CHAPTER TWENTY: SETTING SAIL

OH GOD, YOU GUYS ARE GONNA MURDER ME. I HAVEN'T UPDATED IN FOREVER AND I APOLOGIZE. A LOT HAS BEEN GOING ON AND I HAVE VERY LITTLE TIME FOR MYSELF. OKAY, SO YOU'RE GOING TO MURDER ME TIMES TWO BECAUSE I LIED AND THIS IS THE LAST CHAPTER. I DON'T REALLY WANT IT TO BE THE LAST, BUT THERE ARE TWO MAIN REASONS WHY. 1) THE MARK OF ATHENA HAS ALREADY COME OUT AND MOST PEOPLE WILL PROBABLY LOSE INTEREST IN THIS AND 2) I KNOW THAT I WON'T HAVE TIME TO UPDATE REGULARLY AND I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE YOU GUYS WAITING FOREVER SO THIS WILL BE IT. AT LEAST IT'S A LONG CHAPTER, RIGHT? I WOULD JUST LIKE TO THANK YOU ALL FOR READING THIS STORY AND STICKING WITH ME THE WHOLE TIME. I REALLY APPRECIATE ALL YOUR REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK. I ENJOYED WRITING THIS AND I'M GLAD I COULD SHARE IT WITH YOU! BY THE WAY, I READ THE ACTUAL MARK OF ATHENA AND I LIKE CRIED. IT WAS SO GOOD. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT YET THEN YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD. IT IS SOOO GOOD, EVEN IF IT TORE MY FEELS TO SHRED AND FED THEM TO HUNGRY WOLVES.

DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN PJO OR HOO, RICK RIORDAN DOES. DON'T STEAL MY PLOT THOUGH! I WORKED HARD ON IT.

JASON GRACE'S POV

If I had to back back into that twisted maze again, I think I would have died. Luckily for me, I didn't have to because just as we were about to leave the little bookstore the others rushed in. Well, to be more accurate, Leo was about to open the door when it flew open and hit him in the face. Annabeth, Hazel, Frank, and Percy ran into the room and Percy slammed the door shut behind him, leaning against it as he controlled his breathing. Then they noticed Leo on the ground with a red welt on his forehead and apologized for face-planting him with a door.

"What are you guys doing here?" Piper said.

"Er, hiding." Hazel supplied with a worried look.

"Do I want to know what you're hiding from?" Leo asked rubbing his head. The poor guy seemed to be the one that always took the damage.

"Who." Annabeth corrected. She removed her bronze dagger from her belt and held it towards us like it was the reason for all the bad luck in the world. "And this is why."

"That explains a lot." Leo muttered under his breath.

"We have weapons in the city." Annabeth told him.

Piper nodded in understanding. "Terminus."

"Your running from Terminus?" Leo questioned incredulously.

Everyone ignored his question. "So how did we get in undetected?" I asked.

Annabeth shrugged. "Most likely someone was distracting Terminus."

"Why would they do that?"

"I have no idea." Annabeth admitted unwillingly. She bit her lip and I could tell that she hated not knowing.

"How long do we have until he finds us?" Frank asked.

Annabeth frowned. "He should have found us by now. Which is worrying since we're unscathed."

That when the pounding started on the door. Percy was the first to react, shoving a chair under the knob. Go, he mouthed at us, moving towards the back door. We followed as quickly as we could. I was the last out, with enough time to see dozens of Romans flood into the shop. At the front was none other than Octavian.

Many thoughts raced through my head from Run! to How? to Must kill scrawny weasel kid. I decided to warn my friends by yelling "Run!" which must have been helpful considering that they were doing that anyways.

"The ship!" Leo cried out.

"I'm sure your ship is fine Leo!" Percy assured him as we sprinted down the street, our sneakers thudding against the hard pavement. I took the lead as we came to an opening in the alley. We took a turn onto the main street which was a relief because I finally knew where we were.

"No!" Leo screamed. "Go to the ship."

I decided to sprint in the general direction of the warship, but the seven of us didn't count on the Romans doing the same thing. I knew that we were being herded, but our best option was to get as close to the ship as possible.

"Octavian?" Piper screeched. That made everyone turn back to see what she was talking about.

"Don't look. Keep running." I encouraged them.

"But-but... how?" Hazel wheezed. We were all breathing heavy, but the adrenaline rushing through our veins kept us going.

"Questions later." Percy answered, glancing around at our surroundings.

I was glad that the rest of the Romans didn't have weapons because we were in spear-throwing distance now.

"Get the Hunters and Cabin leaders!" Piper cried out over the mob behind us. We didn't have to because they were one step ahead of us. I could see them in the far distance boarding the Argo II. I wish I could be along with them, but we had a crowd to outrun.

Percy swerved to the left to avoid being ht with a ceramic plate. I heard it shatter agaainst the ground a split-second later.

"Nice reflexes, man." I complimented as we neared the warship.

"Thanks." Percy said. "They come in handy with flying cutlery and dish-ware." I couldn't tell if he was kidding or not.

We were a couple hundred yards away from the ship when we were surrounded. Just our luck.

The only advantage that we had were out weapons, but the Romans had found makeshift tools of death for themselves such as: bricks, large pieces of driftwood, chairs, and my personal favorite, a can of cheese spray.

"What now?" Frank asked.

"The fountain, Percy." Annabeth hissed under her breath. Percy got the message and sprayed a good twenty Romans with water from a near-by fountain. This distracted them enough to let us dodge between them with minimal injuries.

"Jason, fly Leo up there and get him to control the ship!" Piper yelled.

I grabbed Leo by his tool belt and shot us up towards the sky. I dropped him on the deck and dove over the edge to grab someone else. I saw a bald eagle with its talons hooked into Hazel's shirt and Piper's jacket as I flew down. I almost went to help them before I realized they seemed pretty calm about it. I figured the eagle must have been Frank. I've heard that he could change form, but I hadn't really seen it happen before. I've got to admit, it was pretty awesome.

At the bottom, trying to get to the ladder, was Percy and Annabeth. I reached Annabeth and offered to help her to the top, but she just growled, "I'm not leaving Percy!" so I decided to defend them as they made their way up the ladder.

Percy was clutching onto the first rung when I heard Octavian's high pitched voice pierce through the crys of the mob, "Kill them! Kill them all! They disgraced New Rome by smuggling their weapons into the city!"

So the little twerp was behind all this. I promised right then and there that I would come back to teach him a lesson. If I made it back from Greece. I glanced at Percy who was halfway up and then at Annabeth who was a couple rungs up the ladder.

Then Octavian threw a hammer at Annabeth, who was preoccupied with getting up the ladder. It made contact with her leg. Her knees gave way and she flew fifteen feet to the ground. She rolled on her side, but she couldn't control her fall and she ended up hitting her head against the hard ground.

After I recovered from shock, I grabbed her by the waist and started flying her unconscious form up toward the deck before any Romans could get to her. I thanked the gods that Annabeth had the sense to cushion her fall, or she could be dead right now.

I pasted Percy on the way and I swear he nearly lost his grip when he saw Annabeth. His face went white and I was worried that I would have to fly him up too.

"Keep going. I got her!" I called to him. He nodded and kept climbing.

Once I reached the deck I gently placed Annabeth on the deck just as Percy flung himself onboard.

"All aboard?" Leo asked.

"Just go!" Hazel cried out. Leo did exactly that. I could tell the ship was moving up and away from New Rome. I slumped against the mast in exhaustion and watched uselessly as Percy and Hazel gave Annabeth medical attention. I drifted off into darkness after a couple seconds.

ANNABETH CHASE'S POV

I felt like someone had dunked my head into the River Styx.

I was in a bed, on my back, with a thin blanket covering my body. I groaned and rolled onto my side. I felt the warship lurch beneath me, tilting downwards. I tried to get up, but my body felt like lead.

"Watch it, Wise Girl."

"Percy? Is that you?" I asked, my words slurred together.

He grabbed my hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Yeah, its me."

I sighed. "How bad?"

He furrowed his brows together and I was tempted to smack him for being stupid.

"My injuries, Seaweed Brain. And don't bother sugar-coating it."

"Er, you have a bruised hip bone, nothing you can't handle, and a sprained wrist, but it's your left one so you should be okay. You just fell on it. Really hard." he told me. "Oh, and your calf is bruised because it had the pleasure of making acquaintance with a hammer."

I tried to nod, but my head flared in pain. Percy winced. "How's your head?"

"Fine." I said, gritting my teeth through the pain.

"Don't bother lying; you've got an ugly bump on the side of your head." he said, gingerly touching his fingers to my right temple. The feel of his cool hands against my skin was soothing.

He gave me a concerned look with he green eyes. "They say you don't have a concussion, but I made them check again. Three times."

I wanted to hug him so badly, just for being a cute, worried boyfriend, but my injuries withheld me. "Thanks." I managed.

"No prob. I was just worried that you would be grouchier than normal." he smirked. I take back anything nice I've ever said about him. I gave him a solid I'm-going-to-kill-you glare. "It's nice to see that your injuries don't prevent you from giving me the evil eye."

I rolled my eyes, which, by the way, made my headache worse.

Percy handed me a glass of nectar. "That should help. A little."

I took the drink gratefully and drained the glass.

"Rest up. We've got a meeting later. Everyone's waiting for you." Percy told me.

"Why didn't you just have it without me?"

Percy bit back a smile.

"What? What's so funny?" I asked.

"You don't even see how everyone looks up to you." he said.

"Oh. They look up to me?" I asked quietly.

"Of course!" he assured me. "They were going to have the meeting tomorrow, but you made good progress so they changed it to noon."

"Noon?" I echoed. It had been about six in the morning when we made out great escape. "What time is it now?"

"Three." Percy answered warily.

"AM?" I shrieked. "How long have I been out?"

"Nearly a day. But you're much better now."

Much better? I don't even want to know the shape I was in yesterday.

I turned my head to look at Percy who was sitting in a wooden chair when I noticed dark bags under his eyes. I narrowed my eyes at him. "When was the last time you slept?"

"I can't remember, to be honest." he admitted.

"Percy!"

"Oh, I dozed off for and hour or two in that armchair." he offered, pointing to the corner of the room where an ugly armchair that was upholstered in green plaid sat. I have no idea what Leo was thinking when he put that there.

"Have you been here the whole time?" I demanded.

"Well..."

"Percy, tell me the truth."

"Yeah, I was waiting for you to wake up."

"You are a complete hypocrite!" I yelled at him, trying to ignore the throbbing in my head.

"What? How?" he asked.

"How can you possibly tell me to get some rest when you're not sleeping at all?"

He made a face at me and then sighed. "Fine, here's the deal. If you go to sleep, then I will, too."

I thought about his for a second before I agreed. "Are you going to your room-"

"I'm staying here. Right by your side. I'm not leaving you." he said. If I'm not mistaken, there was an undertone to his voice that said he felt guilty for being demigod-knapped. I looked- like, really looked- into his eyes and they were overflowing with emotion.

"Percy, it wasn't your fault. Stop beating yourself up." I comforted him.

He nodded, but I could tell he didn't believe me. "Close your eyes, Wise Girl."

I didn't argue. I fell asleep with Percy next to me, holding my hand.

PAGE BREAK

I somehow managed to drag myself to the meeting room, with Percy's help. He did manage to make me stub my toe against a wall, but I would get back at him for that later.

Everyone else was already seated at the long table. Well, actually, most of the Hunters and cabin leaders weren't present, but everyone that was absolutely needed was there.

"Sleep well?" Leo asked, smirking. He sat at the head kf the table.

Piper sighed. "He walked in on you and Percy sleeping."

"Oh." I said as I felt my cheeks heat up. No one was supposed to see that.

"It's no big deal really." Piper said. She spoke, but seemed to be paying attention to Jason more than anything. I just hoped they got together soon. Might as well be a couple for as long as they can. "Leo's just a dope."

"I know you love me, Piper."

"So what are we here for?" I continued, taking a seat across from Frank.

"To discuss our journey to Rome." Jason told me.

"And the epic catastrophe that took place yesterday." Percy guessed

"We all know the problem there." Hazel scowled. "Octavian."

"Wait. Hold up. What exactly did he do?" Piper asked.

"Well, you know how we somehow got into New Rome with weapons?" Jason said. "He must have been behind it. He probably distracted Terminus when we entered the boundaries."

"So we could 'break the rules'." Leo added. "That's pretty smart."

"And then we would be known as enemies for bringing weapons into the city." Hazel scrunched up her eyebrows in concentration.

"The Romans would have no choice, but to attack us." I finished. "Which they did, of course."

"Octavian probably didn't plan on us getting away." Leo grinned.

"He was under guard. Obviously, he got away from his confined room somehow." Piper said. "He must have accomplices."

"It doesn't matter now. We need to focus on what we're going to do know." I said.

"Go to Rome, fulfill the prophecy of The Mark of Athena, find out where Hazel's brother is, go to Greece, kick Gaea's butt- if she has one- and go home without dying." Leo supplied. "All while looking cool in a flying warship."

"Thank-you, Admiral Idiocy." Piper said. "But we already had that part planned."

"I guess we just go with the flow." Jason said. He turned to Leo. "Where are we right now?"

"Flying over New York. We should be over the Atlantic in about an hour." Leo answered, fiddling with his tablet that controlled the ship. "Did you want to make a stop at Camp Half-Blood?"

Everybody turned to me. I bit my lip. What was I supposed to say? Of course I really wanted to go there, but the smart thing to do was fly over. "Skip it. We can't waste any time."

I saw Percy's face drop slightly. He must really miss camp.

"Alright then. Off to Rome we go."

I walked over to one of the circular windows on the ship and looked out at Manhattan. I sighed. This was the last chance for me to back out, but I knew I couldn't. I wouldn't. The world needed me, and this is what I've been training for.

The prophecy, Gaea, my nightmares, they were all so real now that Rome was so close. The fate of the world rested in the hands of seven teenagers, and I'm not really sure if that's a good thing. Everyone makes mistakes, but one mistake from us and the world might as well explode.

Percy gave my hand a squeeze and smiled at me. "We'll be fine. Don't worry."

I nodded and took in the view of New York until it faded away. We were over the Atlantic Ocean, away from safety. We were on our own now.

Our quest had officially begun.

AGAIN, SO SORRY FOR NOT UPDATING. PLEASE DON'T KILL ME, I STILL NEED TO UPDATE MY OTHER STORIES AND I'M SURE THOSE READERS WANT A FAIR PIECE OF ME TO YELL AT AS WELL. REVIEW AND TELL ME WHAT TOY THOUGHT OF THIS STORY AS A WHOLE. I'M SO GLAD THAT I COULD WRITE THIS FOR YOU GUYS! I WANT YOU ALL TO KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH AND I COULDN'T HAVE ASKED FOR BETTER READERS! SO THIS IS ME SAYING PEACE OUT AND I LOVE YOU! 3