Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Demigod Files
I was in fifth-period science class when I heard these noises outside.
SCRAWK! OW! SCREECH! “HIYA!”
Like somebody was getting attacked by possessed poultry, and believe me, that’s a situation I’ve been in before. Nobody else seemed to notice the commotion. We were doing a lab, so everybody was talking, and it wasn’t hard for me to go look out the window while I pretended to wash out my beaker.
Sure enough, there was a girl in the alley with her sword drawn. She was tall and muscular like a basketball player, with stringy brown hair and jeans and combat boots and a denim jacket. She was hacking at a flock of black birds the size of ravens. Feathers stuck out of her clothes in several places. A cut was bleeding over her left eye. As I watched, one of the birds shot a feather like an arrow, and it lodged in her shoulder. She cursed and sliced at the bird, but it flew away.
Unfortunately, I recognized the girl. It was Clarisse, my old enemy from demigod camp. Clarisse usually lived at Camp Half-Blood year-round. I had no idea what she was doing on the Upper East Side in the middle of a school day, but she was obviously in trouble. She wouldn’t last much longer.
I did the only the thing I could.
“Mrs. White,” I said, “can I go to the restroom? I feel like I’m going to puke.”
You know how teachers tell you the magic word is please ? That’s not true. The magic word is puke . It will get you out of class faster than anything else.
“Go!” Mrs. White said.
I ran out the door, stripping off my safety goggles and gloves and lab apron. I got out my best weapon—a ballpoint pen called Riptide.
Nobody stopped me in the halls. I exited by the gym. I got to the alley just in time to see Clarisse smack a devil bird with the flat of her sword like she was hitting a home run. The bird squawked and spiraled away, slamming against the brick wall and sliding into a trash can. That still left a dozen more swarming around her.
“Clarisse!” I yelled.
She glared at me in disbelief. “Percy? What are you doing—”
She was cut short by a volley of feather arrows that zipped over her head and impaled themselves in the wall.
“This is my school,” I told her.
“Just my luck,” Clarisse grumbled, but she was too busy fighting to complain much.
I uncapped my pen, which grew into a three-foot-long bronze sword, and joined the battle, slashing at the birds and deflecting their feathers off my blade. Together, Clarisse and I sliced and hacked until all the birds were reduced to piles of feathers on the ground.
We were both breathing hard. I had a few scratches, but nothing major. I pulled a feather arrow out of my arm. It hadn’t gone in very deep. As long as it wasn’t poison, I’d be okay. I took a baggie of ambrosia out of my jacket, where I always kept it for emergencies, broke a piece in half, and offered some to Clarisse.
“I don’t need your help,” she muttered, but she took the ambrosia.
We swallowed a few bites—not too much, since the food of the gods can burn you to ashes if you overindulge. I guess that’s why you don’t see many fat gods. Anyway, in a few seconds our cuts and bruises had disappeared.
Clarisse sheathed her sword and brushed off her denim jacket. “Well . . . see you.”
“Hold up!” I said. “You can’t just run off.”
“Sure I can.”
“What’s going on? What are you doing away from camp? Why were those birds after you?”
Clarisse pushed me, or tried to. I was too accustomed to her tricks. I just sidestepped and let her stumble past me.
“Come on,” I said. “You just about got killed at my school. That makes it my business.”
“It does not!”
“Let me help.”
She took a shaky breath. I got the feeling she really wanted to punch me out, but at the same time there was a desperate look in her eyes, like she was in serious trouble.
“It’s my brothers,” she said. “They’re playing a prank on me.”
“Oh,” I said, not really surprised. Clarisse had lots of siblings at Camp Half-Blood. All of them picked on each other. I guess that was to be expected since they were sons and daughters of the war god, Ares. “Which brothers? Sherman? Mark?”
“No,” she said, sounding more afraid than I’d ever heard her. “My immortal brothers. Phobos and Deimos.”
We sat on a bench at the park while Clarisse told me the story. I wasn’t too worried about getting back to school. Mrs. White would just assume the nurse had sent me
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