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chapter nineteen

Jenna Murphy's face filled the television screen. She spoke with authority, but also with warmth. It was this demeanor that had made her such a popular news reporter. "Fans of rock band Mischief were shocked and appalled to learn that the band was really made up of five pixies," said Jenna. "The band's sophomore album was entitled, 'Bent on Destruction,' and these beings quite literally were. Their plan was to destroy the human race. In one of music's most shocking moments, the band's true identities were revealed moments before they were gunned down by defectors of Magic Management."

The image switched to that of the pixies being riddled by gunfire.

Back to Jenna: "Even more horrifying than the news that this seemingly harmless band was out for blood is the fact that Magic Management received news of the threat weeks before the event last night and did nothing to stop it."

An image of a tape appeared on the screen. Jenna's voice continued. "This recording of a call to the Magic Management Hotline reveals their cavalier attitude." Words began to scroll across the screen, accompanied by voices speaking the words. The sound quality was bad.

Operator: "Do you suspect magic or magical creatures are in a position to victimize someone in the future?"

Caller: "Yes. The members of the rock band Mischief might be pixies."

Operator: "Young lady, this hotline is used for a very serious purpose. People are in real danger, and you are tying up the line with your prank."

Jenna appeared saddened and concerned. "We rely on Magic Management to protect us from malevolent users of magic. That they failed to even consider this call raises serious questions about our safety. In this instance, we were saved not by Magic Management, but by a ghoul, two witches, and a Magic Management Officer who was fired because he attempted to do his job properly.

"Iris Tanner, the ghoul in question, made that very phone call to the hotline. She says that not only did Magic Management not assist the fight to stop Mischief, they hindered it."

Iris was on the screen. She stood in front of the stadium, a little sweaty from performing. "We tried to get help to stop Mischief, but the pixie police were after us."

Jenna's voice narrating: "Tanner and her friends were forced to go it alone. Without support of the proper authorities, they turned to the only thing they knew: magic. Tanner's ingenious plan used her abilities to draw people away from Mischief."

"I knew that the one thing ghouls could do that pixies couldn't was control desire," said Iris. "So we just made them want to be elsewhere."

Jenna: "Recalling the Beatles' famous rooftop concert, Tanner staged a concert from a nearby roof, drawing a crowd of thousands. Inside, Billy Jordan and Jaqueline Schmerfeld used their power to dismantle Mischief's illusion."

Billy and Jaq were now on screen, in about the same place Iris had been.

"Basically," said Billy, "we had to gather enough magic to combat the illusion they had in place."

"Once we did that," said Jaq, "we were able to expose them for what they really were."

Once again Jenna addressed the camera. "Using magic to fight magic? An oxymoron? Not according to Mr. Edward Buckingham, a former Magic Management Officer, who says the idea is one that's been presented to the organization before."

Buckingham stood in front of the stadium, smiling hesitantly. "Pixies' rights groups have been at Magic Management for this kind of action for a long time. Quite honestly, the organization is prejudiced against magic. They don't so much want to manage it as they want to eradicate it. In that sense, they're fighting a battle they can't win."

"Buckingham says," said Jenna, "that the organization is so caught up in little battles, fighting relatively harmless foes, that they miss issues like this one. And that, he says, can be dangerous."

"It's obvious," said Buckingham, "that the organization really missed the boat with Mischief. They didn't heed the warning signs."

"But," said Jenna, "even a speedy response from Magic Management might not have been effective in this instance."

"If it weren't for Billy and Jaq," said Buckingham, "we might not have been able to stop Mischief. We needed magic to combat magic."

"In light of these recent events," said Jenna, "should Magic Management consider using the talents of magical beings to stop other magical beings from inflicting harm? One thing is certain. Magic Management has received a major wake-up call. They must reconsider their present methods. If we as citizens are to feel safe, we expect action from this organization."

chapter twenty >>

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