Artemis Fowl had seen better days.
First, he had been dealing with the damnable dog all week. Second, his encounter with the bird children had gone slightly worse than he had planned. Third, his impermeable study had been permeated to say the very least, and now he was stuck in a less than tidy basement tied to a girl whose good side he was certainly not on. And to top it all off, he was wearing jeans. Jeans. He knew that if she was the one behind it all, Opal would certainly have a field day with his attire, and that would be just the beginning.
Several minutes ago, the door had flown open and several of the men wearing the strange body armor they had been wearing during the raid came down the stairs, slitting the bonds that tied him and Max together, leaving her on the ground for the time being. The bindings encircling Artemis's legs were cut and he was led up the stairs into a brightly lit hallway. As he was walking out the door, he snuck a look back at Max, catching her eye and nodding. She nodded back, and then the door closed. He would assess what he could, and do his best to deduce the situation.
He was frogmarched by the mercenaries down the corridor, arms still restrained behind his back. His shoulder blades were beginning to feel sore and his wrists were tingling with the pins and needles of inadequate circulation from the rope tightly wound around his skin. He walked calmly, as if the situation didn't bother him whatsoever. Physically, as much as he hated to admit it, he was far out of his depth, but already his mind was assessing the situation, taking in details such as the suspected material of the mercenaries body armor, the color of the walls, the fact that there were no windows in the hallway. They took a sharp left, facing a door at the end of the hallways and Artemis couldn't help but feel that this was too cliché for his liking. First the basement, then the statues that they called guards, and now the mysterious door at the end of the hall. Come to think of it, Opal had probably planned it that way just to irritate him. A flicker of annoyance flashed across his face, but he quickly erased it, returning to his same blasé expression. In this moment, emotion was weakness.
They reached the door, one of the mercenaries opening it. They shoved him inside, one deftly slashing the bindings on his wrist and barely nicking the skin. They slammed the door shut, and Artemis heard the telltale click of a lock closing, effectively trapping him in the room. He brought his hands in front of him, inspecting the miniscule line of blood barely visible on his wrist. It was better than the ropes at the very least, although it stung more than such a small cut should have.
Putting his hands at his sides, Artemis inspected the small room. It was clean, tidy to the point of obsession, and bare minus the ornate desk and two chairs on the opposite sides. Artemis immediately sat in the plush office chair on the backside of the desk, knowing that it was obviously meant for his captor. Although he probably should've been more careful, he was relatively certain that he was dealing with Opal and she would expect behavior like this anyway from him, even welcome it. So he simply settled in, began tapping out Debussy's Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum on the desk, and waited.
It didn't take long for the door to open and a familiar face to show itself at the door. The pixie was as beautiful and deadly as ever, ebony hair cascading down her back and dark eyes shining with mirth. She was, however, not the Opal that Artemis had dealt with during the goblin revolution, or during her attempted plot for revenge – no - this Opal Koboi was more raw, less deranged, and quite possibly much more dangerous. She grinned, teeth glimmering like pearls. "Hello, Artemis. I do believe you're in my seat."
He halted his fingers, crossing his legs defiantly. "And you honestly expect me to move?"
Opal merely smirked. "No, not particularly. Just this once, I'll let you slide. We have other business to discuss besides than a seat."
Artemis merely raised an eyebrow as she pointedly ignored the chair on the other side of the desk and opted to stand, free to move about as she pleased. "This is our problem, Artemis," she began. "Every time I think I have you backed into a corner, you manage to slither out and ruin everything."
The genius crossed his arms. "I hardly think you're able to use the term 'every time'. I daresay we've met more than twice."
The pixie's gaze hardened. "I've been in contact with myself, and it seems that you've been quite the hindrance. This time, I'm not taking any chances."
"So why not simply keep your plans secret?" Artemis queried, trying to pry out more information.
Opal sighed melodramatically, brushing a lock of ebony hair out of her face. "You'd find out at some point, and this way is more fun."
Artemis leaned forward, placing his elbows on the desk and steeling his gaze. "What purpose am I to serve under your control?"
The pixie smirked. "That's exactly it. You're under my control, and therefore are not able to work against me from the outside."
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer," the genius murmured, mind already beginning to unravel his enemy's reasoning.
"Exactly, Artemis," she said, the smirk gone from her face. "Individually, you can't hurt more than a fly without that elf or that bodyguard that follows you like a shadow. If you're here, you're not there. They're useless without you…" she paused, the corners of her mouth twitching. "And you're useless without them."
Artemis steeled his gaze, looking directly into the pixie's eyes. "Oh, I wouldn't count myself out just yet."
Opal laughed, mocking him. "Don't think for a moment that I've counted you out, Artemis. You've only just begun to factor in."
The genius bit his lip, saying nothing. This entire situation unnerved him more than he cared to admit. As much as he was familiar with how the Opal Koboi of his time worked, how she ticked, and most importantly how her past experiences had shaped her, he knew little about this past version of her. It was true that the pixie standing before him had knowledge of her future self's escapades, but memories couldn't be manufactured. One would more readily forget a lesson learned than a lesson experienced. So for the moment, he chose to remain silent. There was nothing more to say that would advance his situation in any way.
The pixie raised one solitary eyebrow. "No response? Have I finally stumped the great Artemis Fowl?"
Fighting the urge to retaliate and get in the last word, he bit his tongue and merely raised his left eyebrow, returning her gesture.
She smiled. "You amuse me. And do go put on the suit I've provided, it's unnerving me to see you so casual." She began to exit the room, her hired henchmen surely waiting on the other side to escort him back. "It's been tailored to your size. I know you wouldn't wear it if it wasn't."
And with that parting comment, she left the room, two guards taking her place on Artemis's side of the door. He was, surprisingly enough, given a neatly folded pile of garments reminiscent of his favorite Armani suit, but he could tell that it was brand new, purchased and tailored especially for his benefit. Or rather, Opal's, he thought wryly as then men exited and he began grudgingly taking off his old garments and pulling on the new ones. As much as it comforted him to be in a suit again, he hated acquiescing to her demands. But for now, no matter how much it pained him, he would obey her and wait. There was a calm before the storm.
And, as much as he hated to admit it… He wasn't quite sure what to do.
Have I mentioned that I hate being tied up?
I was restrained against a stiff chair, my ankles bound to its legs and my arms pulled back behind and tied at the wrist while a large coil of rope encircled my chest and effectively bound my arms not only behind me but against the sides of the chair as well. And to top the entire freaking ordeal off, they had stuffed a gag in my mouth after I had spat at one of the guards and hit his eye. I could escape the gag in my mouth at the very least, but for some reason I just couldn't bring myself to care after what had happened when Artemis left.
I had known that this was going to be my only chance to try and escape and find Artemis (as much as I hated the boy, I couldn't have left him behind) or at the very least do some damage, so I was ready when they came down the stairs. The grabbing roughly by the shoulders I was familiar with as well as the manhandling of my legs so that they wouldn't lash out, but what I wasn't expecting was a sharp sensation almost stabbing into the side of my neck.
"Damn!" I had jumped and instinctively sworn, wanting to put my hand up and rub the site that was still stinging. It wasn't a needle that they had injected me with. I knew that feeling well enough. One of the guards had been quickly putting away something that looked similar enough to a hypodermic needle, just… minus the needle. However, at that point my body had decided that it had bigger fish to fry and started getting sluggish. If I passed out again I was going to kill someone.
However, I realized that I wasn't that lucky. They untied my arms, and I tried to fight or move, but only succeeded in flopping my arm around a bit until they secured it. I could barely move, barely think… I was helpless when they inserted a needle into the crook of my elbow and began drawing blood. Fear and memories washed over me, the smell of antiseptic and the click of lab tools coming back to me even though there were no such stimuli present. They collected it in a large vial that made me dizzy to even look at because I knew from experience that wouldn't take only what they needed. They would take whatever they could.
It took nearly ten minutes to fill the vial, and by then I was wound as tightly as I could be under the influence of the drug. Finally, they pulled the needle out of my arm and patched it with a cotton ball and tightly wound a piece of cloth around the needle site. Despite the pain in my arm, they once again drew my hands back behind me, securing them at the wrists this time instead of the forearms, and secured me to the chair in the position that I was in now. And then they left, simple as that. The drug had begun to wear off, and I could feel my mental faculties returning to me and I finally I was able to think rationally about the situation. They had drawn my blood. My blood contained my cells. My cells contained my DNA. My DNA was special. It didn't take a genius to figure it out.
And lo and behold, a genius I was given.
Artemis stumbled down the stairs, the two guards behind him having obviously pushed him. It took me a moment to realize that he was wearing a suit with his hair neatly combed as opposed to the dark jeans and crisp button-up shirt that he had been wearing when we first met. The suit, well… suited him better, no pun intended. This seemed to fit his personality just a bit better. His hands were still bound behind his back, despite his obvious grooming.
I couldn't quite fathom what would have happened or why he was wearing a suit for any reason whatsoever, but I was surprised when one of the guards, mercenaries, whatever they were called slashed the ropes binding me to the chair and manhandled me back onto the ground. I kicked out, my right foot connecting with his chest with a satisfying smack, but he didn't flinch or retaliate, merely held my legs to the ground and wrapped another coil of rope around them like before. Roughly, Artemis and I were secured together again and the other guard checked the rope before nodding at his companion and proceeding towards the door.
Once they had left, I nudged Artemis in the ribs, noticing his body tense up at the unexpected contact. "What happened? And why in the world are you wearing a suit?"
He sighed, although it was more resigned rather than irritated as it had been previously. "My suspicions were correct. I am –We are – Once again pitted against Opal Koboi."
My eyebrows shot up. "That crazy pixie girl you were talking about earlier?"
He nodded, and I could feel his shoulders sink. "We've been searching for the Opal of the past for almost a year now, but now she's finally revealed herself. It's a gamble, certainly, but worth it is she can execute her plan perfectly."
I felt a headache coming on. "Explain this to me again. How are we dealing with a different Opal? Time travel isn't possible."
He sighed once again, the irritation coming back. "Time travel is entirely possible with magic on your side. Approximately one year ago, my mother became ill with a supposedly eradicated fairy disease. The cure was no longer available so Captain Short and I traveled back into the past in order to find the lemur we needed to synthesize it. During our mission, we encountered the Opal Koboi of that time, and so when we traveled back to the present, she followed us through the vortex and emerged three days prior to our departure, possessing my mother, giving her the symptoms of the disease, and therefore causing us to journey to the past in the first place. Soon after, she escaped and had not been heard from since."
I bit my lip, trying to digest everything I had just heard. "Until now."
His shoulders sagged. "Until now."
"How you run into her in the past?" I asked. "Isn't that just a little too coincidental?"
"Extremely, yes," He agreed, taking me by surprise. "She was utilizing the brain fluid of animals in order to utilize them to maximize her power. She desired the lemur I had traveled back to retrieve just as much as I did."
Something dropped into the pit of my stomach. "Would this…brain fluid thing work with blood?"
He paused for a moment. "Theoretically, although the effect would be less potent. It could be used to identify the possibility of the enhancement that would come with the brain fluid and determine whether it is worth extracting the organism's brain fluid."
My breath hitched in my throat as I finally figured out the reason I was caught up in this personal vendetta between two genii. "We might be in trouble, because I just had my blood drawn."
Opal Koboi was floating on clouds.
Not actual clouds, of course. But she had regained enough of her magic to levitate in the air while meditating and that was close enough. She knew that she was by no means out of the woods yet, but she was well on her way to victory, or at the very least, revenge. She found it unbelievable that her older self had never tried to split up the Captain and Artemis. Captain Short, while being an excellent tactician and officer, lacked the quick thinking and ingenuity that Artemis was so generously gifted with. Conversely, Artemis had the potential to come up with plans on his own but lacked the tact and skill without his Captain in order to execute them. Together, they were unstoppable (she would grudgingly admit that), but separated they were practically incapable of functioning at their normal caliber.
She had gotten lucky, and she would readily accept that. Her plan was brilliant, yes, but she had taken a gamble by throwing in quite a bit of dramatic flair into her operation. When she had first heard of the avian hybrids from herself imprisoned in the Deeps, her mind had started to whir. She hadn't had the time to fully rebuild her operation in this time, nor the personnel or resources. Believe it or not, in the five years she had leapt ahead in time, the LEP had made considerable advancements, likely due to the indirect involvement of Artemis Fowl. Upon discovering fairy technology, the boy had immediately begun working with it and developing his own new products. Not to be outmatched, the centaur had begun rapidly developing his own products in order to stay a safe seven steps in front of the mud boy. The LEP's technology was advancing quite quickly, and Opal was not exactly thrilled about it.
She had been forced to stay underground (not literally, that would've sealed both of them in captivity) and do practically nothing. It was the main reason she had employed humans, annoying and irritating as they may have been. Through transactions and command, she appeared to the LEP as only a beginning human criminal, a mobster perhaps. She had learned to be unpredictable. A flair for the dramatic refused to go away, but she had drastically changed her operations style. This situation, for instance. She hadn't kidnapped before, it wasn't really her style, but she found that the brutish human methods had proved thus far to be especially effective. Normally, if she had even wanted to keep anyone captive, it would've been in fairy handcuffs in the same room she was in so she could endlessly taunt them. However Artemis, as he had previously proven, was able to escape even the best fairy handcuffs even with mental faculties not fully intact. A good strong rope however tended to be a bit more difficult for the mud boy to wriggle out of, not that she had gone anywhere near tying it herself. That would ruin her manicure.
Until now, the point where she had to make herself painfully obvious, she had succeeded in eluding the LEP and leading them around in circles, all because she had become just a bit more pragmatic. Living and working with humans had helped her to lose some of that childish naïveté that had still been somewhere inside of her, that feeling of security and superiority that had left her prone to mistakes in the past. She couldn't help but be pleased with how smart her older self was getting, trying to lead her on a suicide mission that would allow her to escape the Deeps. Opal had to admit, she had almost fallen for it, but had realized exactly what she would have done in the situation, or rather what she was trying to do. The way young Opal had worked it out, she would have been killed and everything she (her other self) had worked on since the timeline split had massively exploded and her elder self would have become a nuclear, magically charged being. Opal had turned it down with a curt, "Thanks, but no thanks", and had cut off all ties with her other self.
It was funny, really, how quickly she had taken control of this timeline and left herself in the dust. And, if she must say, she was doing a much better job than her other self had ever done in the past regarding Artemis Fowl at this point at least. By now, the genius usually would have attempted some form of daring escape. But he was eerily calm and collected, just to annoy her she supposed. Then again, she had set up this entire place just to annoy him, so she supposed it was fair play. She knew that he had at the very least mentally groaned at just how cliché the entire situation was.
Not to say that it wasn't brilliant, of course. This plan had been in the works for months now. After hearing about the avian hybrids, she knew that she had to test one for brain fluid. The hybrid species were tricky. The cama had given her an intense migraine for several days, but the wholphin (an extremely rare cross between a false killer whale and a dolphin) had given her a short several hours of intense stamina and increased perception. While human fluid was good for little but moisturization, combined with the avian DNA it could prove to be something remarkable, or so she hoped. The fact that the hybrid organism itself was viable and was assumed to be fertile was a miracle in and of itself. Hopefully it would prove the same for her.
She knew that eventually Artemis would butt in just as he always did, so she had controlled for that in her plan as well. And, due to that insufferable dramatic flair of hers, she couldn't resist putting on a show. She had intentionally taken the dog to the pound (and given him a memory drug as well, seeing as he was remarkably sentient) and may have suggested the idea to Angeline Fowl one day when both Artemis's were away on business. When Artemis had returned, Angeline had presented him with a dog and a new ultimatum. The avian children had thankfully been smart enough to work it out, and from there she sent her standby team the signal and her plan had finally been set in motion. And was being perfectly executed, might she add.
Her communicator chirped, and she sighed and allowed herself to float down and land lightly on the plush carpet. Seeing the message on screen, she smiled. Still, everything was going to plan. The girl's blood had been drawn, and there was a sufficient amount to conduct tests on. She and Artemis were secured in the downstairs basement still, and hadn't made any movements or intentions known that indicated they were trying to escape. Running a brush through her long dark hair, she regarded herself experimentally in the mirror, cocking one eyebrow in what she hoped was a thoroughly condescending and amused expression. She looked forward to using it.
Striding out the door with a determined gait, Opal couldn't help but smile. She couldn't wait for the fun to really begin.
AN: Sorry for the long wait, I had several AP exams and finals and such that were really eating my time. I feel like this chapter shifts in and out of character, especially with Max. Maybe its her stubbornness that makes her so dang hard more me to write. Just several quick things:
A wholpin and a cama are both actually real things. I promise I didn't just make it up. I'd like to see what a wholpin looks like.
If you haven't seen Star Trek: Into Darkness, I would highly recommend it. I went to see it for Benedict Cumberbatch, but accidentally fell in love with every one else in the movie, the characters, the fandom, and the score, which I would recommend listening to as well. Some of the stuff that Giacchino does with the music in relation to what's happening in the film almost make me cry whenever I listen to a specific track. But anyways, it's really good.
Also, don't forget to vote on pairings on my profile page! I'm still not sure where I want to go with that (or if I even want to go anywhere), so I really need some input if you have an opinion. I'm willing to explore new things with this story, so go vote! :)
I think that's all. I hope you liked the chapter, it was hard for me to write!