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PJO/HoO: The Belly of the Beast, Chapter Five: We Are Captured By The World's Shortest Pirate - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
PJO/HoO: The Belly of the Beast, Chapter Five: We Are Captured By The World's Shortest Pirate
So, I figured it was about time to add a pretty prominent character...


FIVE:
We Are Captured By The World's Shortest Pirate


I was glad for all the hours of torture at Camp Jupiter, euphemistically called "calisthenics," that got me in shape for the run. I didn't waste energy trying to put on a burst of speed to catch a car. There was no chance of that. But I picked up speed gradually, and by the time I was at the bottom of the driveway, I was going at a good clip, and not straining myself too much to be of use when I got to the others. I was sure that was where the car was headed. Whoever it was heard me say that we had money.

A lucky breeze picked up behind me, and it lightened me up a little bit more. I felt like I was almost skimming over the blacktop of Route 1 now, and I was only a little bit winded when I turned down the service road. I slowed down as soon as I saw the sheds, then stopped and flattened myself in the tall grass.

Bobby and Dakota were on the ground. Dakota was out cold. Bobby was picking feebly at a heavy net that had been dropped over them. The little convertible was parked at a skewed angle across the path, but I didn't see any sign of its driver.

I pulled Ivlivs from my pocket and held it loosely in my hand.

There weren't a lot of places to hide out here. Behind the sheds. in the sole tree clinging to the cliff (dangerous), inside the body of the convertible, or in the truck bed.

Or --

The grass exploded nearby, and something jabbed into my back, sending electricity up and down my muscles.

Taser.

It would have been a good strategy except for my dad, the god of lightning. Electricity might sting a little bit, and I've gotten some burns, but mostly, it channels right through me.

I flipped over and grabbed at the taser pressed into my back, using as leverage to pull the attacker off of me.

I used more strength than I needed.

The girl who'd been sitting on my back was small and lightweight, and the force I used actually threw her several feet away from me. She rolled neatly and stood back up, discarding the taser without a second look and pulling out a short sword.

Her readjustment barely gave me time to flip Ivlivs, which came down in sword form. If she was surprised by that, she didn't show it. She just jumped up with her brought her own sword crashing down.

I met the blade, and for a moment, we just stared at each other.

I don't know how old she was, but she was short and underfed, with a gaunt, hollow look about her. Her long black hair was in two braids, and she had a bright yellow bandana around her head.

Weirdly, she seemed to be wearing the remains not of some kind of pirate costume or even active wear. She had on a tattered skirt that was some shade of light purple and looked like the kind of thing a prep school girl would wear to tea with her mother. And I didn't know much about girl's clothes, but I was pretty sure the top was white silk.

She had large, dark brown eyes and olive skin. He knees were scabby and she had a healing cut on her arm, but nothing looked recent. She must have taken down Bobby and Dakota without a fight.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"Give me your money and your letters."

"What?"

"I beat your friends, and I'll beat you, too," she said. She had a slight trace of an accent that I couldn't place. "Give me your money and your letters, and maybe I'll let you go on your way."

I blinked at her. She was glaring at me with no fear at all. She believed she was going to win this fight.

"I'm not giving you anything," I said.

She thrust forward, pushing me back with a sudden attack, obviously hoping I'd lose my balance moving backward on the uneven ground. It wasn't a bad strategy, given that I probably outweighed her by forty pounds, but I hadn't spent the last nine years in the legion without learning how to fight this way. I'd had to use her strategy a lot when I was smaller than everyone, and I'd watched exactly how they learned to parry it.

I spread my feet wide enough to keep balance and moved forward, getting within reach of her and forcing her to jump back.

"I can knock you down and disarm you," I said. "You won't last if I decide to push it."

"I'll last as long as I need to. Big boys tire out, and you already ran all the way here."

She started to attack again, and I decided I'd rather not find out if she was right. I swept the sword around and met her blade, holding her still without much effort, then twisted the blades until she was forced to let go from the pressure on her wrists. Her sword fell to the ground. She had her wits about her and tried to dive down for it, but I grabbed her by the back of her shirt and heaved her away. While she was scrabbling to get up, I picked up her sword. I was sure it was over. Either she'd calm down and accept defeat, or she'd run away.

Her face twisted in rage and she ran at me. I was taken by surprise, and her momentum was irresistible. She knocked me over like a bowling pin, and if I hadn't done a little bit of wrestling at camp, she might have gotten away with her sword.

Instead, I pinned her.

"Will you back off?" I asked.

She shook her head and tried to kick at me.

"Come on. I don't want to hurt you, and if you need money or help getting somewhere, I can help you. But not while you're trying to hurt me. Not until my friends are out of that."

"I don't want your help! I want the money, and the letters!"

I pulled her up and carried her to a rock, sitting her down, and threw the swords a good distance away. Mine would come back. "What good are letters going to do you? Do you think you're going to pass as a son of Jupiter?"

"I can be whoever I want."

I couldn't help it. I liked her. Maybe it was weird, but there it was. I liked her, and I would continue to like her for a long time.

"Here's a better idea," I said. "We all get to know each other, and then I write you your very own letter of introduction to… whoever it is you want to be introduced to."

"You don't understand."

"No, I really don't. Who are you? Why do you want our letters?"

She glared at me for a long time, then finally said, "I am Reyna."

"Got a last name?"

"Pirata," she said.

"Your name is 'Pirate'?"

"I am a pirate." She ground her teeth. "They put me off the ship when my sister left, and they'll never let me back on if I don't bring them something. Money and sons of… whoever you're sons of. The letters will prove it."

"Jupiter," I said, even though I'd already told her.

She made a disgusted sort of sound. "Of course. That's why my taser didn't work."

"Exactly." I sighed. "If I let go of you, will you… I don't know, not try to kidnap me?"

"You'd be crazy to believe me if I said that."

"True. But I’m tired of holding onto you. So I'm going to risk it."

I let go of her wrist and stepped back, leaning against the truck and rubbing my wrists, which always ached after fighting. She stayed on the rock, her jaw set tightly.

"Quite a fight," I told her. "You're good."

"I'm a daughter of Bellona," she said, sticking her chin up. "I can fight anyone. You just… I…"

"You haven't eaten much for a while?"

"I'm not starving."

"I didn't say you were starving. Just thought you might be a little hungry."

She kicked a stone and sent it flying across the service road. "I should have beaten you!"

"I'm bigger than you and I'm trained. That's all. Six months at Camp Jupiter, and I'm pretty sure you could wipe the floor with me. They'd teach you to get around the unequal size problem."

"I know how. Didn't I tell you I was a pirate? I fought with grown-up men, and I won." She glared again. "You just surprised me when the taser didn't work. It threw me off. That won't happen again."

"I need to get my friends out of that net."

"Go ahead." She smiled tightly, then, very suddenly, made a dive at the swords.

I ran forward and blocked her. "Come on," I said. "Give it a rest."

She stared at me defiantly.

I glanced over at the others. Dakota was starting to come around now, and Bobby was mostly conscious and struggling with the net.

"Come on over," I called. "Meet my friend… Reyna?" I asked. "Is it really Reyna?"

She clamped her jaw shut and I thought she might continue the charade, but she finally sighed and said, "Yes. Reyna."

"There's a last name?"

"There is one," she said, but didn't say more.

Bobby was grumbling loudly, and he finally found the edge of the net. He flung it away from himself in disgust, then pulled it off of Dakota, who was trying to sit up. Once he was sure Dakota was succeeding, he turned and stormed up the hill. He got to the rock where Reyna was sitting. "What are you doing? I'm going to drag you back to camp and --"

"You and what army?" Reyna asked, standing up.

"Stop it," I said. "Both of you."

"Both of us?" Bobby said. "She snuck up on us and zapped us. Then I think she hit us. There is no 'both.' She attacked us."

"And I've got her disarmed, and she's going to stay that way, at least until we… er… borrow that car and take it to a city where we can find some help."

"No!" Reyna said, turning on me, her jaw dropped halfway to her breastbone. "The car was… it was a gift from the gods. For me, not you. I had a dream telling me to look there."

Dakota came up the hill woozily, rubbing his head. "Wait a minute… this is the one who knocked us both down?"

"Yes." Reyna crossed her arms and glared. She had a really impressive glare, but I'd had about enough of it.

"Right now, I want options on what to do."

"Do? How about we take her to the police?" Bobby asked.

"She's one of us," I said. "Daughter of Bellona."

"Then give her to the Senate." He looked at her, then back at me. "I've never seen her before. She's not from camp."

"Camp?"

"Camp," I said. "Usually, demigods find their way to Lupa and --" I stopped.

"What?" Dakota asked.

"Well," I said, "what if we're Reyna's way to Lupa?"

"We're not turning back." Bobby said. "Unless it's to hand her over the praetors."

"Demigods have to make their own way," Dakota added. "I never heard of anyone getting there because someone dropped her off."

My mother dropped me off, I thought. Drove me up the coast from… from…

But I lost it. "She found us and maybe we're supposed to send the way -- "

"Hey!" Reyna stood up, cutting off the conversation. "They only thing you're my way to is back on the ship. They'll take me back if I bring treasure and hostages. And who is Lupa? Unless you mean the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, I have no idea."

"That's who we mean," Dakota said.

"Oh," she said. "Great. You're all crazy."

"Why is that crazier than being a daughter of Bellona and traveling with pirates?" I asked.

She frowned and sat back down. "It just is."

"Wait," Bobby said. "Why are we on the subject of helping her, anyway? She tried to kidnap us."

"And she does not need your help!" Reyna put in.

"Could we all just stop sniping at each other long enough to talk? Figure things out? Reyna, you're not getting us, our money, or our letters, so please stop demanding them. Bobby, I'm not sending Reyna to the Senate." Their postures didn't change. "Oh, come on," I said. "I'm tired. You're tired. Can we just talk?"

Reyna glared one more time, then said, "Fine."

Bobby said, "Whatever," and sat down on the back of the convertible.

Dakota grinned. "That's why you're centurion. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on."

"Me, too," I said. "Reyna, my name is Jason. These two are Bobby and Dakota. We're on a quest --"

"A what?"

"A quest. It's like, you know, a trip to --"

"I know what it is. But who goes on quests? I feel like you should be wearing armor and riding horses."

"We have armor," Dakota told her. "Not much, but we have it."

"We're from the Twelfth Legion of Rome," I said. "Did you mortal parent ever tell you about it?"

She went very quiet, then said. "No."

I gave her the short form of the Legion's history -- that, as Rome fell, we were entrusted to keep the spirit of the empire alive, and that we've served in every center of Western Civilization for two thousand years -- and pointed out that most demigods had to come, or they'd end up threatened by monsters. "So, if you haven't seen any monsters, you're lucky. You should go to camp and train." By the time I finished, the afternoon had gotten dark and stormy.

"I've seen plenty of monsters," she said. "Not all of them have scales."

Bobby was finally calming down, and a mention of monster fighting drew him in a little bit. "So, who are you? For real."

Reyna looked up and opened her mouth to speak, but the sky decided to let loose just then.

"Thanks, Gramps!" Bobby shouted at the sky.

"We can shelter in the truck," Dakota offered.

"No," Reyna said. "Get in the car and put the top up. We'll go back to my place."

There was no real arguing about it, and it occurred to me that maybe the storm was a gift from my father, making us work with Reyna and shelter together.

Dakota slipped behind the wheel without giving Reyna a chance to try and use the storm to kidnap us as she'd threatened. She had left the keys in the ignition, and he turned them. The car coughed to life, and as soon as we were all in, he raised the top.

The ride wasn't exactly smooth. It seemed likely that the car had been up on blocks for a reason.

We drove back to the farmhouse on the hill, and the car stalled out just as we got to the barn.

"If it's a gift from the gods," Bobby said, "I hope you kept the receipt for them. 'Cause I think it's a lemon."

"Shut up," Reyna said and got out of the car.

We all followed her into the barn. By now, it was pouring, and we got soaked.

"They have drop clothes down here," Reyna said, opening a big trunk and pulling out wadded up bolts of fabric. They were covered with old paint stains, but seemed to have been through the wash a few times, so they weren't stiff and sticky. "We can dry off with them. I have food."

We all took our "towels," but no one moved to follow her further in.

She sighed and pulled out an old wooden stool that would likely sell for a few hundred dollars in Berkley. "All right, then," she said. "Take your picks. It's a long story."

We all found chairs. Bobby sat on the rough work bench. Dakota found a half-restored armchair. I took a straight-backed wooden thing. I sat down and looked over at her. "All right, Reyna. Talk."

She talked.

She wasn't telling us everything. I knew that, and it was okay. She told us enough to get on with.

"I was born in San Juan," she began.

"In Texas?" Dakota asked.

"No. Is there a San Juan in Texas?'

He nodded. "I used to go with a girl from there. It's on the border."

"Oh." She shook her head. "San Juan, Puerto Rico. I had a sister. We… we left."

She didn't offer any explanation of this, and no one pushed. Most half-bloods who wandered to camp had some moment when they'd "left." Sometimes, it was probably benign. Most of the time, at best, there were hurt feelings about it. No one prodded them.

Reyna and her sister had escaped on a boat and ended up in the Sea of Monsters, where they were rescued by a witch who ran a resort. She had a habit of turning men into animals, which Reyna disapproved of. "My sister didn't mind," she said. "That's one of the things we…" She shook her head. "That's ahead of here. I didn't like it, but the animals were men who were very bad, so I wasn't foolish enough to free them."

But someone had freed them. She wouldn't say the name, no matter how much prodding we put into it. An idiot, she said. A fool. A wicked boy and his wicked friend. The animals turned back into men. Pirates. They ransacked the island and took their vengeance on the people who lived there. Reyna and her sister could fight. There had never been a time she couldn't fight. The defended themselves and the other women of the island, as the witch had fled in terror.

The long and short of it was that she and her sister had ended up sailing with the pirates.

"And those are the ones you want to go back to?" Dakota asked.

"I was good at being a pirate!" Reyna fumed. "We fought monsters on the sea. I killed a lot of them."

"Sea monsters?" I asked, interested. "You fought a sea monster?"

She shook her head. "No. They were on a boat. A cruise ship, actually." She blushed. "The Princess Andromeda. There were mortals there, but they… they didn't make it. One of the pirates got away with the manifest. That's how I knew…" She looked up at the house guiltily. "It wasn't me who killed them, it was the monsters, and I killed the monsters, so I figured they wouldn't mind if I… borrowed the place."

There was nothing to be said. I thought of the little baby in the picture, held by one of its fathers, all of them grinning like there was no tomorrow. Apparently, there hadn't been.

"Anyway," Reyna said, "we fought them and disabled the ship a little, but there were too many. It was a draw." She got quiet. "There was a boy who asked me to stay there. Said half-bloods would make the prophecy come true. He said we were coming to Atlas. But why would I stay on a ship full of monsters? Why would I want to do that?" She frowned slightly, as if weighing the question, then shook her head. "We got ahead of them. The captain thought we might be able to block their way and take their ship. He lost his real ship -- that boy took it, I don't know how he sailed it with just one friend -- and he doesn't like the one we took. But they're still not here. They must have put into a port for repairs."

"Okay," I said. "So, you fought with pirates against monsters. And then you got here. What happened?"

She pressed her lips together tightly. "We went all the way up to Seattle. Only there are people in Seattle who really don't like pirates. They attacked, and we fought on the beach. Only my sister… she joined them. She told me to come, but I didn't want to."

"Because of…" Dakota scratched his head. "You said you and your sister disagreed about the way the witch treated boys."

Reyna nodded. "I don't think anyone should be treated like they don't count. I mean, I wouldn't like it if someone turned me into a gerbil just for being a girl. And I don't think I'd like it much more if someone put me on a leash."

"A leash?" I repeated. "Really?"

She nodded. "There were men in collars and I think they could get shocked or zapped or something. I told my sister that we just got away from that, and she said, 'We didn't get away, we were shoved out.' And she's right, only…" She looked at us with a hint of the old defiance. "I don't think boys ought to be treated like that any more than girls ought to. I don't think it's right. And I said that. And I went back to the pirates. She can do what she wants. But she's wrong. No one should be treated that way."

"No argument," I said.

"Only the pirates said I was too small and didn't contribute to anything if I wasn't going to --" She blushed again. "So I took a lifeboat and came to shore, and if I go back, it's going to be as a full pirate, and they won't be able to say I can't do it."

"But why do you want to go back?" Bobby asked.

"Well, I can't stay here forever, can I?" She looked around. "It's only a gift of the gods that no one's been here to check on them."

We didn't say anything else. Reyna, her story told, went to a little mini-fridge that the owners must have had for cold drinks while they worked out here. She brought back cold waters and sandwich stuff. There wasn't much, and I felt like we should refuse so she'd have enough for herself, but I knew better than to refuse hospitality. We all took small portions, and ate together in silence as the rain pounded the ground outside.

We roamed around the barn for the duration of the storm. I tried Gwen again and told her that the situation might have changed, but I didn't want to give details on the phone. Dakota made fresh Kool-Aid from the warmish water in the rustic old sink. Reyna brought out a checkerboard she'd found, and she and Bobby played a slow game until the rain finally slowed, then he went out with Dakota to see what they could make of the convertible, if the farm truck was shot.

Reyna went up to her loft. A moment later, I followed her.

She was sitting in the huge window (more of a door, really) where people had once undoubtedly tossed hay down to the animals. It was unglazed, and she dangled her feet over the edge.

"My clothes didn't get very dry," she said, pointing at the clothesline. "I'm going to have to wash them again, too." She looked distastefully at what she was wearing. "This thing came from the resort. The new ones were on the ship. They're better for fighting. No one looks at me like I should be bringing tea."

I sat down beside her and looked out over the farm, to the Pacific not very far beyond. "We can stop at a laundromat, if you want," I suggested.

"What?"

"A laundromat. You put coins in a machine, and --"

"I know what a laundromat is."

"Okay, don't get defensive. You just sounded like you didn't know what I meant."

"It wasn't the laundromat. What 'we' will be stopping at one?"

"We. All of us." I didn't look at her. "Reyna, you don't need to go back to the pirates to have a place. Come with us on the quest, and then, if you still don't want to go to camp, maybe we can find somewhere for you. There are lots of legionnaires who'd probably love to open their homes. I know kids who didn't want to join the legion, and they got adopted. But maybe you'll like us in the end. Maybe you'll let me get you to Lupa, and she can get you to camp. You'll have a place there."

She didn't answer.

I left her to think about it.
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Comments
shiiki From: shiiki Date: September 17th, 2016 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Reyna! It's so cool to see her turning up, and super feisty as well. We don't get to see that side of her much in canon, as she's all stern and Praetor-like, but hey, this was the girl who took off on a Pegasus alone across dangerous waters because she believed it was the right thing to do. She must have had a lot of fire underneath her calm exterior.

Also, her meeting with Jason kind of reminds me of Luke and Thalia finding Annabeth.

I love the tie-ins to Sea of Monsters. One of my favourite things about your stories is how you relate it so seamlessly back to canon.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 20th, 2016 12:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd guess that Reyna, like her sister, is good at adapting to what she needs to be in whatever circumstances she finds herself... a very useful skill!

Heh, I didn't think of it, but there is some symmetry with Reyna's sword attack and Annabeth's hammer attack.

I'm trying to figure out how the canon works from the Roman side. Stuff tends to get worse between books for Percy (and I seem to be setting this between books), so... does that mean Jason has to lose stuff?
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 17th, 2016 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Dang, you weren't kidding about bringing on a pretty prominent character.

Probably because I'm still transitioning, but Reyna's reminds me a lot of Katniss in terms of physical features (barring the eyes) and attitude (extreme defensive and prickly... but ultimately good-hearted and egalitarian {I guess the ones that caused the split between her and her sister were Amazons} despite her hardships).

And Jason definitely shows his leadership chops, as Dakota noted (a bit funny that he is kinda taking everything in stride despite the knocking-out; I half-expected him to break out the Kool-aid while watching the dispute between everyone else), in being firm but open-minded.

--FFR
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 20th, 2016 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
One thing about growing up in the barracks: he gets what a leader is supposed to do. As opposed to Percy -- and I love this about Percy -- in the last battle, doing the lone hero thing and just shouting, "Let's kill stuff!" The boy is a great hero, but not the world's best leader. Jason is much better at understanding how to command. That may be a Jupiter vs. Poseidon thing, too. The ocean is chaotic. The sky is too, but Jupiter is a king as well as a sky god.

ETA: And yes, it's the Amazons. In Seattle. One of Riordan's better extended mythos jokes.

Edited at 2016-09-20 12:37 am (UTC)
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