Geeda Lala found herself in the midst of a whirlwind of Marc Bolan and T Rex fandom which soon threatened to spin out of control. The living room was covered in Marc Bolan posters, pinned to the walls by Fourteen Trees, Eight Trees, and Two Rays of Sunlight. So was the hallway. All of them wore T Rex scarves night and day, and were permanently experimenting with glitter make-up. The day after they gig they'd rushed out to Kensington Market and arrived home laden with magazines, make-up, posters, records and badges. Geeda Lala's observation that they could do without these as they'd already bought piles of merchandise at the gig and were now short of money was met with suspicion. Hostility even, by the three younger girls, who thought that Geeda Lala was really not as enthusiastic about Marc Bolan as she should be.
'I know this is all new to you,' said Geeda. 'But there's no need to go overboard.'
Eight Trees was kneeling in front of the mirror propped against the wall. She had a copy of Music Star in one hand. Her new cosmetic box was beside her on the floor and she was tying to follow the magazine's guide to Fab New Looks with Glitter. 'We're not going overboard.'
Two Rays of Sunlight, engaged in the careful removal of a poster of Marc Bolan from the centre pages of Jackie, looked up. 'Who says we're going overboard?'
'How can we be going overboard? Doesn't make sense.'
'Maybe Geeda's too old to understand.'
'I am not too old!' protested Geeda, who was only one year older than them. 'It's just that there's no need to lose your minds over the first good-looking pop star you see.'
Fourteen Trees stormed into the room in an agitated state with a copy of the NME in her hand. 'I can't stand it! T Rex aren't playing anywhere for two weeks. I can't wait that long.'
'Neither can I.'
'Why don't we go to that gig again?' suggested Eight Trees.
'What do you mean?"
'Just go back in time two days and go to the same gig again.'
'That's a brilliant idea!" Two Rays of Sunlight's eyes lit up. 'We can do that!'
'No you can't!' cried Geeda Lala.
'Because we're meant to be hiding! We can't do any time travelling, it'll alert Girsin and 102 Woo.'
There was a brief silence.
'I don't see why we couldn't do it,' said Two Rays of Sunlight. 'We could just be extra careful. They wouldn't find us.'
'Yes they would!' Geeda Lala looked towards Fourteen Trees for support. 'Tell them it's not safe.'
Fourteen Trees hesitated. "Maybe if we were really careful…"
'No! Absolutely not! What's the matter with you? You were the one who lectured me about not taking any risks.'
'That was before I saw Marc Bolan,' said Fourteen Trees.
'We are not going back in time to that gig again and that's final.'
Eight Trees and Two Rays of Sunlight looked sulky.
'I think she's too old,' whispered Eight Trees.
In the dark space between the Pierced Fox and the encroaching forest, Rainith the Red met Brin the Seller, as arranged. He brought with him a map of Elvish Wiltunscir and an eight second concealment cloak. It was a mark of Rainith's thirst for revenge on Noutan that she didn't haggle over the exorbitant price, even though she loved gold, and hated to part with it. It did register in her mind, barely noticed for now, that she resented paying so much, and she would have something to say about it if she encountered Brin again, when this was over.
Brin took his gold and departed. Rainith withdrew into the forest. She flew to the top of the trees to study the map by moonlight. Though she knew nothing of the Elvish lands to the south, she did have some clues as to her destination. The fencing master she'd killed had been called Alavasti. She remembered that when he'd first introduced himself to his students, he'd told them he belonged to the Elvish Clan of Starin, who lived in the Forest of Ancient Oak. She scanned the map. There were many Elvish settlements marked on it, and there, deep inside their territory, the Forest of Ancient Oak. Rainith almost smiled. Alavasti's brother Noutan would be there, she was sure. She remembered the feeling of his blade sliding through her, and her fall from the sky. Her smile turned into an ugly scowl.
She tucked the map inside the small bag she carried slung around her shoulders, safely alongside the concealment cloak. Then she took to the air and flew south. There was no between that she could use without giving warning of her coming, which meant she was in for a long journey.
The Pierced Fox stood in a small clearing. On the other side of the clearing, perched on a branch, invisible in the darkness, two Elves observed Rainith's departure.
'Who is she?'
They didn't know, but they were suspicious of any fairy who'd bought a map of Wiltunscir, and now flew off in secret in the darkness.
'Send a message to the border guards and let them know she's coming. Whoever she is and whatever she's looking for, no fairy can sneak into our lands like a thief. They'll be waiting for her.'
Mr Baker, senior therapist, welcomed his returning patients at the OCD support group. After a brief hiatus it was time to restart the joint enterprise of solving their problems. Or, more accurately, diminishing them. No one expected their problems to disappear, but they might become less troublesome. Most people seemed to have returned in a positive frame of mind and there were success stories from patients who'd managed to stop washing their hands quite so frequently, become less terrified of germs, or stop returning to their homes moments after leaving, to check that all the windows were closed.
Mr Baker looked towards Mixt and Nakishdan, who hadn't spoken so far.
'How have you been since we last saw you?'
'Fine,' mumbled Nakishdan.
'You problems with intrusive thoughts?'
'Not so bad.'
Nakishdan didn't seem inclined to contribute more. Mr Baker turned to Mixt. 'How about you?'
'Fine,' said Mixt.
'is there anything you'd like to tell us?'
Mr Baker hesitated, wondering if he should enquire further. He decided against it, and turned to another patient. 'How have you - '
'But it's not that strange to want to listen to the whole theme tune!' exclaimed Mixt.
'We've been watching episodes of Ghost in the Shell and Nakishdan keeps trying to skip over the theme tune at the end!'
'Why do we have to listen to the whole song?' said Nakishdan. 'If we're watching five episodes in a row then surely we don't need to hear it every time?'
'Yes we do! You haven't watched the episode properly unless you've heard the theme tune. It's an important part.'
'Only if you're watching on a weekly basis,' countered Nakishdan. 'Not when you're watching loads of episodes one after the other.'
'You see?' Mixt looked angry. 'This is what I have to put up with. You nurse someone back to health after they've been stabbed, and tolerate their weird obsessions with getting goods shipped from Japan at ruinous cost and then they start complaining about a theme tune.'
Mr Baker was temporally at a loss. As was often the case, Mixt and Nakishdan's external life sounded quite baffling. 'Stabbed? You were stabbed?'
'I don't see what buying Japanese goods has to do with it,' said Nakishdan, ignoring Mr Baker. 'A few pillows here and there is no big problem.'
'You bought eight kawaii pillows and had them all shipped separately and then ten t-shirts because you couldn't decide which colour you wanted, and then the cuddly mascots of every Japanese nuclear power station and then a figurine of every character from Girls Und Panzer!'
'I was recuperating,' protested Nakishdan. 'What's wrong with buying a few things?'
'We're broke! We have no money!' Mixt folded her arms in front of her chest and looked at Mr Baker. 'I want to listen to the whole theme tune every time we watch an episode. Tell Nakishdan that's not obsessive. It's just proper watching.'
'Perhaps we could ask the rest of the group - '
Nakishdan's phone bleeped. There were hostile looks from everyone in the room. Phones were meant to be switched off. Nakishdan took the phone from his pocket and cried out excitedly. 'There's new DLC for Star Metal Planet!'
Mixt's eyes widened. 'What? Now?'
Star Metal Planet was their favourite game. New downloadable content was very exciting for Mixt and Nakishdan.
'Look, it's on Amazon and IGN.'
'Could we get back to - ' began Mr Baker.
'Sorry, we have to go,' said Nakishdan, rising from his chair alongside Mixt. They hurried out of the room.
There was a brief silence.
'Could we ban them from coming?' suggested the woman who had problems with washing her hands too often. 'They're never helpful to anyone else.'
At the headquarters of 102 Woo, the ageless Superior 102, floating in the lotus position, admitted to Captain Lir that their alliance with Mathematician Girsin had not gone well.
'His skills are very advanced. Unfortunately, he has become… distracted.'
Captain Lir was too respectful of his superior to remind him that he'd thought it was a bad idea all along. Girsin was notoriously unreliable. It was no surprise to the Captain that it had gone wrong.
'Do we know what he's doing now?'
'We believe he's become fixated on one of the women involved. As she is now in the present, he's no longer interested in the past.' Superior 102 paused. A faint frown appeared on his normally tranquil face. 'It will go badly for him the next time we meet. But enough of Girsin. The problem of Geeda Lala remains. She is still in the past and must be either removed of eliminated.'
'Now that 47 Jen have become involved, she's harder than ever to find.'
'Indeed. They're extremely adept at concealment and they've been careful to cover their tracks since you encountered them. We have one lead.' Superior 102 waved his hand, causing a picture of Marc Bolan and T Rex to appear beside him. 'They went to see this band play. We wouldn't have known, but one of them manufactured some local currency shortly afterwards.'
'Who knows? Perhaps they felt an urgent need to buy something, and hoped we wouldn't notice the temporal disturbance. You're to take your platoon to London in 1971, find out about this band, and attend their concerts, in the hope of encountering Geeda Lala.'
'Yes Superior.' Captain Lir bowed respectfully then departed, to prepare his platoon for action.
Eight Trees and Two Rays of Sunlight arrived home wearing quite spectacular platform shoes, bright red and bright blue. Their assertion that they were the best shoes ever was met with approval by Fourteen Trees, who already owned a pair. Geeda Lala was less enthusiastic.
'You'll damage your ankles.'
The girls laughed at Geeda's concerns. 'No we won't! Don't be silly!'
'Did you really need them?'
'Of course we need them. We're going to see T Rex again soon.'
Geeda frowned. She didn't like it that she seemed to be adopting the role of responsible adult. But Eight and Two were so acting so irresponsibly and Fourteen Trees wasn't much better. All three had tickets for a T Rex gig at the Roundhouse in six days time and it was all Geeda could do to prevent them from from using their skills to travel through time and go there right away, something that would undoubtedly alert 102 Woo.
'We are meant to be saving our money,' said Geeda. 'We might be here for a long time and we can't manufacture any more.'
'It's fine,' said Two Rays of Sunlight. 'I brought a lot of money with me. We've got plenty.'
Two Rays was lying. She and Eight Trees had been secretly using their mathematical skills to alter reality and manufacture more currency. They were confident they wouldn't get caught, and really, they needed it, because they'd discovered there were a lot of T Rex records they had to buy, and a lot of clothes and make-up and magazines, which they could not reasonably be expected to go without.