The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer




  HYPERION BOOKS

  New York

  Text copyright © 2003 by Eoin Colfer

  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.

  New Disney • Hyperion paperback edition, 2009

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Printed in the United States of America

  ISBN 978-1-4231-2453-5

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

  Visit www.artemisfowl.com

  Visit www.hyperionbooksforchildren.com

  Table of Contents

  Prologue

  Part 1 Attack

  Chapter 1 The Cube

  Chapter 2 Lockdown

  Chapter 3 On Ice

  Chapter 4 Running In The Family

  Chapter 5 The Metal Man And Themonkey

  Chapter 6 Assault On Fowl Manor

  Chapter 7 The Best-laid Plans

  Part 2 Counterattack

  Chapter 8 Hooks, Lines, Andsinkers

  Chapter 9 Ghosts In The Timemachine

  Chapter 10 Fingers And Thumbs

  Chapter 11 The Invisible Man

  Chapter 12 Mind Wipe

  Epilogue

  Preview Of Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception

  Artemis Fowl: Read The Entire Series

  Artemis Fowl Book 1

  Artemis Fowl Book 2: The Arctic Incident

  Artemis Fowl Book 3: Eternity Code

  Artemis Fowl Book 4: Opal Deception

  Artemis Fowl Book 5: Lost Colony

  Artemis Fowl Book 6: Time Paradox

  Artemis Fowl Book 7: Atlantis Complex

  To the Power family

  In-laws and Outlaws

  PROLOGUE

  Excerpt from Artemis Fowl’s diary, disk 2 (encrypted)

  For the past two years my business enterprises have thrived without parental interference. In this time, I have sold the Pyramids to a Western businessman, forged and auctioned the Lost Diaries of Leonardo da Vinci, and separated the fairy People from a large portion of their precious gold. But my freedom to plot is almost at an end. As I write, my father lies in a hospital bed in Helsinki where he is recovering after a two-year imprisonment by the Russian Mafiya. He is still unconscious following his ordeal, but he will awaken soon and retake control of the Fowl finances.

  With two parents resident in Fowl Manor, it will be impossible for me to conduct my various illegal ventures undetected. Previously this would not have been a problem, as my father was a bigger crook than I, but Mother is determined that the Fowls are going straight.

  However, there is time for one last job. Something that my mother would not approve of. I don’t think the fairy folk would like it much either. So I shall not tell them.

  PART 1

  ATTACK

  CHAPTER 1

  THE CUBE

  Knightsbridge, London

  Artemis Fowl was almost content. His father would be discharged from Helsinki’s University Hospital any day now. He himself was looking forward to a delicious lunch at En Fin, a London seafood restaurant, and his business contact was due to arrive at any moment. All according to plan.

  His bodyguard, Butler, was not quite so relaxed. But then again, he was never truly at ease. One did not become one of the world’s deadliest men by dropping one’s guard.

  The giant Eurasian man flitted between tables in the Knightsbridge bistro, hiding the usual security items and clearing exit routes.

  “Are you wearing the earplugs?” he asked his employer.

  Artemis sighed deeply. “Yes, Butler, though I hardly think we are in danger here. It’s a perfectly legal business meeting in broad daylight, for heaven’s sake.”

  The earplugs were actually sonic filter sponges cannibalized from fairy Lower Elements Police helmets. Butler had obtained the helmets, along with a treasure trove of fairy technology, when one of Artemis’s schemes had pitted him against a fairy SWAT team more than a year before. The sponges were grown in LEP labs, and had tiny porous membranes that sealed automatically when decibel levels surpassed safety standards.

  “Maybe so, Artemis, but the thing about assassins is that they like to catch you unawares.”

  “Perhaps,” replied Artemis, perusing the menu’s entrée section. “But who could possibly have a motive to kill us?”

  Butler shot one of the half dozen diners a fierce glare, just in case she might be planning something. The woman must have been at least eighty.

  “They might not be after us. Remember, Jon Spiro is a powerful man. He put a lot of companies out of business. We could be caught in a crossfire.”

  Artemis nodded. As usual, Butler was right, which explained why they were both still alive. Jon Spiro, the American he was meeting, was just the kind of man who attracted assassins’ bullets—a successful IT billionaire with a shady past and alleged Mob connections. Rumor had it that his company, Fission Chips, had made it to the top on the back of stolen research. Of course, nothing was ever proven. Not that Chicago’s district attorney hadn’t tried. Several times.

  A waitress wandered over, smiling a dazzling smile.

  “Hello there, young man. Would you like to see the hildren’s menu?”

  A vein pulsed in Artemis’s temple.

  “No, mademoiselle, I would not like to see the children’s menu. I have no doubt that the children’s menu itself tastes better than the meals on it. I would like to order à la carte. Or don’t you serve fish to minors?”

  The waitress’s smile shrunk by a couple of molars. Artemis’s vocabulary had that effect on most people. Butler rolled his eyes. And Artemis wondered who would want to kill him? Most of the waiters and tailors in Europe, for a start.

  “Yes, sir,” stammered the unfortunate waitress. “Whatever you like.”

  “What I would like is a medley of shark and swordfish. Pan seared. On a bed of julienned vegetables and new potatoes.”

  “And to drink?”

  “Spring water. Irish, if you have it. And no ice, please. As your ice is no doubt made from tap water, which rather defeats the purpose of spring water.”

  The waitress scurried to the kitchen, relieved to escape from the pale youth at table six. She’d seen a vampire movie once. The undead creature had had the very same hypnotic stare. Maybe the kid spoke like a grown-up because he was actually five hundred years old.

  Artemis smiled in anticipation of his meal, unaware of the consternation he’d caused.

  “You’re going to be a big hit at the school dances,” Butler commented.

  “Pardon?”

  “That poor girl was almost in tears. It wouldn’t hurt you to be nice occasionally.”

  Artemis was surprised. Butler rarely offered opinions on personal matters.

  “I don’t see myself at school dances, Butler.”

  “Dancing isn’t the point. It’s all about communication.”

  “Communication?” scoffed young Master Fowl. “I doubt there is a teenager alive with a vocabulary equal to mine.”

  Butler was about to point out the difference between talking and communicating when the restaurant door opened. A small, tanned man entered, flanked by a veritable giant. Jon Spiro and his security.

  Butler bent low to whisper in his charge’s ear. “Be careful, Artemis. I know the big one by reputation.”

  Spiro wound through the tables arms outstretched. He was a middle-aged American, thin as a javelin, and barely taller than Artemis himself. In the eig
hties, shipping had been his thing; in the nineties, he had made a killing in the stock market. Now, it was communications. He wore his trademark white linen suit, and there was enough jewelry hanging from his wrists and fingers to gold-leaf the Taj Mahal.

  Artemis rose to greet his associate.

  “Mr. Spiro, welcome.”

  “Hey, little Artemis Fowl. How the hell are you?”

  Artemis shook the man’s hand. His jewelry jangled like a rattlesnake’s tail.

  “I am well. Glad you could come.”

  Spiro took a chair. “Artemis Fowl calls with a proposition, I would walk across broken glass to be here.”

  The bodyguards appraised each other openly. Apart from their bulk, the two were polar opposites. Butler was the essence of understated efficiency. Black suit, shaven head, as inconspicuous as it was possible to be at almost seven feet tall. The newcomer had bleached-blond hair, a cut-off T-shirt, and silver pirate rings in both ears. This was not a man who wanted to be forgotten, or ignored.

  “Arno Blunt,” said Butler. “I’ve heard about you.”

  Blunt took up his position at Jon Spiro’s shoulder.

  “Butler. One of the Butlers,” he said in a New Zealand drawl. “I hear you guys are the best. That’s what I hear. Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.”

  Spiro laughed. It sounded like a box of crickets. “Arno, please. We are among friends here. This is not a day for threats.”

  Butler was not so sure. His soldier’s sense was buzzing like a nest of hornets at the base of his skull. There was danger here.

  “So, my friend. To business,” said Spiro, fixing Artemis with his close set, dark eyes. “I’ve been salivating all the way across the Atlantic. What have you got for me?”

  Artemis frowned. He’d hoped business could wait until after lunch.

  “Wouldn’t you like to see a menu?”

  “No. I don’t eat much anymore. Pills and liquids mostly. Gut problems.”

  “Very well,” said Artemis, laying an aluminum briefcase on the table. “To business, then.”

  He flipped open the case’s lid, revealing a blue cube the size of a mini-disk player nestled in blue foam.

  Spiro cleaned his spectacles with the tail end of his tie.

  “What am I seeing here, kid?”

  Artemis placed the shining box on the table.

  “The future, Mr. Spiro. Ahead of schedule.”

  Jon Spiro leaned in, taking a good look. “Looks like a paperweight to me.”

  Arno Blunt snickered, his eyes taunting Butler.

  “A demonstration, then,” said Artemis, picking up the metal box. He pressed a button and the gadget purred into life. Sections slid back to reveal speakers and a screen.

  “Cute,” muttered Spiro. “I flew three thousand miles for a micro TV?”

  Artemis nodded. “A micro TV. But also a verbally controlled computer, a mobile phone, a diagnostic aid. This little box can read any information on absolutely any platform, electronic or organic. It can play videos, laser disks, DVDs, go online, retrieve e-mail, hack any computer. It can even scan your chest to see how fast your heart’s beating. Its battery is good for two years, and of course it’s completely wireless.”

  Artemis paused, to let it sink in.

  Spiro’s eyes grew huge behind his spectacles.

  “You mean, this box . . .”

  “Will render all other technology obsolete. Your computer plants will be worthless.”

  The American took several deep breaths.

  “But how . . . how?”

  Artemis flipped the box over. An infrared sensor pulsed gently on the back.

  “This is the secret. An omni-sensor. It can read anything you ask it to. And if the source is programmed in, it can piggyback on any satellite you choose.”

  Spiro wagged a finger. “But that’s illegal, isn’t it?”

  “No, no.” Artemis smiled. “There are no laws against something like this. And there won’t be for at least two years after it comes out. Look how long it took to shut down Napster.”

  The American rested his face in his hands. It was too much.

  “I don’t understand. This is years, no decades, ahead of anything we have now. You’re nothing but a thirteen-year-old kid. How did you do it?”

  Artemis thought for a second. What was he going to say? That sixteen months ago Butler had taken on a Lower Elements Police Retrieval Squad and confiscated their fairy technology? Then he had taken the components and built this wonderful box? Hardly.

  “Let’s just say I’m a very smart boy, Mr. Spiro.”

  Spiro’s eyes narrowed. “Maybe not as smart as you’d like us to think. I want a demonstration.”

  “Fair enough.” Artemis nodded. “Do you have a mobile phone?”

  “Naturally.” Spiro placed his cell phone on the table. It was the latest Fission Chips model.

  “Secure, I take it?”

  Spiro nodded arrogantly. “Five-hundred-bit encryption. Best in its class. You’re not getting into the Fission 400 without a code.”

  “We shall see.”

  Artemis pointed the sensor at the handset. The screen instantly displayed an image of the cell phone’s workings.

  “Download?” inquired a metallic voice from the speaker.

  “Confirm.”

  In less than a second, the job was done.

  “Download complete,” said the box, with a hint of smugness.

  Spiro was aghast. “I don’t believe it. That system cost twenty million dollars.”

  “Worthless,” said Artemis, showing him the screen. “Would you like to call home? Or maybe move some funds around? You really shouldn’t keep your bank account numbers on a SIM card.”

  The American thought for several moments.

  “It’s a trick,” he pronounced finally. “You must’ve known about my phone. Somehow, don’t ask me how, you got access to it earlier.”

  “That is logical,” admitted Artemis. “It’s what I would suspect. Name your test.”

  Spiro cast his eyes around the restaurant, fingers drumming the tabletop.

  “Over there,” he said finally, pointing to a video shelf above the bar. “Play one of those tapes.”

  “That’s it?”

  “It’ll do, for a start.”

  Arno Blunt made a huge show of flicking through the tapes, eventually selecting one without a label. He slapped it down on the table, bouncing the engraved silver cutlery half an inch into the air.

  Artemis resisted the urge to roll his eyes, placing the blue box directly onto the tape’s surface.

  An image of the cassette’s innards appeared on the tiny plasma screen.

  “Download?” asked the box.

  Artemis nodded. “Download, compensate, and play.”

  Again the operation was completed in under a second. An old episode of an English soap crackled into life.

  “DVD quality,” commented Artemis. “Regardless of the input. The C Cube will compensate.”

  “The what?”

  “C Cube,” repeated Artemis. “The name I have given my little box. A tad obvious, I admit. But appropriate. The cube that sees everything.”

  Spiro snatched the videocassette.

  “Check it,” he ordered, tossing the tape to Arno Blunt.

  The bleached-blond bodyguard activated the bar’s TV, sliding the video into its slot. Coronation Street flickered across the screen. The same show. Nowhere near the same uality.

  “Convinced?” asked Artemis.

  The American tinkered with one of his many bracelets. “Almost. One last test. I have a feeling that the government is monitoring me. Could you check it out?”

  Artemis thought for a moment, then held the omnisensor close to his mouth. “Cube. Do you read any surveillance beams concentrated on this building?”

  The machine whirred for a moment.

  “The strongest ion beam is eighty kilometers due west. Emanating from U.S. satellite, code number ST1132W. Regis
tered to the Central Intelligence Agency. Estimated time of arrival, eight minutes. There are also several LEP probes connected to . . .”

  Artemis hit the mute button before the cube could continue. Obviously the computer’s fairy components could pick up Lower Elements technology too. He would have to remedy that. In the wrong hands that information would be devastating to fairy security.

  “What’s the matter, kid? The box was still talking. Who are the LEP?”

  Artemis shrugged. “No pay, no play, as you Americans say. One example is enough. The CIA, no less.”

  “The CIA,” breathed Spiro. “They suspect me of selling military secrets. They’ve pulled one of their birds out of orbit, just to track me.”

  “Or perhaps me,” noted Artemis.

  “Perhaps you,” agreed Spiro. “You’re looking more dangerous by the second.”

  Arno Blunt chuckled derisively. Butler ignored it. One of them had to be professional.

  Spiro cracked his knuckles, a habit Artemis detested.

  “We’ve got eight minutes, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, kid. How much for the box?”

  Artemis was not paying attention, distracted by the LEP information that the Cube had almost revealed. In a careless moment, he had nearly exposed his subterranean friends to exactly the kind of man who would exploit them.

  “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

  “I said how much for the box?”

  “First, it’s a cube,” corrected Artemis. “And second, it’s not for sale.”

  Jon Spiro took a deep shuddering breath. “Not for sale? You brought me across the Atlantic to show me something you’re not going to sell me? What’s going on here?”

  Butler wrapped his fingers around the handle of a pistol in his waistband. Arno Blunt’s hand disappeared behind his back. The tension cranked up another notch.

  Artemis steepled his fingers. “Mr. Spiro. Jon. I am not a complete idiot. I realize the value of my Cube. There is not enough money in the world to pay for this particular item. Whatever you could give me, the Cube would be worth a thousand percent more in a week.”

  “So what’s the deal, Fowl?” asked Spiro through gritted teeth. “What are you offering?”

 
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