Hi everybody! So my first one-shot got some pretty good feedback, so I thought, "Hey, why not add another one and see what happens?" So, here it is! If you've read The Lost Hero-which I'm hoping you have-you know about Jake Mason and his odd body cast. Well, this is the story of how he got that body cast. Haha enjoy!
Jake Mason sat in his bunk, winding up a toy he had just made. With a heavy sigh, he put the small dragon on the ground, and let go. Almost instantly, the contraption burst into flames. Jake put his palm to his forehead and tried to hold back the dirty words lingering on his tongue. Finally, he picked up the charred machine and started over, fixing the gadgets and shining up the metal. The rest of his siblings were still asleep and retracted down into their private rooms, but sleep had evaded Jake once more that night. The sun had not even risen, and he had been up for at least an hour. With a disillusioned expression, his eyes drifted upward, to where he knew the single empty bed still lay above ground.
Beckendorf...He thought, looking away after only moments. Where are you when we need you?
Jake hadn't wanted to become head counselor. He knew that no matter what he did, he would never be able to live up to Charles anyway. All Jake was good for was building things, and now he was even failing at that. His leadership skills were nothing compared to Beckendorf's, but in the end, Jake had no choice but to assume responsibility for Cabin Nine. He was the oldest. He had been at Camp Half-Blood the longest. And, unfortunately, there was nobody else.
It's ironic, isn't it? His thoughts were bitter as he stared up at the ceiling, and instinctively, his thoughts were directed towards his father. The son of Hephaestus, god of fire, killed in an explosion. It's no wonder everybody thinks we're cursed.
Jake's attention wavered for only a moment, but the next thing he knew, his small toy dragon was falling apart in his hands.
"Damn it!" he cursed, letting the rusty pieces fall to the ground. Of course, there was nobody above ground to hear him. His nightly outbursts would continue to have no audience.
Seriously, Dad? We can't even build anymore?
Still grumbling to himself in frustration, he picked up the pieces once more and blasted the music on his iPod. He didn't want to think about anything; all he wanted to do was concentrate the energy of his mind into this little trinket that was unfairly avoiding his building prowess. The son of Hephaestus didn't know what time it was, nor did he care; so when he heard the alarm for breakfast, he was only slightly surprised.
Jake swung his legs over the side of his bed and ran his callused hands through his messy, copper mop of hair, ignoring the grease he was unintentionally spreading through it. Still fuming, he ordered his bunk upwards and out of his underground room, where the cabin was still completely empty. When he stood up and slipped into his boots, he scowled in repulsion at the small bloodstain by his bed. Harley's hand still wasn't healed from his unlucky encounter with one of Christopher's failed bug-killing machines, and unfortunately for the other campers, it was dripping blood everywhere. Just another day in the life of a cursed child of Hephaestus.
"Morning, Jake," Nyssa greeted, tying the bandana over her hair. She looked as if she'd gotten just as much as sleep as Jake: none.
"Hey," he smiled. It was a slight comfort to him, knowing that he wasn't the only one worrying. Of course, Nyssa wasn't senior counselor; it wasn't her job to lift the curse. It wasn't her job to look after all of Cabin Nine...
And it most definitely is not her job to try and fill Charles Beckendorf's huge ass shoes.
The exhausted and disillusioned children of Hephaestus nibbled absentmindedly at their food. For their sake, Jake tried to seem as if there was nothing bugging him. He cracked jokes and threw them feigned smiles, hoping that maybe their spirits would be lifted. Just as he had expected, his attempts were futile. The only way they would ever feel better would be once this purported curse was gone.
"Guys, why don't we head back down to the forges after breakfast and take another look at that map?" he suggested. "Maybe we'll get a better idea about where that dragon is."
"Jake, it's useless," Nyssa sighed pessimistically. "There's no way we're even going to get close."
"If we can get enough oil and Tabasco sauce, I'm sure it would approach us comfortably. I mean, it knows we're not going to hurt it...?"
"And then what? 'All right Mr. Dragon, please stop terrorizing our campers and go back to your job, please.' That'll never work!" The other campers nodded reluctantly, agreeing with Nyssa.
"You never know if you never try," Jake persisted. He was not happy with the outcome of his persuasive techniques. This was one of the many reasons he stuck to building things rather than polishing his leadership skills. "Maybe if we say the right things and act the right way, it will listen to us."
"And if not? Jake, we don't know what that thing is capable of." Nyssa had a worried glint in her eyes, as if she were concerned about what her half-brother had planned inside of his intricate and twisted mind.
As if on cue, the wince-inducing cry of the bronze automaton rang out through camp, causing all of the campers at the pavilion to flinch and instinctively cover their ears. Then, almost instantly, they turned their eyes toward Jake and the rest of his cabin. They avoided eye contact and looked back down at their food, haunted by the resonating echo of the magnificent beast's call.
"Jake," Nyssa finally whispered. "I'm trusting you on this. Right now, we have no other choice but to try your plan."
"Good," Jake sighed in relief. "I'm glad you finally agree. But, if that plan doesn't work..."
"You mean," Harley interjected, "trying to control the dragon ourselves?"
"Yeah. If that doesn't work, we'll have to resort to plan B."
"Oh." All gazes averted downwards. The words he had just uttered felt bitter and dry on Jake's tongue, but they were true; if they had to, to keep the camp safe, they would have to destroy Beckendorf's dragon.
Then the curse will never be lifted, he thought to himself. He and the rest of the cabin were fully aware of the situation. Surely, their curse—or, whatever it was—would be lifted if they could prove their worth as followers of the late Charles. Surely, their father would reward them if they could harness the power of their own creation without destroying it. It was their only hope for breaking free of their mysterious demon, and it was their only hope for regaining the respect of the camp.
Jake put a grape into his mouth as his eyes meandered across the pavilion, pausing momentarily at each cabin. Everybody seemed so happy (except for Percy, but that was only because he was sitting alone at his Poseidon table, scowling and sneaking glances at the Athena table as he ate in solitude). The campers were laughing and joking light-heartedly with their siblings, as if there was not a single care in their mind. Even Clovis, with his group of incessantly sleepy zombies, was awake and smiling as brightly as ever. And then Jake looked around at his own table. There was not a single trace of a smile, even on his own downcast features.
"Hey guys, come on," he said. "Cheer up! It's not that bad..." He wasn't fooling anybody, including himself.
"Yes it is," Harley frowned. His red cheeks turned downwards as he leaned his chin on his palm. "It's not fair. We didn't do anything wrong!"
"It's all right, Harley," Nyssa comforted, rubbing his back. "This isn't a curse. I know it's not. But whatever it is..." She paused, and looked at Jake right in the eyes. "We'll get rid of it."
Right, he thought cynically. We'll get rid of it.
That was just another way of saying, "Jake will get rid of it."
"Motor oil?" Jake's pencil hovered over his clipboard.
"Hammer? The big metal one?"
"First aid kit?"
"All right. It looks like we've got everything," he smiled, putting the clipboard down on the desk. Nyssa scratched the back of her neck and glanced outside of the forge windows.
"Yeah, including an audience. Who invited them?" she accused. "We didn't tell anybody we were doing this..."
"Um," Harley cleared his throat. "I might've told a couple of people..."
"Ugh!" Nyssa rolled her eyes and adjusted her bandana. "Harley, you and Shane and Christopher have to go tell them to get out of here. This could get dangerous. We shouldn't even be doing it."
"In fact," Jake suddenly said. The thought had just popped into his head, and he wasn't sure if it was very logical, but he found himself thinking that it was something Charles would've done. "Why don't you all stay here, too? Let me go handle the dragon. I'm senior counselor, after all."
"What?" All of his half-blood siblings gawked at him with dropped jaws. "Are you serious?"
"Well, yeah..." Jake brushed the hair out of his face and shuffled his feet anxiously. This was exactly the type of thing he was not cut out for. "Like Nyssa said, this is really dangerous. I don't want to be responsible for any more death."
"You need at least one other person," Nyssa argued. "I'll come with you."
"Fine. But everybody else stays."
He tried to ignore their disappointed grumbles and cries of protest. He knew that if Beckendorf were here, he would agree with Jake's decision; he would want to protect his siblings, and he would be willing to put himself in danger for it. Perhaps if Jake just kept put himself in Charles's mindset, he wouldn't make for such a bad senior counselor, after all...
"We'd better get going," Nyssa interrupted his thoughts logically. "The dragon always likes to roam the edge of the forest right about now, during sundown."
"All right, let's go." Jake slung his large backpack, filled with cans of motor oil, bottles of Tabasco sauce, and a first aid kit over his shoulders. Then he grabbed his hammer and, swallowing the fear that was bubbling up inside of him, led his half-sister out of the forges. They left behind their worried siblings, and walked silently through the crowd of demigods watching in wonder.
"Sorry, but this isn't a spectacle," Nyssa said to them. "Nobody else can come."
Slowly, the world around Jake was beginning to disappear. He was drowned in his thoughts about the dragon, and the way it would react when they approached. He didn't know what it would do; Beckendorf was the only person that did, and he was dead. It was times like these when Jake wished he were still around...no, Jake always wished that he were still around. Unexpectedly, tears brimmed on his eyes, but he blinked them back hastily before Nyssa could notice. He could suddenly remember all of the good times that he and Charles had shared; they had been close, like real brothers. And he knew he wasn't doing his deceased friend any justice with this act. He was still uncertain of what he was doing. Charles would've known exactly what to do and how to do it. And all of the other campers knew it just as well as Jake Mason knew it: nobody could ever live up to Charles Beckendorf.
"Just spread it evenly," Jake advised.
He and Nyssa were opening their bottles and cans of Tabasco sauce and oil with scrunched up noses, pouring it onto the soil and moving it along the edge of the forest. They had made sure no other campers were watching, specifically the other children of Hephaestus. Jake tried to keep his face straight, simply to show Nyssa that he wasn't afraid; in reality, he was more frightened than he'd been in a while. Ever since Beckendorf's death, nothing they had done seemed to work as planned. Their machines hadn't worked, the dragon had gone haywire, and even their social relationships had taken turns for the worst. Everybody at camp thought they were cursed, and even some of the members of Cabin Nine were starting to believe it.
"This should be enough to attract it."
"Jake, I'm just worried about what will happen after that." Nyssa stared distantly into the forest, sighing heavily and speaking with a worried tone.
"When the dragon comes," Jake began. Once again, he tried to imagine himself in Beckendorf's shoes. "I want you to stand back there, where it can't see you. If I need any help, then you can come out. But I'll try to calm it down, control it, take a look at its circuitry."
"I don't know..."
"This is the only way," he persisted. "And I don't want you to get hurt, too."
Finally, Nyssa succumbed, and with a solemn nod, she made her way to the spot to which Jake had pointed. He rubbed his eyes, trying to convince himself that he wasn't tired and that he wasn't scared. He clenched his fists apprehensively, and even his teeth began grinding together instinctively. Flashbacks of the small toy dragon he had tried to make that morning replayed in his head, and he could not stop thinking about how it had crumbled to pieces right in his hands. No matter how hard he had tried to rebuild it, it had kept falling apart. He simply couldn't get that windup dragon to obey his orders...
The ground rumbled. Jake expertly covered his ears just as the approaching dragon screamed out, emphasizing its arrival. He stumbled backwards, staring into the darkness of the forest with a pounding heart and a churning stomach. Finally, he saw two eyes glimmer out to him from the ominous blackness, giving him frightening chills, and then the ground rumbled once more. He felt his heart drop to his feet as the great, brilliant bronze dragon emerged from its hiding spot in the forest. He naturally held his breath, watching it with wide eyes. Jake, for the sake of Nyssa, straightened his back and attempted to act put-together.
Holy crap, this thing is bigger than I remember!
He was not put-together in the slightest.
At first, the dragon automaton did not notice the relatively small child of Hephaestus staring up at it, as still as a statue. Its nose dipped to the soil at its feet, sniffing the seemingly delicious mixture of Tabasco sauce and motor oil. Jake tried not to gag as it opened its mouth and licked up the repulsive substance, creaking in pleasure.
All right...I can do this...Beckendorf could do this...
It took him a few minutes to gather his courage. But finally, he opened his mouth.
The dragon lifted its head, and its horrifyingly realistic eyes narrowed at the sight of Jake. He took another habitual step backwards, clutching the handle of his hammer with both hands. It growled deeply, and Jake thought he could feel his very organs tremble.
"I'm not going to hurt you."
He realized how unconvincing that sounded while he was holding that hammer. The dragon was eyeing the weapon incredulously. Realizing he had no other choice, Jake slowly bent down, put the hammer on the ground, and lifted his hands. This was not going as he'd planned.
Yeah, I hadn't really planned on facing this thing without a weapon.
"See? I just want to—"
The dragon stepped forward, raising its head and letting out an ear-piercing scream. Jake doubled over, groaning at the sickening sound.
"Hey, boy, calm down," he said shakily. "All we want is to check out your circuitry. It won't hurt a bit, I promise. We just want to see what's wrong with you."
The dragon shrieked and lifted its leg menacingly.
Right. Perhaps that wasn't the best wording to use.
Before Jake could react and pick up his hammer, the dragon lowered its leg. Jake felt every single bone in his body crack as he crumpled to the ground, completely smashed underneath this dragon's literal iron fist. He was so blinded by the pain that exploded through him that he could not even hear the own savage scream that escaped his lips. He could vaguely make out Nyssa's voice in the background, but it was distant...and Jake was in too much pain to care. When he slowly opened his eyes, he saw that the dragon was looking down at him triumphantly; its leg lifted and ready to strike again.
"P-please..." he stuttered. Even his throat felt dented, and he could barely speak without his voice cracking. "We just want to help you."
Hey Dad? Right now would be a great time for you to help me.
Of course, Hephaestus did not answer. Jake groaned, wishing he could move any one of his limbs.
Beckendorf...he would know what to do. Too bad I'm not Beckendorf...and I never will be.
The dragon lowered its paw one more time, and before Jake could even feel an ounce of pain, everything was white. But his mind was able to pull out one last thought...
I'm not the one who will lift this curse. I'm not meant to be head counselor.
There you have it, the back story of poor ol' Jakey. I just thought that part was interesting when I read it, so I wanted to expand on it :) I hope you guys liked it, review! Maybe I'll post more one-shots, but that depends on the feedback I get. So thanks! I love you guys!