One Last Theft

Chapter 4

“Perfect.” Artemis rubbed his hands together with barely suppressed glee as he watched on his computer as his microscopic electronic bug began crawling across the surface of Kaiba’s desk.

“What is it?” Butler asked, staring at the screen. He prided himself on being familiar with most forms of electronic surveillance, but this was definitely new.

“A spy bug.”

“Spy bug?” For all Artemis’ genius, he certainly lacked imagination in naming things.

Artemis tore his gaze away from the computer long enough to glance in Butler’s direction. “It is one of my own inventions,” he said proudly. “The spy bug can access the data stream of any piece of electronic equipment, provided the data transfer occurred less than twenty-four hours before.”

“What makes you think that Kaiba will have anything important on his laptop?” Butler asked. “Laptops are notoriously insecure, even one as advanced as that.” He nodded at the computer, which was just now coming into the spy bug’s view.

“As I said before, Mr. Kaiba likes to play with his toys,” Artemis said dismissively, pressing some keys to send the spy bug right up to the silent computer. “He examines all the prototypes himself before making them available for marketing. My sources say he also reviews the plans for any big projects before they are green-lighted.”

“And you think he is foolish enough to do so on his personal computer?” Butler asked incredulously. “He’s supposed to be a genius, Artemis.”

Artemis shrugged. “He is a genius, Butler. The security system on that computer is more secure than that of most nuclear weapon command centers. The data transfer only takes a tenth of a microsecond to complete, too short a time for any current technology to intercept.” Artemis smiled his best evil grin. “But I’m afraid Mr. Kaiba has not reckoned on fairy technology.” He indicated the screen. “I have incorporated elements of the fairy equipment that we…uh…confiscated during the siege of Fowl Manor. My spy bug is now able to break into any security system on earth. I planted it on Kaiba’s desk when I leaned across it this morning. It’s small enough to be virtually undetectable.”

Butler nodded, faintly impressed. Artemis was always so sure of himself. The bodyguard stared at the computer as pages of encrypted files began to flash across the screen. KaibaCorp’s files. And then a horrible thought struck him.

“Artemis!” he hissed, reaching across to grab his employer’s shoulders. “Why would Kaiba leave his laptop on his desk when he left? It’s foolish, and as you said yourself, he’s no fool. He expects you to break in!”

Artemis brushed Butler’s hand away dismissively. “He expects me to try,” he said, scrolling down the encrypted data. “But he doesn’t think I’ll get very far. He wants to prove that he’s better than me.” He stared at the data. “I’m willing to bet this isn’t even the real data, only a false trail that he’s laid just in case someone does make it this far. I have prepared for this.”

Butler watched as the data rippled and changed. Now, new lines of encrypted data began to scroll across the screen. Artemis smirked.

“Here we are,” he said. “Spy bug, begin download.”

There was a shrill beep. Artemis glanced at a corner of the screen. “A virus. How quaint. Apparently, it was released when I accessed the main files.” He clicked a few keys. “Fortunately, the spy bug’s hardware is equipped to cope with any such problems.”

The beeping did not go away. If anything, it grew louder. Artemis stared at the screen. The spy bug’s optical sensors were beginning to flicker.

“What?” Artemis breathed. “The spy bug should have been able to deal with the problem.”

“Download terminated,” said a crisp electronic voice from the computer. “Anti-viral software off line.”

Artemis’ hands scrabbled for the keys. “I have to disconnect the link to the spy bug before the virus spreads to the main computer.”

The beeping grew louder. The spy bug’s cameras shuddered wildly, then went black. On the computer screen, a tiny white dragon appeared. It spread its wings and roared.

“Virus has begun downloading and erasing files,” said the electronic voice again. “Attempting to reboot anti-viral software.”

Artemis’ personal files flickered across the screen almost too fast to see as the virus simultaneously downloaded and erased. Artemis’ fingers flew over the keys. Frantically, he typed in a series of commands while Butler looked on. After what seemed like an eternity, the beeping slowed, then stopped. On the screen, the tiny dragon dissolved in a whirl of multi-colored pixels.

“Viral download terminated.”

“Thirty-five percent,” Artemis whispered. “It managed to download and destroy thirty-five percent of my personal files, Butler. That should not have been possible!” He ran trembling fingers through his hair and looked up at the massive bodyguard. “That spy bug was a mix of human and fairy technology. It should not have been affected by a virus!”

“Perhaps,” Butler said. “Mr. Kaiba is cleverer then we thought.”

“Perhaps.” Artemis forced his voice to return to its normal calm. “At least we have a consolation prize.” He pointed at the screen, which was once again displaying KaibaCorp’s files. “We got almost all of what we were looking for.”

Then why, Butler thought, does it feel like we lost?

Kaiba was sitting on his couch, watching a movie with Mokuba, when the phone call came. For a minute or two, Seto just let it ring. Mokuba was half-asleep, and he lay snuggled up against his big brother. Seto stroked his tousled mane of black hair and was rewarded with a sweet, contented smile. To get to the phone, Seto would have to move Mokuba aside. He settled deeper into the couch. If it was an emergency, they would just call him back.

The phone rang again.

With a deep sigh, Seto sat up straight. Mokuba lifted his head to look at his big brother with confusion.


“I’d better see what those imbeciles want,” Seto said, carefully easing his brother off his lap.

“Do you want me to pause the movie for you?” Mokuba asked. Seto could hear the disappointment in his brother’s voice.

In all honesty, Seto had not been watching the movie for the last hour. “No, it will just take a minute.” With a sigh, he stood up, stretched, and went to retrieve the phone.

“This had better be good,” he barked into it.

From the couch, Mokuba watched as his brother listened to whoever was on the other end of the phone. Seto’s look of irritation quickly gave way to anger and another emotion that Mokuba didn’t immediately recognize. Was that…fear?

“What is it, Seto?” he asked, worried, but Seto just waved him off and listened in silence to what the person on the other end of the line was saying.

“How much did he get?” Seto snapped after a moment.

Mokuba listened intently as his brother’s voice rose. “Over half? You’re telling me he broke through one of the most sophisticated security systems on earth and…” He glanced at Mokuba and lowered his voice.

“I’ll be right there,” he hissed. “Touch nothing. I don’t want you fools contaminating it.”

He hung up the phone and turned to Mokuba. “I’m sorry, Mokie,” he said, trying to keep his voice from sounding too abrupt. “I have to go to the office. It’s an emergency. Will you be alright by yourself?"

“Sure,” Mokuba said listlessly, turning back to the TV. “Go ahead. I’ll be fine.”

Seto grabbed his briefcase and turned to go. At the door, he stopped. For a moment, Mokuba thought he would say something. Then shaking his head, he disappeared.

Mokuba sagged down on the couch and clicked off the movie. “What else is new?” he asked the silent television screen.

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