Artemis Fowl: The Ivory Files
By Caspian Nyghtvision

Chapter One: Action Fairy

Author's Note: This is the re-issue of the same chapter, with no changes except for some major formatting - Fanfiction.net, beloved as it is, couldn't handle my formatting and settled it into one block of completely unreadable text. Thanks to Sashka for your advice on how to do this, and thanks to everyone else for your patience.

Disclaimer: I am a squid. Meep! Meep! Meep! But other than that, nothing I could possibly say here should come as a surprise, so I'm going to save my time and yours and let you fill in the disclaimer at your own discretion. Enjoy! And yes, before you ask, there are flamingos, but not blatantly like last time. Subtly. Subtle flamingos.

You come out at night
That's when the energy comes
And the Dark Side's light
And the vampires roam
--"Building a Mystery" by Sarah McLachlan

Wednesday night
Northern Wales
_____________

It was a clear and starry night, as opposed to the violently dark and stormy ones so beloved of writers who are trying to create a spooky atmosphere without paying too much for special effects. The summer air was as sharp as a memory of winter, the stars so brightly engraved in the blackened sky that they seemed, for once, touchable.

In a small, middle-class house, a small boy lay sleeping. He was about seven years old, his top front teeth missing. Freshly lost, they left a bloody gap, which was stuffed with gauze. The bedroom window was opened and the curtains fluttered lightly in a sudden breeze.

A barely perceptible heatshimmer darted through the window.

The small boy turned over once, the gauze falling from his mouth to the floor.

The heatshimmer left. This time, though, it carried something immensely valuable, a weapon of great potential -- but so simple.

Somewhere, someone smiled.

____________________
Thursday night
Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Japan
____________________

It was dark in the Land of the Rising Sun, but a pair of eyes saw clearly through the blackness. They were slanted, golden-green and strikingly fox-like, and they belonged to a savagely red-headed young man who lurked casually against a building. His spiky blood red hair covered a good deal of his face, except for the vibrant foxy eyes.

Those half-feral eyes watched a group of teenagers enter a movie theater, talking quietly among themselves. They looked about his age, but he and they were nothing alike. He watched them for his own amusement; it was boring to be alone. He liked the city, although there were far too many humans in it.

It was then that he noticed the heatshimmer. It wasn't even in the visible spectrum; no one else on the streets even noticed as they walked right past it. Vibrating, it floated steadily upwards, apparently aiming for a half-open apartment window.

The young man with blood red hair noticed. He tilted his head and followed its invisible path. A shielded yosei. What are you doing in Japan, small one? Shouldn't you be in Eire, hiding from humans in your little underground city?

He settled his battered leather bomber jacket over his shoulders as he watched, like a cat at a mousehole. Root-san… do you know about this?

_________________
Friday evening
Holly's Apartment, Haven City
_________________

Holly came home from a long day at work in a rare good mood. She didn't know why, but she intended to enjoy it.

She stood outside the door of her small apartment just off Police Plaza, humming and trying to pick the lock. This was because for the past six months her housekey had been missing, presumed dead, and she really wasn't in the mood to have a new one made. All that crap in Foaly's office about losing some "valuable" piece of door-opening technology. Fwah. It wasn't like it was so important anyway -- what did she have in her apartment that anyone would want to steal? An Atlantean bogglefish, some random unfashionable bits of clothing, a few music disks and a used vidscreen. Fwah, again.

Cheerfully, Holly poured a vial of fairy acid on the lock and watched it melt with the manic joy of a pyromaniac at the Great Chicago Fire. After a nasty day at work, such fun it was to come home and wantonly destroy her own door. She'd repair it later, using some scrap metal and duct tape. For now... a quick hello to Bob, check her messages, and curl up on the futon to watch pirated reruns of "Real TV" or some other pointless human television show.

She twisted the door open and entered her apartment, pulling a roll of duct tape from somewhere on her person (Where does she keep it all, anyway?) and casually duct-taping the door shut. There was something to be said for humans, the creators of Duct Tape. Silky-smooth on one side, so deliciously sticky on the other... gray as a goblin's behind... such an invigorating sound when ripped...

Oh, Holly really had to unwind.

She pulled the stiff laces of her boots, knotted carelessly into impossible tangles, with one hand as she pressed the blinking "Receive Messages" button with the other. The precarious balancing act almost caused her to fall over, but she caught herself in time on the edge of her rather battered countertop.

The first message began to play. Holly didn't even need to look at the activated vidscreen to see who had left it. The slightly nasal, waaay-too-annoying voice could only belong to one person. "Stuff it up your grandmother's nose, Chix, I'm NOT that kind of a girl." She fumbled for the "Delete" button, wishing that instead of just deleting the message, she could delete the whole personage from her life. Him and his dirty little mind. Ick, again.

Holly wiggled her toes merrily as she flung her boots around in whatever direction pleased her mind. They wouldn't break any windows -- fairy glass was designed to hold up to more than that -- so she really didn't care where they landed. As the second message began to play, she sauntered over to her fish tank and popped open the lid.

Bob the Atlantean bogglefish boggled up at her with his inch-wide eyes, his burbling mouth set in a perpetual expression of complete and utter surprise. Seeing his owner's face made him boggle even harder, thrashing his ridiculously small purple fins and gaping in astonishment at the pointy, pretty features looming above. His fat, round body bobbed up and down, hence his uncreative name. Holly suppressed a giggle at the shocked expression on his fishy face. She dropped a dead stink worm in the tank for him to boggle at, and then eat later when it no longer surprised him.

The other message on her vidscreen's answering system was also from Chix. Without waiting to listen to what the sprite had to say THIS time, she threw the can of Bob's food at the "Delete" button. It hit the mark perfectly --- you don't graduate from the LEP Academy without at least some target skills -- and bounced off into the kitchenette, spilling dried stink worms all over the floor. Aw, now she'd have to clean those up.

As she trudged across the apartment to do just that, Holly suddenly thought that she would like a bath. A nice hot bubble bath. But before that, a glass of freezing-cold filtered water with... lemon. And... some dancing.

She pounced on her boom box, a small, sleek piece of fairy technology that could blast out her music at incredible volume. Now, let's see... which one to play...

Holly leafed through her collection of music disks, which were brilliant iridescent plaques, compact, slender, and completely superior to clumsy human CD's. Finally she picked Fairypop and the Heat Sensors, a rising heavy-rock group with roots right here in Haven. Soon, the apartment was blasting with "Action Fairy" as Holly wiggled around to the tune, singing and drinking water, the ice cubes in her glass jingling discordantly.

"This fairy is bored, no sat-is-fac-tion, gonna get me some real real ac-tion, see me JUMP, JUMP wiggle and swaaay, gonna break some hearts todaaay..."

Setting down her glass on the counter, Holly grasped the hem of her LEP uniform shirt, readying herself for the next verse as she sang along raucously.

"I say, let's JUMP, JUMP! Let's, heat up this place with some action, this ac-tion fai-ry says JUMP, JUMP, I say, gonna take off this SHIRT, this SHIRT, see what they have to saaaay..."

Holly ripped off her shirt and flung it in some random direction. It landed over the vidscreen. In her sports bra and LEP cargo pants, she continued to dance as Fairypop and the Heat Sensors roared into a frenzy. The water in Bob's tank shook and rippled with the noise and dancing and the bogglefish stared widely in surprise.

"Let's JUMP, JUMP..."

The vidscreen console blinked and beeped. Incoming call.

Still dancing, Holly checked the ID panel warily. If it was a telemarketer, Chix, or one of Frond's Witnesses, she would pretend to be dead.

The panel said, in black block letters, "Kelp Residence." Blinking, she pressed the "Receive" button and pulled her shirt off the screen, bunching it into a ball and tossing it into the opposite corner of the room. Trouble Kelp's craggy-handsome face appeared on the battered vidscreen.

"Oh, hey there," she said casually, turning the music down a notch. Pity, just when it was getting to the good part.

He blinked. Several times. "Holly..."

"Yeah?"

"You're not wearing a shirt."

She checked. She wasn't. "Oh, yeah. I was doing some, er..."

"Dancing," Trouble smirked, beginning to regain his composure. "Action Fairy" continued to blare, reaching the REALLY good part. The one with the smashing electric harp.

"Yes, well, I like to unwind... long day at work, you know, privacy of my own home..." Holly trailed off and dove out of the vidscreen's view. She rummaged about for a few minutes, found a blanket, and draped it over her shoulders. "What's up?"

"Oh, I was just wondering if you'd be stopping by the Flamingo tonight," Trouble said casually. A normal question - LEP officers often hung out at The Netherworld Flamingo, a rather eccentric karaoke-bar-grille-and-club establishment in Downtown Haven, just a short distance from Holly's apartment. "It's karaoke night, you know."

She laughed easily, a sight no human had ever seen. White teeth, flashing golden eyes. Holly could be beautiful when she laughed but she didn't do it often. "I was thinking of spending a quiet night at home with my fish, but... why not? Who else is going?"

"Well... you and me."

"Wha- just - Kelp, is this a date?"

"No..." On the vidscreen, he fidgeted, flushing. "It's... kind of like a... Well, maybe I shouldn't be telling you this."

"Tell me!" Eyes glinting, smelling a mystery, Holly pounced on the screen, dropping the blanket around her shoulders to accidentally reveal that black sports bra. Poor Trouble… he could be scarred for life. "Tell me tell me tell me! If you don't, I'll... I'll... I'll transfer Chix to your unit so you'll have to deal with him AND Grub. Mwah."

"It's a dare!" Trouble blurted fearfully, jerking backwards from the screen as if she could actually leap through it and pummel him. Oh, that was a sight. Holly almost purred. She was so good, oh yes... "A dare?"

"Yeah... well..." Making dismissive gestures with his hands, he said, not making eye contact, "Some of the junior officers made a bet that no one could ask Captain Short out on a date and actually get her to say yes... and then return to tell the tale... unharmed. And undemoted. Don't laugh."

Too late.

"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!"

Bobbing up and down in his tank, Bob the Atlantean Bogglefish stared at his owner, who was pummeling the floor with her heels and howling, tears streaming down her face. He did the only thing a bogglefish can do in such a situation. Huge, cartoonish eyes wide with complete astonishment, tiny purple fins quivering in surprise, he stared and bobbed and boggled.

Ten minutes later, Holly was gone.

The vidscreen beeped and blinked. Surprised beyond comprehension, Bob turned around in his tank and stared hugely at it, gulping wetly in shock. It rang several more times before Holly's voice came on with the prerecorded answering message.

"Hey, this is the Short residence. Obviously I'm not home right now, or you wouldn't be hearing this, unless of course this is Chix. If it is… quit flooding my answering machine and get a life…or stick your head in a troll… or witness me getting royally pissed off. Everyone else… you know the routine."

The tinny old speakers on Holly's used-and-abused communicator filled with a voice that would have been very familiar to Bob, if the fish paid attention to things like that. It was a male's voice, authoritative, tough, quite deep, husky and gravelly, a smoker's voice. It was also a little different than usual -- urgent, and strained.

"Holly? It's Root. Holly, are you there? Pick up. D'Arvit, Holly, it's important..."

Bob quivered, stunned, his eyes wide as saucers and his fishy cheeks puffing in and out.

Commander Root said a few unprintable things, which made Bob's eyes almost pop out in incredulity. "Holly. As soon as you get this message, get your rear down here. D'Arvit, Holly... I'm not kidding."

*BEEP*

The message ended. All alone, in the empty apartment, Bob the bogglefish bobbed up and down, completely astonished.

_____________________
The Netherworld Flamingo
_____________________

It was dark, lit by erratic strobe lights and the glowing indigo forms of spectra-flamingo statues in the eaves, the high ceiling dotted with glow-in-the-dark stars. It was loud, the deep bass beat of "Dirty Dwarf" by Squidgetoad throbbing through everyone's eardrums. It was, on this Friday night, the place to be, for LEP and civilians alike. It was The Netherworld Flamingo, karaoke-bar-grille-restaurant-theatre-club, whichever the proprietor, an eccentric young female elf named Caspian, currently felt like calling it.

Right now Caspian was serving ginger beer to a pair of centaurs, a pencil tucked behind one blatantly pointed ear, her chestnut brown hair swinging loose around her shoulders. She winked as Trouble and Holly sauntered in through the swinging door, which was flanked by two enormous glow-in-the-dark statues of squirrels. "Sit down there," she mouthed, pointing to the only empty booth.

Somewhere near the ceiling, fireworks were going off, and miniature penguins frolicked among the happy little fairies packing the dance floor. Glass squid hung suspended from the high ceiling, and tiny brilliant parrots shot back and forth, squawking out the chef's menu, the prices of various drinks, and nonsensical one-liners ripped off of human television shows. The Flamingo didn't toe the fine line between normalcy and stark raving insanity; Caspian just tromped right over it like a troll with a toothache. Still, it was the only establishment for miles underground that didn't mind LEP officers, drunk on Sprite and other People-endorsed soft alcohol, slurring insults at each other and picking out arguments with Neutrino 2000's. When the B'wa Kell took over the city last year, the Flamingo had been torn up in the crossfire, but the holes in the walls were now safely duct-taped over and were now used as ventilation.

It was very, very busy tonight.

Holly and Trouble squeezed into their booth, panting from wrestling their way through the crowd. A pixie darted up to them, dressed in black leather, her hair covered by a luminous radiation-blue wig. "G'morning, Cap'n's, the usual?" she chirped, balancing a tray of wine glasses on her head and a notepad and pencil in her tiny hands.

"Sure," Holly said absently, casting her gaze over the thronged People on the dance floor, in the booths, or perched cheekily on the Silly-String-and-octopus-festooned steel rafters. She barely listened as Trouble placed his order. What if someone saw her here? She'd never been on a real date before... okay, this wasn't even a real date, it was a dare, but still...

"There they are, laughing at us," Trouble growled out of the corner of his mouth at her. Holly looked in the direction he was pointing to. His younger brother Grub and several other junior officers were sitting around a large table in the corner, watching the two of them and giggling uncontrollably. Each had a tall glass of tunnel-slime-green Mountain Dew, with long florescent novelty straws to drink out of. For some reason, which Holly felt no need to explore, there was a pink plastic toilet seat on Vice Corporal Fallacy's head. Perhaps the Monty-Python atmosphere of the Flamingo had eroded his mind. Perhaps he was just naturally stupid, or weird, or both.

A small parrot careened past, pulled a barrel roll, and landed on their table in an explosion of red and purple feathers. "Join the dark side," it squawked, "And I will spare your life."

Holly stared at it, shook her head slowly, and brushed the bird off the table.

"Expect the Mackerel," the parrot huffed, and lurched into the air again.

The pixie waitress returned, with a Coke on the rocks for Holly and something fizzy and dubious-looking for Trouble.

"Kelp?"

"Eh?" Still glaring at his brother, he jerked his head back to his 'date.'

"I can't stand it any longer. Every time we come here with the LEP to hang out, you always ask for 'the usual.' And you always get THAT." She pointed the finger of accusation at his drink, which was purplish-brown, the bubbles in it whizzing up, rocketing down, and bouncing violently off each other, or fizzing noisily up to the frothing top in a chaotic lime-green cloud. Occasionally it seemed to roil pink, but it was hard to tell in this erratic light. "Now, Trouble, we've known each other for quite a long while. Since the Academy in fact. So I think I deserve to know... what the hell is it?"

He stared at it. "This? Oh, it's just something Caspian does. Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Coke, grenadine, lukewarm hot cocoa, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, lemonade, vanilla, whipped cream, five tablespoons of white sugar, coffee, three tablespoons of colored sugar, and some fruit sherbet. It's not bad, actually. Try some?" Trouble offered her the glass.

Holly picked her lower jaw off the floor, pulled her eyebrows off the ceiling, and arranged her features into a more composed look. "That's... disgusting."

"No, it's not," he said, insulted, and took a swig. Holly watched it go down his throat with morbid fascination. "Why did I ask?"

"I have no clue. Hey, is that Foaly?"

Holly looked. The centaurs Caspian had been serving were both female, rather pretty as centaurs went. One was a sleek blonde with dappled flanks, the other a sultry black. Foaly, standing next to them, looked rather shaggy. Holly noticed the disparaging way the females looked at the singed-bald spots on the technician's headquarters. That fateful day in the Ops booth with Cudgeon was long past, but heroism notwithstanding, those lingering bald spots were indeed unattractive. Poor Foaly. Holly bit back a snicker. Maybe it would serve him right...

The tips of Trouble's rather nice ears were tinged with red. As Holly turned her attention back to the table, she noticed them and was briefly puzzled. Either he was coming down with frostbite in the dead of summer, or...

"Hey, Kelp, are you embarrassed to be here with me?"

"What? Oh! Hell, no! I just - I-" Refusing to meet her eyes, the most gung-ho Captain of the LEP disappeared behind his glass of... ick.

"Sorry to interrupt this potentially amusing conversation," smirked a voice above them, "But you've got a phone call, Captain Short. 'S your boss."

The elf in question looked up at the black-clad form of Caspian, who tossed her a small cell phone. "Refill, Captain Kelp?" Caspian purred, leaning towards him. "You'll need it, if you keep hiding behind the glass every time she tries to start something interesting..." Holly gave her a Look, and the proprietor of the Flamingo sighed dramatically and spun off to create amusing confusion in some other corner of her restaurant. A small parrot bounced in her wake, screeching something incomprehensible about chickens, roads, and what happens when the two of them cross. Holly winced and plugged one of her proudly pointy ears.

"Holly Short here. Can I--" The rest of her monotone was cut off by Root's bellow, like a maddened water buffalo with a megaphone. Wincing, she held the phone a safe distance away, which unfortunately was too close to Trouble for his comfort. There was a small wrestling match until it was decided that the phone would stay in the middle of the table, so both of them could have their eardrums blasted equally. Commander Root continued to rant incoherently, until Holly took her life in her hands, leaned forward into the cell phone, and said, slowly and distinctly, "Commander? Would you mind slowing down? We can't understand a bloody word you're saying."

After some more token growling, he took a few deep breaths and did slow down, speaking slowly and distinctly.

Neither of the two officers liked what he had to say.

~~~~ Nyghtvision's Soapbox ~~~

Yay! You got this far! Here's your complimentary baggie of peanuts. Can you believe I wrote this in one night. Ouch. **whimpers and rubs poor aching forehead** Well, I hope you readers will make this sacrifice of sleep worthwhile. Little button on bottom says "Submit Review." Click at your own discretion. Miscreants punished by flamingos. Oh, and before I forget: I own the title, Atlantean bogglefish, Bob, Fairypop and the Heat Sensors, The Netherworld Flamingo, Squidgetoad, and the song "Action Fairy," which I did write myself, although it isn't very inspired... I also kinda obviously own Caspian the bartender, who should not be deemed a Mary Sue as she only shows up in scenes with the Flamingo. If you think there's no point in Flamingo scenes, just let me know and I'll take it into consideration. Please don't use my concepts without asking, but if you feel the burning need to write a fic that contains an Atlantean bogglefish or "Action Fairy," let me know, and I'll be delighted to lend you whatever you want. I wholeheartedly appreciate everything you guys can provide in the form of rants, constructive criticism, sweet talk, fits of randomness, family recipes, and the like, and I do try to reply to everyone personally. Remember that your support really shapes an author's fic. Thanks again! Cheers!

Random Parrot: Join the dark side and I will spare your life!

…That, too.

Yrs in the Netherworld, Caspian Nyghtvision