Chapter 18: Battle of Wits
A/N: Only 2 reviews for the previous chapter :(. If you want, just write a few words, but still REVIEW! Also thank you for the 50 followers! If you haven't noticed yet, I deleted the part of the AN from the last chapter explaining the absence of the minor gods. I changed my plans a bit, so now what I said about them fighting amongst each other no longer applies to the story. There is now a new reason for the minor gods' absence that will be explained in this chapter. By the way, this is my longest story now!
The next morning, everyone was apprehensive about the battle that was to come. As agreed by the gods, the Underworld entrance to Tartarus would be used to enter and exit the pit, so all of the demigods and gods stood in the Underworld, having gotten permission to enter from Hades.
Nervous conversation was made amongst the demigods, all of them trying to act confident. However, they all knew that it was pretty much impossible to be confident at this point. This would definitely be the toughest battle yet of their lives, and in all likelihood, most of them would not make it out of the pit alive.
The gods, in the meanwhile, were acting in a similar fashion to their offspring. They all tried desperately to hide their fear, but all failed. Then, the gods realized that if they didn't enter the pit soon, Tartarus's army would attack Camp Half-Blood in around an hour, and finding it empty, they would most likely ravage it in hopes of disheartening the demigods. It was time to attack.
Zeus cleared his throat, and announced to the demigods that it was time for them to battle Tartarus in the pit in hopes of destroying the primordial once and for all.
"FOR OLY-" The Big Three gods started to shout together as a war cry, but they were abruptly cut off by Percy.
"Wait!" Percy shouted.
He looked to Annabeth, who nodded in encouragement, and then continued.
"I have a different plan that I think we can use to defeat Tartarus without nearly as many losses as we will definitely have with our current plan."
Zeus seemed doubtful that this plan could be good, but Poseidon enthusiastically asked, "What is it?"
Flashback - The Previous Night
Percy was still nervous as he knew that their chances of winning the battle against Tartarus were miniscule. He saw visions of his friends lying dead on the battlefield, him being the last survivor as he looked at the bodies. He couldn't fall asleep as his mind was focused on thinking about the certain casualties in the battle the next day, and also wondering how much of an advantage would be provided by what Jason had told him a few minutes ago. And he wasn't sure he wanted to fall asleep either, knowing that he would surely dream about a horrible conclusion to the battle in the pit.
Percy remembered seeing the battlefield after the war with Gaia and feeling utterly broken at the sight of his friends lying dead on the ground. However, at least then they had won. This time, he wasn't nearly as sure that they even had a chance at winning this battle.
Suddenly, he had a realization. Tartarus couldn't be defeated the way Gaia and Ouranos had, because he had almost as much strength even out of his domain. However, there was a different, even better way to defeat him.
He knew that there was pretty much only one way to confirm his theory. Percy didn't want to do it, but it was either Annabeth or Athena, and he didn't think the goddess of wisdom would exactly appreciate him coming to her at this time of night to ask her a question. Annabeth, on the other hand, would be eager to help him. Percy knew it was either his grudge - though it was actually much more than a grudge - or his friends, and the answer was pretty obvious. His grudge would have to be put away temporarily.
As he walked to the Athena cabin, he pondered whether his idea could work, and couldn't find any flaw in it. However, he knew that Annabeth was smarter than him, and could help him fine tune his idea.
He knocked on the door of Cabin 6, and though Annabeth was really surprised at seeing him, after he explained that he had an idea to destroy Tartarus, she hastily left the cabin so they could discuss it.
"We defeated Gaia by separating her from her domain, weakening her, right?" Percy asked.
Annabeth simply nodded in confirmation.
"But Tartarus is still very strong even outside his domain, which is the pit. And now that we're going to fight him in the pit, it will be pretty much impossible to destroy him in there. So - " Percy was cut off by Annabeth.
"Percy, if you're thinking about asking the gods to not follow your plan and just go back to fighting outside the pit, just remember that this is the best plan. It'll be extremely hard to destroy Tartarus either way, so it's better that we just take the risk," said Annabeth.
"No," replied Percy. "That's not what I was thinking. What I'm thinking is, removing a primordial from their domain weakens them. But a primordial - or god, for that matter - draws power from his domain. We couldn't exactly have destroyed the Earth to get rid of Gaia's power, nor could Kronos have destroyed the sky. But Tartarus, on the other hand… "
Annabeth smiled, having realized what Percy was getting onto and understanding the genius behind the plan. "That's brilliant! If we destroy the pit itself, Tartarus will have no domain to draw power from, meaning that the gods can kill him! But - but how do you plan to destroy the entire pit? You saw the size of it yourself Percy, even a nuclear bomb wouldn't manage to destroy the entire place!"
"You can leave that up to me," Percy said, getting up and going to his cabin. Having finalized his plan and confirmed that it could work, he was able to sleep a little more peacefully.
Flashback 2 - The Previous Night (A/N: As in the previous night from the present, not from Flashback 1. This flashback occurs a few minutes before Flashback 1.)
As Percy was heading to his cabin, he was deep in thought, so it took Jason a second try to get his attention.
"Percy! Percy?" he called.
"Yeah?" Percy responded, snapping out of his thoughts. "Sorry, I was just… thinking."
"About what?" Jason asked, as he had an inkling that he knew both Percy's question and the answer to it.
"Quite a few things, actually. How we're going to defeat Tartarus, why the minor gods didn't fight today, whether - " Percy was cut off.
"Yeah, about that… " Jason scratched the back of his neck nervously, wondering how Percy would take this. "I have an answer to that question."
"You have a plan to defeat Tartarus?" Percy asked excitedly.
"No, the other question. You remember Kymopoleia?"
"The sea goddess who you convinced to help us while I died of poison? Yeah, I remember," Percy said with a weak laugh, trying to lighten the mood half-heartedly.
"So I kinda made the same promises I made to her at a higher scale to get the minor gods on Tartarus's side to our side," Jason said in one breath. He didn't know why he was so nervous, but he hadn't told anyone else about this because he had gotten a feeling that Percy wouldn't want anyone else to know.
"WHAT?" Percy shouted. Normally he wouldn't have reacted so much, but his nerves were already really frayed leading to his outburst.
"Dude, calm down!" Jason hissed at him. Some campers were already looking at them weird, but when he glared at them they turned away.
"Okay, sorry, but why didn't you tell me or anyone this earlier?" Percy hissed back.
"I don't know, but I had a feeling that I should wait and tell you in private," Jason defended his reasoning.
"Alright," Percy sighed. "It actually is good that you didn't tell anyone else about this. Tartarus surely has spies within the camp, so the less people that know about this, the better. We'll reveal this to the gods tomorrow before entering the pit."
Jason nodded in response, and Percy continued to his cabin, having one more thing on his mind to consider while trying to formulate a plan.
In response to Poseidon's question, Percy explained the plan he had made and confirmed the previous night.
"But what is your plan for destroying the pit?" Poseidon asked.
Percy motioned to Jason, and he explained how he had managed to turn the minor gods to our side.
Once he finished, Percy took the moment of silence as his cue and started talking. "I once heard of a legend that stated that with the combined might of all 30 of the most worshipped Greek gods and goddesses (A/N: I don't know how many there are that are highly worshipped, if anyone knows, review it or PM me and I'll fix this. Also, I know this legend doesn't exist - or at least I think it doesn't - but it exists in this fanfic), you could destroy any amount of space at the expense of a large amount of power - the power lost dependent on the amount of space you destroy - that would take a long time to come back."
Some of the demigods started to grin, for the first time seeing a sliver of hope that could provide them with a victory devoid of casualties. However, Athena immediately exclaimed, "Do you know what you're saying? The 'large' amount of power that you mentioned will bring our power down to just a little more than a TENTH of its full capacity! If we try to destroy the entire abyss of Tartarus by combining our power, it will take nearly 2 years for all of it to return!"
"What's 2 years to a god?" Percy countered immediately.
"That's beyond the point!" Athena cried adamantly, but for the first time she faltered, knowing that Percy's argument was more than valid.
Despite this, the other gods nodded, agreeing with Athena. They started to mutter their own objections to Percy's idea, giving weak arguments about things they needed their power for.
Confusion broke out as the demigods shouted at their respective parents and the council as a whole, in bewilderment that they could be so selfish. But to be honest, Percy on the other hand wasn't very surprised about the negative response to his idea. Nor did he think that it was so outrageous that they were being selfish. It was wrong, yes, but it was characteristic of the gods.
Think about it like this. You live for millenia being in charge, with a vast amount of power at your disposal to use for whatever you wish. Any mortal or demigod disrespects you, and BOOM! They're dead within seconds. You don't like someone? BOOM again. They're dead.
The gods had so much power that they weren't scared to defy the Ancient Laws unless they were under threat, in which case they followed them only to ensure that their power wasn't reduced. They had so much power that even broken oaths on the Styx were broken eventually after centuries of straining to follow them, and they weren't even affected very much by the punishment.
Living for that long with so much power can make you a brat. Like, a huge brat. For the gods to imagine nearly 2 years with a low amount of power was preposterous for them. It would make them feel constantly exposed, make them paranoid (even more than usual), and all in all cause disaster for the world for quite some time even after they regained power. (A/N: Like Apollo in ToA. This isn't making them mortal, but still, a tenth of their power is equal to a really weak demigod.)
"ENOUGH!" Poseidon shouted, his authoritative voice cutting through the chaos. He had been waiting for Zeus to do something up until this point as the King of the Gods, but the god of the skies was too busy arguing against Percy's idea.
He continued, "Arguing will not get us anything, and it is wasting way too much time. We have only about a half hour until Tartarus will attack Camp Half-Blood. No matter whether we are to follow Percy's plan or to attack the pit normally, we have to do it quickly."
Poseidon motioned to Percy so he could advocate for his plan.
"With our other plan, we have a very low chance of winning. If we win, we'll be extremely tired after a win meaning we're vulnerable to more attacks and also suffer a lot of losses, mostly on the demigods' side. If we lose, the gods and demigods are both wiped out, and Tartarus takes over the world. With my new plan, there's no chance of failure. If we use it, the demigods are unscathed, and the gods have to go 2 years with reduced power. We've already suffered through two wars previously, and now this third. Let the gods take the brunt for once." Percy had made his point, and now he waited for the gods to take their decision. It was bold, trying to make the gods see sense by indirectly criticizing them for making their children suffer through wars while not doing much themselves, but he didn't see any other way to put it.
The gods walked away to discuss amongst themselves, and eventually it seemed they had reached a decision, as they walked back to the demigods slowly.
Percy held his breath in anticipation of the council's verdict. "We, the Olympian council, have agreed to follow through with Perseus Jackson's plan," Zeus announced. He didn't look too happy about it even as he said it, so Percy guessed that he had most likely been overpowered by most of the rest of the council.
All 30 of the most worshipped gods and minor gods stood ready at the entrance of Tartarus. The gods got ready, and Zeus commanded them to all focus on combining their inner power. For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then suddenly, a glow of white power appeared in the middle of the circle that the gods were standing in.
The gods opened up their circle and formed a line facing the entrance of the abyss, and held their hands up to the orb of white energy.
Zeus nodded, and together, they forced the energy straight into the pit. Again, for a few seconds there was silence as nothing happened.
Then, suddenly, a series of loud explosions were heard, at such a high volume that all of the demigods and gods had to cover their ears, but that didn't do much either way. But even as they covered their ears, the demigods let out a breath that they didn't know they'd been holding, and the same for the gods.
Finally, the explosions stopped, and everyone hesitantly pulled their hands away from their ears. Though they were drained, the gods were satisfied with their success and started to celebrate along with the demigods.
Zeus, after a couple of minutes, announced their victory along with the fact that the primordials Tartarus and Nyx as well as all the monsters that had been in the pit had successfully been destroyed.
"We will reward the demigods after our power has fully returned, which will most likely be a little under 2 years, thanks to Perseus." Zeus sent Percy a menacing glare, then continued, "but we are still thankful to the sea brat for coming up with the plan which won us this war. Thereby he will receive a special reward once we regain our full power."
Percy wondered whether Zeus's definition of a special reward involved a death sentence followed up by eternal torture in the Fields of Punishment, judging from the look on the god's face which showed he was not at all pleased with his reduced power.
Zeus continued his long-stretched declaration (which included lots of bragging about the gods' largely nonexistent bravery in the war), ending by announcing that they expected monsters to stay dead forever once killed from now on, and eventually, the gods flashed everyone to Olympus, as that was one of the few powers that they had retained.
A party began in the throne room, and everyone was jubilated. The last battle of the war against Tartarus had truly been a battle of wits, won because of Percy singlehandedly outwitting Tartarus and Nyx, killing them both and winning the war.
And at last, the demigods allowed themselves to relax.
A/N: I know that's a really unsatisfactory ending, but there it is. The story is complete.