Artemis Fowl did not make mistakes, or at least in his mind. Everything in his plan was executed as he had orchestrated. Butler was monitoring the cameras (which had been upgraded to reject loops since Holly’s kidnapping), Juliet was off on vacation with Angeline and Artemis senior, and Artemis had contacted the LEP on Holly’s communicator with the voice-changer every half-hour or so. He had even employed the old trick of removing the locator to attach on a moving object which in this case, was a computer-controlled mini jet that tried to mislead the LEP, attached with a lab rat to provide the helmet bio statistics.
Artemis took over for Butler at around ten o’ clock. He glanced back at Holly, who was still knocked out. He was still feeling uncomfortable seeing Holly in a cell, but now it was even more so now that they had become friends. He thought of all the things they’d been through. The B’wa Kell revolt, the quest for the C-cube, the return of Opal, and the journey to Hybras.
Holly began to stir back in the prison. She noted her back was neatly bandaged, even though her magic had healed most of the injury. Holly sighed. Her worst fears remained unconfirmed. True, Artemis probably did not intend damage of this magnitude and tried to fix his error, but on the other hand, she was still in a cell. Holly didn’t notice that when she got up, her body obstructed the ion beams and Artemis’s specially planted audio chip was activated.
“Greetings, Captain Short.” Artemis’s voice came in an icy composure out of the speakers. “Undoubtedly, your little LEP friends have discovered my little file whose security I had purposely weakened and they took the bait.” Holly groaned. They were in the same position as six years ago when Artemis was one step ahead of them as always. The amplifier continued, “You might want to stay still and refrain from anything like last time, seeing that I have reinforced your prison with-“
Holly did not wait to let the amp finish its sentence. She rammed the steel bars she felt a slight prickle on her shoulder which came in painful jolts shortly thereafter. “ electric bars” the loudspeaker continued with a hint of smugness. “Undoubtedly, with a rash personality with yours, you tried to break out before I finished. Sometimes what you don’t hear is almost as important as what you did hear. I hope you have a nice stay.” The audio clip ended with Artemis’s cold chuckle, leaving Holly to sweat it out on the bench.
Dar’vit. That shock had paralyzed her entire arm, which added another disadvantage to boot. Escape seemed almost impossible. But then again, people thought returning from Hybras was impossible too with only three warlocks and a mud boy was unfeasible, so this was at least worth a shot. She was trapped in the hands of a former ally, Foaly and the LEP thought she was fine but delayed, and her prison was as tight a gnome’s wallet! Dar’vit.
Worst of all, what of all those young fairies and mud children waiting to receive their gifts on Christmas Day? The little ones will be devastated. Curse that mud boy! The fact that Fowl hadn’t killed her already and the wrappings on her back served as a slight glimmer of hope that Artemis hadn’t completely gone “evil” again. In reality, the only reason she wasn’t throwing a tantrum over the whole affair was that she couldn’t. No, wait…Wouldn’t believe that he had reverted to criminal mastermind, is seeking to revise a tradition humans and fairies have held for years, and had no trouble sticking his beloved friend in a electrocuted cell. Last year’s Artemis probably would have balked at the very idea, but this Artemis certainly wasn’t. This Artemis was almost exactly like the one when he was twelve. Evil, highly intelligent, and determined.
Back at the operations booth, Foaly was smart enough to suspect something was up. Holly had visited Fowl Manor twice (once during the artic incident and another time after Butler was shot by Blunt). There was no reason for her to be this delayed. What was more suspicious was that every time she called back was that there were no sarcastic comments about his equipment. Now that the position of technical consultant had been highly esteemed now that it was Trouble’s supremacy, Foaly was able to summon the commanders in a heartbeat. “I think we have a problem” Foaly started before Vinyaya cut him off. “What, has your hoof moisturizer expired?” Trouble smirked with her.
“Ha ha, very funny. No, we have a situation aboveground. I have reason to believe Holly is in trouble.” Trouble snorted. Centaurs. Paranoid as they come. “So she’s just been a little late, but she’s filling us on all the details so we know nothing’s up”
“But would Holly normally tell us every little detail?” Foaly interrupted. “Furthermore, last time Holly had arrived at Fowl Manor in a couple of hours. Even in all those inconveniences, she still would have returned fifteen seconds ago.” Trouble’s and Vinyaya’s jaws dropped to the floor. “I-it can’t be…” Foaly didn’t smirk, even though he was right, but instead pulled up a window.
“Fowl didn’t realize that I had thousands of satellites at my disposal” Foaly didn’t boast with the usual smugness of his voice. Trouble regained his composure, only to lose it again. “Fowl? I thought he was past kidnapping fairies for ransom!” Trouble managed to sputter.
“Well, we obviously thought wrong. Who else would have the motive, means, and ability? Not to mention Holly was gone while trying to capture Fowl!” Vinyaya cut in. “Foaly, how do you know for sure it isn’t just your normal paranoia?” Instead of replying with a whinny, he poked his screen (despite his complaints of the expensiveness when Sool prodded them).
“As I said before, I planted satellites all over the surface. I had a hunch that Fowl was expected us to go after him, and after zooming in on Holly near Collon, well, you’d surprised.” The commanders went for a closer look, and then…
“Oh, gods above…” Trouble gasped. Foaly’s satellite reading showed a flight device with a rat attached with Holly’s helmet. “Amazing.” Foaly muttered. “Fowl attached a live specimen to the helmet to provide the bio -readings and the gizmo to mislead us. Holly isn’t the sort of officer to give up her equipment easily. She’s either dead or captured, the latter is more possible.” Foaly gritted his teeth. “At least we know what we’re up against, and won’t make the same mistakes” Foaly noted.
“Wow, that’s a lot of comfort to me” Trouble said gritted his teeth. “Now you might want to suit me up for retrieval. I’m heading for the surface.”
Foaly interjected. “Trouble, we can’t just stampede in there like that. We need to think about our options. Fowl has already become the first mud man in history to beat us, and we don’t want to make him the first mud man in history to beat us twice.” The pair grudgingly agreed. Trouble went off to apply for surface visas, Vinyaya took over monitoring the satellites on Fowl Manor, and Foaly flexed his fingers apprehensively and began to toil. There had to be some files the mud boy couldn’t protect.
Jaki Klauss was a busy fairy. For one night he labored around the world to reward the acquiescent little children by and be back at the underground of the North Pole by curfew. The fireplace was an ideal method of transportation. The idea of traveling around the world by fireplace was inspired from those ingenious Harry Potter books; even if they got his cloak quite sooty (much to the displeasure of Mrs. Klauss, who did his laundry). Reindeer sleighs? All credited to crazy old grandpa Tirese when the fireplace collapsed and he accidentally flew off a cliff on a sleigh pulled by wild deer, and a legend was born.
Jaki was no stranger to current fairy technology. In fact, he purchased new inventions of Foaly’s under assumed names. They were invaluable after he twiddled the gadgets with his own special magic. Instead of those “nice/naughty” lists humans had fabricated, he used a electronic notepad (Foaly patented it to store 500 gigabytes) with his aura sensor. The names light green if it is pure, and flashes red if the child is tainted with evil (or at least going through a rebellion period).
Jaki had just been scrolling through the list when- Ack!… Jaki spilled coffee on himself. This was shocking (the list, not the coffee). Nothing like this had ever been seen before. Artemis Fowl II’s name came up green! Nothing like this had ever happened before. Jaki smiled. The mud boy’s change might’ve been credited with Artemis senior’s newfound attitude.
All right. Jaki climbed out of his armchair. This calls for something special. The mud boy will be the first to receive his present. No one else would obtain their loot until Artemis Fowl gets his. He headed to the present storage without checking the list…Artemis Fowl II’s name changed from emerald green to a neon ruby. You can tell how big of a mistake he made…
Foaly was close to shattering the keyboard after forty-five minutes of pointless hacking. The mud boy’s files were impossible to impenetrate. In Foaly’s mind’s eye, this was a battle of intelligence. If Foaly hacks in, Fowl loses. If Fowl keeps his defenses up, Fowl wins. The centaur liked seeing it as a challenge.
Foaly was about to give up all hope of breaking into Fowl’s indestructible fortress until a thought occurred to him. The mud boy may have bulked up his defenses on his PC, but his internet files were a different matter… Foaly snooped around until something caught his eye. His eyes widened in surprise and horror.
“Commanders! Get in here!” He summoned as Trouble and Vinyaya rushed into the operations booth. Foaly gesture to the screen, but it took the overexcited pair several seconds to realize what they were seeing: Artemis Fowl’s email. Trouble responded first.
“Fowl has a cousin? What an evil delinquent she must be!”
“Wait, Trouble, there’s more… you might want to see this…” Vinyaya started.
Trouble finished reading the email and fell silent. He almost sympathized with Fowl. On Christmas day, fifteen years ago, Ellie Kelp fell ill and died after the radiation explosion that also killed Holly’s parents occurred. Ellie was lucky enough to survive, but she was too young and her immune system almost completely collapsed. Over the course of twenty years, she constantly suffered from viruses that even the best warlocks had trouble halting it. It was a slow and painful death for the poor elf.
“What concerns me is the last sentence. All those files I’ve dug up were related to the capture of Klauss. I’ve been thinking that Fowl must have left them unguarded purposely for us to send an officer as a hostage. Now that we’ve found this, I am thinking this is not a bluff. Fowl’s not the type to leave personal data around, so his system must have been weakened. What if the mud boy’s trying to reveal Klauss to his cousin for a Christmas “surprise”?” The commanders opened their mouths to speak, but forced their words back into their mouths after Foaly continued.
“This could be extremely dangerous to fairy security, and if one of Fowl’s systems has weakened, I bet so will the rest of it. I’ll scour the mud boy’s hard drive. Vinyaya, you go get section eight to do a quick reconnaissance to check for booby traps, while you-” Foaly gestured to Trouble. “-go with Retrieval One. It’s time for action.” Trouble nodded. Foaly was often confusing with his scientific jargon, but this time, he heard the centaur loud and clear.