This chapter is really short. I'm sorry. When I have time to write, I have no inspiration for it. Basically, it consists of Octavian and Percy fighting, some Pipabeth with Mark of Athena stuff, Clarisse/Percy friendship building, and (of course) some foreshadowing for later chapters.
It was all so dark, so silent. This was the place where nightmares were born. He tried to take another breath, but found himself choking on the lack of oxygen. His skin was crawling, limbs going numb as his body tried to pull every last ounce of oxygen back to his brain. So, this is how I die? Nico thought bitterly, even his mind going fuzzy. Alone and surrounded by darkness. How ironic.
Lost on Jupiter
"How perfect," Percy couldn't help but let the bitterness come out in his voice. He could hear Leo trying to hide his cursing in front of Hazel as he—attempted—finding a place to park the Argo II. Truthfully, New Rome was nothing compared to the real thing. That was one thing Percy had to admit. It seemed that Jason and Reyna also agreed with him, if their leaning over the railing and pointing to different buildings said anything. He had never seen either of the stone faced Romans so excited. Even Annabeth, who was explaining the history of this and that to Piper, seemed to forget the real reason they were here.
Percy couldn't forget. No matter how beautiful the city was. No matter how outright amazing everything looked. Nothing could make him forget that Nico was dying in a bronze jar somewhere and he was just sitting, not doing anything. How could anyone be excited with that on their minds?
Everyone looked up as they heard the whistle. Rachel laughed, dropping the plastic toy into her pocket. "Perfect! Everyone's on deck! Now, come on Tave. Grab the maps and let's get plotting!" Octavian yelled a few phrase in Latin that had Reyna steaming, saying she would strangle him if he repeated that around the "younger kids" again.
After some bargaining, all the demigods were sitting around the steering wheel, so to allow Leo to still drive. Octavian had laid out a few different maps of Rome, one written in Latin and another in English. "We all need to head out in groups. Separating will only lead to someone attacking us," he explained.
Rachel nodded in agreement. "Annabeth, you take Piper with you to go on this Mark of Athena quest thing. Piper, come back to the ship when you're done," both girls nodded in agreement. "Beside that, who's with who?"
"Frank, Leo, and I can go out," Hazel suggested. She made a circle on the map. "We can check this area."
A small smile came onto Leo's face and he nudged Hazel with his foot, glancing down at the map. "You just want to see that fancy church thing," he teased.
"Eyes on the road Valdez!" Octavian growled.
The Latino let out a yelp, turning to face forward. His face twisted in confusion. "There isn't even a road! We're in the sky, damn it!"
Hazel giggled, patting Leo's foot. "He makes everyone feel like that. Don't think you're special."
This only left Leo pouting. "Frank! Your girlfriend is being mean to me!" He said, glancing over at the Canadian who looked to be the most amused by the tinkerer's pouting fit.
Percy cleared his throat, successfully getting everyone's attention. "So this doesn't turn into a little love fight between those three, can we get to the important things here?" He questioned. Thankfully for Leo and Hazel, everyone was too busy to notice their reddening faces. "Good. The pairs are Hazel, Frank, and Leo, Annabeth and Piper, obviously Jason and Reyna, which leaves..."
Rachel cheered some. "That leaves myself, you, and Tave to guard the ship. Congratulations Perce, you've paired yourself off with the future seeing duo that are only useful in guarding the ship!"
That left everyone in a laughing fit. Except for, of course, Percy—who was silently cursing himself for not pairing off with someone who was doing useful things—and Octavian—who was trying, and failing, to explain he didn't see the future, but only interpreted signs.
Lost on Jupiter
Piper would never admit it, but she was scared to death. That was why she held onto Annabeth's hand so tightly. She worried that, the moment she let go, her girlfriend would disappear forever. After all, she was going on this dangerous quest. A quest that she had to do alone. A quest that she wouldn't even tell Percy about.
That's what scared her most. The fact that Annabeth wouldn't tell her best friend about this quest proved how truly dangerous it was. Piper tightened her grip, almost clinging to her now.
"If you hold any tighter, you'll cute off my circulation," Annabeth mused, her pleased smile never dropping. She looked over and, noticing the nervousness in those multicolored eyes, kissed her cheek. "Stop looking so worried. I'll be fine. Don't you trust me?"
Annabeth stopped, taking both of Piper's hands in hers and staring into her eyes. "Then stop acting like you don't." She brought both of them to her lips, placing kisses on her knuckles. "I know what I'm doing. I have to do this. If I don't, then horrible things will happen. I told you that."
"Then let me come with you!" It was the first time since they left Charleston that Piper voiced her opinion on that. After the blonde shot her down once, she chose to suffer in silence. Now, she could no longer stay silent. She had to try again, while she still had the chance too. "You won't even tell Percy what's waiting for you. That worries me Annabeth. He's your best friend. The fact that you don't tell him what's going to happen says way too much."
Her eyes were frantic. Annabeth could see that. She also knew she couldn't ease her worries. To ease her worries would mean to lie and she didn't want that. Of course, she had no idea what was going to happen to her once she started this quest. Still, she knew it would be bad. She knew bad things would happen, but she couldn't tell Piper that. She especially couldn't tell Percy. Both of them would try to stop her.
Instead, she smiled, squeezing her hands. "I know what will calm your nerves. How about some gelato?" She had noticed the little shop when they were walking and had planed to stop there once they passed it.
Piper raised her eyebrows, making a face. "Beside the fact I don't know what that is, why are you ignoring me? I want to help you."
Annabeth still ignored her. She pecked her lips, letting go of one of her hands, and drug her to the little Italian shop. "It's basically ice cream," she explained, leading her inside.
The native American continued to frown. She wanted to keep questioning Annabeth. She wanted to know what was so scary with this quest. She wanted to help. But she didn't say anything. She let the blonde have her moment. She let her girlfriend speak broken Italian as their gelato was ordered. She let herself be pulled outside, to sit at a table under an umbrella, the sun trying to melt their cold treats. She even let Annabeth go on and on about Camp, the happy things, the times when they were fighting or mourning people forgotten. It was nice, but Piper's worry wouldn't subside.
The blonde demigod didn't fail to notice that. In fact, the unceasing worry in Piper's eyes weighed her heart down with sadness. She didn't let it show on her face. Annabeth kept the happy smile and blabbed on about random things. She talked about cabin six, all of her siblings' theories that they tried to test. She talked about the younger kids, how her and Percy had planed to come back every summer once they moved away, because they both loved making the children smile. What she talked about most, though, was her friends. She told Piper about Juniper and Clarisse, even Silena no matter how painful that was.
It seemed to take the edge off of them. After a few minutes, Piper even managed to pull a smile onto her face. Even if the smile was strained, it made Annabeth's stomach loosen and made the smile on her face seem more real. That's all she could ask for. It's what she needed to be able to complete her quest and not feel guilty.
Once their cups were nearly empty was when it all went downhill.
"How strange. Don't you think dear?"
"Most definitely. It wasn't what we were told at all."
The speakers looked to be two movie stars from a different era on a Vespa. Piper had a vague idea of who they were. It was as if she had seen them before, but couldn't place where. Annabeth, on the other hand, had her jaw dropped and eyes lit up with excitement. "I can't believe it!" She grinned, taking Piper's hand. "They're from the 1950s movie, Piper! Roman Holiday. Uhm, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn!"
Even with her father being a movie star, Piper still didn't know who that was. She was sure she had seen the movie, but couldn't for the life of her remember the names of the leading roles. Apparently, Annabeth did however. "Uhm," she offered the two a smile. "Nice to meet you?"
The woman shook her head, but smiled as she leaned her head on the man's shoulder. "Sweet that you think we're that young, but no. I'm Rhea Silvia, mother of Romulus and Remus, actually. This is my husband—"
"Tiberinus," Gregory Peck grinned, looking just as cheesy and confident as a movie star would. "God of the River of Tiber."
Rhea smiled at him lovingly, sighing in that sweet, 'teenager in love' way, before turning back to the two demigods. "And you must be Annabeth Chase, that Athena child we were told to meet." She looked to Piper. "I don't know you, though. We weren't told about you."
Tiberinus nodded in agreement. "Exactly. We were told you'd be with that Poseidon boy. What's his name?" He looked to his wife.
"Perseus Jackson, dear."
"Right! The Percy guy." He laughed at himself, shaking his head.
Piper was confused, but smart enough not to annoy a pair of gods. Instead, she tried clearing her throat. "So...you're here to help Annie?"
They looked to her, as if having forgotten Piper was there at all. "Oh, yes," Rhea said, coldly. Her tone turned cheery when she looked back to her husband. "My dear husband is ever so helpful. He's been helping those Athena demigods for centuries now. Beside, we've been waiting for you," she smiled at Annabeth.
"Waiting for me?"
The goddess nodded. "Of course. Those noisy naiads told us decades ago that Annabeth Chase would come on this quest, with that cute little Poseidon boy that hung off her every word," she laughed, it coming off darker and less oblivious. She glared toward Piper. "Which is why you aren't supposed to be here. You're messing with Fate—"
"Rhea," Tiberinus warned his wife, confident smile dropping. "That is enough."
"What do you mean?" Annabeth frowned, moving toward him. Piper was instantly beside her, standing protectively next to her girlfriend. "How are we messing with Fate? Percy and I haven't been together for months. What are you talking about?"
"Too many questions!" Rhea cheered, obviously trying to please her husband. "Not enough time! Do you have your map and letter of introduction lovely?" This was directed at Annabeth.
As Annabeth started digging through her bag, Piper realized that she wasn't needed anymore. It seemed to hit her now, that her girlfriend was really going to do this. That she would do this on her own. That she wouldn't let Piper help. It filled her with dread.
Instead, she tried to focus on something else, anything else, to put her mind at ease. Piper's thoughts traveled to what the gods had been saying. They had said something about Percy being here with Annabeth—which didn't make any sense—then about Fate. It only added to it that this Rhea didn't seem to like her.
By the time she even had the smallest idea of what it could mean, Annabeth was kissing her. "Go back to the ship. Use your knife and figure out how to save Nico. Don't let Percy do anything stupid," she whispered before kissing her again.
Piper could only nodded. She squeezed Annabeth's hand once more before the blonde climbed onto the back of the scooter. "Be safe! Promise to come back!" She called as it drove off, but Annabeth turned a corner before she could say anything.
With that, Piper's heart dropped. Not only were these gods against them, but the Fates as well. Why else would they tell the river gods to be expecting Percy Jackson with Annabeth instead?
Lost on Jupiter
The first thing that she saw was Percy's pouting face. Clarisse sighed. She her spear down and moved to sit beside the lake. "Okay, what is it Jackson?" She asked, preparing for the worst.
"He's so annoying!" Percy whined out.
Clarisse really didn't have to ask. She instantly knew who he was talking about. After all, the Roman was the only person Percy ever called to complain about. She let out an exhausted sigh. "What did he do this time?"
Percy pouted, crossing his arms over his chest. He was sitting in his cabin on the Argo II, Clarisse noted, and using the little fountain he had taken from his cabin when they had visited. She was surprised he had thought to bring it at all, with how worked up he was about finding Nico. Still, at seeing he wouldn't talk, she sighed. "Please, tell me what is wrong princess."
With that, Poseidon's son snorted. "First, don't call me that," he glared at her, but the daughter of war hardly found it intimidating. "Secondly, Octavian is being an ass. Every time I try talking to Rachel about coming up with a plan and trying to figure out where Nico is, he butts in and tells me I'm wrong. Really? I'm the one trying to save my boyfriend and he has the audacity to tell me I'm wrong? Then we got into a big fight and Rachel sent us to different corners of the ship."
Clarisse couldn't help but snort, for the first time seeing how much of a motherly figure Rachel had become to Percy. She wondered how the redhead could handle all of them. "Fine. First, you're still acting like a girl, so I will continue to call you princess. Second, why are you so pissed off about it? This Octavian ass is Roman, isn't he? Don't you think he would know about Rome? Did you ever think that maybe he's trying to help?"
That made Percy pause. He looked thoughtful, then shook his head, as if not wanting to believe it. "There's no way he was trying to help me!" He snapped, crossing his arms over his chest stubbornly. "He hates me. He's hated me since I showed up at New Rome. Why on Earth would he want to help me?"
She only shrugged. "I'm not sure. Maybe he pities you. Maybe he's trying to please Rachel and get her to stop yelling at him. Maybe he might like you?" Clarisse knew Percy wouldn't believe her before the words came out her mouth. Still, she tried.
Surprisingly, the words made him think. He opened his mouth to argue, then shut it. After a minute, he rolled over on his bed to face away away from her. "Shut up Clarisse," he muttered.
That only made her laugh. "You're cute princess," she teased, only to get a few curses thrown at her.
Percy continued to pout and, after a while, was sure Clarisse had left. When he finally turned around, sure he would be looking at the cabin wall instead of a misty image of camp, he saw that he was wrong. Clarisse still stood there. She looked extremely annoyed, but she hadn't left. Slowly, a grin spread across his face. He pushed off the bed, smirking at her.
"Why you looking at me like that princess?" She wondered, confused to why Percy look so happy.
"You're a good friend," the demigod couldn't help but tease.
Clarisse sneered, shaking her head. "No way. Go pull that with someone else."
Percy could only smile. He wished he could push through the Iris Message and hug her. "Thanks," he managed.
"Whatever," she muttered, crossing her arms over her chest.
Before either of them could speak again, his cabin door was thrown open. Rachel stood there, eyes wide and out of breath. "Percy," she said, "Piper's back. She knows how to find Nico."
So, I know this chapter wasn't that great. Especially after almost a year of not updating. I'm sorry about that, by the way. I've been super busy with school, plus I've been getting sick a lot. Then I'm not inspired when I have time or wasn't sick.
I'll hopefully update soon. I have some ideas for the next couple chapters, so fingers cross that I have time.
~Goddess of the Multiverses