IV – Unraveling
Haven – Police Plaza
Holly walked hurriedly down the crowded halls of the police plaza, giving off an air of such determination and no-bull attitude that everyone, even those of higher ranks, quickly made way for the LEP Captain. This was how she usually traversed the station, not liking its convoluted state one bit. Today, however, Holly had even greater reason to be in a hurry.
It had been only twenty minutes since Holly had arrived back in Haven, having taken an LEP shuttle down to the hangers. She had been picked up only hours before after sending out a beacon to Foaly, who had swiftly diverted an above ground shuttle to her location in a matter of minutes, with it coming an entire LEP recon squad. The recon team insisted that she get some rest while they traveled back to Haven, but Holly didn’t feel like being idle. Instead she removed the pilot, a fidgety recruit, and flew the shuttle herself, nearly breaking it in half due to going over its max speed by nearly two hundred miles an hour. None of the occupants of the shuttle had ever been on a ride with Holly before, and they regretted it instantly. The maintenance crews were currently taking high powered washers to the interior if the ship, trying to remove the profuse amount of vomit that was caked to every surface, including the recon team. No one knows how, but Holly didn’t get any on her.
The intercom system blared over the commotion in the hall, “Captain Short to report to the command room immediately.” Holly paid no attention to the irritating announcement as she was already there.
The door to the command room opened in front of her, revealing a very well lit room with hundreds of screens and interfaces on the walls, as well as a large projection table in the middle. The area was buzzing with activity as numerous officers and technicians went about their work. When Holly entered the room all of the individuals stopped what they were doing, seeming genuinely amazed by her being there. The door at the far side of the room, the one leading to the ops booth, opened abruptly as four figures rushed out.
“Holly!” Came four shouts of various kinds, as Artemis, Trouble, Foaly and Butler neared her, extremely glad to see the elf.
Foaly reached her first, pulling her into a tight hug. “Thank the gods you’re alright!” he said, tears forming in his eyes, “I’m so sorry for what happened, I should have known better!”
Holly returned the embrace. “It’s no one’s fault Foaly, there was no way we could have predicted something like that.”
Holly untangled herself from the tearful centaur, seeing Artemis standing nearby with a huge look of relief on his face.
“Artemis!” She said, hugging her best friend tightly.
“I’m sorry Holly, I should have been there for you,” the boy said regretfully.
“There’s nothing to be sorry for. Besides, you were in a huge mess of your own dealing with the hospital gown,” Holly laughed.
Artemis grimaced at the memory.
Butler gave Holly a bear hug as Trouble cleared his throat, “It’s good to have you back Holly, though I have no idea how you managed it this time.”
“About that Trouble,” Holly said, her voice suddenly dead serious. “We need to talk to the council, now.”
“They gathered the moment you called us, they’re waiting,” the Commander responded, walking towards the council chamber.
Holly followed behind him, the other three in tow as they made their way to the large room that served as the meeting place for the council members. She had no idea how the others would react to what she was going to tell them, but regardless, things were about to get very interesting.
Grug walked haphazardly through the ruined neighborhood that acted as the slums of Haven, the graffiti laden buildings in desperate need of repair. The goblin, a former member of the B’wa Kell triad, was blind drunk off of whatever he had in his claws, the grimy bottle caked with who knows how many forms of detritus. He tilted the bottle again, almost losing his balance, only to find that it was completely empty.
“Why is the rum always gone?” He slurred lazily, stumbling towards a dark alleyway. In his inebriated state Grug failed to see the shadows, about a dozen, waiting in the dark confines of the narrow space. As he entered the painfully sketchy alley he stumbled into something about two feet taller than he was, and solid as a brick wall.
“Get out ma way ye smelly pile o troll droppings!” Grug said drunkenly, waving a beat up softnose laser rifle at the shadowy figure, which just stood there silently, as if in deep contemplation.
“You wanna fight do ya?” The goblin yelled, though only half of his words made sense. The dipsomaniac pointed his gun at the blackness in front of him, squeezing the trigger. The laser bolt flew forwards, its red glare glowing off the narrow walls, only to collide with air.
Grug, despite his drunkard state, heard a slight noise behind him. Before he could turn around fully a massive clawed hand shot out of the inky black darkness, wrapping around his neck, eliciting a surprised yelp from the drunkard. The goblin struggled in vain as the grip tightened slowly, the rough hand squeezing with raw power. Grug gasped for air as he felt his wind pipe collapse and his larynx crumble like dust. The beast toyed with the dying fairy for a few more moments before twisting its gnarled hand, eliciting a sickening crack from the goblin.
The mutant dropped the carcass, forgetting its existence instantly, its mind focused on its explicit orders. Eleven more of the creatures appeared behind it, brandishing a wide array of weapons. The leader of the pack motioned them forward, activating a device on its chest plate. The group of twisted monsters shimmered momentarily before fading entirely, moving swiftly towards their target. The bulging dead eyes of the mangled goblin watched hauntingly as the shock team made its way towards downtown Haven, to the police plaza.
Police Plaza – Council Chamber
The council chamber was silent as its occupants watched Holly step up onto the podium, adjusting the microphone to a more comfortable position. Apart from the council, the room was occupied by several high ranking officers, including Trouble, as well as the two humans. None of the fairies were at all surprised to see the two of them there, though a few weren’t pleased.
“Whenever you’re ready Captain,” Commander Kelp said firmly.
“Alright,” Holly cleared her throat. “What I am about to say covers the events that occurred during the last few days. Some of its contents will be…difficult to believe, but it is the truth. It all began four days ago…”
Holly went through the events of the last few days, not missing a single detail. She only touched on the actual operation that she was involved in the night she was wounded, deciding to put the major focus on her interactions with the mud men, Borislav in particular, as well as the facility and equipment inside. After about forty minutes Holly was finished, feeling tired after giving the long recount. The other occupants of the room were, to say the least, animated. About half of the council members had spilled their drinks, the other half shifting nervously in their seats. Trouble had grown a few shades redder while Foaly had put on his tinfoil had, looking quite paranoid. Butler did nothing, and Artemis only raised an eyebrow.
Holly looked at the audience expectantly. “Well?” She said, “What’s our next move?”
Artemis raised his hand, “I believe that the most logical course of action would be to contact them. The sooner we speak with them directly the higher the chance that we’ll be able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. I for one don’t think it’s wise to exacerbate this situation any further, this could be a monumental step for both the People and humanity.” Some of the council members murmured in agreement.
Trouble nodded grudgingly. “Though I’m usually inclined to disagree with you mud boy, you have a point. However, I still believe that we should exercise extreme caution. Just because they said they were non-hostile doesn’t mean they aren’t. Regardless of their intentions, opening a line of communication should be our next phase.”
“I think we’ve had enough dealings with humans already,” shouted a council member, Sinclair Longleaf, an overweight aristocrat with an egregious attitude. “Trusting that Fowl kid and his little entourage was already a massive breach of code, and now we’re considering opening up to an entire army?!” He banged his fists on the table, “I think that we should launch a preemptive strike, bio bomb them before they can launch whatever evil plan they have!”
“I don’t mean to be rude sir.” Artemis responded. “But isn’t exterminating a group of individuals who have not done anything to prove themselves a legitimate threat under the pretense of stopping an act of violence from them that has thus far not been proven to exist sound a bit too human. It would make the People no better than us, turning you into a bunch of hypocrites. I think that unless hostilities are proven by fact we should take a more diplomatic approach.”
Artemis’ speech seemed to meet the approval of everyone else in the room, causing Sinclair to huff angrily before sitting back down, a scowl on his face.
Commander Kelp brought the conversation back on track. “Foaly, do you have the codes that were on Holly’s communicator?”
“Yes sir,” the centaur said, working away at his terminal. “I can give them a ring any time.”
“Do it.” Trouble commanded as he stared intently at the screen.
Foaly pressed a button before sitting back in his chair. A comm link opened up on the large screen, showing static for a brief iota of time before an image popped up. There, on the screen, was Commander Ivankov. He was sitting in a large black chair, wearing the same suit as last time, and the same professional demeanor. Behind him was what appeared to be am expansive study, filled with volumes of books both ancient and fresh as well as numerous pieces of furniture, all immaculately clean.
Commander Kelp opted to speak first, “I am Commander Trouble Kelp of the lower elements police, and behind me is the council. We are before you to represent the People.”
The man nodded respectfully. “I am Commander Borislav Dragovich Ivankov, overseer of our ongoing operation. I represent the interests of the council as well as our entire organization. It is a pleasure to finally meet you, and I hope that we can come a mutually beneficial agreement.”
“The feeling is mutual Commander,” Trouble said cordially.
Borislav observed the other occupants of the room, his eyes falling first on Holly. “Ah, Captain Short, it’s nice to see you again.”
“Likewise,” She responded, feeling much more comfortable talking to him than she did last time.
The man then saw the two humans in the room. He smiled broadly. “Why if it isn’t the legendary Artemis Fowl and Domovoi Butler, I have heard so much about you two. Please accept my thanks for saving the world several times.”
Artemis gave his vampire smile. “The pleasure’s all mine Mr. Ivankov. It is very refreshing to meet another fellow human being who shares my sentiments towards the People as well as my taste for presentable attire,” Artemis nodded at his suit.
“Indeed,” Ivankov said. “And Butler, it’s good to see you in the flesh. Madam Ko speaks very highly of you.”
“You’re a blue diamond, I presume.” Butler stated, more an observation than a question.
“Yes, though I never had the opportunity to meet you while I was there, you had already graduated by that time.”
“Then I assume you’ve met Juliet as well?” Butler asked.
“I’ve seen her work, very impressive indeed.” Ivankov stated.
The two men eyed each respectfully for a moment before Borislav reverted his attention to Foaly. “And of course how I could I forget the LEP’s mastermind. You’re work is unprecedented my good sir.”
“Of course it is,” Foaly stated proudly, glad to be complemented for his work. “Though I’m very curious about your assets. Maybe we can compare notes sometime.”
“In time,” the man said. “Well now that we’re all acquainted, how about we get started. I know that an event such as this would elicit a great degree of panic from the People, and that is understandable. However, I believe that there is a potentially extraordinary degree of benefit to be had for both sides if we coexist peacefully. With the authorization of the council, I am able and willing to be fully transparent concerning our operation, as well as with any other inquiries you may have. So, my highly esteemed ladies and gentlemen, shall we get started?”
Before anyone could speak a massive explosion shook the building, shaking its very foundation and knocking everyone but Holly and Butler off their feet. As the lights flickered off, so did their connection with Ivankov, as well as almost every other device in the building.
“Foaly, status report!” Trouble yelled as he got to his feet.
“All major systems are offline, even the backup! I only have a few sensors still up, and they’re detecting four breaches in the building as well as twelve unknown assailants. The DNA cannons are down as well!”
“D’arvit!” Kelp swore, drawing his sidearm as he barked into the emergency broadcast system. “There has been a security breach by twelve unknown assailants. Evacuate all non-combat personnel, all officers clear to engage!”
Holly aimed her Neutrino around the room, her senses on overdrive, ready for anything. Butler was shielding Artemis, his large Sig Sauer aimed at the entrance as the council members cowered under their desks, clearly inexperienced when it comes to dangerous situations.
Foaly looked terrified, “They’re right on top of us!”
On cue the doorway exploded inward, flying off its hinges as black smoke poured into the room like a nefarious phantom. Out of the smoke came four bipedal nightmares. They were, by fairy standards, monstrous, being five feet tall and covered with muscle. They looked somewhat like demons, though their features were horribly distorted and twisted into a permanent state of animal like ferocity, their razor sharp teeth dripping with saliva as their blood red eyes scanned the room with predatory precision.
“What the hell are those,” Butler growled apprehensively, his finger hovering over the trigger of his handgun.
Trouble switched his safety off. “I don’t have a clue, but we need to drop them now!”
Holly and Butler couldn’t agree more, firing their weapons at the creatures entering the room. The council chamber exploded into a miniature war zone as the two opposing sides pulled their triggers, bullets and laser blasts flying in all directions. Holly placed two perfect shots into the chest of one of the mutants, only to have it do nothing but make a pathetic sizzling sound. “Commander! Stun isn’t working!” She yelled as she dropped behind a desk, dodging the hail of bullets that came at her.
“We have no choice, switch to full power!” Trouble replied, clearly not contented with having to use the max setting. Fairies, by nature, were not killers. Killing another being was something that was only done as a last resort, such as this.
Holly nodded solemnly as she set her Neutrino to its highest level. She’d never used a weapon to kill before, but it was them or her friends. The choice was obvious.
Holly listened as her attacker fired relentlessly onto her position with its assault rifle until after a few moments it stopped with a click; out of ammo. The elf sprang over the desk, firing several bursts at the monster as it reached for another magazine. The rounds hit home, sending the creature flying back into the wall, dead. If one looked closely they would have noticed a faint cloud of crimson vapor rising out of the deceased abomination, snaking its way upward before fading from existence.
The other three saw their comrade fall and aimed their weapons at Holly, who dove out of the way, narrowly avoiding becoming Swiss cheese. The problem with this was that they took their attention off of Butler and Trouble, who jumped up from behind their positions. Trouble dropped one of the assailants instantly, while Butler emptied his entire magazine into the other two. The high caliber rounds from his handgun tore through the flesh where the armor didn’t cover, sending them to the floor in a heap.
As he reloaded Butler looked to his charge, who was huddled behind the overturned table looking more than slightly unsettled. “Stay there Artemis, we’ll take care of this.” The bodyguard said loudly. He reached into his jacket, pulling out a small handgun before giving it to Artemis, who grabbed it uncertainly. “Just in case.”
“And I thought our days of getting shot at were over,” he said as he pressed himself against the barrier, holding the gun uneasily.
Foaly was almost attached to the floor, still typing furiously on his laptop. “The command room has been overrun, it looks like they’re trying to gain access to the ops booth, though it’s impossible unless they have the proper codes…” His jaw dropped. “And somehow they do.” The centaur almost felt the need to hyperventilate.
Trouble knew this was bad news, the ops booth was the virtual center of the LEP defense grid. If it was destroyed or even damaged, the implications could be disastrous.
“Holly, Butler, with me. The rest of you stay here.” He said, rushing to the door, eying the fallen assailants as he stepped over them.
The two came up behind him, taking position on both sides of the destroyed door.
“On my mark,” The Commander said quietly. They readied their weapons, knowing that what awaited them in the command room was sure to be heavily armed.
The two elves and the massive human burst through the opening, scanning the dark room, the red emergency lights giving giving it a bloody red hue. The smell of gunpowder filled the air as tendrils of smoke rose lazily to the ceiling. The command room was a mess; desks and chairs strewn about, equipment blown apart, bullet holes and laser marks on every surface. There were bodies too, about half a dozen fairies and only two of the attackers, their lifeless forms splayed carelessly across the room.
“They will pay for this,” Holly growled, sickened at the sight.
The door leading to the main hall opened slowly, revealing scores of LEP officers as they pried the metal portal open. They took up position behind the three iconic individuals as medical warlocks tended to the fallen, looking shocked at what they saw.
“There are six more of those bastards here somewhere,” Trouble addressed the officers. “Stay alert, they are highly resilient to our weapons. Shoot to kill.”
Everyone fanned out, getting progressively more apprehensive as they neared the doorway leading to the ops booth. No a single word was spoken, the silence of the officers mixing with the dreadful carnage in the room. None of them noticed the two figures that stood invisible by the door at first, their shimmering forms obscured by the smoke and darkness. Butler was the first to sense them, motioning to the others the presence of the concealed hostiles, who seemed to notice that they were no longer unseen.
Two of the creatures, one on each side of the door, unshielded into the visible spectrum. They both carried human machine guns, which they began spraying indiscriminately into the advancing group. Everyone dove for cover, except Butler who, being too large to hide, opted to charge the two mutants. The giant rolled towards them, somehow dodging their streams of fire, resulting in him being right against them. The human troll grabbed both of their guns, pulling them up towards the ceiling and out of the shorter creature’s grips. Before they could draw their sidearms Butler put his massive hands onto both of their heads, smashing them together with such force that they caved in on themselves.
“Let’s get this door open.” He rumbled as he dropped the lifeless bodies.
Everyone in the room stared at the human, floored by his how easily he had neutralized the enemies, and by how he had smashed their heads like watermelons. Holly, being more used to Butler’s amazing shows of skill, was the first to the door.
“It appears to be locked from the inside. There’s no way we can breach this door, not unless we have the codes.” She said as she examined the portal.
“That would be me,” a voice said. Foaly had entered the room in a hurry, sweat dripping from his brow. “I will not stand by as these…these things desecrate my beloved inventions!”
Foaly opened the panel beside the door, punching in a very long number. The door responded instantly, opening elegantly. What was on the other side of the door was anything but elegant, by that meaning a mutant carrying what appeared to be a sizable bomb.
Holly, in a desperate attempt to stop the creature from activating it, shot the monster square in the face. What she didn’t know was that the bomb operated on a dead man switch anyway. When it hit the ground, it began to make a beeping sound, the red light on its control interface blinking faster and faster.
“Oh gods,” Holly breathed. “Everybody run! It’s gonna blow!
Nobody disagreed. As everyone else ran as fast as they could, Foaly stood by the door, a sad look on his face. He quickly activated the control again, closing the heavy barrier one last time. He then walked briskly away from it, seeming confident that the door would stop the blast, though clearly upset by what the blast meant.
There was a long moment of utter silence, making it seem for a second that nothing was going to happen. Then the bomb went off, making a muffled thump. Apart from that there was no indication that the device went off at all, a testament to Foaly’s paranoia. He had made his ops booth to be like a bomb shelter. He never would have guessed that it was going to shelter a bomb.
“Well there goes my favorite chair,” the centaur said miserably.
“I think there’s the bigger problem of there being no more ops booth.” Trouble stated angrily.
“That too chief, but let’s not forget who made it, moi.” Foaly motioned at himself. “I always keep a spare.
“And where would that be.” Trouble said, raising an eyebrow.
“In my basement, though Cabelline says I shouldn’t take my work home with me.”
Half of the occupants of the room face palmed. Foaly was exercising his inviolability to break a third of Haven’s regulations, again.
Holly, not one to care about rules, broke the awkward silence. “We have some for pressing matters right now. There are still three more attackers within the station. We can’t afford to argue over Foaly’s computer fetish until we take them out.”
“I do not have a computer fetish.” The centaur denied loftily. “I’m only very fond of the-.”
Foaly was cut off as a small explosion resonated through the room beside them, followed by gunshots and screams. It was the council chamber.
“Artemis!” Butler didn’t hesitate, running like a man possessed through the room, grabbing one of the dropped machine guns as he did. Holly and Trouble ran behind him, trying to keep up, leaving the small army of LEP officers trailing after them.
The shooting had stopped abruptly by the time they reached the room. Butler ran in, gun at the ready, followed by the fairies. The room was quiet and filled with death, the air cloudy with the residue of spent gun powder. The council members were strewn about like rag dolls, riddled with wounds.
“Artemis!” Butler screamed, his voice shaking the room. He ran to where he had left his charge, praying that he was alive. When he reached the overturned table he only to find an empty spot. Artemis was gone.
Butler looked frantically around the room, as did Holly and the others, but there was no sign of the prodigy. Butler growled in anger. Artemis was his responsibility, it was his purpose in life to protect him. Now he was in the hands of the most murderous beings he’d ever seen, at their nonexistent mercy. He had failed. The gigantic man screamed in frustration, punching the wall in anger, his fist obliterating the surface and sinking his arm in by two feet.
“Where’s Artemis!” Holly shouted.
“They took him,” Butler said emptily. “Everything else was just a distraction.”
The words sunk in. Holly was in shock.
“How did they escape?” Trouble said angrily, “There’s only one way into this room!”
A gentle breeze drew their attention upward, revealing a gaping hole in the roof which went through two more floors before opening into the artificial skies of Haven. On the floor where Artemis should have been was the gun Butler had given him, as well as several spend casings beside it, still smoking hotly from use. They had been mere seconds too late.
Trouble gazed through the hole for a few more seconds, thinking intensely. Why would they go through so much effort to disable the ops booth and capture Fowl, not unless…The commander’s eyes went wide with realization.”I want birds in the air, every officer we have on the streets fully armed. Begin full civilian evacuation protocols and reinstate the lock down. We’re about to get hit!”
The other officers in the room jumped into action, knowing full well what was coming, the dark reality apparent in the looks on their faces. Holly and Butler waited beside Trouble, glaring daggers at the hole above them.
“We have to go after them.” Growled the bodyguard impatiently.
“I know.” replied Trouble, who then looked to Foaly. The technological guru was working hurriedly by a console. “Foaly, what can you get back online?”
The centaur work vigorously, a fire in his eyes. “I should be able to bring our full sensor array back online in just a few…There!” He cried triumphantly.
The large screen in front of them came to life, showing a bird’s eye view of Haven. Hundreds of lines of data scrolled down the screen as numerous points on the map began to light up near the North entrance to the metropolis.
“What in the name of Frond is that!?” Exclaimed Holly, pointing to the moving mass of flashing red.
“That,” Foaly stated, his voice shaking, “Is an army.”
The horrifying truth hung sharply in the air. Through the hole above them came a ghostly whine as sirens began to go off all over the city. The cards were on the table, there was no denying it. The People were at war.
Haven – North Entrance
By the massive blast door stood several twisted figures, hunched over a device that appeared to be attached to the door’s control mechanism. For a few minutes they worked, while another stood watch, though they didn’t have to worry about the officers patrolling the area; they were already dead. After what seemed to be but a moment there was a great noise, followed by the response of the gigantic metal gateway. The looming portal shook as it ascended, its massive alloy walls rumbling noisily. The malevolent creatures watched on, grinning wickedly.
An LEP transport shuttle landed smoothly on the tarmac before shutting down, its side doors opening swiftly as a ramp extended. The officers guarding the hanger eyed it suspiciously, having not been informed of the ship’s approach.
An officer approached the conspicuous aircraft, hand resting casually on his holster. “You guys failed to follow almost half of the docking protocols, having a rough day or something? If you didn’t notice we’re under lock down and we’ve been having trouble getting word from headquarters.”
There was no response from the open door but a faint glimpse of shadow, a momentary flicker of movement. The officer looked at it carefully before activating his communicator. “Yeah Chix, can you try again to get police plaza on the line, I’ve got a sketchy situation down he-”
The officer was cut off by a laser blast coming from the door, its hot red beam hitting him in the head. As the officer’s lifeless form toppled over, dozens of mutants poured from the shuttle, weapons hot.
The figure giggled happily at what it saw as it viewed the numerous screens in front of it.
“The pieces are in place. Now it’s time for a little fun!” It let out another villainous laugh as it watched the beginning of the end.