This chapter contains spoilers for Night Broken, the 8th book in the Mercy Thompson series. If you like the series, but haven't read it yet, don't read this story. My writing can't compare to Mss. Briggs or Mr. Riordan's.
Note, I'm skipping a lot of flavor text and background info, I figure if you're reading a fan fiction about a book, then chances are you've read the book and know, at least in part, that information.
Also, I own none of the characters, not even the OC I made as she is part of the PJaO books and anyone is free to duplicate her for their own stories. Writing a story using characters from published books, I certainly can't complain if someone likes my idea enough to run it in a different direction, but please, no slash.
I'm in the process of updating the early chapters, correcting spelling, typos, etc. I'm leaving all my comments relatively intact, even the ones that are no longer applicable, that way the reviews make sense.
Speaking of reviews, since no one here is getting paid to right these stories, it helps keep everyone motivated to receive reviews. If you like a story, and you want to see it continue, saying something to the author is a good way to go about it.
I sighed. I was standing in front of a mirror trying to get comfortable in a new suit, twisting my tie back and forth trying to make it look like I wore stuff like this normally. It wasn't working.
Oh well, hopefully Rachel had told her parents enough about the camp, without revealing it's secrets, that they wouldn't be surprised at none of them being comfortable in dress up clothes. I wanted to say Rachel was going to owe us for this, but simply put, the camp owed her. A LOT.
Still, going to a major ball her parents where throwing for some charity or another, Rachel would know which one, was pushing it for a demi-god. We do have ADHD after all. Still, only a couple of us where going. Me and Annabeth of course, her parents asked for us, or me, specifically, as well as Rachel with two other quests. Nico had to go, him and Ms. O'Leary where our transportation via shadow travel across country. The last quest was chosen by lot, kind of. Chiron pulled the cabin number out of a hat, cabin 9, Hephaestus as it so happens, and they chose amongst themselves. The Aphrodite kids where pretty uptight about it because Chiron excluded them from the drawing as punishment for something their counselor had done. I wasn't really worried about that, but I'm pretty sure cabin 9 just pulled one of their younger members, Terry, from the forges and tossed her in a dress. The Hermes cabin took it on themselves to provide better clothes for Terry then the Hephaestus cabin could, mostly buy stealing the clothes from the Aphrodite cabin. For some reason, and I suspect it has to do with why the Aphrodite cabin was barred, the Hecate cabin was helping out as well.
Since so many of them felt that they owed Annabeth and me for not getting them banished after the war, I could kind of see it. But not why they were helping Terry so much. Oh well. They had fixed the pocket watch-shield that Tyson had given me, currently sitting in the same pocket with my pen sword Riptide, and given Annabeth a magic purse that would change to match any outfit and could hold an incredible amount of stuff and bring whatever she was looking for right to the top so it was easy to find. In addition to her ball cap of invisibility, she had put inside a hefty supply of emergency rations, nectar, money (of several different currencies), drachma for making Iris messages, spare clothes for all 5 of us, as well as armor and extra weapons. We've come to learn that we always need to be prepared. It also held within it a magic tool belt that the Hecate and Hephaestus kids had made together as a bribe to Terry to go in the first place (she wanted to wear it, but got shot down).
"Hey Percy." Nico called from the door, "You coming?"
"Yeh, yeh, yeh. I'm coming, hold your horses." I stepped out the door and looked around and my jaw about dropped. Nico was wearing a dark earth toned pin stripped suit, some sort of black animal hide shoes (hopefully not human, probably crocodile, if there are black crocs), had his hair slicked back and with a leather (again, hopefully croc) top hat, black leather trench coat and carrying a walking cane with a celestial bronze skull with emeralds for eyes (glowing) as the cap and black gloves hanging from his belt. Even though he is only 13, Nico is hands down, the single most scary half-blood I have ever met. Despite himself, he managed to not only make the get up look good, he made it look natural. Of course the subtle and not so subtle skull and death motif of his minimalist jewelry helped that a lot. Definitely not his normal grunge, gutter punk or goth get up. "Your dad help you with your clothes?"
"Don't remind me, I feel like the son of a mobster who's an overzealous father. He actually sent some shades who were trying to get an improved situation in the underworld to help. The suit is a genuine Armani original hand crafted by one of the original tailors just this morning. I THINK the leather is drakkon, didn't really want to ask. I notice you managed kept the sea references in your clothes to a minimum."
"That's because Annabeth and Rachel went shopping and picked mine out. They got really mad when I tried to get a pair of long swim trunks and a Hawaiian shirt. I AM going to wear the trident and sword pin my brother gave me. I really don't care how much it clashes with my suit. Quite apart from Tyson being my brother, nearly everything he makes is enchanted; I'm not turning that down. But seriously, you look good in that get up. You are going to make some girl absolutely swoon all over you." At that last part, Nico manages to give me a really weird look that I have to work to prevent myself from stepping back. Like I said, Nico is fragging scary, and I'm still working on keeping a friendship with him going. I'm still not sure if he's forgiven me for his sister's death or not, and it's not the type of thing one can just ask.
As we're walking up to the dining area, we can here yelling and screeching of the Aphrodite kids. Suddenly, their new counselor, I think her name is Drew (me and Tyson call her shrew) comes barreling up to us with a young girl in toe. "You 2 aren't going anywhere until I, we, have satisfaction. That little twerp back there," hands waving in the general direction she came from "stole items belong to Aphrodite cabin, you're not going anywhere until I get them back!" At the last part, I felt the wave of charm speak hit, and had to repress a snarl, I really dislike charm speak.
Evidently, so does Nico, as almost instantly, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees, and it got noticeably darker. When he spoke, it was with a whisper in the voice of the grave, "If you ever try and use charm speak on either of us again, no amount of blessing from your mother shall ever cover up the scars I shall create on you."
Showing much more prudence then most of us give her credit for, she gave me a brief glance with a plea for protection in it, and when all she got back was a glare and a snarl, she fled. I turned to Nico after she was gone, "Dude, serious overkill."
As the temperature and light returned to normal Nico just shrugged, "She's been irritating to me. I've been waiting for a chance to do that all week long. I've actually been practicing it."
"If you think she's irritating to you, try living in the same cabin with her." The girl said with a huff, "In all honesty, I gave Terry those clothes. I was hoping she'd say something to get her in trouble with mom as she's the one who told me to help Terry out." Suddenly the little girl looked at me with pleading in her eyes, "Please, please, if you get another quest, take someone from our cabin so she can challenge Drew for leadership. PLEASSSEEEE!"
"Huh, tell you what, I'll mention it to Chiron and Rachel, let's see if there's some sort of quest or something coming up, ok?" At that, she hugged me and started skipping away.
"What in all the gods was that about?"
"Evidently, her brothers and sisters don't like her any more than we do. I'll admit to being curious about why Aphrodite would tell one of her kids to help out Terry." Nico smirked.
"Who knows? Come on."
When we got to the pavilion, the girls and Ms. O'Leary where waiting for us and gave us the once over just as we were giving them. Annabeth looked gorgeous of course, and her clothes weren't bad either. Unlike any of the rest of us, there was no markings of cabin affiliation on her, which kind of surprised me. Rachel looked good, in a weird sort of way. She didn't have any of her normal look of rebelliousness. Just a really nice, fancy single strap dress, her hair was done up in a way that said several someone's helped her (probably a couple of nymphs), and she was wearing several necklaces which were probably quite expensive and a couple of pins just under the strap of her dress. One was the mark of Apollo as presented when one was chosen by him; the other was the symbol of the Oracle. Both looked like they'd been custom made for her. It was doubtful anyone outside of camp would recognize either one. Terry, who just turned 11 last week, was actually looking quite nice. The clothes she was wearing where rather flattering of her stereotypical Hephaestus, buff build, and the hair style and make up chosen showed off and enhanced, rather than concealed the scars on her right cheek and neck she got last month in the battle for New York. All of her plentiful (but not overdone) jewelry was undoubtedly made by her cabin mates, if not herself.
"OK everyone, ready to go?" Nico asked and then called over Ms. O'Leary, the oversized hellhound. As we all got in a circle and held hands, me and Rachel were on opposite sides of Ms. O'Leary holding her collar, "Here we go."
I've had the misfortune to shadow travel before, not fun in the best case. This was not the best case.
Something was in fact horribly wrong.
Normally, not that I've done it that often mind you, Shadow travel is just a little nauseating, but like walking. Sort of like how you feel after getting off a Tilt-O-Whirl. Not this time. We were in free fall mode. Strangely, I couldn't tell if we were falling down or up, just the sensation of falling into an endless abyss. Having seen the edge of Tartarus before, not a pleasant thought, I never want to end up there.
I could just barely hear Nico yelling for everyone to hold on tight. Looking around, I noticed everyone else had their eyes closed, even Nico and Ms. O'Leary, who was also starting to panic. Nice, our pet hellhound was panicking, not good.
As we fell, I had a rather odd sensation of briefly being in 2 places at once several times. Whenever it would happen, I'd look around and usually see a group of people who looked just like us a little bit away, but drifting farther afield. I had the strange thought that they were us, and had separated from us and become real people to live their own lives, while still being us. I noticed one group, as they were falling a little bit away, their Ms. O'Leary seemed to reach out and bite into the open air and suddenly they came to a screeching halt, in midair.
I was about to shout something out when there was a ripping sound and we came to sudden, if brief stop onto a fancy brick floor, and then promptly started to roll down stairs. When we came to rest, I could hear someone shouting Rachel's name, and her responding with the word mom, so I assumed we were in the right place. "Nico, friend, don't take this the wrong way, but I'm taking the train back to Ney York."
Nico looked at me, "Don't worry, I'll be joining you. The girls can come with us, or they can fly home. Not shadow walking for a while. At least not till I find out what that was."
"Why don't you ask your father?" Annabeth said and then added "Milord."
Looking over, Nico, Terry and me jumped up and Nico said "Father."
Hades was standing right there looking at us with a sort of frown, sort of smile on his face, "Congratulations, you have just survived a trip to the edge of the universal barrier. Actually, I think you went outside it briefly. Notice anything odd? Don't worry about the mortals; they think your pet dog knocked you down the steps."
While Nico, Terry and Annabeth were standing there gaping, Rachel was a little ways away with her fretting mother I decided to go for broke. "Actually, yes, I did notice several other groups of us. Does that make any sense?"
"Hades looked at me with a frown, "That means you've been duplicated. Hopefully, the other groups fell to other worlds were you don't normally exist. It's always a pain to remerge people after a split like that. And just to make your other uncle nice and happy, the person being remerged always gains in power somewhat. A little reward for his or her pain. Now come on, you've arrived safely, enjoy the party, I'll teach Nico how to avoid that tomorrow as well as inform your father what happened, just in case he gets a message from one of them, and we'll worry about the duplicates after that."