Percy and his companions seized the chance and brought Annabeth to her feet before hobbling over towards their new allies. The full might of the legions of Rome emerged from the trees, steel armour glistening wet from the rain. Sorted ranks of one of the most effective fighting forces of all time advanced forward in perfect synch. Leo and Jason starred dumbfounded. But this wasn’t what caught Percy’s eye. To the right of the romans emerged a sight that seemed impossible to Percy. 4 chariots flew through the trees, followed by something that warmed Percy to the bone. Campers in Greek bronze plated armour appeared, brandishing spears and swords. Percy recognised everyone instantly, somehow they’d done it. It seemed impossible but somehow, Rome and Greece had joined together, side by side to face Gaeia’s threat. Percy counted 7, no 8 legions of elite demigods as well as his friends, but would it be enough? As they made their way towards them 4 riders with 2 extra horses broke off from the group.
‘Hail Praetor’s’ Shouted Rayner over the rain, her purple cape fluttering in the wind as she jumped down to help Annabeth. Jason ran up and hugged her, making her shuffle back in surprise.
‘I have never been so happy to see the banners of Rome.’ Rayner smiled as Jason released her.
‘It was a hard journey, it took some persuading but I eventually managed to get everyone to work together.’ Rayner replied as she reached into her saddlebag for some ambrosia. She gave it to Annabeth.
‘You make it sound easy.’ Leo murmured sarcastically.
For the first time Percy looked at the other riders. Clarisse was on one of the horses, eyes locked with the monsters ahead, always eager for a fight. He recognised Arion among the horses, Piper jumped down and ran to Jason, kissing him lightly on the cheek.
Jason looked at her ‘how-‘
‘I was lost in the tunnels, Gaea’s monsters were closing in on me and then suddenly I wasn’t there anymore. I was riding Arion into the sunlight. Have you heard from Hazel, or Frank?’ she asked desperately. Jason lowered his eyes, shaking his head. Rayner looked away, they were her people after all, her duty to protect.
‘Hazel must have told Arion to look after us if anything happened to her.’ Commented Jason. Despair seeping into his tone.
Someone cleared their throat. ‘And I have some apologising to do.’ Percy looked left and was surprised to see Octavian, a plumed helmet adorned his head and a sword dangled at his side. ‘I admit I allowed ambition to cloud my judgement. I shouldn’t have let the real enemy deceive me. But I have come here to right my wrongs. I am proud to stand beside Greeks.’ He offered his hand. Percy regarded him suspiciously but reached up to clasp it with his own. He would have taken Kronos if he had offered to fight with him at this point.
‘As long as we can stand as equals’ Percy spoke. Jason climbed onto Arion behind Piper, grabbing her waist tightly. Leo clambered onto one of the other horses. Percy looked around.
‘There aren’t enough horses’ He questioned. Rayner cast a glance over her shoulder from where she knelt next to Annabeth. Annabeth was already looking stronger.
‘We thought of that.’ She smiled, before letting out a long clear whistle. The sound of wings emanated from above and Percy looked up. Blackjack swooped into landing next to them, lowering his head so that Percy could stroke his muzzle, before swinging himself up.
‘what’s up boss? It’s been kinda lonely without ya.’ He bent down so Annabeth could get up.
‘I never thought Blackjack would be a welcome sight.’ Groaned Annabeth.
‘Tell blonde that works both ways.’ He snorted.
‘Watch it.’ Warned Percy, making sure Annabeth had a good grip around his waist. Rayner returned to her own horse, a magnificent white stallion worthy of a praetor of Rome. By now the legions had caught up with them, coming to a halt in perfect ranks just behind where they stood. The two armies regarded each other in silence. The seething mass of snarling monsters contrasted with the disciplined ranks of Roman and Greek soldiers. Percy figured that even with the reinforcements they were still outnumbered 3 to 1. Suddenly Giants emerged amongst the monsters. It wouldn’t be long before they ordered the attack. Percy and his group rode to the centre of the column, the banners of Rome fluttering behind them.
‘You should go.’ Whispered Percy, turning in the saddle to look Annabeth in the eye. ‘Ambrosia won’t save you again.’ She nuzzled close to his neck, breathing softly.
‘Never.’ She replied, withdrawing a sword Rayner had given her. Percy knew from experience that he couldn’t argue, but he also knew her tactical experience would be invaluable in the coming battle.
Suddenly the earth shook as the form of Gaea emerged from between the armies. She had some kind of mud as armour and her hair fluttered like grass in the wind. Water slid off her as it assaulted the ground below. At her appearance thunder boomed, bathing the sky in fiery white light that cast down over the stunned legionaries. Behind her was a sight that made Percy’s heart stop. Frank and Hazel. They were bound in chains were being dragged behind her.
‘Sstupid chillldren.’ She slithered, coming to a halt in front of them. Blackjack wined.
‘That is some bad dirt boss.’
‘Look at the fate that awaits you if you persist with this foolishhhness.’ She brandished Frank and Hazel’s chains in the air. They still looked defiant, even now. Percy turned to see fear on many of the camper’s faces. Faces he’d fought and bled with for years, faces that had stood against Kronos and Luke in every major battle he’d fought in. He looked towards his friends.
‘I will give you 5 minutesss to lay down your weaponsss and ssssurender.’ With that she turned and slithered back to her forces, handing the chains to one of her giants.
The sound of murmuring broke through the stunned legionaries and Greeks. ‘Maybe we should give up’
‘Can’t possibly win’
‘There’s so many of them.’ Percy could see the despair on their faces. He looked at Hazel and Frank, chains around their wrists. Anger seeped through him. They were his friends! Not animals. A fire like no other spread through his veins. He was invigorated with new life as his muscles burned with new energy.
‘Percy?’ whispered Annabeth, concerned with his lack of breathing. Percy steered Blackjack down the length of the army, his army. All eyes were on him, who was he to stand against the might of Gaea? The informal chattering had caused the campers to leave formation, the ranks becoming slightly disorientated. Rayner sensed Percy’s intention.
‘Legionaries.’ She shouted, her voice booming with authority. Silence fell immediately as the campers got back in line with a thunderous sound of synchronised boots. Their discipline stunned even Percy, who had once been one of them.
Percy nodded at her, before deciding on what he was going to say. ‘Campers.’ He let the silence hang, ensuring everyone’s attention was on him.
Clarisse rolled her eyes. ‘Another of Percy’s sermons.’
Percy glared at her. ‘I hear you talk of retreat, giving up…’ he continued, listening to the chatter start to pick up, only to die instantly at the sound of his voice. ‘Would you really abandon your posts? Abandon your men? Would you bring dishonour to me, your legions, even Rome?’ The nearest bowed their heads, shamed. ‘I swear to you that as long as this filth remains in the world, we will continue to fight.’ He thrust his sword towards Gaea. ‘Today the forces of Greece and Rome have united in a way many thought impossible. If we can achieve that, I’d say the hard part is already over.’ That brought out a few smirks; a few light hearted jeers where the Greek and Roman lines met. ‘We will go forth with courage in our hearts as we fight for something glorious: Freedom. You see Frank and Hazel over there? They are in chains! Let that anger fuel you. Raise the standards high and be proud to be here today!’ Cheering erupted from the ranks. A huge smashing of swords on shields followed, interrupted only by one voice.
‘Percy! Percy! Percy!’ The chant was soon picked up and soon cries of his name filled the air.
Rayner turned to Percy, a look of admiration in her eye. ‘You would have made a worthy praetor.’ Percy responded with a smile. Her voice turned serious. ‘But they have giants, our Gods have abandoned us.’
Percy’s smile faded. ‘We will win this battle with cold sweat and the strength of our arms alone, a feat that will make every age until the end of ages sing our names.’
‘Without the God’s we are nothing, just a few thousand teenagers playing with swords.’ She retorted.
‘It will have to do.’ With that Percy raised his sword arm high, and shouted ‘Campers, Advance.’ The legions began to move, when the monsters realised what was happening they assembled quickly. Firing a barrage of arrows at the formation.
Rayner was quick to respond. ‘Form Testudo!’ The legionaries locked shields above and to the sides in tight blocks to stop the incoming projectiles before breaking off into a run. Arrows ricocheted of the glistening shields, lodging into the dirt as the legionaries charged. It happened in a flash. With trained ease they pulled out the heavy throwing spears they carried. Launching them into the first row of monsters as they assembled to meet the charge. Disintegrating them instantly. They were quickly replaced however and sounds of clashing filled the air.
‘Blackjack we have to get Frank and Hazel.’ Shouted Percy over the noise. Blackjack launched into the air, gliding over the hectic battlefield. Chaos ensued below them as campers hacked and slashed at the monsters.
‘There in the middle’ shouted Annabeth. Blackjack hovered low enough for Percy and Annabeth to jump off. Percy rushed the giant that was holding Hazel and Frank. Frank’s eyes glistened at the sight of Percy and he began struggling. Percy lunged at the giant but it was a desperate attempt. The giant blocked it easily and sent him flying back onto the ground. The giant hovered over him, abandoning Frank and Hazel to finish off his prey. He was about to strike when the sound of breaking chains rang through the air. Annabeth had freed the others. Suddenly the whole area was bathed in flames as Frank morphed, scales coming to life as he took flight, Hazel on his back. The giant disintegrated and Annabeth ran over to him.
‘Are you okay?’
‘Me yeah, I had that under control.’ He smirked, giving Frank and Hazel a quick wave as they continued to fly over the battlefield, burning areas of land. It still wasn’t enough. The outnumbered campers were being slowly pushed back and surrounded. Percy hacked and slashed for what felt like hours but the monsters never stopped coming.
‘Rayner.’ Shouted Annabeth. ‘Use the second to reinforce the 3rd and take whoever’s left of the 8th and lead the counter charge.’ Rayner looked surprised but nodded, sending campers to give the orders. Athena was a good God to have on your side.
The campers were taking heavy losses, bodies littered the ground and for every monster slain two more seemed to replace them. The remaining Greeks and Romans were pinned in a circle, completely surrounded. Broken chariots littered the ground and Percy spotted Clarisse yelling obscenities as she battered a giant. But it was ultimately hopeless. Even Clarisse couldn’t defeat an entire army. Rayner was right, without the Gods they were nothing. Percy sent out a silent prayer to his father: uh dad? It’s been a while but the forces of good could use a little help. He wasn’t sure if it would work, would the God’s be in their Roman forms or Greek? Could his dad even hear him? He was pushed back and bumped into a Greek with his back turned.
‘Watch it punk, fighting a war here.’ Percy turned in shock to see Ares, shoving his spear deep into a monster, only to pull out his sword and thrust it into a monster’s kneecap, a move that could have only been Roman.
‘Stop showing off’ called Airtimes as she pegged a monster in the eye with her bow. Percy looked around and noticed all the Gods, their alternating personalities no longer frantic but controlled, harnessing the power of both personas.
‘We couldn’t let you all die now could we?’ boomed Jupiter, or Zeus or… who cares? As long as they were here. Percy looked searchingly, he saw the hunters kicking ass over on his left as thunderbolts sped past on his right. Finally he spotted him, Hawaiian shirt, with the top button undone, deep green eyes… He could smell the sea salt from where he was standing.
‘Dad!’ He moved closer just as Poseidon pulled his trident from a monster’s face.
‘Hello Percy.’ He beamed ‘I am so proud of you, you accomplished something no one else thought was possible.’
‘Aww well I had a little help.’ He replied.
‘Percy!’ shouted Tyson who charged through a bunch of monsters to get to them.
‘Hey big guy’ greeted Percy. All around them the Gods were fighting like lions, raising the camper’s spirits and beginning to slowly push back Gaea’s army.
‘Percy listen to me.’ Warned Poseidon. Only you can defeat Gaea, gather your friends, you will need them. We will hold the monsters here.
‘Go Percy, even God’s can’t hold the giants forever.’ He interrupted, as if on cue one of the giants sent Dionysus Tumbling through the air. Which, if it wasn’t a battle, Percy would have definitely found funny.
The renewed hope was evident as the campers started to push the monsters back, step by step. Percy could see Gaia on the now distant ridge, presiding over the battle.