Until she met the exploding statue, Annabeth thought she was prepared for anything.
She’d paced the deck of their flying warship, the Argo II, checking and double-checking the ballistae to make sure they were locked down. She confirmed that the white “We come in peace” flag was flying from the mast. She reviewed the plan with the rest of the crew—and the backup plan, and the backup plan for the backup plan.
Most important, she pulled aside their war-crazed chaperone, Coach Gleeson Hedge, and encouraged him to take the morning off in his cabin and watch reruns of mixed martial arts championships. The last thing they needed as they flew a magical Greek trireme into a potentially hostile Roman camp was a middle-aged satyr in gym clothes waving a club and yelling “Die!” Everything seemed to be in order. Even that mysterious chill she’d been feeling since the ship launched had dissipated, at least for now.
The warship descended through the clouds, but Annabeth couldn’t stop second-guessing herself. What if this was a bad idea? What if the Romans panicked and attacked them on sight?
The Argo II definitely did not look friendly. Two hundred feet long, with a bronze-plated hull, mounted repeating crossbows fore and aft, a flaming metal dragon for a figurehead, and two rotating ballistae amidships that could fire explosive bolts powerful enough to blast through concrete . . . well, it wasn’t the most appropriate ride for a meet-and-greet with the neighbors. Annabeth had tried to give the Romans a heads-up. She’d asked Leo to send one of his special inventions—a holographic scroll—to alert their friends inside the camp. Hopefully the message had gotten through. Leo had wanted to paint a giant message on the bottom of the hull—WASSUP? with a smiley face—but Annabeth vetoed the idea. She wasn’t sure the Romans had a sense of humor.
Too late to turn back now.
The clouds broke around their hull, revealing the gold-and-green carpet of the Oakland Hills below them. Annabeth gripped one of the bronze shields that lined the starboard rail.
Her three crewmates took their places.
On the stern quarterdeck, Leo rushed around like a madman, checking his gauges and wrestling levers. Most helmsmen would’ve been satisfied with a pilot’s wheel or a tiller. Leo had also installed a keyboard, monitor, aviation controls from a Learjet, a dub step soundboard, and motion-control sensors from a Nintendo Wii. He could turn the ship by pulling on the throttle, fire weapons by sampling an album, or raise sails by shaking his Wii controllers really fast. Even by demigod standards, Leo was seriously ADHD.
Piper paced back and forth between the mainmast and the ballistae, practicing her lines. “Lower your weapons,” she murmured. “We just want to talk.”
Her charm speak was so powerful, the words flowed over Annabeth, filling her with the desire to drop her dagger and have a nice long chat.
For a child of Aphrodite, Piper tried hard to play down her beauty. Today she was dressed in tattered jeans, worn-out sneakers, and a white tank top with pink Hello Kitty designs. (Maybe as a joke, though Annabeth could never be sure with Piper.) Her choppy brown hair was braided down the right side with an eagle’s feather.
From Rick Riordan’s Mark of Athena © 2012 by Rick Riordan. Reprinted by Permission of Disney•Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.
The snake-haired ladies were starting to annoy Percy.
They should have died three days ago when he dropped a crate of bowling balls on them at the Napa Bargain Mart. They should have died two days ago when he ran over them with a police car in Martinez. They definitely should have died this morning when he cut off their heads in Tilden Park.
No matter how many times Percy killed them and watched them crumble to powder, they just kept re-forming like large evil dust bunnies. He couldn’t even seem to outrun them.
He reached the top of the hill and caught his breath. How long since he’d last killed them? Maybe two hours. They never seemed to stay dead longer than that.
The past few days, he’d hardly slept. He’d eaten whatever he could scrounge—vending machine Gummi Bears, stale bagels, even a Jack in the Crack burrito, which was a new personal low. His clothes were torn, burned, and splattered with monster slime.
He’d only survived this long because the two snake-haired ladies—gorgons, they called themselves—couldn’t seem to kill him either. Their claws didn’t cut his skin. Their teeth broke whenever they tried to bite him. But Percy couldn’t keep going much longer. Soon he’d collapse from exhaustion, and then—as hard as he was to kill, he was pretty sure the gorgons would find a way.
Where to run?
He scanned his surroundings. Under different circumstances, he might’ve enjoyed the view. To his left, golden hills rolled inland, dotted with lakes, woods, and a few herds of cows. To his right, the flatlands of Berkeley and Oakland marched west—a vast checkerboard of neighborhoods, with several million people who probably did not want their morning interrupted by two monsters and a filthy demigod.
Farther west, San Francisco Bay glittered under a silvery haze. Past that, a wall of fog had swallowed most of San Francisco, leaving just the tops of skyscrapers and the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.
A vague sadness weighed on Percy’s chest. Something told him he’d been to San Francisco before. The city had some connection to Annabeth--the only person hr could remember from his past. His memory of her was frustratingly dim. The wolf had promised he would see her again and regain his memory—if he succeeded in his journey.
Should he try to cross the bay?
It was tempting. He could feel the power of the ocean just over the horizon. Water always revived him. Salt water was the best. He’d discovered that two days ago when he had strangled a sea monster in the Carquinez Strait. If he could reach the bay, he might be able to make a last stand. Maybe he could even drown the gorgons. But the shore was at least two miles away. He’d have to cross an entire city.
Chapter One Excerpt From The Son of Neptune © 2011 by Rick Riordan Reprinted by Permission of Disney•Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group LLC. All Rights Reserved
Chapter 1: Fun with Spontaneous Combustion
Look, we don’t have time for long introductions. I need to tell this story quickly or we’re all going to die.
If you didn’t listen to our first recording, well…pleased to meet you, the Egyptian gods are running around loose in the modern world, a bunch of magicians called the House of Life is trying to stop them, everyone hates Sadie and me, and a big snake is about to swallow the world.
(Ow! What was that for?)
Sadie just punched me. She says I’m going to scare you too much. I should back up, calm down and start at the beginning.
Fine. But personally, I think you should be scared.
The point of this recording is to let you know what’s really happening, and how things went wrong. You’re going to hear a lot of people talking trash about us, but we didn’t cause those deaths. As for the snake, that wasn’t our fault either. Well…not exactly. All the magicians in the world have come together. It’s our only chance.
So here’s the story. Decide for yourself. It started when we set Brooklyn on fire.
The job was supposed to be simple: sneak into the Brooklyn Museum, borrow an Egyptian artifact, and leave without getting caught.
No, it wasn’t robbery. We would’ve returned the artifact eventually. But I guess we did look suspicious: four kids in black ninja clothes on the roof of the museum. Oh, and a baboon, also dressed like a ninja. Definitely suspicious.
Our exit strategy wasn’t looking too good.
It was well after dark and the museum was supposed to be closed. Instead, the glass dome glowed with light. Inside, forty feet below, hundreds of people in tuxedos and evening gowns mingled and danced in a ballroom the size of an airplane hangar. An orchestra played, but I couldn’t hear the music with the wind howling in my ears and my teeth chattering. I was freezing in my linen pajamas.
Magicians are supposed to wear linen because it doesn’t interfere with magic, which is probably a great tradition in the Egyptian desert where it’s hardly ever cold and rainy. In Brooklyn in March, not so much.
My sister Sadie didn’t seem bothered by the cold. She was undoing the locks on the dome while humming along to something on her iPod. I mean seriously—who brings their own music to a museum break-in?
She was dressed like me except she wore combat boots. Her blond hair was streaked with red highlights—very subtle for a stealth mission. With her blue eyes and her light complexion, she looked absolutely nothing like me, which we both agreed was fine. It’s always nice to have the option of denying the crazy girl next to me is my sister.
“You said the museum would be empty,” I complained.
Sadie didn’t hear me until I pulled out her earphones and repeated myself.
“Well it was supposed to be empty.” She’ll deny this, but after living in the States for the last three months, she was started to lose her British accent. “The website said it closed at five. How was I to know there’d be a wedding?”
From Rick Riordan’s Throne of Fire © 2011 by Rick Riordan. Excerpt printed by Permission of Disney•Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.
He woke in the back seat of a school bus, not sure how he got there, holding hands with a girl he didn’t know. That wasn’t necessarily the rotten part. The girl was cute, but he couldn’t figure out who she was or what he was doing there. He sat up and blinked a few times, trying to think.
A few dozen kids sprawled in the seats in front of him, listening to iPods, talking, or sleeping. They all looked around his age…fifteen? Sixteen? Okay, that was scary. He didn’t know his own age.
The bus jolted along a bumpy road. Out the windows, desert rolled by under a bright blue sky. Jason was pretty sure he didn’t live in the desert. He tried to think back…the last thing he remembered…
The girl squeezed his hand. “Jason, you okay?”
She wore faded jeans, hiking boots, and a fleece snowboarding jacket. Her chocolate brown hair was cut choppy and uneven, with thin strands braided down the side. She wore no makeup, like she was trying not to draw attention to herself, but it didn’t work. She was seriously pretty. Her eyes seemed to change color like a kaleidoscope—brown, blue, and green.
Jason let go of her hand. “Um, I don’t—“
In the front of the bus, a teacher shouted, “All right, cupcakes, listen up!”
The guy was obviously a coach. His baseball cap was pulled low over his hair so you could just see his beady eyes. He had a wispy goatee and a sour face like he’d eaten something moldy. His buff arms and chest stretched against a bright orange polo shirt. His nylon workout pants and Nikes were spotless white. A whistle hung from his neck and a megaphone was clipped to his belt. He would’ve looked pretty scary if he wasn’t five-foot-zero. When he stood up in the aisle, one of the students called, “Stand up, Coach Hedge!”
“I heard that!” The coach scanned the bus for the offender. Then his eyes fixed on Jason and his scowl deepened.
A jolt went down Jason’s spine. He was sure the coach didn’t recognize him. He was going to call Jason out, demand what he was doing on the bus, and Jason wouldn’t have a clue what to say.
But Coach Hedge looked away and cleared his throat. “We’ll arrive in five minutes! Stay with your partner. Don’t lose your worksheet. And if any of you precious little cupcakes cause any trouble on this trip, I will personally send you back to campus the hard way.
He picked up a baseball bat and made like he was hitting a homer.
Jason looked at the girl next to him. “Can he talk to us that way?”
She shrugged. “Always does. This is the Wilderness School. ‘Where kids are the animals.’”
“She said it like it was a joke they’d shared before.
“This is some kind of mistake.” Jason said. “I’m not supposed to be here.”
From Rick Riordan The Lost Hero © 2010 by Rick Riordan. Reprinted by Permission of Disney•Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group LLC. All Rights Reserved. Excerpt used with permission by Disney•Hyperion.
We only have a few hours, so listen carefully.
If you’re hearing this story, you’re already in danger. Sadie and I might be your only chance.
Go to the school. Find the locker. I won’t tell you which school or which locker, because if you’re the right person, you’ll find it. The combination is 13/32/33. By the time you finish listening, you’ll know what those numbers mean. Just remember the story we’re about to tell you isn’t complete yet. How it ends will depend on you.
The most important thing: when you open the package and find what’s inside, don’t keep it longer than a week. Sure, it’ll be tempting. I mean, it will grant you almost unlimited power. But if you possess it too long, it will consume you. Learn its secrets quickly and pass it on. Hide it for the next person, the way Sadie and I did for you. Then be prepared for your life to get very interesting.
Okay, Sadie is telling me to stop stalling and get on with the story. Fine. I guess it started in London, the night our dad blew up the British Museum.
My name is Carter Kane. I’m fourteen and my home is a suitcase.
You think I’m kidding? Since I was eight years old, my dad and I have traveled the world. I was born in L.A. but my dad’s an archaeologist, so his work takes him all over. Mostly we go to Egypt, since that’s his specialty. Go into a bookstore, find a book about Egypt, there’s a pretty good chance it was written by Dr. Julius Kane. You want to know how Egyptians pulled the brains out of mummies, or built the pyramids, or cursed King Tut’s tomb? My dad is your man. Of course, there are other reasons my dad moved around so much, but I didn’t know his secret back then.
I didn’t go to school. My dad homeschooled me, if you can call it “home” schooling when you don’t have a home. He sort of taught me whatever he thought was important, so I learned a lot about Egypt and basketball stats and my dad’s favorite musicians. I read a lot, too—pretty much anything I could get my hands on, from dad’s history books to fantasy novels—because I spent a lot of time sitting around in hotels and airports and dig sites in foreign countries where I didn’t know anybody. My dad was always telling me to put the book down and play some ball. You ever try to start a game of pick-up basketball in Aswan, Egypt? It’s not easy.
Anyway, my dad trained me early to keep all my possessions in a single suitcase that fits in an airplane’s overhead compartment. My dad packed the same way, except he was allowed an extra workbag for his archaeology tools. Rule number one: I was not allowed to look in his workbag. That’s a rule I never broke until the day of the explosion.
It happened on Christmas Eve. We were in London for visitation day with my sister, Sadie
CHAPTER 1: I Go Cruising with Explosives
The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.
Up until then, I was having a great afternoon. Technically I wasn’t supposed to be driving because I wouldn’t turn sixteen for another week, but my mom and my stepdad, Paul, took my friend Rachel and me to this private stretch of beach on the South Shore, and Paul let us borrow his Prius for a short spin.
Now, I know you’re thinking, Wow, that was really irresponsible of him, blah, blah, blah, but Paul knows me pretty well. He’s seen me slice up demons and leap out of exploding school buildings, so he probably figured taking a car a few hundred yards wasn’t exactly the most dangerous thing I’d ever done.
Anyway, Rachel and I were driving along. It was a hot August day. Rachel’s red hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she wore a white blouse over her swimsuit. I’d never seen her in anything but ratty T-shirts and paint-splattered jeans before, and she looked like a million golden drachmas.
“Oh, pull up right there!” she told me.
We parked on a ridge overlooking the Atlantic. The sea is always one of my favorite places, but today it was especially nice - glittery green and smooth as glass, as though my dad was keeping it calm just for us.
My 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 asked me to her family’s vacation house on St. Thomas for three days. I didn’t get a lot of offers like that. My family’s idea of a fancy vacation was a weekend in a rundown cabin on Long Island with some movie rentals and a couple 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 taking a break even for a few days was really tempting.
Still, something big was supposed to go down any day now. I was “on call” for a mission. Even worse, next week was my birthday. There was this prophecy that said when I turned sixteen, bad things would happen.
“Percy,” she said, “I know the timing is bad. But it’s always bad for you, right?”
She had a point.
“I really want to go,” I promised. “It’s just - “
I nodded. I didn’t like talking about it, but Rachel knew. Unlike most mortals, she could see through the Mist - the magic veil that distorts human vision. She’d seen monsters. She’d met some of the other demigods who were fighting the Titans and their allies. She’d even been there last summer when the chopped-up Lord Kronos rose out of his coffin in a terrible new form, and she’d earned my permanent respect by nailing in the eye with a blue plastic hairbrush.
Copyright © 2009 by Rick Riordan
The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school. But there I was Monday morning, the first week of June, sitting in my mom’s car in front of Goode High School on East 81st.
Goode was this big brownstone building overlooking the East River. A bunch of BMWs and Lincoln Town Cars were parked out front. Staring up at the fancy stone archway, I wondered how long it would take me to get kicked out of this place.
“Just relax.” My mom didn’t sound relaxed. “It’s only an orientation tour. And remember, dear, this is Paul’s school. So try not to…you know.”
Paul Blofis, my mom’s boyfriend, was standing out front, greeting future ninth graders as they came up the steps. With his salt-and-pepper hair, denim clothes, and leather jacket, he reminded me of a TV actor, but he was just an English teacher. He’d managed to convince Goode High School to accept me for ninth grade, despite the fact that I’d gotten kicked out of every school I’d ever attended. I’d tried to warn him it wasn’t a good idea, but he wouldn’t listen.
I looked at my mom. “You haven’t told him the truth about me, have you?”
She tapped her fingers nervously on the wheel. She was dressed up for a job interview—her best blue dress and high-heeled shoes.
“I thought we should wait,” she admitted.
“So we don’t scare him away.”
“I’m sure orientation will be fine, Percy. It’s only one morning.”
“Great,” I mumbled. “I can get expelled before I even start the school year.”
“Think positive. Tomorrow you’re off to camp! After orientation, you’ve got your date—“
“It’s not a date!” I protested. “It’s just Annabeth, Mom. Jeez!”
“She’s coming all the way from camp to meet you.”
“You’re going to the movies.”
“Just the two of you.”
She held up her hands in surrender, but I could tell she was trying hard not to smile. “You’d better get inside, dear. I’ll see you tonight.”
I was about to get out of the car when I looked over at the steps of the school. Paul Blofis was greeting a girl with frizzy red hair. She wore a maroon T-shirt and ratty jeans decorated with marker drawings. When she turned, I caught a glimpse of her face, and the hairs on my arms stood straight up.
“Percy?” my mom asked. “What’s wrong?”
“N-nothing,” I stammered. “Does the school have a side entrance?”
“Down the block on the right. Why?”
“I’ll see you later.”
My mom started to say something, but I got out of the car and ran, hoping the redheaded girl wouldn’t see me.
What was she doing here? Not even my luck could be this bad.
Yeah, right. I was about to find out my luck could get a whole lot worse.
Text copyright © 2008 by Rick Riordan
One: My Rescue Operation Goes Very Wrong
The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school. We picked up my friends Annabeth and Thalia on the way.
It was an eight-hour drive from New York to bar Harbor, Maine. Sleet and snow pounded the highway. Annabeth, Thalia, and I hadn’t seen each other in months, but between the blizzard and the thought of what we were about to do, we were too nervous to talk much. Except for my mom. She talks more when she’s nervous. By the time we finally got to Westover Hall, it was getting dark, and she’d told Annabeth and Thalia every embarrassing baby story there was to tell about me.
Thalia wiped the fog off the car window and peered outside. “Oh, yeah. This’ll be fun.”
Westover Hall looked like an evil knight’s castle. It was all black stone, with towers and slit windows and a big set of wooden double doors. It stood on a snowy cliff overlooking this big frosty forest on one side and the gray churning ocean on the other.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to wait?” my mother asked.
“No, thanks, Mom.” I said. “ I don’t know how long it will take. We’ll be okay.”
“But how will you get back? I’m worried, Percy.”
I hoped I wasn’t blushing. It was bad enough I had to depend on my mom to drive me to my battles.
“It’s okay, Ms. Jackson.” Annabeth smiled reassuringly. Her blond hair was tucked into a ski cap and her gray eyes were the same color as the ocean. “We’ll keep him out of trouble.”
My mom seemed to relax a little. She thinks Annabeth is the most levelheaded demigod ever to hit eighth grade. She’s sure Annabeth often keeps me from getting killed. She’s right, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
“All right, dears,” my mom said. “Do you have everything you need?”
“Yes, Ms. Jackson,” Thalia said. “Thanks for the ride.”
“Extra sweaters? You have my cell phone number?”
“Your ambrosia and nectar, Percy? And a golden drachma in case you need to contact camp?”
“Mom, seriously! We’ll be fine. Come on, guys.”
Copyright © 2007 by Rick Riordan
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