Holly Short was in high spirits. She returned to the LEP to find Trouble Kelp in command instead of the idiot Sool and all of her former colleagues welcomed and embraced her with open arms, Foaly among them. With her strange new freedom, she was no longer reprimanded for being a few seconds late when Root was in control, nor was she placed under constant suspicion like during Sool’s tyranny. Now, the entire LEP was given additional salary and more vacation days (Foaly could have died of happiness, with the size of the budget he was having) during Trouble Kelp’s highly anticipated and celebrated rein.
Holly was enthralled by the idea of rejoining the LEP, but now that she was back on the job, she loathed it. True, this was for the People, but boy, Commander Root wasn’t exaggerating when he said he hated the idea of being a Major. Holly was driven mad with boredom. Honestly. If Foaly didn’t arrive here with a field assignment this instant, she would have pelted herself out the window. Thankfully, she didn’t have to wait long. Roob (remember? Foaly’s assistant from the Opal’s deception?) burst into the room and Holly leapt from her chair in relief, thus knocking over the e-forms she had been filling out. Thank Frond for that.
“What’s the situation?” Holly inquired. Her jargon had upgraded quite a bit ever since she was promoted. “Anything I should know about?”
Roob took several deep breaths with sweat cascading down his cheeks. “I don’t know. Apparently, it’s an Fowl alert.” Holly groaned. Ever since Artemis had discovered the existence of the fairies, she was being dragged with him one scenario after another. Still, a field mission was a field mission, and Holly would’ve been mad not to accept it when she was filling out traffic regulation forms. She handed in a substitute approval form to Captain Grub as she head to the operations booth, who was only too happy to be behind the desk instead of in the line of fire with his normal field duties.
Meanwhile, Holly banged the operation booth’s door open in Vinyaya’s face (who was just about to fetch Holly) and apologized quickly.
“Foaly! Tell me what you’ve got this instant!” Holly shouted as she recovered from embarrassment. Every time there’s a Fowl incident, you know it can’t be good, with a fairy exposure threat at the very least.
Foaly turned around in his swivel chair (Holly noted he was wearing a reindeer antlers headband), with Caballine massaging his shoulders. Amazing how he valued personal comfort even in times of stress. “Anyways, I felt a little ambitious lately after patenting a few upgraded programs and hacked into the Mud boy’s secret drive, containing all completed and planned schemes.” Foaly did not continue, seeing that an infuriated Holly cut him off.
“You have no right to do that! I thought after the artic thing, we were done with watching him. Now, you’ve decided to step it up to hack into his computer!” Holly grimaced.
“Well, counting that Hybras incident where he hacked my Section eight files, I’d say we’re even.” The centaur replied smugly before his mood shifted to serious. “We’ve found potential files and documents that could prove to be a problem. I’m not sure if this could be a problem to fairy exposure, seeing that Artemis had never spoke a word to the other mud men, but still…” Holly cut him off again. “Wait. Are you trying to tell me that Artemis is trying to exploit some other species? I won’t believe it!” Holly retorted.
Foaly pulled up a window on his computer. “Oh, believe it” Holly gasped as several manuals of camera formations, data forms, and photos were lain before their eyes. All of them focused on one objection: capturing the latest living descendent of San the Deluded. Apparently, Artemis had not quenched his thirst for knowledge. Just around the holidays, too. With Artemis’s brains and “Santa’s” naive nature, Clauss would be walking into a bear trap.
“I thought the whole Santa thing was just a tale mud men and the People told kids to be nice on Christmas. Even if San exists, how can it be true that an old elf riding a toboggan fly with reindeer attached to it flew around the world in one night?” Holly inquired. She recalled her own parents telling her the story every Christmas before their untimely deaths. Foaly shuffled uncomfortably. “I’m only the technical consultant. If you want to know, ask Quan.” Holly smirked. Foaly was not used to being modest. Quan slipped into the operations booth.
“Simply put, “Santa” does exist. Most of the story is made up, but the overall story is true. Descendents of San D Clauss traditionally rewarded the selfless of the world. “Santas” had much greater time-stop magic and could freeze a whole continent. He could work for a while, and take a break as often as needed. Some trips took several years.” Quan paused to let this sink in. Holly whistled. “That’s one busy fairy.”
“As a matter of fact, Santas aren’t fairies or human. They are demigods. However, during Christmas and Christmas eve, they are stuck in human form and have limited magic potential. ” Quan finished. Holly gnashed her teeth bitterly. How was she to arrest her friend? On the other hand, she couldn’t just stand aside and let Fowl destroy a tradition held for centuries.
Foaly, knowing Holly’s friendship with Artemis, resorted to a different approach and course of action. “Okay, I know you’re not comfortable with throwing the mud boy in a prison, so here’s the deal. You stun him at Fowl Manor while he’s snoozing and grab him. We’ll take him in custody for two days to be on the safe side. After a few lectures, we release the mud boy, and everyone’s happy. Agreed?” Holly didn’t like it, but what choice did she have? It was either imprison him for a while or he gets arrested. Holly considered dissuading Artemis on his fairy communicator, but if the council got wind of this when she was offered a better chance, she’d be surprised if the mud boy didn’t get thrown in Howler’s Peak.
Holly was lead into the gadget storage room while she half-listened to Foaly babbling about his “amazing” new inventions for what seemed like an hour while she worried about Artemis. True, Artemis had gotten himself in (and out of) worse scenarios, but that still wasn’t very reassuring. She selected the weapon that would do minimum damage and pain to Artemis (which turned to be a grave mistake, as she later found out). Holly was sure they were not needed though, and got a clearing for a shuttle to the surface.
“-so, these new pods I’ve patented can handle ten thousand degrees, blast oncoming obstacles out of your way, and get you to the surface in five minutes!” Holly didn’t wait patiently for him to finish. She strapped herself in the restraining harness, closed the pod door, and took off to the surface when Foaly had his back turned, leaving him with a wounded ego and a soot-covered face.
* * *
Artemis Fowl was meditating in his bedroom. The LEP would be coming after him at any moment now. Obviously, he had hacked into the LEP system that Foaly consequently had forgotten to upgrade. Holly’s assignment was not filed in yet, of course seeing that she was given it only two minutes ago. Nevertheless, now that he had put his plan in action and with those unguarded files on his PC, the LEP were sure to come calling. Holly would probably be sent, seeing that she was the one who knew much about the architecture of Fowl Manor after the initial kidnap. He waited until his parents were asleep, and waited patiently for Holly.
Captain Short was flying across the countryside in pursuit of Fowl Manor. She took off in the sweet air of the surface. Holly spotted hundreds of burning candles.
Holly finally arrived at Fowl Manor and gasped. She had never been here during the holidays besides the Fowl Manor siege, and now that Angeline Fowl returned to sanity and Artemis senior had been saved, the house abnormally cheerful. Twinkling lights winked at her and wreaths plastered the place. Holly laughed. Artemis probably wasn’t too pleased with his parents’ sense of décor. She chuckled. With all the Christmas lights, even her shield shimmer wouldn’t even be noticed. She fluttered to Artemis’s windowsill. Artemis was still up, typing at his laptop. Holly held her breath as she fired up her Neutrino 1000 to the lowest setting. She was here to stun Artemis a little, not fry him, and if he was expecting her, he might have mirrored contacts which rendered the mesmer futile. Holly aimed charily, fully aware that if she missed the first time, there might not be a chance for a second and the fact that if Foaly’s plan did not succeed and if Fowl retaliated, he could end up behind bars.
Pftt… the dart’s launch volume was only 0.000001 decibels, yet Artemis Fowl sensed a disturbance with his newfound fairy intuition and with a blur, Fowl disappeared. No. Not disappeared. He’s probably shielded, or-
SPLAT! Holly was struck with a strike that forced her to the floor. Holly had enough experience with magic to understand what was happening immediately. Artemis’s new-gotten magic must have increased his speed, perfect for a out of shape boy like him. She began to cough blood as she fell into a state of unconsciousness. Artemis gently scooped her up, his features static, but within him, his mind was in turmoil. He hadn’t expected his magic to make it that powerful. Amazing how a modest jab at the speed of sound could generate so much damage. Artemis called Butler to bring Captain Short to the prison, leaving the email he was composing earlier still up on his screen as he headed to his study. It read:
How are you, dear cousin? I’m fine over here (aside from those irritating caroling elf ornaments Juliet managed to string up near my room). Thank you for your last letter, although I must say that your latest news of your cancer treatments were quite depressing. Sorry that no one has the time to come England time for Christmas to keep you company, but I’ve arranged something that might compensate. Don’t give up hope yet.
Artemis Fowl II