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Authors: Eoin Colfer

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Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex

BOOK: Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex
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Copyright © 2010 by Eoin Colfer

All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney • Hyperion Books, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.

First American Edition
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
V567-9638-5-10135

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file.

ISBN 978-1-4231-4322-2

Visit
www.hyperionbooksforchildren.com

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Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code

Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony

Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, The Graphic Novel

Airman

Half Moon Investigations

The Supernaturalist

The Wish List

Benny and Babe

Benny and Omar

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Spud Murphy

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of The Worst Boy in the World

For Ciarán, who will hear many rugby stories

PROLOGUE
ARTEMIS FOWL:
SO FAR, SO BAD

ARTEMIS
was once an Irish boy who longed to know everything there was to know, so he read book after book until his brain swelled with astronomy, calculus, quantum physics, romantic poets, forensic science, and anthropology, among a hundred other subjects. But his favorite book was a slim volume that he’d never once read himself. It was an old hardback that his father often chose as a bedtime tale, entitled
The Crock of Gold
, which told the story of a greedy bucko who captured a leprechaun in a vain effort to steal the creature’s gold.

When the father had finished reading the last word on the last page, which was
Fin
, he would close the worn leather-bound cover, smile down at his son, and say, “That boy had the right idea. A little more planning and he would have pulled it off,” which was an unusual opinion for a father to voice. A
responsible
father, at any rate. But this was not a typically responsible parent— this was Artemis Fowl Senior, the kingpin of one of the world’s largest criminal empires. The son was not so typical either. He was Artemis Fowl II, soon to become a formidable individual in his own right, both in the world of man and the fairy world beneath it.

A little more planning, Artemis Junior often thought as his father kissed his forehead. Just a little more planning
.

And he would fall asleep and dream of gold.

As young Artemis grew older, he often thought about
The Crock of Gold
. He even went so far as to do a little research during schooltime and was surprised to find a lot of credible evidence for the existence of the fairy folk. These hours of study and planning were nothing but lighthearted distractions for the boy until the day his father disappeared in the Arctic following a
misunderstanding
with the Russian Mafiya. The Fowl empire quickly disintegrated, with creditors crawling out of the woodwork and debtors burrowing into it.

It is up to me, Artemis realized. To rebuild our fortune and find Father
.

So he dusted off the leprechaun folder. He would catch a fairy and ransom it back to its own people for gold.

Only a juvenile genius could make this plan a success
, Artemis correctly concluded.
Someone old enough to grasp the principles of commerce, yet young enough to believe in magic.

With the help of his more than capable bodyguard, Butler, twelve-year-old Artemis actually succeeded in capturing a leprechaun and holding it captive in Fowl Manor’s reinforced basement. But this leprechaun was a
she
not an
it.
And remarkably humanoid with it. What Artemis had previously thought of as temporarily detaining a lesser creature now seemed uncomfortably like abducting a girl.

There were other complications too: these leprechauns were not the hokey fairies of storybooks. They were high-tech creatures with attitude, members of an elite fairy police squad: the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Unit, or LEPrecon, to use their acronym. And Artemis had kidnapped Holly Short, the first female captain in the unit’s history. An act that had not endeared him to the well-armed fairy underworld.

But in spite of a niggling conscience and LEP attempts to derail his plan, Artemis managed to take delivery of his ill-gotten gold, and in return he released the elfin captain.

So, all’s well that ends well?

Not really.

No sooner had the earth settled from the first fairy– human standoff in decades than the LEP uncovered a plot to supply the goblin gangs with power sources for their softnose lasers. Number one suspect: Artemis Fowl. Holly Short hauled the Irish boy down to Haven City for interrogation, only to discover, to her amazement, that Artemis Fowl was actually innocent of something. The two struck an uneasy bargain, where Artemis agreed to track down the goblins’ supplier if Holly would help him to rescue his father from the Russian gang that held him prisoner. Both parties upheld their respective ends of the bargain, and in the process developed a respect and trust for each other that was underpinned by a shared sharp sense of humor.

Or at least this used to be the case. Recently, things have changed. In some ways he is as sharp as ever, but a shadow has fallen across Artemis’s mind.

Once upon a time, Artemis saw things that no one else could see, but now he sees things that are not there. . . .

CHAPTER
1
COLD VIBES

Vatnajökull, Iceland

Vatnajökull is the biggest glacier in Europe, with an area of more than five thousand stark blue-white miles. It is, for the most part, uninhabited and desolate and, for scientific reasons, the perfect place for Artemis Fowl to demonstrate to the Fairy People how exactly he planned to save the world. Also, a little dramatic scenery never hurts a presentation.

One part of Vatnajökull that does see human traffic is the Great Skua restaurant on the shores of the glacier lagoon, which caters to groups of ice tourists from May to August. Artemis had arranged to meet the proprietor at this
closed for the season
establishment very early on the morning of September first. His fifteenth birthday.

Artemis steered his rented snowmobile along the lagoon’s rippling coastline, where the glacier sloped into a black pool dotted with a crazy-paving pattern of broken ice plates. The wind roared around his head like an excited crowd in a stadium, carrying with it arrowheads of sleet that peppered his nose and mouth. The space was vast and unforgiving, and Artemis knew that to be injured alone on this tundra would lead to a quick and painful death—or at the very least abject humiliation before the popping flashes of the tourist season’s tail end, which was slightly less painful than a painful death, but lasted longer.

The Great Skua’s owner—a burly Icelander in proud possession of both a walrus mustache with the wingspan of a fair-sized cormorant and the unlikely name of Adam Adamsson—stood in the restaurant’s porch, popping his fingers and stamping his feet to an imaginary rhythm and also finding the time to chuckle at Artemis’s erratic progress along the lagoon’s frozen shore.

“That was a mighty display,” said Adamsson when Artemis finally managed to ram the snowmobile into the restaurant’s decking. “Hell,
harður maður
. I haven’t laughed that hard since my dog tried to eat his reflection.”

Artemis smiled dourly, aware that the restaurateur was poking fun at his driving skills, or lack thereof. “Hmmph,” he grunted, dismounting the Ski-Doo as stiffly as a cowboy after three days on a cattle drive, whose horse had died, forcing him to ride the broadest cow in the herd.

The old man actually cackled. “Now you even sound like my dog.”

It was not Artemis Fowl’s habit to make undignified entrances, but without his bodyguard Butler on hand, he had been forced to rely on his own motor skills, which were famously unsophisticated. One of the sixth-year wits at St. Bartleby’s School, the heir to a hotel fortune, had nicknamed Artemis
Left Foot Fowl
, as in he had two left feet and couldn’t kick a football with either of them. Artemis had tolerated this ribbing for about a week and then bought out the young heir’s hotel chain. This choked the teasing off abruptly.

“Everything is ready, I trust?” said Artemis, flexing fingers inside his patented Sola-Gloves. He noticed that one hand was uncomfortably warm; the thermostat must have taken a knock when he’d clipped an ice obelisk half a mile down the coast. He tugged out the power wire with his teeth; there was not much danger of hypothermia, as the autumn temperature hovered just below zero.

“And hello to you,” said Adamsson. “Nice to finally meet you face-to-face, if not eye-to-eye.”

Artemis did not rise to the forge-a-relationship lure that Adamsson had tossed out. He did not have room in his life at the moment for yet another friend that he didn’t trust.

“I do not intend to ask you for your daughter’s hand in marriage, Mr. Adamsson, so I think we can skip over any icebreakers you may feel obliged to offer. Is everything ready?”

Adam Adamsson’s pre-prepared icebreakers melted in his throat, and he nodded half a dozen times.

“All ready. Your crate is around the back. I have supplied a vegetarian buffet and goody bags from the Blue Lagoon Spa. A few seats have been laid out too, as bluntly requested in your terse e-mail. None of your party turned up, though—nobody but you—after all my labors.”

Artemis lifted an aluminium briefcase from the SkiDoo’s luggage box. “Don’t you worry about that, Mr. Adamsson. Why don’t you head back to Reykjavík and spend some of that extortionate fee you charged me for a couple of hours’ usage of your frankly third-rate restaurant and perhaps find a friendless tree stump to listen to your woes?”

A couple of hours. Third-rate. Two plus three equals five. Good.

Now it was Adamsson’s turn to grunt, and the tips of his walrus mustache quivered slightly.

“No need for the attitude, young Fowl. We are both men, are we not? Men are entitled to a little respect.”

“Oh, really? Perhaps we should ask the whales? Or perhaps the mink?”

Adamsson scowled, his windburned face creasing like a prune. “Okay, okay. I get the message. No need to hold me responsible for the crimes of man. You teenagers are all the same. Let’s see if your generation does any better with the planet.”

Artemis clicked the briefcase’s lock snap precisely twenty times before striding into the restaurant.

“Believe me, we teenagers are not all the same,” he said as he passed Adamsson. “And I intend to do quite a bit better.”

There were more than a dozen tables inside the restaurant, all with chairs stacked on top, except for one, which had been dressed with a linen cloth and laden with bottled glacier water and spa bags for each of the five places.

Five, thought Artemis. A good number. Solid. Predictable. Four fives are twenty.

Artemis had decided lately that five was his number. Good things happened when five was in the mix. The logician in him knew that this was ridiculous, but he couldn’t ignore the fact that the tragedies in his life had occurred in years not divisible by five: his father had disappeared and been mutilated, his old friend Commander Julius Root of the LEP had been murdered by the notorious pixie Opal Koboi, both in years with no five. He was five feet five inches tall and weighed fifty-five kilos. If he touched something five times or a multiple of that, then that thing stayed reliable. A door would remain closed, for example, or a keepsake would protect that doorway, as it was supposed to.

Today the signs were good. He was fifteen years old. Three times five. And his hotel room in Reykjavík had been number forty-five. Even the Ski-Doo that had got him this far unscathed had a registration that was a multiple of five, and boasted a fifty cc engine to boot. All good. There were only four guests coming to the meeting, but including him that made five. So no need to panic.

A part of Artemis was horrified by his newfound superstition about numbers.

Get a grip on yourself. You are a Fowl. We do not rely on luck—abandon these ridiculous obsessions and compulsions.

Artemis clicked the case’s latch to appease the number gods—twenty times, four fives—and felt his heart slow down.

I will break my habits tomorrow, when this job is done.

He loitered at the maître d’s podium until Adamsson and his snow tractor had disappeared over a curved ridge of snow that could have been a whale’s spine, then waited a further minute until the vehicle’s rumbling had faded to an old smoker’s cough.

Very well. Time to do some business.

Artemis descended the five wooden steps to the main restaurant floor (
excellent
,
good omen
), threading a series of columns hung with replicas of the Stóra-Borg mask until he arrived at the head of the laid table. The seats were angled to face him, and a slight shimmer, like a heat haze, flickered over the tabletop.

“Good morning, friends,” said Artemis in Gnommish, forcing himself to pronounce the fairy words in confident, almost jovial, tones. “Today’s the day we save the world.”

The heat haze seemed more electrical now with crackles of neon-white interference running through it, and faces swimming in its depths like ghosts from a dream. The faces solidified and grew torsos and limbs. Small figures, like children, appeared. Like children, but not the same. These were representatives of the Fairy People, and among them perhaps the only friends Artemis had.

“Save the world?” said Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon. “Same old Artemis Fowl, and I say that sarcastically, as
saving the world
is not like you at all.”

Artemis knew he should smile, but he could not, so instead he found fault, something that would not seem out of character.

“You need a new shield amplifier, Foaly,” he said to a centaur who was balanced awkwardly on a chair designed for humans. “I could see the shimmer from the front porch. Call yourself a technical expert? How old is the one you’re using?”

Foaly stamped a hoof, which was an irritated tic of his and the reason he never won at cards. “Nice to see you too, Mud Boy.”

“How old?”

“I don’t know. Maybe four years.”

“Four. There, you see. What sort of number is that?”

Foaly stuck out his bottom lip. “What
sort
of number? There are
types
now, Artemis? That amplifier is good for another hundred years. Maybe it could do with a little tuning, but that’s all.”

Holly stood and walked lightly to the head of the table.

“Do you two have to start with the sparring right away? Isn’t that getting a little clichéd after all these years? You’re like a couple of mutts marking territory.” She laid two slim fingers on Artemis’s forearm. “Lay off him, Artemis. You know how sensitive centaurs are.”

Artemis could not meet her eyes. Inside his left snow boot, he counted off twenty toe-taps.

“Very well. Let’s change the subject.”

“Please do,” said the third fairy in the room. “We’ve come across from Russia for this, Fowl. So if the subject could be changed to what we came here to discuss . . .”

Commander Raine Vinyáya was obviously not happy being so far from her beloved Police Plaza. She had assumed command of LEPgeneral some years previously and prided herself on keeping a finger in every ongoing mission. “I have operations to get back to, Artemis. The pixies are rioting, calling for Opal Koboi’s release from prison, and the swear toad epidemic has flared up again. Please do us the courtesy of getting on with it.”

Artemis nodded. Vinyáya was being openly antagonistic, and that was an emotion that could be trusted, unless of course it was a bluff and the commander was a secret fan of his, unless it was a double bluff and she really did feel antagonistic.

That sounds insane
, Artemis realized.
Even to me.

Though she was barely forty inches tall, Commander Vinyáya was a formidable presence and someone that Artemis never intended to underestimate. While the commander was almost four centuries old in fairy years, she was barely middle-aged, and in any terms she was a striking figure: lean and sallow, with the reactive feline pupils occasionally found in elfin eyes, but even that rarity was not her most distinctive physical characteristic. Raine Vinyáya had a mane of silver hair that seemed to trap any available light and send it rippling along her shoulders.

Artemis cleared his throat and switched his focus from numbers to the project, or, as he liked to think of it,
THE PROJECT.
In the end, when it came down to it, this was the only plan that mattered.

Holly punched his shoulder gently.

“You look pale. Even paler than usual. You okay, birthday boy?”

Artemis finally succeeded in meeting her eyes—one hazel, one blue—framed by a wide brow and a slash of auburn fringe, which Holly had grown out from her usual crew cut.

“Fifteen years old today,” muttered Artemis. “Three fives. That’s a good thing.”

Holly blinked.

Artemis Fowl muttering? And no mention of her new hairstyle— usually Artemis picked up on physical changes straight away.

“I . . . ah . . . I suppose so. Where’s Butler? Scouting the perimeter?”

“No. No, I sent him away. Juliet needed him.”

“Nothing too serious?”

“Not serious but necessary. Family business. He trusts you to look after me.”

Holly’s lips tightened as though she had tasted something sour.

“He trusts somebody else to shepherd his principal? Are you sure this is Butler we’re talking about?”

“Of course. And anyway, it’s better that he’s not here. Whenever my plans go awry, he’s close at hand. It’s vital,
imperative
, that this meeting go ahead and that nothing goes wrong.”

Holly’s jaw actually dropped in shock. It was almost comical to see. If she understood Artemis correctly, he was
blaming
Butler for the failure of previous schemes. Butler? His staunchest ally?

“Good idea. Let’s go ahead, then. The four of us should get this show on the road.”

This from Foaly, who had spoken the dreaded number with no thought for the consequences.

Four. Very bad number. The absolute worst. Chinese people hate the number four because it sounds like their word for death.

Almost worse than saying the number four was the fact that there were only four people in the room. Commander Trouble Kelp had apparently not been able to make it. In spite of their historic dislike for each other, Artemis wished the commander were here now.

“Where is Commander Kelp, Holly? I thought he was attending today. We could use the protection.”

Holly stood at the table, ramrod straight in her blue jumpsuit, acorn cluster glittering on her chest.

“Trouble . . . Commander Kelp has enough to deal with in Police Plaza, but don’t worry. There’s an entire squadron of LEPtactical hovering overhead in a shielded shuttle. Not even a snow fox could make it in here without a singed tail.”

Artemis shucked off his snow jacket and gloves. “Thank you, Captain. I am encouraged by your thoroughness. As a matter of interest, how many fairies are there in an LEP squadron? Exactly?”

“Fourteen,” replied Holly, one jagged eyebrow raised.

“Fourteen. Hmm. That is not so . . .” Then a lightbulb moment. “And a pilot, I presume?”

“Fourteen
including
the pilot. That’s enough to take on any human squadron you care to throw at them.”

For a moment it seemed as though Artemis Fowl would turn around and flee the meeting that he himself had requested. A tendon tugged at his neck, and one forefinger tapped the chair’s wooden headrest. Then Artemis swallowed and nodded with a nervousness that escaped from him like a canary from a cat’s mouth before being swallowed back down.

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