The next week was filled with godly visits.
First I called Hermes, which involved standing out in the middle of the sand dunes and yelling his name until he showed up. Life without cellphones was pretty inconvenient.
I asked him to take the Palladium up to Olympus and give it to Zeus, and Zeus only. He nodded, took the trophy and disappeared.
On Wednesday night, as I put my offering into the fire at dinner I prayed to Hestia for her to hear me and come speak with me. At first there was no response but at the end of the night when I walked by the dining pavilion after campfire the hearth sprung back to life, Hestia’s figure dancing in the flames. She and I talked for a few hours, and I told her my pan. Hesitantly, she agreed and a time was set.
I spent some time talking with Mea, who met me at the shore and we discussed what Poseidon could do to help. I also sent Nico back to the underworld to get his father on our side.
Everything was slowly falling into place and things were going surprisingly well. I guess after the past two wars, the gods had finally learned that it was best to work together.
I had sent an iris message to Reyna and one to Zeus, who allowed all the Romans to fly here to New York. They stayed with us in their respective cabins for the week.
Finally, I talked to my father, I had given him offering at dinner the night before the war was supposed to begin and he appeared to me in my dreams. He spoke word of kind concern and encouragement and I asked a favor of him.
If there was one thing I was good at as a mortal it was convincing gods to help me. I even somehow managed to get Hecate on my side.
The morning of the war I woke up shivering. It sounded and looked completely normal but something felt off. It was like when you walk into a room full of people you know really well and they act like themselves, but you can tell they’re all keeping something from you. It was the calm before the storm.
The entire night before I had been sitting in the Athena Cabin planning, I knew where everyone would go, what everyone would do and at exactly what time. That is, if everything went according to plan, which it wouldn’t. I didn’t need the gift of prophecy to know that.
I had a few Athena campers help me with the more technical stuff, and by four in the morning everything was planned out.
It probably wasn’t the best idea to stay up so late, but when you’ve got the blessing of the god of dreams, one hour of sleep can feel like a full night’s rest. I woke up at five pulling on my armor, I took a while debating whether or not to wear the golden outfit that Leo had given me, but something deep inside told me to wear the armor that had gotten me through so much. But I did take the golden headpiece that came with and place it on my brow.
As soon as my combat boots were fully laced and quadruple knotted I stepped outside. I was fully decked out, everything I could ever need.
At my belt was multiple vials of Greek fire, twelve forks and a copy of the plan I drew out, a map of new York and surrounding areas and of course my defense disk.
I tromped down the creaky wooden steps of my cabin and dragged my feet through the dewy grass as I walked to Nico’s cabin.
When I arrived at the black building surrounded by cold, I shouldered opn the door silently.
Nico was sitting on his bed with one of his photos from the wall clutched in his hands.
When he saw me he hastily tucked in into his pocket and grinned.
He was wearing Stygian iron armor, and looked like a dark knight. It was spiky and feirce, but not overly huge. It fit him well.
“You ready?” he asked.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I replied.
“Yeah,” he sighed, “war isn’t something you ca ever be fully prepared for.”
“Umm,” he began nervously, “There’s been something I’ve wanted to tell you for a while now.”
“Yeah?” I prompted.
He stayed silent.
“Table?” I asked, referring to the old picnic table by the oak tree where he and I had most of our conversations.
“Table,” he agreed.
We took the walk in silence, his nervousness keeping his mouth sealed and my curiosity keeping me from thinking of anything else to say.
We sat down on top of the table next to each other and I ran my fingers over all the grooves carved into it.
There was a few extra minutes of silence, then he spoke.
“I had a crush on Percy,” he blurted, his face turning bright red, he didn’t look at me instead he stared straight down at the grass.
For a minute I was confused as to what he meant but then I said, “I think we’ve all had a crush on Percy at one point.”
“You liked him?” he asked.
“It was more one of those things where if he asked me to run away with him and live alone forever, I’d have said yes, no questions asked. Now I’d probably ask a few questions.”
“Yeah,” replied Nico, a grin returning to his face, “Exactly.”
There was short silence.
“He’s just so hot,” added Nico.
We both burst out laughing and through my convulsing giggles I agreed, “So hot.”
“You’re so hot,” he added.
“We’re all so hot!” I exclaimed laughing, “We should start a modeling agency to show off our new clothing line, we could call it Olympus apparel!”
“I think you’re onto something,” he agreed.
“Clothing with the perfect mix of style, chic and secret armor.” At that we cracked up leaning on each other.
Somehow we could take any conversation and make it absurd.
We quieted, our laughter fading into sighs as I rested my head on his shoulder.
After a while he broke the silence, asking, “Breakfast?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “I’m metaphorically starving.”
We walked to together to the dining pavilion and ate our porridge along side the other campers. Most everyone was quiet fearing what the day would bring but as Nico and I began to joke around people joined in and the synergy grew light-hearted and optimistic. Nico and I talked about our latest adventures, and I left out the part about hugging Lance.
After we finished eating and we put our dishes in the bin I took a minute to find Henry.
He was at his usual place at the head table and when he saw me looking at him he stood and walked over to me.
Nico hung at the other end of the pavilion giving us some privacy.
“Are you ready?” asked Henry, staring into my eyes compassionately. His hazel iris’ danced with vibrant color in the morning sunlight.
“Yeah,” I said, “I am.”
“Let me finish eating and then I’ll drive you there,” he said.
“No, dad, you stay here, protect the camp,” I assured him.
His expression was mix between wounded and understanding, he knew what he had to do even if he didn’t want to leave me.
“I’ll be fine,” I said.
“I know you will,” he said, after we can go home and go to Local Heroes and get shamrock milkshakes, on me, my treat to my savior of the world.”
“I’m going to hold you to that,” I said.
Then I hugged him breathing in the scent of old books and fancy man cologne.
“I love you dad,” I said.
“I love you too, Lea,” he replied, then he kissed my forehead, “Now go show those titans who’s boss!”
I squeezed him into the hug one last time and then walked over to Nico who escorted me out of camp.
Most of the other campers were doing the same as me; prepping eating and leaving.
I had sent the Hermes cabin out the night before to steal as many rental cars as they could and we ended up getting enough service vans to hold the entire camp, plus some catapults, forty five gallons of nectar, ten pounds of ambrosia and about two thousand tons worth of weapons.
I got in a van with Cloe, Will Solace, Ava, Lance and Maria.
Nico slid into the back next to me.
Lance eyed us curiously, but said nothing.
He was wearing Hercules’ armor, and there was something about it that made me fear him. I figured it was like the Aegis, it had some power to make people cower before it. Also, Lance looked really hot, all decked out in gold, it was a good color on him.
Will drove, chatting happily with Cloe in the passenger seat, they played Beatles songs and we all sang along.
As I sat next to Nico, looking out the window, I weaved my fingers in and out his.
The drive wasn’t too long and my nerves made it feel shorter.
As we drew closer to New York I began to notice the change in environment, not only was it fading from forest to city but it was continually growing smokier.
Through the trees I could see the city on the horizon.
And just how I planned it, the entire city was on fire.
It wasn’t really fire of course; I wouldn’t actually want all of New York to burn down.
It was just an illusion created by Hestia and Hecate.
I had needed a way to get all the mortals out of the city and nothing makes humans flee like fire does.
The illusion made it seem like the city was on fire, but no actual damage was done, it was all just a mirage.
A very convincing mirage at that, I found myself feeling twinges of fear as we drew close. We crossed the Williamsburg Bridge in silence, all of us staring in awe at the city in flames.
Columns of looming black smoke rose to the sky like pillars.
From the five tallest buildings the smoke was the largest and most pronounced, and the smoke rising from them almost looked like fingers reaching up toward Olympus.
As we drove up Broadway Street something loomed in the distance, a crowd gathered on the street in front of Olympus.
This wasn’t how I planned it, the troops weren’t supposed to be here already. I was supposed to have groups of warriors at every entrance making sure no one got into the city but my van.
“No,” I gasped, as I realized what went wrong.
They were already here, long before we had set out this morning.
Just because they had planned to attack today doesn’t mean they hadn’t already arrived in the city. They must have already been living here in secret before we even began to guard the border. They had infiltrated before we even set up.
Now all of Camp Half-Blood and Jupiter was out protecting the border when the enemy was already on the inside.
“Crap,” I said, “We need to get a message to everyone else. Will get me as close as you can to Olympus, Nico and I will try to sneak in. The rest of you, find cars and go to all the border positions and tell everyone what’s happened.”
Everyone in the car nodded precisely.
Within minutes we were out not far from the crowd of Demi-titans and monsters.
There didn’t appear to be any full titans there yet, which was a good sign, I thought.
We were a hundred feet from the writhing crowd that protested in front of the Empire State building when they noticed us.
A burly warrior saw us first, his smashed up face, bald head and cauliflower ears made him look like a fairytale ogre, but I could feel an aura of Demi-titan about him.
He roared at us furiously.
Before we could do anything he hurled a spear and Will slammed on the breaks.
The spear shot so fast it was a blur of wood and metal.
I smashed through the front window, shattering the glass and pierced all the way through the front seat.
It pierced all the way through Cloe’s chest too.
“Cloe!” I screamed.
The blood began to seep from her an all over the upholstery.
She coughed, scarlet trickling from her lips.
She glanced and me, then Ava and finally her eyes locked on Will, she smiled, her beautiful genuine smile and the light flickered from her hazel eyes.
The entire car sat in dead silence for a minute all staring at the body of our friend who just a second ago was belting out ‘All You Need is Love’ and teasing her boyfriend.
“No,” I whispered, “No. No. No!” I began to screech as I lunged forward going to hold Cloe as if my touch could somehow bring her back to life.
The crowd of monsters and other abominations rushed towards us roaring. Their noise jumped me into a realization.
Everyone, scrambled from the car, well, almost everyone.
I stood on the street facing the army of terrors in front of me, I could see the demi-titan who threw the spear.
I grabbed my weapons disk activating the sword and was about to sprint towards him, but Nico grabbed me.
“No, Lea we have to go, we have to get to Olympus,” he spoke softly and quickly into my ear as I screamed pointlessly.
“Let me go!” I screamed, “I’m going to kill him! I’m going to kill him! He killed Cloe! Let me kill him!”
Nico dragged me back as I writhed and struggled.
I looked over at Ava, something in her eyes made me see myself.
I knew I looked rabid, my eyes wild and my teeth clenched anger had found its way into my heart as it had never done before.
But something in her eyes, though deeply sad, told me it was okay. It hurt, it hurt her more than words can express, but it was okay.
I stopped writhing and nodded to her.
“Avenge her,” I stated.
“With pleasure,” replied Ava and she stood next to Will and Maria.
All of them had this strange dead look in there eyes, like they didn’t care from here on out; it was war.