Foaly stared. Whatever was sitting in front of him, it wasn't pretty. Or rather, it was very pretty. Which was a problem.

Foaly's design philosophy was generally as follows: it didn't matter a whole lot how it looked so long as you could slap old-fashioned, retro panelling on it. As a result, some of his tech did tend to look like great big pieces of upholstered furniture rather than the bleeding edge stuff it really was. To put it in crude human terms, he would have been a PC.

And Opal Koboi was a Mac.

Of course, that was a gross oversimplification given the sheer breadth of inventions between the two fairy geniuses. However, there was a clear trend. Koboi tech had the unspoken guarantee of a sleek, functional designer product. Foaly could deride the insane pixie all he wanted, but she knew how to market.

Which was now a problem. Because a piece of Koboi tech was in front of him. At first he figured it might have been some imitation of a Koboi piece—goodness knows there wasn't any shortage of those on the market—but that couldn't have been it either. When Opal had finally managed to weaponize time itself and aim it square against the temple of the whole planet, everything that she made and was derived from that disintegrated. Which included all the knockoff wing rigs and devices. However, even all that could be disregarded for one fact.

Foaly intimately knew Opal's designs. In college, there had even been a period of time when they worked closely together. And frozen on the screen, in Artemis's hand, was a brand-spanking new piece of Koboi tech. He almost hadn't noticed it the first time, but after deciphering the data the machine sent, he had to replay it to inspect the device. Sure, the materials were a little crude and slap-dash, but there was a certain touch to it that was unmistakably Koboi. He could almost see those slender pixie fingers manically putting the device together in one of her working frenzies.

And if it was Koboi tech? New, novel stuff from a living Koboi? This left the centaur with one of two options. One, Artemis Fowl somehow had revived Opal Koboi from the dead. There was no doubt in his mind that nothing short of death would stop the pixie from her goal of killing every single human on earth, and since the Gate didn't open, she was definitely dead at some point. Two, the genius had somehow beaten the very laws of time and preserved a relatively primitive piece of Koboi tech for the express purpose of sending him the schematics for a single piece of a shuttle.

One of them was an oddly-specific but plausible enough explanation and would not lead to him actively suspecting one of his closest friends. The other one was essentially something that he would have cooked up when he was still trotting around wearing a tin foil hat and Julius was still shouting himself purple at him. Unreasonably paranoid.

And as usual, the centaur trusted his paranoia. Because there was that itch in the back of his head that had rarely steered him wrong. Because, for all the years of friendship, this was still Artemis Fowl II. Because there was something that wasn't disintegrated by Opal's actions that absolutely should have. The clone. Nopal.

How hadn't he seen this before? Artemis seemed to have planned for it, and during the time, he had more important things to do than to wonder at the implications, but now he had time to himself. And the implications disturbed him.

The People had yet to piece together exactly what had happened in that cell in Atlantis. Whatever had happened, it included fiendishly—the adjective was considered somewhat offensive now that the seventh family had rejoined the rest of the Fair Folk, though the demons themselves rather enjoyed the connotations—complex dark magic and temporal fluctuations so theoretical it may as well have been magic. Even Foaly barely understood the gist of it. Whatever the truth was, it was undeniable that Opal had undergone essentially apotheosis in that Atlantian torpedo tube. The centaur had seen the reports of a certain dwarf engineer Kolin Ozkopy. His ashes were still too radioactive to touch without heavy rad-shielding.

Foaly's heart went out to the family. It wasn't easy to go to a funeral where the display-casket had to be lead-lined. He recalled a certain close elf who had much the same experience.

But Ozkopy's demise was as alarming as it was sombering. There were no cameras that were able to record what exactly happened in that room on account of the walking-EMP that must have been Opal, but that was plenty. Magic on that scale hadn't been seen since the People still walked face-upturned beneath the sun.

Foaly had taken his share of magical theory courses despite not having a drop of the stuff in his body. An important concept was resonance. Most magic—outside of the exotic and forbidden stuff—had to be done in person. That is, unless you had some deep and personal connection to the object or person. That was how the past Opal had managed to possess Angeline from a distance during Artemis's second time jaunt. But theoretically, you could act on the object from anywhere so long as you had the magic for it and a near perfect resonance with the object.

Like a clone for example.

A clone that Foaly himself had sent to the manor.

The centaur tapped on his keyboard. The rest of the Ops Booth hummed and beeped with the sounds of miscellaneous electronics. Surely, Artemis would have figured out a way to alert him if something had happened? He wouldn't willingly allow Holly or Butler to be in danger, right?

Artemis wouldn't. Foaly's hoof scuffed the tiles on the ground as he resolutely turned from his keyboard. He could trust him.

The centaur then continued turning and went right back to his computer. Trust but verify. Hey, that was progress wasn't it? He used to be all "distrust and verify that distrust." He pulled up the feed that he received from his ARClight during yesterday's talk. It, of course, ended once Artemis requested that he turn off the creature and picked up when he turned it back on.

Foaly tapped on his keyboard, inserting his credentials and opening a debug menu. He really was hilarious and Caballine simply refused to admit it. This console held a series of commands as well as some lower quality footage. Mostly darkness. It was a thing that people often forgot. Retinas don't turn off.

He didn't forget, and he was just paranoid enough to take advantage of that. Just because the ARClight wasn't "on" didn't mean it wasn't recording. So that meant he had video of those thirty minutes when he had turned off the ARClight. And if he was right, then he'd find a particular face. And then he'd be deeply unhappy.

He was right. And he was deeply unhappy.