LII

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[JASON]

THEN, RIGHT NEXT TO JASON, the air began to shimmer

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THEN, RIGHT NEXT TO JASON, the air began to shimmer. He was confused at first, reaching for his coin before remembering he no longer had his weapon, ready to fight before realizing what it was. It was an Iris message. An image appeared in the air—a dark-haired girl in silver winter camouflage, holding a bow.

Jason stumbled back in surprise. "Thalia!"

"Thank the Gods," his sister sigh in relief. The scene behind her was hard to make out, but Jason heard yelling, metal clashing on metal, and explosions.

"We've found her," Thalia told him, "Where are you?"

"Oakland," he answered, furrowing his eyebrows, "Where are you?"

"The Wolf House! Oakland is good; you're not too far. We're holding off the giant's minions, but we can't hold them forever. Get here before sunset, or it's all over." Thalia said,

"Then it's not too late?" Piper cried. Hope surged through her, but Thalia's expression quickly dampened it.

"Not yet," Thalia replied, "But Jason—it's worse than I realized. Porphyrion is rising. Hurry."

"But where is the Wolf House?" he pleaded.

"Our last trip," Thalia said, her image starting to flicker. "The park. Jack London. Remember?"

Jason's eyes widened, images passing through his head. Kyra reached out to stable him. He tottered, his face pale, and the Iris message disappeared.

"Bro, you all right?" Leo asked. "You know where she is?"

"Yes," Jason answered, "Sonoma Valley. Not far. Not by air."

Piper turned to the ranger pilot, who'd been watching all this with an increasingly puzzled expression, "Ma'am," Piper gave her best smile. "You don't mind helping us one more time, do you?"

"I don't mind," the pilot agreed.

"We can't take a mortal into battle," Jason said. "It's too dangerous." He turned to Leo. "Do you think you could fly this thing?"

"Um ..." Leo's expression didn't exactly reassure Jason. But then the smaller boy put his hand on the side of the helicopter, concentrating hard, as if listening to the machine. "Bell 412HP utility helicopter," Leo stated, "Composite four-blade main rotor, cruising speed twenty-two knots, service ceiling twenty-thousand feet. The tank is near full. Sure, I can fly it."

Piper smiled at the ranger again. "You don't have a problem with an under-aged unlicensed kid borrowing your copter, do you? We'll return it."

"I—" The pilot nearly choked on the words, but she got them out: "I don't have a problem with that."

Leo grinned. "Hop in, kids. Uncle Leo's gonna take you for a ride."

The sun was going down as they flew north over the Richmond Bridge, and Jason couldn't believe the day had gone so quickly. Once again, nothing like ADHD and a good fight to the death to make time fly.

Jason watched as Leo piloted the chopper, automatically flipping the right switches, checking the altimeter, easing back on the stick, and flying straight. It was as if he'd had his flying license for years.

"Going okay?" Piper asked from the copilot's seat. She sounded nervous, just like the rest of them were,

"Aces," Leo replied, "So what's the Wolf House?"

Jason knelt between their seats. "An abandoned mansion in the Sonoma Valley. A demigod built it—Jack London."

Leo couldn't place the name. "He an actor?"

"Writer," Piper answered from behind him, "Adventure stuff, right? Call of the Wild? White Fang?"

"Yeah," Jason nodded, "He was a son of Mercury—I mean, Hermes." Why was he so stuck on Roman names? "He was an adventurer, traveled the world. He was even a hobo for a while. Then he made a fortune writing. He bought a big ranch in the country and decided to build this huge mansion—the Wolf House."

"Named that 'cause he wrote about wolves?" Leo guessed.

"Partially," Jason replied, "But the site, and the reason he wrote about wolves—he was dropping hints about his personal experience. There're a lot of holes in his life story—how he was born, who his dad was, why he wandered around so much—stuff you can only explain if you know he was a demigod."

The bay slipped behind them, and the helicopter continued north. Ahead of them, yellow hills rolled out as far as Jason could see, "So Jack London went to Camp Half-Blood," Leo guessed.

"No," Jason shook his head, "No, he didn't." More pieces seemed to fit together, like a puzzle.

"Bro, you're freaking me out with the mysterious talk. Are you remembering your past or not?"

"Pieces," Jason replied. "Only pieces. None of it good. The Wolf House is on sacred ground. It's where London started his journey as a child—where he found out he was a demigod. That's why he returned there. He thought he could live there, claim that land, but it wasn't meant for him. The Wolf House was cursed. It burned in a fire a week before he and his wife were supposed to move in. A few years later, London died, and his ashes were buried on the site."

"So," Piper asked, "how do you know all this?"

A shadow crossed Jason's face. Probably just a cloud, but Kyra could swear the shape looked like an eagle.

"I started my journey there too," Jason answered, more of it coming together, "It's a powerful place for demigods, a dangerous place. If Gaea can claim it, use its power to entomb Hera on the solstice and raise Porphyrion—that might be enough to awaken the Earth Goddess fully."

The helicopter shuddered. Metal creaked, making Jason a bit nervous. Leo leveled out the chopper, and the creaking stopped.

"Thirty minutes out," Leo told them, though Jason wasn't sure how Leo knew. "If you want to get some rest, now's a good time."

Kyra grabbed Jason's hand strapped themselves into the back of the helicopter, "You need some rest." She told him.

"You do, too." After the fight with Enceladus and the other Earthborns, they all needed the sleep.

Kyra grabbed his hand and he felt some of his scraps and cuts healing, "You're getting better at that." He mumbled, trying to keep his eyes open,

She smiled at him, "Healing's in my blood, Superman. Now get some sleep." She told him and he and passed out almost immediately. 


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