Silver blurs moved between the forest trees at great speeds. The dark sky stretched as far as the eye could see.
Dawn approached in the distance, the silver group continued their dash, wanting to arrive at their destination in time.
A blanket of light spread over the horizon as the group settled at the base of a large hill.
The two lead figures, Artemis and Thalia looked calmly at the pine at the top.
Thalia turned to her goddess. "With your permission, milady."
Artemis stayed silent for a moment. She knew Thalia was desperate to reunite with her family, specifically the daughter of Athena and the son of Poseidon.
"You may go Thalia. I'll speak with Chiron while the girls go to the cabin."
Thalia grinned, gave a bow then rushed ahead to the camp.
One of the newest Hunters walked up to Artemis. "If I may, where is she going?"
Artemis looked at her. She was a thirteen year old mortal orphan with black hair and brown eyes that had run away from a neglectful foster home.
"She is eager to see her family again, Michelle," the goddess replied.
Michelle was thoughtful to that. "I wouldn't know the feeling milady."
"You will soon my dear," Artemis said as she began the climb.
"Who's her family?" Michelle asked, keeping pace.
"Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena and Architect of Olympus; and Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon and Savior of Olympus."
"She ran off to be with a boy?" Michelle wondered why Thalia was still in the Hunt if she wasn't keeping her vows.
"It's not how you think," Artemis responded. She looked to one of her eldest Hunters, a daughter of Demeter with brown hair and green eyes. "Nicole, take the girls to the cabin. I'll inform Chiron of our stay. Michelle, come with me."
Nicole and the rest of the Hunt went towards the cabin ground while Artemis and Michelle entered the big house.
"What did you mean it isn't how I think?" Michelle asked. "How can it not be that way? She's our lieutenant and yet she's going off to see a boy."
Artemis stopped at the door and looked at her follower. Most gods would be annoyed at the apparent disrespect Michelle was showing. But she couldn't blame the girl for her confusion. She joined a few months ago and was still learning the many complexities of the mythical world.
"Percy Jackson is not one of the males I often speak ill of," Artemis said, "if anything, he stands as a beacon of hope that there are decent males out there. My last lieutenant died in peace, knowing that Percy was nothing like most men, and she was my most devoted Hunter. What does that tell you about him?"
Michelle was silent for a while. "He sounds..." She shrugged. "I don't know; like someone that'll be a good friend I guess."
The goddess opened the door. "Keep that thought for now. Let me know if it changes once you see yourself whether or not this man is worthy of respect."
Michelle followed her patron inside. The living room was cozy in her opinion. Leather couches faced a stone fireplace with a crackling fire. The walls had an assortment of masks from different cultures. It looked like a decent place to relax, although the stuffed leopard head above the fireplace unnerved her a bit. Then it snarled, and Michelle nearly had a heart attack.
"That thing is alive?!" She shouted, pulling out her hunting knife.
"Put that away, Michelle," Artemis said. "The head is harmless." I hope, she told herself.
Michelle had put away her knife as a man in a wheelchair entered the room. He looked beyond surprise to them.
"Lady Artemis," he gave her a bow from his seat. "May I inquired as to why you are here? You rarely visit the camp in person."
"Special circumstances have forced my hand, Chiron," Artemis replied. "I'm afraid things have not been peaceful for my girls and me. Monsters are appearing in droves and I fear for my Hunters' safety should I leave them alone."
"So they'll be staying here until after the meeting then?"
"That is the plan, but they might stay longer depending on how everything goes."
"What do you mean?"
"I can't answer that just yet. Anyway, I'll be staying with my Hunters until the solstice." Artemis left the room with Michelle in tow.
In the dream, Percy found himself in the Olympian Throne room. He stood in the shadows of Artemis' throne.
There were two other people in the room. The easiest to spot was Zeus, the most useless king in history, sitting on his throne.
The other person was kneeling in front of Zeus. As far as Percy could figure, the person was a guy about the same age as him, though it was hard to tell since (for some reason) he was dressed like an assassin from one of Rachel's video games that she got for the scenery.
Zeus addressed the man. "I have an assignment for you."
The man nodded.
"There are reports of a large concentration of monsters gathering in the far north," the god said. "My orders are that you and your three pupils track them down and eliminate them. Not just the main force, you are to dispose of anyone that would join the enemy."
The man stood and walked out of the room.
The room didn't stay empty for long. Four figures shimmered into existence.
Two of them were Apollo and Ares who appeared already sitting on their thrones. The other two were Hercules and Dionysus.
The last two were the ones Percy studied. Hercules was covered in scars; horrible, marring lines all over his face, arms and legs. Percy wondered who or what could have done such a thing.
Mostly so he could give a big thank you, since he had dreamed of doing something similar to that son of a gorgon.
Dionysus was in a similar state but his scars were more subtle. While Hercules' scars seemed like a punishment, Dionysus looked more like a warning.
"Have you completed the task?" Zeus demanded.
Apollo held up a sealed scroll. Ares pulled out a ceremonial knife. Dionysus showed a golden cup. Hercules had a crystal ball the size of a basketball whose insides moved as if filled with white smoke.
Percy had no idea what the objects were for, but Zeus seemed satisfied.
"Excellent," said the Sky God. "Now we can deal with that upstart without risking all-out war."
Ares grunted. "If it weren't for the fact that Aphrodite would side with that hooded freak and her crippled husband, I would actually welcome a war. There's nothing to do around here nowadays."
"I still don't get why we're all sneaking around like this," Dionysus said. "Can't we just blast the guy into ashes?"
"Because," Zeus growled, "that brat has most of the Olympians on his side. His influence over this council is one the main reasons we're ridding ourselves of him. And it must be done quickly. Before my sister Hestia steps down and offers her seat to him. My authority is challenged enough with him outside the council. If he's made an Olympian, it'll only be a matter of time before he challenges me for my kingship."
Hercules looked enraged. "He's going to be offered a seat on the council? Not even I was considered for that."
Dionysus smiled smugly. "In that case I'm better than you since I'll be made an Olympian if this works out."
Hercules' face was deep red with rage.
Just when it looked like he would erupt, he calmed down slightly. "It's too bad I can't tear him apart with my bare hands as payback for doing this to me-" he gestured to his scars. "-no girl wants me now that I'm all disfigured like this."
Percy thought that the scars were simply an easier excuse for the girls to use since they couldn't say something worse without consequences. He noticed Apollo looking smug about Hercules' statement.Of course the sun god would be happy; more girls for Apollo to flirt with and never see again.
"I'm here because I don't like that guy being so close to my baby sis," Apollo said.
"It doesn't matter why we want to get rid of him," Zeus said. "All that matters is that we will be rid of him. His very existence will be altered from everyone's memory, neither gods nor mortals will remember him. His legacy will be buried and credited to other heroes." He grinned. "With this in place, I can regain my power over the council, Ares can court Aphrodite, Apollo won't have to worry about Artemis and Dionysus can join the Olympian council once Hestia steps down."
Everyone looked satisfied with their plan.
Percy couldn't believe what he was hearing. The gods were willing to erase someone from history simply because they weren't getting what they wanted.
A strange feeling overtook him, he felt as if his whole world was spinning.
Then Percy realized it was spinning. His surrounding washed away. Ironically enough, he felt like he was in a riptide.
When Percy would focus again, he found himself in Artemis' shrine.
It was easy to tell it was hers. The walls were silver and painted with images of her and the Hunt. If that didn't convince you, the tall statue of the goddess herself flanked by two fearsome wolves ought to do the trick.
Whoever sculpted it did an amazing job. Artemis looked just as beautiful and dangerous as she always did.
"She is amazing isn't she?" A voice called out.
Percy was so entranced by the statue; he didn't even notice the assassin from before kneeling in reverence at the base of the statue.
"You can see me?" Percy asked. He never had a conversation in a dream before. Except with Kronos and Gaea, but they made the dreams that way.
Although there were his dream conversations with Grover… And Nico… And Annabeth… And Tyson.
Percy didn't talk to people in dreams often so sue him for getting freaked out.
The man stood, his hood fell down. When he turned, Percy was so surprised, he swore his eyes popped out of their sockets like a cartoon.
He was in a dream; maybe they did.
The reason Percy was so surprised was because the assassin looked just like him, a little taller and more muscular and with an intense aura of power but still Percy's twin.
Percy briefly wondered if this was how he appeared to his friends and enemies: god-like.
Dream Percy started laughing. Apparently Percy's expression must have been hilarious.
"It's not funny," Percy complained. "Who are you anyway?"
The twin smiled. "I would love to introduce myself, but I'm sure you heard what Zeus said."
"You're the guy they were complaining about?" The twin nodded. "Awesome work on Hercules. I've wanted to do that ever since I heard what huge pain in the podex he really is."
"He deserved worse for what he did to Zoe."
"You know Zoe?!"
"Of course. I'm the one who took her to the Hunt after all."
Percy felt a headache coming. "Wait, what?"
Dream Percy waved it off. "Not important. So tell me, how was your reunion with Calypso?" He wiggled his eyebrows.
Percy choked. "What the- how do you even know about that?"
A shrug. "I made it happen."
"What?" Percy shouted. "How? Why?"
"So you could get closure." Dream Percy dropped his gaze. "It was also my way of apologizing in advance for all the schist I'm about to put you through."
Percy appreciated the closure part; he and Calypso were on better terms now. But the other part bothered him. "What's going to happen to me?"
Percy's twin turned his gaze towards the statue. He looked at it with a dangerous expression.
"I don't know yet," he admitted. "The enemy is extremely unpredictable and very resourceful. My people are covering all the bases, but it won't be enough to prevent your involvement." He looked sadly at Percy. "I assure you, I had hoped to deal with everything in-house; but it appears I'll be dragging you and your friends to another war."
Percy's heart sank at the news. He and his friends just came from a war five months ago. They didn't need or want another war right now.
A century seemed like a better time gap between wars.
He stared at his dream self. He looked like he really regretted involving others in this war.
He voiced an opinion that popped into his mind. "What exactly is your role in this war?" The last thing Percy or his friends needed was for this guy to throw them into the fire while he did nothing; just like a certain king of the gods.
His twin made a pained look. "An indirect one unfortunately. The bulk of my power is focused on keeping the enemy leader from entering this realm. They'll have to be careful in their plans or they'll end before they begin."
"Sound good to me," Percy said cheerily.
The guy smiled. He approached Percy and placed a hand on his left pec.
"What are you doing?" Percy asked. "I don't swing that way, trust me."
His pec glowed. When the hand was removed, there was a tattoo glowing through the shirt. It was a stylish, blue, three point crown with a grey trident in the center.
"What's this?" Percy asked, tracing the tattoo as the glow died.
"That's my emblem, my symbol of power. The crown signifies your allegiance. It'll let my family, friends and enemies know you're part of the Monarch Empire."
Percy nodded. He wasn't sure who the friendlies were, but he was sure of at least five enemies he had to watch out for.
"So what now?" He asked.
The guy smiled. "Trust your instincts, and be ready. You'll be getting many unexpected reunions soon, and a lot more closure."
Percy groaned. "Annabeth is gonna kill me. I barely managed to dodge the Calypso bullet."
"She won't kill you," the twin assured.
"How would you know?"
"Because I'm talking to her right now, explaining all of this to her as well." He tilted his head as if listening to something. "She's extremely annoyed about the closure parts, but she'll be okay with it as long as you don't abuse it."
Percy felt ecstatic. "She won't kill me? That's awesome."
He got a mischievous smile from his twin. "If I'm right, you'll be getting two closures soon."
Percy wasn't sure how to feel about that.
"And you'll be quite surprised on both, especially the second one."
Before Percy could question him, the guy snapped his fingers and the dream began to dissolve. Before it ended, he heard one last thing.
"Trust your instincts. And remember, you'll see friends in unexpected places."
Percy woke up in his cabin.
He sat up in his bed, making sure not to disturb the sleeping Annabeth. He looked around with groggy eyes.
The cabin looked tidy thanks to Annabeth making him clean it.
The hippocampi Tyson made were still dangling on the ceiling. The newest addition would be the glow in the dark constellations he added with Rachel's help. He smiled sadly when he saw The Huntress. In a few days it would be the three year anniversary of her heroic sacrifice.
A knocking on the door shook him out of his memories.
He stood up, passing through the chameleon curtain that separated the back of the cabin from the rest of it, and opened the door.
He was immediately tackled into a hug by a silver blur.
He realized it was Thalia, and even more shocking, she was crying.
He quickly closed the door and locked it. Last thing he needed was for someone to spread rumors about a Hunter crying into the shoulders of a guy in green underwear.
He'd be jackelope in no time.
"You're alive." He heard Thalia murmured into his shoulder. Apparently she'd been repeating that while he was imagining being shot by arrows.
"Of course I'm alive," Percy said as he consoled his cousin. "I'm too stubborn to die."
She shook her head. "You're an idiot Percy." She seemed to have gotten control of herself a bit. "One whole year without knowing whether you were alive or dead."
Percy looked at her strangely. "What do you mean? Didn't you know I was in Camp Jupiter?"
Thalia stepped back, getting rid of stray tears. "Well, yeah. Annabeth message me about you being there and the whole ship building stuff in order to find you and then travel to Greece but..."
She took a breath. "I never manage to be in camp during the construction. I kept leading the Hunt all over, killing monsters and recruiting girls. The last I heard from Annabeth was just before they set sail. After that..." she waved her hand helplessly. "After that I had no idea what was going on with you guys other than the basics. Then I met the Amazons and the Orion fight happened. And now here I am. And here you are." She hugged him again. "I still can't believe it."
"Percy?" A voice called.
He and Thalia turned to the back of the cabin where Annabeth was poking her head out of the curtain. Her eyes widened when she saw Thalia. She rushed at the Hunter. They crushed in each other in a hug.
Percy smiled at the reunion. Something clicked in his mind. His dream had mentioned reunions, closure and unexpected friends.
He gazed at the two girls. He felt guilty interrupting, but he felt he had to talk about his dream to both of them.
"Um, guys?" Both girls looked at him without letting go.
"What is it Percy?" Thalia asked curiously.
"Yeah, Percy, What is it?" Annabeth said with a knowing look.
Right, Percy thought. She dreamt about the guy too.
Normally a thought like that would have bothered him a lot, but he knew it wasn't like that.
"There's something we need to talk about."
Campers began to fill up the dining pavilion, all led by their counselors. As they took their seats, the majority kept glancing at the head table where Chiron and two teen girls in silver were sitting.
The Greek veterans identified one of the girls as Artemis while figuring that the other one was a new Hunter she recruited.
Chiron called for attention when everyone sat down. "First, I would like to welcome Lady Artemis and her Hunters to camp," he gestured towards the goddess next to him and to the all-girls table.
The younger campers gave them large grins and energetic waves. A few Romans had a glint in their eyes that would send them to the infirmary if they didn't get rid of it soon. The Greek veterans simply gave them a respectful nod or wave. They knew not to push their luck.
The Hunters returned the greeting with a mixture of wariness, respectfulness or friendliness. It depended on the girl's particular man hating level.
Chiron made to continue when loud laughter interrupted him. The source was Percy carrying Annabeth bridal style while carrying Thalia on his back.
"Come on, Percy. Don't tell me you're getting soft on me," Thalia teased.
"You kidding me? I'm barely breaking a sweat here, especially when I'm carrying a skeleton like you."
"Watch it, Kelp Head," Thalia growled.
Everyone stared in disbelief at the trio.
Percy reached his table. He let go of Annabeth, who sat down.
When Thalia slid off his back, Percy told her, "You're eating a double serving of everything."
Thalia crossed her arms and glared. "You're not the boss of me."
"Sure I am," Percy smiled. "I'm your tall and handsome older brother figure. That means I get to tease you and annoy you beyond measure; it also means I have to make sure you don't turn into a famine victim."
"I am not turning into a famine victim, you idiot!" She shouted. "I eat just fine! Also I'm older than you," she added the last part as an afterthought.
"Technically, you're a few hours short of sixteen while I'm seventeen, so in truth I'm the older one." He crossed his arms in smug satisfaction.
"Guys!" Annabeth shouted. The cousins turned to her. "You mind sitting down? You're making a scene." She gestured around them.
They both looked sheepish at that. Thalia sat in a huff because she didn't win the argument. Percy made to seat down when someone caught his attention.
"Artemis!" He said in surprise.
The goddess raised an eyebrow. "Yes?"
Percy shook his head. "No, it's nothing. Just surprised to see you here. You look great."
"Do I?" She leaned forward. "Is that in regards to my physical appearance? Or perhaps you are referring to my state of being?"
Everyone held their breath, hoping Percy didn't upset the goddess.
"Both," Percy answered. "I mean, you do look great, but then again you always do."
He glanced at the Hunters. "Also you seem to be doing great too, I mean look at all the girls you recruited." He waved at the ones he was familiar with.
To the surprise of many, they waved back in earnest. "Any chance they'll take it easy on us when we play Capture the Flag?" He asked the goddess.
Percy saw a playful twinkle in her eyes as Artemis answered. "You'll have to wait and find out. Now sit down so Chiron can finish his announcements."
Percy gave an exaggerated and over dramatic bow before seating between Annabeth and Thalia.
Everyone who wasn't familiar with Percy stared at his informal interaction with the man-hating goddess. They also stared at the fact he was right next to a Hunter and hadn't been cursed or anything.
Chiron stomped his hooves to get everyone's attention. "Well, now that our improvised entertainment is over with-" Percy looked embarrassed at that while Thalia covered hers by glaring at Percy. "I know many of you are curious about yesterday's events."
"What happened was that a camp hero had returned to us, and he brought two new members to our eccentric family. Leo Valdez, son of Hephaestus, stand up."
Leo had been sitting at the Zeus table with Calypso, Jason and Piper.
He stood and spread his arms wide. "The Supreme Commander of the Argo II at your service." He gave a dramatic bow. "It feels great to be home again."
He gestured to Calypso. "This girl right here, her name is Calypso, I freed her from her island after I died and came back to life; if anyone messes with her, you'll have to deal with me, and Jason, and Piper."
Calypso pulled him in and whispered something.
"And apparently," he said, apparently not too happy about this next part. "You'll also spend a lot of time in the Infirmary, courtesy of a very angry Percy Jackson."
A lot of campers gulped at the last announcement. Sure, they were scared of the trio responsible for defeating Gaea, but an angry Percy would always be the stuff of nightmares.
"On that happy note," Chiron said. "Lady Artemis has an announcement of her own."
The guys weren't sure if they should look at her or not.
If they didn't, she would think they were ignoring her, and then she would curse them.
If they looked, she would think they were being perverted, and then she would curse them.
Being a guy was not a good thing in that moment.
"My announcement," Artemis started, "will no doubt surprise many of you; I have followed in the footsteps of my sister Athena."
She gestured to the girl in silver. The girl stood beside the goddess. She lowered her hood as Artemis continued, "I present to you, Selene Cadmus, my first and only daughter."
Silence enveloped the pavilion. They all stared in shocked at the news. Then the questions started: Who was the father? How was she born? Was she a demigod? Did she have the Hunter's immortality?
Artemis lifted her hand for silence.
She got it.
"The only details you need to know are simple; She's a demigod, she is to be treated with respect otherwise she'll send you to the Infirmary. That'll be all."
Both girls made to seat down when, "Lady Artemis."
The goddess turned to see Percy Jackson walking towards her.
"If I may," he said when he reached the table, bowing a bit. "I would like a word in private with your… daughter," he said the word like he didn't believe it.
Percy waited as the girls had a silent conversation with their eyes.
Artemis looked at him with cold eyes. "You may, though I should warn you to treat her like a Hunter if you know what is good for you."
Percy gave her his trademarked troublemaker smile. "I'll do better than that. I'll treat her like a lieutenant."
Artemis and Selene narrowed her eyes at that comment. It was too close to home for them.
All eyes were on the three of them. Those that knew Percy wondered why he wanted to talk to the daughter of Artemis.
Others were wondering if Artemis would disintegrate the demigod.
The Hunters glared at the boy. He was getting close to something they didn't want revealed just yet.
Percy knew all eyes were on him, but he ignored it. He had to confirm his suspicions. After all, his dream told him to trust his instincts and that his second closure of the day would be very surprising.
"Ready to go?" He asked Selene.
She waved carelessly as if to say: lead the way so I can get this over with; which Percy figured was true enough, but he could also see that she was trying hard to guard herself.
There was something about the conversation that Selene was not looking forward to and he was confident it also had to do with the fact she would be alone with him.
Percy led the way out of the pavilion. He caught a glimpse of Annabeth trying to interrogate Thalia about Selene.
He hoped he would actually get a straight answer instead of the whole, leave Percy in the dark until the last moment routine the universe usually employed. The First Great Prophecy being a prime example of that routine.
When Percy and Selene left, Chiron cleared his throat, an attempt to clear the stunned silence Percy created.
"Well," Chiron said. "That's all for now. Enjoy breakfast, and then carry on with your activities."
The campers tried to enjoy the delicious food, but their minds were overwhelmed by the revelations. They all had the same thought: these next few days will be interesting.