“So what now?” asked Jason.
“What do you mean?” Annabeth asked.
“You have the bolt but not the helm. There’s no way to get back by that night for the meeting. Also, you’re stuck in the middle of the ocean, so unless you’ve figured something out the you’re not moving anywhere.”
“Yeah,” Percy said. “Not that big of an issue. Hades caused a pretty big earthquake. We figured it out as you would see if you watched. Actually can we get more snacks? I need water and some popcorn for this.”
“Wait this is it?” Clarisse asked.
“Then popcorn might be good.”
Their requests were answered. People got up and grabbed popcorn bowls to share among their chairs and bean bags. Percy grabbed some blue cherry coke and sat down to fight with Jason and Thalia over the bowl.
“I don’t believe it…..all that way—”
“Wait how’d you get back?” asked Samira.
“Coast guard picked us up. It was a large earthquake.”
“I remember,” Piper whispered Leo looked at her then smirked. He could guess which familiar faces they would be seeing next.
“It was a trick….of Athena.”
“I’m not suggesting that,” he told everyone.
“We realized,” Thalia said hitting him over the head.
“You get it….you?”
“Well, I don’t! Would somebody—”
“Yes please,” nodded Jaz.
“Percy….I’m so sorry….”
“How are you going to get her back?” asked Magnus now somber.
“I said I’m not telling. But she’s back and I’m waiting for a baby sister now so hopefully she’ll stay back,” Percy said.
Magnus nodded now vaguely remembering him referencing helping build a crib before then he blanched. Alex seemed to realize what he was thinking. “She’s having a baby with Gabe?”
“Ugh, no!” Percy pulled a disgusted face. “I’m not telling you anymore than that though.”
“The prophecy was right….and I’ll have caused it.”
“So the god was…” Frank started realizing. “No wonder you hate each other.”
“No wonder Percy hates him. Wait till you see the next part,” Annabeth said taking some more popcorn from the bowl Magnus was holding.
“Oh,” Thalia said. “That’s this.”
“What?” Nico said. Then, “Oh.”
Several others had put it together but other’s were still clueless. “Who?” demanded Leo.
“But who would be……want war that bad?”
That’s when there was a collective oh around the room. Then they looked at Percy. “What are you going to do about that?” asked Hazel.
“You can’t fight a god,” agreed Reyna.
“We’ve fought giants, monsters and titans, what’s the difference?” asked Piper.
“G-ds are powerful, enough to defeat giants and titans. They have powers over things, and while Titans and giants do have powers they don’t have as much over the actual areas while the gods still control them,” Apollo said.
“You can actually fight one,” Carter said. “The Egyptian ones have to have anchors and hosts. Makes them a bit easier to defeat.”
“Makes it possible,” Walt corrected. “It takes the help of other gods, lots of power and training.”
“Same with the Norse. Though it’s more likely the gods will fight the gods and the undead army when they’re summoned to help fight them and mosnters,” Alex said.
“Basically you’re not mortal,” Annabeth said. “Or like a normal demigod.”
“So how are you going too….” Hazel started but was stopped.
“I wasn’t done,” Annabeth said. “You can fight gods. You just need to be smart about it, and powerful. Some of us could probably fight them. Depends on the god too,” Annabeth said. “Demigods also just have more trouble challenging gods than titans and giants because we respect them, or most of us do.”
Everyone got where she was going with this and looked at Percy.
“Gee, let ….think.”
There he was…..turning the sand red.
Sadie looked at her friends. Zia shivered. “Red sands.”
“What’s with that?” asked Frank.
“Red’s the color of evil, nothing grows on red,” Walt explained.
“Hey, kid….supposed to die.”
“You tricked…..and the master bolt.”
“Lord Mars?” Hazel squeaked.
“He’s Ares, not the same,” Percy said.
“Still, that is disconcerting,” Reyna replied.
“We’re not at the end of the story. You need all the facts,” Percy reminded her.
“Well, now, I didn’t steal them…..can run errands.”
“There’s still a spy?” asked Jason.
“Not a spy,” Percy told him.
“Which demigod?” demanded Piper.
“Can’t say that.”
“Who did you...the winter solstice.”
“Sorry,” Percy apologized.
“You’ll pay for it later Jackson. Let’s just get this over with.”
“Doesn’t matter….still looking for this….”
“He took it!” cried out Hazel.
“But that means they found it,” Blitz told her.
“So that’s one thing done. Now you can get it back to Hades. If you can get back and return the bolt in time,” Will said.
“They’ll work it out,” Apollo said. “Now I wanna see this.”
From his pocket he took out…..war helmet.
“The helm of darkness.”
“Exactly. Now where was…….slugfest going.”
“I really think I prefer Mars,” Frank muttered.
“I might,” Clarisse whispered clenching her fist. Frank glanced at her with wide eyes.
“But they’re your family!”
“Since when does that mean anything in the world of gods?” asked Walt.
“It never has,” agreed Samira thinking of her own father.
“No, it does,” Percy disagreed. “Maybe not to some of them but to most of us here it does. And even if you don’t get along with your real family you might make a new one with your friends.”
Alex’s eyes widened as she looked around. Samira reached for her hand. “I might not like my father but you are still my sister,” she whispered.
Percy continued. “Just look how we’re sitting now!”
“Best kind……always say.”
“I really don’t like him,” Jason said.
“None of us do,” Rachel told him.
Chris was sending looks to Clarisse who looked away. She still respected her father, no matter how cruel he was.
“You gave me the backpack….the whole time.”
“I don’t think so,” Carter reasoned. “Or we would have seen it when Annabeth opened the bag before.”
“Or any of you did,” agreed Hazel. “Unless he used the mist or magic to disguise it.”
“Wouldn’t have been able too,” said Annabeth. “Not on a magic item that powerful.”
“Yes and no……..to your pocket, right?”
“Anyway I tinkered with the magic…..still had the weapon.”
“That’s actually smart,” Thalia shook her head trying to see if she was awake.
“No way he came up with that,” agreed Piper.
“So who’s behind it?” asked Jaz. “That’s what you’re saying right?”
“But why not just keep…..send it to Hades?”
Ares got a twitch….inside his head. “Why didn’t I………of fire power….”
“Yeah,” recognized Leo. “He’s under someone’s control.”
“But who’s strong enough to control a god?” Blitz asked.
“I didn’t want the trouble….holding the thing.”
“Sure,” drawled Alex. “That’s what it is.”
“You’re lying……wasn’t your idea, was it?”
“You didn’t order…….is ordering you around.”
“You deducted that?” Nico said surprised.
“He’s surprisingly observant,” Reyna told him.
“And smarter than he seems,” Frank said. “He’s figured out other things on our quest.”
“He just acts stupid,” Nico said. “I know.”
“Dude two of your nicknames are kelp head and seaweed brain,” Jason pointed out. “Deal with it.”
“I am…..orders from no one!”
“That’s a lie,” Apollo chuckled, “Ares will take orders from anyone if they’re on the winning side or they have something over him.”
“What?” spluttered Chris. “He got the…”
“What dreams?” asked Hazel.
“Like the ones you’ve been seeing me have,” Percy told her.
“Who said…..about dreams?”
“Let’s get back……Nothing personal.”
“No, not at all,” Sadie whipped back. “It’s never personal when someone wants to kill you.”
He snapped his fingers….the command to kill. Percy stepped back into the ocean. “Fight me yourself Ares.”
Percy looked at Grover and Thalia. “Why is it always giant pigs?”
“It’s a boar,” Clarisse growled.
She was ignored. Grover chewed a soda can. “I don’t know dude. You don’t have good luck with them.”
“It’s kind of funny after the almost dying part though,” Thalia told him.
“How many giant pigs have you faced?” asked Zia seriously.
“3 maybe four.”
“You’ve only got one talent…..have what it takes.”
“I’m just smarter,” Percy said. “I know when to retreat.”
“Most the time,” Annabeth pointed out.
Percy’s smile fell. “Most the time,” he repeated.
“In your adolescent dreams……not at my level.”
Several people scoffed.
The boar charged. Percy uncapped riptide and side stepped. It’s tusk fell and it looked confused and hurt.
“You really like cutting off horns and tusks,” noted Will.
“It’s not a bad move, not that I’ve used it a lot,” Percy told him.
“We’ll see,” Apollo told him taking Will’s side.
“Wave!” Immediatley, a wave surged up………..swallowed by the sea.
“Yeah, not smart to take on Percy in water,” Carter looked down.
“Not smart to take on Percy anywhere,” Sadie told him. “Though the water seemed to be helpful.”
“Are you going to fight…….behind another pet?”
“Watch it…turn you into—”
“A cockroach…..wouldn’t it?’
“Oh man….into a grease spot.”
“If I lose….have to go away.”
“He’s a god,” Calypso told him. “You have little training and are only a child at that point.”
“Had to try,” Percy pointed out.
“You’re way too overconfident about that,” Piper told him.
“Not really. I’m just a good actor.”
“How would…..classic or modern?”
Percy swung his sword around. Ares snarled. “That’s cool…..classic it is.”
“That’s a sick sword,” muttered Leo.
“I think it’s gaudy,” Rachel said loudly.
“Nah, it’s a nice piece,” Blitz said.
Hearth looked at him and signed a few things about not creating a line of fashionable swords for his shop.
“Percy…..he’s a god.”
“We’ve already established that,” Percy told her.
“In the present. Not the past,” Annabeth reminded him.
“He’s a coward.”
“Wear this….for luck.” She took of her necklace…….around my neck. “Reconciliation….together.”
“That’s so sweet,” squealed Jaz.
“Little Percy’s blushing,” teased Thalia.
“Remind me why it took us dumping you in a lake after a war to kiss?” Clarisse asked.
“Technically…” Annabeth started.
“Hush, those are spoilers,” Percy told her.
“You guys are just adorable. It’s like you’ve always been together. Or at least you were fated to be,” Juniper gushed.
“I wouldn’t doubt it,” Apollo declared. Percy looked at him strangely but then turned back to the projection.
“And take this…..stand behind you.” Percy was given a flattened tin can.
“Grover….what to say.”
Percy put the tin can in his pocket as Grover patted him on the back. Ares was looking at him tauntingly. “You all done….have you got?”
Percy said nothing, but stayed in the water. He looked at Annabeth.
“I’m not as strong physically. But I am smarter than him,” Percy grinned. “And I took my Wise Girl’s advice.”
Annabeth smiled back at him. Several girls cooed.
He cleaved downward ………wasn’t there. Percy was pushed into the air, over Ares, slashing down with gravity. Ares blocked his strike. “Not bad…bad.” He slashed again. Percy jumped out of the water.
“That’s not good,” muttered Sadie.
“Nah,” Frank smiled. “He’s still close enough to the water. And he’s Percy. He’ll be fine.”
Percy tried to get back in but Ares moved forward. He slashed and sliced and Percy used all of his focus to stay out of the way, parrying and blocking. Never able to attack.
Percy stepped inside…..Ares knocked away Riptide and kicked Percy back in the chest. He landed in a sand dune.
“Not at all,” agreed Sadie remembering how it is when cops got involved with myths.
“Wait. This is…” Piper started thinking. Only Leo heard her.
Percy stumbled to his feet. Cops were getting out of their cars. “There officer…see?”
“Looks like that kid….the heck…”
“That guy’s armed…..backup.”
Percy rolled to the side as Ares sword hit the sand where he lied a second ago. He ran to Riptide and swiped at Ares face. He was blocked again. Percy moved back towards the ocean.
“Admit it…..toying with you.”
In the background people were gathering to watch. Annabeth and Grover were at the forefront of it. One other person moved forward only a few inches behind them. Her long brown hair was pulled back in braids. She held a surfboard and was looking as if she saw the whole thing.
“I can’t believe that was you!” Piper yelled.
“You were there?” Annabeth asked.
“Surfing with dad. He wasn’t busy that day.”
“I knew it!” Leo grinned.
“It’s really kind of crazy,” Jason mused. “That you’ve seen half of us at some point in time already.”
“No kidding. I wonder who’ll be next,” Annabeth sighed.
The little girl was pulled back. Spirits moved forward. Several limped to see the action. Satyrs, they could tell. Above them flapped the furies. Percy stepped further into the ocean. Ares striked, the tip of his blade ripped Percy’s sleeve and cut his arm.
“Drop the guns….Now!”
“Guns?” asked Alex.
“Mist. Mortals see what they want to see,” explained Grover.
Their weapons were flickering now from guns to swords. Ares turned to glare……pistols trained on them. “This is…..be gone.”
He swept his hand……behind them scattered, screaming. Ares roared….laughter. “Now…..to the barbeque.”
He slashed. It deflected off Percy’s blade. Percy faked with a feint but was blocked making him stumble. Both were now in the water, Percy to his back, Ares to his thighs. Then the waves stopped splashing them as Percy’s face screwed up with an idea and concentration.
Ares came……too exhausted to go on.
“You’re surrendering?” yelped Sadie.
“It looks like that doesn’t it,” Percy said in amusement.
“So you’re not,” Frank said. “Just coming up with a tactic. It’s…”
“Don’t spoil it,” Percy reminded him.
“It will end now,” Hearth signed.
“Yea, I think so.” Magnus quickly motioned back.
Ares raised his sword…..over Ares on a wave. A six-foot wall of water…….a mouth full of seaweed. The projection paused with Percy hanging over him.
Around him everyone cheered Percy on, applauding, shouting and whistling. One of the louder ones was Leo. “A mouth full of seaweed and saltwater. Perfect touch Percy.”
Percy took a bow leading to more catcalls and giggles. Finally it calmed down so they could all turn to watch the end of the battle.
Percy landed behind him and moved toward hi head. He turned in time to raise his sword…..anticipate the trick. Percy moved stabbing down and Riptide pierced Ares’ heel.
“You just beat the god of war in a fight,” Reyna said after a moment of silence passed. “I would not think it possible.”
“None of us did,” Annabeth said. “But it happened.”
“Percy tends to do the impossible,” Grover brayed in laughter. “You get used to it.”
“I haven’t,” Piper pointed out.
“Because you’ve only known him for a little more than half a year,” Nico told her. “I’m still not immune and I’ve know him since I was ten.”
“If it’s impossible you should be shocked every time he does something,” Sam told that.
“We are,” Jason admitted.
Percy was blushing horribly now as everyone stared. “Can we just finish this?”
“We will. Just don’t forget I can still cream you punk,” Clarisse announced. “For humiliating the Ares cabin.”
Percy just laughed.
Ares roared. The sea moved leaving a circle of sand. In the middle ichor poured from Ares’ foot. He moved toward Percy slowly cursing in greek.
Something stopped him……….fighting was useless. Then it lifted. Ares lowered his sword. “You have made an enemy……beware.”
“That is not good,” cursed Thalia.
“A curse like that could be fatal. Any idea when it could happen?” asked Apollo.
Everyone looked at him. Even Grover and Annabeth who knew about the curse. It was Thalia who asked the question, being faster than them both. “When?”
“You were there actually but probably focused on your own fight. Calypso’s father is hard to beat,” Percy admitted.
Calypso gasped. Several people looked at Percy. Then Jason opened his mouth. “How are you still alive?”
“I ask myself that a lot.”
His body began to glow. “Percy! Don’t watch!”
Percy turned away……Ares was gone.
“Okay, who’s up for dinner before we finish this?” announced a hungry Percy. Slowly every consented before getting up to stretch and eat.