Ares is waiting for Percy, Annabeth, and Grover back at the diner.
Percy tells Ares that he's a jerk.
Ares taunts and teases them, but shows them their ride west: "Kindness International: Humane Zoo Transport. Warning: Live Wild Animals" (16.9).
They'll be riding in the back of a truck with wild animals.
Ares gives them a backpack full of clothes, food, and some money.
Someone inside the diner takes a picture of Percy and Ares.
Percy tells Ares that he owes him one more thing: the news of his mother that Ares promised.
Ares tells Percy that his mom isn't dead; she's being kept as a hostage. He says that someone is using Sally Jackson in order to control Percy.
Percy insults Ares, and Ares almost flips out. Instead, he leaves on his Harley.
The truck drivers are getting ready to leave the diner, so Percy, Annabeth, and Grover jump into the back of the Kindness International truck.
There, they find three of the saddest and loneliest looking animals you've ever seen: an antelope-looking animal, a zebra, and an albino lion. They are in cages, and the antelope and zebra have meat in their bowls, while the lion has turnips.
Their cages are a mess. It's clear no one has been treating them humanely or kindly.
Everyone is really upset by this scene, but Grover is especially sad. Remember, he can talk to animals.
Once the truck gets going, the gang rearranges the food, giving the lion the meat and the zebra and the antelope turnips. They refill their water bowls. Grover tells them that they will help them even more in the morning.
The three settle down for good night's sleep, but then the subject of Thalia's death comes up.
It turns out Grover was the satyr assigned to help rescue Thalia and get her safely to Camp Half-Blood when she was attacked on Half-Blood Hill. The other two friends with Thalia at the time were Annabeth and Luke.
Thalia, Annabeth, and Luke had all run away from home, and though Grover was assigned to Thalia only, he helped all three get to Camp Half-Blood.
Grover was told that he had failed in his mission. Thalia had died because of him. He is truly sad about this.
Annabeth and Percy try to cheer him up. Annabeth tells him she wouldn't be alive without him. Percy tells him he has the biggest heart in the history of the universe, and that's why he'll find Pan.
Grover goes to sleep happy.
Percy asks Annabeth about the ring she wears around her neck.
She's reluctant to tell him about it at first, but then she opens up. The ring belongs to her mortal father, the professor at West Point (the one who didn't want to raise her when Athena sent her down to earth in a golden cradle). Two summers ago he sent her his ring, asking her to come home and telling her he missed her. Annabeth went home, but it was miserable. Her stepmom was mean and still wouldn't let her hang out with the family. Monsters smelled her and attacked, putting the family at risk again. That winter, she went back to Camp Half-Blood for good.
Percy tells Annabeth she shouldn't give up on her dad.
Annabeth doesn't want to hear it.
They fall asleep.
Percy has another nightmare: he dreams he's taking a standardized test in a straitjacket. He hasn't even picked up his pencil yet, because he can't. A girl he recognizes as Thalia is sitting next to him and says, "well, Seaweed Brain? One of us has to get out of here" (16.105). Percy releases himself from his straightjacket and dives into a pit where that familiar cold voice lives. The voice says to him, "Percy Jackson […] yes, the exchange went well, I see" (16.108). Then, Percy hears the cold voice having a conversation with a familiar voice that he can't place. The familiar voice talks about stealing the master bolt and asks the cold voice why he couldn't bring it to his lord (the cold voice dude) directly. The cold voice dude recognizes that Percy is listening. He shows Percy an image of his quest: Percy is standing in a throne room with black walls and bronze floors. Before him is his mom frozen in that glowing light. Percy's flesh starts to melt from his body.
Percy is woken up.
The truck has stopped in Las Vegas, and the truckers are coming to check on the animals.
Percy and Grover hide in the truck. Annabeth puts on her magic hat.
The zebra talks to Percy, calls him "lord," and begs him to free him. Percy remembers that his dad created horses and realizes that is why he can understand the zebra.
Annabeth, Percy, and Grover free the animals. Grover blesses them before they leave so that they will find their freedom safely.
The zebra bows to Percy.
The animals run off through the streets of Las Vegas, causing a commotion.
Percy, Annabeth, and Grover leave the truck and walk the streets of Las Vegas.
They arrive at a dead end where a doorman at the Lotus Hotel and Casino kindly invites them in.
Inside they are blown away by what they see: a huge lobby/game room with every kind of game and every kind of snack you can imagine.
A bellhop approaches them and gives them casino credit cards with an unlimited amount of credit: "The bill's taken care of. No extra charges, no tips" (16.180). They can use the credit cards anywhere in the casino. Oh, by the way, they have a room on the top floor.
They go up to their room and shower, eat, watch TV, luxuriate. They haven't been treated so nicely in a long time.
They decide to go play in the game room. There, everyone finds a game that is just right for them: Annabeth finds an architecture game; Grover finds a kill-the-hunter game; Percy plays all kinds of sports games and sharpshooter games.
Percy has a nagging feeling that he should talk to his friends about something, but he also figures it can wait.
Percy meets a dude named Darrin who is also staying at the casino. Darrin looks like Elvis. Percy asks him what year it is. Darrin says, "1977." Ruh-roh.
Percy polls a few other guests, and he realizes they are all from different years.
After a lot of effort, Percy lures Annabeth and Grover out of the casino.
On the way out, the bellhop offers them Platinum cards, saying that they are opening a whole new floor full of new games for Platinum members.
The three leave as fast as they can.
It's stormy outside.
Percy checks a newspaper: it is June 20th. They have been at the Lotus Casino for five days. They have one day left before their quest deadline is up.