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Ah, to be a kid again. Well, physically at least. I can never again be as innocent as I used to be. 'Who am I?', you might be wondering. Or not. I'll tell you anyways. My name is Percy Jackson. Or, well, technically it's Perseus Jackson, but I just go by Percy. Why can I never be innocent again, you ask? I'm a demigod, and not just any demigod.

I am the demigod son of Poseidon and Sally Jackson, and I just have to say, it's nice not being the last demigod anymore. Being the last demigod hero in the world isn't fun, let me tell you. Especially when you're being chased by Giants. Especially that bastard Porphyrion. I can't even count the number of times I almost became grilled sea food for the king of the giants. Or, well, not technically grilled, but you get the idea. Polybotes was hardly a challenge in comparison, for all that he was born to oppose my dad. And by hardly a challenge, I mean he was a little less impossible to beat.

And now I won't have to deal with the giants for another five years. How great is that? Of course, I'll have to face other monsters, but that should be a piece of cake. I've been killing monsters for so long I can hardly remember a time when I wasn't. Or, well, they'll be a piece of cake once I get back in shape. Hey, that rhymed, sort of.

See, that's the downside to once again being a twelve year old. I've got a twelve year old's body. I'd never really cared about my appearance before, but seeing my scrawny preteen body was kind of depressing. I'd really need to work on fixing that.

You know what else is depressing? Homework. Going back in time certainly hadn't cured my Dyslexia, and it wasn't like I'd been doing a lot of math in between running for my life and facing down giants. Mostly running; even with the great shape I'd been in before I came back, I still certainly hadn't been able to fight all day, and the most I could do to damage the giants was trivial in the long run. With no gods left, there'd been no way of killing a giant in the longterm. Even before Apollo had died and before we- I could no longer kill the gigantes, they still tended to reform within a week. I could beat them to death all I wanted; they just wouldn't compromise on the 'death' part. It was honestly really demoralizing.

I think you're getting the idea of where I came from. That's right: the future. I came from the future. 'Bullshit,' I bet you're saying. 'Time travel isn't possible.' Well, I didn't think monsters were real about eight years ago. You've just got to learn to accept things like that. Want to know how I came back? Well, too bad. I'm sure you're all really great and trustworthy people- oh, wait, no I'm not. But really, I don't think there's anyone I can trust with a time travel method. Being all alone and hunted tends to make you paranoid. I'm no exception.

I mean, I'll still do the hero gig, but I'm gonna be questioning a lot more, and making sure the person I'm helping isn't a monster in disguise before doing anything. I was far too trusting last time, and I tended to get lucky quite a bit. I can't rely on that again. Just by coming back, I've changed things; in the short term, maybe for the worse. But I will not let it get as bad as it did last time; that's a promise. I'm not keen on living the greek apocalypse over again.

Speaking of the short term . . . homework. Yeah, I really hate math. Like, I would be fine never seeing any numbers over three digits ever again. At least I aced Latin; that time with the Romans really paid off, at least in that regard. On the other hand, I really really hate math. In case you didn't understand me, I really really really hate math. Ok, I think you've got the idea, and if you don't . . . you've got problems, my friend.

Back to the important matters; I'm in the past. And I gotta say, so far I'm really not having fun. I tried to stop my mom from getting stolen by Hades, but he just ended up sending a small army of skeletons at me once I took out the minotaur a little bit more easily than someone of my age and supposed experience should have been able to.

Now, normally skeletons wouldn't bother me, but again, I'm twelve again, with only Riptide in the weaponry department. If only I could just shoot them down from afar, it would be so much easier. The thing is, looking back on it, I realize that it's rather ironic that I wanted a bow to face the skeletons. I used to be pants at archery. But having Apollo's blessing does that to you. Makes you a better marksman; as far as I know, it doesn't make you addicted to bows. I was decent before the blessing; Apollo had decided to teach me enough archery to get by, partly to help me, and partly because we were both bored out of our minds. Running from giants was somewhat exciting the first time, maybe even the second through tenth times. After that, it just got repetitive and mind numbingly boring.

Getting a blessing from a god is a big deal. I know that, even after only being blessed once. But what a blessing it was! Apollo had blessed me as he lay on the ground, soaking ichor through his tunic. And I was glad he had in the months I'd had to survive without him there.

When you think of Apollo, you think of the Sun first. Then, you probably think of archery, music, medicine, and prophecy, in that order. His blessing gave me all of that. Where I'd been barely a decent archer before, even with Apollo's personal instruction, I suddenly knew how to shoot perfectly. It didn't make me a perfect archer right off; it took work, and I had to train my muscles to pull back the bow string. Let me tell you, shooting a bow and arrow uses entirely different muscles from swinging a sword.

And the flashes of precognition were particularly helpful. I'd only get them in battle, and at no other times, so it wasn't like I'd turned into a seer or taken the mantle of the Oracle of Delphi or something ridiculous like that. But I could see flashes of the future in battle; I'd seen those flashes when I faced the minotaur, and I was seeing them while facing the skeletons. It was actually pretty helpful when I was facing titans and giants; the early warnings made up somewhat for the fact that I was actually pretty physically inferior, strength-wise and sometimes in the speed department as well. Demigods are usually better physically than normal humans, but even we have limits.

And I think I'm actually a decent singer now. I tried all of once after the blessing, and vowed never to sing again, even in the shower. It was just so weird, having a good singing voice. I'm Percy Jackson, demigod hero and professional monster slayer. I am not and never will be a singer.

I didn't get any major powers of healing and I certainly didn't achieve the skill of any Apollo kid in the subject. The only thing I really noticed was a slightly faster regeneration from injuries; a healing factor, if you will. And when I say slightly faster, I mean it's hardly even noticeable. The only thing it's really done is heal some minor scrapes, bruises and rashes overnight. So, helpful, but any of the bigger injuries, I'll need water to heal.

The precognition was the main reason I knew I still had Apollo's blessing. What I wouldn't give at that moment for a bow and some arrows, so I could pick the skeletons off from afar. Don't get me wrong; I still love sword fighting. But you also need to understand that against some enemies, Riptide is no more than a toothpick. I preferred- and still prefer actually- to hit enemies of that level with a few sonic arrows before actually engaging in open combat.

I haven't mentioned any powers relating to the sun yet, have I? Well, that's because I didn't get any. Maybe I'm more heat resistant, but I was already pretty much flame proof from being a son of Poseidon, and I have no desire to reach my heat limit. So no, I didn't test that and I assume I didn't get any powers related to the sun. I don't feel more powerful during the daytime or anything either.

"Damn you, Hades," I growled out as I tore through a skeleton. "You're a vindictive bastard, aren't you? And you did it for nothing; I don't have Zeus' precious bolt," I told what looked like the leader before I sliced through his waist, separating his torso from his legs and dissolving him. I knew Hades had to be watching somehow; he really was somewhat of a sadist. After being forced to stay in the Underworld for Millenia, I don't blame him. Doesn't mean I wasn't majorly pissed off at his stealing my mother. I finished off the last of the skeletons and headed up the hill towards where Grover was still lying, passed out. The one good thing about fighting skeletons is that there's no blood or flying monster dust to mess up my clothes.

"Can you get him to the infirmary?" I asked the blonde girl on the other side of the barrier. "I need to go talk to Chiron."

"Yeah," she said. Nothing more. She seemed wary of me, which was really only natural after seeing me kill all those monsters with relative ease. Even in my twelve year old body, I'll still be one of the most powerful demigods in camp. Once I get back in shape, I predict I'll be back on the front lines as a leader. No, that's not any kind of prophetic power; just a hunch.

I did a double take, turning around and glancing at the girl lifting Grover. It was Annabeth. Now that I thought about it, I could vaguely remember Chiron telling me that Annabeth had found me and Grover the first time, back when I was actually twelve.

Now, Annabeth was a tricky subject for me. I had loved her at one point, and I'll always hold a soft spot in my heart for her. But she had been one of the first casualties in the giant war, and I hadn't seen her alive in three years. I definitely wasn't going to date a fourteen year old, especially because she wasn't the same Annabeth and probably never would be. I wouldn't dishonor her memory by getting together with her doppelganger, no matter how much I could probably convince myself that they were the same person if I tried.

I turned and began walking purposefully towards the big house. And lo and behold, there was Chiron, standing just outside. Thankfully, he'd had time to get ready; I didn't really want to see his hair in curlers. It was a pretty weird sight. His eyes widened when he saw me, and he visibly started. Probably hadn't expected to see me, or he'd have brought out his wheelchair.

"Ah, young Perseus," he said. "A pleasure to meet you."

"Drop the act," I said flatly. "I know you were Mr. Brunner and I'm not in the mood for games right now."

"Well then," he said. "Shall we head inside?"

"Might as well," I said, following him in.

"So," he said, turning around to face me as soon as I entered. "I do have a few questions."

"Okay, wait," I said. "I'll give you some information, and we'll see if you still have questions after that." He didn't look satisfied with this arrangement, but I continued. "Ok, so, first, yes, I did just kill a minotaur and a ton of undead soldiers. Yes, Hades did kidnap my mother, and yes, she is still alive. No, I did not steal the master bolt, or Hades' helm of darkness. My demigod father is Poseidon. Still have questions?" A little belatedly, a trident appeared over my head, glowing and everything.

"Yes," Chiron said drily. "Yes, I do."

"Fire away," I said, waving my hand.

"How did you learn about this world? You obviously are a bit more experienced than a new demigod."

"I went through Grover's things. He went through mine before when he was searching for the sword pen. So yeah, only fair. And then I found an Apollo kid kinda by accident. Michael Yew, I think? Anyways, you can check with him but I asked him some questions and he told me about the camp. And then my mom confirmed the information that she could." I had made sure to find Michael and ask him some questions, so he would end up corroborating my story. But I had lied about it being an accident. I still remembered his address from when I'd personally gone and informed his parents of his death. Others offered to do it for me, but that was one death I couldn't let someone else take credit for. Even if he had told me to, it had still been my decision to sacrifice him in the end.

"And how do you know that it was Hades who kidnapped your mother?" Chiron prodded.

"Really?" I shrugged when he continued staring. "I was attacked by a bunch of undead soldiers. Figured Hades had to be involved." Actually, I'm a bit thankful that happened now. My claims of it being Hades' doing would mostly have fallen flat if everything had gone the way it had the first time.

"Ah, fair enough, Perseus," Chiron said.

"Percy," I said firmly. "Just Percy."

"If that is what you wish," Chiron said. "How did you know that Zeus' master bolt had been stolen? I only learned of it two days ago, when Dionysus personally informed me."

"Ah, that," I said. "I did some searching after that Fury accused me of stealing it."

"Do not call them by their names or titles, Percy," Chiron chided me.

"Fine, fine." I actually wasn't used to not calling the furies by name. After Gaea took over, they were some of the few monsters to ally with me, other than Mrs. O'leary. They actually had been rather attached to the Lord of the Dead, and hadn't been too happy with the giants when they had killed the Furies' master. But now . . . guess I'd have to get used to avoiding their names and titles again.

"What did your searching turn up, then?" Chiron asked me, trying to get the conversation back on track.

"Not much," I admitted. I had researched it online just so I could say that I had, but it really hadn't been very fruitful. "But I do know that I didn't steal it. I don't have it on me and I don't know how I'd hide something like that." Not true. I could hide it in a backpack and give it to a questing demigod. Although, honestly, that was incredibly stupid of Ares. To be fair, though, he was being manipulated.

"And how do you know that Hades has lost his symbol of power?" Chiron asked. "I was not informed of this."

"Just an educated guess, really," I said. "I don't have any concrete proof but Hades seems to have specifically targeted me. He sent a Fury after me, as well as the Minotaur and the skeletons. I don't believe he would do that just for some leverage over Zeus and a weapon that he probably couldn't use to its full potential."

"So no evidence," Chiron said. "And please stop naming the monsters."

"No," I admitted, ignoring his request. "But it seems kind of fishy that Hades would kidnap my mom right when Zeus and Poseidon started fighting, or a little after."

"Judging from your answers to my previous questions, you most likely have a completely rational explanation, and I doubt there's any point in asking but . . . how do you know that Zeus and your father are fighting?"

"Well," I said. "Maybe it's the fact that there's a lightning storm going on, and there was pretty much a full force hurricane starting when we left Montauk. Not that the hurricane wasn't helpful when I fought the Minotaur and the skeletons, don't get me wrong. The water really made it a lot easier."

"How so?" Chiron asked, seeming genuinely curious.

"The water," I said "makes me faster, and stronger. I assume it's something from being a son of Poseidon. Whatever it is, I'm pretty thankful for it."

"Very well then," Chiron said, sighing. "Now that we've sorted out your information, and your sources, you might as well head to your cabin."

"Um, what?" It would have been nice to just have people know that I knew everything, but it would be really inconvenient if everyone knew that I'd come back. So for now, I had to let myself be shown everything.

"Ah, that's right," Chiron said. "You already knew so much that I forgot that you are, in fact, a new demigod. This way please." I followed Chiron to my cabin in silence. Luckily, he did happen to remember that I'd been claimed by Poseidon, so he led my to my father's cabin instead of Hermes'. I'd have to find some other way to meet Luke. While his long and somewhat maniacal speeches had gotten boring around the first time he'd recited one in my presence, he was a useful source of information, what with his habit of boasting. Come to think of it, he'd only really preached to me about twice; what can I say? I get bored really quickly.

And then there was the fact that I planned to save him; it wasn't his fault that he felt abandoned by the gods; since I was hoping to fix that little problem, and since he'd been genuinely regretful at the end last time, technically saving us all, I couldn't in good conscience leave him to die again. And yes, despite my acquired paranoia, I do still have a conscience.

"This is where I leave you, young Perseu- Percy." Chiron corrected himself, thankfully, which probably boded well for him remembering my chosen name in the future. Heh, in the future. Okay, I'll admit that really wasn't that funny. I don't know why I laughed, actually. I was probably delirious from lack of sleep.

"Night," I said, holding my hand up in a still wave as Chiron turned and presumably headed back towards the big house.

Sleep didn't come easily to me- it hadn't in a long time. I did manage to get some, at least, and being in my old bed in the Poseidon cabin helped somewhat.

When I woke up, I just splashed some water on my face to counter the lack of rest. Luckily, water had always been a little like coffee for me; it granted me energy in the morning when I was too tired to even think straight. It was really fortunate actually, since I'd never really acquired a taste for the bitter drink.

I was reminded of the fact that I was actually a new camper when Chiron stood up for morning announcements. "Good morning heroes, and welcome back to the camp for our non year-rounders. We also have a new camper. Please welcome Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon." I groaned under my breath as he sat back down.

Somehow I hadn't realized that when I had assured my early claiming, it would be broadcast across camp. I should have, I know, but I'd had a lot of things on my mind last night. So sue me. Or don't. I'd rather you didn't really; I have very little non demigod money and even less drachmas.

I regretted not having the chance to just be Percy; it was really frustrating last time, but I figured I could have handled it way easier this time. Well, I'd just had to go and ruin it immediately, hadn't I? Although I probably would have felt a little bad about being mistaken for an Apollo kid when they saw my archery skills. That certainly hadn't been a problem last time.

I'd just have to get used to being hailed as a son of one of the big three, without being known throughout the camp as a stand up guy first. Or at least an amiable sort- an average demigod like everyone else. Oh well.

There was a lot of clamor when Chiron announced my demigodishness and parentage, but it had died down by the time I was led around the training grounds by Grover. It was nice to see him again, even if he was a fledgeling satyr rather than a more experienced lord of the wild.

Of course, this time, he knew I was a son of Poseidon, so he actually led me to the pond and the canoes first. I spent almost the entire time smiling awkwardly at the Naiads. I could vaguely remember Annabeth telling me the first time that they were terrible flirts. That was one thing I could do without; being older hadn't made me smoother with the fairer sex, at all. I hadn't become some Casanova while fighting giants and running for my life. Especially with all the demigods wiped out, and only having Apollo for company for a good two years. I'm not into guys, at all, no matter what rumors people might have started up about me and Jason. In fact, just so you know how inexperienced I still am, I'll tell you this: I'm still a virgin.

What a shock, right? How can you have been a virgin at the age of twenty, you may ask. Oh wait, this is the first time I've told you my mental age? Oops. Well, now you might be asking that question. And I'll answer. Just so there aren't more unsubstantiated rumors about my covering up some one night stand or failed relationship or something like that.

Thing is, I like to have a connection with someone. Like, my sexual partner. Not that I've ever had a sexual partner, though I'd like to think Annabeth and I were getting there. But if or when I do have one, it won't be with someone I don't know or someone I'm just acquaintances with.

So yeah, I spent the whole time smiling awkwardly at the Naiads, and zooming around in a canoe way faster than it probably should have been going. But I enjoyed using my water powers, especially for something as trivial as canoeing. It was a nice change from summoning tidal waves and hurricanes and knocking myself out for days by summoning a massive storm.

Next, Grover took me around to the archery range, mostly due to my insistence. He actually had wanted to take me to sword fighting next. But I knew that I was still good at sword fighting, at least against monsters. I was confident in my sword skills, and I really just wanted to make sure that I hadn't lost my archery skills in the transfer. It had taken years to work my way up to my previous skill level, with training from the god of archery himself, and I just wanted to make sure that it was a skill that I could still count on.

It was a much better way of fighting giants than sword fighting for sure. I'd mainly tried to keep my distance and pick them off with various arrows that Apollo had seen fit to give me. Even after he was gone, I tended to prefer sonic arrows over fighting up close with Riptide. I tended to save that for the small fry, the monsters that I was sure I could take without being fatally wounded. You know, laistrygonians, hyperborean and southern cyclopses, hellhounds, drakons. Yeah, small fry like that. Most other monsters weren't really worth mentioning at all.

I rocked at the archery range. Well, not completely. It took me a couple tries to center my aim and my muscles were burning after only ten shots, but I had an Apollo kid nodding in appreciation of my talent, so I'm gonna say my archery skills have held up pretty well.

Next was the arena. It wasn't a very fulfilling experience, seeing as there were only a few kids from the Demeter and Hermes cabins fooling around. So I mostly kicked butt; I didn't really enjoy kicking butt, seeing as I'd much rather get some actual practice, but unfortunately, that wasn't an option. Too bad Luke wasn't there, really. Say what you will about him, but he's an extremely talented swordsman.

Sadly, I was as slow as I'd been the first time. Still unable to outrun trees. To be fair, dryads weren't actually trees; they certainly weren't unable to move. And most of them had been outrunning gods for centuries or Millenia, so I didn't feel horrible about my loss. It did, however, remind me that I really needed to get back in shape.

That night at dinner, I belatedly realize that I didn't really have any toiletries. I'd slept on the bed in the Poseidon cabin with only a thin blanket, and hadn't thought much of it, mostly because I'd been used to conditions like that in the future. In the other timeline, it had been Luke who stole some for me from the camp store. To this day, I wasn't sure if he'd been joking about that; what with him being a child of Hermes, it could very well have been true.

When we were sacrificing to the gods, I made sure to sacrifice to Dad first. "To Poseidon," I muttered. "Um, I hate to ask for favors when we don't even really know each other, Dad. But I kinda need allowance. Maybe just five drachma; enough to buy some basic necessities from the camp store." I really did feel kinda bad about asking for that, because it felt a little like taking advantage of my dad, since I was twenty mentally. I should have my own money. And also because I knew dad felt guilty for not being around and would probably agree to almost anything right now. I couldn't wait until I actually met him for real again and got all that sorted out, with quickly stifled tears, manly hugs, and some dad-son bonding time. Maybe this time, I could actually secure a visit to Atlantis without almost getting blown up in the process of destroying a monster cruise ship.

In the morning, I found five golden drachma under my pillow. Don't ask me how my dad had gotten them there, or how he managed to put in the fountain before I went back, because I have no idea. I always just chalk it up to 'godly powers'.

The next morning, I had a different god to sacrifice to. "To Apollo. Uh, I know you don't know me, but there's something I kinda need to discuss with you. I'm probably going to be getting a quest soon, so if you could just stop by for a chat . . . you're probably really busy with your sun chariot and all, but I'm not trying to get godly interference on the quest or anything. If you could stop by for like ten minutes during the quest, there's something I need to tell you personally." Hopefully, he'd listened to my rambling, and not just ignored it.

I mostly spent the next few days until capture the flag just obsessively training. Sword fighting, archery, interval training. I even took a couple tries on the climbing wall, lava and everything, though I wouldn't get back to my former ease with it for a while.

And then it was time. At least a hellhound would be easy to deal with if Luke brought one in this time. I'd chosen to side with the Athena cabin, mostly because I'd been avoiding Clarisse all week. I don't want to get the newbie introduction, but I also don't want to alienate her. So my goal was to avoid her for a year, until the Sea of Monsters debacle comes around. So far, it had been working pretty well.

"You're on border patrol," Luke told me. Even though everyone knew now that I was a son of Poseidon, I was still a newbie. Untested. And so I'd get the boring jobs, like border patrol, until I'd proven myself.

We were sort of friends this time; I'd made sure to spar with him a few times, and he had offered me pointers, even while praising my exceptional sword skills. The fact that I still couldn't beat him with all my experience just goes to show that Luke really was an extraordinary swordsman. Of course, that was mainly due to my reduced reach and average- poor for a demigod- physical condition. I was getting stronger and faster, but not as quickly as I'd have liked to. I was fairly sure that in a couple of years, I would be able to beat Luke nine times out of ten- not because I've ever been inherently better than him, outside of water, or because I'm some speed demon at full physical capacity, but because I knew how Luke fought. I knew his style and I'd been scheming up ways to counter it ever since I'd started planning on going back.

"Got it," I said. As he had before, he'd gotten me outfitted with a shield the size of an NBA blackboard. I'd considered grabbing a bow and arrows, but border patrol was a more close up job. I wouldn't have much time to shoot when Ares kids came rushing out of the trees. And I also just wanted to have some use for my sword in a straight up fight after using only hit and run tactics for so long. So I stuck with Riptide, and ditched the shield by the river. I'd pick it up later and return it; I'd used a shield before, but only the wristwatch shield that Tyson had given me. A big bulky shield would hinder me more than it would help.

The border patrol was mostly pretty boring until Clarisse came rushing out of the woods with her four siblings. The difference between this time and the first time this had happened was astronomical. Last time, I'd been a new demigod, inexperienced and genuinely afraid I'd be killed during the game. I'd also had practically nothing in the way of actual skills back then. Now, I was an experienced demigod and an expert swordsman. I was also confident that I could beat the Ares campers, and I was ready for their attack.

As soon as the five barreled out of the trees, I was on the left one, smashing the hilt of my sword over his head before ducking Clarisse's spear, which I made sure to slice in half as I ran past, body slamming the second nameless Ares camper into a tree; he crumpled and didn't get up. As the third went down from an elbow to the face, I took the opportunity to trip the fourth one as he came rushing at me. I crouched down to smash his face into the ground with the hilt of sword.

Clarisse looked a lot less confident without her cronies- ahem, siblings- and without her primary weapon. When I glared at her, still flushed with adrenaline, she held up her hands and surrendered. It honestly hadn't been what I was expecting. I'd been expecting Clarisse to be much more hotheaded and to fight against her inevitable defeat, but apparently she could recognize a lose-lose situation.

I supposed I was biased against her, due to our mutual animosity for my first few years at camp, and the fact that I hadn't really seen her since I'd come back, and so had been building up the image of a hot tempered bully. Which she was, somewhat, but evidently not to the degree I'd been picturing her as.

"I'm tying you to a tree," I told her. "No sudden moves, or I'll smash you over the head as well, ok?" She nodded, and I took a rope from where I'd left it near a tree and did just that. Luckily for her, she didn't try to struggle or sneak attack me. 'Why did I have a rope?', you might ask. 'Why not?' is my answer.

I heard cheering and watched Luke sprint across the boundary line twenty feet away, securing victory for the Athena cabin. That meant the hellhound couldn't be far behind. It hadn't been that long last time. Sure enough, thirty seconds into the celebrations, I found myself dodging a wall of black fur. I twisted past its next lunge, slicing it along its side with Riptide as I went. The cut was deep enough to cut halfway through the hellhound, and it was obviously fatal, as the hellhound exploded into golden dust seconds later.

Really, did you expect a hellhound to give me trouble? I think of drakons as small fry. That should really tell you something. Okay . . . to tell you the truth, even I had expected it give me trouble. Drakons aren't exactly small fry; it's just that sonic arrows take them down just as easily as they do any other monster, and I'd kind of gotten used to not having to face it up close with a sword. And I had faced hellhounds up close even just hours before I'd come back, but that had been with my older body.

I'd expected my lack of agility to be my downfall here. Which was why my quick victory over the hellhound was a little surprising. Well, I reasoned, it was most likely the fact that hellhounds telegraph their attacks a lot. Sure, they're fast, but when I see one leaping, I just have to roll or twist out of the way, and I'm safe. They never feint; it's always just a straight line, from their position to their demigod victim.

I heard a couple panicked screams from people who noticed the hellhound, but most people hadn't really had that much time to notice it. So I headed over to Chiron. "Uh, sir, are giant black dogs part of the game?" I tried to sound as young and naive as I could. For one thing, it would make sure that he didn't look too much into the fact that I was ready for the hellhound, and would just chalk it up to luck or good awareness. For another, it was actually a little funny.

"Uh, so it's not part of the game?" I asked as Chiron flinched and started pulling his bow off of his back.

"I already killed it, don't worry." He froze, turning his head slowly to face me. "It was over there, by where I tied up Clarisse!"

"Erm, yes. Very good, Percy. If you could untie her . . . that would be much appreciated." He didn't seem to be paying me much attention anymore, lost in his thoughts, so I shrugged and headed over to where Clarisse was tied up.

"Hey, good game," I said as I reached her and began to untie her.

"Maybe for you," she muttered. "You were ready for us."

Damn, I'd been hoping she wouldn't notice. But it was kinda hard for her not to at least guess that I'd known they were coming, given my literally immediate response.

"Yeah, I heard you coming," I lied nonchalantly.

"You won't get me so easily next time," she growled at me.

"Oh, I know," I said. She looked a little taken aback by that. Probably expected me to refute her statement or talk about how much of a one sided battle it had been. It had been, but mostly because I had eight years of experience fighting monsters, and she'd been mostly sheltered in camp since she arrived. That didn't mean she would ever beat me. She would probably be a teensy, tiny bit more difficult to deal with during our next clash, so I technically wasn't lying. But I'd mostly said it because there was no point in alienating her.

"Um, ok," she said, blinking.

"Your siblings are still where they got knocked out," I called over my shoulder as I began to head over to the celebrations that I knew were being set up in the pavilion. I didn't wait for her response. I probably should have waited for a thank you or something, but whatever. I just wanted to get something to eat and go to bed. I had a big day tomorrow.

I got to bed around nine, which was really rather early for me, but I knew I needed the rest. I woke up once or twice in the middle of the night, but managed to get back to sleep each time.