I watched the 'hero' coming on the scene with disinterest. He looked much more like your traditional superhero than Purity or Oni Lee had, with red racing stripes meeting in a 'v' on the chest of his super suit. He was fast, far faster than I'd been since I'd lost the curse, but he slowed to a walk when he saw the damage. There was a part of me that was a little excited. I was going to be running with honest-to-god superheros! But most of me could barely be moved to care. The gods had hijacked me.

"You're not getting away from me. Never again."

Again. They'd hijacked me again, without so much as a 'please.' I was livid. I'd been told once that my flaw was personal loyalty; that I'd let the world drown in blood, so long as it meant my I could get a raft for my friends; so long as they got to live. Right now, I felt the truth of that statement. The last time I'd been shanghaid, it had turned out well enough. We'd saved the world. Yay us. This weird not-earth was likely home to some world-ending primordial thing that I'd been hijacked to kill, but I could hardly care less at the moment. They'd taken Annabeth from me. Again. Annabeth, the love of my life. Annabeth, the wise girl. My tactician, my boss, my girlfriend, my best friend. Annabeth who had serious issues with people leaving her and had been thrown into a bad place the last time they'd done this.

They'd taken me away from her again, and this time they hadn't had the decency to wipe my memories first.

I sighed. I'd never been much one for angst. If you didn't keep moving forward, life would move on without you. I held my position on top of the ship for now, and while he hadn't spotted me yet, I got a pretty good feeling that if I didn't make a decision soon, he was going to make it for me.

It was a weird thing for me, to think about owning up to what I'd done. It had never really been an option, before. The mist took that decision away from me. In some ways, I resented that. I'd accomplished a lot in my 17 years, but to everyone on the mortal side I was just a dyslexic who had barely avoided dropping out of highschool and was trying to get into a college without indenturing himself into slavery. On the other hand, I kind of liked living a more low key life. I didn't want to think how the Rachel Elizabeth Dare situation would have turned out if I had been a celebrity. I didn't like to think about what the public would have made of Mt. St. Helens. Even if I had wanted attention, I got plenty of hero-worship from horses and fish.

I was pretty confident I could stay out of the public eye here too, if I wanted. I could retreat to the water right now, with no one any the wiser. Sure, I was homeless, but that didn't matter when I had all the bounty of the ocean at my disposal. If I got lonely, I could hang out on the surface for a while, maybe interfere with gang activity on the shoreline. The gods would set me on whatever quest they had for me soon enough.

I jumped from the boat, nearly forty feet to the ground, and rode a jet of water to the ground. Ultimately I was faced with a choice between action and inaction, and I'd never been good at sitting still.

The red-suited man darted away before I touched the ground, presumably to go for help. He wasn't gone long. A pair of monstrous bikes rolled onto the scene, accompanied by Running Man.

A vaguely middle-eastern woman in military fatigues rode the first bike, a normal Harley, and produced an M-16 as she pulled to a stop, pointing it at the ground in front of her. The other bike still managed to produce a deep rumble despite being one of those tron light-cycle things. I got a good look at its rider, in bright blue iron man armor and hoisting a massive halberd, and stifled a laugh.

See, there's this thing you learn about when you spend time with hyper-intelligent wolf deities. It's sort of animal dominance and sort of a bunch of other stuff, but it boils down to presence. It's the sort of thing that makes everyone listen when you speak, the kind of thing that makes people stay out of your way when they might fight you otherwise. Not-Compensating-For-Anything here had it in spades, knew it, and had clearly built his armor to reinforce the 'do not mess with me' vibe.

Next to the gods and terrors of the night I regularly disrespected, it was almost cute.

I spoke first, my hands in the pockets of my hoodie, my stance relaxed. "Hey I just kind of stumbled into this whole fight, but I killed this Oni Lee guy by accident, so I thought I should give a statement, come clean."

Running Man zipped over to check the body, and whirled back to the Iron Man wannabe to report. "The John Doe is the right build, and he's, uh, definitely dead."

"Check the perimeter to see if newcomer here has any friends hiding, Velocity. Try to find what they were fighting over." Velocity raced off and Big Blue grunted, looking me in the eyes. Well, I think he did. The visor made it a bit hard to tell. "You're a new cape? Not bothering with a mask, I see." There was nothing threatening in his words or tone, but his posture was that of a cat circling its prey before a pounce. Army chick was circling me, and pretty soon I'd be flanked.

I consciously made an effort to look as non-threatening as possible. Unlike Big Blue here, I was actually interested in making friends. "I guess? I mean, I was in this fight, so yes. Oh! And speedy! That ship over there has drugs or something in it. Not sure."

Carry-a-big-stick waved my information aside. "You'll come with us for questioning. The PRT isn't friendly to killer capes, but it's the best course of action for you in the long run, unless you are, as this fight might suggest, working with Purity and the Empire. If such is the case, I suggest you surrender."

I shook my head. "Look, I'm new to this, but I'm definitely interested in being a hero, even if I don't know who these people here today were or who you are. Obviously I screwed this up, but frankly I'm not even sure how I killed the guy, and even if I was..." I gestured to the blast marks that the grenade had left behind. "He was playing for keeps, and I'm not bulletproof. Self defense is a thing here, right?"

I'd let drop that I didn't know anything. 'Amnesia' was a pretty weak explanation, I knew, but it was as close to the truth as I could get without sounding pants-on-head crazy. Army chick perked up at my words, and turned sharply to Big Blue, sharing a nod with him. I feigned disinterest, but my mind was racing. What was going on here?

Halberd guy sighed. "I doubt a jury would rule against you in the case of self defense, but you still need to come with us, particularly since you don't have intact memories. If you're worried about our legitimacy, a police car will be arriving shortly." He regarded me levelly. "Unless you don't remember what a police car looks like?"

I smiled. "Big, blue, festive red lights? Sort of like you but with more humor? Yeah, I remember them."

Combat Boots cleared her throat before her boss responded. "There is precedent for allowing someone with a spotted history a probationary placement in the protectorate. Given Oni Lee's power and his willingness to kill, I can almost guarantee you'll be given such an option. If you joined today, you might be a full Protectorate member within a few months." She paused. "Or a wards member. Whichever is appropriate. Memory loss is also precedented, and we'll sort you based on the best guess we can make of your age."

That... that sounded like a pretty fair deal, all things considered, but I wasn't eager to attach myself to an unknown bureaucracy just yet. I didn't want to swear fealty to another Octavian if I could help it. I nodded at an armored transport that rolled up. "I'm not sure about that. But I still need to make a statement, so I'll go with you." I nodded at an armored car that was pulling up. "That my ride?"

It could have been worse, I guess. They didn't cuff or blindfold me, but they did strap me down on a chair in the back of the armored car, with Army Chick on hand in case I tried anything.

"Jeez," I commented, as she closed the door behind her and buckled in across from me in the back of the van. "A guy might almost feel welcome."

She sighed. "It's unpleasant, but necessary. It wouldn't be the first time a villain tried to infiltrate the Protectorate, posing as a case 53."

I blinked. "What?"

She sighed. "It's what we call people who show up with powers, but no memories. They tend to be... monstrous in form." She let that sink in. "You have any weird tattoos?"

I rolled up my sleeve and showed her the SPQR tattoo the Romans had left there. She frowned, and shot me a questioning glance. I shrugged.

She shook her head. "Sorry, where are my manners? I'm Miss Militia. The speedster is Velocity, and Armsmaster leads the heroes in the city. We're pretty well-known, so I keep forgetting how strange this is for you. Do you have a name you can remember, or have you come up with something we can call you?"

"Riptide." The word left my mouth before she had finished talking. I had put a small amount of thought into playing superhero for a while. A brief while, since I hadn't had more than a few months without some crisis hanging over my head since I disintegrated my math teacher a few years ago.

Miss Militia's eyes crinkled with a smile. "That's not a very heroic-sounding name."

"But cool, right?"

"...I think that's best left to the PR department."

I'd been worried that army chick would turn out to be an older, shorter Clarisse, but she turned out to be the next best thing to wikipedia I was likely to get for a bit. She explained the basics to me. The Protectorate, the government oversight group, the major gangs of the city, and who'd be gunning for me.

Apparently, the guy I'd accidentally killed was sidekick to the most powerful, most murderous cape in the city. Some things never change, I guess.

She was halfway through a thorough explanation of the capabilities of the Triumvirate when I interrupted her. "Hey, you said some of the case 53s were monstrous. Do you have a list of the ones that aren't?"

She blinked. "Case 53s aren't common knowledge. If they aren't monstrous, there's a good chance that they wouldn't get classified; It'd be impossible to distinguish them from other capes with memory loss."

I nodded glumly. I was considering the possibility that Annabeth or someone might have been sent here too, and I had entertained the hope that she would end up a hero by the same route I was using. But that would be too easy, wouldn't it?

The van stopped, and I was ushered through a series of winding passageways until they brought me to a table in an interrogation room that had been pleasantly disguised as an office. It even had a little potted plant in the corner. I was alone for a moment before Armsmaster clanked in, and they gave me a cup of rich cocoa to sip on. He sat down, and folded his hands on the table between us.

"Miss Militia informs me that you're calling yourself Riptide? You don't seem eager to give yourself a good reputation."

"Your top hero is named after an inhuman spectre." I smiled. "It's a name. A few weeks, and people will be like 'deadly shoreline current? what's that?'"

Armsmaster ignored my dashing sense of humor, which only further solidified my opinion of him as a humorless grouch. "As head of the Protectorate here in Brockton Bay, I'm going to take your official statement. Tell me what happened."

I pretty much gave it to him straight. I didn't trust him much, but I also didn't see anything that I'd been through so far that could come back to haunt me. "I'm still not sure how Oni Lee's powers worked. I actually thought Purity was under attack by some kind of monstrous mob at first. I had no idea it was a single human individual."

"You got lucky, then." Armsmaster stated. "Oni Lee's a teleporter who leaves a clone behind whenever he moves. You could have very easily died if things had been a little different."

I nodded. That answered some questions, but opened others. There were a lot of things about that fight that didn't make sense, like how Lee hadn't been able to get close enough to Purity to kill her.

Armsmaster watched me closely. "So, you have powerful hydrokenesis, strength, speed and durability. Is there anything else we should know about?"

I paused. I had a truly ridiculous set of abilities, looking at me as a super hero. Horse control, fish control, clairvoyant dreams, that weird bad luck curse thing I used on Gabe a few times...

"Nothing important. I have a lot of lesser powers, but they don't come up much."

Armsmaster was quiet a moment. "And you woke up in that dockyard tonight? With no memories."

"Pretty much. This is all new to me."

Another pause. I got the feeling he was trying to unsettle me. So far it hadn't had much result.

"Are you a liar by habit, or is it something you're trying out now?"

Well, there it was. I sighed. "Got me. The lost memories angle made more sense than the truth. I was hoping it would speed things up here. You have a lie detector in your suit, or is that an ability of yours?"

He pounded the table with his fist, leaning over the table at me. "This isn't a joke, Riptide. Everything you've done since you showed up has been suspicious. Working with Purity, killing Oni Lee, and now you're lying about your past and powerset? Who are you, really?"

I bit back a sharp reply, and made visor contact with him. This outburst had been calculated, calculated to make me give something away or give him cause to detain me. I wasn't sure what he was hoping to uncover, but I couldn't afford to take the bait. Plus, I don't like falling for people's traps on principal. I kept cool and grimaced. I'd faced down Tartarus himself, I could deal with this. "Percy Jackson. That name means nothing to you, and I've given my statement. I'm not required to answer all of your questions."

Armsmaster sat up straight, pulling his shoulders back in disgust. "If you want a career in the Protectorate, you do. We don't allow just anyone to join us."

"Well, I'm not just anyone. I'm no one, and maybe I don't want to join after all. I've made my statement, can I go now?"

If it was possible for a voice to literally drip with anger, he would have had a puddle of hateful juices covering the table by this point. "You're still an ongoing suspect in a murder trial, Riptide. We can hold you for most of a week without even pressing charges. And if you think you're going to hide something from us by being obstinate, think again, because when this goes to trial your whole life will be put out on display for the public to dissect to their heart's content. I should warn you, too. The local PRT representative hates independent capes like you and would just as soon see in the birdcage as outside of it, regardless of whether you were justified. The only thing you're accomplishing by your obstinacy is that you're making an enemy of me." Armsmaster paused for effect. "That isn't something you want to do."

I snorted. "What, you mean, you're not my enemy now? Does that make us friends?"

His teeth flashed. "Very Funny. I don't-"

I cut him off. "You don't have friends? Not surprising. But I wasn't even going to lie, initially. You all just assumed I had lost my memory, which made for a simpler story than the truth."

"You led us on." Armsmaster stated calmly. "I take it you remember your old life? Your old name?"

I noted how quickly his anger had vanished. Of course it had. I was being cooperative now. It wasn't that his feelings had been hurt by my lie earlier, it was that he thought that by being angry he could get what he wanted; he could uncover some threat. Jerk. "Every minute of it." I stated. "But I don't remember you. Or Brockton Bay, or any of the other heroes."

Armsmaster's expression became stone. "So. You're insane, gifted with lazy-guided amnesia, or you're from another universe"

"I'll take another universe for two-hundred." I leaned back in my chair. This might be easier than I expected. "It's the conclusion I came to. Back home, where I went to sleep last night, I guess you could say that I'm a pretty experienced hero, despite my age. But 'hero' means something completely different there. We're not in the public eye like you guys are, and from what Miss Militia told me, we get our powers through very different means."

"And how would you say you arrived?"

I sighed. This was the tricky part. It wasn't a huge jump from Greek heroes to superheroes, but explaining the gods? "My world is run by powerful, um, beings. At best, they're petty and childish. At worst, they're primordial assholes who want to genocide everyone and everything. I work for the less bad guys, I guess, though I wouldn't call them good guys. My guess is they sent me here on a mission and forgot to tell me about it."

"You're from a world ruled by powerful capes, and you're here at the behest of the less evil ones? Is that supposed to reassure me?"

"Sorry, I forgot the goal of this conversation was making you feel better. Anyway, I don't have much choice. I'm their go-to errand boy, and sometimes they don't consult me first. This wouldn't be the first time they'd shanghaid me to some far distant place for some stupid quest."

"So you have a mission? A mission given to you by strange, otherworldly entities? That seems like a fairly glaring item to omit from your earlier statement."

I sighed. "Look, they didn't tell me anything, OK? You're dealing with me. If I find out the mission they have for me is 'kill everyone' or something then I just won't do it. I'm not a some automation or slave. Styx, I'm not even completely confident it was them who kidnapped me. It could have been something else. One of their enemies, maybe, or maybe..."

"Something from our end." There was a dead finality to his tone. This conversation was over. "I need to consult with my superiors. I wouldn't recommend you try to leave until I get back."

I nodded, and let him leave, slumping back into my chair. He hadn't been the slightest bit skeptical of my story, which was good, except that he'd also tensed up at the mention of me being from another universe, even more than he had been when he thought I was a possible gang member. Whatever from their end could bring people in from other universes, he didn't like it.

The minutes ticked by and my ADHD was driving me up the walls, nearly literally. I started reaching out for the water flowing through the pipes in the walls, and blinked.

They were cutting off the water to the pipes! Not just turning off the pressure, but actually emptying all of the pipes within fifty feet of the holding cell/office, which my limited understanding of plumbing tells me is pretty bothersome to do. Now that I knew what to look for, I noted that one of those dixie-cup cooler things was being carried out of the room next to the room I was in.

They were taking away my resources, which could only mean one thing: They were prepping for me to fight them. That could mean... anything really. They could be prepping to give me some really sad news, getting ready to throw me in prison, or about to fill the room with toxic gas. I could sit around and wait until they came in and explained things. So far they hadn't seemed too crazy. Or I could fight.

I sighed. "Never was too good at sitting still." I muttered.

This was normally where I'd draw Riptide and shock everyone by having a weapon concealed on me. I suppose I'd have to settle for the next best thing.

There wasn't a ton of water flowing through the piping in the heavy steel wall, but there was enough. I drew in power, a lot of it, and threw it against the piping in the wall. The building shuddered. I threw power against the wall again, and this time it buckled, steel tearing with an awful shriek.

My shoulder slammed into the wall with all the force I could muster, and I tumbled through to the other side , the scream of tearing metal filling my ears. A faint green light shimmered and before I knew what I was doing, I'd batted away Miss Militia's hand, which had been holding a submachine gun to my head. Where did she keep all these weapons?

As soon as I had my feet under me, I bolted from the room. I heard the crackle of the sub machine gun behind me, and stumbled as a sharp pain hit my upper thigh. A thin jet of water lashed out in response, knocking Miss Militia off of her feet and giving me a chance to find mine.

I really had no clue where I was headed, so I decided to just plow through walls in a straight line until I got to the street. Most of the walls in the building weren't as heavily reinforced as the walls to the interrogation office had been, and as I ran I pulled on every source of water I could find. The emergency fire system went off. The walls around me exploded as the pipes in them burst. Sinks, toilets, faucets, unattended solo cups, they all answered my call, and I rode the wave through one expensive looking office, and then another.

I could hear the sound of my pursuers. Miss Militia had regained her feet and was pouring firepower down the hallway I had carved through three flimsy walls. My water swelled behind me as a shield, and I had to hope it was enough.

"Sorry about the mess!" I called out to a harried accountant looking guy as I ruined his filing system. Man, was I an asshole or what?

My wave crashed against the next wall and... stopped There weren't any pipes in this wall, and that fact, combined with it superior construction, gave me pause. This was the outer wall to the base, sure enough, but I doubted I'd be able to just break it with brute force the way I had the others.

Thankfully, I had completed the fifth grade, and knew a thing or two about water and structures. Cryokenesis wasn't my strongest skill set, but you could only get so good with water before you figured it out. I threw my wave against the wall, but this time, as it hit, I drew the heat from it, flash freezing it. I threw the heat back into it, slammed the water into the wall again, and turned it into ice.

Bullets rained at me from behind. Most of them missed, thanks to the swirling shield of water that covered my exit path, but as I focused on destroying the wall, a few shots slipped through and hot pain coursed through my lower back.

I grit my teeth, and the wall exploded outward in a torrent of ice and water, carrying me with it. I landed on sweet, sweet pavement, and I swallowed a breath of fresh air.

It was all I got. I counted three figures in front of me. Armsmaster I recognized, but the man in the gladiator costume and the woman in a blue and white catsuit were new ones. I realized belatedly that while I'd felt pretty good about the speed of my escape, I'd given them more than enough time to regroup from my out burst and ambush me.

"Stand down, Riptide." Armsmaster's voice left no room for disagreement, and he held out his halberd in warning, "This is a fight you can't win. We just need to hold you in quarantine until we're sure everything is alright."

It briefly occurred to me that I might have overreacted. But there were just too many things I didn't know here. What was quarantine? Why had they expected me to fight? Would they ever let me out again?

Gladiator cracked his knuckles. Blue girl maintained a fighting stance, circling to the side, and somewhere, hundreds of feet behind me, Miss Militia drew up bead on my back.

I couldn't help but smile. It might be a different universe, but some things never changed.

For a moment, we just stood there. No doubt they hoped I would surrender. They had me dead to rights, after all, and there wasn't a simple way out of this. I was facing three unknown warriors, a doubtful option for peace, and a gun at my back, in addition to two or three bullet wounds which I really felt should be hurting more just about now. What would Annabeth recommend in such a situation?

"Eat my pants!" I shouted as I hosed Armsmaster over.

A lot of things happened at once. Gladiator shouted thunderously and I felt my feet leave the ground as I was thrown backward. My senses rang from the impact, and I tried to get my feet under me before I landed, but that dandy plan left out the other hero, whose suit exploded in light as she rushed forward.

She slammed a fist into my throat as I fell, driving me into the ground and setting me up for a powerful kick to my chest. Come on, Percy, you're better than this, I groaned, sweeping her legs out from under her. I rose, water lifting me upwards and gathering around me in a rushing torrent, carrying me away from the fight. The gladiator's shouts rippled against the wave, and while they were as loud as ever, the water shielded me from their force

The ocean was visible now, perhaps five blocks away. It may as well have been halfway across the country, as far as I was concerned. My surge of water was falling away quickly, as water tends to do, and once it was gone I'd be on foot. Against two speedsters, I didn't care for my odds.

Thankfully, I didn't get the chance to worry about that, because before I was a hundred feet away, pain surged through my system, and I fell to the ground, water dispersing around me and trickling into a storm drain. Armsmaster crouched nearby, electricity spitting and popping from the butt of his halberd. I had no idea how he had gotten ahead of me, but then, he certainly hadn't become leader due to his kind and bubbly personality. "You never had a chance." He stated, firing a dart from his wrist at my chest. "This is for the best. You don't know what damage you might have caused."

Heh. I thought as the dart struck home. He's definitely not the warm and fuzzy one. My vision darkened, and I could feel numbness spreading through my system. I drew myself to my feet blearily, and Armsmaster didn't try to stop me. Miss Militia, the glowing lady, and the guy with the voice powers jogged up, ready for round two. I wobbled on my feet. Velocity had zipped up at some point too.

"Get ready to catch him when he drops. Last thing I want is a news reel showing a kid being taken in with a bloody mess for a face."

I looked to the sky, and smiled dimly. I felt good. Dawn was just starting to break over the rooftops, and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. I felt cold metal settle over my wrists, and looked down in shock. Velocity must have tagged me with cuffs at some point. I sighed and looked Armsmaster in the eyes.

"Hey, Armsmaster?" I stated, spots flickering across my vision.

Armsmaster watched me impassively, ready to tag me with another dart if I so much as twitched. "Hm?"

"Did you eat my pants?"


I threw myself backwards, and felt the air of another dart brush past my face as I fell. Water surged from the nearby storm drain, knocking the iron bars away as I dove into the sewer, where the cold comfort of water surrounded me again.

Thanks for reading. Sorry for harping on the 'Armaster is a dick' train again.