The Last Odyssey
The Dark Prophecy
Like Icarus, memories are set to fire
Gather around Pandora’s skinner’s box, look through the one way mirror
Our kings of the dead, facing a challenge ever so dire
If you could see in shades of gray, the colors are much clearer
Yet southward, the sun must lead the course
And the moon, through mazes, and watered down depths
And the lord of the sky, to the lord of the horse
And to spit upon dear blondie’s breath
In the westen palace, lies the bird of the snow
May Poseidon’s daughter now show her roots
And the cloven elder, may he grow
To walk the path, in thine enemy’s boots.
Pray to the gods that CHRONOS is alive
Because only then, will Olympus start to jive
The Last Odyssey Part One: Greetings From Caesar Middle School!
By Peyton “Lester Papadopoacrease” Hunter (Or, and this is more accurate here, Xander Strohm. Like, the chapter is still by me but the exposition dump in question is by Xander, if that makes any sense.)
I’m in my room watching the season nine finale of Supernatural and bawling my eyes out. My bones are itching, and my eyes feel hollow and rough. This has been my day so far. Unmoved, undisturbed.
That’s really been this whole school year… nice, peaceful, undisturbed. Christmas was nice. This is nice, let’s keep it this way.
“Hey, Peyton, look at this.” August, my brother, leans over his mattress (the top bunk) to stare down upon a peasant like me (bottom bunk). On his phone, is a dancing roach. This is the scariest thing to happen in the last month. Like I said, peaceful. Nice.
“What am I looking at?” I ask August.
“No, just- just watch it.”
“Is this a- Is this a looped gif of a dancing roach?”
“No, no, it’s-”
“August, this is a… this a looped gif, I-” The door bell rings, and Dad (who’s watching the game) yells at one of the two of us to get it.
“We’ll continue this later,” I say, racing towards the door so quickly I trip on a carpet and fall flat on my face, the sound of the thud making August cackle. When I undo the latch, the person I’m staring at is the last person I expected to see: Xander Strohm.
It’s hard to really tell it’s him. For one, because it’s dark out, and for two, because the rain was pouring down on his usually voluptuous hair. Still, he had that same sharp chin and scar beneath his lip. A lot of people at Caesar call Xander hot but I don’t really see the appeal, he looks like a retro Pete Davidson.
I also found him ugly, because, well, he was an evil, sniveling, pathetic worm.
I rolled my eyes, “Xander, what the #$%@ do you w-”
“At Debbie Don’s, but-”
He close the door, beginning to walk away. I swung the door open so fast it slammed against a wall. Pulling Xander by the collar of his trenchcoat, I dragged him into the house. The moment I pulled Xander in, August gagged on his iced tea.
“WHAT THE #%#@ IS HE DOING IN OUR HOUSE!?”
I slapped Xander, who was already out of breath after trying to break away from my steel grip, “I am looking,” he paused to breath, “For Sebastian,” another pause, “Merrick.”
I slammed my door shut, kicking him in the crotch, “And why are you looking for him?”
“Long story,” Xander asked, attempting to unlatch my window.
August ran towards the window, slamming it shut. Xander then proceeded to try to open the door again, though I slammed it on his fingers. He jumped up with a “YOWCH!” straight out of Tom and Jerry.
“Alright, alright, I’ll talk. How much time you got?”
I shrugged, “How much is it gonna take.”
He counted on his fingers, “About, say, fifteen days?”
“FIFTEEN DAYS!?!” August shouted.
August sat down, “Okay, okay, why do you need us for fifteen days?”
Xander clapped, “That’s the thing! I’m not sure. I was sitting in my dorm when a letter slid beneath that little crack, I read it,” he pulled what I assumed was the letter out of his pocket and read it aloud, “This thing, I assume, is a prophecy. It’s talking about six artifacts across New York, that we need to get and, well, do something with them. What? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
I grabbed Xander’s shoulder, “Xander, I love you to death but… why should we trust you? Last time I saw you you were going mad with power, trying to figure out how to take down OrigOlympus and now you’re…”
“Yes, yes, I know, I know, change of heart it’s just… Flynn.”
Flynn Macintosh was always the scariest person I’d known. Every legend about him was scarier than the last, every story both Sebastian Merrick and his own brother, Hayden, had told me about him had me scared down to my core. I understood, almost immediately, why Xander had his change of heart. But something was off, there was something… he wasn’t telling me.
“Xander… have you seen Mac around?”
Xander’s eyes darted around the room, “I was hoping to keep this between me and Sebastian but… yeah. He arrived at Caesar a couple weeks ago and joined in on a war that’s going on.”
“Currently, they’re fighting over the first artifact, the Golden Fleece. Mac, Dennis, Ximena, Edward,” August perked up at the mention of his missing boyfriend, “They’re all on one side and… well, they’re losing.”
“And who’s on the other?”
“Just about the full force of OrigOlympus.”
I sighed, I was so… tired!? I mean, we just finished up work on Athens-Carter, and before that there was the Ouranatox situation. I was so… done? Done with Athens, done with this #$@%. All OrigOlympus ever did, for any of us really, was make life worse. 55
“Let me get this straight,” I said, “We’re gonna go to Caesar?”
“With Sebastian Merrick?”
“And we’re going to stop a war between our best friends over an origami golden fleece?”
“Well, I’m in. August, are you in?”
August shrugged, “Sure, I guess. I just wanna see Edward, man.”
Maybe My Actions Had Consequences. Maybe.
By Xander Strohm
August and Peyton had managed to let me stay the night as I spun them my tails of OrigOlympus, and the downfall of their friends. Come morning, August had to shake Peyton awake who was passed out in a pool of her own saliva, the look on her tired and exhausted face being the most accurate representation of my mood I’ve seen in months. So, so tired. After the three of us brushed our teeth (and Peyton let me use the Hunter’s shower) we managed to talk Peyton’s Dad, who happened to be the old Artpollo, into letting us go and after I used a couple key words, we were off!
August seemed really excited. To be on this quest, that is. He was perky, jumping up and down, always asking me questions. He was very clearly distrustful of me when I first came in, but, unlike Peyton, he seemed to trust me completely by now. August was nothing like his sister- while Peyton was grouchy, unsupportive, and sarcastic, (much like my sister,) August seemed ready for another adventure. I wish that I was brother the way August was a brother. But now I’m more of a sibling like Peyton… exhausted… mean… and angry.
“I wanted to make things, better, y’know.” I said to Peyton.
“I thought that if me and Mallory were in control, we could take down Flynn and make a better life for everybody.”
“Dude, c’mon. Don’t be like that- say something.”
“Listen, man,” Peyton said, her eyes baggy from a night of staring at her phone, “Redeemed villains is, like, my whole thing! Everyone’s changing sides, everyone’s betraying everyone, it’s a war. That’s all this is: A war. Let’s just go get Sebastian, end this #$@%, and go home. Ka-peesh?”
“I’d like nothing more, it’s just-”
“I seem a bit ticked off at you? Gee, I wonder- I wonder what you did, Mr. Thunder-Pants.”
“It’s- It’s Mr. Hey-You-Get-Off-My-Cloud.”
“You were quoting Hercules.”
“What? No I wasn’t.”
“Yeah, you were! You were like- y’know what, nevermind.”
I- I made mistakes. I know. And I knew what I was getting myself into before all of this, I did, it’s just… well, I wanted to make my Mom proud. And I could never tell Peyton that.
We knocked on the door of Debbie Don’s, and Amy opened the door with a perky smile, “Hi! Mr. Alexander is teaching a class right now, can I-” She recognized us, or at the very least the determination in our eyes, “Oh, it’s one of those days, okay. Sebastian’s in his room, as usual.”
When we were out of ear shot, I whispered in Peyton’s ear, “As usual? As usual, what does ‘as usual’ mean?”
Peyton grabbed my arm, stopping me, “You… Haven’t talked to Sebastian in a while, have you?”
“I mean, no, but… he’s my hero! Or, was. Was my hero. If anyone could stop this… he can. Right?”
August and Peyton looked uneasy. “I mean- I mean, sure… I guess.”
“Wh- What? Why? What happened?”
August shrugged, “Dude, Sebastian doesn’t even come to school anymore. He barely even talks to any of us.”
“He- he only comes out at night to stop by High Schooler parties.” Peyton added.
“Yeah,” August agreed.
I gulped. Thai was my fault. I caused him to get Athens shut down, and for this whole mess to become what is today.
“Peyton, August, can- can one of you go first? I promise I’ll come in, I just… I don’t wanna scare him.”
Peyton nodded in agreement, “Okay, sure. Okay.”
Before Peyton could knock on the door, a pale boney hand caught Peyton’s. Attached to the hand, was an arm, and attached to that arm was a person who looked an awful lot like Flynn Mactinsoh.
I jumped back, “Ah!”
August got me, and messed up my hair for the second time today, “Get up, you big doofus. That’s just Hayden.”
Hayden flashed a smile, “You thought I was my brother, right? Well, don’t worry, I’m Hayden, hi, I’m cool. I’m hotter, I’m- I’m like the cool Flynn. Man, my brother really is the worst, isn’t he?”
I nodded. Hayden patted my arm, looking at August and Peyton like he was expecting a response, “See? Guys? I like this guy already.” Hayden rolled his eyes, “Anyways, you’re probably wondering ‘Hayden, why’d you block Sebastian’s door?’ Well, Seb is really sad right now, and-”
Peyton pulled Hayden’s arm behind his back and shoved him onto the ground. Hayden coughed, “Great! Yeah, great way to start my morning. Good to see you too, Peyton. Hi, August.” He patted my vans down, “You’re Xander, right? Yeahhh, you look like your sister. Hi, yippee, h-” Peyton swung Sebastian’s door open as Hayden frantically begged, “Peyton, Miss Peyton, I really think-”
“Go away,” Sebastian Merrick groaned, his face firmly planted into his pillow.
He needed to put on some clothes. That’s not to say he was naked, no, but he simply wore a wifebeater, shirts, and gold chains.
Though I hid behind the door, I could see Peyton walk up to Seb and run her fingers through his hair, “Sebastian, dearest? Are you doing alright?”
“Leave me alone.” Sebastian repeated in that same monotone voice.
“Sebastian, it’s just one more quest. Then we can go home, and then… we can go to High School. High School, Sebastian! Doesn’t that sound fun?”
“I miss him… it’s all my fault.”
“Don’t- Don’t… Don’t say that, Seb, it’s not your fault, it’s not,” she cut herself off, like she didn’t even know if she was telling the truth, “It’s not your fault.”
Sebastian sighed, now only mumbling his words to himself: “Nothing matters, he’s dead, he’s dead and it’s all my-… Charlie.” Barely even incoherent.
I slowly cracked the door a bit more to make my way in, the door creaking.
“Who’s there?” Sebastian asked.
“Just- Just me. Xander.”
Sebastian, almost instinctively, held out his arm and started playing with my hair.
I blushed, “Hi, oh, I… thank you.”
“How do you do, Xander?” Sebastian asked, his voice gravelly.
“I’m doing alright. Would be better if I got your help, but….”
“No, Xan… I’m out of it. Retired. Get Hayden.”
“No one likes Hayden.” Peyton said.
“That’s true,” August said, eating a mouthful of something. (Peyton’s comment: When transcribing all of this, Xander asked ALL OF US if anyone knew what the heck August randomly started eating. Hayden said he saw brown bits and we had cosmic brownies earlier in the day so we think it might be Cosmic Brownies, but that raises more questions than answers! When did August take it out? No one heard a wrapper. Was he carrying a wrapperless Cosmic Brownie in his pocket, just leaving it all in the hands of god? WHAT THE #$@%, AUGUST!?)
I kneeled down, “C’mon… it’ll be fun. We neeeeeeed you.”
“I’ll just ruin everything. You’ll probably… fall down a belltower.”
“Facts.” Peyton mumbled.
“I could help you guys!” Hayden said.
“Hayden!” Peyton yelled, “Shut the $@% up!”
“Sebastian, you’re not gonna ruin everything, I-”
“I ruined Chase, I’m ruinin’ Hayden, I ruined… you.” He sighed.
It was in that moment my heart snapped in two, and I held him up by his shoulders. “Nope, nuh uh, get up.” Lifting him up by the arms, I dropped him. He flopped face first onto the wooden floor, and fell back asleep, curling up into a safe little ball.
I lifted his head up, forcing him to look at me: “You’re not giving up, are you?”
I thought about CHRONOS, about the Sebastian Merrick who ran me through a hundred pushups all so we could burn the gods to the ground. And now… this? This is what had come of the great Sebastian Merrick?
“What happened to you, man? You were Sebastian Merrick, you were a leader, you made gods tremble I mean, you ruined me, sure, but… look at the good you taught me, look at the good you taught this kid,” I gestured to Hayden, “You were born to be a leader, Sebastian. And right now, that’s what we need. More than anything, we need a leader.”
Sebastian looked up at me.
“Mac will be there.”
He jumped up, reaching beneath his bed and pulling out a bag marked “Bag for whenever me and my friends decide to sneak into Caesar and check on Mac Astley who’s super hot.”
After swinging the bag over his arm, he smiled, “I’m ready.”
“That was a weirdly specific bag name.” Peyton said.
“You name your bags?” Hayden asked.
“I need to pee!” Sebastian shouted.
Pee Break (Part One)
By Sebastian “O-Reyna-Gami” Merrick
It turns out a proper many of us needed to pee. As I relieved myself in the urinal, Xander came in and took a stall. The final empty stall was occupied by Hayden.
“Hey Sebastian…” Hayden asked from the stall.
I sighed, Xander giggling to himself from the bathroom. Laughing at my expense.
“What?” I asked.
“Where do we go when we die?”
Xander cackled again, “Bro is Socrates.”
“That doesn’t even make sense, Xan. Socrates pondered ethics. Not the afterlife.”
“Bro thinks he’s Hades.”
“That’s a god. Try again.”
“Sebastian.” Hayden repeated, “Where do we go when we die.”
“I don’t know.” I said, zipping up my pants. I sat on the sink, waiting for Xander and Hayden to leave. They did, shortly.
“Next question,” Hayden asked.
“Oh my god,” I groaned.
Xander laughed, “This kid! I love this kid!”
“Why do we hate the OriGods?” He asked.
I didn’t quite know what to say, and I could see that Xander didn’t either. Still, Xander spoke for me.
“Well, Hayden… we hate them because they could save us. But they don’t. We hate them because they choose not to.”
“Oh.” Hayden said.
In my time working with Hayden, I learned about his more vulnerable side. His tendency to regress, all because his childhood was ripped away from him. I guess that that’s why we hate the gods- because they ruined our childhoods.
“Xander… Why do I miss people who hurt me?” Hayden asked.
“Because you’re a stupid little dumb dumb,” Xander said, “Just a stupid dumby. Nothing more.”
By Hayden “Meg McCreasey” Macintosh
I was out of breath. We had been walking for the past thirty minutes. My scrawny little nerd legs were sore, the tendons in my thighs feeling like they were about to pop. Right now, we were walking down a tree covered street with plenty of pretty, suburban houses.
“So… Sebastian, father, where are we going?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Seb,” Peyton pointed out, “Last time you said that CHRONOS got sneaked attacked by HARTocrates… first time I played the quiet game since Elementary school, actually.”
“Just trust his methods,” Xander insisted.
Xander intrigued me, he was a bad guy but is he a bad guy? It’s questions like these that keep me up at night. It’s also the fact that he was a former student of Sebastian Merrick, who is, y’know. Currently teaching me. I couldn’t tell whether I hated his guts or wanted to be just like him.
Sebastian took a sharp turn into someone’s driveway, and winced. “M’kay, while we’re out and about, I have a loose end to tie up. And hopefully,” Sebastian held up his crossed fingers, “He’ll help us get a ride. Fingers crossed.” He shrugged.
Sebastian rang the door bell.
The person who answered had brown tanned skin and choppy black hair. He was a couple years older than me, I knew that much. His green eyes were kind, and easy going, and for a while I thought we were in the presence of Percy Jackson himself. But when he crossed his arms, revealing the words “Hobgoblin” tattooed on his arm, I stumbled back.
What the #$@%, Sebastian!?
Jackson was a villain, he was the leader of CHRONOS, he worked for Flynn and terrorized me, terrorized Kaitlyn, and out of everyone he terrorized Sebastian the most. And here he was: Asking for his help.
And of course, there was… The Camp. I didn’t think I’d see anybody from the camp again, much less the entire trio.
And yet something about Jackson was off, his eyes had grown kinder, his smile had grown brighter. Jackson sighed, “Sebastian, Peyton, and… Hayden!? Oh my god, Hayden, I- I- I-” he looked like he was about to cry, “Would you look to come inside?”
Jackson’s house was modest, it wasn’t big or extravagant but it was better than the streets. But the best part of all of it? His Dad was there.
“We’re gonna help him find his Dad! It’ll be an adventure!”
Jackson nodded at his Dad, who nodded back approvingly.
Sebastian, on the other hand, was not as lowkey.
“Oh. My. God.” He ran up to Jackson’s Dad, who was sitting at a countertop in the dining room and wrapped him in a hug before jumping back, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, sir. I got excited,” Peyton elbowed me and pointed at the wet marks in Sebastian pants.
“…Miles Ordonia?” Sebastian asked.
Jackson’s Dad nodded. Seb jumped up and down, “Oh my god! Oh my god! I knew it! You, sir, who broke your leg?”
“THAT EXPLAINS SO MUCH, OH MY GOD!”
Peyton put her arm around Sebastian, “Calm down Pawpaw, let’s get you back to bed.”
Sebastian was now shaking, “That’s… Miles… Method…”
Peyton flashed an “I’m sorry,” smile at Miles, “Yeah, that’s… Sebastian. He’s a bit of a nerd for origami heroes.”
“But he hates gods?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Peyton patted the still hyperventilating Sebastian, “He’s a strange one.”
Jackson lead us further into the house, settling on his bed. It looked like a Middle Schooler’s bed, with posters covering the walls and little planes dangling from the ceiling. And the walls were a deep shade of blue, giving the whole place a sky theme.
After closing the door (He had a Misfits poster on the door, nice), Jackson forced a smile, “Hi.”
When he realized that no one was about to say hi back, Sebastian took the first step, “Hi, Jackson. How are you feeling?”
“Uh, yeah, yeah. Feeling, yeah. What, uh, what brings you to my house?”
“Well, I figured we had… a few loose ends to tie up. I’d just go myself but… we’re kind of on a quest right now, and we need a ride.”
Jackson smiled, “Ah, I feel you. Remember when me, you, and Ben were out looking for the paper sword of Damocrease? Walked the whole way to Jersey. Good times… good times, man.”
Sebastian looked at Xander for an answer, and Xander, who had zoned out, blinked. “I- Yeah, it kind of depends? If we do it right, then, well… everything could come crashing down but…” Xander shrugged.
“Oh,” Jackson said, “One of those days.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “One of those days.”
Jackson looked so much happier, so much kinder, like he’d moved on. And as much as I hated it, it made me angry. Because I was angry. I was still angry that my brother got took from me by this- this stupid $%@$ing town…
When the silence grew dreadful, Jackson spoke, “I’m really sorry, Xander, Sebastian, Peyton… Hayden. I- When I went to High School I started getting bullied. A lot. And it taught me to change, y’know?”
“I keep forgetting you’re in High School,” Sebastian said, trying to lighten the mood, “I mean, you’re old now.”
“Dude, you have gray hairs.”
“Dude, you tried to stab me once.”
Jackson’s eyes grew more guilty, “Yeah, I did… do that.”
“But, BUT,” Sebastian said, “We’re cool now, right?”
Jackson nodded, “Yup… We’re cool now.”
The car ride was slow, the only music playing being top 100 hits from 2015. As Jackson drive with his knee, he ate ramen with chop sticks. He offered some to Sebastian, who was in the passenger seat. In the back seat, it was me and Peyton on the back seats with August wedged in the middle and Xander on the floor, each time we hit a bump the rich boy cursing.
Finally, we were… here. Back at the secret exit to Caesar… I thought about the last time me and Peyton were here, and how we accidentally killed Silver Emily. I almost threw up at the thought of it, but seeing throw up would’ve probably made the sinking pit in my heart worse. Peyton, on the other hand, would always laugh whenever it was brought up.
As everyone left, Jackson stopped me, lightly grabbing onto my arm.
“I- Can I ask something of you?”
“I’ve thought a lot about that night, y’know? The one where we killed Karl. I mean, I was thirteen, dude. And I can’t even imagine how much that must’ve affected Flynn. So, I- I need you to promise me something. Promise me that you’ll save Flynn.”
I froze up. I couldn’t move an inch, I couldn’t speak or even blink. At least, until I forced myself to.
“Jackson… I don’t think- I don’t think I can save him.”
“I know you can. I know that he- I know that he lashed out against you, but remember when you two were kids. Remember when you two were happy? I want you, and I especially want him to have that again, okay? Promise me.”
“Jackson, I want to, okay? More than anything, I mean, he’s my brother, but… I have a new family, now. And he’s not worth saving.”
Jackson sighed, “Okay, Hayden.”
I left again, but Jackson had one last thing to say to me.
“Hayden, I’m… I’m sorry, you know that, right?”
I nodded, “I know… But don’t worry, we’re gonna finish this.”
A Warm Welcome Back To Caesar Middle School
By August “Will SolCrease” Hunter
After we finished our hike into Caesar proper, Sebastian sighed.
“Okay, Xan. Baby girl, love of my life. Would you, by any chance, know where Mac and Ximena are?”
Xander nodded, “Absolutely no idea.”
Sebastian nodded, “Figures, Flynn, he’s… cheeky. Devilish, even. Okay, what we’re gonna do is split up, kinda… look around? Xander, you- you watch Hayden, everyone else… uh, I don’t care what you do.”
“Wait, where are you going?” I asked.
“I’m looking for a place for us to stay, and I… I have a lead, so.” Everyone nodded, “Ready, break.”
The Caesar main area was buzzing with students that looked sad… miserable, even. On the doors, large brilliant banners with the Triumvirate’s logo plastered across it. Wanted posters with faces like mine, Sebastian’s, and Hayden’s covered every wall, the cold winter’s wind blowing them across my face.
I put my hood on, and covered my face with a mask. As I looked around the place, really just trying to understand what all had changed, I grew more dreary. I saw that most students had chosen to skip class, many huddled around camp fires. (I assume that the air conditioning had broken.)
And the faces. Oh my god, the faces stuck with me. Every student I saw looked just like Flynn. Resentful… bitter… angry. I could hardly take the awful, downright abusive state of the school I once went to. I hid behind my old cohort the moment I saw a dozen or so basketball players trot through with “CHRONOS” logos on their backs, the leader, Phillip Monroe having it painted on his face.
But it’s no use. None of it is any use. In the little crevice I’m hiding in, there’s a twelve year old who who looks at me with angry eyes. “I’m telling.” She says.
I run off. I run far and far, in search of something- anything- hopeful. And all I bump into is my sister.
“Oh my god, oh my god, what the hell happened here?” I asked.
I nodded, “It’s not safe to be out in the open like this, we- we need to go somewhere.”
Peyton nodded, “Oh, yeah, for sure. But, uh… where?”
I thought long and hard about all the places me and Edward snuck off to, and believe me, we had many many spots. And then it hit me.
“OH MY GOD!” I grabbed my sister by the hand and lead her through the school, past all the teachers and into the old auditorium, hoping desperately that we could still use the old cafeteria… or, as we liked to call it… The Waystation.
No such luck. Plastered across the wall was a note, explaining that from now on students were to eat in their dorms, and that the cafeteria was off limits. Peyton and I sighed, Peyton sighing out of disappointment… but me? It was out of anger.
I thought about Edward trying to come here, to his one safe space in the whole school, with all of his best friends, and it being him who ruined the mission. The self doubt, the anger. Pandora’s box had been opened, and hope had been let free.
I wasn’t about to let a sign tell me what to do. With every ounce of my strength, which wasn’t much, I kicked at the door.
It didn’t budge. I stumbled back in agony, Peyton catching me, “Easy, Augustus, easy…” I punched it until my knuckles bled, Peyton this time pulling me away, “August! Did you hear me!? I said-” I broke free and ran towards the door, this time the door swinging open. I stumbled forward, hitting my nose on a vacant cafeteria table.
Standing above me was Sebastian Merrick, and behind him two complete strangers.
“You thought to come here too?” Sebastian asked.
Getting up and dusting myself off (which took me several minutes, there was a lot of dust) I agreed, “I- I thought they’d be here.”
Sebastian tapped his knuckles on a table marked “Los Astacio Estuvieron Aquí” “It’s cause they were,” Sebastian grunted, “Paper trail says that Edward, Dennis, Mac, and Kevin were here, but… no signs of Ximena, which tells me they got caught pretty early on.” Sebastian reached into his pocket and pulled out a small slip of paper, “August,” he addressed.
In his palm was a puppet, Nico Di AngeFold. Edward’s Nico Di AngeFold. Except the puppet was crumpled, a bite shaped tear on the bottom corner.
“What the- Where did you find this?”
Sebastian snapped his fingers, “Beneath a… Beneath a table, figure you’d want it.”
“I- Thank you.”
He nodded, “Don’t mention it.”
“Okay,” Peyton said, “Are you gonna… talk about your friends?”
Sebastian blinked, “Oh, OH, Oh my god, I keep forgetting you don’t know these two formally, oh my god, I’m so sorry,” he pointed at a girl who looked dress for the apocalypse, war paint beneath her eyes, her blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail, “This is Heather Sawyer, former Art-rodite turned friend,” Sebastian turned his attention to a younger looking guy with dreads and a basketball tee, “And this… is Derek. Derek was a basketball player, open critic of Flynn until he was pretty much erased from existence. Isn’t that right, Derek?”
“These two were with Ximena,” Sebastian continued, “And they managed to set up some traps…” Sebastian peeled some glue off his hands, “Very sticky,” he said, “Anyways, they showed me something, something that Xander and Hayden showed me too. Caesar Middle School needs to change. Flynn has gone mad with power, and… it’s up to us to do something about it. I have a plan, but, it’s gonna need all of us. And Xander, and Hayden. So… are you guys in?”
And we all nodded. Because, as stupid as it sounded (and probably was) we all trusted Sebastian Merrick with our lives.
In The Closet
By Hayden “Meg McCreasey” Macintosh
The place where Xander had brought me was an old dorm marked “C114.” Xander produced a key and unlocked it, and the room was… dainty. Rickety, even. It had a plastic anchor on one wall, and Minecraft windows.
“This your room?” I asked.
“It, uh… No, it wasn’t.”
Xander started poking around the room, and when he couldn’t find anything he started to look desperate. He pushed past notepads and police radios that lined the desk. Whoever was here certainly had a knack for detective work. Even though I didn’t know what we were looking for, I snooped around too, finding an open book of famous poetry on the unkempt bed. At the foot of the bed… combat boots.
When I reached the bed side table, I noticed a bedside table with Xander, and two girls who I realized were Ximena and Xena Strohm.
“Xander… is this your sister’s room?”
He continued searching, “I- I thought she would’ve left me something, she- she always leaves me something!” Xander said, his voice cracking on the words ‘me something!’
When Xander produced a pocket knife, ready to tear into Ximena’s bed, I grabbed his arm. Xander forgot that I was a student at Debbie Don’s Dance Dojo- I could be pretty strong when I wanted to be.
“Xander, I thought Ximena hated you. Why would she leave you anything whenever you were, no offense, one of our worst enemies?”
He slumped in his bed, “I- I don’t know, I just thought… She’d always leave me sticky notes around the house. Most of them were on her food, telling me not to eat it. I ignored them, and so she’d leave one on my tooth brush calling me a pig. I just thought… Y’know, I thought she’d leave me something to go off of here, but…” Xander lifted up “The Greatest Works of Edgar Allen Poe,” “All I have is this stupid book of p-”
A paper spider fell out of the book, the spot on it’s back where a Black Widow’s hourglass would be replaced with an X.
“Oh my god.” As I unfolded it, Xander quickly flipped through the pages, finding the one with a faint spider shaped outline (The rest of the page was stained with coffee). After placing the spider on it the, the hands of the spider aligned with the word… stranger?
No, no, that couldn’t be right, unless… Wait, my girlfriend is in the Hunters of Art-emis.
“Xander, hand me a lamp,” I held the lamp up to page and reflecting back at me, backwards, one clear word… Nemesis.
“Oh.” Xander said.
“Yeah,” a voice behind us said.
We all spun around, and I saw a face I never thought I’d see again. Kenadee Staples… and behind her… The Hunters of Art-emis.
Oh no, this is so not cool.
Names Have Power. This One Has Two.
By Heather Sawyer
Oh my lord. Okay, this is my first actual chapter (Sebastian’s comment: And it’ll be your last too if you don’t shut the @#%@ up.) And, believe me, things have changed. I mean for years my whole thing has been just, y’know, the pretty one.
We don’t exactly have the room for that anymore, do we? I mean, Sebastian Merrick is easily the hottest person I’ve ever met and his nose is still misshapen. There’s just no winning in Athens, New York. Especially in Bunker 9.
Bunker 9 is a bunker that, apparently, a kid named Bart Montez discovered and then was made public by Peyton. Or, as public as a secret tunnel could get. At the moment… me, Sebastian, Derek, Peyton, and August are hanging out here.
I coughed, “Sebastian… this place is dusty, why are we down here?”
Peyton puffed on her inhaler.
Sebastian pulled us into a little corridor, pulling down a rolled up sheet of paper with the face of a High School looking student on it, “This is Lucas Benadryl, yes, that Benadryl.”
Peyton coughed, “That’s so cool, Sebastian. If we stay in this musty $%@ basement any longer, you’ll be needing a benadryl too.”
Sebastian rolled his eyes, “You’re no fun. What people don’t know about ol’ Lucas here is that before perfecting benadryl, he went to Caesar and fought as… origami Asclepius!”
“Woah! That’s so cool!” Derek cheered.
“Stop,” Peyton said, “Don’t encourage him.”
Sebastian seethed, “Anyways, this bunker served as the number one lair for the Heroes of OrigOlympus, and I mean, like, the OG CHRONOS, back before we even were a thing.”
Peyton smacked on her gum, “So? I mean, so?”
“I guess what Peyton’s trying to say is… Who cares? Who gives a @#$@… about that?”
Sebastian nodded with a mischievous glimmer in his eye that anyone who worked for CHRONOS (and contrary to what everyone else says, I was part of that whole thing, in protest of the removal of the iconic crispito from the lunch catalogue) would recognize.
“So…” Sebastian scurried over to the main part of the bunker, and produced a long, luxurious black flag with the now iconic CHRONOS emblem on it, “We have a free room. And we’re gonna finish what was started years ago by Donald D. Delirious and take down OrigOlympus, once and for all!”
Sebastian shouted the last part, though all he got were crickets.
“Okay, I’ll bite,” August said in monotone, “Who’s Donald D?”
“He was.. The original OriChronos? Started the whole first rebellion back in 1991, split the schools apart. My hero…”
Peyton blinked, “Sebastian, you’ve never- you’ve never mentioned this man before in your life.”
“I mean- huh, that’s weird, I could’ve- I could’ve sworn I had a poster up of him or… something, I don’t know.”
“Nah, man,” Derek said, “First time hearing about this guy.”
“Edward might’ve said something,” August said.
Peyton’s eyes lit up, “Yeah, I think I remember Edward mentioning something… but that was like, a year ago.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Guys, you’re kind of… ruining my flow right now? Could you- Could you not?”
“Sorry, sorry,” I said, shushing Peyton and August who I quickly decided were my babies, “Proceed.”
“But here’s the thing… our club, it’s gonna need a name. And so how about… we give Chronos one last shot? To take down both sets of OriGods, the right way. No Flynn, no Jackson, just a couple of guys killing gods like we used to be.”
“Only one problem,” Peyton said, blowing a bubble with her gum, “Your CHRONOS still exists, and it’s being lead by Phillip.”
Sebastian nodded, “Yes, yes, I’m well aware of what they turned my pride and joy into, that’s why we’re getting a new name… a name that strikes fear into the hearts of anyone what hears it… CHRONOS… TWO!”
“What?” Peyton asked.
“We put a two at the end,” Sebastian said.
“Oh okay,” Derek said, “That’s cool.”
Before Sebastian could continue on with his ramble, we heard a sound that was masked by Sebastian’s rambles… the sounds of struggling. Quickly following it, we saw Hayden and Xander in a dark corner of the bunker, surrounded by the Hunters of Art-emis.
I wouldn’t say we made quick work of them, the five of us severely outnumbered and quite frankly outmatched, but one thing that we had that they didn’t? Spirit. We fought harder, with everything we had, using every ounce of force, every tool at our disposal from old trophies to books, Sebastian throwing an entire table at Anastasia Wisley. After jumping out of the way, I found a face I never thought I’d see again…
Ballinae Ronson. My… ex, who had made life hell for me.
“Well, well, well,” Ballinae said, smugly, “Can’t you believe you ditched me for… losers like this! It’s futile, really, what you’re trying to do, I-”
I punched her in the face.
“I- I- I- I can’t believe you,” she sputtered. I punched her again, this time in the throat. I didn’t really care. One punch was for Maya Amaro, another for Peyton Hunter. I spun around, elbowing her teeth, and the moment she hit the ground with a thud I realized everyone was staring at me.
Sebastian put his arm on my shoulder, “It’s okay, we won.” When he noticed I was still tense, he repeated himself, “Easy tiger… we’re okay.”
The Nemesis Of My Nemesis
By Derek “OrigOdysseus” Miller
“Who are we looking for again?” I asked.
“Nemesis.” Peyton said.
“No, like, what person? No puppets.”
Peyton shrugged, “We don’t know, but with our luck she’s a real meanie.”
“It could be a boy.”
Peyton nodded, “It could be a boy…”
As you could tell, I couldn’t stand Peyton Hunter. She was mean, she was arrogant, she was rude… and more importantly she was a NERD! I read every single case file you guys posted, even the weird Reddit one that no one talks about and I’m baffled that not a single person pointed out how much of a NERD this girl is. Like, she uses Reddit and I really, really can’t stand someone who uses anything besides Snap, Insta, and WhatsApp. That’s all you need, bruh, that’s all you need.
I really did wonder why someone as cool as Sebastian Merrick trusted just the two of us with this mission, but as soon as Xander said that he found out where Ximena wants us to go, he pointed at the two of us and sent us on our way.
The girl who was at the door had on a leather jacket, and looked so much like Sadie Kane from the Kane Chronicles that I thought she might as well have an origami version, but I could still see the Origami Nemesis in her with the way she carried herself, hunched and angular like the Girl’s basketball players. They scared me.
I know all about basketball, having played my whole life.
Peyton’s must’ve recognized the girl, because she looked a bit miffed, “Oh.” She said, verbally.
The girl who answered the door looked at us, a bit unimpressed, really, and slammed the door on our faces.
Peyton dropped to her knees, pounding on the door, “Charlieeeeee, please! Open the doorrrrrrr!”
Charlie opened the door, Peyton’s arms falling onto her british flag flip flops. (Dawgs out, by the way.) Charlie sighed, “What do you want, Peyton? And why do you have a himbo with you?”
Peyton frowned, “Great to see you too, Charlie! Gee, you’re such a fun person to be around, Charlie!”
“Is it because I dated your friend?”
“It’s because you dated my friend!”
“He cheated on me.”
“That’s fair, yeah, that was kind of… IT’S BECAUSE OF HIS PAIN! HIS TRAUMAAAA!”
Charlie looked unamused, “Do you wanna come in or not?”
Peyton sighed, “Yes, please.”
“So,” I asked, “What’s your role in all of this?” I asked.
Peyton shrugged, “I’m Nemesis, one of the OriGods. I deal out just punishments… I keep them in check when no one else will.”
“So… you’re not corrupt?”
“Wait… there’s corruption going on?”
Charlie realized what Peyton was talking about, “Oh my gods, are you talking about Flynn? I promise you, he’s not as bad as he seems, he’s even a bit-”
Peyton shoved Charlie off her bed, held her hands behind her back and kneed her neck. “Who are you and what have you done with the Charlie I tolerated!?”
Charlie coughed, “What, I-”
Peyton shoved her head into the floor, “No talking! Next question: Where is The Golden Fleece!? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HER, I- ANSWER ME!” Peyton grabbed Charlie by the collar and slammed her into the wall, “WHERE IS SHE!?”
I continued to sit on Charlie’s bed, masculinely playing with her Squishmallows.
“LABYRINTH!” Charlie coughed, “CAESAR LABYRINTH, ENTRANCE IN SEVENTH COHORT, THAT’S ALL I KNOW, PLEASE!”
“Caesar has a labyrinth?!”
“Yes,” Charlie wheezed, “It’s supposed to be a secret but I’m the only person who knows everyone’s secrets.”
Peyton got up, spitting on the bruised Charlie Leavings, “Stinking pacifist…”
The Flooded Maze And The Return of the Queen
By Sebastian “O-Reyna-Gami” Merrick
Ah, Cohort Seven. Before he moved into the new floor of Angela Emily’s OrigOlympus, this was where he would stay. It was a little nicer than the other Cohorts, but not by too much. Kinda funny to me how, for a while, Flynn just had to live among filth like us. Should’ve decked him right then and there if you ask me but hey, what can I tell you? I got a 100 regrets and that barely scrapes the 255 mark.
The hallway monitor, naturally, asked us what we were doing and that’s when I noticed how off putting the painting behind her looked.
“Peyton,” I said.
The woman was impaled with an arrow.
Peyton jumped down from the crevice of the ceiling she had concealed herself in, “I- I thought that was a Zerf arrow. Who- Who restocked my arrows?”
“I gave Hayden that job.”
Hayden turned red, “Hayden, you were- you were supposed to give her Zerf arrows, not- not normal arrows, I- This poor lady.”
“Is she gonna die?” Hayden asked.
“I- I don’t know, kid, I don’t know.”
We crept behind the desk and took the painting off the wall, and lo and behold… we had our entrance. Me, Xander, and Hayden slid in. We had realized pretty early on that it was dangerous sending our whole team down there, so we picked who ever had the most… emotional investment.
As soon as we slid in, the first thing I noticed was the labyrinth was… flooded. Me, Hayden, and Xander were knee deep in water and I knew, deep down, that it was to #$@% with me. Because that flood was my fault.
As we dived further into the school, we came across posters of… families…? The faces were blacked out but it quickly became clear who was who.
The first painting, a Mother, a Father, and three kids. The Father’s entire body is covered in the same paint that the son is covered in… because they were both gone.
The next painting, this time still a Mother and Father, but with only two kids. It was a countdown. The parents were torn out of the picture, and the face of one of the brothers was sketched over, making him look charred and disformed.
And finally, standing alone before the same background was… Me. Sebastian Merrick. All alone. Xander and Hayden had lost people that I never had.
And when we pushed the door open, there he was. Flynn Macintosh. Something had changed in him, though. He carried himself with more charisma, his body language speaking volumes. His chin had gotten stronger, as his muscles had. His clothes were no longer baggy on him, instead he opted for clothes that were more comfortably fitting. And his orange hair was tied back into a pony tail.
He was one to one with the pictures Peyton showed me of Silver Emily.
Suddenly, something from the darkness reached in and pulled him into the shadows. They hissed and they fought, and I could see teeth flying my way. Finally, a woman emerged, triumphant. At first, I could only make out her silhouette: fluffy hair that shined a golden color the flutter of a skirt from the air of the vents, long arms that reached down to her thighs.
Ximena Strohm had come to save us!
And then she stepped out of the shadows.
Her skin was dark, the same shade as Mac’s. And she was far more muscular than Ximena ever could be. The part that really did it for me? She’s covered in blood.
She walks up to me, “Hey babe.”
Then she notices Xander’s steely looks and trots over to him, carrying herself with elegance. “Easy does it, pretty boy, I’m with you guys!” I balled my fists, praying that she punches me in the face.
She sighs, and puts her arm around me, “Now, your paranoia is not without justification. This is, with all due respect, a $%#%ing mess, babes. We got six magic objects, a traitor, an evil charity, and to top it all off, we’re the most wanted #$%@ers in the school,” she shrugs.
That’s when I noticed something. Her tooth is chipped. There’s a beauty mark on her neck. And those sea green eyes I’d recognize anywhere… This was not Ximena Strohm.
“But don’t you worry,” she smiles, the person who I once knew as Mac Astley kissed me on the cheek,“Mommy’s home.”
By Ximena “Annashred Crease” Strohm
In the cell that was once a dorm room is a complete stranger. She’s beautiful, I’ll give her that much. And she’s so so much happier. But gone is the man who I wanted to marry. I love MJ Astley, but after spending a week with her I miss Mac more. Is that really so bad?
And yeah, the name she picked out was MJ. It’s pretty good, I guess.
In our cell, it’s me, her, and… Edward, strangely enough. I’m glad it’s not just me and MJ alone together, I’m really not.
Because we had only broken up yesterday.
Or, well. We had never really gotten together. But when she came to save me I found that, well, the looming tension was no longer there. And I just wanted her to be my friend.
Through a crack in the wall, we’re able to talk to Dennis and Mallory next door, but we’ve completely lost Kevin. The six of us, alongside Xander, had lead our rebellion finely until, well, Lina ratted us out and we ended up… here. In the slammer.
The sirens came for Dennis first. There had been rumors of origami sirens for about a year now, ever since Lina, Dennis, and Bart found a kid with an Origami Hydra crying himself to sleep in an art room closet, mumbling about them. But I very quickly understood why once it happened to us.
First, they showed up at Dennis and Mallory’s doors. I don’t know what they showed them but throughout the night their screams were deafening. Then they came for us.
Three women, long, nun-like dresses. Ages were barely discernible. They showed Edward photos from his Mom’s autopsy, MJ all the footage that they’d accumulated of her over the years, er worst memories played back to her in stunning 4K. And me? Well, quite frankly, I don’t want to put it down here.
But what was the most interesting part to me was seeing how all of this affected each and every one of us. Edward didn’t stop moving or talking. No, literally. He spit out zinger after zinger, quoted movie after movie, to distract himself, his foot beating up and down at a hundred miles an hour.
MJ was the polar opposite, she couldn’t talk. The only time she ever moved was to put a pillow to her ears, the sound of Edward’s voice likely becoming irritating. While Edward’s eyes held an explosion of emotion, a supernova of feelings, MJ seemed devoid of purpose. Of meaning.
I just wanted my friends to be alright.
After hours of silence and nothing but pain, MJ and Edward had already fallen asleep.
“Hey, Dennis?” I whispered through the crack.
“Eh?” Dennis groaned, clearly tired as well.
“How you feelin?”
“I’m fine… I promise, I’m fine.”
“Dennis?” I asked again.
“Do you ever think about how all of this goes back to us?”
“What do you mean?” He asked.
I looked at MJ. Her eyelids stained with her tears, her head nuzzled up against her scarred and bloodied hands. Nails broken, eyes swollen, cheeks scuffed and scarred.
“If we didn’t fight, if we hadn’t… blamed each other… for Sebastian, than maybe she wouldn’t have became Pleaty Jackson, y’know? Maybe we’d all be better.”
After a long, almost profound pause, Dennis sighed, “Maybe? But I don’t think any of this is anybody’s fault. I mean, if we blamed ourselves for hurting MJ then we’d have to blame Sebastian for hurting us. And if we had to blame Sebastian- we’d have to blame Flynn. And if we blamed Flynn we’d have to blame- well, everyone.”
“But I keep messing up? It was MJ who saved Sebastian, and then I kissed him. And now my stinking brother is having to clean up my mess.”
Dennis sighed, “And how do you think Sebastian feels? With all the people he’s hurt? Hell, I let Mallory into my cold, lonely heart and that #$%#ed us up just as much as any of his stupid descisions.”
“You’re good, Ximena. You might not believe it but you really are… good.”
I checked to make sure MJ and Edward were really asleep, and then asked Dennis if Mallory was the same.
“Dennis, can I tell you a secret?”
“You’ve heard about the Dark Prophecy, right? What sent all of us on this quest?”
“I wrote it. I made it up because I wanted to bring everybody together, and getting all six of them together felt like the only way to do that- and a prophecy was the only way I could get Xander to listen.”
Dennis giggled. Dennis laughed.
“I know, Ximena. I know.”
“Yeah, dude… you’re a terrible liar. You can fool everybody else but… you can’t fool me, Muffet.”
Suddenly, there was a clicking sound.
“Dennis, what was that?” I asked.
Silence. Dead silence.
Suddenly, there was a click at my door and it swung open. Dennis leaned on the door frame, “Wake up, losers!”
MJ and Edward both groaned before standing up.
As we walked out, Dennis threw a shoe at Mallory, “Get up,” he then called her a derogatory term against women.
Mallory rose, and the five of us made our way down the hallway. Eventually, we made our way through the labyrinth. The stone tunnels seemed to go on forever, though eventually we reached a three way crossroads.
MJ sighed, “Ximena and Edward, you two go together. Mallory and Dennis, go off. Slay. I’ll go alone.”
“That doesn’t sound safe,” Edward commented.
“Please… just leave me alone.” MJ said.
So what Do we Do now?
By MJ “Pleaty Jackson” Astley
The three boys (two of which I recognized) jaws were on the floor. Quite frankly, I didn’t blame them. I’d already spent a couple months taking medicine with my Mom, way too afraid to tell anyone else, so by the time I actually put on a dress, I was… liberated, free, and quite frankly beautiful.
Evidently, Sebastian Merrick was not quite used to this. As I spun him the tale of how we arrived at Caesar, begun the quest that tore me and Ximena apart, joined a competitive boxing team, and ultimately got captured by Flynn he stared at me with longing, almost lustful eyes. The poor thing was barely able to get a word out. Meanwhile, Xander and the kid who looked like Flynn listened tentatively.
After helping Sebastian up, Xander sighed: “What do we do now?”
Sebastian puffed his chest, “I think-” he caught a glimpse of me, blushed, and the rest of his sentence was incoherent.
I lifted up the incapacitated Flynn, “I think that the first thing we should do… is give this goober a serious talking to. Am I right?”
Me and the new kid start carrying Flynn to my old dorm while Sebastian and Xander linger in the back. While we were talking, Flynn must’ve woken up and attempted to pull a blade on us but Xander kicked him in the groin. Xander reminded me of Ximena in a lot of ways, and this made me start to wonder how the others were doing. I mean, we were still no closer to finding the Golden Fleece- that’s why I had everyone split up. Cover more ground that way.
And maybe Flynn could lead to some type of breakthrough, I don’t know.
When we arrived at my dorm, I instinctively knocked on the door before opening it. I have all these little tics like that. When I opened the door up, Kevin Kwan’s little head raised from the bed. I saw what Kevin had done with my room and… I liked it, to be fair. Only it was obvious how well the room was doing with me gone.
See, whenever we arrived at Caesar, Kevin immediately chickened out, talking about how his parents pulled him out of school after the whole CHRONOS incident and this was… well, 100 times bigger of a deal. So I let him stay here, only to find that… the room was clean. Like, clean clean. Not a single dirty sock on the floor, posters had been put up covering the walls I used to punch. He even… redyed my clothes to better compliment my skin tone?? A bit strange, but helpful, nonetheless.
Kevin got up, wrapping me in a hug, “How’d it go!? You find it yet?” I shook my head, sitting down. The Fold Zhang took a seat on a rolly chair, and the moment I stepped out of the doorway he noticed the knocked out Flynn Macintosh and jumped back, “I- WHAT!? MJ, oh my god,” I clicked my tongue, “You might wanna move,” I said, snapping my finger and pointing at the closet, where we threw Flynn in. We locked the closet shut.
“So, who’s gonna talk to him?”
“I can’t.” Sebastian said, faster than I’d heard him say a single word he muttered.
I nodded. I knew about how afraid Sebastian must’ve been right now, and how I was probably the only one who did. Either that or everyone did, and no one had a clue what to say.
There was also something else lingering in the air between me, Sebastian, Hayden, Kevin, and Xander’s conversation: Chase Kemp. In every conversation we had, he lingered. Every action Sebastian made, every word he uttered seemed to dance around his name, his mind becoming a ballroom of dancing bohemians, the disco ball turning his chorus of condition into nothing more than reflections.
Whoah. I got deep there.
Eventually, we decided that the only people mentally stable enough to handle Flynn were me and Hayden, Hayden deciding to go first. The rest of us took a seat on a bench just outside of our dorms, in the thin, almost The Shining like hallways.
“We need to pee,” Xander and Kevin said at the same time, grabbing each other’s hands and skipping off to the bathroom, leaving me and Sebastian alone for the first time in a year.
“So, who’s the kid?” I asked.
Sebastian shrugged, “That’s Hayden. Flynn’s brother, I kind of… took him in, I guess.”
“I thought you said you wouldn’t take anymore kids in?”
“This one’s special,” Sebastian said.
“You said that about Chase.”
“Can we please not bring him up again?” Sebastian asked, “What’s past is past, okay?”
I sighed, “Fine. What else has been going on at Athens while I’ve been away?”
“Can’t say all that much happened,” he smiled, “Peyton’s been- Oh my god, we left them out-” Sebastian pulled out his phone, dialed in a number, before his line got cut off. He cursed. “Peyton, August, Derek, and Heather came with us- How could I have been so stupid?”
Our hands grazed and flutters went through my heart, “You always ask that.”
“‘How could I have been so stupid?’ Everytime you mess up, same thing.”
“I don’t know, just something to think about.”
After doing as I told and thinking about it, Sebastian asked me what I’d been up to.
“I mean, just look at you. Wow! You look- you look great!”
“I know, right?? Oh, you know I broke up with Ximena?”
He smiled a bit too widely, “Really!?”
He noticed my skeptic look, “I mean, grr, really? But you two were, like, the total power couple.”
I shrugged, “People grow apart. What can I say? I mean, we’re just Middle School kids.”
Sebastian frowned, “About to be High Schoolers. I don’t know, she could’ve been your High School sweetheart.”
I chuckled, “Yeah… no. I just know that wouldn’t work out. Besides, I caught feelings for someone else.”
“Ooh, really? Who?”
“Don’t worry about it… you like somebody?”
“I… I think I do.”
Without warning, Hayden bursted through the doors, crying. Looks like the interrogation didn’t go so well.
I cracked my knuckles, ready for an hour of playtime.
I offered Sebastian Merrick a handful of Flynn Macintosh’s teeth, “I know where we can find the fleece.”
Sebastian stumbled back, “Hey, those are teeth!”
“Yeah, anyways, Flynn is looking for the fleece too, because whatever the file contains it’s something that Flynn is planning to present with Mrs. Emily. And, and, you’re not gonna believe this. It’s in the labyrinth: take the library entrance, three lefts, a right, a left, and two more rights and bippity boom, we’re there.”
Xander and Kevin returned from their group pee, “Hey guys! We just got done! Any news?” They asked, in perfect unison.
I repeated my information.
“So… where do we go from here?” Sebastian asked again.
“Well, I think it’s about time that we bring everyone together again. Y’know, for real this time.”
Meanwhile, Dennis and Mallory…
By Dennis “OriGrover” Redwood
We fell through the ventilation shaft. May I repeat: We fell. Through the ventilation shaft. Me and Mallory took one wrong step, and fell directly into Mallory Cross’s dorm.
“Where are we?” I asked, as Mallory Cross sorted through her stuff to make sure nothing had been moved. Shockingly, it hadn’t.
“OrigOlympus,” Mallory said, like that wasn’t the worst possible place to be at this exact second in time.
“Not like I wanted to come here…”
“All of Caesar is in complete chaos, and-”
“Will you shut up!?” She hissed at me.
“Oh, you got some real nerve lady. I’ve been cramped in a sweaty catacomb with the chick who emotionally manipulated me for a whole year, so forgive me if I’m a little crabby.”
She walked up to a chest, opening it up and rooting through it, “I apologize if I wasn’t completely honest with my intentions going into our relationship.”
“‘Wasn’t completely honest!?’ ‘Wasn’t completely honest?’ Bull. Oh my god, bull. Just stop talking.”
She threw a flower crown at me. “Put this on.” She said. “And then this this,” fake goat hooves, and a toga, and a curly haired wig, “And this, and this, and this.”
“No way,” I said, dropping it all on the floor, “I’m not wearing this pansy $%@%.”
“They’re not gonna believe that you’re an OrigOlympian if you’re dressed like,” she gestured at my biker jacket, that was now torn and thrashed with knives, my combat boots untied and covered in mud. I can only imagine how many leaves and twigs had collected in my greasy hair, “That,” Mallory finished.
I snorted, “Snot nose.”
“Put on the $%@% toga.”
“I’m not putting on the toga,” I grumbled to myself as I put on the toga.
Mallory pulled a purple floppy hat out of her chest and some gold chains. She walked into her bathroom, and changed.
I laid down on her bed, looking up at the ceiling. While we were separated, Mallory hardly texted me, but we Facetimed a couple of times. And I would always look up at the ceiling stars she had up, and wondered what it would be like to lay in bed with her. But now it’s morning. And I can’t see the ceiling stars. I looked at her bedside table, and on the bedside table (next to a non-age appropriate beverage) was a photo of us. Our last, in person, date. Just before school started.
I wondered why she held onto it after all these years.
The bathroom door swung open, and out stepped a completely different person. Her hair was long, and purple, reaching down to her chest, with an almost cloud like quality. “You’ll call me Lucy McBeth,” said… Well, Lucy McBeth, I suppose. “My puppet is Nyx. You are my little satyr friend.”
She got out her phone and took a picture.
“Delete that,” I said.
“Okay,” she said, pretending to delete it.
We made our way down the hallway and finally ended up in the meeting room. When I tell you OrigOlympus was sad: They didn’t have a Zeus. Or a Hera. OrigOlympus, instead, seemed to be a shell of what it once was:
Flynn Macintosh entered the room.
- Ballinae Ronson: Arthena
- Kenadee Staples: Rhea
- David Dolore: Laufey (Not even a Greek god.)
- Phillip Myers: Ares
- Charlie Leavings: Nemesis
- Heff Heffner: Hermes
- Lucy McBeth/ Mallory (Nyx)
- And, of course…
Flynn Macintosh entered the room. Though, something was off about him. His face was covered in blood soaked bandages. Over his eyes, golden sunglasses. I wondered what had happened between then and now, silently praying that whatever had been left on Flynn’s face was caused by Sebastian or MJ.
Flynn tapped on his cup of water, like he was A. Able to drink it and B. Like it was a whine glass. I wanted to punch the $%^@ing loser, but I knew that it would break our cover. And what we needed was information.
“Briefing!” Flynn says, muffled by the bandages, “Briefing, everybody! Ballinae, how was your weekend?”
“I threw a jar of spiders through the window of a local orphanage.”
Flynn sat down at the spinny chair up front, “No, no, I meant… How’s everyone’s projects going?
David cracks his knuckles, “Our associates at Goodman are doing perfectly, we should have access to the entirety of Wheeler Academy and Claremont University.”
“Perfect,” Flynn fashed a devilish smile.
“Heff! How was your mission in California?”
“Poor,” Heff shrugged, he produced a finger puppet of Jay Garrick Flash. What can I say, I’m a nerd at heart. “Apparently, they’re still mistreating after the whole incident with FunTime.”
Flynn blew a raspberry. That’s it, I’m going to kill him.
Mallory stepped on my big toe, and I yelped.
Flynn perked up, “Who is- Who is this guy? Who is this loser?”
Charlie noticed who I was, but didn’t say anything.
“I- I don’t know, sir.” Heff muttered under his breath.
“Phillip,” Flynn cackled, “Take his shoes.”
Phillip took my mother$%^@ing shoes. $^@^. Give them back.
Flynn clapped his hands, “Okay, as I was saying. Jutefruce? We don’t need em! They’re across the country,” Flynn shrugged, “We don’t need Jutefruce! We don’t need em. Y’know, when we got that fleece? I’ll be BatFold.”
“What?” Charlie asked.
“Iron Fold too. I’ll have all the puppets. Then what are they gonna do?”
Charlie sighed, a bit hesitant, a bit fearful, but mostly just… with pity, “Yes, Flynn. I believe that brings us to our next point. I believe that on our itinerary we had a brief moment for me to share something with the group.”
“But you’re a woman,” said Flynn.
“Let the lady talk,” David grunted. David looked a lot like me. I wonder how David would feel if his ex-girlfriend dressed him up in a toga.
Charlie nodded, “I’d like to share, that, well… recently I went in and ran a poll asking who they would vote for if the Triumvirate were required to split up. Obviously, I worded it differently, but the fact of the matter is that, well. I think the numbers speak for themselves. Mallory won over 53.1 percent of the student body. Xander held a solid 43.7 approval rating. Flynn… do you know where that leaves you?
“A $%@^ing 3.2, Flynn. And you expelled the other two. Effectively? Your approval rate is 3.2 out of 500 survey students. That means sixteen people voted for you. And Flynn- three of those people are in this room. I won’t tell you the other two, to, well, mostly to $##% with you, but unfortunately, one of them was me. And Flynn, do you wanna know the sad thing? The thing that really gets to me? Those other thirteen people who voted for you… YOU #$#%ING EXPELLED ALL OF THEM, YOU DUMB #%@%. I MEAN THIS WHEN I SAY YOU ARE THE DUMBEST PERSON I HAVE EVER MET. And I dated Heather Sawyer… is what I would say if you were even half the woman that Heather was.
“Go to hell. Go to actual hell.”
Charlie stormed out of the room.
“Charlie, Charlie, wait!” Flynn yelled.
“What, Flynn? What possible lie can you spin to make it seem like you have everything under control, huh?”
Flynn smiled, “Okay, okay, I know… I haven’t been the most in control lately. I realize that,” Flynn looked at the group, and I noticed the look on face as he saw who I was. Oh $%@%, “I’m man enough to admit my mistakes! But people, people, I think I found a person who can help vanquish our fears!”
The “OrigOlympians” looked around awkwardly.
“I found you guys a new leader! That’s right, y’all. A new leader. Someone fit to whip us into shape, and who will lead The Chase Kemp Foundation to it’s apex. Everyone… give it up for your new Zeusigami… Lina Kemp!”
Lina walked in holding chocolate donut, “Bro, this donut is so good bro. Like actually. It’s so good.”
NO NO NO NO NO NO N o NOOOOOO nNOOONONON NOOOOOOOO
Spoilers: This Chapter Ends With Giovanni Belzoni Wielding A Baseball Bat. Just, Like, Keep That In Mind Because Things Get Heavy
By Edward Emily
“Did I ever tell you about how I first met MJ?” Ximena asked.
“I always assumed that straight people just… stood next to each other. And then it just kind of happens. Or… I mean, not straight anymore.”
“No, no, no… no, I hated him.” Ximena said.
I laughed. “NO, REALLY!?”
She nodded, “Yeah, man. She was so obnoxious. So pushy.”
“So, essentially, she was Xander.” I said.
“Yeah,” Ximena nodded, “Pretty much. How’d you meet August?”
“Oh, emergency crisis time stuff.”
“Ohhhh, I remember now. That was rough.”
“Eh, brought us here.” I said.
“Is that a good thing?” Ximena asked.
“In my opinion? Yeah. Whatever happens here brought me some of my best friends… I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
“Between you and me… I wish none of us this ever happened. But that’s just me.”
“I mean, we can both agree… it could’ve been at least a little cleaner.”
As we continued onward, things began to look a bit more out of place. The red bricks would sometimes be purple, sometimes black- sometimes a rusty orange color. The deeper it felt like we were going on, the more off putting the signs got: Christmas lights, writing on the walls. Origami figures littered the floor- not puppets, figures. Posable. Some of them looked like Seb or Lina, but most of them looked like Charles or Varsity. I frowned.
As the walls got narrower and narrow, me and Edward considered turning back but something lulled us in, closer and closer until the walls were so thin that we had to walk sideways. Then, and only then, did we reach a wooden door with an anchor on it. I couldn’t tell if the room was huge, or just looked that way after so much tight crawling. Wallpaper peeled off the walls, revealing more brick. Like whoever put it up was making a flimsy attempt to liven up the place. The carpet wasn’t much better, the pattern and texture of a bowling alley floor. Paper plate masks lined the walls, depicting minotaurs and Medusas. Tables lined the walls, with a bar table in the center, miniature gymnasium lights hanging over it, the only source of light other than the dim Christmas lights.
“This place is freaky,” I said. I grabbed a Minotore mask off the wall, and pressed it against my face. I gripped onto Ximena’s shoulders: “Boo!”
She jumped up, before hitting me, “That’s not funny, Edward.”
As we continued exploring the room, hoping that we hadn’t walked all this way just for a dead end, we came across a notebook. It was spiral- college ruled. The kind you could find for cheap at a flea market. When we flipped it open, beetles and centipedes crawled out of it like they’d just seen the light of day for the first time.
We sat down for what felt like ages, and we read entry after entry, each entry ending with a “Signed, Daedalus.” We learned about OriChronos, and the fire he started. Both in a literal sense, as well as the metaphorical fire he lit in the hearts of Caesar’s students.
But there was… something else. Something so strange and specific, it felt like it was made for us to read. It was a story about Ximena’s Mother. Way, way back in the day, Ximena’s Mother was friends with this Daedalus fellow. And Ximena’s Mother revealed to him? Her? Them? The gender wasn’t clear, now that I think about it, but that’s besides the point. And she revealed to Ximena’s Mother in confidence that she was OriChronos. That Angela had puppeted her, the star student, to usurp OrigOlympus from her own daughter.
And from there, the pieces started clicking together. Ximena thought about all the business trips her Mother went on, and how they only spiked after the death of Chase Kemp. Ximena ranted to me for hours about what she was sure was the case.
And then she started crying. And I didn’t know what to do. Ximena cried into my stomach until I could feel her tears soak up against my chest.
“Ximena? Ximena,” I asked, “Are you okay?”
She kept crying. And that’s when it hit me too. While we were walking around the labyrinth, Ximena told me about what Laura told her. Or, well, what Laura told Lina who told Charlie who told this chick in Goodman named Lucida, who told Ximena. But essentially… the reason why we hadn’t heard from Angela was because after Peyton called her out, and her husband died, she went total psycho. And that she’s in a psyche ward now, and… someone replaced her. If Ximena’s Mother was allied with Angela…
…Well, then Ximena didn’t know if she would see her Mom again.
Suddenly, we began to hear a thumping sound. Footsteps. Ximena’s demeanor shifted faster than a tribute of Hermes, the girl jumping up and throwing the notebook across the room. Who crashed through the doors? Oh, who else but Ballinae Ronson.
Ballinae groaned, “I figured we’d meet someday, Strohm…” She nodded at me, “Edward, pleasure seeing you again.”
“How’s your head?” I asked.
I giggled. Ximena and I found her unconscious during the Camp Jupitorigami era, and she told us Hayden had knocked her out by slamming her head into the wall. I told myself ever day that if I ever saw Hayden again, I’d give him a big hug and spin him around.
Ballinae frowned, “My head isn’t much better than your parents, Edward.”
Ximena had to hold me back like I was some type of dog. Ballinae walked up towards me, inching closer while I barked and scratched like a wild dog. Imagine what would happen if a real Great Dane was swinging his fists saying “Let me at him,” instead of Scrappy Doo saying it. Ballinae was inches from my mouth, and placed her finger on my nose. A finger that I tried to bite off. What can I say? I was seeing red.
And Ballinae punched Ximena in the gut. In pain, Ballinae let go of me. I shoved her into a table, my black nails scratching against her skin until she was beaten and blooded. Ximena pulled me away again. Why? This time, I wasn’t sure.
But Ximena rolled up the sleeves of her dress shirt, and looked at Ballinae, “Ballinae, before I release my, uh… friend, here. I’m gonna give you one chance to tell me why. Some of the OrigOlympians fight for greed, others fight to… make things better, in their own messed up way. But you don’t have anything to prove. So why do all of this?”
Ballinae smiled, “Ximena, Ximena, you of all people should know what OrigOlympus is really built on,” she stepped into the center of the room, “Nepotism! That’s all it is, baby… Nepotism!” She gestured towards me, “You suffer at the sins of the Father,” and gestured at Ximena, “And you sing the praises of your Mother. Now, my Mother went to Caesar. Just like yours, just like all of ours! But… she wasn’t Athena. She wasn’t even Minnerva. No.”
Ballinae was angry, “Your Mother, Ximena, she hated mine… my Mother had half of what Ximena had. She was poor. She didn’t have many friends. But she gained twice as much as what your Momma had. So much so, that she got her expelled! Think back to sixth grade, Ximena,” Ballinae patted the floor, “You were in a labyrinth, much like this one, and you were lured in there by a trap: “Arthena Versus Artrachne!” And I guess it’s finally we fufill that false promise… the only thing is… you’re Arachne.”
And then she’s hit by a $%@!ing bat.
And you’re not gonna believe who it was that hit her…
“I thought this was Arby’s. The GPS said this was Arby’s.” Said Giovanni Belzoni.
By Lina “Zeus-igami” Kemp
Record Scratch: You’re probably wondering how I got myself into this situation. Y’know, becoming queen of OrigOlympians? Following in my Mother’s foot steps? Where have I been? Well, since my brother died, I’ve been miserable. Y’know, laying in my bed. All sad and %$%@. But you’re not gonna believe who helped me while I was grieving! Guys, you’re not gonna believe this, but… Flynn? He’s not so bad.
I mean, I heard his motives, and, like, he was THERE FOR ME! None of you guys were there for me. Ever think about that? I don’t care, y’all. I’m Pro-Flynn and that’s the hill I’m dying on. And when he offered me a chance to be the new Zeus-igami, dude, not even gonna lie to you… I was ecstatic.
There was a brunette trying to jump out the window. His hair is greased back. Oh, oh, it’s… DENNIS!? Oh my god. Dennis, Dennis, Dennis, he’s… he’s changed.
“Dennis, that you, buddy?” He turned around, leg half way out.
“No!” And he jumped out. He was caught by the railing.
I walked into the empty room he was trying to escape from, and dragged him out.
“Dennis, buddy! How the hell are you doing, brother?”
Dennis was freaking out, panicking. Why, I wasn’t sure.
“I’m fine, I guess.”
“It’s been forever since we talked,” I said, “Are you alright?” He nodded.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
Dennis looked around, “I- I- I- I was looking for you! And then I couldn’t find you, so, I left.”
“Why were you looking for me?” I grabbed his shoulder, “Oh my god, is something wrong?”
“No, no, nothing’s wrong,” Dennis stammered, “I just wanted to check in. See how and old friend was doing.”
“How sweet! Well, I’m doing fine.”
Dennis looked a bit confused by this answer, but he kept on. “Really? That’s… surprising.”
“Well, I mean, Chase.”
“Chase? Oh? Chase?” She sighed, “I mean, things happen. We need to keep moving.”
That was my motto. Chase wouldn’t want us feeling bad for him… at least I hope not. Because it’s certainly working for me.
“So, what’s going on with you?” I asked, “You certainly look… different. And what’s that?” I pointed at the dress and wig on the floor.
“Uh, don’t worry about that. But as for the whole get-up, I mean… this is just me now. Leather jackets, grease. It’s who I am. What happened to you?” He asked, “You look… like your Mom. Not in a hot way. Or, kinda in a hot way. But mostly not.”
I was off put, “What ever do you mean?”
“I can smell the hair spray, Lina.” And look at you,” she patted me on the shoulders, “Shoulder pads! I mean, c’mon, now. What’s gotten into you?”
I shrugged, “I guess this is just… the new me.” I repeated his words, and thought about how much he had changed. How much Chase’s death had really changed me. And what was about to happen.
“Hey, Dennis. While you’re here, would you mind helping me with something?”
How To Spot A GAMER.
By Sebastian “O-Reyna-Gami” Merrick
MJ Astley shook me awake. We had successfully set up camp in the abandoned Cafeteria, and we’d been going in and out for the last week and a half, going on quests. Most of them were for recruitment purposes, that or gathering supplies. Stuff like Zerf Arrows, dodgeballs, canned beans. Keana McDaniels would be so proud.
“Seb, Ximena’s here.” I jolted awake. Me, and the rebellion we’d spent the better half of the week forming was freaking out. Our friends. Ximena, Edward, and Giovanni were back. I rushed up to Edward, encasing him in the tightest hug known to man. It felt great to reunite with another friend. And then it hit me: For the most part… we were all here.
Everyone, and I mean just about everyone, was ready to give Caesar Middle School a peace of their mind. For a brief moment, Ximena and I made eye contact, and we agreed that no matter what, we weren’t about to talk about the kiss. It would be better if we didn’t talk at all. Wiping the sleep out of my eyes, I put on the cape that my army had sewn for me, and started jogging around. Going from person to person, and seeing who all we had.
I noticed Edward and August were already arguing, and that Giovanni had developed what seemed like a sense of protection of Ximena. Mainly against Ximena’s own brother, Xander. I picked up on Edward and August’s conversation, and it was about how skeptic Edward was of Xander. On the other side of the room, Hayden and Peyton were jumping over each other.
Charlie was also there. I tried to block that out of my mind.
I got up on a table, and all eyes had directed themselves upon me. To spice things up, I had created a decree that all rebel members were to give me an article of clothing. So here I was in two pairs of glasses, the aforementioned cape, a jester’s cap, a flannel jacket, a polo over the flannel, a wife beater, a bartender shirt, a skirt over my khakis, and cowboy boots. Quite the look, if you ask me. Someone gave me their ID badge, and I replaced their badge with a packet of Valentina Hot Sauce.
I stepped up on a table, and rang a glass Edward offered me as his tribute (his argument being that he did the thing where you put a cup to your mouth and you suck on it, so it looks like you’re a little piggy). “Everybody! Everybody! Alright, I think this is enough people. MJ, you think this is enough people?”
“I think it’s enough people, Seb!” MJ grunted.
“Enough people, let’s go! Anywho, tonight’s the night that we roll out. Flynn, and all of our enemies, have been plotting against us for years, and the final piece of their plan is getting the Golden Fleece. Do we know what that is? No! But we need to get it before they do, and, fortunately, we have the one person who knows where that thingy is on our side! Thank you, Charlie.” I called Charlie a bad word against women, it rhymed with shank, “Now, this is important. Let me say this again for the people in the back: Everything we’ve ever worked for has lead to this very moment. Chase lead to this moment. Let’s not let him down, okay?”
The inside of my brain clogged up… Chase.
Oh. I thought I forgot about that boy! But there he was, in my head again.
All over again.
MJ, get ME my in haler ? Will you do that for me, MJ?
“Hayden, boy, give me your shirt,” I said. Hayden took off his sick, $^@^ing rad “How To Spot A Gamer” shirt, “Do you see this shirt?” I asked, “It’s colors are our colors. And it’s mottos are our mottos. Fingers sore from gaming, foaming at the mouth at the thought of beating a new level. Always with some new toy magazine,” I continued reading from it, “We will live by these rules, and together, we will finally take down CHRONOS, and from their ashes shall rise… CHRONOS TWO!!”
A couple snickers, but mostly cheers. We were almost ready for battle.
The only thing we had left to do was…
Capture the flag.
Capture The Flag
By Giovanni Belzoni and Ximena Strohm
(Sebastian’s Comment: Giovanni! This is really funny, but I think there might’ve been a typo. Did you mean to put Capture The Flag? Lol. That’s a really funny mistake)
The forests were so, so green. But here we were, five in the morning. Basking in fog.
“So,” Sebastian Merrick clapped his hands, “Here’s how things are going to work. If we’re gonna capture a fleece… we gotta know how to capture, and if we’re gonna know how to capture… we gotta take what makes you you. Your ideals, your humanity, everything that has shaped you into the person that you are today… And throw it away. Because it’s all #%#@. All of you… sucks, okay?”
“And together, we’re gonna play Capture The Flag. MJ’s leading one team, I’m leading the other. Flags are already hidden. MJ, ladies first.”
“I’ll take Hayden,” MJ said.
Sebastian spit out the water he sipped out of his thermos, “WHAT!?!”
MJ smiled, “Ladies first,” she mocked.
“Fine, y’know what,” Sebastian said, “I’ll take Edward.”
“Oh, you’re really playing with fire now. August, c’mere.”
“That’s not fair,” August said, clinging onto Edward’s leg as he made his way over to MJ’s side.
“Okay, fine,” MJ said, “I’ll even the odds. Peyton, you want over here?”
Peyton sighed, “Sure… whatever.”
“Wait,” Sebastian protested, “That’s two!”
“You can pick t-”
“Ximena and Xander.” Sebastian said, without flinching.
“Charlie.” MJ said.
Ximena and Edward whispered in Sebastian’s ear: “Giovanni!” She called out. Sick.
And we were off! For recaps sake, my team consisted of Sebastian, myself, Ximena, Xander, Xena, Edward, and Derek. I was in awe… I mean, these people were legends! Sebastian Merrick was one of my greatest idols. I learned about CHRONOS right before it collapsed in on itself, and I always beat up myself for never joining. Finally, I had the opportunity to really be a part of things.
Oh, and Ximena. Ximena had Sopia’s spunky personality while holding my grace and intelligence, in a way, she was like our daughter! With MJ having broken that poor girl’s heart, I was determined to keep her safe. We were going to win this capture the flag.
Sebastian lead us to a semi-circle of abandoned cabins and structures, “I’m sure you guys all recognize this place. This is Camp Jupitorigami, the reform home for troubled kids,” Sebastian pointed at our vibrant red flag, placed in the center of the semi-circle.
“Alright,” Sebastian clapped his hands, “Ximena, you’re the strategy girl. That’s why I wanted you and Xander on board.”
“Wait… did you seriously not have a plan?” Xander asked.
“Dude…” Ximena said.
“Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do,” Xander finally said, “Ximena, how do you feel about the 4:3?”
“Ooooo, the 4:3. I like that.”
“What’s the 4:3?” I asked.
“It’s where we have four people on defense, three people on offense. Or vice versa. Really, just even the playing field. Everyone gets a turn on the mary-go-round.”
Sebastian nodded, “Sounds like a plan.”
“Who’s gonna be on offense the first run?”
“I think we do three on defense, me, Xander, and Ximena,” said Xena.
“No way,” Ximena said, “I’m going with Sebastian and Gio. I’m not staying with y’all.”
“Xims, c’mon,” Xander pleated, “Don’t do us like this.”
While me, Sebastian, Derek, and Edward wandered through the forests we talked about the three.
“What’s with the bad blood between them?” I asked.
Sebastian shrugged, “I’ve known em the longest and they’ve always been at odds with each other. Personally, I blame their Mom. I hate that lady. Like, actually,” Sebastian said after a pause, “I try not to hate people, but she’s such a $%#%. And for no reason, too.”
“I think it’s Xander’s fault,” I said, “I mean, Ximena told me her story and she blames him. She hated him because no one believed the whole Triumvirate thing… and now look where we’re at.”
“I believed her,” Sebastian said.
“Maybe it’s your fault, then,” I said. It was an off hand remark. A comment made just to keep the conversation going- I didn’t even quite know what I meant.
Sebastian, who was walking a little faster than everybody else, turned his head, “What was that, twerp?”
I froze up.
“He said,” Edward began, trying to rile Sebastian up, “Maybe it’s your fault.”
“Yeah, I heard him.” Sebastian turned to look at me properly, “Listen here, I don’t know who you think you are… but I’m not gonna take that $%@% from some new guy. You’re only here because, for some reason, Ximena and Edward wanted you to be.”
Up ahead, we noticed a waving blue flag. Ripe for the taking.
Sebastian and Edward jogged up to it when… golden arches of light shot out of the base.
“The $#$^@ing beacon!” Sebastian cursed. From out of the trees, all seven of MJ’s team appeared.
“Hey, guys,” Sebastian bargained, “Hayden! Hayden, c’mon, man, you’re my b-”
I grabbed the flag and broke off into a dead sprint. I’d never ran so fast in my $%@%ing life. I didn’t even know where I was going, my legs leading the way. I saw Camp Jupitorigami ahead, and started running faster. We were going to win!
…And, I tripped and fell over a rock.
“Xander!” Ximena yelled, “Get the $#@#ing flag!”
“We’re supposed to stay by the flag, we don’t have a back up!”
“Gio’s right there, he’ll cover for you when he gets up, Xander, $%$%ing r-”
Xander ran towards me. And in one last effort, I threw the flag at him like a javelin. Just as he was about to catch it…
Hayden ran past, tripping him, and catching the flag. He wrapped the flag up around the base, to make it aerodynamic. He threw it hard and fast, MJ catching it. MJ threw it to Peyton, and Peyton threw it to August. A chain. They had created a chain. Brilliant.
Finally, Kevin planted his flag while Hayden, who was up front, did a spin kicked that knocked out both Ximena and Xena. He grabbed the red flag, running off with it, and we watched in horror as Hayden won the game.
We had lost.
Ximena ran up to Xander as he dusted himself off, “What the $$%*, Xan?”
Xander shoved Ximena back, “What the %$#% yourself? If you hadn’t made me leave, I could’ve blocked him.”
“If you caught the $%#%ing, we could’ve WON!” Ximena yelled.
“Alright, listen here both of you,” Xena said, “There’s not a chance hell that we’ll win with you two constantly bickering.” Xena pulled Ximena and Xander both in by the ears, “And more importantly, I’m not going to sit by and watch my twin-brother and my baby sister spend their whole childhood against each other, alright?”
Ximena and Xander were real quiet after that. And as for Xena? Well, Xena was completely silent.
Giovanni Belzoni Finds The Golden Fleece
By Charlie “OrigNemesis” Leavings
We had all walked our way through the cramped, tiny doors of Cohort Seven when we realized something was off. There was no lady at the front desk. The lights were off, though we had came prepared.
We expected a pretty decent As we continued searching around the place, looking for the fleece, gusts of air would come in. And no one could figure out from where. The fourteen of us (MJ, Ximena, Xander, Xena, Sebastian, Peyton, Giovanni, August, Edward, Kevin, Hayden, Derek, Heather, and me) searched the place from top to bottom. After smacking Hayden’s hand out of a bowl of mints.
“Hey,” Giovanni laughs, “Check this out.” Hoping he finds a clue, I run up to him only to find he’s outside one of the restrooms, looking at a painting of some old dude.
“Who’s Ferdinand Syphon Emily?” Peyton, who was right next to Gio asked.
“I don’t know,” Gio leaned on the painting, “Probably invented swiss cheese or something. YO, EDWARDO! MARY JANE! DID YOUR GRANDPA INVENTED SWISS CHEESE!?”
There was a brief, unsettling moment of silence that made me sweat. Suddenly, we heard Korn. They must’ve found someone’s old speaker, exploring the upper floors. After the echo went up the stairs, we heard a faint “No!”
Suddenly, the painting fell inward.
“Holy $%@%!” Peyton yelled.
“Oh my god,” Gio said, “This is insane.”
“Right-” I began, before he cut me off.
“Does anyone have any nails? Oh my god, I hate to knock this down, I-”
“The fleece might be in there.”
Gio snorted, “Yeah, yeah, I knew that. Gio rules.”
“Hey, Sebastian,” Peyton yelled, her voice hoarse and scratchy, “You mind if we explore this creepy, ominous tunnel Gio found?”
“Sebastian! Turn down the $%@^ing Korn!” I yelled.
“WHAT!? I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER TWIST, OFF OF THE LIFE IS PEACHY ALBUM!” Sebastian yelled back, “I think they want different music,” Sebastian changed it to Slipknot. Custer, off the 2015 album, the Gray Chapter.
Sebastian started screaming the lyrics.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to do very much navigation, because directly inside of the tunnel was… a jacket. No, a fleece!
Yeah, that’s right. Giovanni Belzoni found the golden fleece.
After that whole ordeal was over and done with, we brought the fleece to Sebastian, and Sebastian kind of paused for a moment. He asked us all this %#^@ about how we found it, and we made up some big story about finding a labyrinth entrance. No one would believe the swiss cheese story.
After searching through it’s pockets we found… so much stuff. Printed out text messages. Diary entries. Puppets. VHS tapes, hours and hours worth of stuff… truly, we had hit a jack pot. Clearly, whoever was trying to find this was trying to find it to destroy it. We knew that much.
But at the same time, well… it would take forever to transcribe all of it. And something about the look on Sebastian’s face told me that we didn’t have forever.
“Alright, here’s what we’re gonna do,” Sebastian said. “We need to get Dennis and Mallory, they’re missing, right? $%@$, maybe Lina, too. And we need to get them home.”
“Home?” MJ asked, peeping in.
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Sebastian, “It’s time to go home.”
By Jackson Ordonia
“Baby, why are we at a Middle School dance?” My girlfriend, Sasha Baxter asks. We’ve been going out for a couple weeks and I just- I really like her. She’s a new student but, my god, she’s my dream girl. The way she loves all the music I love, and the way she’s cared for me so much while I’ve worked on myself. She’s been the light of my life ever since she moved, and finally… we’re on a date.
“Shut up, I need to bully a seventh grader.”
And that’s when I spot him, same scar, same fiery hair. It’s him alright. And he’s leaving. I’m on the brink of tears when I see him, because he’s leaving, but when I see him turn into the bathroom relief washes over me in an awesome wave. With his head against the wall, is an emo kid comforting his boyfriend who’s taking a dump.
But in the urinal, it’s him. Flynn Macintosh. I stand behind him as he washes his hands, though I’m sure he sees me in the mirror.
Flynn is the first to speak, “Y’know, when I heard you helped Sebastian get to Caesar I had a feeling I’d be hearing from you soon, but I didn’t think it would be this soon,” he said.
Emo boy perks up.
“What can I say?,” I try to keep my cool, “I-”
“No. This is where I monologue. And this is where you listen. Jackson, it’s- it’s been so long since I sent you away, I-”
“SENT ME AWAY!? You #$@%ing fired me!” Flynn shrugged, “Sure, I mean-” he sighed, “Sure. But I got a beating from Sebastian Merrick, and I, uh- I worked on myself. I’ve learned a lot and now I- I just wanna talk.”
“Well, uh, do you remember Camp Dreamaway? All that went down there.
I remember every second of the hellish nightmare that was the camp, “Yeah, I guess.”
“Remember a promise you made, when we first met? About how we’d run off and live with your Dad? Well, this Chase Kemp thing…”
“I’m jus saying,” he stepped towards me, “I know all about that place, I know all the anger you feel, about how much you hate yourself! But you and me together, well, we could- we could finally show the world who’s boss, it- it could be you and me together. Just like… Just like old times, right?”
I felt… ashamed. Terrible. I wished that I could’ve trained him, that I could’ve taught him better, that he hadn’t turned out like this. I wished that Chase Kemp had never died, maybe then he could’ve been saved.
I put my hand on his shoulder and forced a smile, “I wish that our first breakout worked. I wish we ran off with Hayden and never ever looked back.
“Me too,” Flynn said. He was pale, and his eyes were red like he had been crying, “But that’s okay, we can be- we can be- we can work together and once the world is ours you could… take care of me?”
“I wish I took care of you years ago… maybe then you could’ve been better.”
Flynn looked devastated, “I… What?”
“Maybe you wouldn’t have been such a weak… sniveling… loser. Starved for attention. But your own brother showed me one thing,” I grimaced, “It’s that there’s no fixing you.”
“…Weak?” Flynn questioned, “I- I’m you, you- you made me!”
I wanted to start sobbing, “I know… And you’re a #$%@ing disappointment.”
I woke up from the same dream I’ve been having for the past six months with a call I’d never expect in a million years: a call from Vicky Manief! Vicky and I had never gotten along that well- that’s not to say we even talked. I was just sent to go give her a couple bucks to publish some fake stories about Mac Astley, and that was the extent of our interactions. She was actually a pretty good journalist, when it came down to it.
Out of curiosity, I answered it groggily. It was late, and I had just… well, I just got home for chaperoning the Athens-Carter Institute dance. With a girl. “Hello?”
The voice of Sebastian Merrick answered, “Finally, I found a working phone. Jackson, you there? Okay, Jackson, I need you to pick us up, we’re- we’re at Caesar, it’s raining. We’re a bit lost. How do we- how do we get home?”
I looked at the clock. It was twelve at night.
F%#@ this, man. Like actually. I called y’alls parents!!! Y’all don’t get fed.
By MJ “Pleaty Jackson” Astley
The radio is turned on. The only sounds I hear ate the pitter patter of the rain, and the hum of Tyler’s prius.
Tyler breaks th haunting silence: “Every day it’s %#@*ing something. Every day! It’s always something.”
“I just- I don’t get it. I mean, I was Creaseeus. I got into fights when I was your age. Hell, I tried running away too! My Dad sent me to military school, god$@%@!”
“Every day… always doing something.”
“I’m sorry.” I said.
More silence. We saw a deer.
“Is Mom mad?”
“Oh yeah, she’s livid. Listen, I’m the cool Dad, MJ. You could’ve told me, at least! I could’ve explained it to Mom! Let me take the fall!”
“I didn’t wanna-”
“LET ME BE THERE FOR YOU, WILLIAM- MAC- MJ- %#@%$!! I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled,” we pulled up into the drive way, and Tyler walked me up the steps. Remarkably, nothing had changed in the small apartment. My Mom was on the patio that overlooks the city, smoking a cigarette. She looked like she’d been crying.
I sat down in my room, and I thought about my Mom for a minute. I should’ve called- I should’ve- I should’ve told somebody, at least. At least someone other than Sebastian. At least my phone finally had service again.
I called Sebastian. He picked up after three rings.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hi.” I said.
“You good?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said, “Jackson called my real parents, and at this point they’re just sick of me. And no way I’m going back to Lance’s- not tonight.”
“So where you gonna sleep?”
“I’m at the Qwikpick, Edward let me in.”
“Good… that’s good.” I thought about joining him, but knew better than to try to run off again.
“So, it’s really almost over, huh?” I asked, “All the pain. All the suffering.”
“I- I think so,” Sebastian said, his voice briefly cutting out.
I sniffled, and I realized only then that I had been crying. “Sebastian, when all of this is over, do you still wanna be friends?”
“I… Of course. I might stop hanging out with everyone else but… I mean, I love you.”
“Sebastian?” I asked.
“Yeah?” He sounded a bit disappointed. Not hearing me say it back.
“Well… it’s a bit of a long question, but…” I sighed, “When Ximena dumped me, I went through it. Even though we stayed on good terms, it… it hurt me. And Dennis told me, well, he told me to live with my own loneliness. That’s what he did. And I realized that… well, that’s what I had been doing all year. Learning to live with myself. But, Sebastian, I… I don’t know how to put this but… I think I’m done learning. Or at least done with, like, eighth grade. Do you wanna- Do you wanna be my boyfriend?”
There was a long pause on the other end of the phone.
“I think-” Sebastian said, “I think I’d like that.”
“I love you too.” I said.
We fell asleep on that call.
Maglue Crease And The OriGods of Artgard (Interlude)
Maglue Crease and the Sword of Summer
Harald Koenig, Hilda Muhammed, and Polnareff Ami were unaffected by the apocalypse. Generally, the three were good students. After getting in an after school sword fight and learning a little too much about Hilda’s heritage, they had decided: “Hey! It was better to settle down.” At least a little. They carried their puppets, still:
Harald with their Alex Fierro. Harald had learned a lot about their gender identity, since adopted their puppet. They couldn’t quite put a label to who or what they were, but they hadn’t felt the need to in a while.
Hilda, who felt like a sister to Harald, had adopted a puppet of Alex Fierro’s sister, Samirah Al Buspass. The puppet of Samirah had taught her how to reach emotions just as balanced as her character. She’d attempted to mend her relationship with her Father, and for the most part… it was working.
And as for Polnareff? Well, Polareff was normal.
Today, they weren’t looking for a Golden Fleece. They weren’t being awkwardly driven home by their Step-Father, or being asked out. Though, all three of them dreamed of it. No, they were arguing about Uncharted, which they’d just watched watched using the Caesar Student Plan.
“I just don’t think Tom Holland was good for the role,” Polnareff said.
Hilda sighed, “You’re right, there were certainly better options, but Tom worked well with the script he was given.”
“The script was bad, though.” Polnareff said.
“Yeah,” Harald agreed.
“I think that the movie was meant to be an action film, y’know? Just one where you shut your brain off.”
“Films can be both exciting as well as thought provoking,” said Polnareff, “Look at Tom Holland’s last film, that new Spider-Man. That was a good performance from him. With an amazing script.”
“You’re just a Marvel fanboy!” Hilda accused.
“No, I wasn’t,” Polnareff argued, “Resentment in his eyes.”
There was a knock at their door.
“I’ll get it,” Harald said, a little bit shocked. They hardly ever get visitors.
When they opened their door, they saw Xander Strohm.
“May I come in?” Xander asked.
Harald… wasn’t sure what to say. Last they’d seen of Xander, he was one of OrigOlympus’ three megalomaniac dictators. Fortunately, two out of those three dictators had since defected.
“Sure,” Harald said, reluctantly.
When Xander entered, Polnareff jumped up, “What the %@$#?” He yelled. Hilda was also standing, her hand reaching for the nearest option, Harald’s trophy for last month’s robotics competition.
“Okay, guys… Hi, you guys all remember me, right? Xander? Mallory’s boyfriend.”
Everyone nodded, “Well, now I’m Mallory’s ex-girlfriend. And I’m looking for s- five, it’s five now, sacred OrigOlympian artifacts.”
Hilda cut Xander off, “Why don’t you get your friends to do that with you?”
Xander pointed out the window, just outside of Caesar. In the dead of night, dozens of cars lined the metal gate. “They’re going home. Only reason I’m here is because I paid my homeless friend Hayden twenty bucks to go in my place. You guys are the last people here that, well… that I know. Well, there’s three other people,” he said, “But we’ll get to that later. And, and, I heard about y’all’s puppets, right? Alex Fierro and Samirah Al Abbas?” He pulled out a puppet with longe, blonde hair and a jean jacket.
“Curt Cobain!?” Harald asked.
“No! Think bigger!”
“Warmer! It’s Maglue Crease!”
“Whoah! Okay, I’m sold, this guy’s legit,” Polnareff said.
“If he’s in, I’m in,” said Harald.
“If they’re in, I’m in,” Hilda said.
“Okay, nice, that was… easier than I thought, actually. Thank you, Polnareff.”
Polnareff smiled at this, starting to like this new Xander, “Call me Pol.” He said.
Harald and Hilda looked through their room for a solid thirty minutes, trying to find their puppets. In this time, Xander began to get to know his new friend.
“So, tell me about yourself,” he said.
I sighed, internally, “I think I’m weird.”
“You’re not weird. What are your three favorite things?”
“Superman, swords, and chocolate milk.” Xander said, almost instantly, “Do you like my three things?”
“No, but I’m glad you do.”
“What are your three favorite things?”
“Cats, trains, and Ralph Maccio.”
“Those are three very nice things, Polnareff,” Xander said.
Harald and Hilda found their puppets, and they were off. Or, almost off.
“So… what’s the plan?” Hilda asked.
“Very simple. The first thing, is, well, we need to take a nap.” Xander pointed at the clock. It was two in the morning. “Does anyone have a spare bed?” He asked.
They pointed at the fourth, extra bunk. Xander collapsed into the bed, getting his first wink of sleep in three days.
“Do you really think he’s changed?” Harald asked.
“He has,” Polnareff says.
“How do you know?” Hilda asked.
“He likes Superman. That’s good.”
“Um, actually, let’s be f’real. Superman is one of the most b-” Harald began.
“LEAD PIPE!” Polnareff yelled, cutting him off.
Xander murmured the word “Lead pipe…” to himself, in his sleep.
“LEAD PIPE!” Polnareff yelled.
Xander repeated it again.
“What? That’s so cool.” Hilda said.
“I know, right?”
When Xander woke up, he realized that he was the first to do so. That makes sense, considering that he was also the first to fall asleep that night. Xander realized, in that moment, that this was his first sleepover. And it was work related. Great. Just great.
After examining their room for a bit, Xander made his way down the stairs and strutted right into the teacher’s lounge to prepare himself a cup of coffee. Sitting up top on the counter, he planted his face into his hands and groaned before wiping the sleep out of his eyes.
So, this is really what it’s all come down to? A group of six of Athens’… well, most obscure folks. And we’re saving the world. As he poured chocolate syrup into his expresso, he sighed, I guess we can’t always have Sebastian… He took a shot. Woo! Good stuff.
He made his way up the stairs to find that Harald and Hilda were awake, Polnareff still sleeping, his hand dangling off of the top bunk, saliva reaching down to the bottom. Gross. Harald and Hilda were, as quietly as possible, playing Mario Kart. They paused the race, commanding Xander to pull up a controller. Xander picked Princess Beach.
“Early morning walk?” Harald asked.
“Yeah,” Xander agreed.
“Nothing better,” Harald said, taking the lead with his Bowser.
“Y’know, I would always like to take a walk out by the belltower,” Hilda said, “Now that feels a little bit morbid.”
Harald snorted, “Dude, f’real. I got assigned a seat that Chase used to sit in, the sticker was still there. Freaking creepy.”
After Polnareff woke up, and got dressed, I lead all three of them out. All Caesar kids need to be out of the classrooms by 7:30, meaning most of us are out and about in the court yard. On a nice sunny day, like today, it doesn’t look so bad. Ignoring the on campus policemen who don’t seem to notice or care about the obviously illegal stuff going on.
“You know what you guys or good at? Like, really good at?”
“What?” Polnareff asked.
“Rebellion. Y’all are loud. You might not know it, but everyone thinks you guys are annoying. So let’s get out there, cause a little chaos, y’know?” Xander pulled out a couple signs from his backpack, with big red words like “FALSE ORIGOD” and “BUTCHER THE ORIGODS” spray painted in red, “Just take to the streets, man,” he continued, “I believe in you guys.” Xander put on a blonde wig, ruffing it up. “See you guys on the other side.”
Xander, Polnareff, Harald, and Hilda ran off into the middle of the Athens-Carter streets, signs blaring. “We demand an audience with the principal!” Xander yelled.
“Flynn Macintosh will not silence us,” Harald agreed.
“Crispitos!” Polnareff yelled.
Hilda, Harald, and Xander looked over to him.
“We want them back.” Polnareff said, lowering his sign for a moment.
“Crispitos!” Xander agreed, “We want them back!”
“HEY! HEY, WHAT THE %#$* DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING!” A cop who looked like the personification of blood pressure asked.
“GO %#^@ YOURSELF!” Harald yelled, throwing a baton at the cop. The cop hit Harald with a baton.
We were quickly placed into “detention.” By detention, we mean, essentially handcuffed and in an interrogation room. Yes, perfect. Exactly as Xander had planned. They had separated the group for interrogation, leaving Xander and Harald alone in a room together.
As it turned out, Harald was knocked out by his beating, and panicked when he came to.
The door swung open, and Harald, still dazed, didn’t quite know enough to care about who it was. Xander, on the other hand, was silently bugging out. It was Flynn! And… OH, OH, David! He forgot about that guy, after he had him expelled for failing to take Harald, Hilda, and Polnareff out of the picture. It really does come full circle, doesn’t it?
David kicked Harald in the knees, “Finally awake, little %#^@?” He flashed a flashlight into Harald’s eyes, “Your partner here’s been awake for a while.”
Xander groaned, “Look, $$^@bag, it’s gonna take more than a beating and a syringe worth of sedatives (Thank you, Flynn, by the way,) to keep me down. Alright? I took a $%@*ton of tranquils at the summer school I dropped out of and I’ve been strapped by my toenails to a car battery so, I-” Flynn punched Xander in the face, “Oh, okay.”
“What’s your end goal with this, Xander? We both know you’re gonna lose in the end.” Flynn said.
“How did you and your cronies manage to make it in and out of Caesar so many times?” David continued.
“How much do you know about the five OrigOlympian artifacts?”
“Were you a moderator on r/origami!?”
“Okay, I’m gonna stop you right there,” Xander cut them off, “FIRST OF ALL, WE JUST WOKE UP FROM A VERYYYYYY LONG NAP, and I’m still feeling $%@*ing woozy, so I’m gonna request you get us some coffee, alright? I mean, everyone gets coffee in $%#^y movies with scenes like this, right? I want something iced. Harald?”
Harald adjusted his collar, playing into the bit, “Alright, I’ll have a cappuccino, more cappu than ccino. Make sure it has no more than four ounces of milk, the beans won’t have the right texture, otherwise, and make sure they spell my name right on the cup, they always put Harald, like, with an O, I hate that. I hate Harold. If you can’t handle that, I’ll have a venti traditional, please use Soy milk, two blonde shots. I’d also love THREE vanilla pumps at the very bottom, then add the coffee after, then add-”
“ENOUGH!” Flynn yelled, “WE’RE NOT GETTING YOU YOUR $%#^ING COFFEE!”
“Wow, I was getting chills there,” Xander said, “Good job, H-Man.”
“If we have to,” Flynn leaned in, “We’re willing to resort to torture to get answer out of you crackers.”
“When you say torture,” Xander butted in, “Do you mean physical or psychological, physical seems counter-productive, both me and Harald would probably just tell you anything to end the pain. You would have no idea if it’s even true.”
“And what if we like it?” Xander asked, “Then you’d have a whole new problem on your hands.”
“What do you mean by that?” David asked.
“Oh, you’re stupid,” Xander smiled, “I like that. Daddy likes them dumb.”
Harald choked on his own spit and started cackling, kicking his feet against the chair.
Flynn pulled Harald by the collar, messing it up again, “YOU BETTER STOP LAUGHING AT US?”
“You’re really just gonna ruin his collar-” Xander butted in.
“YOU ARE THE ONES AT OUR MERCY!” David added.
“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry,” Harald said, still benign raised up by Flynn, “Just, considering your approach thus far, you’ve had us tied up for what?”
“Hours, probably,” Xander said.
“And you haven’t even confirmed what our agenda is.”
“What is your agenda?” Flynn asked, putting him down.
“The gay one.”
Xander busted out laughing, pounding his fists on the metal chair, “OH MY GOD, HARALD!”
“OH, A SMART GUY, HUH?” David asked, now completely desperate.
“Don’t we get our phone call!?” Xander asked.
Flynn smiled at this, sitting down next to Xander and leaning in, “That depends, who you gonna call!?”
“Your fat parents! Thanking them for their fat time.”
“Nice try, scum nut,” David said, “Flynn’s fat parents are d-”
The door broke down, and there they were: Dennis and Mallory. YES, YES, EXACTLY AS I HAD PLANNED! Xander said, entirely unsure, in that moment, if he was speaking aloud.
“We saw you guys coming in,” Mallory said, untying Harald while Dennis took on Xander. We found Hilda and Polnareff in another room, and they took out the people who were interrogating were them.
After following the path out of Caesar that Peyton Hunter had written out for them (at this point, they really need to find a better way out) they were off!
Xander, Harald, Hilda, Polnareff, Dennis, and Mallory were walking their way down the streets of Athens while Xander info-dumped to them: “So, there’s seven artifacts, right? One of them, we just found, and it contained, well, all of the incriminating stuff. Evidence, y’know? One of them, Flynn has, and he’s gonna keep it on his person probably always. Third and fourth thingies, I got some boys at Athens-Carter working on that… that leaves us, the Maglue Crease crew.”
“There’s a second Qwikpick we need to go to for supplies,” Xander continued, “But after that, we really need to get started. The first artifact we’re looking for is at Goodman Middle School.”
“Isn’t that MJ’s old school?” Dennis asked.
“It’s also where me, Ximena, and these three,” Xander pointed at Harald, Hilda, and Polnareff, “Went for summer school. It’s very versatile, and we’ll probably find a couple people we know there. While there, we’re looking for a giant metal sword. The legend of it being that it’s a Strohm family heirloom.”
“After that, we need to find a foam’s Thor’s hammer, within it, we’ll find the coordinates to the last Thorigami, a person who is… a very important part of the plan that Ximena and I have put to together. Again, I have to keep things vague… anyways…”
“The final thing we need is a plastic boat model, in it, there’s a scroll. I don’t know ANYTHING about it’s location, and neither me or Ximena no what it contains, all we know is its significance.”
“So, we’re saving that for last, right?” Harald asked.
“Hey, uh, question,” Polnareff said, looking at his phone, “Says here that Goodman Academy is sixteen miles away… who’s gonna take us there?”
“I don’t know,” Xander said, slyly, “Let’s ask Hilda.”
After Hilda’s estranged Father took them at the mention of paying a hefty child support bill, they slipped in relatively easy. All of the children looking, well, relatively like Goodman’s students. Which made sense. They weren’t that far apart. They decided to split up, each one of them taking a hall.
As they walked, Xander and Dennis, two of the truest of true friends caught up.
“So,” Dennis said, “You dated my girlfriend.”
“She wasn’t technically your girlfriend.” Xander said.
“Technically, she was. Emotionally, she wasn’t.”
“So, there we go. Technically, she wasn’t emotionally dating you.”
“Hey, y’know what?” Dennis said, “#$%@ you. $%@^ you where you breathe, $%#^ you where you walk. Go $%@% yourself. I mean that.”
They continued walking.
Anyways, Hilda found it relatively easily. The problem? It was behind a glass shelf. The solution? It was behind a glass shelf. Hilda smashed the glass. This set off alarms. Hilda, you idiot. No, Hilda. No, actually, Hilda. That was a very poor choice you made. Bad.
After clonking Hilda on the head, a student dragged her into detention. This student’s name was Lucida. She will be important later.
After being pushed away by Dennis, Xander awkwardly stumbled around the halls of Goodman Academy. At one point, he got so bored that he simply walked into a classroom and sat down. No one notice this for several minutes. Halfway through a reading on The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, a little loser nerd named Jimmy Squiggle jumped up and proudly announced that he’d caught an intruder.
Xander swore, “No sir!” He cried, “I’ve been a student at Goodman since it’s inception!”
This was quickly proven false, given that Goodman Middle School was over a hundred years old, while Xander was a measly fifteen. That’s right, fifteen. Both Xander and Xena, twins, were held back a year in grade school, a subject of great shame for the Strohm family.
“What’s your name, young man?” The teacher asked.
“Yajath Birru.” Said Xander Strohm.
Jimmy Squiggle giggled a squiggle, “That’s not a real name.”
“Hey, $%@^ you!” Said Yajath Birru, a student in the class.
After being thrown into detention, Xander realized that his entire team had also been captured. Harald Koenig told the story of how they had struggled to adapt to the laws of the Norse themed school.
“You see that furry with the Fenrir puppet?” Polnareff said, breaking the silence.
“He was so fine,” Harald said.
“Dude,” Dennis said, “I saw some scraggly kid with an Alex Fierro puppet walking around. His acne was awful. Like, I cannot stress this enough. He was so ugly.”
Dennis turned around, “OH, Oh, oh, I am so sorry. I mean, it was true. Everything I said was true but-”
“I think Harald’s pretty,” I butted in.
“Thank you, Xander.”
Mallory produced a puppet she had folded, “I’ve spent the day doing a stint as the Huldra,” (Kids, look her up! Really cool monster that one is. Probably worth the Google.)
“That’s smart,” Polnareff said, “I’ve just been kicking butt and taking names.”
“You do realize that we found the sword, right?” Hilda asked.
“What?” Xander asked, confused.
“I made a group chat. Texted all of you. I literally found the sword, it was in a glass case. And so I smashed it. And then this goth girl came in and, like, bashed my head in and took it from me.”
“Wait,” Polnareff interrupted, “Goth girl?”
“Yeah, short, bangs, I- OH MY GOD, IT WAS LUCIDA!”
“Who’s Lucida?” Mallory asked.
“Harald’s ex girlfriend,” Xander said, propping his feet up on the table, “Also, Ximena’s ex girlfriend. Real piece of work that chick is.”
“Jesus,” Mallory said.
And that, of all times, was when Lucida entered the room. “Heyyyy, Lucy…” Xander said, “It has been a while, I-” She walked past Xander and next to Harald. The room grew tense. The Triumvirate had convinced Lucida that Harald had cheated on her, sensing that Harald could lead to their downfall. And here Harald was. Leading to The Triumvirate’s downfall.
And Lucida said she was sorry.
“What?” Harald asked.
“When Ximena stopped by for summer camp, and told me all of her stories- one of them was about you- I did my own research. $%@* the Triumvirate, man. Oh, and Xander,” she nodded at him to follow her, “I got something for you.”
Xander followed her into the hallway, “Goodman’s a great school,” she said, “Don’t you think?”
Xander was a bit confused. Especially based on where Lucida was leading her. “Yeah, I like the… walls.”
“This school has such a beautiful, sometimes tragic history… and, y’know. People get around, people talk, and I know that you’re trying to make everything end. And thank god, y’know? I just wish that this school’s story could be told, someday.”
She pointed at a room, “I’m an office aid. I risked my job as an office aid and my future working in education to get you that sword out of the principal’s office. And it’s in that room.” She dangled some keys from her hands, “And these are the keys to that room. I’ll give you them if you promise that no one that OrigOlympus hurt, across the entire state- country- is forgotten.”
Xander nodded, “I promise.”
Lucida dropped the keys in his hands.
Xander walked into the room, and saw the beautiful metal sword that had been in his family for generations. He smiled as he grabbed the handle, as he rubbed his against the golden dome at the bottom of the red, leather handle. He unscrewed it. And in that little hole was hundreds of sheets of papers, folded together. Scrolls upon scrolls, one from each Strohm, and all of it, detailing their family’s strange history.
Xander smiled, and he, Hilda, Harald, Polnareff, Dennis, and Mallory took the Sword of Summer out of Goodman.
Maglue Crease and the Hammer of Thorigami
They need to kill Squirrel Girl. That was mission number one.
After arriving at Wheeler and getting their personalized “Wheeler Dance,” (The Wheeler students were looking for ways to keep themselves entertained after the OrigAvengers graduated.) they walked around and made themselves comfortable in what would become their future High School. They had sent Dennis home, his baby pudge making him look like a sixth grader at most. Mallory had went home with him.
Xander wasn’t sure if Mallory or Dennis had gotten together for real, and if they did it would surely be a weird development. He was still glad that Mallory left, though. He hated to admit it, but having Mallory along for the quest brought him great discomfort. Years ago, he loved Mallory like a goddess. He had planned to take out Flynn and for the two of them (and maybe Sebastian Merrick) to rule in peace. This was what he wanted. Not the mess that had been unfolding for the last year.
Truly, Xander hated himself. Though he couldn’t let his teammates know this, he hated above all else how he was only trying to take down OrigOlympus, to save everyone… not to make everything better. Not to take over and take everything for himself, oh no. He just wanted to close up the hole in his heart that Mallory couldn’t fit.
As Xander sat in the janitor’s closet, completely alone, he cycled through bad memory after bad memory. From ex to ex, and all of the seven objects he’d gather so far. And how, remarkably… Ximena’s “prophecy” (really just a ploy for attention) seemed to be coming true.
“You okay, mister?” A girl asked, from a hole in the floor. Xander jumped up.
“Who are you!?” He asked.
“Connie J. Mulligan, mister! Squirel-igami Girl! I couldn’t help but overhear you monologuing to yourself!”
“That was out loud?” Xander asked himself.
“Why, yes it was! You’re in quite the pickle, young man. I would know, y’know it reminds me of the time I was with Fold Puppet Paper Notebook Man and he spit on me. That anger I felt! I resented him! Resented him, I tell you. Anyways, I digress. I- I think I can help you with your situation! You see, I like to collect things. Like a squirrel, y’know? Anyways, Hammer of Thor?”
“I never mentioned-”
Xander dropped down into the hole, questioning how his life had come to this.
“This is my squirrel,” Connie said, holding up a dead rat. “It’s a squirrel.” She said, before anyone could correct her. She fished through her objects, the Mandarin’s ten ring pops, the Crimson Pen of Cyttorak, even the Ultimate Knuckle Breaker (A pun on the Marvel Universe’s Ultimate Nullifier.)
Connie offered it to Xander, but pulled it away at the last second, “Oop! You thought!” She waved the hammer in his face, carved into it… what was clearly an address, something so ominous it gave Xander the feeling that Connie wasn’t bluffing. That, coupled with all the other stuff she had, had Xander entranced.
“I assume you have a quest for me,” Xander said, completely out of it, at this point.
“Precisely!” Connie agreed, “I’ll give it to you if you go up to this kid, Hercupleats. Or, as you guys might know him, Randall Payne. He owes me money. Go and get it, and then we’ll talk. M’kay?”
Xander realized, in that moment, that he wanted to kill this living, autonomous being.
When the day was over, they all went to Dairy Queen to talk about their day. After, say, three days together, the gang had always looked forward to Dairy Queen at the end of the day. Xander told them about what happened, and they were… upset, to say the least.
“What bull@$%@,” Polnareff said simply. Between the uncovering of the Sword of Summer, and their second mission, Polnareff had adopted not one but two puppets, both of them complete opposites: Hearthstone and Blitzen, from the Magnus Chase series. He had made them simply to fit in with the others.
“$#%^ that,” Harald said, “But we’ll do it any day. I mean, how hard can it be. Find some puppet wielding nerd and mug him.”
“Son of a $%#$^,” Hilda said.
“What?” Everyone asked.
“I thought we were all swearing,” Hilda said.
“Hey, is y’all talking about Hercuplets?” A kid in the booth across from us asked.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Harald said, “You know anything about him?”
“As a matter of fact, I do. Name’s Fizzy- Fizzaroli. I run the streets around here. I smell Athens-Carter on you- you… you’ll be with me soon. Anyways, Hercupleats is a little fella named Randall Payne. Short guy, definitely buff though. He lives West Leiber, 965. Big ##@%in blue roof, you can’t miss it. I’lll see you guys around and, uh, have fun. That’s what matters, y’know?” He smacked me on the back of the head, “Just a little advice from a New Yorker to another, eh? Yeah, you know what I’m sayin. You gonna finish that?” He asked Polnareff, pointing at his half eaten burger.
“Yeah,” Polnareff said.
“Ain’t no shame in that,” said Fizz.
Polnareff did not finish the burger.
When we arrived at West Leiber, 965, a small house out in the more rural side of town, we noticed all the playsets and swing sets that littered the yard. After walking in, and knocking the door, we gulped down, truly realizing that… maybe going up against Hercupleats might be a bit of a problem. Maybe. Harald imagined a six foot looking senior with a full beard, while Xander’s mind truly went crazy: Something terrible. Something awful. Tentacles and glowing red eyes… He didn’t see Hercupleats. He saw Crease’thulu.
They were pleasantly surprised when a small boy opened the door. Scrawny, and with suspenders holding up his oversized pants. His hair was greased, and not the cool kind of grease that Dennis wore. The kind that left a little bit to stick up like he was that kid from The Little Rascals.
“Oh, this is easy!” Harald said. He kicked the child in the face, sending him flying against the room. From the kitchen, a six foot tall, bearded man with flowing brown hair and veiny muscles smashed a beer bottle over the sink, “THAT’S MY #$%@ING BROTHER, $#^@^!” And he chased the four of them up a tree.
Scared $#^@less, Harald, Hilda, Polnareff, and Xander were forced to concoct a plan.
“So, that’s Hercupleats, right?” Polnareff asked.
Randall punched a hole in the tree.
“NO, ITS JUST A LARGE MAN- YES, THAT’S HERCUPLEATS!”
Polnareff smacked Harald, “HARALD, LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP, MAN!”
“DUDE, DON’T HIT ME, THAT’S MY NATURAL INSTINCT WHEN I SEE KIDS!”
“THERAPY!” Hilda cursed, “YOU NEED THERAPY!”
“WILL ALL OF YOU SHUT UP!?” Xander yelled, “HARALD, GIVE ME THAT TREE BRANCH!”
Randall snarled, and punched another hole in the tree.
“#%#! #%*$! @$*#!” Harald cursed, ripping off the branch.
“POLNAREFF, GIVE ME YOUR BURGER!” Polnareff gave him the burger. And, finally, Xander pulled the hair tye he had kept his hair in a man bun with. In moments, he had made a makeshift slingshot.
He whispered the plan in Harald’s ear. Harald gulped, slithering down the tree like a snake. With the slingshot, he was ready for his David Versus Goliath moment. “HEY, HERCUPLEATS!” He yelled. He fired the burger at him, hitting him square in the jaw and smearing his face with ketchup and mustard. Randall chased after him, without giving much thought.
With Hercupleats occupied, Xander slipped down the tree and ran to the Qwikpick, a fifteen minute jog. The whole time, he prayed to god that Harald wasn’t about to get his #$% beat.
“HEY MR. FREDRICKSON!” Xander shouted at Hilda’s previously mentioned dead beat Father, who was holding onto the Sword of Summer, “SWORD. NOW.”
Mr. Fredrickson pulled the sword out from under the cabinet and unsafely threw it at him. Xander caught it, mid-air, and sprinted back to Randall’s front yard.
Cal Largent hadn’t had the best year. With his brother out of the house, he expected senior year to be great! And for the most part, it was. He hung out with his girlfriend, he didn’t have to deal with that many villains. Truly, he was doing just fine. The nagging need to do good had let itself go, leaving him feeling peaceful and content with himself.
Still, he was extremely tired. He’d slept in, waking up at two in the afternoon. He found a cold plate of eggs waiting for him, a sticky note attached. He yawned, scooping some rice into the bowl.
As he prepared some coffee, he looked out the window and saw a young man running down his street with a golden sword in tow.
“Hm. That’s weird.” He said. And he took a bite out of his rice.
Xander returned, and saw Harald, Hilda, and Polnareff struggling. Polnareff sat atop, with his legs wrapped around Randall’s head, punching him, while Hilda and Harald threw trash at him, screaming. Xander hit Randall over the head with the butt end of the sword, Randall passing out instantly.
Xander called Connie, “How much money does he owe you?”
“Like, twenty bucks.”
“That doesn’t seem like a lot to get mad over, I don’t think that worth such a fuss.”
Polnareff reached down, and pulled the twenty bucks out of Randall’s back pocket.
And, when he returned to Wheeler, Connie kept her end of the bargain: she gave him… The Hammer of Thorigami.
Maglue Crease and the Ship of The Dead
By Xander “Maglue Crease” Strohm
It was a club. Thorigami had gone clubbing. After Polnareff and I snuck in with fake IDs (we were the only people who passed for adults) we walked in, and we asked around. Most of the people knew we were kids, but here at The Cross Section (it got it’s name for being the only establishment that’s split down the middle, between the border of Athens and the border of Madison), plenty of kids wandered around the place.
We saw another High Schooler, clearly a High School. We also saw Sebastian Merrick. We went up to the High School kid, proposing him a question: “You know a Thorigami type guy?” I asked.
He stopped me, putting his hand to my chest, “What is it that you hope to find?” He asked.
Polnareff stepped between me and the man: “We wish to seek his guidance.”
The High School kid pointed me towards another, more grown man, with an origami Malekeith sticking out of his shirt pocket. He stopped us.
“What is it that you seek, young blood?” He asked.
“We come… seeking his guidance.” Polnareff said.
We continued down, coming across…
“OH MY GOD, MR. DECASSIUS?” Polnareff asked.
Jude look startled to see us, “I- Kids! What are you doing here!?” He asked.
“We’re looking for… Thorigami? What is this place?” We asked.
“The Cross Section, man! Listen, this is where all of the scumbags at Madison hang with all the scumbags at Athens because this place doesn’t exist on any m-”
“Okay, yeah, sure, I bet there’s some crazy lore that I don’t care about, just tell me, Judah, where we can find Thorigami? According to some stuff I heard Flynn talk about, he’s an important fellow. And, well… we came all this way.”
Jude sighed. “…What is it that you hope to find?” He asked, sounding almost defeated.
“Guidance.” I said.
Jude lead us down a corridor and into a significantly better lit room. Gone were the red strobe lights, and in their place was the simple hum of LEDs. Sitting in a chair, in the center of the room was a man with a five o’clock shadow, doing his makeup. He wore bright white pants, and that was just about all. His back was covered in tattoos of godly symbols, mostly hammers and tridents. Around his neck, was a locket that I could only make out in the reflection of the mirror: a locket with a trident on it.
“I hoped you’d at least bring my son with me…” He said, applying his lipstick. “Still, it was better than hoping you’d come,” he turned around in his swivel seat, putting his bare feet up on the foot rest and wiggling his toes, “Hello, children.” He said.
And that’s when I recognized him. It was… him. But it wasn’t. He had her green eyes, his hair curled at the end like hers did. And the locket was a dead giveaway.
This was William Emily we were seeing.
“William… Thorigami… Poseidon, whatever you were referred to in your youth, we ask of you one thing. For your aide.” I said, “Because the end times are coming, and… well, we need you, William.”
William sighed, putting on a coat and taking some pills, “I wouldn’t do any good,” he said, “It’d be no good for me to show up again… unannounced… All the people I once loved- my High School girlfriend, my best friend… my s-”
“That’s right,” he nodded, “Daughter. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. But Mr. Emily, your brother and sibling are at war with one another. Ever since you left, ever since I… spray painted the Titan’s Curse Word… your brother and sister have been at war. It had been a slow, and silent war but… it’s still war. And do you remember what happened last time your brother and sister fought?”
“Catastrophe.” He said.
“So, I beg of you, William. Come with us.” I said.
William nodded. “Fine, alright. I will.” He stood up, taking on his coat and putting on a button up shirt. He cracked a smile, “I’m excited to see my family again.”
As he buttoned up, he leaned on a bookshelf, “Sorry kids, back problems. That’s what happens when you get older,” he shrugged. I looked around at all the stuff on his shelf and saw… THE MODEL SHIP! OF COURSE HE HAS IT!
“What’s that?” I asked, coyly.
“OH, OH,” William said, “FUNNY YOU SHOULD MENTION IT,” he popped off the top part of the ship, exposing a little folded up sheet of paper. William unfolded it: It was an invitation to a school board meeting, something about a… Chase Kemp Foundation. And that’s when the pieces fell into place.
We had to get back to Athens-Carter. I grabbed William by the hand, and we raced out of the Cross Section, Harald holding the Sword of Summer, Hilda smiling and tossing William the Hammer of Thorigami, and Polnareff gently carrying The Ship of the Dead Kid.
The Last Odyssey Part Two: Skinner’s Pandora’s Box
By Kaitlyn “Shradies” Emily
“JIMJAM#4892, in the “Uncle Sebastian’s Fries And Foot Rubs” Discord sever, in #announcements: @everyone Sorry for going dark, Caesar’s internet is bad. Nonetheless, we’re back. Meet us in the Qwikpick as soon as possible. Bring ALL of the origami wielders you know.”
I sighed. Keana, who I was chilling with, sighed. This always happens. Someone disappears for months and then returns and suddenly we have to do some crazy $%@%. I’m used to it, at this point.
After a fifteen minute walk, we arrived at the Qwikpick. The Qwikpick was no longer a place of business… technically. But me, Edward, and Dad still lived out of it, and most of our vendors didn’t exactly get the memo. Either that, or they ignored it.
Keana spit out her drink, her eyes bulging out, “WOW, THAT’S A LOT OF PEOPLE!”
“KEANA!” Hayden yelled, rushing up to his girlfriend and collapsing into her arms. “OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, I HAVE SO MANY STORIES TO TELL YOU! RAAAAAH.”
Keana helped Hayden up, “Oh, I’m sure.” She smiled, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
“Sup,” I nodded at Kevin.
He nodded back.
Speaking was a mistake. Immediately, all eyes directed on me, “Ew.” A girl I recognized as former teammate, Kato Somrew, said. “Who invited Kaitlyn?”
“I did.” Sebastian Merrick stepped out of the shadows, “Kaitlyn is a good person who made a mistake. Sure, it was a mistake that got us into one of the biggest messes of our lives…”
“But it’s mess that she’s gonna help pick up,” Xander Strohm said, getting up from a slavic squat-like position.
I could tell the room grew tense.
“Look, if there’s anyone you should blame,” Xander began, “It’s me. Me and my family have done nothing but make life hell for all of you… and that’s something unforgivable. But tonight begins our work to do better. But I need all of your help.”
“We’ve came to the conclusion,” a mystery girl said, “That the only way for us to truly be free of this burden… is to completely take down OrigOlympus. Once and for all.”
“Who’s this?” Bart Montez asked.
She got out her Pleaty Jackson puppet, and Bart’s eyes widened: “MAC!?!?”
“MJ, now.” MJ said.
“Why do we need to be here?” A mean looking girl Italian girl asked, crossing her arms.
“That’s what we’re getting to,” Sebastian said, producing a printed out sheet of paper. “Me and MJ returned a day ago, some of you might’ve seen us online. We’ve been… hanging out,” Sebastian blushed, “And forming a plan! That same day, Xander brought us this.” He read off the sheet of the paper, “Dear…” Sebastian gulped, “Anonymous, we’ve invited you to speak at a school board meeting in regards to the Chase Kemp Foundation School District Proposal.”
Some eyebrows raised.
“We did some research,” Sebastian said, “And… not much, yet. But there’s a PDF, one with only, say, a hundred hits. But a PDF we found from a Google search, talking about it.”
Edward Emily, who was sitting French girl style, cleared his throat and read from the printed out papers in a boring, flat voice, “The Chase Kemp Foundation is a charity dedicated to improving schools across the nation using Caesar Middle School’s famous OrigOlympus program and placing it in schools across the country. The OrigOlympus program has been proven to prevent juvenile delinquency, anger issues, and bad decisions among youth. The OrigOlympus program will also appeal to teens, due to the current origami trend that seems to be sweeping the nation.” Edward threw the papers over his shoulder, ‘They wanna take over the country!” He wailed.
“Right now, they’re low on funds.” Mallory Cross (!!??!!??) joined in. “The project was only possible using Silver Emily’s money, and currently they’re running off of his inheritance, which the teens involved in the project seem to have bled/be bleeding dry.”
“So, we need to present a case to the school board? Stop them from funding the project?” A skinny dude who looked like the mean girl’s brother, asked.
“Yup,” Sebastian said.
“And what do you need our help for?” Italian girl asked.
“I was just getting to that. Arthur, Sopia. Mind joining me in Edward’s room?”
The Board Members
By Arthur “Carter Crease” Foust
“Who is Mr. Gates?” Sebastian asked.
Sopia and I jumped at the name.
“Ra,” Sopia said, “Why?”
Sebastian pressed his hands into his face and stepped back, groaning, “Of course he’s Ra! Of course!”
He fake sobbed.
“Anyways, tell me more.”
“You still need to tell me why.”
“He’s the chair man of the Athens, New York School Board.”
“Oh,” Sopia gulped.
“Is he good guy or a bad guy?” Sebastian asked.
“He’s a neutral guy.” I said.
“The worst kind of guy,” Sebastian said.
“Anyways, a couple more names-”
“Our Dad’s one.” I blurted out. “He’s good.”
Sebastian skimmed the names he had written on his hand, “The rest’s all nobodies. Pleasure working with you guys, you can leave, or you can stay. Up to you.”
“We’ll stay,” Sopia said, “EduFun and the gods hurt us just as much as they hurt you all.”
“You two are heroes,” Sebastian said, “Never forget that. Sopia… I’m glad I trained you. Arthur. You’re pretty cool too.”
Putting The Pieces Together
By Edward “Nico Di AngeFold” Emily
When Sebastian left the room, things kind of fell apart. Certain wounds had been reopened by having everyone back together in one place, and the stressful situation certainly wasn’t doing anybody any favors. People were throwing around accusations (many of them at my sister), and it was enough to make me reconsider this entire project.
Hilda Muhammed, a girl I was aware of as Samirah Al Buspass cleared her throat. Oh, poor naive hilda. She actually thought that would work. She cleared her throat again, this time successfully getting a few more people’s attention.
“Alright!” I yelled, my voice squeaking at the very end of my shout. It didn’t come out as intimidating as I’d like to be, but at least it garnered attention. I got up on the counter top, all eyes now on me. I looked among the crowd and gulped at the thirty seven faces that now had their eyes dead set on me. Haha, dead. Because I’m Nico.
Everyone was here, and I mean everyone: MJ, Ximena, Xander, Xena, Serene, Dennis, Tyler, Mallory, Kaitlyn, Keana, Peyton, Laura Delphi, August Hunter, Kato Somrew, Bart Montez, Charlie Leavings, Nina Malifer, Alex Jones Jr., Giovanni Belzoni, Heather Sawyer, Kevin Kwan, Jackson Ordonia, and Margaret Fox. Maya Amaro, Dionysus Gaylord, David Smernicoff, Hayden Macintosh, Hilda Muhammed, Harald Koenig, Polnareff Ami, Eli, Paula Stanley, Natalie Mendel, Chris Frantz, Origami Poison Oak, Derek Miller, Lucida, and MJ’s cousin Carmen.
And when Sebastian, Arthur, and Sopia entered the room, that made forty.
“Alright, listen here. All of you! Hilda has something to say to the class… and the odds are it’s important. And if you lot don’t shut the hell up for two god@#%@ seconds, then you’re not gonna hear it. Right? Hilda, baby, come up here. I’m sorry they hurt you, I love you, Hilda. Come up.” I helped Hilda up onto the counter top.
Hilda looked a bit afraid, speaking to the rest of the group, “Uh, I was gonna say…” She pulled out a red pen, “That we can use this pen I f-”
“NO WAY!” MJ and Arthur shouted at the same time.
“That pen, that’s-” MJ began. “That’s the ballroom sword!”
“Many years back,” Arthur said, “There was a big fight during a school dance at Caesar. And this pen poked some poor kid’s eye out. Charles Emily picked it up, gave it to Kaitlyn.”
“Kaitlyn made me put a balloon into it…” Bart muttered, under his breath.
“And Kaitlyn gave it to MJ, who dropped it during an incident in Caesar. I’m assuming that’s how you found it?” Arthur asked Hilda.
“I don’t know,” Arthur giggled, “I just think it’s neat. I like history.” He said.
“Anyways, continue,” MJ said, “I’m sorry.”
“I think that if we were to, like. Pass this pen around? Use it as a talking stick, sharing all the ways OrigOlympus has hurt us… I think it’d be helpful.” Hilda said.
“That’s brilliant, Hilda,” I said, “Who do we start out with?”
“Mmmmm, this guy.” Hilda began with David. And we all, one at a time, told the stories of the OriGods. How they’d (most of them, our blood family) had hurt us. We went over all the information we got from the Sword of Paper and the Golden Fleece. Charlie shared with us the Bytening Bolt and Pandora’s Box! All of it we were able to put together into a narrative, painting OrigOlympus as the villains they are. And it was beautiful.
Half-way through David Smernicoff’s epic tale of torment and terror, MJ tapped me on the shoulder, gesturing for me to come on back. I shrugged, might as well.
DAWN OF THE SEVEN
By Dennis “OriGrover” Redwood
“What’s this?” I asked. It was cold, back here in the Qwikpick backrooms. Probably because this
“The six of you have always been there,” MJ said. “Though flawed, you seven have not once ceased in fighting the good fight. In being there for your community. And I look towards all of you for it. When we’re at the school board meeting, I want the six of you to represent the board alongside me. Are you all… in?”
I looked around. MJ, me, Ximena, Tyler, Kaitlyn, Sebastian, and Edward.
“So, we’re the seven?” I asked.
MJ nodded, “Yup. Anyways,” she smacked one of the Qwikpick’s tables, which was concealed by a tarp, “Who’s in for some air hockey?”
“Is this really necessary?” Sebastian asked.
“No,” MJ said, coyly, “But it’s fun… you big doof.”
Sebastian sighed, getting on the opposite team of MJ.
Once we were successfully split up, Tyler sat his butt DOWN! LMAO.
We passed Tyler the aux, the old man playing some classic rock.
We took the tarp off and got to playing, and honestly? Most fun I had in a long, long time. It took me back to when MJ, Ximena, and I would play board games in MJ’s room on Christmas, or when… well… we played air hockey in the back of the Qwikpick.
“It’s pretty cool to be hanging out with you guys, again.” MJ said.
“Dude, we missed you.” I said. “You gotta tell me all of what you guys got into.”
MJ smiled at Sebastian, “Believe me, a lot’s happened.”
Kaitlyn quickly blocked the puck that MJ had flicked.
“How many days till the last day of school?” Kaitlyn asked.
“Forty.” Tyler said.
The music began to fade away.
“No way, only forty more days of Middle School,” MJ said, “And to think I didn’t get expelled this year…”
“That’s not without a lack of trying,” Sebastian said, kissing him on the cheek.
The entire room, Ximena included, simply accepted this as normal.
“Guys, we’re all going to different High Schools, right?” Edward asked.
We were really hoping for the music to come back on. The other team scored, but we were too distracted by the question at hand to wonder about this. MJ shrugged, “Me and Sebastian are headed off to Wheeler.”
“We’re both going back to home schooling,” Edward said, putting his arm around Kaitlyn, “Public school… isn’t for either of us.”
“I’m going to Giant High,” I said. “Way too broke to commute all the way out to Wheeler.”
Ximena shrugged, “Me and Xander both got scholarships to Claremont.”
“No way, sick.” MJ said.
“Yeah. You and MJ gonna get some Marvel puppets?”
Sebastian stretched, and groaned, “I probably should, but I’m- I’m all puppeted out, dude.”
Ximena sighed, “I don’t blame you. Me, personally? The Phoenix, all the way.”
“No way… The Phoenix? Like, Jean Gray?” MJ asked.
“Yup,” she nodded.
Sebastian smiled, taking advantage of the distracted Ximena to score a goal. “It suits you.”
“Oh, screw you.” She fired the puck back at Sebastian, and we continued to play.
When we were done (and Xander had collected everyone’s accounts. Thanks, Xander) we left. Hayden was passed out on the Qwikpick floor, but other than that everyone else had left. It was dark outside, too.
I grabbed MJ’s shoulders as she left for the night: “MJ… are you sure I’m the right person for this job?”
She blinked. “Dennis, what do you mean?”
“I mean… I hardly ever do anything. All I do is pretend to be tough and then… get scared.”
MJ laughed, “True. But I want you here, because, well, we need you here, Dennis. You have so much left to learn, brother. You just need to put yourself out there. Man up, y’know? I don’t know.”
I nodded. “Good night, MJ.”
“Good night, Dennis!” MJ and Sebastian wished me.
“Put yourself out there,” I repeated to myself. I will. Maybe I will.
By Ximena “Annashred Crease” Strohm
I’m sitting in class, tapping on my pencil. My Father had filled out the paperwork without my Mother’s knowledge, (She was too busy, well, working on the Chase Kemp Foundation) allowing me into Athens-Carter for my last forty days of school. Geez… getting deja vu, here.
Suddenly, I was called up into the office alongside, well… the seven.
Dr. Emily was also waiting for us.
“Top of the morning, kids.” He said. “You guys ready for your big day?” He asked.
“You know about that?” Sebastian asked, jogging his way over.
“Know about it?” He chuckled, “I’m going to the meeting! I’m very excited to see what you’ve all come up with.”
“Charles,” Tyler said, “You seem remarkably at ease.”
Dr. Emily shrugged, “I don’t know. I just trust that good’s gonna prevail. Anywho, the meeting starts in fifteen. Tyler, you rent the SUV like I asked you to?”
Tyler nodded, and led the eighth of us outside. Edward and Kaitlyn hitched a ride with their Father, while the other five of us crammed into the SUV, Tyler taking the driver seat, MJ taking shotgun, and me, Sebastian, and Dennis all crammed into the back.
“You pumped?” I asked Dennis, who was anxiously tapping his foot.
“Yessirr.” Dennis said.
“How bout’ you, Seb? How’s it feel to finally take down the OrigOlympians?”
“My inner Luke CastePleat is proud,” Sebastian nodded.
MJ turned around, “And you, Ximena?” She asked, in a fancy voice.
“I just hope my Mom’s not there,” I said, half-joking, mostly serious-ing.
“I also hope Ximena’s Mom’s not there,” MJ said, 100% serious-ing. My Mom always hated her. And, surely, the transphobe wouldn’t soften up to this new person the way I have.
When we arrived, we all funneled out of our vehicles and into the School Board office. The office is a small place, one you could easily miss. It was just outside of Giant High, and was all brick on the outside. When we stepped out, we were mostly met with awkward eyes from all the adults. We spotted the back of our family member’s heads, who had all already taken their seats. There were maybe… fifty people in the building? Around that, yeah.
We all went over our plan, what role we’d all play. All of us looked pretty sharp, our original puppets out on display: Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, Grover Underwood, Nico Di Angelo, Hazel Levesque, Poseidon, and Reyna Avila Ramirez-Arellano. We were $%#@ing ready, is what we were. Still, one thing seemed to linger in the back of Sebastian’s mind.
Suddenly, someone tapped on my shoulder… Xander! Xander smiled at me, kindly, and I hugged him. “Xander, what are you doing here!?”
“Eh, I skipped school. Just wanted to be there for you guys, y’know? But I did, y’know… need to speak to Sebastian. Seb,” he nodded, “Men’s room?”
Pee Break (Part Two)
By Xander “Maglue Crease” Strohm
Xander: William’s gonna be there
Seb: Like… William Emily?
Xander: See you around… Mer-Man…
By Tyler “Creaseeus” Willigens
MJ kicked her feet in the seat, “Oh my god, it’s starting!”
Sebastian returned from his bathroom chat with Xander, taking a seat next to MJ. The school board was up at the front of the room, talking amongst themselves. There were some people who were here for other events (parks, bans, etcetera) but the place was still more full than it’s ever been.
More full than it was in 1992.
With MJ and me, there was Estelle and Estelle’s niece, Carmen. With Sebastian, Lance, Amy, and Hayden. With Ximena, Xander, Xena, and Donald. With Kaitlyn and Edward, Marianna, (Charles had joined up with the rest of the school board,) August, and Keana and with Dennis… two happy looking gingers, who I assumed were his parents. The rest of the kids were either at home in class. Whether we failed or succeeded today, these would be our witnesses. I clung onto my legal pad as tightly as I could.
President of the board… Mister… Gates? I knew him. Not well, obviously, but I’m pretty sure he was my sixth grade teacher. Wait. No! Nooooo. He was the one who taught me Greek mythology in the seventh grade! The one I didn’t pay attention to!
Vice president of the board was a stern looking man with a thin, pale face. His hair was curly and black, making him look like someone out of a Tim Burton movie. I did recognize him… and he, too, was a personal threat…
I didn’t know the first thing about folding origami. I mean I’ve made a paper airplane if that counts but not like a crane or anything. I walked up to our art teacher Mr. Russel.
“Um, Mr. Russel, do you know anything about making origami?”I ask. He turns around and looks at me
“Yeah, follow me.” I follow him to the art classroom and he takes a piece of paper out.
“You see all those OriGod kids came to me for help, I see you want to join in their finger puppet crusade.”
“Err- well i sure would like to fold one, I don’t know about walking around and talking with it.”
“Kid, if ya want a puppet, ya gotta make him talk. So… who do you want?”
“Well I really like this one myth-” I started.
“I’m gettin to it! Theseus. The guy who killed the Minotaur”
“Ahh yes, here.” He hands me the paper
“Well, what do I do with it?”
“Jeez, do I have to tell you EVERYTHING? Ok, fine, first, cut it into fourths.” I brought my scissors out of my backpack and cut it into fourths.
“Then ya want to fold him. Just fold the corners to the center, then fold down the top.”
“What?” I ask.
“Kid, you’re all on your own.” Going by the brief instructions he gave me I made a half decent puppet.
“Now you decorate him like Theseus.” He hands me a sharpie,And i take out my Greek mythology textbook. After a few minutes, I’m finished.
“ORIGAMI THESEUS” I shout a little too loudly.
“Kid, you can’t just call him origami theseus make a pun. Like some girl made ART-emis”
“Uh ok Fold-seus?”
“Do I have to explain everything to ya! Do Creaseeus!”
“Uh ok so… uh… Creaseeus.” I pick up my text book and get the heck out of there.
Mr. Russell. My former art teacher.
Treasurer of the board, the man behind the Sleepy Hollow Museum Dedicated To The Night… also, Khonshoe. Secretary of the board? Felicia Grant (The former Artalanta.)
Representing the schools there was Emmanuel Parrish with Claremont Academy, Davis Timely (the old Athens principal) with Goodman (So that’s where he went…), the female principal of Wheeler who’s name I never quite got, the principal of Giant High’s who name I never bothered to catch, and… the main two, Charles and Varsity Emily.
The spectator crowd was split up, Charles on our half of the crowd. On Varsity’s half of the crowd: Flynn, Ballinae, Kenadee, David, Phillip, Heff, and Lina. A seven of their own.
After sleeping through discussions of the Giant High water fountains, and the Wheeler Academy roach infestation, my wife smacked me awake as Varsity stood up with her pen and paper in hand.
“Good morning, board. Some of you know me as the principal of Caesar Middle School… others know me as sister. In February of 2021, I lost my son, Chase on the grounds of the school that my Mother owned in a senseless act of violence. After the death of my Father, it became… too much for my Mother to handle, and she made me acting principal of Caesar Middle School. After experiencing these two back to back losses, I’ve told myself that enough is enough. It’s about time we do something, and it’s my belief, ladies and gentlemen of the board, that you all can become the start of that.”
I rolled my eyes. So much fancy talk.
“I’ve created ‘The Chase Kemp Foundation’ as a solution to the number of problems I’ve seen grow rampant across this generation and this country, as a return to a new era in-”
(Hey, Edward here. Editing this last case file. Ms. Emily (Or Kemp, as you might’ve known her as) kind of just went on an hour long rant about how much she hates Gen Z. It’s not really worth putting it all here, but I appreciate Tyler doing all of it.)
“I’ve gathered seven students here today,” Mrs. Kemp said, “Who have spent the last year acting as tests for this project. Flynn Macintosh with an Origami Chronos, Ballinae Ronson with an Origami Athena, Kenadee Staples with her Origami Artemis, David with his Origami Apollo, Heff with his Origami Hermes, and my daughter, Lina Kemp, with her Origami Zeus.”
(Edward again. Each student gave a speech, the only ones really worth hearing are Lina’s and Flynn’s.)
“Hi, my name is Lina Kemp. My brother was Chase Kemp, and… in a grizzly school fight, Chase lost his life. It’s taken a year out of my life coping with the loss of the one kid who truly understood me…” she pointed at her Mother, “And it brought me so much closer to my Mother.”
A couple awws from the audience.
“Will she get on with it?” Lunne mumbled under his breath, earning him a smack from Mr. Russell.
“The Chase Kemp Foundation is so much more than putting OriGods in every school across the country, it’s putting safety in every school across the country. I’ve watched many, many rebellions form against these OriGods and all that they’ve brought was hardship,” she made direct eye contact with my children, and I remembered whose side I was on, “And all that it’s taught me is that a world where the OriGods are allowed to thrive is a world of peace, non-violence, and tranquility. I’d now like to hand the mic over to my buddy, and the person who helped me through my grieving process, Flynn Macintosh.”
Flynn got up in front of the board, rubbing his hands together, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the board! How are we doing tonight?”
Lunne chuckled, “I like this kid.”
“What’s the one problem you have with your school?” She pointed at the principal of Goodman.
“Behavior.” He said.
“And you?” He asked the Wheeler principal.
“…Behavior,” she agreed.
“How bout you, Mr. Ronswick?”
The Giant High principal cleared his throat, “Behavior.”
“Well, probably y-”
“That’s right, board! All of us are sick and tired of behavioral problems! And the OrigOlympus program can solve that! I mean, look at me. I was an orphan who ran away from the camp I was staying at. I got spotted by people from Caesar, they took me in and the rest, buddy boy! The rest. Is. Historyyy. I put my full heart and soul into the Emily family and the results were ASTRONOMICALLY GOOD! Astronomically, I tell you. Deep down, the Chase Kemp Foundation represents being the change that you…. Yes, you…. Want to see in the world!”
Mr. Gates looked around the room, “We believe that a group of students from the Athens-Carter Institute would like to share their objections with this program? We’ll be handing the floor to them now.
By MJ “Pleaty Jackson” Astley
My Dad… My real Dad, Tyler, was the first to walk up there. He looked spiffy, his hair freshly buzzed, his teal shirt rather form fitting. “Ladies and gentlemen of the board, I’d like to bring in the first piece of evidence, Operation: Pandora’s Box. Operation: Pandora’s Box,” Tyler produced a series of papers, turning my former principal red, “Was an operation dedicated to getting Athens Middle School shut down. It involved passing numerous risky and anti-student rules into Athens policy, hoping that the school collapses in on itself. In December of 2021, we know that it did. The papers in my hand, containing the signatures of Varsity Emily, then Kemp, William Emily, Daniel Kemp, Ximena Strohm, David Hunter, Samantha Hunter, Alec Monroe, Dimitri Fells, Ashley Somrew, Lucas Merrick, Amy Youmans, as well as the boards very own, Mr. Gates.. However, I have reason to believe that Daniel, David, Ashley, Amy, and Mr. Gates, were lied to about what they were signing.”
Tyler slid the packet of papers forward, the board examining them and nodding. Mr. Gates’ eyebrows furrowed. “Yes, this is… rather troubling.” Mr. Lunne said. “For further reading, I offer you this case files, collected by former students of Athens Middle: The Heroes of the OrigUnderworld.”
Tyler sat back down.
Ximena stood up. Xander cheers. “Hi, I’m a former student of Caesar Middle School… I’m here to talk about my Mother, one of the main figures working on the Chase Kemp Foundation. Recently, my brother discovered this,” she produced a notebook, “While we need not get into its origins,”
“I found it in a sword!” Xander yelled.
“Thank you, Xander, it contains several writings from my Father detailing the abuse that he was put through by my Mother. For further proof of why my Mother should not be allowed children… look to my very own siblings. Both the stories they’ve written of her, as well as how she failed as a Mother to raise the three of us. Written accounts can be found in these,” she slid forth The Rise of Pleaty Jackson: The Bytening Thief, a few chapters out of the Titan’s Curse Word, Annashred, and the remaining contents of her lost case file.
“We would like to talk about the secret corruption behind the Emily family,” Edward said, standing up alongside Kaitlyn, “My Father- alongside my Uncle- has been mistreated by Varsity for years. While technically legal, we do not believe that Varsity is the type of person you want running a potentially nationwide program.”
Up next, me and Sebastian. I gulped. Everyone was doing so well… I grabbed Sebasian’s hand, and we stood before the board.
Sebastian lead: “Hi, my name is Sebastian Merrick. This is my girlfriend, MJ Astley. We’re here together because we’ve received more pain, more torment and torture… more neglect… than just about anybody in recent years.”
“The torture that these OriGods has put us through cannot be exaggerated. Sebastian was in a manipulative, toxic friendship with-” I pointed at Flynn, “Flynn Macintosh here. Though suave, and easy to talk to, Flynn is a textbook narcissist. Though he lacks motives, he only finds joy in inflicting pain on others- and he’s wrapped the other seven OrigOlympians-”
“One of them, my best friend,” Sebastian said, staring at Lina.
“-Around his finger.”
“Varsity, as you’ve seen-”
“I have something I’d like to add!” A voice jeered, cutting me off.
He stood up.
No. No. Not him. ANYONE but him.
Everything Goes To #$@%
By William Emily
“Hello, brother, sister… daughter? That’s based. Oh my ex best friend’s here, hot diggity dawg, and he’s with my ex-wife. Looks like the gang’s all here… son. Of. A. @#$@%. How ya doin?” I asked, winking at a random redhead Mom in the audience.
I walked up to the desk and took a seat, my face up in my brother’s, my bare feet up in my sister’s.
“Sir, please get off the board’s desks.”
I stood up, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, my name is, uh, my name is William Emily, I haven’t truly, honestly, felt an emotion in several days… It has been fantastic. I think that, well, at least some of it could relate to the fact that I got kicked out of the house when I was fourteen. Y’know, what? Maybe that’s most of it. Hey, Varsity!” I asked.
She raised an eyebrow.
“#$%@ you!” I said, flipping her off.
“Mr. Emily, this type of language, will not be-”
“Can it, shorty!” I yelled.
“Listen, if any of you… think that this woman is trustworthy, just know that she lied about wetting the bed until she was twelve, that-”
“STOP-” a voice yelled. I turned around to find… my daughter. “You’re ruining everything!”
“Psh, so I ruined your life by not being there and then suddenly, well, I am here, and then, and then-”
Xander, the measly little screwball who invited me over put his hand to his neck. I listened to him, and sat back down.
The board looked at each other, murmuring amongst themselves.
Mr. Gates sighed, “We, the board, have elected that it is in the best interest of the Athens-Madison School District to pass on Ms. Emily’s offer for the Chase Kemp Foundation.”
The seven broke out into cheers, bumping chests with each other. However… it was clear that Varsity and Flynn weren’t about to let this be the end of it. Varsity marched over to Charles… and punched him.
And suddenly, I relived it. I relived all of it. 1990. 1991. 1992. 1993. Four insane years…
Oh my god.
The punch turned into a fight. And the fight turned into a brawl.
Had they learned… nothing? Was history doomed to repeat itself?
I took out a cigarette and left for a smoke.
By Sebastian “O-Reyna-Gami” Merrick
I punched David Dolore in the face, the young man bleeding out in pain. For a brief second… everything is blurry. I stumble back and it becomes more apparent than ever…
…This is not okay. I watch as Lina Kemp stumbles out of the building, and I follow her. I follow her past the parking lot and as she turns the corner, into the dumpster behind the school board’s office. And she begins to sob. We sat there for a few minutes, in silence. I know she knows I’m there.
She continues sobbing.
“I can’t even begin to understand the pain you’ve been through… for a year, I’ve pretended. And, hell… I’m haunted myself. But-”
“Will it ever stop, Sebastian?” Lina says through tears, “The fighting. The same old wounds constantly being reopened. My Mom and my Uncle, you and MJ, same fights…” she niffles, “Will it ever be over?”
I kneeled down beside her, “You’re right. I- I want this to stop too.”
“Then why did you fight us, Sebastian? I just wanted to help people.”
“Lina… this isn’t how you help people. I know Flynn. You… and your Mom… might want something good. But nothing good comes from Flynn Macintosh.”
“You did.” She said.
I sighed, “Lina. Let’s go back. Let’s make them stop fighting.”
She looked up at me, “You really mean it?”
We walked back in, “Everyone, listen up!” I yelled, “Stop the fighting.”
“The Chase Kemp Foundation… and OrigOlympus, is dead.” Lina produced Zeus-igami. The same Zeus-igami that Xander wore before her, and her Mother wore before Xander, and tore it in two, sending a gasp among the group, “We’re done, okay? OrigOlympus has brought the world nothing but pain…” she looked at MJ, “And fighting…” she looked at me, “And it’s time that it ends. Look, we’re all damaged, we’re all frightened. This town leaves us worse than when it found us, sure. But, uh…”
“She’s right!” MJ said, getting up on a chair, “Hi. MJ Astley. None of us asked for this mess. We didn’t ask for our lives to be taken apart and put back together, over and over, and over and over like some kind of freak. But, I think- I think it can start with us…”
Edward and Kaitlyn joined in, “We can’t… We can’t control everything.”
“We can’t hide from our own problems!” Dennis shouted.
“I have a sword!” Xander joined in, producing his sword and earning him a few gasps. William entered the room, and eyes fell back on him. For a moment, the room was in silence. Slowly, William walked the line that separated the two groups, and Varsity and Charles walked towards each other. And they hugged.
And they were a family again.
MJ Astley beamed with joy as she crashed through the double doors of Athens-Carter’s back entrance.
“C minus!” She shouted, “I’m below average!”
Sebastian sat on the fence of the flower gardens he and MJ had planted when they were first founding the school. She looked at her boyfriend, and noticed that for the first time in years there was hope in his eyes. He was tearing up.
As they walked the length of the bus line together, they reminisced:
“So, OrigOlympus is gone.” Sebastian said.
“And we’re going to High School,” MJ said, “Finally.”
“You scared?” Sebastian asked.
“Honestly?” MJ asked, “Not really. The future… looks bright. I mean, things are gonna get bad before they get better, of course, but like…” she shrugged, “It’s not something we need to worry about now.”
Sebastian nodded, putting his hands in his pocket. They both walked onto the bus together, Sebastian snuggling up against MJ. MJ blushed, putting her arm around him. Sebastian sniffled: “Are we ever gonna once have it easy?”
MJ shook her head, “Nope.”
Sebastian smiled at this, “Bring on the monsters, I guess.”
Tyler Willigens took a seat at the Five Guy’s booth, next to him, his wife. And across from them: William Emily.
“What do you want to know?” William asked.
“Before you go again?” Tyler asked.
“No. Before I settle down.”
“What!?” Both Estelle and Tyler asked.
“I found a girlfriend out in Madison, I’m- I’m actually getting a house. A real life.”
“That’s good,” Tyler nodded, “That’s good. Now… William, why did you leave?”
William flinched, “Woah… hitting with the hard hitting questions right away. I respect that.” William paused, “I guess it just felt too real. I don’t quite know how to put it but… I hated feeling like I existed.”
Tyler nodded, “I don’t. I don’t understand,” he said. He looked at his wife: unmoved, unblinking, and got up and left. “Tyler, I think it’s time we leave. I’m happy for you. I really am. I’m gonna ask MJ what she thinks, and if she doesn’t want to see you… then you better keep your @$$ in Madison, m’kay? M’kay.”
Dennis Redwood was at his older cousin’s house party. Out of place, and… quite frankly, insecure, Dennis carried his puppet in his pocket. Looking across the room, at all the drinking and all the drugs, he felt so so out of place.
Sure, he looked the part. In his leather jacket, white pants, and slicked back hair. But behind his gold rimmed sunglasses was the nervous twitch of his eyes.
He noticed an enby with long blonde hair and a trench coat, smoking a ciggy. Dennis sighed. They looked so cool…
“You look lost,” a feminine, yet vaguely familiar voice said behind him.
Dennis turned around to see… a complete stranger. Yet something about the way he reflected in her glossy eyes made Dennis feel like he’d known her for years. Like some part of her was missing.
“I don’t blame you…” she said, “It’s so loud. And this music? Terrible.”
Dennis was too focused on trying to place a name to her face to even recognize the song, though he knew it was trash as well.
Dennis blinked, “Do you wanna go… sit down?” He pointed at his cousin’s sofa.
She nodded, “I think I’d like that.”
She and Dennis sat on the couch.
“So, what’s your name?” Dennis asked.
“Wendy,” she said, “And you are?”
She looked at the hardwood coffee table and picked a grape from the bowl, “Grape?” She asked.
“I’d like that a lot.” Dennis said.
“You nervous?” Samantha Hunter asked.
Keana shrugged. She had spent the better half of her summer vacation preparing her mind- her body- her soul for this moment. And yet still, she wasn’t sure if she was fit for the task.
“You sure I can’t have Hayden with me?” She asked.
“Yup,” Samantha nodded.
Keana took a deep breath and stepped out of her prep room and into the Athens-Carter Institute gymnasium.
“Good morning class,” she said, “My name is Ms. McDaniels. And I’m here to tell you guys that, well… we’re not exactly going to be playing very much volleyball.”
She smiled at the confused sixth and seventh graders, new recruits for Keana McDaniels’ latest project.
Lina Kemp entered from the opposite side of the room, “You’re all here for a more special project. Welcome to the Hunters of Kemp.”
The girl in the Reddit hoodie, who hadn’t said a word since she sat down on the bench smiled, “It’s high time we get started, right?” Peyton Hunter asked.
“Are you still carrying around that puppet?”
“Not- Not that puppet.” Said Lina Kemp.
The therapist raised an eyebrow.
“Not any puppet,” Lina quickly corrected herself.
After a family intervention between the Emilys, MJ had recommended Lina an amazing therapist. The warm lights of the lamps around her gave everything a candle-like quality.
“Let’s change the subject: Have you made any developments in your personal life? I saw that you repurposed the Chase Kemp Foundation.”
Lina nodded, “We’re working with the Girl Scouts of America, the Amazons. All of it.”
“Those are some impressive names to have under your belt, Lina. And your Mom?”
“She’s still reeling. More than me, at least. She split up with my Dad a month ago, and I get Dad Monday to Friday. Mom on weekends.”
The therapist nodded, “Are you happy with this?”
“I think- I think I am. Mom and Dad always hated each other, and I guess… a lot of Mom and Dads do. But having them around for the grieving process, together… It was a nightmare. It really was a nightmare, at the time. Even though they’re apart, it’s still not a dream.”
“I don’t think there’s ever gonna be a dream,” the therapist said, “I mean, right now? Things are real. There’s no nightmares, there’s no dreams. All of this is real.”
Without her expression changing in the slightest, Lina sighed internally, “So you’re saying he’s really dead?”
The therapist nodded, “Yes. And before that he was really alive… Tell me about Chase.”
Lina smiled, “He was such a dork.”
The therapist laughed at Lina’s impulsive remark.
“No, really, he was. He’d always tell bad jokes, embarrass me in front of my friends. He was the only person who could make fun of Mom without getting his $%$ beat. In short… he was nothing like me. Chase was the only thing I ever loved, and now he’s gone. He’s still gone.”
The therapist smiled, “And now look at Chase. Do you think he would’ve wanted this? Any of this? I never knew the brother you’re talking about… never even heard of his death, surprisingly enough. But every story where you bring him up, I can’t help but think of a boy who just wants to make his big sister smile.
And for the first time… Lina smiled.
“Well, that’s our time.” The therapist said.
On her way out, Lina bumped into a face she didn’t think she’d see in a hundred years. Kaitlyn Emily.
“Kaitlyn?” Lina asked, “What are you doing here?” She didn’t have the energy to be resentful, or bitter. Otherwise, she probably would have.
“I’m going to therapy,” Kaitlyn said, “And you?”
Lina nodded, “Same here. I hope you… I hope I’ll see you around, Kate.”
“You too, Lin.”
And that was that.
Ximena Strohm adjusted her older brother’s collar, “You look stupid.” She said, “No woman’s gonna wanna see you like this.”
Xander fired a finger gun at her, “They’re gender fluid! So, like. Bazinga.”
Ximena’s face went flat, “And what if you answer the door, and they’re a woman? What would you tell Harald then, Xander?”
“I’d probably tell them that you get what you get and don’t throw a fit. That’s what I’d tell em.”
Xena passed by the bathroom they were hanging out in, eating a bologna sandwich, “You guys are nerds.” She said. Ximena heard the flop of Xena on their Father’s futon.
After fixing Xander’s collar, Ximena and Xander joined their often forgotten sister.
“Hey, kid.” Donald Strohm called out, “I got a vitamin bar for you!” He threw it at Xander, hitting him smack dab in the face, “You better say thank you. Otherwise I’ll get ya.”
Harald rang the doorbell, and soon, Xander and Harald were off on their first date. That left Ximena and Xena to sit and watch the game.
“They seem happy,” Xena said.
“They really do,” said Ximena.
They were all happy. Their Father had bought an apartment building for them. Sure, it meant that the three kids had to share a room, and sure it meant that they didn’t get as much time home alone… but their Dad was better than their Mom. By a lot.
Oh, and Xander, Xena, and Ximena (as well as Harald, Hilda, and Polnareff) were accepted into Claremont Academy.
And as for Sebastian Merrick? Dear ol’ Sebastian Merrick.
When he arrived at Wheeler Academy, he was scared.
It was huge. Big enough to feel nothing like Athens-Carter, small enough to feel nothing like Caesar. To make matters worse, the new bus routes had changed things up so that he no longer shared a bus with MJ. He awkwardly made his way through the halls of Wheeler, bumping into kids with puppets of various Marvel Comics characters. He thought about what puppet’d he wield since his conversation with The Seven. Maybe Iron Lad, or Moon Knight! Maybe him and the other Athens-Carter kids could form the Inkternals.
Sebastian smiled at the limitless potential that lay before him, and stared down at the writing on his hand, and the locker combination he had chosen ever so carefully: 42069. He swung the locker door open, and a little paper puppet fell to his feet.
It wasn’t intricate, or detailed. The marker was smudged, and some of the details had even been slushed around from water. But still, the red and blue stuck out to him.
“Hey.” MJ said, appearing behind him.
Sebastian Merrick smiled, placing the puppet in his back pocket. “Hey, how’s your morning been?” He put his arm around his girlfriend, and got ready for another adventure.
“I- I lost my train of thought,” Laura Delphi laughs.
Keep calm, Sebastian thinks,“Oh, man, I feel you. That is me all day every day.”
The other host, Vicky Manief, smiles, “I- I guess what he was trying to ask of you was, like, could you tell us more about the story of the mouse? You’ve mentioned, y’know, having a mice problem before. Number of times, and a lot of people wanna know, is there some deeper meaning to all of that?”
Sebastian adjusted his seat in the chair, and he sighed, “Well, uh, I guess? There’s not much beyond the story I’ve always told, y’know? A couple years ago, I found a mouse in the kitchen of the house I was staying at. And- and I tried to befriend it, y’know? It was carrying a hunk of parmesan into a little hole, but the poor thing could barely get it to fit. And I broke it up into little pieces for him, and he ran away at the sight of me, hoping that he- that he’d get the smaller fragments through the whole. Um, I- I- I have an affinity for rodents and pests, y’know? Bugs, Rats-”
Sebastian laughed at her joke, “No, no, uh- no spiders. Ironically, I’m a little- a little scared of those buggers. But most animals that people kind of just, uh, kill. Without a second thought, they’re- they’re my babies. I love animals, man. I keep a couple rats on my own. So seeing this little animal it was like… a stray dog. Or a cat. To me, it was like… a baby. A little baby I needed to take care of, y’know?”
Sebastian bit his tongue, now on the verge of tears, “And then I-” he sighed, “And then I found out about Lyme Disease being associated with this type of mouse. Um, and the person I was staying with was like: Here are some poison traps. Kill the thing. And so I… did. I killed her.”
He laughed to mask the pain, “And then I spent like… two days crying about it. But when all was said and done, I- I went to my rats’ cages and I- I fed them. And it just never really felt quite fair to me, and that’s why I always wanna tell this story.”
THE END OF THE PERCY JACKSON ORIGAMI UNIVERSE. THAT WAS FUN, GOODBYE!