A/N WOO. Good to be back.
A/N revised chapter.
Chapter Nine - It's All Fun and Games
"This is not what I signed up for!" yelled a blonde camper as he hid behind a tree. There was a heavy downpour in the area.
Where the god forsaken storm came from or how it got pass the borders were questions that Malcolm Pace, Son of Athena and Vice Counselor of Cabin Six, was willing to wait to have answers for.
The question he wanted an immediate answer to was how the Hades was his squad supposed to bypass a redhead that was blessed by Apollo to see the future and apparently shoot as good as his children, and the brown haired beauty with millennia's worth of spells, charms, and incantations?
True, none of the Greek Veterans or the Roman guests knew that those two would be the defenders. If they had, they would've brought children of Hecate for the assault instead of having them defend.
Malcolm peeked around the tree. The heavy rain in the middle of the night made it hard to see, only five to ten feet of visibility, thanks to the unnatural shine of the moon and stars piercing the sky like daggers.
Sound however, was not bothered as much by the weather as Malcolm heard shouting.
"Someone untangled me!" a camper shouted.
"The left side is full of holes!" another said.
"There are holes on this side too!" a third said.
"How do you know?!" a fourth said.
"Cause I fell in one you idiot! Now get me the Pluto out of here!"
Malcolm hid behind his tree, just in time to avoid an arrow to the face. He watched with wide eyes as the arrow sliced through the air and vanished in the dark.
Somewhere in that direction, he heard a camper shout, "My eye!"
Malcolm flinched at the mental image.
Someone is going to need an ice pack, he thought.
Malcolm closed his eyes and made a mental map of the battlefield. The Hunter flag was in crescent shaped clearing about ten meters wide. Surrounding the clearing, using the trees for cover were fifty campers, the remnants of the two flag retrieval squads after they encountered the Hunters. Thirty of them were from Malcolm's squad, and twenty from those under a son of Mars.
If Malcolm's calculations were correct, ten had fallen victims to pitfalls, and five were trapped in nets, dangling in the trees. The other thirty four were scattered with no clear commander.
A Hermes/Mercury camper would be able to spread his orders to the others. If he was right, there were at least two of them about five trees away from him.
Now all he needed was an opening to move, hopefully without his allies also moving.
Right on cue, a blinding light emitted from the center of the enemy clearing.
I hope that was a friendly, Malcolm thought. Otherwise our numbers just got lower.
Malcolm stumbled over a root but kept his balance as he ran towards his messengers.
I hope everyone is doing better than we are, he thought, because at this rate, we won't be getting that flag any time soon.
Malcolm would later learn that the rest of the campers also had a hard time with their assignments.
A hundred campers were stationed at the halfway point between the flags. They were given free reign on tactics, placement, and groupings as their main objective was to intercept, delay, or disable the Hunters by any non-lethal and non-permanent means.
These groups were the current concern for the Hunters. The girls had divided into five groups of ten led by a lieutenant. They had spread out in different directions with clear objectives.
Objective One: Steamroll campers.
Objective Two: Get flag.
Objective Three: Steamroll campers.
Objective Four: Win and keep victory streak intact.
A group of campers were about to meet a Hunter group that would make them question if the Fates hated them.
The reason? It was led by Thalia, daughter of Zeus and Lieutenant of the Hunt.
The lead Hunter, a brown haired daughter of Apollo named Sasha, signaled her squad to halt and hide. The muddy terrain did not bother the girls but the low visibility in an unfamiliar terrain prevented them from running at full speed.
"What do you see?" Thalia asked from a tree next to Sasha.
"Patrol," Sasha said, wiping her face with her hand. The moment the rain started, all Hunters used an accessory to keep their hair away from their eyes. Sasha's was a headband with musical notes on it.
"Twenty campers spread out," she said.
Thalia nodded. She closed her eyes and extended her senses. Using this new ability felt strange to Thalia. Her connection to lightning had given her a radar like power. In her vision, there were detailed blue silhouettes of herself and her Hunters in a black void. She could see their positions clearly behind the trees that appeared as outlines.
Using her vision, Thalia saw five campers about ten feet ahead of their position. To the left of the campers there were ten others spread out about fifteen feet away. Further ahead of the first group were another five campers.
The rain and thunder would cover the Hunters' approach and assault to the first group, which meant the group of ten won't notice them, and the other group of five would fall the same way as the first group.
Thalia opened her eyes with smirk. She nodded to Sasha, indicating a plan. Sasha smiled as Thalia cupped her hands in front of her mouth. Mist formed in her hands as she laid out the plan. Thalia blew on the Mist and it split into nine wisps that floated towards her teams' ears.
Thalia did not need her new vision to know the girls were on the move.
"So far, so good," said Kevin from the Hermes cabin.
"What are you talking about?" demanded Nathan, a Mars camper. "We've being here for days without action!"
"It's been two hours at best," said Mitchell, son of Aphrodite.
"When are the girls going to show up?" Nathan asked, ignoring the Greek son of Venus. "I got some moves I want to show them." His grin bothered his fellow Greeks and Romans.
Nathan's wish came true as he was hit by an arrow.
"My knee," he cried out.
The others tried to counter the surprise attack, but were quickly overcome by arrows. Footsteps were heard through the mud as someone ran at them. Two campers were swiftly knocked out. Kevin and Mitchell managed to avoid their attackers but an arrow to their helmets disoriented them. This was followed by a stronger hit to the head that dropped them.
The kneeling son of Mars was left. He made to grab his fallen sword, only to be forced into the mud from behind.
"What happened to those moves of yours, boy?" taunted Thalia's voice in his ear.
Nathan had memorized her voice quite well. Greek daughter of Jupiter and leader of Diana's Greek followers? He would have to be an idiot to not have such a tough adversary in mind.
Nathan turned his head as best he could and smirked at her. "There's always next time, babe."
He was treated to sky blue eyes glittering with mischief before he was tased into unconsciousness.
The clash of metal on metal sounded over the harsh winds.
Percy Jackson and Selene Cadmus battled furiously in a clearing. The muddy terrain and savage winds did little to hinder their movements.
How could it when one was empowered by the storm and the other had hunted in similar conditions for centuries.
The two leaders clashed once more then separated.
"You're still as terrifying as I remember," Percy said. He was drenched, and despite the boost from the rain, he was panting. His armor and clothes had numerous cuts and scratches but nothing that slowed him down. His trusty sword Riptide – a gift from Selene's past life as Zoe – was held in his right hand.
Selene was similarly drenched and drained but had far less cuts on her person. She had put away her bow for a while now and was fighting with a silver Riptide imitation.
"And you're not as much of a lumbering oaf as I remember," Selene said.
"Hooray for small victories," Percy said as he began to circle her. Selene moved in the opposite direction.
I need to end this soon, Percy thought, and join Annabeth and the others. I don't like that we've been split up.
Selene made the first move. She rushed in with an overhead strike. Percy blocked it. She spun low for a stab at his legs and he jumped back. Selene followed and attacked. Percy could only defend against the Hunter's speed.
Percy looked for an opening as they clashed.
They locked blades.
Perfect, Percy thought. His left fist came in from the side and struck Selene on the right side of her face. The hit slacked the blade lock and Percy moved his sword as swift as wind and forced it out of her hands and out of reach. He finished by delivering a strong kick to her stomach.
Selene rolled on the mud. She had enough bearing to get into a crouch. Her jaw was screaming in pain and the wind had been knocked out of her.
Since when does Jackson use hand to hand? Selene thought.
She saw Percy's blurry form head towards her, likely to pin her down. When he got close, she pressed her hands into the muddy ground and spun with her leg lashing out. Selene hit Percy just below the jaw, going with the momentum, she landed with her right fist cocked back. Selene let loose a right hook on Percy's face, the added force of the hit and muddy terrain took him to the ground on his back.
Selene summoned her bow as she stepped up to him and place a boot on his chest.
"I win," Selene said with a nocked arrow.
Percy barely heard her over his pounding head. He opened his eyes to Selene looming over him.
"I win," Selene repeated.
Percy glanced around. Riptide was slightly out of reach in his position. An attempt to overpower Selene would be sloppy and could injure them both - as practice sessions with Clarisse had shown. So with that idea out of the way, Percy wondered how he could turn the tide.
Percy felt like a light bulb switched on in his head. He smiled.
"What's so funny, boy?" Selene demanded.
Percy didn't answer. He focus on the rain soaking them both. Soaking their bodies, their clothes. From top to bottom.
Selene felt uneasy with Percy's grin. She was about to knock him out when she was suddenly flung into the air.
Percy wasted no time in getting up and retrieving his sword. He watched Selene pick herself up.
A moment of reflection passed over Percy as he remembered the last time he used his powers like that. Except that time, he did it with a completely different liquid.
Percy clenched his eyes shut as an image of Ahklys flashed in his mind.
A second later his senses felt a disturbance in the rain headed his way at high speeds.
Percy crouched to a knee, barely avoiding an arrow. He looked at Selene. She was preparing two arrows this time.
Percy breathed in deep. Exhale. He banished the thoughts of Tartarus back to the recesses of his mind - to the same place his math lessons always ended up in.
If you think you'll win that easily Zoe, Percy thought. Think again.
Selene let loose her two arrows, then moved to a different position.
Percy swiped his sword upwards, like he was cutting them down, and the arrows split length wise.
A grin started to form on Percy's face then a close call with an arrow told him to keep moving.
Green eyes scanned distant trees as the demigods halted their advance some time ago.
"Any signs of them?" Rachel asked, her arrow ready to be loosed on the first target found.
"Not at the moment," Calypso answered from a higher position. "Your arrows and my traps must have made them reconsider their tactics."
"What was the one that got most of them?" Rachel asked, slightly relaxed.
"Its name is Trap Hole," she said. "It's a pretty basic ability in its native land. Almost everyone and their grandmothers know it."
"Could I learn it?" Rachel asked.
Being the Oracle gave her an enhanced perception on the world that allowed her to connect the dots on what she observed or thought about, enabling her small scale predictions. With the spirit of Delphi still lost - and being mortal even if it wasn't – Rachel would love to learn and use magic to protect herself.
"Do not worry, child," Calypso said. "If all goes well, you and others will learn many new tricks."
Hestia and Artemis had watched the proceedings of the game with the use of the hearth.
Annabeth's group fighting Dark Magician.
Jason's team against Buster Blader.
Camp Leader Percy versus Hunt Lieutenant Selene.
The skirmishes between the Hunters' Strike Teams and the Demigod Interceptors.
Finally the Camper's Assault Squads against the Hunter's Flag Defenders.
"Impressive, aren't they?" Hestia asked.
"It only took them several centuries," Artemis said. "But they finally prove a challenge for my Hunters."
"Would you be confident still if the trials were not taking place?" Hestia said.
Artemis scowled. As much as she hated to admit – especially to herself – the Hunt as it was right now would have had a near impossible chance of victory if the prodigies were not occupied.
Hestia took her niece's silence as acceptance.
"Valdez seems to have a flair for explosions," Hestia said when his group tried to blow up Dark Magician for a second time.
"I'm more interested in Mclean's progress," Artemis said as Piper and Dark Magician fought. "She has come far in such short a time."
Artemis turned her attention to Jason's group. The demigods were holding out quite well, it could even be called an even fight.
Even if the groups didn't win against their opponents, chances were that the remaining seven of the nine would still get marked.
She shifted focus to the display of her Hunt's Strike Team and Flag Defenders.
With the way things are going, Artemis thought. There won't be many campers to be marked. My Hunt and the Nine aren't enough, and too few gods are capable of direct assistance.
Artemis was brought out of her musing when Annabeth's screen went white.
"What was that?" Artemis asked.
"From what I could tell," Hestia said, "some sort of lightning attack."
The display turned normal and showed Dark Magician standing over three prone demigods.
"You don't think…" Hestia hesitated.
"They were informed it was a test," Artemis said. "The children are simply unconscious."
Even with her calm tone, her concern and worry was noticeable to the two of them. These children were the pride and joy of Olympus. The loss of any of them would be devastating. Even without the upcoming threat on the horizon.
Artemis and Hestia watched curiously as Dark Magician fell to his knees, then burst into colors. Annabeth came into view a moment later, and the demigods were outline by a colored aura.
"They won?" Artemis said. She was surprised. She did hope they would win against one of Cadmus' strongest and famous Spellcasters, but the odds were against the children.
There was another flash. This time from Jason's group.
The goddesses watched Jason being struck down, Frank retaliating and getting knocked out, Nico's assault, and finally Clarisse's sneak attack.
"Amazing," Hestia said. The children continued to impress with every obstacle they overcame.
Artemis pointed to the display of the Hunter flag.
"Looks like the Athena child has a plan," she said.
"They did give him time to think," Hestia said.
"We might lose the flag soon," Artemis said, though she didn't appear worried.
She looked to the display of her Hunters, who were now near the camper flag.
"But will the campers cross the finish line first?"
Tension mounted in the campers' flag site. The defenders have been positioned. Traps have been set. Patience was wearing thin.
Everyone was on edge. The freak storm covered the field and beyond. Its black clouds covered most of the moonlight, and the strong wind and cold rain did not help the demigods' anxious nerves.
Fog crept into sight from between the trees. Campers readied themselves.
Then the chaos began.
Screams sounded in the air. Demigods looked around, they could only see ten feet around them. The weather swallowed everything else. The clash of metal echoed all around them, the battle was everywhere.
Thalia smiled as her girls took out camper after camper. The daughters of Mars, and of Mercury were the most physical and active with their blitz attacks, while the majority of the others sniped and provided cover fire.
"Lieutenant," called Sasha. The girl was panting. Her quiver was half empty and there were small rips on her uniform.
"What is it?" Thalia demanded.
"Morgan reports interference with the Mist," Sasha said. "Even with the Colt twins' charmspeak, she says that the illusion effect will be countered soon."
"What about their visibility?" Thalia asked.
"Still limited, but it won't give much protection once the illusion falls."
"It'll have to do," Thalia said before activating Aegis. Her bracelet shifted and expanded into a circular bronze shield with the terrifying visage of Medusa in its center.
Thalia put two fingers in her mouth and whistled. Four Hunters were quickly at her side. Just like Sasha, the girls showed signs of struggle.
"Let's get that flag," Thalia said as her spear formed from her mace canister.
Thalia turned and ran. The girls followed.
The camper flag was not the only one in danger.
"Trap Hole!" There was shouts as campers fell into the ground.
"Shadow Spell!" Several campers were tangled in chains.
Calypso held her bleeding left wrist. She knew it wasn't as fatal as it looked, but even knowing it wasn't that bad, it didn't stop from making her feel like her hand was in a bucket of ice or from seeing a large red puddle gather at her feet.
They must have a Mist adept in their ranks, Calypso thought.
"This isn't good," Rachel shouted between coughs. The campers had thrown several smoke bombs and vision was impaired even more than the storm had done. "Is it horrible that I want to run away?"
Rachel Elizabeth Dare was not a person that quit as soon as things got though, but she was well aware of her limits and how far she could push them before she crashed.
Going against a mob of demigods during a storm and blinded by smoke was as far as she could go. It reminded Rachel of when she was in Manhattan, wanting to help with the drakon, only to immediately change her mind when she realized that she was way out of her element.
Calypso grit her teeth as she flexed her hand. The Mist injury had been removed. Taking stock of the smoke filled area, Calypso agreed with Rachel. Retreat was the best option.
After all, the only way for them to move the flag was if they were getting it back.
Calypso moved to Rachel's place near the flag. She pulled out an arrow from the girl's quiver and put a dormant spell on it.
"What's that?" Rachel asked.
Calypso wrapped an arm around the redhead's waist.
"A parting gift," she said.
She threw the arrow high in the air.
"Time to go," Calypso said. She pressed Rachel into a hug and both girls vanished in a swirl of light.
The more eager campers rushed into the clearing to get the flag.
It was then that the enchanted arrow fell into the ground and unleashed its payload of Meteor of Destruction.
Small explosions littered the field as Percy dodged arrow after arrow.
I've got to finish this soon, Percy thought. The others gotta be tired after their fights with Zoe's helpers. I hope they won their fights. And I don't even wanna think on how the others are doing.
An arrow exploded to his right, sending him rolling on the ground.
I can't keep this up for long, Percy thought. I'm gonna have to-
He saw Selene running towards the woods. Away from him.
"If she's leaving, then..." Percy got to his feet with an almost exaggerated groan of pain. "Either we're winning or she just wants to gloat about the victory."
Percy took a vial of nectar out of his pocket and took a sip. He felt on cloud nine. Not just because it tasted like his mother's cooking, but also because he managed to not lose or damaged his first aid kit. He had noticed a very annoying pattern of his supplies being lost in one way or another during quests.
Feeling recharged, Percy put the nectar back in his pocket and chased after Selene.
"Hang in there guys," Percy pleaded as he ran out of the clearing.
Selene ran at full sprint though the forest.
To think everything would go to Hades so easily, Selene thought. I had hoped the demigods would be delayed until after we got the flag, not until as soon as we got it.
Unconscious demigods littered the path as Selene approached the boundary line.
Think Zoe, Selene told herself. What do I have in my arsenal for subduing multiple targets?
Thalia and her girls ran towards the creek. In the lead was Valerie Rossi, a daughter of Mercury, brandishing Aegis.
Whatever stragglers the girls had missed in their first passing froze when they saw the shield. This left them open for the girls to pass by or push them down.
"How much farther?" Valerie asked after slamming into a camper without breaking stride. Thalia was right behind her. The flag was tied around Thalia's left arm.
"Twenty meters and closing fast," Thalia said. "If they're smart, they sent a Hermes kid ahead with our flag, so we gotta hurry."
They dashed past the trees. The creek was in sight - as was the camper Thalia recognized as Connor Stoll, already halfway into reaching the water with the silver flag.
"No!" Thalia shouted. "Stop him!"
Unfortunately they had no arrows left or any items to throw.
The idea of throwing gave Valerie an idea. She swiftly unstrapped Aegis – thankfully without tripping – she then gauged the distance and threw the shield.
Connor, who had just entered the edge of the creek, was unable to dodge the shield and was hit in the leg. The boy fell with a splash.
He got to his knees, shook of the water and made to run. However those few seconds were all Valerie needed to reach the creek. She dashed into the water and tackled Connor at full speed. Once on the ground, Valerie put her whole weight to keep him in place.
Five seconds later, Thalia splashed into the creek and crossed it.
A conch horn sounded throughout the valley.
The game was over.
The Hunters had won.
Everyone headed towards the beach as ordered by Artemis. All the campers were exhausted and most were bruised or bandaged. Spirits were low after losing against a bunch of girls.
But that all changed when they saw the decorations set up along the beach and the myriad of food on the many tables.
Chatter picked up as the campers urged to dig in.
Chiron moved to the front of the crowd. Artemis was at his side.
"What's up with the party, horse man?" a Roman camper said.
"Show some respect," a few Greeks shouted. There were cries of support.
"Now, now," Chiron said. "It's a fair question. The party is a celebration. A celebration of the victory against the giants and the union of the two camps. The union of Camp Half blood and Camp Jupiter."
There was a lot of cheering.
"Settle down, children," Chiron said, waving them down. As they relaxed, he continued, "As this is a special occasion, there is no set curfew, but I expect you to be on your best behavior. That being said, have fun." He gestured to the beach, and stepped aside.
The campers moved in fast and controlled pace. Mainly due to them still being tired. There were many tables spread out all over. Torches lit up the area, along with the now visible moon and stars.
In no time, Chiron and Artemis were left alone.
"That went well," Artemis said.
"Yes," Chiron said, "though it seems others wish to celebrate in a different manner."
"Considering they still suffer from nightmares," Artemis said, "it is not surprising they wish to be together."
"There is only so much I can turn a blind eye to. If the other were to learn of their actions–"
"They have earned their peace, Chiron," Artemis said. "Let them enjoy it while they still can."
Chiron gave a side glance. "I do not like the sound of that, milady."
"Hestia will be in your office to answer any questions she is able. The more people prepared the better."
"These children have just return from a war, Lady Artemis. I'd prefer not to send them to another."
"We had the same desire last year," Artemis said, "after the Titan War. It did not stop us then."
Her words sounded cold and heartless. But it was the truth, and the truth is not always kind.
Chiron frowned. The goddess had kept her sight on the children throughout their talk, not once did she glanced at the trainer.
Chiron looked to the beach.
Jason and Thalia were sitting on a table having a conversation.
Leo and Calypso were walking aimlessly, talking to whoever listened - he was likely showing off Calypso.
Nico, Will, and Hazel were playing Frisbee with a bulldog and some campers.
The Hunters were reuniting with their siblings and cohorts - no conflict so far.
Piper could be seeing with her cabin trying to make a toast, probably celebrating the fact that they actually participated in the game.
Chiron took a long look at the campers. He wished they did not have to suffer more worries or hardship from the world of the divine. Sadly there was not much he could except prepared them to the best of his abilities.
"Lady Hestia is in my office, you said, Lady Artemis?" Chiron said.
"That is correct."
"I should go then."
Artemis kept her gaze on the demigod filled beach as Chiron departed. Seeing that all was well, she closed her eyes.
Her surroundings moved as if they were in fast motion, nothing but colored blurs. The world slowed and she opened her eyes.
Artemis now stood on a cliff overlooking San Francisco.
Her right arm shot up and caught a black arrow aimed at her head.
There was a frightful squeak from the shadows.
"I'm so sorry, Lady Artemis," Angela said as she approached and knelt near Artemis. The girl looked extremely pale at the fact she had shot her patron goddess.
Artemis let go of the arrow. It bounced in front of Angela.
"Calm yourself, child," Artemis said. "I am not so callous as to punish without reason."
Artemis turned her back to the cliff and faced the palace entrance.
"Walk with me," she said.
Angela retrieved the arrow from the floor and put it back in her quiver as she shadowed Artemis. They went past the door, into the long hallways, and into the throne room. The magic writing on the floor still dominated the room, and all six circular extensions were now filled. The two newest additions were a tall, burnt, dark skinned man in armor, and a tall, horned merman.
Three girls stood around the seal in a triangle formation with closed eyes.
"It appears everything is in order," Artemis said.
The three girls opened their eyes.
Alexandra, being the nearest, spoke, "Milady. Welcome. And yes, we are ready to begin. All that remained was securing the perimeter and Angela fulfilled that some time ago. No one will be interrupting us."
Artemis nodded. "Well, if that is all, then I shall take my leave."
"Lady Artemis, wait," Angela said.
"Yes?" Artemis asked.
"As I cannot assist in the ritual," Angela said, "and my duties have been fulfilled… I had hoped that perhaps… I could be allowed to visit my brother."
Artemis stared at her Hunter. A gust of wind danced across the room.
"Very well," Artemis finally said.
Angela gave a bright smile, one unexpected from a child of Hades.
Artemis placed a hand on Angela's shoulder. Artemis looked at the others.
"May Tyche be with us," she said.
Then the world went dark.
Then it stayed dark, only now it seemed solid as opposed to the empty space it was before.
"Where are we?" Angela asked.
A curtain was opened, letting in the moonlight. The room was black stone, it had four beds and there was a section of the room divided by a curtain, similar to hospitals.
"We are in your cabin," Artemis said.
Angela stared. She slowly spun in place, taking it all in. She had a cabin. This was her cabin. There was a cabin for her and her siblings in the camp. Her father had finally been recognized.
"I take it you approve?" Artemis said, amused. Angela had been grinning the whole time.
"Definitely," Angela said. "But where is–"
"Out of her mind," a voice said from outside. "Telling me to knock on my own cabin. If there's anyone there that's not me or Hazel, they're in for a–"
The door opened on a ranting Nico, who went paler than a ghost at the sight of Artemis holding the door open.
Angela was surprised to see the young man her brother was turning into. He was no longer the child obsessed with Myth-o-Magic. And he wasn't the rage and sorrow filled boy she remembered.
Now, Nico was a brave warrior, a loyal friend.
A brave warrior/loyal friend that was scared stiff under the stare of Angela's patron goddess.
Angela stifled a giggle.
"Your surprise awaits, Nico di Angelo," Artemis said as she stepped aside.
Nico entered with robotic movement. His eyes never left Artemis.
"So," Nico started, "how did you get here so fast? And what's the surprise? I'm not going to get turned into an animal am I?"
"As amusing as that would be," Artemis said, which made Nico pale further. "The surprise is behind you."
Nico turned, and he saw a ghost from his past. Black hair braided over the right shoulder. Olive skin. Dark brown eyes and a sisterly smile. With the exception of the black Hunter clothes, Nico could swear his sister had come back from the dead.
"Hi Nico," said his sister look–a–like. "You've grown."
Nico clenched his fists. His body was trembling a bit.
"What's the meaning of this?" he demanded. It was dangerous to demand anything from the gods, but the situation was not something he was prepared for. His emotions were a roller coaster.
Joy at the possibility of his sister being alive. Anger at what could be a cruel trick. Sadness of being reminded of his failure at saving the person he cared for the most.
Artemis had vanished when Nico turned. The answer would have to come from the sister he wasn't sure was really there.
"Do you know what day is?" Maybe–Bianca said.
Nico closed his eyes. He would not cry. He won't. Not for a fake Bianca.
He took a shaky breath. "It's the day my sister died three years ago."
The girl stepped closer and made to touch Nico's shoulders. He stepped back.
"Don't touch me," Nico shouted. The room shook. "Whatever the Hades you're up to, whatever it is you're after, just stop looking like my sister."
The temperature began to drop.
"Nico, I am your sister, I –" the girl said.
"My sister died years ago," Nico loudly said, "and nothing I tried could bring her back. The Doors of Death was my last chance and I was too late anyway. She had already gone for rebir–"
Nico's mind raced on that statement. He slowly opened his eyes. He took in the Hunter's presence.
"She already went for rebirth," he slowly said. His hands went slack. The room went back to its usual night time cold.
The girl smiled like she was proud.
Could it be possible? Could this be his sister? But how could Bianca look as if she had never died in the first place? She should be a newborn at best.
"It's... it's really you?" Nico said.
"Yes, Nico," she said. She put her arms around Nico, who was barely taller.
"Bianca," Nico said in a daze. His arms had wrapped around her shoulders without him realizing it. "But… how are you alive?"
"Come on," she said. "Let's sit down."
They sat on Nico's bed.
"First thing first," she said. "I'm not exactly considered Bianca anymore."
"What do you mean?" Nico asked.
"Like you said, I went for rebirth. It's just… the process I went through wasn't exactly… standard. I managed to keep my memories and my body – well, sort of, it was aged appropriately. In an official rebirth, none of this is allowed. The memories are wiped clean with Lethe water and obviously you get a new body once you're born again."
"What does that have to do," Nico said, "with you not being Bianca anymore?"
"Right," Bianca–but–not–Bianca said. "The way this works is that as far as anyone is concerned, Bianca di Angelo died years ago, she spend all her time in the Underworld until last year when she went through rebirth and was born into her next life. So to summarize, Bianca di Angelo no longer exists."
"And yet, here you are," Nico said.
"Ah." She grinned. "That's the fun part. I'm actually Bianca's new life. A blank slate that was imprinted with the body and memory of my past life. Something that the official process of rebirth does not do. Honestly if anyone else had tried they would become part of Dad's cloak."
Nico laughed. It felt right doing so. Not as awkward as it usually is.
"So you were Bianca," Nico said. "And now you're someone else with her memories."
"Pretty much." She grinned.
"So what do I call you?"
"I'm pretty sure you can call me Bianca when it's just us," she said. "But I suppose a real introduction is in order."
The Hunter stood up and faced Nico.
"My name is Angela Cadmus, Daughter of Hades. Nice to meet you."
"Seriously?" Nico said with a raised eyebrow.
"Don't make fun of my name," Bianca/Angela said. "It's awesome. My old life and my new one in one simple introduction."
"Whatever you say Sis," Nico said with a grin.
There was a knock on the door.
"Nico, you there?" Hazel's voice said. "Lady Artemis sent us to check on you."
"Who's us?" Nico said.
"Me, Frank, and Will."
Nico gave Angela a questioning look. She nodded with a grin.
"A family reunion." She squealed. "Now I can get that picture. Oh if only Dad were here."
Nico opened the door.
"Nico!" Hazel shouted when she saw the Hunter. "You can't be here alone with a girl! And a Hunter of all things! Oh god, if Lady Diana find outs."
She went into a Latin rant about all the possible fates that await her brother.
Will, though confused and concerned, simply put an arm around Nico as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
"Not even a year together and you're already cheating on me. I'm hurt," he said with a grin.
"So who's the girl?" Frank said. Someone had to ask since Will was teasing and Hazel was describing how Lady Diana would stuff Nico in a bag and throw him to her wolves.
Nico looked at Hazel who had finally stopped and was simply trying to stare the answers out of him.
Nico looked at Will, Frank, and Hazel. They were all worried about him being punished because he was alone with a Hunter.
So Nico decided to give them a real reason to freak out. He slipped out of Will's arm, walked over to Angela – who had been staring at Hazel since she showed up – and planted a kiss on her cheek.
The three of them looked horrified.
Angela, who didn't see anything wrong with the act, blinked in confusion. Then her mind caught up and she burst into laughter.
"You… are… evil!" Angela said between laughs.
Nico swept an arm towards Angela. "Guys, meet Angela Cadmus. She's a daughter of Hades."
"She is?" Hazel said, giddy. A sister. An older sister.
Angela had mostly composed herself.
"Sit down guys," she said. "I've got a story to tell. And some news to share."
"And then she hit him with a dodgeball," Thalia said. Jason laughed at that.
The Grace siblings were facing each other across a table filled with hamburgers. The torches nearby ensured light and warmth. The crashing of waves was audible, but they were far enough to not get wet. The chatter and laughter of the others filled the air as well.
"Seriously?" Jason asked.
"Seriously," Thalia said. "Phoebe was one of our best Hunters. She was a lot of fun, if a bit aggressive."
Jason didn't missed the sad tone in her voice.
"I'm glad you're okay," he said, holding her hand.
Thalia smiled. "Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere."
Jason nodded. Then he got nervous. "I, ah, I know you're probably not the best person to ask but ah…"
Thalia hummed in interest as she drank.
"Do you… do you have any advice… on how I can… go further with Piper?" Jason's face was totally red.
Thalia sprayed the soda and coughed. She wiped her mouth and stared at Jason.
Was Jason… was her baby brother asking how to…
Thalia's mind short circuited as she processed that information.
Jason fidgeted in his seat as Thalia stared silently. Music sounded, the wind blew, and Thalia kept staring.
"Thalia?" Jason called. He was an idiot. What was he thinking asking his older sister, the Lieutenant of the Hunters for relationship advice? "You okay?"
"Fine," Thalia said mechanically. "Just… thinking."
Thinking on how to help out her younger brother who apparently thought of himself as old enough for a big step in his relationship without exposing the Hunt's new policies and her own secrets.
"Listen," Jason said, "I know it's an awkward question – what with you being a Hunter and all…"
"It's fine," Thalia said. "Don't worry. I won't be getting in trouble helping you about this."
She scratched her head in thought.
"Now let's see if I got anything for you."
"So I'm running like a madman right," Connor Stoll said to the people at the table. "I clear the trees and the creek is right there. I get closer and closer when suddenly the Hunters show up on the other side with our flag. I reach the water at the same time that the Hunter in front of everybody throws her shield at me and knocks me into the water. When I managed to get up, she tackles me and holds me down while Thalia crosses the creek and they win. Again!"
Several campers laughed.
"Hey Connor," a blonde camper called. "Who was the girl that beat you?"
The answer came in said girl jumping on Connor's back for a piggy–back ride.
"You guys talking about me? Valerie asked. She and her fellow Romans were catching up with old and new siblings and friends.
Connor, who was slightly hunched forward for balance, craned his neck to see the girl.
"How about a warning next time?" he asked. "And am I going to get in trouble for this? I rather not get shot somewhere sensitive cause of you."
The girl smiled.
"Nah," she said. "Just make sure your hands don't wander and you'll be fine."
"I'd still feel better with you off me," Connor said. "Name's Connor by the way."
"Valerie Rossi," she said. "Daughter of Mercury. And fine, you can put me down."
"That's Dad's Roman side right?" Travis asked as Connor knelt.
"Yep," Valerie said once on her feet. She grabbed a cup and leaned against Connor. "So what does Mercury do for fun around here?"
Katie, the sort of girlfriend of Travis, spoke up from her sort of boyfriend's lap without missing a beat.
"Put chocolate bunnies on the roofs of other cabins," she said.
"One time!" Travis shouted as everyone laughed. "One time we do that and you never let us forget it."
Despite his complaint, Travis couldn't help his grin.
"Are you guys allowed to be this close to boys?" asked Randy, son of Apollo. The reason was due to not only Valerie leaning on Connor as she drank and ate, but also because the two Hunters with her were talking to a few Romans at the table without hesitation.
That was not how the Hunters of Artemis acted as far as Randy was aware of.
"Don't worry," said the girl with the crossed spears tattoo. A Roman daughter of Ares. "We've lived with these idiots for years before joining Lady Diana. We trust them."
"Yeah," the other one added. She had brown hair and brown eyes making her generic in a single glance, but if the cornucopia on her left arm was any indication, she was a daughter of Demeter's Roman form. "As for the rest of you, just keep your hands to your selves and you won't lose anything important."
She grinned at the end. The boys shuddered in sync - this made all the girls grin.
"So," Valerie started after a moment, "what kind of stories can you wow us with?"
"You want stories?" Travis asked. "If you want stories you should talk to Percy. That guy did everything around here."
There were murmurs of agreement.
"Percy?" Valerie said. She turned to the Mars girl. "Hey Theresa, isn't that the name of our praetor? The one that controls water?"
"You mean former praetor," Theresa said, "but yeah that's him. I still remember how he fought against that giant back in camp by himself - he was terrifying."
"That sounds like something Percy would do," Katie said.
"I think Percy should write about his adventures," said a blonde camper named Jack.
"You think?" several people asked.
"Sure," Jack said. "We can use him as a reference on what makes a legendary hero."
"He sure didn't act or seemed like a hero," Travis said, "when he first showed up. Even after all his quests he still somehow manages the appearance of a regular guy."
"He is a regular guy," Connor said.
Being used as a leaning post made eating a bit tricky but Connor managed. Valerie was family and he had enough respect for the Hunters so he wouldn't have tried anything anyway even if she wasn't. Having the girls assure him that he won't be turned into an animal and hunted was simply a bonus.
"You know," Valerie said, "Percy was only with us for like a day or so before he went on his quest to Alaska. I don't think we know all that well."
"Only Annabeth knows everything about him," Katie said. "But while we don't know the exact details we could tell you some of the stuff he did on his quests."
"And all the mistakes he did," Travis said, "when he first started out. Poor guy was so lost about everything."
"Sound like fun," Theresa said. "Let's hear it."
The Greeks grinned.
"This is grim news indeed," Chiron said as he rubbed his forehead with both hands. He sat behind his desk while Hestia sat in front of him as a young adult.
He eyed the goblet that had held the potion that restored his memories. He let out a groan as he massaged his head.
"It can be a bit disorientating," Hestia said.
"Having two sets of memories tends to do that, Lady Hestia," Chiron said. Hestia smiled.
"Which council members are in on this?" he asked.
"Only Hephaestus, Aphrodite, and Hermes remain uninformed," Hestia said. "The others are already preparing – except for certain members obviously."
"And what of Lord Hades?" Chiron asked.
"He's on our side. And he's already given his contribution."
"Do you think the others suspect anything?" Chiron said.
"The girl's successes no doubt have them confused," Hestia said. "That much divine power does not go unnoticed."
"How many do you think will be ready?" Chiron asked.
"The pillars of Greece and Rome have been informed and blessed already," Hestia said. "The real issue is determining which of the other children to bless as well."
"How much time do we have?"
"The estimated optimal opportunity is two days from now. If there is an attack as we suspect, it'll be either on the eve of the winter solstice or on the solstice itself."
Chiron grimaced. "That does not give us much time to prepare."
Hestia got up from her seat and moved to the window. She saw the camp illuminated by the moon and multiple lanterns. She could see most of the demigods at the beach, some that were in the basketball court, and others that were headed to their cabins.
To think that just months ago both camps were ignorant of the other and would have gone to war with ease. Now they'll stand together against a powerful threat, and have to deal with the aftermath of the gods' actions.
"Come morning," Hestia said, "we'll begin preparations as best we can. Our deadline is simply our best case scenario. There is no guarantee the enemy won't attack before we are ready."
Cheers and laughter filled the air at the camp. Greeks and Romans. Siblings, cousins, and friends. The demigods ate, danced, played, and bragged. The fires of the lanterns burned bright gold, casting a comforting warmth.
The children of Olympus were in high spirits.
Many of them unaware of the danger and changes targeting their haven and home.
A/N Review your likes, dislikes, comments, and opinions.
A/N grammar errors fixed.