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Page 1 ONE my RESCUE operation GOES an extremely WRONG The Friday prior to winter break, my mommy packed me an overnight bag and also a few deadly weapons and also took me come a brand-new boarding school. We picked up mine friends Annabeth and Thalia ~ above the way. It to be an eight-hour drive from brand-new York to Bar Harbor, Maine. Sleet and snow pounded the highway. Annabeth, Thalia, and also I hadn"t viewed each various other in months, but between the blizzard and also the believed of what us were about to do, we were also nervous to speak much. Other than for my mom. She talks much more when she"s nervous. By the time we finally got come Westover Hall, that was acquiring dark, and she"d called Annabeth and Thalia every embarrassing baby story there to be to tell about me. Thalia delete everything the fog off the car home window and peered outside. "Oh, yeah. This"ll it is in fun. " Westover room looked choose an angry knight"s castle. It was all black stone, with towers and slit windows and a large set of wooden twin doors. That stood on a snowy cliff overlooking this large frosty forest on one side and also the gray churning ocean on the other. "Are you certain you don"t want me to wait?" my mom asked. "No, thanks, Mom," i said. "I don"t know just how long it will take. We"ll it is in okay. " "But just how will you get back? I"m worried, Percy. " i hoped ns wasn"t blushing. That was poor enough I had actually to count on my mommy to journey me to mine battles. "It"s okay, Ms. Jackson. " Annabeth smiled reassuringly. Her blond hair to be tucked right into a ski cap and her gray eyes were the same shade as the ocean. "We"ll keep him the end of trouble. " My mother seemed come relax a little. She thinks Annabeth is the many levelheaded demigod ever to hit eighth grade. She"s sure Annabeth often keeps me from acquiring killed. She"s right, but that doesn"t typical I need to like it. "All right, dears," my mommy said. "Do girlfriend have everything you need?" "Yes, Ms. Jackson," Thalia said. "Thanks for the ride. " "Extra sweaters? You have my cell phone number?" "Mom—" "Your ambrosia and also nectar, Percy? and also a gold drachma in instance you need to contact camp?" "Mom, seriously! We"ll be fine. Come on, guys. " She looked a small hurt, and I was sorry about that, yet I was prepared to be out of that car. If my mother told one an ext story around how cute ns looked in the bathtub when i was three years old, ns was going come burrow right into the snow and also freeze myself come death. Annabeth and also Thalia complied with me outside. The wind blew right through mine coat like ice daggers. once my mother"s car was out of sight, Thalia said, "Your mommy is for this reason cool, Percy. " "She"s quite okay," ns admitted. "What around you? girlfriend ever call your mom?" As quickly as I stated it, ns wished ns hadn"t. Thalia was great at offering evil looks, what v the punk clothes she always wears—the ripped-up military jacket, black leather pants and also chain jewelry, the black color eyeliner and also those intense blue eyes. But the look she offered me now was a perfect angry "ten. " "If the was any of your business, Percy—" "We"d much better get inside," Annabeth interrupted. "Grover will be waiting. " Thalia looked at the castle and also shivered. "You"re right. Ns wonder what he uncovered here the made him send the distress call. " i stared up in ~ the dark towers the Westover Hall. "Nothing good," i guessed. The oak doors groaned open, and also the 3 of us stepped into the entry hall in a swirl the snow. all I could say was, "Whoa. " The place was huge. The walls were inside wall with battle flags and also weapon displays: neck rifles, battle axes, and a bunch of other stuff. Ns mean, ns knew Westover to be a military school and all, yet the decorations seemed favor overkill. Literally. mine hand checked out my pocket, wherein I kept my lethal ballpoint pen, Riptide. I could currently sense something dorn in this place. Other dangerous. Thalia was rubbing her silver bracelet, her favourite magic item. Ns knew we were thinking the exact same thing. A fight to be coming. Annabeth started to say, "I wonder where—" The doors slammed shut behind us. "Oo-kay," i mumbled. "Guess we"ll stay awhile. " I could hear music echoing native the other finish of the hall. The sounded choose dance music. we stashed ours overnight bags behind a pillar and also started under the hall. Us hadn"t gone an extremely far as soon as I heard footsteps top top the rock floor, and a man and also woman marched out of the shadows to intercept us. castle both had short gray hair and black military-style uniforms through red trim. The woman had a wispy mustache, and the man was clean-shaven, which seemed kind of backward to me. Castle both walked stiffly, prefer they had actually broomsticks tape-recorded to their spines. "Well?" the mrs demanded. "What space you act here?" "Um…" i realized ns hadn"t planned for this. I"d to be so concentrated on obtaining to Grover and also finding out what to be wrong, i hadn"t thought about that someone can question three kids sneaking right into the college at night. We hadn"t talked at every in the car about how we would gain inside. Ns said, "Ma"am, we"re just—" "Ha!" the male snapped, which make me jump. "Visitors space not permitted at the dance! friend shall it is in eee-jected!" He had actually an accent—French, maybe. He pronounced his J like in Jacques, He was tall, through a hawkish face. His nostrils flared as soon as he spoke, which made that really tough not to stare up his nose, and his eyes were two various colors—one brown, one blue—like one alley cat"s. ns figured he was about to toss us into the snow, however then Thalia stepped forward and also did something an extremely weird. She snapped her fingers. The sound to be sharp and loud. Probably it was just my imagination, yet I feel a gust of wind ripple out from her hand, across the room. The washed over every one of us, do the banners rustle ~ above the walls. "Oh, yet we"re no visitors, sir," Thalia said. "We go to institution here. Friend remember: I"m Thalia. And also this is Annabeth and Percy. We"re in the eighth grade. " The male teacher small his two-colored eyes. I didn"t understand what Thalia was thinking. Currently we"d probably gain punished for lying and also thrown into the snow. But the male seemed to be hesitating. the looked at his colleague. "Ms. Gottschalk, perform you know these students?" in spite of the hazard we were in, I had actually to bite mine tongue to keep from laughing. A teacher named obtained Chalk? He had actually to be kidding. The woman blinked, prefer someone had actually just woken her up from a trance. "I… yes. I believe I do, sir. " She frowned in ~ us. "Annabeth. Thalia. Percy. What room you doing away from the gymnasium?" prior to we could answer, i heard an ext footsteps, and also Grover ran up, breathless. "You do it! You—" the stopped brief when he saw the teachers. "Oh, Mrs. Gottschalk. Dr. Thorn! I, uh—" "What is it, Mr. Underwood?" said the man. His ton made it clear the he detested Grover. "What do you mean, they made it? this students live here. " Grover swallowed. "Yes, sir. Of course, Dr. Thorn. I just meant, I"m so glad they made… the punch for the dance! The beat is great. And also they made it!" Dr. Mandrel glared at us. I determined one of his eyes had to it is in fake. The brown one? The blue one? he looked favor he wanted to pitch united state off the castle"s highest tower, yet then Mrs. Gottschalk said dreamily, "Yes, the beat is excellent. Currently run along, every one of you. You are not to leaving the gymnasium again!" us didn"t wait to be told twice. We left v a most "Yes, ma"ams" and also "Yes, sirs" and also a pair of salutes, just due to the fact that it seemed prefer the point to do. Grover hustled us down the room in the direction that the music. I can feel the teachers" eye on mine back, but I walked carefully to Thalia and also asked in a low voice, "How go you do that finger-snap thing?" "You average the Mist? Hasn"t Chiron displayed you exactly how to do that yet?" one uncomfortable lump created in mine throat. Chiron to be our head trainer at camp, yet he"d never shown me anything like that. Why had actually he presented Thalia and not me? Grover hurried us to a door that had GYM created on the glass. Also with mine dyslexia, I could read that much. "That to be close!" Grover said. "Thank the gods you gained here!" Annabeth and Thalia both hugged Grover. I offered him a large high five. the was good to view him ~ so many months. He"d gotten a tiny taller and also had sprouted a couple of more whiskers, yet otherwise he looked like he constantly did as soon as he passed because that human—a red lid on his curly brown hair to hide his goat horns, baggy jeans and sneakers with fake feet come hide his furry legs and hooves. He to be wearing a black T-shirt the took me a couple of seconds come read. It stated WESTOVER HALL: GRUNT. Ns wasn"t certain whether the was, like, Grover"s rank or maybe simply the school motto. "So what"s the emergency?" ns asked. Grover took a deep breath. "I uncovered two. " "Two half-bloods?" Thalia asked, amazed. "Here?" Grover nodded. finding one half-blood was rare enough. This year, Chiron had put the satyrs on emergency overtime and sent them everywhere the country, scouring colleges from 4th grade v high school for possible recruits. These were desperate times. Us were shedding campers. We essential all the new fighters we can find. The problem was, there simply weren"t that countless demigods the end there. "A brother and a sister," that said. "They"re ten and twelve. Ns don"t understand their parentage, but they"re strong. We"re running the end of time, though. I need help. " "Monsters?" One. " Grover looked nervous. "He suspects. Ns don"t think he"s positive yet, but this is the last day of term. I"m certain he won"t allow them leave campus without finding out. It might be our critical chance! Every time I shot to get close come them, he"s constantly there, prevent me. Ns don"t know what come do!" Grover looked at Thalia desperately. Ns tried no to feel upset by that. Offered to be, Grover looked come me for answers, however Thalia had actually seniority. No just because her dad was Zeus. Thalia had more experience than any kind of of us with driving away monsters in the genuine world. "Right," she said. "These half-bloods space at the dance?" Grover nodded. "Then let"s dance," Thalia said. "Who"s the monster?" "Oh," Grover said, and also looked around nervously. "You just met him. The angry principal, Dr. Thorn. " monster thing around military schools: the youngsters go absolutely nuts once there"s a one-of-a-kind event and also they acquire to be the end of uniform. I guess it"s since everything"s so strict the rest of the time, they feel favor they"ve gained to overcompensate or something. There to be black and red balloons everywhere the gym floor, and also guys to be kicking lock in every others faces, or trying to strangle each various other with the crepe-paper streamers recorded to the walls. Girl moved about in football huddles, the method they always do, wearing several makeup and also spaghetti-strap tops and also brightly fancy pants and shoes that looked favor torture devices. Every once in a when they"d surround some poor guy favor a pack of piranhas, shrieking and giggling, and also when they ultimately moved on, the male would have actually ribbons in his hair and also a bunch of lipstick graffiti almost everywhere his face.

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Some of the older guys looked more like me—uncomfortable, hanging out at the edge of the gym and also trying to hide, like any kind of minute they might have to fight for your lives. That course, in my case, it was true…