So good news: it hasn't been a full year since my last update. Bad news: it's nearly been a full year since my last update. Yeah, sorry about that. Anyways, I hope you guys all enjoy this chapter and hopefully the next one will come a bit quicker.
Chapter 13: Psychosis
Piper dreamed of a meadow. This meadow was wide and fair, beautiful and lush. Flowers of every kind and colour grew wildly and freely across the meadow. It was warm and the sun was bright and loving when it shone. When it rained, it was a cheerful rain. A rain that made you feel like a little kid, wearing your rain boots and splashing through puddles as your parents watched with smiles on their faces.
And when the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun beamed down with a smile. The flowers opened and the meadow was set alight with a radiant glow. Everything was peaceful in this meadow. Everything was right in this meadow. Everything was frail.
Piper sat in this meadow, eyes alight with wonder and possibility. She held the flowers to her nose and breathed in their assorted aromas. A calm and satisfied look about her face, she gave a contented smile and settled down for a nap.
Then everything broke. The flowers began to turn brittle and grey. A strong wind blew in from all directions and pulled the petals from the stems and scattered them into the air as they shrivelled up and began to die.
Piper awoke and her lungs were filled with a dry, unpleasant air. She looked in horror as the meadow decayed around her and great trees bent over from all sides, their branches twisting and tangling above her, blotting out the sun.
She sat with her legs held close to her chest, her arms round her shins and her forehead resting on her knees. Tears fell from her eyes as the world seemed to close in around her, the last of the flowers waning and dying as it did so. A new reality was born before her and now she realized how lonely she truly was.
It began to rain. The rain was cold and dark. It chilled her skin and deepened her sorrow. She turned to face to the sky and her lips let loose a long wail.
Piper screamed as she awoke. She fell off the couch she was lying on and landed hard on the floor. Her breath came in frantic gasps and she found that she was crying.
M'gann got up, sleepily. "Piper? What's going on? Are you okay?"
Piper turned to look at her and M'gann recoiled at the hollow look in her eyes. "Piper. What happened? Did you have a nightmare or something?"
Piper shook her head. "I don't know. I don't know what that was."
M'gann opened the doors of the van and looked outside.
"It's still dark." She closed the doors and turned back to Piper. "Try and get some sleep, Piper. You need it for tomorrow."
Piper shook her head. "No. I can't sleep again. Not after that."
M'gann nodded slowly. "Okay. At least try to rest."
She laid back down and Piper sat down on the couch, leaning back against the wall. Her eyes went to Jason on the table. His skin was deathly white and his blonde hair looked stringy and dull.
Piper bit her lip. What the heck was that?
Mrs. O'Leary broke through the shadow of two trees and emerged in Gotham Park. Robin and Nico breathed a sigh of relief and looked around. It was night and the stars were very clear above them. The park was deserted and the two boys sat down on a bench as Nico dismissed the hellhound.
"So what's the plan?" Nico asked.
"First," Robin replied, "I need to speak with Batman. Do you have a place to stay in Gotham?"
Nico hesitated. "Uh, sort of. Me and Percy were staying with a friend of ours named Dick Grayson."
"Great. Do you know how to get there?"
"Yeah. I think so."
"Good. Stay there for the night and I'll meet you back here in the morning. Then we'll search for Percy."
Nico nodded. "Okay."
Robin watched as Nico ran off towards Wayne Manor. Then he made his own way there, atop the rooftops of the city. He got there first and entered the Batcave. No one was there. He removed his uniform and went up the elevator.
"Alfred!" He called. "Al, I'm home!"
The butler appeared from the kitchen. "Ah, welcome home, Master Dick. I trust your trip to San Francisco was productive?"
Dick shook his head with a slight chuckle. "No, not really, Alfred. I got some answers but not entirely to the questions I wanted answered. By the way, Nico will be coming back tonight; make sure he's comfortable."
"What about the other one?" Alfred asked.
"Percy? Oh, he'll turn up. Hopefully. Is Bruce home?"
"Not at the moment. He's on patrol."
Dick nodded. "Okay. I need to talk to him. Could you let him know I'm home when he gets back? I'm gonna get some sleep."
"Of course, Master Dick."
The doorbell rang just as he went upstairs. Alfred went and opened the door. Nico stood there, looking dishevelled and grumpy as always.
"Ah, Master Nico, welcome back. It's good to see you again."
Nico nodded slightly. "Thank you. It's good to see you too. But please don't call me Master."
Alfred smiled curtly. "As you wish,"
Nico removed his shoes and Alfred directed him upstairs. "This way, please. In case you've forgotten."
He led him to Nico's old room which was freshly cleaned and aired. "Your room, sir."
Nico smiled. "Thank you."
Alfred nodded. "My pleasure. Is there anything else you'll be needing tonight?"
Nico shook his head. "No. Thank you, Alfred."
The butler smiled again and left. Nico closed the door and sighed. Then he collapsed onto the bed and slept.
Dick woke up early the next morning and went downstairs to the Batcave. Bruce was sitting there at the Batcomputer, his hands folded together in front of him as he brooded. His eyes were tired and he was still dressed in his Batman uniform.
"Have you been out all night, Bruce?" Dick asked from behind him.
Bruce nodded without turning. "Yes."
Dick sat down on the desk to the side of Batman, facing him. "You should sleep."
"I will. How was San Francisco? Alfred told me you were gone."
"It was fine, I guess. I solved the mystery of the golden dust."
Bruce looked up at him, sharply. "Did you? Hmm. Care to elaborate?"
"I think I'd rather hear how much you know about it first."
Bruce paused then sighed. "I know very little; only what Diana would tell me."
"Wonder Woman told you? She was the dear friend?"
Dick smiled. "I suppose that makes sense, doesn't it; with her being an Amazon and all. So, what did she tell you?"
"Diana told me to never pursue the idea of the whereabouts or modern deeds of the Gods of Olympus. She said that if I did, I would antagonize them and cause them to attack. They don't like us mortals getting involved in their business."
Dick chuckled slightly. "Well, I'm pretty involved already."
"What do you mean?"
"Those guys who were staying here, Percy and Nico? They're demigods."
Batman nodded. "I know."
"Speaking of Percy," Dick said, "What did he do to get put in Belle Reve?"
Batman sat back in his chair. "He nearly destroyed Happy Harbour."
"Are you sure? I spoke with several of his friends and they all stated that Percy was a hero and didn't deserve what he got."
"The issue isn't whether he's a hero or not. The issue is that he's dangerous. He needed to be put away."
"But wouldn't that antagonize the gods? Imprisoning one of their own probably wasn't wise."
"Well, it doesn't matter now. His imprisonment didn't do much good. He broke out within a day."
Dick's eyes widened. "He escaped Belle Reve?"
Bruce nodded. "I sent Artemis and Kid Flash to go after him. I haven't heard back from them yet."
Dick stood up. "I have to go after them."
He began walking away but Bruce grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back. "Don't get involved with that demigod, Dick. He's dangerous. To be honest, I don't know what to do with him."
"He's my friend." Dick said defiantly.
"He may be Dick Grayson's friend. But he won't trust Robin."
Dick smiled. "Yes he will. I have insurance." He continued walking.
"Insurance? What do you mean?"
"I spent a lot of time with the demigods, Bruce. I have earned their trust."
Bruce looked at him with steely eyes. "Dick. You must be absolutely sure. They may trust you, but do you trust them?"
Dick went into the elevator then turned back. "One or two." He said.
Batman sat back down with a sigh. Dick came out of the secret elevator and went to the breakfast table. Nico was there, eating a boiled egg.
"Nico!" Dick said with a smile. "You came back."
Nico turned to face him. "Uh, yeah," he said awkwardly. "Hey, Dick."
Dick sat down. "Where's Percy? Did you find him?"
Nico shook his head. "No."
"Oh," Dick said with fake disappointment. "That's too bad. Maybe he'll turn up at school today."
"Yeah, about that. I'm not going. I have somewhere to be this morning."
Dick nodded. "Okay. That's fine. I guess I'll see you this evening then."
"Yeah, sounds good."
Nico finished his egg and headed out the door. Alfred came to clear away his spot at the table and placed Dick's breakfast in front of him.
"Will you be joining him, Master Dick?"
"Eventually. I wanna see how patient he is. I'm gonna go to school today. I'll meet Nico as Robin later on in the morning."
He shovelled down the food and got up from the table. "Thanks for breakfast, Al."
"You're welcome, Master Dick."
Dick pulled on his school uniform upstairs and then jogged out the door where Alfred was waiting with the car.
"Gotham Academy, Master Dick?"
Dick smiled. "You know it."
Percy twiddled his fingers as he sat in the red, comfy armchair. He was leaning forward, elbows on his knees. His hands were untied. Across from him sat Wonder Woman. Her long legs were crossed and she sipped from a cup of warm coffee. She stared at him with interest and slight amusement at his fidgeting.
"So…" he offered awkwardly, "You like coffee, huh? Wouldn't have expected that."
She continued to look at him. Then smiling, she replied. "I've come to enjoy a lot of things since coming to the world of man. Coffee is but one of these things."
Percy nodded. "Makes sense." He cleared his throat and went silent, looking around the room absentmindedly.
"You probably want to know how I know your name." She said.
"Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah. How do you- how do you know my name?"
"I have heard many tales of your exploits, Perseus Jackson. Everyone in the Greek world has. You have accomplished great things at such a young age. It's incredible."
Percy pursed his lips and stared at the ground with embarrassment. "Uh, thanks. I didn't think you'd really care about what I've done, being in the Justice League and all. You save the world all the time, right?"
"Hmm. Perhaps. But I have not forgotten my roots. The world of the gods is my home. I care about what happens to it. And I thank you, for all you've done to protect it." She bowed her head slightly. "It is truly worthy of honour."
Her looked at her strangely. "You're different," he said. "Pretty much all the gods don't even mention what I've done. Much less honour me for it."
She nodded. "I would have assumed as much. They are ridiculously proud and arrogant. They don't like being in debt to someone else. I am different. I am a warrior, just like you."
"No, you're the warrior. We've all heard stories about you. You're legendary. You're like, the ultimate inspiration for us. You're a demigod, but you're fully integrated into human society. You're a hero to them."
She looked at him warmly. "And you can be too."
"What do you mean?"
"I know about your quest to defeat Klarion. We've battled him in the past but he's always escaped us."
"Wait. You know everything? Like how we're supposed to team up with the young heroes and stuff?"
"Yes. I am the only Leaguer that knows. Hermes told me to keep it a secret from them."
"This is great! You can help us."
"Indeed. I know you have been making progress with the Team yourselves, though."
Percy laughed awkwardly. "Yeah, not really."
"They brought you here to meet me. That's something at least."
"I suppose so. What about the League? Will they help us?"
"They will be harder to convince I'm afraid. I don't think they'll take kindly to the thought of gods that are out of their control. Batman, in particular, is quite wary of them."
"I can understand that," Percy said. "So what happens next?"
"You need to bring both your teams together. Right now, you're scattered across the country. There can be no more fighting between you. Your team in particular has lost much."
Percy looked down, thinking of Annabeth. "Will she be okay?" He asked.
"In time, yes. But for now, she must remain where she is."
"Where is she?"
Percy sat back. "I would've liked her to have been at Camp Half-Blood."
"You know the Romans are better healers, don't you?"
"Yeah, I know. But she needs her friends around her. She needs me." He sighed. "I wanna put this quest on hold so I can be with her. Jason or Nico can lead the quest until I return.
"Percy." Wonder Woman took his hand in hers. "She'll be fine. She will recover. But this quest cannot be delayed. For all the time you have wasted, Klarion has only grown stronger. You must unite the heroes. And you must do it now. I will do what I can to convince the Justice League, but you must continue with the mission. This is your quest, Percy. No one can do this but you."
He took a deep breath and swallowed. "Okay. I'll do my best."
She smiled. "I know you will." She stood up. "I must leave. I will tell Artemis and Kid Flash to trust you. Do everything you can to earn it."
Percy nodded. "I will. It was nice to meet you, Wonder Woman."
"It was nice to meet you as well, Percy. But please, call me Diana."
He smiled. "Okay."
She turned. "Farewell."
Piper sat on the couch beside Jason as M'gann prepared a light breakfast. The Martian girl was solemn but still remained her bubbly self as she cooked.
"Tell me why we have to eat?" Piper said with annoyance, "We're wasting time."
"Well, I'd prefer to do this on a full stomach. We're gonna be in there a long time and I don't want my body to go hungry."
Piper sighed. "Whatever." She hesitated. "You've been talking this whole time about going into Jason's mind. What does that mean exactly?"
M'gann set down a plate of canned food in front of Piper and sat down with her own. "Basically," she began, "every person's mind is its own little world. It's a representation of that person's memories and psyche. That world could be anything but most likely it is a place that holds great significance to them."
"So it's an actual place in real life?"
"In theory, yes. But the mind sets up barriers, particularly in a broken mind like Jason's. Many times these barriers are represented as people from the person's life who will protect them. But all they're really doing is blocking out any healing to the mind."
"So you're saying we'll meet people from his life in there?"
"It's highly possible. But we cannot be distracted by them. They're not real, they're only projections of his psyche."
"What do we do once we get inside?"
"We have to repair his mind from the inside. Depending on the place, that could mean anything. The easiest thing I can think of is finding Jason. He'll be in there somewhere, broken but conscious. If we can get him to help us, it'll make things a lot easier and quicker."
Piper nodded and set aside her empty plate. "Well, I'm ready when you are."
M'gann swallowed deeply and bit her lip. "What's wrong?" Piper asked.
"I'm really nervous. I've never done something like this before. All that stuff I told you I learned from my uncle. I don't know if I can do this."
"Yes, you can." Piper took her hand. "I believe in you. I trust you. You can do this. We can do this."
The two girls looked each other in the eyes. They both nodded. M'gann kept hold of Piper and placed her hand on Jason's forehead.
"I'll see you inside," she said.
"Yeah," Piper replied determinedly. "Let's do this."
M'gann's eyes went white and the room faded.
Dick stepped out of the car, thanked Alfred and began walking up to the school. He went through the entrance and made his way to his locker. Sydney and Maria were standing together nearby and they came over when they saw him.
"Dick! Where have you been?"
"Uh, sick," he said.
"Aww, that sucks. Was it bad?"
He shook his head with a smile. "Nah. Just a long cold."
"Do you know where Percy is?" Sydney asked.
"And Nico!" Maria added, "The last time we saw him was when that punk girl took him away a few days ago."
"Well I saw Nico this morning but he said he's not coming to school today. And I don't really know where Percy is."
"He hasn't been to school in a long time," Sydney said. "I hope he's okay."
"The last I heard of him was that his girlfriend got hurt. Maybe he's with her," Dick reasoned.
"He has a girlfriend?"
"Yeah. Her name's Annabeth."
"Does she go to the school?"
"No, she lives in San Francisco."
The bell rang. Dick turned to leave. "I guess I'll see you two later. But I'm probably going home early, though."
"Oh, okay," Sydney said. "Uh, bye Dick!"
The three friends waved goodbye and Dick rushed to his first class. Sitting at his desk, he thought for a while about some of the clues he'd gotten at Camp Jupiter.
Nico kept mentioning a quest and then he got quiet about it whenever I was around. Are the demigods planning something? If Bruce is right, then I probably shouldn't get involved. But I'm still intrigued. I guess I could ask Nico about it. I'd better get over to Gotham Park fast.
The first class ended and Dick quickly excused himself from school. In a nearby Zeta Tube, he got to the Batcave and suited up in his Robin uniform. He struggled to fit inside. Yeah, I definitely need a new suit. Kinda grown out of the yellow and green though. Maybe black would be better. And blue. Yeah, black and blue would be sick.
He looked around for Bruce and then jumped into the Batmobile. Firing the engines, he blasted out onto the open road. He made his way swiftly to the park.
Nico was sitting under a tree, his arms crossed and a scowl on his face as he glimpsed the Batmobile turn a corner in front of him and come screeching to a halt beside him. He stood up as Robin got out of the car.
"If you think your entrances are gonna impress me, you should just stop."
Robin smiled. "Hey, come on. It's the Batmobile. I can't not make a cool entrance."
"Hey! Anyways, let's go."
"To look for Percy."
"I thought you were the kinda guy who always has a plan."
"I am. My plan is to let my whelmingly awesome detective skills do all the work."
"Are you retarded?"
"Just get in the car."
Nico sighed and sat down in the passenger seat. Robin started the engine and they peeled away into the city.
"So where do we start?" Nico asked.
"Well, I don't know if I told you this but Percy was taken to Belle Reve Penitentiary."
"It's a maximum-security prison designed to contain supervillain metahumans."
"People with powers."
"Okay. Why was Percy there?"
"Apparently he destroyed Happy Harbour with lava."
"You knew about that?"
"Of course I did. Piper told me when she got here with Annabeth and Jason. I just didn't think he'd get in trouble with mortals for it."
"He destroyed a town. How could he not get in trouble?"
"I don't know," Nico said irritably, "It's just never happened before. We've always gotten in trouble with the gods, not really anyone else. Well I guess Percy gets in trouble with people a lot but whatever. Anyways, are we gonna rescue him from there or something?"
"Nope. He escaped."
Nico smirked. "Of course he did. Any idea where he is?"
"Batman said he sent a team after him. I wanna contact them and see if they have him."
"Percy won't be caught so easily."
"Well the team Batman sent is pretty good at their job too so you never know."
"Who'd he send?"
"Artemis and Kid Flash."
Nico laughed. "You're gonna need a lot more than that to catch Percy."
Robin smiled too. "We'll see."
Suddenly his communicator on his wrist began beeping. He answered it. "Robin here."
"Hey, buddy!" said a youthful voice.
"You know it, dude."
"Hey, man! What's up?"
"We got a guy here at Mount Justice. Says he knows you."
Robin exchanged a vindicated look with Nico who crossed his arms and looked away.
"Oh, yeah? What's his name?"
"Percy Jackson. Know him?"
"Oh yeah, I know him."
"Wonder Woman came and talked to him. She says that we should trust him. He's asking that you come over here right now."
"Okay. I'll Zeta right over. See you in a bit."
Robin turned off the communicator and grinned at Nico. "Well, they got him."
Nico shook his head. "Frickin' Percy."
"You can chew him out when we get there."
"How are we gonna get there? And what's a Zeta?"
Robin smiled. "You'll see."
He drove into a warehouse and parked the Batmobile. Then he led Nico outside into an old phone booth. They got inside and Robin pressed a button. A computerized female voiced answered him.
"B01. Robin. A21. Nico di Angelo."
"What's that?" Nico asked loudly.
"That's the Computer. We'll be there in just a few seconds."
A yellow light engulfed them and they were sucked into a large tube. It went by extremely fast and they emerged into a vast room with rock walls and an expansive circular platform in the center of the room. Three people stood waiting. One of them was Percy. He grinned and began walking towards them.
"Hey, guys. You made it."
Piper's vision was murky. It was like she was underwater. Everything was there just not clear. She reached out to touch something tangible. The air around her was thick and heavy. It was difficult to move. She fumbled around her, looking for some purchase.
"H-help. Help me. I can't see!"
Suddenly she felt her eyes being covered. She struggled but M'gann's voice calmed her down.
"It's okay. It's okay. It's me. Here, let me help you."
She removed her hand and it was like a veil was lifted from Piper's eyes. Everything became clear.
"Woah. How'd you do that?"
"I adjusted your mind to take in new information."
Piper looked around. The two of them stood in the center of a ruined city. Columns and buildings were collapsed around them and the ground was splintered and cracked under their feet. The grass was all dead and the atmosphere was oppressive and hot.
The sky was dark and forbidding. The architecture was familiar to Piper but she couldn't place it. The stone was the colour of sand mostly but there were some marble ruins as well. She placed her hand on a broken column.
"What happened here?" She asked.
"This is a reflection of Jason's shattered mind," M'gann replied. "This isn't real."
Piper spun around slowly, taking it all in.
"This place… I think I know what it is."
She regarded the western reaches of the city and glimpses large structures also in ruins on the top of a hill. "Those look like… like temples. I think I know where we are. Yeah! This is New Rome."
"Yeah, you know like in Camp Jupiter."
"Oh, yes. I never went there but I heard of it."
Piper sighed. "So this is how he perceives his mind, huh?" She grimaced sadly. "Where do we even begin? This entire place is in ruins."
"Hey, remember what I said back in the van? We need to find Jason and convince him to help us."
"Oh, right. I'd forgotten about that. This place is just so overwhelming."
"Well, you know the place. Where should we start looking?"
Piper squinted, "I don't really know…" She trailed off. Her eyes were fixed on something to the south.
"What is it?" M'gann asked.
"That forest. You see that over there?"
"Yeah, what about it?"
"It's not supposed to be there."
The two girls began heading in the direction of the woods. They worked their way through the ruins, stepping over fallen stones and slabs and crawling under cracked arches and canopies.
Suddenly they turned a corner and saw a girl. She was a little older than they were with long black hair and a regal face. She was dressed in Roman armour and bore a long sword in her hand.
Piper stopped as the girl stared threateningly at them.
Reyna lifted her sword with a snarl and charged. Piper rolled to the side just in time. M'gann dodged as well.
"Reyna, stop! What are you doing?"
"Piper, she's not real! It's a vision!"
Piper drew out her knife. "Sure looks real." She began advancing slowly towards Reyna. She spoke, putting some Charmspeak into her words. "Reyna? Reyna, it's me, Piper. I think you should put down that sword. I think you need to sit and rest. You're looking tired."
"Piper, there's no reasoning with it, she's not real!" M'gann said desperately.
Reyna yelled and attacked Piper; who once again dodged. Then Reyna unleashed a powerful sidekick that launched Piper into a wall. She grunted with pain.
"Well, that sure felt real."
"They can only hurt you if you believe they're real. You have to stop fighting it."
Piper parried a swipe from Reyna's sword with a dagger and backpedalled furiously as the Praetor pressed her advantage. Suddenly she tripped on a rock and fell onto her back. Reyna stood over her, sword raised in a killing stroke.
"Don't fight it!" M'gann yelled.
Piper took a deep breath and closed her eyes, laying her dagger to the side. Nothing happened. Tentatively, she opened her eyes again. Reyna was gone. She got up with confusion.
"What happened? Where'd she go?"
"She disappeared because you knew she wasn't a threat. Now Jason's mind knows we are here to help. Hopefully we can convince him of the same fact."
"That shouldn't be too hard," Piper said with a smile. "Jason knows me. He knows that I'm always there to help him."
"I pray you're right."
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"It's possible that Jason won't even remember you until enough of his mind has been restored. If that is the case, then in order to win his trust, you may have to make him love you all over again."
Piper breathed deeply and steeled her eyes. "I'll do whatever it takes to bring him back." She turned to the forest. "Let's go."
The two of them continued on. They met no more mental barriers. In fact, it seemed like the way was opening for them slightly. But the forest still barred their path. It was dense and dark, its foliage oppressing and cold. The deep green of the forest was like a living entity that breathed and moved. They didn't belong here.
"This is the place," Piper said.
"I agree," said M'gann. "We will find Jason here."
They began moving through the trees, picking their steps carefully as they manoeuvred their way towards the center of the woods. It was dark and foreboding. The very air pressed down against them. But as they went further, the trees began to grow greyer. They became more sparse and thin. The ground cracked with brittle dryness beneath their feet.
"This place is dying," M'gann observed.
Piper was silent. Up ahead, they saw a gap through the trees. A curious dust lay on the ground. A faint wind caused it to it move and swirl along around their feet. They reached a clearing. The trees were intertwined overhead but all around the clearing was decay. A mist filled its expanse. They couldn't see to the other side. Piper looked around her and felt the ground and studied the trees above her.
Her eyes narrowed with recognition. "I know this place."
"Yeah. I saw it… in my dream." She pushed on into the clearing.
The two girls walked a little further and suddenly Piper stopped. On the ground in front of them was a boy. His hair was blonde and dirty. His skin, pale and cracked. His clothes were torn and ragged but you could see that his shirt had once been purple. He was on his knees, his arms clasped around him, hugging himself.
He didn't move. A wind churned around him, stirring up the dust and the dirt. Piper stared at him with pure sorrow.
Nico grunted as Percy clapped him on the back.
"It's good to see you, man," he said.
Nico nodded. "Yeah."
Dick went over to Kid Flash and Artemis.
"Hey, dude," said Kid Flash.
"Hey, Wally," Dick replied with a smile.
Artemis crossed her arms. "So… this situation's crazy," she said sarcastically.
Dick nodded. "Yeah. Has Percy told you anything?"
"No. He wanted to wait until you got here."
Percy came up beside them and reached out for a handshake. Dick shook it.
"Thanks for coming, Robin."
"Uh… you're welcome," he replied awkwardly.
Percy indicated for them to follow him. He led them down a corridor into the kitchen and eating area. Beside that were several lounge chairs and couches and they all sat down.
"First things first," Percy said, "How's Annabeth?"
"She's safe," Nico replied. "A long way from recovery but safe. She's in Camp Jupiter."
"Yeah I heard. Thank you for getting her there, Nico."
"Wasn't just me," said Nico. "Robin helped too."
Percy turned to look at him and smiled with gratitude. "Thank you. Thank you so much."
Robin nodded. "It's what we do."
"So are you gonna tell us what we're all doing here and what you guys actually are?" Wally asked.
"Yeah," said Percy. "Uh… So basically, we're demigods. We're children of the Greek gods of Olympus."
"It's a lot to take in, I know," continued Percy hurriedly.
"Nah, it's fine," Wally shrugged. "We've seen weirder stuff."
Artemis nodded. "Yeah, and we already knew the Greek gods existed because of Wonder Woman so it makes sense they'd have kids. More importantly, did you know about this, Robin?"
"Yes," he nodded.
"Were you planning on telling us anytime soon?"
"Maybe. If I thought it was important."
"This clearly was important, Robin. I don't understand why-"
Wally put his hand on her shoulder. "Artemis, it's fine. That's just Robin's way. We may not like it, but we can't change it." He directed his gaze at Dick. "Do any of the others know?"
"Connor and M'gann do," Robin replied.
"So pretty much everyone except Aqualad, huh?"
"Yeah. Pretty much."
Percy cleared his throat and continued.
"So, yeah, we're demigods. The reason we're here is because we're on a quest. I'm pretty sure you guys have heard the name Klarion before."
Robin nodded. "You bet we have."
"Yeah well, he's a demigod too, a son of Hecate, the goddess of magic and sorcery."
"That makes sense, I guess," Artemis said.
"On his own, Klarion isn't strong enough to defeat a god. But apparently, he has discovered a power that can kill immortals. We don't know what it is but we've been sent to stop him. And since he's frequently been an enemy of you and the Justice League, the gods wanted us to partner with you; in hopes that we could defeat Klarion together."
"If he's got the power to kill gods," Wally said, "Then why don't the gods fight him? Why do we have to fight their battles?"
Percy sighed. "That's a question I ask myself every day."
"It's because they're scared," Nico said sternly. "They're afraid of being seen, being known by mortals. They'll only fight if Olympus depended on it, or if we weren't up to the task."
"Have you ever just decided not to fight?" Artemis asked.
Percy shook his head. "No. Despite our personal feelings towards the gods, we've never refused to fight for them."
He hesitated. "I- I don't know."
"Whatever the case," Nico said, "We need you. Will you help us?"
Wally and Artemis looked to Robin.
"I'm in," he said. "But I'm not the leader. Not yet."
"Who is your leader?" Percy asked.
"The Atlantean. Aqualad."
Robin smiled slightly. "Oh yeah, Aqualad's from the city of Atlantis. Maybe you're related."
Percy crossed his arms. "We'd better not be. I've got enough weird relatives already," he grumbled.
M'gann moved closer to Jason and knelt down beside him, putting her hand on his forehead. Piper stood stock-still. Her palms began to clench into fists. Her breathing increased and her eyes glazed over slightly. She could feel the blade of Katoptris hanging at her belt. Her fingers brushed it and she shuddered.
"Piper? I need you," M'gann said.
Piper jerked up and gasped slightly. She shook her head and ran to Jason's side. She grabbed his cold hands and breathed on them. He didn't respond.
"What's wrong?" She asked.
"He's catatonic," M'gann replied.
"Can you wake him?"
"I don't know. I don't know whether that's best for him either. I'll see what I can do."
M'gann cried out with pain and clutched at her head. She collapsed on her side. Piper looked at her with confusion.
Piper frowned. There was something tugging at her subconscious, like a nagging mother, repeatedly pulling her child by the ear. She winced slightly, and felt her right ear.
"What is that?"
I don't want to be alone anymore.
Suddenly, Jason's head turned quickly to face her. She screamed. His face was completely blank. Despite this, it seemed like his eyes bore into her intensely. She stared at him, wanting to back away.
You. You must join me. You can be alone with me.
"Jason?" Piper finally recognized the voice. "Jason, we've come to help you! Let us help you."
He continued to look at her. Then his hand clamped down on her wrist. She grunted with pain. It was cold and clammy but it's grip was like iron. She struggled but he would not let go. The ground beneath him began to fall away and he began to sink into the dirt.
Piper felt herself slipping, felt him pulling her in. She resisted furiously, thrashing about wildly.
"No, Jason! No! I won't go down there with you! I came to bring you back."
She dug her feet in and clenched her teeth, pulling with all her strength at Jason's arm. Wrapping her hands around his wrist, she strained as he continued to sink. The ground was like quicksand, even her feet were being sucked in.
"Grrr! I won't let you go, Jason! You've saved me so many times before, but now it's my turn! I won't let you go, Jason! I won't let you go!"
She yelled with desperation. Charmspeak permeated her words like crazy.
"Don't give up! You belong up here! You belong with me! So don't you dare drag me down with you! Come on! I won't ever let you go!"
The sucking stopped. Piper saw her opportunity and heaved Jason out of the dirt and onto solid ground. She crumpled down beside his still body. She panted for breath and wrapped her arms around his sullen body. She breathed hot air onto him and held him close.
"I won't ever let you go," she intoned.
"Jason? Jason!" She got up and grabbed his face. It was no longer blank and it was slightly warmer than it had been. His eyes fluttered. "Jason?"
"Piper…" His haggard voice came out quietly.
She embraced him tightly. "Oh my gods, Jason."
He sighed deeply and his head drooped on her shoulder.
"Piper… You came for me." His voice was nearly silent.
"Of course I did."
"My mind is broken. It's a miracle I'm even awake right now."
"Then we'll fix you. It's what we came here to do."
Piper let go of him and slowly laid him on his back. "Sleep now. You'll be just fine," she said, adding a little charmspeak to her words.
He smiled up at her. "I'll see you soon."
Piper smiled back and closed his eyes.
So, yeah that's the end of chapter 13. Tell you what you think. I'll start work on the next chapter soon and hopefully it won't take as long to come out. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next time.