Darkness enveloped the massive halls, stretching endlessly into an unnaturally black void, a maw of fear and shadow. There was a unhealthy red glow emitting from the end of the tunnel, which, coupled with the oppressing darkness, resembled the malevolent gates of hell. A rumble sounded through the hallways, followed by a laugh. This wasn't one of joy, nor happiness, but of evil, spite, hatred and a insatiable desire for death.
"All is going so perfectly," said the ominous voice with poisonous excitement, followed by another unworldly rumble, "Soon it will begin, and when it does, no one will be able to challenge me. This time, they are all going to die..."
The shrouded figure laughed again, the monster like rumbles mixing with the vehement guffawing as does blood mix with water. The room was illuminated by a hellish red glare, its wicked lambency spilling through the observation window, which opened up into an impossibly cavernous room. As far as the eye could see were capsules laden with wires and tubes, the twisted shapes within them looking nightmarish in the red twilight.
Another rumble emerged from below, the red glow growing in intensity. The figure's features twisted into a rancorous grin as it strode up to a terminal, its interface dark except for one glowing red button, which the shadowy entity pressed without hesitation. The rumbles intensified even more as trails of crimson light snaked through each capsule, the worm-like tendrils twisting through the massive room with blinding speed and efficiency. After no more than a few seconds they had penetrated all of the tubes, after which dissolving into a red mist which filled the air with an insidious blood colored cloud. The rumbling stopped abruptly leaving the hellish scene in complete silence, an impossibly deafening silence. The world seemed to stand still as the figure stood there, waiting in quiet anticipation. A great hissing sound suddenly exploded from every device, like a great snake threatening death. Red eyes glowed from the shadow of the unknown individual's face, its grin growing to a terrifyingly exaggerated size, as one by one tens of thousands of containers opened, their contents stirring violently.
"They will pay," the demonic creature said distantly, as though picturing scenes of carnage within its malevolent mind. "They will suffer for all eternity at my hands!"
It laughed again wickedly as thousands of blood thirsty growls sounded from what was below; an army of darkness.
Haven Memorial Hospital
Artemis lay propped up on the hospital bed, regarding a copy of the haven times newspaper. The miraculous news of his return was still front page news, and related articles filled most of the other pages, detailing the events that occurred more than a year ago. He flipped through it and noticed a picture of himself that was taken when he wasn't saving the world. What I wouldn't do for a decent suit, this hospital gown is hardly fit for any sentient being, much less myself, he thought, looking at his reflection in an adjacent mirror with a copious degree of disgust.
It had been over a year and six months since the battle against Opal Koboi, the last battle. Artemis still felt weird now that Opal was gone, that such an insurmountable foe had finally been vanquished. Artemis never really liked fairy tails, but he couldn't help but wonder if this meant that there was a happily ever after, that it was over and everything was going to be right with the world.
Six months ago he had come back into the realm of the living, and since then he'd been making frequent visits to Haven, working on regaining his memories through a plethora of magical and technological treatments. To say that it was easy would be an egregious lie; it was the most difficult thing Artemis had ever done. It was surreal, like having to start all over, a voluminous blank book that needed to be filled. But with the help of the People he had been able to, bit by bit, unlock the phantasmal secrets of his past. It was not at all like re-learning everything, though Artemis could do so in a matter of years, but rather an unsealing of the memories that were trapped within his spirit. They'd never left him, they just went into a sort of preservative hibernation. Even so, the doctors were skeptical that he'd ever remember everything, but he was Artemis Fowl, he'd been defying every obstacle his entire life. Like death, he thought. It was quite a peculiar feeling to know that he had been dead for over year, that he was in another body, his original buried long ago. But he was alive, and now here he was, bored half to death.
Artemis sighed as he looked out the window, taking in the same view of Haven that he'd seen every day for the past few weeks. He hated being bound like this, unable to leave. He really missed the outside world, all the adventure and activity, but more than anything he missed Holly.
It'd been over a week since she last visited, the LEP had her on a series of above ground recons over the last seven says, and they wouldn't give her a minute to drop by. Others visited him regularly, Butler noisily barging in from time to time to check on him. But now even he was gone, reluctantly going back to Ireland to take care of Miles and Beckett, who were getting into far too much trouble lately. The two of them were recently caught red handed making a laser beam, saying that they needed it to quote "fight the extraterrestrial apparitions of cherry flavored cough medicine". He can handle them, Artemis thought with the slightest bit of doubt.
His thoughts were scattered into a million shards when the door flew open with a bang. There was the sound a one of the nurses protesting outside in the hall for a moment, but quickly stopped. For a second Artemis was terrified, but when Holly came in his tension dissipated. There was nothing subtle about her entry, especially because she was still wearing full recon garb, her new Neutrino 3000 holstered at her hip.
"Sorry I'm late," she said, "Trouble had me doing a whole bunch of redundant jobs for him, with paperwork of all things."
"I was beginning to think you forgot about me Captain," Artemis replied, giving his signature grin.
"Forget? Not a chance mud boy," she said, punching him in the shoulder.
Artemis winced, "I never get used to that, no matter how much I want to."
Holly laughed, "I hope not, or how else am I gonna irritate you?"
Artemis smiled, he was glad to see her.
"So how have you been?" she asked.
Artemis laughed for the first time in a week, "Much better now that you're here, you won't believe how dry the staff around here are, not to mention the food. I doubt even Mulch would eat that pathetic excuse for nourishment."
"Well let's hope you get out of here soon, when you do I'll hook you up with some real Haven cuisine."
"Hopefully you're right, they've been running tests the verify that I am back to my normal self, making sure that there are no holes. I personally think they're stalling, trying to hold onto me as long as they can," said Artemis.
"Having the great Artemis Fowl does indeed sound good for publicity," Holly winked.
They talked for a long time, about their most recent adventure as well as all that transpired while he was dead. Artemis had been surprised to hear that things had been abnormally normal while he was gone, no overly self absorbed villains trying to take over the world at all.
It was getting late when Holly's communicator beeped, it flashed bright red. "Just great," Holly muttered, "all I need right now is another pointless errand." It kept beeping. Finally Holly checked the message. It was from Foaly: Holly Ops booth now.
Artemis let out a long sigh, "Well Holly, looks like duty calls, it's rare that Foaly ever talks in incomplete sentences."
"I guess," Holly grinned, "I'll be sure to check in on you as soon as I can, maybe next time I'll bring you one of your suits, you obviously hate that gown."
"Much obliged Holly, I'll hold you to it," Artemis smiled.
Holly then left the Hospital, walking speedily towards police plaza. What could possibly be going on now?
Ops Booth, Police Plaza.
"Glad you kids could make it," Foaly stated, giving the other occupants of the room a goofy grin.
Holly and Trouble were standing in front of the centaur. Both of them just happened to have been called in at the most inopportune of times so were, understandably, slightly vexed. Foaly didn't seem to want any bruises that day, so he skipped the usual jibes and intentionally provoking jokes that he commonly threw at the commander (primarily due to the fact that the centaur was too important to fire and secondly because he enjoyed it immensely).
"Anyway, here's the breakdown. I've just recently, through my superior technology, intelligence and appreciation for the fine applications of the new surveillance satellites that I designed, though they could have been even more remarkable if the top brass had given me more funding and possibly some more vacation time, paid of course, all inclusive with all the carrots I could..."
"Get on with it!" The two elves yelled in unison, propelling Foaly out of his supremely sidetracked daydreaming.
"Right, I've found some profoundly suspicious individuals above ground, the unintelligent, ill-tempered, scaly kind," Foaly said, bringing up several camera feeds onto the monitors.
The satellite feeds depicted a dismal looking warehouse, though apart from that nothing else.
"Apart from an architectural travesty, what exactly are we looking at?" Kelp inquired.
"Nothing but an abandoned warehouse fifty miles southwest of Dublin, that is until I switch on the ocular filters," Foaly said excitedly. The moment they did, two hot spots appeared just outside the structure. Upon closer examination the two lifeforms resembled the physiology of a goblin.
"It appears as though these certifiably stupid B'wa Kell members thought they could outsmart me by using outdated cloaking devices," Foaly laughed. "They never even took into account the fact that it doesn't mask ones thermal signature." He giggled as though it were a really funny joke.
Though Foaly was getting quite a laugh out of the silliness of creatures less intelligent than the average spoon, everyone else was feeling quite different, especially Trouble, who was becoming more and more like Root every day.
"And how in the name of Frond did they get up there without us knowing? And for that matter how did they even get their hands on technology that should have been recycled decades ago?"
Foaly snorted, "Well it wasn't my fault, maybe you should stop hiring lazy old gnomes to guard remote chute exits, and while your at it maybe you should give me a raise."
"You already get a third of our budget you over glorified pony!" Trouble shouted incredulously.
"I am not a pony, and more importantly I am not over glorified, I'm excessively under glorified," said the offended centaur, crossing his arms defensively.
Trouble was about to interject when Holly spoke up. "Okay you two, stop arguing like a couple of children before I see it fit to test out my new gun."
Both of them quickly silenced, but still gave each other a few quick glares. Eventually Foaly brought up a map on another screen and broke the awkward silence, "Anyway, as I was saying, these goblins are above ground. The good news is that they are far removed from any immediate human contact. However, the bad news is that my scans cannot seem to penetrate the building itself. It appears that whoever is running their little operation is more capable than the average scale bag. This means that we don't know what's in there or if we're dealing with just two goblins or a hundred.
Trouble regarded the screen for a moment, then looked to Holly, "Captain, I need you up there asap. I will mobilize a strike team to deal with them, you just get up there and recon, I don't want any surprises when we make our move. I am giving you full clearance and a pod up to Terra, it leaves in ten minutes so you'd better gear up fast."
"Yes sir!" Holly replied.
She started for the door when she felt Trouble's hand on her shoulder. She turned to him. He looked her in the eye, "None of us know what's going on up there, and I don't like sending in one my best with such little intel. I have no doubt in your abilities Captain, but I mean it when I say be careful. And good luck." She nodded thankfully and quickly made her way out, knowing that she had little time before the next magma flare came.
South West of Dublin, Ireland
The night sky was completely clear, the stars spreading across the dark until they disappeared into the horizon. The wind was a calm additive to the serene visage of the heavens, softly passing through the trees, rustling their leaves in a natural song. The breeze whispered up the grassy knoll on which the LEP Captain stood, causing the vegetation to sway in unison. It was on nights like these that Holly would come to the surface and fly over the forests, just for the sake of it. She loved the clear air, the wind in her face, the freedom it instilled. She longed for that now, but she knew she had a job to do.
She surveyed the land before her. The warehouse sat at the bottom of a small valley surrounded by forests and thick shrubbery. It was in a state of utter disrepair, its metallic walls rusting, the gravel pathway leading to it full of weeds and small bushes. It was an eyesore in such a beautiful place, its lonely skeletal presence looming in front of her.
What a mess, she thought as she looked at it through her helmet zoom.
Foaly cut in over her communicator, "Okay Holly, I've scanned for life signs and it appears that there are few guards outside. You can sneak past them easily if your take the north entrance. Be careful once you get inside, my eye in the sky is limited to the exterior."
"Roger that." Holly replied. She activated her shimmer suit and made her way towards the warehouse.
The goblin sentries took no notice to her presence as she approached the looming metal atrocity, all the while her ears were assaulted by Foaly babbling in the background about how his new shimmer suit model renders one completely invisible, no shimmers at all (which sort of defeats the purpose of the name). Holly reminded herself to punch Foaly later for not shutting his pie hole in the middle of a tense situation, but apart from that she ignored him.
She made her way to the entrance, the large steel door hanging loose on its hinges. Stepping through Holly carefully eased by a sleeping goblin, obviously a sentry that decided to sneak a break. She couldn't help but wince at the sight of the softnose laser he cradled; one well placed shot from that and you're toast.
The room opened up into a hallway. It was lined with glowing lamps, seeming a lot cleaner that the exterior, but there were no goblins in it at all. Foaly chimed in again, "Based upon the blueprints I found for this structure you should be coming up on the main storage room now. Go in, take a look around, and get out. Don't risk anything that may get their attention, you may be invisible but they can still hear you."
"Thanks Mr. know it all," Holly joked, "But I think I can take care of myself better if you would stop breaking my concentration." Foaly said nothing in reply, obviously in concurrence with Holly's point.
The noise was more apparent now, she could hear voices and a lot of metallic clanking. She crept into the massive room, and was quite taken aback by what she saw. There were well over fifty goblins moving about, all carrying various human and fairy weapons and crates of ammunition. Long racks lined the room, completely stacked with various firearms. There had to be at least a few thousand weapons in there, along with a plethora of ammunition.
"You getting this?" asked Holly.
She heard the commander this time, "How on earth did these blundering idiots get this many guns? They could fight a war with all of this."
"I don't know sir, but hopefully we'll know once we get them behind bars."
Holly was a little too preoccupied regarding the scene before her, so much so that she didn't hear the goblin walking up behind her.
"Holly look out!" Foaly screamed over the comm, but it was too late. By the time she turned around the goblin was an inch away, walking in her direction not knowing she was there. What happened next was utter chaos.
Holly attempted to move out of the way, but the goblin still ran right into her, knocking them both onto the ground. The goblin dropped his gun, a G36C assault rifle, which hit the ground and went off. The shot nicked Holly's shimmer suit in the worst possible location, causing it to malfunction and shut down. By the time she had gotten up from the floor every soul in the room was staring at her. Holly did the only thing she could think of doing; she raised her gun and yelled over her speaker. "Drop your weapons! By order of the LEP, you are all under arrest!"
The goblins were dumbfounded at first, completely taken off guard, but suddenly began laughing hysterically. "You really think you can get us all?" laughed the goblin that had tripped on her, raising his rifle.
"No", she said, "But I can get quite a few".
With that she kicked the goblin square in the face, knocking him out instantly. The others quickly raised their wide array of weapons and opened fire, spraying bullets and laser bursts all over Holly's position. She made a run for cover, firing powerful bursts from her Neutrino at her assailants, stunning five right off the bat.
Ducking behind a large shipping container, Holly screamed over her comm link, "Trouble where the is the backup!?"
Trouble's voice was awash with frustration and urgency "An unscheduled flare is blocking our advance! Holly get out of there!"
Holly looked to the way she came in, only to see a dozen goblins cover the exit whilst firing relentlessly at her cover. Holly quickly sprung back, but was still showered by sparks and shrapnel from the bullets. Great now I'm completely boxed in she thought.
She assessed her situation; there was no way she could go out the way she came, and trying to fly out was just as pointless, but if she could just get to a wall she could melt through it with he neutrino and escape. She peaked out around the corner. The least number of goblins were in the back area, only seven, she could take them out and escape. The only problem was the other five dozen unloading from every other direction. "Oh well," she said to herself, "I've had worse".
In a blink of an eye she was out in the open, firing full auto at every goblin in sight. She quickly neutralized ten that didn't run for cover, but the rest quickly rejoined the fray, hailing more bullets in her direction. She sprinted for an old forklift, jumping over a reloading goblin and shooting him in the face. The goblin screeched in pain as it did a complete back-flip from the force of the shot, all the while spraying rounds from his mp5 into a nearby crowd of his comrades, downing three of them.
Crouching against the machine Holly blind fired several wide bursts towards an advancing group, forcing them to find cover. On cue she sprang up, blasting three other goblins, and ran for the wall. She was lucky that they couldn't aim for their lives, but her luck was about to run out. Two goblins came out of nowhere in front of her, one carrying a softnose, the other an ak47. She rapidly fired at them, hitting them both with practiced precision, but not before they got of a burst from their firearms. Most of the rounds went wide, but three found their mark; a laser bolt grazed her helmet, knocking it clean off as well as melting half of it, and two 7.62mm bullets hit her center mass.
The force of the impact threw her back a good six feet, bashing her against a stack of steel barrels. Blue sparks moved furiously around her wounds, but she knew it wasn't going to be enough to heal her fully. She tried to regain her footing, but her strength ebbed from her body like water through a cloth. She weakly reached for her neutrino, which was just a few feet away, but it was kicked aside by a rather large and angry looking goblin.
"We got you now LEP scum!" the goblin grinned, licking its razor sharp teeth, "Let's see just how many bullets it takes to finish you off." He raised his gun, laughing as he did.
Oh my gods, I'm going to die! Holly thought, though she still met the goblin with a defiant glare.
Just as he was about to pull the trigger, the windows of the warehouse smashed, drawing his attention to the noise. Dozens of small spherical objects flew in, clattering to the ground. Holly knew instantly what they were: flash bangs. She screwed her eyes shut as tight as she could. The goblins, however, had no eyelids, so they couldn't do much of anything before they went off. With a loud bang the entire room went white. The goblins screamed in pain, covering their eyes and falling to the floor. The one that was a hairs breadth away from ending her life was in the same situation, writhing on the cement floor, desperately licking his eyeballs in a futile attempt to remedy the pain.
Holly watched in disbelief at what happened next. All of the entrances to the room exploded open, as did the windows and parts of the roof. Through them descended not the LEP, but mud men. They were dressed in black combat armor and wore intimidating helmets, their red lenses gleaming in the night. They poured into the room, two dozen strong, brandishing weapons that looked much like LEP pulse rifles, but much larger and much more dangerous. Any goblin that was still standing was instantly stunned, not one of them had the time or the ability to fire back.
It was over in less then twenty seconds, and then there was complete silence. At this point Holly began to lose consciousness, but she could still see the blur of activity as two of the humans put her on a stretcher and rushed her out of the building, loading her onto some sort of vehicle.
I really need a vacation, Holly thought as she finally succumbed to unconsciousness, letting it envelope her in its velvety dark embrace.