DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Rick Riordan.
Being the son of a Big Three and a Clear-Sighted mortal, it only makes sense that Percy Jackson would perceive the world as it truly was, and face it as he sees fit.
Chapter 1: I unlock my 'god'ly heritage
The night air was comfortable when he stepped outside the corridor, a far cry from the icebox he'd been sleeping in only minutes ago, even with the fleece blankets on. The air outside was not chilly, even for a summer; it was rather warm with dark clouds and blistering winds. It was definitely a night for a prolonged outdoor stay.
Not that Percy had anything to do at the moment. Everyone except him had been sleeping soundly in their bunk beds, arranged neatly inside the hall.
Even under the moonlight and the lamps, the backyard of Washington Boarding Academy wasn't all too interesting for a night walk. A basketball court with ripped nets and cracked pavement, a couple of benches around the academy ground, with a few trees atop yellow withered grass. Everything in the academy was surrounded by a rusty chain-link fence; resembling a prison school.
Looking past the fence, he could make out a gravelly road lined with street lamps and telephone poles. Atop one of the poles, a strange figure sat unmoving. In the dark, Percy had to squint his eyes to see clearly. It could've been mistaken for a well-bred eagle or a huge condor that had busted out of a zoo. He blinked once and the telephone pole was empty, save for the cables swinging along with the wind.
He shrugged it off as one of those hallucinations that have happened to him a lot. The school counselor had told him in simpler terms that this was part of ADHD; his brain misinterpreting things. In such moments, his brain falls asleep or something, and the next thing he knew, he's missed something. Whether it was true or not, the whole class has started treating him as a nutcase; the leftover in the class.
Then there was dyslexia—his inability to read or write simple English sentences from textbooks. His mom had told him a lot of bedtime stories and taught him how to speak simple sentences from a very young age, but writing and reading—from the books—was a very hard task. The words had started swimming off the page, circling his head, the letters doing one-eighties as if they were riding skateboards. Incidentally, the tests became as hard as they could for Percy.
Adding them both, he was as restless as one could get in a classroom. His teachers had forced him to use a pencil gripper to maintain his focus on writing and his classmates had always steered clear of him. They had mocked him for his disabilities, but Percy had never taken them seriously, at all. Most of the students at Washington Academy are troubled kids—with serious troublemaking tendencies—with troubled pasts.
It didn't bother him much to have spent his year at the academy alone. Part of it was this weird feeling he gets some time in the classroom, like he didn't belong there, among the other students. Another part was that he didn't want to disappoint his mom. He had told her that he had been doing pretty alright at the academy in the last couple of months too. He didn't get into many fights, though boys his age always maintained their distance like there was something different about him.
Until last month...
Before the final exams, the school management had decided to take all the students to the New York State Military Museum and children's Interactive Museum at Saratoga. It was under the agenda to relieve students from stress before their final exams of the year.
Once all the students filed into lines according to their grades, their respective teachers led them through the battlefield, showing the reenactments. It was a two-floor building, with learning and playing exhibits for the grade-schoolers. The museum educators led the students through the theme-played rooms and exhibits for kids their age before moving towards the military exhibits.
A small commotion in the backyard drew their attention. A large number of people shuffled around the barren land, carrying film shooting equipment. Another large crowd gathered around them to watch a live film shoot. Percy watched a batch of workers set up a cannon at the far end, aiming out into the open area. A little curious, he split from his group and approached the canon slowly. By the time he reached the canon at an arm's length, the crew had left the location and the area was barren, bereft of tourists and the crew.
He had only been a little curious about the canon and thought of it as another exhibit in the museum. So it came out as a surprise to him when the canon rolled around in another direction as he tripped on a wire attached to it. The canon came to a halt when it settled its business end pointing straight at the yellow-school bus in the parking. There was nothing out of ordinary about the bus; it was parked in the lot with other cars.
Percy halted his steps when he noticed the driver in the front seat of the bus. Even sitting, he was probably taller than an average adult and was dressed in rags, instead of a typical driver's uniform. He had stringy brown bangs matted to his forehead. The most disturbing Percy noticed about the driver was that he had one big eye in the middle of his forehead. Percy thought he was seeing things since everyone around milled around the parking without sparing more than a single glance at the driver.
A deep chill—like an instinct—ran down his spine when the driver glanced at him. Percy's legs had turned into jelly, making him tremble like a quail on a frigid night. He scampered back to join his group, far away from the bizarre guy, and accidentally tripped over the wire, falling face-first on the hard floor. He ignored the pain and lump on his forehead and ran towards his group. Before he could call for his teacher to tell her everything...
A loud sound echoed behind him, and Percy instinctively thought of the canon. He glanced back to see a smoke-filled nozzle and a projectile flying straight at the yellow school bus, with the driver still stuck inside.
The yellow bus exploded like fireworks on a festival night. Luckily, there had been no one near the bus during the explosion. Everyone on the battlefield turned to the exploded bus and pandemonium broke out instantly. Soon, the sounds of camera clicks and sirens filled the museum surroundings. The film crew surrounded the canon and managed to clear away the area before one of them grabbed his arm. It had appeared they've likely found their culprit.
"Whose kid is this?" His teacher, Ms. Jensen stepped forward and glared at him. "I apologize. Sadly, he's my student."
She had taken him back to the school bus in the lot where the other students were making a beeline. "Mr. Jackson, though the issue has been resolved peacefully, I've had enough of troubles with you. I shall see that you never return to the Washington Elementary ever again."
Fortunately, the film crew had taken most of the slack for leaving a wired explosive without supervision around public civilians. They were relieved to see him unharmed in the accident and handed him over to the school officials. The issue had gotten resolved peacefully with no penalties for the school either.
"But, there was—" he had tried to explain but stopped once she threw a glare at him.
The following week, the headmaster had sent a letter to his mom, making it official: He would not be invited back to Washington Elementary again.
Percy stifled a yawn and turned back to the main hall. Just as he reached the building's threshold, he spared a glance at the telephone pole across the road. The huge bird reappeared outside the school, perched on the telephone pole, the same way she's always been, and the same way she would always be for the foreseeable future. Not that it mattered to him anyway.
He's leaving the academy the following day. Sparing one last glance at the large hall with colorless walls, and shatterproof glass, he pulled the fleece blanket around him for one last peaceful night at his school.
The next morning, he sat in the front garden, surrounded by other boys joking around, talking about their vacation plans animatedly. The summer has finally started and everyone was returning to their homes for the holidays.
No one bothered to approach him before he left the academy. He was not in the mood to be distracted either. He hadn't seen his mother since Christmas. She had arrived in the morning, hugged him, ruffling his hair, like she always did, but there was disappointment in her eyes too.
Sally Jackson is the best person in the world he's ever met, and he loved his mom to death. Her parents had died in a plane crash when she was around his age, raised by an uncle who didn't care about her. She didn't even get to finish her high school before her uncle's death and was left with no money, no family, and no diploma.
The only good thing she said that has ever happened to her was his dad—whoever he was. See, they weren't married and he didn't get to see the guy at least once and they didn't have any pictures either. She told him that his dad was rich and important. He'd set sail on a voyage and never came back.
Lost at sea, his mom told him.
She's never raised her voice on him or said an unkind word to anyone that he knows of. He really didn't want to disappoint her, but there was nothing he could do about the accidents around him. He still remembered her reminder during Christmas that he had to try harder to stay out of trouble at school.
Finally, when he was four, she married Gabe Ugliano, who was nice to everyone the first minute before showing his true colors as a bad person. The guy had always bad-mouthed his mom and shoved him around the house. It had been mainly because of Gabe that his mom wouldn't let him stay in the house and sent him to boarding schools.
She was currently in the office, clearing all documents and formalities to officially take him home. Soon, he was the only student left in the garden—the rest all left for holidays—with only some cleaning staff.
Bored out of his mind, he decided to walk around the academy one last time before leaving. He felt no attachment to the place, but it had housed him for some time; paying it a fleeting moment of respect before leaving felt like the proper thing to do. His mom has raised him as such.
He strolled around the academy aimlessly and reached the main gate. Crossing the road and passing the nearby telephone pole, he noticed a large brown feather—the size of his tiny arm—lay abandoned on the ground. He squinted his eyes at it before looking up at the electric cables above.
He thought about the illusion the previous night—something he believed his ADHD brain had conjured up—remembering the big bird thingy atop the pole. He picked up the feather and turned around to show it to his mom and made his way back to the garden.
The area around the school turned eerily quiet for morning rush hour. The only sound that echoed was the gurgling fountain water nearby and the birds chirping on the trees.
A loud screech burst through the silence, startling him into dropping the long feather. He turned towards the sound, but a gust of wind barreled towards him like lightning, knocking him off his feet. He stood back up, half disoriented, clutching the feather tightly in his tiny hand, and in that small window of opportunity, something fast and heavy crashed against his head on the back.
Percy went flying, and after several seconds spent airborne, landed hard on the dirt. He had landed on his back, and so had a good view of the glazing sun on a summer morning above him. Both his mind and some unknown instincts screamed at him to get up and run, but he was still out of it from pain and fear. The message to his body was lost momentarily. All he could manage in his condition was to crane his neck to face the direction of his sudden attacker.
He half-imagined the school bully Derrick Mathews to round him up with his minions for one last show before the summer. This is why it came as a surprise what he saw before his eyes.
A very large half-human half-bird landed at a distance. Whatever it was, it had a large dark bird body with sparse, long, coarse brown feathers sticking out of its wings on the sides and a wilted old-granny face with wrinkles and patched-up skin. Her thick brown hair curled oddly around her head, like a rat's nest.
Oddly enough, she was wearing a faded The Stooges t-shirt, torn at sleeves to free her large wings. Even from a distance, he could tell she was watching him, her gaze unwavering and solely focused on his still form. There was a hungry gleam in her eyes that rang warning bells within him.
If he wasn't sure about the creature before, now Percy was absolutely certain it was the same huge bird he's watched at times during his stay at the academy. The huge bird's features struck a chord with him, but he couldn't remember—for the life of him—where he had seen such an odd creature before. Even he couldn't have forgotten something this weird.
Nonetheless, he tried to stand up. A dizzy spell quickly sent him back to the dirt. A lump grew on his head where the bird had hit him, and it was draining blood quickly. Pain flared through him and tears threatened to spill. A whimper escaped his lips as he squeezed his palm against the wound with a hiss and rose on shaky feet. Black spots surrounded his vision. He felt a tug in his gut and subconsciously pulled at it to lessen the pain.
The huge bird meanwhile had begun stalking towards him, wings folded and talons clicking—like metal—loudly against the road. It would've been comical if he hadn't been the one it was walking towards. The sprinklers in the garden around him began to shake and shot up like bullets. The fountain hose hissed and burst out in the open, pouring torrents of water into the pool.
Some unknown strength washed over him within seconds of the first drop landing on his skin. His vision cleared a little. The water seemed to wake up his senses. He took a step back and his fatigue was replaced with adrenaline as soon as he stepped into the fountain pool, flexing his arms and legs with some unknown energy.
The huge bird spread its wings to catch a passing gust of wind but was instead drenched in the water spray. The additional weight seemed to have burdened the bird, as it soared towards him at a low height. It was above him in an instant and Percy only had time to suck in a breath before the massive creature slammed him against the water, completely submerging him in the pool.
"Ugh..." was all he could manage with its weight crashing down atop him all at once, pinning to the floor and rendering him immobile.
Its talon had pinned his free hand while the other lay above his head, still clutching the large, jagged feather. Trapped, he could only look up at the monster bird and its blood-caked mouth with fangs. He pitied the poor soul who had been her last meal. He even pitied her next meal, which could most possibly be him.
Still underwater, he could feel its neck tense and shot at his face. Absolute terror ran through him as he reacted on instinct by thrusting his other hand—still clutching the sharp feather—into the bird's throat—what he hoped was the weakest part—and stuck it deep inside. The bird squeaked a bit and stumbled back, not without raking his sides with its talons—tearing his t-shirt and soaking the water with blood.
Percy got up shakily onto his feet, coughed up the water a little, and glanced down at his blood-colored t-shirt. The sight made him both dizzy and cold at the same time. Pain flared through the wounds, but he was a little late registering it. He watched as the huge bird thrashed, flailing its wings and clutching the punctured throat.
With a horrible screech, the huge creature exploded in feathers. Percy wondered absentmindedly that he was still dreaming and his mom would arrive in the morning to pick him up.
He stepped out of the fountain shakily, suddenly feeling bone tired. His limbs cried with exhaustion and his chest heaved with effort. Despite that, he refused to release the feather in his tiny hands. Whatever adrenaline rush he had, left him as soon as he stepped out of the water. His legs gave out under him and fell face-first to the ground before his focus turned blank. The last thing he remembered was the faraway call of his mom.
He woke up to a horrible smell and looked around to identify the place he was in after the horrible dream with the monster bird. The walls with pastel colors were familiar and he recognized the place immediately—his room. It was technically his room. But during his school months, it was Gabe's—Smelly Gabe's—study room. He didn't study anything except some car magazines.
He craned his neck to the side. On the table near the window sat a long brown feather, similar to the one in his dream. He pulled the covers and tried to get up, making his head dizzy. The lump behind his head had receded to a dull throbbing, but his actions brought a massive headache.
That hadn't been a dream then. The large feather was conclusive proof.
Percy had an unfortunate encounter of tasting a burnt garlic pizza once. And Gabe smelled like a molded garlic pizza stuffed in an unwashed sock for days. The whole room reeked of stale beer, cigars, and cheap cologne. His whole room was impossible to walk around in. His bed was covered with cardboard boxes, magazines, and random electronic parts.
He overheard the heated discussion in the living room, between his mom and smelly Gabe. He understood the gist of it: Gabe liked to order him around and liked to leave the chores to the mother and son duo and had wanted to continue, but his mom was unusually persistent about it.
Standing in the room full of garbage and heavy smell, he was once again reminded of the encounter with the monster bird, and its angry screech before its eruption. As if he was a tasty morsel, the hungry gleam in its eyes sent a shiver down his spine. A frigid chill rolled through his body with the approaching footsteps.
"Percy?" All his fear melted away when his mom stepped into the room.
Before leaving the school, he thought his mom might be angry or disappointed with him for getting expelled from the school. The more rational part of his brain reminded him such qualities simply did not match his mom's character.
Her smile was warm and inviting, though her eyes were red and puffy from arguing with smelly Gabe. She has long brown hair, matching her red-white-and-blue uniform that smelled like chocolate, licorice, and sweets: the stuff she sold at a candy shop in Grand Central Station.
She did odd jobs and had wanted to attend night classes to get her high school degree. She wanted to be a novelist—he didn't know what that means yet—but Gabe had never allowed her to the classes; his reason being the lack of funds. He'd apparently spent her entire savings on beer and gambling.
Before he could speak, she swallowed him in a huge hug. Percy felt like a fool, for doubting his mom like that. Her love for him was something he just couldn't understand but tried to return every day regardless.
"I can't believe it. You've grown since Christmas!" his mom gushed over.
An hour had been spent on hugs, words of appreciation and admonishment, questions about everything in his school year. She didn't seem to care about his expulsion anymore than him. They both cleaned the room to sort his things while he spoke about the things he left in his letters.
By the end of the conversation, a satisfied feeling welled up inside him as they sat at the edge of the bed. Being all alone at Washington academy made him a little lonely and it felt nice to confide in his mom and act like the six-year-old kid he was.
It was nice, while it lasted. She finally asked him the most sensible question of the day.
"Percy, what exactly happened to you? You were sopping wet and your shirt was in tatters. And you were injured and bleeding when I found you. And what's with that feather?" she fired questions like bullets. He glanced up to see an alarmed look on her face.
He felt conflicted about bringing it up. But they would both be at risk if he didn't do so. Whatever that had attacked him, it might do so again another time. Even if his mom thinks he was crazy, he has to tell her.
"Mom, it was this weird-looking bird with a granny head. It came out of nowhere to attack me today." he looked at her cautiously while narrating the whole incident.
As expected, his mom's eyes widened and her breath hitched at the mention of monsters. Percy averted his gaze to the floor shamefully.
His mom had always gotten like that whenever he brought up abnormal things. He had tried to tell her before when he'd seen a female with a snake body crawling on the walkway into an alley from a bus, but she'd gone still and looked pale and almost ready to cry. He wanted to be angry at her for denying the existence of monsters and not understanding him. But her frightened expression made him drop the subject completely.
So he flat out lied.
"I—I guess, I...I had a bad dream..." he trailed off, silently waiting for her to lock in their unspoken agreement. If his mom was dead-set on keeping the truth from him, then she must have her reasons. The mere issue of monsters seemed to have affected her.
To make up for him, his mom offered to bake blue chocolate chip cookies after she handed him a bag full of blue candy samples from her workplace. They had this inside joke of blue food after her fight with Gabe over blue food. When he was little, he had once asked her about blue food and Gabe told her there was no such thing as blue food. To coax him, his mom went out of her way to make blue food whenever she had the chance. She had baked blue cookies, mixed blueberry smoothies, and brought blue-corn tortilla chips and candies for the shop. She even baked blue birthday cakes for him, which was a real and rare treat, with Gabe around the house.
From then on, blue food became their family tradition and continued for special occasions. It was one of Jackson's little secrets shared between the mother-son duo.
Afraid to leave him alone at home with smelly Gabe, his mom offered to take him to her workplace every day and play together in her free time. Just like how cute things bring color to any place, a running cute little toddler brought forth a cheerful and high-spirited vibe around the shop. The customers and workers gushed over his bright green eyes and pinched his chubby cheeks. Many of them handed candies and free samples as rewards for his little help around the store. His whole summer was spent playing around the store and stashing candies in secret places.
"Guess where we're going today?" his mom asked him on one of her free days. It was almost the end of summer. It was usually at this time they would start their school hunt to find another boarding to send him to in the fall. Though he was not completely inclined to attend another boarding school right away, he didn't voice any objections to his mom either. Between him and smelly Gabe, his mom's life had been pretty hard.
Watching his blank face, his mom's face fell. "Percy, what happened? Don't you want to go somewhere?" she asked, her tone laced with faint concern.
"N-no, nothing mom." he shook his head. "I thought you'd send me to another boarding school soon," he mumbled.
"Oh, Percy." she hugged him tightly. "We'll think about something." her voice was heavy. "But for now, we're going to the aquarium you showed me in the magazine."
"Really!?" he jumped out of his seat. When he had mentioned the behind-the-scenes tour of a Marine World Shark pool, her response had been lackluster "Gabriel wouldn't let us, honey." But to hear her confirm made him dance in jubilation. Anything related to water seemed to have raised his spirits.
And the tour was way cooler than it was in the magazine. Aquatic animals kept in large tanks to let the visitors have a first-hand underwater experience. There were sea otters, dolphins, and seahorses on display. A Beluga whale followed him to the end of the tank and beckoned him repeatedly.
The tour guide led them through the tanks till they reached a bigger tank filled with all kinds of sharks. She led them onto the catwalk that lay on top of the glass tanks. Walking with a group of hungry sharks beneath him with only a thin metal sheet separating them was exciting and emotionally charging for Percy, who was always surrounded by restrictions.
Perhaps the guide thought along the same lines as well. "Don't worry, people. All the sharks beneath were fully fed. They won't attack anyone now." she said cheerfully. Many of the tourists breathed a sigh of relief. Percy noticed a lot of the sharks hover below him in the tank.
He followed the group mutely, observing the aquatic creatures and missed the guide. Another kid nudged beside him and pointed to the guide at the forefront. "She said she needs a volunteer." Anything to step away from the belt, he raised his arm and went forward. The lady beckoned him.
"You see the lever over there." She pointed at the set of levers beside the belt. "I want you to hit that one and watch what happens. We'll show you how the staff behind the scenes feed the sharks." she told the tourists.
He walked forward and reached up to the three—red, green and blue—levers. He was about to turn and ask her which lever to pull when he heard a muffled 'red' behind him and pulled the red lever down without hesitation.
There was a metal grating sound, with a lot of yelps before a sudden SPLASH rang on the conveyor belt. A few tourists on the edge had toppled into the tank as the walkway under them retracted. They all flailed miserably in the water, screaming for help.
He ran up to the edge and somehow fell into the tank along with the guide. His eyes widened as the sharks swam over to him enthusiastically and wrapped around him before swimming away.
"The son of sea god—!"
"We're honored to finally meet you—"
Startled by the sudden voices, he looked around to only see the others screaming for help. None of them minutely seemed to be bothered with him. That left him with the other creatures in the tank—The sharks. He raised his hand cautiously, to which the nearest shark swam to him. He jerked back but the shark nuzzled him affectionately like a heeling dog. He opened his mouth to ask something, but he didn't choke on the water. Water had always welcomed him like a long-distant relative.
"Did you just talk to me in my head?" he watched as water ripples spread from him into the tank. There was no sound but he felt the creatures had just listened to him.
There was a collective of replies. "Yes, my lord!"
Before he could ask them more, Percy was yanked out of the tank, along with the others under the hateful stares of the management and the remaining workers.
"I told you to pull the other one, young man!" the lady guide reprimanded him. "Now you're in deep trouble."
"B-but you said red." he protested.
The management left him easily when his mom complained about handing such a task to kids and warned them to report it to the upper management. The issue cleared with him being mildly rebuked for causing such trouble, but his mind was still in the shark tank.
By the time they reached home, he started hating the word 'lord' from all the times those sharks and other sea creatures called him.
At night, lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling, he replayed everything that happened in his short miserable lifetime—but a lifetime, nonetheless.
The earliest and the faintest memory of a warm glow and a faint smile of a middle-aged man, calling his name for the first time, "Perseus Jackson."
He was rich and important...Lost at sea...
All the bedtime stories he'd heard from his mom, and his not-so-anymore-imagination of the weird creatures around him. Monsters.
The not-so-rubber scaly rope—a poisonous viper—strangled to death by his meaty toddler hands in pre-school.
The man with a single eye in a black trench coat in the kinder garden...
The distorted faces in the water at Montauk beach on holidays...
The lady with snake bottom slithering across the street into an alleyway...
The angry screech of the monster bird before it exploded into feathers...
Harpies, Cyclopes, Dracaena, everything he's seen so far.
The son of sea god...
Lost at sea...
Perseus... As in the legendary Greek Hero 'Perseus' from his bedtime stories...
"Who am I..?" he choked out before drifting into sleep.
A/N: What do you think about it? Good? Bad? How much do you want me to enhance Percy's power in the story?