Chapter 1: Flight of the Pixies

Operations Booth, Haven City, The Lower Elements

Foaly the centaur stared vacantly at the screens in front of him as he went about his "business as usual." He was almost in a dreamlike stupor, able to do the work he needed to do expertly, and yet barely be aware of it. In fact he wouldn't even have noticed LEP Commander Julius Root barge into the Ops Booth, if it weren't for the fact that a half-conscious centaur wasn't on Root's top ten list of favorite things.

"Wake up you lazy donkey!" Root bellowed.

Foaly was up in an instant, and in all fairness to him, he recovered miracurously well, "Really Julius, the donkey jokes are getting old. To be honest they're not even that insulting, studies have shown that donkeys are a good deal more intelligent than horses anyways."

"Then perhaps they have the sense to pay attention to their work else they find their fly covered butts in the unemployment lines, and don't call me Julius!"

"The idle threats are also a bit cliché. Anyways, this 'work', if that's what you want to call it, can be done by a banshee on crack, it's ridiculously simple, and worse, ridiculously boring," the centaur whinnied.

"Well, boring or not it's basically not a whole lot different than what you've been doing for centuries, Foaly. Hell, you were in charge of Ops when I was just a LEP trainee."

"It's basically what I've been doing, yes, but not fully. I've noticed my over-all job satisfaction has greatly diminished the last two years, you know what I think abo-"

Root interrupted him sharply, "Yes Foaly, you have registered and reregistered your complaint about the fact that we mesmerized you-know-who, but I for one have not looked back once. To me the safety of the People is a tad bit more important than a bored centaur."

Foaly sighed, knowing the elf was right, "Yeah, but you have to admit. Nothing like the threat of the destruction of the People to give you an extra jolt in the morning."

"Maybe to you," Root said, lighting up his trademark fungus cigar, "Yet I've seen more perilous operations than probably the entire LEP squadron put together, and to me a good cup of gnome-brewed leek coffee gives you the same jolt and a significantly smaller chance of death."

Foaly yanked the cigar out of Root's mouth and dropped it in the elf's cup of coffee, "You clearly don't know what the gnomes are putting in that stuff then." The centaur turned back to the screen, "Look at this idiotic stuff that my "work" consists of; Watching the species sensors, for instance. What in the hell is the use of noting the patterns of entire species? It's all the same; the gnomes are gnomming, the dwarves are dwarving, the pixies are... what the-!"

Root ran to the screen, the last thing he needed was a big situation to creep up, not with what he was planning at the end of the month. Yet as he looked at it he couldn't discern what the problem was, but then again, he wasn't a very technical elf, "What is it? What's the problem?"

"The pixies... they're... gone."

"Gone? What do you mean gone?"

"By the last records there were one thousand eighty-two pixies living in the Lower Elements, let's just say the number is significantly lower now," Foaly said.

"How much lower?" Root demanded.

"There's only... seven pixies still in the Lower Elements, apparently, of which four remain in Haven."

Root couldn't help but dismiss this, "Not possible, your computer clearly made an error."

"Okay, I'm going to go ahead and attribute your completely idiotic accusation that my computers may be anything less than perfect to shock at the pixies' disappearance," Foaly said, momentarily distracted from the computer screen by this serious insult to his pride.

"As high as my admiration for your almighty technology is, you'll forgive me I harbor some doubts that anything, even a Foaly-designed computer, is infallible." You could hear the sarcasm dripping from Root's voice.

"Oh I see, you'd like me to prove once against I'm a genius. Well, bad luck. No genius work is necessary, just plain logic, which admittedly I've got in excess. You see, if the computer scanners on the pixies had stopped working, then every pixie would be shown as gone, they're on a network system. So it's all or nothing, and if we have some, that's all there is."

"Well... are they dead?"

"Oh no, no, of course not. If that had been the case we would have been alerted long before this... No, no, these pixies left the Lower Elements, they're topside. Would you like to know what I think?"

Root sighed rubbing his wrinkled forehead with his hand, "No need, I'm not that big of a buffoon Foaly. The pixies felt something."

This might be a good place to stop and tell a few things about pixies. In addition to being quite intelligent, albeit temperamental creatures, they have a certain energy about them that allows them to sense things. The powers they have are not exactly psychic, for they are unable to sense anything that is going to happen, and what they feel is rarely so defined. They can just feel certain energies, most potent of which are ones in which their own lives are in danger.

"So," began Foaly, "If suddenly all the pixies have left the Lower Elements, it's more than likely that they are all sensing something big... but what could be big enough that they are willing to risk imprisonment and possibly loss of magic?"

"The four pixies left in Haven-"

"-are pixies who are not able to leave, hospitalized, whatever; and if whatever injury these pixies have is keeping them from leaving, it would have to be pretty huge, big enough that they probably are not even conscious."

"D'Arvit!" Root swore, "So there are no more pixies left to question?"

"Well..." said Foaly, "There is one left."

Howler's Peak, Haven City, The Lower Elements

Opal Koboi ran her fingers through her stringy hair, trying to get her mind to focus on the disgusting stage that it's in, trying to get her mind to focus on what it had been for the past two years she had been in prison, her anger at not having Koboi Labs Chemically Induced Hair Potion. Yet she couldn't, her mind was now on bigger, far more important things.

Her attention was finally diverted for real as she heard the swinging open of her cell door, which was an insane rarity as food was generally sent down pipe chutes. Immediately she knew what it was about, yet she was curious as to who they would send. Anybody but that smug, annoying centa-

"Well, well, well, do you see the price of treachery? All of your little pixie friends are gone, and yet you have to sit and remain in this cell. My, my, my, we do reap what we sow don't we?" Foaly said, as he galloped into the room.

"Forget it, Foaly. I'm not telling you shit," Opal said, moving her eyes from him and letting them settle on her window.

"Well, then that works for all of us, doesn't it? Because I don't want to hear shit. Now, you know we have something to dangle in front of you, so why don't you let those tiny little ears of yours allow that tiny little brain of yours to hear what I got to say."

"Tiny little brain?!?" Opal snapped, turning back to him.

"Ouch, I do seem to have hit a nerve. Don't get me wrong, Opal, you're a super genius, I know. I'm talking comparatively speaking. Sadly Opal, you'll never be any better than the second most intelligent fairy in Haven. Nothing wrong with being number 2; it's the silver medal after all, and I think silver looks better than gold, personally. Hey! So did you! Remember? You used to wear some silver hoop earings, they looked really nice. Hey how come you don't wear those anymor- Oh! That's right, I almost forgot. You screwed up, and now you're here; and here you will stay if you don't tell us exactly what we want to know."

Opal took a deep breath and sighed, "What are preparing to offer?"

"No, no, no, no, no. Info first, promises after."

Opal knew enough to know when she was being played, "No deal. I tell you everything and then you still leave me in here? Sorry, not going to happen."

At this Foaly laughed, coming closer to her, "You're not really in a position to make demands here, sweetheart. We can find out without you, it'll just take a bit longer. We'll need to get an envoy to Atlantis which could take almost an entire day, and we don't know how long we have. Come on, Opal, I know you're a psycho and all, but be honest, you don't want the destruction of the People, do you?"

Honestly Opal didn't want that at all, she didn't want to end up with nothing, "I promise I'll tell you, Foaly, if you just tell me what you're offering."

Foaly decided he wouldn't win this battle and began, "Well, since you clearly seem to think whatever the danger is, it's going to do us in, we're offering you amnesty."

"Amnesty, really?" Opal asked, suspicious.

"In a matter of speaking. We'll let you go right now and fit you with a remote tracker. We'll thus know where you are at all times. Yet we won't come to claim you until the unknown situation is wrapped up. If we DO end up dead, you'll be a free pixie."

Opal groaned, "Fine!"

"You'll tell us?"

Opal nodded slowly.

"Alright... well... let's hear it."

The pixie took a long pause before saying, ominously, "They know."

"*Who* knows *what?*"

Opal eyed him steadily, "They *know*, Foaly."

Foaly gave a deep shudder and his eyes grew wide, "Not..."

"Yes, humans. A good percentage of them know about us now, I'd say hundreds, and more will know. My guess is that by this time two or three months from now, this place will be crawling with Mud Men."

"No, no, that can't be possible."

Opal gave a casual shrug, "Hey, believe what you want. It'll be your hides not mine."

"How could they know?" Foaly pleaded, trying to squeeze out every bit of info Opal had in her.

"I haven't a clue, and I doubt any other pixie does either. Yet, obviously I'm not crazy if every pixie decided to leave the LE, what else could drive them to do that? Can I please go now?"

Foaly sighed, "Um, yeah, but just one more question. How are the pixies going to live amongst the humans and not get discovered? No offense, but you're not exactly human-like."

Opal gave a bright smile, "The Koboi Image Inducer, of course. Put this baby around your head and you can make yourself look like anything you want."

"You were clever, I'll give you that. Shame you had to go all Cudgeon on us all."

"Why? So I could be a worthless gadget guy? Thanks, but I've seen too many James Bond movies to know that it's sexy villainess who has the fun, not Q." With that Opal ran out of the room.

Foaly, watching her leave, muttered, "Sexy? Pshh, she doesn't even have hooves." Then remembering the situation in hand, he activated his voice mike, "Uh, Root, we got problems."

Bog Bistro, Haven City, The Lower Elements

Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon found herself in a tactical situation she never thought she would have found herself in alongside Captain Trouble Kelp of the LEPretrieval; a date.

No one had been more surprised than Holly when she accepted Trouble's offer, for she did not often go out on dates; as a matter of fact, she hadn't been in a relationship in forty years. It wasn't that she wasn't asked, in fact she was quite frequently (Hell, if you're a female and you know Chix Verbill not getting asked out on a date is almost an impossibility) Yet she was never inclined to accept. There was something about the date atmosphere that unnerved Holly, she could never bring herself to accept. In fact, she had initially turned Trouble down, it was only after a while of thinking that she thought she might as well live her life.

So far she had learned a lot about Trouble and his life, which was nice because, though she had always considered Trouble a friend, she didn't know a whole lot about his life. It was typical enough, Trouble's father had died at a young age (much like Holly's own) and Trouble had the responsibility of being the man of the house, looking after his mother and brother.

"So what about you, Holly?" Trouble asked, taking a sip of his water, "I don't know much about your past..."

"Well... since you told me yours..." Holly took a breath, "My mother died when I was little more than a baby, so I was mainly raised by my Dad who died young too."

"Wow, and I thought I was unfortunate to lose one parent," Trouble said frowning.

Holly almost laughed, "Don't sweat it, Troub, it's not a contest. I do miss my Dad though, very much. I felt horrible that he wasn't there to walk me down the aisle."

"Wait, what?" Trouble asked, his eyes wide.

Holly averted her eyes, "D'arvit," she whispered to herself.

"Were... were you married?"

Holly nodded, slowly.

Trouble didn't know what to say, he had known her for almost twenty years and this had come as a complete shock, in fact he had heard her in conversations that had to do with marriage, and she had never even sort of hinted this fact, "There's not many people who know that, is there?"

Holly nodded her head again, "You're right. Foaly knows, and he's the only one that you who would know. I told him not to tell anyone."

"Who was he?" Trouble asked. "Did you guys divorce or...?"

"No... he's... dead," Holly said, her voice was now coming in short breaths. Trouble quickly noticed.

"Holly, we don't have to talk about it. I understand if it's too painful," Trouble said. He hesitated and then held her hand. She didn't grip it back, nor did she pull away.

"Thank you," Holly said, sniffing, and then expertly regaining her composure, "Anywa-"

She was interrupted by the blaring of her pager, she glanced at it and turned to Trouble, "It's Root, and he says it's important. I'm sorry but I've got to go."

Trouble understood, when duty called, duty called, "Will... will I see you again?"

Holly hesitated, "Maybe," she said.

Root's Office, Haven City, The Lower Elements

Holly half-walked and half-ran to Root's office, he was sitting there, solemnly, cigar in his mouth, Foaly standing next to him.

"Commander?" she said, "What is it?"

Root sighed and looked at Foaly, "I don't have the words Foaly..."

Foaly nodded and looked at Holly, "We've got a situation, a big one. You'd... better sit down."

"And you're certain she's telling the truth?" Holly said, quarter-of-an-hour later, as she finished listening to Foaly and Root's story.

"I'm almost positive," Foaly said, "It all adds up... plus... this sounds stupid, but I could see it in her eyes."

"Well," Holly asked, "What's our move now?"

"Honestly," began Root, "We're now basically at the humans mercy... our goal now is too hope they've evolved enough to accept us. What we need, is a powerful person to speak on our behalf, we need human help. Someone who's familiar with us already... even if he doesn't know it."

"Artemis...? But he's just a kid, what can he do? Schemes are one thing, but getting us global support is quite another."

"Not a lot, yet if he were to tell his father about us. I've been doing some research into the Fowl family. Artemis Fowl Sr. is quite a powerful man, plus given that he's only alive because of us, I'm sure he'll be willing to help," Root said.

"Alright, well, it'll be good to have Artemis' mind working with us anyway... Now, we have no idea how these humans know about us?"

"Nope," Foaly said.

"I... have a theory," Holly said, tentatively.

"Well," Root said impatiently, "Out with it."

Holly took a deep breath, "Now this is just a theory... but... I would guess one person found out about us, and then through word-of-mouth it snowballed."


"Well... I wouldn't think their technology is advanced enough to find us. Is it, Foaly?"

"Mud Man technology? Hell, they're barely passed tin-can telephones, let alone finding us. We destroyed the only thing that could, the C Cube."

"So, I think they would need to make actual face-to-face contact with a fairy in order to know if it's existence..."

Root and Foaly's silence were signals to continue.

"Well... who's a fairy we know who spends all his time above ground, who spends his time ripping off Mud Men, which is just the hobby to make the humans think fairies are bad people... Which they must if the pixies are worried..."

Root sighed, "Oh damn it! Mulch! That *would* make sense. Well, do me a favor Holly, look into that. Meanwhile Foaly, I want you to get to Fowl Manor and give Master Fowl his memory back. Both of you report to me when you're finished. We'll set up a temporary headquarters at Fowl Manor, so I'll join you then. Alright? Move quickly, I'm not sure how much time we have."

Foaly nodded and left and, as Holly got up to leave, Root said, "Hold on Holly. I need to talk to you. Close the door."

Bemused, Holly did so and sat down again. Root stared at her seriously for a moment and said, "I was planning on retiring at the end of the month. I hadn't told anyone this, but it was my plan... this situation has changed things, and I've decided to retire as soon as this is over. As for choosing my replacement, I believe you and I both know the best elf for the job. You do, however, have a reputation as a loose-canon, and I won't be able to promote you if you act up during this operation, don't let your emotions take control."

Holly couldn't believe it. Her? Commander? She barely managed a nod as she said, "Yes Commander," she said, "I'll do my best."