Chronos: The lliad
The Heroes of OrigOls: The Iliad
By SF Hades
Charlie knocked at my door, “Sweetie, wake up. Big day.” I groggily got up from my bed, slipping on a flannel shirt. Charlie swung the door open, looking gorgeous as ever, as I zipped up my pants. She combs my hair with her fingers, occasionally giving it some unnatural curls. She pulls me by my collar into the kitchen where my Dad was drinking his morning coffee. He looks up at the sight of me stumbling in and represses a laugh, playing the cup back to his mouth. He stood up, just a few inches taller than me, and patted me on the shoulder.
“Good luck, son.” He said. “Mom would’ve came to wish you good luck, but she’s still asleep.”
“That’s good.” I told him, “She’d be crying like a baby right about now.”
“But…” Dad pulls out a video camera, “She wants one last last video of you.” He immediately starts to record. I don’t react well when I’m put on the stop like that, so all I can muster is an awkward smile. Realizing I’m nervous, Dad turns to Charlie, “Hey, we could send this to your Mom, too! Charlie, get in here!” Charlie shuffles over, wrapping her arm around me. “This is Charlie Leavings and-” she elbows me in the stomach, “Sebastian Merr…” my voice trembles off. “Ick.” She finishes. “And what are we?” Charlie asks, making eye contact with the camera. “Poor!” She says. “And where are we going?” She turns to face me, this time.
I sigh. “Private school!” I say. Dad stops recording. “I’ll get these processed tomorrow.” He says, “Seb, don’t forget to call me every week. Oh, and don’t be afraid to talk to the counsellor!” I blush. “Dad, I’ll be fine. I won’t reform CHRONOS or anything wild like that.”
He nods. “Good, good, that’s good. Oh, and don’t forget to take your meds.” He hands me a sheet of paper, “Here’s a note to take to the nurse.” I handed it to Charlie. “I know for a fact I’m going to lose it.” She nods, “Of course you will.” And she grabs me by the hand, and together, we make our way out my door.
Me and Charlie wait at the bus stop, my arm around her. There’s a sort of kind silence in the air. We’re both a bit jittery, honestly. There’s a fog in the air of this January morning. In a matter of moments, we’re leaving our families behind. “I… I have a confession.” She looks up at me with her beady eyes. “Yeah, what’s up?”
“Last school year I ran a rebellion known as CHRONOS that got several students unjustifiably expelled and I’m constantly tormented by the guilt and pain of what I did.” I say, all in one breath.
“Understandable.” She says.
“That’s it?” I ask.
“Yeah, people make mistakes all the time. My old school had some pretty crazy rebellions too, in all honesty. And origami children’s books.” She shrugged, “Thought you cheated on me or some crap.”
“HAHAHA, I COULD NEVER.”
The bus arrived, and we stepped on. We headed as far back as we could, just in front of Heff. I was hoping he hadn’t noticed us, so I could spend the day with the girl I really liked.
If only I was so lucky. “Hey, Merrick!” He said, a bit too loudly, “I brought you another one of those gift packages.”
I sighed, “There’s no need for that.” I said.
“No, no, no, I insist.”
I groaned, “Well fine. If you insist. Slide it over.” He kicked the bag forward and underneath the seat. Hostess. I opened it up and saw it filled to the brim with Twinkies. The thought of selling them briefly flashed through my mind, but then I considered how fun it would be deciding who gets the sugary snacks and who doesn’t, just based off of a moral compass. No money involved.
“Thanks, man.” I said.
“Ay, and none of those sno-balls everyone hates.”
“None of those sno-balls everyone hates.” I repeated, feeling way more happy than I should about that. Personally, me and Dennis always liked sno-balls. Coconut gets a bad reputation.
Now, how would I describe Caesar’s architecture? Imagine if Socrates went to Hot Topic. The bus driver dropped us off, the doors opening with a grating and interrupting screech. Me and Charlie stepped out and looked at the flurry of students filing in through the gates and sighed. We we finally made I’m
I saw this girl, one of the girls that haunted me in my lying nightmares, handing me a flyer. We made eye contact for a moment and I genuinely feared for my safety. “Ah,” her voice sounded fake. Like a commercial announcer. “Hi Seb! Welcome to Caesar Middle School!” I grabbed the flyer and turned to Charlie. I pointed, “I’m in… the Fifth Cohort? Whatever that means. What did you get?”
“Also fifth.” She noted.
Though I neglected to share this with Charlie, usage of the word “cohort” had set me off. We just got out of a greek school. What are the odds the Roman myths appear?
After a kind student helped us find the Fifth Cohort, a nice lady gathered all the new kids, there were maybe twenty of us. She was really sweet, but was clearly faking it. This place really felt like college.
“To finish off this presentation, I present to you one of our star students! Mac Ferdinand Rick Astley!” There were some snickers, as Mac stumble-rancdown the hallway. “Thank you, thank you, Mrs. Myers. I think I’ll take it from here.” Mrs. Myers trotted off.
Mac looked different, good different, I guess. But nonetheless, I ducked my head behind Peyton and August. “Good morning.” I said to the siblings.
“Good morning.” They both said, like it was a regular occurence.
“LADIES, GENTLEMEN, AND OTHER, WHAT’S CRACK-A-LACKIN!?” I can see Ximena blush from the other side of the crowd. “I just need to go over a few ground rules with you guys and I’ll let y’all be on your way. Sadly, The Headmaster kind of forced me to be the Hall Monitor for this semester, it’s a long story. Anyways, your names are written on a sheet of paper in your dorm’s door. Uhh, sneaking out. If I see or hear you sneak out of your dorm after hours, I have to report you. I go to bed at like midnight, but I need to like- physically catch you, not like- taddling or something. The same thing goes for sneaking in stuff like candy, they always restock the showers with febreze so feel free to steal those if you didn’t bring your own. There’s cameras in the hallways and here, the lobby, but nowhere else. Do whatever you want with that information, I’m not saying anything, you all just seem like a pretty smart bunch, a lot of familiar faces, and I think that’s pretty much it, welcome to Caesar Middle School!” One student in the back made a little cheer. You and me both, brother.
As the crowd parted, Charlie walked down the other hall, everyone was searching for their dorms. For a moment, I was frozen. Like a deer in headlights. I tried to speedwalk down the hall, trying not to bring attention to myself. I noticed that Mac was laughing it up with Kaitlyn, therefore, I was in the clear.
Five steps away from my dorm’s entrance, he stops me. “Seb?” He asks. I whip my head around, and he gets a good look at my face.
“Sebastian Merrick. I knew it was you!” He said. “Holy-” He stopped himself, “How the heck are you, man?” He offered me a handshake, an offer thst would be rude to refuse. He looked me up and down, “Oh my god, look at you. You still got those brown calf eyes, huh?”
I nodded, “As you can see, I do.”
He smiled, “Great man, that’s great.” He snapped his finger. “Hey, hey! Kaitlyn! Get over here.” Kaitlyn slid over. “No, no, no, man, I-” I stuttered, but she was already here. “This kid went to our old school, remember?”
Kaitlyn grinned. “How could I forget?” She asked.
“But, y’know, me and you, we got into it quite a bit, also, wasn’t he the guy who got you expelled?” Kaitlyn nodded, “Well, he really had it in for alot of us. It started, well, he made a fake friendship and manipulated me into giving him a pen.”
“Ok, first of all.” I put my finger up, “I actually wanted to befriend you. Second of all, yeah, I manipulated you into giving me The Bytening Bolt, but it was the only way.”
“To spread mass chaos.”
“When I made CHRONOS it wasn’t about CHRONOS it was to free the students. It just got a bit… lost in translation.”
“Dude, you broke my leg.”
“I mean, you challenged me to that fight after months of not talking to me?”
“What about framing me for The Titan’s Curse Word!”
“That was Xander, dude.”
“But hey, you apologized for what you did wrong-”
“And you still didn’t apologize for picking a fight with me- in the middle of the night- because I stole your pen, half a year ago.” I stared at him, resentfully.
“Eh,” he acknowledged, “Water under the bridge.”
‘Wait,” Kaitlyn said, “So you’re like the gang violence mofo, right? Didn’t your gang try to fight the Heroes of OrigOlympus and Mac kicked their !(!]>@?”
“Uh, there were some pretty close matches, but if you want to get technical- I kicked most of them in the face.” He elbowed me. The two laughed while I still stood there, like a board. Never breaking eye contact.
“You weren’t invited. You caught them off guard. That’s dishonorable.”
“Haha, real honorable stealing my pen, there.”
“Hey, hey, no fighting in the halls. Like you said, there’s cameras.” Said Kaitlyn.
Mac nods, “Yeah, I’m just busting your chops. Great to see you, man.” And he and Kaitlyn walked off.
My dormie had already gotten unpacked, another Athens student. He jumps off his bed.
“Hey! I’m Chase!”
“Wow, more upperclassmen.” I said, noting the way he talks. Also, he was a sixth grader. And as per social hierarchy, I can’t be caught dead hanging out with someone like him.
“Listen, homeslice, you seem like a pit of a dirt bucket. You’re just someone to live with, I’m not the talker type, m’kay? Now let me get to my first period class.”
He groans. “Dirtwipe.”
A day of sheer panic and paranoia ensues, as I realize that I was put on “The list.” You know, the list teachers pass down to teachers of problem students. Gee, I wonder why.
Anyways, I return to my dorm at four, and me and Chase sit in different bunks, both on our phones. I’m texting my Dad, which spirals into a facetime with my Mom.
I hear pounding on my door.
“Hey, Mom, I uh- I need to go.”
“Aww, bye. Love you, sweetie.”
“Chase! Chase! Open up!” A deep voice says from behind the door. I sit back down and watch as Chase goes for the door. He opens it, and standing at the door is an eighth grader, looking like a young Sylvester Stallone.
“Hey, punk.” He says, stepping through the door.
“Hey, Phillip,” Chase says.
“I just came to welcome you back, let’s hope you don’t go around stabbing people’s eyes out, eh?” He laughs, and reaches for Chase’s backpack. Chase reaches for it, “Hey! Give it back, you jerk!”
He pulls out a bottle of Pepto Bismol, and throws the rest of the backpack into the trash can. “Ooh, what do we got here? Someone’s got frickin diarrhea.” He snorts, and pours the bottle over his head.
Chase tries to run to the sink to wash it out, but alas, Phillip trips him. Chase lands head first into my bed post. Now, my property is damaged. I stand up from my bed.
“Hey, watch the bed, man!” I yell.
He laughs, “Man, look at you.” He points at me, “#[+]!$*( walkin with a limp.”
I snort. “Trust me, you’re messing with the wrong guy on the wrong day.”
“Oh, really?” He asks, “Get the hell out of here, loser!” He shouts, and shoves me back onto my bed. I dodge my own bed, landing flat on the floor. From below him, I swipe at his feet. It’s an old trick Mr. Alexander taught me.
Strike hardest when your enemy thinks you’re down.
I lift him from the floor and knee him in the back, pushing him out of the door. A few minutes later, Chase steps from out of the bathroom, his hair wet from being rinsed around.
“Thank you so much,” he says. Then he pauses. “H- How did you know how to do that?”
I hang my head low. “What’s your name again?”
“The name’s Sebastian Merrick.” I look down upon him. “It’s not about the special moves,” I say, “It’s about the code, it’s all in how you teach, not what you’re taught.”
“So who taught you?”
“I- That’s- that’s personal.”
“Well, well maybe you could teach me!” He says. “I- I can do anything you ask, Phillip’s been a pain in my back and- and there’s no way he’ll stop unless I fight back.”
I frown. “Sorry, kid, but I don’t lead anymore.”
I looked up. Yeah, why? I asked myself. And I realized something. CHRONOS wasn’t evil. Flynn was. So, could a CHRONOS without Flynn work?
And I met Chase’s gaze, and I saw myself in him. I could lead him to greatness. I extended my hand, and he shook it.
“So, is this what you want?” He nodded.
“Good, because I’m going to show you the way. At CHRONOS, we value speaking our minds? Do you agree? Peace is an option, but passion is what comes first. Do you agree?” He nods.
“You are not to show mercy to someone who betrays you. Do you agree?” His eyes glimmer, and I can tell he’s hiding something. He nods again.
“True harmony can only be found when the weak conquer the earth. Do you agree?” He nods, once again.
“Fear is a double edged sword that can lead to your downfall and to your rise. Do you agree?”
“Then welcome, we have a lot of work to do. Because we’ve laid dormant for half a year now. It’s time to rise. Welcome to CHRONOS.”
But hey, I didn’t forget to take my meds.
Kaitlyn calls me around five, interrupting me and Kevin’s intense Uno game. “Heyo, guess what?”
“The Athenians are doing this uhh… get together thing.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m not that interested.”
“Ximena will be there.”
“I’m free in a little bit.” I stood up from me and Kevin’s Uno game. “Hey, I- I gotta go.” I said. I slid my sleeveless purple jacket on, and grabbed my skateboard on the way out.
Kaitlyn met me as I darted down the hall, the sun was already setting outside. Kaitlyn slapped me across the neck. “Excited?” She asked.
We stepped through the doors. “I think I’ll go for it. I’ll ask Ximena out.”
“Who do you think you’re kidding, Mac? You’re still the ace degenerate.” Kaitlyn said to me, laughing.
I raised my finger in the hair, “Hey, Ex-Degenerate, cuz. I got two more semesters to make it work, and that’s what I’m gonna do. Make it work.”
Me and Kaitlyn rode on our skateboards, I laid my back onto the skateboard and slid in between Ximena, Dennis, Lina, and someone I didn’t recognize. Ximena had a new look, her hair was curled and she had glasses on, she was more of an unconventional type of pretty.
I fired some finger guns at her and she blushed. “Mac!” She shouted, excited. I sat up and folded my legs, still on the skateboard. “What’s going on?” I asked Ximena, “It’s been a wild few months.” She said.
“Yeah, no kidding.”
Lina giggled, “Hey, what’s so funny?”
She slapped her leg, “Sorry, sorry, it’s just… Mac- are you wearing eyeliner?”
“Why yes, why do you ask?
Ximena patted me on the shoulder, “I imagine you didn’t love Caesar’s pain and suffering.”
“Yeah, yeah, uh.. ” I met Dennis’s eyes.
“So what adventures have you gotten into?” Dennis asked.
Tell him about Mallory. Tell him about Mallory. You really need to tell him about Mallory.
“Oh, nothing much? I, uh, got to see my Dad again, he’s… not so bad.”
“Oh, well, I got to see your Dad too!” Ximena added.
I blinked, “I’m sorry?”
“Yeah, he said something about being forced to do this for “probation”?”
“Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, he uh… he stopped a kid’s foot from being broken.” Lina flicked my heel. “If only he could’ve done that more often.”
I hit Lina. “If you don’t shut up.”
“What are you gonna do? Kick me?”
“Ha. Ha. Very funny. Anyways,” I turned to Ximena, “You want to start dating?”
“I- I- Uhhhh, I-” she paused, “Yes.” Ximena decided.
Usually, I would’ve expected Lina or Dennis to clap. Dead silence. But I could see the mystery girl glow orange by the setting sun. You could hear the crickets chirping. The buzz of the heater.
Dennis nods, “That’s- I’m so happy for you guys.” He smiles.
I turned to Ximena, “So, who’s this lovely lady?” I point at mystery girl. “This is, um, Kato. Kato, this is Mac Astley.”
Kato straightened herself up, “Kato’s a sixth grader but she’s really cool.” Ximena explained.
“Hey, wait a minute,” I say. “I know Kato. Those casefiles CHRONOS taunted me with, you’re awesome. Your case files are a bit poorly written but, well, I’ve come to learn Caesar doesn’t exactly have the best writing program.”
“Agreed.” I get off my skateboard and throw it at Kaitlyn. “Don’t throw stuff at me!” She shouts.
“Oh, shut up!” I yell. It’s fun joking around with Kaitlyn. It’s fun making other people laugh.
“So,” my attention returns back to Kato, “What’s up with Chase?”
She shrugs, “I don’t really know. We sort of drifted apart after Thanksgiving. There wasn’t even really an argument, it just kind of ended.”
“That’s too bad. Would’ve loved to meet him.”
Ximena got excited, “But she did get a new puppet!” She places her hand on Kato’s shoulder. “Show it!”
She pulls out a Piper McLean puppet. “Tada! Meet… Pleater McCrease.”
I clap, “That’s, that’s awesome.”
“Yeah,” Ximena says, “I’m really proud of Kato. I trained her well.”
“So, that’s what you’ve been up to. You got your apprentice. Now, Dennis, LinLin, what have you been up to?”
“Well, we were forced out of The Heroes of OrigOlympus in an effort to destroy it. It- it worked.” Everyone looked really sad. I got sad, too. The Heroes of OrigOlympus represented everything that I left behind at Athens.
“Ever since, life’s been weird. There was a situation in The Labyrinth involving Medea and Heliumos, and boy, alot of fire.”
“I’m sorry, come again?”
“Eh, save that for another time.”
I look around at my new friends, and it hits me. I’m happy again. Who cares what anyone else thinks?”
“So,” I begin, “How did Athens shut down?”
“Xander manipulated us. He spread chaos across the school and struck a nerve with Seb, one thing led to another and…”
“CHRONOS really runs everything, doesn’t it?”
“Wait,” Kato’s lips tensed. “CHRONOS as in… the pamphlets people passed around in the halls?”
“Yeah,” Dennis pulls one out of his pocket, “These were handed around.”
Printed in yellow paper is the iconic CHRONOS symbol, an houd class being punctured by a scythe. It symbolized how even death came for the immortals.
In Impact Font, it read:
“Do you want to speak your mind?”
“Do you believe in passion over peace?”
“Do you believe that traitors deserve no mercy?”
“Do you believe that harmony can only be found when the weak inherit the Earth?”
“Is fear a double edged sword that can lead to your downfall and to your rise?”
“Signed, Sebastian Merrick. Dorm Room 153.”
I stood up. Ximena looked me up and down, “Now Mac, don’t do anything stupid.”
Lina nodded, “Ximena, have you learned nothing? Mac is stupid. Therefore, he will do stupid things.” I assume Lina continued on, but I was already out of earshot. I had to talk to Sebastian Merrick.
I wouldn’t even call it a dorm. The bunk beds were pushed around to set up an office around his desk. There was a dent in one of the bed posts.
Upon hearing the creak of the door open, Sebastian stepped out. Instinctively, he said: “Welcome to CHRONOS!” Then he saw who he was talking to.
I sighed, “I guess some things never change, huh?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I know what game you’re playing, look around you. CHRONOS. I even heard you beat up some defenseless kid just for visiting your dorm.”
“Oh, no, I didn’t beat up a defenseless kid. I kicked the #[$@% out of a butthead who deserved every ounce of that pain.”
“Wow, Sebastian Merrick having the nerve to call someone else a bully. That’s rich.”
“What’s that supposed to mean, huh?”
“Look, I’m not here to rehash the past. But stay away from spreading your influence. And from Ximena.”
He frowned, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about me coming onto Ximena. Just tell her to back off of me, I have a girlfriend, if that’s what you’re insecure about.”
He stepped forward, inches from my face. “Who do you even think you are?”
A girl stepped out from behind the bed, a business partner, I assume. She laced her hands in Sebastian’s. Must be another type of partner, too.
“Bas, here, is a hero, and just who exactly are you?” She asked.
“I’m Mac Astley.” She frowned and turned to face Sebastian. “Is this the loser who threw a hissyfit because you stole his pen?” He nodded.
“Oh my god,” I said, “Don’t believe a word of what your “boyfriend” here says or you’ll end up exactly like him.”
“You and I? This?” I gestured at this lair he had set up for himself. “We aren’t done.”
“We never were.”
I return down the hall and find Dennis. He hands me his pamphlet. “Hey, Mac, I still can’t find my room. I had to bunk down with Lina last night.”
I looked up. “Dennis… you’re rooming with me.” And I looked at my friends. Ximena. Dennis. Lina. And Kato.
“CHRONOS isn’t all that’s returning. If we want to make a difference, it must be through our own way. It’s time that The Heroes of OrigOlympus make a comeback.”
My first day back at Caesar was awkward. The teachers didn’t trust me. At lunch, I ended up on the floor. On the second day, I was able to sit with Sebastian and his girlfriend, Charlie. Those two are awesome, I swear. Sebastian gave me my first lesson, about speaking your mind. He explained that if we let people walk over us now, then they always would. And that’s no way to live life. Charlie provided sketches to go along with it. She’s a good artist, even though I didn’t understand her metaphor with the apple.
It’s day three, now, by the way, and I am… undescivise. To say the least.
Yesterday was such a success, but today, I don’t know. I feel nostalgic. I decided to go sit with Kato, as I stepped forward, something slammed into my shoulder. I turned around and saw Phillip towering over me. He smiled, warmly, as I tightly gripped onto my lunch tray.
“Wait.” He pauses, “Did you think I was gonna smack your lunch tray? Really, dude?” He grabs me by the shoulder, “I’m better than that.” He grabs my lunch tray and throws it in the trash can.
“Look man, leave me alone.” I say. And I keep walking, and I take a seat, next to two random kids. “Is it okay if I sit here?” The girl smiles, “No. As you can see, we’re the popular students.” I began to look for another seat.
“No, no, no, wait.” The girl says, “I’m kidding. Sit.” I sat down. The girl introduces herself as Kaitlyn Emily. She’s my cousin. Awkward. The other kid remains quiet. “And,” Kaitlyn says, “This is Kevin. Say hello, Kevin.”
“Hello, Kevin.” Says Kevin. Kaitlyn smacks Kevin, “There’s no need for sarcasm.” She says.
“He’s so rude.” Kaitlyn says.
“No, no, I don’t mind.”
Kevin seemed pretty chill, though his nose was a bit messed up. It had the slightest scar running down it, like someone had broken it. The only question, was it a child, or an adult?
I hear a painful screech of a microphone. “Students of Caesar Middle School!” I hear a happy voice say, I turn and find this blonde chick with big poofy eighties hair, dressed all up in purple, her face is sprinkled with freckles. Cute, I guess, in a nymph sort of way. “I know that we’re all still transitioning into Caesar, but I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself to the new students! My name is Mallory Cross, and I used to go to Athens! These days, I’m a praetor here at Caesar and K especially would like to talk about something. We’ve received numerous,” she looks at our table, making dead eye contact with Kevin and Kaitlyn. “complaints that one of our students has been harassed to the point of being bloodied and in tears.” Her words spin a tale of sympathy, but the cold look in her eyes is clear. We don’t really care. They say. She continues, “At Caesar Middle School we value an equal treatment of everyone, no matter their race or status. People are people, and people are valuable. That’s one of our many mottos here. So this is why we protect students like Kevin-” she places her hand to her mouth, “Oop, forget I said that.” She laughs it off, “This is why we protect the weaker students, so they could rise to power. And with that, I wish everyone a safe and happy lunch! We recommend you avoid the apple slices.”
Phillip stands up again, this time with a cronie. He walks over and takes another empty seat, this time berrading Kevin, calling him a snitch. I guess Kevin and I have a mutual enemy.
Kevin is defenseless, he can’t even fight back. Not with his words, not anything.
I hear Sebastian’s voice in my mind.
“Speak your mind.” It says.
So I tapped on his shoulder.
“The ^#&! do you want?” He asks, “Can’t you see we having a conversation here?”
“Is that what you call it? I say that it’s your need to feel powerful, does it stem from somewhere? Is your life so devoid of respect that you have to force it upon others? Wow, that’s honestly just… sad.”
“You dip for a year, and comeback a smarta#$.”
“Can’t say the same for you.”
He swings at me, but I duck down. I knock him square in the jaw, and from where he once stood I see Sebastian having lunch and looking at me, approvingly. It felt so nice to have him in my back corner, that feeling of him looking over me. Someone finally cares, and respects what I can do. Without the pressure of it all weighing down on me.
I am immediately punched in the face, nearly falling over. People, maybe two or three, have started filming.
I’ll be the first to say I’m a weak kid, but if Lina taught me one thing, it’s how to fight. I pulled up with this one move she forced me to learn from this eighties movie. The crane technique. It’s not able to knock him to the ground in pain, but it sends him flying backwards. A girl with music blaring from her headphones, and a smirk on her face, trips him, sending him bumping into a trashcan. I grab the empty tray from the boy that’s sitting by the headphones girl- who must’ve been her brother- and smack Phillip over the head with it. He backs off after that.
People are all staring, not cheering. Generally, everyone’s stunned. Headphones girl is the first to speak.
“W-Where did you learn all… of that?”
I wanted to say Lina, but deep down, I had Sebastian to thank for this. For giving me confidence, for inspiring me to stand up to my bully.
“Sebastian Merrick. And CHRONOS. If you want to stop your bullies-” I smile for an imaginary camera, “Then I’d join too.”
Headphone girl’s brother claps respectfully. It sets off a chain of clapping. Through it all, I decided to maybe shoot my shot. “Hey, can I get your name?” I asked headphones girl.
“Name’s Sopia Foust. And this is my brother, Arthur Foust.
I show up to my dorm after class and I see a lot of people, shuffling around, in clusters. Talking, chit chatting, sharing videos of- of the fight?
I head into Sebastian’s makeshift office, where he’s panicking. Charlie is trying to offer him an iced tea and he curls into a ball and wheezes. “So- so many of them.” He says. “So fast. L-l-l-like last time.” He sees me standing in the doorway and straightens up. He opens his drawer and pulls out a blazer, putting it over his already nice shirt.
The three of us step out, and I get a good look at everyone. At CHRONOS’ new members.
There’s Sopia and Arthur. Kevin. Serene Monroe. Peyton and August Hunter. Beniamkn Markell. And a dozen more. Sebastian’s lips curl into a sly smirk as he turns to face me.
“See? That wasn’t so hard?”
Smile. I tell myself. Just smile. As I stare before the next generation of CHRONOS, I can’t help but feel, simply, overwhelmed. What if this was all a big mistake? I even see some old, familiar, faces. They’re the ones that scare me the most.
Flynn sat me down one day, and looked me dead in the eye, and he slid me a fat wad of cash. “Do you believe people should speak their mind?” He asks. I grab the money, “Yes.” His words voiced that they were proud of me, but looking back, I can’t believe I overlooked the glare in his eye.
For those unaware, CHRONOS was originally a pawn. I was a pawn. All to make the concept of “rebellions” look bad and give rise to the new OrigOlympians.
But now, here I stand. I shouldn’t dwell on the past so much as I shouldn’t be daunted by the future.
“Alright, let’s begin!” I shout. Everyone is talking over me. I walk to Peyton, who’s paying attention. I whisper in her ear, “Sorry.” I say. She looked really confused.
I kicked her in the face. That gets everyone’s attention. “Alright, now that we have your attention, your first lesson! Pay attention!” I helped Peyton up, “Second lesson! Help your fellow comrades out.”
Everyone still remains stunned. “Hi, I’m Sebastian Merrick. Welcome to CHRONOS. Uh, can I get everyone’s names?” Chase introduces me to the people, who I mostly already knew. Doesn’t matter.
Everyone still remained awkward, that’s how it all started out, after all. I snapped my fingers and called up Peyton and Ben. “Everyone, this is Peyton Hunter and Benjamin Markell. They’ve worked with us before and are some of my oldest friends. Tell them about your past experiences.”
“Well,” Ben begins, “It really changed my life. It taught me self confidence, mostly. I don’t think I’d be…” he pulled out his finger puppet, “Posiedonigami!” One student from the back groaned.
Peyton smiled, “I’ll take it from here. While CHRONOS brought me self confidence, it more importantly brought me a sense of belonging, it gave me friends, these people will someday feel like your family.”
I nodded, “CHRONOS even brought me here. Standing before you, yeah, but,” I grabbed Charlie in my arm, “It also brought me to her. And nothing could make me happier. Right now, I’m gonna be honest. You’re all #%#& losers. Most of you, wow, you’re middle class, maybe an eight, suburban. White. Well, today, all that’s over! Except for the white part, obviously.”
“What is happening?” This boy, Arthur, asked.
“Look, I understand it’s a lot to process. But the good news is that you guys are the children of OriGods-”
“How did you-” Arthur began.
“That gives you clout around here. As for me, I’ve been doing this for over two years now, if you want something done less than legally, I’m your guy. I do this for fun. Money? Who really cares?” I laughed like a nineteen thirties radio host, putting on my best transatlantic accent.
“So, ladies and gentlemen, our first thing. First thing, the key to mental strength is… physical willpower. And there’s no better way to do so then in a game of… Capture The Flag!” I turn to face Charle, “Alright, Charlie will be captain of the other team.” I produced a torn up tied dyed shirt of the CHRONOS logo in pink, our was in blue. I attached the flag to a stick I had spent today looking for and handed it off to Charlie.
We looked at the teammates. “Chase, you’re with me.” I said.
Charlie smiles, “August, get over here.”
Chase whispers something in my ear. “Sopia, come on.”
“Serene.” Charlie says.
We go through the entire dozen, Kevin is the last. I look at Kevin, and can’t help but feel sympathetic. Charlie invited him over to her side, not like she had a choice.
“Hey, where’s our flag?” Chase asks, once our team is huddled together. I cackled, “Chase, Chase, Chase, what’s the most “Sebastian” place you can think of?”
I saw a girl run off to hide the other team’s flag.
“Gee, I don’t know. The cafeteria?”
I shook my head, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no. The belltower.”
“H-” Chase stammers, “How?!”
“Don’t worry about it.” I say. “Anyways, let’s go over strategies. Peyton, you’re coming with me. I’m teaching you how to break and enter. Chase, I’m sending you with Sopia to scout down the flag. it’s not allowed within any of the teaching buildings or any of the cohorts. It being in any of the shops seems unlikely, so get creative. When you get the flag, I need you to pass it on to Heff. Heff, wait just outside the Seventh Cohort’s doors, that’s the center of the school, correct?”
Heff nods, “But how do we navigate the place?” He asks, “Like, most of us just moved here. It’s a huge place, and the bell tower is like… really far away.”
“Me and Peyton will be at the bell tower.” I turn to face her, and see her with that classic, ear to ear grin. “Can we use it?” I sigh. “I don’t see why not.” Peyton makes dead eye contact with Heff.
“Look to the skies. Follow the beacon.”
“So there I am,” Peyton continues, “Ranch dressing stain on my blouse, everyone’s just throwing up in the trash can, right?” I nod, “Yeah, yeah.”
“And I’m like… what the hell? Again?”
“Happens all the time.”
Me and Peyton’s legs are dangling from the bell tower, we didn’t try to climb up it or anything, no, the lock was pretty easy to pick, actually. We look down and see that Sopia found the flag, and she’s fighting off Charlie. Charlie has Kevin by her side, and, well, good on him for trying. But Chase fights him off. Chase is a good fighter, a bit wild, but good nonetheless. Kevin’s down in seconds, but hey, in the real world you can’t expect anyone to show you mercy.
“So, I was at my first party, right?” She groans, “This is gonna be good.” She says.
“And I’m trying to work up the nerve to talk to this total babe. And I just can’t, I have no confidence. And so…” I pause. I can’t just avoid talking about him. “And so Xander helps me out. And you wouldn’t believe what he does.”
“Boy, what did he do?”
“He trips her, so I can catch her in my arms.”
“But I’m caught off guard, right? Guess what?”
“She FALLS ONTO THE GROUND, AND IS KNOCKED OUT!” Peyton is wheezing, at this point.
“The whole time, guess which song is playing! Guess! I’m Still Standing. Elton John.”
“OH MY GOD! IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER!” Peyton says, in between wheezes.
“And,” I pointed down at Charlie. “That’s how I got my first date with her.”
“I swear on the styx.” I see Sopia win the fight with Charlie, but she’s stopped by Serene. Sopia grabs Arthur out of the chaos and shoves him into Serene, a punk move, but a smart one. Kill two birds with one stone. Sopia manages to out-maneuver one of the other guys, and practically spear throws the flag over to Heff. Peyton arms her bow, this time, filled with so much giddiness. She loads her arrow, and fires it off into the sky.
It explodes into colorful sun beams of light, breaking through the dark knight, just above where we sat. Heff looks up at us, and for a moment, there’s shock between both sides. It clicks for Heff the fastest, as he bolts down the stone lath, getting closer and closer.
That’s when I realized my error. The missing variable. Where was August?
August was the scout, who just couldn’t find us. Until now. And of course, he just had to happen to be on our trail as Heff bolted down the stone path.
Heff pushed past August, but August blocked him. The team captain had to get the other team’s flag in their hands. The goal was to bring Heff to me, and k would be in the most obvious spot. This is what I had overlooked. I grabbed one of Peyton’s Zerf arrows, one of the ones we modified for the original CHRONOS’ uses.
The glued suction cup was powerful enough to stick to anything. Almost permanently. I stabbed it onto the stone of our floor’s base and unwinded the strap.
“Peyton, I need you to give me a high five. Your hands are sweaty from all that Redditing. I think it might be enough.”
Without question, Peyton gave me a high five. I gripped the strap tightly, holding on for dear life. And then I did something stupid. I jumped from the bell tower, and dangled safely after I caught myself on the balcony. I jumped off of it from there. Peyton looked down in shock, and from then, it was easy. I snatched the flag out of Heff’s hands, and there were cheers.
It was only then that I realized the sad look in some of the player’s eyes. It wasn’t just sadness, because they lost. No, slam held onto their bruised arms. One kid was bleeding. Kevin looked worst of all, even having a black eye.
“Y-you guys did great!” I tried to keep the tone light, “I’m proud of you. The teachers would be proud of you guys, too. If you told them what we did tonight, which we won’t.
Deep down, I didn’t feel light. The looks of pain were familiar. They were what I saw when I looked in the mirror, every single day that CHRONOS existed. Every day I was under Flynn, every day I was trained by Jackson Ordonia, made into the monster I once was. The monster I am.
I don’t want to turn into them. No, I can’t afford to turn them. These are good kids on the line. I’ve known them for minutes, and I already feel closer to them than I did to the original members.
I hug Charlie, and decide that it’s time we call it a night.
My dreams are haunted by their whispers, by the one threat that remains impending. The Triumvirate.
They manipulated me, manipulated all of us, to bring us here. We still don’t know why, but I know that me and Mac Astley’s paths will cross again. But I remember more than that, now. I remember the beatings, how I got my limp. How Lina got expelled and it spiraled into this madness. How I would plead for Ximena in The Labyrinth, and she turned her back on me. And though it all, the kiss she gave, the kiss that, if anything, haunts me. The air was tense now, among me and Ximena. She kissed me in a time that she was emotional, where she needed somebody. We agreed to never bring it up again, to never let it become relevant. Still, the air remained tense, as I imagined how Charlie would react.
I woke up in a cold sweat.
I’m a bad person.
My Christmas break was fun. I was able to really bond with my Mom, and she and Tyler took me out to this abandoned cabin he, my Dad, and my Mom would sneak off to. But, mostly, I trained under Tyler’s wing, the guy had way more experience than I did, and I think I learned a lot.
Now, that was about a month ago. Why am I telling you this? Well, he taught me OrigOlympian history, and how The Heroes of OrigOlympus predated the actual book series, and represented a guild of heroes to preserve the “Union of Twelve,” whatever that means. They, at first, had a base at Caesar, back when they were a recognized club, which was abandoned when they made the move to Athens.
In reforming the Heroes of OrigOlympus, it hit me. I could use the empty base. We could hopefully, even, dig through their stuff, through the ruins of the past generation.
I brought the Heroes of OrigOlympus in to renovate the place. Ximena marvels at the architecture, but one of the kids, Bart, agreed that the infrastructure was failing. I had them all chip in and help rebuild the place, and we got some new, and in my opinion, wild, case files.
NTS: Look over them when you get the chance.
There was also, of course, some good news. I got these people to wax my floors.
Gee, Mac, big deal.
It is a big deal! They’re learning the fundamentals of The Heroes of OrigOlympus, discipline and balance. One of the major goals I’m going for is spreading the word of all the people who had such an influence on my life, most notably, my Mother. But also Tyler, and Edward, and yeah, maybe, subconsciously, Sebastian. But I also like to think that Sebastian learned a thing or two from me.
Once we got situated, it immediately became my goal to really connect with these students. Obviously, I was already familiar with the originals. Dennis, Ximena, and Lina, but wow, we had exploded in numbers, this time.
Adam and Luke were two of my biggest (and only) fanboys from Athens and Debbie Don’s. Honesty, they’re awesome, and it was great seeing them again.
Kato Somrew had grit, and she had clearly learned alot from Ximena. During the first exercises, she would always find ways to work smarter, and not harder.
Bart Montez’s brain would always wander, as he waxed and wiped I’d find him muttering off calculations to himself.
Kaitlyn knew the chores, she knew the work, because she knew where I learned it from. Edward, her brother. I think she’s star student material, and it was amazing seeing her and Keana reunite, hugs all around.
And… Xena Strohm? It never really occurred to me that Xena still existed, but here she was, siding with us. Go figure.
There was really no one else other than those guys, Sebastian outnumbered us by about half a dozen.
Once that was done, I began my first lesson. “Alright, class! Everyone worked up their sweat?” They all nodded. “Good, good, that builds up humility and muscle memory. And hey, you’re just lucky your teacher didn’t try drowning you. I think, before the next exercise, we look over the core values and ideas of being a Hero of OrigOlympus. Now, speaking your mind is great and all, right?” They all nodded.
“But you should absolutely not delve into extremism, there is a set order in things these days, and we were to break it’s roots then there would be chaos, that’s just a fact of life.” Some people reluctantly nodded. “So in short, change is good, but we don’t want too much change, too much freedom, because that can lead to chaos. Any questions?”
Adam and Luke raised their hands. “What’s the problem with chaos?”
“Well, people can use that chaos to your advantage, to destroy things, to cause suffering, and soon, it’ll affect you. Which leads me into my next principle. CHRONOS is all about spreading the word, to handle the external conflict. The Heroes of OrigOlympus are all about the internal conflict, you should feel free to look into the problems you have at your core, and be willing to change, to constantly be flowing. Any questions?”
“What if there’s more conflict going on externally then there is internally?” Lina asked.
I smile, “Well, Lina, if you’re going to face an issue, then it’s best to handle it at your internal best, then your internal worst, no?”
She nods, “You have a point, but-“
“The next integral piece of The Heroes of OrigOlympus ideology is forgiveness. If someone betrays you…” my voice trails off, “Then you should always forgive them.” I stared at the rain dripping off of the dark window outside. You’re full of crap, Astley. I push that idea outside of my mind.
“True harmony is found when we all play a role in the tramd scheme of things, sure, you can be the littlest ant or the mightiest lion but everything plays a role, everything works when everyone works together. And finally, fear will always work against you, and lead to your downfall?”
Xena raises her hand. “Hi, question. Sebastian taught me that fear is a double edged sword, you can be cautious, and you can surely channel that fear into other emotions. What’s your thoughts on this?”
I shake my head, “I- I just have to disagree there. And can you really trust someone who idolizes Luke Castellan’s word?”
They all murmur in agreement, “I mean, guys, I’m Percy Jackson, I’m the good guy.”
You’re not trying to convince them, are you? You’re trying to convince yourself.
Lina smiles, “So, what’s next?”
“Funny you should say that. Lina, you were once Origami Neptune during your time at Caesar, right?” She nods.
“Well, then, lead us to the pool, because today we learn how to kick.”
The guys were tripping each other as our band of awkward misfits stumbled down the hallway, trying to avoid getting caught. Fortunately, I’m the only guy who’s supposed to be doing the catching. I grab Ximena’s cold hand, silently. She’s laughing at a video on her phone.
“Oooh, can I see?” She shows me a video that looks like a TikTok, of some kid, maybe seventeen or eighteen, the qualities pretty poor so he’s probably live streaming using his phone. I’ll admit, the guy is actually pretty funny. But then his Dad walks in and the video cuts off. Ximena likes the video, but does look worried.
“Y’know, I tried looking for your TikTok when I got my new phone.”
“Oh I deleted my TikTok, even my Instagram.”
“No, no, all of that was just hogging up my phone, especially after The Folded Connections was created. Anyways, this streamer on here, Vietch, he’s hilarious. He has Origami Constantine and-” I pause.
“I’m sorry, The Folded what?”
“The Folded Connections. Y’know. The site that these guys up at Claremont created, all the kids with all the Origami from all the schools.”
“I- I never heard of this.” For a moment, Ximena looks stunned. Then it comes to her.
“When did you get your phone?”
“The site was created last April, it was what your Dad used to find you.”
I stepped back, “Oh, oh my god, this- this is huge! It feels like for so long I’ve been searching for answers on how all this origami is popping up and it’s- it’s at my fingertips!” She laughed, “Yeah, pretty much. I’m really surprised you guys haven’t learned about it.”
“Yeah, information doesn’t really get in or out of Caesar. I’m pretty sure someone could die here and no one would find out.”
We arrived at the pool.
“Jeez, why are we out here?” Bart complains.
“Yeah, Jesus, it’s so freaking c-” I swept Kato’s leg, and dropped her into the pool.
“Better get those legs kicking.” I say.
Bad news: I’m leading all of these impressionable kids down a dark, dark, path I know all too well.
Good news: I know that now.
I have a few amends to make, first.
CHRONOS has met up once more, and there was actually one person who I really needed to- er- talk to. Kevin Kwan. The problem is, I can’t visit his dorm because it’s also Mac’s dorm, and I don’t want to talk to Mac, ever, really.
So, where did I find him? On the roof of the Fifth Cohort, literally, where else? Now, Sebastian, you might ask, before you tell your story, why were YOU on the roof?
To cry, duh.
I felt awful, like I was becoming Flynn and that in just a few days all these kids would lose all of their own friends someday, and someday they’d reform their own CHRONOS, but hopefully, it’ll be like a telephone, each generation can be better than the last. But tonight, I wasn’t feeling it. And the roof was a place where I could look down at Caesar, and if they were to look up they could see.
Hey. Somebody is on the roof. Get him down.
Who would think that the bright, lively Sebastian Merrick could vanish so easily in a cloud of dirty, hipster vape. I coughed
And as my feet dangled off of the roof, someone stepped out of the balcony below. Ooh, what do we have here?
Kevin had the tissue box in one hand, and was tending to a wound. “Hey, you uh, you might want to use some rubbing alcohol there.” He looked up and jumped.
“Sebastian?” He asked.
“In the flesh.”
“What are you doing up here?”
“Getting a good sulk in, you?”
“I guess this makes two of us.”
I jumped down, “Hey, listen, I’ve been meaning to talk to you. During the capture the flag game, you got a pretty rough beating, there. Remember, if you need anyone to talk to, I’m here.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. ‘We’re a family’.”
“Hey! That’s true, y’know.”
“Quiet down, Mac’s trying to sleep. Him and Dennis had to wipe off in the bathroom.”
“What do you think about Dennis?”
“Well, I like him. Sometimes, I see myself in him.”
“And do you like what you see?”
“Well then, change your way of looking at things. Flip the script, become the person you want to be.” I snapped, “Just like that.”
“Just like that.” He repeated.
“Listen, the way that I see it, it should be those bullies wiping off their wounds, bloodied and beaten to a pulp. As you are. If you fight fire with fire, the fire inside you will only grow.”
He nodded, “I gotcha.”
“Oh, jeez, I almost forgot. I’ve been meaning to give you this.” I produced a puppet from my pocket. Fold Zhang.
“Because I’m asian?” He rolled his eyes.
“No, no!” I paused, “I mean, that’s part of it but… the point is, you’re timid, you’re, no offense, weak, but I can feel it in the air around you, strength and war flows through your blood.” He took the puppet in his hands.
“…Thank you.” He says. I grabbed his shoulder and gave it a good squeeze, “No problem.”
“So, what is it that you wanted to talk to me about, Sebastian?” Lina asks. I had decided to visit her dorm, and she didn’t really have a dorm mate. The place just gave off a magical sense of loneliness.
I cringe. “Jeez, I- I don’t know. I just needed to talk to an old friend. It’s just been so long since I’ve had a sit down like this.”
“Hey, it’s only awkward if you make it.”
“Well, I’m making it awkward, so…” she laughs, then sighs. “You’re a mess.”
“Well, no one’s ever put it that bluntly before, but yeah.”
“I’m your first friend, we just… know, y’know?”
“So, I reformed CHRONOS.” She took a sip of her nighttime tea.
“So I’ve heard. Let me guess, you came here to invite me.”
“Oh, no, no, no. I mean, unless…”
Lina sighed again, “Sorry, man, but it’s a no for me. I just don’t really agree with CHRONOS anymore. But I don’t want us to fight, I don’t want war.”
“I mean, just tell Mac to stay out of my way.” She snorts.
“Do you really think that he’s just trying to get in your way?”
“I mean, yeah.” She shakes her head, stifling a lap.
“That’s rich. Sebastian, can I let you in on a little secret? We both know I ran the rebellion.”
“No, I ran the rebellion.”
“To clarify, I ran the sane rebellion. I wanted Mac to lead it, and you took that chance from him with The Titan’s Curse Word.”
“I didn’t do The Titan’s Curse Word.”
“But Xander did, and whether you like it or not, you inspired that. And what about the fight?”
“He called me in the middle of the night and challenged me to that.”
“See, that’s the problem here, Sebastian. You say one thing, and he says the other. And neither one of you is willing to admit that you’re just two people, both with your own demons. It’s sad that my brother is with either of you.”
“You have a brother?”
“Yeah, Chase Kemp. Your ‘star student’?”
“But you two look so different, I mean, he-”
“Gets it from my Dad.”
“Oh. Well, I’m trying to do better, Lina, I promise.”
“Sebastian, all I see in you right now, is a scared little boy in pain, who regrets his entire past. That’s Flynn’s training.”
“Jackson’s training. Jackson trained me, prepared me to be ruthless, Jackson turned me into a weapon. All Flynn did was pull the trigger.”
“Well, now that both Jackson and Flynn are gone… what do you want to do?”
“I want freedom, I want to prepare these kids for a world where they’ll have to fight for everything they have.”
“That’s more like it. But make me a promise, look after Chase. Just because we’re on opposite sides doesn’t mean we’re all in the same boat here.”
“You and Chase are like family. I promise I won’t lead him astray.”
“And don’t get him killed either,” she joked.
I laugh and head for the door, “Thanks- I- I really needed this.”
“Anytime.” She said.
I took a step outside, and I wish I gave Lina a proper goodbye. Because this was the last time we would ever talk for the rest of this year.
When I returned to my dorm, Chase was out with Kato and Bart. I shouldn’t try to stop him from having a social life.
So, I put my headphones on, and listen to music for a little while. I open up my book, Perks of Being A Wallflower and am only broken out of that world by a knock at my door. “Chase?” No response.
“Jeez, okay, well, um. Come in, I guess.” The door swings open and I see his vague silhouette.
“I saw the capture the flag game.” The voice is vaguely familiar. I just can’t place it.
“Listen, if you wanna join CHRONOS-” he chuckled.
“I’m already a member. I was a member before you too, even. And I just have to say, congratulations. We haven’t had the Egyptians since the nineties, but now, we’re back on top.” His voice is cold, calculating, but rough. Like he’s trying to analyze all my weaknesses. “We’re back home, back where we should be. Everyone thought that our story was over, but can’t you see? The real story is only just beginning.”
Jackson Ordonia steps from the shadows.
“I HAVE A FEW QUESTIONS!!” I screamed as I chased Lina Kemp down the art wing.
You may be wondering a lot from that sentence, and I was, as well. This was why I exclaimed I had a few questions. Alas, Lina refused to answer them.
It was maybe two thirty at night, and I was experiencing a major case of insomnia. Upon footsteps, I went to investigate and found Lina and Dennis planning an escape from the second cohort.
Lina didn’t want me along, but knew it would be better to let me tag along then tell me to go back to my dorm, because I’m persistent. And annoying.
After a bit of speed walking, Lina had completely left me and Dennis in the dust, I figured he’d be my best bet for answers. “So… what are we doing?”
“Getting answers. Mac refuses to tell me what’s up with Mallory, and why she’s acting like I don’t exist. Meanwhile, when Lina was at Caesar she knew everything. Now she knows nothing. We’re going to fix that.”
“Makes sense to me…” I stopped dead in my tracks, “Hey, how do you plan to do that?”
“Oh,” he laughed to himself, “A kid lives here.”
“Yeah, yeah, a child. He kind of sleeps here. Used to be several children.”
“And what… happened to them?”
I am now scared of Dennis.
We catch up to Lina, and she’s already picked the lock. I wondered what her Mother would think.
Lina swings the door open and immediately I hear shuffling. I look to my two mew comrades for help and they both look just as confused as I am.
I take a deep breath as the realization engulfs me. I have to take the plunge.
I step into the art room and my jaw drops. Because I see the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen. And she’s scared of me.
Hair the color of caramel drops down over her shoulders, as her freckled face peers at us from behind a canvas. On the canvas itself is a painting, a mechanical dragon drifting through the clouds, as graceful and as delicate as the girl’s features.
“This can’t be the kid.” I whisper to Lina.
“You’re right. It’s not.” She extends her hand, “C’mon, now, we don’t want to hurt you.”
The girl giggles, “Like you could.” She mutters. She steps out from behind the curtain in a pair of overalls over a moss green blouse. “Gee whiz, I thought you were a teacher. Hey wait, aren’t you the old principal’s daughter?” She laughs, “How’s the job search going?”
“Y’know, I actually have always wondered that.” Dennis mutters.
“That’s- that’s none of your business. Who… are you?”
She extends her hand and Lina shakes it, “Name’s Margaret. And you’re Lina Kemp, I know. Who’s the cronies?”
“This is Dennis Redwood,” Dennis waves, “And this is Bart Montez.” I can barely muster up a squeak. “Now, answer this. What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was kicked out of the art elective after stealing utensils to make Calypsjoe.”
“I don’t get the pun,” Dennis says, “Who’s Joe?”
“Joe Mama,” me and Margaret say at the same time, and she smiles at me. I think I’m in love.
“But, anywho, parry this. What are you three doing here?” She asks.
“Well, there’s a kid uh… living in the closet. We came to deliver him to Mallory, and hopefully heal him, and get some answers. We’re all a bit confused.”
“There’s a lot of that going around.” She mutters.
Lina opens up the closet door and Dennis shines a flashlight down the hall. Something scuddles by, knocking over a paint can.
Something falls from the ceiling. A giant, mangled piece of kirigami, with nine heads. A hydra.
“Guys, can we go?” I say, but I’m already turning down. The door closes behind us.
Dennis shines his flashlight at the closed door and I see the saddest sight. A kid, malnourished, and hunched over, all that covers him is an oversized monitor’s outfit. He can’t be older than twelve.
“The sirens…” he muttered, his voice scraggly and broken, “No more sirens… no more friends.”
Lina places a hand on his shoulder, causing him to scurry around, “Mom? Mom?”
It takes a while for Lina to register that the kid is calling her Mom. “Dennis, pick him up. Mallory’s the class president, she cares about mental health. She’ll… she’ll protect him, right?” Dennis nods, “She has to. She’s nice like that.”
Dennis reaches for the kid, and is bitten so fast I wouldn’t have noticed if Dennis hadn’t started crying.
“He’s gonna put up a fight.” I said.
“Wow, what made you think that?” Lina asked.
Dennis continued to cry.
“Hey, Margaret!” Lina shouted. “Close the door on the outside of the art room, will you?”
We hear the sounds of a door slamming shut.
Lina flings the Origami Hydra at him, and he begins to pet it like it’s a small animal.
“Okay, let’s make a plan. If we open the closet, he’ll probably run around the art room. We have to keep him contained, knock him out with what we have in here.” Lian said.
“Nyeh,” Dennis threw a paint brush at him.
He threw it back.
“This one… he’s tricky.” Dennis admitted.
Lina was about to throw a statue of what looked like Posiedon at him when I stopped her, “That could kill him. Also that material is hard to come across and someone probably worked very hard on that.”
“Any better suggestions?” Lina asked.
“Have you ever seen Home Alone?” I asked.
Surprisingly enough, the art closet had enough supplies to make some decent traps. We just had to get him in them, and so far, the only thing he seemed interested in was the Origami Hydra we gave him.
“Set him free.” I said.
“But then how will the traps work? They’re only in the closet.
“Ok, when I open the door,” the kid perked up when I said the word ‘door.’, “I will proceed to wrestle him, while the two of you set traps. Okay?”
“That’s a bad plan.” Dennis said.
“We’re doing it.” Lina said.
And after s count of three, I swung the door open, and hell broke loose.
Now, it might be hard it’s believe, but I, a being of pure handsomeness and muscle, nearly succumbed to him. My opponent was fierce, so fierce, in fact, he almost knocked over Margaret’s painting. I caught it with a wink and a wisecrack.
Soon, my plan came to fruition, the paper airplanes were shot from their catapults, made from screws and paintbrushes, and they encased him in a net.
“THAT…” Margarat said, “WAS AWESOME.”
I brushed my hair through my fingers, “All thanks to my planning, of course.”
She hugged me, “I worked on the painting every night for… months! Thank you! How did you- how did you do that?”
I wrote my dorm number down on Leo Foldez and slide it over to her, “I’d be happy to tell you over a…”
“Red bull.” She said.
“Red bull it is.”
Dennis carried the netted child, grumbling as he did it, to Cohort Five. In the lobby, however, he broke free.
This is bad. This is very bad.
He would wake everyone up, cause property damage, it would be a whole thing. But that’s not what happened.
What happened was much weirder.
He tripped and fell, flat on his face. Someone caught him, and soon, there was another flash of light in the lobby. I winced, almost blinded.
The person holding onto the kid looked old, probably an eighth grader. He towered over us like he was a god.
Lina was the only person who recognized him, and she kneeled. Me and Dennis instinctively did the same.
“Rise, Folded Sibling.” He said.
“What did he call you?” I asked.
Lina hushed me.
“What do you wish for, Kurt?” Lina asked, resentfully.
“I want to give you a warning.” He said.
Lina grimaced, “Who do you think you are…?” He shushed Lina, “Don’t worry, I’m not the bad guy here.” He promised.
“Who… are you?” Dennis asked.
Kurt spread his arms, “Shouldn’t it be obvious?” He asked, “I’m Kurt Gold. Jupitorigami.”
“Lina,” he continued, “When you left, I warned you that the Roman OriGods were growing weak, that something was steadily approaching.”
“Well, it hasn’t approached, yet. We’re doing just fine without you.” Lina grumbled.
“You’re right about one thing, it hasn’t approached. It’s already here. So many defeated, Lina. Venus. Vulcan…” he grimaces, like he’s remembering a bitter enemy, “Juno. They’re all gone. Even I am Jupitorigami only in puppet, all of our power has been stripped from us. Only now, do I know why. The Triumvirate. Xander Strohm, the blasted Zeusigami, has peeled away at our foundations. Can I ask you a question, Lina?”
She nodded, and I realized… she was scared. Heck, I was too.
“What did you expect to happen when Athens and Caesar reunited?”
“I-” she stammers, “I expected the OriGods to go to war. Gods versus gods.”
Kurt shook his head, “If only it were that simple. There were traitors among the Roman OriGods. Plans, crafted by Xander and The Triumvirate to strip me of my power and merge the two pantheons into one. One that could crush just about anything. Doesn’t that sound more dangerous, Lina?”
Lina shook her head, “We’ll fight them. We’re stronger in numbers.”
“If only you knew.” He handed Lina the child, “Our paths will not cross again,” he muttered, as he walked away. “I’m moving in February.”
“Wait!” Lina called.
He turned, and Lina wrapped him in a hug. “Good job,” she said, “I’ll miss you.”
He patted Lina on the head, “I’ll miss you too.”
On his way out, he turned. “Oh, and remember. Just one last thing. Zeusigami and his children will always face the greatest temptation. You faced it during the war at Athens, I’ve heard. Tell Chase I’ll see him on the other side.”
And he walked up the stairs.
“What was that about?”
“Let’s… not find out,” she said, “C’mon, Dennis. Let’s go see your girlfriend.”
After hurrying up the stairs, we knocked at Mallory’s door. Dennis was practically jumping with anticipation.
Mallory answered the door with her lipstick shining a ruby red.
“We found him in the art closet, you’ll take him not the nurse, right? You’ll help him?” Lina asked.
Mallory looked down at him, and got a disappointed look on her face, “So that’s where he went.” She waved her bony hand, “I was worried we’d have to set up another funeral.” She laughed, poshly.
Dennis pushed past me and Lina, and wrapped Mallory in a warm and tender kiss. For a moment, everything was happy. Then Mallory pushed Dennis away.
“Dennis, honey. How do I put this?”
“You… have a boyfriend now? Just my luck.”
“Oh, dear, my boyfriend is the least of your problems.” She pulled out a puppet in a purple shirt and a white cap. “This is OrigOctavian. And you…” she waved a finger at Dennis, “You were played. I never loved you. I never cared about you, Dennis. You’re weak. You’re nothing.”
Dennis locked up, his eyes dropping to the floor. He didn’t say anything.
That’s when Lina socked her in the jaw, “You… you’re a feisty one, aren’t you?” She wiped her jaw, “Don’t worry, I know that last time we met you didn’t play your role so well, don’t worry, we found a stand in.”
“What do you mean?” Lina asked.
“You’ll see. You’ll see.”
Lina was about to punch Mallory again, when she closed the door. Lina’s hands were met with the wooden door, bloodying them.
There was no use waiting outside.
There was no use trying to comfort Dennis, because no one would even know where to begin.
He had lost both Mallory and Sebastian. We were all he had. I put my arm on his shoulder, “Hey, there. Want a Diet Coke?”
Lina slapped me.
Me, Chase, Sopia, and Arthur were the first people to enter CHRONOS that night.
“Alright, listen up you raggedy %&@_&,” Sebastian says, “CHRONOS will be having a visitor today. He is not a teacher, that will remain me and Charlie, he is just a guest, when the other members come in be sure to make that clear. In the meantime, feel free to make yourself at home, class starts in a few minutes.”
I took a seat at the desk, and Chase, Sopia, and Arthur had to sit on the floor.
“Why do you get the chair?” Sopia asked.
“Well, I, uh, I sat here first. If you have a problem with that, then maybe you can try to move me.”
“Dude,” Chase said, “Quit being so agro.”
I smacked Chase. “Hey!” He shouted.
“Stop being such a little punk.” I told him.
He balled his fist. Arthur stepped between us. “Hey now, c’mon everybody!”
“Fine, fine. We should focus on fighting off the bullies anyway.”
Charlie stepped in through the door. “Hey, Miss Charlie!” We all yelled. She smiled, warmly.
“Anyways,” Chase says, “I got my reputation back. Y’know, for me, it’s like the expelled kid coming back. It just never works. Until you force it to.”
“Heck yeah, man.” I say.
The door swings open, and I ball my fist. I rushed up to him. “Just what the [REDACTED] do you think you’re doing here?”
He doesn’t flinch. He has a faint grin. “Listen, Kwan, I don’t mean any harm to you. I just came to teach my class.”
“Are- are you saying you’re the guest?”
“Guest, is it? Well, whatever the term is, yes. But I’ve reflected on what I’ve done, and I want to say I’m sorry.” He offered me his hand. I slapped it away.
Sebastian stepped out of his office, I immediately rushed over to him. “Sebastian! You didn’t tell any of us that the new teacher is Jackson Ordonia.“
He avoided my gaze, “Well, I uh… I didn’t think it was all that relevant. Do you two have history or something?”
“You could say that.” Jackson said from the back of the room.
“Well, good news, me and Jackson have history, too. And I’m happy to report, he’s a changed man.” I eyeballed him. “I’m onto you.”
“Anyways,” Sebastian said, “Here’s my girlfriend, Charlie.” Charlie waved. “She’s a co-leader, just so we’re clear.”
Jackson grimaced, “A female leader of CHRONOS. That’s new.” We all eyed him, then. “And it’s a welcome change.” He added on.
I returned to my comrades, “So we’re all in agreement, right? This guy stinks?”
“Oh yeah, of course.” Chase whispers back.
A little bit after this, the other members slowly file in.
“Late,” Charlie remarks, “As usual.”
Ben and Peyton focus on Jackson, they probably know Jackson as well as I do. They look like they’re trying to send Sebastian a message. This is a bad idea. There’s clearly a connection that I’m not picking up on.
Sebastian is up front, Charlie and Jackson stand behind him. “Alright! Ignore Mr. Ordonia, here. He is only a guest.”
“Yes, yes, of course. Only a guest, here. But I do have a question.” Jackson took a seat on the table. “What has he been teaching you?” He looks Peyton up and down, at her spindly noodle arms and baggy eyes. And her “The future is female” shirt.
“And what puppet do you have, Miss…”
“Hunter. Miss Hunter, though that’s also technically my Aunt.” She produces her puppet. “Here. This is… Artpollo.”
“Jesus Christ. Did Sebastian teach you how to handle an enemy?”
“Yes.” Chase steps forward, “If an enemy betrays you, you show no mercy.”
“Good job.” He patted Chase on the shoulder.
Suddenly, I felt the urge to prove myself. Chase seemed to be getting the attention from everybody. Sebastian. Charlie. Now Jackson, too. Who did this clown think he is, just because his Mom was the principal of Athens?
“But!” Jackson puts a finger in the air, “There’s more to it. When you’re playing, say, uh… Fortnite, do you worry about hurting the feelings of whoever you’re playing against.” No one disagrees.
“I didn’t think so. See, life is just another game. Every person is either your ally… or your enemy. The people you share this room with today, they’re your allies for life. But… those guys are your enemies. And in a game, you can win. Or you can lose.” He turned to Sebastian, “And do you know who can really teach them this?”
“Who?” Sebasrian asked.
“No way, mister.”
“Fine, fine. Suit yourself. Anyways,” Jackson checks his watch, “I have a video I’d like to show you all. Mac Astley has shown up on the school news’ YouTube channel.”
“You watch the school’s YouTube channel?” Sopia asked.
“Shut up.” Jackson says. He pulls out his laptop and opens up YouTube.
“And now…” Mallory, the host, says, grinning. The live stream has already started, “Mac Astley will be presenting his video presentation on his leadership of the new… and improved… Heroes of OrigOlympus. Enjoy!”
“Those are just a small few of the skills you will find upon joining The Heroes of OrigOlympus. I’m Mac Astley, and before I ran this highly successful organization, I like you, was an underdog. Now, you too, can learn what I learned, just be sure to take the pledge on our Instagram, @Heroesoforigolympus, that’s @heroesoforigolympus. Don’t be a pappy little spit wad, or a twinkie, and instead, learn the simpler things of life, don’t try to join CHRONOS or any other lame groups. This is Mac Astley, signing off.”
For a moment, we stood in stunned silence. Does he just think we can get away with this?
Sebastian was redder than my bloody noses. In a fury, he slammed his hand on the table and you could hear a finger crack. Charlie grabbed his shoulder, “Calm down, dear. There, there.”
Chase goes for him, “Hey, hey, don’t worry. Don’t worry.”
Jackson is unflinching. He looks at the remaining students of CHRONOS. “See what the enemy is looking like? What they’re doing. They’ve-” he twists his head to turn to Sebastian, “They’ve humiliated us. They’ve made us look weak, and stupid.” He looks me dead in the eye.
“Would you call Mac Astley a friend?”
“I-” everyone’s eyes turn to me.
“I mean, he is your roommate, “It’s play to say yes.”
“Then yes. He is.” He smiles and points at the paused video. “Now, is he your friend now?”
I shake my head, “No, no, I… he’s not. He betrayed us.”
Jackson whispers in my ear, “And what do we do to traitors?”
“No mercy, man.” I say. Ben, Heff, and maybe two or three others are with me. I didn’t invite Chase, or Arthur, or anyone who could jeopardize the mission.
“Alright,” I say to the group, twirling the keys to my- and Mac’s- dorm in my finger. “Let’s go over this one more time. Ben, you got the spray paint, right?” He nods.
“Heff, you… where are the baseball bats?”
“I couldn’t get the bats.” I sighed.
“Heff, I literally only brought you along because you were fast enough to get them from the gym.”
“Dude! Cut me some slack, I got a lot on my mind. My Dad said that if I don’t pass Algebra I have to sleep in the fetus room all summer.
Ben stepped back, “I’m sorry the what?“
“Anyways, I did find this cool rock, man.” He handed me the rock.
“I hate you.” I said.
I unlocked the door, “Find, remember, yall, do as much damage to Mac’s side as possible, make sure they know CHRONOS did it too. That’ll send them a message.”
I stepped into my door as CHRONOS’ members went wild and tore in, slashing at his cushions, spray painting the walls. The teachers here are so awful they probably won’t even care. Someone opens Mac’s desk and pours it onto the ground.
I start to feel a bloody nose coming along.
As we dig through his stuff, there’s a silver locket with an owl on it. I open it up and find Mac’s girl. She’s kind of hot, so I keep it.
I stare at the mess we made, and realize, this is what CHRONOS is all about. Making your voice clear. Making a difference. Being the person you want to be, the person who finally kicks back. As we start to leave, I feel my bloody nose. “Guys,” I grin, “You guys go on. I’ll stay back.”
Mac arrives about an hour later and finds me with a bloodied nose and his entire side of the dorm trashed.
“What the hell happened here?” He asks.
“They-” I fake stutter, “They came in here and started trashing everything.” I plead at his feet and wail, dramatically. “THEY GAVE ME A BLOODY NOSE!”
He grimaces. “Oh, this is not gonna fly.”
I am mildly annoyed. Now… Why am I mildly annoyed? Arthur, mostly. Oh, and Kevin has become a total clown, so that’s that.
So, I’m with CHRONOS, and we’re learning a lot from Sebastian, Charlie, and Jackson. Though I won’t lie and say I completely trust Jackson, but Sebastian is keeping him in check for the most part, with that being said, Jackson does keep talking about Flynn which is raising some major red flags.
Mac steps through the door. “Gee whiz,” Sebastian says, “Looks like we have a visitor.”
“I told you, Sebastian. This wasn’t done. You come here, break into my dorm room, steal the locker… steal the locker Ximena gave me,” he points at Kev, “And you beat up Kevin? You know, I was starting to think you had gotten better, that maybe you had a point. But you’re still just a jerk, you’re still just a bully who’s taking advantage of all these kids who are just as impressionable as I was.” He points at me and I get a glimpse at his eyes. They’re bloodshot, a little crazy.
“Chase, kid, you better get out of here, Sebastian is filling your head with-” I slap him.
He pauses, “Really? Maybe Kato’s right, maybe some of you really are just a lost cause.” I stand up but Sebastian sits me back down. “Easy, kid.” He says, “Some battles aren’t worth fighting.” He twists his words, directing them at Mac.
I look to my friends for support, and for a moment, I see something in Arthur’s eye. Gears are turning.
Mac points at the whole class, “Alright, I didn’t want to do this, but if you guys get any sense. Join The Heroes of OrigOlympus. Become better. Become honorable. Or… if you want to stay with CHRONOS… don’t come crying to me when your life ends up down the drain, when you end up…” he lifts his finger at Mac, “like him.”
And he steps out of the door. “See?” Jackson says. “Look at these delusional buffoons! Do they really think that they’re the good guys here? Do you really think that they’re the good guys here?” Arthur stands up.
“I do!” He shouts.
Jackson walks over to him, slowly. With each step, Arthur shrinks.
“What was that, Mr. Foust?”
“I think that they’re the heroes, none of this… none of this is right.”
“See, that’s the real problem, here. We’re all so caught up on right and wrong. In the real world, you have to fight for everything you can. There’s only strong and weak.”
“What if weakness is good? What if you can let yourself be vulnerable for just one minute to see that the world doesn’t revolve around you!”
“But what if it did, Mr. Foust?” He turned his back to him.
“What if that’s what CHRONOS is about? Grabbing the world with a pair of pliers and just Beating. It. In-to. Place.” With each syllable he slammed his hand into the palm of the other.
Arthur turned to Sopia, “Do you see this? C’mon, Sopia. We’re leaving.”
Sopia shook her head.
Have you ever seen those photos of actual mummies? They look like they should’ve crumbled to nothing by now, like one wrong move could make them fall apart. That’s how Sopia looked. Fragile. Dead. Her mouth hung open. She barely manages to force one word out.
Arthur sighs. And Arthur walks out the door. Traitor.
Sebastian claps his hands together, and for a moment, I think he’s proud of us. Then he does something none of us expected. He slams his head into his bedpost. Twice.
Charlie stops him before the third time. Jackson looks like he’s trying to turn invisible, and he’s doing a good job.
Sebastian’s face is angry. Like, angry angry. I hadn’t been so scared since my Mom dented a parent’s door when she was doing morning duty at Athens.
Once he finally composes himself, he’s crying. “WHO DID THIS!?!” He asks. Everyone is quiet. Kevin’s eyes darted around the room. He grabs Ben by the hair. “Was it you?” Ben gulps, and shakes his head. Sebastian shoves him off.
He punches Peyton. Really, for no reason. He even apologizes afterwards.
“CHRONOS is about fighting for what you believe in… but fighting with honor,” he says, in between sobs, “Look at me, whoever you are, and tell me that what yl udid was honorable, striking a man at his home, where he’s vulnerable, stealing all that he cares about. Do you know what that would make you? Weak. Cowardly. Is that what you want to be?” No one speaks up.
Charlie grabs Sebastian’s hand, “Babe… let’s go to the dance. Maybe that’ll help you cool off.”
“What? Sure, fine. I’m fine. Fine.” He turns to us, “Congratulations. Today I had planned to build you up physically, and I think you’re gonna get that. Everyone, on the ground. Do some pushups.”
“When do we stop?” I ask.
“Jackson is in charge. Jackson, don’t let them stop until someone cracks.”
Sebastian disappears with Charlie into his closet and he reappears in a white dress shirt and a blazer. “You look nice!” I say.
“Don’t patronize me.” He says. He stares at the members of CHRONOS. “What are you waiting on? Get to it!”
And the two leave for the dance, hand in hand.
We drop to the floor.
And I see Mac Astley’s locket dangling from Kevin’s neck. He winks at me, and tells me to shush. After a few dozen pushups, and most of us are out cold, Jackson finally looks up from his magazine. “Don’t leave. Don’t move a muscle. I’ll be out for a few hours, Kevin meet me in the cafeteria in an hour. There’s twinkies in the fridge.”
I dialed Flynn’s number into my phone. “Hello? Hello, hello?” He asked.
“Flynn, it’s time. I have Sebastian wrapped around our finger, c’mon man, let’s get to recruiting.”
Our objective was simple, our operation was small. We would go across the school and find new, better, members for CHRONOS. Because I had examined that the current CHRONOS, save for a few powerful folk, were weak as well. Flynn arrived with the list.
“Who’s first?” I asked.
“Georgia and Pablo.”
Georgia and Pablo were spending their Valentine’s day making out in the gym closet, we found out. Flynn clapped his hands together.
“You two lovebirds done?” Georgia hissed, “What do you want?”
“I have an opportunity. You can get back at Sebastian… and Charlie.”
Georgia stood up. “Babe. Get up.” Pablo awkwardly stood.
“But you have to prove yourself.” Flynn said.
“You two were former members of the original CHRONOS, right?” They both nodded. “Sebastian locked me out of The Labyrinth cameras. I want you to login and search through what you have in the first few weeks of December. What if I told you you could ruin Sebastian and Charlie, and play a key role in our place.”
They were already about to leave, to get on it, before Flynn stopped them, “But you need new puppets.” They turned and stared at Flynn, quizzically. “Take these,” he handed them an Origami Typhon, and an Origami Echidna. The husband and wife who birthed the most fearsome of monsters. Typhon nearly crushed OrigOlympus once. That got their goat.
We picked up Xander and Mallory, the other two members of The Triumvirate, on our way. Xander’s dress shirt was covered in Mallory’s lipstick. Xander slapped his thigh, “Well, today just keeps getting better and better!”
“That’s right!” I say, “You, The Triumvirate, will have your plans finally come to fruition!”
“All thanks to you,” Flynn says, “You’re just as valuable.”
Xander smiles, “So, what’s the plan from here?”
Flynn gets a twinkle in his eye, “Well, Jackson, I have a new puppet for you.” He hands me a new Origami figure. “Enough of that Tarquilt, crap. Now… you’re Creasligula. And you’ll lead CHRONOS as general in our armies. And Xander will lead the OrigOlympians and finally prove himself to his Mom. And Mallory will rule the students. And I will lead the spread. With Alexander and Angela’s help, we will stamp out weakness throughout the country. Do you understand what we are on the verge of, here?”
We knocked at door after door, and before long, the OrigOlympians, and the army of OrigOlympus… CHRONOS had united. It took over a year, ladies and gentlemen, but nothing is impossible.
We had gathered in the empty cafeteria. And I turned to The Triumvirate. “See? That wasn’t so hard…” I jumped up on the table.
“Toast! Toast! Toast!” They all cheered.
“To Xander! Your leadership of OrigOlympus rivaled even Varsity Kemp herself! You successfully managed to destroy Athens itself, based on Mrs. Kemp’s own decisions. And who could forget the election bid that gave rise to Zeusigami! Phenomenal!”
“To Flynn! Working around, seeing who’s vulnerable to manipulation, from Sebastian, to Chase, to Kato, all of it, just… just genius! And to your puppet… Chronos!”
“To Mallory! OrigOctavian! Good god, woman, you played Dennis, Lina, Mac, Ximena, and everyone like a fiddle, all that information coming to us, so steadily, sewing distrust among them, you’re great!”
“To Sam and The Titans, Sam held us up through it all, fitting for his puppet… Origami Atlas! You brought Kaitlyn to Caesar, and of course, there’s your work leading The Titans to beat up Sebastian! I’d happily like to invite you to be the lieutenant of CHRONOS, alongside me.”
Georgia and Pablo rushed in, handing me the flash drive. “And cheers to Georgina and Pablo. The crux of this plan! I want to put you two in charge of recruitment for the army, okay? To Georgia and Pablo!”
“To Georgia and Pablo!”
“To Shirley and Serene!” Xander added, leaning on my table, “We’ll get you… I don’t know, a world’s best henchman mug.”
“To Shirley and Serene!”
“Cheers to the new OrigOlympus, Ben, Heff, Ballinae, Phillip, Anastasia, Heather, just… please go find me Peyton, she can’t still be running around with Artpollo, can she? To OrigOlympus!”
“And finally… to the star of it all. Step before me… Kevin Kwan.”
Kevin takes slow steps up to me, eyeing and sneering at Phillip. Instinctively, he kneeled before me. I watched as he wiped blood from his nose.
“I will be busy tonight, my friend. Georgia, hand Flynn the drive, we can’t have that getting smashed. Kevin, do me the honor of leading a raid to Peyton Hunter’s dorm room, a few more of our friends will be there, be sure to handle them accordingly.”
Once the army ran off, Xander, Mallory, and Flynn smiled at me. Even I felt weak in their presence.
“You did good.” Flynn said. “You did good. Slend the night training our secret weapon accordingly, and at dawn,” Mallory pulls it out.
“After the removal of Jackson Ordonia from the student council we have chosen to continue with three praetors, or a Triumvirate, that control the student body, to avoid corruption among each other.”
“Signed, Mallory Cross.”
“And Xander, you have the other paper, right?”
“Give me a second.” Xander spends a minute or two rooting around in his backpack, and he pulls out another piece of paper, slightly crumpled up. He smooths it out on his leg.
Yeah, that’s right. They’re running for election. I step out the door, almost scared that this won’t work. Xander pats me on the back, “Hey, c’mon. This’ll work.”
“I know it will,” Mallory says, “Because I don’t know what’ll do if it doesn’t.”
Almost immediately, August stumbled over and spilled kool-aid on Sebastian. Sebastian didn’t even get mad. He just asked why August hadn’t showed up to any of the recent CHRONOS meetings. I’m sorry if it’s rude, but I hadn’t noticed he was gone.
August, too, looked like he had been crying. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry it’s just…” he flailed his arm around and spilled more Kool-aid on Sebastian, “This kool-aid is bussin!”
“Are-” I began, “Are you okay?”
“August Hunter just said something was bussing.” Sebastian noted, “No, something is not okay.”
We then realized what song was playing. Come On, Eileen. This was him and Edward’s song. Edward hadn’t transferred over to Caesar like we did, and I found it sad that no one even bothered to check on August. Edward and August were in love, and I couldn’t imagine losing someone like that. I scratched his hair, “Hey, we’re here for you if you need to talk.”
“Why… Why would I need to talk?”
“You seem pretty bad.”
Sebastian grabbed my shoulder, “I think he wants to be left alone.”
“No, we have to help him.”
“Honeybunches, he clearly wants to be left alone.”
“Do you want to be left alone?” I ask August.
August barely mutters, but nods his head. Sebastian drags me out onto the dance floor.
“You look gorgeous.” He says.
I comb his hair with my fingers and adjust his handkerchief. “You do, too.”
I rest my head on his shoulder, and we dance. His hands slide onto my waist, as he pushes some of the hair out of my face.
“Thank you.” He says.
“For staying with me. Listen, I’ve been so stupid these last few months. I’ve done some stuff I don’t even want to get into, and some mornings I wake up, and I’m still wondering why I still have you. And why you still give me all these second chances because look at me, I’m a piping hot mess.”
“Emphasis on hot.”
He blushed as he laughed. He kissed me on the side of my forehead.
“I love you.” I whisper in his ear, “And don’t ever forget that.”
“I love you t-” he bumps into someone. “Hey, watch-” he backs up.
“Hi, Ximena.” I shake her hand, “Hey, Mac. I like your dress.”
Mac smiles, “Isn’t it great? Ximena lent it to me! IT HAS FISH ON IT!”
I hit Sebastian’s arm, “Bas, say hi.”
Sebastian frowns, “Hi, Mac. Hi, Ximena. And, uh… Mac. I’m sorry about your dorm. I promise, I had nothing to do with that.” He sighs. “Fine, I guess I can believe you.”
I point at one of the empty tables, by the guys playing basketball in the corner. “Should we go take a seat? The four of us?” Ximena grins, already wrapping her arm around Mac. “You know what, Charlie? That sounds like a great idea!”
“Ok, let me get this straight.” I say.
“You manipulated Mac into giving you a pen.”
“Mac blamed him for framing you and picked a fight with him.” Mac nodded.
“You broke his leg in self defense. And so you publicly humiliate him?” I ask Mac.
“Those details are a little loose but-”
“No, that’s what happened.”
“So how did you two meet?” Ximena asks.
“Well, I moved in at the start of the school year. Gang assault.”
“Excuse me?” Mac asks.
“Oh, uh… Xander trips me as part of Sebastian’s big plan to ‘nurse me back to health’.”
“Hey, now, Xander didn’t tell me what the plan even was. How was I supposed to know?”
“Well, we all make our mistakes. Mac smashed a balloon with a book, and,” she pecked him on the cheek, “here we are.”
“I’m sorry, but how’s that going?” Sebastian asks.
“Well, uh… I was the guy who sneezed on Mr. Good Clean Fun’s leg.” Sebastian and Mac break out into laughs.
“Who’s Mr. Good Clean Fun?” I ask.
“Oh, he was this guy with a singing monkey who’d teach us about germs and health and stuff.” Sebastian explains, “A few years back someone sneezed on him and he had a panic attack on stage.”
“Oh, back at my old school we had Senior Dandy Clean Jolly and Crumpet, The Baboon.”
Sebastian, Ximena, and Mac are cackling with delight. Once Ximena’s done, she smiles. “I hope this new generation is better than we are, maybe a bit more… civilized?”
Sebastian grimaces, “They better be doing their pushups.”
“I left The Heroes of OrigOlympus with a few copies of The Giver and Perks of Being A Wallflower. They’re going to be handing in essays next week.”
“Freaking cowards.” Sebastian mutters. Mac ignores him.
“Says the guy who pretended to not like Percy Jackson just so he can see if I like it.”
“Wow.” I say, “You guys really like fighting each other.”
“I’m just defending myself!” Mac says, “As always.”
“First off, that’s bull dung.”
Ximena sighs, “This is the problem. You say one thing, you say the other, you both think there’s only one side to every story.”
Sebastian sighs, “Fine. There’s two.”
“No,” I bud in, “There’s three. Sebastian’s. Mac’s.” And I gesture at me and Ximena, “And then there’s the truth. And the truth is, you guys are more alike than you want to admit, and that scares you, and in another world you would both just be best friends.”
“I… I guess I am kind of guilty.” Sebastian says. “Kind of.”
“Yeah,” Mac sounds exasperated and tugs on his dress’s neckline. “Me too. Can we go now?” He asks Ximena. Ximena smiles, “Fine. We can go.” Me and Sebastian get up.
Me and Ximena hug, “You’re my hero.” I said to her.
“Oh, you’re great.”
Sebastian shakes Mac’s hand. “Happy Valentine’s day.” He says.
“Ditto. Can’t believe it’s been a year since you’ve been expelled.”
“Believe me, time does not fly by. But hey, that’s not your fault. Right?” He smiles, “Yeah. Let’s hope that we can do better, this time.”
“Wouldn’t that be great?”
That’s when the weirdest thing happened. I looked outside and saw golden sun fireworks above Cohort One.”
“We better see what that’s all about.” I said.
And the four of us raced doesn the gym hallway, following the beacon.
August stepped through the door, last, holding a glass of Kool-aid, “Alright! I think that finishes things off. Hello, hello, welcome to the Single’s Valentine’s Day Party, you sad sacks of garbage.”
Adam through a wadded up ball of paper at me, which I caught mid-air.
In the room were my fellow CHRONOS members, all sprawled out over my bed. Or, at least, Sebastian wasn’t there. Nor Kevin (yet.)
We neglected to invite Sebastian, he wasn’t single. The entire goal was to mope around in our own sadness, as you do. So… we had Chase, Sopia (who we were trying to convince to ask out this guy, Alexander), and finally, August.
The door knocked half way through our Titanic screening, and I went to get it. Immediately, the members of CHRONOS tensed up and got in a fighting position.
“What are they doing here?” Sopia hissed.
The Heroes of OrigOlympus stepped through the door.
“Listen, everybody, I was hoping that with Valentine’s day being the day of live and all that we could finally unite, put this stupid rivalry behind us all?”
“Yeah, like that’ll happen.” Kaitlyn snorted.
“Watch it, Emily.” I muttered.
“Oh shut up, Hunter.”
In total, there were twelve of us in the room. Myself, Dennis, Lina, Kato, Bart, Lina, Keana, Xena, Arthur, Sopia, Kaitlyn, and my brother. Ready to make amends.
After an hour of arguing I had just about had it. I rubbed my fingers to my temples, not just because I had a migraine but because I wanted them to know I had a migraine.
“I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PUT THIS ANY CLEARER!” I shouted, “IF WE’RE GOING TO STOP THE TRIUMVIRATE,
CHRONOS AND THE HEROES OF ORIGOLYMPUS HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER.”
“Hey, I was in CHRONOS,” Arthur said, “And it just won’t work, CHRONOS and The Heroes of OrigOlympus are fundamentally and philosophically incompatible.”
“Oh, look at you using big boy words.” Sopia said.
“C’mon, guys, let’s go.” Kaitlyn said.
Dennis slammed his hand on the table. “HEY, $^@*!#!” He screamed at his own teammates, this got their attention.
“THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT SHE- THEY WANT. They want us to be divided, they want us at each other’s throats. Sebastian Merrick and Charlie Leavings not included, CHRONOS is the biggest collections of a%&wipes and p$&!f$&@*s you can imagine,” he points at Sopia, “You were one of them.” And then Chase, “So were you! Heck, even Lina was at one point. But CHRONOS has changed into something we have to fight. So if by joining forces is the only way to stop CHRONOS and The Triumvirate is, then we’d all be p$&!f$&@*s not to do it!”
Chase and Kato looked at each other. The Heroes of OrigOlympus sat down.
“Now…” I said, “Xena, I’ll need you to bust your computer out, do your old duties from CHRONOS.”
Xena pulled out her computer and opened the doc up, “First thing’s first. Mac and Sebastian are at odds, how do we handle that?”
“We need to stick the ladies on them, Sebastian and Mac are both just a couple of simps.” Lina chimed in.
“Alrighty, let them come up with our new ideologies, Ximena and Charlie will serve as the conflict resolution. Lieutenants?”
“I think it should be Chase and Kaitlyn.” Arthir said.
We all whispered in agreement. “Ok, we got that done. Now… lair?”
“It’s either Sebastian’s dorm or a small building out in the woods, the choice should be obvious.” Keana said.
“Okay, so we will train and plan in The Heroes of OrigOlympus’ lair, correct?” Everyone nodded.
“Onto names. We don’t serve Olympus. CHRONOS is just… no. So, any better ideas?”
Kato rubbed her hands together, “I got it! So, most of us are the kids of OriGods, right? Well, what if we called ourselves The Blood of OrigOlympus, like the book?”
“I dig it. Xena, write that down.”
“I’m on it.”
“And what about the… erm… nationalist?”
“The who?” Kaitlyn asked.
“The good people who remain loyal to CHRONOS, take Kevin Kwan, for example.”
“Well-” Kaitlyn began, but she was interrupted by a knock at the door?
“Come in!” I shouted.
And Kevin stepped through the door. And he was followed by Ben and Heff.
Everyone in the room smiled. Everything was great.
Then Georgia and Pablo stepped in behind them. And then Shirley and Serene. A dozen of CHRONOS’ ugliest and meanest members lined up, Kevin leading them. They hadn’t come to make peace. No. They had come to declare war.
Phillip cracked his knuckles and looked at Chase, “It’s payback time, punk.” He said.
Suddenly, the door was kicked open, again. My chest tightened up. About five more people had showed up, standing in front of them was my old partner. A monster who had gotten Kaitlyn expelled, and fought me when I left CHRONOS.
“Heard you were throwing a party!” Kevin yells.
“Too bad we weren’t invited,” Shirley whispers, her emotional support snake in hand. It snatched Chase’s Jason Plates out of his hand, and we slowly watched as it ate it.
Time for some gang violence.
The next hour was a blur. Somehow, someone managed to sneak a speaker in because CHRONOS’ favorite song- Ballroom Blitz- blared as we battled.
I fought like I’d never fought before—wading into legions of
Titans, knocking out enemies with every strike.
No matter how many I defeated, more took their place. It wasn’t long until many of our friends lay wounded in the streets. Too many were passed out.
Soon, the battles raged all across the First Cohort. Those who witnessed retreated back into their dorms, knowing there was nothing they could do.
At one point, Sopia was next to me, bonking Shirley over the head with a keyboard. Then she disappeared in the crowd, and it was Lina at my side, ramming her fingers into Kevin’s throat.
Bart would sneak around through the battle; whenever an enemy fell to the ground for no apparent reason with a surprised look on his face, I knew it was him.
But it was no use. We were, somehow, outnumbered.
Sam pushed me behind the desk in the lobby. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. My past had finally come back to bite me.
Suddenly, a hand wrapped around Sam’s throat, and shoved him, headfirst, onto the counter. I looked up and saw that my savior was Kaitlyn. “Let’s not make this a habit.” She said, containing a smile.
“Better late than never. Let me guess, you were busy pirating Naruto?”
“Would you shut up about that?”
Then we looked at each other, and grinned. “Plan forty two?” Kaitlyn asked.
Keana wrapped her arm around Kaitlyn, “You know it.”
Keana handed me a Zerf bow.
Kaitlyn and Keana propped me up, and I jumped up. Over him. He was so caught off guard that I fired the arrow at his head before he could even react. Kaitlyn tripped him, but before we could celebrate, Keana was dragged back away by Pablo. I went to follow her, when out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Kaitlyn, again.
Phillip was standing above her, holding her arm behind her back. “Hey, Kevin!” He shouted, “Free shot!”
Kevin ran. And I froze again.
I watched in horror as Kevin was about to break Kaitlyn’s arm.
And then the strangest thing happened. He jumped over Kaitlyn, and kicked Phillip in the face. Blood rushing down his face, he took out Phillip and helped Kaitlyn to her face.
“This’ll make for one awesome podcast episode,” Kaitlyn admitted. “Peyton could even be a guest.”
“I’d like that.” I said.
“A LITTLE HELP HERE!” Kato screamed as Ben tried to staple her.
I knocked the stapler out of Ben’s hands with a Zerf bow. I looked at Kevin.
“We need to get the attention of Mac and Sebastian.” I said.
“But how?” Kaitlyn asked, “They’re halfway across campus.”
Me and Kevin looked at each other. “The beacon.” We both mouthed. I jumped on Kevin’s back.
“ONWARD, MY BEAST!” I shouted, as I piggybacked down the hall, and Kevin took out anything that crossed our paths. Once outside, I notched the arrow and fired it into the air.
Mac, Sebastian, Charlie, and Ximena arrived shortly. The battle didn’t last much longer after that. They chopped down enemies left and right, and I knew that if they worked together we could achieve so much.
Three Days Later.
Empty spaces, what are we living for?
There we stood in our base, The Blood of OrigOlympus, underneath the rule of two of our greatest heroes, heroes NPR’s rivalry had built this entire world.
Abandoned places, I guess we know the scores.
On and on. Does anybody know what are we are looking for?
I looked around at The Heroes of O- No, the Blood of OrigOlympus’ lair, at the ruins of the past. And Mac standing before us. Chase arrived and wrapped Kato in a hug and a kiss on the forehead.
Kevin and Kaitlyn held hands.
Mac checks his watch.
Another mindless crime…
Behind the curtain
In the pantomime…
Ximena arrives and hands Mac a folder, standing at his side.
Hold the line
Does anybody want to take it anymore?
Sebastian Merrick steps through the door, into the room of stone archways and bookshelves. Charlie and Xomena face each other and shake hands.
Mac and Sebastian reluctantly do the same.
“Everyone ready?” Mac asked.
“Let’s begin!” Sebastian yelled.
The show must go on.
So, guys, I’m going to make this quick. Mac and Sebastian did their first lesson, argued a bit, got over it, blag blah blah. But they came to the realization to interrogate Jackson.
Real bright thinking there, boys.
And by all means, they should be telling this story. I was completely out of the loop here, I swear!
I didn’t even know they were in a quest or anything just poof and they’re gone. I hate it, they’re so dumb.
I called Mac once he was done for a few hours because, well, I’m his girlfriend. I worried about him. And maybe a little bit about Sebastian, too. Just a little.
I called Mac on my lunch break.
“Hey, Seaweed brain. Where are you and Seb?”
“Well…” he sounded nervous, “Me and him are with Jackson Ordonia.”
I hear Jackson Ordonia say something muffled about.
“Hi, Ximena!” Sebastian yells.
“Hey, Seb!” I say back.
“I can’t hear her.” Seb says.
“I didn’t put it on speakerphone.”
“Oh. Can I hear her now?”
“Ximena, can he hear you now?”
“I hope so.”
“I CAN HEAR YOU NOW.”
More muffled Jackson noises.
“So what are you doing with Jackson?” I ask.
“INTERROGATING HIM. DO YOU WANNA HEAR?”
“Sure.” I said. Then I paused, “Wait, you’re doing what?”
“He’s The Triumvirate’s greatest henchman. If anyone knows anything, it’s him.” Sebastian explains. “So, Jackson, what’s your plan?”
“I- I- I- I-” I hear the sound of Jackson being slapped across the face.
“I don’t know… what is… who is Jackson, I don’t know who this person is, at all.” Jackson says.
“Wait, then who is he?” Mac asked.
“This is Jackson, he’s- he’s probably lying.”
“Lying? That’s sneaky.”
“Listen, buddy,” Sebastian says, “If you don’t help us out I, uhh…
“Stab him.” I suggested.
“That might hurt him.” Mac said.
“Listen,” Jackson stammers, “I don’t know anything. I-”
I hear the sound of keys jingling and Iackson screaming in abject horror.
“XIMENA, GOOD NEWS, I WAS RIGHT. STABBING HURT HIM.” Mac yells.
“You’re so dumb.” Sebastian says, “Hey, listen.” He returns his attention to M
Jackson, “I get it. These were people you promised to protect, I get it, I understand. We just want to be your friend here.”
“Wait, really?” Mac asks.
“Yeah, yeah, we want to be his friends, get to know him and-”
“What’s your favorite movie?” Mac asks Jackson.
“I- I like Thor.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, Thor’s a great movie, Loki’s cool. ‘I am possessed by wonderful meaning.'”
“That’s not even close to the actual line.” Sebastian says.
“What are you doing?” Sebastian asked.
“Making a bond, for the friendship thing. And, man, Chris Hemsworth is really h-”
“Y’know, I loved The Destroyer.”
“Did you know that in Thor 3, all of those planets in the movie, they’re not real, I think the only planet they actually had on set was Asgard, and even that blew up. Y’know, Korg’s mot made of real rocks, either.”
“Ok, friends,” Sebastian persists, “I think we can move on from Thor now.”
“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Mac asks. I slam the phone into my head.
“I have two little sisters.” Jacksons says.
“Oh, that’s awesome! This is going great.”
“It’s really not.” Sebastian says.
‘What- what do you mean?” Mac asks.
“Y’know, we have to… get information, and all that.”
“Ohhh. Hey, can I ask you a question?”
“Say we needed to get some information, see. Like- like a name for thai friend group.”
“OH MY $&@*!<$ GOD.” Sebastian screams.
“Wait, is he going to be our friend or not?” Mac asks.
“HE’S NOT. THAT’S JUST A THING I HEARD COPS SAY ON TV TO GET PEOPLE TO ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS.”
Mac pauses for a moment. I’m trying my hardest not to laugh.
“Well, safe to say, I guess that our trio will linly have two members from now on.”
“Yeah, it’s just… me and Sebastian just reformed and-”
“You are so weak.” Sebastian says.
“Hey, we don’t need him,” Jackson says, “Listen, me and The Triumvirate are throwing a party, wanna come?”
“What’s the occasion?” Mac asks.
“Oh, well no one else is really running for the class presidency. So they plan to do that and win by default.”
I hear the sound of hands clapping. Mac’s hands. Then Sebastian starts to clap.
“WE GOT YOU, YOU SON OF A GUN!” Mac yells.
“Oh.” Jackson says.
“You’re good.” Sebastian said.
By Mac and Sebastian
Mac and Sebastian
We couldn’t decide who should write this.
Obviously, whatever’s going to happen tomorrow at the election, we need to be prepared. We sent Ximena out to handle the paperwork, so it was pretty much just us.
The goal was to share our new and improved rules, and then have a one on one with the students we felt needed it.
So, Mac stood before like fifteen students while Sebastian was in his office, doing… Sebastian, what were you doing?
Oh, I was reading. See, we prepared a script, and I kind of had to like… wait, so I was reading-
No one cares, anyways, Mac was up front. “Hey kids!” Mac said, “Today, we’re going to be learning about our new moral compass, doesn’t that sound fun? First of all, speaking your mind is important, and so is protest. With that being said, you need to hear other people out and listen to their side of the story. Make sense? Peace is always an option, de-escalate the situation at any chance you can get. But, it’s still important to stand your ground about things you’re passionate about. Make sense so far?”
Everyone smiles and nods.
“Good. Because I have a question of my own. Let’s say there are two eagles, one kills a lion, one kills a monkey? Which do you want to be?”
“The one that kills the lion.” Kato blurts.
“Good, because it killed a bigger animal. Striking your opponent at their weakest paints you as weak, too. If showing mercy, and letting your opponent fight on another day is the only way to make yourself stronger, and to let your enemy change and grow, then so be it. Everyone deserves a chance at redemption.”
As Mac wrote this part out, Sebastian hit him with a shoe.
“True harmony can only be found when everybody works together. From the biggest elephant, to the littlest fly, everybody and everything has a role to play. Everybody gives what they can, and in turn, gets what they need.” Sebastian steps into the room.
“Hey! Look who decided to join us!” Mac yells, annoyingly, “Sebastian, we were just talking about our new moral compass and how our world should work.”
“Boy, oh boy, that sounds complicated.”
“I don’t know, how about you give it a try?”
Sebastian inhales deeply. ALRIGHTY, the simple narrative and content propaganda spread by The OrigOlympians, the original interaction of CHRONOS, and The Triumvirate works to manipulate you, and if you look across the country classrooms have pushed a similar narrative that is demonstrably false and classicist in nature-”
“This wasn’t what we rehearsed,” Mac said, reasonably.
Sebastian continued, because he doesn’t have the time to handle Mac’s ignorance. “Both OrigOlympus and modern society have one thing in common, they are made out of blood and exploitation, separating the worker- the student- from the means of production and a fulfilling education.”
“Wow, you are straight up spitting facts.” Sopia said.
“I’m scared.” Dennis said. And rightfully so, Sebastian was making little to no sense.
“Calm down, Sebastian.” Mac said, his voice scraping against Sebastian’s war like cat claws to a chalkboard. “That was really intense.”
“Well… what can we do to help?” Mac asked, trying to keep his composure
“Well, read a book or something, I don’t know. Please, just don’t burden me with the responsibility of educating you. It Is incredibly exhausting, and I am barely holding onto the fabrics of my being.”
“I’m sorry, Sebastian. I was just trying to become a better person.”
“Why do you chosen one, “Children of the Big Three”, %&#*@ teacher’s pets insist on seeing every socio-political conflict through the lenses of your own self actualization? This isn’t about you, so either get with it, and understand where we’re coming from, or get out of the %&#*@ way.”
‘Watch your mouth, buddy. We’re in school and you could get in trouble.”
“But that’s what I- Have you not been %&#*!> listening?”
“Wait.” It hit Mac like a brick.
“You raise some very good points, this conversation was very enlightening. I’ll read more about it, and hopefully we can have further discourse about this issue.”
“I’m glad that we could have this conversation and come to a common ground, it’s very nice to not end in a big blowout, don’t you agree?”
The Blood of OrigOlympus stared at us like they had lost their minds.
Had we… actually came to an agreement? Fascinating.
“Class dismissed!” Mac said.
“Sort of!” Sebastian added, just before everybody left. “Kaitlyn, Chase, Dennis, Kevin, you all stay back. A little uhh… therapy session, here.
Hi, Mac here.
“Hey,” Kevin began, “I’m sorry for inviting the other CHRONOS members into your dorm and causing them to destroy and steal your belongings.”
I inhaled. This was going to be a long afternoon.
“You $&%&# did what?” I asked.
“Yeah, that was… that was me.” He admitted.
“Well, I’m glad you could admit it.” He slid the locket across the table, and I fingered it, like I do when I’m stressed. “Thank you, you have no idea how much this means to me.”
He nods, and looks ashamed. “Let’s put this behind us, eh?”
He smiles, “Yeah.”
“Just remember, you need to balance yourself. Use the confidence Sebastian brought you to greatness.”
“You got it.”
Dennis sat down at the table, and I smiled at him. “What’s up, homeboy?” I asked. “Can’t believe we haven’t talked in a year. I’m sorry for… everything.”
“But I wanted to talk to you because I want to know why. What makes Dennis Redwood, Dennis Redwood?”
“I’m not sure I understand the question.”
I got off my chair and sat on the table. “Tell me about your parents.” I said.
“You probably wouldn’t care….”
“No, go on, tell me about your parents.” He takes a deep breath.
“My Mom wasn’t around and I… I don’t want to talk about my Father.”
“That’s fair. How would you describe your friendships?”
“Well, I never told you this but I’ve known Lina since I was maybe six, she’s a ride or die, man. Then I met you, you introduced me to Ximena, and well, I will tell you that my Father didn’t exactly make me feel the most accepted, and you guys gave me that acceptance. Then the friend group fell apart, and Ximena blamed me. I felt like an outsider from there. Then I met Mac.” he smiled, like he was remembering a fond memory, “He inspired me to do better with my life, and he sealed that tear between me and Ximena. Then I met Mallory, and I was having a lonely day. Looking back, I never really felt a connection, but she was nice to me. And I needed that, and I let her take advantage of me to get into the Heroes of OrigOlympus, and then she pretty much caused our defeats. In a way, it’s my fault.”
“Stop.” I put my hand up, “No one blames you. All of us can agree that we’ve mishandled a lot of the situations in the past,” I grabbed him by the shoulder, “We’ll do better, sport. I promise.”
“I’m worried, Kaitlyn.” Kaitlyn rolled her eyes, “This isn’t a joke. You realize that a child of Zeusigami and Shradies haven’t been on the same team in thirty years, right? And I think you’re still resentful.”
“Oh, why would I think that? It’s not like they were family. And they abandoned us. That’s their fault.”
“Listen, all the bloodlines we were born into had their problems, but we shouldn’t repeat the sins of the people who came before us. Didn’t Bianca Di Angelo once say that the fatal flaw of the children of Hades is that they hold grudges? Think about all of these people who did you wrong, and how they’ve improved now, look at Peyton, look at Sebastian.”
[Sebastian’s comment: Awww, thanks bro]
[Mac’s comment: Any time, bro.]
“They could be better now, but have they really improved? Have they made up for their past mistakes, or do they just expect forgiveness? Because if it’s the latter, then I’m sorry. They don’t deserve it.
“Please, Katie, don’t be like that.”
“Don’t call me Katie.”
“Please, Kaitlyn, don’t be like that. I get that you’re bitter, and I get that The Heroes of OrigOlympus didn’t vote you as the star student, but you are a star. I don’t care if the bloodline was severed, you’re family.”
And she looked up at me, and for the first time she really reminded me of her brother, how Edward would look at Birthday parties, and cake, and friendships. I wondered if someone ever gave her a gold star at Athens. If someone other than Edward, or Charles, or her Mom ever treated her like family. I didn’t think so. That made me sad.
“Hang in there, I said. “I promise, no one’s gonna fall from grace again.”
“I’m worried, man.” Chase said, “What if this doesn’t work out? Why are you and Mac partnering when you still have nothing in common.”
“Gee, kid, you ask too many questions.” He looks down, “That’s good.” I add. “Just ask the right questions. Do you know what my final piece of advice is? Honor. Your sister, now she’s honorable. Do what’s good, what’s right, know the difference between peaceful protest and chaos. I was never taught that difference, and I paid the price. If I’m extra hard on you, it’s because you could be greater than I ever was.”
And then he hugs me.
And I was absolutely great with that.
“I love you,” I said, platonically.
By The Blood of OrigOlympus
The halls were busy, students racing around, trying to make it to the gym to see the election. Somehow, the teachers had failed to organize this event, which isn’t out of character.
I found Mac and Sebaatian by the lockers, chatting away about something on Mac’s phone. “Guys!” I sort of whisper-yelled, “We need to be backstage in thirty minutes!”
Sebastian began to silently panic, while Mac fidgeted, mostly with the locket, opening and closing it over and over again. The sound irritated me, yet locked me in a bit of a trance. I snapped out of it, “Oh, yeah, guys,” I handed Mac and Sebastian the paperwork, “Well need your signatures, first.” Sebastian went first, using a locker door as his surface, he was clearly the most stable out of the two of them, though his eye was twitching.
I wrapped my arm around Mac’s shoulder and kissed him on the cheek, that seemed to make him calm down, at least a little.
Once the tedious application system was dealt with, we raced outside, students buzzing around like it was a bee’s hive. After a brisk job, we found The Blood of OrigOlympus waiting outside the back entrance of the gym, on the brink of a skirmish with CHRONOS, and The Peyton-less OrigOlympians.
“Hey, guys, calm it down.” I said, “One way or another, someone wins today, right? Let’s focus on that.”
Everyone found common ground there, and before I had time to think, Chase and Kato pushed the doors open for us.
Mac grabbed my hand and held onto it tightly, and Charlie tried to hold onto Sebastian for as long as she could. Only candidates were allowed on stage.
Backstage, there were two benches on opposite sides of the building, in the very front of the room was a curtain which led into the gymnasium.
Sitting on the bench to our right, was Flynn, Xander, and Mallory. Xander was checking his phone, cuddled up against Mallory. Flynn waved at us.
The room was small, almost the size of a closet, so as we took a seat at one of the benches, we were mere inches from The Triumvirate.
Mac tried to lighten the mood by showing me tiktoks he made, while Sebastian scrolled through The Folded Connections, his legs unfolded over me and Mac like we were his chair. Mac silently took Sebastian’s shoes.
Occasionally, Xander would do something obnoxious. Like filming a video threatening us and then sending it to us.
A buzzer rang. “Now taking candidates Ximena Strohm, Mac Astley, and Sebastian Merrick on stage, that’s Ximena Strohm, Mac Astley, and Sebastian Merrick.”
Sebastian jumped off of us and put his shoes back on. He took a final sip of the lemonade Mac bought him, and rolled up his sleeves.
Xander waved at us, “Good luck.” He said.
And we stepped onto the stage to face the thousands of students. Chase, Kato, and Kaitlyn among the familiar faces. As per Sebastian’s request, You’re The Best plays, from The Karate Kid. The crowd cheers, like it’s our song. Mac squeezes my hand and lets go.
“History repeats itself.”
“And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we should be voted as your class president!” I shout.
“Equality! Feedback! And glorious purpose!” Sebastian shouts.
“The school will become a better place!” Mac adds.
We’re met with cheers and applause. I step backstage and smile at Xander. “Thanks for the good luck.”
“We couldn’t have done this without you.” Sebastian says.
“Yeah, yeah, we’ll see.” And they step on the stage. I see the little silhouettes of The Blood of OrigOlympus standing outside, waiting. A screen lights up and we see their speech, and I have to admit, they charmed the crowd really well. Sebastian told me about what he learned from the debate club, how it’s better to be open and honest in an argument.
Flynn made eye contact with the camera for just long enough to make me uncomfortable, but his eyes darted back just as quickly. Then, he smiled at the audience.
“Oh, and uh… about our opponents. I know that they come off as wholesome and friendly, Ximena, the most popular and smartest girl in school, Mac, her happy go lucky boyfriend, and of course… Sebastian Merrick. Who I respect, because he made ALL OF THIS possible. Genuinely, he’s a good friend of mine. But… one thing you’ll get from The Triumvirate is honesty, which is the best policy. And what if I told you that Sebastian Merrick and Ximena Strohm lied to everybody?”
He turned on the projector, plugged in a flash drive, and that’s when my heart dropped.
I gazed in horror as the video played. My girlfriend cuddled up with Sebastian, rising through a tunnel of love.
“I love you.” Ximena never told me that. And yet she looked up at Sebastian, in love.
“I love you too.”
Oh, you don’t have to worry about me coming onto Ximena. Just tell her to back off of me.
“Hey, can we go out?”
Sebastian steps back, “I can explain, Mac.” He reaches his hand out.
And I punched him in the face.
“I deserved that but-” I slammed him into the wall.
“Mac, stop!” Ximena yelled. I couldn’t bring myself to hit her, as much as both of them deserved it. They both had betrayed me, and when someone betrays you… they deserve no mercy.
Chase and Charlie rushed into the room, knowing about the carnage that would soon ensue. Charlie’s look of shock and anger was something I could empathize with, and soon, it was Chase having to decide.
Who does he help?
I ripped the backpack off of Sebastian, dragging him closer as he tried to run. Eventually, Sebastian tried to get past the double doors. Kaitlyn shoved him back as he tried to run. “No running away, Hermes boy.” She said.
Chase ran up to Kaitltn and hit her, “Oh, I’ve been waiting for this.” She smiled at me.
“We have to do something!” Keana yelled.
“Good idea, I’m gonna get a teacher.” Peyton ran off.
Someone slammed me into a tree, I looked back and saw Kevin, “Party time,” he muttered, ripping the locker off of me and tossing it to Sebastian. I used an old Debbie Don’s technique on him, leaving him on the ground with another bloody nose.
Kaitlyn began to body slam anyone who stood in her path, practically judo-flipping Bart, who was defending Ximena. Lina was the only person who stood a chance against her, and she was only trying to defend Dennis, who stood with Ximena.
Sopia was moments from stomping on me with her boot when Arthur came to my rescue. As brother and sister collided.
“C’mon! Can’t we just get along!” Kato yelled, as someone threw Peyton at her. I guess she couldn’t get a teacher.
August tried to stop people from fighting, to rip them off of each other, when someone punched him in the face, “Oh, so we chose violence today?” He said, slamming him into a tree.
Kaitlyn battled Chase.
Arthur battled Sopia.
Dennis and Lina battled Kevin
And Sebastian ran off, like a little coward. He stood at the circular crosswalk where Jackson and I had our first talk.
“I’m sorry.” Was all he could say.
The sun was starting to set. I shoved him onto the ground and cracked my neck. “I gotta say, I expected you to have gotten more powerful since last time we fought.” I grabbed him by his shirt and slammed his face onto the wooden bench. “But this is just sad.”
Dragging him onto the stone pavement, I smiled. “Think about all the pain and suffering you’ve caused. To me, and Dennis, and Lina, and Kaitlyn, the people that you’ve taken advantage of Peyton, Chase, Arthur… Ximena.”
An idea clicked in my head. I pulled his foot up and twisted it. He winced in pain.
“STOP, PLEASE, I’M SORRY.”
I sighed. “That just won’t cut it. It’s too late for that.”
I pressed my spiked boot on his heel, “Isn’t it ironic? All of that training with CHRONOS, and that heel is your weakness. Those big, dumb, feet of yours. Slowly, I applied more pressure, just bit by bit, making sure he felt that excruciating pain. I pushed my foot against a vein and he clung onto his stomach, his face swirling through a kaleidoscope of color.
I walked away.
We weren’t fighting because of some girl, no, this was a fight rhat had been brewing for years, Ximena only set it off.
Chase ran away from me. I don’t know why, but it felt like so much bottled up anger had been let loose, all the bitterness I’ve had towards Mrs. Kemp had come full circle.
Chase rushed into the belltower, thinking he was safe.
I peered my head around the room as I slowly stepped up the stairs, after all, I had him cornered.
“Chase! I know you’re in here! Come out and face me you d%&ed nerd!” I heard breathing once I got to the top, and I poked my head around the bell, sure enough, there he was.
He swung the first punch upon seeing me, I hit him back but he blocked it. As he ran towards me again, I tripped him, and he stumbled forward, nearly falling off of the belltower.
I raised my fists, my knuckles bloodied, “Why are you doing this?” He asked.
“Because when you grow up without a school to go to, without a steady source of income, you have to learn a thing or two, that some people are just wrapped in money that they’re unfit to have. You can be the smartest person in the room, the most qualified, and nobody cares.
I could feel all of the bad blood between us boil as I looked past the bell at the campus, and at the fighting below. Chase stirred, waiting for my next move. This was the first time a child of Zeusigami and Shradies were in the same room. And look at him, such a perfect stuck-up specimen. My life could’ve been that way. At least our family fought for it, at least our family deserves it. As I came to that realization, I did something irreversible. I don’t remember if I was just trying to hit him or if it was intentional, but in the blink of any eye Chase Kemp was falling down the belltower.
I didn’t even see him hit the pavement. I just sunk into the shadows and cried out.
I, Kaitlyn Emily, daughter of the OriGod of death, have just killed someone. And I am absolutely mortified by that.
I barely stood up, hunching over whatever I could cling onto. Slowly, I made my way into the main courtyard, as much as my vision was blurred, I could make out red, white, and blue lights illuminating the area. Soon, everything became clear.
Doctors rushing around.
Chase Kemp sprawled across a hospital stretcher. I forced myself to go through the agony of running up to him, as much as the doctors tried to push me back.
His skin was the color of blank parchment, speckled with grass and concrete specks. It was obvious blood had been washed away from his face, leaving only tears headed around his eyes.
I put my hand on his cold forehead, which only proved the obvious.
The doctors pushed me off, and I was face to face, once again, with Lina.
Her voice was full of hurt. “Family, Sebastian… you promised.”
Mac’s nowhere to be seen, and that’s good. If I saw him I’d snap his neck on the spot.
Then it hit me. There was someone I needed to pay a visit to. I think the procrastination of it bordered on fear. The person who’s ignorance and evil were behind all of this.
I needed to find Angela Emily.
Angela Emiky sat across from me on her desk, drinking scotch.
“I have to admit, I’m impressed.” She said.
“What?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“No, really! Wonderful performance, from the start. I’ve been meaning to talk to you but,” she stretched and yawned, “I’m a busy gal. But hey, now you’ve seeked me out, c’mon. Let’s go for a walk.”
She took me up the stairs. A new floor had been added, and was clearly still under construction. She took me above, into a guard railing that overlooked all of Caesar. In the center, there was a giant three dimensional map of America, gated on the sides.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“The future, Mr. Merrick.” She pressed a button, and lights shone upon the model. I see pins. Two in California. Four in New York. One in Virginia. Another, in Boston. One. Finally, in Washington, D.C. “You can be part of it, y’know. Or you can be left behind. Give me your leg.” She says.
Somehow, I feel my body turn to liquid as my leg raises. For a moment, there’s a brief splash of pain, but then, my leg is healed.
“How did you-”
“It’s a secret. One that I can teach you.” I hear whispers around me, hissing angrily. Like a snake.
“Who’s watching me?” I ask, point blank.
“That doesn’t matter, what matters is that you lost. You lost Chase. You lost to Mac. You lost the student council election. But-”
“Pause.” I say, “You’re the headmaster. If you wanted The Triumvirate to rule the school, couldn’t you have just willed it to happen?”
She laughs, “Where’s the fun in that? They have their own problems, too. They need to grow. Believe it or not, I don’t play favorites. I paved two roads, and you both walked down them. Tonight, I watched as you both walked down, and met me in the middle. See, for almost a century now, origami has rooted itself into western civilization. After a while, you tend to notice patterns. Trends. Soon, it comes into perspective just how much of a blip so many people are. How easily courts can kill bats, how just a few students can shut a school down. Some people immortalize themselves, Clark Largent, Alan Wade, Dwight Tharp, and now… Mac- no, Sebastian Merrick. You have the potential to change everything. Because this is just the beginning!” She waved her hand across the map, “Some will find themselves burdened with glorious purpose while others will live here! The new floor I’m adding will be the monument of our grandeur. OrigOlympus. Perhaps it’s time you focus on the broad strokes as well?”
“I’ll never join you.” I stuttered.
“You’re a monster, you got Chase killed, he’s your family. YOU RUINED SO MANY LIVES! You… you ruined mine.” She looked down at her map.
“So be it,” she said.
As I turned to leave, she spoke up, “Sebastian. Our paths will cross again. And one way or another, you will leave a mark on history.”