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[KYRA]

WILL AND THE OTHER APOLLO cabin members helped pack her bag the next morning

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WILL AND THE OTHER APOLLO cabin members helped pack her bag the next morning. They gave her ambrosia and nectar, just in case of any injuries. She also packed an extra t-shirt and jeans along with her camera. Who knows how many photo-ops there will be on this quest.

As she walked towards the Zeus cabin, looking for Jason, something large flew above her. Kyra looked up to see a giant golden dragon. She squinted to see the figure riding it, "Leo?!" She quickly grabbed her camera to take some photos.

Sure enough, there he was, sitting atop a giant bronze death machine and grinning like a lunatic. Even before he landed, the camp alarm went up. A conch horn blew. All the satyrs started screaming, "Don't kill me!" Half the camp ran outside in a mixture of pajamas and armor. The dragon set down right in the middle of the green, and Leo yelled, "It's cool! Don't shoot!"

Hesitantly, the archers lowered their bows. The warriors backed away, keeping their spears and swords ready. They made a loose wide ring around the metal monster. Other demigods hid behind their cabin doors or peeped out the windows. Nobody seemed anxious to get close.

Kyra really couldn't blame them. The dragon was huge. It glistened in the morning sun like a living penny sculpture —different shades of copper and bronze—a sixty-foot-long serpent with steel talons and drill-bit teeth and glowing ruby eyes. It had bat-shaped wings twice its length that unfurled like metallic sails, making a sound like coins cascading out of a slot machine every time they flapped.

"It's beautiful," Kyra muttered as she raised her camera again. The other demigods stared at her like she was insane.

The dragon reared its head and shot a column of fire into the sky. Campers scrambled away and hefted their weapons, but Leo slid calmly off the dragon's back. He held up his hands like he was surrendering, except he still had that crazy grin on his face.

"People of Earth, I come in peace!" he shouted. He looked like he'd been rolling around in the campfire. His army coat and his face were smeared with soot. His hands were grease-stained, and he wore a new tool belt around his waist. His eyes were bloodshot. His curly hair was so oily it stuck up in porcupine quills, and he smelled strangely of Tabasco sauce. But he looked absolutely delighted. "Festus is just saying hello!"

"That thing is dangerous!" Maxine, an Ares girl shouted, brandishing her spear. "Kill it now!"

"Stand down!" someone ordered.

Kyra turned to see Jason as he pushed through the crowd, flanked by Annabeth, Piper, and Nyssa. Jason gazed up at the dragon and shook his head in amazement. "Leo, what have you done?"

"Found a ride!" Leo beamed. "You said I could go on the quest if I got you a ride. Well, I got you a class-A metallic flying bad boy! Festus can take us anywhere!"

"It—has wings," Nyssa stammered. Her jaw looked like it might drop off her face.

"Yeah!" Leo said. "I found them and reattached them."

"But it never had wings. Where did you find them?"

Leo hesitated and Kyra could tell he was hiding something. "In ... the woods," he answered, "Repaired his circuits, too, mostly, so no more problems with him going haywire."

"Mostly?" Nyssa asked.

The dragon's head twitched. It tilted to one side and a stream of black liquid—maybe oil, hopefully just oil—poured out of its ear, all over Leo.

"Just a few kinks to work out," Leo said.

"But how did you survive ... ?" Nyssa was still staring at the creature in awe. "I mean, the fire breath ..."

"I'm quick," Leo said. "And lucky. Now, am I on this quest, or what?"

Jason scratched his head. "You named him Festus? You know that in Latin, 'Festus' means 'happy'? You want us to ride off to save the world on Happy the Dragon?"

The dragon twitched and shuddered and flapped his wings and Kyra let out a small laugh. It was pretty ironic.

"That's a yes, bro!" Leo said. "Now, um, I'd really suggest we get going, guys. I already picked up some supplies in the—um, in the woods. And all these people with weapons are making Festus nervous."

Jason frowned. "But we haven't planned anything yet. We can't just—"

"Go," Annabeth said. She was the only one who didn't look nervous at all. Her expression was sad and wistful, like this reminded her of better times. "Jason, you've only got three days until the solstice now, and you should never keep a nervous dragon waiting. This is certainly a good omen. Go!"

Jason nodded. Then he smiled at Piper, "You ready, partner?"

The brunette looked at the bronze dragon wings shining against the sky, and those talons that could've shredded her to pieces, "You bet," she said.

Leo and Piper got on the dragon and Jason walked over to Kyra, "You sure you wanna come?"

She looked up at him, "I kinda have to, Jason. It's in the prophecy."

"Yeah, I know." He rubbed the back of his neck, "I just don't want you to get hurt."

Kyra squeezed his hand, "I'm the daughter of Apollo. Healing is in my blood. Now let's go!" The small blonde put her camera away and hopped up behind Piper and Jason sat behind her. Kyra gave Will and her other siblings one last wave before taking off on Festus.

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