Categories > Books > Artemis Fowl > Dark Days1 Reviews
Trouble meets a very strange pixie, and the squad reviews the damages of the last mission, trying to think of three replacements.
I'm not sure about this chapter. I think that the encounter with Pepper was too stilted, and that the council of war in the mess hall seemed contrived.
LEP Mess Hall
Captain Kelp came to this realization as he entered the mess. Nothing fancy-LEP budget only nominally covered this area of policeman's needs, and it looked rather like a low budget school's cafeteria. Complete with slug patties which were in reality most likely made out of cardboard, rather than tunnel slug.
Rass and Hertz had staked out their own section of a table. Except for a few officers contemplating small cups of fermented fruit juice there weren't many people in the mess. That was understandable, Trouble thought. The shift change was half an hour away and people didn't start coming here until they were off duty.
Trouble got his suspicious slug patty, and then joined the other two. It wasn't until he sat down that he noticed the pixie sitting next to Hertz. She was dressed in sober grays, and her black hair was neatly rolled into a tight bun.
"I suppose you're Trouble Kelp?" she asked brusquely. She had the air of someone who has a grudge against the universe, and it probably had to do with either her name or height, or possibly both.
Captain Kelp, as has been seen, was not having a good day. Normally he was fairly friendly to those he met, with a slight hint of his devil-may-care attitude. Normally. "And who are you?" he growled, not looking up from his slug patty.
"Pepper Silvod, go ahead, get it out of your system. Laugh," she crossed her petite arms.
Hertz did laugh. Pepper wasn't the kind of name that a pixie like this should have. She looked like an irritated secretary. Pepper and over-worked secretary just didn't go in the same sentence together.
"Just what do you want?" Trouble asked tiredly.
"I'm waiting for you to thank me," Pepper told him loftily; she was pointedly ignoring Hertz's giggles at the moment.
"You said you would for getting the computers back up," the pixie said.
"What?" Now Trouble was staring at her. "You're the pixie who figured out Foaly's mess?"
"I have been assigned to be Commander Sool's secretary, so part of my duties are to keep the computer network running, yes," Miss Silvod replied stiffly. "And might I say that if you have complaints about the way LEPretrieval is run you should use the suggestion box."
"Since when does he have the money to pay for a personal secretary?" Corporal Rass inquired gruffly, looking at Miss Silvod.
The pixie colored slightly. "I am not acquainted with where the money came from. Well, am I going to get that thank you, or not? I've been working three days to get the communications back up, and you're the only person in this entire blasted city who has cared!"
"Thanks for the help, Miss Silvod, in getting the communications up, and the medics to our location," Trouble said, trying not to grumble. The woman reminded him of his mother, not a pleasant association at all.
She nodded primly, and then walked away from the table, her heels clicking on the stone floor.
Rass watched her go thoughtfully. Hertz was still chortiling. "She's half your size Captain! Wow! I mean, she just steam-rollered you."
"Oh shut up," Touble growled, biting into his slug patty.
The three were quiet. Trouble was quiet because he had his mouth full. Rass was obviously thinking about something, his big forehead furrowed in concentration. Hertz was quiet because he was a loyal officer of the LEP, and the thoughts going through his head weren't loyal.
Finally, however, Fritz Herz couldn't take it anymore. His hand thumped the table angrily. "Tiff shouldn't of even been banged up. He only came 'cause he heard our radio for help during that sparkle of communication, before it blacked out again."
"He only came because he used to be in our squad," Kelp said around a mouthful of pseudo-slug.
"Silver would have died if it weren't for Tiff," Rass commented.
They were silent for a few minutes. And then, like a beast clawing its way from under the earth, the worst part of Captain Kelp's meeting with Commander Ark Sool was laid before Trouble's teammates.
"Silver's being taken off our squad permanently for having dragged a fellow officer into the mess, and nearly getting him killed."
"WHAT?!" Hertz's yell deserved the caps. People on the street outside looked up in surprise.
"He was the one who radioed the call for help," Kelp said dully.
He felt defeated. He had thought that Foaly's resignation had been the last straw. He had thought that Holly's dramatic resignation-cum-firing had been the last straw. Now he felt as if there were only too many more last straws, and he was standing over an abyss that stretched the length and breadth of Haven. There wasn't any honor left in his badge, or his black jumpsuit.
"He's been placed into Recon, instead. They could use a good elf like him, once he gets back on his feet."
Rass and Hertz nodded, but they felt the insult that had been dealt to their comrade in arms. Recon had always been Retrieval's younger brother, in a sense. Recon meant you saw interesting sights and got there first, but actual danger was for the Retrieval boys to handle.
Especially since Sool had taken over. The gnome had a grudge against Recon that was Holly Short shaped, even if she wasn't there any more. Recon was now where the crybabies went. The fairies who couldn't handle real work.
"We're not to have any more missions for the next three months," Kelp spat out the bitter dessert to their main course of acidic news. "At least. Unless we can find replacements to fill Grevil, Grenza, and Silverweed's spots. We'll need to find a permanent replacement for Silver. D'Arvit."
"They wouldn't be out, either, if it wasn't for Sool!" Hertz snarled, slumping onto the table, his wings flapping listlessly for a few moments. He felt too depressed to swear.
Rass nodded quietly. "The problem, as I see it, rests entirely with Commander Sool. He is not fit for the command that the Council has placed on him."
"So?" asked Trouble. "What the Hell do we do? Mutiny? Or perhaps resign. It won't make much of a difference. Just mean that fresh faced fairies will get fed into the chophouse that this job has become."
"We couldn't /resign/," Hertz looked at Kelp in horror at the idea. They were LEP. Who under earth could survive on civilian street without the constant brotherhood, and dedication to the People that the LEP represented?
"I've been thinking about it," Kelp admitted. "The only thing that's stopped me is the idea of someone stupider than me commanding a mission like today's with a bunch of fresh recruits."
They all shared an internal chill at the thought. However Rass continued in his slow building way.
"We can't resign. You're right about that, Captain. And we can't mutiny. For one thing, we're not part of an organized army, and so by definition we can't. But, think about it, Commander Sool is where he is today because he managed not to get caught doing something that the Council would find unforgivable. What if we managed to get some hard evidence of something unforgivable?"
His superior officers looked at him. Rass hated saying the words. The mere suggestion of this plan in his head was enough to rock the foundations of his world, where authority always carried through. Out loud, he had to forcibly remind himself that this was not mutiny. This was in the People's interest. His people anyway, the fellow fairies of the LEP. Ark Sool was not Commander Root, and that was becoming apparent day after day.
However, when he looked at the faces of his superior officers he was glad that he had voiced that horrible thought. Rass hadn't known them for very long. He had been transferred in from Atlantis when the first six-man mission blew up in Trouble's face. However, he had watched as the elf and sprite were slowly worn down into bitter, cynical fairies. For the first time since he had met them, he saw the expression of hope on both haggard faces.
"How would we do this?" Kelp asked, looking at Rass as if the tough old gnome was his guardian angel.
"We'd need paperwork," Rass stated. "Anything written down."
"Voice recordings!" Hertz said happily. "We know that these missions can technically be done by six man teams, but if he gives an order that any idiot would know was telling a team to walk into certain death, we'd have him!"
"Hold it, Lieutenant," Captain Kelp said, holding up his hands. "We're not tech experts. Getting recordings isn't going to be possible, until that pixie gets Foaly's systems up and running. And I don't think any of us are good enough at espionage to get into his office and out of it in order to get any papers. Besides that, he's going to have security up and running if we make one bungled attempt. Or if we do get what we're after, we're going to have to be on our guard. I wouldn't put it past him to "decommission" anyone going into a council chamber with evidence against him. Not to mention we're all going to have to stay in one piece long enough to get this done. How are we going to do this?"
However, a sprite's spirits aren't good at being dampened, and Hertz's were fired up. "We have the openings on the damned squad, sir, to get just the experts we need without looking suspicious! We can recruit people who bloody-well hate Sool, with the expertise we damn well need!"
"All right," Trouble looked thoughtful. "So, we need someone good at spying and someone good with electronics."
"Too bad we can't get Foaly," Hertz sighed. "He'd be just too damned obvious, though."
"Look," Rass growled. "You fellows seem to think that nothing can be done without that flighty centaur. There are plenty of good tech brains in the force. Just 'cause they're not genius level doesn't mean that they can't do it."
"I think I might know a gremlin in Recon, actually, who'd be just the type to do the espionage shit," Hertz said, thinking hard. "Sool's had him on traffic duty, and this little guy hasn't got any love for gnomes in the first place."
"Know why?" Kelp asked, he didn't want any friction on his new squad.
Hertz shrugged. "He's been demoted for smuggling coffee from the surface a couple of times, always caught by gnomes. Besides, he's a gremlin; gnomes tend to annoy them on a genetic level."
Rass nodded. Gnomes were a race that was plodding, methodical, and rule bound. If a gremlin saw a rule he would go out of his way to break it as hard as possible. There was always a clash of species values whenever the two met. Besides, gremlins were nearly half crazy, caffeine driven maniacs, who had no time for common rock hard sense.
"Alright," Kelp said, "you go and take a look at him. If he's still what you think we want after that, then get his paperwork done. Rass, can you handle looking for someone who can hack fairly well into systems?"
"Aye, Cap'n. Should I look for two techies? Having back up in that department wouldn't be bad." the gnome inquired.
"No, we need someone else added to the squad. Someone who can pull triple his weight in a fight if we're assigned a mission before Sool does or says something that we can use. A gremlin from Recon, and some unknown computer geek can't be counted on if a mission turns nasty. Anyone you two know in Retrieval who's not so keen on Sool, and can cover for three people?"
Rass cleared his throat. "Might know of a person. He's supposed to be a really dangerous guy to have as an enemy. He's from Atlantis, though, and that transfer might be tricky."
"You sure he's someone who would care about who was commanding the Haven branch of the LEP?" Trouble asked, Rass wasn't meeting his eyes, a sure sign that there was something bad at the end of this.
"Well, let me put it this way," the gnome shifted uncomfortably, "he doesn't like anyone much. I don't know if he's still in the LEP, let alone Retrieval. But he's really good in a fight, and with his record, if you pushed for it, you could get him. He helped put down the goblin insurgency in Atlantis last century."
Hertz was staring at Rass in dawning comprehension that made Trouble feel as if he was getting left out of the loop. "You can't be talking about Mark Manace."
"Oh, you've heard of him?" Rass said.
"What sprite hasn't?" Hertz looked at Trouble. "He's trouble, Captain. But, he is, probably, exactly what we need."
Trouble nodded grimly. He knew the name, and the reputation, and he knew that Captain Manace would be exactly what they needed on the team.
"Rass, make certain that the techie you hunt down is as normal as they come. We're going to need someone with a reputation as solid as rock if we get Hertz's gremlin and the unluckiest sprite in history on our squad, or Soule's never going to approve. Now pipe down," Kelp noticed other officers entering the mess, and knew that shifts must be changing, meaning they no longer had a meeting place where they didn't have to worry about being overheard.