HAPPY BIRTHDAY VALYRIAN! I am so sorry that this is so late! Here is the PJO oneshot I promised you. I actually got a little carried away with this, so it'll be at least two chapters. I could have done a super-long oneshot, but there was no way I could finish it today if I did that, so I split it, and now you get more!
So, I hope you have had a spectacular day, and I hope that this is your best year yet!
DISCLAIMER: This is Riordan's sandbox, I'm just playing in it.
WARNINGS: Nope! This is pretty much angst-free. Mostly.
Here We Go Again
It was a beautiful day.
The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the air was crisp and fresh with the cool beginnings of autumn.
Percy and Annabeth were sitting on a bench in Central Park. She was curled up under his arm with her nose in a book—shocker—and after all the chaos and insanity of the last few years, Percy was more than happy to just sit there peacefully with the girl he loved, watching the wind play with the loose golden curls that had fallen out of Annabeth's messy bun.
The son of Poseidon leaned his head back and closed his eyes, savoring the peace of the quiet afternoon.
Olympus knew they'd fought hard enough for it.
Of course, he was still Percy Jackson, so ten minutes later, he was itching to do something.
He jiggled his foot.
He tapped random patters on the back of the bench.
He hummed a few songs under his breath.
He watched a young girl playing fetch with her dog.
He tested to see how many leaves he could put on Annabeth's head before she noticed.
She slowly raised her head and turned to face him, and he gulped at the look of impending death in her grey eyes.
"Yes, love?" he offered her his best, brightest, most innocent look, trying hard not to laugh at how ridiculous she looked with twelve leaves in her hair.
"You have, against all odds, survived to seventeen years of age. Do you really want to die now?"
He shook his head.
She brushed the leaves out of her hair and went back to her book.
Percy let out a quiet sigh of relief and went back to watching the empousa play fetch with her hellhound.
"Styx," he hissed, every muscle in his body coiling tight.
"Percy," Annabeth growled.
"We've got a problem," he said shortly. "There's an empousa and a hellhound over there."
Annabeth's lips thinned. "Di immortales," she muttered. "Just one day. Is that too much to ask for?"
"Apparently," Percy muttered. He sighed, rising to his feet and taking a thorough but discreet look around while Annabeth stuck a page marker in her book. "I had today going differently in my head."
Annabeth gave a strained laugh as she knelt and started packing her things into her backpack. "You and me both."
He offered her a wry grin. "Well, at least we get to take our frustrations out on the monsters. That's a plus."
She snorted. "Whatever, Seaweed Brain. Just keep an eye on the monsters, would you?"
"Got it," he leaned back against the bench, watching the deadly duo across the clearing. "They…are actually doing nothing but playing fetch. Red rubber ball and everything. Is that weird to you? That seems very weird to me."
"Because it is," Annabeth grumped, standing and slinging her bag over her shoulder. "Okay, let's go—whoa!" She lunged forward, tackling Percy out of the way as a wicked set of claws slashed through the air where they'd been standing.
Percy grunted as he hit the ground, automatically rolling to protect Annabeth from the really irritated-looking empousa behind them.
The son of Poseidon leaped to his feet, summoning Riptide and slicing the thing in half before it could so much as flinch.
"Okay, I think I've had enough park time today, how about you?" he reached one hand down for Annabeth, eyes roving back and forth across the park.
"Agreed," she grabbed hold and pulled herself up easily. "Where's that other empousa and the hellhound?"
"They're right over—" Percy's voice died in his throat. "They're not there anymore."
"They were—" Annabeth swallowed. "Percy, where did everyone else go? This park was full just a few minutes ago."
The older demigod looked around, heart beating faster. Sure enough, there wasn't another soul anywhere in sight.
"That empousa and her hellhound got here at the same time as we did." Annabeth moved a little closer to him. "I think they were watching us."
Percy's jaw tightened. "Come on," he muttered, grabbing her hand and leading her out of the park. "We're going to my place, and we're IMing Chiron. Something's not right."
Percy tossed their bags on the living room sofa and made a come hither gesture with his hand, guiding a spray of water out of the kitchen sink and through a shaft of sunlight, making a rainbow.
"Fleecy, do me a solid," he said with a grin as he tossed a drachma through the colored light. "Show me Chiron at Camp Half-Blood."
They waited impatiently for a few minutes.
"Yo, Fleecy, you trying to con more money out of me?" Percy asked, losing his patience. "This is kind of important!"
A moment later, the image cleared, but it was the cloud nymph herself peering out at them, not Chiron.
"Um, Fleecy?" Percy's brows furrowed. "What's going on?"
"I don't know," she said, a frown on her usually smiling face. "I can't get through to Chiron. And I can't find Iris, either."
Percy blinked. "What do you mean, you can't find Iris?"
"I mean she's gone," Fleecy wrung her hands. "She hasn't been to the store in over five days. Which is a little weird, but I mean, it's not like she lives here, and I know she had that 'find the Oracle' quest and whatnot but she's not answering when I try to get in touch with her and no one's really seen her since last week and I'm not really sure where she—"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Percy interrupted. "What do you mean, "Find the Oracle" quest?"
"I don't know!" the nymph very nearly wailed. "She's not been here in five days, and I don't know what's going on because I can't get in touch with anyone!"
"Okay, okay, calm down!" Percy ran a hand through his hair. "Me and Annabeth will go talk to Chiron about it and try to figure out what's going on, okay?"
"Oh, would you?" Fleecy looked like she was about to cry in relief. "Thank you so much!"
"No problem." Percy gave her a strained smile. "Don't you worry about a thing."
He swept his hand through the image and turned to Annabeth, who was staring off into space, chin in her hand.
"I can hear the gears grinding from here," he teased, and knew he deserved the flick between his eyes. "Any ideas?"
"Maybe," Annabeth stood and grabbed her bag. "But I wanna talk to Chiron first."
Percy nodded. He grabbed his own bag, adding a few extra reserves of nectar and ambrosia before he scribbled a quick note to his mom and pinned it to the fridge. "Okay, let's go."
Camp was eerily still, Percy noticed as he absentmindedly patted Peleus on the nose as they walked by him and down the hill.
There were campers all around, but nobody was talking, and there was a tense feeling to the air.
"Percy-y-y-y!" someone bleated from his left, and the demigod had just enough time to brace himself before Grover was crashing into him. "SO glad to see you, man! Things have been crazy here."
"Whoa, G-man!" Percy clapped him on the shoulder when he finally let go. "What's going on here? We tried to IM Chiron, but Fleecy said—"
Grover slapped a hand over his mouth.
"Ixnay on the adbay ewsnay," Grover muttered, with a fake smile. "Not everyone's in the know right now, Perce. Come on, Chiron wants to see you."
Exchanging a troubled look with Annabeth, Percy followed his best friend up the stairs of the Big House and into the meeting room. All the head counselors were already there, and they called out muted greetings to Annabeth and Percy. Malcolm vacated the Athena chair to Annabeth, and Tyson squished Percy in a huge hug as he moved for his brother. Ella patted Percy's head from where she perched on Tyson's shoulder.
"Big Brother!" the cyclops cheered. "Missed you very much!"
"Hey, Ty," the demigod choked out. "Good to—to see you, too."
"Percy, Annabeth, it's good to see you," Chiron said with a thin smile at Tyson's antics. There were shadows under his eyes, and he looked older than he usually did.
"What's happening, Chiron?" Percy asked seriously.
The Centaur rubbed his forehead. "It's a very long story, my boy, but the gist of it is…" he sighed. "I'm afraid that Rachel has gone missing."
Percy's heart sank. "The Oracle is missing," he repeated. "How, exactly, did that happen?"
"We have no idea," Piper McLean groaned, rubbing her eyes. "She was at the bonfire last Thursday, but she didn't come to breakfast on Friday."
"Which isn't all that abnormal for her," Katie Gardner threw in. Her fingers were flying in her lap, anxiously braiding long strands of grass into an intricate circlet. "So I volunteered to take a tray to her, like I usually do. Only…she wasn't there."
Annabeth frowned. "Well, it's possible she just went home."
"Yeah, that's what we thought, too," Connor Stoll said. Both of the Stoll brothers were missing their customary mischievous smiles, and neither of them had acquired their usual piles of "misplaced" items.
"So we sent Grover to check on her, just in case," Travis said.
"She wasn't there," Grover said, leaning on the back of Percy's chair. "And her parents said she'd called and told them that she would be staying at camp until next month."
A cold feeling was growing in Percy's stomach. "Any chance she was summoned to Olympus?" he asked.
Which would be really odd, but still possible.
Nico shook his head, twisting his skull ring around his finger. "No," he said quietly. "She's not in the Underworld, though. If that's any comfort."
Percy winced. "Not really, but I appreciate the effort."
Nico cracked a humorless smile and Percy sighed.
"So, basically, the entire Greek community has managed to misplace our Oracle," he summed up.
"Yeah, that pretty much covers it, Boss Man," Leo shot some finger guns at him, just as cheerful as ever.
"Ella, do you have any idea where she is?" Annabeth turned to the pretty red harpy, who shook her head emphatically.
"Ella did not see Red," the harpy said. "Red went to the fire with Ella, but Ella did not see Red after. Ella went to get books with nice centaur man. And Tyson. Wonderful Tyson."
"Great," Annabeth sighed. "We've lost our Oracle."
"That's not all," Malcolm said from where he stood beside his sister.
Percy groaned. "No…"
"Several of the gods have gone missing, as well," Butch said, and Percy sat ramrod straight. "Including our mother."
"Some of the gods have gone missing?" Percy repeated, all hints of irritation gone. "Who? How many?"
"Iris, Chloris, Apollo, and Morpheus are the ones who are both Greek and Roman," Nico answered grimly. "And then there's one who's only Roman—Carmenta."
Annabeth sucked in a sharp breath beside him. "Carmenta?" she repeated.
Nico nodded, and Annabeth swore.
"Who's Carmenta?" Leo asked.
"Her name comes from the Latin word carmin," Annabeth said, brow furrowing. "Which can mean magic spell, song, or—or Oracle."
"Okay," the Son of Hades said slowly. "So, the Oracle, the god of prophecy, and a minor goddess of prophecy. That makes sense. But I don't understand the others. Neither of them have anything to do with prophecy at all."
"That's not exactly true," Piper said suddenly. "Chloris. She's a bringer of springtime, isn't she?"
Katie nodded. "Yeah," she said. "I've met her before, on trips to Olympus. She's super sweet."
"So, in a sense, she has to predict the end of winter to know when to kickstart spring," Percy said. "Right?"
Katie tilted her head. "Well, that's…" she frowned. "Actually, yeah. I was going to say that someone tells her when to do it, but according to my mom, she tends to start Spring the day before Persephone comes back. She just…knows."
Nico hummed. "Morpheus is the god of Dreams. I mean, how many times have our dreams been glimpses of the future or the past?" He saw heads nodding all around the room. "So he fits." He frowned. "The one I don't understand is Iris. What does she have to do with prophecy?"
In perfect unison, every head turned to Annabeth.
She sighed in irritation. "Contrary to what is apparently popular belief, I don't know everything."
Leo let out a horrified gasp. "What?!" he shouted, clapping a hand over his heart. "Oh, no! The world is ending!"
Piper slapped the back of his head. "The world already ended," she reminded him. "And we stopped it."
"Ow," Leo rubbed his head. "That hurt, Beauty Queen."
"Okay," Percy broke in before Piper could actually kill Leo. "Back to the subject at hand. Missing messenger goddess. Why?"
"To cut us off," Clarisse said, looking thoroughly irritated that the problem wasn't something she could just impale with her spear. "Isolate us. It's brilliant. We can't contact each other or reach the Romans. They probably have no idea what's going on."
There was a long moment of silence as the others digested that.
In the distance, the conch horn sounded the dinner hour.
Percy sagged down in his chair. "Alright, people," he said. "Go eat. Hopefully, we'll have some more information for you after dinner. Chiron, I'ma need to use your phone."
"Of course, Percy."
The other counselors filed out, casting worried looks back at Chiron, Annabeth, and Percy as the three of them headed to the celestial bronze-encased room that let demigods make short phone calls.
"Any idea who we're dealing with, here?" Percy asked as he punched in his mom's number.
Chiron sighed. "Possibly. I dearly hope I'm wrong, but this sounds a lot like…well, did either of you notice the spectacular show of shooting stars last night?"
Annabeth gasped. "Of course!"
Percy looked back and forth between them. "What? What am I missing?"
His girlfriend turned to face him. "Oracles and prophecy!" she said excitedly. "How could I have missed it?!"
She spun back to Chiron. "Could it be? I thought she was an island!"
Percy blinked. "Wait, what? Who?!"
Chiron sighed. "I'm afraid so, my dear. Furthermore, each immortal went missing after nightfall. There's simply no one else it could be."
"WHO IS IT?!" Percy barked, thoroughly irritated now.
Chiron turned to him, slumped shoulders and old eyes and tired spirit. "I am afraid that Asterie, the Titaness of Oracles and shooting stars, has returned once more to take her vengeance on Olympus."
And there you go! Chapter one.
Chapter two is already pretty well underway, so I think it should be done sometime next week. I hope. And after that...we'll see, won't we?
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed, and that your birthday has been spectacular!