Large, expansive, dark wood desks wound around the darkened room, their shining finish throwing distorted reflections of the dozens of screens that buzzed and hummed as face after face flashed on each monitor. Several had strips of text running across the bottom in an array of languages and reporters whose lips moved furiously but still no trace of their voices echoed in the office of Artemis Fowl the Second. Only a staccato click-clicking of keyboard keys whispered from around the high backed plush office chair that housed the only being currently occupying the study whom was none other than the infamous mastermind himself. The dark black hair was slicked back away from the strong brow which was occupied by sharp blue eyes that watched the screen before him fill up with strong black lettering as he continued to type.
A knock shattered the professional tension that swarmed around the man and he leaned back against the smooth surface of his chair as a blonde middle-aged women entered. Her long hair was braided to her waist and she wore a jade green v-neck and dark slacks. She placed a slightly steaming cup of tea next to his elbow. "Everything coming along, Artemis?" she asked warmly.
He looked up at the woman. Juliet Butler had grown much. She now served in place of her older brother who, even without his Kevlar compressed chest and aged interior, could only sulk about the estate while running the surveillance. Artemis had timidly extended the offer of staying at the mansion to his old ally several years ago after the death of Artemis Senior, and was jubilant at the man's reply. Artemis and Butler had been through hell and back again. They had crossed time and space. He had stood by his principal's side (as Madame Ko, the Japanese women who trained almost every member of the Butler family, liked to refer to the charges) even through his fairy mental disorder. This brought a hint of a smirk to the former bodyguard's face every time he mentioned it to the young man as a blush bloomed on his pale complexion. Yes, the two had fought their way through more obstacles in the Fowl's adolescent years than any other human ever had in their entire lifetime, most of it absolutely unheard of before.
Brainwashing fairies, LEPrecon officers, megalomaniac pixies, time-traveling imp warlocks, mind wipes, bloodthirsty trolls, technological genius centaurs, clones, and endangered species kidnappings were only how it began. Yet, however they had survived through it all, they still kept in touch with their underground friends. He smiled briefly, not caring to keep up his front in front of the Butler sister, and replied smoothly, "All according to plan."
Juliet still was unaccustomed to the light ring in the voice of the most notorious criminal mastermind on and under the Earth. Laughter. It had caused her to freeze the first time she heard it, not at all professional for a bodyguard from the Butler line.
After regaining her memories in Mexico that had been suppressed by the mind wipe administered by the LEP following Artemis's Chicago adventure, Juliet and her brother had helped Artemis recover from his Atlantis Complex mental disorder that usually only affected fairies. She had replaced her brother temporarily so he could recover (he still hated to admit being two decades older than her even without the increased aging from fairy healings), and she was bringing Artemis his tea. He had the elf LEPrecon officer, Captain Holly Short, 'the first female LEPrecon officer' they kept telling her and one of Artemis's dearest friends, on the cluster of gas screens that adorned the entire farthest wall. He paid no attention to the beverage and continued chatting. As she opened the door to leave, a sudden rasping choke spluttered from the teen and Juliet almost toppled over in her haste to return to his side. When she laid eyes on him, a bright red flush had crept over his face and into his collar, his refined, slender fingers had clamped over his mouth, and his mix-matched hazel and blue eyes were wide and dancing. The petite woman on the screen had gone white, which only accented her spiked auburn hair, her own hazel and blue eyes were mirroring the young boy's, though they held only anxiety.
"Arty?" The voice that came from the surround sound was filtered through fairy technology, sounding eerily close to Juliet's side, and was laced with worry and caution. Both Butlers had been wary of the elf's term of endearment for their young charge as it was his mother's name for him, but the boy seemed ready to accept it, and, in time, so did they. The two women shared a brief glance and knew their thoughts were the same. A relapse?
Juliet inched forward, "Artemis? Are you okay?"
The boy straightened the hem of his suit jacket, clearing his throat as he fought down the blush unsuccessfully, "I am completely healthy, Juliet. Although I appreciate it, there is no need for your concern." He drummed his fingers on the dark wooden desk, "Please forgive me for the interruption, Captain Short. Let us proceed with our previous conversation." He avoided the eyes of the elf that were also his own.
Holly's features softened before she nodded silently, knowing the boy genius was still watching her from the corners of his eyes. "Of course, Artemis," was all she said before the blue and hazel eyes raised again, embarrassment already tucked in a corner of his immense brain, ready to pop out at another inappropriate time.
The now thirty-five year old man studied her with his two blue eyes, a haunting shadow still lurking in their depths. "Was there anything else you needed Juliet?"
She blinked, then frowned, "Brother is skulking again."
A chuckle rumbled deep in the man's chest, "Yes, I suppose he is. Though, we can't begrudge him, dear Juliet. Domovoi's favorite pastime ended when the Fowl criminal industry faltered under the return of my father several years ago. Also, I plan to follow completely on the path he marked."
The blonde woman snorted, very unladylike, "Follow? Yea, just as soon as you grow beard." Artemis's distaste of facial hair was almost as strong as Butler's aversion to public venues which had blossomed during the Fowl's teen years for the simple reason that they continuously seemed to barely escape alive and had drastically affected the man's heart health.
The blue eyes shot a glare at the screen, "Our fairy friends seem to share your opinion, for a reason I cannot seem to fathom."
Artemis smirked, "Holly had an especially strong opinion. Actually, she said almost the same thing."
"Yes. Now what were her words? Ah, yes. 'Follow? Artemis Fowl, I know you better than that. You're going to burn down every bridge, tumble every wall, and pathe a highway through the rubble so you can have a leisurely drive past every moral, waving cheerily as you leave it behind.' I believe that was it."
Juliet pressed her hand to her mouth, suppressing the laughter that bubbled up inside her. Just like Holly, she thought. So opinionated. She continued back towards the door, "Well, just find something for that old man to do. He's so paranoid and he's driving me insane. You can't do this. You can't do that. 'You can't watch WWE in the security booth, Juliet.' He's such a downer."
Artemis just nodded; a slight upward quirk of his lips the only evidence of his enjoyment he allowed to show, "I shall inform him of his 'downer' mood at the next meeting, although I cannot guarantee that he will be pleased with the information."
She winced. No, her brother would not be happy at all. She silently prayed that he found some poor cat burglar before he came so he could relieve some of his stress. "I figured." She pulled the door shut behind her, a twinkling jade ring flashing at the end of her braid. Artemis beamed. Jade Princess indeed, he thought once before composing himself again.
He turned back to the screen that was riddled with formula and bold black typing. He reviewed the schematics one last time before he heaved a sigh. Better now than later, he tried to persuade himself as he minimized the window and enlarged the video feed for the gas screens. At least Foaly will appreciate the blueprints and explanations of this latest plan, thought Artemis as he established the well-worn connection between the LEP and his own secure private network. A few minutes passed by with the orbiting icon flashing across several jigsaw puzzle screens before an image fizzled into existence.
"Artemis Fowl! What have you got for me now?" An excited centaur stamped his back hooves in childish delight. The LEP tech was the only fairy who truly understood the brilliance of his schemes and inventions as much as Artemis was the only one, human or fairy, that understood his.
"This one can wait until Captain Short joins us," Artemis said.
"Major, now, actually," Foaly replied.
"Hmmm… I wasn't aware of this. I shall have to congratulate her."
"Yes, we both shall. She refuses to let us do anything for her down here," the centaur let his lower lip drop into a pout, making his long face even longer. Artemis felt a warm-hearted entertainment at the familiar gesture.
"Sorry I'm late." The higher voice interrupted the chance for inevitable scheming as a young auburn haired elf popped into the screen. The hazel and blue eyes gazed at Artemis, though, to the man, it still seemed like she saw through him with eyes that matched his own. "Nice to see you again, Mud Boy."
A soft smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, "Nice to see you too, Major."
Holly reeled back at the title then glared furiously at the centaur that had snuck away to the farthest corner of the room far below the Earth's surface. "Traitor…" she mumbled before turning back to the screen. "So, what's the new plan?"
Artemis smirked, "I wager you remember those nano-wafers from Ireland, correct?"
"Yes, I remember. The whole 'save-the-world' project you tried to launch before we diagnosed you with Atlantis Complex."
The man frowned slightly at the memory, "Yes, I was not at my best, I admit." He could hear Foaly snort on the other end of the line and his frown grew deeper. "Well, I took a waltz through the old presentation and found some interesting foundations."
The elf kept her wide eyes turned towards him, trusting that he would eventually explain everything. Foaly, on the other hand, for once, was not so patient. "So what are you saying Mud Man?"
Artemis smirked, removing the blue colored contact from his left eye, revealing the hazel eye that had previously belonged to Captain, now Major, Holly Short. "I have a proposition for the LEP." He waited until he had both of their undivided attention. "How about we take another crack at saving the world?"
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