Yancey Academy is an expensive private school on the Hudson for 'troubled students'. Me, I'm more trouble than troubled, ditto for my friends Callie and Poly. You see we're demigods – yeah, like in Greek mythology. You see the gods are real, they still exist and they still like to fraternize with morals.
I'm a son of Ares, the god of war which means I'm a real good fighter. I can also mess with people's heads, make 'em scared, make 'em brave, whatever. Callie is a daughter of Aphrodite, not only is she incredibly beautiful but she has the power of Love – which is nowhere near as lame as you'd think. And then there's Polypoetes Stone, who had the bad luck to have a mom who knew her ancient Greek. His weird first name means 'maker of many things' and it suits him to a T being a son of Hephaestus the smith god. You wouldn't believe what he can do with machinery, any kind of machinery. He's also sneaky, very sneaky and smarter than either Callie or me. We're a team; Poly is the brains, I'm the brawn and Callie's the beauty – which is much more important than it sounds.
We've been going to Yancy for a couple of years now which is a little on the risky side – three strong demigods together – but we can handle ourselves a bit better than most and the Camp always sent a satyr protector to help us spot the monsters. Okay, more explanations try to keep up: 'camp' is Camp Half-Blood a place set up to train young demigods so they won't be offed by the monsters they attract, the stronger you are the more monsters. What kind of monster you may ask? Oh the standard; Cyclops, sphinxes, hydras… Basically if it's in the Cambridge Guide to Greek Mythology it's real and it wants to eat you.
Last year our protector was Gleeson Hedges, tough as nails but maybe a little over aggressive – and remember it's a son of Ares saying that! Besides I hate being called cupcake. We knew we were getting somebody new but still we were pretty darn surprised when we ran into him on our way into eighth grade orientation.
"Grover?" Callie said suddenly. The kid in front of us turned and yep, it was. Grover is young for a satyr, kind of undersized and he pretty much lost his nerve after an extraction that went horribly wrong five years ago. The Council of Cloven Elders that bosses the satyrs blamed Grover for the mess but they were the only ones. Heck, even Gleeson said he'd done good to get two of his three charges to safety – and it had been Thalia's own decision to play rear guard. A gutsy girl - I'd have liked her – and she wasn't exactly dead though being turned into a tree isn't anybody's idea of living.
We found seats together at the back where we could talk. "You got a new assignment congratulations, Grover," said Callie
"Yeah, way to go, man," said Poly.
"We're an easy gig," I told him. "Just sniff out the monsters then stand aside and we'll take 'em."
"Not that we get a lot of monsters here," Poly put in, giving me a dirty look. "What was it last year, just a couple of lost Laistrygonians and some boar."
I was about to remind him of the Cyclops but remembered just in time that that was the last thing Grover needed to hear. "Yeah, and we had to practically go looking for 'em," I said instead.
"Maybe you looked," said Callie.
Grover in the meantime was looking worried and depressed, like he always did these days. "This is my last chance," he said, "I mess up this time and it's all over."
"You won't," Poly told him.
"There were three half-bloods last time," he said miserably.
"Yeah, untrained," I pointed out – though pretty badass for all that. "And one was only seven years old, totally different from us."
"Totally," Poly agreed.
"Grover," Callie said taking his hand and he blushed as guys always do when she uses that voice. "You are a good satyr and an excellent protector. You had the Fates themselves against you with Thalia. Nobody could have brought her in."
But the goat-boy wouldn't be cheered up – and resisting Callie's ego boosting isn't easy. "I'm such a coward."
"No," I said flatly, "you're not. He looked across Callie at me in surprise and I flashed him my scary grin. He paled a little. "I'm a son of Ares," I reminded him. "I hate cowards." Then I switched the grin to friendly. "And I like you, Grover-boy, ergo you're no coward."
"We gotta make Grover look good," Poly said.
It was after dinner on our first day and we were sitting together on the porch of Birch House where the seventh and eighth graders sleep.
"We can do that best by staying out of trouble this year," Callie said firmly.
Poly and I exchanged looks. "Trouble usually comes looking for us," I reminded her.
"Not always," she gave me a stern look. "Certain of us go looking for it," Guilty as charged your honor! I shrugged apologetically. Hey, I get bored, okay? She switched the look to Poly, "And some of us make trouble with their cunning plans!" Poly winced, ouch. Yeah, that was true too. "No fooling around this year, guys," she finished. "Promise me."
"On the River Styx," Poly and I chorused.
The very next day Grover found trouble all by himself, so much for good intentions. He followed us out of Algebra grabbing Poly by the arm. "I've found a half-blood!"
We all stared at him. "You're kidding," I said, then wished I hadn't. It obviously was no kid, Grover's yellow eyes were round the pupils gone slitty with shock.
"Who and where?" Poly asked, getting right to the point.
Grover was shaking, Callie put an arm around him as I steered us all out of the traffic and into a window bay.
"I don't know his name," Grover said. "He's one of the new sixth graders I just got a whiff of him in the hall. He's strong, very, very strong."
And that wasn't good. Like I said before the stronger you are the more monsters you attract and when you're a little kid who doesn't even know what you are yet that is very, very dangerous.
"Show us," said Callie.
Luckily it was time for morning break so that wasn't a problem. Since it was a nice warm September day everybody was out back on the lawn. "There." Grover pointed at a scrawny, black haired kid on a bench away from the others hunched over an open book.
"You sure?" Poly asked. Reading is not a favorite pastime of most half-bloods because of our dyslexia.
Suddenly the kid snapped the book shut, slammed it down on the bench and took off running across the lawn.
"Okay," I said, "that's more like it."
Grover kept a worried eye fixed on the kid, breathing a sigh of relief when he reached the playground and attacked the jungle gym.
"You're going to have to change grades, Grover," Callie said. "You won't be able to keep close to him as an eighth grader."
"Right," Poly agreed. "I mean we don't even sleep in the same building much less take classes with the little kids. Callie'll take care of it."
Callie's real good at manipulating the mist. She can pretty much make mortals believe whatever she wants them too – which believe you me comes in handy when you've just slain a hydra in the cafeteria right in front of the whole school!
"I can fix people's minds," Callie said, "but you're going to have to hack into the school computer and fix the records, Poly, and to do that we need the kid's name."
"Your wish is my command," I said, and headed off to the playground before anybody could stop me. They would have too I've never met anybody more for making simple things complicated than my two buddies.
"Hey, kid!" I called, "Yeah, you on the slide!" He stood up fists balled at his sides, eyes narrowed you could see he was a real scapper, full to the brim with attitude. I warmed to the kid and stuck out a hand, "Mark Service."
He blinked, pretty taken aback. I guess I look more like a bully than the welcome wagon at that. "Uh - Percy Jackson."
We shook. "Welcome to Yancy," I said, "It's better than Juvie but not by much."
Percy grimaced. "I won't be here long. I've never spent more than a year at a school in my life."
Oh yeah, definitely a half-blood. I shrugged, "Well they've stood me for two years," in spite of the hydra, and the Cyclops and don't even mention the flock of griffins, "Maybe you'll get lucky too."
The bell rang end of period and I headed back to the others, little guessing I'd just shaken hands with the premier hero of the age.
That night Callie helped Grover move into Percy's dorm room, luckily there was an empty bed there which saved them a lot of juggling around. And Poly and I broke into the principal's office so he could hack the computer. Guess who got the job of altering all Grover's paperwork to say sixth grade instead of eighth. Oddly enough everything went smooth as silk - which is no common occurrence for us let me tell you! The next morning the whole school from Principal Whitman down was completely convinced that Grover was, and always had been, a sixth grade student assigned to Dorm 5 on the main house's third floor. It was our first and last piece of luck where Percy Jackson was concerned.