Hello! This is a sequel to my other story, 'The Damage Has Been Done'. If you have read that, then welcome back! ^_^
***I suggest that you go and read the first story first if you haven't already done so, or else the beginning could be confusing ***
Disclaimer: I don't own Artemis Fowl.
Chapter 1: Return
Fowl manor: Ireland
The human teenager sat in silence, staring blankly out at the flurries of snow spiralling past his open study window. Every so often, a stray gust of wind would send the white flecks scurrying inside, where they would promptly melt all over his paperwork. Most of the sheets covering his desk were now soaked beyond repair; the handwriting scrawled across them barely legible. Artemis picked one up and absent-mindedly smudged the damp ink across the paper with a finger. After some time, he seemed to finally notice what he was doing and dropped the sheet into a nearby bin, a look of mild disgust crossing his face. His finger was now covered in black ink. Wiping it on his trousers in a very un-Fowl-like gesture, he stood up and left.
Artemis found his bodyguard in the kitchen preparing dinner for them both. "Butler? Any word?"
"Sorry Artemis. There's been nothing all day."
"I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing." Artemis was currently waiting to hear word from the fairy people on the most recent catastrophe to strike Haven. The entire population, with the exception of twenty-seven fairies who had been above ground at the time, had been mesmerised into hating humans. They were now planning a war to take back the surface. Holly Short, Trouble Kelp and the other un-mesmerised fairies were currently en-route to Haven to attempt to catch the culprit and regain control in the city, though Artemis hadn't heard anything from them since they left Fowl Manor that morning.
Tara shuttle port: Ireland
Holly Short was currently being held at gunpoint. Not that this was unusual; she seemed to spend an abnormally large percentage of her time with some sort of weapon pointed at her. But then, that came with the job. Join the LEP and you were bound to find yourself in a few life or death situations.
On her left, her commanding officer, Trouble Kelp, was attempting to diffuse the situation. "Right, soldier. Calm down and we can discuss this peacefully."
In front of her, the half-crazed security gnome shook his head and swung the gun towards him instead. "No! I know who you are! You're Kelp! You're the LEP commander who turned traitor! And you lot!" he gestured wildly with the gun to the officers behind Trouble. They flinched and stepped back as the weapon passed them. "You're all them LEP soldiers who helped the human, Fowl! You're all turncoats! That's what you are! Assisting the enemy! Helping the humans!" he spat the last word out as though it was something disgusting on his tongue and then spoke frantically into a small handheld communicator. "It's Kayson here, the deserters are trying to get in through Tara. Backup needed immediately!"
Barely ten seconds later, the lone gnome was joined by a large crowd of fairies. There were some LEP officers in the ranks, but it was mainly civilians. They were all carrying weapons with varying degrees of deadliness; from flashy neutrinos down to the classic shovels and pitchforks used by stereotypical angry mobs.
"Trouble…" said Holly in a low voice. "It's your call, but I really think we should retreat. Not all of us here are fighters, and we can't risk Opal getting loose somehow."
Commander Kelp nodded. "I think you're right." He turned to his men. "Retreat. We can't risk our prisoner escaping, and Qwan and No1 need protecting too." The Recon and Retrieval officers lowered their weapons and turned back towards the shuttles, climbing inside and firing up the engines. Unfortunately for Holly and Trouble, who were further away, the vindictive crowd of fairies didn't like the idea of the 'traitors' escaping, and chose that moment to charge.
Faster than Holly would've believed possible for mesmerised fairies, the crowd swarmed round the pair, cutting off their route to the shuttle.
"D'arvit!" swore Trouble, flicking off the safety catch on his neutrino. Holly did the same. Simultaneously, they brandished them at the advancing crowd, holding them back.
The crowd were getting more and more agitated as they circled the two fairies. A small pixie in the front started up a chant, "Trai-tor scum! Trai-tor scum! Trai-tor scum!" pretty soon, the shuttle port was filled with angry voices all yelling the same two words. It seemed to echo through Holly's ears, melding into strings of gobbledygook.
As the noise reached a crescendo, the mob began to advance again, pushing and jostling for position.
"Commander Kelp!" Holly spun round. It was Birch. He was leaning out of the hovering shuttle, waiting for orders."
"Birch!" Kelp yelled over the din. "Get out of here now! Take the shuttle back to Fowl Manor, I'm putting you in charge till Holly and I get back!"
The gnome nodded seriously and swung the doors shut. The shuttles pulled away, taking with them Holly's hopes of ever seeing Artemis again. There was no way they'd ever get out of this one alive.
Trouble interrupted her bleak predictions. "Captain Short! Pull yourself together! We need to fight our way out of this one."
Holly composed herself, breathing in deeply and straightening up. Of course, even if she wasn't going to live through this, she was still planning on going out fighting. Without hesitation, she began pumping her neutrino trigger for all it's worth, immediately taking down five fairies that strayed a little too close. "Let's do this."
Fowl Manor: Ireland- 4:39pm
Artemis was still waiting anxiously for any news from the fairies. He had relocated to his room and was currently pacing. He had been irritating Butler downstairs with his incessant movement, but he couldn't help it; he was worried. He should have heard something by now. His fairy communicator, given to him by Holly all those years ago, was beginning to grow slippery from holding it too tightly in his clammy hand.
Artemis sighed and strode towards the French doors, swinging them open with a single deft movement. He stepped out onto the balcony, feet crunching in the ever-deepening snow. It was too hot to be inside. He wiped a bead of cooling perspiration from his brow and leaned back against the house wall, staring through the thick-falling snow as though he could actually see. His breath clouded in front of him and he shivered, the thin shirt he wore barely doing any good whatsoever.
As Artemis stared, a single light suddenly blinked out through the darkness, a splash of emerald green in an otherwise monochromatic landscape. What's that? He thought. It isn't coming from the direction of Dublin, so it cannot be light pollution, and it isn't a low flying plane as there are no registered flight routes in this particular area.
He stepped forwards as the light grew bigger, eventually mutating into a light on the hull of a LEP shuttle. One of the same ones, in fact, that had left the manor only a few hours previously. Artemis turned and rushed back indoors, slipping and sliding in his haste. He barrelled down the staircase, two-at-a-time, and almost crashed straight into his bodyguard.
"Butler! They're back."
Artemis ignored the query and dodged round the manservant's massive bulk, yanking the front door open and hurrying out onto the snow-covered drive. He reached the now-stationary ship just as the doors flew open with a 'hiss'.
"Holly?" he called, craning his neck to get a better look at the diminutive helmeted figure in front of him.
"No such luck, mud boy." Came a deep male voice. The officer pulled off his helmet and jumped to the ground.
"Captain Birch! What's going on?"
"Wait a second." He replied, before turning to watch the empty sky. Artemis followed the gnome's gaze and immediately pinpointed the source of interest; a large blank space where snow didn't seem to be falling. As he looked on, three more shuttles fizzled into existence and floated down to earth.
"How come your shields weren't working?" queried Artemis, looking at the first shuttle.
"Defences are shot, someone hit the shield projector with a neutrino blast." Birch replied without looking away. Three more doors flew open and a small stream of helmeted fairies began to emerge, dropping down onto the ground and marching over. They were followed by five white-suited medical warlocks, then Mulch, Qwan, No1, and Foaly.
Artemis, who had been counting in his head, turned to Birch in alarm. "Twenty-four? Where are the Commander and Captain Short?"
Birch cast his gaze downwards. "We tried to gain access to Haven through Tara, but we were outnumbered by the mesmerised fairies. Commander Kelp ordered us to return here; we had to ensure Opal didn't escape in the skirmish. Unfortunately, Kelp and Captain Short didn't make it to the shuttle before the horde blocked them off. He has put me in charge until… until he gets back." Artemis could see it in the gnome's eyes as he said the last sentence. Birch didn't believe the commander would be coming back, or to an extension, Holly.
Artemis passed a shaking hand over his eyes, trying to stay in control. He could panic later. Right now, he had work to do. "Right. I take it Commander Kelp wanted to use Fowl Manor as a stronghold until you can take back to Haven?"
"I believe that was his intention, yes. If that's okay with you of course."
"Of course it's fine. My family are still at the safe house in Limerick. But you'll need to do something about the defences. You broke my force field remember?"
Birch nodded. "You and Foaly can sort that out. We'll get the equipment indoors." He signalled to the fifteen LEP soldiers and they climbed into the first shuttle, emerging with plastic boxes full of different pieces of electrical equipment and weapons. They began to heave them up the icy stone steps, groaning slightly under the weight of the centaur's various inventions and hardware.
"Just go through to the hall. Butler will help you set up a room." Artemis said as they passed. He turned to Foaly who grinned a little evilly.
"Right, Arty. You and me working together. This could be… interesting."
Qwan interrupted with a small cough and glanced upwards at the pair, shielding his eyes from the falling snow. "If you're needing time, N01 and I could cast protective spells over the Manor for tonight. We won't be able to keep them up long term but we could buy you some time."
Artemis nodded hollowly. "Thank you Qwan." He turned and followed the centaur inside.
Some hours later.
"Security systems ready." Artemis stood with his finger poised over a big red button on a newly created control panel. "Should I activate?"
Foaly nodded. "Activate and lock."
Artemis pressed the button, twisting a small lever next to it to keep it on. Immediately, a bundle of lights switched from red to green. Pulses of electricity echoed down streams of wires that connected to various parts of Fowl manor. The two geniuses sat in silence for a couple of moments, watching as various readouts flickered and changed.
"Qwan!" Foaly yelled as the displays settled. "You can stop your spells now!" outside the window, the night sky began to flicker, alternating between snowy black and a fluorescent blue. After about ten seconds, it slowed and settled on blue. A faint hum filled the air once more. It reminded Artemis of the sound an old-fashioned television made when it was turned on. A sort of scratchy, whiny drone that was barely audible to the human ear.
"That's your force field back online mud boy." Said Foaly somewhat unnecessarily.
Artemis spared a single glance out the window from his cross-legged seat on the floor, and then turned back towards the jumble of multicoloured wires he was untangling. "Good. Have your upgrades integrated with my system?"
The centaur turned to a screen and brought up another page of readouts. "Yup. The force field should hold up against pretty much anything now." He fell silent as Artemis nodded without turning from his work. "Artemis." the boy looked up, the fearful expression in his eyes immediately being replaced by the usual ice-cold mask of indifference.
"Are you alright?"
"I am perfectly fine, Foaly. What on earth made you think otherwise?"
"I don't know. You seem a bit distracted." He nodded at the frayed cable in Artemis's hands. "You've been untangling that same wire for the last half- hour."
Artemis looked down at the offending cord for a few seconds, and then let it slip from his fingers. It fell forgotten to the floor. He seemed to be contemplating something and paused before speaking. "I'm fine Foaly. Honestly. I'm just worried about Trouble and Holly."
Foaly bent and ruffled Artemis's hair. "We're all worried mud boy. But we need to concentrate on the task at hand, you if all people should understand that."
Artemis nodded. "I know. The world as we know it is at stake here. " He looked back up at the centaur, the steely determination back in his eyes. "Pass me those V-gloves."
There you go! Chapter 1. Does it show potential? I hope so. I have LOADS of ideas for this fic. It is going to be quite a bit more ambitious than 'The Damage Has Been Done'. I can't wait to write it!
(Also, I apologise if Artemis was a little OOC in this chapter, but I figured that by now in my stories he has been in so many life or death situations in the last week that it kinda made sense. His calmness is cracking.)
Please review and help me to keep my regained enthusiasm alive! ^_^