I stood in a familiar cavern, looking at a familiar girl.
It was my worst nightmare. Literally.
The girl wore a dress patterned in gold, green, and white to look like light shining through trees. Her hair and skin were swirling and brown, like moving earth.
"Gaea." I said.
Her eyes and mouth remained closed, but a faint, sleepy smile crossed her lips.
"What do you want?"
My rise is nearly complete. I need only my sacrifices and your world will be destroyed, even your precious Hotel.
I scowled at her. "You wouldn't dare attack the Hotel. Your too afraid of your sister."
Her sleepy face got a faintly irratated expression. I sensed this was a bit out of character for her, but I guess I could annoy anyone, even Primordial Deities.
My sister will not fight if I attack with her own children.
My confidence wavred. "You hate the children of Nyx."
Her head tilted to the side. True, but some of them still carry grudges against the Olympians and their allies. That could be useful.
This left a sick feeling in my stomach. The children of Nyx were mainly Protogenoi, the first and most powerful dieties. If some of them were joining up with Gaea, it was a bad sign.
"Who among Nyx's children would be stupid enough to want to join you? Who could possibly be that bitter?"
Gaea just smiled condescendingly. Only one, really. She serves me but one purpose, at the moment. Would you like to see?
"No way in Tartarus." I spat back.
Now Gaea looked amused, and that was really getting on my nerves. Funny you should mention that. I think you really do want to see. I've sent her to collect bait for my sacrifices.
Yes. The greatest Heroes of the age. The Seven Heroes. I've sent my niece to collect one of there siblings.
She wanted to sacrifice the Seven? She stood no chance. Percy, Jason, and Hazel working together? Not even Gaea's strongest forces working together could stop them.
Then I realized with horror what else she might be saying. "No..." Suddenly I couldn't breath.
Gaea's laughter wrang throughout the cavern. It souned like weeds crackling up and dying under the harsh summer sun.
Then suddenly I was in a different cavern. It was deeply, terrifyingly dark. And I wasn't even afraid of the dark. Nico di Angelo sat a few feet in front of me, rubbing his head as if he'd just fallen. "Oh gods. Oh my gods, what have I done?"
He stood. A girl materialized behind him. She was dressed in full black biker's leather. Her hair was long, straight, and black with blood red streaks. Her face was beautiful and terrible. The beautiful part- her features were pale and perfect. The terrible part- her eyes. The irises shifted color from lurid red to dark purple to deep black, but the bad part was the images reflected in them. I saw everyone I cared about dying slow, painful deaths, with my enemies laughing over their corpses. Every place I'd ever called home, Camp Half Blood, Camp Jupiter, Lotus, even my dad's old apartment in Ontario burning to ashes, with the face of Gaea laughing at the ruins. And a coaxing purr of a voice in my head, urging me to believe that these images were real. I looked away. I knew with undying certainty that if I continued looking, I'd be driven completely insane.
She looked at Nico with a hungry glint in her eyes that made me want to punch her in the face.
"A son of Hades." She said Nico's father's name with bitter resentment, but also a sort of deep pain.
Nico spun around, startled. He almost immediatly lowered his gaze to the onyx ground to avoid her terrible eyes.
The girl smiled cruelly. "I'm going to enjoy this."
She thrust out her hand, and much the same thing as when we met the god Anubis happened-they were both thrown backward by a wall of swirling black and purple energy. The girl stood up. Her expression was of rage and astonishment. "How?"
Nico stood as well, but kept his eyes on the ground. "Who are you? Why are you here?"
The girl laughed without humor. "You mean you haven't heard of me? I knew your father before that idiot daughter of Demeter was even born." Her expression was getting dangerous.
"Look, I hate Persephone as much as anyone, but-" Nico started, but the girl interrupted him,
"And he betrayed me! FOR SOMETHING I DIDN'T EVEN WANT TO DO!" The girl had thrown herself into a murderous rage. She hurled walls of deep purple energy at Nico, but his dark aura seemed to harden like a shield and repel them. Even so, it seemed to tire him, and I didn't see how he could hold out much longer.
"Yes, if any power stands a chance against her's, it is his, but he will be overtaken eventually, I assure you. I have ordered her not to do any, mmm, permanent damage, for his sister might be able to sense it, and this may discourage her from coming to his aid." The voice of Gaea sounded less like vibrations in this place and more like a real person.
"Where are we? Let him go!" I screamed at her. Gaea laughed, and I through fire at her, but had no effect.
I woke with a start, tears streaming down my face.