Ace Iverson and the Fabric of Fate
Season I: The Veil of Reality
Chapter V: Yippee-Ki-Yay
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the PJO universe. All recognizable characters, plots and settings are the exclusive property of Rick Riordan. I make no claim to ownership.
Acknowledgement: Thank you as always to my editor Fezzik, as well as my other betas Luq707, Yoshi89 and Raven0900 for their incredible work on this story.
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November 12, 2004
The Staples Center
“Chevy S10, huh?” Ace asked Cato as the two of them climbed into his lowered truck.
“You sound surprised.”
Ace’s lips twitched. “Somehow, I expected you to have some kind of RV that was decked out to survive an apocalypse.”
Cato nodded as he turned the vehicle on. “Understandable,” he said as they pulled out of the parking lot.
Ace noticed right away that Cato wasn’t even pretending to follow the speed limit. He wasn’t just over it — he was way over it. “Maybe don’t draw attention to us, seeing as we just blew up the Staples Center?”
Cato merely grinned. “Oh, bubba, you’ve got a lot to learn. See, that’s the thing. All the cops are going to check out the Staples Center. None of them are going to care about a random, speeding S10.”
“That is… surprisingly logical.”
Cato’s grin widened. “Why so surprised?”
Ace gave him a rather pointed stare. “You just suggested — and executed — a plan that involved blowing up the Staples Center. That doesn’t exactly scream logic.”
The younger boy rolled his eyes. “You know what, never mind. I can’t be asked.”
“Hey, did it not work?”
“Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s logical. That was my point. I was surprised how logical it was, not how clever it was.”
“Or the logic is just so complicated that only some people see it.”
“Then it’s not logic. Logic isn’t supposed to be super complicated. That’s against the point. Logic is straightforward and obvious.”
“Not always,” Cato argued. “Logic changes depending on the situation. And what’s straightforward to me might not be straightforward to you. Logic is an open concept.”
Ace resisted the rather powerful urge to roll his eyes once more. “Sure, if you say so.”
Cato grinned again. “I knew you’d come around.”
They didn’t speak for several minutes. While Cato focused on the road in front of them, Ace peered out of his window, watching the buildings fly past as they sped down one of the city’s main roads. The traffic was surprisingly light.
“So… you’re actually going to drive me to Canada?”
“And you don’t see any problem with this?”
Cato shrugged. “Well, if we keep getting chased by shit, that might be a problem. I doubt they’ll be able to keep up with us when we’re driving, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they showed up when we’re stopped, since we will eventually need to stop.”
“Have you put any thought into what’s been going on? I mean, none of this even seems real. It seems like some fantasy novel, doesn’t it?”
“It does,” Cato agreed. “But yeah, I’ve put a lot of thought into it. I had something similar happen before I met you. Few days ago. Ruined the entire reason I came to California, actually.”
“What happened? And why were you in California? I didn’t think it was to just watch hockey.”
“I love me some hockey, but nah, it isn’t that. I was offered a job at UCLA.”
Ace blinked. “How old are you, exactly?”
“Eighteen. I turn nineteen in April.”
“And they offered you a job?”
“Assistant Professor of Greek History. I already have my bachelor’s and whatnot, just need my PhD. I won’t be takin’ the job, though. Not after what happened when I went for the interview.”
Cato chuckled. “You know what’s really funny? You’re probably the only person in the world who I could tell this story to right now and you won’t think I’m crazy.”
Despite the gravity of the situation at hand, Ace actually looked amused. “I already think you’re completely fucking insane, but that’s beside the point.”
Cato laughed. A deep, belly laugh. Ace followed suit, though his laughter was a bit more subdued.
“I like you. You’re intelligent and you tell it like it is. Too many stupid people and ‘yes men’ nowadays.” Cato saw a shadow of something flash across the younger boy’s face, but it was gone before he could identify it. He could never have known how many ‘yes men’ Ace had dealt with over the years.
“For what it’s worth, I like you too. You might be insane, but since your insanity is the only reason I’m alive right now, I’ll allow it.”
Cato laughed again. “And the fact I’m driving you to Canada.”
“And that, assuming we make it.” This last bit was said rather quietly, and Cato couldn’t help but notice the darker undertones in those words.
“Nah, we’ll make it, trust me. If my theory on this stuff is right, we should be good as long as we’re really careful and keep moving.”
“Right, your theory; we never did get to that.”
“Nah, guess we didn’t.”
“What do you know about Greek myths?”
Ace frowned, not having expected that question. “Probably not as much as the eighteen-year-old prodigy who was going to be a damn professor on the subject, but I’d like to think I know quite a bit. A lot more than the average person, at least. I’ve read the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Hesiod, and some others.”
Cato took one hand off the wheel to clap Ace on the shoulder. “See,” he said jovially, “I knew I liked you. Hockey, Greek mythology, seeing crazy shit; we’re practically brothers already.” The two of them laughed once more as Cato returned both hands to the wheel and took the next exit. “Well, did you notice anything about the monsters attacking us?”
“I noticed a bunch of things, but I’m assuming you’re asking me to tie it into Greek mythology, somehow?” Cato nodded and Ace bit his lip in thought. “They weren’t cyclopes,” he said hesitantly. “They had both eyes and I don’t think they were big enough.”
“There were other giants in the myths, though.” Cato hummed in agreement, obviously encouraging him to go on. “Odysseus fought a group of giants. Well, escaped, more like. They ate a bunch of his men and destroyed all but one of his ships on his way back to Ithaca, right?”
“Bingo,” affirmed Cato. “Yup, I really like you. I mean, they might not be the same, but they remind me of those giants. About the same size and same description. Laestrygonians, they were called. Man-eating giants who lived in Sicily.”
“That’s really interesting and all, but how the hell are we being chased by Greek monsters? The myths are fun to learn about and all, but they’re still only myths.”
Cato didn’t answer right away. They drove in silence for nearly a full minute before he spoke once more. “How do you know that?”
“How do you know that it was all just myths? And really think about it. It’s the same thing as Christianity or whatever other religion you wanna talk about. People argue over religion all the time. Hell, there’s probably a gunfight over the existence of God going on somewhere right now. Thing about arguing over religion is that we have no idea. Whether you’re religious or not, you can’t really make any points that one-hundred percent prove you’re right. Why do you think wars keep happening over religion? It’s because there’s never an answer.
“Same goes for Greek mythology, really. It’s just another religion. It’s not super popular anymore because Christianity kinda took it over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t real. I didn’t think it was real before any of this stuff started happening, but that doesn’t mean anything either. If you can’t prove Christianity is wrong, how can you prove the Greeks were wrong?”
The silence stretched on even longer this time, primarily because Ace really didn’t know how to respond to that.
“I can’t,” he eventually admitted. “That’s… a really good point, but it just seems so… unbelievable.”
“Course it does, it’s fuckin’ nuts. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real though. We just blew up the damn Staples Center. That sounds even more nuts, but it happened.” When Ace nodded, Cato chose to ask him a rather pointed question. “Was that the first time you’d seen anything from Greek myths?”
Ace hesitated for a moment and knew at once that his reaction had already revealed his answer. “You… won’t think I’m crazy or anything, will you?”
Cato chuckled. “Oh, bubba, if I think you’re crazy, I don’t even wanna think about what that makes me. Nah man, you’re good, just say what happened; I ain’t gonna judge.”
Ace didn’t know how to explain away being struck by a lightning bolt at the most opportune moment imaginable. He seriously debated not telling Cato that fact at all, but that would have necessitated him coming up with a valid and believable story as to how he otherwise could have escaped the cyclops. Frankly, he thought it easier to explain the lightning, so he did.
When he finished, Cato looked thoughtful. “Okay,” he started, “the lightning part… I was not expecting that. Not at all expecting that. That’s actually really interesting, but the rest doesn’t surprise me all that much. I’ve had a bunch of crazy things happen over the years that I kinda thought reminded me of the myths, but mostly the thing that happened when I went for my job interview at UCLA.”
“Is this the part where you finally tell me what happened during that interview?”
“Yeah, why not. The guy interviewing me turned into a manticore and tried to kill me.” Ace’s jaw practically became unhinged, but Cato wasn’t done there. “Oh, and the sixth labour of Heracles. They didn’t like me much, either.”
“Stymphalian birds, right?”
“How the hell did you deal with those?”
“I got really lucky. I led them to a frat party — plenty of blaring music. The birds got the hell out of there real quick.”
Ace collected his thoughts as crazy, impossible ideas crashed against his psyche in such quick succession they might as well have been bullets fired from a fully automatic rifle. “Cato?”
“If these monsters are actually the same as the ones from the myths, do you think other things from the myths could be real as well?”
“Maybe. Can’t really say one way or the other. The Greeks could’ve just come up with the gods and heroes and stuff to explain how people managed to kill these things. Or maybe it’s all real. I have no idea, but I have a weird feeling we’re gonna find out.”
Ace groaned in exasperation. “Why did you have to say that? Challenging irony never ends well.”
Cato smirked. “Challenge accepted.” Ace just rolled his eyes and yawned. “You should get some sleep.”
“I’m fine,” Ace protested.
Cato snorted. “Sure you are. You just played a brutal game of hockey. You were probably dead tired after that. Then you ran around the Staples Center and led those things around. And that isn’t even talking about the mental stress of everything.”
“I don’t need to sleep.”
“Never said you needed to, just said you should. I ain’t your parent. I’m not gonna tell you what to do. You seem smart enough and mature enough to make up your own mind. I’ll just try to stop you from doing anything too stupid.”
Ace muttered something about lunatics trying to give him advice under his breath, but Cato either didn’t hear him or ignored it altogether.
“All I’m saying is that it would be smart to sleep. I’ll be fine driving, and if more things like that do pop up whenever we stop, I might need you to distract them again. You’re a damn good runner, but I’d rather not find out if you can outrun man-eating monsters on no sleep.”
Ace just sighed; the man had a point, loathe as he was to admit it. “Fine, but don’t let me sleep too long, yeah?”
“Mind if I take out headphones?” Ace had them in one of his smaller bags, which he’d kept in the front of the truck with him.
“Nah, go ahead If it’ll help you sleep. Take this too. If we’re gonna keep getting chased by shit, never hurts to be armed.”
Cato slid a rather long knife from a compartment on the dash and handed it to Ace, who just barely managed to conceal it in the large, combined pocket space of his windbreaker.
“Cheers and… thanks for all this. I don’t really know how to thank somebody for something as big as this, but I really do appreciate it.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it. Like I said, I like you. And honestly, I have a feeling this is going to be fun.”
Idly, Ace noticed that this was the second time in about as many minutes that Cato had challenged the seemingly unstoppable force that was irony. He only hoped that, however much of his life now seemed to resemble an action movie, claiming everything would work out in the end didn’t have the same effect it did in those movies.
November 13, 2004
Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom
Blaze strolled through the airport in the early hours of November 13th with a pensive expression. Despite his outwardly impassive countenance, he was actually rather amused.
He’d never had problems getting up in the mornings, and often rose early to go on runs. Personally, he thought it an excellent way to start any day. In contrast to him, most of the admittedly small number of people milling around London’s major airport looked suitably lethargic. One teenage boy in particular looked very much like a horrible, comic book depiction of a zombie as he absentmindedly trailed in his parents’ wake, looking as if he would collapse with exhaustion at any moment.
One of the only other people in the airport who seemed largely unfazed by the earliness of the hour was the man who strode confidently alongside Blaze, though this man would never be caught dead referring to his stepson as Blaze.
This man was Atticus Lane. He was exactly six-feet tall and had a pale complexion. His facial features were aristocratic and his black hair was styled in the perfect image of professionalism. To complete the image, the man wore a full, dark charcoal business suit, with a red tie and all.
His stepson, Benedict Lane — or Blaze as he vehemently preferred — did not wear a suit. He wore black chinos and a grey sweater zipped about halfway up. In contrast to his stepfather’s immaculate hair, Blaze’s black hair was more expressive. It was short on the sides, with long centre strands being brushed back and upward to form a quiff. Those same strands were also dyed to be far brighter than the rest of his hair. They were more of a dirty blonde as opposed to black. This choice of style had been a rather long-standing argument between Benedict and Atticus Lane, but Blaze’s stepfather had eventually conceded, so long as he comported himself with the dignity expected from one of their family.
To put it lightly, the Lane family was well off. Atticus had married Blaze’s mother when Blaze himself was quite young. They hadn’t been poor before the junction, but it had certainly been a rather drastic lifestyle change for Sarah — Blaze’s mother. Atticus was a rather esteemed businessman. He had stakes in a number of large businesses, and he owned several hospitals of his own dotted throughout England.
At present, he and his stepson Blaze — who’d been given the nickname years ago whilst playing football — were boarding a flight to Boston. Atticus had business there, and Blaze always enjoyed accompanying his stepfather. His mother, Sarah, was staying at home in London to watch his younger brother and keep an eye on things back home.
The stark contrast in appearance between Atticus and Blaze might have suggested that the two of them had a rather antagonistic relationship. That assessment would have been a bit harsh, in Blaze’s opinion, but not entirely off the mark.
They certainly had their arguments, and for them to become heated wasn’t exactly a rarity. But they did get along. Blaze just took issue with Atticus’s expectations, at times. Just because the man had an impressive portfolio didn’t mean Blaze wanted to follow it verbatim. He wanted to be his own person, and sometimes, he couldn’t help but think his stepfather didn’t quite understand that. When he was respecting Blaze’s boundaries, the two of them got on quite well.
After all, Atticus would hardly have paid for his son’s first class flight to Boston if they hadn’t shared at least a cordial relationship.
Later that day…
In a place he had never been before, Ace could practically feel the unearthly tension in the air. This tension wasn’t due to any particular event, it just seemed to exist in and of itself.
He wasn’t sure where he was. All around him was black, and the walls seemed to be made of roughly hewn stone. Wherever he was vaguely reminded him of a cave, but somehow that word didn’t seem right. He felt as if there was more at play here, and that was ignoring the place’s obvious, dominant feature.
In the centre of whichever place he resided, there loomed a massive chasm. To call it a crater wouldn’t have done it justice, for Ace intuitively knew that it was no mere crater. He knew that it’s all-consuming maw led down further than he could ever hope to perceive. Perhaps infinitely far; he wasn’t sure.
But no… that didn’t seem right, for there was something in that chasm.
Something that he couldn’t identify to himself, let alone quantify through thoughts or words. It wasn’t so much a being as it was a presence. Ace could feel something looming from however far down the darkness stretched. Something that most certainly wasn’t human. The cyclops hadn’t given off this feel, nor had the Laestrygonian giants he’d tackled with the help of Cato.
This was different.
Whatever it was, there was something different about it, and he instinctively knew that if he and Cato tried to take on whatever this was, they would die. They would need to blow up far more than the Staples Center if they ever wanted a chance at hurting this thing, for its power, magnitude and malevolence seemed infinite.
As did its hunger.
It was hungry… no, starving for something. Starving for something it hadn’t had in a very long time. Starving for something that Ace could help it with if he chose.
But Ace didn’t dare.
Nothing so intrinsically ominous could be good.
At that thought, the air around him seemed to grow heavier and it began to churn as a wind picked up inside the cave, or wherever it was his consciousness rested.
A terrible sound exuded from the chasm. It sounded as if the blackness itself had gained sentience and was taking its first, greedy breath, trying to consume not just oxygen, but anything and everything in its general vicinity.
And he thought it might just do that.
He felt himself slowly being pulled towards the chasm as if he were but a photon of light trapped helplessly in the unimaginably powerful grasps of a black hole. That’s what this was like. Like he’d ventured too close and was now caught in the gravitational pull, with no hope of escape.
He tried to resist but couldn’t, and crying out for help was equally unsuccessful.
Now, he could no longer compare the sound and rushing power from the abyss of nothingness looming closer and closer to a breath, for it hadn’t relented ever since it had begun. If anything, its pull had amplified, and Ace would surely be swallowed at any moment…
With a painful jolt, Ace’s head smacked hard against a cool, glass surface and he cursed aloud, eyes flying open and looking wildly around. When he noticed where he was, he sighed. There was a thin layer of sweat coating his forehead, and he felt rather shaky.
“Some nightmare, huh?” Cato asked from beside him.
Ace couldn’t help but notice how attentive the man suddenly was to the road in front of him. All lackadaisical behaviour was gone, and there was a certain air of intensity around him now.
An air that screamed of ominous things that Ace would probably rather have slept through.
“Yeah, all kinds of fun,” he muttered, glancing out of the window he’d just forcefully smashed his head off of. “Where are we, exactly?”
He’d slept for several hours then woken again and spoke with Cato for most of the day. When they were several hours away from what Cato said would need to be their first major stop, he had advised Ace to sleep again. His rationale was solid. He’d been driving for most of a day. If Ace was energized, at least one of them would be if shit hit the fan. That was the last thing he’d remembered before… whatever the hell he had just woken up from.
“Right outside of Dallas,” Cato said a bit distractedly. That was good. Dallas was where they were set to take a bit of a break.
This only confused Ace more, as Cato seemed far too on edge.
“What’s going on, then?”
Cato’s lips twitched. “Now you’re asking the right questions.”
“Something is happening, then?”
“Something is a good way of putting it. No idea what it is, exactly, but something’s been chasing us for miles. We haven’t been able to lose it, and trust me, I’ve tried.”
It was true. To say they were speeding would be an insult to whatever speed they were going. Ace hadn’t even known a truck from the late 1980s could move this fast.
“Definitely not human then,” Ace muttered darkly.
“No, definitely not human,” Cato agreed.
“Anything from Greek myths you can think of that could keep up with us?”
“Without wings? Not really, but that doesn’t mean anything. It’s not like Homer wrote how many miles an hour these things could run.”
“Point,” Ace conceded, remembering exactly how shocked he’d been with the Laestrygonians’ seemingly impossible endurance. It wasn’t too far a stretch to assume some sort of mythological monster could move far faster than physics would usually allow. “Is the plan still to stop then?”
“Don’t got a choice. Almost outta gas.”
“Shit,” Ace muttered.
Whatever the hell the thing was that could move that fast, he was not looking forward to fighting it.
Cato might have agreed with Ace’s statement had he not been too busy cursing like a sailor. Up ahead, there was construction going on. Construction that would force them to slow to a snail’s pace due to the traffic congestion around it.
Cato braked hard, not for the traffic, but to try and make the exit to their right. Unfortunately, he braked so hard that the car behind them collided forcefully with their rear, sending the truck careening to the side and slamming hard against the barricade to their right.
Just as they made impact with the barrier, Ace felt weightless, and he instinctively knew that they’d tipped straight over the edge and were now falling. There was a short period of time they spent in the air that felt much longer than it truly was, and Ace was certain they were going to die. Miraculously, they didn’t. They landed off to the side of the highway on all four wheels. The impact was still anything but pleasant and it sent a rather nasty jolt up both of their spines, but the impact somehow felt… less than it should have been.
“Outta the truck!” Cato’s voice broached no arguments and Ace instinctively obeyed.
Fortunately he did, for just as Cato gestured towards the nearest gas station, something else fell from the overpass above. More accurately, something leapt clean over the barrier, landing in a squatted position about ten feet from the truck, and maybe thirty feet away from Ace and Cato.
“Oh, fuck,” Ace groaned quietly, “it’s a Minotaur.”
“And we can’t lose it,” Cato muttered. Ace could practically see the gears turning inside of whatever super computer this man had for a brain. Doubtlessly, whatever it was processing, it was working at an incomprehensible speed to do just that. “Which means we need to get rid of it.”
“How the fuck are we supposed to do that?” Ace asked in a panicked whisper.
The thing must have been blind, or close to, for it had only just noticed them. It was pawing at the ground, and though it had made no move towards them yet, Ace knew that was an inevitability.
“You do know its weakness, right?”
“Aren’t the myths really undecided on how Theseus beat this thing?” Ace asked as they slowly retreated, praying the beast in front of them wouldn’t immediately follow. “Some say he used a sword, some say he used a club, some say he used his bare hands.”
“Not what I meant,” Cato muttered. “What’s the weakness of any bull?” When Ace looked confused, he elaborated. Lucky he did, for the mutant bull took that opportunity to charge straight towards Ace. “They can’t turn!”
At the last possible second, Ace leapt out of the way, allowing the thing to barrel straight past him. This now meant the bull presently stood between them and the highway. The highway that separated them from the gas station.
“I need to get to that gas station,” Cato hissed. “Distract it.”
“Are you fucking—” but Ace never got the chance to finish his sentence.
The bull charged him again, and once more he had to dodge. Cato took the opening to sprint across the highway to the gas station, showing no regard for his own life or the oncoming traffic in the process. Ace cursed as he turned to face the bull. Again, he noticed how nobody around them — aside from Cato — seemed to be noticing a thing. It made no sense, but he currently had bigger problems.
Problems that stood seven or eight feet tall and had more muscles than the Incredible Hulk.
When the thing next charged, Ace’s eyes narrowed. Years of watching opponent’s chests in sparring had ensured his aptitude for anticipating other’s movements. He could see it in the way the outside of the things pecs tensed — it was going to reach out in whichever direction he dodged and head him off. If that thing got a hold of him… well, he wasn’t going to bank on another random bolt of lightning, and he was going to be completely dead without one.
With no other option, Ace reacted instinctively.
He leapt straight upwards and if he were less consumed by adrenaline, he might have frozen in shock at what happened next.
He leapt clean over the Minotaur’s head.
That was nearly a world record high jump from a static position.
As it was, he had to take a brief pause and wonder exactly how the fuck he’d done that. Athletic or not, that just wasn’t possible. Nothing about that was possible. His vertical jump was good, but not that good. But then again, nothing about the last twenty-four hours had been possible. Men weren’t as large as the Laestrygonian giants either, and there were certainly no recorded creatures on Earth who resembled the mass of malevolent muscle that he’d just hurdled as if it were nothing.
Speaking of which…
Falling prey to the ridiculous amount of momentum it had generated as a result of its charge, the Minotaur had sprinted straight underneath its then airborne target. It had tried to stop, but been woefully unsuccessful in the endeavour. What it had actually wound up doing was charging headlong onto the highway.
Approximately a second later, it suffered a head-on collision with an eighteen-wheeler.
For a split second, Ace was going to whoop in celebration.
Until the Minotaur, still very much not dead, was thrown backwards by the impact. Even worse, the thing landed directly in front of Ace. It was a lucky thing the beast was badly dazed, for Ace was now in prime grabbing range.
With a deep breath, Ace decided to make what could prove to be the dumbest decision he’d ever made in his life.
In one quick, fluid motion, he snatched the knife that had been given to him by Cato the day before from his pocket and lunged at the beast. He landed on the Minotaur’s back as the thing shakily stood to its full, imposing height and, even dazed, it felt Ace clasp on tightly around its throat. He had briefly pondered the idea of trying to choke the thing unconscious, but if an eighteen-wheeler hadn’t done the job, he doubted a rear naked choke was going to do much better. Besides, he had a better solution.
Or, he thought he did, anyway.
With a cry of determination, Ace drove the knife as far into the Minotaur’s neck as he could manage.
Or, he tried to.
To his utter shock, astonishment and horror, it passed straight through the thing as if it didn’t exist.
As if the situation couldn’t get any worse, the beast let out a horrible, bloodcurdling war cry as it spotted Cato emerging from the gas station and began rigging what was doubtlessly some intricate trap that would blow up every propane tank in the parking lot.
When the thing cried out, Cato did glance up towards the fray. It was hard to tell from this distance, especially since his entire attention was focused on not getting hurled from the back of a mythological monster into oncoming traffic, but Ace thought Cato might have actually given him a rather impressed–looking thumbs up.
Seriously, did nothing phase this guy?
With its war cry concluded, the Minotaur charged recklessly across the highway and towards the gas station parking lot where Cato was working.
That was when Ace came to two realizations.
The first was that this thing was really fucking dumb. Seriously, the last time it had ended up in the street, it had been ploughed through by something much bigger than itself. What the hell did it think was going to happen the second time? His next realization was that he was either the luckiest or unluckiest person in the world.
On one hand, it was mercifully only a car that slammed into the beast this time, which meant Ace didn’t die on impact. The force of the crash sent the two of them sailing through the air. Landing hurt like hell, especially since he skidded for several feet across the paved parking lot, resulting in rather horrible road rash, not to mention a number of steadily bleeding cuts. But he was alive, which was way more than he could have realistically asked for.
The unlucky thing was that the Minotaur hadn’t landed far behind him, and it was recovering a whole lot faster than he was. Not only did his body ache and sting like an absolute bitch, but he was dazed and disoriented.
Years of listening to a coach’s instructions without question was what did it. It was very reminiscent of the few times Ace had played through a concussion and just allowed his body to react to his coach’s words. On this occasion, his coach may have been a mad genius who seemed to have an unhealthy obsession with blowing shit up, but if it wasn’t broken, don’t fix it.
In a blur of motion he was on his feet and sprinting towards the source of the voice. The Minotaur was closing rapidly from behind him, he could hear it. He also thought this was utter bullshit, but he didn’t have a whole lot of time to reflect on that.
Seriously, the amount of bulk on this thing and it was outrunning a national, age group champion in the 100 metre dash?
But he didn’t think about this. He thought only of the fast-approaching propane tank. He didn’t think of anything but the crazy plan that had suddenly formed in his mind.
With the propane tank just feet away, he dove to the side, rolling as he landed in an effort to avoid harm.
The Minotaur ran head-first into the propane tank and with an earth-shattering sound, the thing exploded. The good news was that the Minotaur was sent flying and was now on fire, grunting and snorting in apparent agony. It had also lost one of its horns, which had gone flying and landed about a metre away from Ace.
The bad news was that the thing was somehow still alive, and that the explosion had also thrown Cato hard against the pavement. He hadn’t been in range of the actual blast, but he’d still fallen. Luckily, he was unharmed and already on his feet once more. Unluckily, he was now directly in the path of the flaming Minotaur. Ace had no idea whether or not the beast would survive the horrid burns all over its body, let alone the fact it was still on fire. What he did know was that Cato was about to die.
The Minotaur already had its hands outstretched as it charged, and Ace instinctively knew Cato didn’t have the athletic ability to evade.
Which meant he had to do something.
Without thinking, he snatched up the thing’s horn and charged. It only took five steps for Ace to know he would never make it in time. Out of pure desperation, he threw the horn in the general direction of the bull as if it were a tomahawk. He knew it would never find its target. There were too many variables, and he could tell from its initial trajectory that it would miss.
Until the wind seemed to change, and the horn suddenly veered off its original course…
And punctured straight through the monster’s neck, causing it to melt into golden dust not three feet away from Cato.
Cato evidently recovered from his shock faster than Ace. Or perhaps none of that had been at all surprising to Cato. Honestly, Ace wouldn’t put it past him.
He pointed forcefully at the ground as if pointing towards a kill. Then, he threw his head back and let out an obvious cry of victory that Ace only half recognized from stereotypical western movies and the like.
“Yeehaw! Yippee–ki–yay motherfucker!” He marched over towards Ace and clasped him firmly on the back as if they’d just won a major sporting tournament. “That was fucking awesome!” he congratulated. “Some of the coolest shit I’ve ever seen! Riding the thing’s back, leading it into a propane tank, using its horn like a tomahawk!” Cato was grinning like an absolute madman, and Ace could do little more than look on in utter shock at the man’s glee. More so by the fact he didn’t seem remotely phased by anything that had just happened. “Awesome!” he said again.
Then, his brain seemed to catch up with the situation, and with the suddenness of a well-disguised landmine, Cato seemed to realize they’d just blown up even more public property.
With horror, Ace realized it had actually been his fault this time.
This lunatic was rubbing off on him.
“Also,” said Cato, still sounding just as cheerful, “we should get the fuck outta here before cops show up.” Then, his eyes widened. “Fuck!” he exclaimed. “My truck ain’t gonna work no more.” He sighed. “Well, guess we’re finding another way to Canada.”
I mean, come on — there was no way I wasn’t going to have them fight the mythological bull in Texas.
Very quickly, I would like to point out that I am not trying to make any statements on religion. It was how I imagine Cato views the whole thing. I am firmly agnostic and do not wish to open that can of worms. I tried to write that scene as tastefully as I could.
As one of my betas pointed out, blunt objects do work on monsters in canon. We know this because Luke used a golf club before he had a sword. Kampe was also killed by rocks in canon, and Hyperion basically fell to tree bark. They might have been aided by magic, but their properties remained the same, hence mortal materials did defeat the monsters.
My headcanon on the matter is this:
If the blow being dealt by a mortal weapon would be immediately lethal, the object will pass straight through. I am basing this on Percy’s sword phasing straight through Rachael in Battle of the Labyrinth, as well as the teen wielding the switchblade in LA during the Lightning Thief. If that’s how mortal weapons work against monsters, it makes logical sense the same should be true in reverse.
This is also why in chapter 3, the actual skate blade passed harmlessly through Sofia’s neck, but the skate itself made impact. The blade would have been fatal. The blunt impact of a skate would not have.
In other news, Blaze is going to come up later, so don’t think that scene was unimportant. Another character will have a similar intro next chapter.
For now, I just hope you enjoyed reading this madness as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Please read and review.
PS: The next chapter will be posted next Sunday, December 12th, 2020.
Thank you to my lovely Discord Editors Athena Hope and Asmodeus Stahl for their corrections/contributions this week.
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