‘We have to end this’ He spat. He was running so fast he almost ran straight into his favourite person. Kelli.
‘Hello again, Jackson.’ She regarded him with an evil smile, baring her fangs. Annabeth hadn’t caught up with him yet and he found himself gazing into her eyes.
‘Woohoo New Texas chapter comin’ down!’ Keli looked up too late. The Argo came down with shuddering speed, landing just in front of Percy. Chiron jumped out with amazing grace, followed by Grover and Rachel.
‘Thought you could use a hand’ he smiled. A hundred or so centaurs leaping out to join the battle. Boxing glove arrows and party poppers trailing off in all directions. Nico got off last, brandishing his stygian iron sword.
‘Found this beauty lying about in the woods… Thought we’d make an entrance.’ He smiled, clasping Percy’s arm with his free hand.
‘Yeah I suppose flying triremes have that effect.’ Percy replied, dodging a musket ball fired by one of Hade’s undead minions. Or was it Pluto? Percy couldn’t keep up.
‘Go Percy only you can stop Gaia.’ Interrupted Chiron, withdrawing his bow.
‘I’m hearing that a lot today’ joked Percy as he turned towards the ridge. It felt like hours as Percy, Annabeth and Nico fought their way towards Gaia. Hacking and slashing. Eventually they gathered the others one by one until all eight demigods stood before Gaia. The battle raged around them, forming a circle around the two groups.
‘Fall on your knees and surrender. Maybe I will make your deaths quick and painless.’
Percy looked at Annabeth. She nodded reassuringly, a sad smile tugging at her lips. Glancing over he saw Leo jumping up and down in anticipation. He’d been waiting a long time for this. Percy noticed Piper and Jason holding hands, whilst Frank and Hazel swung their weapons with eagerness. Nico was on the edge, his face an emotionless mask. They were ready for this.
‘It ends here.’ He commanded, his voice harsh. They rushed Gaia, hacking and slashing as they tried to weaken her. She sent hazel flying with a sweep of her arm, barely missing Jason as he jumped out of the way of her sword. Frank tried to morph but Gaea grabbed him mid-air with a cast iron grip, crushing him. He fell to the ground groaning. Hazel let out a cry and ran over to him. She thrusted blindly at Gaea, rage blinding her vision. The Earth goddess blocked her thrusts easily, knocking her unconscious with a sword hilt to the head.
Jason thrust his sword into her leg making her bellow with anger, holding it long enough for Leo to hit the sword with his hammer, driving the point deeper into her thigh. Gaea swept wildly, catching Jason in the side and sending him flying into Nico.
‘Gaea I’m the one you want most.’ Shouted Percy, trying to buy Annabeth time to get into her flank. She turned towards him only to feel the point of Annabeth’s dagger drive between her shoulder blades. She tossed madly, nocking Annabth’s Yankee cap off her head. Annabeth was tossed into the air. With an expert thrust Gaea pierced Annabeth’s breastplate as she came down, causing Percy to gasp in shock. The delay was long enough that Gaea sent a crashing blow at the side of his head that sent him flying towards Annabeth. He gasped as he hit the ground his vision blurred. He crawled over to Annabeth, grabbing her hand as blood once again soaked the ground.
Leo was on all fours, crawling towards his friends. All sprawled across the ground.
‘Foolish hero.’ She moved closer ‘you are my special boy. Drop your weapon you will not disobey me.’ Leo looked over at his friends. Hazel lay unconscious near Frank, who’d passed out from pain. Jason lay sprawled next to Nico. His eye caught Percy, weakly reaching out for Annabth’s hand. Annabeth was dying. They would all be dead if he didn’t do something soon. Suddenly he understood. The reason Gaea had been so interested in him, the reason she had favoured him. It wasn’t a coincidence he looked like Hazel’s ex, or that he had been the one to fire on camp Jupiter. He was hers, her Trojan horse. He was there to sabotage the group. That was his purpose, and she was using him; his life force to kill his friends, to fuel her physical existence. He was her anchor. Not anymore.
‘You needed me to be a traitor didn’t you? You made me kill my mother just so you could come back. You’ve lived off my very existence?’ He asked, his breathing ragged. I am the reason all this has happened.
‘The young boy has finally pieccced it together. Come to me and fulfil your purpose. Kill these children and my vengeance shall be complete.’
‘No’ He replied, determined. His hand brushed against something hard, Annabeth’s dagger.
‘You cannot deny me. I created you’
‘I am not your servant, and they are my friends.’ He clutched the dagger tighter. ‘I am the reason you came back, and now I’m the guy that’s going to send you back to whatever dark pit you slithered out of. I am the sacrifice.’ With that he plunged the dagger into his own chest. Gaea let out a blood curdling scream as her physical body disintegrated, blowing away in the wind. It was over. Percy looked up, only to see Leo collapse to the ground, blood staining his hands.
The battle drew to an end as whatever was left of Gaea’s forces fled in terror, scattering in all directions. Campers pursued them with cries of victory, thrown in with the occasional
‘Epic fight for the New York chapter brah’. Reyner rushed over to the demi-gods, a whole team of medics rushing behind her. Annabeth was the first to be bandaged up, Percy insisting they treat her before moving on to him. Frank was helped up by two burly legionaries, wincing as they touched a broken bone.
‘You did it Jackson’ said Reyna over the noise.
‘We owe our lives to Leo, Gaea would have won if…’
‘We will honour Leo.’ She cut him off. ‘But now is a time for celebrating.’
‘Well I don’t feel like celebrating.’ Said Percy sadly
The heroes gathered around Leo’s body, tears emerging from Hazel’s eyes. Slowly the surviving campers gathered around them. The silence was deadening.
Percy’s voice broke the silence. ‘To the bravest of us all, who sacrificed himself so we might live.’ Cheers erupted around members of both camps, even the Gods shouted with vigour. Leo was the name on everyone’s lips.
The dead were carried with extreme care into the Roman fort. Engineers had worked all night to build the impressive structure. Light lit the sky as cries of celebration echoed through the camp. Dancing and drink was shared as members from both camps honoured the dead and their victory. Percy was looking up at the stars, remembering those he had lost and what he’d gained on his journey. Zoe, Bianca, Leo, even Bob. He swore they would not be forgotten. Annabeth joined him by the fire, her face illuminated in the dark by golden rays. She held his hand.
‘It’s ok to be sad, but Leo sacrificed himself to give us a chance.’ Percy looked at her, words escaping him as he looked over her delicate features. That kiss under the stars felt like it was never going to end.