Family Feud: The Beginning Of The End Of The Earth

Ava Griffin is a demigod. Basically, she is half-human,and half-greek god. She is a permanent camper at Camp Half Blood, a camp where all demigods train for the hard-and normally short-life of a demigod. When Connor Alati arrives, Ava befriends him. Connor quickly learns that Ava has many layers, some that even the campers are afraid of. When Connor recieves a prophecy that has been forbidden for years, Ava and Connor are set off on a quest to save the world. And they are not guaranteed survival. With the ghastly past, horrifying present, and impossible future, Ava and Connor discover that the world is falling apart, and the gods are to blame.

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9. Apollo:The God Of Annoying Songs And Deadlines

     "Can you take us right to the entrance, Argus?" I asked our many-eyed driver from the backseat. Argus nodded in agreement, stomping on the accelerator to send our backs flying into our seats.

     "Where exactly did he go to get his driver's license?" Connor looked at me warily. His face probably matched how mine looked-a little green.

     "Oh, just where all demigods and creatures go." I assured him, waving my hand.

     "Where is that?"

     "Nowhere."

     Connor sighed. "Great. We're going to be dead before the quest even begins."

     "I thought you were the positive one, water boy." He rolled his eyes at me and laughed.

     We both looked out the window, where New York City was just coming into view. After being in a secluded, sparsely populated camp for almost a year, seeing all these people made me feel very claustrophobic. We had just crossed the I-95 bridge taking us into Upper Manhattan. Buildings upon buildings were everywhere, from all different sizes, shapes, and even different eras. There were soaring, all-glass buildings that reached impossible heights and seemed to be camouflaged due to how they reflected the blue sky so perfectly. Window washers seemed to be hanging in midair while cleaning the sky around them. Those modern buildings were sleek and sharp, all of their materials chrome or the brightest, incorruptible steel.

     Many children of Athena had a passion for architecture, the greatest being a girl named Annabeth who had been a camper over 20 years ago. I think she is still alive, somewhere in California in the Roman camp-whole other story-with her husband Percy Jackson, a son of Poseidon. A daughter of Athena married to a son of Poseidon. I looked at Connor briefly. Shaking my head, I turned back to the city outside.

     They were some buildings that came from the past, old brown and red brick buildings, short and stout. There were very few of these buildings. I was surprised such a large, modern city like Manhattan had even traces of the early 21st century.

     The houses we saw were so close I think they were touching, not a blade of grass in sight. Because it was Saturday, millions upon millions of people bustled about, running and laughing, holding their smart phones and drinking coffees. Everyone seemed to have a purpose, but the entire space seemed to be in a manic chaos, with people of all ethnicities heading off in every direction.

     Technology was ever-present in everything you looked at. People were using their phones or tablets with holographic projections displaying things on a 3D scale. I saw one boy watching Spongebob Squarepants on his tablet, the little yellow sponge and his companion Patrick chasing after jellyfish. On every block we passed there were large monitors that delivered the daily news to people. If you were going to look at one of those monitors, a scanner would feed the information into your brain instantaneously. Courtesy of a child of Athena, by the way. And no, the scanners did not brain wash you.

     The cars hadn't evolved much since I last saw one. They were still the small, electric powered smart cars with eco-efficient tires and recyclable parts. Our camp van was probably one of the last cars in the world that still used gasoline.

     Central Park was the next thing we saw. I had to say, amidst all the streets and buildings, it was nice to see some earth again. Joggers, children, businessmen, and pets streamed the area, enjoying the shade of trees on the hot summer day. I had seen many pictures of Central Park, but I didn't realize it was so huge. Stone paths criss-crossed all around, benches dotted at every 20-foot interval. Trash cans were piled high, monitors sat on platforms, performers leaned against trees while they played instruments, and teenagers listened to music on their holographic 30th generation Ipods. They were so lucky, the only worries they had were about their boyfriends/girlfriends and homework when school started again.

     I looked at Connor, who was watching the teenagers with a longing expression. He caught my eye and smiled.

     "Seems nice, huh?" I nodded, turning back to look out the window. I could hear the sadness in his voice when Connor spoke again. "I was one of those kids only a month ago." I turned back to see his face, but it was blank. Did he wish that he had never come to camp? I couldn't blame him. Not for a second. As I was thinking, Central Park passed behind us as we got closer and closer to the Empire State Building.

     Soon, we were on the legendary 5th Avenue. I thought we had seen a lot of people before, but this was insane. It was almost repulsive that so many people could be pressed together in such a seemingly small area. I looked away, fidgeting with my hands until the van stopped. I looked to Argus, who focused one of his back-of-the-head eyes on me. I got his look, nodded, then elbowed Connor.

     "Time to get out," I said, biting my lip. "We're here."

     Grabbing our individual backpacks, Connor and I bade Argus goodbye-which he returned with a hundred winks before he sped off into midmorning traffic-and turned to face our first stop on our quest to save the world: The Empire State Building.

     The skyscraper looked down at us with an intimidating look. The spire was unimpressive compared to the thousands of other ones that have showed up this monument. Nevertheless, the Empire State Building was a historical treasure for all Americans, and still remained the pivotal point for Mount Olympus, set on a cloud directly above the building.

     "Look straight up," I told Connor. He obeyed my directions, then gasped. What we were both looking at was an extremely large, dark cloud practically sitting on the highest point of the building. The cloud looked like some giant lazily threw grey cotton balls together. Sitting on that cloud was, you guessed it, Mount Olympus.

     Connor looked at the humans walking by. "How do they not notice that?"

     "The Mist hides it from their view." Before Connor could ask what the Mist was, I spoke again. "Let's go meet the gods."

     We walked together through the impressive front doors, right into the lobby. Lush chairs and carpets adorned the area, beyond that a receptionist desk. Quite a few people were walking to and from the gold elevators, enjoying their day of sightseeing. A lady at the desk caught my eye,  probably wondering if we were going to buy tickets to the observation desks. I decided we should buy some to avoid suspicion, even though we were going much higher than the highest floor.

   "Hello," the lady smiled at us from behind her position. The smile plastered on her face was anything but genuine, but I smiled back anyways.

     "Hi, my uh, brother and I wanted to buy tickets to the observation deck." Connor gave me a look as if to say, brother?

     "Sure thing." The blonde, tall woman tapped a few buttons on her automated cash register. "That will be $49.99 please." I retrieved the money from my backpack and handed it to her. She held the green paper up to the light, obviously not trusting us. Satisfied, she placed the money in the cash register and handed us two tickets. "Thank you. Have fun." She gave us another signature grin. Her face became serious. "But not too much fun, you hear?" Connor and I shared a look, then eagerly nodded our heads.

     We walked towards the elevators feeling the unapproving glare of the receptionist on our backs. She must have had a lot of troublemakers in here before. Connor and I waited until there was an elevator with no one in it, before stepping inside. I shifted uncomfortably as I stood to face the fast receding lobby.

     As the doors closed, Connor looked at me. "You okay?" I nodded, biting my lip.

     "Small spaces." I took a deep breath. "Ready to go to the 600th floor?"

     Connor looked at a poster on the elevator wall. "It says there are only 102 floors. Not 600..."

     "Just you wait and see." I placed my hand on the panel displaying the buttons to each floor. From inside the wall slid out a small platform with a blue hand on it. Not an actual hand, mind you, but the outlining of one, an identation made for a left hand. Like a DNA scanner you might see in a movie. "I've never done this before," I muttered before placing my left hand on the space. Connor and I gasped as it scanned my hand, made a beeping noise, and slid back into the wall, as if it had never been there. All of a sudden, a red button with the number 600 appeared. Cautiously, I pressed it. The elevator moved up, the small meter above the doors ticking by as we went higher and higher.

     Connor gave a shaky laugh, looking at the meter. "We're not even in the building anymore," he pointed to the meter, where it said we were on the 200th floor. I sighed, leaning against the wall. I needed to calm down, and fast. Connor noticed my distress. "You okay?"

     "This is not a good environment for me."

     "What do you mean?" Connor stood next to me. "It's just an elevator."

     "Exactly. Me, in a tiny elevator, in the country's most important historical building..."

     Connor swallowed loudly. "I see your point." He gave me a small smile, but I could tell he was praying that the elevator would hurry up.

     What seemed like the longest time, the elevator dinged, opening up doors from the opposite side of the ones we entered. As fast as I could, I bolted out of that tiny box, crashing straight into a satyr. He grumbled a few words I shouldn't type at me before dusting himself off and clopping away.

     Connor barely stifled a laugh as he helped me up. "Smooth, lava girl."

     "Oh, shut up." Together, Connor and I took in Mount Olympus, Palace Of The Gods.

     All in all, Connor and I were standing at the base of a mountain, on a cloud, above the largest city in America. Go figure. Sleek marble steps from every direction led straight up to the peak of the mountain: our destination. This was the first time I had ever been to Olympus, and I am sure I would be here again. Hopefully next time it's just for a cheery visit, not some life-or-death quest.

     Like I would be that lucky.

     Together, we both walked up the strenuous stairs until we were in a large courtyard. The greenest grass-tended to by Demeter, I assumed-stretched out forever. Fountains spraying ambrosia dotted the landscape. The whitest stone carvings depicting gods were everywhere. There was one of my mom, Athena, sitting and weaving a beautiful basket. Another one of Artemis in the middle of hunting something. I blushed at the sight of one of Aphrodite's statues. Let's just say...there was a lot of Aphrodite. I caught Connor looking and hit his arm.

     "Come on, dufus." Connor gave me a look before joining me as we came in sight of The Palace.

     Satyrs walked around us, playing their harps or reed whistles. Tree nymphs darted from tree to tree, laughing all the while. At least until they noticed us. Or noticed me, anyways. Word must have gotten here about me murdering Mother Nature. I will never live something like that down. I didn't deserve to either, though. I murdered a tree. I should be shunned. They all gave us strange looks while we walked by, whispering to each other or just staring. I saw minor gods and goddesses walking about, tending to their own things and displaying their godly powers. They were too caught up to notice us, thankfully.

     Mount Olympus was exactly like it had been when it was in actual Greece. It was a bit more modernized, though. There were automated markets and ATM's oddly mixed in with old relics and even older beings. Many sellers tried to bribe Connor and I into buying jinxed olives or defective homework-helping robots. "Made by Hephaestus himself!" they said.

     Connor and I gasped in unison as we took in the great temple before us. We had reached the peak of the mountain, where sat the glorious and clean Palace Of The Gods. Inside, it really was only one central room, but room was hardly the word for it. Impossibly tall greek columns rose high to meet a domed ceiling made to look like the stars. I saw the entire cosmos displayed above my head, and I felt pretty small. Galaxies of every size, shape, and color displayed all of creation, from the smallest moon to the largest blackhole. Everything around was white or the brightest gold and silver. Other than my hair, nothing was dark in all of Mount Olympus.

     What used to be an inverted U, sat a sort of rectangle for all the thrones of the gods and goddesses given a cabin at Camp Half-Blood. Each and every throne was individually unique. For example, Poseidon-Connor's dad-had a throne that was similar to a fisherman's chair you would find on a deep sea fishing boat. Demeter's was a lush organic throne completely made out of twisting vines and branches. Oh, and did I mention each throne was made for twenty foot tall beings? Again with the small feeling.

     In the middle of them all sat a replica of the constantly burning hearth that was tended to by Hestia. Thankfully, she was not there.

     The only throne that wasn't vacant was occupied by the exact person we neeeded to see:Apollo's.

     Apollo barely noticed our entrance, tuning a harp and humming to himself. He mumbled a few words as he plucked strings, then wrote them down on a piece of paper. Apollo's throne was a solid gold, chiseled block of a ton of random things. Apollo was the god of the sun, medicine, music-terrible music, by the way-and self centeredness. Then again, all of the gods were pretty self centered. Stuck on his throne were Dora band-aids, and musical note stickers;I'm guessing the gold was for the sun part.

     The god himself was dressed in classic hippie attire. His hair was extremely blonde, went down to his waist, and was tied back with a ponytail. His eyes were like melted gold from a forge. Though he was thousands of years old, Apollo looked about 20. He was dressed in bellbottom jeans and a purple baggy shirt plastered with peace signs. Typical hippie junky. And I can't forget, he was ten feet tall while sitting down.

     Connor stepped in front of the enormous god. "Uh, Apollo? Can we talk to you?"

     Apollo looked up from his harp-or lyre, whatever-and gave us an annoyed look. "You two come now, right when I'm writing a song that's gonna blow every stinkin' boyband off of the charts! Real quick, just listen..." Apollo leaned over his harp and plucked a few strings before beginning. "You look like daisies...when they're dying. You look like the sky...when it's crying. You make me feel like...burnt pie. That's the end so..bye." He made a showy ending by plucking every string in a random, and horrible order. Connor and I waited for him to finish in an awkward silence.

     Of course Connor was the one to open his mouth. "That was a song? That was horrible!" I slapped myself on the forehead. Connor might as well have asked Apollo to fry us on the spot. You don't just tell the god of music that he stinks at singing. And playing instruments. And writing lyrics.

     Apollo looked suprisingly happy despite Connor's comment. "It was? Great! It's for my mother, her birthday is coming up." I laughed at that.

     "I can understand that. Apollo, sir, uh I'm Ava, and this is Connor." I gestured to the green eyed boy next to me. "We are requesting your help on a quest-"

     "Ah, yes. 'Bout time you guys answered. It appears we have a dilemma. One that will end the world as we know it." Apollo's eyes lit up. "Oh, that's a good line...I should write a song..." Apollo magically made a steel guitar-that was accomadated for his godly size- appear from nowhere and began strumming out of tune. "Maybe a G...maybe a fret higher..." Apollo strummed a ridiculously terrible sounding chord and smiled. "That's it! Now, improvise!" Apollo looked at us with a grin of brilliant white teeth and began to play. "The world...is...falling...falling...falling." Apollo picked up tempo and strummed with ferocity. I had a feeling he was imagining to be a famous rockstar or something. "And it's all...Artemis'...fault!" He continued to play so loud and obnoxious that Connor and I had to take a few steps back. I knew nothing about guitars, but even I knew that the god of music had just wrecked the entire reputation of rock 'n roll with the first note. It was that bad.

     "God of music? More like the god of making people deaf," Connor mumbled next to me.

     I took a step forward. "Uh, Apollo? We really need to talk to you."

     He looked up with his gold, mesmerizing eyes and smiled. Apollo was quite handsome, actually. If he didn't have waist length hair and bellbottom jeans, he'd make a cool looking college guy. "Right, then. Let's see um, the world is ending, Artemis is a brat, the sky will rip open, Artemis is a brat, my favorite clarinet broke, Artemis is a brat...yep! Typical doomsday stuff!" Apollo hopped happily in his throne.

     I gave Connor a look. He stepped forward. "Apollo? Um, with all due respect, what the heck are you talking about?"

     Apollo rolled his eyes. "Teenagers. They never get it the first time." He sighed. "Let's see," He began to speak really slow, as if we couldn't understand at a normal speed. "Artemis...is...a...brat-"

     "We got that bit," I interrupted. "What's all this about the sky ripping open and the world ending?"

     "Well," Apollo drug out the "L". "Artemis is accusing me of stealing her precious bow, go figure, and now she won't go to her spot at the proper time. Honestly, just because I was born first doesn't mean she has to be so whiny."

     Connor waved his hands in the air. "Hold on. Artemis thinks you stole a bow from her?"

     "Yep! Can you believe her? Little sisters are the worst!"

     "Okay, sure. But what is that bit about not meeting at the proper time?"

     "I think I know," I said. "There is this legend that twice a day, Apollo and Artemis must meet at a certain spot where they take shifts. When the day is over, Apollo and Artemis cross each other. Apollo goes to the other half of the world to be the sun, and Artemis to be the moon. If they didn't meet there everyday at the right time..." My eyes widened. "Time would fall apart."

     "What do you mean?" Connor asked.

     "Say Artemis or Apollo was late by even a few minutes, it would force time to become longer than it can be. A day can only have 24 hours, Connor. No more and no less. The effects of that would make time itself collapse!" I gave Apollo a glare. "How long has this been going on?"

     Apollo counted on his fingers. "Oh, about...hmmm...just over three months."

     I nearly died of a heart attack. "Three months?! And you decided to tell no one about this? When exactly did it happen? The exact day."

     "Let's see. It was the day that we're supposed to get equal times. The spring equinox."

     "March 21st? That's really bad. You two have to have the same amount of day and night on that day."

     "Slow down," Connor interrupted, rubbing his temples. His face had gone pale and his green eyes dark. "That was when I started getting those dreams."

     I raised an eyebrow at Connor. "You mean the dreams that told you to come to camp? That woman's voice? Are you sure?" I remembered the day I had shown him Camp Half-Blood. He had told me a woman that he couldn't see had given him instructions to get there. Who was that?

     Connor nodded. "Positive. I remember at school someone mentioning that it was the spring equinox that day. Later on that night, I had the first dream. The next day, I left. Do you think that's a coincidence?"

     Apollo looked equally as confused and troubled as Connor and I did. "I doubt it. Only divine beings could invade dreams like that. Whoever this woman was knew something had happened, and knew you had to help. But who?" Apollo looked at Connor. "Who is your mother?"

     He looked down. "Farah Alati. She's dead."

     "Might want to look into how she got that status. Maybe she was more than just a mortal."

     I watched Connor's reaction. Like a child who had been given candy, his face lit up. He practically jumped in the air. I gave Apollo a harsh look. "Don't say things you know nothing about, Apollo. Connor, I'm sorry, but we have to focus on this quest first."

     Connor's face fell. I felt bad, but, priorities needed to be sorted. Deep down though, if finding out about Connor's mom meant a trip to the Underworld, then maybe a certain blonde haired boy wouldn't mind me paying a visit. Unless he chose the Fields of Asphodel. No, I couldn't think like that. "Apollo, what can we do? Get the bow back?"

     Apollo rubbed his chin. My neck began to hurt from looking practically straight up. "Yes, I think that would do the trick. I don't exactly know where it is though. I didn't take it." Apollo sighed. "Artemis would know where it is. But that would be a long journey for you two..."

     "How long exactly?" Connor asked.

     "How fast can you get to Brazil?"

     I nearly keeled over there. Connor had to catch me from crumpling to the floor. "Brazil?! Why is she in Brazil? Shouldn't she be in America? Where the heart of Greek culture is?"

     "Well, as you should know, the summer solstice passed over a week ago. If you know anything at all-which I doubt-the summer solstice means the longest day of the year. At least in the Northern Hemisphere."

     "But in the Southern Hemisphere," I took up, "it's the exact opposite. It's the longest night of the year. Of course Artemis would be down there."

     "Right," Apollo agreed. "She's in Sao Paulo. Without her bow she cannot hunt as she pleases. Instead, she's hiding away somewhere in the city. All of the gods have tried to reason with her. Athena tried, no luck. Even Aphrodite tried to use her charmspeak to no avail. What a baby."

     "So that's our quest?" Connor asked. "Just get to Brazil, find out where the bow is, and get it for her? Why can't she just get it?"

     "I have a feeling whoever took the bow put it in a place that Artemis would never go," Apollo explained casually.

     I huffed a sigh. "So we have to go somewhere a goddess is afraid to go? Fantastic."

     Apollo grinned widely, flashing his perfect teeth. "Exactly! You are sharp, daughter of Athena. Your mother would be proud."

     I cringed. "Thanks," I mumbled. "So that's it, then? I guess we'll be leaving, then..." I bowed to Apollo, nudging Connor to do the same. Just as we turned to leave, Apollo laughed loudly. We turned back to face him. Apollo jumped up from his throne and shrank himself down to the size of a normal man.

     "There is one little favor I could use your help with."

     Connor raised an eyebrow at the god. "What is that?"

     "Being a god-a handsome one, by the way-" he said with a wink in my direction, "I go around a lot. I gotta take in the musical experience from all angles." From thin air Apollo sprang up a violin. "I got this from looking at the Colorado mountains." Apollo took a bow-the violin bow, mind you-and placed it to begin. The first note set the tone for the entire song-awful. "Tall, and pointy, and tall. Duh, duh, dummm. I wish I could stand at the tippy top." At the word top, Apollo hit a note so painfully high my eyes watered. "Wait, I can...because I'm a god." With a puff of smoke, the violin disappeared.

     "Thank you for that, Apollo." I said oh-so-sarcastically. "But what is this favor, exactly?"

     "Well, it seems I have left a certain poem that I would love to have back. It's quite a lovely poem, too. If I had a triangle it would make an amazing song-"

     "Where is the poem?" Connor asked, a tad annoyed.

     "Oh, you know, Wisconsin."

     I felt my stomach drop and my hands get clammy. All blood fell from my face. I thought I was going to black out. Connor immediately got closer as if he needed to catch me. Wisconsin? Wisconsin?! There were 49 other states in America, and he just had to leave his stupid poem in Wisconsin?

     "Ava, you okay?" Connor looked at me worriedly with his emerald eyes. I nodded, taking a deep breath and standing up straight.

     "Fine. It's nothing." I turned to Apollo. "Where exactly in Wisconsin?"

     Apollo obtained a very stern look on his face, the first one I had ever seen on him. "I think you know the place much better than I, Ava Griffin."

     I gasped. "You don't mean..."

     "Yes. You will have to go to Aurora."

     At the mention of that, I was sure all my training for controlling my fire would be lost and I would incinerate everyone. To my surprise, I was strangely calm. The fire inside me didn't awaken, didn't try to seize my mind. No, instead, I was still. Too still. Too numb. I took the lack of emotions as advantage.

     "Right then. Aurora it is." I smiled at Apollo and Connor in turn. Neither of them was convinced in the slightest that I was as fine as I seemed, but they didn't pry. Thank the gods; I don't think I could have taken it.

     "Let me get this straight," Connor summed up. "First of all, the world is falling apart due to the fact that you and Artemis haven't been meeting at the proper time twice a day. This has caused time itself to start ripping apart." Apollo nodded in assent. "But wait. What exactly happens when time does collapse?"

     Apollo rolled his eyes. "If I knew the precise details, do you think I'd be able to be here to tell you?" Connor shook his head. "My best guess is that the sky will rip open, destroy the ozone layer, and the sun will vaporize the planet. And somewhere along the way the universe will implode. Sweet, huh?"

     Both Connor and I paled. "Totally sweet," I muttered. I put the pieces together in my head. I could practically hear the cogs turning as I digested all of this new and terrifying information. "Recap time," I announced. "One, Connor and I will somehow get to uh, Aurora, somehow find your poem, and somehow get it to you." Apollo nodded. "Two, we will somehow get to Brazil, somehow find Artemis, somehow find the location of her bow, and somehow get there before the sky rips apart and we all die." Apollo nodded again, clapping.

     Connor sighed. "That's a lot of somehow's."

     "Looks like you got the whole picture! And don't be sad, there's only two steps! Not so complicated!" Apollo grinned widely at us. "There is though, one itsy bitsy teeny weeny thing you forgot." Apollo made a small gesture with his thumb and pointer to emphasize the "teeny weeny" bit.

     "What is that?" Connor asked.

     "How long you two have until time ends."

     Connor and I shared a look of absolute fear. "How much time do we have?" I asked Apollo with desperation.

     "Let's see..." Apollo rubbed his chiseled chin. He turned around and began digging through some papers by his throne. "I think I wrote a song about it...right, it was with that Mariachi band in New Mexico..."

     "Apollo, just tell us."

     "Hold on a sec! I know I wrote it down, and it would sound so much better with my trumpet..."

     "Apollo!" I practically screamed. "How much time do we have?"

     Apollo turned around and frowned at me. "You really need some tea, and a little Claire De Lune from my 56th album, "The Sun Is Awesome". You can buy it at Walmart for only $11.99!"

     "Apollo!" Connor and I shouted in unison. Connor took up the rest. "How much time?!"

     Apollo sighed. "Oh, I'd say you have until, hmm...July 4th."

     I crumpled to my knees. Five days. We had five days.

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