Part 4. File 1.
Cold, dark brown eyes stared at me coldly. I smirked smugly down at her, as I was a few inches taller than her. I ran my hands through my hair, which was tied up in a ponytail. We stood our ground, our stances still and stiff. I had determined that I would not be the one to move first, so I taunted her, by loosening my stance and sighing casually. Zoe growled and finally threw a punch at my unguarded face. I brought my arms up and blocked her attempt at my face.
I swept my foot around and hooked her legs with my foot; she fell down to the floor with a thump. Everyone surrounding us flinched at the sound, but she was up within a few seconds of falling. She returned with another punch at my face, but I turned my body sideways, dodging her hit. Zoe was quick, and aggressive, I realized, and she had impressive stamina. Not much could beat her. Except for my superior strength and agility, I thought with a grin. She tried another hit, this time at my middle. I was knocked back with so much force, I almost fell. It was the worst place she could hit me, as that was where I was scratched. I felt a dull throb in my entire body and I heard a ringing in my ears.
She smiled victoriously, and moved to punch me yet again. She came at me with impressive speed. I grabbed her fist, pulled her towards me, and kicked her middle. Zoe fell again.
When she got up, she was wrapping her arm around her abdomen protectively, and she was breathing heavily. I took the opportunity to tackle her down again. I took my knife from my pocket and placed it against her neck. "Admit defeat," I said lowly. Zoe glared up at me, and she swallowed before looking away.
"Okay," she said, "Okay. I lose, Olympian. You won."
My eyes flashed as I got up, offering her a hand up. She was rushed to Apollo, and I was approached by a rush of campers, all of them asking me how I learned to fight like that. It was a remarkably short fight, I mused, Zoe had a long way to go. I walked away from the fighting arena and headed toward my own cabin, before someone stopped me. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned to see Phoebe, giving me a proud smile. "I knew you could do it. You're one of the strongest here, you know. And after this, all the Titans are bound to obey the Olympians."
"I'm not so sure about that," I replied. From what I could see, Titans were very bitter that they weren't Olympians and had to serve under them, despite how powerful and well-trained they were. It was not likely that one fight would stop them from defying Olympian authority. "At least now our name won't be the 'Members of Cabin 8,'" I said, laughing as I remembered Zoe's smug face when she said the name, as if it was genius. Phoebe giggled in reply.
When I reached my Cabin, I saw Percy there, leaning against the wall. His arms were crossed over his chest, giving me a nice view of his toned biceps. I pursed my lips and averted my gaze. He got up from his position on the wall, giving me a broad grin. "You sure showed that girl what you're made of, huh? Apollo asked me to check up on you…you got hit in the stomach from what I could see. Are you feeling alright?"
I shook my head, even when I replied, "I guess I am. I'm just really tired." The pain in my abdomen was slowly growing, it was as if the hit triggered the pain all over again. Soon, it began to grow sharp, and I was clutching my stomach to add pressure, easing the pain a bit.
Percy shook his head, gently grabbing my arm. My eyes slipped closed; he was so warm against my skin. "You don't look alright. Come with me. I'll get you all fixed up."
Percy took me back to Cabin 3, and settled me back on the bed. I laid down, and took off my shirt entirely. Percy began to move the water with only hand gestures, but when he saw me on his bed, he stopped momentarily. "What?" I asked, my tone almost sharp.
"Nothing," he said, "Sorry. Here," Percy gently removed my bandages and the water settled onto my stomach. I moaned softly at the feeling of relief it gave me. Percy looked away and grabbed a box of bandages I assumed Apollo gave him. He removed the water, and I whimpered as some of the pain returned. He wordlessly re-wrapped me with the bandages.
"Thank you," I said softly, and got off the bed. I put my shirt back on, but when I turned around, I saw that Percy had already left. I huffed and left as well, heading towards the Big House where the meeting would be held.
When I entered the Big House, I saw that all of the Olympians were already there. I tried to ignore their stares, as they made me uncomfortable. I did not like to be the center of attention very often.
"Abigail, you've finally decided to grace us with your presence," Dionysus drawled at me mockingly, clearly drunk.
I growled at him, glaring at him with as much malice as possible. "What did I tell you about calling me that? You better get over yourself, before that overgrown grape you call your head bursts," my fists were clenched by my sides, and Poseidon rose from his seat to drag me towards my father. I offered no resistance this time, keeping my scowl on Dionysus. He looked infuriatingly entertained and amused; it made me want to bash his face in.
"Artemis, dear, calm down." Zeus said, placing a hand on my shoulder. I jerked it away from him and sat in a seat next to Hestia. Hestia was my favorite Olympian; she had long, curly black hair, and warm chocolate brown eyes. Hestia was the kindest Olympian in the room, and the wisest. She rarely spoke, but when she did, everyone followed her directions and advice. She placed a light, comforting hand on my shoulder. I smiled at her, and she returned back the gesture warmly. "Never fight down, Artemis. Fight up."
I furrowed my brows in confusion, not quite understanding what she had told me. "Thank you, Hestia," I replied, wanting to be polite, even if I didn't quite understand what she was saying. Her smile widened, causing the lines around her eyes to crinkle.
"Excellent, everyone is here," Zeus said his voice loud and powerful in the large room. "Thank you everyone for making it. We all know the threat that's reached our front door step. We all understand its threat to humanity. The government has reached out to us, they want us to look for survivors, and create somewhat of a stronghold here. There are multiple military shelters people can go to, the government has informed us, but they want our scouts to search for anyone who might be lost and direct them to the nearest shelter, where they can be safe."
Everyone nodded, taking in the information.
Zeus cleared his throat. "I also believe that we need to contact Camp Jupiter; We need to join forces, right away. I want to send someone to work with them, and we can share our research regarding the infection. Apollo learned something quite groundbreaking, yes?"
Apollo nodded, and spoke up, "It's like any other bacteria, but it's very fast acting. It can be killed with rubbing alcohol, and likely some antibiotics. However, we don't have any way to heal a bite unless it is treated with the rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide right away. Scratches are slow to reach the blood vessels, so it has time to be treated."
Zeus nodded at my brother and gave the council a grim expression. "Thank you, Apollo."
I leaned on the edge of my seat and stood. "I would like to request that I lead the group on the search for survivors. Dionysus did put me in charge of that after all, and I have a group ready to come with me." I kept my stare on Zeus.
It was silver against blue.
"No," Zeus said after a tense moment of silence.
"While I respect my father, I believe that this is a matter we vote on, yes?" I said, keeping my cold gaze on my father.
Zeus was the first to look away. "All in favor of Artemis as the leader of the survival searches?"
Everyone raised their hand except for Apollo. I groaned inwardly, as I didn't want to seem impolite. Really, Apollo?
Luckily, Hestia came to my rescue. She stood, and suddenly, the room felt completely silent. Everyone's eyes were on her. "Artemis is a very capable young woman. She is strong and well versed, she is intelligent and a born leader. I believe there is no better candidate for searching for survivors. Artemis is very independent and probably one of the few who can handle being away from the safety of the camp. I suggest that once the last group we sent out returns, we send her and her survival group." Everyone knew then that I'd won. Hestia's suggestions were never really taken as suggestions; they were taken as orders.
Zeus sighed heavily as he took the votes again. "All in favor of my daughter Artemis as the leader of the survival searches?"
This time, there was no hesitation as everyone raised their hands. My stare-off with Zeus had ended and there was a victorious smirk on my face. I couldn't help it. Zeus caught my expression and he glared at me, clearly not happy with the council's decision. I understood where he was coming from; his wife had just died and I was his only daughter, but I had a duty to fulfill. I was an Olympian, and I had to protect my campers, even if I had to protect the world in doing so.
Hestia gave me a soft smile. "Your father loves you. He does not want you to grow up."
My stare was hard as I replied, "I grew up the moment I stepped into this place."
Zeus cleared his throat. "Next, we need to vote in a leader for a group that is going to Camp Jupiter. Are there any suggestions?"
There was a silence throughout the room. Everyone's eyes were on Poseidon as he pushed himself up from his chair, standing tall and commanding everyone's attention on him. Although Poseidon was a fun, seemingly carefree man, he was just as powerful as my father, and demanded respect from the other Olympians. "I want to nominate my son, Perseus. He is a born leader, and one of the best fighters here. I believe that any other team members we assign this job to will listen to him as they listen to us. He was going to be an Olympian after all, until this happened."
Zeus nodded in agreement, and so did the other Olympians. "Agreed. All in favor of Perseus Jackson as the leader of this team?"
Everyone raised their hands except for Athena, who was leaning against her chair in defiance. Zeus noticed that her hand was not up and questioned, "Athena? What is your objection to this?"
"I do believe that my daughter Annabeth is a much better fit for this situation. In this apocalypse, brute force and no brains," she glanced at Poseidon, to which he responded with a poisonous glare, "will not get you anywhere. You need strategy, just what my daughter has. She is a very capable fighter as well."
"While I hate that Johnson boy," Dionysus drawled, "Honestly, I do, I hate him less than Annabelle. That girl has a big head. She thinks she can't do anything wrong, and that kind of thinking is dangerous in our situation." Athena trained her gray eyes on him, and she cocked her head to the side, as if daring him to speak further of her daughter. Dionysus looked away, not quite wanting to awaken her wrath.
"That kind of confidence is essential in the battlefield, Dionysus. If the soldiers see you as indecisive they will not follow you as a leader." Athena looked as if she had won the entire argument.
"While that is true," Hestia spoke again, and everyone was shocked that she was speaking twice in one meeting, "you must have the humility to double check your plans, and build from others' ideas. Someone who believes their ideas are the best and only theirs, is not likely to work in a group very well. I highly recommend that Perseus Jackson take the position as leader."
Zeus nodded once, then his voice was booming in the entire room, "All in favor of Perseus Jackson as the leader of this team?"
This time, everyone raised their hands.
"Percy, where are you taking me?" I asked as we were stumbling through the woods. It was nighttime, and we had just finished a Capture the Flag game. Percy had approached me and asked me if I wanted see something cool. Of course I didn't say no.
"Here we are," Percy said, and I smiled widely. It was so pretty out by the creek during the full moon. The entire body of water seemed to be lit by the eerie moonlight. The trees swayed softly, disturbed by the wind. I sat down at the bank of the river and Percy was next to me. "I've been meaning to ask you how the Council meeting went."
I wrapped my arms around my knees. "It went fine. I am going to lead a group around the country…to search for survivors." I turned to look at him. "You, on the other hand, are leading a team to Camp Jupiter to start a new alliance. They're a camp just like us and—"
"Why am I leading them?" Percy asked, looking down at me. His green eyes seemed to glow in the moonlight.
"Because you were meant to be the leader," I said simply. His hair fell into his eyes and I fought back the urge to brush it away.
"I can't be a leader, Artemis. I just don't think I'm cut out to do that kind of stuff," Percy said, and he moved his gaze from me down to the water.
"And why not?" I said softly. "Why can't you be the leader?"
Percy shook his head. "I just…can't." He was frowning.
"We chose the team members that will be going with you," my hands dug into the grass as I looked up at the star-filled sky, "Annabeth Chase, Leo Valdez, and Piper Mclean."
"Are we walking there?" Percy asked. "That would take us about three to four months, you know."
"You'll be given a car," I said, and I laid down on the grass. A few moments later Percy was lying next to me. "Not much use though, when I was out there all of the cars were stopped in the middle of the road-it was nearly impossible to get anywhere with a car."
"When are we leaving?" His voice was so light, it was like a soft breath of air. I turned my head to the side and smiled weakly.
"The day after tomorrow."
Percy nodded, and we were facing each other. I memorized his every feature; he was so handsome. My hand wanted to trace his strong jawline, and sharp cheekbones. I was so close to him I could smell his scent; he smelled of the sea and there was a slight trace of cologne on him. "Percy," I said, and he nodded to show he was listening, "I'm…I'm afraid," I looked away, I didn't want to look at him, or anywhere for that matter. I was the great Artemis, I feared nothing. "I'm afraid that I'll go out there, and everyone will die. And then…I'll die. What's it like to be dead? To have no feeling whatsoever? You can't think, you can't feel—"
"You need to be strong," Percy said, and he lifted my chin up so we were eye to eye. "If you can't be, no one will be. I believe in you. Everyone does."
I bit my lip and I nodded. I felt tears coming to the surface, but I held them back. I needed to. No one had ever seen me so vulnerable, not since when I was younger and Apollo soothed me after my nightmares. I had let reality sink in, and I was afraid. For what felt like the first time in years I felt something urgent. The feeling, no, need to survive. I couldn't die. I just couldn't.
"Artemis, you are strong. You are the bravest person I've ever met and—" he blushed, looking away, "—you're amazing. You're probably the only one in the world who can do this and—"
"I'm just one person," I said quietly, wrapping my arms around myself. I suddenly felt cold, very cold. "I'm not a god, Percy."
"But you can be," he said firmly, "I mean, you can save these people. You can help people. You will save lives—"
I stopped him with a light kiss, and his body stiffened in shock. I pulled away, and he stared at me, his eyes still wide.
It was my turn for surprise when he pulled me close to him and pressed his lips against mine. I soon relaxed and melted into him as his hand lightly traced my waist, down my hips and to my thighs. His hands left a trail a fire, and I threaded my fingers through his hair, noting how soft his dark locks were. There was a strange burning sensation in my stomach that I'd never felt before. I wrapped my leg around his waist as his hands found the small of my back, pulling me closer. I gasped at the feeling of him so close, I could feel every hard ridge and plane of his body against mine. His body was warm, and I didn't feel the cold with him so close. He kissed me again, this time with more urgency, his tongue teasing my lips apart. I moaned and my hands traced down the curve of his sharp jaw, his neck, and down his broad shoulders to his back.
His lips wandered to my jaw, and down my neck as I continued to explore the angles and ridges of his body. He kissed my collarbone softly and pulled away, his green eyes so beautiful in the moonlight. Our labored breaths were the only sound in the silent night.
"Why do you have so much faith in me?" I asked after many moments of silence. "Why do you say I am amazing and I—"
Percy gave me a wide, boyish grin. "Because you are."
That's a wrap on the fourth chapter of Breakout! I'm back guys, and I feel terrible I have not been active like I used to be. I used to post tons of updates, now they're nearly four months apart on average! But don't worry, I am back, and I will definitely be posting more often. Thank you all for supporting me still, and reading and reviewing. I appreciate it all; I couldn't ask for better readers! :)