A/N: Sorry everyone for the long wait!
Also, if you read my other story, you know that I have an idea for a Chaos fanfic that's been just running around my head. I know Chaos fics are way (and I mean way) overdone, but it would be Percabeth, and I promise you it'll have a great plot and character development and be completely different from any other Chaos story you've ever read. Hopefully you guys have some trust in me. :)
Obviously though, if I start another one, it'll take some time away from my current stories, and not everybody likes Chaos stories, so I'm going to put it up to a vote. The complete summary(which will be shrunk down to size because it's over the max character limit for summaries) is on my profile, so go ahead and read it, and then vote on the poll whether or not you would like to see it written.
A shoutout to KronosSlayer21 for being the 111st reviewer, and to The Jamerican for attempting to be the 111st reviewer, but being the 112nd. :P
When I woke up the next morning, it took me a few moments to remember where I was, and why I was sleeping on a ratty mattress in an abandoned factory.
I was unusually disoriented. I remembered snippets of a dream, something about Achilles and fishing lines and standing in a river, with nothing to keep me from being swept away but a girl with blonde curls and stormy gray eyes.
I sighed, expecting the dream, as usual, to float away, out of my reach. And it did.
But not quite.
It left an echo, like the coffee stain left behind in a mug after you'd finished. I could remember a river, a fishing line, and a girl. That was all, but it was quite an improvement from the usual. Maybe, by some miracle, my memories were finally coming back.
For the first time since I'd woken up on that beach, I wondered if I really wanted them back.
I blinked, surprised, realizing belatedly that Amelia was standing over me.
Her fiery amber eyes were narrowed in a look that wasn't quite as hostile as the ones she had given me yesterday, which was probably as much of an improvement as I could hope for.
It was a statement, but I nodded in answer, like it was a question.
She let out a depressed-sounding sigh, plopping down on the mattress beside me. I was so shocked it took me a moment to realize that I should probably move over and make some room.
"Of course I'm stuck here watching you," she said, making a face. "The others are off on some big world-saving mission, and here I am, watching over a camper."
"Hey," I muttered. I did however, look around. And, true to Amelia's word, they were gone. There was still plenty of people, sure, but I couldn't see Braden or Annabeth, and they were usually pretty easy to pick out.
Amelia scrutinized me. "Personally, I don't know why we're even letting you stay here. If it were up to me, I'd be tossing you out that door right now. But you saved Braden's life. So I guess that means I can somewhat put up with you."
"Getting to know the girls, are we now?" West was apparently awake, lying on the mattress to the left of mine, his expression amused.
"Don't even," I told him, as Dee sat up on the other side of him, bleary-eyed, her hair sticking up all over the place.
"Mornin'," she managed.
"You look nice this morning," West commented, and she gave him a scowl.
"Hey now, guys." Nico was awake too, apparently. He was still lying down on his mattress, on the other side of me. His voice was muffled because his head was buried in his pillow. I could see tufts of raven black hair sticking out.
"So, all of the Merry Crew are awake now." Amelia didn't look particularly happy about this.
"'The Merry Crew?'" West looked incredulous.
"It's as good a name as any," Amelia said, shrugging.
A little boy with wild red hair ran past Amelia, laughing, follwed by a slightly older boy. They looked like they were playing tag, and the older boy trapped the redheaded boy in a corner.
"So." I watched as the red-haired boy was tagged, and the older boy took off. "Can you tell us what this place is?"
Amelia shook her head. "Nope."
I frowned, glancing away from the two boys. "Why not?"
"Why should I? It's not like I owe you anything. You can get it out of Braden or Annabeth if you're really curious. Though I doubt Annabeth would tell you. Her face when she saw you was pretty horrible."
I ignored the jab. "Well, I mean, we kind of have a right to know."
"Do you now?"
I was ready to throw my hands up in frustration when Nico sat up, his eyes unusually bright for someone who had been asleep just minutes ago. His hair was pretty hilarious, but I didn't think he'd take kindly to me bursting out in laughter. "What would it take for you to tell us?"
We were all quiet for a moment, looking at one another. If Amelia would only tell us what the Hades this place was, it sure would make our job a whole lot easier. However, it looked like her lips were as tightly sealed as ever.
"Hey," Nico offered. "why don't we make a bet?"
She raised an eyebrow. "A bet?"
"Yeah," West jumped in. "A bet. If we win, then you have to tell us what this place is."
Amelia looked amused. "And if I win?"
We all paused, silent. Clearly neither Nico nor West had thought this plan out.
"We'll tell you why we're here in the first place," I said finally.
"Chance," Nico warned.
Amelia raised an eyebrow. "There's a reason you guys are here? I thought you just wanted to mooch food off of us."
I sighed. "Amelia, take it or leave it."
She considered it for a second, then nodded, grinning. "Alright, bet's on."
"This was a bad idea," West muttered for the umpteenth time.
"Oh, stop being a pessimist," Dee scolded. "Maybe it'll work out fine."
But even optimistic Dee sounded uncertain, because Amelia had somehow produced a metal table with a hole in it, and a bowl was set in the middle, half of it hanging down out of the hole. It was a very confusing setup.
"What is she doing?" Nico looked completely and utterly confused as Amelia proceeded to place a bunch of stones in a circle beneath the table.
"There," Amelia announced, setting a pitcher of water onto the table. "Perfect."
She stepped back, admiring her handiwork. She seemed happy with it, which was quite something, because none of us had any idea what it even was.
"I bet," she said loudly, "That West can't pour this pitcher of water into the bowl, and have the water stay there for a minute."
I stared at her, wondering if she was serious.
"Come on," she gestured to the water pitcher. "We don't have all day."
I glanced at West, Dee, and Nico, but they all looked just as mystified as I did.
"Go on, then, West," Dee said hesitantly.
"I don't like this," Nico muttered.
West walked forward uncertainly. I really wasn't sure what to expect. West closed his hands around the pitcher of water, and I half expected it to vanish into thin air.
"Hurry up." Amelia sounded like she was trying to hold back laughter.
Hesitantly, West poured the water into the bowl. Nothing unusual happened, and soon, the pitcher was empty, and the bowl was full.
"Is that it?" West was confused.
"Nope. Next comes the sixty seconds part." Now she was definitely trying to hold back laughter.
Nico began the countdown, but he hadn't even gotten to a second before fire exploded beneath the table.
"Holy Hades!" We all jumped back, and I nearly tripped over my feet in the process.
The flames licked up against the bowl, and in another second, steam was rising. We all watched, completely and utterly stunned, as slowly, the water disappeared into vapor. Nobody had been counting, but I was pretty sure it had taken less than a minute.
Amelia gave a subtle flick of her wrist, and then the fire dyed away. She was practically roaring with laughter now. Everyone in the room—which wasn't many people, since we were in the room at the back—was staring at her.
"I'm sorry," she finally managed, taking a deep breath. The grin was still splitting her face. "Your faces-they were priceless."
"Did-did you do that?" West stammered out.
She nodded proudly. "Yep."
We all stared at one another. We only knew of one other person who could control fire, and that was Leo. Maybe the children of Hephaestus that could control fire weren't so rare after all. That is, if Amelia was even a child of Hephaestus. She sure didn't seem like one.
"I guess I win the bet." Her eyes were glittering mischievously.
"Shit," West groaned.
"No, wait," I said suddenly.
Amelia crossed her arms. "You aren't going back on your word, are you?"
"No, of course not," I said hurriedly. "I ,uh, just think there should be a follow-up bet."
"I mean, I'm pretty sure I can make the water stay in the bowl for thirty seconds."
Amelia laughed. "Are you serious? The bet's over."
"I'm absolutely serious," I proclaimed. "And, I'll throw in five hundred drachmas to the bet, just for the fun of it."
That got her attention.
"Chance," West hissed. "Are you out of your mind? We don't even have twenty drachmas, much less five hundred."
"Shh," I whispered. "Trust me."
I didn't have time to find out whether or not West trusted me, because Amelia was already refilling the pitcher and setting it on the table.
"Let's see what you can do, Chance." she was grinning, gesturing to the bowl.
I stepped forwards, taking the pitcher of water. The glass was cold against my palms, and I wasted no time dumping the water into the bowl. I watched Amelia carefully out of the corner of my eye, and then I saw the flick of her hand.
The floor burst into flames, and I snatched the bowl out of the hole.
"Hey!" she shouted. "What the hell?"
The edges of the hole in the table turned black as the flames licked up against it, and I ran away from the fire, still holding the bowl.
I could tell everyone behind me was in shock, and it took a second before they realized what I was doing.
"Thirty," Nico began the countdown, and I could almost hear the grin in his voice. "twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven..."
"Hey!" Amelia shouted again. "You're cheating!"
I heard her footsteps behind me, chasing me, and I turned back to give her a wink. She chased me all around the factory, some of the other older kids giving us condescending glances, but I ignored them.
"Zero!" Nico called from behind us. "That's a minute!"
I slowed to a stop, breathing heavily. Amelia was panting from behind me, a scowl on her face. West, Dee, and Nico all came over to meet us.
"We won the bet," Dee said, smiling at me.
"But that's not fair," Amelia protested.
"You never said we had to keep the bowl in the table hole," West pointed out.
"Yeah, but-but—" she was clearly at a loss for words.
"You have to tell us now," I said smugly. "Unless you want to go back on your word?"
She scowled at me, clearly unhappy with having her words turned against her. "Fine."
"If I can say so myself, that bowl stunt was a move worthy of Annabeth," I said proudly.
There was a second of silence in which everybody looked at me with wide eyes. It was only after another moment that it hit me that I really didn't know what moves Annabeth was capable of. I barely even knew her.
But somehow, in my heart, I felt like it was what Annabeth would have done. And if she were here, she'd be giving me a huge grin and telling me that maybe I wasn't such a seaweed brain after all.
I blinked. Seaweed Brain? Where had that come from?
"Well," Amelia said slowly, looking at me. She still had a crease between her eyebrows, unhappy about being shown up, but now it was mixed with curiosity and confusion. "You might want to sit." As if to reinforce that fact, she lowered herself onto a nearby empty mattress. "It's a pretty long story."
The four of us glanced at each other for a second before sitting down on our own respective mattresses. We waited, looking at Amelia expectantly.
She sighed, clearly stating that she didn't want to do this, but she complied.
"So, as you guys probably have been wondering, yes, we are half-bloods." All of us let out a breath we hadn't known we were holding. "Just not in the traditional sense."
"What do you mean by that?" asked West.
She shot him a glare. "I'm getting to that part. If you keep interrupting, we'll never get this done."
"Sorry," he muttered.
"As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, we are half-bloods. However, we the reason we're here in this factory is because we aren't welcome at your precious Camp Half-blood."
We all shared suspicious looks, but none of us dared to voice our worries.
"Of course, I'm not going to deny that you guys have a nice place. A climbing wall, pegasus stables, strawberry fields, the list could go on." she spoke as if she knew the place. "But you only have twelve cabins—well, now you have a lot more than that, since Percy Jackson had the gods swear that oath."
I blinked. Even these people knew about Percy Jackson?
"But how many Greek gods are there?" she looked around, meeting each one of our eyes. "At least a hundred. Or maybe more. Some of them are very, very minor, sure, but they still count. How is it possible to build a cabin for every single one? There are always those that will be left out. And what about the titans? A lot of them are in Tartartus, of course, but like the gods, there are also minor titans. Dozens and dozens of minor titans that roam freely. What about their children? Where do they go?"
It was clear from our faces that none of us had thought about this before.
"And the children of nymphs and dryads. There's plenty of those. And the Muses. They all love human men, they love to flirt. I'm sure you've all experienced that firsthand."
West flushed, which made me feel like he knew exactly what Amelia was talking about.
"So of course," she said, "they have plenty of children. But where's the cabin for those children? There isn't one."
"So, you mean like this is the place for all those children?" this time it was Nico who spoke.
Amelia crossed her arms.
Nico coughed. "Sorry."
"And not just those children," she continued. "Remember all those so called 'traitors' who fought on Kronos or Gaea's side during the Titan War and the Giant War?"
This time, it seemed she was actually looking for an answer, and we all nodded.
Satisfied, she went on. "Yeah, well, some of them decided that maybe they really were wrong in turning their backs on Camp Half-blood. They wanted a chance to redeem themselves, to do it all over again, to fight on the right side next time. But they didn't have a chance. They had already turned traitor, gone rogue, and it was too late. So, we take them in."
We must have looked alarmed, because she chuckled. "Not without some tests to prove their loyalty first, of course."
"Do they all live here?" West asked, seemingly forgetting about Amelia's no-interruptions policy again. "The ex-traitors and the children of the minor goddesses, nymphs, dryads, muses and titans?"
Amelia, however, seemed to be okay with the interruption this time. She nodded at West. "Yeah. They're still half-bloods, just not in the traditional sense."
"Wow," Dee said, awed. "That's so cool."
"We're the foster home for all things half-blood, if you will."
We're the foster home for all things half-blood, if you will. The words seemed to stick in my head, and somehow, I actually found myself believing in their cause. A foster home for all the unwanted half-bloods, the kids with nowhere to go. The kids that would have perished at the hands of monsters otherwise. I couldn't find it in me to dislike Braden anymore. If he could do something like this for others, then maybe he wasn't that bad.
So what was Camp Half-blood, then? It was supposed to be a safe haven for all half-bloods—so how come it wasn't? Were we the ones who were in the wrong?
Suddenly, a beep sounded out of nowhere, making us all jump.
"Sorry," Amelia said, looking slightly sheepish. "That's my walkie-talkie."
She pulled an old-looking gray walkie-talkie out of her pocket and pressed the blue button on its surface. I assumed if it weren't for the attracting monsters issue, she'd have a phone.
Heavy breathing suddenly crackled out of the other end of the walkie-talkie, startling us all.
"Hello?" it was Braden's voice. "Amelia?"
"Yeah, I'm here." she narrowed her eyes at us, as if realizing that maybe Braden would say something we weren't supposed to hear.
"We have a problem," he said. He sounded desperate, and kind of lost, which were two words that I wouldn't usually associate with Braden.
Amelia sat up straighter, immediately completely focused. "What's wrong? Are you alright? Is someone hurt?"
There was a brief pause on the other end, and for a second, I worried that we had lost the signal.
"It's Annabeth," he said finally. "She's gone. A merman just pulled her into the ocean."