Challenge: CHB: Capture the Flag Tournament

Round: Four - Holidays At Camp

Cabin and Team: Apollo - Team Red

Prompt: Fourth of July - Write about being wistful for summer

Bonus Prompts: [colour] crimson, [song] Speechless, Aladdin Live Action, [colour] dandelion yellow

Summary: Billie watched as her hometown died before her very eyes, unable to do anything to aid her comrades in arms. (CW: Very politically sensitive, mentions of death. Vent fic.)

Word Count: 1154


Helpless

This fic is similar in setting to Where the Bright Bauhinias Bloom, but it deviates by taking place five years ahead from the original fic, i.e. TLO and TLH take place in 2019 instead of 2014 or the canon 2009. This fic is partially set in PJO, but as a whole is closer to HoO, so sorry to the mods for toeing the line of "takes place in the same series".

CW: Very politically sensitive, especially for Hongkongers. By writing this vent fic, I am risking the consequences of the National Security Law. May the gods help us all.


Snowflakes drifted down from the deep grey skies. Chiron had scheduled a snowfall for a white New Year, though Billie, even after nearly two years in New York, still wasn't used to it.

A white Christmas. Her Christmas holidays in Hong Kong were usually spent helping her father on the farm and trying to cram all the textbook information and notes into her head for the exams, but she would always find something else to do, like watching Minecraft Christmas specials and holiday movie reruns on TV. There wasn't snow to play in down south, as it was far too warm and winters never reached below freezing, so the winter of her first year in New York had been most unexpected when icy crystals started falling from the clouds above Camp.

But there was always something that made her uneasy about her hometown. The political atmosphere had been tense from even before she left for Camp, and after she had indeed left, things had ricocheted into madness at home.

The extradition law. A strange, vaguely worded piece of legislation, determined to silence the critics and the dissidents of the government - not in theory, but the many loopholes within the law could easily be exploited for the government's own purposes.

She wished she could go home to march with the millions of civilians, her sau zuk (lit. "hands and feet", meaning siblings or comrades in arms), but war had been just around the corner and she was roughly reminded as while her home was under threat from deprived human rights, the whole world was going to be deprived from law and order if Kronos won the war.

So she fought. She slung every poisonous plant seed that she had at enemy monsters and demigods, grew vines and trees thick enough to block up a highway, channeling all her rage at not-her government into the battle, all while wearing an eye patch over her right eye and a construction helmet on her head, knowing exactly for who she was fighting for.

Come September, she had joined the mass rallies for global anti-totalitarianism in the city, practically begging Chiron for her to stand up for her hometown, and called other Campers into action to sing for glory, revolution and freedom at her side. She wouldn't become silent. She would never be quiet. A "weak" daughter of Demeter she may be, but she would always stand for her values which she held dear, for one voice was powerless, but many together would be heard.

But it still did nothing.

Bullets.

Rage.

A murder.

A slogan adapted twice - add oil, resist, avenge.

A week off from school. Not like it would matter to her - she didn't go there anymore.

Tear gas in the streets, in the squares, in the malls, near homes.

She hoped her father was safe.

But she could only watch from afar as her hometown cried for justice and human rights, her father telling her not to return home for Chinese New Year this year, in fear of her being caught in the crossfire. Crimson blood stained inky black shirts and tiled floors on the screens. A yellow construction helmet, coloured like dandelions and wheat sheaves, hanging from the side of her bunk in the Demeter Cabin. Her sleep cycle turned upside down to go back to Hong Kong time, where she could dutifully keep track as Operation Daybreak took thousands to the streets in remembrance and university students declaring to not commit suicide as they laid sieged by law enforcement.

A snowflake landed on her nose. She had forgotten how cold northern winters were, when a majority of her days recently had been fueled with boiling anger and contempt. She had forgone her usual turquoise Christmas sweater for a dandelion yellow one, though yellow wasn't her favourite colour, to let the world know exactly who she stood with. Even on quiet winter mornings, she would be loud, never silent. She would never go speechless.

She could only hope that things wouldn't get worse.


A month later, an epidemic (and eventual pandemic) raged across the world. She hoped it would all be over by summer, when she could return to her lychee trees and carp in the pond, half a world away. She blew dandelion seeds across the lawn, for dandelions stood for innocence, and through the war and pain and loss, hers was brutally stolen by oppressors and tyrants, hellbent on destroying all that she knew to be good and true.

She hoped summer would be better. Spring would be nice too, if she could go home safely to see the bauhinia blossoms again.


Six months later, while preparing for an unwanted civil war just days after launching a warship to California, she received the news that she might never be able to go home without being arrested for treason. Tearful strings of Cantonese cuss words echoed across all of Camp Half-Blood that day, and for the next week onward, she could only lie in her bunk and never move, hair re-dyed black with a yellow streak, singing the local parodies of Speechless, Do You Hear the People Sing, London Bridge is Falling Down and Chandelier at the top of her lungs. While Camp Half-Blood was receiving the news to war with their Roman counterparts, she was well and ready to raise a one-woman army against an authoritarian regime, determined to crush the concepts of freedom, democracy and human rights to dust.

And as the hours ticked to midnight where her heart would remain buried, she cried the dozens of slogans once again and held her hand over her heart as darkness reigned 12 hours ahead of her, singing the anthem for glory and liberation boldly as she looked eastward, knowing she would never be able to step foot on home soil again.

Even until her dying breath, she would not remain speechless. She would never go speechless.

As midnight struck in Hong Kong, Billie wondered if the Mayans counted the years wrong, and the end of the world was set to take place in 2020, not 2012, because the world as she knew it was crashing down on her and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

She wanted the good old days back, when she could sit under her lychee tree and game away without worrying about personal freedoms vanishing into thin air, or doomsday and battles approaching every year, every day, threatening her and all those she held dear. But alas, time can never tick backwards, and her peaceful summers were now boiling under global warming, or frozen over in a Narnian eternal winter.

Three years ago, she wanted a break from school, as summer holiday homework weighed down her school bag as she trekked home. Now, she would do anything to get back to her summer paradise. A summer paradise that laid buried under the iron-heeled boot of tyranny.


A/N: Funnily enough, I was assigned the American holiday prompt when I live halfway across the world from the US - an odd combination, but I'll take it.

The alternate version (read: serious parody) of Speechless used for this fic is this URL (Cantonese song, English subtitles): youtu. be /imjZ7aHZRuY

A related song/rap I highly recommend is Bauhinian Rhapsody. URL here: youtu. be /ZQGR -RvFONw

(Apologies because doesn't allow links to basically most sites.)

The Cantonese parodies referenced, other than the one for Speechless, are: Who Has Not Spoken Yet, or 《問誰還未發聲》 for Do You Hear the People Sing, which asks people to speak up and defend their city before it is too late; There are a Bunch of Cops Who are Uneducated Hicks (very rough translation, because they just take an exam with lower standards, which means they have a lower education level than most), or 《有班警察毅進仔》 for London Bridge is Falling Down, which mocks the cops for being power-hungry, mentally handicapped "dogs" with low education level (a funny song if you exclude the somewhat ableist wording, I just translate what the song says); and Fat Ma Has Something to Say, or 《肥媽有話兒》 for Chandelier, which is practically a meme song that scolds the cops for being bad at academic results and working, targeting innocents, causing trouble and being a general nuisance, and destroying HK's rule of law, among other things.

My local affairs Tumblr URL is eternal-bauhinian, and much of the background of this fic can be found there. Follow me there for updates on the scenario - I've been blogging politically there since June 2019, when the chaos started.

If the mods reading this are wumaos and therefore give my piece a low score, I wouldn't mind - it's my city that I'm talking about in this fic, and I made my point loud and clear. If you aren't a wumao and understand what we are doing, I recommend helping to raise awareness and spread information. May Democracia and Eleutheria/Libertas be with us.