Ace Iverson and the Fabric of Fate
Season I: The Veil of Reality
Chapter VI: The Daemons of Erebus
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, Athena Hope, Yoshi89 and Raven0900 for their incredible work on this story.
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November 13, 2004
New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA
It was about the time of year when it started getting cold in Massachusetts. The ground was dusted with snow, and the shallow waters began freezing over. Andreia really hated this time of year for that precise reason. It wasn’t necessarily that she was averse to the cold. Oftentimes, she even preferred the gentle chill of cold, northern air to the heavy, blanketing humidity that was all but suffocating in the summers.
No, it wasn’t so much a matter of comfort as much as it was a matter of convenience.
Andreia adored the water.
Her father, Martin, had often gone as far as to call it her “safe place” when she had been a child. He had never experienced any issues in getting his daughter accustomed to the water, nor had it been at all difficult to teach her to swim. In fact, nowadays, she was a rather prodigious swimmer. She had never entered a meet she hadn’t won, which pleased her father greatly, seeing as he was a fisherman who liked to spend as much time near the water as humanly possible.
During the summers, Andreia spent as much time in the water as she could. Not only in the pool, but in Clarks Cove, Buzzards Bay, and basically any other body of water she could get near.
She had always felt most at home in the water. Any time her stress rose to a level that was difficult to manage, she retreated to the water; weather permitting, of course. Then again, cold water had never bothered her. She often enjoyed laughing at others who shivered and recoiled upon touching the water during its more frigid stages. She was convinced that if she was able, she would have no problems comfortably swimming outdoors in the middle of January. She was well aware that made no biological sense whatsoever, but there had never been a time in her life when she had felt cold in water, and she had been in some cold water.
At this time of year, when the water began to no longer become an option, she often retreated into the woods instead. If there was anything in the world Andreia loved as much as water, it was animals.
Any animal, really, but dogs in particular.
Her father had always kept a dog — a Portuguese water dog to be precise — for as long as she could remember. Seeing the dog after returning home from school was often the highlight of her day.
At the moment, Andreia was getting up from the couch in her living room where she had just finished watching a movie with her father. He would be leaving early that next morning for a fishing expedition, and wouldn’t be home for a month. He’d arranged for friends of the family to check up on her every so often, but he trusted her enough to leave her mostly to her own devices. Of course, he hadn’t agreed to that until making Andreia promise to call both him and his friends if she needed anything, but Andreia found herself rather touched by the show of trust, regardless.
Not that it wasn’t well-earned, in her opinion.
She was responsible and a good student, even despite the ADHD and Dyslexia that plagued her. She hated math, but did well enough in it. It often just took her obscenely long periods of time to finish a problem. Her grades might have been passable, but she still considered herself to be terrible at math, at least in comparison to most other things. When Andreia looked at the page, the numbers seemed to run in fear, cowering behind each other, terrified of the numerical horrors she might inflict upon them. Well, not really, but that’s what it looked like to her. Dyslexia really was a bitch.
“I doubt I’ll see you in the morning,” Martin reminded as he stepped towards her. “Remember, call me anytime something comes up. I don’t care if it’s small. I’m putting a lot of trust in you and my nerves will be shot over it.”
“I know, and thanks. I’ll call you if anything comes up, I promise.”
Satisfied, Martin stepped towards his only daughter and the two shared a warm embrace. They were similar in many ways, and thus had always gotten along well. Andreia had Martin’s broad shoulders and brown hair, even if hers had natural blonde highlights during the sunnier months of the year. Where Martin was a rather tall man, Andreia was merely average in terms of her height. The two did share many physical similarities outside of that.
Except for the eyes.
Martin had blue eyes, and though most would say Andreia did as well, people who knew her the best disagreed. Andreia herself had never been sure, but according to those closest to her, hers seemed to have the rather unique oddity of changing colours, seemingly to match her moods. When she felt particularly happy, they were the colour of the sea, shifting from green to blue and back again. When she was in particularly low spirits, they were a more dull green colour, and when she was angry, they would shift to a grey that shared obvious resemblances with the colour of most storm clouds.
At the moment, they were definitely blueish–green, but Martin couldn’t help but note they were somewhere in between the two typical shades of dull and vibrant. This was because Andreia was currently enjoying her father’s presence, but the thought of being away from him for ten days was rather depressing.
The man couldn’t help but chuckle. “Cheer up, Andy. A month isn’t all that long, and it’ll prepare you for when you’re older. You won’t always want to live with me, will you?”
Andreia scrunched up her face in distaste. “No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to now. I’m fifteen, it’s not like I’m in college or anything.”
Martin chuckled again. “Maybe not yet, but I think you underestimate how fast that time flies. Your life could change tomorrow, for all you know. Just keep it in mind. Think about it as preparing for the future. It’ll help.”
As Andreia climbed the stairs leading up to her bedroom, she could never have known how close to the mark Martin really was.
It would be more than a day until the occurrence responsible for the sudden shift took place, but her life truly was about to change forever.
Several hours later, back in Dallas…
“You’re absolutely sure there’s no other way to do this?” Ace asked Cato for what must have been the hundredth time.
The two of them were crouched in an out of the way alley, trying to avoid being spotted at all costs. They were not only more than likely wanted for the fiasco in Los Angeles, but they had doubtlessly been spotted by somebody at the gas station earlier that day, which meant they were likely wanted for even more public property damage. Cato was still confident his friends could get them out of the pinch they found themselves in, but it wouldn’t be happening overnight.
“I mean, there are other ways, but not good ones. I can count cards, so I could just win the bikes off ‘em. Problem with that is — we shouldn’t spend too much time in public right now. Talking them into betting a bike would take time.” He shrugged. “Could also blackmail them, but that’d take more scouting. Same problem as before, really.”
Ace sighed. “Right, so we’re just going to steal two motorcycles from the Hells Angels and you’re going to take me to some out of the way back road and show me how to drive? Even though I can’t legally drive for like… two and a bit years.”
“You can get a permit at fifteen in America.”
“Yes, but you’re in America. Our laws, bubba.”
Ace waved him off. “Semantics. Either way, you get the point. That’s not even talking about the actual plan itself.”
“The plan you helped come up with.”
“Well yes, but that’s because I didn’t see a better option. Just because I think it could work, doesn’t mean I think it’s a good plan, just the best one.”
“If it works, it’s a good plan.”
“We don’t even know if it will work yet.”
“Nah, it’ll work. Just don’t get caught; it ain’t that hard.”
“I’m starting to see a trend here. You really like using me as a diversion.”
“No shit, you’re one of the best runners your age I could possibly find. You’re quite literally the perfect diversion.”
They had spoken for quite some time on the way to Texas. Ace hadn’t revealed anything too personal, but he’d spoken about his more notable sporting achievements when Cato — who was apparently a fan of the Nashville Predators — had pressed him about his prospective hockey career. In return, Cato had explained a bit about himself to Ace. If nothing else, the younger boy was pretty sure his companion was a literal genius, so there was that.
“You do realize what will happen if this goes wrong, right?”
“Yup, just don’t get caught and don’t miss.”
Ace scoffed. “I might get caught, but I definitely won’t miss.”
Just as two men began deliberately making their way towards the parking lot nearest to their hideout, Cato nodded. “Well, time to put your money where your mouth is.” The two of them slipped out from their hiding spot and crossed the street, making their way towards the same parking lot as the two older men.
The parking lot, at the moment, was filled almost entirely with motorcycles. Mostly Harley Davidsons and the like. When one considered this parking lot was connected to a bar which served as one of the major hideouts for the Dallas congregation of the Hells Angels, this was hardly surprising.
The plan was simple.
Ace and Cato needed a way out of Texas, since Cato’s truck was no longer working. Seeing as they were semi–wanted criminals and had no plans of displaying themselves in public, they had decided stealing motorcycles was their best option. Ace had driven a four-wheeler before; so he just hoped it would drive similarly to a motorcycle.
The Hells Angels were one of the largest and most notorious motorcycle clubs on the planet. They also had a rather shady reputation, though they had been working diligently since the turn of the millennia to rectify much of it. Cato had been reasonably sure they were morally and lawfully ambiguous enough not to snitch on them if and when they started the conversation that would begin this plan.
They also weren’t going to report stolen property. Partially because it was against their own warped moral code to do so, and partially because the last thing they wanted was a criminal investigation that could unearth more serious things on their end.
All things considered, they really were the perfect target if the newly formed dynamic duo could pull this off.
Whether they actually could or not was a different conversation altogether.
It certainly wasn’t going to be simple, and that was if their plan A went off without a hitch. If it didn’t… Ace had some distracting to do.
“Excuse me,” asked Cato, drawing the attention of the two men, both of whom were adorned in marked leather jackets. This was going to be the tricky bit of their plan A. The good thing was that it was about midnight, which meant the street was practically empty and hopefully, no one would be observing this altercation. “Was wondering if y’all took civies into your bar?”
Translation: could you enter if you weren’t a member of the Hells Angels?
The two men exchanged contemplative glances. “For a price,” the larger one who stood nearest Ace said. “Gotta pay an entry fee. Lucky for you, we don’t care much for age.” He glanced towards Ace before returning his attention to Cato, which ultimately turned out to be his undoing.
“Entry fee is—” In a blur of motion, Ace angled off to the side and darted forward. Before either of the two bikers could even move, he’d brought his lead hand up and driven it forcefully into the man’s temple.
Despite the obvious size difference between Ace and this man, a perfectly-placed lead hook to the temple can put just about anybody down, and the biker fell to the pavement as if he’d been shot.
His companion reacted almost at once, spinning and throwing a haymaker of a right hand, aimed straight at Ace’s jaw. Ace had expected this and leaned easily out of the way, closing the distance between them in the process and taking a small, quick step to the side. Now, perfectly in range, he threw his counterpunch just as the man was overextended and off-balance after missing his own attack. Ace’s fist slammed hard into the man’s liver and he winced, staggering back as his body objected to the sudden shock.
He didn’t get far.
Cato had darted behind him, and his own punch caught the biker from behind, right where one’s neck merged with their skull. He drove his knuckle straight into the prominent nerve pocket, and the second member of the Hells Angels crumpled just as quickly as the first.
Unfortunately, as Ace and Cato discovered a moment later, the second biker had fallen straight onto a manhole cover, and his bike keys fell straight into the manhole.
“Fuck,” muttered Cato, glancing around and sighing. “Well, plan B then. I’ma have ta hotwire one of the bikes, since we only got one key.”
“Which means I’m going to have to be a distraction and then get the hell out, basically?”
“How are your acting skills?”
Ace’s initial response was a roll of his eyes, though he did respond in time. “Can’t say I know myself, but I’m probably no Tom Hanks.”
Cato smirked. “Well, you better learn fast as fuck, because we need ta get the hell up out ov’here.”
At the same moment, in Boston…
Time zones were an absolute, undeniable bitch.
Blaze had known it before this trip. It was far from his first trip to America, after all. That didn’t change the fact in the slightest.
He’d tried to sleep and had been successful for a while. Unfortunately, he woke up around midnight, which was a complete and total pain, since he actually tried to keep a respectable sleep schedule when possible.
Obviously, that was not going to be the case tonight.
Sighing, Blaze slipped out of his room and walked down the stairs. The home he currently resided in wasn’t nearly as large as the one his family owned in London, but it was still an extravagant house by any standards.
When he had eventually reached the living room area, he retrieved the keys from off of the table.
Blaze loved cars more than he loved most things, and right now, a drive would really ease his mind.
About two minutes later, back in Dallas…
As Ace pushed open the bar’s main entrance, he couldn’t help but notice his heart rate had reached unhealthy levels of ridiculousness. He also found it ironic that it was higher now entering a bar than it had been at any point during the battle with the Minotaur, or running for his life through the Staples Center.
Probably because as terrifying as the Laestrygonian giants and the Minotaur had been, Ace had quickly concluded during both battles that his opponents barely had two brain cells to rub together. The Hells Angels were a lot of things, but stupid definitely wasn’t one of them.
Armed, on the other hand, definitely was. He doubted they would be overly fond of shooting a thirteen-year-old, but he also didn’t think they would have any real compunctions if he gave them a good enough reason.
All of that was to say, his acting needed to be top-notch.
Ace had never been so grateful for his ability to read people and react appropriately. He realized very quickly that pretending to be some sort of insider wasn’t going to work.
So he defaulted to panic, since it really wasn’t hard to fake, at the moment.
Hell, he wasn’t faking it at all. Just lying through his teeth about what it really was that had him so panicked.
As soon as he stepped through the door, he looked frantically around, willing his eyes to practically bulge out of his head in what he hoped appeared as utter terror.
“You shouldn’t be here, kid.” The bouncer’s voice was gruff and firm, though it was surprisingly void of any true malice.
“P-please,” Ace stammered, “I need somewhere to hide.”
The bouncer’s eyes narrowed in skepticism. “What the hell could you need to hide from?”
The man’s demeanour changed all at once. He still looked skeptical, but he was suddenly a lot more businesslike. “Why are they after you?”
“Because my friends are idiots,” Ace said frantically. “They stole from one of the members’ sons. I defended them, and now they want my head.”
The bouncer seemed to ponder this. Clearly, pissing off Bandidos was a noble cause in his estimation. Especially since it would take very little effort on his part to make it happen. It wasn’t exactly as if housing a random teen was difficult, and pissing off the rival MC was more than worth it. Any member of the Hells Angels would likely have said the same.
Bandidos was another motorcycle club, and they were probably the chief rival of the Hells Angels. Just granting a random kid sanctuary for a bit. It wasn’t going to cost him anything.
The attention of most in the bar had been drawn to their conversation. Both due to its length, its obvious intensity, and Ace’s age. Knowing that the attention of the room was upon him, the bouncer beckoned over an older-looking man who was evidently a high-up. After a rather hurried conversation, the older man told the bouncer to escort Ace to a back room. They would house him there for a time.
Step one was done. By now, Cato should have the bikes all but hotwired, and he would only need to stay out of sight. Now for the hard part… getting back out.
“Thanks for your help, sir,” Ace said in apparent gratitude, as the hulking figure of the bouncer led him down an out of the way hallway leading further into the back of the bar.
“Don’t mention it, kid.” He paused. “Seriously, don’t mention it, shit might happen if you d—” before he could finish, Ace had stepped behind him and brought his foot up hard…
Right between the man’s legs.
It doesn’t matter how large you might be. A hard kick to the nether regions will send just about any man to his knees.
That was exactly what happened to the bouncer, and as soon as he hit his knees, he had no chance.
Ace’s shin slammed into the side of the man’s head like a battering ram and he slumped to the floor in an unconscious heap. Cato already had two guns from the men they’d jumped outside, but Ace thought he wouldn’t mind having a third, so he swiped the man’s handgun before taking a deep breath and making a break for it.
If he were caught, he would be completely and utterly fucked.
Fortunately, none in the front room of the bar had their guns drawn at the time, and they had hardly expected a thirteen-year-old blur to sprint out of the back and out through the door before any of them could do so much as react.
Not to say they didn’t try.
As soon as Ace was out the door, the entire bar was on its feet, and almost every single one of them had drawn their weapons.
His exit hadn’t exactly been subtle, and the bikers also hadn’t failed to notice that Ace had acquired a gun since entering the bar.
The exact spec of which was identical to the one the bouncer had carried.
“Cato!” called Ace, sprinting out to the bikes at top speed, “Start the bikes!”
The roar of two engines told Ace exactly which direction to run in. Just as he reached Cato, he heard the first gunshot.
Thank fuck it came from too far away to be anything close to accurate, but Cato’s eyes still widened in a mixture of worry and maniacal glee when he saw the two dozen bikers chasing them down.
“Fuck the Hells Angels,” Cato screamed as he mounted his own bike, catching the pistol that Ace threw to him in the process. “We’re the Daemons of Erebus, motherfuckers!”
Cato’s bike began to move just as Ace climbed onto his own with a lot less confidence. “Cato, wait! I don’t know how to drive this thing!”
“Well ya better learn quick,” Cato screamed back as he began to tear out of the parking lot. “Just follow me!”
For about the hundredth time in the last twenty-four hours, Ace reflected on the fact that he was travelling with a complete and utter lunatic.
But as he slammed his foot on the accelerator and sped off after Cato, he had to double down on the thought he’d had earlier that day, as much as it scared the shit out of him.
This maniac was rubbing off on him.
An hour later, back in Boston…
Benedict Lane was dripping sweat and breathing as if he had just run a marathon by the time he got back to his home in Boston and forcefully locked the door behind him.
He wasn’t sweating due to any exertion, nor was it the reason he was breathing so rapidly.
These had been the events that had just transpired.
What was supposed to be a relaxing drive to help him sleep had turned into so much more.
The last thing any reasonable human being expected to see was a dog bigger than your car, chasing you down the highway and keeping up with you.
As Blaze shakily climbed the stairs, he reflected that it was very possible he’d simply imagined the whole thing.
Either way, he really wasn’t going to be getting any more sleep tonight.
You’ll have to forgive me for the short chapter. This was just the best place to end it, and I won’t draw a chapter out for the sake of it, much as my Ashes of Chaos readers might reasonably think otherwise.
Ace and Cato are so much fun to write, and more characters have now entered the fray. You won’t be seeing any new OC centric POV scenes for the rest of season 1, though you will get a couple in the interlude chapters between seasons 1 and 2. The pieces are mostly in play now for season 1. It’s just a matter of getting it all on paper, so I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
Please read and review.
PS: The next chapter will be posted next Sunday, December 20th, 2020.
Thank you to my lovely Discord Editor Asmodeus Stahl for his corrections/contributions this week.
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