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CHAPTER 6

Someone shook Percy awake. His eyes snapped open to see Jason's pale face peering down at him.

"What's up man?" He asked sleepily, rubbing his eyes.

Jason glanced around. "Shh, Probatio. Don't want to wake Grover up." He pulled Percy to his feet, grinning. Grover mutted something about aluminum cans and momma goats as he rolled over snoring.

Any lingering haze of sleep had already vanished from Percy's mind. He sat up and nodded at Jason to explain what he wanted.

"I need to show you something before the wake-up." That was all Percy got from him.

Percy frowned for a moment, but quickly let it pass. "Where are we going?"

Jason rolled his eyes and grabbed Percy's arm, pulling him past sleeping demigods. "Just follow me and stay close."

They creeped through tightly strewn packs of sleeping bodies, Percy almost tripping several times. He stepped on someone's hand, earning a sharp cry of pain and then someone punching them in the calf.

"Sorry," he glanced in Jason's direction. The second in command didn't reply, just kept walking.

Once they left the lawn area and stepped onto the hard gray stone of the courtyard floor, Jason broke into a run, heading for the western wall. Percy hesitated, wondering why he needed to run, but snapped out of it quickly and followed right on Jason's heels.

The light was dim, but any obstructions loomed as darker shadows and he was able to make his way along without running into anything. He stopped quickly when Jason came to a sudden halt, almost slamming into the taller boy. Towering above them like a skyscraper- another random image that floated in the murky pool of his memory wipe (there must have been skyscrapers where he lived...in...in...). Percy noticed small red lights flashing here and there along the wall's face, weaving around, stopping, turning off and on.

"What are those?" He whispered as loudly as he dared.

Jason didn't answer for a moment. "When you need to know, you'll know."

Percy fought the urge to smack that look off his incompetent face. "Well I think it's stupid to send me to a place where nothing makes sense and not answer my questions." He kept his voice steady.

Jason broke into a laugh, but quickly cut it off. "I like you Percy. Now shut up- so I can show you something."

Percy was about to retort when he realized Jason hadn't called him Probatio.

Percy stepped forward and dug his hands into the thick ivy, spreading several vines away from the wall to reaveal a dust-frosted window, a square about three feet wide. It was dark, like it was sprayed black.

Percy waited, watching the window. His ADHD brain went crazy. He couldn't help but think everyone here was crazy, if all they did was look through windows into green nothingness.

A large, bulbous creature the size of a tank suddenly flashed out of no where until it was peering through the window right at him. Percy leaped backwards, stumbling over his own feet, crashing to the ground. He may have screamed- higher than usual, but he wasn't emberassed.

Jason seemed to be trying to become one with the wall, he definately wasn't getting close to the window.

The creature snarled and then dissapeared as quickly as it came.

"What was that?" Percy yelled, scrambling to his feet, catching his elbow on some vines. Jason didn't reply for a moment. He just watched the window then took Percy's arm and led him away.

"Hellhound- automaton hellhound."

Percy shook his head, the horrific image still burning into his mind. The size of a large truck and glowing red eyes. Teeth that could rip into his flesh with ease, paws the size of a TV. Something shivered in his gut, and he wondered if he'd ever be able to eat again.

Percy glanced back at the window as they walked away. He thought about having to be out there- in the Maze, Grover had called it.

"Now you know what's in the Maze." Jason said, not an ounce of enthusiasm in his voice. "You know this isn't the time for joking around. You've been sent here for a reason, and you're going to help us survive."

Percy hadn't known these people for more than a couple days and he already felt a strange sense of kinship and loyalty to protect these people. "We're going to find a way out." He watched Jason's face. "It's a maze right? What have you tried doing?"

Jason didn't answer his question, instead he said, "Ya know, you're smarter than you look. Most Probatio's don't put all this together so fast- most of 'em would be crying their eyes out and wetting their pants."

Percy managed to laugh. "Well, you know wetting my pants isn't really my style."

A few hours later, after wandering around with Jason for a few more minutes and then returning to eat breakfast with Grover, his mind was still on the automaton hellhound. He somehow knew what an automaton was- a machine. Percy also seemed to know what a hellhound was, but he couldn'tremember who told him. He tried to get the image out of his mind, eating usually helped him do that but even the eggs and bacon couldn't distract him.

Later, he was sitting by the stream, letting his feet swirl around in the water and watching everyone work when Luke approached him.

"Well, Probatio. Ready for the Tour?" He helped Percy to his feet. "Get a nice view out the window?" Luke smirked.

Percy shrugged. "Oh yeah, I enjoy being scared half to death by automaton hellhounds. Thanks for the warning."

Luke wrinkled his forehead as if wondering what to say, but let it slide. "Let's just go."

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