This is not mine! Rick Riordan wrote this! It is all of Rick Riordan's Specialness! It is the OFFICIAL first chapter of The Mark Of Athena! The whole book is out now so you can get the whole book! :)
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 ballistae and making sure they were locked down, she confirmed the white flag was flying from the mast; she reviewed the plan with the rest of the crew and she went over the backup plan, and the backup plan for the backup 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 mixed martial-arts championships.
The last thing they needed flying a magical Greek trireme into a potentially hostile Roman Camp was a middle aged satyr in his gym clothes waving a club and yelling “Die!” Everything seemed to be in order, even that mysterious chill that she had been feeling since the ship launched seems to have disappeared for now.
The warship descended through 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-plated hull, a flaming metal dragon for a masthead, mounted repeating crossbows fore and aft, and two rotating ballistae in mid-ship 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 get the Romans a heads up, she asked Leo to send one of his special inventions, a holographic scroll, to alert their friends in the camp. Hopefully, the message had gotten through. Leo had wanted to paint a giant message on the bottom of the hull. “Waz-Up!” with 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 their hull, revealing the golden green carpet of the Oakland hills below them, Annabeth gripped the bronze shields that lined the sides of starboard railing.
Her three crew mates took their places. On the stern porter deck Leo rushed around like a mad man checking his gauges and wrestling with levers. Most helmsmen would have been satisfied with a wheel, or a rudder. Leo had installed a keyboard, a monitor, aviation controls from a leer jet, a dub step sound board, and motion control sensors from a Nintendo Wii. He could turn the ship by holding throttle, fire weapons by sampling an album, or he could raise the sails by shaking his Wii controllers really fast. Even by Demigod standards Leo was seriously ADHD.
Piper, paced back and forward between the main masts and the ballistae practicing her lines. “Lower your weapons.” she murmured. “We just want to talk.” Her charm speak was so powerful, the words flowed over Annabeth, filling her with the desire to drop her dagger and have a nice long chat. For a child of Aphrodite, Piper tried really hard to play down her beauty. Today she was wearing tattered jeans, torn sneakers, and a white tank-top with pink Hello Kitty designs. Maybe a joke, though Annabeth could never be sure. Her choppy brown hair was braided down one side with an eagle’s feather, and then there was Piper’s boyfriend, Jason.
He stood at the bow, on a raised crossbow platform, where the Romans could easily spot him. His knuckles were white on the hilt of his sword. Otherwise, he looked calm for a guy that was making himself a target. Over his jeans and his orange Camp Half-Blood T-shirt, he donned a toga and a purple cloak, the symbols of his old rank as Praetor. With his wind-ruffled blond hair, and his icy-blue eyes, he looked ruggedly handsome and in control. Just like a son of Jupiter should. He watched for Camp Jupiter, hoping the Romans would see his familiar face and make them hesitate to blow them out of the sky.
Annabeth tried to hide it, but she didn’t really trust that guy. He acted too perfect, always following the rules, always doing the honorable thing, he even looked to perfect. In the back of her mind she had this nagging suspicion. What if this was a trick, and he betrays us? What if we sail into Camp Jupiter and he says “Hey Romans! Check out these prisoners and this cool ship I brought you!” Annabeth didn’t think that would happen, but she couldn’t look at him without getting a bitter taste in her mouth. He had been part of Hera’s forced exchange program between the two camps.