Attention! This fic has been hugely overhauled and changed fairly substantially. If you read this before and want details go to chapter 10 and read the A/N there.
P.S. Sorry for my boastful summary; I am not claiming that this is the best A/O fic by a long shot, but I did manage to use every character in the summary allowance, so it was worth it :D
Artemis Fowl took a nervous glance over his right wing. Yes, she was getting dangerously close now and this plan was going to require split-second timing. A screeching, ranting and pretty much foaming at the mouth Opal Koboi was soaring towards his plane at Mach 2, a speed he could hardly hope to match. But all he really wanted to do was draw her away. Away from people that could be hurt if this plan went wrong. And it most likely would, seeing as it required action from Artemis; action was not something he felt comfortable with. But this was the only chance to save them all.
Koboi drew up to him and began punching holes in his wing membrane and he was losing control of the small plane. This was worrying; if she lost her self-control, and knocked the plane out of the sky, all his plans would come to nothing. But, as he predicted, she wouldn't risk damage to the lemur, and she flew over to the cockpit, tearing off the door with her magically strengthened arms. She intended to haul the lemur out and leave Artemis's plane to plummet to a fiery oblivion; the de-pressurised cabin would ensure that the plane would fall. But as the door came off Artemis made his move. He ran to the door and, as she threw it out into the sky, he leapt into the air. Before she could move away he caught her and pulled her close. Shocked, she did nothing for a moment.
"What are you doing, Mud-Filth?" she screeched in rage. He looked into her mad eyes and she looked back into a glowing red furnace, two pools of a deep scarlet, with infinite magical sparks blazing from them.
"Impossible!" she gasped. And then a huge eruption of magic enveloped them both, blacking out the world.
As she regained consciousness Opal Koboi realised that Fowl was still clutching her, like a child, and she kicked him away petulantly. He dropped her, startled, and her small form dropped onto – well it wasn't exactly a floor, but it was no less undignified. Then she realised.
"What have you done!" Her voice wasn't as terrible as it had been a few moments ago. It was the fragile voice of a child, no, a pixie. Trying not to be frightened. All of her magic-induced stature had gone; her majestic and terrible form stripped away. She even appeared to have lost the small amount of height she had gained as a human. She was the size she had been before all her plots had started.
Artemis was disorientated. He looked around bemusedly, and his expression infuriated Opal. The place they were in was completely void of detail, a sea of green that seemed to stretch on forever, yet at the same time felt small and enclosed. "It worked then? I wasn't sure if it would."
This was said to himself, but Koboi responded. "What worked? What did you do Fowl? That was magic wasn't it? Impossible! You have no magic! And no-one has enough magic to rival mine!"
"Wrong, actually." he commented. He seemed very relaxed for some reason, a peaceful contrast to Opal's furore. "I think perhaps you remain ignorant of the existence of N°1?"
"Yes it is an unfortunate name, but still. N°1 is the most powerful Warlock on the planet, and our very good friend."
"A Warlock! No Warlock, no matter how powerful, has ever wielded as much magic as me! You lie, Fowl!"
He smiled, though not with his usual arrogant smirk. "No Elf or Pixie warlock could, but then... demon warlocks were always the most powerful of the magical creatures. How did you suppose we went back in time in the first place?" Opal opened her mouth to protest, but it was fairly obvious she had underestimated the demon's power. Extremely mentally damaged she may have been, but she was still a genius, and the obvious facts were that she had made a serious mistake.
She moaned to herself, rocking back and forth in the foetal position for a while, muttering feverishly. "For Frond's sake! This can't be happening. I can't believe this, how could you have done this again?" She glowered at him through accusing eyes. "You!" She tried to muster up the energy to do something, to hurt him, kill him, as she had wanted to just a few seconds ago. But nothing came. She felt tired, as if she had been walking all day, and none of her violent anger came. A short while ago she had wanted, more than anything in the world, to tear at him, to smash the composure from his face, to break him and everyone she hated. But now she felt hollow, dried up. She glowered at him, hatred billowing from her dark eyes. But the all-consuming madness had evaporated. When she spoke, she thought she sounded weak. "Why do you keep winning? Why can I never beat you? Why do you keep doing this to me?" Even as she said it, she hated herself for sounding so... pathetic. It had meant to come out angry, furious, insane even. Not confused or upset.
Artemis considered the questions anyway. "You never were a criminal mastermind, Miss Koboi. Forgive me, but I believe I have some experience in the matter. For one thing you were too emotionally attached to your plans; you were never ruthless enough." She laughed cruelly at this, but he persevered. "Not compared to some humans. You liked to play with your victims, to weave a wonderful game for yourself. If we had been up against a human criminal who had got into the position you frequently held Holly and I would have been at the bottom of a river with a bullet in our heads a long time ago. You never thought about it the way you should have done. A good mastermind must be prepared to forgo all emotion in order to achieve his outcome. For another, you never considered every possible factor. You thought some things were below you, so insignificant that they need not be considered. And finally I don't believe you ever really knew what you wanted."
She scowled at him, outraged at the patronising psychoanalysis she felt was all so much – well, let us say dwarf recyclings. "Enough, Mud whelp!" She tried to sound commanding, but she wasn't fooling anyone. She would have attacked him if he hadn't been so beneath her. And if she hadn't been so much smaller than he was.
"What is this place?" she demanded.
"An ancient demon creation. Long ago, before the human wars, demons were a less militaristic society. According to Qwan, the head of the tribe was not the strongest fighter but the one who could see what was best for the tribe. The warlocks would use this place to isolate two rival demons, in order to force them to reach a settlement that was for the best of the tribe - thus the chamber has a powerful calming influence. Negotiation, rather than mortal combat, would decide the matter. We are in what the LEP colloquially term a 'bubble' - a magical construct abstract from time, but also from space, isolated from existence. The chamber could be held for as long as was needed with the power of the demon warlock and, for those outside, the process would take less than a moment no matter how long it took for the quarrel to be resolved."
"And you think I want to negotiate with you? Or perhaps your plan was to trap me here and let me starve to death? And I thought I was supposed to be the bad guy!"
"Please. I flatter myself that I am highly intelligent Miss Koboi. I think my cognitive abilities should be afforded a little more respect than that."
"Enlighten me then. What is this master plan? Because, I assure you, Fowl, I will not be co-operating with you no matter what the circumstances. Death will be a gift that can only come sooner so long as I have to listen to you." She smiled, pleased at her own wit.
Artemis looked at her. Stripped of her magic and the damage she had inflicted upon her own body, she was already beginning to recover her senses. What he hadn't told her about was the modifications that the impossibly powerful warlock had made to this ancient demon creation. It had been a great tool in reversing the centuries-long mental scarring the demons had suffered under the rule of Leon Abbot. Firstly it healed all physical, magical and mental damage to the user, in effect made them into how they should have been had they enjoyed a healthy development. This had been especially useful in the treatment of the mesmerised demons. It also did something else.
"I had foreseen that outcome." Plenty of demons had been more than reluctant to relinquish their xenophobic hatred of humans, given the depth of Abbot's centuries of indoctrination. "No.1 is the most powerful demon ever to have existed, and this is no normal bubble. But you will soon see what I mean. Believe me when I say that neither of us have much control over what is going to happen to us now."