A "Short" Prologue

Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon unit stepped into work one night only to find herself staring into the red-rimmed eyes of Commander Root. His livid expression was one that she recognized well; she was the cause of it on more occasions than she cared to remember.

She glanced around, looking for an escape route but unfortunately the nearest sliding door was behind him and there was no one around to rescue her from her superior's wrath. Holly sighed inwardly, preparing herself to be berated for something that she knew, in the grand scheme of things, would be completely insignificant. It is strange how there is no one else here though. She thought, perturbed by the uncharacteristically empty room.

"SHORT!" Root yelled, going an even deeper shade of red if that was possible. "Stop glancing around like an ogre with an itch and get into my office. Now!"

Holly gulped and then did as he said, wondering what on earth she could have done to warrant this treatment. Mentally, she scanned through her latest missions, groping for some procedure she had broken that he had yet to lay into her about. She came up empty.

"Sir, what is this about?"

"Stop asking stupid questions Short. If you had half a brain you'd know exactly what this is about!"

Holly was one step away from loosing it with her esteemed commander. After everything they had been through together it wasn't unreasonable of her to expect some common courtesy. But instead her commander decided to be even harder on her than he was on everyone else. It wasn't fair! Apart from the Hamburg affair her track record was exceptional. Well, apart from the Hamburg affair and the Artemis Fowl thing…and that incident with the troll…

"No commander, I actually have no idea what this is about." She said tightly, clenching her teeth. "Would you be so kind as to tell me why you're snarling at me?"

Surprisingly, her commander did not comment on the somewhat disrespectful use of the word "snarling." Instead, Root gave a wicked smile before continuing.

"I'll tell you what you've done Captain. You have willingly, and knowingly…gone above and beyond the call of duty on several occasions!"

Holly almost fainted with surprise as a dozen or so LEP officers unshielded and shimmered into the visible spectrum. Each one was holding trays with wine or snacks.

"And," Root continued a small glint in his eye. "in doing so, have landed yourself a promotion." Her colleagues cheered. "Now…do you have anything to say for yourself?"

Holly's knees almost gave out. She was so dumbstruck with the turn of events. Since when did Root have a sense of humor? And since when did she get real appreciation for anything? She opened her mouth but what she would have said was anyone's guess because at that moment the doors behind Root blasted open in a large explosion of shattering metal that shook the ground beneath their feet. Sharp fragments of the alloy went flying in all directions. Much to the LEP's disgrace, no one reacted as fast as they should have.

Barely a second had passed when a huge hulking figure stepped into the LEP central headquarters. It seemed to hesitate for a moment until some unknown force compelled it to step in.

Holly stared at it in horror. It was the troll. The very same one that she had had two run-ins with six years ago. She was amazed at the ferocity of its eyes, that seemed solely concentrated on her. They glinted with a dark red hue that promised danger and bloodshed.

But what shocked Holly the most was the tiny figure resting on its shoulder. A young boy, about the age of eleven. He was sneering at her and goading the troll on, encouraging it to create more havoc. His cold blue eyes were ablaze with malice and his small pale face contorted in a way that made him look more demon than boy. It was none other than Artemis Fowl.

But no, Holly thought struggling desperately against her fear. This isn't right. Butler had severely injured that troll and Fowl would be seventeen by now. What in Haven's name was going on???

Holly awoke in a cold sweat. Her voice was hoarse like she had been screaming and her pajamas were soaked through. It was just a dream, only a dream. When her breathing was back under control, Holly scowled.

That meant she had never been promoted. Oh well, at least she didn't have to deal with mud boy and peanut head again.

She rolled off her bed and checked the time. She would still have a few hours before her shift at work would begin but she knew there was no way she'd be able to sleep now. She showered quickly, got dressed and had a quick breakfast, the latter something she would normally forego

I wonder why I dreamt about the troll after so long. She thought reflectively as she battled through the traffic on the way to work. I can't still be afraid of it? And what about Fowl? She had thought that she had got over her prejudices about him. She had witnessed a spark of decency in the boy.

A flash of those icy eyes from her dream flashed in her memory.

No. She decided. One incident was not enough to relieve her doubts about him. He was still an extreme danger to the people. She silently berated herself for not having voted for him to be mindwiped.