“Nico. You don’t want to do this.”
Percy Jackson starred up into the hard eyes of Nico diAngelo.
“But Percy, I do want to do this.” Nico said, but there was a little break in his poker face.
Do it, sire! Minos urged. Get it over with!
Annabeth lept towards Nico. She didn’t want to hurt him, but if it meant saving Percy, she would.
Just as she was about to reach him, skeletons came up out of the ground and surrounded Percy and Nico. Annabeth was thrown away as a skeleton blocked her path.
The room in the Labyrinth was narrow, so she couldn’t sneak that way. Tyson and Grover were still looking for Pan.
She was in pain. Physically and mentally. Luke had the string. Luke was just as bad as Percy thought he was.
“Please, Nico.” Annabeth looked at him. “Please.”
Nico looked like he wanted to not do this, and sheath his sword, but then his face hardened. “No. I will have my sister back, if this is what it takes.”
“Nico! Stop!” Percy said, attempting to draw his sword, but it hadn’t reappeared after Nico disarmed him.
Nico brought his blade down.
“No!” Annabeth shouted.
It is done. The ghost cackled. It is done!
Nico showed no emotion. “Now, Minos, what must I do to get my sister back?”
Nothing, sire. He said. Because you are not getting your sister back. You and I are taking this young man to Vormir. He is not dead yet, so we will sacrifice his soul for the Soul Stone!
“You tricked me?!” Nico shouted at the ghost. “Why would I want to help you after you tricked me?!”
Because, Minos said. I am giving you no other option.
And they disappeared in a flash of black light.
Annabeth wandered through the maze. She was tired. She was heartbroken. She felt like giving up.
Percy was dead.
Had she imagined that maybe after the war...they could be together?
But now...he was gone.
She was dehydrated from crying. Finally, she heard noises.
She looked around for the mark of Daedalus, finding it. She pressed it and found herself in the middle of a capture the flag at camp.
Everything stopped once they saw her. Both teams put down their weapons.
“Annabeth?” Travis Stoll asked.
She looked at him, and then broke down into ugly, uncontrollable sobbing.
Chiron came forward. “My dear, let's get you to the Big House.
Annabeth told him everything between sobs.
Chiron looked troubled. “I do not know what this means of the prophecy. We suspected Percy...what other demigod could it be?”
“Nico diAngelo. Son of Hades.” Annabeth said.
It was only Annabeth’s second night back at camp, and she wanted to leave.
She felt Percy’s absence everywhere. The arena, volleyball pits, the beach…
Heck, she even missed how he annoyed her.
Finally, she decided to make a plan. Find Nico, find out what a Soul Stone was, and find out if Percy’s spirit had made it to Elysium.
Her third night back at Camp Half Blood, she left.
She didn’t know where in Tartarus Vormir was, so she decided to start in New York. Maybe someone around Olympus would have some answers.
In the middle of the night, she snuck out. She took the Long Island Railroad into the city, getting there around six in the morning.
Once Annabeth had been walking around the city for a while, she saw two men, one wearing a cape, having a quick, intense discussion.
She followed them.
The guy with the cape opened what looked like a portal, and they stepped through it. Annabeth jumped through at the very last second.
She pulled out her invisibility cap and put it on, so she could listen to them.
“-Stone. They should be in New York soon, to take the Time Stone from me.”
Stones. Annabeth tensed. Maybe they knew something about the Soul Stone, and where Nico may be.
The guy with the cape tensed suddenly. “We’re not alone, Wong.”
He turned towards Annabeth. But that was impossible. No one was supposed to see her while she had her hat on.
“Who is it, Strange?”
Annabeth almost snorted. Strange? That was the weirdest name she’d ever heard.
“There.” He pointed at her, and she felt herself become visible.
“What the…” Annabeth said, taking off her cap.
The two men spun their hands, and golden shields appeared in front of them.
“Who are you?” The one called Strange said.
Annabeth shoved her cap in her pocket and put her hands up. “Annabeth Chase. I heard you guys talking about Stones? Who are you guys?”
Wong and Strange looked at each other. Then they brought down their shields.
“My name is Dr. Steven Strange. I’m the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth.”
“That hat is magic. How did you get it?” Dr. Strange asked.
“My mother gave it to me. For my twelfth birthday. But I’m fourteen now.”
“Who is your mother?”
Annabeth pondered telling them for a minute, but then decided they seemed safe.
“Athena. Goddess of wisdom and battle strategy.”
“A Greek demigod?” Strange looked surprised, but then the emotion disappeared. “I heard that there were some of you around New York, but I never ran into any of you. What interest do you have with the Infinity Stones?”
“My friend…” Her voice cracked at the mention of Percy. “He...died. But before he died, someone said something about...how he was still alive? And that they had to bring him to Vormir for a sacrifice. A soul for a Soul. Something about a Soul Stone?”
“Oh, no.” Strange looked at Wong. “Wong, find Tony. And Cap. We’ll need all of them. They’re more powerful than we thought.”
“What?” Annabeth said. “Who’s more powerful?”
Strange looked at her. “Thanos. The Mad Titan.”
Annabeth turned that sentence over and over in her head. Mad Titan.
She hoped the Mad Titan had no connection to the Titans of Greek Mythology. She would be in real trouble then.
Soon, a guy with a goatee arrived. Annabeth could tell he was rich, he just gave off Look at me, I’m the best vibes.
She disliked him instantly.
“Stark, this isn’t a game.” Strange said as he followed Goatee Guy. “I believe her.”
“A little girl follows you through a portal and you believe her bogus story?”
Bogus? Annabeth was so angry, she drew her knife and tackled the guy Dr. Strange had called Stark.
She placed her dagger against his throat. “It is not bogus. My best friend is dead. Dead. Don’t you tell me I’m lying. Understand?”
He nodded. She could feel that more people had entered the room, and there were weapons trained on her. She released pressure and stood up.
A redheaded woman, who had never pulled a weapon, smiled and crossed her arms. “I like her.”
Annabeth looked at her. “Who are you guys?”
She smiled. “I’m Nat, and this is Steve, Sam, Wanda, and Vision.”
Annabeth looked at Vision. “Are you a robot?”
“Yes.” Vision said.
“Who are you?” Nat asked.
“Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena.” Annabeth stuck out her hand to shake.
“So, Tony.” The guy Nat had called Steve said. “Why did you call us here?”
“Because…” Stark said something no one could hear.
“What was that?” Nat said with a smirk.
“Because we need you.” Stark said quietly.
“One more time, Tony?” Nat asked.
“I need your help!” He said.
“Thank you.” Nat said.
“The Mad Titans strongest children are on the way here.” Dr. Strange interjected. “We need a plan.”
“I agree.” Annabeth said.
“Whoa, whoa, the child will not be fighting!” Stark said.
“Tony, that child just tackled you to the floor and held a knife to your throat.” Steve said. “If she wants to fight, she’ll fight.”
“Thanks. Also,” Annabeth said. “I am not just a child. You haven’t seen half the things I can do.”
“Okay, she fights.” Tony said.
Annabeth was the first to see the spaceship.
“Incoming!” She shouted.
Everyone grabbed their weapons and headed towards where the spaceship was landing.
The doors opened and a tall guy stepped out.
But Annabeth was at a loss for words.
The only things she could think to say were, “You look like a shriveled octopus with no tentacles.”
Curse her impulsiveness! She suddenly wished she had said nothing.
She got a few snorts out of the rest of the heroes.
Unfortunately, the Shriveled Octopus Man heard her.
“I am Ebony Maw!” He said. “Son of Thanos! And I am here to take that.” He pointed to Dr. Strange’s necklace.
“Get lost, Squidward!” Stark said. “Earth is closed today.”
While Tony kept up the banter, Annabeth put on her cap and snuck around the alien. She positioned her dagger to drive it through the back of his chest.
As soon as her dagger touched down on his shoulder, an invisible wind blew her backwards. Her cap was knocked off her head and she landed on the sidewalk.
Ebony Maw turned towards her. “You really have to do better than that.”
He looked like he was about to do magic, but then Nat jumped in and slung Annabeth over her shoulder, then used a grappling hook to get out.
“Why…wouldn’t you let me stay?” Annabeth said through a daze. “I can fight!”
Nat set her on the ground. “Go home for now, Annabeth. We’ll call you if we need you.”
She blinked. “You have my number?”
“No, but we have other ways.”
And she zipped off.
One Week Later
Annabeth had found her way to San Francisco. She was at her dad’s house, in her room, working on architectural sketches.
Outside, she heard a car swerve and honk. And then a crash.
She looked outside her window. A car had hit another car head on.
She ran down the stairs to make sure the drivers were okay. “Dad!” She yelled. “Someone just crashed outside!”
She didn’t hear his response. Then she remembered he was probably up in his study.
Why hadn’t her stepmother said anything?
She ran up to her fathers study and threw open the door. “Dad!” She said. “Two cars just crashed outside! Come quick!”
But he wasn’t there.
“Dad?” Annabeth walked around the side of the desk. Dark brown dust lined his chair and the floor.
“Dad?!” Annabeth bolted out of the room. “Mom!?”
There was no one there. In the kitchen, there was the same dark brown dust on the floor.
Annabeth ran outside. Cars were crashing everywhere.
She ran up to one of the cars to check if the driver was okay.
There was no one in the driver's seat.
People were coming out of their houses looking scared.
Then, she saw a pedestrian walking towards her. Right in front of her eyes, he crumbled to dust.
She looked around. This couldn’t be real. She had to be dreaming.
But she had the feeling she was wide awake.
End of part one.