Heroes of Olympus

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Also by Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: The Lightning Thief Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Two: The Sea of Monsters Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Three: The Titan’s Curse Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Four: The Battle of the Labyrinth Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Five: The Last Olympian The Kane Chronicles, Book One: The Red Pyramid

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EVEN BEFORE HE GOT ELECTROCUTED, Jason was having a rotten day. He woke in the backseat of a school bus, not sure where he was, holding hands with a girl he didn’ t know. That wasn’t necessarily the rotten part. The girl was cute, but he couldn’t figure out who she was or what he was doing there. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, trying to think. A few dozen kids sprawled in the seats in front of him, listening to iPods, talking, or sleeping. They all looked around his age … fifteen? Sixteen? Okay, that was scary. He didn’t know his own age. The bus rumbled along a bumpy road. Out the windows, desert rolled by under a bright blue sky. Jason was pretty sure he didn’t live in the desert. He tried to think back … the last thing he remembered … The girl squeezed his hand. “Jason, you okay?” She wore faded jeans, hiking boots, and a fleece snowboarding jacket. Her chocolate brown hair was cut choppy and uneven, with thin strands braided down the sides. She wore no makeup like she was trying not to draw attention to herself, but it didn’t work. She was seriously pretty. Her eyes seemed to change color like a kaleidoscope—brown, blue, and green. Jason let go of her hand. “Um, I don’t—” In the front of the bus, a teacher shouted, “All right, cupcakes, listen up!” The guy was obviously a coach. His baseball cap was pulled low over his hair, so you could just see his beady eyes. He had a wispy goatee and a sour face, like he’d eaten something moldy. His buff arms and chest pushed against a bright orange polo shirt. His nylon workout pants and Nikes were spotless white. A whistle hung from his neck, and a megaphone was clipped to his belt. He would’ve looked pretty scary if he hadn’t been five feet zero. When he stood up in the aisle, one of the students called, “Stand up, Coach Hedge!” “I heard that!” The coach scanned the bus for the offender. Then his eyes fixed on Jason, and his scowl deepened. A jolt went down Jason’s spine. He was sure the coach knew he didn’t belong there. He was going to call Jason out, demand to know what he was doing on the bus—and Jason wouldn’t have a clue what to say. But Coach Hedge looked away and cleared his throat. “We’ll arrive in five minutes! Stay with your partner. Don’t lose your worksheet. And if any of you precious little cupcakes causes any trouble on this trip, I will personally send you back to campus the hard way.” He picked up a baseball bat and made like he was hitting a homer. Jason looked at the girl next to him. “Can he talk to us that way?”

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She shrugged. “Always does. This is the Wilderness School. ‘Where kids are the animals.’” She said it like it was a joke they’d shared before. “This is some kind of mistake,” Jason said. “I’m not supposed to be here.” The boy in front of him turned and laughed. “Yeah, right, Jason. We’ve all been framed! I didn’t run away six times. Piper didn’t steal a BMW.” The girl blushed. “I didn’t steal that car, Leo!” “Oh, I forgot, Piper. What was your story? You ‘talked’ the dealer into lending it to you?” He raised his eyebrows at Jason like, Can you believe her? Leo looked like a Latino Santa’s elf, with curly black hair, pointy ears, a cheerful, babyish face, and a mischievous smile that told you right away this guy should not be trusted around matches or sharp objects. His long, nimble fingers...
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