In literature class, the teacher hands out copies of The Odyssey
and talks about how the ancient myths feature heroes on epic quests, who encounter many strange monsters, and ultimately die and are reborn, gaining wisdom in the process. As Ian flips through his copy, he notices that the previous owner left notes and scribbles, and asks for a new copy. The teacher, Literature, refuses, saying that it's already been registered in Ian's name. He tells them they have to weeks to read the book before the test, and comments that heroes often refuse to accept their quest because of immaturity or fear.
For the next 13 days, the fringers blow off reading the book. On the day before the test, they realize that they're behind, and Literature warns that the test will make up most of their grade. Ian asks for more time, claiming that he's reading it slowly to get every nuance, but it's clear he doesn't know the first thing about the story. Literature notes that Ian is much like the story's hero, Odysseus, who was cunning but wandered off course. When he asks what happens if he simply refuses to take the test, Literature warns that if he doesn't pass the test, he doesn't graduate, and if he doesn't graduate, he doesn't leave Tower Prep. He notes that it could take ten years for Ian to graduate.
The quarter meets in the observatory and they discuss the fate of seniors, who simply disappear after "graduating." Ian suggests they use a study guide, and Suki warns that Whisper 119 won't let them do it. She does download an audio copy of the book, but realize that it's too slow for them to get the book read in time. Gabe suggests they talk with Flash McNulty, who has the ability to instantly absorb any information. Flash is very slow in responding with them, but agrees to read the book. However, he becomes depressed when he learns that Odysseus' dog Argus dies, which reminds him of when he lost his turtle. Ian finally talks him out of his funk, but discovers that Flash recites the material back as fast as he reads it, meaning he's unintelligible.
Stumped, Ian figures that he'll have to read the book. When Gabe accuses him of being heroic, Ian denies it. The rest of them agree to read the book as well, and go back to the observatory. A few hours later, Ian returns carrying a sack. He says that what's in the sack could lead to their deaths, but his friends insist that he explain. Ian finally agrees, but tells them that they can only advise, because getting involved could get them killed.
Ian explains that while he couldn't figure out the scribbles of a stick figure, the notes soon began to make sense to him and he realized that they referred to the hero as an Archer. The note writer was talking to him, somehow able to see the future. He decided to track down the note writer by following the trail of previous bookholders. The first one was Hubert Kovalev, with an enhanced sense of smell. Hubert refused to talk to Ian because of his odor. Next, Ian tracked down Tawny Dvorchek, who lives in a room with two other beautiful girls. The three of them have the power to entrance males. Ian only managed to escape when he noticed that the note writer had left a warning for him to get out. The final bookholder was a girl with a mud pack and green extensions in her hair: a Medusa.
Ian quickly fled and got an idea: three of the pages were bent, left-right-left, indicating a combination. He went to the locker room and discovered that the number belonged to the school mascot, wearing a bull costume. When Ian made fun of the pep squad, the mascot took offense and attacked him. Ian realized that he read the number upside down. Knocking out the mascot, he went to the proper locker and found something strange.
In the present, Ian shows his friends the locker's contents: a one-eyed human skull. He figures that he was on the right path, but doesn't know where to go next. The only other thing in the locker was old gym clothes with the name "Noman" on them. Ian explains that in The Odyssey
, Noman was the name Odysseus used to fool the Cyclops. CJ suggests that she use her ability to analyze the note writer's handwriting, but Ian warns that his guide warned that the rest of Odysseus' crew died, and he doesn't want to endanger his friends. CJ insist and reads the notes, but doesn't need her ability to learn that in the final set of notes, the notewriter says that Ian must retrace his steps to move forward.
The group goes to see Hubert, and Gabe hypersuades him to use his hyper-scent to follow the trail of the gym clothes' owner. However, they are out after curfew and run into a Monitor, whose ability makes him immune to Gabe's power. They turn to the next person that Ian visited: Tawny, who uses her siren ability to lure the Monitor away. They arrive at the Medusa's room and Hubert says that he's had enough and leaves. CJ knocks on the door and the girl, Penny, has removed her extensions and mudpack and greets them. She recognizes the clothing and explains that it belonged to her friend, Norman. He read the book for her, and became obsessed with it, thinking that it could guide him out of Tower Prep. The two were close, but Norman left to follow the path, taking the only photo of him along with him. Penny explains that Norman had the ability to just know certain things, and clearly misses him. They examine the photo frame and find a directory that Norman hid there.
Back at the observatory, the group wonders what to do next. Ian realizes that the directory overlaps the map of ancient Greece in the book, and that it leads to a spot on the perimeter. He doesn't want to take the others along with him, worried that they're at risk, but they insist on going. The next morning, they approach the perimeter wall and Ian describes how Odysseus had to enter the Underworld and speak with a dead prophet to return home. They find a graveyard filled with stones with Latin biological classifications written on them. Scared, Gabe starts to run away and falls into an open grave. Inside is a casket, and they find the rest of the Cyclops' skeleton inside. Ian discovers a hidden tunnel at the end of the casket, and Ian realizes that the stick figures form a cartoon indicating that the tunnel leads beneath the perimeter wall. The last page of the book is missing, but the page before has a note warning that the hero must go on alone. Ian says goodbye, but promises to return with help.
As Ian enters the tunnel, he finds the last page of the book, weighted down with a rock. As he picks it up, he sets off a tripwire that brings the tunnel down on him. His friends leap into the grave and pull him out just in time. Ian reads the last page, where Norman says that Ian's quest isn't Norman's, and that Ian's quest is to unravel the mysteries of Tower Prep because Norman couldn't. There's also a photo with the page, the missing photo of Norman, and a note saying to give it to his "first mate." The group looks at it and chuckles, and then leaves for their test.
In literature class, the group tells Literature that they haven't read the book, but they've lived it and are ready for the test. They managed to squeak through. Afterward, Ian accepts the fact that his quest is to solve the mystery of Tower Prep. They go to see Norman's "first mate," Penny, and tell her that Norman escaped. He didn't want to put her at risk so he was forced to leave her behind. She thanks Ian for his help and puts the photo back in the frame. Penny kisses it: it's a picture of a very geeky unheroic-looking teenager, Norman.