8-Zeus’ Sends Us on a Secret Mission
“Henry,” I sputtered, “I didn’t mean to, I didn’t want to. I really didn’t- ”
“Lea,” he interrupted.
“Dad,” I tried to cut in.
“How long have I known you?” he asked, his face softening.
“Almost nine years now,” I replied.
“How well do you think I know you?” he asked, sitting next to me, staring at me with his rich brown eyes.
“Better than I know myself,” I replied, laughing a little.
“Therefore, I know you didn’t mean to cheat,” he replied, “We all get caught up in things. It’s not a big deal and it is certainly not what I came here to talk to you about.”
I sighed in relief.
“What I came here for was to give you this,” he said, pulling out a small jewelry sized box.
But I knew it wasn’t jewelry, Henry new me too well to get me that. Plus I was kind of stuck wearing my crown necklace. Nico had helped me put it on just after we left Olympus and I found out this morning that the latch had mysteriously disappeared, sealing the chain around my neck.
Henry continued, “I got them for you for Christmas. Well…got is a simple way of saying tracked down, killed a few dracaenas and argued with a hippie daughter of Apollo for three hours in order to find. I was going to give them to you on Christmas Morning, but I think the sooner you have them the better. They’re not of any use in a box.”
He handed the small purple box to me and I untied the silver ribbon, tying it up into my hair. Then opened the lid.
Sitting on purple satin were two pink dice.
“Erm thanks,” I said.
I had no idea what I was going to with a pair of pink personalized dice. I don’t even know any games that involve dice besides yahtzee and I had the feeling two wouldn’t be enough.
Henry chuckled, “They’re called oracle dice. Give em a roll.”
I gently tossed the dice onto the ground, letting them roll of my fingers.
They landed softly, one tilting to one side and then flipping over unnaturally to the other.
“Double ones,” whispered Henry, “Your in luck, they have something to show you. Something in the near future.”
Green mist began to seep from the dice forming a small cloud above the dice.
The image shimmered, I could see Half-Blood Hill, around sunset, a teenage girls figure walking up the crest, she stopped stroked Thalia’s tree, and then I could make out her face. It was Annabeth, she smiled warmly, glad to be home, and stepped over the boundary.
“Whoa,” I muttered.
“Pretty cool,” agreed Henry, “It’ll come in handy when you go on a quest.”
“You know about the quest?” I asked, baffled that he found out about it.
“Well, now I do,” he said chuckling, “Going undercover?”
“Oh,” I said feeling stupid, well at least it was just Henry, “Yeah, I’m supposed to stop The Great Stirring. It’s a bunch of mini-quests to get these super important staff pieces. Basically save the world again, hopefully for the last time.”
“I see,” he replied.
“Actually,” I said, thinking as I spoke, “I need to someone to come along with me. I’m sure you and I could work well together.”
Henry looked a little surprised, “Nahh, you wouldn’t want an old geezer like me dragging you down. Plus I’d have to get your mother’s permission; she’s in charge of whether or not I help save the world. You know how she is.”
“Dude, Henry,” I replied laughing, “You’re like thirty-five.”
He grinned at me, nudging me with his shoulder, “Well, I can’t go with you just yet. I promised Chiron I’d take his place for two weeks, beginning next Saturday. He’s going to a Party Pony Reunion. He’s nominated for an award. What the award is for, I don’t know.”
“That’s cool. I still don’t even know where I’m going next. I’ll keep you updated,” I replied, standing up, “I’m going to go get changed this leather is starting to meld with my skin.”
I hugged him, he always smelled like a mix between coffee, campfire and cinnamon.
I scooped up the dice and walked out of the arena, turning back to wave at him as he readjusted the bow and quiver slung across his back.
I changed out of the armor, setting it on top of my dresser with my silver traditional breastplate, I longed to wear it again, but I needed to give it to Leo first so he could make sure it wasn’t tampered with by Lance.
I guess now was as good of time as any; the sun would be setting soon. I zipped up my magenta hoodie and stepped out the door, my armor in mist form in my hand. I jogged to Bunker Nine; Leo wasn’t there so I jotted down a note on a piece of paper in my barely readable scrawl and left. The dinner bell would be ringing soon.
Just as I exited the forest, the sun was beginning to cast golden rays of light over the grass, I looked to the west. A teenage girls figure walking up the crest, she stopped stroked Thalia’s tree.
“Annabeth!” I called running up to her.
I hug tackled her, repaying her for all the times she’d done it to me.
We laughed happily for a while, not even bothering to say hello.
“Expecting me were you?” she asked.
“In a way,” I replied.
She lifted an eyebrow but didn’t ask she looked pretty tired. The drive over here must have been long.
I walked with her to her cabin and then helped her unpack, sort of, she doesn’t really like anyone touching her stuff so I mostly just stood there until she handed me something and told me where to put it. We talked about the tournament and she empathized with me, which was nice, she understood.
Almost instantly after when finished packing the dinner bell rang and she smiled at me, “Meet me at the dock.”
“But…food,” I protested.
She laughed, “Don’t worry I have something better in mind.”
“Better than food?” I questioned.
“The similarities between you and Percy never cease to amaze me,” she said, “Don’t worry, food will be included.”
“I’m down,” I agreed and then she left leaving me to stand awkwardly in the Athena cabin, not knowing what to do with my few minutes spare time.
After scanning a few blueprints I headed out to the dock, and sat with my feet over the edge.
I almost expected to see Mea here again, but I knew she was still back at Poseidon’s palace working as his assistant.
I stared down at my reflection in the water; I hardly looked like myself anymore. My once round and chubby face was almost gaunt, I had dark shadows under my eyes which were now a dull blue. Granted I was probably more beautiful according to societal standards, being thinner and more womanly, but I was so boring. It looked like someone had drained all of the color out of me, my streaks were completely gone now and even my tattoo seemed faded.
My thoughts were interrupted by Annabeth who flung herself down beside me, “She said she’ll be here in three minutes. You like Chow Fun right?”
I stared at her for a minute, how could she even ask that question?
Of course I like Chow fun.
She understood my expression and smiled, “Dumb question.”
We laughed and kicked up lake water with out toes, splashing each other, I had to fight the urge to shove her in, but a soaking Annabeth is a dangerous Annabeth.
She and I talked for the next few minutes; she told me all about applying to colleges and how badly she wants to get into Harvard or Yale.
When she asked me what college I was looking into, I scared myself a little.
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
For so long I’d been focusing on getting good grades and not being eaten by monsters I hadn’t even thought of a career.
Annabeth assured me that this was alright, I had time, but it began to weigh on me.
Usually people choose whatever career applies to their skills, but there isn’t exactly a fork-throwing and sword-fighting university is there?
My train of thought was interrupted by a subtle clinking noise.
I turned to see Thalia, decked in chains and spikes, her beautiful modern day armor, standing with three boxes of takeout in her arms.
“I come bearing food,” she said grinning.
“Oh my gods, I love you,” I said scrambling to my feet and towards her.
“Ditto,” agreed Annabeth.
I flung myself onto her, hugging her tightly and then snatching a box from her hands.
We all sat in a circle on the dock sharing/stealing each others food and gossiping about the past year.
Annabeth went on and on about the Modern Design class she was taking until Thalia stuffed a wonton in her mouth. Thalia talked about the Hunters and how they were tracking this special bull she last saw in Utah and I told them about my date with Nico and the craziness that happened at Homecoming (long story).
It was one of the best meals I’d had in a while, especially because back home my mom was working and I’m no chef so most of meals were either Top Ramen or Top Ramen.
After we’d all finished eating each other’s food Thalia looked up at me, pursing her lips in frustration.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“My dad called me earlier today,” she replied.
“What did he want?” I asked.
“He wants to talk to you,” she sighed, “He said it was really important.”
All of us groaned simultaneously.
“Gods, why’d he use you as the messenger monkey, he could have just asked me himself,” I spat.
“That’s just it,” said Thalia, “He specifically wanted all three of us to be there.”
We groaned some more.
“Ugh,” I said, “Do we really have to go all the way to Olympus? I don’t feel like driving anywhere.”
“Nor do I,” agreed Annabeth.
“Well,” said Thalia, “It’s not like we can just ignore him.”
“Can’t we?” I begged.
“If he’s so almighty powerful why can’t he just zap us onto Olympus?” I asked.
“Actually,” replied Thalia, “That’s not a bad idea. Dad?”
Suddenly, the sky grew a dark churning purple and then there was a flash of light.
I fell onto the cold marble floor, my jaw slamming into the ground.
I stood up cursing, and met Zeus’s eternally disapproving glare.
“Thanks for the lift,” I said, “Next time set out some pillows or something.”
He ignored my comment, “Welcome girls.”
We all stared expectantly at him, none of us replied.
He looked slightly unsettled, cleared his throat awkwardly and then began, “Lea, it is time for you to find the second component of the staff. First bring forth the ring.”
I pulled the ring off my finger, which felt kind of weird, since I’d been wearing it a few days and hardly even noticed it was there anymore.
I placed it in Zeus’ palm and stepped back, when it touched Zeus’ skin it glowed dimly then a ray of light projected upwards from it, first it showed a map of America like before then it zoomed in on the west coast, focusing in a Seattle, Washington. The image shimmered and then changed into the Space Needle, zooming in on the rod at the very top.
Thalia, Annabeth and I gaped at it.
The image flickered then disappeared; Zeus stood, and nodded at Annabeth.
Annabeth walked to the center of the room, the converging point of the sparkly marble floor and placed her hand in the very center.
Beams of golden light shot up from the floor, every star in the marked out constellations on the floor lit up.
Where Annabeth placed her hand, spun open like and camera lens, and up from the hole came a podium only a foot in radius.
Zeus placed the ring onto the podium, and it lowered back into the floor.
“Whoa,” I gasped.
“The Safe of the Gods,” said Annabeth, “Lea, what was that ring?”
“The Gift of Neptune,” I said, “I’ll explain later.”
“Yes,” agreed Zeus, “You must spend as little time here as you can, so as not to draw attention.”
“Why should I come?” asked Thalia.
“You all have an essential role to play,” explained Zeus, “Thalia, you know I wouldn’t put you in danger unless it was absolutely nessacary.”
Thalia rolled her eyes, “Yeah, just like you were for the first twelve years of my life.”
Zeus looked hurt but continued, “As incentive and reward for all of you, I have procured these.”
Three small square of laminated paper appeared in his hands.
Thalia took them quickly and read what they said.
“Imagine Drakons tickets,” she whispered, “No way.”
“Front row seats,” said Zeus with a smile that disrupted his face.
“Cool, we’ll leave for Seattle in the morning,” said Annabeth, “You okay with us taking a plane, right?”
I looked over at Thalia, who suddenly seemed overwhelmed with panic.
“Hardly,” said Zeus.
“What?” I sputtered, “You don’t expect us to drive there do you?”
“Don’t be silly,” he replied then he snapped his fingers and there was another flash of light.
Luckily this time my landing was soft.
I fell onto a large queen sized bed, with a muffled, “Ooof.”
It took a minute for me to comprehend what happened, and then I looked outside the well furnished room’s window to see the Seattle Space Needle glowing only a few blocks away.
I looked at Thalia and Annabeth, and then at the five star hotel room we were sitting in.
With lots of squealing we dance around the room, even though we were there for a sucky reason it did not damper the fact we were at least twenty story’s high in a high class hotel Suite. We ran and jumped across the three Scarlett and black queen sized beds, throwing pillows at each other.
“We’re in Seattle!” I shrieked.
“We’re seeing Imagine Drakons tomorrow night!” Yelled Thalia.
“We get front row seats,” added Annabeth, and then she whacked me with a throw pillow.
We fell onto the scarlet, white and black satin sheets, laughing.
“Gods,” said Thalia, “If only all quests were like this, no cross-country car rides, no cheap motels, no weird side routes, just zap and you’re across the country in a nice hotel.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “I half-expect a monster to come flying through the window any minute now.”
There was a second of silence and anticipation as we all turned to look out the window, minutes passed and nothing happened.
“This is the life,” I said, jumping up and opening the mini-fridge, there was little cakes, soda, bottled nectar, and a little card that said, “Room Service and Full Restaurant open at all times: OLYMPIAN SUITES.
“Dude,’ I said, “I’ve heard of this place, it’s like VIP headquarters for all the gods that want to stay on the west cost instead of Olympus.”
“And look,” said Thalia, “They even brought our bags.”
“Oh my gods,” I sighed happily, “I didn’t even have to pack, this is amazing!”
I unzipped my bag to find my traditional silver armor breastplate, new polished, a camp shirt, two tank tops, my favorite pair a jeans, two hoodies, a windbreaker and my messenger bag with forks. In the side pockets, there were all my toiletries and my sword and shield disk, and a launch-able grappling hook and some walkie-talkies.
I pulled out the grappling hook and showed it to Annabeth and Thalia, confused. Thalia pulled out three pairs of climbing gloves, and climbing shoes from her side pocket and Annabeth checked her pocket to find a laser torch and three I.D. cards with our pictures on them.
“Is it just me, “I said, or does it feel like these are our spy-gadgets for a top secret mission?”
“No,” said Thalia, trying on the neon blue and black pair of climbing shoes, “This definitely feels very Mission Impossible.”
She handed me the hot pink and black gloves and shoes and gave the gold and black ones to Annabeth.
I threw off my converse, tossing them into the pile of unloaded clothes and slipped on the climbing shoes. They fit perfectly.
“Well that’s kinda creepy,” I said, “and awesome.”
“It seems as if Zeus has this all planned out for us,” said Annabeth, examining her shoes, “These are the best quality climbing shoes money can buy, you could practically climb up a wall with these things on.”
“Sweet,” I said.
Annabeth pulled out her laptop, and we sat in half circle looking at the screen, she pulled up a document from the desktop labeled, ‘Seattle-Staff-Blueprint”.
The file expanded onto the LED screen displaying the blue print of the Space Needle, Annabeth zoomed in on the very top, and the lightning rod topping everything was marked as ‘Celestial Staff-Part 2’.
“You’re kidding,” I gaped.
Annabeth did a full panorama spin around the tower and then said, “There doesn’t appear to be any clear way of accessing the roof. We have two choices, go to the inner portion of the highest part of the building and somehow cut though the ceiling to get to the roof, which I personally don’t recommend. And option two; go out on the patio, with all of the tourists and climb up onto the roof from there. This seems like the better idea, but we’d have to avoid all the mortals, and security, and then climb up a very slick roof with a curved ledge with out falling to our deaths.”
Thalia’s eyes were wide with fear; she almost looked on the verge of tears.
“And we’ll need someone on the ground, keeping an eye out for monsters or security or any other interruption,” I offered quickly.
Thalia looked at me thankfully.
“Yeah,” agreed Annabeth absentmindedly, “I think I can manipulate the mist well enough to cover two people, three would be a risk.”
Thalia sighed with relief.
I yawned and said, “I think we better get to bed, after all, we are climbing up the Seattle Space Needle tomorrow.”
I curled up in the blood red covers of the luscious bed and drifted into sleep listening to Thalia breathe from the bed next to me.
I woke up to Annabeth making hot cocoa in the microwave, she handed me and Thalia and mug as we sat in bed. Outside in was cloud and gray, like I expected, it seemed as if Seattle was always wrapped in the same sweater of fog.
I finished my cocoa, letting it warm me from the inside-out. Then I rolled out of bed, literally, letting myself flop onto the floor.
I crawled over to my bag and changed into my grey-wash jeans, without standing, a skill I had mastered from many tired school mornings. I pulled on a tank top, a camp shirt, a hoodie and finally the windbreaker over all of that.
While the others were distracted I pulled out the Oracle Dice Henry had given me the day before and rolled them, they landed on a two and a three. It looked like the gods weren’t in the mood to give me any hints as to what the day would bring.
Thalia ordered pancakes from room service and we feasted together, sitting on the floor.
Afterwards, Annabeth packed up a bag with all of our gear and we began the short walk to the Space Needle.
As we meandered through the streets, Annabeth listed off facts about the Space Needle and how it was built.
We arrived at the base of the space needle after about fifteen minutes, tourists bustled around us, telling each other to hurry up or slow down.
We stopped at a round fountain at the entrance.
For a minute Thalia, Annabeth and I stared up at the huge structure.
My brain went into hyper drive, my conscious pressing all the “Nope, don’t go there,” buttons it could find.
My knees locked and I could feel my lip shaking, both from cold and fear.
I looked over to Annabeth, and she gave me a look that clearly said, “Eh, I’ve done crazier things.”
This in turn made me realize, that I too, had done even more insane stunts before.
I turned to Thalia and said jokingly, “Any chance Jason is in town?”
I could’ve really used him as a safety net.
“If only,” she replied, “He could just fly up there and get it.”
“Yeah,” I sighed, “Wait, why isn’t he here?”
“Camp Jupiter is being plagued by Keres,” explained Annabeth, “Percy left yesterday morning to help out; they want all praetors to be there.”
“Oh, well I wish them luck. We all know how annoying the Keres can be,” I said, and Thalia and Annabeth nodded in agreement.
There was a moment of silence, and then I sped out ahead, ignoring the voices in my head that were screaming things like, “No! Stop! Bad Idea! This won’t end well!”
I slammed open the glass doors, Annabeth and Thalia followed me into the nicely heated foyer.
There was small amount of security, but our supplies were made by Hephaestus, himself, I’m guessing, so they were unseen by metal detectors.
I turned to Thalia, “Wait here,” I said, “Make sure nobody suspicious comes in.”
“Got it,” she replied, “No gods, no centaurs, no giants, nothing.”
Annabeth and I wove through people to get to the tiny metallic elevator; she began to tell me about the suspension works.
I tuned her out, the blood pulsing through my ears to loud to hear her anyways.
I hadn’t done something like this since I was half-god. Since then all of my strengths had decreased, most fading completely.
The long ride in a tin box didn’t help my nerves; Annabeth didn’t seem to be fazed at all. She must be used to this kind of thing; she was a war veteran with eleven years of experience.
To me she was like an older sister, beautiful and intelligent, someone to look up to. She was the perfect mix of feminity and fierceness that I strived to be.
She continued to list off facts as we stepped out of the elevator into a large circular room.
Annabeth turned to me and said, “Okay, let’s find the patio.”
We wandered through a gift shop, and a restaurant, I stopped to snatch a bag of Sour Patch Kids off a rack and place five dollars on the counter.
I nibbled as we walked, letting the sourness burn into my tongue, the sweet familiar pain calm me.
Eventually we found one of the doors to the outside lookout.
I opened the glass door and stepped into the chilly Seattle air.
You could see half the city from up here and part of the bay the curled around Seattle.
Annabeth nodded at me, and I began to unpack, I watched as she bent the mist carefully. She masked us on all sides, especially through the window. We didn’t want any tourists looking outside to see us climbing.
I nibbled on the Sour Patch Kids as I looked around.
There were steel cables forming a sort of netting around the outside, so that nobody could fall over the edge of the railing.
The wires were about a foot apart horizontally forming a perfect ladder.
All I had to do now was cut through one of the wires to create an opening big enough for Annabeth and I to get to the outside through.
I let Annabeth reinforce the mist as I pulled out the small laser torch.
I flicked the small safety switched on the sides of the little metal device and pressed the blue button causes the cobalt flame to flick out.
I carefully melted through the second wire above the railing and whispered to Annabeth when I was done.