Piper was having a bad day, but it was better than Frank’s. They started out hunting down a monster that had been terrorizing Piper’s school. It had been causing her and Jason problems with their teachers and seriously messing up her GPA (the only thing worse than fourth block calculus is having to leave and fight a giant wolf with red eyes and razor sharp teeth). So, a few days into the Argo II’s reunion over February break, they decided to leave Piper’s dad’s house and go kill it. Because that’s what good friends do.
They followed the wolf through three different towns, fighting it a few times a day. It always slipped away when it started to lose a fight.
They found themselves fighting the wolf in the middle of a run-down McDonald’s. Jason was tangled in a bundle of wires that hung from the ceiling.
“I’m fine!” he assured her, “I barely feel the shocks!”
That wasn’t very reassuring, but considering he was a son of Jupiter, and was immune to electrocution, Piper figured that she had more pressing matters at hand. Percy and Annabeth stood at different doors, keeping the beast inside the fast food restaurant. Hazel had her spatha drawn and was keeping the wolf away from Leo. Leo was standing on the counter, spraying gas from the gas stove and lighting it on fire in short bursts, dousing the wolf with flames every time it threw Frank against a wall. Frank was doing most of the fighting. He changed into a large, golden lion and attacked the evil wolf claw to claw and teeth to teeth. The wolf was still larger than him, and much faster and stronger. The sight of them fighting made Piper glad she was a vegetarian. Fur flew from Frank’s mane as the wolf slashed its claws across his face. It was a nightmare. Frank just couldn’t keep up. The wolf teeth were black and sharp as knives, its claws were long and curved. Even its fur was hard and sharp, as it the beast was carved from rock. What was worse though, were its eyes. Bright, piercing red. They seemed to stare into Piper’s soul. She hated those eyes. When her friends said they would hunt the wolf down with her and Jason, Jason was thrilled. Even Piper was sure that the wolf would not be able to survive an attack from all seven of them. They had crossed the world! Fought giants! They had put Gaea herself back to sleep. They had among them a current Praetor of New Rome and two former Praetors. A master strategist and two people who had come back from the dead. But no matter how hard they tried, this wolf got the best of them.
The beast darted across the restaurant. Throwing off Frank and running to the door only to get a sword in the snout from Percy, running back to the middle to throw Frank against another wall (poor Frank), only to get sprayed with fire from Leo. Running toward Leo, only to get a jab from Hazel. Seven against one (six since Jason was indisposed) and they were still barely keeping it at bay.
Piper watched the action, trying to figure out how to help. It looked hopeless. She had fought the beast for months now, she knew better than to hope it would tire. Frank lunged at the wolf, mid-charge he changed from a lion to a bull. His head rammed into the wolf and sent it sprawling against the opposite wall. Piper saw that its stomach was also covered with hard, black fur. But as it rolled over to stand again, Piper saw a flash of skin, right next to its right front leg. She didn’t hesitate. She launched herself onto the wolf and brought her knife down to the piece of skin.
As she lowered her knife, time seemed to slow, she looked at the wolf and saw that it’s eyes started to glow brighter than before. Just for a moment the room was filled with red light. When the light subsided Pipers knife followed through towards the ground, but the wolf was no longer there. Instead there was, what looked like, a large crater that had opened up in the floor.
Piper didn’t have time to look at her friends before they were sucked into the void, screaming at the top of their lungs.
The good news: Piper landed on something soft, the bad news: that something was Frank.
“Sorry!” she yelled, scrambling off Frank’s stomach and standing up.
“Ugh.” said Frank, now in human form. He rolled onto one side and stayed there, keeping his eyes closed.
Piper looked at her friends, all of them had been sucked through… whatever that was. Now they were lying in the middle of what looked like a closed Barnes and Nobles. The wolf was nowhere to be seen. Probably good since Leo was clinging to the top of a large bookcase with his hair on fire, Frank looked as though he had fallen unconscious, Percy was cursing in every language he knew whilst digging himself out of a cookbook avalanche, and Jason, apparently having cut the wires at the perfect time to get sucked through the crevice, was untangling himself from the excess wire with his hair sticking up from the electricity. Not the best conditions to fight an unkillable wolf. Piper and Annabeth helped Percy dig himself out of the cook books while Hazel got Leo off from the top of a bookshelf.
Once the team was safe on the floor of the bookshop and everyone had escaped their entanglements, Hazel and Leo made Frank drink some nectar while Annabeth went outside to see how far they had traveled. Piper hoped they were in the Barnes and Noble a few blocks from her house, but she did not recognize the street outside the window.
“So”, Percy leaned back against a bookshelf, “portals huh?”
“I don’t know,” Jason ran his hands through his hair, “It’s never done that before.”
It hadn’t done a lot of things before the team started hunting it. Like scaling a building on the first day they found it, that was new, and the bark that made Leo go unconscious when he got too close on the next day, that was new too. In retrospect, the odds of that particular wolf being able to summon portals were pretty high.
“But Piper found a weak spot, right?” asked Hazel.
Everyone looked at Piper, apparently Hazel had been the only one to see what she was lunging for.
“It’s got a bald spot under its front right arm,” she said, “I don’t know if it’s a weak spot… for all I know it just activates portals.”
“Or,” said Jason “It knew where you were going to strike and made the portal to get away.”
Her friends smiled at her. It felt great to see them again, always cheering her on and encouraging her, she had missed them.
“Where do you think we are?” croaked Frank.
Yikes, thought Piper. He was a mess. He had two black eyes several cuts on his face and hands. And that was only what Piper could see…
“I don’t know,” said Piper honestly, “there’s a Barnes and Noble near my house so maybe--”
“No.” Annabeth walked back into the room and looked up from her phone. “We’re not in Los Angeles, we’re not even in California”
“What?!” exclaimed Piper, “we left the -- we left the state?!”
“Where are we then?” asked Percy nervously.
“Please say no farther than Oregon,” said Leo. They had told Piper’s dad and Coach Hedge that they would be back tomorrow.
“We’re farther than Oregon,” said Annabeth grimly, “We’re in Boston”
They all sat in a stunned silence for a very long time.
“We changed time zones?” asked Leo, “What time is it?”
Piper looked at him. They had been in California one minute and Massachusetts the next. They were closer to Camp Half Blood than they were to her father’s house but were still a long way away from any sort of safe place and Leo Valdez was asking about the time.
“It’s two hours forward.” said Annabeth, obviously thrown by the question as well. “We left California at 4:30 therefor it’s 2:30--”
“Does it matter?!” Piper exclaimed.
“Well that means we have two more hours than we would’ve had to find somewhere to sleep.” said Hazel, always trying to be the optimist.
“If we weren’t in Boston we wouldn’t need those two hours,” said Jason, “I mean--
He faltered, Piper understood what he was trying to say. This team had gone around the world, literally, but for some reason they had never felt as though they were lost. The team always had a plan, and somewhere to sleep. And now they had been sucked to the other side of the country.
“Has anyone here even been to Boston before?” asked Frank in a hoarse whisper. Piper winced,
Percy let out a small laugh and said “Guys don’t worry, we’re fine”
They all turned to look at him. He had three rips down the front of his shirt from the monster’s claws and his hair was a mess but he leaned back against a bookshelf, hands behind his head, like he didn’t have a care in the world.
“How are you so calm?” Piper felt like she was about to fall apart. She had never felt this far from home before. Even in Greece and Rome, she had felt more secure.
Percy just smiled and turned to Annabeth.
“Have you called Magnus yet?”
“No, he doesn’t have a phone but I have both Sam and Alex’s numbers. One of them as got to have eyes on him”
“Um,” Leo chimed in, “Who’s Magnus?”
“Magnus it my cousin,” said Annabeth, “he lives here.”
Hazel let out a sigh of relief.
“Does he have a place we can stay?”
“Well, he’s got a mansion that he rents out to the homeless for free so, yeah, I think he can set us up.”
“Your cousin owns a mansion?” gawked Leo.
“Well, technically I own a mansion. The lease is in my name.”
Before they could digest that and Leo could make a joke about it, Annabeth's phone buzzed.
“Oh great, they're all together.”
“What does it say?” asked Jason.
“It’s Sam, she says ‘of course we’ll help. Magnus thrilled. Meet us at Make Way For Ducklings statues. Split up. Boston not safe for demigods right now. No more than three to a group. See you then’ and a smiley face with glasses.”
“She wants us to split up?” asked Jason.
“Well seven demigods together does draw some attention.” Annabeth reasoned.
“I know but…”
He trailed off again but Piper finished his thought.
“We’re all going to the same place anyway right? Why split up only to get back together?”
“It might be hours before Magnus can get us a room. Or they’re thinking about taking us somewhere else. I’m not sure, but if Magnus says that Boston isn’t safe right now then we shouldn’t attract too much attention until we need to.”
“But your cousin… Mangus?”
“Right Magnus, he wasn’t the one who sent the text right?” Jason shifted nervously, not wanting to fight but obviously concerned.
Percy jumped in, seeing where the conversation was headed.
“We’ve met Sam. She’s cool, and definitely on our side. And she knows the area way better than we do. I say we do what she says. Okay?”
He didn’t wait for an answer. Right away he jumped to his feet and walked toward the exit.
“Percy and I will go see Magnus.” said Annabeth, making plans as always, “When we know where we’re going we’ll send you all an iris message. You guys send us one if you’re in trouble.”
“Okay.” said Hazel, clearly trying to show Annabeth that we trusted her cousin, “Frank and I will walk down that street towards that park. Do you guys just want to walk in the other direction?”
The question was directed at Piper.
“Sure.” she said, matching Hazel's can-do attitude, “It’ll be fine”.
She added a little charm speak into that last bit trying to reassure everyone that separating was a good idea. It seemed to work, everyone in the room relaxed a bit.
“Great.” Annabeth silently thanked Piper as she turned to walk outside. “We’ll see you all later”
She and Percy left.
“Has anyone ever heard of Annabeth’s cousin in Boston before?” Jason asked once they left.
“Yeah,” said Piper, “right before we went into Athens to try and stop Gaea, she said how she had been wanting to reconnect with him and her uncle who lived here.”
That did not seem to reassure him of anything but he just shrugged and nodded.
They all walked outside and parted ways. Piper, Jason, and Leo going in one direction and Hazel and Frank going in another.
About one street in, Piper realized something: it was February in Boston. To be fair, it was February in Los Angeles too, but February in Boston is much colder than February in Los Angeles. Piper and her friends did not have on the proper clothes.
Jason and Leo were wearing jackets that kept out some of the cold. Piper, however, was only wearing a thin long sleeved shirt. It wasn’t long before they were all shaking from the negative degree weather.
“Let’s go into a store,” said Jason, “warm up.”
Both Piper and Leo nodded in agreement and looked around. There was a coffee shop nearby but it was closed for remodeling. Piper was considering walking into what looked like a yoga studio when something caught her eye.
The store across from the coffee shop had a familiar sign. She read it and laughed into the street.
“What?” said Leo through chattering teeth.
“Sorry, but we have to go in there.” Piper, gesturing to the store, “I have to be a good sister.”
“What?” asked Jason.
“I’ll explain inside.” she answered.
That seemed quite appropriate, given the temperature, so the three of them hobbled into the shop with the sign “Blitzen’s Best”.