Me: Back again for round four on this little ditty. First off, to answer a question that was asked in one of the reviews. To Supercpro, well you'll just have to wait and see. I don't plan on tipping my hand regarding anyone just yet suffice to say that Nico will be involved in the story at some point or another. However, I will grant that what I have planned for him is… shall we say slightly disturbing? Anyways, enjoy the chapter and drop me review. See ya.
Chapter 4: I Terrorize The Camp Terror
I didn't know how long we had stayed there in that tiny infirmary room but by the time Annabeth finally wiped her eyes and left me alone night had started to fall over Camp Half-Blood. The horizon over the strawberry fields glowed with a mixture of oranges and reds and blues as the night chased the daylight away like a scared animal. We had taken the whole afternoon to get everything right, to get our story straight so that we could preserve some sense of normalcy for the other campers who were completely in the dark as to what exactly was going on around them. For now, we had to let everything play out as it did originally at least until Mr. D returned from informing all the other gods what he had seen in my head. I couldn't imagine how they would react to the images of the war that was speeding down the tracks, how Zeus would feel seeing his Thalia well and fighting like a strong soldier once more, or most importantly how Hermes would take the thought of his son falling under the influence of the greatest threat Olympus had ever known. However, all of that was beyond me for now. I had to focus on how I was going to live here again until Annabeth and I figured a way out of all this.
So that meant that, for now at least, I had to just be another new camper whose heritage was unknown. We had decided that the two of us would go through everything in the same way that we had from the start of our lives together eleven years earlier. Until Poseidon acknowledged me or Mr. D forced me to reveal the secrets living inside my head, I would live in Hermes cabin and try desperately not to beat Luke unconscious and then tie him to a tree until I had knocked some sense into him regarding what he would do in the next few years. That one might be a bit of a challenge.
But… most importantly, I could not openly show any affection towards the person I cared most for.
Before we left the Big House's infirmary Annabeth had confessed to me the she had been 'awake' as we started calling it for almost three days now, finding herself in this disturbing return to our pasts the same night that I had defeated the Minotaur. She told me about having to control herself when she first saw me again and how it confirmed all of her worst suspicions right then and there. I was amazed by her self-restraint… she had always been the more mature of the two of us but it made me sad that I had put her through such an ordeal.
From the porch of the Big House I looked out over the camp for a moment as I steeled my nerves. It was so normal but still so alien in a way I could not put my finger on. I began to walk, crossing over the small creek in the middle of camp as I made my way up toward the cabins.
The twelve of them looked so desolate without the added wall of cabins devoted to all the other gods and goddesses besides the main Pantheon. I missed seeing the children of Iris, Hecate, Nemesis and all the rest but I guess I had just grown so accustomed to seeing the giant square of cabins that the horseshoe the twelve currently made just didn't feel right to me. It especially didn't seem right that there were no children coming from any of the cabins belonging to the Big Three.
Eleven years down the road, the cabins belonging to Zeus' and Poseidon's Cabins had become populated in their own right, as had Hades' after it was built, because it turned out that none of the Big Three had come close to really honoring the original Oath but that Thalia, myself, Nico and Bianca were just the first ones discovered. Zeus' cabin particularly had children of all ages in it because he was just the kind of guy with a lot of… love… to give. Yeah, let's just go with that. Over in Hades' cabin Nico had gained a single half-brother and sister, the boy three years younger than him and the girl five years younger. He told me once that the little girl, an Italian girl like Nico himself, reminded him a lot of Bianca before he became a camper. In my cabin meanwhile, I had gained a set of three identical new younger brothers that had become known around the camp just as the triplets though their individual names were Elias, Ethan, and Elijah Blanch in addition to my Cyclops half-brother Tyson. I had actually been part of the party that led them to Camp Half-Blood and the experience had shown me that I actually enjoyed the thought of finding another sibling somewhere or having them come to the camp. It was kind of cool to learn that you have family all over the place.
In the light of the setting sun I made my way to Hermes' cabin, more informally known as Cabin 11. It still looked as worn down and old as ever with its dull and chipped brown paint along with the rusted golden caduceus hanging over the cabin door.
Apprehensively I reached out and grabbed hold of the cabin door, breathing deeply as I readied myself for whatever situation I could. "Okay Percy, you can do this. Three… Two… Wuh-"
The door in front of me swung open before I could take my hand off the handle, nearly nailing me right in the face as I was greeted by the scarred smile of Luke Castellan.
"Well well well! Hey guys, I told you he'd be headed here as soon as Big D got done screwing around inside his head!" Luke was just as I remembered him: the same confident and charming smile, the same cool blue eyes that stared out at the world with an air of mischievousness that all the kids of Hermes Cabin seemed to share. Even with the scar that seemed to hook to the corner of his mouth he seemed perfectly content, perfectly happy. I almost could push the memories out of my head of all that he had done… or all he would do, I guess. "Come on in kid, we've been waiting for you. I'm Luke Castellan. Welcome to Hermes Cabin."
"Okay so where to start? Oh yeah, these are the kids of Cabin Eleven. Now before you go off and ask if we're all the kids of Hermes I'll just tell ya that this where everyone comes if they're undetermined. I guess you could say I kinda figured you would be coming to our cabin, almost all the newbies do." Luke explained as he quickly introduced me to a few of the more noticeable members of the cabin. It was weird having to play the role of the new camper once again; I wanted to stop him just to tell him I already knew everything he was saying to me but I had to maintain appearances so I let him continue.
"'Undetermined'… So you mean everyone that doesn't know who their parent is." I made the connection that anyone would have made.
"Yeah, I know it's shocking that a bunch of gods and goddesses who go around creating little Mini-Me's of themselves can't own up to it but that's how it goes. So until the god or goddess that's the parent of an undetermined camper claims them as their own they stay here." He continued on sarcastically after he finished introducing me to the rest of the over-crowded cabin. "Hermes is the god of travelers so we've always kinda been the wayfarer's inn here in camp. Kind of explains why the place is so trashed."
"So then how long will I stay here?"
"Well that's all up to the big boys and girls on Olympus. Until one of them decides to take responsibility for the little bundle of joy they left in the mortal world known as Y-O-U, you can go ahead and consider this home sweet home. So let's get you settled. Connor, Travis; you two have the customary care package ready?" As he asked that question the two Stoll twins seemingly appeared out of nowhere from across the cabin; I knew they had probably been there the whole time but they just had this way to blend about them, it was probably what made them great at pranks and raids on the camp store. They were dressed identically in orange camp shirts and blue jeans and even their hairstyle was the same today.
"Yup, got it ready two nights ago boss." Connor replied as he passed a small gym bag to Luke. Or was it Travis who replied and had the bag? I had never really known them before Luke's defection and as of right now they were the same height so I couldn't determine who was who.
"Great! Well you can go ahead and call this your stuff." Luke explained as he unzipped the bag and revealed the contents of it to me. "We've got a few spare camp shirts and an extra pair of jeans for you – I kinda guessed at your size when you were tied up there in the Big House so if they're too big just give me a heads up and we'll fix you up good. Also got you a pair of shoes; you'll need them around here. Next, we have the usual set up of stuff you might need for the showers; shampoo, a toothbrush and some toothpaste, and most importantly some deodorant. If you don't want to wake up at night with a nasty surprise in your bed I suggest you use it often. Place already smells enough without someone adding B.O. to the mix. And last but not least we have a few other things to help your stay here in demigod land be a little more pleasant for the time being. A few squares of ambrosia for the days you get wrecked etcetera..."
"Thanks Luke." I spoke appreciatively as I looked down at the items inside the bag, a wave of nostalgia washing over me once more as I thought about the way this had happened originally. "This is really nice of you."
"Don't mention it, Jackson. Taking care of the new kids comes with the territory of being nicest guy in camp." Now that one almost made me lose it and let out of a snicker but I held my composure. "Anyways, let's get you a bed. There's a free one over in the back corner of the room that hasn't been used in a while so it should be good as long as you don't mind the blood stains from its previous occupant."
"Uh…" I muttered like an idiot. I figured he was probably joking but this wasCamp Half-Blood.
"I'm just messing with you, kid. The bed's fine and should already have some clean sheets and a blanket over on it for you. Consider it yours. Now anything else just talk to either Connor or Travis; they're my go to guys and they can find just about anything you might need here in Camp."
My attention drifted off as I thought about how weird it was going through all the same things twice but Luke interpreted it as the new camper being overwhelmed like most usually are when they come here for the first time. "Don't worry, Jackson. We all go through the whole 'The whole world's a lie' thing for a little while after we get here. You get used to it sooner or later."
"Okay then…So where can I take a shower?" I asked as though I didn't know my way around the camp. Even though I had only been in the room for ten minutes at most, I already had to fight to act normal so a little water would do me good.
"Wow. Sure you need one after what happened in the lake?" He replied with that same charming but sarcastic smile of his. "Don't worry kid, I'm just messing with you. Yeah, the bathrooms are over across the field near the Mess Hall… er… that giant building with the columns up the hill. The showers will be to the right in between here and there, got it?"
"Oh and Jackson, one more thing. Welcome to Camp Half Blood."
I climbed out of the shower feeling a little more right in the world as the hot water left little billows of steam as it dried on my young body. Looking in the fogged-over mirror I felt another pang of sickness as I saw the thin cheeks and boyish face belonging to the twelve year-old staring back at me from the other side. I wanted to smash the mirror into a thousand little shards right then and there but I would only see a thousand little mirrors in its stead then and that would only make me angrier.
Sighing in defeat, I turned away from the reflection and just finished drying myself off while looked at the spare Camp Half-Blood t-shirt and pair of blue jeans that Luke and the rest of Cabin eleven had 'procured' from the camp store. For a second I hesitated, wondering if either of the Stoll brothers had had a hand in 'preparing' the shirt to give it to me. It made me question whether or not they would prank a kid on his first real day in the camp which made me think about the good twenty or thirty kids they had over the last six years in my time which didn't alleviate my concern at all. However, I was naked save my boxers and had to wear something so I just gave up and slipped on the shirt and jeans, happy not to be writhing in agony afterwards. With one last glance in the mirror I just grabbed my stuff, slipped on my shoes and turned to leave the bathroom as I heard the creaking moan of the front door opening meaning another camper was probably coming for a shower himself.
"It's all clear for you in there." I called out to whoever had just entered as I came out around the corner that separated the bathroom from the locker room out front. However, immediately the sour attitude I was in just grew fifty times worse as I was face to face with four evil-eyed middle-school boys that looked like they were pumped up on steroids from Ares, led by none other than my favorite token child of the god of war: Clarisse La Rue.
"Hey you're that new kid that messed up the amphitheater! Percy Jackson, right?" Clarisse was just as I remembered her as a kid but seemed so much less threatening now. Maybe that came from the fact I was still affected by the Curse of Achilles for some reason or just because of the fact I now had the memories of eleven years of fighting monsters and Titans lodged deep in my now preteen brain but either way I couldn't help but stare at her completely unafraid. Truth be told, I found the fact she was even trying to scare me a little bit amusing but that humor was quickly overridden by my growing desire to hurt something. Must have been her little gift from Ares; he had that same effect on me every time I was around him. She had four of her brothers with her today, each of them looking like teenage recruits for a biker gang. They all shared the same broad shoulders, strong jaw and look of cheerful rage in their eyes and each one of them filled me with an equal desire to bash their faces in.
"Yeah, that's my name… or at least that's what everyone tells me nowadays. And I don't know if you looked around but this is a boy's bathroom." I pointed out, feigning disinterest. I fought not to clench my fists as I stared her down; after all that had happened today I was easily agitated and itching for any sort of way to relieve my pent up aggression. And if Clarisse continued on this little path toward self-destruction like I knew she was about to, I would be more than happy to turn her and her half-brothers into that relief.
"Yeah I know but I just had to introduce myself. Clarisse La Rue, daughter of Ares!" She said with a bit of showmanship in introducing herself that kind of reminded me of Hulk Hogan with how she seemed to flex as she spoke. "After seeing you tied up in the Infirmary today I feel like I already know you so well so I figured you should meet me and some of the children of Ares on a more personal level just so you can get to know us. After all most of my brothers and sisters just happened to be out there right when you sent that little wave of yours cresting over the walls and left us soaking wet."
"And your point is?" I knew where this was heading and quite honestly, I wanted to goad her on until I was given leave to strike back.
"My point is that now we owe you a little bit of payback. Now, I don't know exactly how you pulled off that stunt of yours but it got a lot of us wet when we were just minding our own business. However, I think it's pretty clear that none of us can do what you did out there so we'll just have to find some other way to help you shower up." She retorted with a sneer. My blood was boiling now as her four half-brothers circled around me in an effort to show their apparent superiority in numbers. I found the whole thing almost laughable; even without a weapon I could have left them all bloody even if they had five times as many people with them! But I could not just openly attack them; Annabeth was already going to kill me whenever we had a private moment for what I was about to do so I had to at least control the pent-up rage until they attacked me first. I had to wait until this was in self-defense. "And seeing as we just happen to be in the boy's bathroom right now, I think we happen to have a nice supply of fresh, running water in all these toilets just waiting to help you get as wet as we like. Wouldn't you agree?"
I had to force myself not to start laughing now at how moronic she sounded while trying to sound threatening. So instead I just kept my cool and replied as monotonically and sarcastically as I could. "Wow, I'm impressed. A kid from Ares actually able to string together a real sentence! That truly is amazing… but what would your dear little daddy say to that? I thought he was against using any brain power, right?"
Five seemingly identical pairs of dark brown eyes around me boiled with liquid rage as I spoke those words; the perfect reaction.
"I am going to murder you for insulting Ares you little bastard!" She spat as the two similarly built goons behind me tried to grab at me.
I let the first of the two pin my arms before I started to move. It was simple enough to counter his little restraint as I lifted my left foot then brought it down hard on his left knee while I spun out of his grasp. He went down in pain to his knees instantly, giving me a perfect line of attack to his shoulders. Bringing my freed left arm up I slammed the base of my fist right against the collarbone like a hammer with just enough force to send him to the ground but not enough to break it. Without missing a beat, I brought the same fist across the gap between him and his cohort while grabbing on to the other side of his waist, nailing him with an uppercut right into his rib cage that sent him to the ground gasping for air and wheezing in agony.
The other two that accompanied Clarisse tried their luck now as they stumbled into fighting stances, already shocked and disoriented by the fact that a twelve-year-old kid nowhere close to their size was ripping them apart like wet tissue. The boy on Clarisse's right stepped forward first, clenching his fist and drawing back as though he hoped to nail me with a simple haymaker. I had to fight the urge to let him actually hit me right then and there just to see if it would even sting. It would have been simply invigorating to drive a deep fear into him that came with the knowledge that he could not even come close to beating me before I took him down. Yet…I was supposed to control myself and I was having too much fun with this already so instead I just stopped his punch with my right hand and pulled him in before driving my knee into his stomach.
As he slumped over my knee I released him from my grip and turned my attention to the remaining son of Ares as I cracked my knuckles and rolled my neck. He alone seemed to get the message. He turned and ran out the bathroom door past Clarisse, leaving her standing there silent in the presence of a beast she had just unwittingly sacrificed three of her brothers to.
I was upon her instantly, moving so fast she cried out in terror as I grabbed her by her chin and pulled her head down close to me so that her ear was only an inch away from my lips.
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean anything by it! I swear!" She started to blubber as she tried to fight against my grip. Even though she was a good six inches taller and nearly twice the size of this fleshy preteen prison I was trapped in she seemed to shrink in my grip like a kid being disciplined by an angry parent, her fear making her seem small to me. The only time I had ever seen Clarisse truly scared before was eight years ago in my timeline, back when she had first come up from the Labyrinth. This wasn't nearly as bad as the fear I had seen in her eyes back then but it definitely conveyed the fact that she understood she was not dealing with some weakling she could terrorize. "I was just going to haze you a little! Promise!"
"I know you were, Clarisse. I know." I whispered, my so very young-sounding voice taking on a sinister quality that would have done justice to some of Hades' better rants as I let my emotions take over and said more than I wanted to. "And you know what? In another life, I would have just let you go on your little way after maybe bursting the pipes in this restroom and soaking you again. But I have had a very interesting… very infuriating last three days. Everything that should make sense right now is just as twisted as the snakes around Hermes' caduceus and so my brain is more than a little fried. I am tired and weary but most of all I am very, very easily angered. Now, I want you to know one thing: I have fought things the likes of which you cannot imagine. The Minotaur? Hah, that was a freaking stroll through the daisies compared to the depths of evil I have raised a blade against. And now, instead of living my life out in peace and quiet like I have earned;I am subject to some galactic eff you that the gods themselves probably won't give me the decency and explain! Now if it's not too much to ask for you to not pull stupid shit like this and realize an accident when one happens I'd like you to. So kindly stop giving me a reason to kill you."
"Y-yes!" She squeaked. I carefully smiled and pushed her backwards right then, letting her drop to her butt on the bathroom floor as I calmly stepped over her and walked out. In the few minutes I had been inside the boys' bathroom after my shower the campers had started to file on down to the Mess Hall for the evening meal and for whatever announcements Chiron was going to make. Bracing myself for anything, I hurried after them.
"Jackson? Great timing! I had left you a note in the cabin to come to the Mess Hall but you can just come with us to dinner." Luke asked as I silently slipped behind him into the line making its way across the field toward the Mess Hall. "Are you alright? Your face is blood red and you look like you're about ready to kill someone."
"Er… I'm alright. Just had a little trouble in the bathroom after my shower;" I murmured without any real amount of enthusiasm as I tried to force a smile. It was hard to smile around him; my brain kept reminding me that he had already betrayed this whole camp.
"Huh, I hear they make medicines for that nowadays." He sarcastically retorted with a smirk. "Anyways, come on. I'm hungry."
As we walked into the massive Mess Hall, Hestia stared at me while I filed in behind the leader of Hermes' Cabin, the spheres of smoldering fire that rested where her eyes should have been glowing with a fierce intensity to them. Hestia's gaze was piercing and intrusive but without the warm kindness I was so used to seeing when I saw the goddess of the hearth every summer tending to the fire, presumably because she no longer knew me like I knew her. I wondered if Mr. D's little story about what he had seen inside my brain had already reached her ears or if she was just simply curious and watched me out of boredom. Either way I silently wondered if I should say something to her but nothing came to mind. So instead I nodded across the room to her just to show I recognized her. Her expression changed a little at this but she continued to watch me.
"Come on Jackson, our table's over here." Luke called back, using his newfound favorite nickname for me as we quickly made our way over to Cabin Eleven's spot in the hall.
We shuffled our way through the crowd and grabbed our plates, Luke showing me how to offer a portion of mine to the gods as I was not supposed to know anything about that yet. The Mess Hall was packed with a thronging mass of teenage campers in their orange T-shirts that all stared at me with nervous curiosity like I was some sort of circus sideshow. I could faintly make out their whispers as I made my way back to the table for Cabin Eleven, a snatch of conversation about "the Minotaur slayer" here and "the emotionally unstable lake-freak" there. I could even hear bits and pieces about my little performance in the boys' bathroom from the one goon from Ares cabin that had run off only to join up with his table. In particular his description of me as a young Hades made me smile as it made me wonder how the teenage boy would react to someone like Nico.
Making my way back to the Cabin Eleven table I looked across the room just in time to see Annabeth sitting down at the table designated for the children of Athena. She was not saying a word to her half-brothers and half-sisters sitting around her but instead had her eyes locked squarely on the plate in front of her as she pushed the food on it around. I wanted her to look up for just a moment, just long enough to try and gauge what was going on in that infinitely deep mind of hers regarding everything that had happened since I woke up, hell since our last night together in Montauk but her attention remained fixated on the plate so I just gave up.
"Campers, if I can have your attention. May I have your attention please?" Chiron's voice calling out from the other end of the hall near the fire brought my attention back to the rest of the world as I turned and faced him. As I gazed across the stone-lined room with its beautiful columns I could not help but noticed he looked… paler; his skin seemed almost stark white when next to the small patches of brown hair that started on his chest and extended downwards. Silently I wondered if that was because of the instructions that Mr. D had left with him before running off to Olympus, whatever those may have been. "Well then, good evening everyone. It's good to see you all well once again."
I had to admit he was right on that one. Even given how disconcerting it was to see some of the long dead campers once more it still felt just good inside to see Beckendorf over with the rest of Hephaestus cabin again or Silena Beauregard leading the kids from Aphrodite once more. Yeah it was weird but I never really knew how much I missed them until I was now dealing with seeing them all over again.
"Now, before you return to your cabins for the night, I have a few small announcements that need to be made. First, Mr. D has had to leave the camp for a few days and has left me in charge for the time being." Chiron spoke, no real shock there. "Everything will be proceeding as normal while he is away; all camp activities and training sessions will be continued on schedule. The only closing we have for the time being is that there will be no performances in the amphitheater until the end of the week given some… water damage that has occurred." It was almost eerie how every single head in the Mess Hall seemed to stop and turn to look at me right as he said that. But then again I guess I really shouldn't have been surprised. News about any new camper standing out from the norm traveled at the speed of Apollo's sports car around here. I honestly wanted to wave at all them right then.
"Yes now as I was saying the amphitheater will be temporarily closed until some minor repairs are taken care of. Thus, in lieu of the recitation of the works of Homer that was scheduled for tomorrow night, we have a special treat. I have decided that Annabeth Chase and Luke Castellan will be the team captains of the red and blue teams respectively because tomorrow night there will be a game of capture the flag."
The whole room erupted into a roar of cheers and excited murmurings as the cabins instantly began talking amongst themselves about how they would side for the match. Meanwhile, beside me Luke suddenly became as giddy as a thief in a bank without a security system. "This is great! Jackson, tomorrow you get to see what camp is truly all about!"
"Having fun by playing a game?" I suggested trying to sound enthusiastic.
"Sorry but wrong today, newbie. The correct answer we were looking for was getting to bash the other cabins' heads in and then humiliate them. Hermes and blue team all the way!" Well I had to give him one thing: he was definitely great at acting like he liked this place. All across the Cabin Eleven table everyone else was getting pumped up by his little explanation while they eagerly started discussing strategy of how best to capture the flag. However, given that Annabeth was going to be the enemy general I had my doubts as to whether or not they really could start to outsmart her. And that was when I realized one tiny detail that had slipped my mind in the chaos of Chiron's announcement.
"Oh shit." I spat out; my eyes shooting wide as I immediately turned my attention back across the room at the blonde-haired love of my life only to see her staring back at me with that same look of utter dismay. For now I was in Hermes' Cabin under Luke, and she was leading Athena and the red team which meant one thing: we were on opposite teams.
Me: Really quick, sorry it took so long to update this thing from last chapter. It's been a very busy last three weeks for me and ran into a spot of writer's block just to make matters worse for me but at long last I'm finished with Chapter 4 and will get busy churning out the next chapter soon. I have to say I enjoyed making parts of this chapter a little more light hearted than the last, particularly with Luke's interactions with Percy. I have to tell you all I really enjoyed kind of tweaking Luke's character a little bit from the way he is in the book to something a little more along the lines of the person he is in the film because he seemed like that mischievous and slick kind of cool to me in the movie but not so much in the book. But that's enough with my ranting for now. Anyways, drop me a review and be honest about your opinion. See you all next time. Peace.