Something was very, very wrong.
Nico felt better than ever as he opened his eyes; stronger, smarter, and more powerful. But he had never felt more wrong.
He was laying on a plush blood red bed high on a hill over the ruins of Salona. He looked down at his body and saw he was wearing his old jeans, skull t-shirt, and aviator jacket, which had gotten destroyed that summer. How were they back now? His normally pallid olive skin now glowed with life and health. He had never been very muscular, but now they bulged all across his body.
For the life of him he couldn’t figure out what had happened. The last thing he remembered he was at Camp Half-Blood, and then...oh, gods. “Did that really happen?” he whispered to himself.
He slid off the bed and stood, and suddenly realized a much more apparent change.
Wings. Enormous black wings stretched out behind him, each one as long as his body. Where Cupid’s wings were like doves, Nico’s wings were like ravens. He tried fluttering a little bit, and they kicked up a dust storm. “What did Cupid do to me?”
“The best thing that will ever happen to you,” Cupid said, appearing from nowhere. “You’re a god now, Nico! Limitless power at your fingertips. Well, my fingertips.”
“What am I...what am I god of?” Nico stammered. He was having trouble processing this.
“God of all emotion! Lyssa, Pothos, and Eris, all of their powers are yours!” Cupid told him.
“Your powers too?” Nico wondered.
“Technically, yes, but let’s not get hung up on the details. The important thing is, you serve me and me alone,” Cupid reminded him.
“Yes, I do,” Nico said.
“With you aiding me, I shall be king of the gods! Come, we’re going to Mount Olympus to put Zeus in his place,” Cupid spat, his dislike of the thunder god evident in his voice.
“Fine. You already stopped the fighting?” Nico asked.
“What? No, don’t be silly!” Cupid scoffed at him. “This is the most fun I’ve had in centuries.”
“You promised!” Nico shouted at him. “You swore on the River Styx to stop the fighting once I became your champion!”
“I did no such thing. I promised that I wouldn’t make them fight anymore, not that I would stop them from fighting. So, in accordance with our deal, I will not shoot anyone else with arrows straying from Aphrodite’s plan. However, I am not obligated to undo any of what I have already done,” Cupid told Nico.
“You dirty, lying creep! You know what you promised me, it was made very clear!” Nico screamed, rushing forward and tackling Cupid.
“Nico, get off of me! Now!” Cupid yelled, but Nico refused.
“Fix this, Cupid! End the fighting!” Nico shouted in his face.
“No! You must obey me, Nico, you swore on the River Styx!”
“So did you, but you broke your vow! Now I get to break mine!” Cupid suddenly blasted Nico back with a wave of energy.
“Keep away from me, you scummy little brat!” Cupid screamed at him.
“You don’t deserve to be the god of love. The god of love should actually care about something other than himself! He should be loving and spread beauty. You don’t fit that bill at all,” Nico growled at him. “You don’t deserve the bow,” he said, and Cupid’s wooden bow shot into Nico’s hand. The white wood turned black where it touched Nico’s skin, and the color began to spread. “You don’t deserve the arrows.” Those too floated out of Cupid’s quiver. They stuck to the bow like iron to a magnet, and each one of them turned black too. The wood began to twist and grow, though Nico didn’t notice; he was too angry. “You don’t even deserve the quiver!” The quiver slipped off of Cupid’s shoulder and joined the strange object growing in Nico’s hand. He looked at it and saw that it had grown into a staff of dark, twisted wood, the branches at the top clutching a crystal orb. How he had made it, Nico had no idea. His new godly powers made no sense to him yet. But he felt what the staff could be used for.
“Most of all, you don’t deserve to be a god.” Nico thrust the staff forward, and the orb began to glow bright white. Cupid screamed in agony, and red wisps of energy trailed from him to the scepter. His wings began to decay and shed feathers, while his eyes lost their red glow, fading to brown. The wisps stopped coming off of him, and his wings crumbled to dust. “Go and join the mortal world,” Nico spat at him. “See how much fun it is when you’re on the other side of your arrows.”
“Nico...” Cupid whispered. “Please...”
“Begone!” Nico shouted, and Cupid melted away into shadow.
“Now what do I do?” Nico thought. He still had to find some way to stop the fighting. He did have Cupid’s powers now, so maybe he could just remove the arrows and get things back to normal. But first he had to figure out how to get around with his wings.
He tried flapping a few times, and he hovered a few inches above the ground. “Whoa,” he muttered. He flew higher, and he felt power surging through him. He let it build up inside him, and then released it all at once, propelling him through the air at lightning speed. He had never gone this fast, even when shadow traveling. He was above Camp Half-Blood in an instant.
He was prepared to fly down and stop a battle, but no one was fighting. Instead, he saw demigod corpses piled up on top of each other, with a few living teens.
He dropped to the ground, a kid near him yelped in alarm. “Ni-Nico?” he stammered. It was Clovis, the sleepiest demigod in camp. He looked wide awake now. His blond hair was matted with blood. “You...you have wings. You flew, and you-”
“Clovis, I need you to tell me something,” Nico said, folding his wings behind him. “Who survived the battle?”
“Who - oh, gods, no. Everybody,” Clovis whimpered.
“No survivors except you?”
“Kayla lived - daughter of Apollo. She’s healing the others.”
“Who are the others? This is important, Clovis.”
“Mellie’s okay, though Coach Hedge died from a blow to the head.”
“Oh, gods,” Nico mumbled. Coach Hedge was one of his closest friends, traveling with him across the world. But there was no time to grieve. “Keep going.”
“Little Harley’s alright, and so is Butch. Jason survived, but barely. Percy stabbed him, and Jason hit him with a lightning bolt. Jason also hit Annabeth in her neck, and she bled to death. And Percy decapitated Piper. Other than that, I’m not sure.”
Nico stood. So many were already dead, was it worth it to save who was left? If only there were some way to turn back time...
“Don’t worry Clovis, I’m going to fix this,” Nico told him.
“How?” Clovis asked.
“I’m a god. And a god can always find a way.”
He flapped his wings and soared away to New York City.
The metropolis zoomed by underneath him, just a blur of grays and browns. He unfurled his wings and slowed to a stop in front of the Empire State Building, home of Mount Olympus.
He touched down on the roof and heard civilians screaming on the streets below. The Second Trojan War was on in full force, for everyone. He shook off his worry and pressed the up button on the elevator.
The doors slid open and Nico stepped inside. He pushed the 600 button on the wall, and the elevator shot into the sky. It opened soon enough, and Nico walked out to Olympus.
He had been there once before, but...woah. Mount Olympus still took his breath away. The mountains floated in the air like nothing Nico had ever seen before. The place was littered with temples, each one shining like a beacon even in the bright daylight. Enormous plazas and beautiful statues were everywhere, dotting the enchanting landscape.
He suddenly remembered why he was here, and started flying towards the largest building. Soon enough he was standing in the throne room of the gods.
Zeus and Hera sat on enormous thrones at the head of the room, and Athena was reading a book on hers. The other nine thrones in the room were empty, their typical occupants off somewhere else.
“Zeus!” Nico yelled, and the king of the gods looked up at him. He squinted his eyes.
“Is that...Nico diAngelo? What are you doing in my throne room?!” he roared.
“I don’t have time for chit chat. Summon all the gods!” Nico commanded.
“Wha - a puny demigod, telling me what to do?” Zeus boomed. “I will smite you!”
“I’m not just a demigod.” Nico unfurled his wings, and slammed his staff on the ground, cracking the marble floor. “I’m a god. Now do what I say!” Nico tried to use his new power over emotion. Maybe he could make Zeus fear him.
It seemed to work. Zeus clapped his hands and all of the thrones filled with gods. Well, all but one. The throne between Ares and Hephaestus remained empty.
“Tell me how to turn back time,” Nico said, and most of the gods started laughing.
“You can’t just turn back time, kid,” Ares grumbled. “The only one who could even try to do that was Kronos, and he’s long gone.”
“I’m actually working on something-” Hephaestus started, but Athena cut him off.
“Didn’t we agree not to make a time travel machine?” she interjected. Hephaestus leaned back in his seat, pouting.
“Artemis, you control the moon. Could you make it spin backwards or something?” Nico suggested.
“I don’t think so. The most I could do is change the tides,” Artemis admitted.
“Not without my permission,” Poseidon grumbled.
“Apollo might be able to, though,” Artemis said. “Unfortunately Zeus banished him.”
“Well, then bring him back!” Nico yelled.
“You don’t understand, Nico. He defied me, and-”
“Don’t you understand what’s going on down on earth? The world is in chaos! And we’re the only ones who can stop it. Please, just bring him back, if only for a moment!” Nico pleaded. He tried using his power in a different way now, making the gods sympathize with the demigods and mortals below. Zeus almost looked like he was tearing up.
He clapped his hands again and Apollo appeared in the empty throne. “What the - Dad? You brought me back?”
“We need your help, Apollo. You are the only one who can turn back time with your sun magic,” Zeus told him.
“Turn back time? I suppose it’s possible, but I could never do it on my own.”
“We will lend you strength, brother,” Artemis told him.
“But time magic is the most difficult magic there is. Even with eleven other gods aiding me-”
“Twelve,” Nico added. “I’m a god too.”
“What? When did - you know what, I really don’t care. The point is, thirteen gods all working together may not even be enough.”
“Then bring more gods here, Zeus. Every god you can think of, whether they’re impossibly minor or primordial. We’ll need all of them if we’re going to save the world,” Nico told him.
He could feel Zeus fighting his magic. He really didn’t want to summon all of the gods. But Nico pushed harder, and Zeus’s will broke. He clapped his hands once more, and the throne room was suddenly filled to the brim with gods of every shape and size. He spotted Geras, the god of old age, and a shining woman who could only be Hemera, goddess of day. Every minor god he had ever come across or even read about was in there somewhere. Some of the gods didn’t even look Greek or Roman, decked out in Egyptian clothes or Norse garb. “Is this enough for you Apollo?”
“We can only hope,” the sun god said. He moved to the center of the room, and a miniature version of the sun appeared within his hands. “How far back do we need to go, Nico?” he asked.
“Four days should do it,” he told Apollo.
“Alright. Once we start, everything outside of Mount Olympus should go back in time.”
“Wait!” Nico shouted. He concentrated, and Cupid appeared at his feet.
“Nico? Have you changed your mind?” he asked.
“Never, Cupid. I just don’t want you to turn back into a god when we go back in time.” Nico looked up at Apollo. “Begin.”
“Everyone, lend me your strength!” Apollo called out. Nico gave him everything he had within him, and he immediately felt drained. Apollo began twisting the miniature sun, and the world around Nico began to shift. He could feel time stretching around him. He was tempted to leave Olympus and become human again, but he felt that he was one of the biggest contributors to Apollo’s magic. If he left, the spell would fall apart.
They all stood there for what felt like forever, and by the time Apollo called out, “It’s over!” Nico felt like he was about to pass out. Could gods pass out?
Most of the vanished, back off to wherever they were before. Nico stumbled over to the edge of the cliff, and far below him he could see Camp Half-Blood. His vision was superhuman now, so he looked closely and saw everyone running around, going about their daily business. No carnage, no battles, and everyone was still alive.
His heart soared when he saw Will Solace, alive and well, running across the commons area to talk to Jason. He looked really worried for some reason. What could that be? He thought back to that day, what would have happened then, around noon? Nico remembered he was chatting with Will in the infirmary about that time, but nothing really bad had happened.
Except...this time Nico wasn’t there. Will must have been talking to past Nico and suddenly he vanished. That had to freak him out.
But Nico could never go back to camp. As if he wasn’t already enough of an outcast, being the son of Hades and being gay, now he was a god. A freaking god! He seriously doubted there was any way to set him apart further.
He sighed and walked away from the throne room, the tips of his wings dragging on the ground behind him. He was more powerful than ever before, but he couldn’t have been more miserable.