what these invaders would look like, how many there would be, nor what magical abilities they would have. Which is why so many creatures from the many realms were involved: surely SOME of their magic would work against the invaders.

Puck and his tech team in the fairy realm had excelled themselves, managing to magic up a HUGE number of the highly clever comms devices, based on the ones that Serena and the SAS team used at the terrorist incident: everyone wore one, and they only needed to think about who they wanted to talk to, and it happened.

In a place they believed to be 'safer', they had set up tents for the 'soldiers' to sleep in, plus large mess tents where they could eat, and others could hold meetings. Needless to say, the catering was handled by an elite team of the highly-trained catering fairies, meaning that the food was second to none. It is often said that an army marches on it's stomach, and these fairies were going to make sure there would be nothing preventing that marching!

Serena and the other 3 witches in her team, along with representatives of the other 6 realms were in a tent, just waiting.... The four witches from Ireland, and several fairies like Annabelle, were still all out 'in the field' with the many others, watching and waiting.

"Ohhhh..." said Serena exhaling a large breath. "This waiting is horrible. I wish something would actually happen! At least then we'll know what we're up against!"

"Be careful what you wish for..." said Poppy. "Don't worry, I'll ignore that one for now!"

"So, any guesses what these eighth-realmers will look like?" asked Sarah.

"Well, if I think about the many mythical creatures...." said Elida.

"What, you mean like fairies and cyclops then?" said Harper with a big smile.

"Yeah, like us lot... so what we missing? Vampires? .... Dragons? .... Trolls? .... Mermaids? Although I guess mermaids would probably go for a sea invasion, wouldn't they?" continued Elida.

"What about six-feet-tall magical hedgehogs?" suggested one of the Goblins, letting his imagination go wild.

"Maybe they are some sort of giraffes?" added a Centaur. "Magical Killer Giraffes....".

"Dragons would be fun, as long as they didn't breath too much fire!" commented a Cyclop.

"What about giant killer wasps?" suggested a Leprechauns. "That would be really nasty!"

"Maybe it's a load of zombies... you know, the walking dead sort of thing..." suggested Captain Hughes.

"Would zombies actually be magical?" asked Poppy.

"I guess they could be..." replied Samantha, gently smiling, and showing off her silver smile.

Yes, they were getting pretty bored, waiting for something to happen.

----

It was the day before Serena's 21st birthday.

Today was even MORE boring....


Offline Sparky

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Still waiting to see if the "Carol" story will be renewed by the TV network, so in the meantime, let's carry on with Serena's story. It's Serena's birthday, so the invasion MUST be soon! Well, assuming they interpreted the message from the future correctly...

------------------------------------------

Chapter 25


"Happy Birthday, Serena!" said a whole load of people as she walked into the room. Serena - well, more her friends - had decided that Serena needed a break from waiting at the 'battlefield', and should spend at least part of the day back home. So she had slept at her partent's house last night, and when she came down for breakfast, everyone was there: Samantha, Harper, Sarah, Poppy, Elida, and not forgetting her mum, dad and grandma.

Now, you're possibly thinking: 'but what if something should happen out on the battlefield?' Well, there was enough magic in that room that, with very little effort, they would soon know if anything happened, and it wouldn't take them long to change into their battle-gear, and go there. But, this morning, everyone felt that Serena deserved a bit of 'Serena time'!

Everyone went over to the table where there was a lovely breakfast laid out: Serena had no doubt that it had been done by her fairy friends, Elida and Poppy.

"Guys, thanks for this, it's lovely" said Serena.

"Only the best for our future queen" said Sarah.

"I am still having trouble getting my head around that, probably very soon, our daughter be our queen!" said her mum.

"Don't worry, mum, you're not the only one!". After breakfast, they went into the living room, where there was a small pile of presents waiting for Serena.

"Oooh, thank you..." said Serena. "I wonder what you got me?"

"We decided that you were old enough that we would all get you slightly 'silly' presents. So, here, this is from your dad and me...". Her mum passed over a brightly wrapped package, about 40 to 50 centimetres long, 25 wide, and 10 thick. Serena unwrapped it to reveal the brush part of a broom, but as she removed the last piece of wrapping paper, the broom's handle suddenly grew from the end.

Serena smiled. "Neat packaging, I always wondered how you would wrap a broom. Thanks mum, dad..."

"Well, it's time you had your own magic broom.... now you can help keep the decking clean! Plus, it's also about time you had your own transport!". Yes, the one thing that Serena never had was her own broom, and as a powerful witch, well, heck, she needed one!

Samantha passed over a smaller package. Serena opened it to find a couple of tooth brushes, toothpaste, flossing tools, a retainer box and a few other braces-related bits, which made Serena laugh. "I thought you could do with a set of bits for your braces!" said Samantha very jokingly.

"Thank you, Samantha, very nice!". Serena appreciated the humour.

"Happy birthday Serena!" said Harper, passing her present over. It wasn't all that big, and felt quite soft and squishy. She unwrapped it, to see a knitted object, about 45 cm long, and maybe 3 cm wide. Serena looked at it, rather confused.

"Erm, what exactly IS it?" she asked.

"It's a wand warmer, to keep Wanda warm in the winter!" explained Harper. Serena smiled: she liked getting these silly presents!

"Oh, yes, I like it... hey Wanda.... want to try it on?"

Wanda appeared. "Oh, very nice, I always fancied one of those!"

Sarah passed over a rather larger present: it was clearly something in a box. "They're very slightly practical, but mainly silly...". Serena unwrapped the box, then opened it.

"Roller skates? Yellow roller skates??!!" she said smiling. "Where's the practicality in those?"

"Well, it'll help you get places quicker! Go on, try them on....". Serena took off her slippers, and put them on: as a younger child she used to have some of those clip-on roller skates, and got quite good at skating with them, but that HAD been a few years ago.

They fitted perfectly, and felt very comfortable. "Very sexy!" commented Harper.

"Here, open mine.." said Poppy. Serena opened a present that clearly contained several items: a cup, a bag of coffee, and an 'Aeropress' coffee maker. "It's slightly practical, it's in case one of us can't get to you when you need a coffee!" joked Poppy: she knew that, if Serena EVER wished for a coffee, then one of the many fairies would be only too happy to get her one!

"Mine's in a similar vein..." said Elida. Serena unwapped it to find a box of 'make your own chocolate cake' mix. "In case we can't get to you with the cake....".

Serena was laughing: "Guys, these are lovely fun presents, thank you all so much! Looks like there's one to go, I'm guessing it's from you, Grandma?"

"Yes, although I'm sorry to say it's a rather more serious present, but... well, open it, and I'll explain.

Serena picked it up: it felt quite heavy for its size: she unwrapped it to find a very old book. The front simply said 'spells for a special grand-daughter'.

"It was my grandmother's, and her grandmother's before her, and I've been looking after it for... well, quite a long time. It's your's now... well, until YOUR grand-daughter turns twenty-one!"

Serena opened it: it was clearly very old, but had been both well used, and well looked after. She spent a few moments turning the pages, to discover it contained all sorts of information, including recipes, and there were many illustrations.

"It's beautiful, Grandma, thank you! So, I'm guessing it skipped mum then?"

"Oh, I think she got her own version, given to her by my mother, many years ago."

After the hard work of the last year or so, and the stress of the last few days - just waiting for something to happen - this was a very welcome break.

Serena's phone rang: it was Captain Hughes. She answered the phone with a certain amount of trepidation.

"John, is there a problem?"

"Not at all, it's just that the guys all said I should ring you and wish you a happy birthday from us all!". Serena relaxed, and smiled.

"Thank you, and tell the guys thank you too!"


(2823)

Offline Sparky

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Chapter 26


"Hey, Samantha, want to come with me?" suggested Serena. They were back out at the farm near Runesdale, and Serena was about to relieve one of the others who was watching for the signs of an invasion.

They found themselves somewhere to sit, where they could also keep an eye open. "Hey, I was just thinking about the silly present you gave me: how you getting on with your braces 'treatment'?"

"Yeah, I'm liking it! The brackets annoyed my cheeks to start with, but a couple of simple healing spells soon fixed that... I mean, no point in being abl to do magic if you can't use it on yourself! But it's kinda nice to be different from the majority of people, and have a bit of a silver smile. I still cant stop running my tongue over the brackets, it's a strangely nice feeling!"

"So, still just the metal brackets?"

"Yeah, thought it best to keep it simple. Once all 'this' is over, I might ask Faylinn to give me some expanders for a while: she briefly gave me some to try out the day she started my treatment, and they felt.... well, 'interesting'"

"I bet they gave you a lisp!"

"Oh, of course they did, but it felt strangely nice. But whatever I get, I can't imagine they'll ever be quite as extreme as yours! So, how you getting on with your braces then?"

"Oh, they are still very friendly, we sometimes talk when I'm going to sleep."

"No, silly, I mean how do they feel?"

"To be honest, I really don't notice them. The metal of the bands is continuing to merge into my teeth, the brackets feel lovely and smooth, and all the other bits... well, they just aren't an issue."

"You think you'll ever get rid of them?"

"Apart from the fact that I'm not sure if I COULD, it's a bit like asking me if I could get rid of my arm or my leg. They are PART of me now. Come on, let's have a quick look at your braces..."

Samantha smiled, letting Serena see the lovely silver brackets on her teeth. Suddenly her smile got wider. "Something tells me there's probably a fairy hovering just behind me... so who is it? I'll guess at Elida!"

"And in that case you'd be right!" said Elida. "I mean, Poppy's not a tooth fairy, is she? Although that doesn't stop her liking skiny things!"

"It could have been Faylinn...."

"Yes, but pretty unlikely. Anyway, hello again! I don't suppose there's any action is there?"

"No, of course not!"

"In that case, whilst we're talking about braces, it's probably time I gave yours a quick once-over, check they, and your teeth, are all ok!"

"You just want a look at my shiny metal mouth, don't you.... be honest..."

"Well..... yes, there IS that too..."

"Go on," said Serena, "take a look... and I bet Samantha would like a look too... hey, braces, you have a visitor!"

"Hello Elida!" said Serena's braces as Elida touched them.

"Hello gorgeous, how's things?"

"Well Therena DID forget to uthe the cleaning thpell earlier, after she had her birthday cake...". (if you remember, Serena doesn't have a lisp, but her braces do...)

"Oooh, you snitch!" replied Serena. Elida had a good looke around Serena's mouth: yes, the bands were merging with her teeth, and the brackets almost looked like they were slowly 'melting' too. The metal plate in the top of her mouth still looked to fit well, but she did spot something not quite right with the herbst, over to the left.

Elida reached in to touch it, where the problem seemed to be. "Ouch!" said Serena's braces.

"Sorry, did that hurt?"

"Not tho much hurt ath feelth a bit thore."

"Yeah, it's not quite looking right. You going to be able to cope with a bit of pain for a few seconds, while I have a go at fixing it?"

"Yeah, I'm sure we can... but do remember that we're all made of a rather thpecial magic."

"Oh, don't worry, I wouldn't forget that. Would you mind if I got Serena to remove her lip-bumpers, it might help, and may also reduce any pain for you guys."

"Go ahead, that'th fine with uth!"

"Hey, Serena! I need to sort out a small problem on your braces, can you take your lip-bumpers out for a minute or two?"

"Sure...". Serena invited her lip-bumpers to come out, and they gently 'ejected' themselves from the tubes, and into her hands.

"Thank you. Now, if you can give me a bit of space in your right cheek, I need to temporarily remove your right herbst." Elida used some special magic to undo the two screws holding the herbst in place, then took it out and had a careful look at it. "Ah, right, I can see the issue: I suspect you may have been hit on your cheek at some point..."

"Yeah, very possible, some of the training did get a bit rough at times. Is it going to be a problem?"

"No, not at all, just need the right combination of spells....". Elida waved her wand, and said the spells. "There, as good as new. Tell you what, the person who made these is quite a craftsman, they are really quite beautiful! Right, let's get it back into place." A bit more magic refitted the screws, and Serena refitted her lip-bumpers - which she did by simply throwing them towards her mouth - they actually fiteed themselves bac into the headgear holes on her molar bands.

"How does THAT feel?" Elida asked Serena's braces.

"Oh, thank you, that DOETH feel better!"

"It is my pleasure: now, next time, don't put up with it, just get Serena to get me to sort it out for you, that's one of the many things I'm here for! Anything else I can do for you while I'm here?"

"No, I think we're all ok now. Thankth again!"

Elida hovered there for a moment, with a smile on her face. "They're nice, your braces, aren't they? I'm thinking about their personality.... "

"Yes, it feels good to be surrounded by good friends. Apart from Samantha and you, there's my braces, Wanda and Glimmer, and a load of others too.... I think I'd struggle without any one of you guys!"


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Offline Sparky

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Chapter 27


Nothing happened on her birthday (in terms of an invasion!!), nor the day after, and Serena was starting to worry.

"Hey, Serena, you there?" said a voice in Serena's ear: she was, of course, wearing one of the highly clever 'fairy comms' things in her ear: all you had to do was to think of who you needed to talk to, and they would instantly hear you.

"Yeah, who's that?"

"Sorry, it's Jock here...."

"Oh, hi Jock! What can I do for you?"

"Can you come over to where I am, I get a feeling I can sort-of see / feel something not too far away, but I'm not sure, and I'm sure you'll be able to probe it a lot better."

"Sure, roughly where are you?" Jock described his rough location, and Serena probed. "Wave your right arm can you? Ah, ok, I can see you, with you in a few seconds...."

"What's up?" asked Sarah.

"Jock thinks he can feel something, wants me to take a look. I wish one of the fairy team was here, right now....". Serena thought the last bit very specifically.

"Yes, Serena.. you called?" said a little fairy suddenly appearing next to Serena.

"Thanks Poppy! We need to go look at something, take my hand....". Over the last several months, the core team of four witches, plus the fairies (especially Poppy and Elida) had bonded very well, and had got to the stage where there was pretty much an implicit trust between them. If someone asked someone else to do something, they would - generally - do it without question. Thus Poppy had no problems in taking Serena's hand, as requested. A second later, they were standing next to Jock.

"Over there..." said Jock, pointing some distance away. "I didn't want to leave here to look, as this is a very good hiding place..."

Serena probed: "Yeah, definitely something there, not sure what though. Poppy, want to come with me and take a closer look?".

Once more Serena and Poppy teleported. They didn't go right to the 'disturbance' but about 15 metres away, and over to the side, then Serena cast a 'silence shield' and an 'invisibility shield' around them. They were actually in part of the woods, giving everyone good cover. As they looked, they could see a sort of 'shimmering', which is the sort of thing you'd get in a sci-fi movie to indicate some sort of 'rift' or 'portal'.

"Sarah, Harper, Samantha, John, and Elida if you're around: need you here right now, confirm when you are ready to be summoned. This is NOT any sort of practice, this is REAL..." As the voices confirmed they were ready, Serena summoned them.

As they all watched the 'rift', a group of three... well, three 'dark black clouds' is probably a fair description... came through the rift.  2 to 3 metres tall, a metre or two wide, and sort of very black and pulsing / whooshing around. The team also felt a sort of 'depressed' and 'negative' feeling from them.

"Holy crap!" whispered Harper, "this is the proverbial 'IT'!! The actual invasion. But what the heck ARE they? And are you getting these bad vibes too?"

The figures moved silently through the rift, and into the woods. As far as they knew, they were checking out a realm who had no idea they were coming, so they were probably quite relaxed as they came into the human realm.

For the moment, despite being close to the three invaders, our team weren't worried, as their shield would protect them from detection.

"Would you two like to go and take a look at our three 'beings'?" Serena asked Poppy and Elida. "But if there's any hint that they can detect you, get out quick... Otherwise, don't do anything that might antagonise them though! I'd like them to think there's noone else around here for the moment."

The three 'beings' were apparently having a bit of a look around.

"John, what they doing?"

"Well, if it was me, I'd send 2 or 3 guys through, and just have a quick look around, make myself happy that the place was quiet, with no surprises..."

"Yeah. makes sense... in that case.... Broadcast to ALL... Broadcast to ALL... please note that we are in the woods, a rift seems to have opened and a small scouting party has come through. If you are ANYWHERE nearby, then stop doing what you're doing, don't move, and stay silent. I want them to think there's noone here!"

Serena closed her eyes, probing instead to see what the invaders were doing, and the positions of the two fairies.

"I don't think they can see us..." said a voice in her ear.

"I'm right in front of one of them," said Poppy, "and he's completely oblivious to my presence. Let me try something... Hmm, interesting..."

"What did Poppy just do?"

"She tried to kick the cloud, but it seems to be just that... cloud. But I think they may have felt something, they just stopped a moment. No, it's ok, I think they are just looking around...."

"Want to try some simple fairy magic on them, like we practised?"

"Sure..." replied Elida. "No effect, let me try something else.... no, that didn't work either. But they seem to have stopped for the moment, I have a feeling they're just doing a bit of a recce...."

"In that case, we just sit and wait. Hey, can you two maybe get some pictures?"

"Ahead of you!" said Poppy, "I'm videoing them!"

"Girls... can you see or hear ANYTHING in those black clouds? Any idea what they are?"

"Well, there's a bit of a buzzing and whooshing sound, but that's all. Hang on, they are moving... I think they might be going back to the rift.... We'll follow them..."

"Ok, John, I'm going to take us two closer to that rift, I want to watch them as they go through the rift again, if that's what they do. I'll keep a full invisibility and silence shield around us....". Serena took them to no more than 5 metres from the side of the rift, and made them invisible and silent again. They didn't have to wait long before the invading 'clouds' went back through the rift, and the rift closed. They waited there a bit longer.

"Thoughts John? Tell our team..."

"Like Elida said, probably a quick recce, to see what they would expect to find in this realm. And I think they didn't spot any of us, so they think this will be a 'safe place' for them to come through. I suspect they'll be talking with their commanders or whatever to decide what to do next. I'd expect another, much larger, team to come through a bit later on... "

"Thanks, sounds sensible. Anyone else any thoughts? Poppy, you've been the closest to them... anything to say?"

"Not really, they were 'cloudy', although I didn't get in that far, so there could be something more solid inside. But a definite feel of 'negative energy' about them"

"And no obvious sound?"

"No, but if I were them, I'd probably do what you do, and use silence bubbles."

"Hey, Glimmer, I assume eighth realm magic can do things like silence bubbles?"

"Yes, indeed, also sonic illusions." 

They waited there for another 15 minutes, but nothing happened, so they rejoined the others.

"Can 'Forward Team A' please come to my location? You too, Jock." said Serena over the comms.

They had organised three 'Forward Teams', to be able to provide 24 hour cover: they were the most experienced 'fighters' from the seven realms, made up of 6 members, including one of the SAS team.

"Oh, hi girls!" Serena said to the fairies who were with her again.

"Want to see the video?" asked Poppy, showing her small tablet to Serena.

"Oh, excellent, make sure everyone gets to see that will you... Oh hi, Jock! When the Forward Team gets here, can you try and describe the 'feelings' you were getting when the rift first opened?"

The Forward Teams had organised themselves such that they each contained members who could teleport them all where needed, although it maybe took several seconds to cast the needed magic.

"Ok, guys, looks like you are up for the first session. Jock is the one who sensed the rift opening, so I'll leave him to describe what he felt. The rift opened up roughly where we are now, although it doesn't seem to have left any traces. They came through and went a short distance that way, so you might want to look for any traces. But, as we've discussed, the rift may or may not happen in the same place next time, but I suspect it will happen fairly near: they have seen this place, and that it is pretty secluded, plus they seemed unaware that we are here.... If I was in their shoes, I'd want to come through here again... Oh, and they definitely can't see fairies, which is good news."

"So, just watching for the moment?" asked one of the team.

"Yes, I think so. And don't be scared to do a full broadcast call if you think it's needed. I think we need to go back and report what we've seen."

"Broadcast to ALL... Broadcast to ALL... you can stand down now. Please make yourselves aware of the location of this rift, and make sure you stay well away for the moment: if they come through again, I want them to think they are alone. Advanced team, please stay on high alert, you might be needed at very short notice. Oh, Poppy got some video of the invaders, try and take a look, so you know what to expect. Thanks everyone!"


-----

The rest of the day was quiet, as was the night...


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Offline Braceface2015

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The ghost in the machine is watching.

Offline Sparky

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Chapter 28

"Serena, red alert!" said the voice in their ears early the following day. "We are seeing a large number of invaders coming through the rift. They look just like the previous ones in that video, and I'll guess at about 20 of them so far, and more still coming through. The rift is in exactly the same place."

"In that case: Advanced team, we have another Red Alert: a large contingent of invaders has been seen, same location as yesterday. You all know what to do!" Then "John, where are you?"

"I'm already on my way to join the forward team..."

"Ok, Elida's team: can you do the same as yesterday? My team: lets get there. Sarah, can you get an invisibility / silence shield ready for us all?"

Serena probed, and took them just next to John, and Sarah made them silent and invisible. Serena looked around: there was something like 50 of the invaders, currently waiting in two large groups.

"John, what do you think?"

"If I were them, I'd get the team through, make sure everyone was safe, then start sending out small groups. I'm guessing they can do probing, so everyone needs to be very careful for now."

"Ok, advanced team, load up both defensive and offensive magic, just like we've done before in practice. Don't do anything yet, wait for instructions from any of my team...". Followed by "This is a broadcast to everyone: Code Red, this is NOT a drill! I can confirm  that the invasion has just started. I repeat, Code Red, the invasion has started! Get yourselves ready for an instant deployment: don't do anything yet until the Advanced Team has had a chance to do something, but make sure you know where the invaders are..."

So, how was Serena feeling right now? Thankful that, at last, something was happening. Grateful that she was surrounded by a lot of able 'people'. And scared shitless!

They had discussed several strategies for this moment. One was a 'wait and see', another was the 'make a premptive attack on the invaders'. Serena was currently liking the second option.

"Fairies, do you have anything to report yet?"

"No, I still believe they are unaware that we - us fairies that is - are here" reported Elida.

"Any idea if they are aware of the rest of us?"

"Hard to say, but I don't think so..."

"Ok, thanks Elida.... John, I say we go for it, you ok with that?". Over the period that Serena had been training with John and his team, John had seen Serena's abilities improve well, and mature. He felt very happy that, whatever happened, Serena was quite capable to taking very good command decisions.

"Ok, with me." he replied.

"Fairies, get up and out the way, but remain our eyes, we're going to attack. Poppy, if you can video them, would be good to see how they react"

"Already doing that... ok, we're clear!"

"Advanced team, attack at will...". There was a sudden barage of magic thrown at the invaders: they now knew that Serena and her extended team were there, and waiting for them, but, as expected they were ready. For the next five minutes, as they had practiced on many occasions, the advanced team kept doing magic attacks, and the SAS guys were trying out some of the simpler magic weapons. Unsurprisingly, the invaders did fight back in some sort of defense. Initially they used various "traditional" weapons: things that shot arrows, things that shot bullets: of course, our team used magic to easily stop those projectiles. So, very quickly, the invaders started using magic.

After the five minutes, the attack stopped, just as planned.

Opening her comms to everyone relevant, Serena asked "Elida, what can you tell us?"

"Most of the magic did nothing. Some did, and that laser gun looks like it might have injured one of them, the 'black cloud' is now flat on the ground, others in a ring around, clearly protecting it, and one cloud apparently doing something to him. Hang on, a group of them seems to be heading back to the rift with the injured one..."

"Thanks... anyone on OUR side get injured?". There was no response, which made Serena feel a bit happier. "ok, anyone got any feedback?"

"Annabelle here, I was trying to see how all the magic was interacting with them, I think that 'cloud' they have is some sort of clever defensive armour, hiding whatever they are inside. I could see them being 'hit' as the magic got to them.  The laser rifles were going into the clouds... I'm thinking we maybe just got lucky with one of the shots. Oh, hang on, I think they are all retreating.... coming your way!"

With the invaders unable to see the fairies, it meant that the fairies became a very useful way to see close-up what the invaders were doing.

"Thanks for that, Annabelle. Yes, you're right, they are all going back through the rift.... ". Two or three minutes later and the invaders had gone, and the rift was closed again. As before, they waited, just in case.

Serena did another broadcast message: "Ok, everyone, you can stand down for the moment, they seem to have all returned to their own realm, and closed the rift. Advanced team: stay where you are, and be ready at a moment's notice. Forward team: get the next team down here to replace you, we need to debrief you. The rest of you, be ready in case we need you next time. Thank you, everyone!"

"I think we need to meet at the command tent, and have a debrief" said Serena.

-----

Back at the command tent, the 'Generals' (for want of a better term...) watched the new footage that Poppy had taken.

"Yes, I think you're right, Annabelle... the clouds aren't the actual 'creatures' from the eighth realm, but a very clever magic armour protection system. I could imagine that, if we hadn't been there, they would have gone out and found the normal humans, who would have been pretty scared by their appearance" said one of the Goblins.

"What I'm seeing there" said a Leprechaun, "is that not only was that our laser rifle getting through, one or two of the bits of our magic were too...."

"Well, I don't think they were expecting us, were they? I can occasionally see the flashes of gunshot coming out of their 'clouds', but it took them a couple of minutes before they moved from using traditional weapons, to using magic." said one of the Cyclops.

"So, John, what do you think they are doing right now?" asked Serena.

"Well, I agree, I don't tkink they were expecting to be attacked like that: the way they came through was the way I would 'land' if I felt confident that, at least for a while, I'd be safe. Now they KNOW we're waiting for them, and they are likely to come through next time 'magic ablaze'. I suspect that they will also be trying to understand the magic we used, so they are better prepared. So for the moment, I think we need to hold back on using our strong magic. Don't let them learn too much from us."

For the next 30 to 40 minutes, the command team had a very positive discussion, analysing what they had seen, and working out what to do next.

"Ok then. Sounds like we need to leave the advanced team in place for the moment, but get ready to get some replacements there a bit later on, to give them a rest. John, your team are the only ones with 'permission' to use our magic weapons, so make sure you keep your guys well rested." said Serena. Now that she was getting used to 'being in charge', she felt much more confident in herself, and in her decisions.

The talking continued for a bit longer.

"Next time around, Sarah and Harper, I'd like you to be with me, and we can try some of our magic against them, and Samantha, you'll need to be 'on call' if needed."

"Sure. You planning on doing any 'tablet-assisted' magic yet?"

"No, not yet, but I'm going to try some of the simpler darker stuff, see what that does. Elida, your team have been excellent at 'being our eyes and ears', I'm thinking that maybe you'd like to get a few more of your guys ready to do the same."

"No problems with that. Ok, anyone need a cuppa?"

"Oh, great idea: I wish the fairy caterers could organise suitable drinks for us. I assume they've already been looking after the Advanced and Forward teams out there..."

"Of course!" replied Tats.


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Offline Sparky

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Chapter 29

It was mid afternoon when the next 'wave' of invaders came out of the rift throwing magic all around them: about 30 'people' in all. They had clearly realised that the traditional weapons were of little use, so they had probably got their better magic users together for this invasion attempt.

Of course, the teams from 'realms 1 to 7' were ready - not just the 'advance' team, but everyone - and threw back as much magic as they got. Unlike the previous day, the attacks lasted for maybe 30 minutes at a time, before they retreated back through the rift, then came back out again a couple of hours later. Strangely, apart from a couple of invaders briefly coming through after dusk, then returning less than a minute later, they hadn't tried anything during the night.

Serena had also tried some of her slightly darker magic, but that didn't seem to be particularly effective: clearly the invader's 'cloud armour' was quite effective.

The following morning saw a small group of invaders come through the rift: strangely they came out without using any offensive magic. They had brought some equipment with them, including some sorts of tents, which they set up right next to the rift. When the fairies went to look, they discovered that the invaders had put up an opaque 'force field', meaning they couldn't get very close, and couldn't see what they were up to.

"Hmm, let's have a word with Glimmer and Wanda, shall we?"

"Good morning, Serena!" said Glimmer as he came out of his scabbard, and floated in the air in front of Serena, Elida and Poppy.

"As gorgeous as ever...." said Wanda quietly.

Serena explained what the eighth-realmers had done, and asked Glimmer if he was aware of any magic - possibly eighth realm magic - they could use to penetrate the 'protective shield'. After a bit more discussion, he made a suggestion. "... but I don't think it would work for you, you're a bit big, but Elida or Poppy might be able to 'squeeze in'.

"Would the 'power of four' make it any easier?" asked Serena.

"Excellent suggestion," replied Glimmer, "and yes, it probably would..."

Serena called the other three members of the team to join them, and explained the issue. "So, I'm thinking we four get as close as we dare, using our own 'shields', then try the spell, and see if Elida and Poppy can get in."

"May I make an observation?" said Wanda. "It may be that you are only able to open their protection shield for a moment, meaning that whoever goes in is likely to be stuck inside until you can open it again... so maybe only ONE of you should try to go in..."

"Thank you, Wanda, very good observation." The four of them cast the spell, and Poppy was indeed able to get in. Even better news is that the fairy comms system seemed to be able to get through the magic eighth realm shielding. 

"To be honest, there's not much in here. A couple of bits of kit which I'll guess at being radios or similar, with wires that seem to be going back through the rift. There's a couple of 'clouds' in here... oh, hang on, I think I just saw an arm.... hairy fingers..... "

"Thanks Poppy, let us know anything else you think is relevant, and let us know if you need to get out quickly."

"Hey, Serena," said Elida, "it looks like their protection shield just got bigger...."

About an hour later, the small team of 'clouds' went back through the rift. It didn't stay quiet for long: a matter of minutes later a whole load of the 'clouds' started to come through the rift, between 50 and 100 of them. Some of them were in the tent, the others started to spread out..."

"And it's time for today's Red Alert!" said Serena. "I repeat, Red Alert! A large number of eighth-realm 'clouds' are coming through the rift: attack at will...." said Serena. For the next couple of hours, there was a lot of magic flying around, and the SAS guys even used many of the magical weapons. The attacking army mad a very small amount of progress: rather than being in the immediate vicinity of the rift, they had spread out, by maybe up to a hundred metres.

Whilst Poppy stayed in the opaque protection shield for about an hour, there was very little actually going on, so the 4 witches used their power-of-four to open a small hole again, to let Poppy out.

The 'fighting' went on and off over the next few hours.... the invaders might make some progress forwards, but then later had to pull back again, so overall their progress was small and slow. As dark approached, it pretty much stopped, apart from a few small skirmishes: with 'our' teams keeping a close watch through the night.

Over the following two or three days, there was again, periods of fighting, then periods of quiet. Given the small amount of actual progress, one did start to question why the invaders actually kept going: they were clearly very determined.