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Page 1 ONE i GO CRUISING through EXPLOSIVES The finish of the world started as soon as a pegasus landed on the hood of mine car. Up until then, i was having a an excellent afternoon. Technically ns wasn"t claimed to be driving due to the fact that I wouldn"t revolve sixteen for one more week, yet my mom and my stepdad, Paul, take it my girlfriend Rachel and me come this exclusive stretch of beach on the south Shore, and Paul let united state borrow his Prius because that a short spin. Now, I know you"re thinking, Wow, the was yes, really irresponsible that him, blah, blah, blah, however Paul to know me nice well. He"s checked out me slice up demons and also leap out of exploding institution buildings, so he more than likely figured taking a automobile a few hundred yards wasn"t precisely the most dangerous thing I"d ever before done. Anyway, Rachel and I to be driving along. It was a hot August day. Rachel"s red hair was pulled ago in a ponytail and she wore a white blouse over her swimsuit. I"d never seen her in anything yet ratty T-shirts and paint-splattered blue jeans before, and she looked favor a million golden drachmas. "Oh, traction up right there!" she said me. we parked top top a ridge overlooking the Atlantic. The sea is constantly one of my favorite places, yet today the was especially nice—glittery green and smooth as glass, as though my dad was keeping it calm simply for us. mine dad, by the way, is Poseidon. He can do stuff like that. "So. " Rachel smiled at me. "About that invitation. " "Oh . . . Right. " i tried to sound excited. I mean, she"d inquiry me to her family"s vacation house on St. Thomas for three days. Ns didn"t gain a many offers choose that. My family"s idea that a an intricate vacation to be a weekend in a rundown cabin on lengthy Island with some movie rentals and a pair of frozen pizzas, and here Rachel"s folks were willing come let me tag follow me to the Caribbean. Besides, ns seriously required a vacation. This summer had actually been the hardest of my life. The idea of taking a break also for a few days was really tempting. Still, something big was an alleged to walk down any kind of day now. I was "on call" for a mission. Also worse, following week was my birthday. There to be this prophecy that said when I turned sixteen, poor things would certainly happen. "Percy," she said, "I know the time is bad. But it"s always bad because that you, right?" She had actually a point. "I really want to go," i promised. "It"s just—" "The war. ” ns nodded. I didn"t prefer talking about it, however Rachel knew. Unlike most mortals, she can see through the Mist—the magic veil that distorts human being vision. She"d watched monsters. She"d met several of the various other demigods who were fighting the Titans and their allies. She"d also been there last summer as soon as the chopped-up lord Kronos rose out the his coffin in a terrible brand-new form, and also she"d earned my long-term respect through nailing that in the eye with a blue plastic hairbrush. She placed her hand on mine arm. "Just think about it, okay? we don"t leave for a pair of days. Mine dad . . . " she voice faltered. "Is he offering you a difficult time?" i asked. Rachel shook her head in disgust. "He"s do the efforts to be nice come me, i beg your pardon is almost worse. He desires me to walk to Clarion ladies Academy in the fall. " "The institution where your mom went?" "It"s a stupid finishing institution for culture girls, all the way in brand-new Hampshire. Have the right to you view 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 to "Save the endangered Yellow-bellied Sapsucker" and also stuff choose that. I"d never even seen her wear a dress. The was tough to imagine her learning to it is in a socialite. She sighed. "He think if the does a bunch of quite stuff for me, I"ll feeling guilty and also give in. " "Which is why that agreed come let me come v you males on vacation?" "Yes . . . However Percy, you"d be doing me a large favor. It would certainly be for this reason much far better if girlfriend were through us. Besides, there"s something I desire to talk—" She quit abruptly. "Something you desire to speak about?" ns asked. "You average . . . So serious we"d have to go come St. Thomas to talk around it?" She pursed she lips. "Look, simply forget it because that now. Let"s pretend we"re a pair of common people. We"re the end for a drive, and we"re the town hall the ocean, and also it"s quite to be together. " I can tell something was bothering her, however she placed on a brave smile. The sunlight made she hair look like fire. We"d invested a the majority of time with each other this summer. Ns hadn"t specifically planned it that way, however the an ext serious things gained at camp, the much more I found myself needing to contact up Rachel and also get away, simply for part breathing room. I necessary to remind myself that the mortal human being was still the end there, far from every the monsters making use of 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 human being liked each other, what would it take to gain the stupid man to kiss the girl, huh?" "Oh . . . " ns felt like one of Apollo"s spiritual cows—slow, dumb, and also bright red. "Um . . . " ns can"t pretend i hadn"t thought about Rachel. She was so much less complicated to be about than . . . Well, 보다 some various other girls ns knew. Ns didn"t need to work hard, or clock what i said, or rack my mind trying to figure out what she to be thinking. Rachel didn"t hide much. She let you know how she felt. I"m not certain what ns would have actually done next—but i was so distracted, i didn"t an alert the large black type swooping down from the skies until 4 hooves arrived on the hood the the Prius through a WUMP-WUMP-CRUNCH! Hey, boss, a voice said in mine head. Nice car! Blackjack the pegasus was an old girlfriend of mine, so i tried no to get too annoyed by the craters he"d simply put in the hood; but I didn"t think mine stepdad would be genuine stoked. "Blackjack," ns sighed. "What space you—" Then ns saw who was riding on his back, and I knew mine day was around to gain a lot an ext complicated. " "Sup, Percy. " Charles Beckendorf, senior counselor because that the Hephaestus cabin, would make many monsters cry for their mommies. He to be huge, through ripped muscles from functioning on the forges every summer, 2 years older 보다 me, and also one the the camp"s ideal armorsmiths. The made part seriously ingenious mechanical stuff. A month before, he"d rigged a Greek firebomb in the toilet of a tour bus the was delivering a bunch the monsters throughout country. The explode took the end a entirety legion the Kronos"s evil meanies as quickly as the very first harpy go flush. Beckendorf to be dressed for combat. That wore a bronze breastplate and also war helm through black camo pants and also a sword strapped to his side. His explosives bag was slung over his shoulder. "Time?" ns asked. the nodded grimly. A clump developed in mine throat. I"d known this to be coming. We"d been planning because that it for weeks, however I"d fifty percent hoped that would never ever happen. Rachel looked up in ~ Beckendorf. "Hi. " "Oh, hey. I"m Beckendorf. You need to be Rachel. Percy"s called me . . . Uh, I median he pointed out you. " Rachel elevated an eyebrow. "Really? Good. " She glanced at Blackjack, that was clopping his hooves versus the hood that the Prius. "So i guess you guys need to go conserve the world now. " "Pretty much," Beckendorf agreed. ns looked at Rachel helplessly. "Would friend tell mine mom—" "I"ll phone call her. I"m certain she"s provided to it. And also I"ll explain to Paul around the hood. " ns nodded mine thanks. I figured this can be the last time Paul borrow me his car. "Good luck. " Rachel kissed me prior to I can even react. "Now, gain going, half-blood. Go kill part monsters because that me. " my last view of she was sitting in the shotgun seat of the Prius, she arms crossed, watching as Blackjack circled higher and higher, carrying Beckendorf and also me into the sky. I wondered what Rachel wanted to talk to me about, and whether I"d live long enough to discover out. "So," Beckendorf said, "I"m guessing girlfriend don"t want me to cite that tiny scene come Annabeth. " "Oh, gods," ns muttered. "Don"t even think about it. " Beckendorf chuckled, and together we soared out over the Atlantic. it was practically dark by the time we spotted ours target. The Princess Andromeda glowed top top the horizon—a large cruise ship lit up yellow and also white. From a distance, you"d think the was just a party ship, no the headquarters because that the Titan lord. Then as you obtained closer, you might notice the large figurehead—a dark-haired maiden in a Greek chiton, wrapped in chains with a look of horror on she face, together if she might smell the stench of every the monster she to be being compelled to carry. see the ship again twisted my gut into knots. I"d almost died twice on the Princess Andromeda. Now it was heading right for brand-new York. "You recognize what to do?" Beckendorf yelled over the wind. ns nodded. We"d done dried runs at the dockyards in new Jersey, making use of abandoned ships as our targets. Ns knew how small time we would have. However I also knew this was our finest chance to finish Kronos"s invasion prior to it ever started. "Blackjack," ns said, "set us down on the lowest stern deck. " Gotcha, boss, he said. Man, I dislike seeing the boat. 3 years ago, Blackjack had actually been enslaved on the Princess Andromeda until he"d escaped v a small help from my friends and me. I figured he"d rather have his mane braided favor My tiny Pony 보다 be back here again. "Don"t wait for us," i told him. But, boss— "Trust me," i said. "We"ll gain out by ourselves. " Blackjack folded his wings and also plummeted toward the boat like a black color comet. The wind whistled in my ears. I witnessed monsters patrolling the top decks of the ship—dracaenae snake-women, hellhounds, giants, and also the humanoid seal-demons well-known as telkhines—but us zipped by so fast, none raised the alarm. Us shot under the stern of the boat, and Blackjack spread out his wings, easy coming to a landing ~ above the shortest deck. Ns climbed off, feeling queasy. good luck, boss, Blackjack said. Don"t allow "em rotate you into steed meat! through that, mine old girlfriend flew off into the night. I took my pen out of my pocket and also uncapped it, and also Riptide sprang to full size—three feet of deadly Celestial bronze glowing in the dusk. Beckendorf pulled a piece of record out the his pocket. I believed it was a map or something. Then ns realized it was a photograph. That stared in ~ it in the dim light—the smiling challenge of Silena Beauregard, daughter that Aphrodite. They"d started going out last summer, after years of the remainder of united state saying, "Duh, you men like each other!" also with all the danger missions, Beckendorf had actually been more happiness this summer than I"d ever seen him. "We"ll do it back to camp," i promised. because that a second I saw problem in his eyes. Climate he put on his old i was sure smile. "You bet," he said. "Let"s go punch Kronos ago into a million pieces. " Beckendorf led the way. We complied with a small corridor to the organization stairwell, as with 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 you smelled half-blood, it turned the end to be a meat loaf sandwich!" "Meat bread sandwiches are good!" a second voice snarled.

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"But this is half-blood scent, ns swear. They space on board!" "Bah, your brain isn"t ~ above board!"