A/N: Surprise, I'm alive! Chapter nineteen is here after a very long hiatus! We got a hell of a lot of action last chapter, but we'll pick up with Spiderman and the Avengers. Percy is still with Daisy/Quake, while Nico and Sherman set out to find him.
It's been a while, so check out the previous chapter for a bit of a reminder of what is happening. Also, be sure to read the Author's Note at the end of that chapter for some somewhat crucial information.
Remember to leave me a review and let me know what you think! Sorry for the wait. Enjoy!
New York City
Spiderman's mouth was dry at the end of his story. Tony was staring at him analytically as he reported the events of the past day, careful to include every detail.
"You met Percy's father," Steve informed him, "he called himself the son of Poseidon."
Peter nodded tiredly. Captain America seemed to take control of the situation quickly, and Peter quietly took mental notes. As a fellow New Yorker, Peter couldn't help but idolize Cap. He was a strong and capable leader, and Peter put him on a pedestal somewhere close to Ironman.
"If a god—not to mention Percy's father—wants him with us," Steve reasoned, "we should find him. Percy told us how big a factor fate was in his pantheon. He's supposed to be here."
Sam looked unsure. "He also told us the gods were manipulative. He didn't sound overly fond of them."
"Surely that excludes his father," Steve argued.
None of them seemed particularly convinced.
"I agree," Tony said at last, "We need him, and according to his father he needs us. I think that warrants an attempt to find him."
Several people raised eyebrows as Tony openly agreeing with Steve. Peter himself looked around, uncertain, since Tony had been anti-Captain America for the last few months with no exceptions. Peter didn't know how they'd been faring back together but at least at this point it seemed like they were making progress.
"We'll need to cover ground fast," Steve continued, his gaze lingering on Tony as he spoke, "So we need the quickest among us."
Tony stood and nodded at Falcon. Rhodes went to get up, but Tony stopped him.
"Take a break, Rhodey."
War Machine appeared frustrated for a moment, although he relaxed against the couch again.
"Wanda?" Sam asked.
She shook her head.
"I'll come," Spiderman volunteered. "Poseidon talked to me, after all."
Tony nodded. "Let's get moving."
New York City
"Quake, huh?" Swordsman asked her, "did your mother name you that?"
Daisy smiled mockingly. "What can I say? She was a creative woman."
They were in a back alleyway several blocks from the river now, hardly in range of the police. Despite that, Daisy noticed how the Avenger kept peering down the alley and consistently checking above them as they spoke. He was observant—or paranoid. She wasn't sure how to differentiate between the two.
"I don't doubt that," he answered bluntly, before adding, "Percy Jackson."
He held out his hand.
She didn't shake.
Percy's hand fell to his side. "Coulson didn't tell me you'd be this antisocial. I mean, I expected you to be, as a vigilante, but now you're just being rude."
Daisy tensed. "You're SHIELD?"
Percy scoffed. "Gods, no. I found the guy in my apartment talking to my parents about Terrigen Crystals and Inhumans."
Percy laughed to himself. Daisy frowned, although that definitely sounded like something Coulson would do.
"But . . . you aren't an Inhuman. Right?"
He nodded. "It's a long story, really."
And it was. Half an hour later, Percy declared he'd told her only about a fifth of what was going on. Daisy had grasped the gist, however, and suddenly a lot of things made more sense.
"So, all these monsters around now, they're from your world?" She inquired.
Percy shrugged sheepishly. "You would have never known they were there if it weren't for Thor. I think he deserves a little bit of the blame here."
Daisy pulled off her beanie, and ran a shaky hand through her dark locks.
"Monsters from another world," she muttered bitterly. "It's always something."
Percy nodded in agreement. "I know, right? This is getting serious. Maybe you should consider going back to talk with Coulson. He seems to genuinely care about you, and that's rare in our world."
His voice seemed taught. "You should go before things really get out of hand. There's no telling who you will lose in the thick of things."
Daisy could tell from his tone that he was speaking from experience. The events of the day had told her that this was no longer a SHIELD matter, this was a human matter. These monsters were everywhere, and Coulson had many resources that could give her and others a leg up on these things.
He stuck out a hand, and this time Daisy grabbed it.
"I hope we meet again, Quake."
Daisy caught one more look at his sea green eyes before he'd disappeared around the corner, the comforting scent of the sea the only evidence he'd even been there in the first place.
New York City
Percy's heart hammered against his ribcage. His breath was shallow, and he found his hands sneaking their way into his jacket pockets. He grabbed Anaklusmos like a safety blanket, taking comfort in its smooth metal.
He didn't know why he was still standing here—he'd already inspected the perimeter a hundred times over. All that was left for him to do was to cross it. Swordsman rocked on his heels. The smell of strawberries wafted through the air. It was a welcoming scent, yet also a warning for Percy. Was it right for him to be here? If he crossed the line, that was it. He'd be back in the fold—even if he tried to convince himself otherwise, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to back out again. Zeus would feel his entrance—wouldn't that make their deal void? He'd be back under the boot of the gods, forced again to play the role as champion.
Of course, there were also downsides if he didn't cross. Monsters would slowly appear. Mortals would be eventually slaughtered or forced into hiding. Whatever force that was mounting against them would gain ground, and not even the Avengers would be able to stop it. Soon, the camp's barrier would be gone. What were they to do when their sanctuary suddenly became visible?
His eyes fell on the tree again. A golden fleece hung on a low limb, gently glinting in the setting sun. A massive serpentine beast lay curled around the trunk, its amber scales strong and reflective. The dragon was aware of him—Peleus's head was raised from the ground, its slit eyes narrowed on him as the demigod observed the border from just several feet on the other side. The serpent regarded him in an almost curious manner, its forked tongue occasionally sliding in and out of its toothy maw.
Thalia. His spirits dropped as he turned his gaze back to the fleece. How many years ago had he freed Thalia from that very same tree? He and Annabeth had freed her after trying to save the tree after Luke Castellan had poisoned it.
Things seemed to simple back then in comparison. Had conflict always felt like this? Or perhaps it now felt heavier now that he knew that it could result in the death of loved ones. He'd been so lucky against Kronos. His closest friends and family made it through with him—he should have known it wouldn't always be that way.
Percy steeled himself. Then, he walked forward.
It felt freeing in a way—crossing the border—as if he had finally moved in the correct direction. A weight had been lifted from his shoulders as he passed through. Peleus growled lowly, more of a greeting than a threat. He bent down to pet his nose, smiling lightly as his fingers slid across the somewhat slimy scales.
He couldn't waste any more time. He stood and proceeded through the forest until he came to its edge. The hill overlooked the camp in its entirety. Campers buzzed about, in and out of cabins, across the lake in canoes, and around the volleyball pit. Several younger kids swarmed an older mentor as she appeared from her cabin, laughing as she tried to remove the younger kids from her legs. People sat at tables in the pavilion, eating late dinners. A soft clanging—perhaps swords clashing, or a hammer striking the anvil—reached his ears from the distance, echoing throughout the small valley. The arena roared with distant applause as something exciting happened within.
For a moment, he was rooted. This was where he had grown up—home. It looked so different, yet so familiar at the same time. The same activities were being performed, but with fresh faces (and also the lack of others).
As he walked, the campers closest to him slowly wound to a halt. Volleyballs were forgotten. Forks and spoons dangled idly in hands as eyes began to swarm him. The sparring in the fields stopped, labored breathing the only noise emanating from that area. Younger kids stared at him with confusion, either not remembering Percy's face or having never seen it before. Older kids—scarred ones that fought by his side for two wars—gave him looks of recognition mixed with mild weariness. He saw many familiar faces, some stained with black soot of the Hephaestus cabin forge and others with the blood red war paint of the Ares cabin.
Percy wasn't sure how long Travis had been there, but Swordsman's deep green eyes found the son of Hermes standing on the porch of the Big House. He looked rigid, his sleeveless orange camp shirt letting the sun shine on his lean muscles. His curly hair was wild and stained with sweat, and Percy could tell by the muddiness of his shoes that he had recently been on a run—likely at top speed, judging by the appearance of his hair.
"Why is everyone staring at him?" A smaller camper whispered.
An Ares kid muttered something quiet in response—imperceptible to Percy, yet startling for the camper, whose eyes grew wide. Others whispered in the crowd. Some began to wander over from the canoeing lake, surprised by the formation of the crowd. The news seemed to be spreading through the mob, and soon tense whispering was rippling throughout the area.
Travis's mouth was a thin line, no emotion betrayed through expression.
They stared at each other, the whispering dying down. Surely, they understood that this was a confrontation between past and present—Percy Jackson, their greatest leader from both wars, and Travis Stoll, the bravest among them who took up the title when Percy himself had forfeited it.
"Percy!" Katie exclaimed from the crowd.
The son of Poseidon was caught off guard as the daughter of Demeter swept him up in an endearing hug, his face quickly peering over her shoulder at the expecting campers. She smelled of strawberries and the morning dew, a result of working in the strawberry fields and the simple nature of her bloodline. She was older—a young woman now instead of a teenager, leaving her face thinner and her bones sharper. She was beautiful, her eyes glowing a vibrant green as she finally pulled back, smiling at him.
"What took you so long?"
The question put him off. He swallowed as he realized that their conversation was the center of attention, as the camp was quiet enough that their words carried throughout it.
"I . . . had some things I needed to take care of," Percy explained carefully, knowing his words were being studied by those around him. Katie beamed at him, throwing an arm around his shoulder and guiding him towards the Big House.
"Let's finish this inside," she whispered.
Percy was grateful. She remembered how much he hated attention. "Thank you."
Travis watched them pass, before turning back to the crowd. As Percy entered the Big House, he heard the son of Hermes address the large crowd.
"What are you all looking at? Get back to work."
New York City
"Holy shit," Tony muttered, "what happened here?"
Tony stood on top of a skyscraper, peering over the edge alongside Peter and Sam. The scene below looked like a warzone. A massive tear in the concrete spread across multiple lanes of traffic, seeming to have crushed a multitude of cars. As if that wasn't interesting enough, small piles of sand littered the area, along with sharp projectiles that looked suspiciously like feathers.
Tony's suit zoomed in on the side of a taxi that had been impaled by several of said projectiles. The metal had pierced all the way through the doors, extending into the interior of the car.
"Throwing knives?" Falcon pondered, his own goggles analyzing the situation from afar.
Tony twisted his mouth, unsure. "Friday, how fast would those things have to be travelling to punch through the entire door?"
"According to preliminary calculations, approximately 133.7 miles an hour. Too fast for a regular, unassisted human to throw a knife," Friday reported, "the fastest thrown baseball pitch, held by Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees, is clocked at 105.1 miles an hour, 28.6 miles an hour slower."
"I guess that rules out a really angry knife throwing mortal," Peter spoke aloud. "Something from the Greek world?"
Tony sighed. "Probably. This is why we need Percy."
National guard soldiers were stationed around the battleground, some moving Humvees and others patrolling. Police officers canvassed the area, speaking with people that Tony assumed were witnesses. He turned his attention to the closed crater in the road.
"That look familiar, Sam?" Tony said, gesturing with his metal arm to the disturbed pavement.
Sam snorted. "Only one guy I know can shift the earth."
"Lots of water on the road also," Tony hypothesized. "Those witnesses had to have seen something. If this was Percy, they'd know. We need someone inconspicuous down there."
Sam and Tony simultaneously looked at Peter, who looked surprised.
"Knock them dead, bug boy," Sam said with a smile.
Peter sighed as he began to take off his suit.
"Spiders aren't bugs. They're arthropods."
Minutes later, Peter had descended to ground level thanks to his abnormally gripping hands and feet, and Ironman was now observing him and listening in. Spiderman edged his way through the crowd of people, his attention shifting to an ambulance with the back open. A woman sat on the tailgate with a paramedic gesturing quickly at her leg.
"—and then it was just gone! Gone, I tell you! Like some sort of miracle. The guy just let water drip on me and then my leg was back together like absolutely nothing happened!" She was explaining to the somewhat skeptical paramedic.
Peter turned towards a news anchor standing with her back to the scene.
"This massive damage behind me was combined by a powered-duo, who witnesses have identified as Swordsman and Quake, two wanted vigilantes. The road behind me here has been completely pulled apart by what experts are guessing is raw power that—"
The young man turned away, casting his eyes up at the building Tony and Sam were waiting on.
"Is that enough confirmation?" Peter asked up at them.
Tony nodded, having heard the whole thing from above. "We're on the right track, I guess. Where could they have gone?"
Unfortunately, Peter did not have a good answer.
New York City
Nico and Sherman appeared in the shadow of a tree in Central Park. The son of Ares leaned over and coughed several times, and Nico turned away just as Sherman lost his lunch. The muscular demigod wiped his mouth with his hand as he straightened up.
"That shit blows," Sherman muttered, spitting into the grass.
Nico was indifferent. "You get used to it eventually."
A cold, biting wind pushed its way through Nico's jacket as the sun finally dipped over the horizon. Leaves rustled around them as Sherman straightened up, surveying their new surroundings.
"What's the plan?" He inquired. In response, Nico stalked off towards a particularly large tree. Sherman stared after him, sighing once he realized he wouldn't be receiving a verbal response. Instead, the tall demigod stalked after his partner, who had stopped just short of a powerful juniper tree. The leaves were a vibrant green, shimmering in orange glow of the sunset.
"Xýpnios," Nico commanded.
Sherman roughly translated the Greek order as "wake up," which the son of Hades had apparently directed at the tree in front of them. The trunk glowed sharply, its bark splitting with a golden glow. A dryad stepped from the base, leaving a hole in the tree open to the cold winds.
Sherman had admittedly never interacted with many dryads, so their nature-esque style of appearance was mildly offsetting. The dryad appeared with the body of a young woman, although with skin as green as grass and several traces of bark-like scabs across its body. Its eyes were amber, vaguely reminding Sherman of tree sap.
Syrup, more specifically. Great; now he was craving waffles.
"Nico di Angelo," the dryad greeted warmly. "it has been some time, hasn't it?"
"Juniper," Nico responded quickly, "I'm afraid I don't have time to chat. Percy is in trouble and somewhere in the city. Can you locate him for me? I'd ask Grover, but I know he's in San Francisco."
Juniper's calm expression melted from her face. "Of course. Anything for Percy. Let me check; this may take a few minutes. Lately the dryads outside of Central Park have been irritable."
Juniper stepped back into her tree. Sherman scratched his head.
"First of all, who is that? Second, how is she going to find someone in the middle of one of the most populated cities in the states?"
Nico sighed. "You ask a lot of questions."
"You avoid a lot of questions," Sherman shot back.
The son of Hades rolled his eyes. "Juniper is Percy's satyr's girlfriend. They go way back. She and Grover—the satyr—moved here after the last war. He holds the title of Lord of the Wild, given to him by the fading god of nature, Pan."
Nico rubbed his nose as the winds whipped through the park once more.
"Lord of the Wild gets you some neat powers," Nico commented, "like being able to communicate with other nature-related beings just through emotional links or even telepathy. Apparently Lord of the Wild is regarded as a type of immortality, which offers the opportunity to bless others."
"So, Grover blessed Juniper?" Sherman guessed.
Nico nodded. "Conveniently for us, the power granted to her by said blessing is the ability to communicate with other dryads and nature spirits from a distance. Juniper is communicating with every other dryad and spirit in range—one of them is likely to have seen Percy."
Sherman's eyebrows rose. "Neat. Good idea, di Angelo."
It didn't take long for Nico's plan to come to fruition. Juniper returned to them, her brows furrowed.
"Nico," she began, "according to the dryads in the area, Percy is at Camp Half-Blood."
Sherman frowned. "He wasn't there when we left. I guess it's possible that we just missed each other."
Sherman noticed quickly how unsettled Nico had become. His lips pursed and his hands dug into his jacket, suddenly restless.
"Then we need to get back there right away—I don't expect Percy and Travis will have a very productive conversation without a mediator of some—"
Nico stopped suddenly, his eyes flitting around the clearing. The winds had stopped. The songs of birds had disappeared. Sherman had the worst feeling of anticipation—one that usually struck a demigod just before danger descended.
Juniper cried out, terror evident in her voice. "Something is wrong! The dryads are reporting—"
Out of pure instinct, Sherman covered his face with his arms.
The earth underneath Juniper exploded violently, sending a massive shockwave that lifted Sherman off his feet. The son of Ares went through a park bench and several bushes, with dirt and grass raining down from the sky. The momentum carried him several more feet, his body rolling just short of a fountain.
Sherman groaned and held his head in his hands, a shrill ringing in his ears blocking out any other sounds. His vision was blurry and unfocused, and he could feel blood on his face. He sat up slowly, so dazed that he didn't even noticed Nico was beside him until the son of Hades began shaking.
"Are you with me?" Nico yelled, Sherman's hearing slowly returning.
His ears were greeted with the familiar sounds of warfare. Screaming echoed—not just from the park, but even from the streets around it. Car horns were blaring as several helicopters buzzed past the park, their blades shaking the trees around the duo.
Nico's face was stricken, brown dirt blasted across his pale skin. Green blood was splattered on the front of his jacket, and Sherman sluggishly wondered whose it was.
The ground where Juniper was standing had collapsed after the explosion, leaving a large hole that spanned fifteen yards in every direction. Monsters of all kinds were beginning to climb from the depths—Cyclopes, hellhounds, empousai, and too many others to name. Sherman was so out of it that he would have been content just watching them come to kill him if Nico hadn't violently dragged him to his feet.
"Move, there's too many for us to face!" The son of Hades screamed.
Sherman's legs began to work again as they started away from the new cavern in the park. Nico stopped, his veins popping in his neck as he stretched his hands to the earth. Nico practically radiated darkness as dozens and dozens of skeletons wearing tribal outfits and colonial jackets clawed their way from the earth, their jaws clattering as they created a semi-circle between the demigods and incoming monsters.
"Hold them off!" Nico commanded.
It was happening so quick—Sherman felt like he had been dropped into a blender on the fastest setting and then been asked to run through an obstacle course. He tripped on roots and bushes as Nico tugged him along through the park. The whines of hellhounds and screeching of other beasts behind them filled the air.
"Juniper," Sherman gasped suddenly, remembering that the dryad had just been with them. "We have to go back and rescue—"
"She didn't make it," Nico interrupted coldly, emotion drained from his face.
Sherman risked a look behind them, hardly registering Nico's response. The monsters collided with the skeleton army like a tidal wave. Bones flew through the air as they were torn apart. A lumbering Cyclops swung a tree trunk like a golf club, pummeling the majority of them, useless muskets and tribal spears falling to the earth. Some of the undead got in a few good hits, cleaving hellhounds in two and firing musket balls into the face of a Laistrygonian giant, but they were overwhelmed quickly by sheer numbers.
Sherman wasn't sure how fast they were moving, but they were suddenly at the edge of Central Park. The streets were covered in cars—empty ones. Mortals were running away as other explosions blew through the asphalt of the street. A frantic pack of people ran up to street level from a subway entrance, but Sherman watched long enough to see a pack of hellhounds chase them up the stairs and tear into them. It was chaos around them, the streets filled with fleeing mortals and predatory monsters chasing them. A fire hydrant exploded beside them as a car covered in dracanae careened off the road.
The sun was almost completely down now, covering the besieged city in darkness.
"They're everywhere!" Someone screamed behind them. Cries for help filled the city block.
A Humvee roared by, the gunner on the top unloading the .50 caliber machine gun into a pack of incoming monsters. The bullets went straight through the pack, doing absolutely nothing. An arrow from an unseen shooter struck the gunner in the chest just before a Cyclops barreled into the Humvee, denting the doors and flipping the vehicle onto its side.
Sherman suddenly became aware that he had a weapon. Maimer was quickly in his hands, electricity sparking from the tip. A harpy erupted from a building in front of them, glass raining onto their heads as it dive-bombed them. Sherman shoved Nico to the side as he impaled the creature, turning it into an electrified pile of dust.
Nico turned, his Stygian sword in his hand. His eyes widened as his eyes focused on something in the distance. Sherman followed his gaze to the top of a nearby building, roughly fifteen stories high.
Atop the building stood a woman radiating power. She was tall and slender, with sickly white skin and almost skeletal features. She wore dark green, shining armor with a billowing black cape that seemed to be magically suspended behind her. The most intimidating feature was the helm—a pitch black protectorate that branched into what Sherman could only compare to antlers. There were several of them, sharp like swords. Her piercing black eyes scanned the battlefield as a sly smile adorned her face.
Then, almost as if she felt them looking, she turned her paralyzing glare on them. Her soulless, dark eyes pierced through him, and Sherman suddenly felt like the real danger had yet to enter the fray.
He couldn't tear his eyes away, but Sherman managed to talk. "Get us out of here, damn it!"
Nico nodded, grabbing Sherman's hand, and pulled them at full speed into the darkness, leaving behind the icy gaze of the mysterious woman and the sounds of gunfire and death.
A/N: Sorry again for taking such a long absence! I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! The plot is officially kicking off now with Hela beginning an assault on Midgard. Where is Loki and Circe? Or Tartarus himself? Next chapter will include the counterattack from both the Avengers and demigod forces, who will officially (hopefully) team up together.
On another note, after such a long absence I'm questioning the pairing of this story and, since nothing romantically irreversible has occurred yet, I'm going to open up this story to another poll. I probably enjoyed writing the fight scene with Daisy/Quake and Percy the most, which has me leaning towards them. With the recent release of Season 5 of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD on Netflix, the Daisy pairing has been in the back of my mind. I also enjoy Coulson, and would love to incorporate him more into the story.
So be sure to vote! Poll will be on my profile so make sure you vote there! Feel free to leave your opinion on that in a review as well, but I will only count the poll as an official vote.