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David Kalu

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THE MARK OF ATHENA
David Kalu

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Copyright © 2012 by David Dawn All rights reserved. Published by Disney · Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher.

Printed in the United States of America

Dawn, David. The Mark of Athena Fanfiction/David Dawn—First Ed.

David Kalu

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The Mark of Athena

David Kalu

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Chapter 1: Leo
Dreaded Reunion

Leo couldn’t wait to meet this Percy. It was like the only thing that Annabeth talked about—and Annabeth was usually pretty serious. But now, she was shivering as if it were freezing in Argo II. And of course, it wasn’t. There wasn’t any air conditioning, and it was mid-summer. Annabeth must’ve been pretty frantic, because then she stood up, and started pacing back and forth, talking to herself. “Will he still like me? What if he already has a girlfriend? What if I’m no longer his type? What if—?” Leo cleared his throat on the intercom. “This is your captain speaking. Umm…we are about to land.” Piper appeared beside Leo. She had a worried look on her face; it looked a lot like Annabeth’s. Then Leo remembered: Jason also had a girlfriend. He had one at Camp Half-Blood; one at Camp Jupiter—at least that’s what Jason had told him.

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“Uhh…captain?” Leo flinched at the way Piper had said ‘captain’, as if it was hard for her to say. Nobody seemed to respect Leo around here, Leo realized. But soon, that would all change. “What?” Piper said, “There’s a big crowd down there.” “So…?” Leo replied. “They must be my adoring fans.” Piper sighed. “So?” she repeated. “How are we going to land?” Leo shook his head. “Piper, Piper, Piper. Valdez is always prepared.” Leo made it sound as if he were talking to a little kid. He pressed a red button near the steering wheel and a long, loud blaring horn went off, like the one used on cars. Instantly, the crowd cleared away. But it was still not enough. Leo honked the horn again. This time the crowd made a bigger space. Obviously, nobody liked getting squished by a million-pound warship. The Argo II came crashing down. It wasn’t a good landing, Leo admitted, but it was okay. Leo bent over and pulled back a lever. A rectangle fell back from the wall, landing on the grass lightly, and the Piper, Jason, Annabeth, and Leo walked out of the warship. “Uhh…maybe we should’ve landed in the lake over there,” Jason pointed out. That was the time he had spoken in a while. Leo couldn’t blame him. Losing your memory, falling in love with a girl, and finding out that you already had a girlfriend wasn’t exactly a good train of events. Leo ignored him. He brought out his hands, and said, “Greetings, my fellow Romans!” They all looked at him like he was a maniac. Then the crowd divided into two parts like a wave, leaving a trail for two people to walk through. One of them was a girl; the other, a boy. The girl was a few inches taller than the boy. She had dark brown hair and steely brown eyes that seemed to scan for a person’s weaknesses.

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The boy had longish black hair that fell over his forehead. He had bright green eyes that really stood out. Unlike the girl, he was smiling. But the smile looked like it was strained. He must’ve been nervous. In fact, everyone seemed nervous. Some people were in full Roman armour, ready to fight if necessary. Leo involuntarily retreated back. He hadn’t come a thousand miles just to fight. But these guys didn’t seem to know that. “Percy?” Annabeth walked from behind them. She looked sort of sick, and her moves were wobbly. Percy’s green eyes widened. He slowly walked toward Annabeth, his movements just as sluggish as Annabeth’s. Leo couldn’t help but smile. So this was Percy. No wonder Annabeth liked him; he seemed like a cool guy. Then the girl walked forward. Leo almost wet his pants. Was she looking at him? Then Leo noticed that the girl was looking past him. Leo turned, facing Jason. Jason tried to keep a straight face. He kept looking from Piper to the girl. So this must’ve been his girlfriend. Scratch off the steely eyes and stern looks, and the girl looked actually sort of cute. Leo got out of their way. He didn’t want to get into any of the drama. Then the next thing he saw almost made his eyes pop out of their sockets. The girl ran straight toward Jason—or maybe like flew at him— and they got in a tight embrace. Tears ran down her cheeks, and she kept mumbling Jason’s name. But Leo felt sorry for Piper. She just stood back in an awkward position. Imagine Leo in that position: He would’ve rather drowned in the lake than is Piper right now. He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She shrugged it off. Piper looked like she was about to cry. What would Leo do? What should Leo do? He didn’t really have any experience in these types of situations. Percy and Annabeth were walking away together, hand-in-hand. “I have to show you around,” Percy said.
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Reyna grabbed Jason’s hand. For once, she was smiling. “Jace, I have to show all that happened when you were gone.” They walked off as well. Now all that was left was Leo and Piper. Leo scanned across the crowd. He spotted a lot of pretty girls, but one just stood out. When their eyes met, the girl quickly looked down, her black hair falling over her face. Her hair was so dark that it shone like a crystal in the sun. (And that was actually true.) Beside the girl stood a buff Asian kid with a military buzz cut and a chubby face like a baby’s. He looked down at the girl with concern. “Am I really that charming?” Leo asked Piper. She didn’t respond. Leo looked for the girl again, but she was gone. Yep, Leo has done it again. I’m like the Mexican Cupid. “Uh-hum,” went a gruffly, old voice. Leo turned. A centaur stood before him. He had a bushy brown beard and the lower body of a horse—a horse that wore heavy cologne. He may have looked middle-aged, but his eyes showed more. They were intelligent, wise—ancient. Leo had almost forgotten that Chiron had come along with them. “Hey! It’s a centaur!” someone yelled. “CENTAUR!?” “W-where?” Everyone grabbed hold of their weapons—spears, clubs, maces, swords. Leo didn’t know what was happening. But he knew one thing: they were surrounded. Leo lifted his hands in surrender; Piper followed suit. “People of Rome, I come in peace.” “We know that!” said a tall, buff guy. He had curly black hair and his lips were a shade of dark red. In his hand he held a gold cup filled with red liquid—Kool-Aid? “But what about the centaur?” He took another gulp of Kool-Aid. “Now that’s good stuff.”

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Leo gave Chiron an uneasy look. Surprisingly, Chiron looked calm. It was hard for Leo not to be scared when an legion of armed Roman soldiers were surrounding him—even though it was the centaur they were after. Leo tried to play it cool. “Guys, we all know that centaurs are good. Right?” “Wrong!” Leo looked toward the direction of the voice. Out from amongst the crowd walked a tall, slim blonde dude with hazy blue eyes. He looked strict enough and of high honor, but the teddy bear that he was carrying messed up that image. “Wrong,” the dude said. He spoke in a way that irritated Leo; he reminded Leo of those people who thought they were always right, even when they knew they were wrong. “These graecus come to our camp as spies. I bet that Perseus Jackson fellow must’ve sent them.” Then the dude turned to face his brethren. He said in a loud booming voice, “We Romans know full well that centaurs are dangerous creatures. They destroy heroes like us.” Leo walked between him and the crowd. “No. You Romans got it all wrong. Centaurs are the good guys. They train heroes.” “Lies!” the dude spat. “These Greeks have come here to bring down our power and dominance. Maybe they have even more monsters on board. Maybe—” “I agree with Octavian!” spoke a calm but timid voice. The crowd gasped. Leo wasn’t surprised. This Octavian dude seemed like a Know-It-All. Who would agree with him? Then the boy walked forth. He was short but well-built. Were all the Romans buff? Leo thought. He couldn’t wait to meet a fat Roman for a change. The boy wore a purple Camp Jupiter T-shirt and a purple knit hat that made his straight blond hair to cover his eyebrows. The boy looked to the ground when he talked and hardly—maybe like never— made any eye contact.

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“I-I think that Octavian is right,” the boy muttered again. His voice was sort of high-pitched and he seemed no older than fourteen. Octavian looked throughout the crowd as more gasps were heard. He smiled a broad smile, and said, “Thank you, Alexander. At least, someone finally acknowledges my intellectuality.” Stifled laughter spread throughout the audience when somebody said, “What intellectuality?” Octavian’s face turned from pale white to tomato red. “Who said that?!” he roared. Everybody started whistling innocently; their eyes darted everywhere except in Octavian’s direction. Then someone finally walked forward. He looked a lot like Alexander, except older, taller, more lean, and confident. Probably they were brothers. “My brother Zander,” the boy began, “has the right to speak just like anyone of us.” Zander looked up at his older brother shyly. Leo saw something in the boy’s eyes—respect. “And by the way, Octavian, my brother’s name is Zander.” Octavian rolled his eyes. “Alexander, Zander. Same difference. Quincy, get on to the point.” “Yes, ma’am,” Quincy said. One side of Zander’s lips tilted upward in a crooked smile. The entire crowd burst out laughing. Octavian’s ears burned red. Leo noticed veins sprouting around his eyes. He knew that Octavian wasn’t someone to be messed with. “Anyway…my point is: Kill the centaur!” A mighty roar was heard from the entire crowd, like crashing down of a tidal wave. The Romans thrust their weapons into the air, and shouted, “’Kill the centaur! Kill the centaur!’” Then the sound like the buzzing of insects became very audible. Leo looked up and noticed that the sky was dotted with hundreds of deadly arrows. They sailed down at such accuracy that Leo thought—for just a second—that the arrows were headed for him. Then he remembered Chiron. Sure, many of the arrows might miss their mark, but there were still hundreds of other ones that might hit at something.
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Leo prepared himself for a mega fireball. He could just feel the heat rising inside his organs, his cells. His arms went ablaze and the crowd gasped once more. Leo blasted some of the arrows, but more kept coming. It was useless, he realized. Even if he tried Chiron still wouldn’t make it. Then the weirdest thing happened. Jason appeared. He swung his arm in an arc and the wind followed suit. It created a protective shield, deflecting all the arrows. “Huh?” was all Octavian could say as Percy tackled him to the floor. Percy brought up his fist—but Annabeth stopped him. “Don’t!” she said. “It’s useless.” Annabeth, grabbing a hold of Percy’s arm, pulled him away slowly. Percy smashed his fists, and pointed at Octavian, as if saying I’ve got my eyes on you. Octavian, still a little dazed, got up and did an act of dusting himself off. “Well, that was entertaining.” There was an awkward silence. Leo almost burst into Human Torch mode, when Chiron placed a hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay,” he said. “I’ll take it from here.” He was now in a wheelchair, Leo noticed, and wheeled himself to the front of the crowd. “Hey, what happened to the centaur?” a purple ghost shouted. Another purple ghost slugged him on the arm. “The centaur’s still there. He just…shape shifted.” This new looks made Chiron look twenty years older. His hair, eyes, face—they all were the same—but it was the wheelchair that changed it all. There were a dozen archers spotted around the hills, Leo realized. They must’ve been the ones who had shot the arrows. Then the crowd split into two again and Reyna walked through. She didn’t look too happy. Actually, she never seemed to look happy. “Lupa wants to have a word with you,” Reyna said. “Follow me.”

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Leo looked toward Chiron, but he nodded. Piper still looked sick, but she followed the rest of them out through the camp. Everybody’s eyes were on them as they walked through the crowd. Leo always wanted to be the center of attention, but never in this way.

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Chapter 2: PIPER
He loves me; he loves me not

Piper felt ill throughout the entire journey. She just knew that something bad would happen. Especially after the dream she had. It was during the journey. They had nothing really fun to do, but hang out, eat, and watch TV. But nobody was in the mood. And soon that got boring. So Piper just slept. But sleeping led to dreams, dreams led to omens, and omens led to disasters. In her dream, Piper saw Jason, handsome as ever. He looked nervous— almost like how she was feeling right now. And there was another girl; a pretty girl, who made Piper want to gag. The girl was seriously pretty. More like beautiful. And Piper knew exactly where this was going. She heard the girl say something: Jason. Jason spread out his arms, and the girl ran into them. And they just stood there, in a tight embrace. But what Piper hated was that Jason looked happy. No, it was deeper than that. He looked like he had been longing for something so badly—like when you lose something precious—and then you finally found it. Piper hated it. Ever since then she couldn’t think right when she was near Jason. What was the point? He already had a girlfriend.
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“Piper?” Jason said. “Wake up.” Piper’s eyes shot open, and she could feel herself blushing. Jason’s face was but a few inches away from hers, and his lightning-blue eyes were making her want to hug him. But she restrained herself. Jason already has a girlfriend, she told herself. There’s no point in acting like he didn’t. Piper got up suddenly, startling Jason. “Uh…I don’t feel too good.” Concern quickly etched Jason’s eyes. “Are you seasick? Queasy? Nauseous?” Piper forced a sympathetic smile. Go with the flow. “Uhh…I’m fine. Don’t need to bother. And I think queasy and nauseous mean the same thing.” Jason laughed quietly, uncomfortable. “Oh, okay.” And that’s how it had started. From meeting Reyna to walking through a thick forest just to meet Lupa—whoever that was. Jason was walking beside Reyna, hand-in-hand. He looked back at Piper, but Piper stared at her feet, not following his gaze. She could’ve sworn that she had tripped twice. Yet each time Leo had grabbed a hold of her before she could hurt herself. “Th—Thanks,” Piper said sheepishly, not making eye contact. Leo helped her to her feet. “Seriously, what’s going on with you? Is it Jason? Is it because of his hot girlfriend?” Piper grabbed Leo by his shirt collar. “Is she really that hot?! Is she really hotter than me?” Leo kindly pushed Piper away from him. “Um…I think you should ask Jason. Oh, look! They’re already way ahead of us.” And with that, he ran off, leaving Piper alone in the forest. Piper sat down, her knees tucked on her chest. The sound of screeching and the low growls of the tree animals accompanied her. Then she heard soft rhythmic thumps, like a horse galloping. And then: “Are you okay?” Piper looked up. It was Chiron, still in his wheelchair

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form. Piper looked back down, nodding. “You don’t look very cheerful. Is something wrong?” “I’m fine!” Piper screamed. “Okay? Just leave me alone.” She could hear the soft thumps as Chiron retreated with alarm. But he still asked, “Are you sure?” Piper could hear the hurt in his voice. She too was surprised. When did she start acting like this? Chiron said, “I’ve taught many mortal heroes, so I am not just a trainer, but a counselor as well.” Piper stood up. “I’m so sorry, Chiron.” Chiron thrust out his hand, and said, “I was figuring you might need these.” Tissues, Piper noticed. Chiron had brought tissues? Since when did centaurs carry around tissues? Piper pulled out a few anyway. She hadn’t noticed she was crying until she had touched her cheeks, causing the tissues to get damp. Piper forced a tight smile. “Thanks.” “You’re welcome, Piper. So why are you crying?” Chiron asked. Piper felt her eyes getting watery. She hated crying in front of others. Her grandfather had always called her a strong warrior. But right now, she wasn’t living up to his expectations. Even though he was dead, those words still meant something to her. Her dad had even called her that. Strong warrior. But she could still feel the tears coming. “Tissues?” Chiron asked. Piper nodded, and grabbed a whole handful. After many sneezes and blowing, Piper said, “Chiron, do centaurs cry?” Chiron shook his head “no.” “Lucky,” Piper said, grabbing more tissues, which didn’t seem to be doing much. “Actually,” Chiron began, “it isn’t lucky. Crying is a very helpful process indeed. It helps relieves tension.” “So you’re saying that you wished you could cry?” Chiron nodded glumly. Piper laughed. “And here I was thinking that—”

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“Piper!” Jason ran toward them. He looked out of breathe. The others were right behind him. “Oh, good. I thought we lost you.” Piper glared at Leo. “Well, you can all thank Leo.” “What?” Leo said, thrusting out his arms innocently. “At least I kept you from falling.” Piper walked over to him, and stared him in the eyes. “Thanks, Leo. Next time when I’m about to trip I’ll call you.” Piper pushed him lightheartedly. Leo ended up tripping over a loose root and falling to the ground. He blushed, embarrassed, as everyone started laughing. Then she looked at Jason. “So why’d y’all really decide to come back.” “Actually, we all decided to come back for you,” Percy said. “Any friend of Jason is a friend of mine.” “Actually, we came back because Lupa wasn’t at her hideout,” Reyna informed. She didn’t seem to care who heard that, or how they depicted it. Piper knew Reyna and her weren’t going to become friends. She still couldn’t believe that Jason could date someone so…insipid. Jason gave Piper a sympathetic look. Piper ignored it, and said, “So do we go back, or—?” A low rumble echoed throughout the forest. The demigods all exchanged nervous glances. There was metallic ching! as Percy and Jason drew their swords—Jason, his Imperial gold gladius and Percy, his Celestial bronze double-edged sword. Percy’s sword Riptide gave off a little light, but the growling seemed to be getting louder. Piper walked back—and fell into the arms of Leo. His hands were gentle and warm on her skin as he held her, like she was about to faint, which she sort of was. “W-what do we do?” Piper asked, nervously jerking away from Leo. “We wait,” was all Chiron said in a calm, even tone. Piper wished she could have that sense of ease. She felt for her dagger inside her pockets; the familiar cold metal alleviated her tension. In a quick motion, Piper pulled it from within her pockets. She stared at her reflection for a while, admiring how her thin, brown eyebrows slanted

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down elegantly, and the look of determination in her eyes. Strong warrior, she remembered. Yes, that’s what I am. The branches and shrubbery around them started to rustle and shake. There was such an empty silence that even the chirping of crickets was audible. (That was not a joke.) Then the growling ceased— And the beast lunged from the shadows. Piper was the first to scream. It was more like a warlike scream, like the ones when people-run-out-pumping-their-weapons-in-the-air type of scream. Immediately, Piper leaped into action. She thrust out her dagger in a clean arch. There was a satisfying rip when the blade connected with the beast’s skin, leaving a streak of blood. The beast turned, baring its fangs, its golden eyes big with fury. It slashed at Piper’s chest—but Piper was too slow to react. All she heard was Leo screaming “NOOO!” After that, she felt the impact; the force of blow knocked her to the ground. Surprisingly, the pain wasn’t as harsh as she thought. She tried getting up until she realized that a limp body was on top of her. Piper recognized the warm, gentle touch as the person’s arm brushed against hers. “I told you I got your back,” said the person. It was Leo. A small stream of blood trickled down the side of his mouth. “What…?” Piper said. She pushed Leo off of her—and noticed the four big rips on his back, blood leaking from them. She almost fainted again. Annabeth was already on the move, bringing out healing nectar. Piper rested Leo’s head on her lap; Annabeth bent down and slowly poured the healing nectar down Leo’s mouth. Leo’s eyes shot open. “What?” Then he noticed his position, his head on Piper’s lap, and said, “Well, hello, chica.” Piper pushed him away. Leo rolled over three times and then lay still a few feet away from the beast. Jason ran between the beast and Leo, shouting, “Stop! Lupa, this is Leo. He may be a graecus, but he’s still an ally.” Piper was shocked;

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Jason had never called them graecus. Last time she’d checked, that word had never come out of Jason’s mouth. “Graecus?” Piper asked. “Since when did you start saying that term?” “Actually, graecus means ‘Greek’,” Annabeth interjected. Piper couldn’t help but roll her eyes. She didn’t have anything against Annabeth, but children of Athena always seemed to get on her nerves. The beast strolled forward. It gave off a dignified aura, almost like that of Octavian’s, except hers was menacing. Lupa was a wolf that was a foot taller than Piper. She had gray fur that made her gold eyes to stand out more. Even being near her made any person want to move back and give some space. It was like I’m going to bite your head off was what she wanted people to know. “I came here because I smelled a centaur,” Lupa said, glaring at Chiron. “But Chiron’s a good centaur,” Annabeth said. “And I’m a good wolf,” Lupa shot back. Knowing that that was a lie, Annabeth went mute. “And what are the graecus doing in our territory?” “Lupa.” Jason dared not to look into her eyes as he spoke. “The Greeks are now our allies.” “What!” Lupa yelled. “Preposterous! The Greeks have always been our enemies!” “Uhh…Lady Lupa,” Jason began. “SILENCE!” Jason stepped back. “Reyna, you give it a try.” Reyna didn’t seem to listen. Piper wouldn’t have been surprised if she was eating popcorn right about now. Did Reyna care about anyone but herself? No. Piper was beginning to hate her more and more. I have to get Jason back…somehow. Lupa studied Leo like a lunch menu, deciding if a Greek soufflé would taste any good. Then she glared at Chiron, and said, “I don’t trust the centaur. But Jason, you have been my greatest pupil after Romulus and Remus. So I’ll believe you for now.” Lupa pointed her nose back to
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camp. “Let’s all meet in the praetor’s office. I’d like to discuss more on this topic.”

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Chapter 3: REYNA
Strange Afternoon

Reyna loved how this day was going. She was now reunited with Jason. Percy was happy. And the Greeks and Romans had finally become allies. That would help greatly in the war. But that Piper girl…Reyna didn’t seem to like her. She knew Jason and her had a close connection. But whatever the case, Reyna would keep a close eye on her. The demigods walked back to camp, Reyna and Lupa leading the way. Obviously, she knew the way since she herself was a praetor. And so did Jason. He and Lupa were already in a deep conversation. But Reyna didn’t mind. She’d rather have Jason talking with a rat than that Piper girl. Reyna stopped, and said, “This is the Principia. This is where the praetors’ offices are located.” “But aren’t the praetors like the leaders of the camp?” Leo asked. Reyna turned and faced him, looking him in the eyes. “The praetors are like the presidents. They are elected representatives of Camp Jupiter. But the true leaders of this camp are Lady Juno and Lady Lupa.” Lupa bowed her head in gratitude. “But if y’all are presidents,” Leo said. “Then why aren’t your offices bigger and fancier? You know, like the White House.” Reyna’s scowl deepened. So Octavian was right; the Greeks are stupid. Reyna said, “In New Rome, there is no such thing as fancy.” She added as much malice to the word, hoping that that would hammer into their little brains.

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“Uhh…Shall we go inside now?” Jason interjected. Lupa nodded, and Reyna guided them inside. “Here, allow me to me a gentleman and open the door,” Leo said, knowing full well that there was no door. There was just a hole in the wall. Or more like a rectangle in the wall. Above the door post the letters SPQR were engraved. Leo read out the letters, and then said, “What does SPQR stand for?” Percy started saying, “It stands for—” But Reyna interjected: “None of your business! You graecus are still not trustworthy.” “But—!” “No buts!” Reyna pointed to both the left and the right of the Principia. There were two smaller buildings located at the sides. “Jason, that one is yours, and that is my office.” Jason walked toward the left building. There was also letters engraved above the doorpost as well. Reyna almost slapped herself for being so stupid when Jason said, “But it says Percy on that building.” Jason turned to Reyna. “You never told me about this.” Reyna tried to keep up with her serious expression, but Jason’s burning blue eyes just made it too hard. “Okay, okay! Percy became the new praetor when you were…gone.” Reyna almost choked on that word. “I was going to tell you but I forgot.” She waited for Jason’s expression to change, but it didn’t. Then Percy said, “But we can still change it.” Reyna looked down shyly, and mouthed Thank you to Percy. Percy nodded. “Oh, okay,” Jason said. His face turned a dark shade of pink. “So…where were we?” Lupa walked into the Principia. “Come along, please,” she said. There was complete silence as the demigods followed her into the Principia. Reyna didn’t feel right about bringing the Greeks along. But as long as Jason was happy, she was happy. The demigods walked into the Principia silently. “Well, well, well,” went a voice. Standing on Reyna’s praetor throne was none other than
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Quincy. He had on his usual smirk. When they laid eyes, Reyna almost gasped. He was just like how her sister Hylla described him: silver straight hair that fell over his eyes, the lightest shade of blue for his eyes, and that ridiculous smirk on his face that showed off his glistening snow-white teeth. Why wouldn’t her sister fall for such a guy? But there was also another part of Quincy; the reason her sister had chosen to join the Amazons and never fall in love again. Quincy walked down from the throne, his arms outstretched in a kindly gesture. “Why hello, Hylla’s little sister.” Reyna was completely frozen in shock to have scolded him for calling her that. “Oh, and you brought friends.” Lupa growled and cursed him under her breath. Quincy ignored her. He faced the other demigods. “Jason, Percy, and the graecus,” he said as if recited a list. Jason got between Reyna and Quincy. Quincy was close enough to touch her, Reyna noticed. But she still stayed frozen like a statue. “Stay away from her,” he said, and summoned his javelin, “or you want to fight this baby.” Quincy chuckled lightly. He didn’t seem to be scared that a maneating wolf and a menacing blonde teenager were about to rip him apart. “My, my. Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” “Enough with the jokes,” Percy said. “What do you want?” “And why are you in Reyna’s praetor throne?” Annabeth asked. “And do I remember you from somewhere?” “LEO!” Everyone screamed. Leo thrust out his hands in surrender. “What? It may not be as important as yours, but it’s still a question.” “Please don’t bicker.” Quincy placed a hand on Piper’s shoulder. Piper shrugged it off. “Now this one’s feisty. Well, the pretty ones are always feisty.” Quincy winked at Leo, making him blush. Lupa growled again, baring all of her teeth. Too bad wolves didn’t have dentists, because needed one. “Quincy, this was supposed to be a private meeting. Now, tell us exactly what you’re doing here!”
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Quincy eyed her with fascination, his eyes like glass. “I came here to challenge Reyna for her praetorship. If she loses, then I become praetor, and Reyna can’t regain it for the rest of her life.” For a few long seconds, neither of them seemed to blink. Then Quincy did the stupidest thing ever: He walked away. It was like a reflex; one second, he was frozen, the next, he was walking away. Through experience, Reyna knew that Lupa hated being walked upon. So she wasn’t surprised when Lupa lunged herself at Quincy. Quincy had barely time to turn or react because soon he was on the ground. “Now, this isn’t very comfortable,” he said. “You can’t be serious!” Lupa demanded. Quincy seemed to think about it, then: “I think I am.” Lupa raised her paw and claws popped out from within them. She would’ve slashed Quincy’s beautiful face clean off if Quincy hadn’t melted into a pile of snow. Lupa looked around, and then: “Yoo-hoo!” Reyna looked up and saw Quincy hanging above them on the ceiling. Lupa growled again, and pounced. But Quincy disappeared again. Everyone flinched as pieces of the ceiling gave way and tumbled to the floor. Lupa looked to her paws in disbelief. “Where is he?” “Yoo-hoo! Over here!” This time, Quincy was sitting on a bench, a few feet away from them. He waved gleefully, as if thinking this was a joke. Percy unsheathed his sword, but Annabeth held him back. “This is Lupa’s fight,” she said. As if on cue, Quincy began to run away, Lupa at his heels. Finally—when the two had left—Reyna said, “Well, that was awkward.” Jason scratched his golden hair, thinking hard. “Well, that was definitely unlike Lupa. Something’s going on…something bad.” Then there was a grumbling noise coming from— “Sorry,” Leo said. “I’m starving.” Then a loud, blaring sound like that of a trumpet echoed throughout the camp.
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Percy smiled. “Dinner is served.” Leo was already running. _______________________ The Mess Hall was exactly how Percy remembered it. There was a 24/7 banquet going on. Ghosts flew all over the place in a massive frenzy, delivering pizza and nachos to their impatient customers. Percy felt sorry for them. The Romans were well-built, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t have a big appetite. Percy was surprised the Romans weren’t exploding in a shower of food. Man, could they eat. “Over here, guys!” Dakota stood a few feet away from them, waving. The demigods walked over to their preserved table. Leo was already there, ordering his lunch. Good thing the food was free or his bill would’ve been a mile long. And not even the gods could cover that. “Thanks, Dakota,” Jason said, punching him playfully on the arm, causing Dakota to spill some of his Kool-Aid. “Watch it, bro,” Dakota said. “This drink was made by the gods.” Percy didn’t see what the big problem, the goblet was already refilling with more Kool-Aid. “No, anyone can make Kool-Aid,” Piper informed. Dakota cradled the goblet as if it were a baby. “Don’t listen to him, sweetie. They don’t know what we’re made of.” “Kool-Aid. A powdered drink mix, the brand name formerly owned by General Foods, and today, Kraft Foods. The powdered form was invented in 1927 by Edwin Perkins. Edwin. Edwin Hubble. Inventor of the Doppler Effect Theory. Hubble Spacecraft.” Percy smiled as he turned to see Ella the harpy, perched on Tyson’s shoulder. “Brother!” Tyson exclaimed. Percy barely had time to react as Tyson gave him the biggest bear-hug in history. Annabeth walked over and hugged him, too. “I missed brother so much.” Leo said, “Now that’s what I call a bear-hug.”

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One of Annabeth’s eyebrows perked up a little. From experience, Percy hated that look. “And this is my bestest, bestest friend Leo.” “Leo is Annabeth and Tyson’s bestest friend.” Leo almost choked on his burrito as Tyson bounded toward him, and got him in an even tighter embrace. “Now that’s what I call a Tyson hug.” Annabeth gave Leo a mocking look. Leo’s hair was ruffled and he still looked like he was catching his breath. Everyone laughed. “Oh, hey, guys.” Percy immediately recognized that voice. And sure enough, it was Frank, Hazel at his side. Frank was wearing the purple Camp Jupiter Tshirt and baggy jeans. The baggy jeans didn’t really help with his image. Hazel was wearing a brown parka with a fur trim. Her brown hair flowed straight down to her shoulders. But she looked nervous. Her eyes didn’t seem to blink and she didn’t make any eye contact with anyone. Percy wondered what was wrong. And then he remembered. “Uhh, guys, these are my Greek friends,” Percy said nervously. He pointed to each of them as he said, “Piper, Chiron, Annabeth, and…Leo.” Annabeth said, “Hey. Percy’s talked a lot about you two.” “You’re Sammy,” Hazel exclaimed a little too abruptly. “You just have to be Sammy.” Hazel’s eyes looked like glass, and she blinked quickly now, as if holding back tears. “Uhh…?” Leo’s eyes darted from Percy to Jason, like he was waiting for an explanation. “Who’s Sammy?” They looked as clueless as he was. Percy sighed. “Okay, I’ll him.” “No!” Everyone looked at Hazel. Then, her voice a little louder than a whisper, she said, “I’ll tell him myself.” Hazel grabbed Leo by the arm and dragged him away. Leo made an attempt to reach for his burrito, but Hazel jerked him away. “But I never got to finish my burrito-o-o-o-o!” was all Percy heard before Hazel and Leo both walked out of the Mess Hall.
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Percy had to admit. This had been a very strange afternoon.

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Chapter 4: HAZEL
I love the person you aren’t

Hazel couldn’t believe it. Finally, after so many years, she had found Sammy. This just had to be him, she kept reminding herself, it just had to be. “So…?” Leo began. “Why am I here?” Hazel forgot that she was still holding on to him; she let go of his arm. “Do you seriously not remember me?” Hazel asked. She forced out every word, hoping it wasn’t true. When Leo shook his head “no”, she almost burst into tears. Leo grabbed her wrists and looked her in the eyes. “Look, I don’t what happened to this Sammy guy—maybe he’s my evil twin?—but whatever happened to him, I’ll help you find him.” Hazel choked back some more tears. Letting go of Leo, she walked away, and then just stood there, like a statue, gazing up at the stars. “You just don’t understand.” “Understand what?” Leo ran his fingers through his curly hair; he was confused. Should he be annoyed or sympathetic? “I’m not Sammy. My name is Leo Valdez, son of Hephaestus.” Hazel still didn’t look at him, but she felt the tears immediately coming down. She rubbed them away, but more kept coming, flowing down like rivers. Then she gave up, and faced Leo. “If you’re not Sammy, then GO AWAY! Don’t talk to me; don’t look—or make me look—at you.”

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Leo stepped back, as if she had slapped him. Hazel didn’t know how harsh she had sounded, until Sammy—Leo, whatever—walked away slowly, his shoulders slumped down in depression. Hazel reached out to call him, but soon his strides became longer, and, in a few seconds, he had entered the raging wave of people at the Mess Hall. What had she done? ____________________

Piper saw Leo walking back into the Mess Hall, Hazel not with him. His shoulders were slumped and she hated the way his playful was no longer there, as if someone had swiped it off his face. Immediately, Piper stood up. “Leo!” She placed a reassuring hand on Leo’s shoulder, but Leo shrugged it off. “My name’s not Leo,” he said. “It’s Sammy.” After that, he walked away. “Leo—Sammy—Leo!” Piper ran after him. When she was in arm’s length apart, she reached out and turned Leo around to face him. Astonishingly, he was crying. “Leo, wait.” “What, Pipes?” Leo said. Piper almost slugged him if he hadn’t been one of her best friends. Simply, she said, “Don’t call me Pipes.” Acerbically, Leo said, “Piper, I don’t know who I am. I don’t know who you are. This friendship thing—heck, my life has all been a lie. Hazel is saying that I’m not Leo Valdez. That I’m this kid named Sammy. Piper, you know me right. So who am I, and what am I to you?” Piper grabbed his hand, which was outrageously warm, but she didn’t mind, and walked him to a more private place to talk. “Look, the Leo I knew doesn’t care what others talk about him. He’s a strong, courageous leader.” “Are you sure about that?” Leo asked.
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Piper, without any volition, pulled Leo toward her, and gave him a hug. “Leo, I love you just the way you are.” In response, Leo spat. “Yuck! I got some of your hair in my mouth.” Piper pushed him away. “At least be thankful that someone actually cares for you.” “Uh-h-h, thanks…” Piper turned to walk away. “Whatever, Leo. Suit yourself.” “Wait, Piper.” Leo grabbed Piper by the shoulder, turning her, so that now he stared her in the eyes. “What now?” Piper said. “I just wanted to say thanks for always being there for me. Maybe Jason and our friendship might’ve been a lie. But ours won’t be. And…” Leo stroked his hand through Piper’s hair. He loved how soft it felt. “…your hair didn’t taste that bad.” Slowly, Piper pulled his hand away. “Well, that will be the last time you’ll be eating it.” “Oh, really?” Leo arched one of his eyebrows. “Leo, don’t—you—dare—” Piper never finished her sentence, because, just then, Leo dove for her. They fell over; Piper screamed as Leo landed on top of her. She could just imagine how awkward they looked, them both lying on the ground like that. “Well, well, well,” went a mocking voice, “if it isn’t the lovebirds.” Immediately, Leo righted himself. “Uh-hum,” Piper said. “Oops.” Leo picked her up to her feet. Standing before them was none other than Quincy. His hair and eyes glowed silver in the moonlight. Piper hated to admit it, but he looked beautiful. “What do you want, Quincy?” Leo asked. Quincy looked down at his fingers, as if drilling in more suspense. “I just wanted to say: Remember when I said that Reyna and I would be dueling.” Piper and Leo nodded. “Well, there won’t be a duel.” Then Quincy turned to leave, but Piper grabbed him. “What do you mean ‘There won’t be a duel’?”

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Quincy took a deep breath, vapor rising from his mouth. Piper was surprised, because that only happened when it was cold, but it was the middle of summer. Quincy said, “If you want a duel tomorrow, then you better go find Reyna. And, even if you do find her, let’s just say, it won’t look pretty.” “W-what did you d-do?” Piper questioned. Quincy shook her off of him. His crystal-clear eyes seemed to chill her to the bone. “That’s for you to find out.” And with that, he walked back into the Mess Hall, immediately swallowed up by the crowd. _______________ When Piper ran into the Mess Hall, screaming, “Jason, where’s the Jason?” all the heads turned. Percy was the first to stand up, therefore noticing something was wrong. He looked at Piper with concern. “Piper, what’s wrong?” Then Leo caught up, huffing and heaving like a thirsty dog on a summer day. He looked from Percy to Annabeth, his finger raised, as if he were going to say something. Instead, he fell on one of the chairs as if he had passed-out. “What’s up with him?” Reyna said with disgust. Obviously, someone was being a hater. “Forget him,” Piper said. “It’s Quincy we’re after.” Quickly, Jason stood up, his face red with contempt. He balled his fists, and said some pretty mala* words through gritted teeth. Annabeth clamped her hand over Jason’s mouth, and slowly walked away, saying, “I think he might want to go cool off.” Percy faced Piper again. His eyebrows were raised, Piper noticed, that they now hid under his longish black hair. “What about Quincy?” he whispered, forgetting that Jason was no longer here. “He said he was going to hurt Reyna,” Leo said. His voice came out in short gasps, Piper noticed, so he still must be tired. Piper was surprised. Most children of Hephaestus—or Vulcan, whatever—were usually buff, since they were always working in the blacksmiths’ place near Camp.
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But Leo didn’t seem buff at all. From now on, I’ll force him to eat healthier, Piper promised, keeping a mental note in her head. “That’s why we need to know where Reyna is.” Leo reached for some potato chips, but Piper swatted it away. “I just saw Reyna walk by,” Dakota said, pointing to the Mess Hall entrance. “She was walking out of the Mess Hall.” “Did you see Quincy?” Percy asked. Dakota shook his head. “Nope. Everyone knows that he’s really hard to find. You can only find him when he wants to be found.” Piper turned to Frank for help. Frank, shrugging, said, “Don’t look at me. It’s not like I can turn into a dog and sniff out her scent.” Piper almost slapped herself. Percy had once told her that Frank had the gift of shape-shifting; that he could become anything he wanted. What if he could do that now? Piper eyed Frank circumspectly. She said, “What if you could shapeshift into a dog and sniff out Reyna’s scent. . .” Frank looked around nervously, as if hoping that what was about to happen won’t. Leo stood up sanguinely. “If Frank turns into a Chihuahua, can I keep him?” Piper face-palmed herself. “Leo, how many times do I have to tell you? Frank is still human no matter what he turns into.” “Whatever.” Leo sat back down with a sigh. Piper knew she would never understand Leo. But hey, it didn’t hurt to try. Percy turned Piper around so he was now facing her. “Let me get this straight: Quincy did something to Reyna; we have to find Reyna; and to find her, we need Frank to turn into a dog?” Piper nodded. “Can this week get any weirder?” Percy asked. Piper, turning to Frank, clapped her hands, and said, “Well, we don’t have all day. Let’s get the party started.” _______________ Jason, walking out of the bathroom, felt like punching the wall again. But after many bruises from past experiences, he knew that that
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wouldn’t solve anything. “Finally, you’re out.” It was Annabeth. She was leaning against the wall, inspecting her fingernails. “Whatever, Annie. Seriously, I don’t have time to bicker. My girlfriend’s in trouble. Do you know how it feels to lose someone close to you?” Annabeth nodded. “Oh yeah, you do. . .” “Uh-huh.” Annabeth walked toward Jason with a smile. “As a matter I do.” Then, when Jason was within arm’s-reach, she punched him. Jason boiled over. “Ow! What was that for?” Annabeth, blowing her nails as if she had created a masterpiece, said, “That’s just a reminder to not call me Annie. Understood?” Jason nodded defiantly. “You’re even tougher than my girlfriend,” he whispered. “Aw-w, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.” Annabeth patted him on the back—hard. “Really?” Jason said, soothing his aching back. “No.” Annabeth drowned that one word in sarcasm. “Let’s go find your girlfriend, Blondie.” “Okay.” Jason began to follow her, then, stopping, he said, “Hey, you’re as much as a blonde as I am.” Annabeth whipped her hair over Jason’s face. Then she stared him in the eyes. Jason hated how her gray eyes seemed to scan you like an xray. He had seen that same feature on Reyna, but Annabeth’s was more intense. How did Percy deal with such a girl? And to think everyone feared Reyna. Well, she had some real competition now. Annabeth said, “I’m a smart blonde. You’re the other type. You know, the dumb, rotten, mental, idiotic, retarded, stupid—” Jason threw up his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, I get the point.” Annabeth walked away triumphantly, her hips swaying to the distant beat of the music coming from the Mess Hall. Hello, Jason! You already have a girlfriend! Jason slapped himself back to reality. His conscious was right. Reyna was his girlfriend, and he had to find her, even if it meant dealing with Mrs. Know-It-All for who knew how long. “Wait, Annie!”
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Annabeth stopped, her shoulders tensed. “You’re smart to keep your distance, Blondie,” Annabeth yelled over her shoulder—then she turned, her gray eyes flaring with rage— “because, if ever call me that again, your nickname will change from Blondie to Baldie. Understood?” Jason gulped. But he made a mental note never to stand ten feet near Annabeth ever again, or else Reyna wouldn’t be the only one needing saving. _______________ Frank hated every second of it. After today, he swore that he would never think of a dog the same way again. Shape-shifting always left a sort of tingling to his skin. But made it worse were his friends—their astonished faces, and Leo’s petting him. Guys, I’m still Frank! he wanted to say, but he knew that dogs couldn’t talk. And his senses. Every one of his senses had changed, either in a good way or a bad way. The room invaded his mind with a wave of unique smells. Especially…Leo’s. “Leo, move away!” Dakota ordered. “I don’t think the doggy likes you very much.” Frank growled at him, baring all of his teeth. Dakota, in the verge of petting him, retreated with alarm. “B-bad doggy! Bad Frank!” Piper, pushing both Dakota and Leo over, bent down on her knees, and gave Frank an uneasy smile. She said, “Well, what needs to be done needs to be done.” Then, patting her thighs, she called Frank to her. Even though Frank hated how she used that high-pitched voice like when you talk to a baby, he still obliged. “Okay…Now we need something that belongs to Reyna, something that might a lot of her scent on it.” She looked at anyone reassuringly, but no one returned her glance. “Anyone? Nobody?” Leo raised his hand. “Maybe we can ask Jason. I mean, he’s Reyna’s boyfriend and all.”

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Percy, eyeing the direction Annabeth had walked off to, said, “That reminds me: Where is Jason? As a matter-of-fact, where’s Annabeth?” he said uneasily. Leo got up laughing. “Do you really think Jason will you know—hit on your girlfriend?” Everyone laughed nervously; Dakota looked away shyly. He must’ve been Jason’s oldest friend, Frank figured, so he might know some things that we might not. Clapping her hands to get attention, Piper said, “Okay! Back to the topic! We have to find Reyna remember.” Frank, with his super-dog ears, could hear the quiver in Piper’s voice. Was she still thinking about what they’d said about Jason? Frank barked and then took off. I’ve found something! he thought, and took off. “W-was he supposed to do that?” Leo asked, but took off after Frank as well. _______________ “Nope, don’t see him.” Jason floated back down, landing light on his feet next to Annabeth. Annabeth crossed her arms over her chest. She said, “Did you look all over the Camp?” Jason scratched his head nervously. He didn’t know what to say. Everything he did got Annabeth mad at him. If he said no, Annabeth would make him seem dumb. If he said yes, Annabeth would make him seem dumb. It was a win-win situation. Or in other words, an Annabeth-Annabeth situation. Now Jason understood why he never got along with the children of Athena—Minerva. Finally, he admitted, “No.” Annabeth sighed dramatically. “Look, Blondie.” Jason, throwing his arms in the air, shouted, “See? You’re doing it again!” “Doing what?” Annabeth asked, her strict tone not changing. She tapped her foot on the pebbled floor, her lip curled up at the end in a rebellious way.

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[i] She is like Reyna, [/i] Jason thought. And she also reminded Jason of his older sister Thalia. Jason said, “You keep treating me like a child. Calling me—” “You are a child, aren’t you?” “W-well, yeah. But not yours.” Annabeth’s gray widened. They were pretty noticeable during the night. [i] Man, she looks like a goddess. [/i] The moonlight made Annabeth’s hair to flash like a neon sign. Even her gray eyes had an attractive glow to them. “What made you to think that, Blondie?” Annabeth. Jason had almost forgotten that they were still arguing. Since when did a girl make him zone-out like that? “There you go again!” Jason screamed. Annabeth threw up her hands in exasperation. “In the name of Hades, what am I doing?!” You keep making fun of me, that’s what, Jason was about to say, but went mute when he saw Annabeth’s eyes staring at him expectantly. She looked frozen, Jason noticed, with her mouth wide open and her bangs falling over her face. Finally, Jason said, “You know what? Just forget it. There’s no point—” Just then, Leo sprinted out from across the other end of the courtyard. “Guys, guess what?” He paused, and walked slowly toward the two, pointing an accusing finger at both of them. “What are y’all two doing…alone?” Both of them looked away quickly. “Nothin’!” they shouted in unison. Leo walked over, wrapping his arms on each of their shoulders, and pulled them close. “Don’t worry, guys, your secrets safe with me.” Then he pushed them forward. “But in the meantime, we have a damsel to save. So let’s go—[i] Vamos! */i+” “Finally, y’all get here,” Dakota said, winking at Jason and Annabeth, causing them to blush. “A little too late isn’t it?” Piper couldn’t hold it
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anymore; she punched Dakota on the arm. “Ow!” he shrieked. “What was that—?” After seeing Piper glare, he corrected: “Oh, yeah. Whoops.” His eyes drifted down to his shoes. But Percy knew what was going on. [i] Why were they late…? [/i] Percy eyed the both of them. Even Annabeth couldn’t meet his gaze. “Guys, we need your help,” he said. Then the demigods separated, showing off the glass coffin. And in it was none other than Reyna herself.

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Chapter 4: Annabeth
Extreme Twist

Her hair was sprayed out around her and her hands were placed over her chest. She would’ve looked like she was asleep if not for her skin being a deathly shade of gray. There was a sickening few minutes of silence. Nobody moved. Nobody breathed. Then, “So what do you think?” Everyone’s heads turned to the sight of Quincy, leaning leisurely against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest and the usual smirk was on his face. Jason, being the closest to him, was the first to react. He spun around, bringing out his gladius and pinning Quincy to the wall, his hand grabbing a hold of Quincy’s collar. “What did you do to her?” he demanded through gritted teeth. When Quincy didn’t respond, he pointed his gladius to side of Quincy’s neck. Quincy’s eyebrow arched and his cocky grin widened across his face. “If you let me go, then I’ll tell you.” But Jason didn’t listen. He almost decapitated Quincy if not for Piper. “Jason, wait!” Piper interjected. “I know you want to strangle him right now—believe me, we all do—but still, let him go.” With indignation, Jason obliged.

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Quincy, making a scene by dusting himself off, said, “Thank you, *i+ little girl */i+.” Piper stepped forward, but Leo held her back. “Man, I feel loved.” “Tell us what happened.” Jason still had the tip of his gladius pointed at Quincy’s chest. “Okay, okay.” Quincy paced the perimeter of the room. “Reyna is trapped inside that ice coffin because of me.” “We know,” Percy said. “And…?” Rolling his eyes, Quincy continued: “And, the only way to bring her back to life is…” His eyes moved from Jason to Percy. “…by *i+ True loves kiss */i+.” Leo raised his hand. “I’ll do it!” Piper slugged him. “You doofus! You can’t kiss Reyna.” “Ow!” Leo rubbed his arm. “I was just kidding.” Dakota said, “Piper’s right. She’s Jason’s girlfriend, so I think he should do the honors.” Everyone nodded. While Jason walked toward the glass coffin, Quincy waved his arm and the glass melted away like ice. Jason knelt beside Reyna, and, with a bow, kissed her on the lips. It was a short, reluctant kiss. But it still didn’t do anything. Reyna was still a lifeless lump. “Uh-h-h, nothing happened.” Leo faced Quincy. But Quincy just shook his head. “He must not be the ‘*i+ True Loves Kiss */i+’.” “B-but, he’s Reyna’s boyfriend!” Frank protested. He had returned back to his human form. Percy had forgotten that he was still here. “Uh-h-h, maybe Percy should try…” Dakota looked at his friends for approval. They didn’t meet his eyes. Even Percy couldn’t. [i] Me kiss Reyna?! */i+ Percy couldn’t believe it. He glared at Quincy before standing up. [i] That rotten ass bastard must’ve set this up. [/i] Percy didn’t look at Annabeth. He could feel her—and everyone else’s—eyes on him as he knelt down beside Reyna on her bed. Slowly, he moved his lips onto hers. They were ice cold, but tasted like strawberries. Last time Percy checked, he loved strawberries. That
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wasn’t good. He kept going, knowing that he was the one; the *i+ True Loves Kiss. [/i] Soon, he tried kissing became more fierce and Percy could hear everyone gasp. He felt Reyna’s body shift; her arms came up behind his neck. There was no turning back now. And surprisingly, he didn’t want to. When he kissed Reyna, everything seemed to be blotted out. It was like a battle, and Reyna’s lips were his opponent, who he gave all his attention. Without volition, his hands slid down her spine, and he held her. Her soft hair brushed against his face, and, for a second, their nose touched. Then Percy remembered that he wasn’t alone. He jerked away from Reyna. Both of their eyes opened and they stared at each other for a few long seconds. Then Percy stood up nervously. Everyone was still staring at him. He looked up at Quincy, but regretted every second of it. Quincy’s lips were in a thin line as if he were bored of their performance, but his eyes gleamed as if he were laughing at them. “Percy…” It was Piper. She reached out to touch him, but retreated. Now, everyone was looking at him that way. Like when you see a pretty flower and you’re about to touch, until you realized it’s poisonous. That’s how they all were looking at him. Jason, Frank, Piper, Leo, and Dakota. But where was Annabeth…? “She’s gone,” Jason said apologetically. Percy heard Reyna stand up. “W-what happened?” “Quincy,” Percy said. “Quincy has won. He’s like water finding shelter in a rock, until it becomes winter, and the water turns to ice, shattering the rock. That’s how Quincy is. That’s what Quincy has done. But now…it’s too late.” _______________ “Annabeth, wait up!” Annabeth faced Jason. Her eyes were red and she had tear-stains on her cheek. “I-I’m sorry for what happened earlier.” Annabeth choked back more tears. “It’s too late, Jason. It’s over. I’ve lost Luke and Thalia. And now, I’ve lost my best friend.”
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[i] She didn’t call me Blondie?! [/i] Jason pulled his hand through his spiky hair. He had never been good at these situations. “Look, Annabeth. Life never goes the way you want it to. It was so many upsand-downs. It might be going good for now, but that will never last. Take it from me. I bet you have more things than I do. Like a caring family. Or—” “Wait, you don’t have a family?” Annabeth asked, wiping away her tears. She sat down on a nearby bench. “Yep.” Jason sat down next to her. He placed his hand on the bench, but instead of meeting the bench, he met Annabeth’s warm, slender fingers. Surprisingly, she didn’t even twitch. “Just like you said, ‘you lost Thalia.’ So have I. And my mom was a drunkard. She died a nasty death.” “What did you do?” “I did what any normal person would do; I cried. But I got over it. Here, take a deep breath.” Annabeth gave him a puzzled look. “Just do it. See, isn’t that better?” Annabeth nodded. Then, “Jason, how’d you feel when you saw my boyfriend kissing your girlfriend?” “I admit, I wasn’t surprised. I have been watching them. I don’t why, but by the way they stared at each other, I knew.” He looked down at Annabeth. She looked small and frail; like a lost toddler. “That’s how I felt of you.” Annabeth looked up at him; her eyes wide, the moonlight making them shine like metal. “Well, I guess I have the same feelings too.” Then, all of a sudden, she lunged at Jason, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I’m so sorry, Jason. For whatever I did. Please, forgive me. I know I may be a bitch sometimes, but I didn’t mean whatever I said. Jason—” Jason pulled a sheet of her hair behind her ears. He didn’t know want to do. She was cradled on him like a baby that had been longing for its mother. He embraced her and, taking one final look at the Full Moon, said, “I’m sorry, too.”
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_______________ “So here you are.” Frank walked into the Temple of Pluto. It gave him the creeps, but he knew that it was the only way to meet up with Hazel. It had taken him a while to realize that she hadn’t been around for a long time. “Go away” was all Hazel said. She didn’t even turn or move a muscle. Frank was surprised; never in his life had he seen Hazel act this way. At least, she wasn’t mad at him. Frank walked up to her side. “Hazel, w-what happened?” “I said ‘GO AWAY’!” And then she threw it. It sparkled for a short period of time, and the next thing he knew, Frank was on the floor howling with pain. “What the fuck was that about?!” he exclaimed. He heard the tapping of footsteps, and soon Hazel was beside him. She pulled back his hand lightly—and reeled back with alarm. Frank couldn’t really tell what her expression was after that because everything looked blurry and the pain was excruciating. “F-Frank,” Hazel stammered, “I’m so sorry.” Frank, getting into a sitting position, stared the daughter of Pluto in the eyes—and in them was fear? Without volition, Frank grabbed Hazel’s hands, and laced his fingers into hers. Surprisingly, her hands were warm. But Hazel looked terrible. Her eyelashes clung together from crying, and there were tear-stains on her cheeks. Wiping away her tears, Frank noticed that Hazel’s nails were unusually short, as if they had been bitten to the roots. She’s gone insane, Frank thought, noticing her matted dark brown hair and supercracked lips. “Hazel, what’s wrong?” he finally asked. Without answering, Hazel fell on Frank and cuddled him like a teddy bear. Her breathing was raspy as she began to sob. Frank stroked her hair and pulled her head to his chest. And then she said it. One word that had been haunting Frank’s mind ever since their last quest: “Sammy.”
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The name that had haunted him ever since their quest with Percy; the one person who stood in the way of Hazel and his relationship: “Sammy?” He couldn’t help but repeat it. The name charred him to the bone. _______________ “Guys, we have to stop this mayhem!” Percy shouted, slamming his fist against his palm. “Quincy has broken up the family which we were once were!” Piper nodded. “I agree.” The demigods were inside the Fifth Cohort cabins. There was an awkward silence between them, as if none of them knew each other. Jason, Reyna, Percy, and Annabeth kept a good distance away from each other after all the drama that had happened a few days ago. “But where is Quincy?” It was Dakota. He stood up. And when nobody responded he sat back down. “Nobody knows.” Everyone turned toward the sound—and faced Bobby. He looked down at his feet, as if being stared at made him uncomfortable. He eventually said, “I meant to say: Nobody knows where Quincy is, unless he wants to be found.” Leo stood up and started pacing around the room. His hand was on his chin, and he looked like he was lost in thought. And then: “I’ve got it!” He sounded like a mad scientist. Piper pulled him to his seat. “Sit down, Leo. You don’t want to embarrass yourself…again.” Leo fought back to a standing position. He said, “But I actually got it!” “Got what?” everyone asked. “How to find Quincy.” Leo looked around like he was waiting for applause. Percy swore he heard a cricket chirping. “Just tell us already!” Dakota yelled. Piper almost face palmed herself.

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“Okay, okay.” Leo’s eyes were wide as he looked across the vast crowd. “Why don’t we just ask Quincy’s brother, Zachary, or whatever his name was?” Suddenly, the sound of clapping erupted the cabins. The place had been so quiet that some of the campers almost leapt out of their seats in alarm. Then Quincy walked forward, still clapping. “Bravo, bravo.” He walked toward Leo and stopped. His face was now a few inches from Leo’s. They stared each other down for a few long seconds. Nobody moved. Nobody talked. Then, Quincy said, “His name is Alexander. And if you lay one finger on him, then I’ll hurt you and your fellow cabin mates more than I have already.” Percy gulped. How more could Quincy hurt them? He’d already separated what they truly were—a family. And it would a long while for them to fix that. Percy hated to admit it, but Quincy wasn’t a man to be messed with. He wasn’t those super-buff-taller-than-you bullies. No. Quincy was someone who penetrated to your heart; he hurts you where it hurts the most. And that, in Percy’s opinion, hurt more than a thousand bruises. Leo took a step back. “Oh yeah, you and what army?” Dakota and Frank stood up. Already, Frank had an arrow pointed at Quincy; Dakota looked as if he were ready to throw his flask at Quincy. Percy doubted that a flask would do much damage. But Quincy’s words still flashed through his mind. ‘…then I’ll hurt you and your fellow cabin mates more than I have already.’ That all summed up to one thing: Percy had to end this fight. Too much damage had been done already. And as praetor he couldn’t stand to see anyone else get hurt. Quincy turned to Frank. “Are you really going to shoot me?” Even if it was just for a second, but Percy could’ve sworn Frank had twitched in defiance. He knew what he was about to do, but he couldn’t believe himself to do it. This wasn’t Frank. And Percy knew Frank knew that as well. His knuckles were bulging, and, Percy bet they could be seen from a mile away. This just showed how much pressure was going through Frank right now.
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Page 47 of The Mark of Athena

Percy shook his head, warning Frank not to do it. But would it work? Frank didn’t even seem like he had seen him. His head was bowed, and it looked like he was staring at his chest, searching for whatever courage he had left. “NO!” All of a sudden, Hazel ran into the auditorium. The first thing that went through Percy’s mind was: Man, she looks terrible. And that was the truth. Hazel looked like she’d gone through a hurricane; her hair was matted and very unkempt. Chapped lips, red-rimmed eyes, and dark rings below her eyes didn’t exactly help either. Percy didn’t need to be a genius to know something was wrong. “NO!” Hazel ran over and snatched the bow and arrow out of Frank’s hands. “Don’t do it!” She then turned and faced the crowd. “This has to stop! All of it!” “But, Hazel—!” “No.” Hazel dropped the bow and arrow to the ground, as if she were about to stomp them to bits. Percy could’ve sworn he heard Frank gasp. Then, turning to Quincy, she said, “What have we done? Why do you treat us this way?” Quincy’s mouth formed an O, as if he was about to say something. Then he stopped and stared at the EXIT for a few seconds, and then walked away. But not before saying, “You’ll find out soon enough.” Percy said, “Where have you been all this while? If you could make Quincy shut up, then we should go meet Octavian next.” Everyone laughed. “Uhem.” Heads turned as Octavian strolled into the room. Surprisingly, none of the campers had seen him since the day they had arrived. As he walked forward, he reached out and grabbed a teddy bear from one of the campers’ hands. “Everyone follow me to the temple (what’s that place called again?). I have just received a prophecy and—” A smile spread across his face “—I don’t think you’re going to like it.” Great. Right when we starting to make some progress.

David Kalu

Page 48 of The Mark of Athena

David Kalu

Page 49 of The Mark of Athena

Chapter 5: Hazel

Hazel was devastated. That had taken a lot to do. She hated screaming and she especially hated the surprised expressions on her fellow campers’ faces. Especially Percy’s. It was like he was looking at a monster. And now when Drew and offered her a makeover, she had been too dumbstruck to know what to say, so she had said yes. And now look at her. She couldn’t believe what she had done until she was staring at herself in the mirror. She had wasted hours of her life for…this. Drew walked out from behind her and asked her what she thought. Hazel was speechless. “It’s—it’s…umm…” Hazel stuttered. Drew sighed. “Let me guess,” she said, “you don’t like it?” Arms were crossed. Eyes staring at her curiously, as if anticipating what Hazel was about to say next. Not going to like it. “Well…how do I put it…?” Then Frank walked into the room. He said, “Hazel, I just came to tell you that—Whoa!” and then broke off. Quickly, Hazel stood up. Faced Frank. “What? What do you mean ‘whoa!?’” She almost shook him crazy, like she expected the words to randomly pour out of his mouth.

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Page 50 of The Mark of Athena

“It’s—you look—” “What?!” “Hazel.” Hazel felt Drew grabbed her by the shoulders. “I think he likes it.” Hazel could almost hear the excitement in her voice. But Hazel ignored her. Stared at Frank, trying to read meaning to what Drew had said. She said, “You…like it?” Frank nodded. He may not have noticed, but his face was red as a tomato. “You’re beautiful,” he confirmed. It sounded almost like a question. But Hazel wasn’t surprised. A few moments she might have looked like a monster. Why wouldn’t Frank be surprised? Hazel tilted her head to the side. Thinking hard. She didn’t really like the word beautiful. It sounded too good for her. Her entire life had been based around impressing her mother, the wrong person. At least, that’s she was being controlled by the wrong person. And that’s when it happened. Hazel had stopped the blackouts had stopped. But man was she wrong.

She saw her father and her mother. Arguing as usual. “Are you sure?” Hades asked, as if trying to make her mother, Queen Marie, to change her mind about something. Then Hazel realized that this was happening before she had been born. “Yes I’m sure!” Queen Marie exclaimed. She crossed her arms, as if to emphasize that that was her final decision. That’s my mom, Hazel thought. Stubborn as always. No wonder she had been so easy to be manipulated. Hazel remembered Annabeth saying personal loyalty was Percy’s fatal flaw. So being stubborn must’ve been her mother’s. But it could’ve also been greed, because that’s what had really started all of this. “Now hurry up and grant my wish!” Hades threw up his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay,” he said, before looking away, as if not believing he was about to this. Or scared of what might happen. He must’ve known that something bad would come out
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of this, Hazel noted. If she was still in her physical state, she would’ve clenched her fists. Don’t do it! she cried. But it was no use. This had happened before she was even born, and you can’t change the past. She watched as Hazel made a rainbow of black smoke in the arrow, which then wisped around him like a gown, until—he had vanished. Just like that. It’s finally going to happen. Those were the words that read from her mother’s face. NO! Hazel shouted. But again, no use. Just like her mother had said: It’s finally going to happen. And then the scene changed. Now it showed Hazel around the age of four. Her mom was kneeling down before her. She looked young back then. Young and happy. Hazel couldn’t remember the last time she had seen her mom like that. “Hazel, you are beautiful,” Queen Marie said, patting her on the head. Hazel couldn’t tell if that was genuine, but her younger self smiled. “You’re jewels have helped sustain us for so long.” Then Queen Marie did something that Hazel would’ve never imagined her do: she hugged her. Hazel mouth almost dropped. Was this really happening? Or was Gaea playing with her mind again? Since when had her mother done that? Loved her? Then the phone rang. Hazel’s mom walked over to answer it. She was no longer smiling when she came back. Her mom looked as if she was trying to remember something; something very important. And then she spoke: “No. No, this can’t be happening.” And then she paused, looked down at Hazel. Pointed an accusing finger at her. “You,” she said. Hazel was too young to know what was happening. But her real self knew. Hades had been right after all. And now Queen Marie was regretting her not listening to him.

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Her business had soared to its highest. Soon, Queen Marie’s dreams would soon come true. She would be rich, very rich. But that phone call had changed it all. BREAKING NEWS: An unknown death. That was what had been on the newspaper the next day. Even back then, word spread quickly. Queen Marie’s business, which had once been a major success, was losing many customers every day. Little did the customers know that the engagement ring that was meant for their fiancé, would soon lead to their funeral. In a few days, they would go bankrupt. Queen Marie was devastated. So she did what any human would do: she blamed someone; she blamed Hazel. And soon, that had become a habit. Anytime something didn’t go her way, Queen Marie would blame Hazel. “You’re beautiful” turned to “You’re worthless.” Hazel didn’t know what to do. Did she like being called those things? No. But it was still her mother. And, for some strange reason, Hazel believed that under all those bad words, Queen Marie still loved her. And she clung to that belief. But her mother also had hope. Her stubbornness was like a garden of rich soil, and, from that stubbornness, hope blossomed. It kept her going no matter what happened. It kept her focused on her dreams, her life-long goals of being rich. Then that garden grew weeds of greed. The weeds twisted Queen Marie’s mind, killed the hope flowers. Until there was only greed left. And those weeds spread and spread until they took over the garden, taking control of Queen Marie’s mind. Until she was completely led by nothing but greed. _______________

Miranda was a pleasant girl. She had lovely parents, a comfortable house, and great friends that truly understand her. What more could
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she ask? Well, besides her dream of meeting Justin Bieber, Miranda was grateful. Her school, Carpenter High School, was not too big, but yet, not too small. She had a good reputation at school with both her teachers and her classmates. But little did she know that that all would change. Right now, Miranda was driving on Normal Road, but soon that road would lead to a U-turn into the life of a demigod. But first, Miranda had to conquer yet another day of school. Miranda didn’t hate school; she wasn’t like those other kids who always said school was “boring.” But school wasn’t boring for Miranda. She just didn’t feel like she belonged. Besides being the most popular girl in her grade, having boys drooling at first sight of her (okay, that didn’t come out right), and always being the center of attention, Miranda still felt like her life needed…more. And today was that day…. “Class, please welcome our new student, Alexander Groves the Fourth,” Mrs. Lucskinski announced. Miranda wasn’t really paying much attention. Then again, she never really did. She was either too busy grooming her hair or fixing her makeup (which really didn’t need fixing at all). Miranda didn’t know why she did that. Probably to impress her friends. But it still did not feel like her. Miranda was different, and she knew it. But little did she know that Alexander boy was the key to her finding out her true self. _______________ “Is she doing well?” “I don’t know? What happened to her?” Hazel heard voices all around her. When she sat up, she noticed that a crowd of demigods were crowded around her. “Whoa!” Hazel screamed, bringing her hands up defensively.

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Page 54 of The Mark of Athena

Frank grabbed her by the wrist. He must’ve lost trust with her holding any type of throw-able object. Hazel could imagine how much pain he was going through. But she pushed that thought aside. The past is the past, she told herself. Finally, Frank let go of her wrist slowly. His eyes were still locked on her though. He said, “It’s okay, guys. Hazel was just having one of her black—” Hazel got up and shoved Frank into the wall, holding his shirt by the collar. Frank’s eyes were wide with astonishment, his mouth agape. But Hazel was more surprised herself. Until anger began to rise up. “I told you not to tell anyone that!” she screamed. Frank was about to say something—probably another one of his dumb excuses—but Hazel didn’t give him the chance; she stormed out of the room, but not before saying, “I used to trust you Frank, but now that trust has been broken…permanently.” (-Awkward silence-)

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Page 55 of The Mark of Athena

David Kalu