"Okay." She let go of his hand and plucked a blade of grass by her foot. She knew there were dangerous things in store for both of them. She would have to compete with Jason's past, and they might not even survive their war against the giants. But right now, they were both alive, and she was determined to enjoy this moment.

Jason studied her warily. His forearm tattoo was faint blue in the sunlight. "You're in a good mood. How can you be so sure things will work out?"

"Because you're going to lead us," she said simply. "I'd follow you anywhere."

Jason blinked. Then slowly, he smiled. "Dangerous thing to say."

"I'm a dangerous girl."

"That, I believe." He got up and brushed off his shorts. He offered her a hand. "Leo says he's got something to show us out in the woods. You coming?"

"Wouldn't miss it." Kyra smiled as she took his hand and stood up.

For a moment, they kept holding hands. Jason tilted his head. "We should get going."

"Then, let's go," she told Jason dragging him behind her, "We've got adventures to plan." Kyra looked back at him, "I have something to show you, too."

Jason and Kyra swung by the Aphrodite cabin to grab Piper. The three walked through the woods until they found Leo with his siblings and Chiron in Leo's little cave/lair thing.

"Welcome to Bunker Nine," Leo said, as confidently as he could. "C'mon in."

The group was silent as they toured the facility. Everything was just as Leo had left it—giant machines, worktables, old maps and schematics. Only one thing had changed. Festus's head was sitting on the central table, still battered and scorched from his final crash in Omaha.

Leo went over to it and stroked the dragon's forehead. "I'm sorry, Festus. But I won't forget you."

Jason put a hand on Leo's shoulder. "Hephaestus brought it here for you?" he asked and Leo nodded. "But you can't repair him," Jason guessed.

"No way," Leo replied, "But the head is going to be reused. Festus will be going with us."

Piper came over and frowned. "What do you mean?"

Before Leo could answer, Nyssa cried out, "Guys, look at this!" She was standing at one of the worktables, flipping through a sketchbook—diagrams for hundreds of different machines and weapons.

"I've never seen anything like these," Nyssa said. "There are more amazing ideas here than in Daedalus's workshop. It would take a century just to prototype them all."

"Who built this place?" Jake Mason asked, "And why?"

Chiron stayed silent, but Leo focused on the wall map he'd seen during his first visit. It showed Camp Half-Blood with a line of triremes in the Sound, catapults mounted in the hills around the valley, and spots marked for traps, trenches, and ambush sites. "It's a wartime command center," Leo answered, "The camp was attacked once, wasn't it?"

"In the Titan War?" Piper asked.

Nyssa shook her head. "No. Besides, that map looks really old. The date ... does that say 1864?"

They all turned to Chiron. The centaur's tail swished fretfully. "This camp has been attacked many times," he admitted. "That map is from the last Civil War."

Apparently, Kyra wasn't the only one confused. The other Hephaestus campers looked at each other and frowned.

"Civil War ..." Kyra stated, eyes furrowed, "You mean the American Civil War, like a hundred and fifty years ago?"

"Yes and no," Chiron said. "The two conflicts—mortal and demigod—mirrored each other, as they usually do in Western history. Look at any civil war or revolution from the fall of Rome onward, and it marks a time when demigods also fought one another. But that Civil War was particularly horrible. For American mortals, it is still their bloodiest conflict of all time—worse than their casualties in the two World Wars. For demigods, it was equally devastating. Even back then, this valley was Camp Half-Blood. There was a horrible battle in these woods lasting for days, with terrible losses on both sides."

"Both sides," Leo said. "You mean the camp split apart?"

"No," Jason spoke up. "He means two different groups. Camp Half-Blood was one side in the war."

"Who was the other?" Leo asked but Kyra felt like she knew the answer,

Chiron glanced up at the tattered bunker 9 banner, as if remembering the day it was raised, "The answer is dangerous," he warned. "It is something I swore upon the River Styx never to speak of. After the American Civil War, the Gods were so horrified by the toll it took on their children, that they swore it would never happen again. The two groups were separated. The Gods bent all their will, wove the Mist as tightly as they could, to make sure the enemies never remembered each other, never met on their quests, so that bloodshed could be avoided. This map is from the final dark days of 1864, the last time the two groups fought. We've had several close calls since then. The nineteen sixties were particularly dicey. But we've managed to avoid another civil war—at least so far. Just as Leo guessed, this bunker was a command center for the Hephaestus cabin. In the last century, it has been reopened a few times, usually as a hiding place in times of great unrest. But coming here is dangerous. It stirs old memories, awakens the old feuds. Even when the Titans threatened last year, I did not think it worth the risk to use this place."

Suddenly, Leo's sense of triumph turned to guilt. "Hey, look, this place found me. It was meant to happen. It's a good thing."

"I hope you're right," Chiron said.

"I am!" Leo pulled the old drawing out of his pocket and spread it on the table for everyone to see. "There," he said proudly. "Aeolus returned that to me. I drew it when I was five. That's my destiny."

Nyssa frowned. "Leo, it's a crayon drawing of a boat."

"Look." He pointed at the largest schematic on the bulletin board—the blueprint showing a Greek trireme. Slowly, his cabinmates' eyes widened as they compared the two designs. The number of masts and oars, even the decorations on the shields and sails were exactly the same as on Leo's drawing.

"That's impossible," Nyssa said. "That blueprint has to be a century old at least."

"'Prophecy—Unclear—Flight,'" Jake Mason read from the notes on the blueprint. "It's a diagram for a flying ship. Look, that's the landing gear. And weaponry—Holy Hephaestus: rotating ballista, mounted crossbows, Celestial bronze plating. That thing would be one spankin' hot war machine. Was it ever made?"

"Not yet," Leo answered,  "Look at the masthead."

There was no doubt—the figure at the front of the ship was the head of a dragon. A very particular dragon. "Festus," Kyra whispered. Everyone turned and looked at the dragon's head sitting on the table.

"He's meant to be our masthead," Leo said. "Our good luck charm, our eyes at sea. I'm supposed to build this ship. I'm gonna call it the Argo II. And guys, I'll need your help."

"The Argo II." Piper smiled. "After Jason's ship."

Jason looked a little uncomfortable, but he nodded. "Leo's right. That ship is just what we need for our journey."

"What journey?" Nyssa asked, "You just got back!"

Kyra ran her fingers over the old crayon drawing. "We've got to confront Porphyrion, the giant King. He said he would destroy the Gods at their roots."

"Indeed," Chiron confirmed, "Much of Rachel's Great Prophecy is still a mystery to me, but one thing is clear. You four—Jason, Kyra, Piper, and Leo—are among the eight demigods who must take on that quest. You must confront the giants in their homeland, where they are strongest. You must stop them before they can wake Gaea fully, before they destroy Mount Olympus."

"Um ..." Nyssa shifted. "You don't mean Manhattan, do you?"

"No," Leo said. "The original Mount Olympus. We have to sail to Greece."

GOLDEN DAYS |JASON GRACE| {1}Where stories live. Discover now