(This is a voting challenge but my entry wasn't included because I mis-remembered the word count limits. Yeah...)
Title: Hardison Fowl
Book chosen: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Warnings (if any): Yeah, my brain, I don't even know...
Word Count: 1,281 (*headdesk* - maximum was 1,250. I thought it was 1,500...)
Disclaimer: Completely not mine, this is Eion Colfer's baby and I won't be posting this anywhere but eljay because entire sections are cribbed from the book, so if you like how this sounds, check out the Artemis Fowl books!
Four months of stakeout. Even Eliot Spencer, the consummate professional, was starting to dread the long nights of dampness and insect bites. He figured he should be grateful, at least the moon wasn't full every night.
It was always the same. They would set up in their foil-lined blind in utter silence – which in itself was a miracle. Getting Alec not to say anything for longer than thirty seconds was ordinarily unheard of. Spencer repeatedly checked the equipment, while Alec stared through the eye of the scope. Despite his training, Spencer longed to whistle, talk, sing, anything to break the silence; but Alec's concentration was absolute. He would brook no interference or lapse of focus. This was business.
Tonight they were in the most inaccessible site yet; Spencer had been forced to make three trips to the truck in order to hump the equipment across a barbed wire fence, a marsh, and two fields. His boots and pants were ruined. And now he had to sit in the blind with ditchwater soaking into the seat of his pants. Alec, of course, had somehow managed to remain spotless. A fact that had him biting the inside of his cheek in order not to swear at his employer.
He was finally running out of patience with this fruitless search for a fairy. A fairy, dammit! Sometimes he wondered if Alec's genius state had made him come unhinged, it wasn’t like the kid to indulge in fantasy outside of his computer games, and yet.... here they were.
"Alec," he said slowly. "Maybe we should call it quits. Four months, and nothing. Maybe you were wrong?"
Alec took a deep breath and Spencer could a kind of resignation cross the kid's face. "Yeah, maybe you're right. It's just -"
Then the proximity alarm flashed red.
Parker hooked her wings over a low branch, unstrapping her helmet to take a deep breath of fresh air – although even here she could taste the tang of pollution. Was there nothing the Mud Men wouldn't destroy given the opportunity? She sighed and placed her helmet at her feet. It was against regulations for a member of the Lower Elements Police to take off her helmet whilst above ground, but everyone did it – after all, when you spent most of your time in the general vicinity of dwarfs and gnomes, even the smell of an above-ground sewage reclamation plant was a welcome relief. She stopped for a minute to admire the view, it was certainly picturesque. Even the Mud Men hadn't been able to destroy that. Not yet anyway. Give them time.
Now, to work. She could do the tourist thing all night once she was done. Her magic was drained, she needed to find a seed from the oak and plant it elsewhere to complete the Ritual. She bent to the ground, brushing the dried leaves and twigs from the clay surface. Her fingers closed around a smooth acorn. There. That wasn't difficult, was it? she thought. All that was left to do was to plant it somewhere and her powers would come rushing back.
Spencer checked the radar again. The red arm swept across the screen painfully slowly, and then... there! An upright figure by the tree. Small, about the size of a teenage boy or a petite woman. He gave Alec the thumbs up. A profile match. Possibly.
Alec nodded, putting his mirrored sunglasses over his eyes. Spencer followed suit, popping the cap of the dart rifle's starlight scope.
Together they crept into the night with practiced silence. The diminutive figure before them unhooked a contraption form around its shoulders and lifted a full-face helmet from its head. Spencer wrapped the rifle strap twist around his wrist, pulling the stock into his shoulder. He activated the scope and a red laser dot appeared in the centre of the figure's back. Alec nodded once and Spencer pulled the trigger.
In spite of a million-to-one odds, it was at that precise moment that the target bent low to the ground.
Something whizzed over Parker's head, something that glinted in the starlight. She had enough on-the-job experience to know that she was under fire and immediately curled her body into a ball, minimising the target.
She drew her weapon, rolling toward the shelter of the tree. Her mind scrambled for possibilities – who could be shooting at her and why?
Something was waiting beside the tree. Something solid, almost rock-like, but considerably more mobile.
"Nice peashooter," grinned the figure, smothering Parker's gun hand in one fist.
She managed to extricate her fingers a nanosecond before the snapped like brittle spaghetti.
"I don't suppose you would consider simply surrendering?" said a cold voice behind her.
She turned, elbows raised for combat.
"No," sighed the kid melodramatically. "I guess not."
Parker put on her best brave face. "Stay back human, you don't know what you're dealing with."
He laughed. "I think, fairy, that you're the one not up to date with the facts."
Fairy? He knew she was a fairy.
"I have magic, mud-boy. Enough to turn you and the gorilla there into pig droppings."
He took a step forward. "Big talk, miss. But you're lying. If you had magic you'dda used it by now. No, way I figure it is you've gone too long without the Ritual and you're here to power-up."
Parker was shocked. There was a human in front of her, casually talking about the sacred secrets. This was a disaster – it could mean the end of generations of peace. If the humans were aware of a fairy subculture, it was only a matter of time before the two species went to war. She had to do something, and there was only one weapon left at her disposal.
The Mesmer is the lowest form of magic and only requires a trickle of power – there are even humans with a bent for the talent. It is within the ability of even the most drained fairy to put a complete mind kibosh on any human alive.
"Human," she intoned, her voice suddenly resonating with bass tones. "Your will is mine."
Alec smiled, safe behind his mirrored lenses. "Doubt it," he said, and nodded curtly.
Parker felt the dart puncture her suit's toughened material, depositing its load of curare and succinylcholine chloride-based tranquiliser into her shoulder. The world dissolved into a series of techni-coloured bubbles and, try as she might, Parker couldn't seem to hold onto more than one thought. And that thought was: How did they know? It spiralled around her head as she sank into unconsciousness. How did they know? How did they know? How did they....
Alec saw the pain in the creature's eyes as the hollow hypodermic plunged into her body. And for a moment he experienced misgivings. A female. He hadn't expected that. A female, like Nana. Then the moment passed and he was himself again.
"Good shot," he said, bending to study their prisoner. Definitely a girl. Pretty too. In a pointy sort of way.
Spencer was pointing to the creature's helmet. It was half-buried in a drift of leaves where the fairy had dropped it. A buzzing nose was coming from the crown.
Alec picked it up by the straps, searching for the source.
"Gotcha." He plucked the viewcam from the slot, careful to point the lens away from Spencer. "Fairy tech. Impressive," he muttered, popping the battery from its groove. The camera whined and died. "Nuclear power source, looks like. Gotta be careful we don't underestimate them."
Spencer nodded, sliding their captive into an oversized duffel bag. One more thing to be lugged across two fields, a marsh and a barbed wire fence.