As soon as Holly passed out, I was out of my chair, ripping the bonds off that I had been loosening since the guards left the room.
“Holly,” I said. I walked over and knelt beside her. I smacked her face lightly trying to wake her up. “Holly.” Nothing. “Captain Short.” Still nothing, not even the slightest response. I was getting a little frantic now. I untied her hands and turned one so it was palm up, probing for a pulse. Thankfully, I found it. It was steady, though maybe a little weak. I breathed a sigh of relief. She was fine, for right now, at any rate.
I heard the door behind me open. Footsteps, and I was yanked to me feet by a guard. Another grabbed Holly, slinging her over his shoulder.
They led us out into the hallway, back to the room. He took her in and laid her on the cot, and I followed in and sat beside her. The door clicked shut behind him as he left.
I grabbed her limp body and pulled her into my arms. Her head lolled onto my shoulder. I held her tight, pressing her against my chest, so that she was so close I could feel her heart beating.
For a while we laid there like that. She stirred a few times, but didn’t wake. The closest thing to waking there got was when her sleep finally lightened and she started mumbling stuff as she slept. Mine and Samantha’s names were said quite a few times, but I didn’t try to listen because most of it was incomprehensible.
Finally, her eyes flickered open. “Artemis?” she asked, her voice thick with sleep.
“Yeah,” I whispered, reaching down to stroke her face. “It’s okay. I’m right here.”
She nodded and buried her face in my neck. “Do you think they made it out?” she whispered.
“Yes,” I said. “I think so.”
Then I heard footsteps coming down the hallway. I froze.
The knob turned. But the door didn’t open.
“It’s locked,” a voice said. A voice I recognized.
“Well, no duh, Genius Boy,” another voice said. I felt Holly stiffen in my arms. “Maybe you’re not as smart as I thought. Try unlocking the door.”
“How? It needs a key.”
There was a sigh, and then silence for a few seconds. Then the lock clicked, and the door flew open.
Sam and Artemis stood in the door way.
“How did you do that?” Artemis demanded of her.
She held up a little stick. No, not a stick. A hair clip. A bobby pin, to be precise. “I’m a girl,” she said to him. “I carry bobby pins. You never know when the might come in handy.”
Holly jumped up. “Sam!” She ran to embrace the girl.
The girl hugged her back. “I missed you too, but we really need to go before get caught.”
Holly pulled back and nodded. “Right. Lets move out.”
We walked down the hallways once again as Artemis led us back up to the main room. There we stopped to access our surroundings. “Anybody know where we go from here?” he asked.
“From here,” a voice from behind us said, “You turn around and go back to the cell.”
We turned around. The source of the voice, Opal, was standing behind us in the doorway.
“Found it,” Sam said in a weak voice.
It was true, the nearest doorway was behind Opal. It led out to the exit that Sam, Artemis, and I had originally came in when were came here searching for Holly.
I stepped forward, Holly moving up beside me. “Opal, you might as well give it up. We’re leaving, and you can’t stop us.”
“Oh really,” Opal cackled. “You wouldn’t leave Holly, would you? You might have to. After all, carrying her would certainly weigh you down, wouldn’t it?”
“Why would I have to carry her?” I demanded.
She offered no answer, instead pulling out a little remote and pressing a red button on the top of it.
Holly collapsed beside me. I knelt beside her. She was breathing deeply, now sound asleep. Despite our efforts to wake her up, she didn’t even stir.
Opal was cackling behind us. “Figure it out yet, Fowl?” she asked.
“The syringe,” I muttered. “A subcutaneous sleeper.” I looked at Opal.
She nodded her confirmation. “Very smart, Fowl,” she said, clapping her hands in a mocking gesture. She stepped forward and leaned down look over my shoulder at the now sleeping elf. “Should I wake her up?” she mused.
“Do it,” I said through gritted teeth.
The pixie smiled mockingly and backed up. She pressed the green button on the remote.
Holly’s eyes flew open. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Captain, you’re alright.”
“What happened?” she demanded, getting to her feet.
I tapped her arm. “Sleeper seeker.”
She growled. “D’Arvit! That stupid pixie! I’ll kill her!”
“Oh, no you won’t,” I said, holding her back as she tried to charge Opal. “Don’t let her bait you, Holly. That’s-”
I was cut off, as that was the time the guards decided to show up, and they charged us.
The fight didn’t last very long. We were hopelessly outnumbered. Everyone was overrun before there was barely any damage done.
Opal smiled. “I told you you would end up heading right back towards the cell.”
“Opal,” I began, but I was cut off by Holly. She elbowed the guard holding her in the stomach, and he buckled. Before anyone could react to her escape, she punched the guard in the face swiftly, knocking him out cold. Then she drew his weapon from its holster on his belt.
While everyone was watching her, I took my opportunity, kicking the guard holding me in the kneecap. I heard a sickening snap and knew instantly that I had broken something. While he was cradling his knee, I snatched his weapon from his belt and turned to the kids.
Holly had already helped them get free, confiscating the weapons from their guards along the way. They each had a weapon in their hands now. I turned to her. “Come on,” I said. “We should leave while Opal is distracted.”
But Holly shook her head. “No. If we leave her be, she’ll come after us again. We have to finish this. Now.”
I sighed. “Okay.” I turned to the kids. “Go. Outside. Wait for us out there. We’ll meet you there in a minute.”
“Alright,” Artemis said. Her grabbed Samantha’s wrist and started tugging her towards the exit. I could tell she was reluctant, but she followed him.
We pushed through the pressing crowd of guards and searched until we found Opal. She was surrounded by a whole crowd of guards.
“Do you want me to do it?” I asked Holly.
She shook her head. “No. I will. My marksmanship is better than yours by a long shot. We don’t want to hit anyone else on accident.”
I nodded. “Be my guest.”
Holly jacked the setting on the neutrino as high as it could go. She aimed briefly, and fired.
Just as a voice on the other side of the room screamed, “Mommy!”
I turned. A little girl was standing on the other side of the room, staring with wide, tear-filled eyes at us.
“We should go,” I said to Holly. “Now.”
She gave me a look. “Did you know about her?” she asked.
I shook my head. “No, but it doesn’t matter. We have to leave her. Come on.”
“Holly, I’m serious. Lets go. Now.” I grabbed her arm and tugged. She sighed, but let me lead her away.
Outside, we walked around the building and found Sam and Artemis. “Okay,” I said. “Everybody here?”
“Yeah, and I think every is alive with their limbs intact too,” Artemis said.
I ignored the sarcasm in his voice. “Good. Then lets go find the nearest car rental station,” I said.