The Iliad of Artemis
They say power corrupts you and turns you into a different person. Let me tell you a little secret. They only say that because power makes a great scapegoat. I doubt any of you, any one of you that hasn't held real power, knows that corruption is a load of crap, fed to you by some self-righteous moron.
I stand there, the sweat dripping from my palms and running down the sleek metal handle of the gun. Each drop hits the delicate Persian rug and seems to echo a thousand times, giving the room its own heartbeat. Blank computer screens stare at me accusingly, as if they know what I'm doing. I'll have no qualms over smashing them when I'm finished my business here. His technology always bothered me to no end anyways.
What I'm doing now, this is real power. It's running through my veins, filling every pore of my body with a euphoric feeling. And guess what? I am still the same person I always have been. Perhaps I'm a bit more excited today. Or perhaps the gurgling in my stomach is severe nerves. Ultimate power does not corrupt. It simply gives you bad indigestion.
No safety, one bullet. And that's all it's going to take to end the miserable life I now hold in my hands. I could practically dance over the success of this entire operation; however I wish to retain my dignity for years to come. Instead, I turn to gloating, to the terribly clichéd art of the monologue. After all, I doubt I'll ever get a chance like this again.
"Any last words, love?" I ask, with what I sincerely hope to be villainous sarcasm.
The man in front of me tears his eyes away from the barrel of my gun, an action which I can not confirm as stupid or brave. He looks up at me, his face an unreadable mask. His eyes, perfectly mismatched, meet mine and I feel my heart begin to hammer. I have always adored those eyes, so mysterious, so desirable. It's such a shame that once I apply a tiny bit more pressure on the trigger those eyes will close forever. Somehow, for a reason I know I will never understand, he smiles at me. I use the world 'smile' as a very general term. His lips curl upwards and the smirk makes him look more sinister than I do. Seeing as how I'm supposed to be the villain, that's a rather sad notion. I know he's going to ask me an infuriating question. Oh well, it'll make it all the easier to finally kill him.
"Are you happy Ronnie?"
This, I had not expected, not that I plan on letting my surprise show. I, instead, take to rolling my eyes, perhaps a bit too melodramatically and make a quick mental note to hold back on the drama for the rest of this man's life, which will only be a few more minutes, tops. I had been right though, the infuriating question had come. And now I'm being stared at expectantly, as though I'm actually going to give an answer and not pull the trigger.
"Of course I'm happy, Arty."
The words flow from my mouth before I even realize I'm saying them. Damn it. My answer seems to amuse him, as his smirk grows even wider. There is laughter in his eyes, but it does not spread to his lips. He knows a mistake of that calibre could be fatal. And so, he takes to more infuriating questions. A small part of my brain would have actually preferred his laughter. Please make note that I mean an extremely small part.
"Then why are you doing this?" He smoothes the non-existent crease that has formed on his Armani blazer; a blazer soon do be drenched in his own blood. As he smoothes, I sigh audibly. Welcome to psychology 101 with Artemis Fowl. I've grown so used to this that my response is close to robotic.
"Don't play games with me Artemis," I warn, "It only makes me want to hurt you more."
There is truth in my statement; of that much I try to convince myself. Sadly, in the back of my mind a small voice keeps screaming 'liar.' I glare with bitter contempt at the only other occupant of this desolate room. Artemis Fowl, a man I'll most certainly never forget. And not even because I know mine will be the last face he ever sees. The man has a certain mannerism about him, something haunting. I'll take his face to the grave with me.
"I don't play games," he replies, his voice unsettling steady for someone held at gunpoint, "Not unless I intend to win."
Something inside my stomach tells me that I should take his words for the cryptic threat they are. Or maybe that's just the three café latté I had this morning repeating. However, my extremely stubborn nature does not allow me to be intimidated so easily. Especially not by someone in Artemis Fowl's position.
"That's a pity," I say, the trembling of my hands steadying quite a bit. Conversation has always calmed me, especially when shared with Artemis. Although I did not imagine this to be the right time for small talk. "Because we've been playing all along and you've lost."
"Is that so?" And somehow, Artemis has managed to keep his suave composure. He raises a thin, raven black eyebrow at me. My nerves nearly fall apart. At this point, I know I should shoot. It's like one of those now or never moments. Sadly, my desire to make Artemis feel two inches tall gets the better of me, and I miss my now.
"It's very much so," I say mockingly, "You were destined to lose, playing into my hands all along." My monologue is beginning, and I throw my mental sticky of 'no dramatics' straight out the door. I swear, I was born to be an actress. Hollywood would have a hard time finding someone more convincing than I.
"Everything you've done has been playing right into my hands," I continue, taking a few steps towards Artemis, the gun still focused somewhere near his heart, which I hope is pumping blood just as fast as my own. "Everything has been a setup. The fairies, the mindwipe, all of it."
"Everything?" He echoes my explanation in a lulling voice. I nod curtly, trying my best to contain emotion within my mind and keep it from etching itself onto my face. Artemis smiles all knowingly and I feel my throat go dry. I've always dreaded that smile upon someone like Artemis. Whatever comes next, I don't expect it to be at all pleasant.
"Does that imply that the sex was set up as well?" I nearly wince at the 'below the belt' comment. His voice is mocking me. I breathe deeply through my nose, swallowing the anger that has built up in my throat. Artemis wants to see me lose my temper. He wants to have the last laugh, even if it costs him his life. I will not give him the satisfaction. A witty comment deserves a witty response, after all.
"No," I sigh, with an air of forced sorrow, "That's something I may miss." Artemis blinks at my response and I smile wryly. Perhaps I have finally shut him up.
"Very heartfelt Veronica, but don't think you've won just yet."
Apparently he still has something to say. Oh well, that's what bullets are for. I am curious though…
"What do you mean?" I notice that my voice is colder than usual, more corrupt. No. Ultimate power does not corrupt. "Of course I've won. This isn't chess Arty dear, this is real life. This is something you've always had a bit of trouble with, no?"
I've hit a nerve, that much is obvious. Artemis tenses; his shoulders tight, a slight frown on his lips. For some reason this reversal of rolls makes me unbelievably happy. I'm in control again, and I don't plan on that changing.
I move closer to Artemis, so close that I can hear his soft breathing sharpen as I press the gun against his chest. He's scared, but there is still confidence there. It would have been unbelievable, had he not been Artemis Fowl. He leans his lips towards my ear, sending chills down my spine, as had happened on so many previous occasions.
"Cheaters never win," he whispers. I nearly laugh at his ironic choice of words. Maybe it was done on purpose.
"In which sense of the word?" I whisper back. There is no need for anything louder. The scene is oddly romantic, in a macabre sort of way.
"We could have been great Veronica," he says, ignoring my question. We both already know the answer. "But you're a murderer and a traitor."
His last sentence is laced with venom and it is at that point I realize the fine line between love and hate. A line that could very well be less visible than the separation of being a genius and being insane. Both of which, I have accused Artemis of.
"Does it really make a difference?" I ask quietly. As I speak, my mind races back to the day when Artemis asked me that same question. Of course the circumstances were completely different, perhaps even comical. I feel a slight twinge of guilt strike my heart, but quickly push it away. Now is not the time for second thoughts. It's too late now.
"Maybe," Artemis answers. I feel his hands wrap around my wrists and pull downwards, the gun now pointed uselessly at the ground. "Do you really want to kill me Ronnie?"
Now that is a wonderful question. I'm not so sure myself. Usually, what a person wants and what a person needs are two very different things, and this is no exception. I need to kill Artemis Fowl. If not, my plan comes crumbling down around my ears and I'm screwed. Artemis senses my indecision and uses it to his advantage. Not that it makes him a great hero or anything. He doesn't even have a gun pointed at him anymore.
"Think about it Ronnie," he says softly, as though speaking to a wounded animal. And I listen. I think. And my mind races back to the day this entire mess began.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I hope you liked it. Reviews and constructive criticism are welcome to let me know if I should continue. I don't own Artemis Fowl. I didn't write the Iliad. Homer did. This is named after his story due to themes. I also have to thank Nikki, for the beta and for her help with the plot. Without her, this story would still be a tiny voice in the back of my head, begging to be freed. It seriously sucked before. Anyways, review. Cheers!