Hey everyone! I deeply apologize for my long hiatus, Yes, I am alive. Thankfully, me and my family have remained safe through this pandemic, but 2020 and 2021 had its fair share of headaches for me that took my attention.

I wanted to come back and continue this story, I really did. It's just, one thing happened after another, the pandemic broke out and I had to worry about my family. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. And before I knew it, a year had gone by. As a character in my own novel says "Time is like water. It flows through your fingers and it's gone before you know it."

But hopefully I can get this back on a schedule. And yes, I'm ecstatic about the Disney Plus announcement. If you end up getting cast in the project, congrats!

The ten toes tilted over, and it was quickly obvious why they looked like toes. They were toes. The thing that rose up from the metal was a bronze giant in full Greek battle armor. He was impossibly tall—a skyscraper with legs and arms. He gleamed wickedly in the moonlight. He looked down at the group of travelers in peril with a face deeply deformed. The left side was partially melted off. His joints creaked with rust, and across his armored chest, written in thick dust by some giant finger, were the words WASH ME.

"Talos!" Zoe gasped. "Who or what is a Talos?" Percy stuttered.

"One of Hephaestus's creations," Thalia said. "But that can't be the original. It's too small. A prototype, maybe. A defective model.

The metal giant didn't like the word defective.

He moved one hand to his sword belt and drew his weapon. The sound of it coming out of its sheath was horrible, metal screeching against metal. The blade was a hundred feet long, easy. It looked rusty and dull, but that didn't matter. Getting hit with that thing would be like getting hit with a battleship.

"Get behind me!" Gohan shouted as blue energy flared around his body.

"I do not take orders from thy, Otherworlder!" Zoe snapped, notching an arrow.

"Guys! Not the time!" Percy snapped. The huntress snarled, shaking her head in exasperation.

"Someone took something," Zoe snapped. "Who was it?" She stared accusingly at Percy.
He shook his head. "I'm a lot of things, but I'm not a thief." She turned her gaze towards Gohan, who met her gaze. A red spark flashed across Gohan's eyes.

"I didn't." A feeling of frustration rang through his body. He was speaking the truth, but the look on Zoe's face spoke differently.

Bianca didn't say anything. Gohan could have sworn that she looked guilty, but he didn't have much time to think about it, because the giant defective Talos took one step toward them, closing half the distance and making the ground shake.

"Seriously? Another giant metal robot?" Percy shrieked.

"Guess we

"Run!" Grover yelped.

Great advice, except that it was hopeless. At a leisurely stroll, this thing could outdistance them easily. Well, almost all of them. A golden flash erupted around Gohan.

"This one's mine." A sudden blast of wind slammed into Percy's back, knocking him and Thalia to the ground. Percy looked up just in time to see a golden blur slam into the side of Talos's head, causing the giant to stumble. But it quickly regained its composure and swung its sword. Gohan simply rolled his eyed and turned to the side. The blade seemed to pass by him in slow motions. Gohan simply rolled his eyes, raised his hand and fired off another burst of ki blasts, exploding against Talos' face and chest.

They split up, the way they'd done with the Nemean Lion. Thalia drew her shield and held it up as she ran down the highway. The giant swung his sword at Gohan again, who shot out of the way and knocked out a row of power lines, which exploded in sparks and scattered across Thalia's path.

"Reckless moron!" Thalia cursed.

Zoe's arrows whistled toward the creature's face but shattered harmlessly against the metal. Grover brayed like a baby goat and went climbing up a mountain of metal.

"You took something," Percy demanded. "That bow."

"No!" she protested, but her voice was quivering.

Before she could answer, Percy heard a massive creaking noise, and a shadow blotted out the sky. They whirled to see Talos standing over them, his blade raised high. At that moment, Gohan slammed into Percy and Bianca, sweeping them off the ground as the giant's foot smashed a crater in the ground where they'd been hiding. The three of them tumbled to the ground, covering their heads as golden trinkets rained down on them.

"You guys okay?" Gohan climbed to his feet, a flurry of sparks dancing off his body.

"Give it back!" Percy yelled.

"Wait, what?"

"She did it! That bow!" Gohan whirled to look at Bianca.

"You?"

"No, I did-" Bianca gasped as Gohan grabbed her jacket and hoisted her into the air.

"What. Did. You. Take?" Percy was shocked by the growl that came out of Gohan's mouth. Bianca choked, thrashing her legs.

"I... I didn't take the bow! I swear!" Bianca gasped. Gohan's fists clenched as a burst of red sparks danced across his body. Percy's eyes widened.

"Whoa, maybe that's a little much-"

Grover played a quick melody on his pipes. Over at the highway, the downed power lines began to dance. One of the poles with power lines still attached flew toward Talos's back leg and wrapped around his calf. The lines sparked and sent a jolt of electricity up the giant's backside. Talos whirled around, creaking and sparking. Grover had bought them a few seconds.

"Come on!" Percy yelled at Bianca. But she stayed frozen.

"Check her pockets!" Percy shook his head before reaching out and patting Bianca down.

"Hey-"

"Found something." From her pocket, Percy pulled out a small metal figurine, a statue of a god.

"What's that?" Percy looked it over.

"I think it's… a Mythomagic statue?" Percy said. Bianca bit her lip.

"It... it was for Nico. It was the only statue he didn't have."

"How can you think of Mythomagic at a time like this?" Percy shouted. There were tears in her eyes.

"I just… I just wanted to show Nico that I still cared about him. That I hadn't forgotten him."

Gohan flinched. let go. Bianca fell to the ground, landing flat on her ass. Percy tossed the statue back at Bianca, who caught it with a blank expression.

"Throw it down," Percy said. "Maybe the giant will leave us alone." She dropped it reluctantly, but nothing happened. The giant kept coming after Grover. It stabbed its sword into a junk hill, missing Grover by a few feet, but scrap metal made an avalanche over him, and then no one could see him anymore.

"No!" Thalia yelled. She pointed her spear, and a blue arc of lightning shot out, hitting the monster in his rusty knee, which buckled. The giant collapsed, but immediately started to rise again. It was hard to tell if it could feel anything. There weren't any emotions in its half- melted face.

"I'm so-so sorry. I- I didn't mean for this to happen." Bianca stammered. Gohan glared down at her, a burst of red sparks flashing across his body.

"Can't you just blow it up with an energy blast?" Gohan looked the giant over.

"Maybe, if I hit it with a powerful enough blast. But the energy required would decimate everything in the immediate area. Including all of you guys." Percy drummed his foot.

"What?"

"Why don't you do what you did with Ares? Lift that thing up into the sky or throw it into space?"

Gohan pressed his lips together, pondering the option.

"Maybe..."

"NO!" Bianca cried out, causing both boys to turn towards her.

"This giant is part of the junkyard. We were already warned not to take anything. Just picking up a statue brought this giant on us. Gods forbid what the curse would be if the entire giant was removed for the graveyard."

"Then we destroy it. Here and now."

And just like that, Gohan was gone. Percy was blasted by wind as a golden blur shot towards the giant. As he climbed back to his feet, Bianca looked at him with watering eyes.

As Talos raised his foot, Gohan slammed into his chest with such force that the giant was actually knocked off its feet, slamming into a massive pile of junk. Gohan floated above, his hands raised. He fired off another burst of ki blasts, which slammed into the giant's chest. But as the smoke rose, the giant appeared unscathed.

"Freaking Celestial bronze." That stuff was damn stubborn against his energy attacks. In seemingly slow-motion, the giant reached towards him. In response, Gohan spun out of the way and raced up the side of the giant's arm, leaping up as the other arm reached towards him. He spun through the air, bringing out Ascension in one motion and slicing across Talos's chest. Gohan landed on a pile and pivoted, his eyes focusing on the spot of his strike. No deep cut, but he could see the dark line where his blade had connected. So it stood to reason… a blue lightning bolt shot past his head and slammed into the giant. Gohan whirled to see Thalia smirking at him, smoke rising from her spear.

"Watch it!"

"Stay out of my way, golden boy." Gohan shook his head.

"Stay out of mine!" Gohan leaped into the air. He landed on the giant's shoulder and pulled out Ascension, an idea already forming in his head. He tightened his grip and thrust Ascension straight down, onto the point where the arm met the shoulder. To his delight, the metal tip managed to plunge into the joint. He grunted, jerking the hilt back and forth like he was operating a handcar. Sparks danced down the blade, causing the giant's arm to spasm. Gohan stumbled, sending the blade tumbling to the ground.

"Ok, come on…" He grunted as he reached down towards the considerable gash he had made, his fingers gripping onto the metal joint. A loud metal groan filled the air as Gohan gripped the edge of the cut and pulled, gritting his teeth as sparks danced across his body.

Talos was not incompetent and reached towards Gohan with his other hand. Percy raced in and swung at Talos's leg. It wasn't enough to do any serious damage, but it did draw the giant's attention. He kicked at Percy, the demigod rolling out of the way as the sword sent junk flying. And then, with a massive metal creak, Gohan ripped the arm clean out of its socket. In one swift motion, he spun in the air, backhanding the metal giant with his own severed hand. It fell, crashing to the ground with a massive crash that shook Percy to his bones.

"Gods." Bianca breathed. Talos did not appreciate having his arm torn off and thrashed like a machine going haywire. Which, Gohan supposed it was. Grover bleated and tackled Thalia, knocking her out of harm's way. Gohan shook his head, and then rose into the air. The air shimmered as he slammed his hands together and then separated them just as fast to reveal a floating golden orb the size of a volleyball. He thrust his hands forward, sending the orb flying straight at Talos. Gohan made another hand gesture. The orb burst into dozens of smaller ones, showring the giant in golden rain. Smoke enveloped the giant.

"It's done!" Grover cheered. Thalia narrowed her eyes.

"No. Not yet." Talos stumbled forward out of the smoke.

"Let's finish this." Gohan grinned as another aura formed. Suddenly, Gohan's gold aura vanished. It was like he had been dunked into a wave of cold water. For a split second, he froze. Then, he fell.

"What the?" He flailed, the air whipping him in the face. He could hear shocked shouts, but that was far from his current focus. For a brief moment, he gawked, rolling in the air.

"Come on! Come on!" he desperately tried to call on his energy. Stop his fall. Catch himself before he hit the ground. But… nothing. And then he slammed into Talos' knee with a sickening crack. He face exploded in pain as he gasped, rolling off and hitting the ground.

"Gohan!" Percy shrieked as he sprinted towards his best friend, sword in hand.

"What in the gods just happened?" Bianca gaped.

"Uggggh." Gohan groaned. His face felt hot. A dull throb pounded on him as something wet was running down. Gohan looked up to see Talos's foot rise above him. A flurry of silver arrows slammed into its chest courtesy of Zoe, but the giant didn't even flinch. Percy wouldn't be surprised if it was so pissed at Gohan by this point it was just ignoring him. Percy watched in horror as the giant brought its foot down, causing the ground to shake like an earthquake. Percy cleared the pile and gaped.

Gohan had his teeth clenched as he held the foot back, his back pressed into the ground as he ignored the dull throb on his face. As he looked up, his eyes widened.

"PERCY! INSIDE!"

"Coming! I'll get it off!" Percy raced towards Gohan, Riptide raised high.

"NO! FINISH IT! INSIDE! INSIDE!" Gohan yelled. Percy frowned, tilting his head in confusion. Gohan grunted, and then his tail snaked out, pointing upward. Percy followed Gohan's tail and finally saw what Gohan was trying to tell him.

There was a hole in Talos' heel, like a large manhole, and there were red words painted around it, which I deciphered only after the foot came down: FOR MAINTENANCE ONLY. Gohan dug his fingers into the metal and kept pressing forward, keeping the giant's foot trapped. Percy's eyes widened.

"Oh, you crazy lunatic." Percy breathed in realization.

"What is he doing?" Percy turned to see Bianca run up next to him.

"Why doesn't he just shove him off! Or roll out?"

"That's why!" Percy pointed. Bianca followed his gaze as he told her about the maintenance hatch.

"Crazy-idea time," Percy said.

Bianca looked at him nervously. "Anything."

"He's keeping that foot pinned so one of us can slip in. There must be a way to control the thing. Switches or something. I'm going to get inside."

Bianca's jaw tightened. "No. I'll go."

"You can't. You're new at this! You'll die."

"It's my fault the monster came after us," she said. "It's my responsibility. Here." She picked up the little god statue and pressed it into Percy's hand. "If anything happens, give that to Nico."

"Bianca, no!" But she wasn't waiting. She charged at the monster's left foot.

Zoe yelled, "What are you doing?"

"Cover me!" she shouted. Zoe shot an arrow toward the monster's face and it flew straight into one nostril. The giant straightened and shook its head.

"Come on, you big brute! That all you got?" Gohan laughed, clutching the foot for dear life. Then, Bianca raced into view.

"What are you?" Bianca bounded over him. She leaped, grabbing the first rung of the hatch. And in that moment, she paused, turning back to look at Gohan. She had a strange look in her eyes.

"Tell Nico... tell him I'm sorry." Then, she vanished inside. Gohan gritted his teeth.

"Come on!" Then, he twisted the foot. The giant almost seemed to spin, stumbling away as Gohan climbed to his feet.

Grover somehow dug himself out of the junk pile. He played his pipes frantically, and his music sent another power line pole whacking against Talos's thigh. The monster turned. Grover should've run, but he must've been too exhausted from the effort of so much magic. He took two steps, fell, and didn't get back up.

"Grover!" Thalia and Percy both ran toward him, but he knew they'd be too late.

The monster raised his sword to smash Grover. Then he froze.

Talos cocked his head to one side, like he was hearing strange new music. Then, he made a fist with his remaining hand and punched himself in the face.

"Go, Bianca!" Percy yelled.

Zoe looked horrified. "She is inside?"

Thalia and Percy grabbed Grover and ran with him toward the highway. Zoe was already ahead of us. She yelled, "How will Bianca get out?" Percy froze.

"Wait! Where's Gohan?!" The giant hit itself in the head again and dropped his sword. It stumbled towards the power lines. Smoke poured from its gaping shoulder. Gohan groaned as he stumbled to his feet, the robbing on his face reaching a crescendo.

"Look out!" Percy yelled, but it was too late. The giant stumbled, slamming into the power lines with its missing shoulder. Blue flickers of electricity shot up his body. And then, it began to spasm. Smoke poured faster and larger from the cracks in the armor. For one moment, Talos was still. And then… he exploded. Gohan let out a shout of shock as he created a shield around himself.

Zoe let out a shocked scream as Thalia raised her shield. The blast hit them head on, sending them flying as smoking metal debris showered around them. Then, as Thalia started to rise, Gohan shot out of the rubble and slammed into Thalia's shield, sending them both tumbling. Percy and Zoe rushed over, checking on both of them. Before the smoke had even settled, they raced towards the wreckage screaming Bianca's name.

When they reached the wreckage, they searched frantically, yelling her name. They crawled around in the vast hollow pieces and the legs and the head. They searched until the sun started to rise.

Zoe sat down and wept. Percy was stunned to see her cry.

Thalia yelled in rage and impaled her sword in the giant's smashed and shattered head.

"We can keep searching," Percy said. "It's light now. We'll find her."

"No… we won't." Percy turned, seeing Gohan sitting on a rock, a blank expression on his face.

"He's right." Grover said miserably. "It happened just as it was supposed to." Gohan rose.

"What are you talking about?" Percy demanded.

He looked up at them with big watery eyes. "The prophecy. One shall he lost in the land without rain." Percy froze, his hands clenching and unclenching, struggling to process. Here they were in the desert. And Bianca di Angelo was gone.

And then… Percy heard a sound. A sound he never thought he'd hear in a place like this. Slowly, he turned. Gohan was rocking back and forth on his heels… laughing. He doubled over as his body shook, and tears dripping from his eyes as he continued to laugh, harder and harsher. Percy, Zoe, Thalia and Grover stared in stunned silence, struck silent.

As they stood there, Gohan had finally realized where he had seen that expression on Bianca's face, that last look before she had climbed headfirst into her own death. His father had had the same look in his eyes, before he teleported Cell away that day so long ago. It was the look of one who was making the ultimate sacrifice.