Little Ocean, Smallest Sea
Chapter 9: Through Darker Days
Pairing(s): Main should be Luke/Percy, but now IDEK…
Disclaimer: Do not own the great series of Rick Riordan, or, if you take note when you read, The Battle of the Labyrinth. I merely used bits and pieces from the book to make this story work. Kind of. Close enough. I swear I do not own BotL, I just used bits of the timeline to make it work. So now it's….not just an AU, it's a parallel thing.
Warnings: Violence, feels, fire, MAJOR OOCness, spelling/grammar mistakes, Nonsensical plot, the works.
Notes: To everyone, I apologize for not updating in so long. Life is, well it's reality. And it hurts. I'm in my busiest year of High School (Compare it to Harry Potter's 5th Year. It's like that. Yes.), I have learned so many life lessons already, so much has happened to me, good and bad, and well, it's been a busy year. I'm tired already. But I can never forget my faithful readers. I can't just forget you guys. You all have stuck with this story, through my bad grammar and unsteady update periods, through my bouts of anger and lament. I just. I love you all. Thank you, thank you so much for sticking this far. This chapter is dedicated to you guys, Happy New Year~!
Luke was snapping on the last clasps of his armor when Ethan rushed inside the armory, panting and still dripping toilet water.
"Luke- I mean, sir," Ethan corrected himself when Luke turned the stink eye on him. "What are you doing?"
"What does it look like I'm doing?" Luke grunted as he fixed a stubborn belt buckle. "I'm going in after the idiot kid."
"But- what about the others? The troops?" Ethan sputtered incredulously. "You can't just leave behind all this chaos for the kid! You're our commanding officer!"
Luke shifted the shield in his arm before turning to fix the younger male a glare. "And as your commanding officer, I command you to stay and keep order within the ranks."
"I can't do that," Ethan argued, following the blonde man out the door into the corridor. "I don't hold any power like you, and so it'd make sense if I go in after the brat. So you should stay."
"Are you questioning my decision, Nakamura?" Luke asked softly, turning dangerous eyes upon the younger demigod.
Ethan swallowed but stood his ground, squaring his jaw. "Yes. It makes no strategic sense if you go into the Labyrinth alone- which, may I remind you, is basically a creepyass parody of Hogwarts moving stairs and shit with all the changing walls and routes- when you hold a high position within the chain of command in the Titan army. Is anyone else going in with you?"
"No," Luke said curtly, "We can't have anyone else going. They need to stay and keep the base safe. It's best if it was a one-man mission."
"That's suicide!" Ethan protested, eye wide. "You just furthered my point on how this will turn into a major strategic mistake! You're going in alone. Do you not know how dangerous the Labyrinth can be? You don't even have Ariadne's string—"
"Which is why," the blonde cut in sharply, "I'm heading in alone. I'm used to the Labyrinth, more so than anyone, including you. It's dangerous, I won't deny that, but—" he hefted his sword threateningly with expert ease before sliding it back into its scabbard "—I'm dangerous as well."
"You need to have someone to accompany you, at least," Ethan tried to persuade, reaching out to lightly hold onto Luke's shoulder to keep the other from moving. "You can't go in alone."
Luke shrugged off the hand roughly, giving the darker haired teenager an acidic look. "I work alone. People hold me back. Anyone else going in with me is only going to get themselves killed. I don't need further problems in having to look after others."
"Then why are you going in after the kid?" Ethan demanded. "You just said you'll encounter problems if you look after other people. Why don't you just let the Labyrinth take care of the kid once and for all?"
Luke froze at the words, knowing that Nakamura's questions made absolutely sense, would be easier, but—
"That'd be easy, yes," Luke said gruffly. "But the kid's still our hostage. We might need him later on during the invasion. It's best not to lose our chess piece while it's still in play."
Ethan noticed Luke's hesitation, however, and gaped, before slowly shaking his head. "You've changed." His lips twitched, as if trying to hide a smirk. "The moment the kid came here you became different. The Luke from before wouldn't willingly risk his life- and yes, you are risking your life, don't deny it-" Ethan said, noticing the other's crossed expression. "—for someone else. The former Luke wouldn't dare go into the Labyrinth alone. Last of all, the Luke then would never even dare hand over command to someone like me."
"I'm not handing it over," Luke said through gritted teeth, eyes flashing ferociously. "I'm merely letting you hold down base while I go retrieve a potential asset. You're actually competent, compared to the other bumbling idiotic morons, so it makes sense if I give you babysitting duty."
Ethan snorted. "Sure."
"What are you trying to get at, Nakamura?" Luke intoned lowly, fingers twitching as he resisted the urge to throttle the darker haired teen right then and there.
"I mean…" Ethan tried to go for the innocent look but it sort of failed since his eye patch made his expression awkward. He shrugged, attempting a nonchalant air, but instead coming off as teasing. "If you think saving the brat might put you in his good books again, and especially what you said to him earlier… it might work."
Luke saw red.
"Nakamura…" He drew his sword with a soft metallic hiss. "If you want to keep your remaining eye, I suggest you to go back and clean up the toilet water mess along with the other dunderheads."
Ethan rise up his hands in a placating way as he slowly backed from the seething scarred man. "Okay, okay, I understand. Nakamura dismissed to duty."
Luke sniffed, glaring as he sheathed his sword, and took out a flashlight, instead. He turned heel and was preparing to stride into the mouth of the gaping Labyrinth when quietly, Nakamura coughed.
"Good luck, sir." Luke could hear awkward shuffling, as if the teen wasn't sure of what to say. "…If you die, does that mean I'm boss for good?"
"No," Luke scoffed before walking off. "Because I'm coming back alive."
And Ethan watched as the Labyrinth's darkness swallowed up the blonde's receding form.
Percy wasn't sure how long he was in the Labyrinth, but everything was dark and he was getting tired and increasingly scared.
Time was practically timeless down in the never ending maze, there was no light, and each time he took a step, the sound echoed eerily in different intervals that confused him.
Percy took a shuddering breath, shaking and rubbing his arms as he continuously moved forward, not sure if something laid menacingly in the dark, waiting for him.
"It's going to be okay," he told himself as motivation, voice tiny and a bit hoarse. The sounded was minute and resonated, making his ears strain for any other different noises.
He remembered again how he escaped. One minute he was in the bathroom, clutching the coral albatross, and believing- believing in what he wasn't sure- but all of a sudden, water erupted from the pipes and plumbing, gurgling chaotically. As each second passed, the water increased in pressure until Ethan knocked on the door while yelling why Percy was taking so long and what the ever-loving Hades was that noise?
By then the room was filled with water, and at first Percy had floundered, was scared he might drown. Imagine his shock when he could find that he could breathe in the toilet water, how comfortable everything suddenly became, and with a silent thanks to his father, he continued to increase pressure within the plumbing until Ethan made the mistake of opening the bathroom door.
Pure chaos literally erupted as tidal waves of commode water spilled out in mini tsunamis, sweeping laistrygonians off their feet, blowing hapless demigods away as easily as tipping over dominoes, and in the funniest moment he had ever witnessed as he was escaping, a wad of wet toilet paper smacking Ethan Nakamura in the face, causing the latter to fall backwards comically.
"Sorry, Ethan!" Percy had yelled back, deeming it a great opportunity to flee elsewhere.
Ethan's cursing and screams of rage had followed him until he entered within the Labyrinth, darkness and absolute silence surrounding him like a cold blanket.
A quick tapping noise broke Percy away from his memories, and the boy froze, tensing as the sound continued a few seconds longer before stopping.
What was that?
Percy gulped, hands reaching out wildly to find a wall, to find stability and some grounding. Nothing was within his grasp.
"I'm not scared of you!" He suddenly screamed, the echoes reverberating hauntingly.
Nothing greeted him back.
Percy stumbled and fell, curling up on the cold floor, feeling the darkness pressing down more, suffocating him.
"Light, light," Percy mumbled, wrapping thin arms around his body fearfully. "I need light- I just—" With a noise that sounded like a desperate, choked up sob, he confessed in a whisper, "I'm scared."
He didn't know how long time passed, didn't know if time passed at all, but he laid there, feeling the cold creep up his spine like soft touches, feeling the utter darkness closing in like wolves on a hunt.
His hand crept into his pocket, intent on holding onto the albatross for comfort as he waited—for what? Possibly death, possibly sleep, who knows—when something else fell into his fingers.
Percy jerked upright with a startled gasp, eyes wide and unseeing in the black. He yanked his hand out and in his hand, based on touch alone, knew he was holding Riptide.
Hope fluttered lightly within his chest, and he breathed out, eyes suddenly wet and warm, "Thank you, thank you, thank you—" and he uncapped the pen.
The pen morphed quickly into the familiar form of his sword and light gently shined in the deep dark, celestial bronze glowing comfortingly.
At the sight of soft light, Percy let out a joyous peal of laughter, greatly relieved and feeling safer than before, small hands clutching the weapon with reverent love.
"I'm okay," he said, tone firmer. "It's better." He looked around, noticing for the first time how large the corridor was, noting that the behemoth size was the reason why he didn't touch the walls. "I'm still not safe." He smiled wryly. "But I have a chance now."
As if in answer to his words, the tapping noise came again, breaking his attention away. Percy shifted, sword held out in a threatening gesture, wary and alert. The tapping noise continued to come closer, and gritting his teeth, he yelled, "Show yourself!"
No one answered, but the noise moved closer. Percy steeled himself, preparing to leap into an unknown battle when all of a sudden; a small black spider crept into Riptide's radius of light.
Percy paused, baffled, but he didn't shift into a comfortable posture. "What…?" He frowned, staring at the spider.
With careful eyes, he noticed that the arachnid wasn't… normal. Red, laser-like eyes stared back at him, and with a strange whirring noise, moved closer, and Percy realized that the tapping noises came from its mechanical metal legs. The critter was a robot thing.
"You've been following me this whole time?" Percy asked incredulously while eyeballing it carefully.
The automaton spider chittered as if in agreement before clattering quickly away, turning to look back at the young boy, as if prompting him to follow.
"You want me to follow you now?" He said as he did anyway, light from Riptide keeping the spider within his sight as he trailed doggedly behind.
The spider continued its merry way in leading him to gods knows where, and with a sinking heart, Percy wondered if the new creature was leading him to danger. He gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on his blade. If the spider indeed was leading him to death, well, he had nothing to lose now. Better somewhere than nowhere.
His thoughts fell into quiet as he continued his pursuit after the machine, the latter constantly moving and shifting into different corridors, hallways, anything, and he struggled to try to keep up, his small legs beginning to tire.
Quick as his feelings of being weary, the spider, with a jerk, shot out metal-fiber webbing and swung, causing him to shriek in surprise as the two came into a different massive room, a few torches lighted on the wall.
Percy stopped, staring in disbelief as the spider practically flew upwards, swinging into a hole into the stone corridor wall.
"What? How am I…?" Percy asked, beginning to panic before he noticed, at the bottom of the hole, in flickering firelight, were rusty metal pegs in the wall, resembling some kind of macabre version of a ladder.
Biting his lip, he took a shaky breath, capped his sword, and made his way rapidly to the standings. Steeling himself into being brave, he began the climb.
He slipped several times, screaming in fright as he almost fell, but he held on, sweating and pale faced by the time he reached the top.
Percy blinked, eyes adjusting to the new, artificial light within the walls. The spider was nowhere to be found.
Opening his ear, he concentrated, and eventually, could hear a tinny, small pinging noise, and without further ado, continued toward the source of the noise until he came upon the mechanical spider banging itself against a metal door.
"Where…where are we?" He asked, wide eyes taking in the design of the door.
Instead of a doorknob, the door instead had an old-fashioned style submarine hatch, oval, and having metal ridges around the edges, complete with a wheel in place. Where the portal should have been instead was a large brass plaque, green with age, with an unfamiliar letter in the middle.
"Do I open this?" He said, a bit intimidated at the size of the handle versus his own small size.
Instead of answering, the spider continued to headbutt the door, metal clanging loudly in the small hallway.
"But I don't think I'm strong enough," Percy tried to say again, hoping the spider could provide a solution. The spider ignored him in favor of trying to make friends with the metal obstacle via headbutts.
He sighed. "I guess I can try." He took a step closer, hands reaching to grasp the submarine handle, when quick as lightning; the spider flung itself at his pant leg and began crawling up, metal legs pressing like pinches into his flesh.
"Ow!" Percy yelled, flailing, "What are you doing?!"
The automaton dodged his swats, and with an excited chitter, shot webbing at the handle and swung up, crawling onto the middle of the plaque. Holding his breath, Percy watched as the spider's laser eyes zoomed alarmingly brighter onto the letter, eventually covering it entirely.
"Whoa," Percy whispered, watching as slowly, the door began shifting, whirring and making metallic groaning noises as the handle began to turn on its own manually. Within a few minutes, the door stopped, and with a final creak, opened a sliver.
The spider, complete with its work, hopped down and speedily scuttled into the crack and disappeared.
Percy gazed at the sliver of darkness that the door lent, feelings of curiosity and apprehension raging within himself. What if there was danger behind the door? What if there was someone that could save him? He would never know unless he decided to test his luck and go through.
Making up his mind, Percy breathed deeply and crept forward, nudging the door aside before venturing in.
The door closed behind him with a metallic groan, but Percy didn't notice due to the wondrous sight before him.
The room he encountered was massive, and resembled a mechanic's garage, except more extreme. It contained several hydraulic lifts with some holding cars, yet others holding stranger things: some kind of mystical creature with its horse head detached, a Greek war chariot made of flames, and a metal lion hooked to other machinery, among other things.
Dozens of worktables littered the room, tools hanging haphazardly along the walls. A banging noise resonated throughout the room, the source of which Percy wasn't sure.
Percy ventured in further, mouth open in astonishment, and he nearly beaned himself on a perilously placed hammer on a table, catching himself on time. Reminded of the spider, Percy glanced around, sea-green eyes landing on the nearest hydraulic lift containing a car to the door, and with a dry mouth, noticed a pair of legs sticking out from underneath it and deduced that the person was the source of the noise.
Sensing movement, Percy swiveled to see the automaton spider that had lead him there scuttle quickly underneath the lift with the legs.
The banging abruptly stopped, and a voice suddenly boomed out, "Why, hello there. What have we here…?"
The mysterious mechanic pushed out on a back trolley and languidly sat up.
Percy stepped back while taking in the man's appearance.
The stranger wore a dirty, greasy jumpsuit, obviously not caring about appearance. He appeared to be constantly tilting, due to his left shoulder being lower than his right. One of his legs was in a metal brace, and it creaked and clacked as he shifted to a stand. His head was awkwardly shaped, fitting with his permanent scowl. His black beard had small fires in it, the flames hissing and popping every few moments, as if the man was made of flames inside. His black eyes were like smoldering coals, fiery and dark.
Percy watched curiously and in awe as the man dissembled and reassembled the robotic spider within seconds.
"There we go," he rumbled, squinting at his creation. "Better?"
The spider chittered happily before smoothly shooting web elsewhere and slinging itself away.
The man watched its departure before turning to glower down at Percy, face stern and hard like granite.
Percy swallowed. "Uh…" He looked to the car upon the hydraulic lift. "Nice car…?"
The man stared some more before turning away with a snort. "It's a '98 Toyota Corolla," he said almost absently, hands moving quick to build whatever, much to Percy's amazement. "A beauty, isn't she?"
"Yeah," Percy agreed, moving forward cautiously before reaching a stool. With a little effort, he hoisted himself up sitting across from the stranger. "So what's your name?"
The man glanced up, frowning. In answer, he pointed to an embroidered name over his chest pocket.
Percy peered at it in concentration. "Mr. … erm… Mr. Hippo…?" He tried to read, feeling he got the name wrong because who in the world has the name 'Mr. Hippo'?
The man sourly looked down at his name. "That proves it," he grumbled. "Definitely not my automaton. At least my creations know my name." He did a once over at Percy. "And don't look quite as shoddy, either."
Percy had the decency to feel insulted, even though he wasn't sure what the man meant. "Then who are you?"
"Boy," the man rumbled, eyes moving down to work on his new creation, "My name is Hephaestus."
A sharp pain suddenly went to his head, and Percy grimaced, hands reaching up to clutch at his temples when quick as it came, the headache left and a memory remained: a man in a nice suit surrounded by a multitude of other people in nice clothing. Hephaestus highly resembled the man in his memory, albeit, more messy and grimy.
"Do—do I know you?" Percy questioned, rubbing his temples and concentrating on the stranger's face.
"I don't know," the man muttered. "Do you? Especially when you don't even know my name or what I am."
"I'm sure I've seen you somewhere before," Percy said, pursing his lips. "You were in a suit, surrounded by other people… on thrones I think."
The man clicked his tongue as a loose bolt popped loose, rolling away. He reached into a stray box, pulling out another. "Really? Sounds like a dream to me. Sure you haven't been dreaming, boy?"
"My name is Percy Jackson," the kid announced, and Hephaestus looked up, unreadable expression on his face. Noticing the new look in the man's dark eyes, Percy perked up. "You know who I am?"
Hephaestus studied him longer, and Percy held his breath, intent on hearing the man's next wise words…
"Nope. Not a clue," Hephaestus shrugged. Percy deflated. The man laid down his work before pushing away from the table, fixing the younger of the two a dark glare. "What begs the question is do you know who I am?"
Sensing a change in the atmosphere, Percy meekly shook his head no, noticing how he dwarfed in size next to the mysterious mechanic.
"I am Hephaestus," the man intoned deeply, and his voice vibrating throughout the room. "The God of Fire and the Forge. Who are you and what is your reason in disturbing my work?"
Percy swallowed before looking up to lock gazes with the god. "I'm looking for a way to return back to Camp Half-Blood. Will you help me?"
"A half-blood, eh?" Hephaestus leaned back. "Who is your godly parent then?"
"Poseidon, sir." Percy fidgeted nervously. "Will you help me?"
"Poseidon's kid, huh?" Hephaestus looked at him with a new expression, and Percy half suspected that the god was mentally taking him apart and analyzing him as he would to his own automatons. "So you're that one." He eyed him skeptically. "You're a lot shorter than I had thought."
"I get that a lot," Percy agreed. "Does this mean you'll help me? I need to get back as quick as I can."
"Why?" Hephaestus questioned. "What could possibly be so urgent for a half-blood such as you? I may aid you, I may not."
"Family," Percy said, a hint of desperation lacing his voice. "My family is back at the camp, I need to get back to them."
Hephaestus gave him a stare before snorting and getting up to walk away. "You're on your own, boy."
"What? What do you mean I'm on my own?" Percy's voice rose in pitch as he clambered down to follow the god. "Tell me!"
"Exactly as it means," Hephaestus grunted as he lifted a heavy piece of bronze onto his shoulder. "You're on your own."
Percy floundered for words. "But… why?"
"Does there need to be a reason?" Hephaestus asked, setting the metal down with a clatter.
"Yes!" Percy nearly screamed as he resisted the urge to stomp his kids like a little kid…which he was. Eh, well. "I need to get back home and you're the best chance I have. So why won't you help me?"
"Family," Hephaestus growled, wrenching the bronze apart with his bare hands. "Family. When you toss words like that around so carelessly, it makes me feel repulsed." He stepped back, glaring down at the younger boy darkly. "Family isn't family if it doesn't consist of pretty family members and fake smiles, hmm? And I don't think your family is all beautiful and perfect, right?" He scoffed before turning around back to his work. "Basically, family is a comedic lie."
Hephaestus looked back, noting at the boy's determined posture and stiff lip. "And how am I wrong, boy?" He rotated slowly, fixing the smaller with a cool twist of the mouth. "Tell me, if you were my mother, would you love me? Even when I looked like this?" He gestured at his misshapen body and oily clothes, at his burns and scars and smoking beard. "Would you?"
"I… don't know," Percy said slowly, glancing warily at the god. "I mean… I'm not a mother… but my mom loves me, and I'm not perfect or pretty at all. So if I was a mom, my answer would be yes?"
"Wrong," Hephaestus scowled even harder, looking cold. "You're lucky you have a mother so kind, boy, but you look normal by her standards. To my mother? I was ugly. I was the imperfect byproduct within the 'family'. I was that blot of ink on a beautiful picture." He made a motion with two fingers to indicate 'blot'. "Basically, I was the reason why the family couldn't be perfect… so she threw off a mountain, thus ridding me and making the family beautiful."
Percy gaped in horror at the god's tale, eyes wide and disbelieving. "But-but she's your mom." The child grasped his head once again, as if in intense pain.
Hephaestus shrugged, rolling his shoulder back. "Didn't stop her, did it? You'll see her, and she'll be talking about how family should stick together, how family should be loyal, and how all families are perfect. Well, explain me, then." He fixed Percy with a level stare. "Now you understand my reason, yes? 'Family' isn't real."
He turned back to his work, knowing the boy would soon understand and leave. There was no such thing as 'family'.
He was surprised once again when the child said, "I still don't agree with you, really."
Hephaestus switched incredulous eyes upon Percy. "You don't agree with me?"
Percy nodded, gaze solemn, seemingly…older, the god realized. Something was different about the boy.
"Yeah," Percy said, "I don't agree with you necessarily. What your mom did was bad- terrible, even, but… that doesn't mean you have to believe that all family is a lie."
Hephaestus bristled, scowl deepening. "You dare try to change me?"
"Well, I can try, not that I can," Percy admitted, looking earnest. "People can change."
"I'm a god," Hephaestus said, "Not a mere mortal."
Percy waved a hand. "Details, details. People, monsters, creatures, and even gods can change. I believe in that. And…" He fixed a calculating look at the fire god, and the latter startled a little at the older look in sea-green eyes and tilt of the lips. "Who's to say that you have to have one family, only?"
Hephaestus frowned. "What?"
"Look at my family," Percy said, small fingers beginning to list off. "I have my mom, yes, my dad, who's the sea god, a Cyclops for a brother, a satyr, more demigods for siblings, and so much more. We're not all related by blood."
"But are they hideous like I am." Hephaestus stated dryly.
"I don't think you're hideous," Percy said, and honestly, too, to the god's shock. "I mean, don't we all have some hideous thing, whether it be on the inside or the outside? No one's perfect or anything of the sort. Why are you trying so hard to live up to your mother's expectations?"
The god reeled back as if Percy had sucker punched him in his scowling face. "What do you mean I'm living up to my mother's expectations? I'm not. Watch your tongue, boy."
The god's warnings fell on deaf ears as Percy plowed on. "If you weren't trying to live up to her expectations, then why do you believe in her idealistic 'family'?" He sat back. "To me, family is family. It's the bonds that make a family, not blood or looks or perfection. Do you like your mom?"
"I… no… not particularly," Hephaestus said, a bit confounded by the boy's change of subject.
Percy nodded. "So does that mean you like her to win? And I mean, winning as in general."
"No…" the god said lowly, still not seeing where the topic was leading to.
Percy stared at him hardly. "Then why are you letting her win? You're letting her win by agreeing to her standards of family. You don't seem to be the sort that would just, I don't know, roll over and let people step all over you. Look at all the cool things you can do and make! What you do is… cool. Just because you don't fit her physical standards doesn't make you any less amazing. So… do you want her to win your life when it's your life?" Percy sighed. "I believe anyone can change. Why can't you?"
Hephaestus stared at him, baffled expression on his face at Percy's rant. The latter shifted uncomfortably, waiting. Finally, the god's lip twitched before he chuckled good-naturedly. "Who are you, boy?"
"Percy Jackson," the kid said, smiling before his face turned serious again. "Help the younger me, won't you?"
Hephaestus watched for a few moments as the child blinked, and looked up again, the same young look upon his face versus the older version from before. 'Younger me'… so it wasn't his imagination after all.
He made up his mind.
"I'll help you, boy," he said, and Percy brightened up, smile splitting his face.
"Really?" He nearly squeaked.
"Yes," Hephaestus nodded. "But you must do something for me first before I aid you."
"What is it?" Percy demanded, hand clenching Riptide tightly.
"I use to have a favorite forge in Mt. St Helens," Hephaestus said, fingers beginning to resume work on the new bronze project. "But after the shift in the flame of civilization to America, Typhon's resting place, which use to be under Mt. Etna, is now under St. Helens. It's dangerous at times to work there, due to the possibility of Typhon escaping. However, lately, I've sensed a presence at my forge, but whenever I try to go to investigate, my forge is empty of anyone, even when I know it has been used."
"So you want me to find out who is using your forge?" Percy asked.
"Yes," Hephaestus acquiesced. "I cannot go for they sense my godly presence. But with you, they will not for you are half mortal. I want to know who dares to intrude my territory and why. Something….ancient and evil is there. Go and find out who it is, and come back. I will tell you how to get back to your camp."
"Can't you just take me there instead?" Percy offered, looking hopeful.
Hephaestus exhaled tiredly. "Gods do not interfere directly with a demigod's business. You are a hero, and therefore, make your own path. I can merely guide you part of the way."
"All right. Whatever you say," Percy grumbled. "But how do I get there?"
Hephaestus clapped and the spider from before swung back down, landing on his shoulder gently. "My automaton will lead the way. It is not far through the Labyrinth."
"Is it okay if I call him Fred?" Percy queried, holding out a small hand to accept the spider's advance. "Please?"
Hephaestus eyeballed him critically before sighing his consent. "All right, Jackson. Do whatever you feel will aid you in your quest."
"Oh, believe me, talking to someone name Fred is better than saying Robot Spider all of the time," Percy said cheerfully, beginning to go back to the door. "Goodbye Mr. Hephaestus, it was nice meeting you." Within minutes, 'Fred' opened the door once again and it along with the child of the duo filed out.
"Boy," Hephaestus suddenly called out, catching Percy's attention. "Try to stay alive, yes? Humans are more flimsy than automatons."
The door closed, sealing the God of Fire and Forge away.
Luke cursed lowly as the last battery in the flashlight decided to give out, leaving him in darkness.
"Come on, stupid piece of plastic," he growled, smacking the flashlight roughly in his palm. "You can't die now- I haven't even found the kid yet!"
Needless to say, the flashlight did not care what Luke wanted at all.
Luke sighed, feelings of weariness and steady hopelessness colliding within him. Putting the flashlight away, he moved forward; slow as he placed his hand on the wall, careful.
"Just my luck," he said darkly, stumbling along. "That kid is at fault, it's his fault I'm lost here, his fault I might die." But it's my fault he ran. Luke shook his head vehemently, for that wasn't right, he didn't do anything wrong…but he did. Due to his horrible words, the kid panicked and ran… It was Luke's fault. And now he would pay for it with his and Percy's deaths in the godforsaken Labyrinth. Luke's life really did suck.
Sudden heat burnt his hand and he yelped, the pain breaking him away from his depressing thoughts.
"What the hell?"
He reached out again, feeling heat upon the wall. Wherever he was, it smelled of smoke and fire. The scarred man continued on, curious.
Eventually, he came upon a familiar, enormous cavern, and the breath caught in his throat. He was in Mt. St. Helens? How did that happen? Why was he here?
He glanced around, noticing the pools of bubbling lava, metal tools and trolleys, and wondered if the great Titan weapon was finally completed.
Well. He shrugged. He was now in friendly territory. It wouldn't hurt if he looked around and asked for more supplies before resuming the search for Percy. What could go wrong?
"Intruder!" Someone barked demonically, and Luke watched with wide eyes as a herd of telekhines rushed by, practically foaming at the mouth and enraged. "Enemy half-blood! Must kill! Must destroy! We cannot let him interfere with our Lord's plans!"
Luke felt his stomach sink. 'Enemy half-blood'? Please be someone else for a change, he wished fervently as he ran after the waddling sea demons. Please let it be some other hapless demigod and not—
Percy Jackson snarled back at the upcoming group, lips pulled to reveal teeth, eyes furious and ablaze from the red-hot lava.
Luke wanted to throttle the child. Well, at least he didn't have to search anymore. Though, trying to save the kid would take a little effort…
"Back off!" Percy screamed, uncapping Riptide and letting the blade grow, causing several of the younger telekhines to whimper. "You'll be vaporized if you get any closer!"
"A son of Poseidon?" A telekhine growled, inching forward. "I can smell the sea in your blood, half-blood."
"Don't come any closer," Percy roared, but Luke could tell the beginnings of fear were creeping upon him.
The telekhines noticed it as well and all grinned wolfishly, daring to move closer to the panicking boy on the platform. Percy unleashed a fierce cry and tried to swipe Riptide at one of the demons, but lost his grip properly on the blade and stumbled. One baby sea demon barked excitedly and rushed forward, intent on ripping the boy to shreds—
And everyone did, confused, until they all turned to look on Luke.
Did… did he say that?
"Sir Luke?" A telekhine questioned, and after taking note of his features, backed away and bowed lowly, prompting the rest to follow by example. "Ah, sir, we did not expect your arrival to be so early, what does Lord Kronos say—"
"He's at base and told me to tell you all to hurry up," Luke said as calm as he could while making his way to stand next to Percy. He placed a heavy hand on the child's shoulder. "We don't have all the time in the world to win this war, after all."
Percy bristled and glanced up, frowning darkly. "What are you doing?" He hissed, wrenching his shoulder away.
"Now, now, Peter," Luke said amicably as possibly, a twitch beginning to form under his eye. "Calm down and come back with me. I'm sure Nakamura has nice things to say to you."
Ignoring Percy's sputtering, Luke turned to stare imperiously down at the sea demons. "Now if you'll excuse me, we'll be going."
"That child is with you?" The tallest of the telekhines barked, incredulous.
Luke tried for a tired sigh and began pushing Percy near the exit. "Believe it or not, yes. He is on our side, and we cannot afford to kill one of our own. Step aside."
"I don't need your help!" Percy burst out, swatting Luke's hand again. "And I'm not going back with you! Just leave me alone!"
"He doesn't appear to be a friend of yours…" The tall demon mused, before turning beady eyes on Luke. "But perhaps I am wrong in that regard…"
"Perhaps you are," Luke agreed. "Now move aside or else."
The telekhine ignored the blonde's words and continued on, softly. "Or perhaps you are no longer on our side."
Luke stared at the creature before bursting out into chuckles. "What are you, an idiot?" Luke shook his head amusedly. "I assure you, I'm still on Lord Kronos's side. He offers better rewards than the gods, after all." The last words were laced bitterly. "Are we done here? Your meddling has cost our side some time in completion of the weapon. If you step aside now, I will not mention your incompetence to Lord Kronos, telekhines." Luke waited.
The telekhines looked at one another, at Percy, and at Luke, before slowly waddling to the side.
Luke inwardly breathed a sigh of relief and began making his way when the tall telekhine spoke again.
"You know, Luke Castellan," it said conversationally, causing Luke to freeze in anger at the use of his last name. "I never liked you. You were always arrogant and thought yourself superior above anyone else. You do nothing else besides boss everyone around." He grinned, showing sharp teeth. "I think it would be best if you were taken out of the picture."
Throat dry, Luke managed to muster, "Are… do you dare go against me? If you get rid of me, Kronos will know and the war will not be won. You will be punished."
"What the Titan Lord does not know will not hurt him, for you were never here, right, children?" The telekhine said, causing the others to agree with barks and growls. "They will back my standing that you were never at Mt. St. Helens. We will dispose of you. And besides," he barked an amused laugh. "You can be replaced."
"You…" Luke floundered for words, panic increasing steadily.
"Killing you would bring me joy," the telekhine said, "And killing the son of Poseidon will as well. Our kind absolutely detests his father. We made his triton and weapons for the gods, and what do we get in return? Exile to Tartarus for practicing magic. They laughed, yes? When the war ends and the reign of the gods over, we will be laughing in the end." He waved a flipper. "Kill the boy first before going after Castellan. Let him watch his friend die."
With that said, the other large sea demons cackled, reaching over to scoop up lava, and though their flippers caught on fire, they seemed to not notice the pain. With wild grins, they threw the smoldering molten rock at Percy, and without thinking, Luke pushed the boy to the side, taking the blows.
Luke fell to his knees as his shoulder and leg burned, gasping as he tried to scream, blinking away pathetic tears of pain.
"Luke!" He heard Percy cry, and he tried to tell the boy to run, to escape, and that he shouldn't die with him, he had something to live for, just go, Percy—
Percy leaped in front of the older man and used Riptide to vaporize the first row of baby sea demons, before spinning to stab at others.
The elder creatures howled in rage, and with gusto, threw some lava at the child demigod.
Luke watched, through the haze of utter agony, at Percy still held his ground and didn't fall, instead rushing forward to stab and destroy.
"Hmm," the tall telekhine mused, scooping up lava himself. "Your father's nature protects you, half-blood." He grinned. "But you can still burn, even if it takes some time."
With that said, Percy began screaming, dropping to the platform as his clothes began to burn and skin begin to smoke, and Luke couldn't take this anymore.
With effort, the blonde man stood up, unsheathed his sword, and began to battle, ignoring how his own flesh was basically falling off, and everything hurt, but he had to protect Percy.
The tall telekhine threw lava but the blonde swordsman dodged and dashed forward with lightning strikes, parrying and cutting the former's flippers, causing the monster to scream in pain.
"Please, stop," the telekhine whined, bringing his wounded appendages up defensively, but Luke deftly moved quick into the former's space. "You cannot kill me—I'm making Lord Kronos's weapon- you can't!"
"Don't worry," Luke gritted out as he stabbed upward, straight into the sea demon's chest. "You can be replaced." With that said, the demon gave a shrill, doglike howl before vaporizing into dust.
Remembering himself, Luke spun and suddenly dropped, seeing stars in his vision and feeling ill and dizzy.
"Percy," he croaked, crawling to the gasping boy, "Percy."
"Luke," Percy groaned, shaking uncontrollably from pain, "Get out now, take Fred and go!"
"Who the hell is Fred," was all Luke could think to say as he managed to prop the younger upright.
"The robot spider- just take it and go!" Percy shuddered, doubling over. When he turned to look up at the scarred man, Luke could see an older person behind anguished sea-green eyes, the teenager before he had been turned. "I have a plan, just leave me and go—time's running out!" The child knocked Luke backwards as more lava soared through the air towards down. Luke heard Percy screaming some more and blindly reached and thrust his sword, feeling slightly triumphant when a pained yelp came.
"The spider will lead you out of here—" Percy wheezed, sounding strained and tense, as if holding something back.
"I'm not leaving you here," Luke said, feeling his vision going spotty. He had to stay conscious to protect the younger boy.
"There's no choice!" Percy bellowed, shocking the blonde greatly as a furious glare pinned him to place. "The sea is in me—I can stop the telekhines, but there's no time—I'm about to lose control." And as he said that, the ground began to shake, the cavern breaking, and Luke notice the lava beginning to bubble viciously as if coming to life. Was Percy the one doing all of this?
"I'm sorry, Percy," Luke suddenly said, silencing the younger boy. "I'm sorry for earlier—for yelling at you and saying all those things, I'm sorry. You're not useless, and I don't—gods, I don't pity you! I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." He bit his lip harshly to stop from saying anymore as he looked to see the boy watching him with wide eyes, mouth agape.
"Luke…" Percy said, subdued. He reached out, hesitating before touching Luke's uninjured shoulder slightly, gentle contact. He squeezed. "Just… you need to get out. There's no more time." He choked, shaking. "I don't want you to die here."
As if on cue, the ground, with a garish crack, split and broke, shaking the two.
"Just get out of here!" Luke could hear Percy scream, "I don't need you."
Luke glanced up and saw the hanging pipes and metal attached to the rocks beginning to break. With a groan, the attachments broke and the metal began to fall…straight towards Percy.
His body moved on its own as it lunged towards the boy, and all Luke could do was pray—pray to anyone, even his father—that he would make it in time.
The next few seconds were a blur of color and pain. Bright, hot agony, almost worse than the volcanic burns from earlier, bloomed in his abdomen, and Luke wanted death, for it all to end—but he had to protect Percy, protect someone instead of killing them because he didn't want anyone else's blood on his hands.
"Please," Luke rasped, "Please let me save him."
And the world exploded into fire and steam.
There was so much pain, Luke thought blearily, feeling air rush through him as if he was flying.
Beneath all the hurt and new sensation, all he could clearly think about was that he failed.
I'm so sorry, Percy.
She was walking along the beach again, like she always did every day.
She gazed out, eyes distant and sad, trying to tamp down the feelings of loneliness.
Calypso sighed, and wished silently that someone could come and keep her company, or free her from her prison.
She was just so lonely.
"Help!" A cry broke her from her thoughts, and she started, looking around for the source of noise. "Please, please help me!"
She hurriedly ran along the white-sanded beach, following the source of the cries when all of a sudden, she stumbled onto a small dark haired boy holding onto a blonde man.
"What?" Calypso gasped, dropping down to the two people. With horror, she realized just how bloody the two were.
"Oh, thank gods," the dark haired boy sobbed, clutching the blonde with shaking fingers. "Please, please help him- please- he can't die—I'm so sorry, Luke, I'm so sorry—"
With wide eyes, Calypso wondered what she had gotten herself into as she took in the sight of the seemingly dead blonde and the sobbing brunet.
So… who likes cliffhangers? :D *is shot*
Nah, sorry for the cliffy, guys, but a story's a story, and the authoress must go on! Pchoooooooo~!
Just kidding, haha. But let's see. This year (technically, last year), was a year that consisted of Homestuck and Marvel. Yes. I have been sucked into new fandoms. I apologize, but I have no regrets. Those fandoms are what helped me grow as a writer, and I'm eternally grateful. I've changed a lot in the past year, I think. In fanfiction terms, I mean. I haven't read PJO in so long, so I'm a bit spotty in my memory, sorry dear readers. I've actually read the Lost Hero, though, so yay~! It's…interesting. But not the same, you know? And tumblr. Never forget tumblr. It's been a busy year, haha.
So. Onwards to my fanfiction hobbies. Well. I think I'm coming back now. I've been inspired to write fanfiction again, to continue the work because I remember how enjoyable it was and how amazing people are on this site. I have an AO3 now, just saying, and I might not reveal, since all my PJO, Hetalia, and KnR works will be on this site. New fics such as Teen Wolf, Homestuck, Marvel, etc., will be on AO3. Good? Good.
I've also grown to adore new pairings, and I'm actually sad to say that Luke/Percy isn't my ultimate OTP anymore in the PJO fandom. I'll still update this, don't worry. I've come so far and I'm not quitting now. But anywho, I've heard from a little bird (tumblr, damn you) that a slash pairing is canon (or, as canon as it can be ish) in the Heroes of Olympus series. Nico. Oh man. I always knew it. Had a feeling. But I thought I was just a cray cray fangirl and never pursue the interest. Well, look at me now. Oh, and Leo is a cutie patootie. I 3 him. :3
So. There you have it. Sorry that this note was so long, I mean you can just ignore it, but it's just an update, you know?
So thank you all for reading once again. I love you guys.
To the crux of the issue…. Reviews, anyone? :D