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Page 1 ONE i GO CRUISING with EXPLOSIVES The end of the world started once a pegasus arrived at the hood of my car. Up till then, ns was having actually a an excellent afternoon. Technically ns wasn"t supposed to be driving due to the fact that I wouldn"t turn sixteen for another week, however my mom and my stepdad, Paul, take it my friend Rachel and me to this personal stretch of coast on the south Shore, and Paul let us borrow his Prius because that a short spin. Now, I recognize you"re thinking, Wow, the was really irresponsible that him, blah, blah, blah, but Paul knows me pretty well. He"s viewed me slice up demons and leap the end of exploding school buildings, therefore he more than likely figured taking a automobile a few hundred yards wasn"t exactly the many dangerous point I"d ever before done. Anyway, Rachel and also I to be driving along. It was a warm August day. Rachel"s red hair to be pulled ago in a ponytail and also she wore a white blouse over her swimsuit. I"d never seen she in anything but ratty T-shirts and paint-splattered jeans before, and also she looked choose a million golden drachmas. "Oh, pull up appropriate there!" she called me. we parked top top a ridge overlooking the Atlantic. The sea is always one of my favourite places, yet today it was specifically nice—glittery green and smooth as glass, together though mine dad was keeping it calm just for us. my dad, by the way, is Poseidon. He can do stuff choose that. "So. " Rachel smiled at me. "About the invitation. " "Oh . . . Right. " i tried come sound excited. I mean, she"d inquiry me to she family"s vacation house on St. Thomas for three days. I didn"t acquire a most offers like that. Mine family"s idea that a fancy vacation was a weekend in a summary cabin on long Island through some movie rentals and also a pair of frozen pizzas, and here Rachel"s folks were willing to let me tag along to the Caribbean. Besides, i seriously needed a vacation. This summer had been the hardest of my life. The idea of acquisition a break even for a few days was yes, really tempting. Still, something huge was an alleged to go down any type of day now. I was "on call" because that a mission. Also worse, next week to be my birthday. There to be this prophecy the said as soon as I rotate sixteen, negative things would certainly happen. "Percy," she said, "I understand the timing is bad. Yet it"s always bad because that you, right?" She had a point. "I really desire to go," i promised. "It"s just—" "The war. ” ns nodded. Ns didn"t prefer talking around it, yet Rachel knew. Unlike many mortals, she could see through the Mist—the magic veil that distorts human vision. She"d checked out monsters. She"d met some of the other demigods that were fighting the Titans and also their allies. She"d even been there last summer once the chopped-up mr Kronos climbed out that his coffin in a terrible new form, and she"d earn my permanent respect by nailing that in the eye v a blue plastic hairbrush. She put her hand on mine arm. "Just think about it, okay? us don"t leave for a couple of days. My dad . . . " she voice faltered. "Is he giving you a tough time?" i asked. Rachel shook she head in disgust. "He"s make the efforts to be nice to me, i beg your pardon is virtually worse. He desires me to go to Clarion women Academy in the fall. " "The institution where your mom went?" "It"s a stupid finishing college for society girls, every the means in new Hampshire. Have the right to you see me in finishing school?" i admitted the idea sounded pretty dumb. Rachel was into urban arts projects and feeding the homeless and going come protest rallies come "Save the endangered Yellow-bellied Sapsucker" and stuff favor that. I"d never also seen she wear a dress. It was hard to imagine her finding out to be a socialite. She sighed. "He thinks if the does a bunch of pretty stuff because that me, I"ll feel guilty and also give in. " "Which is why the agreed come let me come through you males on vacation?" "Yes . . . However Percy, you"d it is in doing me a large favor. It would certainly be therefore much better if girlfriend were v us. Besides, there"s other I want to talk—" She quit abruptly. "Something you desire to speak about?" ns asked. "You typical . . . So significant we"d have to go to St. Thomas to talk about it?" She pursed her lips. "Look, just forget it because that now. Let"s ~ pretend we"re a couple of common people. We"re the end for a drive, and we"re the town hall the ocean, and also it"s pretty to be together. " I can tell something to be bothering her, but she put on a brave smile. The sunshine made she hair look choose fire. We"d invested a lot of time with each other this summer. Ns hadn"t precisely planned it that way, however the more serious things acquired at camp, the more I uncovered myself needing to contact up Rachel and get away, just for part breathing room. I needed to repeat myself that the mortal civilization was still out there, away from every the monsters using me together their an individual punching bag. "Okay," i said. "Just a regular afternoon and two typical people. " She nodded. "And so . . . Hypothetically, if these two civilization liked each other, what would it take to gain the stupid male to kiss the girl, huh?" "Oh . . . " i felt like among Apollo"s sacred cows—slow, dumb, and bright red. "Um . . . " ns can"t pretend i hadn"t thought around Rachel. She to be so much simpler to be roughly than . . . Well, than some various other girls ns knew. Ns didn"t have to work hard, or watch what i said, or rack my mind trying to number out what she to be thinking. Rachel didn"t hide much. She let friend know exactly how she felt. I"m not certain what i would have done next—but ns was therefore distracted, i didn"t an alert the large black kind swooping down from the skies until 4 hooves arrived at the hood that the Prius v a WUMP-WUMP-CRUNCH! Hey, boss, a voice claimed in my head. Nice car! Blackjack the pegasus to be an old friend of mine, so i tried no to acquire too annoyed by the craters he"d just put in the hood; yet I didn"t think mine stepdad would be real stoked. "Blackjack," ns sighed. "What space you—" Then i saw that was riding on his back, and also I knew mine day was about to obtain a lot an ext complicated. " "Sup, Percy. " Charles Beckendorf, an elderly counselor for the Hephaestus cabin, would make many monsters cry for their mommies. He to be huge, with ripped muscles from functioning on the forges every summer, 2 years older than me, and also one the the camp"s finest armorsmiths. That made part seriously ingenious mechanical stuff. A month before, he"d rigged a Greek firebomb in the restroom of a tourism bus the was transferring a bunch of monsters across country. The to explode took the end a whole legion the Kronos"s angry meanies as quickly as the an initial harpy went flush. Beckendorf was dressed because that combat. That wore a copper breastplate and war helm with black camo pants and also a knife strapped to his side. His explosives bag was slung end his shoulder. "Time?" ns asked. that nodded grimly. A clump formed in my throat. I"d recognized this was coming. We"d to be planning for it for weeks, yet I"d fifty percent hoped that would never happen. Rachel looked up at Beckendorf. "Hi. " "Oh, hey. I"m Beckendorf. You must be Rachel. Percy"s called me . . . Uh, I mean he discussed you. " Rachel elevated an eyebrow. "Really? Good. " She glanced in ~ Blackjack, that was clopping his hooves against the hood of the Prius. "So ns guess you guys have to go save the world now. " "Pretty much," Beckendorf agreed. i looked at Rachel helplessly. "Would you tell mine mom—" "I"ll call her. I"m certain she"s used to it. And also I"ll explain to Paul around the hood. " i nodded my thanks. Ns figured this could be the last time Paul borrow me his car. "Good luck. " Rachel kissed me before I could even react. "Now, gain going, half-blood. Go kill part monsters because that me. " mine last view of she was sit in the shotgun chair of the Prius, her arms crossed, watching together Blackjack circled higher and higher, transporting Beckendorf and me into the sky. Ns wondered what Rachel wanted to talk to me about, and also whether I"d live long sufficient to find out. "So," Beckendorf said, "I"m guessing you don"t want me to point out that small scene to Annabeth. " "Oh, gods," i muttered. "Don"t also think around it. " Beckendorf chuckled, and also together us soared out over the Atlantic. that was almost dark by the time we spotted our target. The Princess Andromeda glowed on the horizon—a substantial cruise delivery lit increase yellow and white. Indigenous a distance, you"d think the was just a party ship, no the headquarters for the Titan lord. Then together you obtained closer, you might an alert the gigantic figurehead—a dark-haired maiden in a Greek chiton, covering in chains v a look of fear on her face, together if she might smell the stench of every the monster she was being compelled to carry. see the ship again twisted my gut into knots. I"d almost died twice on the Princess Andromeda. Currently it to be heading straight for brand-new York. "You know what to do?" Beckendorf yelled over the wind. ns nodded. We"d done dry runs in ~ the dockyards in brand-new Jersey, utilizing abandoned ships as our targets. I knew how small time we would certainly have. Yet I also knew this was our best chance to finish Kronos"s invasion before it ever started. "Blackjack," i said, "set us down ~ above the lowest stern deck. " Gotcha, boss, that said. Man, I hate seeing the boat. three years ago, Blackjack had been enslaved top top the Princess Andromeda until he"d escaped with a tiny help from mine friends and me. I figured he"d rather have actually his mane braided like My small Pony 보다 be back here again. "Don"t wait because that us," ns told him. But, boss— "Trust me," ns said. "We"ll get out by ourselves. " Blackjack urgent his wings and plummeted towards the watercraft like a black comet. The wind whistled in my ears. I observed monsters patrolling the upper decks that the ship—dracaenae snake-women, hellhounds, giants, and the humanoid seal-demons known as telkhines—but we zipped by so fast, none raised the alarm. Us shot down the stern the the boat, and Blackjack spread out his wings, easy coming to a landing on the lowest deck. Ns climbed off, feeling queasy. good luck, boss, Blackjack said. Don"t let "em revolve you into steed meat! v that, mine old girlfriend flew off right into the night. Ns took my pen the end of mine pocket and also uncapped it, and also Riptide sprang to full size—three feet of fatal Celestial bronze glowing in the dusk. Beckendorf traction a piece of file out of his pocket. I thought it to be a map or something. Then i realized it to be a photograph. That stared in ~ it in the dim light—the smiling challenge of Silena Beauregard, daughter the Aphrodite. They"d started going the end last summer, after years of the remainder of united state saying, "Duh, you guys like every other!" also with every the dangerous missions, Beckendorf had been happier this summer 보다 I"d ever before seen him. "We"ll do it back to camp," i promised. for a 2nd I saw concern in his eyes. Then he placed on his old i was sure smile. "You bet," the said. "Let"s go punch Kronos back into a million pieces. " Beckendorf led the way. We adhered to a small corridor to the business stairwell, just like we"d practiced, however we froze once we heard noises above us. "I don"t treatment what your nose says!" snarled a half-human, half-dog voice—a telkhine. "The last time girlfriend smelled half-blood, the turned the end to be a meat loaf sandwich!" "Meat loaf sandwiches room good!" a 2nd voice snarled.

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"But this is half-blood scent, ns swear. They are on board!" "Bah, your mind isn"t on board!"