A Good Start
After everyone packed, Argus drove the trio into the city. Both Annabeth and Percy had a bag with a change of clothes, money, and their weapons. Chiron had given Percy Riptide, a magic sword that looked like a pen until it was uncapped while Annabeth had her bronze her knife, Artie was another matter entirely.
Annabeth was concerned how light Artie had packed. All Artie had was a small leather satchel. It looked like it had a lot of room to spare with a small canteen of nectar hanging from it. His knives hung from his belt along with chain that lead to a pocket watch his uncle, Apollo, had given him. And of course the flying shoes Percy had given him since Chiron had warned him to to take to the air. The flying shoes had shifted into the Greek sandals Artie had always worn. Unless he activated them, you wouldn't have seen a difference.
Annabeth had seen the watch before. It was shaped like the sun though from far away it looked like a flower, a sunflower to be exact. She could also see he was wearing his magic quiver, a gift from Hephaestus from his first quest, which under the mist looked like a slim yellow tube used for carrying maps and paintings. Though she couldn't see his bow, she knew Artie always kept it close in hand, literally.
After spending so much time at Camp Half Blood, Percy stared at every billboard, fast food joint, and little children with their families. Artie caught him as he stretched to see an old fashioned McDonald's.
"Feels weird doesn't it?" he asked. "Spend enough time around a mythical camp for demigods and suddenly a Big Mac looks like the golden fleece."
"A little." Percy admitted.
It was mid afternoon when Argus finally pulled into the bus station, due to the heavy traffic. He unloaded their bags and made sure they had their tickets before waving goodbye and driving off. Percy and Annabeth passed the time kicking around a hackey sack they had found. Artie sat back on a bench and took out his celestial bronze encased iPod. He was about to his play when Annabeth snatched it out his hands.
"Pelo amor de deus, Annabeth!" complained Artie in Brazilian. "What do you have against Samba?"
"Nothing at all." She snapped as she pocketed the iPod. "But I do have something against being attacked when I have been away from camp less than an hour."
"Meu deus."Artie grumbled to himself. "Alright fine then. I'll just have to go Plan B"
"Plan B?" asked Percy.
Artie took out his pocket watch that Apollo had given him. The rays that surrounded it shined so bright they almost glowed yellow. The middle was a reddish orange like a sunset. Artie opened to check the time and then closed it. He twisted the top to wind the watch before pushing it straight into the watch the watch grew. A long bar sprang from it forming a neck of a guitar complete with strings and machines heads to tune it. The face of watch grew into the body with the rays of the suns melting together to form a wavy design. In less than a second Artie's pocket watch turned into an electric guitar complete with knobs and a whammy bar.
Artie strummed it. Normally electric guitars required an amp to play, but this one didn't ignored the amazed stares from Percy and Annabeth and began tuning it, turning the machine head while strumming until it sounded right to him. Tobias swooped down and dropped a worn flat cap at their feet before taking off again. Artie fished out a couple of drachma and tossed them into the hat as he began to play.
The melody sound familiar to Percy but he couldn't put his finger on it. It wasn't English, it had the sound and feel of another country ,somewhere from south America he guessed. He continued to think about as Artie began to sing softly as he played, that was when he remembered where Artie was from.
Veja como È rico o nosso riso
O sol È feliz de saber rir tambÈm
àgua verde rindo, mares vindo
Tudo È samba, e o samba vem sambar meu bem
Para ter um amor e um pouquinho de Rio
Onde a paixÖo È o riso de alguÈm
Vou te dar calor e um carinho de ritmo
Todo meu amor por natureza vem, vem
è tanta beleza a se perder de vista
Cidade floresta, meu cantinho quintal
Faz 40 graus para esquentar a vida
Faz uma batida pra ficar legal
Todo dia È dia de beijar o sol
Samba na batida projetos e rimas
NÖo tem fantasia tudo È carnaval
Artie's voice gently stopped as he continued to play the playful melody of his homeland. Percy couldn't understand a word of it but he didn't care, the melody mixed with the gentle tone of Artie's voice sent calming sensations to his body like a mother singing to soothe her crying child. Annabeth also seemed mesmerized by the song as she swayed side to side to the gentle melody.
Percy saw they weren't the only ones who were enjoying Artie's music. People deposited coins and crumpled bills in the hat at his feet. By the time their bus arrived, Artie had, with no real effort, made nearly one hundred dollars in coins and bills which he gave to the homeless man sitting on the bench a few feet away from them. To Percy's surprise there were even several drachma at the bottom of the hat which Artie made sure to pocket before giving the rest away.
Once it was time to board the bus. Artie simply squeezed the guitar from both ends and it shrank back into a pocket watch. He casually slipped back into his pocket. They boarded and sat the back of the bus.
"Where did you get that?" asked Percy once they found their seats.
"A gift from my uncle." Artie answered. "He gave it to me for my birthday last year."
"Your uncle?" asked Percy.
"Apollo, seaweed brain." said Annabeth. "He's Artemis' twin brother. That makes him Artie's uncle on the Olympian side of the family. He's also the god of music which explains the guitar."
Artie nodded, "Yeah, I learned to play when I was — "
Artie froze and frowned.
Percy wasn't sure why he stopped mid sentence, "When you were . . . "
Artie sniffed the air like a bloodhound.
"Not yet!" Annabeth instantly understood and began looking around, "We haven't even left yet."
Artie continued to sniff as he spoke and looked around trying to locate the source of the scent, "Never . . . smelt . . . this before . . . but I'm sure . . . it's close." He looked to end of the bus and his jaw dropped, "It's them."
Percy and Annabeth looked to the end of the bus. Three old ladies had just boarded. They looked like sisters with their matching purses and clothes. They had to be at least eighty years old, but based on their scent Artie guessed them to much older, several hundred years much older.
"The middle one is — ." said Percy.
"The Fu — I mean the one who attacked you at school?" asked Artie.
"Yeah." said Percy before turning to Annabeth. "I though you said it took them years to reform."
"I also said if you're lucky." snapped Annabeth. "Clearly you're not."
So we're stuck with three Furies on a bus, Artie thought to himself as he watched them
The middle one, Mrs. Dodds apparently, mark the floor with her shoe. It was so casual anyone could have missed it, but it was clear. No one was to leave. The old ladies sat near the front door as the rest of the passengers boarded and the bus left the station.
Artie gripped his knife as he watched the old ladies like a hawk, "Annabeth, please tell me there's a back exit on this bus." he said keeping his voice calm and quiet.
"They're blocking the only door." she whispered.
"Windows?" suggested Percy.
"They don't open." responded Annabeth doing her best not panic.
Artie looked out the window and saw they had a minute or two before the bus entered the Lincoln tunnel. He guessed they would wait until the bus entered the tunnel. It was a standard hunting technique, force your prey into an area where you could easily stop its escape. If by some miracle they managed to get off the bus alive, they would only have two directions to run; either farther down the tunnel or back the way the bus came in. He was sure if it came to a fight he would have to find a way to lead them outside where he had more room to use his bow without endangering the people on board.
Artie strained his mind to think of something, he looked to Annabeth who had apparently beat him to the punch.
"Here, take my cap," she said shoving it into Percy's hands.
"What?" Percy asked unsure what she meant.
"They're after you." she explained. "Put it on and slip past them."
Percy vanished the second the hat touched his head. Artie had to assume he went ahead and sat farther down. His heart stopped when she froze and sniffed the air. Artie carefully slipped a knife out of his sheath and folded his hands to hide it. He saw Annabeth keeping her hand on her shoulder in case she had to draw hers.
The bus plunged into darkness as it entered the Lincoln tunnel. The only light was coming from street light that hung in the tunnel itself. The Furies stood in front of them growling as their purses turned into burning whips. Along with the purses, the Furies shifted into their true forms becoming a cross between giants bats and grannies with a serious anger management issues.
"Where is it?" Mrs. Dodds demanded. "Where?"
"He's not here." Artie's grip tightened on his knife, "He's gone."
Both he and Annabeth drew their knives as the Furies raised their whips. Artie's knife was a hairsbreadth away from entering the nearest Fury when the whole bus lurched and skidding against the wall forcing him to crash into her. The Furies along with everyone else fought to regain their balance as Percy and the driver fought for the wheel which caused the bus weave,smashing countless car in the process.
The driver managed to regain control and took the nearest exit before stopping the bus near the woods and Hudson river. The driver opened the door and ran screaming followed by the rest of the passengers till only the Furies and demigods were left. Percy looked out towards the open door then looked to where his friends were finding their balance along with the Furies.
Percy took off the hat and shimmered into view. "Hey!" he called to Mrs. Dodds
She hissed as she turned her head and advanced towards him with her two sisters climbing over the seats. "You have offended the gods, Perseus Jackson. You shall die."
"I liked you better as a math teacher." he responded.
Dodds along with her sisters flicked their whips, completely forgetting about Artie and Annabeth who were creeping up behind them, weapons at the ready. Percy readied his own, uncapping Riptide allowing to grow to its full three foot length.
"Submit now." Dodds hissed . "And you will not suffer eternal punishment."
"Nice try." he told her.
Dodds lashed her whip and it wrapped around Percy's hand. Steam hissed from where it touched his skin, but he managed not to drop the sword. Annabeth stabbed the nearest Fury and she erupted into dust. This got Dodd's attention just long enough for Percy to free his hand and slash the other Fury as she pounced.
Artie jumped on the remaining Fury, stopping her from opening her wings. He managed to wraps his hands around her head and snapped her neck. It didn't even phase her as she twisted her neck till she was face to face with the demigod on her back and sunk her razor sharp teeth into his shoulder. Artie winced and returned the favor, biting down hard on her exposed neck. Needless to say, she let go leaving several small punctures in Artie's shoulder.
They separated both with each other's blood dripping from their mouths. Mrs. Dodds hissed at Artie who responded with a nasty snarl. Percy knew Artie was a tough fighter, but he never seen this savage side of him. With the way he stood and with the blood dripping from his mouth staining his tank top, he reminded Percy of one of those feral vampires that seem to be replacing the classic suave ones. Percy was so stunned he didn't even noticed what Annabeth was doing.
Using a t-shirt, she picked up 's whip and threw it around her. She yanked hard and sent her to the ground. Artie rushed and held her down as Annabeth began wrapping the whip around her legs. She bucked and screeched, completely drowning out the sound of thunder until Annabeth stuffed the burning remains of the shirt in her mouth.
Artie stood up and sniffed just as Percy felt the thunder from the storm shake the bus.
"Get out!" He yelled. "Now!"
Percy yelped at Artie blurred past him and plucked him like paper bag with Annabeth close behind. They made it out just in time as lightning struck the bus causing a huge explosions. howled and screeched as flames engulfed her and the entire bus.
"Está brincando" cursed Artie in Brazilian. "What does it take to kill those things?"
"Run." cried Annabeth."She calling for reinforcements! We have to get out of here."
Without looking back they plunged into the woods. Percy looked back and saw the flaming wreckage that was once bus still with a roasted inside. Then he looked at the darkness ahead and ran.
"Not bad for the first day." said Artie despite the huge bleeding bite wound on his shoulder. "I've had worst."
"Would stop talking like that?" complained Annabeth as she ran. "We're barely out of New York and we've lost everything. Our clothes, our cash. We don't even have a single toothbrush between the three of us."
"Speak for yourself." said Artie. "I still have mine."
Percy kept quiet. He was feeling uneasy. Not even two days out of camp and they were running through the woods in the rain with no money and no transportation. He doubted they would even make it out of the woods, let alone all the way to Los Angeles and back.
Percy had the feeling they had just jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The rain began to let up as they walked through woods. Artie was used to traveling in worse conditions with nothing but a pair of knives and the clothes on his back. Although he bandaged his shoulder with his tank top so it was just a figure of speech.
"So three kindly ones." Artie mused. "That's . . . unsettling. Still we'll be fine."
"But our bags were back there." reminded Percy. "All of our clothes, our food, even our cash. Everything."
"Well, maybe if you hadn't jumped into the fight —" began Annabeth.
"I couldn't just leave you guys there." defended Percy.
"I didn't need you to protect me." she said. "I would have been fine."
"Shredded like paper." Artie added. "But fine."
"Oh shut up, Pac-Man." Annabeth told him. "How did that Fury taste?"
Artie smacked his lips as he though about it, "Kinda like that time I ate expired terayaki jerky. Not the worst I've had, but I'm not eager to do that again."
"I think I'm gonna be sick." she moaned.
"That reminds me," he said. "I'm getting kinda hungry. How about you guys."
"Did you hear Percy? All our food was in our bags."
"Well, you're food anyway. I didn't pack any."
"We can't buy food, we're broke. Our cash went up with our food."
Artie held up his wallet, "I keep mine on me."
Annabeth looked skeptical, "I doubt you have enough for three all the way to L. A."
He opened his wallet, "I got maybe twenty dollars, but there's no need to buy food. Not yet anyway."
"What do you mean?" asked Percy, not sure he was liked where this was going.
Artie sniffed the air and smiled. He walked to a tree stuck his hand in the gap under the roots and pulled out something furry.
"There's a reason they say 'multiplying like rabbits'." Artie held up a hare y the ears. "They're plentiful even this close to a city and they're pretty healthy for you too"
Percy just stared at the terrified hare Artie held by the ears. It kicked around and tried run but it was well off the ground. It was a lot smaller than the rabbit Percy and Annabeth were used to seeing in pet stores, then again those did nothing but eat and sleep while these were wild,constantly fighting to survive.
Annabeth looked appalled "I am not eating that."
"Since when did you go vegan?"
"Then what's the problem? It'll take me two minutes to gut and skin this and you'll have the best cogumelos recheados de coelho you ever had."
"Cog-What?" asked Percy.
"Brazilian for mushroom stuffed rabbit." explained Artie. "Slowly roasted for a fire with the juices from the mushrooms mixing with the meat . . . my mouth is watering just thinking about it."
"That does sound good." admitted Percy.
"Percy!" cried Annabeth. "Look at him and then tell me that still sounds good."
Percy did and then he wasn't hungry anymore. He couldn't understand animals like Grover or Artie could, but he could swear it was begging Percy to let him go. He wouldn't want to be eaten himself, but he wasn't about to swear off meat all together. He was hungry that much he knew, but not that hungry . . . not yet anyway.
"I think I'll pass for now." he finally decided. "I can wait a little longer for dinner."
Annabeth smiled, but Artie just sighed as if expecting it, "Twenty-bucks says you change your mind by tomorrow night if we don't find food by then." He turned to the rabbit in his hand, "Looks like you get a free pass buddy."
Artie set him down but it didn't scamper off, not right away anyway. It went to Percy and Annabeth and nuzzled their legs before returning under the tree where Artie caught him.
"I don't suppose I could interest you guys in some free range pigeon?" Artie asked hopefully.
Annabeth didn't answer. She just pushed ahead muttering something about idiot and she was surrounded by them. Percy followed suited and trudged behind her. Artie just chuckled to himself and brought up the rear.