Hi everybody. Here is Chapter 4 of my fanfiction of The Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena. I hope you enjoy reading it and please continue to review.


Chapter 4

Jason

Jason stood on the upper deck of the Argo II, ready to leave for California. He felt nauseous from the anxiety that had been coursing through his veins for the past week. It was at its maximum now, and he knew that it will only increase for the next few hours until they reach the other camp.

Below him, the last of the campers who were going with him were saying their last goodbyes to their cabin mates. He saw Piper hugging her brothers and sisters. She even hugged Drew, her rival for leadership in the cabin. Drew looked shocked, but somewhat relieved that she wasn't left out. Piper straightened her back a little and threw back her shoulders. She announced something to her siblings that Jason couldn't hear, but he could tell it was something very convincing because everyone, except Drew, seemed mesmerized by her. Drew just seemed annoyed.

Piper took a step back and began to board the ship. The whole time, her eyes were on the Aphrodite campers she was leaving behind to defend the camp if anything were to threaten it. Her arm was elevated and she waved enthusiastically at them with a sad smile on her face as if to reassure them that she would come back safely. In return, some of her siblings gave small waves back. Some of the girls blew kisses at her. Others gave half-hearted smiles. The rest turned away to hide the tears that streaked their faces.

Jason's heart broke for them. He realized how lucky he was. Despite the loneliness he'd experienced for the past few months in Cabin 1, he didn't have many close people to say good bye to. His sister and her hunters were coming on the Argo II with him. So were Piper, Leo and Annabeth. He couldn't have asked for better company on his trip.

But something else tore at his heart. Fear. He felt as if he were leading everyone in to a death trap. He didn't want to hurt anyone on the voyage, but he knew, deep down, that it isn't possible. People were going to get hurt and perish, and it will be his fault.

He wondered if it was too late to back out, but the answer was already there: yes. Leo had worked so hard on the ship for the past six months. Jason couldn't just tell him that he wasn't going. Also, there was Annabeth. Her boyfriend was all the way across the country. She hadn't seen or heard of him in a full six months. She seemed to be going out of her mind with worry. It would be terrible to just cancel the journey on her. And if he did, she would probably maim him. Jason didn't want to be maimed.

Behind him, Grover Underwood, a member of the Cloven Counsel, blew a horn signaling that it was time for the stragglers to board the ship. Grover was a pretty nice guy in Jason's opinion. He had only met him a few days before when the satyr had been called back to camp after searching for Percy Jackson since the winter. Apparently, he was really close to Percy, Annabeth and Thalia.

Like everybody else, Grover couldn't seem to comprehend that Thalia had a younger brother whom she had kept secret about for over ten years. It was the same case with the news of the Roman camp in California.

"I've been all over the world, no less America," Grover had said. "I've never seen or heard of demigods in purple tee-shirts."

But, like everyone else, Grover came to accept both facts.

The lingerers shared quick good-bye hugs with their friends and boarded the ship.

Jason looked around him. Leo had done a great job on the ship. The outside of the ship was dressed with celestial bronze armor. Leo's dragon, Festus (Happy in English, but who wants to call a bronze, fire-breathing, short-circuited dragon that?), clicked and creaked impatiently. He was only a head now after serving a great deal on their quest to rescue Hera from the giants, but he made a great, fierce-looking masthead.

The inside of the Argo II was like an indoor Camp Half-Blood. There was an armory, an arena, a target-practicing area for archers, a mess hall, stables, a smaller indoor amphitheatre, and cabins (the ship kind). Luckily for Jason each cabin wasn't assigned a patron god or goddess, so he wasn't alone in his cabin. He was sharing one with Leo and a few of his new friends at camp. There were a few spare beds that were reserved for any Romans tagging along for the ride, if things did manage to work out between them.

The ramp leading up to the ship squeaked as it was pulled up and was locked in place. All of the leaving campers were on the upper deck, looking over the rail at the siblings they were leaving behind. About one hundred half-bloods were going to Europe, which was approximately half the camp. They were just enough for a small army, but the Gaea's forces could easily crush them.

The Argo II began to creak as it ascended in to the air. The air was full of the sound of campers yelling goodbye and hands waving in the air. It kept on rising until the flag pole that was to raise the flag of truce scraped the lowest of the clouds, and then roughly lurched forward. The Argo II was on its way.

The crowd that had gathered began to disperse. Some campers went off with the friends they had that were on the ship. Others walked back to their cabins or to train. A few lingered on the deck watching the clouds as they passed, wondering what the future had in store.

Jason stayed. He leaned on the rail and recalled what he did remember about his old life: his friends from the fifth cohort, becoming praetor after his victory on Mount Othrys, Little Rome, the annoying lares, his rival Octavian, Reyna…

The memory of Reyna slapped him in the face. He knew that she had a crush on him; it was obvious. The thing was that he only saw her as a friend. The love wasn't mutual. Even if things went well at Camp Jupiter after all, he would still end up breaking a heart. That was the last thing he wanted to do, but he knew that Reyna would not be feeling to good once she learned of him and Piper.

Jason shook the thoughts away. Suddenly he felt restless. He tried to stay put, but the urge to move around was to strong. He wandered off the deck to explore the ship

It wasn't long before Jason discovered a space between two large planks of wood. If the scenario was any different, he wouldn't have taken any notice of it, but his mind was in search of any place where he could be completely alone. The slit was large enough for two people to fit in there and still have plenty of room to move around. A perfect hiding place.

Jason looked around at his surroundings. There was a wooden column right by the opening that partially hid it. Right by there, the stairs turned so that anyone climbing up it had their back to the gap. The column hid it from anyone coming down the steps.

Jason made sure that no one was around and climbed in. On the other side of the gap was an open window that gave a great view of the pearl-white clouds and the deep blue sky.

He leaned against the wall and stared at the sky absentmindedly. It really was a nice day out. Hopefully it was a good sign that the day will go well.

Jason's mind rambled on with wonderings about the camp Hera had kidnapped him from. He wondered how the Feast of Fortuna went and who the rest of the demigods in the prophecy were. He wondered if he knew them. He wondered how Percy Jackson made out there and who had replaced him as praetor. He hoped it wasn't Octavian and that it was someone he liked. He wondered what had changed while he was gone and how bad the destruction from the previous day's battle was. Percy's half-brother, Tyson managed to Iris Message camp the night before and reported the battle. He had said that there were very few casualties and that his brother had his full memory back, which Jason was a little jealous about. Some of his memories were still pretty fuzzy. But Annabeth and everyone who knew Percy seemed to be happy about it. Tyson had also mentioned something about a harpy and a horse, but by that time the message was beginning to fade and it was harder to hear him so they probably heard wrong.

"So," a voice said behind him. "I see you've found my secret hide-out."

Jason jumped in surprise and hit his head on the wooden ceiling. He had been in such deep thought he hadn't realized that someone had come up behind him. He whirled around and found Annabeth studying him intently with her stormy gray eyes.

"Sorry. I just… well… found it."

She smirked. "It's okay. I guess it'll be our secret get-away place."

She climbed in next to him with crossed legs. Jason couldn't help but notice how relaxed she seemed.

After a moment of silence, Annabeth said, "So, how are you feeling? About the Roman camp, I mean."

Jason shrugged. "Nervous. Who isn't?"

She laughed. "That's true. " Then her expression changed to concern. "But, I would think this is nerve wracking for you."

"I guess it could be worse. I don't remember anything to be nervous about except Octavian."

"The guy that you told us about this morning?"

"Yeah. He isn't exactly a warrior type, but he's a powerful speaker. That's how he keeps his power in the legion."

Annabeth smiled. "But we have Piper."

That was reassuring to Jason. "Yeah," he said, his spirits lifting. "We do. And she can be way more convincing than him."

They sat in silence for a moment. Then Jason blurted out, "What's he like? I mean your boyfriend."

Annabeth stared out at the sky. Her expression changed to wistful anxiety. "I always used to think Percy and Thalia were a lot alike. But," she studied Jason critically, almost accusingly, just as she did back in December at the Grand Canyon, "you're even more like him, it's almost scary."

"How so?"

She seemed to consider this. "Well…, you both are somewhat modest. You're natural leaders. And you would never decline a quest."

Jason thought about what she said. He wasn't sure about the 'natural leader' comment, but he always tried not to be too proud and he didn't refuse to go on any quest.

He summoned the courage to ask the question that had been haunting him for the past two weeks. "When we get there, should I hand over the quest to Percy?"

"No," she said. "This quest is too big for one person to lead alone. Just let it run its course."

Annabeth glanced down at her wrist watch and cursed in Ancient Greek under her breath.

"There's a meeting in the Main Cabin in five minutes. Chiron meant for me to tell you, but it slipped from my mind. Sorry."

Jason shrugged. "It's not a big deal. We'll just go now." He began to push his way out of the opening. Annabeth followed and they made their way to the meeting.