A/N This is my attempt at an original character- an annoying satyr who thinks he knows it all and is about to fall on his face. I wasn't originally planning to have him be so irritating, but he sorta just turned out that way. This could also be read as "he hijacked my train of thought and took over his character" since that's pretty much what happened. Also, a couple story notes- the 'Elders' refers to the 'Council of Cloven Elders', in case that wasn't clear, and the satyr talks about being assigned demigods to pick up- in this story, it is assumed that some satyrs are posted at schools in order to search out demigods, like Grover, others look for clues that might indicate the presence of a demigod or find out from the gods where demigods are (this is set several years after The Last Olympian, so the gods have to be all responsible now), and then go and retrieve the demigod. So. Yeah. Read on!
After ferrying half-bloods to camp for over 25 years, one might think that I was prepared for everything; that I had figured out how to anticipate and escape every monster sent at demigods, that I knew how to maneuver the Mist to cover up any unusual occurrences, that I could figure out pretty quickly what powers a demigod might have and how to get him (or her) to use them, that I knew how to explain to kids that they were half god and would have to leave now, that I could explain to their parents or at least make up a reasonable excuse.
Well, okay. Maybe I was the only one who thought that. But with more than 30 kids over 25 years, I had some pretty good experience. None of them had died, though there were some rather serious injuries. In the past couple years, the whole extraction process had gone pretty smoothly. There were no huge Mist-related backfires (I don't even want to bring up the whole Dragon fiasco of 1996; after that I had had to take some serious Remedial American Mortal Culture classes to learn what was actually normal for humans to see, so that when I manipulated the Mist it would actually help the situation, not make it more confusing), the worst injury was a broken arm when a Hermes kid fell down a flight of stairs, I had correctly identified an Apollo kid within an hour of meeting him and was able to give him a bow and arrow that he could use (and did use on a couple hellhounds chasing us), and kids usually believed me about the whole half-god thing within minutes.
What I hadn't realized was that the Elders had been giving me the easy assignments ever since the whole dragon thing. The parents of the kids I had been picking up knew they had had a kid with a god or goddess. They had exposed their kids to Greek culture, and the kids, being the hyperactive, observant of the oddest details beings they were, noticed some odd connections.
Here I was thinking that kids these days were very well versed in Greek literature.
Now, the Elders had decided that some other satyr needed the easy kids and had decided to shift me to the hard assignments without even a heads up that what I had been experiencing wasn't the norm. I had gone off, expecting that this would be a simple in-and-out process.
I was wrong.
The demigod was clearly Apollo's. The fair hair, blue eyes, love of music, and knack for healing kinda gave it away. Those bright blue eyes were currently glaring at me, narrowed into slits.
"Why should I believe you?" Jasper yelled, throwing his hands up into the air. "I don't know you, and now you're just coming into my home- that's breaking and entering, by the way- and saying that my mom just slept with some strange man who was cheating on her anyways? I'm not going anywhere with you!"
I had never had an experience like this before. The first times I got demigods, before The Incident, there was some disbelief but nowhere near this level. Of course, those had been children of minor gods or goddesses, so they didn't have a ton of siblings, which meant that also they didn't have the "the guy/lady who was with my mom/dad cheated on her/him" response.
In retrospect, saying "But you have tons of brothers and sisters at camp who you'll get to meet, and several of them are your age" probably wasn't the best idea. Anybody who didn't know how the gods could split themselves and be in many places at once would naturally have that response, if I really thought about it. It was hard to understand how the gods could be in love with many people at the same time. I had tried to explain to Jasper, of course, but he was having trouble wrapping his head around the whole idea. It was hard to tell if he was even trying to accept my explanation or if he was rejecting it totally without even really listening.
"Listen, you're going to be in danger soon, and camp is the safest place-" I tried again, switching tactics yet again. First, I had tried explaining things like I always did, calmly, just laying out the facts and the plan. Next I had tried giving Jasper more background, since he hadn't really known much about Greek culture besides "They've got a bunch of long, boring, screwed-up stories." I decided to blame English classes and the teachers' tendency to try to oversimplify things, resulting in interesting, vivid stories being drained into dull husks of their former selves. Next was my attempt to get Jasper's curiosity roused, by telling him about his siblings. That had really backfired, resulting in Jasper loudly defending his mother's honor. Now I was pulling out the scare tactics- if Jasper didn't come with me, there would be monsters after him. He was, after all, fourteen, old enough and powerful enough to generate a fair bit of monster interest, and it was only luck that he hadn't been attacked already.
"Danger?" Jasper scoffed. "What sort of danger? Prove it. You've given me no reason to trust you so far- you climbed in my bedroom window, you've fed me a bunch of crap about Greek myths and my dad, you basically called my mom a slut- why should I trust you? Give me a reason."
Well, I thought, that hadn't worked either. There weren't any monsters that I knew of after Jasper, Zeus knows why. The kid's scent was really powerful; clearly he was particularly gifted. I floundered, trying to come up with a legit reason. I came up blank. Clearly, there were reasons why other satyrs didn't go directly at the demigods they were trying to bring to camp. I had never understood it, finding the whole going-to-school-and-becoming-friends-first process a bit tedious. After all, some satyrs spent over a year on one kid. I usually spent a couple days, then hung around camp and helped the campers until the Elders pointed me at another demigod.
This kid was hard.
Well, I decided, if he's going to give me attitude, I'll give him attitude back. Fight fire with fire.
"Fine," I shot back. "What do you want me to prove first?"
Jasper's eyebrows shot up before they furrowed again, thinking deeply. I gulped. Maybe that statement was a little too broad- if Jasper jumped straight to "Prove that my dad's a god", I was screwed. There was no way that I, a lowly satyr, could call Apollo and expect him to come. Apollo had more important duties, such as seducing women so he could sire more demigods, driving the sun around, and bugging Artemis.
"I'll start small," Jasper decided, and I let out a sigh of relief. "You're saying that Greek myths are real. Prove it. Where do you fit in?"
Easy. "I'm a satyr," I said, practically dancing on the spot with relief. Easiest question ever. "I go out and look for demigods like yourself and bring them back to Camp Half-Blood so they can train, learn to use their powers, and meet other kids like them- and have fun! People really enjoy camp now that the gods and goddesses all claim their kids and they all have cabins. At camp, you're safe from monsters that might come after you- well, for the most part, sometimes people invite monsters into camp for fighting practice or as a joke-"
Jasper's eyebrows went so high, I thought they would fly off his face. "A joke?"
"Not very often, though," I added quickly.
"I haven't had any monsters after me. It sounds like this camp of yours would be less safe for me, not more," Jasper retorted, leaning back against his dresser. His mind pounced on something else I had said. "Wait- a satyr? One of those half-sheep things?"
"Half-goat," I grumbled. "Yes, I am. Watch- I'll prove it!" I unfastened my jeans and started wriggling out of them. Jasper backed off fast.
"Dude, nobody wants to see you naked!" he cried. "I'm not gay!"
I gave him a look. "Nobody said you were!"
"You were undoing your pants! Dude, that's gross!"
I stamped a foot. "I'm a satyr! The only reason I wear pants is so I can walk among humans without getting a ton of attention!"
Jasper didn't respond. He was too busy staring in horror at my foot- or, rather, my hoof. My shoe had come off when I stomped on the ground.
Well. I suppose that was an easier way to do it. I stood and let Jasper splutter his disbelief. He spluttered for quite a long time.
"So Greek stuff is real," he finally got out. "Right. I accept that. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to believe you about my dad."
I rolled my eyes. "Right. Like I'm really going to spend the time going up to a mortal and telling them about the Greek world. We try to keep its existence secret; we only tell demigods and sometimes the affected relations-"
"You mean my mom," Jasper said, attitude back in place. "You only tell them the truth sometimes? Why not all the time? It's not like they're going to go around yelling 'Hey, my son is half-god, everybody!' or anything. You lie to some people's parents?"
A long-ago learned fact chose that moment to pop into my head. Apollo's kids hate lying. That would have been good to remember before. It wasn't like I would lie and say that we told all relations, I would just exclude that part altogether. After all, in all of the cases I had done before, I had told the demigod's mortal parent about where we were taking their kid and why, and they usually already knew because whatever god they had been with had told them about the Greek world.
Those were the exceptions, not the norm, I reminded myself. I had to really think, back to my training when I learned how to deal with the families of demigods. Why were not all of them told?
Then I remembered one case in particular. The goddess was Aphrodite, and the mortal was a movie star. At one point, the mortal had gotten captured by monsters- giants- and he found out about the whole world of Greek gods. He couldn't take it; he couldn't take the knowledge that there really were real monsters out there. His daughter had to give him a memory potion, or he would've gone insane.
Bingo. We didn't tell all parents because they might not be able to handle knowing that monsters exist. Gods were usually the best judge of that, and so if I brought up...something...and they recognized what I was saying, it was a sign that the god they had been with had deemed them able to handle our world.
Question was, what was that something? I hadn't had to use the code word for ages, since the parents of the kids I picked up were obviously very well informed about their child's origin. I decided to leave that thought for later; after all, Jasper was not-so-patiently waiting for my answer.
"Some people can't handle the information," I said simply, hoping that Jasper would leave it at that. Rather predictably, he didn't.
"My mom is a very strong person," Jasper informed me, hands on hips like a sassy teenage girl. I got a sudden mental picture of Jasper as a girl, with long blond hair and sparkly makeup, standing in the same position, and had to bite back a giggle. When trying to get a demigod to camp, it is better to not start giggling like a madgoat and make the soon-to-be camper think you are crazy. It's harder to get them to come with you then.
"Some people can appear very strong, but if you hit their weak spot, they crumple," I argued. The memory of which demigod-and-mortal-parent combination had gone through that whole giant mess suddenly popped into my mind, and I grinned. "You know that actor- Tristan McLean?"
"Yes, of course. He's famous." Jasper didn't look impressed. "What about him?"
"He appears strong, right?"
"Yeah- he's awesome! Have you seen all of his movies? And he's not just like that in movies- he's really cool in real life too, from what the papers say. Did you know-"
I cut Jasper off with a sigh before he could rattle off his treasure trove of facts about Tristan McLean. "You know he has a daughter, right?"
"Piper, yes. Everybody knows that, unless they've been living under a rock." Jasper's tone clearly indicated that he thought I had been living under a rock- at least figuratively. If he was talking literally, he was correct. My house was built into a rock overhang, so I was living under a rock. But I did know Piper McLean. I had even seen her in person, which was more than Jasper could say, I would bet.
"She's a demigod." I leaned back against the door frame, watching Jasper to see how he responded.
I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. After his eyes widened in surprise, his next words were, "Prove it."
Typical. I should've been expecting that. I wasn't quite sure how to prove that, so I threw his question back at him. This son of Apollo was smart; I could use his intelligence against him. "How do you want me to prove it?"
Jasper started in surprise, then regained his composure. "Talking to her might be a start. But I don't suppose you would have her number." His voice had dropped to scathing, almost, baiting me. Testing me. Clearly he thought that my bringing up Piper was a bluff.
He was wrong. I barely held back a snicker of pure delight as I pulled a drachma out of my pocket and asked if he had a hose in his back yard.
"This is weird," Jasper complained as I carefully set the hose nozzle on "mist" and set it up to spray into the air. Seconds later, a rainbow formed in the mist, and I tossed the drachma in.
"Iris, goddess of the rainbow, accept my offering. Show me Piper McLean!" I said, loud enough to cut across Jasper's complaining but not as loud as to alert any neighbors. I snapped my fingers quietly to manipulate the Mist, so any nosy people would just see us watering the garden rather than talking to a floating face in the water's spray. Hopefully there weren't any clear-sighted mortals nearby that could see through the Mist.
The rainbow wavered, then shifted to show Piper standing near the archery field, empty except for her and two other demigods, Jason Grace and Leo Valdez, and what appeared to be a metal horse with wings. Leo was standing next to the horse-thing, petting its nose, while Jason looked on. Piper stood off to the side, watching them.
"Dude, that's creepy," Jasper said, staring wide-eyed at the picture. "You can just look people up whenever? There's no way to block it if you don't want to be interrupted?"
"I think Iris might make sure the person you're calling isn't in a...er...compromising position or anything first, before connecting the call," I said, hurrying to pacify Jasper's keen sense of right and wrong. "Piper! Could you spare a minute?"
Piper whipped around, her hair flying into her face. She shoved it impatiently behind her ear and gave me a what-do-you-want look. I then remembered that Piper was not my biggest fan; I had made some...er...badly thought out comments about her satyr and his abilities as a protector after hearing the trouble they had while under his "protection". She had punched me in the nose and made some comments right back about how I got the easy jobs, the ones that monsters were least likely to be after, and that it took a lot more talent than I had to find and protect stronger demigods. I really hoped that she wouldn't make any comments about how right she was.
"Hi, Piper," I started. "I'm trying to get Jasper here to come to camp, but was sort of got into a side discussion about how much we should let his mom know about the Greek world, and he doesn't believe me that some people can't take the knowledge of monsters being real and all, so I was wondering if-"
"If I could tell him about my dad? Sure, why not." Piper paused, and a slightly evil smirk crossed her face. "So, finding that not all demigods are overly easy to get to camp?"
"Shut up," I grumbled. I couldn't lose any more face in front of Jasper. At least he was looking awed that I knew Piper. Point for Team Me.
Piper snickered to herself, then turned slightly to address Jasper. "So, what exactly is the problem?" Her voice was honey-coated, just the tiniest bit of charmspeak in it. Jasper practically melted.
"This satyr dude here-" he jabbed his thumb at me "-says that he might not be able to tell my mom the truth about where I'm going if I decided to go to Camp Half-Blood because it might not be 'safe' for her to know. She's strong; if my so-called dad didn't tell her about his world, he should've. The satyr also said that I would be in danger from monsters if I stayed here and didn't come with him, but I've never been attacked or anything. And he says-"
"Okay, okay," Piper said quickly, cutting Jasper off with a quick wave of her hand. "Let's not get too carried away here. Right. So. I thought it was unfair and unethical when my mom told me to wipe Dad's recent memories with a potion after he got captured by a giant and his minions, so I told him all about my world- my mom's world- in hopes that he would realize that it wasn't all bad and so he could recover from his experience. It didn't work. He was proud of me for the fighting that I had done, but to him, the Greek myths were just stories that should stay stories, because life would be too nightmarish if they were real. It was kinder, really, to wipe his memories and to let him think that now I'm just at another boarding school. He couldn't stand the monsters. Others might have different fears that would crush them if they knew the Greek world was real. It's really best to have the god or goddess make the call, because they might have told the person and gotten a bad reaction that had to be erased with a potion, or they might have delved into their memories and found information that led them to making a decision."
Suddenly Jason elbowed Piper out of the way so he could stick his head into the field of vision. "Hey! New demigod? Cool! You'll love camp, it's pretty cool and you get to blow stuff up and you don't get in that much trouble for it unless it was something important-"
"Was there a reason you interrupted us, Jason?" Piper's irritated voice came from the side. She sounded amused, though. "And you've been hanging around Leo and Percy too much, I think- you didn't use to get excited about blowing stuff up!"
"Yeah, yeah," Jason muttered. "Right! I heard you talking about how telling mortals can be bad, and how it's not always for the same reasons. My father, Zeus, told my mom who he was, and it destroyed her when he left. She loved that she had gotten the attention of a god, and when he left- and all gods leave eventually- she just broke. It's better for some to think that they were just with some average guy than with a god, even if it is years after the fact. There was another camper who had to drug her parent because she told them that her dad was Hermes, and her mom's selfish side just came out. She wanted Hermes to take her back, or at the very least help them out financially, make her famous, make all their dreams come true without the work."
"Some get too involved with the world of gods, too," I chipped in. "They're kept in the dark for their own protection. They're too selfless. One woman decided to give up her godly lover to become the Oracle while it was still cursed- she didn't know. She thought she was helping out. She went insane, lost both her god and her child. The god in question didn't tell any more of his lovers who he was for a long time."
Piper had just opened her mouth to add another example when Jasper cut across, looking downright alarmed. "Right. So no telling Mom unless she already knows. Noted. Now what about the monsters?"
"I hadn't had any monster attacks until just before I came to camp," Piper replied. "I'm not quite sure why, and neither is Chiron, but he said that he suspects that they were biding their time and were being controlled by Gaea. Once the attacks started, they came fast. Some other satyrs-" her voice clearly stated 'ones with more sense than yours'-"say that once you know you're a demigod, your scent gets stronger and so it's more likely that monsters will attack you. It's really a good idea to come to camp at least for the summer to get a weapon to protect yourself and learn the basics of fighting."
"I've been in fights at school; I know perfectly well how to fight," Jasper grouched, now seeming like he was just fishing for excuses to not come with me.
"People at school don't have claws, wings, and six-inch-long teeth, do they?" I asked, now imitating Jasper with my hands on my hips. I heard Piper and Jason give simultaneous groans of frustration, likely at Jasper's stubbornness. Really, can the kid just not accept that he needs to come with me already? His mom will be home soon, and I need him to be ready to go. School's already been out for a week and a half, and if Jasper is just going to be at camp for the summer, he needs to get there now so he can get some fighting skills, hopefully make a lot of connections with people, and preferably stay on as a year-rounder. Another success story a la me.
But first I need him to stop being stubborn. Honestly, can this kid not just accept that I'm telling the truth, now let's move on? Apparently not. Jasper was still looking stubborn, and out of the corner of my eye I saw the Iris-message fade into rainbow mist again. I wasn't going to be getting any more help from Piper and crew- not that I needed it, to be sure, but it might've made things go a bit faster- no! I could do this on my own. I had plenty of experience. This was just a bit more difficult than usual.
Jasper straightened up, looking defiant. "They'd still feel a fist in the gut, would they not? Or an arrow? I can do archery already, you know, from camp."
I snorted. This kid had so much to learn. Fists? Regular mortal arrows? As if. "You'd get into a fistfight with the Minotaur, then? Or a hydra? They'd destroy you in an instant. And regular mortal arrows would just pass right through them. You need celestial bronze arrows for that- and I hope you have a better bow than that." I nodded at the drab wooden bow that I had noticed just seconds ago, hanging on the fence. It clearly had been rained upon, and looked rather old- not old as in artifact, just brittle and not well cared for, and rather small to boot. It would probably be more use as firewood than as a weapon.
Jasper's cheeks reddened. "That's from when I was a kid. I have a new one now, in the shed. That's just for decoration."
I nodded. "Right. And so where do you think you'll get proper arrows from, if you don't come to camp? You would need a regular supply to fight off monsters, since arrows tend to get broken when they get shot into monsters. Swordfighting is the best protection."
I didn't mention how terrible I was at swordfighting. I usually had the demigods do the majority of the work, if there were any monsters to chase off. I was better at avoiding them in the first place, making routes that avoided monsters in the first place, and coming prepared. I had gotten myself a car several years ago- when the whole war with the Titans started heating up too much, I beat it out of camp and got a job in Michigan working as a dish-cleaner in a restaurant- a very nice restaurant, so the pay was pretty decent, and seeing as I didn't have to buy a home or meals (tree nymphs let me sleep in the branches of their trees, and grass and tin cans were quite filling), I built up some quite nice savings. I would no longer have to hotwire cars to get demigods to camp, a fact I found quite pleasant. The Elders hadn't been too pleased with me when they found out I had taken off, but I sent reports or any monster activities in the area (very few, maybe the occasional hellhound wandering through) in hopes they would accept me back after all the drama had blown over. They really hadn't had a choice, what with all the losses they suffered during the battles.
Jasper scowled at this new information. "What, don't they know how to make sturdier arrows?"
"They're very sturdy arrows; monsters just struggle too much and the arrows end up breaking, it's not like you're firing into a bale of hay," I informed him loftily. "They don't break all the time, but eventually you would run out of arrows. It's happened before, in the battle in New York." I knew it was true; the Apollo campers and Hunters had run out of arrows after shooting for hours on end. Obviously I hadn't seen it in person, but there was no reason for Jasper to know that I had been rinsing crud off dishes with a power sprayer at the time rather than risking my life.
"Battle?" Jasper asked. I had clearly caught his attention. I was just starting to congratulate myself when-
"Does that happen often? I don't want to leave here-" he indicated his house- "to go fight battles and risk my life 24/7."
"Oh, no," I said quickly. Bringing that up had been a mistake. "Battles that size are a one-time thing really, there was just a slight disturbance with the Titans that had to be cleared up. That was only the second time it happened in all of Earth's history, so you don't need to worry about that happening again. I was just saying, even if you think you're really well prepared, with arrows there's always the chance you'll run out. Daggers and swords are...good for backup." I had been about to say so much better, but then I heard my mother's voice in my head, saying "You stupid goat, how do you expect to get him to go anywhere with you if you agonize him?"
Jasper inclined his head, thinking about what I had said and hopefully digesting the new information. I hoped that the effect of Piper's Charmspeak was still on him- that would make it easier. I had never had to deal with such a stubborn demigod before. I now suspected the Elders had assigned me this particular demigod because of my absence during the war. There was no way that the majority of demigods were this annoying and difficult to bring to camp.
Just then, there was the sound of a car backing up the driveway. Jasper looked up. "There's mom!" He started edging away from me, looking relieved to escape my presence. I felt rather insulted. I was a perfectly pleasant satyr to be around, it wasn't my fault that Jasper was so hard to work with.
Right. If Jasper's mom is anything like he is- I pray to the gods that she's not- and Apollo didn't tell her anything...I'm going to be in for a rough time.
Wish me luck.
A/N So, what do you think Jasper's mom will be like? Any thoughts on the satyr guide (who I just realized doesn't have a name. Oops. Any ideas for names?)? This will be two chapters.
Review! Thoughts, ideas, suggestions, cookie recipes...all appreciated!