Jaki stirred from his unconsciousness. He had underestimated mud technology since the last few millennia. Woo, those tiny darts pack quite a punch. He got to his feet and brushed dust off his suit before taking a look at his surroundings.
Hmm… motion cameras, electro bars, wireless mikes… mud technology had definitely evolved since the last time he’d checked thoroughly. Jaki chuckled. The last time he actually made note of their equipment, the mud men were still relying on rifles with lead ammunition.
A cold, clammy hand reached and gripped his shoulder. He whipped around, expecting his captor, a warden, or even a LEPretrieval team who’d caught on. What caught his eye wasn’t quite what he had in mind.
A battered, sleepy, and female elf loomed from the shadows. “So you are that fairy that Artemis was looking for… perhaps I should introduce myself…” Holly started off awkwardly before she was cut off.
“Yes, I know. You are Major Holly Short of LEPrecon, incredibly rash now and then, and is always in the center of all the Artemis Fowl situations” Jaki paused after realizing that Holly did not react well to the “rash” comment and she started to fume.
“You think I’m rash? Who’s the one flying on an old toboggan all over the world in risk of the mud people catching sight of you?” Holly shrieked rather testily.
“For your information, missy, there is a fine line between myth and reality” Jaki snapped in a very un-jolly way. “That was another one of the millions of fabrications created by the mud men. I thought you would sympathize, seeing that humans regard the Recon members as little men in green hats and buckled shoes with pots of gold for claiming”
Holly might have been impulsive at times, but she realized wisely that now was not the time to argue and bit her tongue. She closed her eyes in anticipation of the question that was coming.
“You’ve been here longer than I have, so surely you have more information regarding this mess. Tell me more about this Fowl character and what you know of his plans, if you please” Jaki inquired before he had noticed Holly had burst into tears. Jaki had tried to make amends for his mistake, but Holly brushed away his hand.
“It’s alright, but I am just startled that it came down to this. I mean, after all we’ve been through!” Holly proceeded to tell Klauss about all their past happenings, and surprisingly, Jaki did not seem aghast or even upset.
“I see…is this the normal boy you usually see of him?” he inquired.
“N-no… well, yes he is a criminal, but he had had a change of attitude for a few years now, and if it weren’t for the reality of this situation, I’d just say this is just an extremely long nightmare…” Jaki smiled.
“If you truly have faith in his newfound heart, you should sit tight and believe that he is doing this to us for a good intention. Taking in account on what you said in his psychological level and the fact that he is not so open on his emotions, I’d say he’s probably struggling to maintain his sentiment on what your friend is doing. Keep the faith, Short”
Holly smiled and silently agreed. “Thanks. I guess the mud men and the People don’t call you Father Christmas for nothing.”
Mulch Diggums was alive and well in Los Angeles, California. It had plenty of casinos were unsecured and had a fortune for the taking. What he spent the most of his day on however, was on eBay. It was one of those ingenious things that the mud men had come up with over the years. Mulch was a true blue shopaholic, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t like selling off stuff he didn’t need, like the LEP equiptment
Trouble Kelp arrived at Fowl Manor in thirty five minutes, thanks to Foaly’s “superior” wing design. Fairies, which were not quite used to such light exposure like the ones provided by the blinking décor, were blinded for several minutes despite the new helmets’ anti-flash night vision. After screaming at a few majors and sending back a few others to Tara, Retrieval One made it to the entryway of the castle. Little did they know of the several LEP anti-shield filters that were planted on the property. There was no way of knowing after all, officers weren’t going to carry them around and Foaly wasn’t the type to accidentally send his precious equipment onto the surface. They say that you can’t trip over the same rock twice, and even through their seemingly disadvantage, Trouble wasn’t going to make the same mistake in assuming they were protected by shields. He would try an alternative method.
Butler was just dropping by to Juliet’s rhododendron garden he’d grown since the Fowl manor siege when the alarm Artemis had built into his phone had went off. Shielded intruders were invading the grounds! Butler grinned mischievously (which was quite unlike him). This was going to be fun…
Trouble Kelp was not surprised when he found Butler to appear at the door. So much that he had commanded the team to unshield after Butler came. Shielding earlier was to prevent other mud men from spotting them. Further shielding would be a waste of magic. Artemis Fowl had undoubtedly placed shield-penetrating scopes and was one step ahead of them.
A few of the majors were looking astounded at the fact that they were told to unshield so early, and even more surprised as Commander Trouble, the most gung-ho LEP officer in history, allowed the next few events to take place.
Butler had already cocked his sig sauer before Trouble held up a raised hand. “I want to talk to Fowl” Butler was astonished. Holding a conference during a battle? The LEP has certainly changed tactics since the last time they went up against them. Butler considered it for three long minutes. There was no harm, and no doubt Artemis would want to hear this. Butler pulled up a miniature laptop watch and set it to video conference. Artemis’s face appeared on the screen, with his face inert but his temples pulsed with anger.
“I assume you wish to discuss the fact that Foaly had tried to invade into my privacy?” Artemis stated with a scowl and a cold composure. Trouble nodded bluntly.
“First of all, I have major Short at my fingertips, so the LEP might want to be careful in what you all are doing, and secondly-” The mention of Holly’s fate snapped Trouble out of his momentary trance.
“Fowl, if you’ve harmed one hair off Holly’s head-” Trouble growled before Artemis cut him off.
“Or what? Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten. Let’s be realistic here. Holly is at my fingertips, and it is not wise to antagonize the hostage-taker, if you have read your psych texts. I may be unstable.”
“There is no may about it…” Trouble had forgotten the original plan and drew his Neutrino. He snapped back, knowing brute force wasn’t going to win this battle.
“Look, Fowl.” Trouble pleaded. “I know how you feel, but sacrificing fairy security for the sake of-” Trouble was interrupted.
“-Livian’s is not the way to go?” Artemis retorted in anger. Trouble gulped. So this is what Juliet meant when she felt that Fowl could read minds.
“You think that after all she’s been through, she doesn’t deserve a little cheer in her life? Human cancer is much worse than the fairy kind, elf. Don’t compare it with radiation” Trouble fumed. Fowl had no right to call him by species now that he’d officially betrayed the people. Then it came to him. How could Fowl have known about Ellie? Seeing the commander’s shocked expression, Artemis added: “Foaly should be more focused on deflecting my computer probes instead of brain probes. I read the Kelp file like an open book” Trouble had lost all restraint now, and charged. It turned out he made the mistake he vowed not to make.
It was almost comical (not for the retrieval, though). Butler easily made mincemeat out of LEPretrieval One. Two were down before they even knew they were under attack. Another was holding his Neutrino the wrong way and stunned himself. Yet another Retrieval member’s wings had malfunctioned (much to Foaly’s eternal shame) and he went flying into Juliet’s rhododendrons. Butler groaned. Growing those took forever.
The retrieval team was dispatched in less than fifteen minutes. What did they expect from the only human to tussle and triumph over a troll? Butler turned around back to Fowl Manor, unaware that he had made the biggest mistake in bodyguard business. He didn’t count the number of bodies scattered on the ground, not to mention he also broke the rule of leaving his principal unguarded. Trouble Kelp waited until the mud man had left, and hurled himself through a window on the second floor of Fowl manor…
The commander was wearing a new suit Foaly had patented. It was camouflage, and ion beams could penetrate it, making him nearly invisible to the electronic eye. Betcha Fowl didn’t see that coming.
He had stalled enough time for this moment…it was time to voice his demands. His fingers trembled at the thought, but Artemis shook the feeling off, and proceeded to the cells.
Artemis had arrived at the door, oblivious to the fact that a suited individual was approaching him, silently and slowly. Artemis keyed in the keycode (0109), uttered “Artemis the hunter” at the mike, and waited for the door to slide open, along with the mystery stalker behind him.
“Greetings, fairies… I trust you are enjoying your stay?”
“Yeah, we’re having the time of our lives here, and Holly’s going to teach me the cancan” remarked Jaki sarcastically. Holly looked potentially murderous despite the earlier conversation. Artemis had caught the look. It amused him. “Getting ideas are we, Major Short?” Artemis flashed his vampire smile as Holly gasped. Artemis sensed something wrong. He whirred around and met the barrel of a Neutrino at his forehead, aimed by someone with an incredibly battered LEP suit…
Trouble Kelp was still meandering around Fowl manor. D’Arvit. How many doors and corridors were there? He pressed on, unknowing where to look or even if it was all a bluff. He got an idea, and headed for the underground of Fowl manor.
Back in the prison, the shadowy figure grunted “It’s about time for some payback, Fowl”, as the room’s occupants all stared blankly at his face.