It was weird.

Holly Short once again found herself touching the ring she now wore around her neck, secured by a dainty silver band she found in her jewelry box, as she stared at nothing in particular. She had been doing it for most of the time since she made the said communication device into a necklace. For some reason, she can't seem to find in herself yet to actually wear it in her finger, feeling a bit uneasy if not awkward, but at the same time she can't seem to find it in herself to keep it away from her either. Lately, she developed a habit of touching it whenever she is deep in thought. When she pondered on why she kept doing so, she found herself at lost without any logical reason. The closest conclusion she conjured regarding the matter was that it gave her a sense of comfort, an assurance of some sort though she cannot fathom why.

Like she said a non-logical reason.

Breaking out of her musings, she once again turned her attention to the task she had in hand.

Around her were a couple of traveling bags, numerous pairs of shoes placed here and there and various kinds of clothing scattered all over the room. She already finished packing the essentials with all the toiletries she will need. All that's left now were the clothes she is going to wear during her stay with that infamous mudboy; the notorious enemy turned savior of Haven, Artemis Fowl II. Her hand found the ring again. How could she be so attached to an object created and given by a mudboy who was once the enemy of her own kind?

But then again, that was just one of her worries.

In all honesty, when Foaly told her the news that the council had all agreed to grant her a pass to let her stay above ground to stay with a human, nonetheless, for a couple of weeks or so, she was entirely convinced it was all a hoax; a big stupid joke. However, her conviction waned immediately the moment she studied the serious look mixed with concern and worry on the centaur's usual cheerful face; an expression that his wife, Caballine, mirrored almost immediately the moment the news sank in. It was a common fact that grants like that aren't given to just anyone for no apparent reason. When she asked Foaly what led the council to reach such a conclusion, the centaur just shrugged. However, Holly knew there was more to that, something that is not meant to be discussed with her.

Holly felt a flash of frustration. It was already irritating enough to be amnesiac, that uncomfortable feeling of incompleteness and uncertainty - not knowing who to trust or to believe - but even if the predicament clearly involves her, and they are still keeping certain things from her.

It was just not fair.

Holly sighed, reaching out to grab hold of a red tank top and proceeded to fold it neatly, pausing midway as her mind drowned itself to her musings again.

The room felt unsettling in her opinion; not entirely uncomfortable but entirely comfortable either; just something in between.

Though in general it looked like any ordinary office room - furnished walls, carpeted floor, large windows that must have showed the city scenery if not completely covered with thick green colored curtains, furniture and book shelves - the medals, certificates and various awards in the form of plaques placed orderly on the shelves gave an intimidating and professional ambiance, a non-verbal sign to whoever set foot on the place that the person in the office is someone of high authority; worthy of respect and command.

Yet, for some reason, she can't seem to shake off a sense of deja vu as she sat in the room. She, along with Foaly who was pacing muttering and commenting about random things, were waiting for a certain general to return from a meeting.

General Trouble Kelp seemed to be the typical military general in Holly's opinion. The public knew him as a valiant and strict officer, ready to defend and protect those who needed it and bring those who disobey and mistreats other what is fit for them but the moment she saw him face to face, she knew that there was something more other than that. She immediately perceived him as someone who is loyal, not only to his race but mainly to his family and comrades, someone who has a strong sense of right and wrong, and someone who is compassionate, though showed in rather peculiar ways.

She told Foaly about that a few days after meeting the said general. The centaur laughed at first then later explained that it may be some parts of her subconscious surfacing; something that she shouldn't be bothered of for, if anything, it was a positive sign. However, for Holly she still felt hallow inside; it was still not enough.

A beeping sound broke through the silence of the room followed by the sound of the sliding metal door swishing open, causing both of the room's only occupants to turn their heads immediately to its direction. Sure enough standing proud with an air of authority, donning his military uniform quite well, was the said general himself: Trouble Kelp.

Foaly heaved out a sigh; crossing his arms as he gave an exasperated look at the general, "Finally, Trouble. I was starting to think that you were ambushed or something."

"Shut it, pony boy," the general barked scowl already in place, "And stop pacing around. You're ruining the carpet."

Foaly rolled his eyes, "Let's just get this over with."

"Have you secured the area?" Trouble asked as he walked towards his table, taking his cap off before giving a small nod of acknowledgement to Holly as a form of greeting. Not entirely sure on how to respond, Holly just gave a polite nod back.

"Of course I did, Trubs. What do you take me for?" the centaur retorted.

Trouble threw the centaur a cold glare at the name before placing his cap on top his table. With a few short commands on the keypad installed on the side of his table and a finger print scan, the room let out a long beep then a computerized voice said: "Scan completed. Security Lockdown Activated".

Foaly raised an eyebrow looking incredulously at the general, "Really now? You don't trust me,"

Ignoring the statement, Trouble Kelp sat down on his chair, mentally gathering his bearings before turning his attention to the female elf in the room.

"Let's start shall we?" the general began, "I am sure that you already know the reason why you are here, am I right Miss Short?"

"Yes," Holly nodded, eyes staring at the general, "Foaly said that this meeting is for briefing purposes,"

Trouble nodded as well, "Indeed. Well, I am sure that it is not news to you anymore that you are given rite of passage above ground for a period of 336 hours, this is meeting is to orient you during your stay at that period of time."

Knock. Knock. Knock

Holly snapped back to reality and immediately looked at the source of the sudden sound. Caballine stood in the doorway, one arm resting across her belly and the other still held up halfway near the door, a smile gracing her face. For the time being she had been staying at Foaly's since it's the safest place for her at the moment given her amnesiac state. The centaur's wife welcomed her warmly, much to Holly's relief. There were times when she kept to herself, staying in her room for quite some time and Caballine would frequently check on her.

"Everything okay?" the lady centaur asked then she looked at the mess around her room, "Have trouble packing?"

Holly looked at the mess too and smiled sheepishly, "No, it's just….I have been thinking,"

Curiosity graced the lady centaur's features, "Oh? About what dear?"

"A lot of things," Holly shrugged, "This whole going above ground thing, I don't know…it just feels different."

Caballine smiled understandingly, "Perhaps you just don't recall the feeling. From what I have been hearing from Foaly you loved going above ground for missions, to fly."

Holly bit her cheek. The lady centaur has been lovely to her, very much like a motherly figure, but there are still certain things she doesn't feel like sharing to her yet. She has many reasons to be this hesitant about the arrangement yet even so, she can't find it in herself to voice them to her. However, with the way the lady centaur seemed to try to reach out to her, she can't just turn her away.

"I guess. Maybe I'm just a bit nervous. I'm leaving tomorrow morning and I'm halfway from getting ready," the elf answered, gesturing to the mess around her before giving another sheepish smile.

A grinning face of none other than Foaly popped into the doorway, "Are you sure that's the reason why you're nervous?"

Caballine swatted his arm, "Don't be so tactless,"

"What?" Foaly answered the smile still present on his face, "I'm just asking, maybe the other reason why she is nervous because she will be staying with little Arty for a month,"

"But that doesn't mean you can point it out like that," the lady centaur gave Holly an apologetic look, "Ignore him dear."

"It's normal to be nervous around him," Foaly answered

"Why aren't you in your lab doing what you usually do?"

"It's my rest day," Foaly countered, "Besides I'm hungry and was about to grab something to eat when I heard your conversation."

"But that doesn't mean you could but in,"

"And knowing you, you prepared something at this time of the day,"

Holly watched them with one eyebrow raised and a small smile. She may not remember or maybe she didn't get a chance to see her friend find love but she is happy that he did. Being with them for a short time made her a witness of that and sometimes though it was not the couples' intention she felt like she is trespassing on something that she shouldn't be seeing and yet at the same time, she felt at home.

For a brief moment her mind wandered back, remembering her own parents; how they used to joke around one another, how they fight at the simplest things and made up in the funniest ways - the more she thought about it the more she wanted to witness that again but can't. The day Foaly told her everything came back afresh again and her heart felt like someone was squeezing it. The smile disappeared. She really hated her current state; it made her into a ball of emotions she can't manage.

"Holly?" the voice snapped her out of the thoughts she wished she didn't bother threading. Caballine studied her with caring eyes and decided to leave the prying for another time. Right now, she knew that it wasn't what the elf needed, "I've prepared some sandwiches and lemon juice downstairs, maybe you could join me for a short break?"

Holly smiled, not having the heart to turn down her offer "I'd love to,"

-o-0-o-

Agitated.

It's one of the words Foaly rarely associate himself with. He always likes to see himself as a rational and collected individual even at the most stressful of times. Somehow, he always managed to find something reasonable for everything and accurately so, given the facts at hand. It may sound egoistic but having been through numerous of out-of-the-ordinary situations was enough to draw this self-assertion. However, though he may rarely admit he is not a perfect individual; there were times when he couldn't find reason for certain things, even the slightest.

He couldn't even convince himself of the sudden rush of feeling he was having at the moment. He tried to ease the feeling by lightly stomping his hoof on the carpeted floor as he and Holly waited inside the polished office room of one of the members of the Haven Council. The secretary had informed them that they have to wait for a while for a court trial is in progress as of the moment, ushering them to a row of comfortable row of chairs before she proceeded out of the room and back to her desk work. Naturally, none of those said seats were designed for centaurs, not that he minded and was very much comfortable as he is, but his companion however chose to stand beside him rather than sitting down.

He looked at the elf on his right. Even in her amnesiac state, Holly hadn't forgotten the basics of her military training mainly her posture. Despite of wearing a casual yellow long sleeved top, khaki cargo pants, red sneakers and looking every bit like any ordinary civilian, the look in her eyes told him that she is very observant and alert of her surroundings; taking in the structure of the room, glancing at the door every now and then, looking at the items it holds as well as keeping a keen eye on something that might be amiss. But that was just a mask she tried to put up. She may have tried hiding it but Foaly could tell she is agitated as he is - even more so in fact.

And she has every reason to be.

His eyes scanned the room again, losing count on how many times he did so the past minutes. Stupid meet up, he thought to himself. They could just send Holly off just fine without having to meet a member of the council. All the papers are already cleared, the authorizes and other departments in-charge are already notified so he can't see the reason why they needed to wait for a court trial to be finished so that they could talk to some person who didn't really give a care at this.

"You may want to sit down for a bit. The wait might take a little longer than the secretary had said," Foaly told her, not one for holding the silence too long, especially at moments like this.

"I don't feel like sitting down," Holly said, though her face showed no emotion. It's amazing how her features can be an open book one moment then a blank page the next.

"You're nervous" Foaly stated

"So are you,"

The centaur shook his head, "Not about meeting the councilman, I mean you traveling above ground,"

"Who wouldn't? I don't really remember being above ground even if you claim that I've been doing it for years,"

"It's not only that. There's a deeper reason," Holly bit her lip, but the centaur continued, "its okay if you don't want to talk about it -"

The polished door swung open effectively cutting Foaly off. Both of them turned around just in time to see an elderly pixie making their way towards them, both arms spread open as if he was about to give them both a hug; a big smile plastered on his face. He was still in the long black robes council men wore during court trials and a golden wreath upon his already thinning hair. As an automatic response, both elf and centaur gave a short bow of respect, to which the pixie wave off with a humorous laugh, patting Holly's shoulder as he passed her.

"Now, now don't be so formal," the pixie chided, gesturing for them to sit.

"I'd rather stand, thank you very much," Foaly answered politely as Holly reluctantly sat on one of the chairs in front of the councilman's desk.

The pixie laughed in good humor, "Sorry about that. I don't get visits from centaurs more often."

Councilman Cornelius Barkwood, in Foaly's opinion, is one of the more tolerable members of the council. Being a bit younger than his colleagues, he is not as infuriatingly prideful as the others are and he is not entirely bound to give judgments based on how the accused is obeying the laws of the People word for word. To put it simply, he is rational with his judgments and decisions. It's the reason why the lower and middle class members of the People adore him; like her was their voice of justice. However, like all of the members of the council, it doesn't make him much of a saint as the others perceive him to be. Foaly, being one the many few who didn't believe in the council anymore, is still cautious of the councilman true objectives. From what he had gathered, Barkwood was the voice behind the approval of Holly's above ground pass. The centaur knew there was something more behind the said act; he can't really place whether it is to gain more positive feedback for being compassionate or other interior motive to improve his influence.

"Miss Holly, how are you?" Barkwood asked with a gentle smile as his gaze shifted from the centaur to the elf.

"I'm fine sir," Holly replied politely, no emotion evident in her face to which Foaly was impressed.

Barkwood smiled to her, "That is good to hear then. Are you nervous?"

"A little," the elf replied, sounding casual as she could manage.

"You should be," Barkwood exclaimed animatedly then he smiled again, "But not all in a negative way. Now, I'm not going to hold you up any longer. I'm sure you already had your briefing?"

Holly nodded, "Yes sir,"

"Good. As expected of General Kelp," the elderly pixie replied distractedly as he rummaged through his desk drawers and after opening the second drawer to his left, he took out a small wooden box, placed it on his desk and opened it. With a fond smile he fished out the content and placed it in front of Holly.

It was a circular golden badge, only a bit bigger than the fairy coin. Engraved on it was the emblem of the council; the laurel, the balance and seven stars beneath the laurel. Around it was the code of the council written in Gnommish.

"This badge will give you rite of passage in and out of Haven, no other requirements needed." Barkwood explained, "All the ports will recognize it and let you through without questioning unless the council issued out an order that the badge you are holding should be ignored,"

Foaly nearly snorted out loud, of course, how typical of them.

Holly gingerly took the badge, thumbing the emblem of the council as she stared at it for a moment yet her face betrayed no emotion. For someone whose memories only dated back when she was still in school and a few supplementary memories from his stories here and there, Holly learned quick to wear a mask of her own during different situations. He just wished she would use it on him most of the time.

"Thank you sir," she said, pocketing the badge

Barkwood clapped his hands once, "Well then, have a safe trip Miss Holly and I hope your visit bring forth good results,"

And with that they were dismissed.

-o-0-o-

"Ready?" Foaly asked. They were already in the port to Tara. Luckily only a few routes were in line that day so only a few numbers of individuals were lingering in the port station.

"No," Holly answered, "Why do I need to do this again?"

"To see if being at Fowl Manor triggers a recall," Foaly replied, looking around for the elf's escort - an elf by the name of Bogg Weedwart. Not impressive on his opinion but maybe there was a deeper meaning to it, to which the centaur doubt it was near interesting or logical.

"What if nothing happened?" the elf asked. Foaly looked at her and found her playing with the communicator ring, a faraway look in her eyes.

The possibility of it was not ignored. He and the mudboy spend a great deal of time discussing the pros and cons of Holly going above ground just to look for a trigger of recall but it was a risk they were willing to grab instead of waiting around for a trigger to happen. Either way, if Holly's safety were the issue, she would be far safer at Fowl Manor than she is in Foaly's house in Haven.

"We'll never know now, do we? Just keep the positive vibe up Short."

"You will be fine dear, don't worry." Caballine said, speaking for the first time since they arrived at port. She insisted that she came with her husband in sending Holly off, something that the male centaur didn't dare to argue.

Just when Holly was about to say another complaint, a thin elf approached them interrupting their talk. As Foaly expected the escort was lived up to his expectation based on his name; unimpressive.

"I will be escorting Miss Holly Short,"

Foaly raised an eyebrow, "You don't say? Private Weedwart, correct?"

Caballine pinched his elbow and muttered, "Behave"

"Yes," Weedwart answered, missing the amusement in the centaur's tone, "My colleagues call me Wee,"

Foaly had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep himself from laughing out loud while his wife pinched his elbow harder to keep him from doing so. Holly let an amused smile grace her face, the first one she had ever since coming to the said port.

"Then I rest my safety in your hands, Private Wee." She said ignoring the laugh turned cough from the centaur. The other elf just nodded in response and started to walk to where their shuttle is located. Holly turned to face the couple, "Well, I'm off."

Caballine hugged her tightly to which the elf returned warmly, "Be careful dear,"

"I will," Holly answered breaking the hug, and then she turned to look at the centaur, which held out a ring to her. It was a simple silver band with no design or engravings on it. The simplicity of the object alone made Holly raise an eyebrow as to why the centaur was giving it her.

"This will give you the mudgirl appearance that you will need," Foaly said, answering her silent inquiry. "It is also a tracking device so when you are in trouble or lost, just say the code word, Atlantis and help will come."

To that Holly nodded.

"Miss Short," Private Wee called.

"Well I'm off,"

And with another wave of goodbyes, she turned around and walked towards the pod the Private was standing near to; her heart pounding hard against her chest.

-o-0-o-

A/N: And I'm back. Sorry for this chapter, I'm just getting back my bearings. Little rusty. Tell me what you think.