This episode opens in a high school student's bedroom. He's getting ready for a science fair presentation. While he puts on his tie, he reviews the periodic table and rehearses his presentation. As he finishes tying his his tie, his body starts to petrify and something strange flows through the veins of his outstretched arm. The paralysis completes as a single tear runs down his cheek.
Eve walks in to the main room of the Annex. Jenkins is doing research. She asks him what he's doing there on his day off. "Is that... a brain? In a jar?" "My research doesn't have a day off. And it is a brain jar. What else would one put in it?" He seems annoyed by Eve's questions. Jake comes down the stairs. Eve asks him what he's doing there. Jake seems annoyed, too. "I have access to every art portfolio in history. Where else would I be?" Then Cassie comes running in, literally. Skidding to a stop, she asks Jenkins if he has any more yellow pens. "Second drawer, under that thing that looks like a space helmet but is not." She nods and runs out.
Eve gestures towards the door that Cassie has just disappeared through, looking at Jenkins. He explains - "She's making her own map of the ley lines based on the observations you've made since taking up residence here, blighting my work. Why are you blighting me today?" Eve says she's researching magical threats. "I'm getting sick of blindly fighting minotaurs and giant trolls."
There's a noise and a flashy light at the back door. Jenkins gives a dismissive wave as Eve pulls a gun and Jake grabs a sword. Ignoring Jenkins, they take positions in front of the portal, weapons ready. The door opens, and in comes Zeke, smiling as alarms and sirens are sounding off behind him outside. He's carrying something covered in a cloth. As he turns to face the group after closing the door, he asks, "Why is everyone here? Isn't this their day off?" Eve glances at the item he's carrying. Zeke acts like he's just noticed that he was carrying something and says with a laugh, "What's this? Someone must have left it on our doorstep!"
A book on Jenkin's desk starts to levitate, and opens of its own accord. Eve asks, "Has it ever done that before?" Jenkins looks worried. "No... Must be a magical threat of truly epic proportion. Means there's something absolutely apocalyptic going on at the -" Looking at the book, Eve continues. "The Chicagoland STEM Fair... sponsored by McCabe Learning Foundation-What the hell is a STEM-"
Cassie runs in, excited at what she has overheard. "STEM?! Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics! It's a SCIENCE FAIR! YESSS!!!" She exuberantly runs to stand at the back door. "Jenkins, give this baby a spin! We're going to CHI-TOWN!" She waits at the door like a puppy that just has to see what's going on outside.
The portal dumps the Librarians into a hall in a high school. Cassie whoops with excitement as they tumble through the doorway. "STEM Fairs are the cutting edge of amateur research." Eve looks like she just came out of the Way-Back machine into 1985. As they start to walk, Eve is obviously not happy. "I'm just sayin' - what kind of magical, world-ending apocalypse could possibly happen at a cheesy high school science fair?"
They turn a corner into what looks like a giant exhibition hall (remember the first time you walked into the main vendor room at your first convention? Yeah - it's like that), complete with trestle lighting and all the bells and whistles. An RC robotic zips along the floor past them, and Cassie looks like she just hit the mother lode.
The group stands in the audience as Lucinda McCabe gives her speech. Afterwards, as the group is walking around, Lucinda introduces herself to them. She asks if they are parents or family members. Jake tells her they are the Librarians. She thinks they are the judges from the county library. She welcomes them, and then goes off to do... whatever it is that founders of big corporate foundations do at events like this. Eve remarks that "someday, that cover story is not gonna fly. Now - let's split up - go find something... magical."
Jake and Eve stop at a booth where a girl is saying stuff about "pharmacological changes - environmental impact" on migratory patterns of some species or other. Jake looks zoned out while Eve stifles a yawn. Zeke and Cassie have stopped at a booth and a guy is talking about his project - he's combining a multi-stage filter with some chemical or something, in a water filtration system. Cassie is ecstatic while Zeke is just confused.
Next booth - Jake and Eve are listening to a girl talk about her cloning study. She has a helicopter mom who feels the need to pop in and interrupt the girl with a clarification. Of course, the girl gets miffed at that. Again - Eve and Jake look bored.
Meanwhile, Cassie and Zeke are at another booth, listening to a guy make his physics presentation. Cassie giggles with excitement as Zeke tries to leave. Cassie grabs Zeke by the collar of his sweater without even looking, and reels him back in.
Eve and Jake's next stop is at a booth where the guy's project is a baking soda volcano. "Finally!" Eve is relieved. Something simple. He starts to give his presentation, then says he can't do this. Eve asks him what's wrong. Jake snarks, "I'll tell you what's wrong. He brought a paper-mache volcano to a -" Eve elbows him in the ribs and goes to talk to the kid. The kid says, "I'm not even supposed to be here - I'm way out of my league." (When I heard this, the first thing that came to mind was Dante from the movie Clerks. "I'm not even supposed to be here today!!")
Eve gives him a pep talk - some stuff about how he's an underdog and all the greats were underdogs. "Show us what you got! *wink*" While they're doing that, Cassie and Zeke are walking around. Zeke comments that Cassie was "one of these kids." She remarked that she had a wall full of trophies. Zeke said, "I bet you still have every single one of 'em." Cassie shrugged. "Things change."
There's a commotion and Zeke says "Some things NEVER change." A group of goths is harassing some geeks. Cassie remarks that goths and geeks should be friends. Zeke has a different opinion. "High school's like prison. You find a crew to run with, and keep all the other crews down." Cassie asks him which crew he was in as he approaches a table with a Newton's Cradle on it. He swings one ball, and the ball at the other end swings out and then up, instead of swinging back down on its natural arc. "Is it supposed to do that?" asks Zeke, pointing to it. Still distracted, Cassie asks "Were you the goth, the geek, or the cool kid?"
Back at the baking soda volcano table, the kid hooks up some wires to a lantern battery. After a second of nothing, it suddenly erupts - real lava. Cassie and Zeke join Jake and Eve, and Jake asks, "Well? Is that magical enough for ya?"
Lucinda McCabe addresses the room as the firefighters are cleaning up. "One of our contestants got a little too enthusiastic with his display, and mixed his chemicals a little too strongly. It's like we always say, it's not science until something's on fire."
Eve and Jake are talking to the kid, who's name is Leonard, alone in the school auditorium on the stage. She asks him what happened. "What happened?! My volcano frickin' EXPLODED! Did you SEE that? It was INSANE! Oh... I need to sit down..." "You are sitting down," Jake says. Eve tells him that she thinks he created an amateur looking project so no one would suspect that he was actually competing, and used unnatural means to create an amazing effect to win. She tells them they're not mad. He says, "You're not?" "No. We're not. We're here to help. I'm.. here to help. We can help you fix this. But I need you to take a deep breath, and tell me the absolute truth." Leonard takes a deep breath. "When you said my name... It's like a thousand angels singing." Jake stifles a sardonic chuckle. "About the volcano, Leonard. I meant the volcano." "Oh."
Jake takes over. Leonard tells him her eyes are like opals. Jake asks him what he meant when he said he wasn't supposed to be here. Leonard tells Jake that he was the 5th alternate, and that he hates these things but his dad made him enter. Eve asks what happened to the students ahead of him. He said he heard that "freaky stuff happened to them. "Jonah Gordon - he's like Einstein! He got paralyzed by a virus. And this other kid - she got an allergy so rare that only one in ten million people ever get it!" Jake says, "He's telling the truth." Eve asks if he's sure. Jake says he is.
Eve calls Cassie to tell her that Leonard isn't the source of the magic, and that whoever is doing this is still out there. She relays this to Zeke, saying that they have to move methodically through all the displays to find the one that doesn't belong. Zeke shrugs. "Or... We can follow my hunch." Cassie tells him that a hunch is not a scientific method. Zeke says it's HIS method. "Even had some trophies back in the day." Cassie is incredulous. "What trophies did you ever win?" "Win? Stole! All of 'em." Zeke walks away. Cassie notices the group of goth kids from earlier - two girls and a boy. One girl catches her eye for just a second before looking at one of the science fair contestants.
Cassie follows Zeke, and they stop in front of the Newton's cradle again. Cassie explains that it's an exercise in conservation of momentum. "Magic," says Zeke. "Oh, I rather doubt that," says Jenkins from behind them. Zeke expresses surprise that Jenkins is out of the Annex (since he never goes anywhere). "I was just going to stand around all day, waiting for you to call, then I remembered - I have free will. Besides... a Science fair? As an under-appreciated, albeit innovative scientist myself, I admire these clever young people. Splendid!"
Zeke tells Jenkins what he saw earlier with the Newton's Cradle - "This last ball here, right before the volcano - it was all floaty-like." "Looks normal now." Zeke swings it, and rather than transferring the momentum to the other balls, it stops dead and two students bump into each other hard and both of them fall down. "Hunh. Magic is rewriting local reality," says Jenkins. "Laws of physics in this auditorium are starting to bend." Zeke asks if the thing is magic. Jenkins says that it's an early warning device. "It makes no sense.. there's already more power in play than could be summoned by a single amateur..." He concludes that they are looking for a coven - a group of magic users working together. Cassie asks how they find a coven. "Look for the pattern of three."
Cassie sees the same group of goth kids again, and this time they appear to be in a hurry to get somewhere. While Cassie makes a phone call to Eve, the three goth kids head upstairs. Overlooking the auditorium, they find a spot to suit their needs.
Running down a hall, Jake asks Eve if Cassie said where the kids went. "She said they passed the.. something dynamic project then turned behind the...blahbiddyblahblah mass theory... thingy." Jake says, "Two lefts then a right."
Meanwhile, up in the balcony they are setting up what looks like props for a possible spell. Below, Cassie and Zeke approach the helicopter mom. They ask where her daughter is. The mom recognizes them as the "judges." "Oh my... this is Any Meyer's booth... Don't worry, I can take you through the project. Please don't dock her any points." As she starts to talk about the project, Zeke and Cassie notice a flicker of lights and the hum of electricity. A kid at another booth has his hand on a plasma ball and gets a shock. Zeke and Cassie run off.
Back upstairs, Jake and Eve interrupt the goth kids. One is playing the violin, another is singing. Eve asks them what they are doing. It turns out that it's just a romantic prom proposal and reconciliation request from the boy to Amy, who is too focused on winning the STEM fair to be bothered with dating.
As Amy runs off, a strange rumbling starts. Jake and Eve look down from the balcony and see lights flicker and monitors static out, then come on again. on the floor level, Zeke and Cassie are looking for Amy. They approach one boy, who starts to answer but ends up coughing up flies. LOTS of flies - like, freakin' demons escaping from bodies on Supernatural kind of flies. And then... and THEN, Cassie says "Holy shit!" No censor bleeps, no 7-second delay. Just... "Holy Shit!" Aaaah, the joys of cable television!
So now Lucinda McCabe is doing damage control. Speaking to concerned parents, she tells hem that the insects were in a nest below the auditorium floor, and were probably attracted to the chemicals in the student's experiment. A parent asks if the fair should be cancelled. Lucinda responds that if the fair is cancelled, they will have to forfeit all the projects and the students will all be disqualified from the scholarship competition., so it's been decided that the fair will continue.
Zeke and Cassie catch up to Lucinda as she is leaving the stage, and Lucinda talks about all the weird stuff going on - the top contestants all dropping out sick, the volcano explosion and Tim and the flies... "I swear, it's like there's a curse on the STEM fair this year." Cassie fakes a laugh as Lucinda walks off.
Back at the Annex, Cassie and Zeke are discussing the possibility that someone isn't trying to win, maybe someone is trying to simply eliminate the other contestants. Jenkins explains that it's a bad idea. "The rule of three amplifies the spell for good or bad - any direct harm you do on others with malicious intent will be visited back upon you threefold." Zeke says they think there may be multiple victims. "Well, then somebody has a wallop of backlash coming... Fatal." He hands Cassie a funky looking gun, telling them that it will help them find the focus - no amateur can wield that kind of power without a focus, either artifact or spell.
Always the voice of skepticism, Eve asks if they're even sure that someone would go to these lengths to win a science fair. Cassie says, "Uh.. Yes," Like, duh, mom. She explains that these kids live for this competition and that it can define a whole future. "Whoever's using this magic doesn't know about the Rule of Three - they're just trying to break up the pack... make their parents proud."
Eve says they need to get information on all of the kids who might be involved, from a source who isn't part of the suspect pool. Jake goes to talk to one of the three goth kids. He finds the boy in the science lab. His name is Daschel. They talk about Amy and how the kid thinks he's not good enough. Jake recites poetry by Byron, and says that Byron was a badass. Jocks, Geeks, Alphas, Goths... "Those are all just roles we play. Costumes we wear." The kid says, "I bet nobody ever beat you up for saying poetry." "Not for that... not for poetry. I wore my costume like second skin. I wore it for too long. You like the girl? Don't let your costume - yours, or Amy's - stop you."
I'm gonna stop for a second and let that sink in...... How may of us have worn "costumes" just to fit in or be accepted? I'm not talking about a Comic Con or Cosplay. I'm talking about pretending to be someone we aren't just to fit in - to be cool, or trendy, or... whatever. Or just to save ourselves from being bullied? Jake really shows his true quality here. There's definitely more to this cowboy than meets the eye.
Alright - back to our story. So Jake asks Daschel to tell him everything he knows about Amy and her friends. Jake relates the information to Eve. All the students who dropped out, including Tim, the kid with the fly issue, hate Amy for pretty much the same reason - she's the front runner at the fair. The only one who doesn't hate her is Daschel.
The group goes to Any's project table to talk to Amy. Her mother is there. She insists that they can ask Amy anything - "We're ready." Zeke mentions that Amy is the front runner. Mom says that they've been winning these things since kindergarten. "MIT and Harvard have been after us since middle school." Cassie makes a statement about having balance - hobbies, social life. "Distractions, ma'am... Distractions! My Amy is laser-focused!" Amy notices Daschel watching her, and he shyly waves to her. She waves back with a shy smile of her own.
While Amy's mom is going on and on, Zeke is using Jenkin's magic focus detection device. She asks what the device is. "This thing? It's.. uh.. the Jones-o-meter. It calculates based on STEM fair criteria, using algorithms and vertical compliance.It predicts the winner. Ninety-nine percent accuracy." This excites Amy's mom. "Jones us as much as you want! Some people use the term 'tiger mom,' I'm the 'wolverine mother.' Grrrr!"
While Eve continues to chat them up, Zeke keeps scanning the area in and around Amy's booth. The scanner leads him to one of their bags on a chair. He opens the bag, and takes out a cell phone. He signals Eve that he's found an item, and Eve wraps up the conversation.
While they scan the cell phone, they try to figure out who the third person is. They assume that the first two are Amy and her mom. Then a weird image displays itself on the cell phone for a moment. Zeke finds that the image is sourced from an app. "What's A.L.B.?" Cassie says it's a spell. "Someone made an app out of a spell."
Jenkins turns up with the wi-fi machine, and they do some research. Jenkins discovers that it's a wish fulfilment spell. They figure out how the spell works - under the guise of being an I.Q. builder, it gives the user a series of tests. By the time the user has reached a certain level with these tests, they have gone through the embedded ritual for the spell to work. And then the app prompts the user to make a wish. Zeke takes a look at the code to find the source, but even he can't trace it. "And I've hacked the NSA. Allegedly." Jenkins explains that this magic is so powerful that even if a wish is subconscious, this app will amplify it. "Amy has no idea of the blowback - " Zeke interrupts him. "Amy has never used this app." He points to the usage data scrolling across the screen.
Back out on the fair floor, a RC robot takes a little note to Amy. She reads it, and excuses herself from her booth, and the robot returns to its controller - which Jake puts aside. Amy goes into a lab room, expecting to find Daschel. Instead, Cassie is waiting. She mentions all the weird things that have happened. Then she mentions the app on Amy's phone. Amy says that her mom put it on her phone, but she never used it. She says her mom got it off a website for "proactive parents." She said she opened it once, but it didn't feel right. She watched other kids use it, and the more they used it the more their wishes came true.
Cassie points out that in spite of this, Amy still didn't use it. Amy says that her wishes weren't to be smart, they were to just be normal - have a normal life. The girls commiserate for a minute. Amy asked it it gets better. Cassie says, "No. It just ended. I think the dream just got too big for them to carry anymore."
While the group goes back out on to the floor, Lucinda is trying to "dodge one of the crazy mothers" while she tries to find the room with the trophies when she opens the door to the Annex. She goes in, and Jenkins sees her. "Oh my." He calls Eve. Eve gets off the phone and goes to the Annex because "Jenkins is really freakin' out about something."
When she gets inside the Annex, she sees Lucinda. She starts to explain - "Ms. McCabe, I'm sure you must be very confused right now - " "No, actually." "You fell, you bumped your - No, actually?" "Actually, everything just got much, much clearer." Walking forward, she parts the table in front of her with a wave of her hands. Jenkins introduces her. "Col. Baird, I would like you to meet... Morgan LeFay."
Eve recognizes the name of the sorceress. LeFay warns them that the magic backlash is about to begin - all those kids who used the app have built a massive feedback loop. Jenkins admonishes Eve to stop her at any costs.
Eve returns to the group and tells them that Morgan LeFay built the app. LeFay saunters through the group. "Actually - Ukrainian programmers built the app, I just built the wish spell." Cassie accuses her of hurting kids. She says that she never hurt anyone - "that's a scam. Put magic in the hands of mortals, and they will inevitably destroy each other." Some more stuff is said about magic being loose in the world, and she says she just waits for the power of three to kick out its backlash. Zeke asks her if she's doing this just for fun. She says that she skims the magic off the top - just enough to recharge her own, and stay young.She walks away, and literally disappears into thin air.
The group tries to figure out how to protect the kids. Cassie suggests a Faraday cage. Jake says they don't have time to build one. Cassie says someone already has. She goes about starting to get things together. Jake starts pacing out the points on the floor. Zeke walks around, stealing everyone's cell phones. Eve is confronting LeFay, who gives her a choice. Kill her, or save the kids. There's no time to do both.
Eve of course chooses to save the kids. So they have everything in place, but now they have to get the people to all stand within a designated, specific area. Amy gets to the podium and announces that the electrical disturbances that are happening are a side effect of her last-minute project: a five-sided Tesla coil field. She says that the room will soon be flooded with over a hundred thousand volts of electricity. "The downside is that if you're not all in the center of the room, you may be electrocuted. Sorry." One of the other contestants interrupts, saying that it's impossible. "I'm Amy Meyers. I've won every medal, every ribbon, every trophy you have wanted since you were five years old. Do you really think I'm bluffing?"
Everyone moves to the center of the room while Amy and the team take their places and use metal pieces as conductors at the five points. Eve is suddenly pulled into an alternate reality between time by Morgan LeFay. They go back and forth about what's going to happen to magic. She says that thanks to Eve, she already has enough magic to hide. She recites some weird words. "Tell that to... what does he call himself...? Jenkins... He'll understand." She starts walking off, and snaps Eve back into her own reality.
Back in the fair auditorium, the emcee is announcing Amy Meyrs' disqualification on the grounds that her project endangered other students. He also announced the Lucinda McCabe was taken to the hospital with injuries caused by Amy's project. The winner is to be decided by the remaining judges - the Librarians from the county library. Leonard wins the fair with his simple baking soda volcano. Amy and Daschel finally get to hang out together.
Zeke finds Cassie in the empty hall, and congratulates her on the pentagram plan. She says it was maybe too easy. He corrects her. "Hey - that was the science project for the day, and you saved everyone's lives. So that deserves -" He pulls out a first place trophy. Cassie wonders out loud, "First place... in... " "In the category of Mathemagics," says Zeke. Cassie smiles. "You stole this, didn't you?" He shrugs. "Stole it? Yeah. But you won it - without a doubt. So focus on that!"
Back in the Annex's main room, Eve walks in to find Jenkins sitting on the stairs, angry. They go back and forth about how they had her and they could have stopped it. Eve passes on Morgan LeFay's message to him and asks what it means. "Do not fear the villain, fear the hero. The end of the world is coming..."
Raven is an avid cosplayer and television fan.
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