Shin-li was… disappointed. He had been sure that Percy would excel at most of the basic exercises in camp, or at least hold his own. He wasn't horrible, but he was far from living up to Shin-li's expectations. At first, he tried to tell himself that it was just a matter of time until Percy hit his stride, but when he found himself blinking owlishly at the arrow that had just sprouted from the pages of his book, he was forced to accept it: Percy was far more unskilled than he had thought.
After some consideration, he decided to leave most of Percy's… conditioning… to Luke. He didn't want to show undue interest in the boy, and Luke was more than capable. He took a backseat, subtly adjusting Percy's perspective on Lukes more heavy-handed views when he spoke with the boy.
Most of his time and energy was spent observing Chiron, and, more importantly, Dionysus. Contrary to popular belief, Gods were not constantly aware of everything around them. Their senses were merely sufficient to act like it. Things could be hidden from them. They could be deceived. It just took someone good enough at hiding their thoughts and actions. And Shin-li was the best.
On Percy's third day at camp, he decided to visit Percy's first sword fighting lesson. It would be a good way to gauge his talents. He took a leisurely pace towards the Hermes cabin intending to catch the end of the lesson. Luke had mentioned something about possibly embarrassing Percy, making him just a bit more discontent at camp. Personally he thought it was a bit much, even for Luke, but it was his call. Unless there would be serious consequences, he didn't want to interfere.
As he got closer to the cabin, he noticed that everyone seemed to be standing in a ring instead of pairing off. Looks like it's happening now. He focused past the ring of bystanders to see Luke facing off against a soaked Percy. Apparently he had been trying to cool himself down. Once he got closer, however, he stopped, confused. Luke didn't seem to be holding back, but by all accounts, Percy didn't possess anywhere near the level of skill he was displaying.
An instant later he had to restrain himself from gasping in shock. Had Percy Jackson, classic city boy and all around wimp, just disarmed the best swordsman camp halfblood had seen in five centuries? It didn't seem possible. And yet Lukes sword was on the ground, and Percy's was at his chest. Percy murmured something under his breath.
Luke broke out into a wide smile. "Sorry?" Shin-li heard. "By the gods, Percy, why are you sorry? Show me that again!" Shin-li started towards them again as Luke picked up his sword, but this time there was no contest. It didn't take three seconds for Luke to have him dead to rights. "Beginners luck?" He asked as he walked up, working to keep a smirk off of his face. There was no way that was beginners luck and they both knew it.
"Maybe," Luke responded, "but I wonder what Percy could do with a balanced sword…"
After everything was sorted out, the two of them took a walk around the camp borders. "I told you." Shin-li was saying. "I told you it was Poseidon. There's no one else it could possible be, not after that." Luke threw up his hands in defeat.
"Okay, okay, you're right. No way one of the lesser gods has a kid that powerful, at least not without a seriously freakish backstory. But it doesn't get him on our side, now, does it?"
Shin-li gave a mirthless smile. "It might help. You can tailor your suggestions now, predict what's coming. If you can make Percy resent Poseidon before his lineage is even revealed, you have a major advantage with any later steps you have to take."
Luke nodded, pursing his lips. "I could make that work…" He shrugged, shaking his head. "Well, I don't think I'll be able to do anything major until the weekend at this point. Small suggestions, maybe, but nothing with a massive effect on the kid."
Shin-li grinned. "I've got something to work with during the game, though." Luke looked up, interested. "What've you got planned?" Shin-li's grin grew. "Well, if the alliances work out like I plan, and the strategies are what I predict, I should be able to set him up against Xander by himself. He'll either lose hard to one of Olympus's golden boys, or he'll reveal his true potential far ahead of what I think they have scheduled."
Luke was now wearing his widest shit-eating grin. "Oh, this is gonna be brutal."
Capture the flag was just about to begin, and the cabin leaders were holding a war council. Well, really Annabeth, Shin-li, and Luke were holding it. Apollo's councillor was just there as a formality, and they all knew it.
"Place patrols here, here, and here," said Annabeth, pointing, "and try and draw their attention. Have two squads scrambled in these locations, quietly, to hold the line against sneak attacks." Shin-li looked closely.
"The biggest push will probably happen here," He said, marking a particular spot. "What's more, Xander will probably head in that direction. Luke." Luke's head snapped around, a focused look on his face. "Take four squads there about five minutes in. We'll deal with the manpower shortage. I'll take one small strike team through here," he marked out another area, "and try to punch through their defences."
Annabeth nodded, but then stopped. "Wait a minute, what about this spot, on the creek?" Shin-li followed her gave, noting her concern. "Hmm… too important to leave alone, not important enough for a proper guard…" Luke spoke up. "How about a watchman? Someone to make a lot of noise in case someone actually does try to go that way?" Shin-li and Annabeth looked at each other for a moment, then nodded once. "That'll work," Annabeth said, satisfied.
"What's more, it's the perfect post for a new camper," Shin-li noted. "Easy to both remember and succeed, and it gets his feet wet." "Agreed," said Annabeth. "Luke?" Luke was already on his way out of the tent. "I'll tell him."
The cabin leaders spread out, delivering orders and preparing for battle. Shin-li allowed himself a smirk. Manipulating that situation had been simultaneously the most difficult and delicate strategic feat he had ever accomplished. In the end, however, he was extremely proud of the results. No matter what the outcome was, Percy would not be happy with the Gods by the end of it. Whether or not he was aware that they were the target of his displeasure when the time came was still up for grabs, but this was certain to be a victory.