Shit. Sorry. I faced him square on and repeated what I said. What’s the matter? she asked.

It’s sixteen, love, Dad said gently.

Meg pulled apart a Fig Newton. I could order you to go to this Delphi place.No! My voice cracked in midshriek. You should assign me easy tasks—like starting a rock band, or just hanging out. Yes, hanging out is good.

Meg looked unconvinced. Hanging out isn’t a task.It is if you do it right. Camp Half-Blood can protect me while I hang out. After my year of servitude is up, I’ll become a god. Then we can talk about how to restore Delphi.Preferably, I thought, by ordering some demigods to undertake the quest for me.

Apollo, Chiron said, if demigods keep disappearing, we may not have a year. We may not have the strength to protect you. And, forgive me, but Delphi is your responsibility.I tossed up my hands. I wasn’t the one who opened the Doors of Death and let Python out! Blame Gaea! Blame Zeus for his bad judgment! When the giants started to wake, I drew up a very clear Twenty-Point Plan of Action to Protect Apollo and Also You Other Gods, but he didn’t even read it!

Meg tossed half of her cookie at Seymour’s head. I still think it’s your fault. Hey, look! He’s awake!

She said this as if the leopard had decided to wake up on his own rather than being beaned in the eye with a Fig Newton.I have a plane, she announced with pride. A jet, actually.

What? Blake said with surprise. He turned to call out to the others, Hey! We’ve got a plane! He hurried to meet Mamaw. What’ve you got, Mrs. Muir?I called in a favor, she replied, her eyes shining with satisfaction at having succeeded. My old friend Gaillard has a jet he uses for business. He’s a true gentleman and right neighborly. He didn’t hesitate one moment when I told him our situation. Nobody loves our coastline better than he does and he won’t have this poor dolphin die on his watch. Here’s the information, she told Blake, handing him the paper. Just call that number. Gill said the plane’s ready when you are.

This is major, Blake said, taking her hand and shaking it. Hope entered his voice for the first time. Thank you. You may have just saved this dolphin’s life.He turned and raced back to the truck. Once there, he handed the paper to the vet and climbed into the truck. Let’s go!

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