The campers mumbled among themselves, processing. Mira felt awful for them. They had no idea where their leader and friend was, and it had only been a few months since the last Prophecy. Another girl stepped forward—tall, Asian, with dark hair in ringlets, plenty of jewelry, and perfect makeup. She managed to make jeans and an orange T-shirt look glamorous, and she was making Mira extremely jealous.
The girl glanced at Leo, fixed her eyes on Jason like he might be worthy of her attention, then curled her lip at Piper as if she were a week-old burrito that had just been pulled out of a Dumpster. She completely overlooked Mira, as if she didn't exist at all. And not in the you-don't-exist-in-this-universe kinda way, but the you're-not-worthy-of-my-attention kinda way. Mira shrugged. She'd dealt with girls like that before, and knew it wasn't a personal thing. A lot of time, they had something to work through themselves, some problem or issue that made them more prickly and abrasive than they really were.
“Well,” the girl said, “I hope they’re worth the trouble.”
Leo snorted. “Gee, thanks. What are we, your new pets?”
“No kidding,” Jason said. “How about some answers before you start judging us—like, what is this place, why are we here, how long do we have to stay?”
Mira rather felt like Jason was asking the wrong question. It wasn't how long do we have to stay, it was how long can I stay here without being caught? Would she be kicked out if they figured out she was a fraud?
“Jason,” Annabeth said, “I promise we’ll answer your questions. And Drew”—she frowned at glamour girl—“all demigods are worth saving. But I’ll admit, the trip didn’t accomplish what I hoped.”
“Hey,” Piper said, “We didn’t ask to be brought here.”
Drew sniffed. “And nobody wants you, hon. Does your hair always look like a dead badger?”
Piper stepped forward, ready to smack her, but Annabeth said, “Piper, stop.”
Piper did. Annabeth sure had a way with people.
“We need to make our new arrivals feel welcome,” Annabeth said, with another pointed look at Drew. “We’ll assign them each a guide, give them a tour of camp. Hopefully by the campfire tonight, they’ll be claimed.”
“Would somebody tell me what claimed means?” Piper asked.
Would Mira even get claimed? How could she even be a demigod? Last she checked, she had two, biological parents who were always there for her, until the accident.
Suddenly there was a collective gasp. The campers backed away. They stared at Leo. Mira looked at him and saw a fiery hammer floating over his head.
“That,” Annabeth said, “is claiming.” She pointed at Leo.
Mira cocked her head to the side. Hephaestus, she thought. She just made eye contact with a perplexed Leo. Instead of glaring at her, which she'd expected, Leo frowned in confusion.
"What's on your head?" He asked. Mira's brow furrowed.
The campers, who had all been focused on Leo, turned their attention to Mira.
She didn't know what exactly she expected, but it wasn't this. Drew Tanaka gaped and really looked at her for the first time. A boy maybe three years older than her took a step back. Mira had a feeling it had to be one of the Stoll brothers. Annabeth's eyes turned all misty, as if she were upset.
"What happened?" Mira demanded, staring at a turquoise wash painting the area.
Mira followed Annabeth's shaking finger over her head. She let out an 'oh!'. She couldn't believe it, even though everything fit. Above her head was a floating holographic image- a glowing turquoise trident. The symbol of Poseidon.
Mira began seething.
"You've got to be kidding me!" She snapped to herself.
So the universe thought it hadn't fucked with her enough. She had already turned back time, incurred the wrath of her favorite character, erased the memories of everyone other person she encountered, spontaneously gotten dyslexia, and randomly developed acrophobia. Now she was a demigod- and not just any demigod, at that. She was a fucking daughter of Poseidon.
Look, Mira had read fanfiction in her day. A lot of it. And a lot of times, with OC's. She knew all the clichés, all the cringeworthy choices, all the Mary-Sue characteristics. A daughter of Poseidon? That was up there. She was a freaking cliché, gods dang it! Oh gods, she was saying gods. When did she even start saying that?
Leo backed toward the lake, staring at Mira's symbol. His eyes dawned with realization. Then he glanced up and yelped. “Is my hair on fire?”
He ducked, but the symbol followed him, bobbing and weaving so it looked like he was trying to write something in flames with his head.
“This can’t be good,” Butch muttered. “A child of the Big Three... and the curse—”
As if his words broke the shock, all the campers began murmuring, gasping with surprise and pointing at Mira's symbol. She hated all the attention. She had always been the odd one out, with her half tanned Indian skin, especially when people found out she was a foster kid.
“Butch, shut up,” Annabeth said. “Leo, Mira, you’ve just been claimed—”
“By gods,” Jason interrupted. “Those are the symbols of Vulcan and Neptune, aren't they?"
All eyes turned to him. Mira had never been more thankful to a person in her life than she was to Jason at that moment.
“Jason,” Annabeth said carefully, “how did you know that?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Vulcan?” Leo demanded. “I don’t even LIKE Star Trek. And what's up with Neptune? Isn't that like a planet or something? What are you talking about?”
“Vulcan is the Roman name for Hephaestus, and Neptune is the Roman name for Poseidon,” Annabeth said, “Your dad is the god of blacksmiths and fire. Mira's is the god of the sea. She's a child of the big three.”
The fiery hammer faded, but Leo kept swatting the air like he was afraid it was following him. “The god of what? Who?”
Leo was clearly nervous now, though Mira wasn't sure whether he was acting or actually afraid.
Annabeth turned to the guy with the bow. “Will, would you take the two of them, give them a tour? Introduce them to Leo's bunk-mates in Cabin Nine.”
“What’s Cabin Nine?” Leo asked. “And I’m not a Vulcan!”
“Come on, Mr. Spock, I’ll explain everything. Coming, Ariel?" Will put a hand on Leo's shoulder and steered him off toward the cabins, Mira following behind after an eye roll.
She couldn't believe she was a daughter of Poseidon. And that Will Solace had just compared her to the Little Mermaid. This was just too much for a normal, mortal fangirl.
But then the tour began. And there was talk of a dragon. A dragon Mira knew was important, but still couldn't remember anything about. Had Hera been messing with her, too? The way she had hidden Jason from the Romans and Percy from the Greeks? She doubted it. Mira was hardly important.
On the bright side, Will Solace was even cooler in person than in the books. And camp was so amazing, it made Mira hate herself even more. She came here and enjoyed everything that camp provided her, but it was at the expense of everyone's memories. Perhaps even their lives.
Leo was extremely excited though. He gaped at everything like a child, which Mira found adorable. Leo noticed her staring and narrowed his eyes at her.
Maybe he was excited because he knew he was supposed to be fixing/finding/building a dragon pretty soon. Mira did remember how much he had loved his inventions.
Will showed them the cabins, the dining pavilion, and the sword arena.
“Do I get a sword?” Leo asked.
Will glanced at him like he found the idea disturbing. Mira laughed a little, and Leo scowled at her.
“You’ll probably make your own, seeing as how you’re in Cabin Nine.”
“Yeah, what’s up with that? Vulcan?”
“Usually we don’t call the gods by their Roman names,” Will said. “The original names are Greek. Your dad is Hephaestus.”
“Festus?” Leo looked dismayed. Mira thought the name Festus was pretty familiar too... Maybe it was the name of one of his inventions? “Sounds like the god of cowboys.”
“He-phaestus,” Will corrected. “God of blacksmiths and fire.”
Leo looked away when Will said that.
“So the flaming hammer over my head,” Leo said. “Good thing, or bad thing?”
Will took a while to answer. “You were claimed almost immediately. That’s usually good.”
"Usually?" Mira asked. Will nodded, but didn't explain anything.
“But that Rainbow Pony dude, Butch—he mentioned a curse."
“Ah… look, it’s nothing. Since Cabin Nine’s last head counselor died—”
Mira winced. She could remember everything from the earlier series... Including all the characters that had died. Beckendorf in particular had broken her heart.
“Died? Like, painfully?”
“I ought to let your bunkmates tell you about it.”
“Yeah, where are my home dawgs? Shouldn’t their counselor be giving me the VIP tour?”
“He, um, can’t. You’ll see why.” Will forged ahead before Leo could ask anything else. What had happened to the head counselor? Who was the head counselor?
“Curses and death,” Leo said to himself. “This just gets better and better.”
"So, Will. You're a son of Apollo, right?" Mira asked, and Will and Leo turned to her in surprise. Will quirked an eyebrow, as if asking how she knew that.
"Uh..." Mira's cheeks went hot. Stupid, stupid, stupid! "Annabeth mentioned something on the chariot. And I mean," she gestured awkwardly. "You, uh, look like you could be the kid of the sun god."
"Yeah. He's the God of Music, Poetry, Healing, etc."
"Poetry?" Leo snorted. Will rolled his eyes.
"Somehow, yeah. His poems are... unique," Will said diplomatically.
"How long have you been at Camp?" Mira asked.
"About- hey, what's wrong?" Will asked Leo who had suddenly frozen on the spot.
"Leo, are you ok? You look like you've just seen a ghost!"
“That old lady...” Leo said. “What’s she doing here?”
Will tried to follow his gaze. “What old lady?”
Mira turned too, but she saw nothing.
“Dude, the old lady. The one in black. How many old ladies do you see over there?”
"Leo... There's no one there. Do you have a fever?" Mira asked.
Will frowned. “I think you’ve had a long day. The Mist could still be playing tricks on your mind. How about we head straight to your cabin now?”
"That's probably a good idea," Mira told Will, glancing at Leo worriedly.
Leo looked like he wanted to protest, but when he looked back toward the big white cabin, his eyes widened.
“Just messing with you, man.” Leo pulled some gears and levers from his pockets and started fiddling with them.
Mira didn't believe him.
“Let’s go see Cabin Nine,” the hyperactive latino said. “I’m in the mood for a good curse.”
Authors: Charlotte and Arisa