The son of neptune, p.61
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       The Son of Neptune, p.61

         Part #2 of The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Page 61


  “Amazons, forward!” On the largest forklift stood a girl who looked like an older version of Reyna, in black combat armor with a glittering gold belt around her waist.

  “Queen Hylla!” said Hazel. “She survived!”

  The Amazon queen shouted: “To my sister’s aid! Destroy the monsters!”

  “Destroy!” Her troops’ cry echoed through the valley.

  Reyna wheeled her pegasus toward Percy. Her eyes gleamed. Her expression said: I could hug you right now. She shouted, “Romans! Advance!”

  The battlefield descended into absolute chaos. Amazon and Roman lines swung toward the enemy like the Doors of Death themselves.

  But Percy had only one goal. He pointed at the giant.

  “You. Me. To the finish. ”

  They met by the aqueduct, which had somehow survived the battle so far. Polybotes fixed that. He swiped his trident and smashed the nearest brick arch, unleashing a waterfall.

  “Go on, then, son of Neptune!” Polybotes taunted. “Let me see your power! Does water do your bidding? Does it heal you? But I am born to oppose Neptune. ”

  The giant thrust his hand under the water. As the torrent passed through his fingers it turned dark green. He flung some at Percy, who instinctively deflected it with his will. The liquid splattered the ground in front of him. With a nasty hiss, the grass withered and smoked.

  “My touch turns water to poison,” Polybotes said. “Let’s see what it does to your blood!”

  He threw his net at Percy, but Percy rolled out of the way. He diverted the waterfall straight into the giant’s face. While Polybotes was blinded, Percy charged. He plunged Riptide into the giant’s belly then withdrew it and vaulted away, leaving the giant roaring in pain.

  The strike would have dissolved any lesser monster, but Polybotes just staggered and looked down at the golden ichor —the blood of immortals—spilling from his wound. The cut was already closing.

  “Good try, demigod,” he snarled. “But I will break you still. ”

  “Gotta catch me first,” Percy said.

  He turned and bolted toward the city.

  “What?” the giant yelled incredulously. “You run, coward? Stand still and die!”

  Percy had no intention of doing that. He knew he couldn’t kill Polybotes alone. But he did have a plan.

  He passed Mrs. O’Leary, who looked up curiously with a gorgon wriggling in her mouth.

  “I’m fine!” Percy yelled as he ran by, followed by a giant screaming bloody murder.

  He jumped over a burning scorpion and ducked as Hannibal threw a Cyclops across his path. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tyson pounding the Earthborn into the ground like a game of whack-a-mole. Ella was fluttering above him, dodging missiles and calling out advice: “The groin. The Earthborn’s groin is sensitive. ”


  “Good. Yes. Tyson found its groin. ”

  “Percy needs help?” Tyson called.

  “I’m good!”

  “Die!” Polybotes yelled, closing fast. Percy kept running.

  In the distance, he saw Hazel and Arion galloping across the battlefield, cutting down centaurs and karpoi. One grain spirit yelled, “Wheat! I’ll give you wheat!” but Arion stomped him into a pile of breakfast cereal. Queen Hylla and Reyna joined forces, forklift and pegasus riding together, scattering the dark shades of fallen warriors. Frank turned himself into an elephant and stomped through some Cyclopes, and Dakota held the golden eagle high, blasting lightning at any monsters that dared to challenge the Fifth Cohort.

  All that was great, but Percy needed a different kind of help. He needed a god.

  He glanced back and saw the giant almost within arm’s reach. To buy some time, Percy ducked behind one of the aqueduct’s columns. The giant swung his trident. When the column crumbled, Percy used the unleashed water to guide the collapse—bringing down several tons of bricks on the giant’s head.

  Percy bolted for the city limits.

  “Terminus!” he yelled.

  The nearest statue of the god was about sixty feet ahead. His stone eyes snapped open as Percy ran toward him.

  “Completely unacceptable!” he complained. “Buildings on fire! Invaders! Get them out of here, Percy Jackson!”

  “I’m trying,” he said. “But there’s this giant, Polybotes. ”

  “Yes, I know! Wait—Excuse me a moment. ” Terminus closed his eyes in concentration. A flaming green cannonball sailed overhead and suddenly vaporized. “I can’t stop all the missiles,” Terminus complained. “Why can’t they be civilized and attack more slowly? I’m only one god. ”

  “Help me kill the giant,” Percy said, “and this will all be over. A god and demigod working together—that’s the only way to kill him. ”

  Terminus sniffed. “I guard borders. I don’t kill giants. It’s not in my job description. ”

  “Terminus, come on!” Percy took another step forward, and the god shrieked indignantly.

  “Stop right there, young man! No weapons inside the Pomerian Line!”

  “But we’re under attack. ”

  “I don’t care! Rules are rules. When people don’t follow the rules, I get very, very angry. ”

  Percy smiled. “Hold that thought. ”

  He sprinted back toward the giant. “Hey, ugly!”

  “Rarrr!” Polybotes burst from the ruins of the aqueduct. The water was still pouring over him, turning to poison and creating a steaming marsh around his feet.

  “You…you will die slowly,” the giant promised. He picked up his trident, now dripping with green venom.

  All around them, the battle was winding down. As the last monsters were mopped up, Percy’s friends started gathering, forming a ring around the giant.

  “I will take you prisoner, Percy Jackson,” Polybotes snarled. “I will torture you under the sea. Every day the water will heal you, and every day I will bring you closer to death. ”

  “Great offer,” Percy said. “But I think I’ll just kill you instead. ”

  Polybotes bellowed in rage. He shook his head, and more basilisks flew from his hair.

  “Get back!” Frank warned.

  Fresh chaos spread through the ranks. Hazel spurred Arion and put herself between the basilisks and the campers. Frank changed form—shrinking into something lean and furry…a weasel? Percy thought Frank had lost his mind, but when Frank charged the basilisks, they absolutely freaked out. They slithered away with Frank chasing after them in hot weasely pursuit.

  Polybotes pointed his trident and ran toward Percy. As the giant reached the Pomerian Line, Percy jumped aside like a bullfighter. Polybotes barreled across the city limits.

  “THAT’S IT!” Terminus cried. “That’s AGAINST THE RULES!”

  Polybotes frowned, obviously confused that he was being told off by a statue. “What are you?” he growled. “Shut up!”

  He pushed the statue over and turned back to Percy.

  “Now I’m MAD!” Terminus shrieked. “I’m strangling you. Feel that? Those are my hands around your neck, you big bully. Get over here! I’m going to head-butt you so hard—”

  “Enough!” The giant stepped on the statue and broke Terminus in three pieces—pedestal, body, and head.

  “You DIDN’T!” shouted Terminus. “Percy Jackson, you’ve got yourself a deal! Let’s kill this upstart. ”

  The giant laughed so hard that he didn’t realize Percy was charging until it was too late. Percy jumped up, vaulting off the giant’s knee, and drove Riptide straight through one of the metal mouths on Polybotes’s breastplate, sinking the Celestial bronze hilt-deep in his chest. The giant stumbled backward, tripping over Terminus’s pedestal and crashing to the ground.

  While he was trying to get up, clawing at the sword in his chest, Percy hefted the head of the statue.

  “You’ll never win!” the giant groaned. “You cannot defeat me alone. ”

  “I’m not alone. ”
Percy raised the stone head above the giant’s face. “I’d like you to meet my friend Terminus. He’s a god!”

  Too late, awareness and fear dawned in the giant’s face. Percy smashed the god’s head as hard as he could into the Polybotes’s nose, and the giant dissolved, crumbling into a steaming heap of seaweed, reptile skin, and poisonous muck.

  Percy staggered away, completely exhausted.

  “Ha!” said the head of Terminus. “That will teach him to obey the rules of Rome. ”

  For a moment, the battlefield was silent except for a few fires burning, and a few retreating monsters screaming in panic.

  A ragged circle of Romans and Amazons stood around Percy. Tyson, Ella, and Mrs. O’Leary were there. Frank and Hazel were grinning at him with pride. Arion was nibbling contentedly on a golden shield.

  The Romans began to chant, “Percy! Percy!”

  They mobbed him. Before he knew it, they were raising him on a shield. The cry changed to, “Praetor! Praetor!”

  Among the chanters was Reyna herself, who held up her hand and grasped Percy’s in congratulation. Then the mob of cheering Romans carried him around the Pomerian Line, carefully avoiding Terminus’s borders, and escorted him back home to Camp Jupiter.

  LI Percy

  THE FEAST OF FORTUNA HAD NOTHING to do with tuna, which was fine with Percy.

  Campers, Amazons and Lares crowded the mess hall for a lavish dinner. Even the fauns were invited, since they’d helped out by bandaging the wounded after the battle. Wind nymphs zipped around the room, delivering orders of pizza, burgers, steaks, salads, Chinese food, and burritos, all flying at terminal velocity.

  Despite the exhausting battle, everyone was in good spirits. Casualties had been light, and the few campers who’d previously died and come back to life, like Gwen, hadn’t been taken to the Underworld. Maybe Thanatos had turned a blind eye. Or maybe Pluto had given those folks a pass, like he had for Hazel. Whatever the case, nobody complained.

  Colorful Amazon and Roman banners hung side-by-side from the rafters. The restored golden eagle stood proudly behind the praetor’s table, and the walls were decorated with cornucopias—magical horns of plenty that spilled out recycling waterfalls of fruit, chocolate, and fresh-baked cookies.

  The cohorts mingled freely with the Amazons, jumping from couch to couch as they pleased, and for once the soldiers of the Fifth were welcome everywhere. Percy changed seats so many times, he lost track of his dinner.

  There was a lot of flirting and arm-wrestling—which seemed to be the same thing for the Amazons. At one point Percy was cornered by Kinzie, the Amazon who’d disarmed him in Seattle. He had to explain that he already had a girlfriend. Fortunately Kinzie took it well. She told him what had happened after they’d left Seattle—how Hylla had defeated her challenger Otrera in two consecutive duels to the death, so that the Amazons were now calling their queen Hylla Twice-Kill.

  “Otrera stayed dead the second time,” Kinzie said, batting her eyes. “We have you to thank for that. If you ever need a new girlfriend…well, I think you’d look great in an iron collar and an orange jumpsuit. ”

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