“Even if you could destroy his body,” I said, “he would just reappear somewhere nearby. That necklace? It’s enchanted with the power of Sobek. To beat the monster, we have to get that necklace off. Then the petsuchos should shrink back into a regular crocodile. ”
“I hate the word should,” Percy muttered. “Fine. I’ll get the necklace. You keep him occupied. ”
“Why do I get to keep him occupied?”
“Because you’re more annoying,” Percy said. “Just try not to get eaten again. ”
“ROARR!” the monster bellowed, his breath like a seafood restaurant’s Dumpster.
I was about to argue that Percy was plenty annoying, but I didn’t get the chance. The petsuchos charged, and my new comrade-in-arms sprinted to one side, leaving me right in the path of destruction.
First random thought: Getting eaten twice in one day would be very embarrassing.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Percy dashing toward the monster’s right flank. I heard the mortal kids come out from their hiding places, yelling and throwing more water balloons like they were trying to protect me.
The petsuchos lumbered toward me, his jaws opening to snap me up.
And I got angry.
I’d faced the worst Egyptian gods. I’d plunged into the Duat and trekked across the Land of Demons. I’d stood at the very shores of Chaos. I was not going to back down to an overgrown gator.
The air crackled with power as my combat avatar formed around me—a glowing blue exoskeleton in the shape of Horus.
It lifted me off the ground until I was suspended in the middle of a twenty-foot-tall, hawk-headed warrior. I stepped forward, bracing myself, and the avatar mimicked my stance.
Percy yelled, “Holy Hera! What the—?!”
The crocodile slammed into me.
He nearly toppled me. His jaws closed around my avatar’s free arm, but I slashed the hawk warrior’s glowing blue sword at the crocodile’s neck.
Maybe the petsuchos couldn’t be killed. I was at least hoping to cut through the necklace that was the source of his power.
Unfortunately, my swing went wide. I hit the monster’s shoulder, cleaving his hide. Instead of blood, he spilled sand, which is pretty typical for Egyptian monsters. I would have enjoyed seeing him disintegrate completely, but no such luck. As soon as I yanked my blade free, the wound started closing and the sand slowed to a trickle. The crocodile whipped his head from side to side, pulling me off my feet and shaking me by the arm like a dog with a chew toy.
When he let me go, I sailed straight into the nearest house and smashed through the roof, leaving a hawk-warrior-shaped crater in someone’s living room. I really hoped I hadn’t just flattened some defenseless mortal in the middle of watching Dr. Phil.
My vision cleared, and I saw two things that irritated me. First, the crocodile was charging me again. Sec
ond, my new friend Percy was just standing in the middle of the street, staring at me in shock. Apparently my combat avatar had startled him so much, he’d forgotten his part of the plan.
“What the creeping crud is that?” he demanded. “You’re inside a giant glowing chicken-man!”
“Hawk!” I yelled.
I decided that if I survived this day, I would have to make sure this guy never met Sadie. They’d probably take turns insulting me for the rest of eternity. “A little help here?”
Percy unfroze and ran toward the croc. As the monster closed in on me, I kicked him in the snout, which made him sneeze and shake his head long enough for me to extricate myself from the ruined house.
Percy jumped on the creature’s tail and ran up his spine. The monster thrashed around, his hide shedding water all over the place; but somehow Percy managed to keep his footing. The guy must have practiced gymnastics or something.
Meanwhile, the mortal kids had found some better ammunition—rocks, scrap metal from the wrecked cars, even a few tire irons—and were hurling the stuff at the monster. I didn’t want the crocodile turning his attention toward them.
“HEY!” I swung my khopesh at the croc’s face—a good solid strike that should’ve taken off his lower jaw. Instead, he somehow snapped at the blade and caught it in his mouth. We ended up wrestling for the blue glowing sword as it sizzled in his mouth, making his teeth crumble to sand. That couldn’t have felt good, but the croc held on, tugging against me.
“Percy!” I shouted. “Any time now!”
Percy lunged for the necklace. He grabbed hold and started hacking at the gold links, but his bronze sword didn’t make a dent.