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Reading the Son of Neptune by april-babe16
Books » Percy Jackson and the Olympians Rated: K+, English, Hurt/Comfort & Family, P:12-22-11 U:5-29-12
925 Chapter 17: XIV Percy

A/N: I dedicate this chapter to Shooplet. The correct answer is "The little deformed one."

As everyone came back into the throne room laughing Athena began to speak.

"This is the last chapter before you guys go to sleep." She announced. All of the demigods groaned. They had a bedtime?

"I guess I'll read." Hephaestus sighed after an awkward silence.

Percy XIV,"

THE SENATE HOUSE INTERIOR looked like a high school lecture hall. A semicircle of tiered seats faced a dais with a podium and two chairs. The chairs were empty, but one had a small velvet package on the seat.

"Oooh a present." Apollo smiled. Hazel and Frank looked at each other like is he serious?

Percy, Hazel and Frank sat on the left side of the semicircle. The ten senators and Nico di Angelo occupied the rest of the front row. The upper rows were filled with several dozen ghosts and a few older veterans from the city, all in formal togas. Octavian stood in front with a knife and a Beanie Baby lion, just in case anyone needed to consult the god of cutesy collectibles.

"Did he look ridiculous?" Leo asked excitedly.

"Yes he did." Frank answered him in an obvious tone.

Reyna walked to the podium and raised her hand for attention.

'Right, this is an emergency meeting,' she said. 'We won't stand on formalities.'

Nico sighed in relief. That's one less boring thing in the senate meeting.

'I love formalities!' a ghost complained.

Nico looked at the book weirdly. How could anyone like formalities? Frank, Hazel, and Jason looked like they agreed with Nico.

Reyna shot him a cross look.

"It looks like she doesn't like formalities either." Leo joked.

'First of all,' she said, 'we're not here to vote on the quest itself. The quest has been issued by Mars Ultor, patron of Rome. We will obey his wishes. Nor are we here to debate the choice of Frank Zhang's companions.'

'All three from the Fifth Cohort?' called out Hank from the Third. 'That's not fair.'

'And not smart,' said the boy next to him. 'We know the Fifth will mess up. They should take somebody good.'

"Hey the Fifth Cohort is good." Jason protested.

"Yeah Percy proved that last night." Annabeth bragged. Hazel and Frank just smiled. Percy turned Fifth Cohort's reputation around.

Dakota got up so fast he spilled Kool-Aid from his flask.

'We were plenty good last night when we whipped your podex, Larry!'

"What's a podex?" Leo asked.

"It's a rude way to say anus." Hazel reluctantly answered. If Leo was anything like Sammy he would be immature about it. As Leo started laughing Hazel sighed. She was right.

'Enough, Dakota,' Reyna said. 'Let's leave Larry's podex out of this. As quest leader, Frank has the right to choose his companions. He has chosen Percy Jackson and Hazel Levesque.'

A ghost from the second row yelled, 'Absurdus! Frank Zhang isn't even a full member of the legion! He's on probatio. A quest must be led by someone of centurion rank or higher. This is completely –'

"So you have to have a rank to lead a quest?" Thalia asked, "That seems kind of unfair." Jason shrugged. He didn't make the rules and neither did Frank or Hazel so they couldn't do anything about it.

'Cato,' Reyna snapped. 'We must obey the wishes of Mars Ultor. That means certain … adjustments.'

Reyna clapped her hands, and Octavian came forward.

He set down his knife and Beanie Baby and took the velvet package from the chair.

'Frank Zhang,' he said, 'come forward.'

"I think you're going to become a centurion." Annabeth predicted. Nico rolled his eyes, Percy would've been able to predict that.

Frank glanced nervously at Percy. Then he got to his feet and approached the augur.

'It is my … pleasure,' Octavian said, forcing out the last word, 'to bestow upon you the Mural Crown for being first over the walls in siege warfare.' Octavian handed him a bronze badge shaped like a laurel wreath. 'Also, by order of Praetor Reyna, to promote you to the rank of centurion.'

"He's pinning the whole thing on Reyna." Jason frowned.

He handed Frank another badge, a bronze crescent, and the senate exploded in protest.

'He's still a probie!' one yelled.

'Impossible!' said another.

'Water cannon up my nose!' yelled a third.

"What does the water cannon have to do with anything?" Paul asked. Everybody else shrugged.

'Silence!' Octavian's voice sounded a lot more commanding than it had the previous night on the battlefield. 'Our praetor recognizes that no one below the rank of centurion may lead a quest. For good or ill, Frank must lead this quest – so our praetor has decreed that Frank Zhang must be made centurion.'

Suddenly Percy understood what an effective speaker Octavian was. He sounded reasonable and supportive, but his expression was pained. He carefully crafted his words to put all the responsibility on Reyna. This was her idea, he seemed to say. If it went wrong, Reyna was to blame. If only Octavian had been the one in charge, things would have been done more sensibly. But, alas, he had no choice but to support Reyna, because Octavian was a loyal Roman soldier.

Jason glared at the book. He hated Octavian, he could remember that much. It wasn't fair for Octavian to get credit for good things but none of the blame for bad things.

"I hate when people fight with words." Thalia snapped. Piper looked down, that was how she helped free Hera after all.

Jason noticing her look said, "Piper what you do is completely different." Jason's words didn't comfort Piper much but she forced a smile onto her face.

"Can I read?" Hephaestus grumbled.

Octavian managed to convey all that without saying it, simultaneously calming the senate and sympathizing with them. For the first time, Percy realized this scrawny, funnylooking scarecrow of a kid might be a dangerous enemy.

"He is dangerous and he doesn't even need to get his hands dirty." Ares sneered.

Reyna must have recognized this, too. A look of irritation flashed across her face. 'There is an opening for centurion,' she said. 'One of our officers, also a senator, has decided to step down. After ten years in the legion, she will retire to the city and attend college. Gwen of the Fifth Cohort, we thank you for your service.'

Everyone turned to Gwen, who managed a brave smile.

She looked tired from the previous night's ordeal, but also relieved. Percy couldn't blame her. Compared to getting skewered with a pilum, college sounded pretty good.

"So if I threatened him with a pilum do you think he'd go to college." Annabeth asked the other demigods and Grover.

"No, probably not. Percy hates school." Grover said after thinking for a minute. Sally nodded in agreement, although she couldn't blame him. If she had to go through so much at her school she would probably hate school too.

'As praetor,' Reyna continued, 'I have the right to replace officers. I admit it's unusual for a camper on probatio to rise directly to the rank of centurion, but I think we can agree … last night was unusual. Frank Zhang, your ID, please.'

Frank removed the lead tablet from round his neck and handed it to Octavian.

'Your arm,' Octavian said.

Frank held up his forearm. Octavian raised his hands to the heavens. 'We accept Frank Zhang, Son of Mars, to the Twelfth Legion Fulminata for his first year of service. Do you pledge your life to the senate and people of Rome?'

Frank muttered something like, 'Ud-dud.' Then he cleared his throat and managed: 'I do.'

The senators shouted, 'Senatus Populusque Romanus!'

Fire blazed on Frank's arm. For a moment his eyes filled with terror, and Percy was afraid his friend might pass out. Then the smoke and flame died, and new marks were seared onto Frank's skin: SPQR, an image of crossed spears, and a single stripe, representing the first year of service.

"That sounds pretty painful." Leo winced. Frank nodded, it was.

'You may sit down.' Octavian glanced at the audience as if to say: This wasn't my idea, folks.

"What would that even look like?" Hermes wondered. Everyone thought for a second but they had no idea.

'Now,' Reyna said, 'we must discuss the quest.'

The senators shifted and muttered as Frank returned to his seat.

'Did it hurt?' Percy whispered.

Frank looked at his forearm, which was still steaming.

'Yeah. A lot.' He seemed mystified by the badges in his hand – the centurion's mark and the Mural Crown – like he wasn't sure what to do with them.

"I was a little astonished." Frank admitted.

'Here.' Hazel's eyes shone with pride. 'Let me.'

She pinned the medals to Frank's shirt.

"I was proud." Hazel smiled at Frank. He felt his heart beating in his chest and hoped nobody else heard it.

Percy smiled. He'd only known Frank for a day, but he felt proud of him, too. 'You deserve it, man,' he said. 'What you did last night? Natural leadership.'

Frank scowled. 'But centurion –'

'Centurion Zhang,' called Octavian. 'Did you hear the question?'

Frank blinked. 'Um … sorry. What?'

Octavian turned to the senate and smirked, like, What did I tell you?

Thalia growled.

'I was asking,' Octavian said like he was talking to a three-year-old,

Everyone else joined Thalia in growling.

'if you have a plan for the quest. Do you even know where you are going?'

'Um …'

Hazel put her hand on Frank's shoulder and stood.

'Weren't you listening last night, Octavian? Mars was pretty clear. We're going to the land beyond the gods – Alaska.'

The senators squirmed in their togas. Some of the ghosts shimmered and disappeared. Even Reyna's metal dogs rolled over on their backs and whimpered.

Finally Senator Larry stood. 'I know what Mars said, but that's crazy. Alaska is cursed! They call it the land beyond the gods for a reason. It's so far north that the Roman gods have no power there. The place is swarming with monsters. No demigod has come back from there alive since –'

'Since you lost your eagle,' Percy said.

Larry was so startled, he fell back on his podex.

"They don't sound very brave compared to the Greeks." Leo said smugly, he was after all Greek. All the Romans glared at him.

"We aren't cowards." Jason glared at his friend.

'Look,' Percy continued, 'I know I'm new here. I know you guys don't like to mention that massacre in the 1980s –'

"And you talk about it anyway." Sally sighed. What was she going to do with him?

'He mentioned it!' one of the ghosts whimpered.

Leo gave a pointed look at Jason as if to say still not cowards?

'– but don't you get it?' Percy continued. 'The Fifth Cohort led that expedition. We failed, and we have to be responsible for making things right. That's why Mars is sending us. This giant, the son of Gaia, he's the one who defeated your forces thirty years ago. I'm sure of it. Now he's sitting up there in Alaska with a chained death god, and all your old equipment. He's mustering his armies and sending them south to attack this camp.'

'Really?' Octavian said. 'You seem to know a lot about our enemy's plans, Percy Jackson.'

"Is he implying that Percy's a traitor?" Grover asked while laughing.

"Yeah I think he is." Annabeth said also giggling.

"Shouldn't you be mad?" Piper asked.

"I guess. It's just that Percy's the least likely person to ever be a traitor." Annabeth explained. Everyone understood except for Jason, Leo, and Piper who were getting sick of not knowing much about the lost hero.

Most insults Percy could shrug off – being called weak or stupid or whatever. But it dawned on him that Octavian was calling him a spy – a traitor. That was such a foreign concept to Percy, so not who he was, he almost couldn't process the slur. When he did, his shoulders tensed. He was tempted to smack Octavian on the head again,

"Please do it." Paul begged. Everyone stared at him. He wasn't usually a violent guy. He shrugged in response.

but he realized Octavian was baiting him, trying to make him look unstable.

"At least he realized it." Annabeth sighed.

Percy took a deep breath.

'We're going to confront this son of Gaia,' he said, managing to keep his composure. 'We'll get back your eagle and unchain this god …' He glanced at Hazel. 'Thanatos, right?'

She nodded. 'Letus, in Roman. But his old Greek name is Thanatos. When it comes to Death … we're happy to let him stay Greek.'

"We'd rather have him be Roman though." Thalia pointed out.

Octavian sighed in exasperation. 'Well, whatever you call him … how do you expect to do all this and get back by the Feast of Fortuna? That's the evening of the twentyfourth. It's the twentieth now. Do you even know where to look? Do you even know who this son of Gaia is?'

'Yes.' Hazel spoke with such certainty that even Percy was surprised. 'I don't know exactly where to look, but I have a pretty good idea. The giant's name is Alcyoneus.'

"How did you know that?" Annabeth asked. Nico was about to give his prepared answer but Hazel shook her head.

"You'll see." She vaguely responded.

That name seemed to lower the temperature in the room by fifty degrees. The senators shivered.

Reyna gripped her podium. 'How do you know this, Hazel? Because you're a child of Pluto?'

"I don't think that's it." Annabeth said thoughtfully. Hazel didn't give any indication that she heard Annabeth.

Nico di Angelo had been so quiet that Percy had almost forgotten he was there. Now he stood in his black toga.

'Praetor, if I may,' he said. 'Hazel and I … we learned a little about the giants from our father. Each giant was bred specifically to oppose one of the twelve Olympian gods – to usurp that god's domain. The king of giants was Porphyrion, the anti-Jupiter. But the eldest giant was Alcyoneus. He was born to oppose Pluto. That's why we know of him in particular.'

"I know that's not it." Annabeth shook her head. What was going on?

Reyna frowned. 'Indeed? You sound quite familiar with him.'

Nico picked at the edge of his toga. 'Anyway … the giants were hard to kill. According to prophecy, they could only be defeated by gods and demigods working together.'

"Which is true." Jason nodded.

Dakota belched. 'Sorry, did you say gods and demigods … like, fighting side by side? That could never happen!'

'It has happened,' Nico said. 'In the first giant war, the gods called on heroes to join them, and they were victorious. Whether it could happen again, I don't know. But with Alcyoneus … he was different. He was completely immortal, impossible to kill by god or demigod, as long as he remained in his home territory – the place where he was born.'

"Why don't we just leave him there then? If he's there then he can't hurt us." Leo pointed out.

"We have to go. He has Thanatos." Annabeth responded.

Nico paused to let that sink in. 'And if Alcyoneus has been reborn in Alaska –'

'Then he can't be defeated there,' Hazel finished. 'Ever. By any means. Which is why our 1980s expedition was doomed to fail.'

"Alaska's huge. He could be in the middle of the state, then how would you kill him?" Annabeth almost cried. Percy couldn't stay out of danger even when he didn't remember who he was. Frank and Hazel smirked, the giant was dumb enough to be on the edge of the border.

Another round of arguing and shouting broke out.

'The quest is impossible!' shouted a senator.

'We're doomed!' cried a ghost.

'More Kool-Aid!' yelled Dakota.

"I like Dakota." Leo decided while smiling.

'Silence!' Reyna called. 'Senators, we must act like Romans. Mars has given us this quest, and we have to believe it is possible. These three demigods must travel to Alaska. They must free Thanatos and return before the Feast of Fortuna. If they can retrieve the lost eagle in the process, so much the better. All we can do is advise them and make sure they have a plan.'

Reyna looked at Percy without much hope. 'You do have a plan?'

Percy wanted to step forward bravely and say, No, I don't!

"You should've, that would've been hilarious." Frank laughed. He was able to laugh since he knew the outcome of the quest.

That was the truth, but looking around at all the nervous faces Percy knew he couldn't say it.

'First, I need to understand something.' He turned towards Nico. 'I thought Pluto was the god of the dead. Now I hear about this other guy, Thanatos, and the Doors of Death from that prophecy – the Prophecy of Seven. What does all that mean?'

Nico took a deep breath. 'Okay.

"At least you're talking to him." Annabeth grumbled. Nico sighed, was she still going on about that?

Pluto is the god of the Underworld, but the actual god of death, the one who's responsible for making sure souls go to the afterlife and stay there – that's Pluto's lieutenant, Thanatos. He's like … well, imagine Life and Death are two different countries. Everybody would like to be in Life, right? So there's a guarded border to keep people from crossing back over without permission. But it's a big border, with lots of holes in the fence. Pluto tries to seal up the breaches, but new ones keep popping up all the time. That's why he depends on Thanatos, who's like the border patrol, the police.'

'Thanatos catches souls,' Percy said, 'and deports them back to the Underworld.'

'Exactly,' Nico said. 'But now Thanatos has been captured, chained up.'

Frank raised his hand. 'Uh … how do you chain Death?'

'It's been done before,' Nico said. 'In the old days, a guy named Sisyphus tricked Death and tied him up. Another time, Hercules wrestled him to the ground.'

'And now a giant has captured him,' Percy said. 'So, if we could free Thanatos, then the dead would stay dead?' He glanced at Gwen. 'Um … no offense.'

"I'm sure she won't take offense to it." Annabeth rolled her eyes, "Stop apologizing for everything.

"Does she realize she's talking to a book?" Hazel asked Jason.

Jason shook his head, "Don't tell her though, she'll probably bite your head off."

'It's more complicated than that,' Nico said.

Octavian rolled his eyes. 'Why does that not surprise me?'

'You mean the Doors of Death,' Reyna said, ignoring Octavian. 'They are mentioned in the Prophecy of Seven, which sent the first expedition to Alaska –'

Cato the ghost snorted. 'We all know how that turned out! We Lares remember!'

The other ghosts grumbled in agreement.

"Why are the lares even there?" Piper questioned, it seemed like all they did was shut down everyone's ideas.

Nico put his finger to his lips. Suddenly all the Lares went silent. Some looked alarmed, like their mouths had been glued together. Percy wished he had that power over certain living people … like Octavian, for instance.

Nico closed his eyes and smiled, if only.

'Thanatos is only part of the solution,' Nico explained.

'The Doors of Death … well, that's a concept even I don't completely understand. There are many ways into the Underworld – the River Styx, the Door of Orpheus – plus smaller escape routes that open up from time to time. With Thanatos imprisoned, all those exits will be easier to use. Sometimes it might work to our advantage and let a friendly soul come back – like Gwen here. More often, it will benefit evil souls and monsters, the sneaky ones who are looking to escape. Now, the Doors of Death – those are the personal doors of Thanatos, his fast lane between Life and Death. Only Thanatos is supposed to know where they are, and the location shifts over the ages. If I understand correctly, the Doors of Death have been forced open. Gaia's minions have seized control of them –'

'Which means Gaia controls who can come back from the dead,' Percy guessed.

"I hope Medusa doesn't come back. She was bad enough the first time." Grover shivered while Annabeth nodded in agreement.

Nico nodded. 'She can pick and choose who to let out – the worst monsters, the most evil souls. If we rescue Thanatos, that means at least he can catch souls again and send them below. Monsters will die when we kill them, like they used to, and we'll get a little breathing room. But unless we're able to retake the Doors of Death, our enemies won't stay down for long. They'll have an easy way back to the world of the living.'

'So we can catch them and deport them,' Percy summed up, 'but they'll just keep coming back across.'

'In a depressing nutshell, yes,' Nico said.

"That is depressing." Hestia agreed. She hated war and this was obviously going to be a big one.

Frank scratched his head. 'But Thanatos knows where the doors are, right? If we free him, he can retake them.'

'I don't think so,' Nico said. 'Not alone. He's no match for Gaia. That would take a massive quest … an army of the best demigods.'

"You're probably trying to ease them into the idea of other demigods." Annabeth guessed. Nico shrugged, he might be.

"What I don't get is why Nico just didn't get the Romans used to the idea of the Greeks instead of Percy if Nico already knew about Camp Jupiter." Leo questioned.

"They wouldn't trust Nico. They need a natural leader. They needed someone like Percy." Annabeth said quietly. She still had trouble not crying every time she talked about him.

'Foes bear arms to the Doors of Death,' Reyna said.

'That's the Prophecy of Seven …' She looked at Percy, and for just a moment he could see how scared she was.

She did a good job of hiding it, but Percy wondered if she'd had nightmares about Gaia, too – if she'd seen visions of what would happen when the camp was invaded by monsters that couldn't be killed. 'If this begins the ancient prophecy, we don't have resources to send an army to these Doors of Death and protect the camp. I can't imagine even sparing seven demigods –'

"Then it's a good thing you only need to spare three including Jason." Leo said optimistically.

'First things first.' Percy tried to sound confident, though he could feel the level of panic rising in the room. 'I don't know who the seven are, or what that old prophecy means, exactly. But first we have to free Thanatos. Mars told us we only needed three people for the quest to Alaska. Let's concentrate on succeeding with that and getting back before the Feast of Fortuna. Then we can worry about the Doors of Death.'

'Yeah,' Frank said in a small voice. 'That's probably enough for one week.'

"Percy's had worse." Annabeth shrugged.

'So you do have a plan?' Octavian asked sceptically.

Percy looked at his teammates. 'We go to Alaska as fast as possible …'

'And we improvise,' Hazel said.

'A lot,' Frank added.

"Sounds like a plan to me." Leo smiled as Annabeth made a face at their so called "Plan."

Reyna studied them. She looked like she was mentally writing her own obituary.

'Very well,' she said. 'Nothing remains except for us to vote on what support we can give the quest – transportation, money, magic, weapons.'

'Praetor, if I may,' Octavian said.

'Oh, great,' Percy muttered. 'Here it comes.'

"He's going to say to give them nothing." Jason said angrily. He had help on the quest, why couldn't they? It was starting to seem like Camp Half-Blood was much more helpful than Camp Jupiter.

'The camp is in grave danger,' Octavian said. 'Two gods have warned us we will be attacked four days from now. We must not spread our resources too thin, especially by funding projects that have a slim chance of success.' Octavian looked at the three of them with pity, as if to say, Poor little things. 'Mars has clearly chosen the least likely candidates for this quest.

"He wouldn't call for a quest if he thought there was no hope idiot." Annabeth rolled her eyes. She hated when people spoke without thinking.

Perhaps that is because he considers them the most expendable. Perhaps Mars is playing the long odds. Whatever the case, he wisely didn't order a massive expedition, nor did he ask us to fund their adventure. I say we keep our resources here and defend the camp. This is where the battle will be lost or won. If these three succeed, wonderful! But they should do so by their own ingenuity.'

An uneasy murmur passed through the crowd. Frank jumped to his feet. Before he could start a fight, Percy said, 'Fine! No problem. But at least give us transportation. Gaia is the earth goddess, right? Going overland, across the earth – I'm guessing we should avoid that. Plus, it'll be too slow.'

"Wow Percy actually said something smart." Thalia said slightly impressed.

Octavian laughed. 'Would you like us to charter you an aeroplane?'

The idea made Percy nauseous. 'No. Air travel … I have a feeling that would be bad, too. But a boat. Can you at least give us a boat?'

Hazel made a grunting sound. Percy glanced over. She shook her head and mouthed, Fine. I'm fine.

"I'm get sea sick." Hazel explained to the questioning looks she was getting.

'A boat!' Octavian turned to the senators. 'The son of Neptune wants a boat. Sea travel has never been the Roman way, but he isn't much of a Roman!'

"He is the son of a sea god. That's only normal." Annabeth defended, "Plus he isn't Roman."

'Octavian,' Reyna said sternly, 'a boat is little enough to ask. And providing no other aid seems very –'

'Traditional!' Octavian exclaimed.

'It is very traditional. Let us see if these questers have the strength to survive without help, like true Romans!'

"They will come back." Grover said daring someone to disagree with him. He wasn't usually violent, but he hated when people picked on Percy. He was the best friend anyone could ask for. He didn't deserve this.

More muttering filled the chamber. The senators' eyes moved back and forth between Octavian and Reyna, watching the test of wills.

Reyna straightened in her chair. 'Very well,' she said tightly. 'We'll put it to a vote.

"No..." Annabeth groaned.

Senators, the motion is as follows: the quest shall go to Alaska. The senate shall provide full access to the Roman navy docked at Alameda. No other aid will be forthcoming. The three adventurers will survive or fail on their own merits. All in favor?'

Every senator's hand went up.

'The motion is passed.' Reyna turned to Frank.

'Centurion, your party is excused. The senate has other matters to discuss. And, Octavian, if I may confer with you for a moment.'

Percy was incredibly glad to see the sunlight. In that dark hall, with all those eyes on him, he'd felt like the world was riding on his shoulders – and he was fairly sure he'd had that experience before.

"He has." Annabeth shivered, it wasn't a good feeling.

"What do you mean?" Frank asked.

Annabeth started to explain, "On his third quest he was trying to save Artemis-"

"And Annabeth." Thalia added.

"Anyway, Luke tricked me into holding the world, and then Artemis took it off my shoulders. When Percy got to where we were he took the weight of the world so that Artemis could fight. That's how Percy and I have a gray streak right here." Annabeth said pointing it out. "I'm actually surprised nobody said anything about a random gray streak in my hair."

"I figured it was because you were so stressed." Piper admitted sheepishly. Jason, Leo, Hazel, and Frank nodded in agreement. Annabeth just smiled amusedly.

He filled his lungs with fresh air.

Hazel picked up a large emerald from the path and slipped it in her pocket. 'So … we're pretty much toast?'

Frank nodded miserably. 'If either of you wants to back out, I wouldn't blame you.'

'Are you kidding?' Hazel said. 'And pull sentry duty for the rest of the week?'

Frank managed a smile. He turned to Percy.

Percy gazed across the forum. Stay put, Annabeth had said in his dream. But if he stayed put this camp would be destroyed. He looked up at the hills, and imagined Gaia's face smiling in the shadows and ridges. You can't win, little demigod, she seemed to say. Serve me by staying, or serve me by going.

"I don't like those choices." Sally frowned.

Percy made a silent vow: after the Feast of Fortuna, he would find Annabeth. But, for now, he had to act. He couldn't let Gaia win.

"I wouldn't have it any other way." Annabeth smiled sadly.

'I'm with you,' he told Frank. 'Besides, I want to check out the Roman navy.'

They were only halfway across the forum when someone called, 'Jackson!' Percy turned and saw Octavian jogging towards them.

'What do you want?' Percy asked.

Octavian smiled. 'Already decided I'm your enemy? That's a rash choice, Percy. I'm a loyal Roman.'

Frank snarled. 'You backstabbing, slimy –' Both Percy and Hazel had to restrain him.

'Oh, dear,' Octavian said. 'Hardly the right behavior for a new centurion. Jackson, I only followed you because Reyna charged me with a message. She wants you to report to the principia without your – ah – two lackeys, here. Reyna will meet you there after the senate adjourns. She'd like a private word with you before you leave on your quest.'

'What about?' Percy said.

'I'm sure I don't know.' Octavian smiled wickedly. 'The last person she had a private talk with was Jason Grace. And that was the last time I ever saw him. Good luck and goodbye, Percy Jackson.'

"Is he implying that Reyna had something to do with my disappearence?" Jason asked raising his eyebrows.

Before anyone could answer him there was a bright flash of light, and a scream, "Percy!"

A/N: Cliffhanger! You guys probably hate me but oh well. Question: What did Percy do at his fifth grade field trip?

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