Chapter 17: Casualty of War…
Yeah, um, hi? Sorry about the small (big); hiatus. I did warn everybody; but I resolved to give you all an apology gift of the whole "DC" arc in one chapter. Thanks to each reviewer/favourited/liked this story and is just reading it. You're my inspiration! This is where it begins to get a bit gritty, but I'll try keeping it light now and then. There are still quite a few surprises waiting.
~It is a far, far better deed that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I've ever known. ~
Getting to Washington wasn't the problem. In a car it would take about three hours but by plane it would take about an hour. It was already quite far in the evening so everybody resorted themselves to rest. Everyone, excluding Peter. He sat at the main deck of the, er, ship. His head was bowed in silent thought.
If there was an article some Greek enemy needed only one person could really know what they were looking for. Black Cat; better known as Felicia Hardy. He should have known, or seen; hell now that he thought about it their voices even sounded similar!
That also left Peter with a little bit of a shock as he remembered her openly flirtatious comments to him, well Spider-Man. That alone should have exploded the geek's mind. A girl who in the past had been a complete irritation and had no problem flaunting her money was flirting with him; the poor science nerd. Of course that was Spider-Man but still it was, in a way, kinda him.
He shook his head a little to clear the cobwebs (Pun intended!). Teenage emotions and relationships sucked . . .
"Parker," Fury muttered; "Don't you have a date?" Peter really wanted to be anywhere else but next to Fury now so he did the logical thing, obeyed an order. He was gone before Fury sat down and as the middle aged spy sat in the chair that once held Parker he also tried thinking of ways to help them. The national guard in was alerted; marines, Navy and military personnel were on standby; doctors had stocked up on their various medicines and cleared any non-fatal patient. Every chess piece of Fury's side was neatly arranged; now it was time for his opponent to make a move . . .
Peter sat atop the Helicarrier. His bag was stuck to the side of one of the ventilation shafts and he was staring at the mask with the two gold-tinted bug eyes. He breathed just fine this high in the air. He was used to being as high as a sky scraper and to some extent it calmed him. With little hesitance he put on the mask, straightened it and was off to the penitentiary.
Kronos observed everything around him with small movements. This time there was no smile to the titan's features. He had Tartarus with him to greet their last arrivals. The king of the titans knew his father viewed these, lower beings as pawns; what the titan had yet to realize was that he was the biggest pawn of them all. Tartarus stayed tight-lipped throughout the task.
"Father?" A burly voice asked confused, "Where have you taken us?" He blindly roamed around as his eyes didn't adjust to the extreme darkness that was Tartarus. Several other big figures stood with him all searching blindly while Ares sneered and answered.
"Tell me my children," he enquired; "What has Olympus given you throughout these wars." Every child of Ares stayed silent as they listened to their father. Neither Ares nor his children noticed Tartarus's glowing obsidian eyes which made theirs tint black. "Where are your immortal posts? Where are your accolades? Where are the tales of your bravery promised to you? Where are your own quests? Where is your FAME?!" They stayed silent. Ares smiled viciously, "Here, I, Ares, promise to my children; I promise them the respect and fame they are owned!" There was a roar and then abrupt silence.
They didn't notice the change their perceptions made; they didn't hear the malicious growl of other beasts; they stayed silent. Tartarus smiled; "Has Hela delivered the beast as promised?" he asked not even breaking a sweat from his efforts. The children of Ares and their father stayed silent; it was almost statuesque.
"Yes…Pater." Kronos said trying to seem stronger than he felt. "And the others are-"
Tartarus back handed the titan with little effort which resulted in the titan flying onto the ground with a groan. "I do not care for your team; I care for the artefact that needs to be retrieved." He said before gaining a small smile; he tsked and held out a hand for Kronos who took it with reservations. Ares and his children didn't make a move. "I am sorry," he said patting the younger immortal's back; "We are just so close…"
Kronos nodded eagerly; "We are, aren't we pater?"
Tartarus offered the smile and nodded. His eyes landed again to Ares and the god's spawn, 'Minds can be bent so easily . . .' he thought looking again at Kronos, 'It is not even a challenge anymore . . .'
He woke up gasping; he almost leapt off the newly given bed. Unfortunately this time he'd been roomed with Nico the only person on earth who could survive on one hour's sleep a day. He walked shakily to the bathroom which had been graciously been in the room. Nico followed Percy silently. He'd seen this before with Percy; sure the son of Hades had nightmares but he knew they weren't as bad as the visions Percy got. He grimaced as he watched Percy bring back his lunch on the poor toilet.
Percy hugged the toilet in front of him as he dry heaved. It had been more vivid this time; he'd seen the body fall on the street. Watched himself rush to it; watched with dread as the blood began pooling. As he reached her; the blonde hair he'd witnessed turned black; her knife wound to the side shifted down and to the left and there was a large gash at her middle like she'd been stabbed. His first thoughts before the change was that it was Annabeth, he was sure it wasn't anymore.
The woman looked him straight in the eyes; her eyes seemed to shine like suns; "You cannot stop this…"
Percy sat there next to the porcelain god known as toilet and breathed heavily. The disgusting aftertaste of vomit still clung to his mouth reminding to what he just did and why. "You okay?" Nico asked. Feelings weren't his specialty and neither was they Percy's.
"Yes," Percy said trying to shake the slight daze. "I hate nightmares…"
"You and me too pal." And like that Nico flushed the toilet and went out of the room leaving Percy to deal with the problem. He knew that there was a time Percy would come to him when it was necessary; for now he'd give Percy the space he needed. The son of Poseidon leaned on the sink as he looked at his sweaty face. Hair clung to his forehead and he was frowning; usually nightmares entailed the future; what did this future mean?
He took out his toothbrush and some toothpaste. He then worked on the pain that was getting that horrid taste out…
Nico was waiting for him as he got back; "Wanna cry dramatically into my shoulder?" he smiled at the jab knowing Percy would do anything but. All he got for it was a pillow to the face. "Seriously though, do you want to talk?"
Percy gave an Apollo sized smile; "Emotional are we?" He said with a raised eyebrow.
Nico huffed; "Excuse me for wanting to help."
Percy grew serious, "I don't need help Nico," the demigod tightened his jaw, "You know that."
Nico sighed; "I'm the only one who really knows what you've been through Percy," he seemed kind of desperate; "I know talking helps; it helped me; it can help you too."
"No one will help you Percy," It'd been the day; Gaia had ordered Kronos to stop playing; she was going to rise soon and she wanted her son to be ready for his rise as well. "You will die down here."
Percy stayed silent; which was a first. He looked straight ahead not even able to look the monster in the eyes. "It really was fun playing with you; but soon I have to fulfil a promise I made to you." He motioned to Annabeth. She lay on the floor too sore and hurt, to move; "I'm going to kill her; then I will go kill your loved ones; but I'm not going to kill you Percy. That would be mercy; and I don't do mercy." He muttered going over to her slowly.
Percy's thoughts went a mile a minute. He was going to hurt Annabeth; he was going to kill mom; he was going destroy dad…
Percy grit his teeth; his friends would not come; they were too busy beings slaughtered. He finally swivelled his head to Annabeth; she was about to die; Annabeth was about to die and all he could do was watch. He heard her give a small dry chuckle before it turned into a cough; "You…You're an…idiot sometimes Percy." It was like she read his thoughts. Like she judged every thought he just had and in one second obliterated the wall of pity and self-doubt.
Percy rose to his feet; the chains tied to his limbs getting tension. Kronos turned confused; "How?" he uttered the single word. Percy didn't hear; all his energy was on breaking the bindings. He didn't need help; he wasn't hurt (much). Annabeth was the one in pain; she needed him. His muscles strained with the effort of breaking free; fatigue tore at him and sweat fell down his tired body but still he pushed as Kronos watched on astonishment. He gave a primal roar of a man with the strength of the gods behind him. He wasn't some second rate warrior. He wasn't the weakling Kronos said he was; he was Percy Jackson…
The chains snapped under the pressure. Percy's fist tightened and he began limping to Kronos. "I-I-I broke you!" the Titan muttered stunned; "I destroyed you from the inside…how?" he copied his previous statement. Percy said nothing but kept advancing. He tightened his fist as Kronos snarled. Kronos snarled lunging at Percy. Somehow Percy dodged and got his arm in Kronos's underarm. Without thinking Percy changed his footing and now they were back-to-back.
It was in this grapple hold with Kronos that Percy realized what drove his unnatural movements. His fatal flaw; the flaw that drove him to protect his loved ones; the flaw he now used as strength. Percy gave a dark look to nothing in particular and threw the titan over his back with protesting muscles. Kronos's landed with his neck first. There was a sickening pop and Kronos's eyes glazed over. This was the first time Percy killed someone even remotely human. It was the first death in his mind, the first fatality in this war that he'd caused. It seemed almost justified.
Still here the monster was again; haunting him with his past and making his life harder; "I know it was hard Perce," Nico seemed just as uncomfortable talking about this as he was. "But eventually we both have to get over it." Nico was the first to go down there; he was the first to visit that desolate hell; yet Nico hadn't been in his shoes; Nico didn't know just what he went through. Even Percy didn't know what really happened down there; it was like he was on autopilot.
"Let's just go to bed, Nicky." He joked with his friend in an attempt to forget the situation. "I'm sure you'll need some sleep." With that Percy turned around and faked trying to sleep as he remembered his crappy life. He did hear Nico sigh.
Nico frowned; what would it take for him to admit he was hurting? The thought hung in the air. Percy had this innate ability to infuriate and make you worry at the same time. Nico understood some of it though. That was just…Percy. He'd been through so much in five years; set such high examples for demigods; he was the idol counsellors told stories about by a camp fire. He had to look strong, had to laugh at danger. He was the leader; the protector; the brother . . . ((*))
"You've got ten minutes," the guard said to the masked vigilante. He wasn't uneasy around Spider-Man. He had two teenage daughters to support and spies crawling up his ass. A kid in a bug suit was the last thing that scared him. "Make'em count."
Spider-Man nodded; he walked into the room noting the camera was down. Felicia hardy sat in a chair staring suspiciously at her surroundings. She really hoped it wasn't the guy who broke into her apartment. She gulped as she remembered it; there was only one person she knew who could move faster than the guy who dodged the bullet (literally) and that was Spidey.
It was then that she saw a reddish-blue figure and suddenly he sat in the opposite chair. "Hello Felicia." Spider-man said.
She smiled slightly; "Guess I got caught out huh?"
"What no joke? No quip or childish 'I-told-you-so?" she asked with a small sigh; "I feel almost insulted."
Peter grit his teeth under the mask; "What were you thinking?" he blurted out; "Do you know just how dangerous it is for a…a…kid to go out like that!"
Felicia took a deep breath; she tried containing her anger; "You're one to talk." She said; "I don't know who you are; hell I don't know if you're even human under that mask; but I do know you are young."
"I'm not you," Spidey muttered; "Do you know how I'd feel if-" he paused. They weren't friends outside the hero gig; Felicia wouldn't even speak to a geek like him in normal circumstances. "You have a future Felicia; this isn't a life for someone like you-"
"Oh I see," She rose out the chair; her restraining kept her bent over though. "You know what you are bugboy? A chauvinistic hypocrite. You view others, especially women, who come into your life as fragile; you have this idea that you have to protect every person. You say I'm a kid; but you're so obviously just as young as me; so tell me bug, what is the truth?"
Peter was going to slam the table in frustration; but at the last second stopped with shaking hands. He came here wanting to ask for help; but found himself asking her to stop helping. Great job Parker . . .
"You want the truth right?" He asked; "You want to know why I think you should stop this?"
"It has nothing to do with you really," he said bitterly confusing her; "It has everything to do with a promise I made myself though."
"And just what is that?"
Peter hesitated. "I've lost one person through arrogance and stupidity; I'm not letting you go through that Felicia." He shook his head; "I can't let you learn that type of lesson."
Felicia stayed silent for a few seconds after that; "How are you here anyway; I thought cops hated you." It was strange for the cat burglar to see the spider so serious. It was something unexpected; and if she was really honest; she'd admit it was kinda welcoming. Of course, thieves are liars.
Peter closed his eyes and sighed at her attempt to change the subject; "They do; I've got connections though."
Felicia nodded; she leaned forward; "I doubt you came here asking for me to stop; why are you here Spider?"
Peter sighed; "I need your help with something…" he gave her the bare minimum and she kept nodding throughout. When he was done she asked him how he expected her to help in shackles and he explained his plan. He wanted a judge to release her into the custody of SHIELD; that way he could keep an eye on her and get her help. She reluctantly agreed.
It was as his time grew short and Peter moved to leave he asked another question. "How do you know so much about being a thief?"
She smiled; "My father wasn't the man most thought him to be." She said cheekily; he nodded and went to leave as she asked him a question. "Why do you do it then?" he knew what she meant.
As he disappeared into the shadows she heard the walls whisper seven words, "With great power; comes even greater responsibility…"
(Part 2; Helicarrier; research centre)
~Dec 19; 07:30~
Doctor Banner hadn't slept even a bit through the night. He'd witnessed some fascinating things with the blood samples Percy gave.
The advancements with modern technology and Stark's own 'new direction' had brought forth quite a few medicinal and research related devices. Stark himself had been quite interested in the cellular structure of living beings; especially after meeting Captain Rogers. Through the last three months Stark had been working on a secret project of sorts. He'd needed the help of someone who knew of Biology and so Banner had been consulted for a few secure phone calls.
Whenever Stark had found time between Iron Man; Pepper and some renovations he found himself working on his newest project. It was still in the prototype phase when Banner asked Stark to use it. And currently the bulky machine stood in their little 'play room' on the Helicarrier. It was astounding really what the mind of Anthony Stark could deliver. In basically three weeks the former weapons manufacturer had created an electron microscope able of viewing a cellular nucleus with astounding clarity, a microscope able to view atoms!
It was one of a kind and this bulky machine had very recently fascinated the doctor. It was every scientist's dream to view the smallest cellular structures and here he was seeing the impossible. What he was witnessing was nothing short of astounding. If looked at from a normal electron microscope one would never see it; nor notice it. The difference in the DNA sequence was something that gave him some ray of hope.
He could see the scientific answer now. The reason Percy could control the sea; the way water healed him. It was the unknown element that comprised half the chromosomes that intrigued him. It had no colour until it was put under the microscope. There it went from being colourless to becoming bright gold tint. Another part of the gold blood had fascinated Banner but he was quite sure that wasn't where the answer hid. It'd been his plan to look at that gold tinted composition in Percy's blood later. His first priority was to get a cure. He could almost feel the butterflies in his stomach flutter in apprehensive hope.
He could almost see Percy now; willing the electrons and protons in the water to his will. He could see Percy healing with the composite of the sea. He'd done it, he'd successfully found an element that could possibly cure him with a reaction agent. In theory all he'd have to do was inject the isolated gene into his blood stream and then drink water. Simple, yet the doctor hesitated from further thought of that.
The doctor smiled as he took his eyes away from the machine. The hardware was warm as he touched the control panel. He closed his eyes and turned his head up. Maybe Betty would come back? Maybe Ross would finally give up? Maybe he'd be gone . . .
Doctor Banner frowned as he found that thought sad. He shook his head; now wasn't the time to think of this; he was needed elsewhere. He began walking back to the main deck; after securing the blood with samples in a safe only he knew the combination of. He needed the Hulk- the monster- to focus. Maybe Hulk could be controlled one final time . . . ((**))
When Banner entered the main deck Peter and the demigods were there along with Fury; Cap' and Hill; well there was a new addition. Felicia Hardy stood uncomfortable near the door; she looked slightly like a caged lion. Of course any law enforcement could do that to a criminal. Oddly Bruce felt himself being sad by that. This was not something for children; he'd had similar feelings for Peter and Percy as well as their friends.
He guessed it was the assimilated time as a teacher. He'd seen what the normal life of a child this age should be; Bruce prided himself on being observant. He noticed what few could. It was what set him apart from his colleagues; it was also what drove his curiosity. They were all tense; tenser than any teen Bruce knew. It was the kind of tension he'd noticed in some of the soldier's he'd done tests on. It was a wary inbred caution.
"Hello," he greeted friendly; he was in too good a mood to worry over his own insecurities; making sure to give a gentle handshake to the girl; "I'm Bruce Banner."
She appraised him for a moment; looking for a reason why he was here and that was when she remembered the name Banner. Involuntarily her smile dropped slightly and she shied away a few centimetres. Bruce pretended not to notice that. She released his hand and Banner gave one nod in address to the other people.
It was then that Romanov and Barton entered; both acted like seeing a girl in jeans on the Helicarrier was a regular occurrence. After that Stark entered; he had a glass of coffee in hand and didn't seem at all happy to be up this early. It was amazing to see the Billionaire up so early. "Today is gonna suck." The man muttered but didn't elaborate as he went to sit at the main desk with his feel up; head back and resting. He had a suitcase with him.
Now that everyone was here Fury began; "Okay," he said, "I'm glad to see everyone here." He pointed to Felicia, "Ms Hardy will be consulting temporarily with the location of this so called artefact that our enemy wants." He stepped back giving a nervous Felicia the spotlight. The thief; frowned, in her Black Cat façade she was confident against a lot; but as normal Felicia she was the rich snob of a schoolgirl.
She gulped, "We-well, uh, hi I guess?" She took breath and began again; "Um, okay, first, if we need an artefact we need to narrow down what to search for at least." She looked at Peter lost; he gave an encouraging smile (which she couldn't see) and a nod from under his mask. "Any ideas."
Percy pushed off from the wall he'd leaned on, "Well it'll obviously be Greek." He tried.
Felicia winced a little as he spoke; she was still afraid of the storm his eyes had shown. Percy noticed it and sighed; he'd have to talk to her about that later, he owed her an apology at least. When she spoke it was a little more wary; "There are over eighty thousand Greek artefacts in America alone; anything else?"
Nico wasn't the most notable at detective games or his father's jewelleries but even he knew a few things. "It would have to be extravagant," he muttered hating the attention it caused; "Trust me when I say these people love their objects to be exaggerated."
Felicia sighed again; "There are still a lot of extravagant Greek objects; it's usually why they're acquired."
Clarisse gained a thoughtful expression; this artefact would be valuable; it would be Greek. Contrary to popular belief Clarisse was far from being incompetent. It would be Greek. That was the key; what were Greek's widely known for? Well, food, agriculture, war . . .
That was it!
"It has to be an object of war," she said as another connection came through. "Because, this item would be the start of a war."
Felicia thought about it for a second; and then as lightning struck in the form of an epiphany she smiled. She didn't say anything but moved to one of the computers and typed in her query for the internet. She smiled at the result. Felicia turned back to the people who stared at her confused; "Guess what I found." Smiling largely the thief put the picture of what seemed like a golden spear. "Say hello to Apistos, the faithless, a particular piece I've had my eye my on for a while."
Fury raised his single famous eyebrow; "What's the interest?"
She snorted, "You're kidding right?" She paused, "The spear has a lot of mystery behind it. They say Leonidas used it; hell, it could possibly and easily predate old Leo. There are also archaeologists who found ancient Greek pieces of this spear in myths…particularly about Orion and Theseus." Percy looked up at the mention of his brothers names. It was strange, but it couldn't mean anything else, right?
"Okay, we got a possible target," Fury muttered, "Location?"
"The Smithsonian, in the Ancient History section," she didn't look at the computer, she knew it wasn't listed there. She seemed to recite it to memory. Fury acted like he didn't take note of that fact. He made another to make sure the National Guard and FBI took care of the public, and then he had to get the president out of Washington. They were out of time, it was now.
The spy looked at Captain America the team leader of his response unit. He then took a quick glance at the group assembled. They seemed ready…Appearances could be deceiving. He gave a minute nod, "Captain…You're up."
"We're all ready to go pater." Kronos said from the feet of the throne with his head bowed.
"Is the Olympian and his spawn ready?"
Tartarus raised an eyebrow; "Then what are you still doing here?"
"I–I ask a request pater."
"Speak," Tartarus said calmly.
"Jackson has become a nuisance; I have little doubt we'll find him the mortal world. I wish to…kill him." Kronos was hesitant in asking; Tartarus would want that honour himself. "We've already tried destroying him physically and mentally. It failed; I ask to destroy Jackson…permanently."
Tartarus frowned for a second before sighing; he understood the need for disposing of Jackson and his irritable friends. It was just such a shame he wouldn't be granted his revenge of the boy; oh well, "Just make it painful." He said with a wave, ordering Kronos away.
Annabeth walked into the throne room; "You asked for me?" She asked Nyx.
The primordial only nodded; "Today's the day." She said.
"What do you mean?" Annabeth asked confused; "is something happening today?"
Realizing her slip; Nyx smiled; "I meant today's the day you meet your boyfriend again."
Annabeth frowned; "What do you mean, what about that law?"
Nyx smiled; if a little strained; "Oh, don't worry; we've worked a way around that." She gave another encouraging smile. Before taking a deep breath; "Remember when I said the Fates always have ulterior motives?" She asked and Annabeth nodded slowly; "Well I've got something to tell you . . ."
~An hour and a half later~
DC was in some ways just as much of a tourist attraction as New York. It housed a lot of famous political places and monuments. Of those monuments being the one for ole' honest Abe. Another being the statue of what seemed like a giant needle with a back drop to a seemingly large swimming pool. The last time Percy had been in DC he'd had to fight the Nemean Lion. That seemed like a very long time ago.
Now he was in the Jet, Stark designed. Nico and Thalia were praying for their fathers to guide them. Percy didn't pray; he knew he didn't need to pray to his dad. For all the mistakes Poseidon had made, and he'd made quite a few, he still had the same fatal flaw as Percy. Percy took this time to think. He had a bad feeling about this. Clarisse also said nothing but she reciprocated those bad feelings. Something bad was going to happen today.
He sat next to Nico and Thalia. Both were decked out in their gear. Spider-Man – who'd left Felicia with Fury – and Banner were in front of them. Tony sat by himself nursing his whiskey, looking for all intents and purposes like the king of the castle; they'd left the twins to go to Olympus and warn the gods. And Cap sat next to Nico. He had a grim frown as the spies drove them in the jet. "We're almost there." Natasha yelled back to them. Cap wanted to make a plan. To strategize. He never got the chance.
The Abomination shoulder charged the jet and under the monster's huge size the metal didn't stand. Cap was the first to react. He reached under the seat for his parachute while giving the seat he sat at a death grip when he found the Chute, he let go of the chair and found himself free falling into the sky. Banner and Stark were thrown out as Peter simply clung to the chair and reached under it where he knew the parachute was waiting. Clarisse was clinging to him which did little for friction and ease of movement while he rummaged around for his chute. Nico and Thalia were already out in the air with Thalia screaming as she glided under her parachute. When he found it he tried reaching for it. It was too far and ground was coming up close. Crazy idea time…
Banner kept calm throughout the free fall. He knew he couldn't die and he'd been in this type of situation before…sort of, that was intentional this was unexpected. Concentrating on the anger he began to feel the change. His bones popped and broke as they grew to accommodate the muscle. His thoughts grew less civilized and more brutish. His instincts grew with the rage and his fear lessened. He wanted revenge against his enemy for this! Soon the ground came and Banner was gone . . . and the HULK was angry…
Tony had faced life threatening before. Free falling without the suit was terrifying but that could be rectified. He had been testing the use of nanotechnology for his Iron Man suit and now seemed like the perfect test run. Trust Tony Stark to think that falling to near death was a good time for prototyping…It took a lot of concentration and the ground was coming fast. 500 ft.…the armour activated. 300 ft. . . . The first pieces flew out of the cargo hold, Tony's heart rate skyrocketed. 200 ft. . . . His hopes diminished just as the first pieces appeared connecting themselves solidly with Tony. The one to his privates hurt. 100 ft. . . . Jarvis booted the system. 50 ft. . . . Iron Man was on-line…
When Cap landed, he unclipped the parachute and soon found Romanov, Barton and Percy's friends next to him, they all had their parachutes gone too, and it was as if they had experience with this. Spidey soon followed, somehow, he'd found a building and big enough and with webbing had made web rope (He really needed a better name for that). Within minutes they felt the Hulk impact next to them and saw Tony somehow decked out in full gear glide to the floor. Tony looked at the wreckage of what was once his jet five hundred metres away.
"They crashed my jet," He muttered seriously, "This just got personal…" Yet there was something Cap registered. Percy and that other angry girl weren't here.
Resolving for a grim expression he looked at his surroundings. They were on the road leading to the Smithsonian. The area was abandoned of civilians. There was the army staring at them though.
All of their past rogues were there; in the middle of Smithsonian's street.
Red Skull was smirking. Abomination was tensed and growling at the Hulk. Vanko stood there with twelve drones around him. There was also a woman, a hag that at once might have seemed beautiful but now though it was hidden by the wrinkles of age and a sickly complexion of someone close to death; she had nails that looked like they needed the deluxe packet and hair that was black yet looked odd with her sunken face. She had materialized what seemed like a giant pool where the air and space museum used to be; and out of the pool the figure of a snake like creature stood. At its tail stood another head. It looked hostile and ancient, just like the woman.
Not to be forgotten were the twenty or so Thelkines, thirty Empousai, four Cyclopes, ten Lastrygonians and one hundred zombie creatures coming their way.
Thalia looked at Nico, "You know the cat lady over there?" Everyone was looking at him now, making him feel uncomfortable. It still didn't register to him or Thalia that Percy wasn't there. They believed he'd be here soon, and if he wasn't, they trusted his abilities…the other option wasn't something either wanted to think about.
Nico frowned, "Why do you always assume I know all the crazy people?" She didn't seem to like the joke.
"You know Percy." She said offhandedly
"Percy attracts crazy, if he knows her, he'd tell you." Valid point. She didn't mention that it should be Percy, who she should've been talking to now; they had to keep their heads in the game now.
Nico sighed, "That woman is Hela, and she's this Norse personification of my father. She mostly handles Europe, Canada and Australia, my father has all the other places covered. Her pet over there is an old friend of Thor. It's gonna be hard to kill that thing without him. And I know her because of my father, not Percy." He pointed out somewhat childishly. Thalia made a mental note to figure out what Hades had against those places later.
Something felt wrong; there was something off about the situation. For the life of him, Steve couldn't figure it out. It was like there were missing pieces in this chess game, other than Percy and that Clara girl. He had a foreboding feeling in the pit of his stomach. Something bad was going to happen today . . .
Steve really wished Thor was here…
Tony sighed through his metallic Iron Man suit, "I told you today was gonna suck…" He muttered more to himself than anybody else. The Hulk grunted and charged, not waiting for an order, nor needing one, nor needing one. He knew his target. He gave a primal roar as Blonsky charged too and they both collided into each other. Hulk grabbed Blonsky by the waist and suplexed the monstrous abomination over his back. The beast smashed its face against the ground and as the other monsters came to charge the Hulk he used abomination as a bat and swatted them away. Abomination broke free with a spiked kick to the Hulk's face. Hulk went reeling back only to be thrown by the arm into the monument of Abe Lincoln. And like that, with the destruction of a monument for a man who ended a war, a new war began…
Natasha charged her Widow bites and got her guns ready. She had a surprise for these Pridurki.Clint flexed his bow holding hand and an arrow was made ready. He took it out with slight reverence and notched the bow and arrow. He pulled back the string. He could see everything, the target, its three gruesome looking friends and what lay beyond. He held a breath as his favourite moment took hold. For a split second it was dark and he could only see the target like beating heart of light; there was nothing but him, his bow and his soon to be prey. And with a release of breath the arrow was set loose…
It twirled ad stayed straight and true. It hit the marker dead on and on impact exploded, taking with it four Thelkines, ten Empousai, and one Zombie. He smiled as he heard the others attached. Sometimes he felt like he loved his job too much. Stark sent his repulsors to max and went straight for Vanko and his droids. He hit the first one with a tackle that would make line backers wince. It broke part at the waist and he barrel rolled as the others converged on him.
He used his Repulsor to blast one in front of him and then turned in a crouch to fire at one from the side that got a little close. They were destroyed quickly. Nine drones remaining. Stark couldn't use the lasers, to many variables. He used his mini-rockets on his shoulder instead and they exploded as they struck five more drones. Four drones remaining. An arrow struck one in the head exploding it as Stark took out the other two through his Arc reactor. He gave a small salute to Hawkeye and then Vanko lashed out with a whip that struck Tony on his chest, he was sent flying into the air. He stopped his descent and then with speed approaching the sound barrier he tackled the large Russian. Iron Man punched Vanko just as the Russian's own repulsors skidding them on the floor as Tony kept punching.
Captain America was the first person to wade into the battle against the monsters with Spider-Man quick on his heels and Thalia after him. Nico wasn't sprinting; he was concentrating on the zombies. There was something eerie of them. They weren't like those of his father's court. These were different, their auras were…different. It was only as they clashed into a warzone that something clicked.
He'd seen warriors who died and owed debts. He'd witnessed his father hand over the souls of those who owed to one god in particular. One god who hated Percy, a god that would know just what they were after, a god that would know when they attack, one god who knew to keep his enemy distracted. There was only one god who would betray Olympus for revenge against Percy. A god whose daughter was probably right with Percy now…
He stopped and just stared at the masses in front of him. This was the distraction; he looked further behind enemy lines towards the wreckage of the plane. Divide, distract…and conquer…
"Ares…" he breathed.
He had to warn them, they were falling for it! "Thalia!" He yelled over the battle and the daughter of Zeus turned with spear in hand as she swiped at one Cyclopes. She beheaded it and then with brutality and precision kicked the big head at an incoming Thelkine sending it sleep City as she twirled the spear into her other hand and stabbed into the chest of an Empousai. "What, death breath?!" She seemed a little out of breath. She dodged the swipe of one zombie and used her shield to shoulder charge it.
"It's a trap!" He yelled, summoning twenty two undead warriors of his own. "These are Ares' warriors! He's fighting with Kronos!"
She ducked under one Lastrygonian thrown rock the size of her head. It scraped against her helmet, "What are-" he then saw it, she finally saw it. She knew. "But he's with…" She stopped again and in that one second of pause another rock came close to hitting her but Cap' was in front of her with his shield. He smashed one Empousai into the ground and with a grunt punched a Cyclopes in the face, it was actually knocked unconscious.
"Get your head on straight soldier!" He yelled at Thalia as he jumped over one monster, ducked under another's slashing arm and cut it in half.
"No, Cap'!" She yelled, "You don't understand!" But it was too late. The super soldier had reached his destination. He delivered a kick that make Leonidas envious and as the ex-head of HYDRA stumbled back Cap surged forward. Delivering a punch that would have killed a normal man. They were already in a war of their own. Two soldiers…lost in time…fighting a war long forgotten.
Spider-Man jumped over one monster, "Let's play leap frog!" he yelled jokingly as he threw a zombie like creature over his own shoulders and into its friends. He was net to Natasha. She ducked with calm speed one monster and sent an electrically charged punch at its jaw; it crumbled into dust rather easily. She got low and swiped at the feet of a rather large Lastrygonian. She sent an electrically charged punch right at its cerebellum (where the brain meets the spine). It too crumbled to dust under her efficient blow. She threw one Thelkine in Spider-Man's direction and Spidey made a quick web line snagging the monster on the back as he used it like a battering ram in a twisting arc before letting the thing fly, "Going, going…gone!" He yelled as an arrow connected to it in mid-air and the thing turned to dust.
Nico looked on helplessly, the zombie like creatures would rise again after a few minutes of attack. Even with the godly weaponry they held. They needed to get to Percy, but this was a warzone, and there were a lot of enemies in the way. For now, the helplessly realized, Percy was on his own with someone who might be traitor on his way to greet a traitor and enemy. They cursed Percy's bad luck, before jumping into the fray themselves.
(Near the crash site)
~Half an hour later~
Percy groaned as he sat up, he could hear the sound of a battle raging somewhere behind him. He could feel the limp hand touching his pants. What happened? He thought before he remembered and another painful headache was coming on. "Never doing that again…" He muttered to himself as he shakily crawled to and then grabbed what was left of his bag which had been mercifully thrown a few metres away to himself. He found the water bottle which had seen better days and was streaked with soot.
He took giant gulps of water, and was thankful for the healing powers of water. He got to his feet and then woke up Clarisse who seemed to wary judging by the way she judo-plexed him into the painful ground as she woke up. He groaned again as she stood up blinking and looking around. She then helped him up with a small minute blush of embarrassment.
It was then that the sound of fighting reached them again. They looked towards the road and courtyard where a war was raging in the middle of the Smithsonian. "We have to help them!" Percy said and took out Riptide only to be stopped by Clarisse's hand to his chest. His shirt had been protected under the armour that had somehow already appeared on him.
"No," She was frowning, "Something's wrong…Where's the others? Kronos should be there too shouldn't he? That hag with the snake seemed to be guarding the passage towards us…It's a trap, and we're falling right into it." The daughter of Ares wasn't an idiot. She knew war strategy. This felt off to her, where had she seen it before?
"We can't just leave them there!" He was resigned, he knew now too, he could see the perfectly planned manoeuvre. It was almost infinitesimal, after all, who would miss one warrior amongst a war. A distraction.
"We don't," Clarisse frowned, "We surge forward and find that spear. Once we do, we come back and kick some ass."
Her voice was slightly wavering; it wasn't like her to leave comrades, even comrades she hadn't known long, to fend for themselves. She trusted the abilities of these people though. She could make out the Hulk as he threw what looked like a pillar from Abe's memorial at Abomination who dodged it and tried tackling Hulk who only grabbed him by the head and smashed it against his knee. She saw Vanko trying to use his whip against Tony but the billionaire dodged and got in close to deliver a gruesome uppercut. She watched as Hawkeye sniped three Zombies, a Thelkine and an Empousai with one arrow. She saw Captain America block a punch from Red Skull with his shield and then deliver his own. She saw Spider-Man grapple alongside Black Widow with monsters surrounding them, the Russian was now using her guns with modified celestial bronze bullets in them. Finally she watched her fellow demigods fight. They could handle the battle for now, even though that other Hag and the monster hadn't joined in yet.
Percy nodded, "Okay, so we going or what?" She nodded, "You have any idea where the ancient-Greek-mythology-for-evil-spears wing is?" She shrugged and pointed at an information desk. It turned out their package would be in the main museum. So the made their way for the museum, Clarisse not realizing that soon she'd be making a big decision…
(Back to the big fight)
~20 minutes later~
"HULK…SMASH!" The behemoth yelled using two pillars in both hands as he, well, smashed them together into Abomination. Dust was sent into the air and Abomination was lost from sight. Hulk narrowed his primal eyes at the dust trying to find his foe.
He didn't see the upper cut coming his way, and so was sent flying; he heard the whooshing as Abomination jumped and then felt the monster land on his chest. It cracked three ribs and knocked the breath out of the Hulk. "NO, Hulk…DIE!" It was with pure luck that Hulk fumbled himself out of Abominations claws; it was luck the two shots he got in on Abomination's face, making Abomination dizzy for a moment. The Hulk was hurting…
Another whip came and Tony dodged it with less ease than before, the electricity of the whip danced along his outer shell. He could feel his muscles straining, his fatigue growing. He wasn't a god, he wasn't a super soldier, he wasn't a Hulk, he was a man, and men had limits. The electricity was wreaking havoc with his circuitry anyway.
~Sir, power levels are at 58%~
He knew that, he'd read it on the monitor. He felt weak. How long had he fought? An hour? Barely…
He didn't like that.
Sweat poured from his forehead within the suit. A sunny day wasn't always a great time to be in a heavy metal suit of armour. He tried dodging again but wasn't quick enough, the whip whirled around him and as Vanko pulled Tony to himself, he punched the man, "You will lose." The Russian seemed giddy. Tony couldn't move his arms, so he did another dumb thing. A blast of high grade Repulsor energy shot out of his arc reactor and blasted the electric whip apart while sending the Russian flying a few metres away. "Not today." He muttered.
~Power levels at 49%~
"Oomph," Cap' skidded onto the ground, turning the movement into a reverse barrel roll he saw Red Skull put up his gun and so put the shield in front of himself, covering his body. The bullets twanged against the shield, once, twice, twelve times. And it was as the patriot stood up thinking the bullets gone that he made his first mistake. He'd forgotten the gun could take twelve bullets in clip…and one up the pipe. The bullet cut through Cap's left shoulder like a knife. Steve didn't cry out but did grunt as he felt it. He wasn't shocked by the trick, or the blood flowing out his shoulder, but was shocked that he felt no pain. He guessed it was a blessing…
Soon though the pain came as it always would. Red Skull capitalized Steve's weakness and sent a punch to the man's shoulder. Captain America dropped his shield and rolled out of the way as Red Skull made to kick his already burning shoulder. "It is unfortunate that you die today captain," The madman said, "I would have enjoyed fighting you further in zhe future; but…glory waits." Red Skull charged. Cap ducked under the punch and grabbed his shield in his right hand. He rolled and then threw it at the Nazi. It hit Skull square in the chest toppling over, "I ain't dead yet…" Cap charged, even though he knew the outcome at the end of this fight. He'd already lost; the Red Skull had the advantage…
There were nine Thelkines left standing now. Then five Empousai and two Cyclops. There was only one Lastrygonian left. There were about sixty zombies left and Black Widow had run out of bullets, she was tiring and it was hard to keep ahead. Still, there was a reason she was still alive. She had the ability to keep on fighting for as long as needed. Peter was determined; he was joking, but even he could get tired and with the way this fight was going. They weren't going to win soon.
Natasha spotted the demigods, "Go!" She yelled nodding in the direction of Hela, "Help your friend." They nodded. The demigods were tiring from the constant battle but they'd experienced this before, they could do it again. Natasha steeled her resolve and watched the approaching zombie like creatures. She was prepared to die, she didn't fear it, and she never had. Then why were her hands trembling slightly…
Suddenly Clint was next to her. Her partner stood there, with that grim smile, he nodded to her. He could see the slight fear, just like she could sense his trepidation. "Just like Budapest huh?" he muttered. She raised an eyebrow and gave a small smile.
"This is not at all like Budapest…" And then they were fighting again.
Spider-Man dodged another blow, and then another as his danger – sorry, Spidey sense, detected a threat. He was enhanced, given abilities, but like any predator, like any spider…he still could be killed. He wasn't a warrior, didn't know how to fight a war. He was used to thugs who would sometimes cry at the sight of him, and other times, villains that could actually cause him pain. Never a multitude of them; never an armada. So like always he improvised…
He knew every time he sneaked out of his aunt's home he could die, one bullet he'd never notice, one knife he'd miss…
And now here he was. A teenager barely finished going through puberty, which had maths homework waiting at home fighting a war. It felt odd, and wrong. Still he fought on, even as he felt himself tire, even as he held back a little less with each punch…
Thalia could feel her apprehension rising with each step she took closer to this Hela. The woman seemed to be amused. "A son of Hades and a daughter of Zeus standing next to each other," It sounded like a big joke to her as she chuckled. "I knew your father, you know, as I'm sure you know me?" It was directed at Nico, like most of the woman's attention. Thalia didn't envy him for that.
Nico rolled his eyes, "Why does my dad always attract the psychos?" He asked himself out loud fully aware the now enraged goddess could hear him.
Where the air and space museum stood, now swam a two headed monster in a magic pool of water. It watched Thalia intently, she was a child of lightning…It intrigued and enraged the ancient beast. How dare a child of the accursed air come before it! It hissed capturing the child of lightning's attention. "I think you have an admirer…" It heard the son of the grave say. It didn't understand the words, nor did the beast care. It was gazing at the biggest threat, the accursed child of air!
The accursed child talked, enraging the monster further, "Nicky," It said and the beast frowned, what was this 'Nicky'? "I'll take this thing here, you got the hag?" The beast looked towards its mistress; she seemed to reciprocate its anger. The beast hissed again as the accursed one took a threatening pose. It waited for its mistress's call eagerly; it wanted to attack so very much…
And then the mistress attacked the son of the grave and the monster's wish was granted.
Nico blocked as the woman materialized a sword and then he lunged himself, she deflected to the right and before he even had a chance to right his footing the woman had made a slash at his arm. He made a small whimper before gritting his teeth. He rolled as the woman tried to behead him and then swiped at her leg; he only got in a scratch. She hadn't even made a sound, and he could have sworn it was a dead on strike. It was then that he groaned.
Just my luck to fight my father's psycho ex who has reinforced skin…
Thalia wasn't doing much better and like Nico she was forced to stay on defence. The monster would attack with one head and then when she tried to lift her spear and call for a bit of lightning the other head would already be coming at her and she'd be forced to dodge again. It was tiring and getting them nowhere. The damn monster didn't have a weakness! Or at least one she saw. It was then that the damn thing decided to show that it could literally breathe ice! As if her day wasn't bad enough, she now had to worry about freezing to death.
She didn't know. She wasn't supposed to be the one to kill it; that was someone else's destiny. She didn't know just how special this monster was. To her this monster was no different from sake…an ice breathing two-headed snake, but still…
Hulk was in pain, Abomination standing over his form ready to deliver a killing blow oddly choosing the marbled head from the Lincoln monument…
Tony was running on 40% of his power and nearly all his strength had drained. Vanko was still ready for more. Tony prepared for it, and sent another Repulsor shot through his arc Reactor. 30%. And Vanko just stood up again, ready for more. Only, Tony wasn't…
Clint reached behind him, and grasped at air. He gave a minute glance back to confirm what he thought before grimly using his bow as a club. Natasha's limbs were screaming as she fought on something reminiscent of auto-pilot. She jumped of Clint's offered hand, pivoted like a ballerina and brought down two more zombielike creatures. The monsters had all been killed. They watched on grimly ready to fight to the death as the horde of thirty came at them.
Spidey was tired. He punched as hard as he could; only succeeding to knock down his zombie enemy. Ten more took his place, "Should've spent more time playing Resident evil." He muttered, even his jokes were getting lamer. This was not good. He wasn't sure how long he'd be able to go on, even as the zombie like creatures stood up and came at him again.
Steve was again skidding onto the road but this time he couldn't find it within himself to block the punch Red Skull sent to his skull. He couldn't stop the second or third punch either. But as the fourth was going to reach its destination Steve feebly threw Red Skull off and a few metres away. His vision was spotty, and he couldn't remember where he'd last seen his shield. He resigned himself to a fact he only possibly consider before, he was going to die today…
Thalia dodged once but couldn't again. She felt hollow fangs bite into her calf and she cried out. She knew with certainty; it was injecting venom into her. She could feel his teeth retract and the deed was done. The monster was certain the accursed sky child was soon to be dead. It didn't have fast acting venom, but its effects were painful on the nervous system. Thalia screamed as she collapsed to the ground.
Hela sliced at Nico's chest, Nico only had strength enough to dodge slightly and make the cut shallow. He could sense Thanatos approaching. He could almost hear the death god wondering 'who'll die first?' He could sense the aura's around him and knew. Steve was close, Thalia right after, so was Spider-Man, the spies, Tony, even the Hulk…He could feel himself…his aura was pretty close too.
The worst part was he knew that Hela knew this too. It sickened him that she actually smiled when there was so much hopelessness close by. "Well, I've got a little surprise Nicky," She whispered in his ear as he was on his knees. There were long gashes with blood pouring out by his legs, it wasn't serious, but he was too weak to walk for now. He looked on in horror as Hela's eyes flashed gold and she used her godly magic to do the unthinkable…the unimaginable…the dooming…
The golden dust that was once monsters began to stir, then shake, then vibrate before swirling into some sick tornado. When the dust settled everyone's eyes were on what was once dust. Now stood four Cyclopes, ten Lastrygonians; twenty Thelkines and thirty Empousai…
Nico was no certain; he was going to die today, fighting a goddess too strong for him, and watching his friends die by the hands of monsters they couldn't kill twice…
It was hopeless; there was nothing left, but to wait for Thanatos' call. Nico closed his eyes. He wondered vaguely if it would be painful. Would he feel death's cold embrace like the others?
He could hear something rumble. He could feel the air thicken; he opened his eyes and then could see the swirling clouds. In front of them stood Hela, she held her sword at his limp shoulder, at the crest where it met his neck. She was preparing for the death blow, so it's me who dies first…
He could see her maniacal eyes gleam as she drew back the sword. He didn't focus on that; he didn't focus on the sword that stood poised and ready to take his life. His eyes were transfixed to the sky. It rumbled again. And clouds gathered. It seemed to be sucked up into space before the clouds were spat back illuminating rays…rainbow rays…
It couldn't be…could it?
The sword was making an arc; its blood thirst ready to be quenched. Hela was swinging with all her might, wanting the most gruesome result possible…Yet still Nico seemed intent on what lay behind her. She didn't care.
Something flew from the weird light. It was strange. The object had a leather handle, with something akin to stone atop it. It had runes written in magic on its side. Hela didn't notice, the sword was close, oh so very close to Nico's neck…
The hammer smashed into her shoulder causing her to fly back. The hammer paused in mid-air before spiralling at breakneck speed towards its owner. He had blonde hair and a blonde beard; his eyes a swirling grey; he seemed to frown. He wore dragon scaled armour by his arms; a cape at his back and a mix between leather and metal for his front. He was tall; he looked like a muscled giant in his own right; he looked godly; he was godly…
He was . . . Thor.
(Museum for Ancient History…or what's left of it)
~A few minutes before~
On the other side of the courtyard nearly a football field's length away, Percy and Clarisse had stilled.
Where the museum used to stand only rubble was present. Some exhibits from inside lay on the ground, most broken beyond even thought of repair. It was symbolic, Percy pessimistically thought; History was written by the victor, what better way to signify a new history than the destruction of the old history?
Behind the debris was a small field. It was this that had Percy and Clarisse holding their breaths. Nearly forty children of Hades; ten hellhounds and three Cyclopes stood ready for an enemy. Behind them, like cowards, stood Kronos . . . and Ares. They both smiled sickly. Ares had the spear in hand.
Clarisse's breath was lost. This was where she'd seen the battle strategy before. It was something her father had done with the Spartans ten thousand years ago. It all clicked in that second and with a heart constricting reality she realized something she never thought possible before… her family was the enemy…
She felt weak, she felt betrayed, and she was confused… So many mixed feelings bubbled up inside her and there was only question she had, what now? She felt like a stone, like she was stuck. Her family was the enemy; did that mean she should be the enemy too? Did she have to fight her Percy? Or, gods forbid, did she have to fight her family? They weren't always the best and sometimes they'd irritate her beyond thought but there were good times and great memories; they were family!
Indecision tore at her and Percy noticed this. He'd seen the army there to stop them and while he didn't like it, it frankly wasn't unexpected that Ares would do something like this. He still hated that torn look on Clarisse's face. They were now still, the calm before the storm. He could almost hear her thinking, her friend or her family?
He wouldn't blame her for turning around and trying to gut him. They'd been enemies since the toilet incidents and had very slowly progressed to friendship. In a war you were sometimes forced to do the unthinkable, killing was only a part of that thought. Families were ruined like this, friends turned to enemies, enemies turned to friends, gods died, mortals were made gods, lives are lost…and taken, friends die and loved ones suffer for things they had nothing to do with…
"Daughter!" Ares yelled, strange, he seemed almost jolly; "I'm so glad you can join us!" He was ignoring Percy for now; instead focusing on Clarisse. Percy clenched his teeth but stared warily at the army facing them, if Clarisse was with him, this battle could possibly be won; if not, even Percy didn't stand a chance…
There was something off about the army though. The demigods specifically. They weren't smiling like their father; they didn't frown or seemed to breath, they just stared forward mechanically. It was wrong. Percy frowned, where had he seen something like that before? Their eyes were wide and as Percy searched their faces he found something with their eyes. If he looked closely, he could see a small blue tint…
"We were very worried," he almost succeeded in sounding concerned. Percy kept Clarisse in his peripherals. She went rigid, something's happening, she tiredly realized, she was so tired, so ready to go to sleep; she wanted to listen to that song, it seemed to call to her. "Why don't you come back, baby girl?" He held his arms open, and maybe on someone else it would look inviting.
"No," Percy heard her mutter, she seemed to blink quickly, and he didn't give it much thought, where had he seen that blue tint before…
"Don't you love me Clary?" He seemed so sincere to Clarisse, and she really wanted to believe that her distant and sometimes abusive father was different now.
She frowned, why did she feel so tired, and where did that beautiful rhythmic lullaby come from? "I do dad," She mumbled, he seemed so far away now from her vision, so did everything else, where was Percy again?
Suddenly Percy's eyes widened, Kronos's voice…Luke…brainwashing…
He turned to Clarisse and sure enough her eyes glowed an eerie blue hue. She seemed to swing by the lullaby of an unknown song. "Don't listen to him!" He all but yelled, standing in front of her; drawing her gaze from Ares. "Look at me Clarisse! He's trying to control you!" he grabbed her shoulders, "CLARISSE!"
She frowned and it looked very similar to the one coming from her father right then. "Percy…" he looked in his general direction but didn't seem to see him. "Wha…"
"He's controlling you, snap out of it!" He pleaded giving her a gentle shake. She blinked rapidly, like a person just waking up to find the sun in their eyes. The blue seemed to disappear and Percy didn't care that he was turning his back to the enemy; she was regaining her consciousness back and with it, her anger…
"Jackson…thanks…" She muttered turning to her father. "I'm nobody's puppet." She heaved Maimer in her hand.
"He's lying, baby girl, I only want a hug…" He tried again but Clarisse growled at him.
"Shut up!" She muttered as she turned to Percy. She looked back at her family, gave a grim frown before looking back at Percy, she gave a minute nod; she was standing by him…
Percy sighed, he took out Anaklusmos and clicked the watch Tyson gave him, got into the sadly familiar stance and looked at Clarisse. She was standing to his right two steps behind him, she closed her eyes, "I'm sorry…" he heard her whisper and Percy chose to ignore the tear falling down her cheek, before she nodded. He waited for one agonizing second, his guilt already eating at him, he was forcing this on Clarisse, this should never have been a choice she had to make…He forced those regretting thoughts down for a time later.
"FOR OLYMPUS!" The battle cry wasn't to inspire an army; it was a promise that the blood spilt here wouldn't be in vain.
He didn't have an army behind him; he had one friend willing to fight her family for him; it drove him angry that Kronos and Ares had forced this on him; this should have NEVER happened! The army of forty came at them first. To Percy's chagrin he saw children no older than fifteen. It drove him mad that they forced, like pawns against him. And he was left with little choice but to retaliate.
He tried knocking them out first, like Clarisse, the first kid's sword he blocked and then twirled behind him hitting the kid with the pommel of his sword. The second came with a combination of spear and shield. Percy smacked the spear away and simply kicked the shield up into the boy's chin; he was out before he hit the floor. Soon though Percy was forced to take a life…
The kid, barely sixteen, had a sword and knew how to use it. There were others trying to converge on him. The kid had almost sliced a gash at Percy's chest twice; and Percy couldn't hold back anymore. He deflected the strike at his chest with his left arm's armour and twirled to stand back-to-back by the kid; he'd shifted his sword to dagger grip. He thrusted backwards avoiding what he knew he'd witness. Blood run from the sword and limply the boy fell to the ground. It was then that Percy made a promise to himself…
Anyone who dies today by my hands; I'll make sure they go to Elysium…I swear this on the Styx…
And he continued fighting…
Clarisse was angry. At these idiots for listening to her father; at her father for forcing her to do this and at herself for it. She'd killed before and like any child of Ares understood that death and war was a necessity. This was different.
She bashed one kid with her shield already knocking him out as she used the butt of her spear to knock out as many of them as she could. She wanted to draw out the time before blood had to be spilt. She'd seen through her peripherals as Percy was forced to take a life and she didn't think he was weak for looking away. Soon though the time came when even she was forced to take a life and unlike the Giant War she hesitated this time.
It was too long. One kid, barely over thirteen by the looks of her had stabbed with a knife at Clarisse's ankle. Still she only stunned her with Maimer. In her distraction and pain three more warriors who looked about a year younger than her went to stab at her and just as her eyes widened and she realized she'd be too late to stop them from taking her life they were pushed away from Percy shoulder charging them. He grunted at the exertion. Nodding in understanding towards her he went further into the fray.
There were about 28 left. And one girl almost Clarisse's age came at her. Clarisse knew her. She dodged the sword coming her way and then closed her eyes as her spear stabbed into the girl; she regretted how electric her spear was. The girl fell limply away and Clarisse was forced to dodge more spears and swords. Jessica, she remembered the girl's name; we used to do Archery together…
She felt the tear stab at her cheek as she continued; and she just wanted to scream at them: STOP! I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!
She knew though this would fall on deaf ears…She kept on fighting. She just wished though, to be the one to stab her father in the heart. He was the catalyst for this, he was the monster…
Percy dodged another shot at his head; and gave a glance at the titan, god and the monsters in front of them. Like spectators, he thought, Like SPECTATORS! He knew like Clarisse that he was losing it; he wanted to end this; wanted this show to end, to stop Clarisse's pain. He heard a sonic boom in the distance where the other battle was going on and that gave him an idea.
He had to concentrate; and by doing that his guard had to be lessened. He instinctually dodged the life threatening attacks but the minor stabs and slices he still couldn't avoid. That was fine, he could take pain. He dodged one but the tip scraped to the top of his eyes; blood flowed down minutely but it still left him half blind. Then he called forth the storm…
Hail fell; lightning flashed; the earth groaned and rumbled; the trees groaned under the wind's strain and a minor tornado knocked away everything in its path. In the middle of this minor apocalypse stood Percy Jackson; his eyes glowing with the power of Poseidon…And something else, something…Ancient…
The eighteen demigods fell rather quickly; eight by the hands of hail the size of their fists, hitting their helmets, they'd survive. The earth caused cracks that tripped up about three demigods; they hit the ground chin first. Four demigods were somehow struck by lightning; they'd survive, even though they'd smell extra crispy. The rest were knocked out by Percy. Clarisse had been knocked unconscious by the Hail. Percy fell to his knees; his strength was gone, but he'd saved as many children of Ares as he could, it didn't matter how much he hated their father.
The monsters had been killed too; and as the dust around both immortals settled Percy dropped his head too. He'd been holding out on some small hope they'd at least been injured. Standing in a small golden tinted orb that protected them stood the smirking immortals laughing at his attempt. He tried, but his sword was too heavy to lift.
He'd lost. They had the spear. And now as the titan of time approached he was ready for his death. It'd been long overdue. Maybe Annabeth hadn't been taken away; maybe she was waiting for him in Elysium…
"Tell me Perseus," The condescending tone laughed at him and pointed out his failure; the titan was fifty feet from Percy's tired kneeling body, "Was it worth dying for? Are these spawn of your enemy worth dying for?" Ares didn't even seem to take offense to that. He was close now; five feet away from Percy.
"Yes," Percy said raising his head tiredly but defiantly, "Every person I save from you is worth dying for…" Kronos made his sword appear; Backbiter, the sword previously owned by Luke.
He laughed, "Well Percy, if you're saving them…" he seemed to find his next words funny by the sick sadistic smile; he brought up the sword. "Who's going to save you?!" Kronos brought the sword lower and lower. Time seemed to slow down…
A sonic boom registered in his tired head; and so did the rumbling earth but it was the feeling of power next to him that blew him away. He barely registered the fact that Kronos's sword was blocked. The woman, judging by the long black hair, looked menacingly at Kronos, "I'll save him…" She promised.
(Back at courtyard)
The Hulk was angry; Abomination had been trying to crush him under those giant green feet and only his arms were protecting him from getting crushed. Abomination had that all too familiar look of a predator smelling its soon-to-be prey. He was licking his lips and the Englishman had a mad gleam in those eyes. It infuriated the Hulk, it confused him too…
Their last battle had been more equal. And that left the Banner part of his psyche wondering, just when had the abomination gotten so strong…and how? Hulk didn't care for things like that. His muscles strained his only focus mas making sure that the snarling behemoth's spiked foot didn't reach his already damaged chest. It was almost fully healed now. The Hulk, waited; biding his time for the exertion his newest effort would need.
Just as the last bone clicked back into place; Abomination raised foot to strike down again. The Hulk attacked. Grabbing with his right arm over the abomination's shoulder and his left around his waist; he locked both arms together in his steel grip as Abomination snarled in surprise. Abomination's foot dangled helplessly over the Hulk's shoulder causing the monster to stand on one leg. The Hulk flexed and as Abomination cried out in pain, the Hulk jumped straight up thirty feet into the air. When he fell back down the ground beneath them gave way; and the Hulk tackled Abomination down three floors.
When they landed there was a sickening pop; and a tearing sound; like a wounded animal Abomination howled into the air his pain as his useless left leg fell to the ground. The Hulk didn't care. He grabbed a box that looked oddly like a sarcophagus as he stood up and with all his might smashed the thing into the Abomination shutting him up and causing blood to flow out of his mouth.
The monster threw feeble punches at The Hulk and the Hulk grabbed his right arm and popped it out of its socket. It roared as its victory came close. The Hulk raised one giant green fist rippling with muscles up over his defeated enemy before pausing, "Betty…" It muttered remembering his unspoken promise to her. Killing this…thing… in cold blood would only drop the Hulk down to its level. It didn't want that; it wanted to show Banner, Betty, the world…IT WAS NOT A MONSTER.
He stood up, looked down at this feeble creature before him and gave a primal roar of an alpha male. The Hulk kicked away the debris closest to him and took two steps away. It had other things to worry about, friends to save, this enemy was done…
Abomination didn't think so and just as the Hulk went to jump it used its only two muscled limbs to jump up and feebly bite his enemy. His teeth sank into the Hulk's shoulder and didn't let go; it quickly tasted blood and that spurred it forth, the Hulk grunted at the unwelcome pain. The Hulk was forced now, to do this. He grabbed the Abomination by the back of its neck and also the front as the creature bit savagely into him under a limp body. The Hulk snarled, and twisted…
There was a crack…And one less monster in the world to worry about…
The Hulk fell down and rested, soon the Hulk wasn't there anymore…
Natasha wasn't afraid to die; not next to Clint. Still it was tiring this constant and uninterrupted battle. Clint had long since abandoned his bow; that didn't make him any less dangerous though. They worked efficiently; but the strain of monsters had been a lot; too much it seemed. And then came the cavalry…
"FOR ASGARD!" She heard the battle cry, but it took a few seconds to register the three warriors coming her way. They were efficient, the blonde man with the sword slicing through the enemy reminding her of a madman in battle; the jolly big guy reminding her oddly of a bull as he rampaged through the monsters; and finally the grim man reminding her of soldiers with PTSD for some odd reason.
They seemed to thrill in battle and work together more efficiently than her and Clint. Of course; these three had probably been fighting together for longer than Natasha had been alive. Soon the Warrior's three reached Natasha, Clint and Spider-Man. "I didn't know there was a renaissance fair in town!" Spider-Man said out of breath, "I would have got my costume!" A lame joke but it still got the Warrior's three to rumble with laughter.
"Ah," Volstagg said clapping a huge hand behind the much smaller Spider-Man causing more air to be released. "You must be the Arachnid-Man Thor told us of. It is great to see such an outstanding warrior, and so young!"
Spidey frowned, why do they always get the name wrong? "It's Spider-Man!" the Arachnid themed hero said jumping backwards over to monster while grabbing their heads and punching them together.
"My apologies," Volstagg said smacking away one monster with his forearm and using his axe to turn another to dust.
Hogun barrelled through the gathering as he chased after some monsters with his spiked club, "Fight now, talk later." He said simply. Like always it didn't seem he ever smiled…
Fandral laughed, he sliced off one monster's arm causing it to roar; "This will be quite the tale! Fandral defeats the Greek scourge...!" After a pause and a beheading he added, "With the Warrior's three, Sif and Thor, of course." Hi companions only rolled their eyes.
Spider-Man, Natasha and Clint looked at each other and then at the battle the Warrior's three held, they were tired, but as the saying goes…
You can sleep when you're dead...
Tony barely got out of the way from another whip. He was waiting, biding his time…
Whiplash had only one whip remaining and it still served to keep Tony on his toes. Tony was fatigued, his body straining and muscles cramping in resistance. He'd seen Thor and the other Asgardians, but was now waiting for his own backing up. "How slow can one guy be?" he muttered to himself as he jumped to his left.
"Vhat is wrong Tony?" Vanko's slow Russian slur condescended him, "Tired?" Yeah, the question is why aren't you?
He refrained from saying that as he scrambled away from another shot from the electric whip. "Come on…" he muttered, perspiring under the suit.
~Power levels at 18%, sir~
It was then that he heard it. The sound of a sonic boom and then thrusters being sent into overdrive. He went on one knee before standing up; too tired to just lift his knees. He wobbled for a second and then was ready. Just as Whiplash sent a whip towards Tony he felt himself getting tackled away by another man in an Iron man suit. "Took you long enough," Tony muttered.
War Machine rained down punches on Vanko; "Can't…believe…I…have…to…kill…you…twice!" Each word was accentuated with a punch to the man's face plate. After two or three more shots Vanko punched him away. Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes stood up next to Tony. And then an Idea struck the Genius.
"Hey Rhody, ever watch Ghostbusters?" Tony muttered in greeting.
"Obviously, why?" He activated the machine gun situated at his shoulder peppering where Vanko stood.
"Well, I wonder what'll happen if we cross the lines…" He pointed at his Repulsors and then Rhody understood and grinned. Rhody was the first one to send a continued Repulsor blast through both hands; Tony had to conserve energy. Of course, Tony didn't really follow the law of conservation…much. He stood up took a deep breath and flexed his shoulders. Energy gathered at the base of his chest where the triangular reactor lay and like a blast it connected to the grunting and resisting Russian. Their Repulsor blasts mixed and…
The explosion rocked the earth beneath their feet and the few standing structures in the area fell. Vanko was gone, incinerated by the blast. Tony closed his eyes for a second as Jarvis booted up. He just listened to the battle around him; he was too tired to move; it'd been a long time since he'd had a struggle like that…
He felt Rhody tap his suit, "Having a nice nap, Tony?" The man joked a little out of breath himself.
"Very…" Tony muttered and shakily stood up. He'd have to incinerate this suit later; it had no hope of repair…
Captain America kicked away the Red Skull as he tried to beat the patriot to death. His shoulder was burning; as if it had acid burning through it; but already the blood had congealed and his healing factor was kicking in. Red Skull came at him again and this time Cap' caught him by surprise, delivering a punch to the man's kidney causing to groan as he fell beneath the soldier.
Cap got on top off Red Skull, grabbed him by the head, and deliver punches as he drew the red head nearer to his fist. One, two, three… after twelve punches Cap's left hand was burning with pain and his shoulder was protesting loudly. He didn't care, he continued. By the twentieth punch, it was the Red Skull who feebly knocked off Steve. The soldier landed by his shield just as Red Skull found his gun. The Nazi had a split lip; bruises by his eyes big enough to cause him to be somewhat blind and a tired hand. Steve was the first react; scrambling into a backwards barrel roll, he threw the shield with precision.
It connected squarely with Red Skull's throat just as the Nazi was about to pull the trigger. It collapsed his airway, and Schmidt's eyes widened. All dreams…gone. The man died grabbing at his throat.
Steve stood up and surveyed the battle ground; when he saw that Natasha, Clint, Spider-man and the Warrior's three needed a little help; he grabbed his shield, grunting as he picked it up. He was going to fight on; bullet wound be damned…
Sif smirked as she reached the destination of Hela. The underworld goddess was in a battle pose of someone who knew how to fight; Sif liked it when her foes had a feeble hope of defeating her. She loved watching that hope disappear in her enemies. She chose to be on defence first; to see just how good Hela was. Hela didn't mind, she attacked. Sif dodged it easily and just to anger her foe gave a little 'love tap' with her spear to the back of Hela's head.
The underworld goddess whirled around and slashed with her sword; Sif parried it easily with her spear. Hela rushed her and Sif twirled out of the way while putting her staff under Hela's legs tripping her up. The underworld goddess wasn't so smug anymore.
Spitting out the grass she glared at Sif; "You know," Sif said circling Hela, "I've always wondered, what happens to the death goddess if she dies? Do you go to your own realm? Hades'? Or is there a special hell for you?" She smirked more thoroughly when the enraged goddess lunged at her, this time Sif didn't dodge. The spear went through Hela and her eyes widened, "Let us test this notion, yes?" Looking down Hela could see her black blood around the shaft of the spear…
Sif twisted the spear further in and Hela shrieked. The ear splitting sound made the birds fly away and the people in the immediate vicinity to hold their ears. Sif grunted as she took out her knife and sliced at the underworld goddess's neck. The sounds stopped all of a sudden she exploded into black sand…
Thor looked at his foe. "Jormungandr." He muttered. "It matters not from what hell they drug you, today, on my honour, I swear, YOU DIE!" He twisted his hammer and took flight. With speed unheard of the god smashed his mighty hammer into left face of the great snake and then turned and smashed Mjolnir into the right head. The blows sounded like thunder and monster reeled back hissing. Thor landed on the other side and faced his enemy again.
Jormungandr striked this time. It hissed and breathed out cold shards of icy death. Thor twirled the hammer in front of him, somehow deflecting each blow with Mjolnir before jumping up three feet into the air and falling with Mjolnir smashing into the ground. It shook the earth and caused a ring of lightening to travel shocking everything within twenty feet.
Banner awoke; what? Where? His thoughts were confused, before he remembered. He could still hear the battle from above and as he looked down he realized his pants had luckily still survived the transformations. He smelled, Iron, blood…With trepidation he turned and was sort of relieved to realize that the only person he killed was an enemy. It was then that confusion set back again. Where am I? He wondered before realization hit him. This was the storage unit for old exhibits.
He looked at the gaping hole four floors up; he still had to fight, he realized, the Hulk was needed. Concentrating on everything that wronged him in the past he tried to make the shift. It was slower now; more painful. For a fleeting moment he felt his consciousness melt with the monster within and he could almost see the green behemoth look at him "HULK DO THIS…FOR BANNER…" It was the last thoughts of Bruce before Hulk was back.
Thor dodged another hissing strike at him as he jumped up. Gritting his teeth, he bashed downwards the right head with his hammer before leaping off that head and bashing upwards the second head. The god landed with thud kneeling when he saw the Hulk jump out of the ground; the beast searched for new prey and that was when the Hulk saw Jormungandr and Thor could almost see that small grin form before the Hulk leaped straight onto the left head smashing the surprised snake against the ground. He proceeded to pick up the head with left hand and give it an earth shaking uppercut.
Thor concentrated on the lightening for a second and then called it to him. Clouds gathered and darkened when one particularly powerful bolt hit Mjolnir and then was directed at the right head. The Hulk glanced at Thor, nodded up at the air and then he went back to beating the crap out of that one head. Thor understood; the Hulk was going to be the distraction as he delivered the killing blow.
The Hulk sent another punch to the creature and it reeled back as the other head came in. the Hulk grabbed that head by the area where the throat was and proceeded to beat the left head with the right. It thought that was amusing and so grinned ferally as both heads hissed.
Thor hovered high in the air. He mustered as much energy as he could; grunting with the effort it took to control it. When he was ready he roared; the Hulk leaped far out of the way and through Mjolnir millions of volts of lightening soared at the waiting target. It was so intense; the snake wasn't burnt; he was incinerated instantaneously. Thor grinned for a second before tiredly falling to the ground unable to stop himself.
The Hulk caught him halfway and then put him on the ground. He sniffed like a dog before moving away as Thor stood up. The Hulk looked around him; the monsters were now dead; Sif was running to them with the others in tow as Tony hap hazardously landed with his arm over Rhody's shoulder; Heimdall walked to them with Thalia over his shoulder and Nico limping next to him as he steadied the demigod. The Hulk looked at everyone and delivered another primal roar…of Victory…
Thor looked at everyone; "We've won the day…" He said giving a small smile before frowning; "Where's Perseus?"
Nico answered, his words spoken through clenched teeth; "About to face two gods, and possibly Clarisse…alone."
~While that fight was going on~
He was amazed; tired, but amazed. The woman seemed to fight with a grace he could only mash with ballerinas as she fought both Kronos and Ares. She avoided Kronos's Scythe and parried Ares's sword. She ducked under the swipe for her head and then twirled behind the sword delivering an elbow to Ares's face. It was almost too fast for Percy to see and it was like he could only see glimpses of the real battle.
As they fought Percy stood; he dragged himself over to Clarisse; she'd hit her head a little hard and he fight was coming their war. With a grunt from the strain his tired muscles made Percy picked her up; it wasn't that she was heavy…well, with the armour…it was more his own fatigue. Settling a safe distance away Percy felt like a failure for just watching. He was gasping for breath though and didn't have anything for his fatigue. He looked around his immediate area.
Last time he'd been here…This place had been a thriving place. It was a place of knowledge, history, a love of the past and a hate of tragedies. A way to remember the greatest victories and to make sure we learned from the devastations. Annabeth would have loved it here…he thought. Now…rubble and broken art littered the ground. Dust was in the air and Percy could hear battle cries coming from the other side of the courtyard.
He wondered how his friends were faring, if his friends were even still alive, if they'd won…
He didn't know and that ate at him. He forced himself to watch the battle. Clarisse was still knocked out. The battle lasted for ten minutes and it seemed either side was equal before something happened. It had made Percy wonder, what type of being did you have to be to be equal to the combined power of a god and a titan?
The shrill sound that invaded in on them caused everyone in the area to hold their ears. Ares had grit through the pain when he saw she had a blind spot and so with a feral grin executed his manoeuvre. She blocked the strike made with the sword as planned but couldn't block the stab Ares made with a concealed knife. Suddenly the shrill sound stopped as the woman's eyes widened.
Kronos who was a short distance away smiled sadistically, "I'm sure you can handle her and Jackson, huh?" The titan asked, "I have to get this to Pater and then report this strange occurrence…" he held up the spear and created a portal. He was gone before Ares could reply or the woman could shut her eyes. When he was gone Ares chuckled.
She dropped her sword and was gritting her teeth. Her vision was spotty and blood ran down the wound, it was gold…
Ares looked faux sympathetically at her, "I'm sorry babe, but you'll have to go." He seemed to be sad at the thought. Ares took his sword and it then stabbed her with a sickening slchink sound. Her eyes widened even more and so did her mouth. Ares withdrew the sword and she put her hands to her gut and the wound; ichor rushed out. She looked behind her at Percy and something changed in her eyes. Lightening flashed in the distance.
Ares was already walking away when he heard her battle cry, "FOR ELPHIS!" It was slightly distorted by the blood in her mouth but the message was clear. Ares turned around to block her slice and was surprised by just how much that jarred him. She somehow got close and punched him into the gut. The blow made Ares lose his grip on the sword as well as his breath. She twisted and aimed her sword at Ares's neck. Ichor spurted and Ares's eyes widened. Feebly, his hands went to his neck as he crashed to the ground and stilled, he didn't move again. She stood for a second over him before swaying and falling herself.
New strength rushed through Percy and he forced himself to sprint over to her. His hands were shaking as he skidded and slid next to her. This was like his nightmare; oh gods, there was so much blood! She smiled as she saw his concerned face; "We finally meet Perseus…" She spat out blood. "It is quite an honour."
"Oh gods, oh gods, we-we need to get you to a medic, or-or, oh gods…"He didn't know what to say and oddly she reached for his arm and seemed to comfort him.
"So much compassion in you," She mused, "I can see why Annabeth loves you so much…"
He looked at her as if she was insane; "We need to get you to a healer, a medic, a hospital, something!" She actually chuckled as she looked at him with those bright eyes.
"No, child, I want this…" She looked up towards the swirling clouds and her smile was so serene. "By my death Elphis will be avenged; Olympus will be saved and the humans will endure; I can see now why my mother loved mortals so much…" She glanced back at him, as if she was slightly lost in thought; "It took me time, but I realized…" By now the Avengers had arrived and silently watched on confused. She glanced at them, "It is your drive; your will to endure, to survive; to love…to live, that my mother loved."
"Oh gods; please don't die…" He asked feebly even as he knew the answer. Another person to die for him; another person dying to protect him.
"You have to prepare…" She gave him a sad smile, as if he was the one in pain, "You've had many trials; but still many to come; remember that you can't hide anything from Athena…" She looked at him with determined smile as if she wanted to drill the following message into him, "Never forget your humanity Perseus, it is what will guide you further; what will define your future trials…" She closed her tired eyes, she was ready, she was happy.
"Wait!" Percy grasped at anything to keep her alive, "T-Tell me your name!"
Her smile was so far away, so lost in a vision only she could see. "My name is…" She paused as something seemed to catch her eyes that they couldn't see and the smile seemed to grow brighter, "Nyx…" Erebus was there; waving her forward, waiting to embrace her in his warm arms; she was finally going home; she was happy. Her eyes closed and that sweet serene smile was the last she expression she'd ever wear…
(A/N) That was the most depressing chapter I've ever written in any story. Could anyone have anticipated that from the clues I left for you? This story still has some headway to go, and a surprise is coming in the near future, don't worry, it's a good surprise…
And then…IRON MAN 3! LEGENDARY!... Sorry, had to get that out of my system…
*) I know Nico went to Tartarus; but in my story he wasn't really tortured, but did you notice that little line I dropped about when Kronos changed, it was in Nico's explanation of his time in Tartarus.
**) I'm not a biologist; and everything I wrote was from research and school work and asking my teachers…If I get anything wrong, take into account English isn't my first language.
And finally after all that…REVIEW!