Part of The Unforgiven Series.

The sun made me feel better, just like it always did. The warmth seeped through my body and strengthened me. I soared near the clouds for about an hour until I saw a freight train heading west. With the flying converse, I easily slipped aboard into one of the boxcars. The cargo of the train was Florida oranges. I helped myself. As far as I could tell, I was the only living thing on this train.

Soon I grew bored. For the first time, I wished I wasn't alone on this quest.

Let me teach you lesson, if you don't know it already: Be careful what you wish for.

There was a thudding on the other side of the closed boxcar. It sounded like...footsteps. Of something really, really, big. Gulp. I drew my sword Sunblade. It made a zap as it was unsheathed. In response, I heard a monstrous grow from the outside, as if it sensed the celestial bronze, which it probably did. Quick like a band-aid, I yanked open the door of the boxcar. It jumped inside, and grabbed ahold of my sword. Now my blade was in the mouth of a giant dog. It tossed it aside and went in for the kill. I gasped. I hadn't expected it to counterattack so quickly.

My mind worked quickly, or else the hellhound was in slow motion. As its open mouth came at my head, teeth viciously sharpened and jaws tensed so powerfully, I grabbed a carton of oranges and shoved it in.

The hellhound looked confused and chewed. As if alarmed, the hellhound's eyes opened wide. Then it exploded.

I yelled in shock. "What is in this stuff?" My hand jumped to my stomach, which suddenly didn't feel so good. Was I poisoned?

"Nectar," answered a voice behind me. I turned quickly. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. There was a man with me in the boxcar. "Gotta be careful eating those," he continued.

Frantically, I scanned the ground for Sunblade. Who was this freak? Another Monster?

"Looking for this?" he asked. He pulled my trusty blade from behind his back as if by magic. His bright blue eyes followed the lines of the edge of the blade down to the hilt. "Now that I'm here you can thank me for this. It's a good blade although I do prefer a bow." He passed it back to me. I stood motionless in shock.

"Claire?" he asked uncertainly."Earth to Claire!"

"Wha?" I said stupidly.

"How many oranges did you eat?" the man asked in a concerned voice.

"Ummm, two," I said slowly. Before I could stop him, he reached out and felt my forehead.

"You're burning up!" he cried. "But not to worry. I am the god of healing, you know." Instantly I felt a lot better.

"D-Dad?" I asked. My stupid eyes started to betray me. They started to water.

"Hey hey, don't cry now," he cooed. He stared at my face with those piercing eyes as if trying to memorize it.

"Hmmph. I was wishing you had your mother's brown eyes. They were so beautiful."

I stiffened. How dare he talk about my mother? He left her, alone, with two young children, a broken heart, and bills to pay.

"You're not happy with me," Apollo guessed.

I gave him my best Ares scowl, something I had not inherited from him. "How'd you know?" I said with bitter sarcasm.

"God of Prophecy too!" he chirped. "And I hear you have a certain gift of your own."

"Apollo, why are you here?" I asked rudely.

"Sweetie, call me Dad. I'm here because I wanted to meet you in person! My little girl, on her first quest! So exciting! So I hitched you a ride and came to chat." He flashed me a grin, the one I knew my mother had fallen in love with.

"This is your ride?" I looked around distastefully.

"This is my er, sun chariot, but its transformed."

I frowned and looked around. I needed to say something. "Why do you have a bunch of oranges?" I asked. It was the first thing that popped into my head.

Apollo cleared his throat. "Once upon a time,

Zeus got sick of strawberries
And wanted oranges."

"Um, okay," I scoffed.

"It's a haiku! Do you love it?" he asked. I shook my head no. Apollo looked disappointed.

"Get some rest, Claire. I love you," he said. And with a bright light and a pop, my dad was gone.

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