Disclaimer- I don’t own Arty.
Much as we may wish to make a new beginning,
some part of us resists doing so as though we were making the first step toward disaster.
– William Throsby Bridges
The war had been long and bloody. Worse than the World Wars, worse than the Civil War. But the reason it was different was not because it was more violent, no. It was because this was the second war that pitted the human race and the People against each other, and unlike last time, the Fairies were winning.
The humans were mighty in numbers, but were years behind in technology. They didn’t have a chance against the superior guns and GPS systems, plus countless weapons that they hadn’t even dreamed of. Number against deadliness; a rather fair match. At least the Fairy People thought so. The humans would have a different song to sing entirely.
This was the perfect chance for revenge for the Fairy People. Thousands of years ago, they were forced from their ancestral home by a species that had just crawled from the caves, made from dust, therefore called Mud Men by the bitter Fairies. The People hid underground to escape the wrath of the Mud Men, building their civilization beneath the earth. This war was fought over the surface, and neither side was willing to let up. Even to the death.
It all started with a word. It was spoken to a young pixie, who took it to heart. The pixie was little Opal, Opal Koboi, and the word was ‘beautiful’. The small pixie soon became obsessed with this word, this idea. She wanted to be beautiful, she wanted the world she lived in to be beautiful. But as she grew older, she began to notice that the world was not beautiful. The world was dark and sad, filled with sorrow and indecision. It took a while, but she eventually narrowed down the cause. It was the government. Surely, as the makers of law and order, they could put a stop to the pain. Opal knew that she could do better.
The young Opal wanted to help. Maybe she could make better weapons, ones that would stop crime forever. Maybe she could upgrade the equipment, allowing the Council to keep the world in order. But as the years went by, she began to realize something. The government didn’t want to be better. It was happy the way it was; corrupt and powerful. It liked the money that was pouring in. And Opal knew with conviction, that this was not beautiful. And she knew she could make the world beautiful, if only she was powerful enough.
That idea started her quest for the brightest magic in the world. Opal soon forgot the original meaning of her plight, all that mattered was the wonderful feeling that the power gave her. This, this was beautiful. All she had to do was swat the inconsequential gnats in her way.
Oh, she had so many plans! Plans that would benefit not only her, but the world! And they would work unless she was empress of the world. That had a nice ring to it, didn’t it? Opal Koboi, Empress of the Universe. Yes, that was a title worth keeping. But how to get there? That was the question, the real one that poised a challenge. Then Opal was hit with the perfect plan. She would initiate a war, a war that would tear apart the world and under it. Both sides would be so weakened by the end of it, they would be begging for the right dictator to make the world beautiful again. And Opal Koboi promised to be that person.
The People were more than enthusiastic to start the battle to regain their homeland; all it took to get them angry was a few fake probes and attack. It was all too easy. The humans responded to this new and hostile race very well, almost wiping them out on the first try. But the Fairies had more tricks up their sleeves than the humans realized. It didn’t take long for them to be exposed to all of them.
So, as said, the People were poised to win the war. The human forces were weak and desperate; and the public was shattered into small refugee camps. There was no escaping the vengeance of the Fairies, and these camps were slowly being eliminated. If the war carried on like this, the human race could be driven to extinction. That’s where this story takes off: in the headquarters of the LEPrecon, a branch of the Fairy Police, with an elf, the very first female recon captain in the history of the LEP. This elf should’ve been excited that her species was regaining what had been stolen from them, but she wasn’t. This might’ve been because her best friend was a human.
LEPrecon HQ, Foaly’s Ops Booth
Holly was having a very, very bad day. Even by her standards. Bad traffic on her way to work, a mountain of paperwork waiting to get done and refusing to complete itself, Foaly the stupid, annoying centaur, was teasing her to no end, and she was having a bad hair day. Plus the war was putting her nerves on end. As a police officer, she wasn’t expected to fight, but if troops got low, she would be the first to be drafted. And the threat of the military was enough to turn anyone’s day sour. The last thing she needed was this.
She had been called to Foaly’s Ops booth, and was listening to him ramble on, obviously trying to skirt the subject; the subject that she hadn’t been told about, and she was waiting to find out. The problem with that was, as she was in a bad mood, her patience was wearing thin.
“Why the heck am I here, Foaly?” she cut him off mid-sentence. This shut him up, and he fell into a very uncharacteristic gloom. “Well?” she prompted.
The centaur heaved a weary sigh. “It’s Artemis.”
Holly’s blood immediately ran cold. “Arty? What’s wrong? Is he in trouble?!”
“Not in trouble, per say.”
The elf captain was having none of that. “Tell me what’s up centaur, or I’ll gut you like a fish.” Not her best threat, but she was stressed, okay?
Foaly looked her dead in the eye, a grim expression painting his long face. He spoke like a textbook come to life, or like a commander delivering the facts without emotion. “Due to the war, the council saw fit to remove all human assistance from the LEPrecon. This includes the Fowls and their employees. Artemis Fowl II was mindwiped early today.”
There was silence. Then the storm erupted. “WHAT?!!! They couldn’t’ve. You’re lying, centaur!!! They would know that Artemis would out-think them again!”
The centaur just sat there, taking Holly’s rage with a bowed head. “They covered all the bases. They took more than just his memories of the People this time. They took all of his memories. There’s no chance that he prepared something, as it was completely unexpected and the fact that he now has no idea who he is. Artemis Fowl is gone. They relocated him. It was all done in top secret; even I didn’t know what was happening until they told me. I don’t know where they put him.”
Holly’s fire was burnt out. “Why?” she asked, tremors shaking her voice. She sounded lost.
“Because he’s a human.” Foaly spat bitterly. “And the earth must be purged and saved from the human, to quote the council.”
“I hate the council. I hate the war.”
“Holly, saying stuff like that is dangerous. What if the council heard you? You’re a fairy, and you need to support your people.”
A deep breath racked Holly’s frame. “What about Butler? What did they do to him?”
“They never got near him,” Foaly cracked a strained smile at this. “He and Juliet are on the run now. The Recon can’t seem to find them.”
A tentative smile tugged at the edges of the elf’s lips. At least the Butlers were safe. Then a puzzle piece fell into place in her mind; the beginnings of a plan. It would shatter her career to shards, but for Arty, it was worth it. Holly Short did not give up on a friend.
“Listen centaur,” her voice was sharp and brisk with authority. “I’m going to find Butler.”
“Why would you want him turned in? He would just get the same fate as Artemis.”
Holly rolled her eyes. “I’m not finding him to turn him in. I’m finding him so we can get started looking for Arty.”
This brought a genuine smile from Foaly. “I love ya, Holly. Really. But think, it could take years to locate Artemis, and by then you will have been caught. You know that you can’t run forever.”
Holly brushed the logic away with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Whatever. With Butler, it’ll take no time at all.”
But all the technical genius did was smirk. “You can’t do this with only Butler and Juliet. You’ll need someone with all the information.”
The captain didn’t miss the implications laid by that sentence. “Really, Foaly? You would risk your job like that?”
Foaly smiled like he was a small child again. “I was getting tired of this place anyway. Horrible pay raises. But, I think that I’ll stick with it a little while longer, at least until this whole thing is over and done with, so, you know, we can still have access to all the equipment. We might need it.”
Holly hugged the centaur tightly. “Thanks Foaly. I swear I’ll never make fun of your tinfoil hat again.”
“Really Holly? Do you honestly think I’ll believe that?”
“Nah, but it was worth a shot.”
There was a boy in the clearing. He was dirty and crumpled, as if he had been dropped there. All around him, the trees and birds whistled in disquiet, angry at the intruder. The boy’s raven hair was ruffled, and he wore a plain white t-shirt and jeans; nothing special, and certainly nothing distinguishable. This boy could be anyone.
He shifted slightly, groggily cracking his eyes open a bit. The idea that he was completely ordinary was thrown out the window; the boy’s eyes were mismatched. They were an odd mix of icy blue and warm hazel, it was almost certain that he had not been born this way.
Suddenly, the nearby shrubs shuddered, and two men crept out. Well, one was a man. The other was little more than a boy, just barely gaining fuzz on his chin. His hair had the feel of being normally dark, but years in the sun had highlighted it to an almost unrecognizable brown, and his clothes were threadbare and faded. But he held himself with a confidence that you just couldn’t get from a normal school boy. The other one was the elder by several years, at least ten. He had hard creases embedded in his face, wrinkle that would never relax. He was deeply tanned, to the point of looking Hispanic. But you could tell by his eyes that he was of European origin. Both of them exuded an essence of tough indifference. These were men that wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep if they killed someone, simply because they had seen horrors that rendered murder meaningless. Not someone you wanted to cross.
These very men were approaching the strange boy, coming closer for a better look.
“Who is he?” the younger one asked.
“Ain’t no way of telling,” the elder replied. “He could be anyone, and no one. Maybe he’ll tell us.”
* * *
The boy truly woke up for the first time, and was immediately aware of a pounding headache throbbing in the back of his skull. A strange thought flitted across his mind; I am Artemis…before disappearing with the barest trace. This brought another wave of pain crashing across his head. What was it? He could just taste the thought on the tip of his tongue; “Did it begin with an ‘A’?”
This fragment pulled itself forcefully from his lips, and brought the hushed mutterings coming from the two strangers to an abrupt halt.
“Is he mad?” the one with a softer face whispered hoarsely.
“Shuddup,” the one with the hardened lines bordering his eyes and mouth said. Then to the boy he said, in a very clear voice, “Who are you? What’s your name?”
This question struck home. What was his name? This thought alone nearly brought a gasp from his throat. How could he not know his own name? He thought of the headache, did his name begin with an ‘A’, like he almost remembered?
“I don’t know.”
The younger one took this opportunity to step up. “See?! He’s not going to help us! He can’t even remember his own name! Can’t you see he’s mad?!”
The boy’s eyes narrowed. “I appear to be suffering from severe amnesia,” he said, with as much ice and spite as he could manage, which, to his surprise, was a lot. “I would appreciate it if you could tell me where I am. Maybe that will jog my memories.”
He was satisfied to see the young one’s face fall. Defeating one’s enemies is an elating feeling. “And no, I’m not mad, at least not that I know of.” With a little smirk, he propped himself up on his elbows, aiming to sit up.
The older man suddenly pulled the young one aside. “Do ya remember what Brit said after she came back from over seas?” he hissed urgently. “She said that the devils could make ya forget things, that they could invade their minds and steal everything in them. Maybe they got this boy. That’d be why he can’t remember his name. I’d be willing to bet he doesn’t remember anything.”
The young one frowned. “So they captured him? They didn’t just kill him?”
“He must’a been important or somethin’,” the elder said earnestly.
“So if he’s important…”
“Then he’s worth bringing to camp.”
This is where the boy cut in. “Ahem. You didn’t answer my question. Where am I?”
The two men just looked at him in a new light. The boy sighed and got up; he might as well be able to see them eye to eye. “Well?”
Then the elder grinned. “You’re in what used to be North Carolina, lad. I’m guessin’ you’re not from here, what’s your accent, Scottish? Well, now you’re in America. And ya know what? The only safe place near here is called the Camp, that’s where we’re headed.”
The boy didn’t miss the implications of that sentence. “Wait, I’m not going anywhere with a couple of strangers I just met a few minutes ago. No way.”
“Oh, come on. Where will you go if you come with us? Think.”
The boy frowned; he did not like being stood up. “Fine,” he sighed. “I see I have no other options.”
“That’s the ticket! Righty then, you’ll need to know our names then! I’m Toni, and this is my friend…”
At this Toni shoved the younger one forward with a nod. The young one sighed in defeat, and grunted, “I’m Tyler.”
This response earned an eye roll from Toni. “Right. Now that we’re all acquainted, let’s get the heck outta here.”
Tyler looked up at this. “But what about him? What do we call him, since, you know, he doesn’t have a name.”
“He has a name, he just can’t remember it.”
Toni and Tyler started to stride away, with Toni gesturing for the boy to follow behind them. He did, but with a question. “Yeah, uh, why don’t I? I mean, this doesn’t seem like normal amnesia. You two were muttering earlier, do you know why I can’t remember anything?”
Toni cast a sideways glance at him. “Well, what do you remember? So I can start at the right place.”
The boy dug into himself, really calming his mind, and letting his thoughts come to him. He wasn’t sure why he tried this meditation technique first, it just seemed right. But nothing came.
“Nothing. Not a wisp.”
So Toni started at the very beginning. “About a year back, the President of the US got a strange message. It was real high tech, like nothin’ we’d ever seen before. It told ‘im that apparently we, thousands of years earlier, pushed another smart species down under the earth. We mighta forgot, but they didn’t. They said they were called fairies, you know, elves and sprites and the like.
“These ‘People’, as they called themselves, had decided that they could take us in a fight, ‘cuz they wanted their surface back, and they proposed a war. The US thought, ‘hey, these guys are fairies! We can handle ‘em!’ That was the start of our problems. These fairies weren’t like what we thought they’d be at all; they were hard. They might be small, but they got guns like never seen before, plus tech stuff that was generations ahead of us. They bit back real fast.
“Now the world is comin’ together, bringin’ in all their top scientists and military experts and whatnot, tryin’ to catch up, and they’re almost makin’ it, you know, with all this exposure to different things. But us, the regular ol’ public, we ain’t doin’ so hot. The governments are so focused on the war that they’re forgetting about us. The food and money systems collapsed; now we’re all livin’ like people used too, back in the day, with little camps and such. We provide for ourselves.”
The boy’s headache was searing now. He let loose an audible groan, and clutched his head in a vain attempt to diffuse the pain. Tyler placed a strong hand on his shoulder, looking slightly worried.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Stupid headache,” the boy muttered.
Toni grinned in satisfaction. “Yep!” he said brightly. “That’d be those memories tryin’ to come back. You probably knew all this stuff before, and your brain’s tryin’ to make the lost connections.”
“But why? Why won’t they come back? This isn’t natural!”
Toni cast a knowing glance at Tyler, who just stared guardedly back. “Well, one of the fairy technologies that we haven’t quite figured out yet is somethin’ called ‘mindwiping’. They can sneak into your mind if you’re hooked up, and steal any memories that they want. Maybe you got captured, and instead of killing you, they got rid of all your memories. No idea why they did that, they usually just get rid o’ us the old-fashioned way. Maybe you’re important. That’s why you’re coming to camp with us, so no one else gets you.”
The boy mulled this over in his head; it did make a squick of sense. But there was something bothering him. “If the governments forgot about you, how’d you get all this information, all the new stuff?”
“Well, that’s ‘cuz we got wanderers. People we send out, overseas, to the top government places, to see what there is to see, if you know what I mean. Our best wanderer is a girl called Brit. She is somethin’, ain’t she Tyler?”
The boy noticed that Tyler’s ears were getting rather red. “Shut up, Toni,” he muttered. Smirking slightly, the boy turned his attention back to the older man.
“So there you have it. Our short and miserable history.” Toni declared proudly. “And now all we have to do is figure out where you come into it. What can ya do?”
“How would I know how to do anything? My memories were taken, remember?” the boy said skeptically.
“There’s a little somethin’ that we call ‘muscle memory’. Ya see, your brain never completely forgets anything; there’s a little bit of everything in everywhere. Part of that everything is muscle memory. Your body knows what feels right, ‘cuz it’s been doing it for so long. If ya did ballet, your toes would remember balance. If ya did origami, your fingers would remember precision. If ya did weight liftin’, you would remember the grip you always used. Things like that.”
“I would hardly know what my muscles remember right now.”
“Yeah, but we’ll get that sorted out at Camp,” Toni assured him.
Tyler had been silently watching the trees go by until now. Now he turned to Toni, a hint of annoyance wavering in his tones. “You’ve forgotten what started this whole conversation. What should we call him?”
Toni flapped his hand good-naturedly in the young adult’s direction while walking. “We’ll think of somethin’.” Turning to the boy, he started spouting out random names, “Jacob? Robert? Charlie? David? How ‘bout James? Donnie? John? Now there’s a common name; let’s not go with that one. Tommy? Andrew? Anton-“
The boy threw his hand up very suddenly. “A. I think it started with an ‘A’.”
Toni frowned. “What makes ya think that?”
“Just an impression. The ‘A’ names were giving me a headache,” the boy shook his head.
This gave Toni a wide grin. “That gives us a place to start! I didn’t think I would be able to give ya all the names in the world. ‘A’s, those are much simpler. How ‘bout Arthur?”
The boy shook his head.
“Did you try Aaron?” Tyler put in.
“No, that’s not it.”
“Adolf? I had a granddad Adolf.”
“Anthony. Common, you can’t go wrong with Anthony. ”
Not it either.
With a cry of frustration, Tyler rounded on the boy as they walked on. “Well I’m tired of this. Common!”
Ever the calming presence, Toni said, “One more name, and it’s gonna be the one that we’ll stick with, even if it’s not the right one. Okay?”
Tyler nodded his assent. “Let’s make it a good one.”
They were both quiet for awhile, with the boy rather impatiently waiting. What if this last name that they spewed was horrible? And that would be the name he was stuck with?
It was Tyler that contributed the last and permanent name. “Alex. That was my little brother’s name. He was killed in the first wave of attacks. I guess you can have it now.
Toni smiled. “Yeah, that’s good. Anyway, we’re near Camp. Welcome to your new home, Alex.”
And the newly christened Alex followed the two nearly strangers toward the very strange ‘new home’. It wasn’t a bad name, and these weren’t bad people. Hopefully it wasn’t a horrible camp. So, filled with new excitement, Alex quickened his pace to catch up.
Holly slowly gathered up her things from her small office. The day was nearly up, and she and Foaly had agreed that their find-Arty secessions would work best if they took place afterhours, so they had to be the very last ones to leave. Only, they wouldn’t leave. They would camp out in Foaly’s booth and track Butler and Juliet. The centaur had told her that the recon would’ve already found them if he had been giving them his best. So it shouldn’t be a problem.
Just as she was shoving her door open and starting down the hall, she heard a voice shout, “Captain Short!”
She knew that voice; it sent a rollicking wave of rage washing up her throat, and stiffening her muscles. Must act civil, must act civil. He doesn’t know that I found out what he did to Arty. Must act civil.
“What is it Commander?”
“Eh, Holly,” he started, obviously trying to get his message across on a more personal basis than the usual work time ‘Commander’s and ‘Captain’s. “Would you come into my office for a second?”
“Sure,” Holly said, trying to put a slightly confused expression on her face.
As they entered the said office, Holly quietly tapped a chat message to Foaly on the helmet in her arms.
CrazyCaptain: in trbl’s office. gonna be awhile. about RT?
The reply came fast. underpaidgenius44: kk. ask him bout my $ raise.
Yay for text talk, Holly thought. It makes life so much simpler.
Trouble leaned heavily against his desk. Taking a deep breath, a diver before the plunge, he started his speech. “This war has been hard on all of us. It makes us do things that we, in normal circumstances, would find horrible. And we have to accept the harder things, as they were done with the People in mind.”
“What is this about, Trouble?”
“Let me finish. As I was saying, some things are done for the good of the People, and it is our duty as officers to push aside our personal feelings to continue to be protection for our kind. This is what I had in mind early this morning. “
CrazyCaptain: trbl’s telling me tht we have to do things for the good of the Ppl.
Underpaidgenius44: nice excuse. how about that $ raise?
Holly tried not to roll her eyes at the centaur.
Trouble was continuing with his speech, unaware of the text talk conversation being held underneath his nose. “-was thinking that, as we were in war, it is best not to have emotional attachments with the opposing side, the side, I might add, is doing their best to kill us all. With that thought in mind, I made the decision to mindwipe Fowl.”
This was when Holly allowed some of her constrained anger dribble into her eyes. “You what?! Without my consent?!”
“I don’t need your consent to do my job, Short!”
“Oh no, you’re doing such a fine job, getting rid of one of our allies, the one that might help us.” She finally broke the dam holding her fury back to crumble to pieces. She was in full rant-mode. “Did you even think about anything besides how much you hate him anyway? The war was just an excuse, wasn’t it! You would’ve loved to wipe Artemis from the beginning! All this posturing about breaking bonds with the other side, and you just didn’t want to tell me! Were you afraid that I might hate you forever? ‘Cause that’s what’s heading your direction. Pick your next words carefully.”
“Alright, first, about the idea that he might help us, we ask him, remember? And he said no! That little mud wrench said that he wouldn’t chose between two parts of his life. You can’t blame me for that!” Now the Commander was yelling too. “And yes, I did hate him. He was a lying, dirty, no-good, cheating little worm! How could you be friends with that snake? About everything else, I didn’t tell you because we would have this same argument then, and where would that get us? I wanted to tell you when you make a fool out of yourself in front of the entire Police Plaza.”
The elf captain’s eyes narrowed. “You think that I don’t want one of my best friends mindwiped leads to embarrassment? I would’ve brought you down with me.”
“Irrelevant!” sputtered Trouble. “I did this for you! You would’ve had divided loyalties if it weren’t for me. What if it came to the point where we were going to kill the mud whelp? You wouldn’t have been able to do it, even though he’s a filthy human, bloodthirsty to the end!”
“You can’t blame Artemis for the crimes of his people. He was trying to fix it!”
“Isn’t there a syndrome for that? Bonding with your captor? What was it…oh yeah. Stockholm syndrome.”
“That was a long time ago Trouble. He’s made amends.”
“Irrelevant,” spat the Commander again.
“This conversation is irrelevant. Now, I’m going to ask you something. And you are going to answer is you value your ears.”
Trouble’s hands automatically went to his carefully tweaked and moisturized tips. “Holly…”
“Shut up. Artemis is my best friend. And you are going to tell me where you relocated him, and now.”
The Commander was aghast. “What?! You wouldn’t dare! Defying orders…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah whatever. One more thing, after you answer, and you will answer the question honestly, you won’t tell anyone about this little conversation we’re having. Or you will have to sleep with your hands over your ears, not that it would help. Comprende?”
Trouble nodded, his Adam’s apple bobbing nervously.
Taking a deep breath, the now disgraced Commander mumbled, “We dropped him off mid North Carolina, in America. But he must have moved by now.”
“North Carolina is all I need. Thanks for your extensive help, Trubs. ‘Nighty night,” Holly crooned with her voice suddenly dripping with sugary honey. But in a whisper pushed out the side of her mouth, she muttered, “Don’t forget our agreement.”
And the captain swept out the door, leaving a very stunned ‘Trubs’ in her wake.
* * *
As Holly entered Foaly’s Ops Booth, she was confronted with the techie’s smirking face.
“What happened to our conversation? You just dropped off. What were you two doing in there anyway, snogging?”
“Stop being vulgar, Foaly. You’re supposed to be an adult. All I did was subtly convince Trouble to tell us where he relocated Arty.”
Foaly did a comical double take. “What? No way Trouble divulged that kind of info! What did you do to him?”
“Well, I may have threatened his ears.”
“Wow, Holly. That’s hardcore. Do you know how many times I see that fairy massaging those ears of his when he thinks I’m not looking? They’re precious.”
“I did what I had to do, okay? Now do you want to know where Arty is or not?” Holly snapped.
“You have me on the edge of my seat. Please spill.”
Holly rolled her eyes; that stupid centaur was trotting on her last nerve, and she wasn’t in the mood for fooling around after the row with Trouble. “They dropped him down in North Carolina in the US. Now all we have to do is get the Butlers and zip over there. Have you found them?”
“No, not yet. I don’t know what they did, but my basic scanners can’t seem to pick them up anywhere. It’s rather annoying. I was just about to make a custom scan when you decided to barge in. I’ll get on it now before you roast my tail of or something.”
“That’s the spirit, pony-boy. Hop to it.”
“All righty. This should only take about three minutes.”
About twenty minutes later, Foaly swiveled around in his custom chair to face Holly. “Maybe finding them, even with a custom, was harder than I thought. But before you freak out at me, I did get a wisp. It’s really faint, but enough for me to work off of.”
“Well, that means that I can track them, even if it is harder than it should be. You’re welcome.”
“Yeah yeah yeah, you’re a genius, as if you didn’t already know that. So where are they? Can we get there fast? Do you think that they could help us get Arty, or would they just slow us down…no, we need to find them too, they need in on this. What weapons can you get me without Trouble finding out? What-“
Foaly pressed his hands heavily against his ears. “Shut up, Holls!” he whinnied. “Seriously, you’re giving me a migraine with your yabbering. Just listen for once!”
“Don’t call me Holls.”
“Like it matters in our situation. Okay, to answer question number one, they are just passing the Ireland border. It looks like they’re headed for the dock.”
“Then I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Good luck, and remember, I’ll be there with you all the way!”
“At least until I get caught by Trouble.”
“Yeah, then you’re on your own.”
“The love we share is outstanding.”
“You know it, Holls.”
Holly groaned. This was going to be a painful week.
North Carolina, unknown location
It only took a few more minutes walking to get cut off by Toni’s rough and relatively furry arm. In front of them was a boy, maybe 17, but not nearly as tough looking as Tyler. This kid was rather scrawny, with a splattering a pale freckles on his arms and pale blonde hair. Didn’t look like he belonged at a resistance camp. But, he was holding a hefty M-16, so you kind of had to respect him. He was standing firmly before a rundown wooden arch, with whimsically painted letters spelling out that this was Camp No-Dis-E-Ca. Alex couldn’t help but raise a skeptical eyebrow.
“Ah, Bradley, ya really need to fix your stance there boy. One breath of wind and you’re sittin’ on your rump,” Toni scolded.
“Oh. It’s just you, Toni,” the boy, Bradley, sighed in relief. Apparently he wasn’t very excited about facing a real enemy.
“Wha’d we tell ya, boy?!” Toni continued his lecture. “Ya can’t never be sure if you can trust somebody in this day ‘n age. Ya know the devils can make themselves look like us now. I might’ve been an imposter!”
By now, poor Bradley was positively quivering. “But, but hey! I’ll ask now, a’right? Keep your boots on!” Bradley yammered. “What is Captain’s favorite color?”
“Mahogany. He never was one for the normals.”
“See? You’re not an imposter! I knew all along.”
“Sure ya did, Bradley.”
For the first time, the be-freckled boy glanced toward Alex. “Who’s the newbie?”
“He’s a boy we found ‘round the routes. Memory wiped,” Toni stated. “We takin’ ‘im in to see what he’s worth.”
“Good luck,” Bradley said, grinning broadly. Somehow, that didn’t make Alex feel comfortable with the setup. “Well, you can go through now. Welcome to the Camp!”
“Uh, thanks,” Alex muttered. The freckled one’s welcome wasn’t that calming. After leaving him behind, he turned to Tyler. “Why was the password so easy? Anyone could get that information. What you need is something unguessable.”
Tyler’s mouth was open and forming words when Toni cut in. “Well, we’re bettin’ that the devils will never guess that it’d be so easy either. So they won’t expect it, and therefore not know it!” the older man said triumphantly. But all Alex did was raise an eyebrow yet again.
“You know that’s flawed logic, right?”
Tyler grinned. “I’m starting to like this kid!”
Toni looked disgruntled. “No taking sides.”
“Unless it’s your side, you meant to say there, right Toni?” Tyler smiled a lopsided grin.
Before Toni had a chance to answer, they had approached another guard station. This time, there were more hardened adults, not just flimsy teenagers. They gave Toni respectful nods, Tyler passive glances, and to Alex they gave curious stares. Before the little group could pass, a rather heavy man with the thickest eyebrows Alex had ever seen planted his mass firmly in between them and what was apparently the main Camp entrance.
“Password. Snap to it,” he rumbled.
“Keep ya suspenders on Reg, I got it,” Toni breezed.
“Password. Or do you not know it?”
“Why are you always so suspicious about everyone you see? Is that anyway to make friends?” Toni must’ve forgotten the advice that he himself gave to Bradley; ‘never trust anyone these days’. Barely half an hour with him, and Alex already knew that it was typical Toni to do so.
“I’m waiting, Toni,” the burly man said.
Toni looked decisively put out. “Fine, stabimus ferocioris, we will stand defiant.”
Alex blinked. That was the password? Was it their motto, as said in Latin and English? Wouldn’t that be pretty obvious to a person with even limited inside knowledge? Reverse psychology was a pretty flimsy branch, and it seemed that this camp was basing all of its serious security on it. Unless they had more security procedures, they were doomed. It was ridiculous.
The threesome made their way passed the guardhouse, mildly jostled by rowdy men, all calling out inside jokes to Toni, and generally eyeing Tyler with caution. Alex didn’t like how they crowded them. It was rather claustrophobic. He found himself kind of desperately trying to avoid human contact, making it much more claustrophobic. Eventually they made it passed, with several yelling to Toni’s back, asking him to hang out later. It seemed that the man was quite popular. Figures.
As soon as the threesome was out, Alex turned to Toni. “That was another horrible password. I hope you have more security than what I just saw.”
Tyler cut in before the tanned man could answer. “Yeah, actually, we do. Those passwords are just for show, like a distraction. We have some of the highest security in this part of the US.”
Tyler continued quickly, before Toni could get his opinion in. “Well, one of our wanderers got us some pretty new tech stuff-“
“How?” Alex was confused. Loads of times already, they had mentioned that the governments had abandoned them. How would they possibly get new technology?
Tyler’s mouth twitched up into a vampire smile. And it was familiar. Why? But the next thing that he said set off a headache almost as worse as the first one. “We stole it. Tons of it.”
Stealing. Vampire smiles. A’s. Meditating. And Fairies. They connected it all, he was sure of it. But the stealing, now for some reason he could relate to that. The boy let a vampire smile of his own quirk along his face. It felt right there, like it belonged to him. “Illegal is always faster.”
“You know it.”
“Right, so we got tons of new tech, cool computers, homing devices for our wanderers, stuff like that. But the best thing we got was the DNA lasers.”
DNA lasers. The headache worsened.
“Those are awesome. Nothing like ‘em. I think they were invented by some kid overseas, one of those child geniuses. What was his name… hey Toni, help me out.”
Even Toni had to think for a bit. “It was…Artemis Fowl, right?”
“Ah, yeah. Artemis Fowl. Some name right?”
The headache was splitting his head open, they had to stop. Now.
“That kid’s actually ‘as some bit of gossip,” Toni added. “They say that he knew ‘bout the People prior to the war, that he discovered ‘em ‘himself. After that, he made so many technical advances, that lots o’ people got suspicious, but no one could pin anything on ‘im. He was quite the criminal as I understand it. Not too trustworthy. What I reckon is that he stole some tech from the Fairies, and that’s why he got so far. But that’s just me.”
Alex was clutching his head, trying to keep it from exploding. Tyler turned towards him with an extremely worried look etched into his forehead. “Hey, you okay?” And Alex just shook his head.
But Toni continued on, unawares. “As soon as the People came out, and the boy’s secret was revealed, all the world’s leaders were visiting ‘im, trying to get ‘is help. It took awhile, but he finally joined his hereditary side of the war and spilled. Of course it’s not like blackmail and threats didn’t come into play. You know the government plays dirty. But before they could get anything out of ‘im, he just disappeared. Off the face of the earth. Missin’. Ya can see how they-“ it was then that Toni noticed that Alex was far behind, semi-crouched in pain, cradling his head with Tyler holding him up and speaking quietly to him.
Toni’s face fell as he backtracked quickly. “What’s going on Tyler?”
“I don’t know! He just, just…”
Toni gently touched the new boy. “Is it a headache?”
Alex just nodded, grimacing with tension. He let out a hissing breath. His head, it was on fire. It was going to explode. There was something, a connection, and all he had to do was reach it…Artemis Fowl. He had to connect…Artemis Fowl. Artemis Fowl.
Slowly the pain faded, and his body relaxed. He folded exhaustibly on his wobbly legs, sinking into the ground. His hands slid down from his hair to his eyes, hiding the frustrated tears threatening to show themselves to the world. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have’ta be sorry, lad,” Toni said as gently as possible. “It’s the memories. Just the memories.”
“I hate it.”
“It takes time. They’ll come back. The more clues the faster. Every headache makes it go faster. It’ll turn out fine. You’ll see,” Tyler said firmly.
Alex sighed. “We’ll see. For now, it’ll have to wait. I hardly think that I’m a priority.”
“But we’ll get there eventually,” Toni added.
The boy smiled. “Then we better get going.”
Tyler and Toni looked at each other and grinned. “Camp’s this way.”
* * *
Batting irritably away at the last set of heavy and unwieldy shambles, Alex stepped into the Camp. Whatever he had been expecting, this was not it. He was expecting to see a few tents, maybe a camper or two. Certainly not this. This was organized. There were cabins, big ones, all over the place, with clear signs dictating what they were used for. A shooting gallery (He had an odd feeling, accompanied by a headache, when they passed it. Perhaps he was familiar with weapons? And what would that assumption mean about his past life?), a cafeteria and kitchen, a library, even a bathroom, that worked! What kind of ‘camp’ was this?
“Living off the land, my foot,” he muttered.
Toni slapped him sharply on the back. “Now come one, it’s still the same concept, right? No one’s shippin’ stuff in from Brazil, so we feed ourselves. We get water from a spring about a quarter mile away, and purify it with our own simple safety kits. We’re roughin’ it!”
“Sure. With automatic rifles and plumbing,” Alex grumbled, massaging his back where Toni’s whack still stung.
Tyler chuckled loudly. “Kid’s got a point there, Toni.”
A disgruntled Toni flared red and looked away. “Come off it.”
This time Alex joined in with Tyler’s guffaws. This was still a luxury camp. But the human race, especially the Americans, were used to living like kings, so this was a huge step down for them. Maybe even enough to be considered ‘roughin’ it’. Basic psychology. Alex frowned. Psychology…hmmm. Had he know about psychology? Maybe even an expert? It was possible. But know now his head hurt. It would be a lot easier to figure out what his past life was like, and maybe even recall his name, if he organized what his brain and muscles did remember.
How about a list? A list of everything that gave him a headache, or came easily. There was already lots to write. About Artemis Fowl. He and the Fairies were key parts of the puzzle that was his life. He was certain of it. Alex smiled. A project. And another thing to add to his list. Apparently he liked a challenge. Something to do.
“Let’s start with the tour already, ‘kay?” Toni said gruffly, obviously still miffed about the plumbing comment.
“I’ve got nothing to do,” Tyler put in. “Ya mind if I tag along? I don’t trust Toni to give you the untampered truth.”
“Hey!” Toni looked deeply offended. “I’m not that bad, am I?”
Alex and Tyler looked at eachother. “Yes,” they said in unison.
Well, this is the update. I don’t know how to make actual knew chapters, like the ones you click. It’s pretty frustrating…well, sorry for the inconvenience. If you could, I dunno, PM me with the instructions, it’d be real helpful.
LEPrecon HQ Tech Booth
“Okay Holly, you should be good. There shouldn’t be any recon missions going on, so there isn’t much chance that you’ll run into anyone. There are a few spotters looking for some rebel camps around Virginia, but nothing you can’t handle. Just stay out of sight.”
“Okay. So they’re heading toward the port of Ireland still?”
“Yeah. You should get there in time to grab their boat. If not, it’ll still be a quick flight to catch up.”
“So easy. Are you sure this is Butler that we’re talking about?” Holly inquired.
“I know. It’s weird, but let’s just go with it. Keep an eye open though, ‘kay?”
“Rodger that,” Holly said briskly. It was time to fly.
It only took a few minutes to make it to the chute that would take her up to the surface. Another minute to beat all the current records for the longest freefall before shooting up. A few more seconds to break from the earth. A few minutes time to speed to the Irish port to America. The excess time was spent patrolling the area for a sign of the Butlers.
During this, all of her thoughts were directly related to the immediate task at hand. Never once did they stray to Artemis. Holly was real good at staying focused.
And there they were.
Butler had changed into inconspicuous clothes, while Juliet had that part down. They were just a girl and her father. With his extra years, the body guard even looked the part of a middle-aged man. Albeit a huge one. But Ireland was used to the odd sort, so they barely got a second glance.
But how to alert them to her without alarming them? They were obviously strung tight as a bowstring, even if they recognized her, they would probably shoot before their brains registered it. What I need is a way to give them a sign. What would do?
Well, Butler knew bits of Gnomish, so a little message wouldn’t do much harm. Especially when it was holographic and would disappear with a press of a button.
* * *
The coin floated a millimeter off the ground. Butler noticed it immediately. Reason one; it seemed to be pure gold. Reason two; it was imperfect in a very familiar way.
There was a hole blown through the center.
The giant man used his arm to stop his sister from proceeding any further, since, for all they knew, it could be wired, and he needed time to think. That was a replica of the coin Holly gave to Artemis, who had carried it around on a chain ever since. And Butler knew for a fact that he was in possession of the real copy. The whole incident wasn’t reported at all, so the only fairy with the technology to create this was either Holly, or assuming that he was in the loop, Foaly. Both had the potential to be friends. But he mustn’t jump to that conclusion yet, he reminded himself. Best to guess the worst.
Juliet looked at her brother worriedly. “Is it safe?” she wondered aloud.
“Maybe, maybe not,” he replied.
Carefully the giant approached the coin. With a casual flick, he snapped a long rifle out of his coat, planning to prod the item.
Where does he keep all these weapons?, Juliet mused. She hadn’t seen a single bulge in his jacket before now. It was almost as if he procured these things from thin air.
Back with the proceedings, Butler was extending his gun toward the coin. And passed right through it. A hologram!
Butler hid a grin. The plot thickens. Even more so as an identical coin appeared five feet ahead into what looked like an old inn. With his hand curled around a pistol, the giant man gestured to his sister and continued cautiously into the building.
He spotted her immediately. She was sitting in a back booth, taller, but still the same fairy.
The red haired girl twisted violently around in her seat. “Butler! Juliet! Oh my gosh, thank Frond!”
But Butler retained a cold expression, and Juliet mimicked it. “Is this a trick, Holly? Where is Artemis?”
Holly’s eyes grew wide. “You think I did this? No way, I just found out yesterday! I was looking for you so we could find him together!”
Butler gave the inn a cursory inspection. Reasonably full, lots of drunks. Good, there was less chance of being overheard. Better yet, no one gave them a second glance.
So they sat.
“Alright, Holly, fill us in.”
The fairy grinned profusely at this. “Great, let’s start at the beginning. Yesterday Foaly told me the news that the council had redeemed Artemis as an unnecessary connection to our enemies. Then Trouble confirmed it. Me and Foaly have been trying to locate Arty from then on. I found out that they relocated him to North Carolina.”
Butler frowned, deep furrows running themselves between his eyebrows. “How did you get that information?”
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you know just what to threaten,” Holly said with a wicked smile.
“So why did you come find us? Couldn’t you do this by yourselves?” Juliet asked.
“Well, we thought that you guys would want to help,” the fairy said hesitantly.
“We do,” Butler interjected. “We were just wondering if this was a trick, and you’re really here to bring us in to be wiped. Like Artemis.” The huge man nearly broke down inside at his own comment. It was his job to protect the boy, and now he was gone. Some bodyguard. Some friend. Butler really was glad that Holly had included them.
“I won’t. I promise on whatever you want.”
And Butler believed her.
“How do you look like a human?” he asked.
“Foaly’s pills. Freaking hurts to be stretched out so much, so it’s a good thing they wear off in hours,” she grumbled. “So what were your plans anyway?”
“We were just gonna hitch a ride on a boat or something, just to get outta Ireland,” Juliet put in. “But now we have another reason! Let’s get a boat to America!”
* * *
Holly was very glad she had the option of flying instead of floating. She got horribly seasick. Plus flying was way more fun than just standing around a measly boat.
She was really glad that the Butlers had trusted her. If she had to do this alone, she was sure that she would crack. She needed all the help she could get.
What she tried not to ask herself was what to do when they did find Arty. He had lost all of his memories, for Frond’s sake! What foundation was there to build on? What if the Arty they knew was well and truly gone?
While in the air, she could indulge in these thoughts. When she touched ground, they and all their evidence was to disappear.
* * *
“Do you really think we’ll find him, Dom?”
Butler didn’t even try to tell her not to use his real name. “I don’t know. I hope so, but I just don’t know.”
“That’s not what I wanted to hear.”
Silence ensued for awhile after, each in their own thoughts. Juliet finally broke the silence again. “Remember when Arty was five, and we looked away for one second, and when we got back, he was gone? We search the manor for hours, and then we found him in the grounds, up in a tree. Mr. Fowl was furious. I think that was the last time little Arty tried to be adventurous.”
Butler reminisced with a smile. “And the one time when he was finger painting? The whole living room was ruined!”
“You nearly got your pay docked for that one.”
“Good thing I didn’t.”
Now Juliet was on a roll. “Oh, and that time when Mrs. Fowl tried to give him a haircut herself!”
Butler chuckled outright. “And when we played hide and seek? Every time, he was the champion.”
“When we tried to talk him out of staying up all night on his mother’s coffee.”
Suddenly Butler was sober. “When he came home from first grade covered in bruises.”
Juliet tried to intervene. “Dom, let’s not talk about the bad things-“
But her brother was undeterred. “When his father screamed at him. When his mother wasn’t home for a week because she was drinking and partying her marriage problems away. When his father introduced him to the family business. When that same father disappeared in the Arctic. His mother went insane. The family fortune depended on him. And what could we do? Watch him fall.”
Juliet walked across the cabin to sit next to her brother. “Arty got better. There was a dark period there, but we’re all over it.”
Butler blinked away his unshed tears. She was right. “But there’s another period now. And it’s my fault it’s here.”
“No it’s not-“
“Yes it is. Don’t deny it. It’s my job to protect him, and where are we now? Traipsing around the globe trying to find him again.”
Juliet became firm. “Dom, if it weren’t for you, Arty would’ve been dead a long time ago. If he had a man half as good as you, he’d be long gone. Arty still needs you, and it’s our job to be there for him.”
Butler nodded absently, pushing his concerns to the back of his mind. Now was not the time. Not when they were already approaching America.