So, I finished chapter three of "We're Just Kids" the other day, and it got me in a PJO kind of mood. Plus, my school work has kind of calmed down for the week, which I am SO grateful for.
SPOILERS: There are a couple mentions of book three, "The Titan's Curse", and a few mentions of the Giant War, but other than that, this is all original.
DISCLAIMER: I obviously don't own Percy or any of his friends, and Asterie is a real mythological figure. I sort of made up her backstory, but not really. I did a bit of research on her, and as far as I can tell, she really was peaceful throughout the first war.
Without further ado, chapter two! (ha ha I rhymed)
"Great!" Percy hissed. "Another freaking Titan! Just what I wanted to hear!"
He slammed the phone back into its cradle before the call could connect and banged his head against the wall.
"But I don't understand," Annabeth started pacing. "Asterie was peaceful. She helped raise Apollo and Artemis! I mean, she's their aunt for crying out loud!"
"Really?" Percy's eyebrows went up. "Huh. Well, she's not getting any Aunt-of-the-Year awards this time around. She kidnapped her nephew. I can't imagine Artemis is very happy about that."
"I don't know why she has done this, only that she has," the old centaur said.
"Wait a minute, are we absolutely sure that she's the one behind all this?" Percy said. "I mean, if she was peaceful before—wait, what did she even do before?"
"She's Leto's sister," Annabeth answered. "You know, the mother of Artemis and Apollo? They were the daughters of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. He was the Titan of Intelligence and she was the Titaness of Prophecy and Oracular Intellect."
"So, basically, Asterie has a really good grasp on the future and is really freaking smart," Percy summed up.
Annabeth glared at him. "Yes. Anyway, Asterie was a peaceful Titaness. She watched over the stars and stayed out of the war between the Titans and the gods. She—honestly, she and Hestia were in the same boat. They just wanted their family to get along."
"Asterie actually guided and protected the gods and their allies at night," Chiron put in, "using the stars to light their way. Of course, when the war was over, she stepped back again. Told them all very clearly that she had no interest in doing anything but watching over her stars and Oracles. Quite a sensible young lady. But Asterie was very beautiful, and—"
Percy groaned. "Lemme guess. Zeus noticed."
Chiron gave a thin smile as thunder rumbled threateningly overhead. "I'm afraid so. The Titaness had transformed into a quail and was fleeing through the sky over the Aegean Sea when Zeus caught up to her in his eagle form. She threw herself into the ocean, and became instead the island Asteria, or the island which fell from the heavens like a star. It later became known as the island of Delos."
Percy's eyebrows went up. "Wait, Delos as in the island-where-Artemis-and-Apollo-were-born-Delos?"
"Yes, Seaweed Brain," Annabeth sighed. "That Delos."
"Huh," Percy said. "I just…do you think that's why Artemis and Apollo didn't have the split personality problems all the other gods were having during the Second Giant War? Because Asterie was protecting them?"
Annabeth blinked, eyebrows going up. She opened her mouth, then shut it again and turned to Chiron.
The Centaur frowned, stroking his chin. "It's very possible," he admitted. "She had surrendered her physical form, completely joined with her island. We thought she would not be able to reform, but the island was so beautiful and peaceful that we had no desire to harm it in any way…We had no indication that she was regathering her power, but it is entirely plausible that she protected them." A wry smile pulled at his mouth. "I will say that it is a very Asterie-like thing to do."
"How so?" Annabeth tilted her head.
Chiron snorted. "She was not fond of being predictable," he said. "But she was loyal, and as unwavering as the stars she guarded."
"Wait," Percy said suddenly, eyes going dim with remembered grief. "So, basically, she guards all of the spirits that make up the constellations?"
Chiron's smile went soft and sad. "Yes," he said. "No matter what they had done in life, Asterie gave them a place of peace and rest. I asked her about it once, why she was so kind to even the awful ones, like Orion and Hercules. She told me, 'It is not my place to be judge and jury. And besides, how are any of us any better? We have all done enough evil in this world, myself included. They are sentient beings with feelings and thoughts of their own, and they had no peace in life. The least I can do is give it to them in death.'" Chiron shook his head. "She was something else."
"So," Percy swallowed hard. "When Artemis sent Zoe to the stars—"
"She sent her to Asterie," the Centaur nodded. "Yes."
"That…this doesn't add up," Percy frowned. "Artemis loved Zoe. They were practically sisters. There is no way she would send her soul to someone she didn't totally trust."
"Well, obviously Artemis was wrong," Annabeth said brusquely. "Asterie clearly can't be trusted. Now Chiron, what are we going to do about a rescue mission? If we don't have an Oracle, we can't get a prophecy."
The son of Poseidon started to say something else before subsiding. "Yeah," he muttered. "I'm gonna call my mom, give her a heads up. I'll be out in a minute."
Chiron nodded to him and guided Annabeth out of the room with a hand on her shoulder. "I am not certain. Normally, I would tell you to go to Apollo, but…well, that's not exactly an option this time."
"I know," Annabeth groaned. "I was thinking that maybe—"
The door swung shut as Percy punched in his mom's number and leaned against the wall as it rang.
"Blofis residence, this is Sally speaking!" her cheerful voice came through just a few minutes later.
Despite himself, Percy smiled. "Hey, Mom."
"Percy! Are you and Annabeth having a good time? And will she be staying for supper? Scratch that, she's staying for supper. Oh, does Tyson want to come? If he does, I need to know now so I have time to make enough food for him."
"Mom, I don't—I don't think we'll be home in time for supper," Percy said softly, knowing she would be able to read between the lines of his statement.
"Oh…" her voice trailed off, and Percy closed his eyes as guilt clawed at his heart.
"I'm so sorry," he said, his voice going rough.
"That's alright, sweetheart," she said, and he could practically feel her hug through the phone. "I won't ask what's happening, I know some things are a little sensitive. Just…be careful, okay?"
"I promise that I'll try," he offered with a wince.
She inhaled sharply, because she knew that was all he could give her but that didn't mean it didn't hurt. "Okay. I'll hold you to that, young man."
"Be careful, Percy," she said. "I love you. So, so much."
"I love you, too," he whispered, leaning his forehead against the wall.
"Come home soon," She said softly. "I'll keep your supper warm. I love you."
"I love you, too," he said again, because if there was one phrase that could never be said too many times, it was definitely that one. "See you soon, Mom."
He softly hung up the phone, closing his eyes and letting out a long breath before he forced himself upright and to the door.
"Here we go again," he murmured.
"—no way that would work, is there?" Annabeth was saying as he walked back into the meeting room.
The other cabin leaders had wandered back in, and Annabeth was pacing back and forth in the narrow space on the far side of the table.
"No," Leo said, brows furrowing and face unusually serious. "There's literally no way for that to work properly. Even if we could somehow get ahold of a piece of Apollo's energy, there's no guarantee it would integrate with our tracking tech."
"And a spell would be totally out of the question," Lou Ellen said, crossing her arms. "We…yeah, just no."
"Ugh!" Annabeth threw her hands up in the air in total exasperation. "This is driving me crazy!"
"Why don't we ask Artemis?" Percy asked, slumping down into his seat and leaning his elbows on his knees. "I mean, she's got a pretty solid handle on stars. Plus she knows Asterie really well and Apollo is her brother, and you know how they get when the other one is in danger. She could probably tell us where they are. Or give us a starting point, at least."
Dead silence descended on the meeting room until Nico laughed, shaking his head.
"You've successfully led us through two wars that should have, by all rights, ended the world," he said, still smiling. "I don't know why it's still so surprising when you do something brilliant."
Percy rolled his eyes, trying not to smile. "Thanks, Cousin. I appreciate it."
Nico smirked and leaned back in his chair. "No problem. But in all seriousness, that would work."
"That…" Annabeth blinked, shook her head sharply, and started pacing again. "Yes, that would…that actually would work quite nicely." She grinned. "Good job, Percy."
He nodded and hopped to his feet. "I'ma go grab Fleecy and see if she can get me through to Thalia."
"But Mom is missing," Butch frowned. "How is an IM going to work?"
Percy grinned and mimed zipping his lips. "Sorry," he said. "Promised I wouldn't say anything."
He darted out of the room and into the kitchen, laughing at the good-natured groans, shouts, and laughter of his friends that followed him down the hallway. He pulled a stream of water from the sink and through a ray of sunlight, just like he had in his own home.
"Hey, Fleecy, you still there?" he called, tossing in a drachma.
The nymph appeared instantly. "Yes! Have you heard anything?" her wide, worried eyes fixed on his, thunderstorms blasting across her sclera.
"Yeah," he smiled reassuringly. "You were right. Something has happened to Iris. But!" he held up a hand, cutting off her panicked reaction. "We already know who it is, and we're putting together a mission right now. So I just need you to stay calm for me, okay? Can you do that?"
She took a deep breath, hands wringing in her lap. She nodded wordlessly, visibly biting her lip.
"Okay," Percy sighed in relief. "I need to talk to Thalia, daughter of Zeus. Can you connect me to her?"
Fleecy nodded again and waved a hand, causing the image to shimmer in a blur of rainbow hues. It cleared a moment later to reveal the Hunters' campsite.
"I want everyone packed up and ready to go in five minutes!" Thalia was shouting. "We've got a summons, let's get a move on, please!"
"Hey, Pinecone Face!" Percy called, and his cousin spun around.
"Kelp Head!" she said, relief flooding her face. "So, I guess you've heard?"
Percy nodded. "Do you know who's behind this?"
Thalia grimaced, tilting her hand back and forth. "Sort of. We've got a summons from our Mistress, but she hasn't been too generous with details. We have a really vague idea, but nothing solid. Why? Anything you'd like to share with the class?"
Instead of answering, Percy frowned thoughtfully. "How much of a detour would it be for you to swing by and pick up a few campers to take with you? We have a fairly good idea of what's happening, but I have a few questions for Artemis before we just charge in swords swinging."
Thalia blinked, then stuck her pinky in one ear and pretended to clean it out. "I'm sorry, say that again? I thought I heard you say you didn't want to charge in swords swinging."
"Hey!" Percy's eyes widened. "Rude!"
Thalia's mock-serious face collapsed, and she burst into laughter.
"Oh, ha, ha," Percy glared at her. "Seriously, though. Something about this…Something doesn't feel right about this. If the culprit is who Annabeth and Chiron think it is…" he sighed. "I just...feel like there's more going on here than we're seeing right now."
Thalia's snickers tapered off and her brows drew together. "You're usually right about this sort of thing," she said. "And I trust you a heck of a lot more than just about anyone else, so we'll make the trip. We should be at Camp's borders around seven tomorrow morning, and if you don't mind helping us catch up the time we'll lose, we can take a boat down to Jamestown. That's where Artemis is."
"Done," Percy nodded. "See you tomorrow, Thals. And be careful, okay?"
"I will," she promised. "You too, Kelp Head."
The Huntress swiped her hand through the image and Percy carelessly tossed the water back into the sink.
To absolutely no one's surprise, Annabeth, Nico, and Percy wound up being the three demigods chosen to complete the mission.
The whole Camp gathered the next morning to see them off, greeting the Hunters with forced smiles on their pale faces. Thalia gave Percy a quick hug before nearly squeezing the life out of Annabeth and ruffling Nico's hair. The son of Hades growled at her, glaring through sleep-blurred eyes. Nico was not a morning person, much to the amusement of his cousins.
The nymphs had risen even earlier than they had to prepare a meal for them, which Percy greatly appreciated. It gave the feeling of normalcy to a day that was anything but.
When they were finished eating, the Campers quietly gathered at the base of Thalia's tree to say see you later, because no one could quite handle saying goodbye so soon after the Giant War.
"Be careful, Percy," Chiron said quietly as Percy clasped his forearm in farewell. "I do not know what you will face on your journey. But our prayers go with you."
Percy gave him a tight smile as he thanked him and decided not to tell him he had lost faith in the gods long ago. The only reason he was still fighting was because he'd been doing it so long, he didn't know how to do anything else.
"Ready?" he asked Annabeth.
She pressed their foreheads together briefly, squeezing his hand. "Always."
Percy smiled at her, reaching out to lightly ruffle Nico's hair.
He groaned, rolling his eyes. "Yes, I'm ready. To get this over with." He glared up at the sun with squinted eyes and huddled deeper into his jacket. "Can we go now?"
Thalia snorted. "Yes, Dracula, we can go now." She raised her voice. "Hunters, let's move!"
As they broke into a light jog and Camp grew more and more distant, all levity faded. Percy glanced around him at the solemn faces.
Soldiers marching to a war, one more time.
But determination burned in his eyes and he took a deep breath and set his jaw.
They were all coming back this time.
He would make sure of it.
And there you go! There will obviously be one more chapter of this. I already know how the story is going to end (which is really rare for me), but I don't know when I'll have the time/motivation to write it in a way I'll be happy with. But it's in the works!
And "I'll Leave the Love" chapter nine will be up next Tuesday! I don't have class that day, so I should be able to get the whole thing done then. Of course, we all know how great I am with deadlines (I'm not), so we'll see what happens. But that's the goal!
Anyway, let me know what you thought of this chapter, and I'll see you next time!