The Clock Strikes Thirteen
As the school clock atop the Admin Building and just above Ms. Faragonda’s office struck noon, the student fairies were let out of class for lunch. The crowd slowly made its way toward the dining hall, the girls talking and enjoying the fair autumn day.
The five girls known collectively as the Winx Club got together at the edge of the porch of the classroom wing so they could walk to the hall and eat together. They didn’t hurry; there would be plenty of food and time to eat. Their first year had progressed enough for the students to decide on where they liked to sit, and with whom, so it wasn’t likely anyone had taken what they now considered “their” seats.
While Stella, Flora, Musa and Bloom talked excitedly about this and that, Tecna merely walked with them and listened. The odd girl was still reserved around the others, uncertain of her place in the club even though everyone had made it clear she was wanted and accepted.
Noticing Tecna was nether speaking or being spoken to, Flora reached over and took her elbow, pulling her up beside her as the last few chimes were rung.
“Tecna, did you see that-” she began, but was interrupted when Tecna stopped walking, a puzzled expression on her face.
Flora stopped as well, and this drew the attention of the others.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” asked Flora, concerned.
Tecna tilted her head a bit, and looked at the clock. “The clock struck thirteen times,” she explained.
“Huh? Thirteen? Are you sure?” asked Musa.
“I am certain,” was the reply.
“What does it mean?” asked Bloom. She was still new to Alfea, and discovering new things about the school almost every day.
“Ah, who cares?” asked Stella, “As long as it doesn’t make us late for a meal.”
“I will speak to Ms. Griselda at lunch,” said Tecna. “It may be nothing, but malfunctioning technology bothers me.”
“So I’ve noticed,” said Stella, “But you’re probably worried over nothing.”
“We shall see.”
After getting their food and settling in (as expected, their usual seats were open), Tecna went to the stage where the teachers sat.
“Yes, Miss Tecna?” asked Griselda when the fairy approached her.
“I wish to report that the clock struck thirteen just now,” she replied.
All the teachers stopped eating and turned to them.
“Are you certain?” asked Faragonda.
“Yes, ma’am,” she nodded once.
“We will check it at one o’clock. Go finish your meal, Miss Tecna, and report to us then,” replied Griselda.
“Thank you for your attention,” nodded the Fairy of Technology, and headed for her seat.
“I’m not surprised,” said Griselda to Faragonda, “It’s been quite some time since it last happened.”
“Agreed. And at least this time it was caught early, before anything could be affected,” was the reply.
Tecna sat down and picked up her fork.
“What did she say?” asked Stella, taking a bite of fruit salad.
“They will check it at one o’clock, and have asked me to attend,” said Tecna.
“Well, if any fairy could help, it would be you,” said Bloom.
Tecna looked at her friend from earth. “Thank you for your confidence. I will do my best, of course.”
“Nobody doubts that,” smirked Musa.
The fuscha-haired girl was not sure how to reply, so instead returned her attention to her meal.
One o’clock found Faragonda, Griselda, and Tecna standing in the quad, looking up at the clock. The rest of the Winx had wanted to stay and see what happened, but were told to report to class.
The clock chimed once.
“It is two point five seven four seconds slow,” stated Tecna.
Griselda started to ask how she knew to such accuracy when the clock suddenly gave a half-chime at a lower volume.
“That confirms it,” said Faragonda, “Alfea has a serious problem.”
“Might I ask why? It is not the only clock in the school,” asked Tecna.
“No, but it is the one that all others synchronize to,” said Griselda, “For example the timing of the security shield at night.”
Faragonda waved a hand and a diagram appeared before them. It was the clock, separated into its components in a 3D format.
Tecna studied it for a moment. “It appears to be primitive technology.”
“It is very old, but it is the best solution for the job,” replied Faragonda, “There are devices in place that monitor the time and send that information to the other clocks, but the clock itself is purely mechanical and has no spells of any kind on it.”
“Other, more advanced methods of timekeeping were tried, but the stress of the entire system on the central unit caused them to break down quickly,” added Griselda. “It’s just the nature of the system and school, and would be more trouble than it’s worth to change. “If you want to know more about it, I recommend ‘The History of Alfea’ in the library.”
“I see…” nodded Tecna, studying the diagram. She reached up and touched a corner, and it spun around slowly so she could see it at different angles. The clock was all gears and springs and levers.
“I would offer my services, but I am not certain of my capability with technology this old. I might end up doing more harm than good.” She hesitated for a moment, then added, “I could try a fixing spell I know that is quite good for repairing computers.”
The two teachers exchanged a glance. As usual with her, Tecna was completely honest in her statements.
“That is appreciated, Tecna, but a fix-it spell could not be used. The clock must remain magic-free,” said Faragonda, “We will call the ones who installed it and see if they can send someone.”
“Yes, ma’am,” nodded the student fairy, “But when they arrive, might I help, or at least observe? I wish to add to my experiences.”
“Certainly, Tecna, I’m glad you are taking such an interest. We’ll let you know when the repair person arrives,” was the answer.
“Thank you, Ms. Faragonda. I will return to class, now,” said Tecna, taking her leave.
Later that afternoon, when she could spare a few minutes, Faragonda sent a magical call to another realm.
In Pixie Hollow, a section of Never Land where fairies lived, was a large tree called the Pixie Dust Tree. Within its branches and hollows lived the queen, Clarion.
She was consulting with the various talent supervisors about some minor problems of the kind that crop up from time to time when a crystal ball coalesced beside her. Within its depths was an old friend.
The supervisors fell silent, as this was an unusual occurrence.
“Faragonda! How nice to hear from you! It has been a long time, now! How are you?” said the queen with a smile.
“I am quite well, Queen Clarion,” she replied, “The new school year started a few months ago, and this year’s students are a real handful! How are you?”
The queen gave a chuckle. “I don’t doubt that for a moment. I’m doing well myself. Lord Milori and I now have a way to get around the problem of warm and cold fairies mixing, and are together again!”
“Wonderful news!” Faragonda exclaimed, “I was hoping that could be resolved!”
“Yes, we are very happy!” said the queen. “Now, how may I help you?”
“I’m afraid the main clock is breaking down again,” said Faragonda.
“I see. A long stretch since the last time. I’ll be happy to send over my best tinker to fix it,” said Clarion.
“Thank you! Is the transfer point still available?”
“Yes, I keep everything in place and ready to send or receive, just in case,” said Clarion.
“Very wise of you,” replied Faragonda, “Then I will cast the opening spell here, and your tinker may come over at their convenience.”
“Is the problem severe yet?” asked the queen.
“No, fortunately a student noticed an extra chime and reported it,” was the answer.
“Glad to hear it! I remember what happened last time,” Clarion said.
“Yes, that was unpleasant for everyone.” Faragonda looked at her friend. “Clarion, I’m sorry. I should make an effort to keep in touch more often.”
The queen waved off the apology. “I understand, Faragonda, we’re both quite busy. But I’ll make an effort as well. Maybe at some point we can get together again.”
“I would like that. Thank you again, and I will talk to you soon, your majesty,” said Faragonda.
“Expect my tinker soon. Goodbye, Faragonda,” said Clarion, and the spell was broken. The ball dissolved into dust and was gone.
Clarion looked around at the waiting supervisors and found who she was looking for. “Fairy Mary, send Tinker Bell to me. I have a very special mission for her.”