Chapter 30: Lightning and Thunder
Steve glared defiantly at Koios as he pressed his sword against his chest. Blood was flowing freely from a few cuts on his arms, and one on his cheek. The Titan's sword seemed to be made of ice, so it was able to cut his skin unhindered. It had broken a few times over his shield, but had merely reformed so quickly he was only able to get a single hit in each time it happened. I guess there are some perks from being the Titan of the North, he though wryly.
But Koios had not escaped the battle unscathed either. Several hits from the sharpened bronze edge of his shield had made large dents in his armor, and the Titan's (golden?!) blood steamed as it met the freezing air that surrounding the Titan as it ran out of a cut on his thigh.
The fight would not have ended so fast but after a fatigued throw from Cap, Koios had managed to intercept his shield throw and send it clattering to the rocks twenty feet away. Weaponless, Steve had been forced to dodge desperately before finally he was sent crashing to the ground at Percy's feet, Koios' sword inches away from his heart.
Koios laughed in triumph. "You puny little mortal," he mocked. "Did you really think you could stand against a Titan?"
"I'll always stand against things like you," Steve proudly proclaimed. "I don't care how strong you think you are. You won't win. My team will make sure of it."
Koios smirked at his naiveté. "Oh Captain, didn't you know? I know how this all ends." The Titan's eyes closed, a serene expression covering his face. "I see my Lord Tartarus emerging from the portal triumphant, taking the power of the earth and sky for his own. I see him consuming the son of the sea, taking his revenge and the vast power the demigod holds. I see your friends falling one by one. The genius' machine fails, and he plummets from the sky from this very mountain, a spear through the precious reactor that keeps him alive. The archer and assassin die side by side, crashing in the precious jet that was meant to save you all. The quiet doctor is consumed, like Jackson, by the Pit." Koios' eyes open now, filled with glee and triumphant. "And you, little soldier, you draw your last breath, here and now. Dead by my hand, knowing that your team will soon follow." Quick as a snake, the sword is drawn back before plunging down towards his chest.
A cry of despair somehow escaped from the trembling Percy, but Steve refuses to turn to the young demigod. He was determined to face his death head on. But then, the world erupted into white.
A bolt of lightning struck Koios' sword just as it touched Steve's skin, and it disintegrated immediately, sending microscopic shards of ice in every direction. Koios was blown back, and Steve closed his eyes to prevent himself from going blind from the light. His skin stung as small shards of ice flew past him, slicing the occasional small cut into his arm. When he looked up, all he could see was a rippling wave of red fabric. He heard a familiar booming voice.
"I am offended, son of Ouranos. You seem to have forgotten about me, the final Avenger." Thor thrust his hammer into the air and called down another bolt of lightning. "Let me remind you."
The bolt of lightning slammed into a shocked Koios' chest and sent him flying back even further into the throng of monsters defending themselves from the Hulk. Steve looked up, disbelieving, as Thor turned and extended a hand to help him to his feet. "I beg your pardon for my tardiness, Captain," Thor apologized as he hauled Steve to his feet. "I came as soon as I could, but the Olympians required much paperwork and a hammer isn't really suited for –" Steve cut him off.
"Doesn't matter Thor, its just really good to see you. Could've used your help a week ago to help us figure this stuff out."
Thor nodded sheepishly. "As I said, this was as soon as I could come." The god of thunder glanced behind Steve and his face grew into shock at the sight of Percy. "I assume that is young Perseus. The son of Poseidon?" Steve nodded as he raced to Percy's side. "I had heard of his exploits. He truly is mighty to have taken up the weight of the sky once more.
"We've got to get him out of there, the effort's killing him," Steve exclaimed, worry and panic threatening to overwhelm him, but he forced it down. "Any ideas, Thor?"
The Asgardian shook his head sadly. "The only way to release him is to take his place, or we doom all around us."
Anything else Thor might have said was lost as Koios came barreling out of the crowd, breastplate blackened and a murderous expression on his face. "ASGARDIAN!" he bellowed, and he charged Thor, who raced to meet him. They met with an explosive collision between hammer and sword, and their battle commenced.
Steve focused back on Percy, who's breathing was arrhythmic and heavy. His eyes were blown wide, and the expression of agony on his face was only growing more excruciating by the moment. Steve pressed his hands to the teen's face but nearly jerked back because of how feverish the boy's skin was. He wouldn't survive much longer, Steve realized, the blood draining from his face. As if it heard his thought, one of Percy's hands slipped, the sweat making it nearly impossible to maintain his grip, and Percy's entire body was pushed even further to the ground as he fumbled to regain control.
Steve wouldn't let this happen. He couldn't let this happen. Not Percy. Not a kid who'd already lost way too much to a world that seemed to exist just to make his life horrible. He tightened his grip on Percy's cheeks and turned the demigod's face so that their eyes met. The kid was nearly delirious with pain, but Steve could see a spark of recognition as their eyes met.
"Percy," he said in his best leader voice (or the So-righteous-and-commanding-you-will-do-everything-I-say voice according to Tony). As soon as he was sure the demigod was focused on him, "Give me the sky."
If he could Steve knew Percy would be screaming his refusal at this foolish plan, but all he managed was a miniscule shake of the head as his eyes filled with resolve to not let Steve take the weight from him. They both knew Percy wouldn't be able to stop him, but that wouldn't stop him from trying.
"Percy, please," Steve begged him, "I'm trying to save you."
This time, Percy was able to force out two words in between heaving gasps, barely distinguishable from all the background noise, "Yo… y-you'll… die."
A large tremor interrupted them, and Steve spun to see the Tear to Tartarus growing. It was stretching to nearly a hundred feet in the air, and the edges looked as if they were being grasped by invisible hands and pulled apart.
Steve turned back to Percy. "Tartarus is about to come through." Steve hesitated for a moment as Percy processed this and he saw the fear in the boy's eyes grow. "We both know that without you fighting, we fail. Let me take the sky, so you can fight!" Steve knew he had won when he saw the grudging acceptance on the demigod's face. He grabbed Riptide off the ground where Koios had tossed it and used it to carefully cut the chains on Percy's ankles. He couldn't do anything about the cuffs just yet so stuck with just severing the connecting links. Then, the super soldier mirrored Percy's position, left knee on the ground, right knee forward, and hands reaching up to touch to sky, just to the boy's right. Steve braced himself, trying to mentally prepare, before taking the weight.
The second he touched to swirling storm, Percy collapsed to the ground trembling, and the weight of the world came crashing down on his shoulders.
Tony whooped in excitement when he saw the bolt of lightning explode across the battlefield followed by a flash of a red cape.
"Stark!" Natasha asked over the comm. "Was that what I thought it was?"
"Sure was, 'Tash!" he cried out happily. "Lady and gentlehulk, Point Break has arrived!" Tony watched with glee as Thor engaged Koios, leaving Cap free to help Percy.
The grin slipped of his face as he watched Steve kneel next to Percy and mirror his position. "JARVIS, buddy, please tell me Steve's not doing what I think he's doing."
"Apologies, sir, but I believe so. It appears that Captain Rogers is taking the 'weight of the world', as Mr. Jackson called it, to free the young demigod. This instance falls under the 'Self-Sacrificial Capsicle' Protocol you installed last year; shall I activate it?"
Tony groaned before giving his affirmative. When the team had actually become a team, or friends, Tony had spent one of his (many) sleepless nights installing sensors into each of his fam—friends uniforms that would send live updates to JARVIS. The 'Self-Sacrificial Capsicle' Protocol was one of the five new ones that he'd installed that night, allowing him instant access to their vitals so that he could keep an eye on them. The fact that JARVIS was enabling the protocol was because Rogers' vitals had just spiked. In a bad way.
After a moment, Cap's vitals were now on full display on the right side of his screen, and he took a quick break from blasting monsters to dust (there was more dust than dirt on the peak at this point) to comm Nat and briefly scan them. "Nat, Capsicle just took the sky."
"WHAT?!" The exclamation was followed by several shots from her guns and the screams that accompanied them.
"He got Percy out, but to do that he got stuck in. His vitals just spiked hard. He's holding steady for now, but I don't know how long that will last." The mechanic hesitated before adding, "And the Rip-thingy just got bigger. Like 'big enough for an alien whale' bigger."
Nat groaned audibly before replying. "There's nothing we can do about it. What's Thor doing?"
Tony grinned slightly as he checked the Asgardian's progress. "Kicking Koios into the next century."
"Bunch of hellhounds just went back to their namesake."
"Finally some good news," she grumbled into the comm and Tony grimaced. "Alright, get over here and help me and hopefully Percy recovers in time."
Tony grunted a quick "yes ma'am" before flying to hover just above her position, shooting anything that got too close. All the enemy archers had been eliminated, and the monsters were learning the hard way that none of their weapons could hurt the mortals. For many of them, their last words were growls of frustration as a spear passed straight past/through (Tony wasn't sure) Natasha's arm without leaving a mark. Nat was good, but without that advantage she'd be losing a lot more blood. So far, according to the 'Sneaky Spider Spy' Protocol, all she had were bruises and artificial cuts from the rocks that some of the smarter dracaena were using, either for throwing or hitting. Luckily for them, many of the largest monsters, such as Cyclopes and hellhounds, had been on the western side of the peak, so they were being dealt with by the Hulk and the lightning bolts that missed Koios. This left the more numerous dracaena, telekhines, and other smaller monsters for the unenhanced individuals.
Tony gritted his teeth as he dove back into the fight. Nobody was going to hurt his family.
Percy's eyes couldn't focus on anything. All he was aware of was the non-stop trembling of his limbs, the bright flashes that blinded him, causing him to squeeze his eyes shut, and the pain.
Oh, the pain.
It was everywhere. He could have sworn the vertebrae in his back were now permanently fused together, and that he would never walk again. He couldn't feel his arms and legs besides the shaking and occasional spasms that coursed through him at intervals. It felt like every sore cramp that anyone had every had was fused into one gigantic blanket of pain that coated his entire body, shredding every muscle, stiffening every tendon, sending fire up every nerve.
After what felt like hours, but was probably minutes, he was able to crack his eyes open to see a great battle.
Lightning versus ice, electricity against snow, a tall, long- blonde haired man with an aura that screamed god facing off against Koios, Titan of the North. Percy trembled, this time not just from pain and exhaustion, but from fear as well. He knew this newcomer in armor had to be Thor, the only Avenger he hadn't met, and he worried for him. He knew Koios was not an easy opponent, had watched half-deliriously as he had disarmed Steve and held the super soldier at his mercy.
But moments later his worry was proved to be baseless. A blast of lightning lit up the darkening sky around them, and Percy looked up in surprise. He was shocked to see that the sun had already disappeared behind the western horizon, allowing the storm around them to engulf them in an early twilight. It had been mid-afternoon that he'd handed himself over, and that meant he'd either been under the sky for hours, or he'd actually been laying there for at least an hour.
He kind of hoped it was the latter.
Koios was knocked unconscious, breastplate steaming from the bolt of pure electricity, and laid motionless thirty meters away. Thor dove past the Titan to assist Nat and Tony. Hulk didn't seem to need any assistance. And Steve—
Percy spun his head as quickly as his loudly protesting body would allow. Steve looked about as bad as the young teen felt, but so far he was ok. The young hero made eye contact with the old soldier and Percy nodded his gratitude. It felt horribly inadequate for what the man had done for him, but he knew Steve understood. He turned back to the battle in front of him and gritted his teeth, pushing himself up. He made it to his hands and knees and had just lifted his foot to climb to his feet when his arms gave out, sending him crashing back to the ground with a groan of agony. His body was screaming in pain and exhaustion to the point where he couldn't focus on anything else. He sucked in several heaving gulps of air, and a few tears slipped down his face. How in Olympus did Steve expect him to face Tartarus in this state? Forget titans, any hellhound could easily use him as a chew toy right now and he wouldn't be able to stop them.
Come on Seaweed Brain! Annabeth's voice yelled his head, and Percy could almost feel the smack that would have followed. I know you're more stubborn than this! Don't let this all be in vain! Reaching for his pocket, he pulled out Riptide. It had long since returned to his pocket. For a moment he just gazed at the unassuming pen, remembering all the adventures that he had had with nothing but this blade for protection. The only blade that had every sat correctly in his hand, the only thing that had stood between Annabeth, him, and death in Tartarus. It had carried him through quest after quest, battle after battle. Well, if he was going to stand, it was only fitting that Riptide help him now too. But first, he needed to write something. He uncapped the pen and touched the cap to the opposite end, leaving it in writing form. He quickly scribbled what he had to say on the back of his hand before returning Riptide to sword form, and braced himself to begin the process of getting to his feet once again. This time, after making it to his hand and knees, Percy placed Riptide point-first into the ground, leaning heavily on the blade as he straightened, body protesting. It took all of his willpower not to scream there and then.
But he was standing. He felt like a small nudge could knock him over, and he was leaning heavily on Riptide, but he was standing.
Just in time to see the pack of hellhounds bounding towards him, hungry expressions in their eyes. He raised Riptide with trembling hands and braced himself, closing his eyes for a moment to prepare himself.
The winds roared in the previously peaceful eye of the storm, and a crack of thunder shook the mountain, surprising him slightly. He opened his eyes to see Thor standing a few meters away from him in a defensive position between him and the monsters that had been charging him. His hammer was lifted to the sky, bringing lightning to add to the already formidable storm surrounding them. Percy stared at the god, frozen briefly in shock, and grinned. Thor returned the smile, and then continued to build up the strength of the winds and rain. The rain splashed on Percy's face, renewing at least some of his energy, draining some of the pain from his bones, and the winds buffeted the monsters but left his teammates unaffected. The pack of hellhounds that had been looking for an easy meal were blown clear of the mountain and yipped helplessly as they fell. Percy's heart panged with grief as he thought of Mrs. O'Leary, and how much he wished she was with them.
A flash of déjà vu took him back to Fort Sumter as he stared at the thunder god, where he and Jason had summoned the sea and sky to their will, using their power as one to drive back the Romans, save Annabeth and allow them to escape, only allowing the wind to affect those they wanted it to. Only this time, the stakes were much, much higher. He wanted to help Thor, but Percy knew he needed to conserve his strength for the coming battle. Besides, it didn't look like the Norse god even needed help.
Lightning began to rain down on the unbalanced monsters, who were already being cut to pieces by the Hulk, Natasha, and Tony, decimating the remaining forces. When the final Cyclopes exploded into a cloud of dust, courtesy of the Hulk, Percy allowed himself to relax slightly. He kept a firm hand on Riptide, not allowing himself to waver as he once again used the sword as a crutch. He knew that if he fell now, he might not be able—
A quake shook the ground, and it had nothing to do with Thor's lightning this time. One by one, the Avengers turned to look at the source, and saw a giant shadow beginning to press its way through the Tear.
Percy swallowed hard. This was it. Tartarus was coming.
Everyone raced over to Steve, who Percy could tell was beginning to struggle. Tony knelt next to his friend, and the Nat managed to quickly calm the Hulk down so Bruce could assess the situation. The poor man was stuck in nothing but ripped up pants as he frantically checked Steve over. Thor came to stand by Percy, and they stood shoulder to shoulder, facing the Tear a few meters ahead of them. Percy was doing all he could to keep his body from trembling visibly in exhaustion and fear of what was coming.
"Perseus Jackson, son of Poseidon," Percy jumped slightly when the Norse god of thunder spoke "stories of your many quests and battles have reached even the halls of Asgard." Thor met his eyes with a kind smile. "I am honored to fight by your side."
Percy grinned back. "Likewise, Lord Thor," he replied, trying to be polite and keep his voice from showing the strain he was feeling. "But please, call me Percy. The only time I get called Perseus is when I'm about to become monster kibble or my mom hears about one of my quests."
A great booming laugh echoed across the peak. "Indeed, young Percy! I see your wit was not exaggerated in the stories either," Thor remarked, though his eyes were focused on the coming threat. The amusement died from his eyes. "I must again apologize for my tardiness. The Lord Zeus was quite insistent that we follow certain procedures to allow me to interfere in Greek affairs. It is my understanding that he wasn't very happy about it either, but the rest of the Council was quite insistent."
"But I thought… the prophecy?" Percy asked in confusion. "It specifically said I had to do this alone with only the Avengers hel—ooooh." The realization hit him after a second.
"Precisely, son of Poseidon," Thor grinned. "As an Avenger myself, we were able to satisfy the Oracle's requirements with only a bit of fuss."
"See, this is why I hate paperwork," Tony griped as he came to stand beside the two. "It always delays the really important stuff. But for some reason Pepper can't understand that."
"Ah, Man of Iron!" Thor exclaimed happily as he quickly embraced Tony. "It is good to see you again, Stark. It has been too long since we last fought together."
"Yeah, good to see you too, Point Break," Tony gasped breathlessly, still recovering from the bear hug. Percy grimaced in sympathy; memories of Tyson's hugs fresh on his mind. "How's Reindeer Games, still insane?"
Thor's face fell. "My brother is still… readjusting to being home let's say." The look on the god's face didn't encourage any more questions.
Tony shrugged. "Fair enough." He then turned to Percy, who was, embarrassingly, still trembling from the exertion of the last few hours. A look of worry came over his face and in a rare display of concern, he asked, "You okay, kid?"
Percy nodded with some difficulty, spine protesting. "Okay enough."
Another, stronger tremor shook the earth, and the three were joined by Bruce and Natasha as Tartarus began his entrance into the mortal world. Tony winced, before muttering, "Let's hope so."
The five heroes watched in horrified awe as an enormous hand burst through the Tear in reality. The farther out it came, the more solid it appeared, going from coalescing from smoky gray vapor to skin darker than the depths of the deepest ocean. Percy swallowed hard as he watched the transition and spoke loudly to get the others' attention. "Now's our best chance of stopping him. If he makes it to Steve and takes control, its over. We can't let him get past us." The Avengers and the demigod formed a line, with Percy in the center, Tony on his left, Thor on his right, and Natasha and Bruce on the wings, protecting their final member. A united front.
And yet, it still looked pitiful when Tartarus himself finally emerged, fully formed, and stood straight. Tony's eyes felt like they were about to pop out of his head. The thing was huge! His boots alone were the size of one of his Audis, his arms and legs were as wide as some of the redwood trees California was so famous for, and he was just as tall. He didn't even have a face! Just a swirling whirlpool of freaking darkness! And when he spoke… Tony shivered. When he spoke, it was like darkness itself had been given a voice that resounded through your very being, trying to break you apart.
"Ahhhhh. So this is the mortal world." The primordial made a big show of looking around and gazing at the sun that was just slipping behind the horizon, bathing them all in golden light that penetrated even the strongest storm clouds Thor could muster. "It is… not as bright as I imagined." The behemoth took a small step to the opposite side of the peak from them, looking out across the land to the east, shaking the ground as he placed his foot down.
Percy flinched as Tartarus moved, but kept his shaking hand tight around Riptide. He wasn't going to drop it again. He was not going to show weakness this time. When the primordial turned back around and gazed down at them (he assumed he was gazing, it was kind of hard when the guy didn't have a face) he glared right back, eliciting an amused laugh from the goliath.
"Ah Perseus Jackson. We meet again, at last." Tartarus crouched down, gazing at the pitiful line of defense standing between him and total domination. "I suppose its only fitting that you are here now, at the end. You escaped me once, thanks to those two traitors," for an instant Percy imagined he could see the outlines of Damasen and Bob's faces in the swirling void and his grip on Riptide grew even tighter, "but this time, your luck has run out."
"Maybe it has," Percy called up, "but that won't stop me from fighting you until the end."
Tartarus laughed, and the mountain shook. "You think you can fight me? The oldest being of creation besides Chaos and Nyx themselves? You can barely even stand! But, by all means little hero. Fight."
With that, shadows poured through the Rift between the worlds and streaked towards the small band. The things had no form, and moved as a fluid mass. Percy lifted Riptide, cutting through them and leaving them to dissipate. Thor's lightning combined with Tony's repulsor blasts seemed to do the most damage to the darkness, and Natasha was holding her own and covering Bruce and Steve at the same time while the others drew the heavy fire.
Percy cut and slashed and stabbed like there was no tomorrow (which there wouldn't be if they didn't stop this), and when the wave subsided, he resisted the urge to rest his hands on his knees and pant. Instead, he forced himself to stay tall as Tartarus laughed at their continued resistance.
"You still resist the inevitable. Pathetic." The primordial suddenly shrank until he was only ten feet tall. Percy's face morphed into a confused expression, and Tartarus adopted a condescending tone. "Don't give me that look Perseus, I had to shrink. How else would I fit the armies of darkness onto this tiny peak?"
Percy's heart fell.
I'm alive my friends! Hope you enjoy this chapter because let me tell you it was a struggle to write. Sorry about such a long wait and thanks to everyone who commented on this! This has now reached over 200,000 views and has more than 1000 followers and 800 favorites! I honestly don't deserve you guys. I'll try to post more often and finish this thing up. Corona actually might benefit me in that regard
Enjoy! I'll probably milk another couple chapters out of this thing, I've got no other choice.
Comment some ideas on monsters you want to appear in the final battle or how you think this will end. I want to see how close you guys will get!
Have a great day and stay safe!