- The Hidden Oracle
The nighttime shot showed the upper floors of a glass residential tower. Judging from the background, it was somewhere in downtown Manhattan.
“That is the building you described last summer,” Chiron said, “where you parleyed with the Romans.”
“Yeah,” Rachel said. “Something didn’t feel right about that place. I got to thinking…how did the Romans take over such prime Manhattan real estate on such short notice? Who owns it? I tried to contact Reyna, to see if she could tell me anything, but—”
“Communications problems?” Chiron guessed.
“Exactly. I even sent physical mail to Camp Jupiter’s drop box in Berkeley. No response. So I asked my dad’s real estate lawyers to do some digging.”
Meg peeked over the top of her glasses. “Your dad has lawyers? And a helicopter?”
“Several helicopters.” Rachel sighed. “He’s annoying. Anyway, that building is owned by a shell corporation, which is owned by another shell corporation, blah, blah, blah. The mother company is something called Triumvirate Holdings.”
I felt a trickle like white paint rolling down my back. “Triumvirate…”
Meg made a sour face. “What does that mean?”
“A triumvirate is a ruling council of three,” I said. “At least, that’s what it meant in ancient Rome.”
“Which is interesting,” Rachel said, “because of this next shot.” She tapped her screen. The new photo zoomed in on the building’s penthouse terrace, where three shadowy figures stood talking together—men in business suits, illuminated only by the light from inside the apartment. I couldn’t see their faces.
“These are the owners of Triumvirate Holdings,” Rachel said. “Just getting this one picture wasn’t easy.” She blew a frizzy strand of hair out of her face. “I’ve spent the last two months investigating them, and I don’t even know their names. I don’t know where they live or where they came from. But I can tell you they own so much property and have so much money, they make my dad’s company look like a kid’s lemonade stand.”
I stared at the picture of the three shadowy figures. I could almost imagine that the one on the left was the Beast. His slouching posture and the over-large shape of his head reminded me of the man in purple from my dream.
“The Beast said that his organization was everywhere,” I recalled. “He mentioned he had colleagues.”
Chiron’s tail flicked, sending a paintbrush skidding across the cave floor. “Adult demigods? I can’t imagine they would be Greek, but perhaps Roman? If they helped Octavian with his war—”
“Oh, they helped,” Rachel said. “I found a paper trail—not much, but you remember those siege weapons Octavian built to destroy Camp Half-Blood?”
“No,” said Meg.
I would have ignored her, but Rachel was a more generous soul.
She smiled patiently. “Sorry, Meg. You seem so at home here, I forgot you were new. Basically, the Roman demigods attacked this camp with giant catapulty things called onagers. It was all a big misunderstanding. Anyway, the weapons were paid for by Triumvirate Holdings.”
Chiron frowned. “That is not good.”
“I found something even more disturbing,” Rachel continued. “You remember before that, during the Titan War, Luke Castellan mentioned he had backers in the mortal world? They had enough money to buy a cruise ship, helicopters, weapons. They even hired mortal mercenaries.”
“Don’t remember that, either,” Meg said.
I rolled my eyes. “Meg, we can’t stop and explain every major war to you! Luke Castellan was a child of Hermes. He betrayed this camp and allied himself with the Titans. They attacked New York. Big battle. I saved the day. Et cetera.”
Chiron coughed. “At any rate, I do remember Luke claiming that he had lots of supporters. We never found out exactly who they were.”
“Now we know,” Rachel said. “That cruise ship, the Princess Andromeda, was property of Triumvirate Holdings.”
A cold sense of unease gripped me. I felt I should know something about this, but my mortal brain was betraying me again. I was more certain than ever that Zeus was toying with me, keeping my vision and memory limited. I remembered some assurances Octavian had given me, though—how easy it would be to win his little war, to raise new temples to me, how much support he had.
Rachel’s phone screen went dark—much like my brain—but the grainy photo remained burned into my retinas.