The Lightning Thief

Turtle And Hare 20

Grover, Percy, and Annabeth made their way to cabin.

Percy couldn't help be impressed by Artie. As they walked to the cabin, Artie hopped onto the roof of the amazing agility. Artie jumped on top of the railing, twisted midair as he jumped, and landed sitting down on the edge of roof with his leg hanging off. He was too busy selecting a song on his iPod to notice them approach. Grover and Annabeth begin calling to him, but Percy doubted he could hear them.

"I don't think he can hear." said Percy.

Annabeth bent down and picked up a pebble from the floor, "I'll get his attention."

"Wait, you're not seriously gonna — " Percy began to ask as the pebble flew from her hand toward Artie's head.

He was still scrolling when he caught the pebble with his free hand. He took out an earbud and looked down at his assailant. He smiled when he saw Annabeth.

She pointed to the floor as she stamped her foot, "Down here now."

Artie chuckled as he turned off the iPod and jumped down using the railing to split the fall in half and land at ground level. He smiled warmly to all of them which confused Percy. He seemed nice enough, so why was everyone scared of this guy?

Artie grabbed Grover and shook him in a bear hug, "Grover! Hows my favorite little cabra? Haven't seen you for months! How you've been?"

"N-n-n-nice t-t-t-to s-s-s-see y-y-y-ou too." Grover managed to get out as Artie shook him.

He put Grover down and picked up Annabeth by the waist lifting her over his head,"You have two seconds before I drop you like a broken shield to put me down."

Artie put her down and smiled, "Still sore about that chess game I see."

She folded her arms,"No, I'm not! Besides you cheated."

"It's not cheating if you're opponent is unaware of the rules." retorted Artie. "How was I suppose to know if you didn't know the En passant move?"

Annabeth held out her hand rather than answer, "Hand it over."

"Can't we talk about this?" asked Artie.

"You know it's against the rules." Grover said."It's for your own good,you know what happens when demigods use that stuff."

Artie held it up and Percy saw the iPod was encased in metal. It looked as if Artie had commissioned a golden case for mp3 player. Even the earphones were wrapped in the same metal, though much thinner and flexible.

"That's why I had Beckendorf makes this" Artie tilted to show how it caught the light. "It stops the monsters from locating me or anyone else who uses it."

She still held out her hand as Grover explained,"Still it's not worth the did you get it back anyway?"

"Not sure exactly how." Artie shrugged," You might wanna ask the Stolls. They owed me a small favor."

Annabeth got tired of waiting and tried to snatch it. Artie effortlessly moved just out of her reach and slipped it into his backpocket.

He smiled at her, "Nice try, princess, but you should know better."

Quick as a goat, Grover snatched the contraband from Artie back pocket while Artie was focusing on Annabeth. Before he could turn around Grover tossed it to Annabeth. She did her best to rub it in his face without speaking.

Artie gave her a slow clap,"Bravo! I'm gonna get it back one way or another."

She smiled like cartoon villain with a great plan.

Artie didn't like that look,"You wouldn't"

"Watch me." countered Annabeth before turning and chucking it as far as she can. Percy saw it arc high in the air before racing to the ground at breakneck speed.

Grover whistled as squinted to keep it in view,"New record for you, Annabeth?"

"Looks like it." said Artie, surprisingly calm. "Too bad we won't find out."

"Even you aren't fast enough to catch it in time." snapped Annabeth.

Rather than answer, Artie stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled. Percy knew what it meant, Artie had just signaled to something or someone.

Suddenly a loud screech came from the sky as a hawk swooped down and caught the projectile mid air. Without much effort it turned and made its way back to them. Percy didn't know much about birds, but even he knew the hawk was much larger than normal. It was just under three feet tall with a huge wing span. Percy guessed it to be a little bit over fifty-two inches, roughly four feet long. As it closed in he could see the talons were razor sharp like deadly needles that you did not want to be on the receiving end. It's tail feathers were brick red while it's underbelly was lighter than the back with a dark brown band across it. It's beak was short and dark with the hooked shape associated with hawks and eagles.

It stopped in front of Artie and dropped the iPod in his hands before landing on his shoulder and nipping his ear. Percy had seen bird handlers wear thick leather gloves to avoid being cut and scratched by the bird's talons, but Artie must have had really thick skin because Percy couldn't see a single scratch on where the bird perched. Artie took out a snack and hand fed the bird, a reward for a good bird made a weird guh-runk sound as if thanking his master.

"That's a good, Tobias." said Artie as he rubbed his neck.

Tobias seemed to stare at Annabeth. Percy wasn't sure,but it looked like it was gloating.

"Laugh if it up." She stared daggers at Tobias, "There's a reason you're called a chicken hawk. I'd like to introduce you to my friends, Colonel Sanders."

Tobias screeched and flapped open his wings as if challenging Annabeth to bring it on. In his anger, Tobias hit Artie in the face several times in the face as he flapped. Grover chuckled to himself and Percy did the same.

"Whoa, whoa. calm down buddy." Tobias looked at him and Artie petted his head as he baby talked a deadly bird of prey,"It's okay. The mean girl is just jealous. You look like nothing like a chicken." Artie looked to his right. "Grover?"

Percy held back a laugh as Tobias looked at him while Artie shot him a pleading look to agree,"Uh, nothing like a chicken."

That seemed to calm him down, but Tobias still stared relentlessly at Annabeth as if waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Artie seemed to notice Percy for the first time.

"You're the new kid, right?" He asked. "The one who beat the minotaur?"

"Uh, yeah." answered Percy.

Artie held out a hand, "Nice to meet you. Call me Artie everyone else does. Unless you can come up with another name for me."

Percy shook his hand wondering how could someone this friendly not have any friends here, "I'll stick with Artie."

He motioned to the bird on his shoulder with his head, "This is Tobias. He's been with me for a long time and he's my best friend. Say hello, Tobias."

The bird jumped from Artie shoulder to Percy's with a slight chirp and nipped his ear gently. Percy was surprised how heavy the hawk was. He winced as the Tobias' talons pierced his shirt and dug into his shoulder.

Artie took out another small pellet and handed to Percy."Here, give it to him. Just make sure to keep your fingers clear."

Percy held up the snack and Tobias snatched in a flash. Once he swallowed he cried gently before nipping his ear.

Artie smiled,"He likes you."

"Why am I not surprised?" asked Annabeth making no attempt to hide her sarcasm.

Tobias sort of hissed at her and dug his talons deeper into Percy shoulder. Percy yelped startling the bird. In a flash Artie put his hand on Percy's shoulder and returned Tobias to his shoulder.

"Sorry about that. I sometimes forget not everyone is used to having a hawk on their shoulder."

Percy rubbed his shoulder,"It's fine. Accident happens."

"I've been trying to get him to sit still long enough for a manicure." Artie explained. "But there's no reasoning with him."

Tobias cawed loudly opening his wings

Grover nodded and said to Artie,"He says he not some caged Aphrodite parrot."

"Yeah I got that much."

"All I got was Nevermore" teased Annabeth.

Tobias apparently had enough of screeched and flew off straight at her face forcing her to duck

Artie frowned,"Honestly, I'd expect a daughter of Athena to be above fighting with a bird."

"And I'd expect a child of Artemis to able to control one stupid bird." She countered.

Tobias screeched as small leather punch dropped on her head and flew off. Annabeth closed her eyes and took a deep breath as Artie snatched the pouch off. Grover looked away and Percy did the same, taking the hint.

Artie took out several pieces of papers from the pouch. "Shouldn't take me too long."

"What shouldn't?" asked Percy.

"Oh, I owe Beckendorf for the iPod case." said Artie. "He needs some gloves capable of handling extreme heat,much hotter than sent me the blue prints with all the measurements and specifications." He flipped a sheet. "I'm gonna have to use genuine dragon hide for this one. I think I have enough left over from last week."

"What are you talking about?" Percy asked.

"Artie is the camp's tanner and leather worker." explained Grover.

"Tanner?"

"It's the process of making leather from the skins of animals so they don't easily decompose." explained Artie. "You'd be surprised how badly the camp needed one."

"Normally we let the Hephaestus cabin deal with it,but it isn't exactly their field of expertise." continued Annabeth."We let them handle the small stuff. Mostly sword handles and easy stuff like that."

"Though they only know how to deal with basic normal leather." added Artie. "If something comes up ,like Beckendorf's gloves that need a rare hide, they call me. If it's made of leather I can make it. Waterskins, bags, harnesses, armor, quivers, scabbards, even boots and sandals."

"Of course the easy part is making the stuff." Grover told them. "Most animals aren't eager to be turned into a pair of boots."

Artie laughed, "You got that right. That dragon did not want to go down. Jason is out of the infirmary, right?"

"Yeah," said Annabeth. "Got out two days ago. Told me to say thanks for the quiver."

"Well its the least I could do. After his old one and him got torn to shreds by a steamed dragon."

A conch horn blew in the distance signaling dinner. Campers filed out of their cabins and headed toward the pavilion. They watched as campers walked or ran by with their friends and cabin mates.

"And I was just getting hungry. This can wait until tomorrow." said Artie stuffing the papers back int he pouch and tying to his belt.

He took a step and Annabeth stopped him, "Aren't you forgetting something?"

Artie looked down and saw he was still shirtless, "Oh right." He whistled and instantly Tobias flew out of the cabin with an emerald green Camp Half Blood tank top. He slipped it on and looked at Percy. "Race ya to dinner?"

Percy looked to Grover who smiled while Annabeth shook her head. telling him not to. "Why not?"

He took off like a rocket leaving them in his dust. Percy was sure it looked like he left an outline of himself in smoke like he had seen hundreds of time in old cartoons. He passed several campers and he thought they were laughing. Percy thought it was strange and then looked behind him. Artie was still talking with Grover and Annabeth,when Grover pointed to Percy. Artie shook his head as laughed to himself and then took off.

What happened next nearly caused Percy to trip and fall. Artie was blur. He seemed to materialized next to Percy,jogging backward keeping pace with him with no effort. Now Percy understood why the other campers were laughing. Apparently Artie had done this before with others.

He smiled, "Sorry Percy, I couldn't resist."

With that he turned around and gust of air buffeted Percy in face as Artie took off at breakneck speed, making Percy the proverbial turtle against the hare, only this time the hare would win.

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