7 I Become an Exterminator
I packed what I felt I needed into my zebra striped duffel bag, which wasn't much, just a three camp shirts, four tank tops, two pairs of jeans, jean shorts, sweats, and two pairs of converse and then a toiletries.
Nico and I spent the day on the camp's only computer looking for available bus routes, trains, or anything besides a plane because Zeus would probably blow us out of the sky the second we took off. Nico and Percy weren't allowed in Zeus' domain.
Percy was training all day long and by the time we finished dinner we decided we should have an early bedtime than usual. I crashed on my top bunk and was about to say goodnight to Nico who was about to walk outside when I said "Nico, can you stay here," I just kind of blurted it out unintentionally, "You know in case of another dream."
He smiled reassuringly at me, "Sure."
He slept on the bottom bunk and I fell asleep almost automatically which was surprising because my nerves were at an all time high.
When I woke up the camp was completely silent even though the sun had risen. Nico was gone but there was a note scrawled out on a scrap of paper my cabin was all it said.
I shouldered my bag and headed to Nico's cabin, I figured he wanted me to meet him there. I looked back into my cabin, I knew it would be a while since I saw it again. It made me sad, this was my bedroom in my extremely large home, I didn't want to leave it behind. But I knew I couldn't take it with me, that would be crazy and physically impossible.
I hiked over to Nico's cabin, the campers who were outside stared at me, the ones that I knew called out "good luck," and other things like that, but most just stared. I didn't mind anymore I was used to being the center of attention nowadays.
Nico's door was unlocked and I pushed it open, Nico sat on his bed playing with a small black figurine, the Hades figurine, I knew where it came from. Percy had told me. When Nico saw me he hastily shoved it in his aviator jacket's pocket and said "Oh hey there, I didn't see you come in."
"So you ready to go?" I asked.
"Yeah, just about. This is my first quest too, ya know," he said and I could tell he was just as nervous as I was, "there's something I want to give you. I was going to give it to you for Christmas but I think you'll need it sooner."
He went to his drawers and pulled out a package wrapped in black silk with a pink satin bow. The perfect touch.
I felt myself blushing uncontrollably. I slowly pulled off the pink ribbon, and even though I 'm not a girly person tied it around my ponytail. I drew back the silk to reveal a glinting blade. In my hands lay a longsword that shined like the morning sun.
"It was made it the forges of Hades, especially for you. It's made from both imperial gold and celestial bronze, both rare and nearly impossible to combine, the hilt is obsidian and silver with two pink rubies from Persephone's garden blessed by the goddess herself. This is why I've been disappearing so much at night. To check it's progress. I hope it's weighted right"
I started in awe at the shining blade it had these little circular pieces cut out at four parts of the blade and it looked absolutely sick.
"Nico, It's-" I gasped, "Beautiful, amazing, awesome," blurted and then regained my wits, "It's perfect."
I threw my arms around him and squeezed the air right out of him.
He was blushing like crazy when I let go of him, "I'm glad you like it."
"I love it. Now let's go Percy'll be waiting," said and shoved open the door with my shoulder, not easing my grip on my new sword's hilt even a little.
Campers gasped when they saw my new weapon, it clearly stole the show.
Nico and I walked to Thalia's pine together as we did I spun my sword around and tested it for different things: grip, speed, weight, and functionality. It passed every test and I looked awesome spinning it around.
Percy, Chiron, Henry, and Argus were all waiting for us at Half Blood Hill.
"Nice sword," said Percy and Henry in union as we walked up.
"Nico had it made for me," I replied.
Chiron's eyebrows rose and he smiled at Nico.
"It's very you," said Henry.
"Yeah it is," I agreed.
"I'm so very sorry Lea, but I have an archery class to teach soon, your breakfast has already been packed and you can eat it on the ride. Good luck sweetheart," and he bear hugged me. He had tears of both joy, sadness, and pride in his eyes, "I know you can do this."
"Bye dad," I said, just because I knew how much it meant to him, he was and always would be my real dad, no matter my bloodline.
He hiked down the hill and only looked back twelve times.
"You ready?" asked Percy.
"As ready as I'll ever be," I replied.
"Wish you the best and may the gods be in your favor," said Chiron, he bowed his head to Percy then trotted down the hill.
Argus led us down the hill and we loaded into a large white van. I found it kind of ironic that my bag was pink, Percy's was blue, and Nico's black of course. It' seemed as if we had iconic colors.
Wrapped in tin foil was our celebratory breakfast of French Toast which I enjoyed very much even though my stomach was doing back flips.
As we rode down the bumpy road, Nico turned to me and said "Lea, can I see your sword?"
I handed it to him. He pressed the top ruby and the sword began to shrink and compact, what was left was a small circular gold plate, with the three rubies making a clover shape, they had shrunk to, from the size of drachmas to dimes.
Nico placed it in my hand, "Mortals don't usually trust teens with swords."
I hung it around my neck.
"Just press the top one again for it to go back to a sword," he said.
"Let's just hope it works better than your last secret magic button," I said.
Percy looked at me confused, but I didn't tell him, that was between Nico and I.
Argus dropped us off at the first bus station he could find, which just so happened to be in front of that museum from the movies, ya know Night of the Museum. Even though I couldn't read the sign I knew it read American Museum of Natural History.
Percy went over to the bus stop and squinted at the small sign on the side of it.
"Lea," he called to me, "Can you try to read this."
I loped over feeling kind of strange carrying my bag around with me.
He was looking at the bus schedule, it took me a few minutes but I finally deciphered that the first bus arrives at ten. Two hours from then.
"What should we do?" asked Percy.
I watched as the museum doors slid open.
"We go learn something about natural history," I suggested, shrugging.
We walked into the heavily air conditioned main hall, it was just like in the movie, the spacious area with a giant T-rex welcoming you at the entrance, the circular desk with the globe. Warm light filled the room shining in through the windows.
"Well, I don't want to have to carry this around for two hours," I muttered.
I walked up to the front desk, there was a blonde chick in her mid-twenties, talking on the phone, "I'm sorry sir your services are just to expensive. I'm sure we can find someone else but thank you for your time."
She hung up, then turned to me, "How can I help you?"
"Hi, I was just wondering if you could hold my friends and I's bags up here at the front desk. Our hotel's not open for check-in yet and the bags are kind of heavy," I lied easily, I don't mind lies that don't hurt anybody.
"Oh sure, that would be fine," She replied.
Percy grinned at me, surprised at my skills.
She tucked our bags in a cabinet behind us, "Your lucky that today is free admission for young adults. Is their anything else you would like help with?"
"No thank you, I think we'll just browse."
We were the first people in the museum so it was empty except for employees who scurried around ignoring us.
Two men were arguing out front of one of the EMPLOYEES ONLY doors.
"This rat infestation is getting crazy we have to do something about it, they're eating some of the exhibits! These rats are not normal they're the size of cats and they seem to shred through the fabric of everything and they've broken some of the protection cases!" cried out one.
These didn't sound like rats to me.
"But we can pay for their removal, Justine's called three exterminators and all of them were over two-thousand dollars. We don't have that kind of money, and it's almost like were paying to hire the Ghostbusters or something!" said the taller one.
"Excuse me sirs," I interrupted, "Did you say something about rats?"
"Oh, don't worry miss. Were solving the problem right now," said the short one.
"I was just wondering if you wanted some help. My father is an exterminator, but unfortunately he's in Maine right now, but I'm sure I could help you at least identify the species," I lied. Something told me that it wasn't rats they were dealing with.
The two men stared in disbelief at me, "That's would be amazing," said the short one who's name tag I figured out to say in all caps: JIM.
Jim led us down the hallway to the Primitive Civilizations gallery. Percy and Nico followed in silence, I could tell they were impressed with my social skills.
"I last saw them in here," said Jim," good luck, oh, and watch out they're vicious."
He rolled up to show a bite mark on his arm. They're four puncture marks like a dog bite, rat bites didn't look like that. I knew for sure rat's have two large front teeth not canine teeth.
He strolled out of the exhibit and the second he turned around the corner.
I took and small quiet step forward, and listened very carefully. In the corner of the room I heard faint scuttling and sniffling sounds.
I pulled my necklace off over my head and pressed the top ruby. My sword began to fold out, Percy pulled of his pen cap revealing Riptide, Nico pulled his sword out of the shadows.
Then suddenly the creature burst out from behind a display case holding a straw hut. There was around thirty of the things. They were the size of small cats, but I could see how the mist disguised them as rats. Even though the were bald and had reddish skin and stood up on they're hind legs, they had the same rattish face, limbs, and feet. They're small pure black eyes glinted evilly, and they growl and yipped baring they're wolf like teeth. It was like facing mutant Chihuahuas.
There was to many off them too fight off. We'd have to trap them somehow.
"Split!" I yelled and sprinted down the nearest hallway. It led onto a balcony over looking the main entrance. I looked for any other way but down. There was nice people down there.
I reeled across the tiled floor and turned down a hallway whose wall were made of redwood. After a few twists and turns I ended up at a T'd off section. I knew the place the second I saw it. The Easter Island statue stood staring at me. I stopped to look at it. I half expected it to come alive and ask me for gum. But I didn't have any and it already had so many pre-chewed pieces shoved up it's nose that I figured he would be good for the next few years.
I could hear the scraping of rat-beast toenails coming down the hall in my direction. I couldn't decide which was to go because the both were dead ends and I was about out of time.
I crouched behind the Easter Island head, and waited.
I peeked around the head just in time to see the coming there was only about ten of them but hey looked hungry, really hungry.
I was stuck and out of options, the an idea came to me a strange and desperate idea, and then I did the grossest thing ever. I shoved my hand up the statues nose and grabbed a wad of the gum. I stuck to my fingers and I hastily shook it off my hand so that it land ed on the ground a few feet away. The demons were about to catch up to me, but my bait worked. They stopped sniffed it, crouching over it with their arms, draping like an apes, and then they tore into it.
After a few seconds it was gone, but whatever I had done worked.
The creatures sat confused as their teeth began to stick together with the cement like gum. They sat down on their hindquarters and like dogs with peanut butter, they sat dumbly cross-eyed trying to figure out what was wrong with their mouths .
They opened and closed they're mouths trying to rid of the restraints of their jaws but it was futile and it was my opportunity.
I jumped out from behind my hiding spot and took one wide swing with my new sword and wiped a ten of them out, they crumbled into red dust.
I convinced myself it wasn't that gross then grabbed the remaining gum from the statue, muttered a "Thanks," to it and sprinted back the way I'd come.
Percy and Nico were hacking at hem on one of the balconies, the employees staring at them in horror and surprise.
I ran up to them and tossed the multi-colored wad of gum in front of the creatures and they did the same thing as the first: paused, sniffed, and devoured.
Percy and Nico Looked at me for a second confused then they saw what the creatures reaction was, and within a few minutes there was nothing but dust left.
Jim who was only ten feet away pointed at us and stuttered "Y-ya-you just," but he was to shocked to finish.
"Guess what guys, you just had a minor Norwegian Wood Rat, infestation, but don't worry it's all taken care of and guess what we did it all for free. Good cause right. Good day." I yelled and raced down the stairs. Percy and Nico followed, Percy jumped and slid over the counter of the front desk grabbed our bags, chucked the to us and we sprinted out the door.
Surprisingly there was a bus waiting for us there.
We loaded in, chose a compartment near the back, shoved our bags in the cabinets above our heads, and sat one the benches across from each other. It was a strange looking bus with little compartments like old trains, with two benches and a fold down table, it kind of reminded me of the Hogwarts Express. It had little skidding glass doors with draw in curtains for privacy. Each compartment was like six ft by six ft. It was weird but very comfortable.
"That was interesting," said Percy, "Not a bad first encounter though."
"What were those things?" I asked.
"Kobaloi, mischievous demonic creatures that tend to torment people by destroying places of great knowledge and rarity," said Nico, "So in other words museums."
"I'd say were off to a good start we still have our stuff," said Percy.
"I need a nap," I said.
"I think we should all rest while we can, we might not get a lot of sleep in the next few days. I have a feeling this quest has a deadline so we better be in a good condition for a fast pace."
"Deadline?" I asked.
"Yeah, I'm guessing we have till sunset of the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. It only makes sense," said Percy.
"Great," I muttered sarcastically.
I looked out the window and began to think about how wrong this quest could go. I'm guessing Percy and Nico were deep in thought too, because none of heard the bus driver announce over the loudspeaker, "Hello everyone to the Suite Rides bus line. I hope ya'll are comfy because were on a two day route to buffalo and we only make two stops. Bathrooms in the back. I'll give more info later."
We were supposed to be on the bus to Washington D.C.