Rated: Teen for violence, horror, character death, and romance. (Arty/Holly)
Summary: On September 11th, 2001, America suffered its worst tragedy in modern history. Below ground, the Fairy Folk shake their heads at how foolish humankind is. But Holly discovers that the attacks mean more to her than she thought.
Disclaimer: Artemis Fowl, and all related characters and places are owned by Eoin Colfer.
LES: I was 11 years old when the September 11th attacks happened, and I remember them with shocking clarity. With this fanfiction, I hope to preserve the horror and tragedy of that day, along with the scars that it left on the world. This fic is in no way meant to make light of the events surrounding 9/11/01. I have the up-most respect for the serviceman who were working in New York City that day, and I still honor those people who died that day.
We will never forget.
This story is dedicated with love to the serviceman who put their safety on the line every day for our protection, to the countless men and women who died that day, and to the families and friends of those who lost their lives that day.
One final note... this fanfic is not intended to be racist or species-ist in any way. In regards to the perpetrators of the attacks, I purposefully did not mention a single ethnicity or religious group because there was no responsible ethnicity or religious group... it was a terrorist organization. And as for humankind in general... the species-ism against humans is rampant in the books. It seems that most fairies consider humans to be violent, polluting, greedy, warmongers. I'm not a species-ist against humans, nor to a support it. *Scratches head* Who would be prejudice against themselves?
Chapter I: The Attack
Holly first got the news evening, Haven time.
She was just at the end of her long shift and was fully ready to head home when she noticed that a lot of people were gathered around Foaly's booth. That, by itself, was not a common sight. Foaly, the very definition of the misunderstood genius, didn't have a lot of friends, and even his friends avoided things like 'hanging around' his booth lest they get pulled into being a guinea pig for his latest invention.
She walked over swiftly, pushing her way into Foaly's booth while elbowing numerous people out of her way. "Foaly! Foaly! What's going on?" Holly called to her friend.
Foaly, who was sitting in front of a screen that seemed to be playing some Mud Man news, turned around to face her. "Oh, hello, Holly. Just getting off?"
"Yes." Holly answered. "What's going on?" She asked. "Why is everyone crammed in here?"
"Ah." Foaly said, pointing at the screen. "We've got a bit of a situation topside."
Holly let out a sigh. Most situations that went topside usually involved a rogue fairy. "Don't tell me it's another troll." She moaned. She had bad memories with trolls. It was a mission to capture a troll that first led to her being abducted by Artemis Fowl three years ago. (Or six years ago, depending on how you count such things.) Not to mention that she was almost killed by the same troll during the siege on Fowl Manor. And, to top it all off, she was nearly killed by trolls again during her 'adventure' at the Eleven Wonders Theme Park.
"Troll? Oh, no." Foaly said. "This situation is all covered in mud, if you get my meaning."
Holly did. Situations were covered in mud when it was purely human in nature. But, normally, The People didn't care about the things that humans got up to, and just left them to their violent ways. "Oh. What happened this time?"
"Well… it seems like someone is not very happy with the Americans right now." Foaly said. "They hijacked a few planes and flew them straight into some of America's most important buildings." Holly glanced at the news feed. A Mud Man news anchor was circling around two enormous skyscrapers in a news helicopter, filming the billowing black smoke that was coming out of the buildings in a sulfurous cloud.
"Those Mud Men and their lack of technology." Foaly snorted. "They didn't even realize that it was a purposeful attack until the second building got hit. I guess even Mud Men don't buy odds like that."
Holly stared at the footage, feeling her dread mounting. She realized why when she saw the iconic image of the Empire State Building in the background. "Foaly, is this New York City?" She asked
"Yep." Foaly said. But centaur settled down to continue watching the footage when suddenly Holly grabbed him by the front of his lab coat.
"Pull up Artemis' schedule!" She ordered.
"What? Do you have a date with the Mud Boy or something?" Foaly asked flippantly, but he stopped when he saw the worry in Holly's mismatched eyes.
"I'm ordering you as a Captain of LEPRecon to pull up Artemis' schedule for today now!" Holly said fiercely. "I know that you can do it! You hack into his network so much it's like a hobby for you!"
"Okay! Keep your hair on." Foaly said, turning to one of his many computers. Within a few minutes, Foaly had hacked his way into Artemis' network and pulled up the young genius' schedule. "Okay… Fowl's schedule for the day. Seven o'clock… breakfast. Eight o'clock…" Foaly trailed off. "Oh no."
"Meeting at the World Trade Center, North Tower." Holly finished. "It's not…"
"The North Tower of the World Trade Center… is that building." Foaly said, pointing at one of the two flaming buildings on screen. "It was hit at 8:46 Eastern Time. Unless Fowl's meeting was really short…" Foaly glanced at Artemis' schedule again, hoping that he would see some note for another appointment at 8:30, meaning that he got out on time. But he saw instead that the rest of Artemis' day was cleared for this meeting.
"Oh Gods… Artemis!" Holly gasped, turning around and running out of the booth without another word.
(North Tower, World Trade Center, 9:00 AM)
Artemis Fowl the Second couldn't see, and he could barely breathe. He had no idea that he had been trapped in this hell for only a quarter of an hour. It seemed like an eternity, listening to the groaning of the building's compromised supports and the screams of the people who, like him, were trapped with no way out besides a deadly leap out the shattered windows.
The most unusual thing was that this had been the start of a normal day, and he had planned to come to the financial center of the United States for a completely legitimate business meeting.
But it didn't end that way. He had fallen to an attack not against his person, but against an entire country.
He had been forty-five minutes into his meeting when he heard screams from the near-by rooms. Artemis had looked out the window just in time to see a large passenger plane crash into the building several floors down. The impact had jarred the entire building, nearly knocking the young Fowl heir into a wall. He would have cracked his skull open if it were not for his faithful friend, Butler.
Butler had shielded Artemis' body with his own, and paid the price for it.
Butler lay nearby, but Artemis couldn't tell if he were unconscious or dead. For the first time in his life, Artemis didn't want to know, because if Butler was dead, then he was alone in this hell.
For the first time, Artemis understood the value of the saying "Ignorance is bliss".
He heard other people attempting to make calls on their cell phones, but only getting limited success in that area. A majority of them were calling the authorities, begging to be rescued. From what Artemis heard, they mainly got the response to stay where they were for the servicemen to come get them. Others tried their families.
Artemis knew better. He admired the courage of the Firefighters slowly making their way up the building. But he was on the ninetieth floor, and the plane had most likely destroyed the lower floors, which were currently being held together with little more than prayers. He knew that they would not make it in time.
Artemis pulled out his cell phone, hoping to at least contact his family. But he found it had been destroyed somewhere in the explosion. He threw the phone away. It was useless.
He had just about given up hope when he noticed the Fairy communicator still on his hand. He hoped that the people trapped with him would dismiss his odd behavior as distress and twisted the ring, turning it on. He made his hand into an imaginary phone and held his fingers to his face.
"Hello." He said, having no idea who would pick up his signal since he hadn't bothered to dial any number. "This is Artemis Fowl the Second. Send help."
Artemis' call was picked up by one of Haven's operators, who immediately transferred the call to Police Plaza as soon as she heard that the voice on the line was Artemis Fowl.
Foaly took the call, recognizing the signal as Artemis' communicator. "Artemis! Where are you?" Foaly yelled into the speakers. If it were anyone else, in any other situation, Foaly would have told that person off for yelling into whisper-sensitive equipment. But this was desperate times, and it called for desperate measures.
"Foaly?" Artemis coughed over the phone. "There was an attack. I'm in the North Tower, ninetieth floor, north side of the building. Ten windows from the right. Do you understand me?"
"Yes." Foaly said, quickly jotting down the information. "Fowl, are you all right?"
"Smoke inhalation." Artemis croaked, or maybe Foaly was losing the signal. "I think I'm fine. But Butler…" The young man trailed off. When Artemis spoke again, he could hear the panic in the boy's voice. "Dear God! Was that someone jumping?"
Foaly figured that Artemis wouldn't be that upset at someone hopping in his room. He quickly realized that Artemis meant. Some human had panicked and jumped out the window. No one would be able to survive a fall from ninety-plus floors up.
"Artemis, stay calm!" Foaly said loudly. "The human authorities are sending professionals up the north and south tower. They will reach you and get you out of there safely."
"You don't have to lie to me, Foaly." Artemis said, sounding strangely calm again. And then Foaly lost the signal. He tried to get it back, but it was gone. This left the centaur staring in confusion at the words he wrote to describe Artemis' position.
"Why did he give the window count?" Foaly wondered to himself.
(Fairy Fort Located near New York City, United States of America. 9:56 AM)
It had taken Holly nearly an hour to muscle her way up to the surface as close to New York City as she could possibly get. Even though civilian service to the Big Apple had been suspended in light of the horrors going on above, all it had taken was a few flashes of Holly's badge and an emergency visa from her friend Commander Trouble Kelp to get her to New York City in record time.
Record time though it may be, Holly had wanted to go faster.
Artemis Fowl, the one human that she cared about more than any other, was probably in mortal danger. In fact, she had no idea if he was all ready dead. The towers had been burning for well over an hour now.
No! I can't think like that! Holly berated herself as she quickly strapped on a pair of wings and zoomed out into the polluted New York air, just barely remembering to shield herself.
Holly contacted Foaly with her helmet's communicator. "Give me an update, Foaly." She ordered.
"Hmm." Foaly's voice came over the speakers. "Normally, I would ask what you were doing in New York City in the middle of broad daylight, but I all ready know the answer. Okay… the North Tower has been burning for precisely seventy minutes. Human rescue teams are having trouble fighting the fire because the building is so tall. They are having trouble getting water up that high."
"D'Arvitting Mud Men." Holly swore. "What else?"
"The floors that the plane flew into have been pretty much destroyed, according to my scans. There's no way a rescue team is going to be able to come in from below, and dropping in from above is too risky in the smoke."
"D'Arvit!" Holly swore again. "Do you have any good news for me?"
"As a matter of fact, I do." Foaly said. Holly gasped as she caught sight of the destruction for the first time. The news broadcast she had seen below did not compare. There were people running in all directions, mostly north, screaming and crying and trying to reach loved ones on their cell phones. Police and firemen crowded the streets by the hundreds, trying to keep the masses moving away from the destruction, but they were quickly being drowned up by the mass hysteria. Holly didn't need Foaly's map of New York City to find the World Trade Center's twin towers. There was a giant plume of smoke, the worst of landmarks. "Fowl managed to get a call through to me about an hour ago on that communicator you gave him."
"Oh Frond! Is he all right?" Holly demanded.
"He was when he called." Foaly said. "I'm not sure about Butler, though. Fowl wouldn't say anything about him. He's scared, perhaps, but alive."
"Did he tell you where he is?" Holly asked.
"Yes, he did. The North Tower—the one with the antenna on top, ninetieth floor, north side of the building. Ten windows from the right."
"Understood. I'm going in." Holly said, making a beeline for the burning North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Hundreds of miles below ground, Foaly suddenly understood why Artemis had given directions to his window.
"Even when he's panicking, that Mud Boy is smart." Foaly said with grudging admiration.
(North Tower, the World Trade Center, 10:15 AM)
The others had left long ago.
The people that Artemis was trapped with had grown tired of the authorities telling them to stay put, and had left. After all, only a moron would stay inside a burning building that was in danger of collapsing. Some time ago, word had spread through the floor that the South Tower of the World Trade Center had collapsed, meaning that it was only a matter of time before the North Tower went also.
They had urged Artemis to come with them, but the teenager refused. In fact, he hadn't moved an inch during the whole ordeal, even as more people jumped from the windows to their deaths or yelled to be saved.
They eventually concluded that Artemis had a death wish and left him, alone save for Butler, who was still non-responsive. Artemis was still unsure if it was because he was unconscious or dead.
He stayed where he was because he knew there was no point in trying to escape by going down. He could feel the building start to lean slightly, and he knew that he only had minutes before the whole thing collapsed. Even if there was a way down, it would take far too long… time that he didn't have.
The teenager pressed his torn Armani sleeve to his mouth and nose, trying to block out the smoke that was filling the room, blackened soot that was poisoning his lungs.
Despite himself, Artemis began shaking with barely suppressed sobs. Artemis could count on a single hand the number of times he had cried in his life, and under normal circumstances, he would never shed a single tear. But, the boy decided to make an exception for his own death. It was a cruel fate that his life would be cut short in the prime of his youth, when he still had so much to experience.
The greatest thing he wanted to do was confess to his friend, Holly that his long-integrated alter-ego, Orion, was a moron when it came to a lot of things; but that he had been right about one thing… Artemis' feelings for his Elvin friend which went much deeper than friendship.
"Holly…" Artemis gasped, flinching as the smoke filled his tortured lungs.
"Artemis!" At first, the boy thought he was hallucinating… or having some sort of near-death experience. He could swear that he heard Holly calling out his name. Artemis looked up weakly as one of the windows crashed inward all by itself and a small figure appeared hovering in the room. "D'Arvit, Artemis! Where are you?" She called.
Definitely not an angel. Artemis reasoned with himself. Holly came for me.
Unable to say anything louder than a whisper because of his smoke-damaged lungs, Artemis raised his fist and pounded loudly on the ground to get Holly's attention. It worked. She turned towards him and was at his side in a second. She turned him over on his back. "Artemis!"
"You came for me… Holly…" Artemis whispered just before he passed out.
"Holly! Get out of there!" Foaly yelled in her ear. "That building's supports are starting to go! You have minutes, tops, before that thing collapses!"
Holly glanced at Butler's body. Her helmet told her the story. Butler was all ready gone, and no miracle cryogenics for him this time. Holly choked back a sob. She had really liked the old Mud Man. They were like kindred spirits: both of them dedicated to their work and Artemis Fowl the Second. Holly also knew that Artemis would be devastated when he found out.
"I can't leave yet." Holly said. "There are still people trapped in here." She said, beginning to wrap Artemis' unconscious body in chamfoil.
"No, Holly! Get out of there! That's an order!" Holly froze as she heard Commander Kelp's voice over her speakers. "You have minutes before that building is dust, and there are hundreds of people. There is no time at all.
Holly felt tears run down her face as she attached Artemis crudely to her moonbelt, making his prone form much easier to carry. "Yessir." She said shortly. With no time left at all, Holly shielded herself and flew out the way she came with only a single passenger: Artemis.
Holly barely had time to clear the building before the tower collapsed in on itself, sending a giant cloud of debris through the streets of New York City. She could hear the collective cries of the panicked people as their pride: a building which once held the record of being the tallest in the world fell to the ground, bringing hundreds of innocent people with it.
(Fairy Fort near New York City, 11:00 AM)
Holly could tell that Artemis' lungs were in pretty bad shape. He wheezed with every breath. Mud Men had a much higher tolerance for pollutants than the Fairy Folk, but even they had a limit. Artemis had been breathing toxic smoke for nearly two hours, which was nearly more than his system could handle.
Holly quickly lay Artemis down on one of the courtesy benches and pressed her hands to his thin chest. "Heal." She whispered as magic began to spark down her arms and fingers, entering the boy's chest, and beginning to heal the damage to his lungs.
Artemis began to cough violently as the poisons were expelled from his system, but the coughing eventually died down as the healing was completed. He still had not woken up.
Foaly, who through some holy act, had managed to stay silent during Holly's flight back to the Fairy Fort, spoke again in her ear. "How is he?"
"Unconscious, but alive." Holly sighed with relief. "I think he's going to make it."
Holly let out a sob. "He was all ready gone when I got there. There was nothing I could do."
No one spoke for several minutes. Butler, though he was undoubtedly feared among the Fairy Folk, was also a good ally; just as Artemis was both Public Enemy Number 1 and a Hero.
"Mud Boy's gonna be inconsolable when he wakes up." Foaly commented finally.
Holly didn't speak. Having witnessed the destruction of this act of violence firsthand, she felt both angry and sad. She felt angry at the human monsters who would do such a thing against their own people. And she felt sad for the countless innocents who had been killed today.
After a few minutes of depressed silence, Foaly spoke again. "Holly? The news has made its way to Ireland. I'm picking up a bunch of calls out of Fowl Manor to Artemis' cell phone, which has been 'disconnected'. It's probably his parents worried about him."
Holly nodded in understanding. Artemis' parents were probably well aware that their son was going to be in the World Trade Center this morning, and were worried sick about him. She had felt the same way when she was waiting for news if her mother had survived the ecological disaster she had been trapped in. Holly had received bad news that day. She was glad that she could give the Fowls good news.
"Patch me through to Fowl Manor, preferably with Angeline Fowl." Holly said. It was simple logic. Angeline Fowl knew about fairies… Artemis Fowl the First didn't.
"Okay… dialing Artemis' mother…" Foaly commented to himself. Holly listened as the cell phone rang a single time before Angeline picked up. She had probably been hovering, waiting for some news about her eldest son.
"Hello? Who is this?" Angeline asked desperately.
"Mrs. Fowl…" Holly began, but was cut off by Artemis' mother.
"Oh my God! Did they find my son? Is he all right?" Artemis' mother clearly thought that Holly was with the human authorities.
"Mrs. Fowl, my name is Holly Short. I'm a friend of Artemis'… one of his fairy friends." Holly said.
"Oh, yes. I'm sorry." Angeline apologized.
"I have your son right here. Artemis is fine." Holly said.
Holly heard a sound which either could have been Angeline dropping the phone or Angeline collapsing on the floor with relief. Holly bet it was the later. She could hear Angeline's relived sobs over the phone. "Thank God… Oh, thank God!"
Over on the bench, Artemis began to stir. He opened his mismatched eyes and stared over at Holly. "Holly… you came for me."
On the other end of the line, Angeline heard her son's voice. "Is Arty there? Can I speak with him?"
"I suppose, but only for a little while." Holly said. "He's recovering from a healing and a pretty traumatic experience."
"I understand. Put me on." Angeline ordered with perhaps a bit more force than she meant.
Holly took off her helmet and put it near Artemis. "It's your mother. She's very worried about you." She said.
Artemis smirked. "Hello, Mum."
Angeline began to sob again. "Oh, Arty! You have no idea how worried we've been! When we heard what was happening in New York…"
"I'm sorry." Artemis apologized. "It wasn't my fault this time, I swear."
"I know it wasn't your fault." Angeline said. "No one would kill so many people to get to a single person."
"What has happened?" Artemis asked.
Holly answered this time, since there was a delay of news in Ireland. They probably didn't know about the second tower collapsing. "Both the North and South towers of the World Trade Center are gone." Holly said. "I barely managed to get you out of the North Tower before it collapsed."
"Oh God." Angeline gasped over the phone.
"And Butler?" Artemis asked.
Holly hesitated before answering. "I—I'm sorry, Artemis. It was all ready too late."
Holly could see the sorrow on his features as he processed the news. "I suspected, but I… I didn't want it to be true. Why couldn't I have been wrong for once in my life?" Artemis demanded.
Holly pulled the distraught teen into an embrace. Artemis began to weep, pressing his face against her neck and wrapping his arms around her in his grief.
Angeline realized how terribly hurt Artemis was, and it pained her to interrupt his mourning. "I… I suppose you'll need to pretend that Artemis wasn't inside the building at the time."
"I'm way ahead of you, Mrs. Fowl." Foaly said. "All evidence will point to Artemis leaving the building before the attack. As far as everyone will be concerned, he was properly evacuated on time and only suffered minor distress from trauma and dust inhalation. Oh, and Holly…"
"Yes?" Holly asked softly, still holding Artemis to herself.
"The United States government has closed down their borders, so it looks like Mud Boy's going to be stuck in America for some time. Trouble says you can stay topside, but consider it about a year's worth of vacation time."
Holly nodded in understanding. She couldn't leave Artemis all alone in a strange country that had just been attacked. "I understand. I accept the vacation."
LES: I hope above all that this story portrayed the horror of the attacks effectively. I lived in California all my life, so I lived about as far away from New York City as it's possible to be while still being on the United States mainland, and I know that news stories cannot compare to actually being there. I can only imagine the hell those people went through.
All information is accurate. The only thing I'm shaky on is Artemis' floor number. I could not find information about which floors were hit in the North Tower, so I found out how many floors the North Tower had and estimated.
There is one more chapter, which will have more romance.