The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus 2) - Page 92


Beside one of the craters knelt a Cyclops in oversized jeans, boots, and a massive flannel shirt. His messy brown hair was spattered with rain and mud. When he raised his head, his big brown eye was red from crying.

“Close!” he moaned. “So close, but gone!”

It broke Percy’s heart to hear the pain and worry in the big guy’s voice, but he knew they only had a few seconds to talk. The edges of the vision were already dissolving. If Alaska was the land beyond the gods, Percy figured the farther north he went, the harder it would be to communicate with his friends, even in his dreams.

“Tyson!” he called.

The Cyclops looked around frantically. “Percy? Brother?”

“Tyson, I’m okay. I’m here—well, not really. ”

Tyson grabbed the air like he was trying to catch butterflies. “Can’t see you! Where is my brother?”

“Tyson, I’m flying to Alaska. I’m okay. I’ll be back. Just find Ella. She’s a harpy with red feathers. She’s hiding in the woods around the house. ”

“Find a harpy? A red harpy?”

“Yes! Protect her, okay? She’s my friend. Get her back to California. There’s a demigod camp in the Oakland Hills—Camp Jupiter. Meet me above the Caldecott Tunnel. ”

“Oakland Hills . . . California . . . Caldecott Tunnel. ” He shouted to the dog: “Mrs. O’Leary! We must find a harpy!”

“WOOF!” said the dog.

Tyson’s face started to dissolve. “My brother is okay? My brother is coming back? I miss you!”

“I miss you, too. ” Percy tried to keep his voice from cracking. “I’ll see you soon. Just be careful! There’s a giant’s army marching south. Tell Annabeth—”

The dream shifted.

Percy found himself standing in the hills north of Camp Jupiter, looking down at the Field of Mars and New Rome. At the legion’s fort, horns were blowing. Campers scrambled to muster.

The giant’s army was arrayed to Percy’s left and right—centaurs with bull’s horns, the six-armed Earthborn, and evil Cyclopes in scrap-metal armor. The Cyclopes’ siege tower cast a shadow across the feet of the giant Polybotes, who grinned down at the Roman camp. He paced eagerly across the hill, snakes dropping from his green dreadlocks, his dragon legs stomping down small trees. On his green-blue armor, the decorative faces of hungry monsters seemed to blink in the shadows.

“Yes,” he chuckled, planting his trident in the ground. “Blow your little horns, Romans. I’ve come to destroy you! Stheno!”

The gorgon scrambled out of the bushes. Her lime green viper hair and Bargain Mart vest clashed horribly with the giant’s color scheme.

“Yes, master!” she said. “Would you like a Puppy-in-a-

Blanket?”

She held up a tray of free samples.

“Hmm,” Polybotes said. “What sort of puppy?”

“Ah, they’re not actually puppies. They’re tiny hot dogs in crescent rolls, but they’re on sale this week—”

“Bah! Never mind, then! Are our forces ready to attack?”

“Oh—” Stheno stepped back quickly to avoid getting flattened by the giant’s foot. “Almost, great one. Ma Gasket and half her Cyclopes stopped in Napa. Something about a winery tour? They promised to be here by tomorrow evening. ”

“What?” The giant looked around, as if just noticing that a big portion of his army was missing. “Gah! That Cyclops woman will give me an ulcer. Winery tour?”

“I think there was cheese and crackers, too,” Stheno said helpfully. “Though Bargain Mart has a much better deal. ”

Polybotes ripped an oak tree out of the ground and threw it into the valley. “Cyclopes! I tell you, Stheno, when I destroy Neptune and take over the oceans, we will renegotiate the Cyclopes’ labor contract. Ma Gasket will learn her place!Now, what news from the north?”

“The demigods have left for Alaska,” Stheno said. “They fly straight to their death. Ah, small ‘d’ death, I mean. Not our prisoner Death. Although, I suppose they’re flying to him too. ”

Polybotes growled. “Alcyoneus had better spare the son of Neptune as he promised. I want that one chained at my feet, so I can kill him when the time is ripe. His blood shall water the stones of Mount Olympus and wake the Earth Mother! What word from the Amazons?”

“Only silence,” Stheno said. “We do not yet know the winner of last night’s duel, but it is only a matter of time before Otrera prevails and comes to our aid. ”

“Hmm. ” Polybotes absently scratched some vipers out of his hair. “Perhaps it’s just as well we wait, then. Tomorrow at sundown is Fortuna’s Feast. By then, we must invade—Amazons or no. In the meantime, dig in! We set up camp here, on high ground. ”

“Yes, great one!” Stheno announced to the troops: “Puppiesin-Blankets for everyone!”

The monsters cheered.

Polybotes spread his hands in front of him, taking in the valley like a panoramic picture. “Yes, blow your little horns, demigods. Soon, the legacy of Rome will be destroyed for the last time!”

The dream faded.


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