The Mark of Athena
Until she met the exploding statue, Annabeth thought she was prepared for anything. She paced the deck of the Argo II, checking and double checking the ballistics to make sure they were locked in on. She confirmed that the white flag was flying from the mast. She reviewed the plan with the rest of the crew. And the back-up plan, and the back-up plan for the back-up plan.
Most importantly, she pulled aside their war crazed chaperone, Gleeson Hedge, and encouraged him to take the morning off in his cabin watching reruns of a mixed martial arts championship. The last thing they needed, flying a Greek trireme into a potentially hostile Roman camp, was a middle-aged satyr in gym clothes waving a club and yelling “DIE!”.
Everything seemed to be in order. Even that mysterious chill that she’d been feeling since the ship launched seemed to have dissipated. At least for now.
The warship descended from the clouds but Annabeth couldn’t stop second guessing herself. What if this was a bad idea? What if the Romans panicked and attacked on sight? The Argo II definitely did not look friendly. Two hundred feet long with a bronze hull, flaming metal dragon for a mast head, mounted repeating crossbows that could fire explosive bolts powerful enough to blast through concrete. Well, it wasn’t the most appropriate ride for a meet and greet with the neighbors.
Annabeth had tried to give the Romans a heads up. She’d asked Leo to send one of his special inventions, a holographic scroll, to alert their friends inside their camp. Hopefully the message had gotten through. Leo had wanted to paint a giant message on the bottom of the hull, “Wazzup?” and a smiley face, but Annabeth had vetoed the idea. She wasn’t sure the Romans had a sense of humor.
Too late to turn back now. The clouds broke around the hull, revealing the golden green carpet of the Oakland hills below them. Annabeth gripped one of the bronze shields that lined the...