The ground shook violently beneath Hazel as she looked around for her friends. Demigods everywhere, Greek and Roman, struggled to remain balanced on the unpredictable ground. The grass shivered and armour-clad teenagers found themselves in one of the many sinkholes that appeared in the surface of the earth.
“She’s awake!” somebody yelled.
The Athena Parthenos stood tall and regal over Camp-Half Blood, but already it felt as if the statues’ immense power had been reduced. Hazel felt tremors rise inside her chest, and dozens of silvery jewels pooled at the ground around her feet. The Athena Parthenos had united Camp Jupiter and Camp-Half Blood, but little was left to control the undoubted fear that surged through the mass of demigods. Beside her, Frank clenched his fists. Hazel touched his shoulder soothingly, making him jolt a little.
“You okay?” she asked. He had grown so much. Hazel remembered the times when Frank was a scared member of Camp Jupiter, following orders and solving clues. Now Frank made the commands and was big enough to scare anyone. Except her, that was.
“Yeah,” he breathed.
“I guess this is it, then.”
Before Hazel could say anything else, Jason came sprinting towards the pair, his blond hair rippling in the wind. He truly was a son of Jupiter, though Hazel could hardly see any resemblance to his sister, Thalia. His determined stance hid the quaking fear behind his eyes.
“Frank, we need to ally forces. Being Praetor now you have that authority. Find Reyna and help her.” Frank nodded once before transforming into an elephant and barging into the consuming crowd of people. Already demigods were brandishing weapons; swords, daggers, bows and arrows. The Apollo kids looked unsure where to shoot from, and the Hermes and Mercury kids were shouting at each other, proposing schemes and ideas to defeat the earth goddess.
Jason’s piercing blue eyes surveyed the scene.
“Anything from the gods would be helpful right now,” he murmured. Piper soon found her way to her boyfriend’s side, the blue harpy feather swinging from a section of her brown hair.
“Hazel,” she panted.
“There’s no sign of Gaia – yet – but Chiron is starting to worry. If the gods don’t show up soon-”
She was cut off by the loud roar of the earth splitting; the ground separated a few feet from the Athena Parthenos, hurtling rock and dirt down a dark hole that, for all Hazel knew, probably led to Tartarus. Leaves left their trees, turning in an array of green and brown, as if they couldn’t decide whether they were part of the living or the dead. Small clusters of earth scurried around the base of what seemed to be a small tornado of greenery; grass and leaves and dirt chased each other in the air, concealing the figure that rose inside of the whirlwind.
Hazel’s hair flew around her face. Her clothes wrapped around her skin and she could barely hear Reyna and Frank shouting commands to their legion. The wind roared in her ears, the amount of precious stones multiplying by the second at her feet.
Finally the wind stopped, and all matter ceased to revolve around the figure that lay crouched, human-like, on the ground. She rose slowly; robes made of weaved grass and intertwined leaves concealed her earth-smeared skin, which glowed almost luminescent in a powerful aura. Gaia stood still on the mound of earth she’d arrived in. Her hair was windblown; her skin was pale and streaked with mud. Her lips were a rosy pink, and her eyes a shocking display of green; a bright, almost un-natural green that would, Hazel guessed, match every shade of foliage that ever existed.
“Demigods,” she began, lifting her arms to her sides. Her voice contained power, and even the monsters allied against the Greeks and Romans stood still.
“I have slumbered for many centuries, only to wake and discover what has happened to my beautiful children and earth. You will fall!”
Ogres charged at unprepared demigods, who swung feebly aimed swords at their enemies. Jason ran to the aid of Nico di Angelo, his golden blade slashing madly at the creatures that blatantly fought them.
Gaia stood at the crest of the hill, raising her arms over her head. The ground shook once more – geysers erupted from the ground, spewing hot liquid over the heads of demigods in combat, who screamed, dropping all weaponry and cradling their heads in their hands.
Hazel summoned up all the power she possibly could. She imagined her father’s temple, Pluto, and the mass of jewels that surrounded it. She thought of the strength of her friends and envisioned the mist around her. A swirling, cloudy vapour snaked its way past the roman legionaries and pushed its way towards Gaia. Hazel didn’t know the boundaries of what she could make a goddess as powerful as Gaia see, but hey, if it saved the world it was worth a shot.
Coach Hedge emerged from the tree line, baseball bat in hand. He smacked the rough wood against his palm, yelling “ALRIGHT WH O WANTS SOME OF THIS BABY?” at the tops of his lungs. Hazel concentrated on working the mist towards Gaia, ignoring the battle around her. Monsters continuously lunged around her but were attacked almost instantly by surrounding warriors.
The cloud of mist covered Gaia’s freakishly green, alert eyes. Her arms stiffened at her sides and she began to scream.
“My children!” she shrieked.
“My essence! My beloved domain, stolen once more!”
The world swam around Hazel, but she held on, forcing Gaia to believe her earth was in ruins and scattered with the bodies – not of the fighting demigods – of her children.
A sharp jab in the back broke Hazel’s focus. She gasped, stumbling forward. She turned to face the warped face of a laistrygonian giant grinning – well, Hazel wasn’t sure if grinning was the right word, but she definitely knew it wasn’t school picture worthy- at her.
“FOOLS!” Gaia shrieked, her true vision regained, sending trees flailing and almost landing on a group of demigods from the Athena cabin, who swerved fiercely out of the way of a couple of dracanae .
“Puny half-blood,” the giant sneered.
“You will die now.”
Hazel held her sword in front of her body and concentrated on the ground. She thought of precious metals rising, rising from the depths to collect and build in front of her. She felt the strain of pulling them out of the earth, but kept her eyes on the giant. His teeth were riddled with stringy pieces of what Hazel presumed to be flesh, but could swear she spotted a piece of rotting dental floss in there. The giant’s skin was covered in dirt and sweat. He smelled worse than that time Leo forgot to flush the Argo II’s only toilet.
“Come and try, ugly!”
That really got the giant moving. He roared and sprinted at Hazel, his massive hands outstretched. Hazel dive-rolled out of the way, feeling the push of air from the giant as he thundered past her. She struck upwards with her sword, piercing his skin. Golden ichor rained from the wound as the giant howled in pain.
“For that you will pay!”
The giant spun around towards Hazel who concentrated even more on the mound of stones beneath her. She sprinted a few feet away, waving her sword mockingly.
“Is it really that hard for a giant like you to kill a small mortal like me? Huh, I thought you guys were impressive.”
The laistrygonian giant’s features twisted in rage, and it charged once more. Hazel forced herself to wait, feeling the surge of power she now maintained.
“YOU. WILL – ”
Hazel willed as many stones as she could to mould together and rise as one great barrier between her and the giant. There was a loud “thwack!” And the giant crumpled to the ground, its substance melting into the earth.
Hazel’s wall of metal broke apart too, and slowly decomposed back into the earth.
Gaia made her way towards the swarm of fighting demigods. As she walked, leaves swirled and made a path for her bare feet. Her eyes glowed with power.
To her right, Nico and Jason were struggling with a tangle of ivy, which lapped at their feet and reformed after being sliced in half. Hazel could swear she even heard Jason arguing with the plants. Coach Hedge continued swinging his baseball bat at monsters, yelling “HOME RUN!” or “TAKE THAT, UGLY!” Occasionally he would glance into the tree line, where Mellie and his child hid.
Hazel bent her head in prayer. If only she could contact her father, Pluto…
A boom shook the tops of trees. Hazel looked up; around her, the earth was consumed by fire. Flaming canons from the Argo II had rained down upon Gaia, disrupting her human form for mere moments.
Leo Valdez looked down from his golden ship and the head of Festus, who was busy producing more fire. An elfish grin spread across his face. Beside him, Percy and Annabeth busied themselves by flinging rocks and small metal contraptions down at the monsters beneath them.
“Oh yeah, baby, hit the dirt!” Leo yelled and scrambled backwards as Festus shot another flaming ball of rock at a group of giants.
Gaia rose from the soil, solidifying once more into her human form.
There was another loud explosion, and Gaia was flattened by another hurtling rock. The disturbance sent demigods and monsters flying everywhere. Trees uprooted, people screamed in fright and in pain. Yet Gaia, being an immortal goddess, emerged from the wreckage by seeping under the rock as grains of sand and transformed again into a woman.
Gaia lifted a hand, conjuring trees together, raising them into the sky. Leo gave a loud yell before Gaia released her power, sending the trees flying towards the Argo II.
Hazel could do nothing but watch as the ship rocked backwards, creaking unstably from the gaping wound produced from the tree in the side of its wooden deck. Festus attempted to disintegrate the tree by breathing fire on it, but already Gaia was prepared for another attack. Hazel could see Leo scrambling across the main front, fiddling with coils of metals and wires in his hands.
Hazel gave a loud yell and charged at the earth mother, sword in hand. She was less than a metre away when roots below the earth snagged onto her feet and yanked her to the ground. She landed with a solid “oomph”. The roots dragged her back, away from Gaia. Hazel struggled to reach for her sword, but that too had been taken by the earth goddess. Monsters scrambled beside her. Hazel writhed in her binds, wiggling her feet to get free. Her hands pawed the ground, but the dirt ran away from her like sand.
“You will learn the wrath of Gaia!” The goddess screamed at the bronze ship. Hazel’s heart quickened. She struggled aggressively with Gaia’s magic. She wished Arion were here, that way he could ride her towards the enemy.
A tug at her feet stopped Hazel from being pulled by the roots. She twisted on the ground and looked up to see her not so little brother, Nico di Angelo. He held out a pale hand.
Hazel scrambled to her feet and buried her brother in a hug. Immediately he stiffened at the contact. She didn’t care.
Nico gently pushed her away.
Hazel nodded vigorously and pointed at the goddess.
“She’s going to kill them, Leo and Annabeth and-”
“Percy?” Nico finished, casting a worried glance at the ship. Hazel bobbed her head again.
“There must be something we can do,” she shouted over the yells of battle. Fallen bodies lay everywhere; whether dead or injured, Hazel didn’t know.
“Behind you!” Nico yelled. He shoved Hazel to the side and plunged his black blade into the chest of a Minotaur. Ichor spread from the wound as the monster disintegrated. A second monster appeared behind Nico. Hazel slashed her sword at its exposed stomach and pulled her brother by the arm. Hazel ran across the field, spotting a battle-weary Jason fighting back to back with Piper against a group of giants. Jason’s eyes quickly scanned his surroundings until they rested on Hazel and Nico.
“Little help?” he prodded at one of the giants, summoning the winds around him to propel the creature into the sky.
Hazel slashed her way through the crowd, Nico at her side, until they reached their friends. Piper’s blue feather had been lost in the fight, and she constantly screamed in charm speak;
“Turn around! Find a restroom, stinky!” to monsters who obeyed her commands and later stumbled back, confused.
Jason’s face was contorted in concentration. His hair was windblown – but maybe that was a natural side effect from being a son of Jupiter.
Every so often the winds would stir and a giant would be swept of its feet, screaming “MUMMY!” before crashing into the hard ground. Hazel faced the battle, panting. Her life had been in danger plenty of times before, but never like this. She thrust her sword arm into the belly of a giant, spilling the golden ichor over the blade. Monsters crumpled before her. Jason and Piper twisted from their positions, slicing and hacking away the giants that threatened them. Nico summoned a small group of skeleton warriors from the Underworld. Their appearance looked so, well, dead. Hazel was a daughter of Pluto, so naturally she wasn’t afraid, but she sensed the amount of fear that washed over the other demigods. Jason paled for a second, forgetting about the battle. The giant in front of him opened its mouth wide. Hazel grimaced at the thought of how much mouthwash it must need a day.
The giant swung a jagged rock – was that a license plate stuck in his teeth? – down at Jason, who looked up just in time to realize his fate.
“NO!” somebody screamed. A figure appeared from the crowd. Her long, midnight black hair trailed down her spine in a thick braid, swinging along the roman Praetor armour she wore.
She leapt in front of Jason, sword glinting dangerously in the fading light. The giant swung his weapon at Reyna, and a terrible crack sounded in the air. She collapsed violently. Nico’s legions of zombie-men were on the giant in an instant. They climbed over the giant’s sagged yellow skin, slashing with their swords and knives.
Jason fell at Reyna’s feet just ahead of Hazel and the others. The Roman girl’s breathing was ragged. She faced the ground. A large cut was visible from her back. Red stained the soil around her.
Jason gently turned her shoulder. She faced the sky with glassy eyes. Piper turned to Hazel, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Is she… will she be…”
“She’s alive,” Hazel said. She could sense her soul; it wasn’t quite gone yet. Reyna was strong. Hazel just hoped she was strong enough to hold on.
Frank burst into the scene in the form of a rhinoceros. People screamed and made way. He looked at Hazel with sad eyes.
“Frank,” she said.
“Reyna’s injured. Take her someplace safe.” Frank nodded, elephant ears flapping. He turned into a large eagle and gently held Reyna in his talons. He took flight instantly.
Hazel breathed a sigh of thanks and turned her attention back to Gaia.
The earth mother’s body radiated power that surged through her fingertips. The land swelled, rising, tipping, just as the sky opened in a brilliant bright gold.
Lightning smashed into the land surrounding Gaia. She roared in fury as one of the bolts smacked her in the face.
The Olympians had been restored.