Author's Notes: Last chapter, guys! I know, it's sad, but all good things come to an end. At least I saved the best for last- I was considering doing the Percabeth one last, but I made an executive decision to switch the order.
In this chapter, I talk about RachelxNico. Sorry for Thalico fans, but the story is funnier with Rachel in it. Also, I have a whole list of reasons why RachelxNico is generally better to ship than Thalico, but I'm saving that for my next story, a guide I'm planning to make.
I have a shout-out to make. This story was actually a result of a request from a reviewer, an author by the name of "whitedragon2645", without whom this story would not be possible. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank him/her for the request.
On another note, I'm planning to put up my first story on fictionpress by the end of this month, possibly in the next few weeks. My plan for the next two months is to finish up all of my stories on this site except for my House of Hades story. Then I will start the aforementioned "guide" on this site, and a few stories I'm itching to write on fictionpress, so check those out if you're interested. I'll put a notice on my profile when it's up. It would mean a bunch to me.
Disclaimer: I don't own PJO or anything else I have made a reference to over the course of this story.
A shape-shifting Chinese guy whose life depended on a stick, a girl who could make precious and lethal jewels pop out of the ground at her leisure, a girl who could turn her eyes green and predict the future at random times, the son of a guy who lived in a kingdom of skeleton monsters, and a teacher who was a spitting image of a Greek Olympian god all stared at each other.
"Well," Nico said finally, breaking the silence, "this isn't awkward at all."
Hazel's eyes were as wide as demigodly possible. "When the hell did you guys get married?" she shrieked. "How come we didn't know?"
"When the hell did Nico grow past four feet?" was Frank's insight. "And how come we didn't know?"
Rachel stifled a laugh, but Nico scowled. "Yeah, yeah," he muttered, "well, don't shoot the messenger, but I've been over four feet for seventy years."
Mr. Rock sighed and leaned against the door frame. "I thought I'd left the whole demigod drama when I came to teach. But no! Of course not!" He seemed a bit less-than-satisfied, Nico noted, to have royal blood swaggering through his veins.
Nico looked at him weirdly. "What, you don't like being a demigod?"
"Not particularly. I never was fond of evil demons who could spit fire at you and incinerate your balls. But maybe that's just me."
Rachel turned to her Roman friends. "We should really get started with our conference, guys. See you."
Hazel waved back at her and Frank nodded at them as he morphed into a dragon, grabbed Hazel, and flew off through the skylight in the ceiling. Her shrieks of terror quickly dissipated as Frank traveled farther away.
Mr. Rock tsk-tsked at the burn marks his transformation left on the walls. "Sooner or later, I'm going to have to answer to someone important."
He led them into his classroom, and the two demigods sat in chairs across from Mr. Rock's desk. The teacher in question slumped into the big wooden chair behind his bureau for a while, staring at them.
"Do you know who my godly parent is?" he finally asked.
Nico shrugged. "No. But I hope to gods it's not mine."
Mr. Rock ignored that jab. "Apollo," he said, "hence my good looks, exceptional musical talent, healing and incantation powers, and modest personality. Not only are we good with medicine, which I've had to use a lot in this class, and archery, which I probably will, we are also the best at manipulating the Mist."
He stared right at Rachel. "The Mist," he repeated, "which I've also had to use a lot in this class."
Rachel sighed. "What did he do?"
"What do you think he did?" Mr. Rock retorted. He pointed at Rachel. "You are the Oracle at Delphi," he jerked his thumb at Nico, "and he is the only living child of Hades. Put two and two together!"
Nico was about to laugh, but then he remembered all the coffee he was promised if the conference went well, so he maintained an indifferent expression. "What are you saying?"
"You know exactly what I'm saying! Death prophecies! Prophecies about death! The kids have never been so scared in their lives, and neither have I!"
"What kinds of death prophecies?" Rachel inquired, straight-faced.
Mr. Rock shrugged. "There seems to be new ones every month, or even every two or three weeks. They mostly happen after someone steals the little guy's cookie or something, but one of them has been coming up once or twice every month since they started." He pulled out a post-it from his pocket. "I copied it down one time." He took a deep breath and recited:
From the past it comes, your soul it breaks,
The one who chose is the one it takes,
With a lion's head and a bull's horns,
Beware to face the wrath of Thorn.
He looked up from the paper. "Mean anything to you guys?"
Rachel thought for a second. "It sounds...it sounds like someone made a choice, or did something, of some sort. And that action was bad for some monster, a monster with a lion's head and a bull's horns. Probably other things in his little fun house, too. A monster called a 'thorn'. It doesn't seem familiar to me, though Percy might have said something about that in the past. Of course, the prophecy doesn't really follow the rules of AABB poems because of the syllable difference, but I guess he's just an amateur." She turned to Nico. "Any other ideas?"
Nico's face was a pale white, even paler than he usually was. "We gotta get out of-"
And then the wall exploded.
A figure stepped into the classroom, and the only thing the adults could make out through the dust and haze from the rubble was that he was tall and muscular. Nico shivered as a serpent's tail flicked out from behind him and the shape of an eagle's wings could be seen on his back, along with the horns of a bull. As the dust cleared, Nico caught sight of a face he'd hoped never to see again.
"Hello, children." The voice of Dr. Thorn, otherwise known as the manticore, seemed horrifyingly calm. He did not, however, seem happy to see them.
Nico, Rachel, and Mr. Rock were already out the door.
"Shit!" Nico said as he ran at full speed through the hallway, pulling Rachel along with him until she'd gotten over her shock and could run on her own. Mr. Rock ran beside them, his tie flapping over his back.
Nico heard a roar from the classroom, and soon after, the heavy footsteps of the beast. "Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, SHIT!"
"What the hell-" they rounded a corner "-was that?" Mr. Rock yelled.
"Manticore!" Nico yelled back as they entered the parking lot. He hopped into the front seat of the car, Rachel in shotgun and Mr. Rock in the backseat. "He was my-"
Dr. Thorn burst through the roof of the school and hovered in the air, his eyes glowing red orbs, until they locked onto Nico's car, which was driving out of the parking lot. He gave a cry of frustration and tore after them- on the ground instead of using his wings.
Mr. Rock looked out the back window and yelped as he saw the manticore giving chase. "Faster, faster!" he yelled, pounding on the back of the driver's seat. "Why is this crazy guy chasing us?"
Nico yanked the steering wheel to the right and the car made the sharp turn onto the highway, leaving skid marks on the road. "It was a long time ago," he started, checking the rearview mirror and saw that the manticore was running on all fours towards them, paying no notice to the cars he was tossing to the side and crushing. "Dr. Thorn was pretending to be a teacher to me and my sister, who's dead now, and Percy Jackson saved us and killed him, and now he's super pissed! He must have just reformed from when we killed him, because he still hates my guts!"
Rachel looked in the side view mirror and yelped with surprise. "Nico, he's jumping at the car! Five o' clock!"
Nico cursed and leaned hard left on the steering wheel, swerving around cars as he jumped lanes. The manticore landed in the middle of the highway with a face full of asphalt.
"He has wings, why isn't he flying?" Mr. Rock asked, looking out the back, as the manticore picked himself up and started to give chase again. "Then again, maybe it would be a good thing if mortals didn't see a flying truck that's trying to annihilate us..."
"He was created by Zeus," Rachel explained, looking in the rear view mirror at Mr. Rock. "Zeus wanted to make the ultimate bodyguard- a creature with a serpent's tail, a lion's head, an eagle's body, and the horns of a bull- but the manticore went rogue and ran away. Zeus got mad and tried to hide the fact that the manticore had ever been created, but of course the other Olympians found out. Artemis and her Hunters spent the next few centuries tracking down and capturing all the manticores and bringing them to Mount Olympus, where Zeus could change their bad ways, but Dr. Thorn, instead of being captured, has always been killed because he's too strong, guaranteeing that he'll reform and keep causing havoc in our world!"
"That's nice and all, but what does it have to do with him not being able to fly?" Mr. Rock asked. "Nico, on your left!"
Nico made a sharp right, zipping across lanes and almost colliding with an oil tanker. For one brief, terrifying moment, they were driving on two wheels, but the car righted itself. The manticore came up empty again.
"The Big Three made yet another of their numerous pacts," he said, taking over from Rachel. "They vowed that if the manticore ever reached one of their domains, they'd capture him and take him to Olympus! That's why he can't fly! He knows he'll be captured by Zeus!"
The manticore was getting super mad. Reckless as he was before, he was even angrier now, tossing cars aside and creating magnificent crashes and explosions that would have been great for "Fast and Furious", but were kind of horrible to look at in real life. He'd also sped up his stride and increased his pace, gaining on the speeding demigods, so it was extra hard for Nico to avoid him. He pressed the gas pedal down more and the car zipped up to a hundred miles an hour. The surrounding environment bled together into one multi-colored, magnificent blur.
"So, what, you'll just pitch him into the air?" Mr. Rock asked. "Let Zeus take care of him? Give him a parachute and push him off of a plane?"
"No," Nico shook his head, "we aren't going to give him a parachute."
Rachel looked at the sideview mirror again. "We're running out of time!"
A thought occurred to Nico. "Rachel!"
"Where's that place where you almost died?"
"That place where you almost fell off a cliff?"
"What- its- why do you need-"
"Just tell me!"
She threw up her hands in frustration. "Next exit! Take 17B...TAKE 17B IT'S COMING UP ON YOUR RIGHT, MY GOD, DO YOU WANT TO DIE?"
Nico cut across three lanes and swerved into the next exit. This time, since there was a ramp leading up to it, they made the turn fully in the air..
The car slammed down into the ground and bounced a bit on its wheels before continuing on normally. The manticore roared with anger and risked a small flight to catch up with the car. Almost immediately, though, he yelled in pain as something seemed to stab right through his wings, probably the dealings of Zeus. In any case, he dropped to the ground, opting to run after them instead.
Nico turned right onto a side street and then left onto a road that ran right through a forest. No other cars were there, just them and the manticore. Trees blocked views from the side from above, and, to a certain extent, straight ahead. The good news in this was that the manticore had no idea where he was going, which could be played to Nico's advantage.
Dr. Thorn seemed to be changing tactics. Instead of a flat-out chase, he was spitting fire to knock down flaming trees in front of them, or he was ripping boulders from the landscape and chucking them at the car. Seeing as the car was traveling at about a hundred-twenty miles an hour, Nico had no problem avoiding these obstacles, but the constant swerving was slowing down his speed.
The manticore was gaining.
"I hope you know what you're doing!" Mr. Rock yelled.
Rachel shook his head. "Let it go, that's never the case!"
A tree fell down right in front of the car. Nico used the trunk as a ramp to get up in the air, but then another tree fell, and some leaves and branches of that one attached themselves, by way of the tree sap, to the windshield of the car. He was now driving blind.
"Damn it!" Nico cursed. "I CAN'T SEE!"
Mr. Rock yelped and collapsed to the floor of the car as a hail of pebbles smashed through the back window. "KICK THE WINDOW OUT WITH YOUR FOOT, ISN'T THAT WHAT THEY DO?"
Nico sighed and buried himself in his seat, then launched his foot at the windshield. The good news was that the glass immediately shattered. The bad news was that, because of the tree sap, it didn't go anywhere, and neither did his foot. Now, he had one foot out the window, tangled up with the tree branches, and one on the ground, working the gas and brake at the same time.
For better or for worse, he had other, more serious problems.
"SHIT!" he winced, "I think I pulled my groin!"
"Get your foot out of there!" Mr. Rock, yelling from the floor of the car, arms covering his head.
And then they were airborne.
By some miracle, they'd managed to avoid all the obstacles the manticore had thrown at them when they were flying blind. Unfortunately, they were now plummeting off the cliff, two thousand feet down into a rocky abyss.
Mr. Rock looked out the back window as the manticore gleefully leaped off the cliff after them, forgetting that he couldn't fly. In the blink of an eye, he was gone.
"Holy shit!" said Mr. Rock. "Zeus works fast!"
Rachel yanked at Nico's leg. "It's still stuck!"
Nico's eyes were shut and he was sweating. "I'm trying to get us out of here!"
"What? Three people? You've never done that before, that's crazy-"
And then they collapsed on the ground, one on top of each other, cartoon style. Mr. Rock hit the grass of Nico and Rachel's front yard first, followed by the man of the house, followed by Rachel. The car miraculously landed away from the three of them and in the pool, sending a wave of water over the demigods. It was a little beat up and smoke was rushing out of it, but it had served them well.
Rachel was the first to move. She rolled off the stack of people and landed on her hands and knees on the ground, panting. "My arm hurts."
Nico groaned and fell off of Mr. Rock with a rather ungraceful flop, coughing all the way. He landed on his back on the ground, breathing hard. His hair was burned and was sticking up in random directions. "Yeah, well join the club. At least you don't feel as if you've been castrated. Three times. By a throwing knife. Which was on fire."
Mr. Rock was buried face down in the dirt, his body making an indentation in the ground from the force of two adults slamming down onto him. He shakily raised his left hand and stuck up his middle finger. "Don't talk to me about pain," he said, his voice muffled by the ground but still sounding angry. "I'm retiring."
Author's Notes: I hope that made you laugh as much as it made me laugh! Or, at the very least, I hope it made you smile. There, is a smile too much to ask?
Well, that's about it for chapters of this story! I think I said all my thank-yous before, but whatever- thanks to everyone who reviewed, it really meant a lot to me! Even if I didn't reply to most reviews (I know I said I would do that, but I kinda got lazy), I read all of them and took all of them to heart.
Reviews would be greatly appreciated! Tell me how successful this final chapter was!
Peace, love, and Skittles. Oh, yeah.