Holly Short had never been the best at following orders; she was too stubborn for it. It was that quality, she thought, that made her such an asset to the People. Holly had an iron core that was incapable of yielding. Her father had taught her to always do the right thing, regardless of what else she was told.
So why was she following orders now?
Holly stirred slightly, then jerked awake with a start. Her hands fought to fly up to check herself and down to check her gun, though she knew it would be futile if this Minerva girl was any sort of genius at all. Her brain commanded her hands to move, but they did not obey. Hard, jagged plastic ties dug grooves into her wrists as she struggled against them briefly, her soldier's instinct testing the most obvious options first without even thinking. When that didn't work, Holly's eyes flitted around the room and then down to her chair. The only light came from a black light that was mounted above the door. Holly followed the conduits which powered the purple fluorescent tube and she realized that the lamp was connected in some way to the door. Holly supposed that the light was only engaged when her human captors were not actually in the room.
She made use of the dim light which was so courteously provided, squinting slightly as she weighed her options for escape. There were some things Artemis simply couldn't plan from the outside, but Holly would have had it even if he could. Escaping from over-stepping, curious, greedy Mud People was her area of expertise, a talent awakened by Artemis himself many moons since. She dearly wished for her Section Eight helmet and its night vision filter.
Fairies had a certain amount of night vision on their own, granted to them because of their nature as nocturnal creatures. Still, they had developed the habit of augmenting their natural abilities with technology, and Holly had to strain to keep focus as her brain recalibrated to use what nature had given it. Elves had never had the strongest night vision anyway. They were the species most like the Mud People in that respect; they were perfectly capable of living diurnal lives if they chose to, though it did mean forfeiting the potency of their magic.
Their preference for nocturnal life stemmed from the fact that all fairies had an extremely low tolerance for radiation. What little they had possessed all but completely faded away when they began to move underground. The sun was their magic's enemy; even the small amount of radiation it emitted was enough to slowly siphon away a fairy's magic as it healed the damage, drop by drop.
As it was, Holly was left to rely on her own eyes in the purple half-light. Black lights worked well enough if there were plenty of white or reflective surfaces, but, true to form, Holly's cell was neither white nor reflective. Holly's eyes themselves reflected the purple light. The soldier part of Holly was enthralled, but the rest of her was fuming.
Who did this Minerva girl think she was? Holly couldn't believe that yet another Mud Child was attempting to exploit the People. What was worse, Minerva was hoping to perform experiments on a demon. She wanted to treat one like a caged lab rat. Even Artemis hadn't stooped that low.
Holly glanced down at the bend of her elbow, the phantom image of a cotton pad secured there projecting itself from her mind's eye.
"Ow," Holly said, more from annoyance than pain as she swatted the medical warlocks away like so many flies.
"Captain Short," one of them began, the title coming out awkwardly as he wasn't sure if it still applied.
That stung more than any of the cuts and bruises she had received all night.
"What?" she asked irritably, glaring slightly at them from her seat on the medical bay's high bench.
"It's only that we've been ordered by the Commander to check you for further injuries, seeing as you—"
"I'm fine," she snapped.
"I'd take her word for it if I were you," came a voice from the doorway, which, while supportive, was dripping with sarcasm. Foaly clip-clopped into the room, his tail flicking behind him.
Holly glared at him.
"I'll take it from here," he told the medical warlock, firmly steering him away from the elf.
The medical staff seemed more than happy to take their leave of Holly, temperamental female that she was.
"Thanks," Holly said as Foaly walked over to her.
"Are you all right?" the centaur asked, looking genuinely concerned as he gave her a once-over with his eyes.
"I'll tell you what I told them: I'm fine."
"All right, all right," he replied, raising his hands. He was ready to give her some space until something on his friend's arm caught his attention. He knew Recon's jumpsuits like the back of his hand, and he noticed a small, square rise on the bend of her elbow.
"What's this?" he asked, pulling Holly's arm straight gently.
Holly started to give another irritable reply until her eyes followed Foaly's to her inner elbow. She sighed and rolled her sleeve up, revealing the cotton pad taped to her vein. Her cheeks flushed, both from anger and embarrassment. She had forgotten about it after her first conversation with her human captor. She clenched her fists tightly.
"He said… that he injected sodium pentothal there," she replied eventually, staring at the pad and then looking up at Foaly. "But that doesn't make sense, does it? The time was off, and he didn't need me. He had the Book."
Foaly shrugged and turned to roll a piece of medical equipment closer to Holly.
"Maybe not, but there's only one way to be sure," he said, attaching a little suction cup to the tip of Holly's finger.
Holly didn't feel anything as the machine took a small sample of her blood. Instead, she was busy wavering back and forth from deciding which to be angrier about: Artemis Fowl lying to her, or being somehow relieved at the realization that she had not betrayed sacred secrets about the People.
"Negatory. The Mud Boy never injected you with anything," came Foaly's voice, breaking Holly's reverie.
A lot had changed since then, and Artemis had become a remarkably more likable person. Still, even at his worst, Artemis hadn't been as bad as Minerva. Deep down, it galled Holly that Artemis seemed to identify so much with the Mud Girl. She knew Artemis well enough to hear the little smile edging into his voice when he spoke of her, and for some reason, it got Holly's back up. It made her want to punch either Artemis or Minerva, or maybe both of them.
Holly was not too happy playing the victim…
So why was she doing it?
She slowly tested her ability to revolve her wrists more productively, willing the little welts caused by the friction with the plastic ties to remain unhealed.
Allowing herself to be caught was against everything in Holly's nature. She was a natural-born fighter. But it seemed a certain creature called Artemis Fowl II delighted in making her disobey ancient rules and regulations and principles which outdated him even more than they outdated her.
She fumed for a moment more, but then stopped. He didn't really delight in it anymore, did he? She felt like groaning aloud, but didn't. Artemis was trying to help the People. He'd said so.
Back in Sicily, when Holly had asked Artemis why he was so interested in demons, she had watched as he had unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt and pulled out a leather cord. Her eyes had refocused slightly when the gold coin came into view. Fairies loved gold.
"You gave this to me after you saved my father's life. I owe you. I owe the People. So now I'm doing something for them…"
Great, Holly thought. Now she felt guilty. She was the one tied to a chair, and she felt guilty. There was something very strange happening with the world when Artemis was willingly helping; so much, that she couldn't stay mad at him.
For a moment, she tried asking the question: if he was helping the People, then why wasn't he the one tied to a chair?
She was trying to make herself more upset so her sensible side would shut up, but it wasn't working.
Besides, said a part of her, it doesn't matter why Artemis chose the tactics he did. The soldier in her knew that Artemis was a tactical genius. But it was more than that. Another side of her- the rebellious side that cared as little for rules as he did- trusted him.
There was something about Artemis that made Holly question things. More than that, he made her believe in things. He had this terribly annoying way of weakening her will, but in that she found her strength. And really, if Artemis Fowl was her only weakness, then not much could stop her, could it?