It was cold. The type of cold that seeps through fingers and toes till it gives its white touch to agéd bone. The type of cold that frosts ferns onto window panes, that causes a single drop of water to freeze, halfway fallen from the edge of a toilet seat. The type of cold that appears on a crystal clear winter's day – dry and windless, the blue sky mocking in a way that grey never quite managed.
Holly had always hated the cold. All fairies did. Foaly had told her why once, though maybe that had been Root, recounting something he'd seen on television; Root had done that all the time, watched documentaries and absorbed the information in way that no one who did not know him would ever have suspected. It was something about small bodymass, critical temperatures for magical superiority, excessive cold and heat aging the cells quicker... (Fairies are like that, she muses, nothing allowable in the extremes. Always in the middle, eternally conventional.)
The cold is everywhere now. On the surface, anyway. Below ground is still warm, the geothermic currents, the magma flares, heating the fey like a slow roast being prepared for a birthday dinner. But the surface is cold, all the way down and all the way up to the 40th parallel. It's some sort of ice age threat that a conglomerate of geologists are angsting about, while others – the smarter ones, Holly thinks – have simply packed up and left.
Holly barely remembers warmth: the memories are too far back in the mind, bricked in by recollections of pain, suffering - bare joy, quick relief. The sun has warmed her shoulders once or twice, a welcomed bleaching of her magic – magic is a cheap price for the sun's energy. And the humans have kept warm, on the whole. Generations have become more inventive, fossil fuels having given way to water, to sun, to solar wind, to pure nuclear, to fusion. Fairies have held their own with a few ups and downs; only a few hiccups as a genius burnt out too early. Like Foaly had. Geniuses are always the ones to burn out early.
Humans versus People, it was a failing battle. It was a battle that was failed from conception, because no one wanted to fight anymore. It was, in fact, a battle that had never happened. A cold war of Above and Underground, some threats sent both directions but no one with the suicidal guts to do anything about it. They signed some treaties, then a single Treaty, and were done with it. And though fairies sneered upwards at the Mud Men, and the Mud Men glared down at them... it was peace. A human version of peace anyway.
It had taken the fairies longer to get used to really. Fairies have long memories, their deliberations and thoughts travel like something sluggish through thick goo, coming out dirtier and slower, with remnants dragging from their bodies, by the time they have reached the destination. Humans come and go far quicker, so they could accept their thrice-removed demicousins with greater ease, if only because of some unofficial Council Policies towards discrimination. Those had been fearful times. Holly was one of the few who would remember it, because in the twenty-second century hardly any of the fey had been living Above, and humans rewrite history whenever they are bored.
But there was peace now. A half anxious peace, brought together as a cooperation in off-world colonies really. If humans and fairies only had Earth, Holly knows that their deaths would have been swift, probably only... probably soon after... Artemis Fowl. Someone would have been stupid enough to push a button to send a weapon below to kill the Earth, or to send a weapon above, to kill the Earth's surface. Either way, they would both have been dead. If it was going to happen, it would have happened when she was only a Recon Officer, a pretty little thing in a green jumpsuit. She had been – how old had she been then? Eighty? One Hundred? It was far too long ago for the memories to be clear. The only clear memories were of smoother wrinkles in her own face, a hundred years ago perhaps.
The times of Arty Fowl. Back in the day of leprechauns and cultural diversity. Why would she remember him? What was there to remember? A corrupt child out of his depth, playing with fire and fairies.
She tried to remember what had happened to him later, after his events with the fairies. It shouldn't have been as hard as it was: the Treaty had come about when he would have been in his prime, she should remember his face from political announcements, she should be reminded of his features – what had he looked like? Fair or dark? Brown eyes? He had been tall, right? It was hard to tell with humans, especially their children.
Seven hundred years was too much for a fairy's memories. Now she only remembered things of importance, things she that had curled around her heart and demanded a parasitic rent.
Root, her old Commander, back when fairies weren't part of a unified police force, back when the LEP existed, he had told her once what had happened to Fowl. She remembered him, he'd saved her life more than once. How old was Fowl then, when he'd slipped back into Root's mind? Twenty? Thirty, maybe? No, younger than that, humans were always younger than she remembers them as. She was still young herself when he was gone, she was still immature in her loves and hates. She had been distraught at the time, hearing of his death. Drugs or something? Had it been suicide? No, it wasn't that. The Fowl she'd known for bare days, he could never have taken his own life, there were still too many things about the world to learn.
But how well can you know anyone when someone's twelve? Even if they're a genius.
She remembered the sinking of her stomach, or imagined she could. The pain as she read the article on Foaly's screen, the regret that perhaps, without the mindwipe, he would have been great – like Ceasar, like Napoleon, like Alexander. Conquerors, unifiers. But he was like Alexander, and she had been honest with her flighty, passionate self. He was like Napoleon, if she were to use logic about what it was that had happened. He had burnt out, like every other genius in history. He had burnt out, taken her faith in humanity's possibilities with him.
Like Foaly. Like Alexander, Mozart, Napoleon, Einstein. Burnt out early, a wreck of a man before anyone else's prime.
But there she was wrong – humanity had far more possibilities beyond one genius, they'd become so very good at the survival game. Humanity's success had never been reliant on their most intelligent ever found; people don't need the best to get by in their version of perfection. Things happen anyway, and those who are Great are hardly needed.
Was it one thing? Was it the mindwipe? Was it the rest of the world that caused him to fall, just like Foaly with his foil hat and his 'spies' in the CIA?
It was Samuel Dringenberg's name on the Treaty, it was Verlomi Natagashi who discovered the secret to starflight. Artemis Fowl had been only a blip in the heartbeat, a file in the Psychic Brotherhood's archives, a tragic half-page article in the Wicklow People newspaper.
Geniuses are there to fall, Holly thought. They are spectacular, so that we know what we can be.
They have to fall before they get an opportunity to rule the world.
It was still cold.
Author's Note: This had no purpose, in case you hadn't noticed. I just was playing with the idea of Artemis being unimportant, of everything happening anyway. And, of course, I had to do it as a Holly-reflection, because that's what it always is. Does anyone else think that? It's only ever Holly who's distraught enough about Arty's death that she has a monologue on him. It is not meant to be good, and I'll acknowledge that is actually is a piss-weak piece of shit, purely flow-of-consciousness, with no structure or style whatsoever. It was written in about forty-minutes, with ten for editing. I'm meant to be studying for my next thirteen hours and fifteen minutes of exams as well so...
PS. Slime, I should finish the first part of part two of Life within two weeks...