Fabric of Fate
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.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to my editor Athena, as well as my other betas 3CP, Fezzik, Luq707, Raven, Regress, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.
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Ace Iverson and the Fabric of Fate
March 10, 2005
An Abandoned Warehouse
A soft breeze blew off the water’s surface and whispered across the earth that slowly sloped down towards the river’s edge. The sounds of a bustling metropolis played in the background like white noise used for sleep, but it was relatively quiet here at this time of night.
A figure crouched in shadows some ways off, peering at a wide, squat building nearer to the river than the rest. It was made from plain grey stone. Once, there had been large letters painted upon the building’s side, but they had weathered and now looked to be nothing more than aged stains on the odd splatter of dark paint.
The figure reached up and brushed several strands of hair from his sky-blue eyes as they watched the building. Ace had been told his eyes had a piercing quality about them. That he always either looked calculating or that he was x-raying whatever it was he was looking at. He personally thought that would have been quite useful as a demigod but especially right now. As it was, he had planned for this so he reached into his pocket and withdrew a golden coin. It had rained earlier that day and small patches of mist still hung in the nearest parking lot after some teenagers had haphazardly drifted their car about and sent water spraying up in all directions from the puddles that covered the concrete.
Ace checked both his left and right before dashing towards the parking lot. It had seemed a windless night just a second ago, but air rushed past him as he moved. His hair whipped up off his forehead as his jacket billowed in the wind he had created. Even in this world of gods, heroes, and monsters, very little compared to the exuberant freedom brought forth by a true sprint.
Ace hurtled a dividing wall the same way most kids leapt over curbs before holding up the golden drachma in his left hand. The mist glimmered in the light of a street lamp and seemed to glow with a multitude of colours. Ace tossed his drachma through the mist and thought, Oh Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow, please accept my offering. The mist shimmered and smoothed out until it resembled something like a multi-coloured sheet of glass. Inside the warehouse, Ace thought as hard as he could and slowly, the glass-like surface rippled and changed.
The room was not as dark as it had been in Ace’s dream back at Camp Halfblood, but it was still difficult to see exactly what was going on. The answer appeared to be not all that much. Industrial cranes were lined against one wall with abandoned shipping containers against another. Ace could see other shapes, but they were doing a good job of hiding themselves amidst the other debris in the room. They were the cyclopes he had come for; whether they were carefully hidden or not — Ace needed not see them to be sure of that.
It was impossible to tell how many of them there were and Ace’s sword suddenly felt heavy in his hand. It was a small miracle no one had arrested him for carrying it yet. He wondered what the mortals saw through the Mist. Perhaps to them, he was carrying a baseball bat, or otherwise a knife. Neither of them would reflect well upon him, but neither was strictly illegal. If they could see that he had been hefting around a celestial bronze sword meant for war and battle, that might have raised a larger number of issues.
He studied the scene as the mist began to dissipate, taking his surveillance-like image with it. The problem was going to be numbers. One cyclops was one thing. Ace imagined dealing with it wouldn’t be all that different to fighting the Laestrygonians. A touch more difficult due to it being even larger, but Ace was confident he could dispatch one easily enough. Two at once would be troublesome, but any more than that seemed downright impossible.
It would need to be a sudden strike without warning and he would need to take out as many of them as possible before the others caught on to what was happening.
The task had sounded so easy back at Camp Halfblood. Other heroes throughout time had dealt with far greater trials, so why should he worry about a group of mindless giants?
That was what he had thought at the time. Now he was beginning to wonder whether Cato had been right and whether he really would need to take chances best left unexplored in order to fulfill the potential everyone said he had.
Ace was beginning to wonder whether Chiron had been mad to send him here, but then the meeting came back to him and suddenly, it was no longer Chiron’s sanity that Ace was questioning.
Five days earlier…
Dawn had hardly broken by the time Ace exited his cabin and followed the satyr up towards the Big House. One of its lights was on and shining more brightly than anything in the camp. Ace recognized the window as belonging to Chiron’s office. All the better. It might not have been cold compared to a Canadian winter, but that didn’t mean Ace wanted to sit out on the deck and discuss mysterious matters whilst his hands froze solid and the early morning wind tore at his skin like an icy razor.
The satyr led him into the Big House and knocked upon the door to Chiron’s office. “Enter,” called the centaur, and the satyr pushed inside.
“I’ve got him, sir,” said the satyr.
Chiron smiled, though it appeared to Ace like a weary expression. “Good. That will be all, Pinus. Thank you for your assistance.”
The satyr hastily left the room as Ace moved slowly forward. “Chiron, what’s going on?” he asked. “What’s so urgent that it couldn’t have waited until the sun rose?”
“Even if it could have waited, it wouldn’t have. You must get used to this sort of thing. Sudden obligations wait for no man’s rest.”
The rest went unsaid. That as a son of Zeus, Ace would have plenty of sudden obligations forced upon him. That as a future leader of the camp, it would be he who was called to make decisions about sudden obligations and unforeseen troubles.
“Fine, but what is it? You said ‘even if it could have waited’. If it’s so serious, why am I the only one here?”
Chiron had been taking a sip from a mug of coffee. Ace had never been a coffee drinker himself, but something warm sounded positively wonderful. “
A quest,” Chiron said at last once he lowered the mug back down to the table. The faint thud of its bottom against the wooden surface seemed a hundred times louder than it ought to have been. It was like a gun shot had gone off not far away and echoed through the valley before reaching their ears with less noise than it would have had they stood closer by.
Ace narrowed his eyes; something about this whole thing didn’t add up. “When Cato asked about quests back in January, you told him that Camp Halfblood always tries to send no more or less than three campers if possible.”
“I did,” the centaur remembered, “and that’s true.”
“Then why am I the only one here? Is it because you want me to lead?” There were others better for the task, Ace had no doubt. Luke would have been his first choice had he been in Chiron’s shoes despite the fact something about him still put Ace on edge. Though Luke had failed a quest of his own not all that long ago. Perhaps that had disqualified him from any future expeditions.
“I intend nothing,” Chiron said with an impassive expression. “The only intentions who matter here are those of the one who chose you.”
“And who chose me?”
Back in the present…
Ace really was trying not to resent this whole thing. Leading teams back home had been arduous enough, but those had been honours he had earned. They had been honours that furthered his team and his career — honours that he accepted willingly, if not gladly.
This was different. When Zeus had told him he would one day lead, Ace had not expected that to be thrust upon him so soon. His father had given the impression that Ace had plenty of time to shape up, but now it seemed like he was being rapidly prepared for a position he was not yet ready for and even less thrilled to have.
Yet now was not the time to ponder all of that. None of it would matter if the cyclopes crushed him into a grease spot inside that warehouse.
Chiron had given him his task. This warehouse was one Hermes had used for some time, but cyclopes had taken it over some time ago and run anyone the Messenger God sent from the warehouse. They had dwelled there for some time and Zeus had apparently grown tired of Hermes’s grumbling. Why an Olympian God could not simply dispatch the monsters on their own, Ace would never understand.
Argus had driven Ace into New York before dropping him off. All Ace knew was that the warehouse was somewhere between New York and Connecticut and that it was near the bank of a river. Finding it would not have taken half so long had he not had to deal with the telchines. The closer he got to the water, the more of them came at him. It was fortunate that monsters dissipated into fine golden dust, elsewise the bank of the river might have become vivid red and its waters coloured by the same gruesome paint.
Ace had found the warehouse that morning and watched it for the better part of the day. The only proper entrance was a double set of metal doors more than twice his height. There would be no way Ace was opening those without mechanical assistance he didn’t have. Annoyance had stung him when he’d seen the doors. How was it he had not thought of them back at Camp Halfblood?
There were windows along one of the warehouse’s walls, but they were small and almost twenty feet in the air. Ace saw no other way in, so the question swiftly became how exactly he was going to get in the window. There was no latter in sight, nor was there anything around the building he could use as a head start to spring off of. The walls themselves were smooth as sea stone; there would be no finding crevices to pull himself up and freehand climb the building.
Cato had been right — sometimes, Ace really hated when Cato was right.
His father was Zeus, the God of the Sky. Surely there was something he could do to get high up into the air. The tornado had come and swept him high above the battlefield back during the Battle of Halfblood Hill, but that had been an exceptional circumstance and he highly doubted his father would send him another tornado just because he asked for it. Least of all because by now, Ace was beginning to suspect that this was not only a training exercise, but a test.
He scowled at the thought of it. Let them test him. Let them find out that all they thought was right. If he could not dissuade their wishes, he would shatter all of their expectations instead.
Think Ace told himself, trying to remember any other times he might have used his powers without realizing it.
Several came to mind easier than he might have expected. He ought to have thought of them long ago, but he supposed they had been memories he had paid little heed to. Especially whilst defiantly refusing to push his powers to their limits.
Jeff White hurling a basketball at him from his perch upon a high tree branch only for the wind to change so violently that the ball was thrown right back into his face. Leaping over the barrier to hurtle down from the balcony in that mansion, flipping impossibly in the air given how much time it should have taken him to land. Diving from a speeding Porsche 911 and feeling as though his body had risen at first instead of fallen.
Ace glanced around him one final time and did a double take. He thought he’d seen movement somewhere in the shadows, but there appeared to be nothing when he squinted so he refocused his attention upon the stone wall before him and eyed the window far above. He closed his eyes and took a long, deep breath before he crouched down and leapt straight upward, throwing his arms up above his head and willing himself to rise further than he had ever risen before.
Ace almost screamed when he shot up so fast his ears popped. He flew high, high above the window and soared above not just the warehouse, but any building within miles until he could see the entire river with all its twists and curves and the buildings below that looked like misshapen stones from up high.
Then Ace’s mind caught up and realized he was about to die, but… that wasn’t right.
If he was going to fall, he would surely have done so already.
Ace’s lips parted and a howl of manic laughter roared from him. It seemed to swirl about his body as though he really had summoned another tornado and Ace worried for a moment his laughter would break the concentration he was still maintaining, but it didn’t.
None of that mattered in that moment — Ace could fly!
That was all a miraculous blur and one of the single most breathtaking moments of Ace’s life. What was less awe inspiring was the sinking feeling that accompanied the realization that he would now somehow need to get back down to that window.
Getting back down took considerably more time than shooting up into the sky had, but eventually, Ace allowed whatever power he held over air to wane as he dangled from the windowsill. The glass had evidently been broken long ago, for Ace had no problems pulling himself up and swinging into the window, dropping down and praying to his father that the ability to warp air had not been a one-time occurrence.
Ace knew it hadn’t been when he landed light as a feather and without making a sound. There was scarcely any sound to speak of, but Ace could see one of the shapes nearby him. His breath hitched as he raised his sword, but nothing moved. Then, he heard the one sound that was present in the room — deep, rhythmic breathing.
The cyclopes were asleep.
Ace blinked and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. It was still difficult to see but when they did, he could now be sure the cyclops not ten feet from him was the only one in his general vicinity.
It lost its head ten seconds later with a single strike and exploded soundlessly into a storm of golden powder.
There were too many shipping containers. It made deciphering how many of the monsters there were next to impossible. A dozen, maybe? How was Ace to silently kill a dozen when some of them slept side by side?
Four more cyclopes died soundlessly before Ace realized his plan of attack would be ineffective against the last half a dozen or so monsters remaining. Three of them were clustered so closely together that their breaths intermingled. They at least would need to be dealt with all at once.
Ace had thought this far ahead even if his temporary lapse regarding the entrance stil irked him. The ability to fly was a welcome addition to the plan and it made getting up into one of the cranes far easier than it otherwise would have been. Operating a crane was a bit of a step for someone who could not yet legally drive, but Ace thought it seemed simple enough. It wasn’t as though he needed a mastery over the vehicle to execute his plan. The one hole in his idea that he could not seem to patch was that the second he turned on the crane and kicked everything into gear, the sound would stir the remaining monsters.
There was no other way. Ace contemplated for a moment, but this was it. Whatever happened once the monsters awoke would need to be dealt with, but that was future Ace’s problem. Present Ace needed to deal with the threat before him in the swiftest and most efficient way possible.
The crane lurched into action and one of the shipping containers was lifted off the floor. His suspicions were proven correct when the group of three cyclopes stirred, but Ace let the massive shipping container fall before they could rise.
The bang was deafening. It was like a bomb had gone off inside the warehouse, but the sound rang like only clattering metal can.
The other cyclopes were up now and wheeling to face the crane. Ace slammed the arm into one of them and sent them soaring backwards, but two more caught and began tearing at the arm. The crane lurched forward just as two more cyclopes began to climb its side. Ace’s eyes widened and he leapt from the crane with his sword in hand.
He landed near one of the monsters and ducked its strike, rolling between its legs before coming up and sticking his sword through its stomach. He whirled to face the next, knowing his opponent was dead. A sidestep, a feint, and a stab later and it too was little more than monster dust.
Something groaned behind him and Ace reflexively threw himself to the side and rolled. It was fortunate he had, for a smaller container had been hurled towards him like a football despite the fact it was the size of a horse. Ace leapt sideways as part of the broken crane’s arm soared towards him, but he leapt too far sideways, for massive hands clutched him.
His sword flashed up in a blur and sliced through the monster’s neck, but the momentary pause in his movements was all one of them needed.
Something struck Ace in the ribs so hard that he did not remember falling. It must have had a piece of metal one of them had torn from something. When he came to, he was lying on the floor and every breath sent a stab of white hot fire up his right side. He tried to sit up but couldn’t. He could barely move at all and knew instinctively that the strike had broken his ribs. His sword was just barely out of arms’ reach, but it might as well have been half a world away. Ace forced himself onto his hands and knees and began crawling towards the blade, but a massive figure stepped between him and his sword. The same piece of metal was in its hand. It had torn off part of a support beam and was raising it high above its head, its own beady eye watching Ace’s skull with malicious glee.
Something flew straight through the massive doors to the warehouse and the cyclops paused before the death blow could be dealt. Several silver arrows protruded through its throat before it could ever see what had happened.
Ace had too little strength to turn towards the door, but the silver arrows told him all he needed to know. Why was it the Hunters of Artemis always had to save him from impossible situations? It was unacceptable; he would need to do better — but first, his body decided he needed sleep as the room faded to black all around him.
I anticipate some people complaining that a son of Zeus should have handled that better, but I never did understand how they all grasped their powers so easily in the books. That will take time in this story but trust me, they will get there. For now, enjoy the progression as it unfolds.
There will be two more interludes, I think. Three at most, but I am currently leaning towards two. Season II proper will start after that.
Please read and review.
PS: THE NEXT PASSWORD WILL BE RELEASED IN TWO WEEKS. IF YOU WANT TO AVOID THE WAIT, THE NEXT THREE CHAPTERS — THE REMAINING TWO INTERLUDES AND THE FIRST CHAPTER OF SEASON II — ARE AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW FOR PATRONS. SIGN UP TO MY PATREON PAGE TO READ THOSE EARLY.
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