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It turned out that getting in was the easy part.

Reyna suggested they split up and go around the enclosures, looking for a way in. Jason had immediately shut down that idea, and Gem had to agree with him. The password that hadn't worked, 'Ludum Venatorium,' had been ominous. Gem had literally just escaped a pirate ship a few days ago. She wasn't in the mood for any more fighting for her life. Or for watching animals fight for their life. Or any mix of the two.

It was Jason who spotted the employee entrance. It was a white door against a white wall, probably to blend in - not that it was special. Scar had gone off all the time about the secrets of keeping the employee entrances hidden, before he died. He'd wanted to build an amusement park.

Maybe he'll build one in Asphodel, Gem thought, and smiled to herself at the thought. Knowing Scar...

A/N Yeah I'm sorry I had to bring him up again aaaa

They found that it was locked. Of course it was. Jason tried and failed to pick the lock. Reyna tried and failed to break the door down. Gem tried and failed to just turn the handle and open it.

So they just sat there, scratching their heads. At a door.

"Uh... Ludum Venatorium?" Jason tried, finally.

The lock clicked.

"Oh, now it works," Gem grumbled.

"I'm confused," Reyna declared. "I think we, like... used the wrong formula but got the right answer."

"At least we got AN answer," Jason said, and opened the door.

Behind it, they found a storage room full of foul-smelling meat - not rotten, it just smelled bad - and various tools. There was a trapdoor that led down a staircase to some sort of basement. And there was another, sturdier door that Gem assumed went into the enclosure.

They found a key dangling on a hook next to the door.

"This feels too easy," Reyna observed, taking the key off the hook and examining it, then approaching the door.

"Don't jinx it," Jason said as she slid the key into the lock, slid the chain out of the latch, and carefully opened the door.

"Hey, uh, leopard," Jason said, entering the enclosure. "Here, kitty kitty."

Gem entered the enclosure as well. Above them, in a perfect position to pounce, the leopard lazily opened one eye.

"Bacchus sent us," Jason continued.

The leopard turned its head away from them and went back to sleep.

"Alright, come back out here," Reyna said. "We gotta think of a better way to do this."

Gem and Jason glared up at the cat for a moment. Then they went back into the shed. Reyna shut the door behind them.

"Maybe we could lure it with the meat," Gem suggested.

"People aren't going to like it if we just walk through the city leading a giant deadly animal around with a piece of meat that it could lose interest in in any moment," Reyna said. "I think we should wait until nightfall. Then steal one of those zoo trucks-"

Gem shuddered. "I hate zoo trucks."

"-find that son of Mercury again, and get back to Camp Jupiter," Reyna finished.

"Good plan," Jason said. "How do we find the son of Mercury?"

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Gem decided. "So what do we do? Camp out here and hope nobody walks in on us?"

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