As Ellen opened the car door, she failed to notice something scuttling around. It skittered out of the way as she swung her legs out of the door, while Nanase did likewise on the opposite side of the door. They had spent most of the evening watching a film, and it was quite dark as they got back.

As usual, Ellen had had a wonderful evening. She wasn't sure how Nanase had managed to convince her mother to sleep over – or if she had even dared to tell the imposing figure that was Mrs Kitsune. Ellen was lucky in that her parents were very tolerant – they didn't even mind her practicing her magic on the family cat, brownie (although it had led to some… embarrassing moments). But, Ellen reminded herself to try and keep things quiet on the magic front. Nanase had lost hers – along with the naturally red colour of her hair – not long back, when she had saved Ellen's life. In order to take on the powerful wizard Abraham, she had utilised a spell that had turned her into some sort of angel.

But the power had been too much, and Nanase had 'burned herself out'. Until she got the magic back, Ellen had resolved not to use her own around Nanase. Instead, the two spent proper, quality time together, as girlfriend and girlfriend. Ellen mused briefly on the complexities of their relationship, but was brought back to earth by a somewhat pointed cough.

"Oh, right." She closed the car door, and reached for her keys. Brushing some of her brown hair out of her eyes, she unlocked the door and the pair went inside.

Behind them, another thing scuttled in and dived into the shelter of the shadows behind a conveniently nearby desk. Had the two been more awake and not had… other things on their mind, all may have been lost. As it was, Ellen shut the door obliviously and led Nanase into the living room.

Across town, another one was clinging onto the wall of a large house. State-of the art though it was, the security system was no match for its probing legs. Wires were dis- and reconnected with blinding speed. It was doubtful the system would be able to detect it anyway, but the thing was under orders not to take any chances.

Less than a minute later, it plopped onto the gravel path. Flattening its body to proportions that were usually not possible for a metallic body of that shape, it squeezed under the door. On the inside, the house looked even larger than from the front – finding Miss Pompoms could take some time. nevertheless, the thing had all the time in the world, and if it wasn't able to finish its job tonight, there were always others. The thing stalked off into the depths of the building

Life was much easier for the third thing. Sarah Brown lay asleep in her bed, dreaming of who-knew-what. In fact, the thing might soon know very well what, but before that it set to work on the other task given by its superior: hunting out information. The redhead, the tall male and the telepath girl needed to be found. It was about to set about searching the room when a message came in. The thing paused momentarily while it downloaded the data, before continuing on in a slightly easier search.

Why it was easier was easy to explain. A minute earlier, two of the things had reported back to the leader. One, at the Dunkel residence, had discovered the redhead girl, despite her no longer being a redhead. Still, officially hair could in fact spontaneously change colour, and those factors had been accounted for. The other had reported in from the Verres household, bringing news of several key things: the telepath, a seyunolu , was there. The name of the final male had been confirmed as Justin (surname still pending), and E. Dunkel had also turned up there.

While it's intelligence was limited, the thing-in-charge still logged a criticism. Its predecessor had noted the similarity between the Dunkels – hair, basic bodily structure and fighting style – and assumed that they were one and the same. How foolish it had been. Still, this thing would not make the same mistakes, and it sent the three remaining drones off to find their own targets.

Two of them arrived at Tedd's house, the one already inside opening a window partially for them to gain entry. It was strange that something so small could shift such weight, but it could hardly be said that there was anything normal about the drones. At least, not normal compared to anything in their frustratingly primitive surroundings.

Down below, Elliot was reclining on the couch as Tedd and Grace hunched over some strange contraption.

"I dunno, Tedd, I still think the ducky's the wrong way round." Came Grace's voice. Elliot put his head in his hands – the device, intended to harvest energy from something-or-other, was just the latest in a long line of Verres OdditiesTM. Some – such as the infamous transformation gun and belt, had been a great technological success. Others, such as this latest invention designed to harvest free energy, were a huge flop.

"guys, can we just go to bed now?" asked Elliot. Initially, the reason for him staying round had been for Tedd to test him while he slept – for that was something that both annoyed and pleased Elliot. He too had magical capabilities. The problem was that all he could do with them so far was turn into a girl. Or turn painfully into a cat. He also had to transform regularly, due to some complicated build-up of energy. He transformed every night to go to sleep, and while he was… uncomfortable with being around Tedd all night as a girl, it was the only way he was happy to stay as a girl long enough for Tedd's extensive monitoring to be carried out.

Tedd had, however, been sidetracked when Grace, his half-squirrel half-human half-alien girlfriend, had pointed out that the energy creating device had sparked.

"Fine, fine. Change and I'll be right with you"

The three things scuttled down the stairs, just in time to see Elliot get up off of the broken couch. He paused for a minute, screwed up his face, and then… changed. One minute there was a brown-haired boy in a black t-shirt, the next there was a blonde girl with long, flowing hair and a green top. This new data would have to be processed.

While one of the things was conferring with the leader, another crept down, and swiped a phone. It took advantage of the kerfuffle going on to pull it back up the stairs to the hallway. Ignoring the cries of "No, no, no, no, no! Grace! I can put the heart monitor on myself" and "come on; it's easier if I do it. Lift up your shirt!", it started the mobile up and searched through the list of contacts. Eventually, it struck gold – to the sound of Tedd's sniggering from downstairs, it opened the heading 'Justin' and scrolled down to the address bar. Work done; it dragged the phone back in its spiderlike legs, tipping it over the side of the staircase to land on the couch below.

After Tedd had done a variety of strange tests on him – including another go on the hacked wii board – the three went upstairs. Elliot could have sworn he saw something move on the stairs as he went up, but dismissed it. As the door slammed behind the trio, the three things crept out of hiding. Now everything was in place.

At the Dunkel residence, two of the spider-things watched over Ellen and Nanase, as they fell asleep in front of the television in each other's arms. Another two watched Sarah and Susan, asleep in their respective beds. Finally, the last of the spiders crept stealthily into Justin's room, eying the sleeping figure menacingly. Everything was ready. In sync, the eight things moved towards their targets. Tonight was going to be a rough night…