An ally. No, more than that. A friend and a comrade. She was my key to entering Haven and has proved herself to be an invaluable asset to my plans ever since. She may be small, but with that Neutrino blaster she certainly packs a punch. Whilst I myself do not subscribe to her overly rigid moral code, her loyalty and courage are unquestionable. Not that I would ever dream of telling her this.
The troll was directly below her, pounding against the town’s outer wall, which was coming away in chunks beneath his powerful fingers. Holly sucked in a startled gasp. This guy was a monster! Big as an elephant and ten times as mean. But this particular beast was worse than mean, he was scared.
‘Control,’ said Holly into her mike. ‘Runner located. Situation critical topside.’
Root himself was on the other side of the comlink.
Holly pointed her video link at the troll.
‘Runner is going through the town wall. Contact imminent. How far away are Retrieval?’
‘ETA five minutes minimum. We’re still in the shuttle.’
Holly bit her lip. Root was in the shuttle?
‘That’s too long, Commander. This whole town is going to explode in ten seconds…I’m going in.’
‘Negative, Holly… Captain Short. You don’t have an invite. You know the law. Hold your position.’
‘But, Commander - ‘
Root cut her off. ‘No! No buts, Captain. Hang back. That’s an order!’
Holly’s entire body felt like a heartbeat. Petrol fumes were addling her brain. What could she do? What was the right decision to make? Lives or orders?
Then the troll broke through the wall and a child’s voice split the night.
‘Aiuto!’ it screamed.
Help. An invitation. At a stretch.
‘Sorry, Commander. The troll is light-crazy and there are children in there.’
She could imagine Root’s face, purple with rage as he spat into the mike.
‘I’ll have your stripes, Short! You’ll spend the next hundred years on drain duty!’
But it was no use. Holly had disconnected her mike and swooped in after the troll.
A lifelong companion and my dearest friend. Even if he does take orders. Descended from a long line of bodyguards, a member of the Butler family is an invaluable asset to any Fowl criminal endeavour. Trained in Madam Ko's famous academy, the closest Butler has ever been to defeat was at the hands of a crazed troll (see the excerpt from the Fowl Archive below). A munitions expert, and master of various forms of combat, he is not the sort of person you (or any human, troll, goblin, fairy, pixie) would want to cross.
Butler was strapping on a medieval suit of armour. Incredible as it seemed, he apparently intended to go toe to toe with the troll. Holly tried to warn him, tried to make some sound, but the magic hadn’t yet reinflated her crushed lungs.
Butler closed his visor, hefting a vicious mace.
‘Now,’ he grunted through the grille. ‘I’ll show you what happens when someone lays a hand on my sister.’
The human twirled the mace as though it were a cheerleader’s baton, ramming it home between the troll’s shoulder blades. A blow like that, while not fatal, certainly distracted the troll from its intended victim.
Butler planted his foot just above the creature’s haunches and tugged the weapon free. It relinquished its grip with a sickly sucking sound. He skipped backwards, settling into a defensive stance. The troll rounded on him, all ten talons sliding out to their full extent. Drops of venom glistened from the tip of each tusk. Play time was over.
An altogether distasteful creature, disgustingly unique. Perhaps the best test of Mulch's mettle was his run-in with Butler. No one has ever fled from Butler in quite such a flamboyantly flatulent fashion. It is not my custom to associate with anyone who counts a bumflap among the must- have items in their wardrobe, especially when they have the overall appearance of a deranged warthog. Appearances aside, I do admire Mulch's steadfast criminality. We are on the same wavelength morally, and with his special attributes he makes a useful ally.
Born to a typical dwarf cavern-dwelling family, Mulch had decided early that mining was not for him and resolved to put his talents to another use, namely digging and entering, generally entering Mud People’s property. Of course this meant forfeiting his magic. Dwellings were sacred. If you broke that rule, you had to be prepared to accept the consequences. Mulch didn’t mind. He didn’t care much for magic anyway. There had never been much use for it down the mines.
Things had gone pretty well for a few centuries, and he’d built up quite a lucrative above-ground memorabilia business. That was until he’d tried to sell the Jules Rimet Trophy to an undercover LEP operative. From then on his luck had turned, and he’d been arrested over twenty times to date. A total of 300 years in and out of prison. Mulch had a prodigious appetite for tunnelling, and that, unfortunately, is a literal translation. For those unfamiliar with the mechanics of dwarf tunnelling, I shall endeavour to explain them as tastefully as possible. Like some members of the reptile family, dwarf males can unhinge their jaws, allowing them to ingest several kilos of earth a second. This material is processed by a super-efficient metabolism, stripped of any useful minerals and…ejected at the other end, as it were. Charming.
Arrogant as it may seem, I believe that I was always destined for greatness. Not in the conventional sense of the word - the Fowls have never succumbed to convention, nor will they ever. For I, Artemis Fowl II, am the greatest criminal mastermind that has ever lived. Some may ridicule this claim, particularly in light of my teenage status, but who are they to doubt someone who has discovered parallel worlds, deciphered ancient languages, adapted technology light years ahead of our own, to mention but a few of my accomplishments. In spite of my, so called, tender age, my achievements far outweigh those of any other human alive - a modern day Alexander the Great if you will.
Artemis looked up from the screen of his PowerBook. He was getting a head start on the translation.
‘The sprite. Why didn’t we simply keep the Book and leave her to die?’
‘A corpse is evidence, Butler. My way, the People will have no reason to be suspicious.’
‘But the sprite?’
‘I hardly think she will confess to showing humans the Book. In any case, I mixed a slight amnesiac into her second injection. When she finally wakes up, the last week will be a blur.’
Butler nodded appreciatively. Always two steps ahead, that was Master Artemis. People said he was a chip off the old block. They were wrong. Master Artemis was a brand-new block, the likes of which had never been seen before.
Doubts assuaged, Butler returned to his copy of Guns and Ammo, leaving his employer to unravel the secrets of the universe.
For her eighteenth birthday, Juliet Butler asked for, and received, a ribbed Judo crash vest, two weighted throwing knives and a World Wrestling Grudge Match video - items that did not generally feature on the average teenage girl’s wish list. Then again, Juliet Butler is not the average teenage girl. Juliet is extraordinary in many ways. For one thing, she can hit a moving target with any weapon you cared to name and, for another, she can throw most people a lot further than she trusts them. A chip off the old Butler block, you might say.
Juliet slid back the van door and climbed into the interior. Pex and Chips followed, ducking under the rim. Pex released the girl’s neck momentarily to take the step. That was his mistake. A properly trained private soldier would never allow an untethered prisoner to lead the way into an unsecured vehicle.
The girl stumbled accidentally, dropping to both knees on the interior’s carpet.
‘Sushi,’ said Pex. ‘It’s good with French fries.’
Then the girl’s foot snapped back, catching him in the chest. The hired muscle collapsed, gasping, on to the floor.
‘Oops,’ said the girl, straightening. ‘Accident.’
Chips thought he must be having some kind of waking dream, because there was no way a little pop princess clone could have decked ninety kilograms of muscle and attitude.
‘You… just…,’ he stuttered. ‘That’s impossible. No way.’
‘Way,’ said Juliet, pirouetting like a ballerina. The jade ring in her ponytail swung round, loaded with centrifugal force. It struck Chips between the eyeballs, like a stone from a sling. He staggered backwards, landing in a heap on a leatherette sofa.
Behind her, Pex’s breath was returning. His eyeballs stopped rolling wildly and focused on his assailant.
‘Hi,’ said Juliet, bending over him.’Guess what.’
‘What?’ said Pex.
‘You’re not supposed to deep-fry sushi,’ said the girl, clapping the assassin on both temples with the palms of her hands. Unconsciousness was immediate.
Ah yes, Ms Koboi. A pixie with the audacity to try and outwit me not once, but twice. An utterly preposterous notion. Certified Genius? Certified Megalomaniac more like. She may have wrapped those morons Merv and Scant around her poisonous little finger, but I was never unduly fazed by this particular enemy. There's only one criminal mastermind capable of world domination, and it certainly isn't her.
Now Opal had a goal to bolster her willpower: she would maintain this coma for as long as it took, because there was a score to be settled. Foaly, Root, Holly Short and the human, Artemis Fowl. They were the ones responsible for her defeat. Soon she would be free of this clinic, and then she would visit those who had caused her such despair, and give them a little despair of their own. Once her enemies were defeated she could proceed with the second phase of her plan: introducing the Mud Men to the People in a way that could not be covered up by a few mind wipes. The secret life of fairies was almost at an end.
Opal Koboi’s brain released a few happy endorphins. The thought of revenge always gave her a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Chief Technical Consultant for the Lower Elements Police, Foaly is a centaur who is as stubborn as an ox. As head of the nerve centre behind the Haven Police Force’s next-next-next-generation technology, it falls to Foaly to ensure that the whereabouts of Haven remain unknown to mankind. Or remained, I should say.
‘All right. Don’t get your ears in a knot.’ Foaly skipped several minutes of tape.’ Now. Here’s the interesting bit… Nice smooth landing, hangs up the wings. Holly takes off the helmet.’
‘Against regulations,’ interjected Root. ‘LEP officers must never remove - ‘
‘LEP officers must never remove their headgear above ground, unless said headgear is defective,’ completed Foaly. ’Yes, Commander, we all know what the handbook says. But are you trying to tell me that you never sneaked a breath of air after a few hours in the sky?’
‘No,’ admitted Root.’ What are you? Her fairy godmother or something? Get to the important bit!’
Foaly smirked behind his hand. Driving up Root’s blood pressure was one of the few perks of the job. No one else would dare to do it. That was because everybody else was replaceable. Not Foaly. He’d built the system from scratch and if anyone else even tried to boot it up, a hidden virus would bring it crashing about their pointy ears.