'DNA never lies,' said Merv and Scant simultaneously.
Grub reset his video goggles. 'I think Doctor Argon needs a little vacation.'
'You're telling me,' sniggered Merv, rolling the trolley towards the maintenance elevator. 'Anyway, we better get going, brother. We need to isolate the cause of the power failure.'
Scant followed him down the corridor. 'Any idea where the problem could be?'
'I have a hunch. Let's try the parking lot, or maybe the basement.'
'Whatever you say. After all, you are the older brother.'
'And wiser,' added Merv. 'Don't forget that.'
The pixies continued down the corridor, their brisk banter masking the fact that their knees were shaking, and their hearts were battering their rib cages. It wasn't until they had removed the evidence of their acid bombs, and were well on their way home in the van, that they began to breath normally again.
Merv unzipped Koboi from her sealed compartment back in the apartment he shared with Scant. Any worries they'd had about Opal's IQ taking a dip were immediately banished. Their employer's eyes were bright and aware.
'Bring me up to speed,' she said, climbing shakily from the trolley. Even though her mind was fully functioning, it would take a couple of days in an electro-massager to get her muscles back to normal.
Merv helped her onto a low sofa. 'Everything is in place. The funds, the surgeon, everything.'
Opal drank greedily, straight from a jug of core water on the coffee table. 'Good, good. And what of my enemies?'
Scant stood beside his brother. They were almost identical except for a slight wideness in Merv's brow. He had always been the smart one.
'We have kept tabs on them, as you asked.' br>
OOpal stopped drinking. 'Asked?'
'Instructed,' stammered Scant. 'Instructed, of course. That's what I meant.'
Koboi's eyes narrowed. 'I do hope the Brill brothers haven't developed any independent notions since I've been asleep.'
Scant stooped slightly, almost bowing. 'No, no, Miss Koboi. We live to serve. Only to serve.'
'Yes,' agreed Opal. 'And you live only as long as you do serve. Now, my enemies. They are well and happy, I trust.'
'Oh yes. Julius Root goes from strength to strength as LEP Commander. He has been nominated for the Council.'
Opal smiled, a vicious wolverine's smile. 'The Council. Such a long way to fall. And Holly Short?'
'Back on full active duty. Six successful reconnaissance missions since you induced your coma. Her name has been put on the list for promotion to major.'
'Major, indeed. Well the least we can do is to make sure that promotion never comes through. I plan to wreck Holly Short's career, so she dies in disgrace.'
'The centaur Foaly is as obnoxious as ever,' continued Scant Brill. 'I suggest a particularly nasty .'
Opal raised a delicate finger, cutting him off. 'No. Nothing happens to Foaly just yet. He will be defeated by intellect alone. Twice in my life, someone has outsmarted me. Both times it was Foaly. Just killing him requires no ingenuity. I want him beaten, humiliated and alone.' She clapped her hands in delighted anticipation. 'And then I will kill him.'
'We have been monitoring Artemis Fowl's communications. Apparently the human youth has spent most of the past year trying to find a certain painting. We have traced the painting to Munich.'
'A painting? Really?' Cogs turned in Opal's brain. 'Well, let's make sure we get to it before he does. Maybe we can add a little something to his work of art.'
Copyright 2005 by Eoin Colfer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Penguin Group (UK). No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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