The Titan's Curse

Cutting Loose

"Let Artemis go!" Zoë demanded.

Atlas, her father, walked to the chained goddess holding up the sky. "Perhaps you would like to take the sky for her? Be my guest."

Zoë opened her mouth to speak, but Artemis shouted. "No! Do not offer, Zoë! I forbid you."

"Hoo-hoo" Atlas smirked. " See daughter? Lady Artemis likes her new job. I believe I'll have the Olympians take turn bearing my burden to teach them some humility."

Percy looked to Annabeth, her mouth gagged. She was motioned to Luke who stood to her side, but all he could do was stare at her. He hadn't noticed before, but something was different about his friend. Her blonde hair had a gray streak. It wasn't like Artie's that shone in the right light, but it was clearly stress induced.

"From holding the sky." Thalia muttered as if reading her friend's mind. "The weight should've killed her."

"I don't understand." said Percy. "Why doesn't Artemis just let go of the sky?"

Atlas laughed. "How little you understand, young one. This is the spot where the sky and ground first met, where Ouranos and Gaea brought forth their children, the mighty Titans. The sky yearns to embrace the earth and someone must keep it at bay. Otherwise it would crush down upon this place, crushing the mountain, and everything within a hundred leagues. Once you have taken up the burden, there is no escape." Atlas smiled. "Unless someone agrees to take it from you."

Atlas approached, studying Thalia and Percy. "So these are the greatest heroes of the age, eh? Not much of challenge."

"Fight us and find out" said Percy.

"Have the gods taught you nothing?!" Atlas snapped. "An immortal dose not fight a mere mortal directly. It is beneanth our dignity. I will have Luke crush you instead." He looked Luke over and frowned. "On second thought, perhaps I will have my newest recruit deal with you."

"New recruit?" Percy asked.

"Yes," Atlas grinned. "The first and only child of the moon goddess will make a fine addition. He won't even have to be trained. All that time in the wild fending for himself? Genius!" Atlas turn to grin at Artemis. "I'll have you to thank for that, my dear."

"Artie would never join you" Percy said.

"He has spent the last eight years honing an axe against her." Atlas pointed to Artemis. "The god who callously created him only to toss him into the wild to fend for himself. Not only watching as the boy, her first and only child, struggled day to day to survive, but allowing him to think he was the cause of his family's death. The same goddess that intentionally kept him the dark about his brothers survival." Atlas smiled wickedly. "I'd sooner take up the sky again than be wrong about him." Atlas tilted his head. "Ah, I think that's them now."

It was true. Like before, they heard the sound of guitar being played, slowly become louder and clearer. They were sure it was Jacob again, but it wasn't mariachi music. If Percy had to place it, it was a country song and would be right at home in one of Artie's westerns.

There was a boy from Rio and in the wild he roamed

At first he was defenseless, but then he called it home

With his wits and his body, he outran all his foes.

Revenge for his family was what he thought was owed.

Oh the mooooon, Yes the moooooon.

Beware all monsters.

The son of the moon.

Percy looked to Thalia. "Please tell me I'm just hearing things."

Thalia looked just as confused. "I wish I could."

"Strange." Zoë titled her head. "I think I hear drums as well . . . no, not drum but a deep pounding. As if something large is coming closer."

"Yeah." Thalia closed her eyes. "I hear it too."

Percy closed his eyes as well, but all he could hear was the sound of a guitar and Jacob's marvelous voice as he continued singing. Then just as Jacob's voice grew louder, Percy heard the pounding. He knew from Tyson and Polyphemus running towards him, a sound that deep meant something huge and most likely lethal was getting closer. He hoped Artie was alright. Then another thought came to him. If Atlas was right and Artie joined the Titans, it might not be such a good thing.

He'll fight the vilest villains too numerous to list.

Rendering his verdict with a blinding clawed fist.

He'll descend from the night sky just to make his new cape flow

Those who opposed him deserved the arrows he would throw.

Oh the mooooon, Yes the moooooon.

Beware all monsters.

The son of the moon.

Then they came into view.

All three of them.

Artie and Jacob both came into view just as half a dozen of Ladon's heads did. Jacob was playing an electric guitar that looked like bright shining sun and Percy knew it was the same one Apollo had given him and shrank down to a pocket watch. Each brother sat on a head which Ladon did not seem to mind. In fact, some swayed gently as Jacob sang while others lazily opened their mouths for Artie to throw pieces of jerky into. Everyone stared in awe at the two demigods. Together, they had not only freed Ladon from protecting his tree, but they had done tamed him. Something only Artemis was capable of.

But beneath it all was just boy, same as you or me.

His true woe he could never share, he was burdened so heavily.

But why endure such a lone crusade? Fight a fight you just can't win?

If asked the boy would tell you, someone gotta stand up to all this sin.

Oh the mooooon, Yes the moooooon.

Beware all monsters.

The son of the moon.

Jacob finished with a short but masterful solo and handed the guitar back to his brother who shrank it down and pocketed the watch. "That reminds me." Artie fished a necklace and handed it to Jacob. "Here."

Jacob stared at the necklace in awe. "How . . . how did you get this?"

"Um, uh . . . " Artie scrambled for an answer. "I'll explain later."

"I'd hate to break the touching reunion." said Atlas. "On second thought, no I don't. "What is going on?" He turned to Jacob. "Explain!"

"Allow me." Artie tapped Ladon gently and slid down in front of Atlas. "I just told Jacob who was really responsible for what happened to us when we were little., why I was forced to live like an animal while he was tortured with nightmares and visions of Thorn killing me and his mother." Artie looked up at Atlas who was nearly a foot taller and ten times as muscular. "I've said for years that Artemis would have made things alot easier if she just left me on Camp Half Blood's doorstep, but you're the real cause of it."

"Please, go on." Atlas grinned but folded his arms over his chest. "I'd love to hear how you came to this."

"Artie?" asked Zoë. "What are thee saying?"

"Atlas sent Thorn after me." Artie said firmly staring directly as the Titan. "I don't know why or how he even knew about me, but he sent Thorn to kill me and Jacob and his mother got in the way. Once I got to Camp Half Blood, he pulled Thorn back otherwise we would have run into him when Percy returned the master bolt." Artie's gazed to Jacob for a moment. "But you changed your mind, didn't you. If I could somehow survive all that then maybe I could be useful. So you recruited Jacob and waited so when we finally met again, I'd join the Titans."

Atlas grinned then howled with laughter, so loud and deep it sounded like thunder. "I suppose you wish to know why."

"No." Artie said flatly. "and I don't care."

"Then tell me boy." Atlas considered the boy in front of him. "What do you want?"

"I'll make this easy." Artie motioned to Annabeth and Artemis. "Let her go and get back under the sky."

"Oh," the smile faded from Atlas, no longer amused. "And if I don't?"

"Since I'm not a son of Zeus, Poseidon, or Hades I don't have the power to decide the fate of Olympus." Artie removed his sunglasses and tossed them aside."But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my friend go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

"I thought the son of Poseidon was dense." Atlas scowled. "You kill me?! Ha! I am immortal. You could not even hope to defeat me, in even your wildest dreams combines, let alone kill me.

"You're wasting your breath, Artie." Percy said. "He's too much of a coward to fight us. Says its beneath an immortal's dignity to fight a mere mortal."

Artie looked to the immortal. "You don't say."

"The boy speaks truly."Atlas smiled triumphantly. "You should all just give up!"

"So you won't throw the first punch?" Artie asked.

"Not even in a million years." Atlas smirked.

"Then allow me!"

While Thalia and Zoë were still getting used to how fast Artie could be, especially if he pushed it, but even Percy wouldn't have registered that Artie had moved if not for the golden ichor that splashed the front of Luke's shirt. It was that same liquid that coated Artie's claws and ran down the length of his arm, staining the moonsilver gauntlet and bracer, as well as Atlas's face which he covered, cursing up a storm in ancient Greek. Percy looked to Zoë and Thalia and they all exchanged nods and readied their weapons.

Atlas growled, his lifting from his face to reveal scars healing over. "You'll pay f — "

"No,"Artie slashed again, so fast that those that blinked missed it. "Now its your turn to pay!"

Atlas howled and stumbled backward. "AAARGH!"

Luke drew Backbiter and attacked.

His sword met Thalia shield just in time with a resonating clang and giant ball of lightning erupted between them, frying the air with yellow tendrils of power. Then they began fighting like demons. They snarled as they blocked, parried, and countered each others attack, lighting and sparks crackling around them.

"ENOUGH!" Atlas bellowed. "This ends now!" His silk suit melted and became full Greek battle armor and javelin appeared in his hands which he used to bat Artie aside like baseball at a Yankees game. "Now, son of Poseidon, go on then."

Percy swung his sword, but Atlas knocked him aside with the shaft like he had with Artie. He flew through the air and collided with a brick wall. At first, Percy thought it was a trick of the Mist, but it wasn't. Something was rising out of the ground, brick by brick.

"Fool!" Atlas said gleefully as he swatted aside Zoë's arrows like flies. "Did you think just because you challenged that petty war god, Ares, that could stand up to me?"

At the mention of Ares's name,a jolt when through Percy. He stood, shaking the daze, and charged the Titan again. The javelin's point slashed toward him like scythe. He raised Riptide, intending to cut the weapon in half at the shat, but suddenly his sword felt as if weighed several tons. Then Percy remembered what Ares had warned him when they first fought in Los Angeles, When you need it most, your sword will fail you. He barely had enough time to recall when the javelin caught him in the chest and sent him flying like a ragdoll. Percy slammed onto the ground, the world spinning. He looked up to see Artemis, still struggling under the weight of the sky.

"Run boy!" she said. "You must run!"

Atlas loomed over him. "Die, little hero."

He raised the javelin to impale him.

"NO!" Zoë shouted and a volley of silver arrows erupted from the underarm chink of the Titan's armor.

"ARGGH!" He howled and turned towards his daughter. "You will see how foolish it is to fight me."

Then more arrows sprouted down the Titan's left side, every single one hissing and dripping in steaming poison. Atlas cried out in agony and went down to one knee and turned to see Artie, walking slowly toward him. Blood was running down the side of cheek and he was bruised, but he hardly seemed to notice. As he walked, Artie removed his quiver and belt with his Kopis along with pieces of his armor.

"If I know Percy or Thalia, even Zoe, they won't give up as along as they draw breath and they know I won't either." Artie unfastened the fibula and his cloak fell to the ground. "But you also have another problem. For the longest time, I've felt more animal than human. Always making sure I don't lose control, not for one second or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, General?" He slipped off his gauntlets and tossed them aside followed by his bracers. "What I have here is rare opportunity for me to finally cut loose and finally let the animal out of its cage."

"No!" Artemis shouted. "Don't!"

But her words fell on deaf ears.

Artie's silver eyes flashed a demonic red as his claws fully extended and he dropped on all fours.

Then he pounced on the Titan Lord Atlas.

A/N - First off, apologies for the extra long wait and short chapter, but the holidays are becoming a bit taxing. Its also for that reason that I'll be taking a break until the new year (and my birthday) passes. I'm sure I'll find time between now and then to write, but not enough to update this or any of my stories.

A/N II - If you're curious to learn the melody to Jacob's song, "Son Of The Moon", please visit this link and you can thank those responsible for writing since all I did was rewrite the lyrics.

watch?v=8u1_Dqtc_bQ

Merry Christmas to all or Happy Holidays if you prefer

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