1st POV (Kaira)
Why in the hell did I agree to this job? I was bundled up in winter gear on the back of a snowmobile with my husband driving it. Snow was falling, and it was falling steadily and a lot. We arrived at the base camp. We got off the snowmobile. I saw Nate and Eliot moved down his face covering.
"Well, this ain't Boston, is it?" Eliot said, upset.
"Nathan, why the Hell did you have us meet at the top of a goddamn mountain?" I asked him.
"Good to see you two." Nate said, walking away.
Eliot and I followed him.
"Two weeks we're supposed to lay low, Nate!" Eliot growled at Nate as we kept walking.
"Now, you two climbed in the service, right?" Nate asked us.
"Two weeks after San Lorenzo! All right, there's a reason we follow rules-" Eliot argued when Nate interrupted.
"This job has a specific window of opportunity." Nate revealed to us.
We walked into the tent. There were people walking around and didn't seem like they were interested in climbing.
"This is unexpected." I pointed out.
"Climbing's a rich man's playground. These people pay 50 grand to get choppered half way up the mountain, then climb to the peak having half a dozen guys carrying their luggage." Nate explained.
Sophie then came over.
"Pay enough, they'll carry you to the top. Literally." Sophie then looked at Nate flirtatiously.
"Hello, Nate." She said.
"Sophie." Nate said.
Hardison then came over and hugged Eliot, a little too long for his liking.
"Let go." Eliot pushed Hardison off.
"I'm just - it's so damn cold." Hardison complained.
"I don't care man." Eliot said.
"Please set me on fire, something. I'm all shivering, and I think one of my nipples fell off-" Hardison said when I punched him.
"Man, don't tell me stuff like that!" Eliot growled at Hardison.
"Tell him what." Parker came over.
"Nothing. Hey, Girl." Hardison went to hug Parker, but she hit him.
I groaned and tuned in to what Nate was saying.
"Okay, Parker, listen. You can climb a mountain, right?" Nate asked Parker.
"I can climb skyscrapers. You can walk up a mountain." Nate said.
"It's not the same. Are there avalanches on skyscrapers?" Eliot told Parker.
"No. But that would be so cool." Parker said.
"Just how dangerous is this gig you took without checking with us first?" Sophie asked Nate.
He stumbled, and I knew it was dangerous. Nate showed us his tablet, which had a picture of Alan Scott, our dead guy, along with some people. Nate zoomed in on the notebook.
"Okay, so. This notebook right here contains his findings on the mortgage fraud. Now, the rest of these teams, they're in a holding pattern until the blizzard clears. Parker, Eliot, Kaira, you're gonna go up now." Nate said.
"This is really, really sad, and I'm sorry, but we're gonna climb a mountain to find an executive's diary?" Sophie questioned the risk, and I didn't blame her.
"Merced Financials Services is taking 100 homes a day. That's a hundred families out on the street a day. They're either too afraid or too broke to fight this thing." Nate explained.
"I agree with Sophie. This widow doesn't need thieves for a rescue mission." Eliot pointed out.
"It's not even a rescue mission, the dude is dead, Nate, it's treasure hunting." Hardison said.
"Which is like retrieval, something we're really good at." I argue as John Drexel came in, and everyone was clapping.
Nate looked at us again.
"Listen to me. She needs thieves because this is not a treasure hunt. She needs thieves because this is a race." Nate said.
We agreed to the job, and we get geared up to climb. And I'm not gonna lie, I'm nervous as hell. I hadn't done this in years. We met with Nate outside by the signs pointing to the different camps.
"All right, Hardison and I will be running things from the communications tent, which is just over here." Nate pointed to the camp.
"Yeah, see I'm officially working on a project for the U.S Meteorological Service. That means that I have access to comm relays, satellites, internet, the cell tower repeater, nobody talks to anybody on or off the mountain unless we want them to." Hardison explained as we walked to the tent.
"These guys in red." Eliot pointed out, wanting to know who they were.
"They're forest rangers. They're why we, uh, have this window of opportunity. Drexel's team has to be cleared to officially hit the trail. That'll take a couple hours." Nate explained.
"So we're unofficial?" I questioned Nate.
"Very." Nate said.
We all went into the tent. Hardison got his gear booted up.
"Guys, Mr. Scotts Parka had a locator beacon inside. Now the signal's not strong enough to reach all the way down to base camp, but with this receiver, the closer you get to him, the louder the ping. Now I'll do my best to lead you to his last know location." Hardison explained, tossing Eliot the receiver.
"What about Drexel?" Parker asked.
"That's Sophie's job. She's gonna keep Drexel off the mountain. You okay with that, Sophie?" Nate said.
"Nate, I'm at a party full of drunk millionaires far from home dizzy from lack of oxygen. It's like Grifter Christmas in here." Sophie said over comms.
Nate rubbed his hands together.
"Okay, people. Let's go steal a mountain." Nate said the rallying cry, about to leave, and I smiled.
"Again." Parker pointed out.
"What?" Nate questioned Parker.
"Again. We already stole a mountain two years ago." Parker explained.
"Well, technically, it was a mountain resort, not a mountain, but yeah." Eliot pointed out.
"You were also very drunk on that one." Hardison pointed out.
"And a bastard." I pointed out.
Nate went silent, then left. We just looked at each other. I heard Drexel on Sophie's comm, talking about how he was gonna climb this mountain in memory of his friend Alan Scott, and then turned it into a company pitch.
"Wow. He is a piece of work. Nate, when are Eliot, Parker, and Kaira in play?" Sophie said.
"Any second now." Nate reported, me and Eliot walking beside him.
"Listen, you get caught up there, just call, I'll suit up." Nate said.
"Nate, you shouldn't even be up here." I told Nate.
"I'm fine." Nate said.
"We're at 8,000 feet already, Nate. Altitude sickness kicks in here, all right. You know the symptoms?" Eliot told Nate.
"Headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue." Nate explained.
"Same symptoms as alcohol withdrawal, Nathan." I pointed out.
"So what do you think it is. You think it's the booze, or do you think it's the blood boiling inside your skull?" Eliot finished my thought.
"Hey, if you two can't handle this-" Nate said.
"No, we can handle it just fine, Nate. But every second you're on this mountain, your clock is ticking. You're very good at what you do. You can't con a mountain." Eliot said, walking away.
I followed him. We got some final gear as Parker and Hardison came out of the tent, with Hardison saying he wanted to follow us up the mountain to help Parker. Parker had asked if this was gonna be a thing, and when Hardison said no, she walked away, ignoring his hug. Eliot got hit googles on and hugged Hardison. I hugged him next. We attached ropes to our waists and got ready to go.
"Let's roll." Eliot said.
We started climbing.
"What, what are you doing?" Nate asked Hardison.
"At least Eliot and Kaira gave me a hug." Hardison said.
Just then, I heard Nate ask Ms. Scott what she was doing there. The snow was falling a bit harder as Eliot, Parker, and I made some distance.
3rd Person POV (Back at base camp)
Nate, Hardison, and Karen Scott walked into the tent.
"I'm an experienced climber. I know my husband. I know the routes he would've taken." Karen argued.
"No, you're emotionally involved. It leads to bad decisions." Nate said, getting his breath.
"I'm sorry. Did you just say that? With a straight face?" Hardison asked Nate, a "seriously" tone to his voice.
"Not helpful. Not helpful at all." Nate scolded Hardison.
"Listen, Drexel, if he sees you up here, he'll figure out what we're doing and we're gonna lose the only advantage we have. All right, so, you can watch, and listen to us, but you have to trust us, and just let us do what we do." Nate handed Karen an earbud and sat her down.
"Okay, where are they?" Nate asked Hardison.
Hardison pulled up the comms GPS on the screen in front of him.
"They're pretty far up already." Hardison reported.
Karen stood up and saw how fast the trio was going.
"They're gonna burn out at that pace." Karen said.
"We don't need them to get to actually reach the peak, we need them to get where we think your husband is. If they need to, they can take pictures of the notebook and send it to us." Nate explained.
"No, they can't. You see this line right here? Anything above that point, the signal's too weak for data. It's voice only." Hardison explained.
"Great. So we have to physically bring the notebook down?" Nate questioned Hardison.
"Yes, indeed." Hardison said.
"Wonderful." Nate said.
Sophie was walking around the tent.
"Looks like Drexel's team is getting ready. How hard do you want me to run them?" Sophie asked Nate.
"Sophie, listen, it's a straight stall, nothing fancy." Nate said, taking a drink of water.
"Well, I need to know the teams if I'm gonna run the game." Sophie said, pacing around, cueing up Hardison.
"I got you, Soph. Anybody goes up that mountain, they have to register with Park Service. So-" Hardison said, pulling up the names.
"No, no, no. Not names and numbers. Personalities, feelings. Karen, you climb, right?" Sophie said.
"Yeah." Karen said.
"Big sweaters, very cheerful." Sophie said.
"That's team Straussse. The bald one is Hans Strausse, Acquisitions and Mergers from some Giant German bank. He's very flirty." Karen explained.
Sophie got a bit flirty with Hans and was offered a shot, which she took before walking to another set of climbers.
"Japanese climbers." Sophie pointed out.
"That's Hiro Miyashta with Mikino Finance. Big investment firm. One of Drexel's main competitors. They offered Alan a job a few times." Karen explained.
Sophie introduced herself in Japanese.
"It's odd, they're usually at the Alps this time of year. Miyastha's a very serious climber." Karen said.
Hiro tried flirting with Sophie, which she managed to get out of after he grabbed her shoulders, chuckling to brush it off.
"Very serious about finding out what's inside my sweater, anyway." Sophie said.
"And the Aussies." Sophie pointed out.
"Oh, just some celebrities, rich kids of rich people, people on newspapers, stuff like that." Hardison explained.
"Tourist climbers. Drexel's friends." Karen pointed out.
Sophie lifted Drexel's phone while he was distracted by a bottle of alcohol.
"It's really just an excuse to jet around the world partying." Sophie said.
"It's one worldwide party." Karen added.
"Well then. Let's get invited. Hardison, I need a Paris phone number redirected to my phone." Sophie said.
"Got it. Number is 06-36-37-84-75." Hardison said as Sophie typed it in her phone.
"Nate. I could use your help. This plays much better in pairs." Sophie said.
"Yeah. No, no, I think that I should probably just, uh, stay here. It's easier to monitor Parker, Eliot, and Kaira. Besides, it's good that there's one face he hasn't seen." Nate said as Sophie took a selfie off to the side.
"What's she doing?" Karen asked Nate.
"She is meeting Drexel for the second time." Nate informed Karen.
Sophie put the phone back and stood behind Drexel. She tapped his shoulder a couple of times, causing him to turn around. She then gave him a slap. She cursed, at least the author thinks so because she doesn't speak French, at him and then walked away.
"Ah, excuse me." Drexel said, causing Sophie to stop and face him.
"Do you know who I am?" Drexel said, not happy he was slapped.
"Oi. But do you know who I am? No." Sophie said, sassy a bit in her French accent.
"But we've never met." Drexel said. Sophie chuckled.
"Ramon, Mount Reiner, we have the odd toddies, "oh, Nina, come to my tent. I'll warm you up." No? You don't call me." Sophie said, walking away again.
"I don't have your number." Drexel said.
Sophie chuckled again.
"Ramon. "Oh, Nina, you type it for me, I'm too drunk to touch the little buttons." Sophie said, miming texting.
Drexel got out his phone. He saw the selfie Sophie took and held the phone up to her.
"Well, I guess we have met before." Drexel said, pleased with himself as he put his phone away.
"Yes, we have met." Sophie said, walking away.
"Get me a drink, I'll help you remember." Sophie told Drexel, getting close to his face.
"She's kind of scary." Karen said, not sure what to make of Sophie's grifting skills.
"You have no idea." Nate said.
1st Person POV (Kaira)
Eliot, Parker, and I were still climbing up the mountain. I could hardly see where we were going, as the storm had gotten worse, and I was freezing. We came across a tent.
"Coming up on an orange tent, supplies. Could this be Alan Scott's tent?" Eliot asked.
"No, man. That's a high camp. They're like little supply depots scattered all the way up the mountain. First aid, oxygen, water, that sort of thing." Hardison came over comms.
"All right, Nate. Alan Scott's last known communication was at North 62 degrees 6 minutes, 56 seconds, and West 150 degrees, 44 minutes, and 34 seconds." Hardison reported as Parker and I searched the tent.
"Okay, that high camp elevation is 10,000 feet. Which means that Eliot, Parker, and Kaira should be getting a ping off of his beacon, but it's, it's just nothing. I'm thinking I need to send another transmitter up there to help triangulate Scott's beacon." Hardison said.
"No, no, we can't send another climber on the ridge. No." Nate said.
"You sure about that?" Eliot came over comms and I walked over, seeing nothing in the tent.
"What do you mean?" Nate asked over comms.
I see Eliot looking at a shoeprint in the snow.
"Cause I got a footprint. Russian. Spetznaz." Eliot pointed out.
Parker and I just looked at him.
"Seriously?" Parker said.
"Why am I not surprised." I muttered.
"It's a very distinctive footprint." Eliot explained as we kept walking.
"Drexel had the same idea we had. Um, Eliot, Parker, Kaira, be careful. You got some competition up there." Nate warned us as we kept climbing.
3rd Person POV (base camp)
"Sophie, what's Drexel's status?" Nate asked Sophie.
"All good. Going nowhere." Sophie said.
Sophie saw Drexel texting and asked him who he was texting. Drexel said he didn't have much time off but said he'd go to Paris more often. Hardison was able to track the text.
"A text is great. The text he sent that other guy is gonna have to transfer here through my cell repeater. Which means, I can find our Russian. Who is not on the mountain." Hardison said, realizing he misjudged who Drexel texted.
"What do you mean?" Nate asked him.
"This doesn't make any sense. The text he just sent went to a cell phone at the base camp tent." Hardison reported, tracing the text. Hiro Miyashta's face came up.
"Miyashta. He sent a text to his competitor." Nate said.
Sophie saw Drexel and Miyashta looking at each other.
"Any suggestions, Nate?" Sophie asked.
Nate was thinking when he noticed Karen wasn't next to him, as he thought.
"No, I have a more pressing problem at the moment." Nate said.
He looked out the tent, and Hardison also realized Karen was gone, and the receiver was gone too. Nate left to get on some climbing gear to track Karen down. Hardison met him outside.
"You're right. She took the other receiver. What are you doing?" Hardison said.
"I'm going after her. You got a signal?" Nate asked, already walking.
"Yeah. Yeah, she took the same route Eliot, Parker, and Kaira took. She's gonna swing north to triangulate Scott's signal. And, and - wait, wait, are you crazy?! Come on, man, she's an experienced climber. Are you kidding me?" Hardison stopped Nate.
"Here's-Here's what I want you to do. I want ya to get financials on Miyashta's company, cross-reference them with the work you've done on Drexel's. And, and give it all to Sophie. All right, Sophie, this is on you. You got to figure out what he's up to." Nate ordered.
Sophie was at the side of the tent, nervous for Nate.
"Do not do this. As if you ever listen to me." Sophie said, realizing there was no point in telling Nate no.
Nate walked away and Hardison took a couple of steps.
"He's gonna die. Eliot, Parker, Kaira, I need y'all to double back and stop him. Can you?" Hardison said.
1st POV (Kaira)
We were trudging through probably a foot of snow. My face is burning, and I'm pissed at the turn of events.
"We're a little busy here, Hardison." Eliot said.
"Sorry." I said, trying to breathe slowly to conserve oxygen.
3rd POV (Base Camp)
"Well there's definitely something going on. What'd you find out in the accounts?" Sophie asked Hardison, still in the base camp tent.
"Been some big stock transfers like Miyashta. See, this is something you would see before a-a big corporate takeover, but that's impossible. I mean, there've been no rumors about a buyout this big." Hardison reported.
"Drexel did say he was gonna have a lot more spare time. Check the climber's registration. Find out which of Miyashta's guys are on the mountain for the first time." Sophie said.
"Most of them. They don't have a lot of climbing experience, either." Hardison said.
"That's because they're not climbers. They're lawyers. This is a buyout." Sophie realized.
She quickly made a plan, taking off her fur coat and changing jackets.
"All right, this is perfect. Mountain camps. There's no reporters, there are no other employees. This is the perfect place for secret negotiations. Drexel is... he's selling the company." Sophie said, putting on another coat and grabbing something from a coat.
"If he sells the company, and then all those mortgage records disappear to a Japanese corporation where the privacy laws are tighter than the Swiss." Hardison pointed out.
Sophie tucked her hair into the hood.
"Yeah. Drexel gets paid and away scot-free. Hardison, you shut down his phone. He cannot check his stock, or his messages for this to work. I'm changing the game." Sophie ordered Hardison, who did what she asked.
Sophie asked for some liquor from Hans, acting all upset, now putting on a German facade.
"You are not happy." Hans pointed out to Sophie.
"Damn right, I'm not. My company came this close to snapping up Merced Financials, and then Miyashta swoops in like a white knight. The second they announce it, the stocks gonna go through the roof, and we'll never be able to buy him up. That's six months of my life just wasted!" Sophie took a breath.
"Sorry. I didn't even catch your name." Sophie said.
"Hans. I'm, uh... just a climber." Hans said before talking to his group behind him.
Sophie took her hood down and glasses.
"Nate." She just heard him breathing heavy.
"Nate!" Sophie repeated.
She didn't hear anything from any of the team, making her anxious.
"Somebody say something." Sophie said.
Nate got some oxygen and breathed it in.
"Where is she, Hardison?" Nate asked, his voice really strained.
"She is right ahead of you. Now, see, her receiver is working. In between her and Parker's receiver, I'm getting a fix on Alan Scott's location. I mean, she's got to know she's high enough, why does she keep climbing?" Hardison said, pulling up the data he needed.
"Because she has to! We better find her or you're gonna be hauling two bodies down this mountain instead of one." Nate said, still climbing.
1st Person POV (Kaira)
Eliot, Parker, and I were still climbing, and we were getting close to where the coordinates were.
"Okay, look, thanks to Ms. Scott, I have a fix on her husband. But the location is way, way off from the location that Drexel gave the rescue crews. Does anyone else think that something really bad went down that night?" Hardison said.
I got anxious. We stopped and Eliot and I removed our goggles.
"Here. Are you kidding me, there's nothing here!" Eliot yelled at Hardison.
"Yes, no. It's gotta be there. It's the only location for the body to logically be." Hardison argued. "Well, you're wrong." Eliot argued.
"No, I'm telling you, you are standing right on top of it." Hardison argued.
"And I'm telling you that how can we be here if here itsn't here! All right, we are literally standing in a field of snow!" Eliot yelled.
I then heard the sound of ice cracking.
"Crevass!" We yelled as we dropped.
Then it went dark as we hit the ground.
3rd Person POV (Base camp)
"Eliot, Parker, Kaira. Parker!" Hardison called through the comms, trying not to panic.
Then he got that he lost the signal for their comms.
"Nate. Nate, man we got a problem. Nate we-" Hardison tried rebooting the comms, but then lost Nate and Karen's as well.
"Nate." Hardison said.
Hardison tried again rebooting the comms.
"Come on, Nate, answer me, man. Come on, I need you to answer me. Nate. Nate!" Hardison yelled into the comms.
3rd Person POV (Nate and Karen)
Nate woke up in a tent, Karen at the foot of the bed, coughing.
"I woke up. Dragged you down here to the high camp." Karen explained.
Nate sat up.
"What happened?" Nate asked, seeing Karen's leg in a splint.
"I twisted it. Kept going on it, hyperventilated, and then you found me." Karen explained.
"I would've died out there." Karen said.
"No, no, no. He would not have wanted that." Nate said, moving his legs to stretch.
"I was so-" Karen tried to find the words, but couldn't.
"Angry?" Nate said.
"He never got to say goodbye. And that... isn't fair." Karen said, almost crying.
"It's never fair. Listen to me, I know. I've lost someone, you don't get fair. You don't get closure or goodbye. So you take the anger. And I learned that the anger feels pretty good, better than the grief. I know that the anger is the thing that gets me up, gets me going, in the morning. But, you know, you have to be a little bit careful because if you let yourself be driven by the anger, it will blind you and you will get into trouble over and over again just so you can... feel. So you can beat something." Nate comforted Karen.
"And what happens then?" Karen asked.
"Eventually, you run into something your anger can't beat." Nate said.
"Like a mountain." Karen said.
"You realize that your- your luck has run out." Nate choked up a bit.
"And it's a long way down." Nate said.
1st Person POV (Kaira)
I hope up to the sound of Parker gasping and the click of her flashlight. Eliot was still out, which scared the shit out of me. I tried shaking him.
"Come on, babe, please wake up." I whispered.
Parker then put her flashlight on strobe mode, waking Eliot up.
"Stop it." Eliot growled and Parker and I chuckled.
I hugged Eliot, glad he was okay. We slowly got up. We looked around, and we realize we were a ways down into the crevas.
"Well, that could've gone a lot worse." Eliot said.
When we were moving our flashlights around, we saw a red tarp.
"Oh god." I whispered, thinking the worst.
We stood up and walked over to the tarp. We stood there, almost silently deciding who was gonna lift the tarp. Parker squeezed Eliot's arm, saying for him to go. Eliot got down on one knee and moved the tarp off, revealing the body of Alan Scott. His eyes were closed and blue, and so was part of his face and lips. Eliot stood up and I started tearing up.
"His leg's broken." Parker said.
It was very clear what happened.
"Fell through the ice, broke his leg, that was it." Eliot pointed out, staying strong for the both of us.
"It's gonna be a bear getting us out, and there's three of us. One man by himself. Never stood a chance." Eliot said.
"He died in here. Alone?" Parker said, all life devoid in her voice.
I grab Parker's arm and squeezed it, letting her know I was there.
"Couldn't find his beacon. Stone walls ate the signal, and storm sealed him in." Eliot said, grabbing Alan's notebook.
He flipped through the pages, which had all the info.
"What a way to go." I said, feeling upset.
"We got to get out of here. Inventory the equipment." Eliot said, walking back to where we fell.
"And him." Parker said.
I looked at her.
"We're getting him out too." Parker insisted.
I saw Eliot looking back at us.
"All right." Eliot said.
We started doing inventory.
3rd person POV (base camp)
Hardison was still trying to get the comms back up but to no avail.
"Nate. Eliot. Parker. Kaira." Hardison had some panic in his voice, not being able to hear his family.
He repeated their names.
"Stop it, you're driving me mad!" Sophie said quietly over comms.
"Hey, hey! I am restraining from freaking out quite admirably." Hardison snipped at Sophie.
"Just stay focused. Drexel's got to no idea his stock's going up, right?" Sophie asked Hardison, hoping to get him to focus.
"No, the German's are buying like crazy." Hardison reported.
Sophie walked back up to Hiro.
"Mr. Miyashta. Kon'nichiwa." Sophie said.
"Mr. Drexel's friend." Hiro recognized Sophie.
"Huh. Well, to be honest, I work for the London Examiner. I was just trying to get a straight answer out of him. But you know what he's like." Sophie said.
"Ah, yes." Hiro said.
"So, any comment about this-this buyout?" Sophie asked Hiro, who seemed surprised Sophie knew about it.
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Hiro tried to brush it off.
"From the Germans. Check the stock price." Sophie said, which prompted Hiro to get out his phone.
He looked at the numbers and excused himself. Sophie walked away.
"I'm running out of cons here. Where are they?" Sophie asked.
1st Person POV (Kaira)
I helped Eliot set up the rig and Parker found a phone and was going through it, playing a video that started with, "Hey pumpkin", and then she turned it off.
"Battery's okay. Cold kept it good. There's another message. Should be watch it?" Parker asked me and Eliot.
"Parker, that's for his wife." I said.
Parker put the phone in her coat and walked over.
"Okay. So how's this gonna work?" Parker asked us.
"We don't have enough time to put the screws into the ice, so I'm gonna send you up, then you're gonna belay me up, then Kaira." Eliot informed us.
"What about him?" Parker asked, nodding towards Alan.
"I'll put a rigging on him. Try to pull the body up." Eliot said.
"Alan. And he's coming with us." Parker said, insistent on getting Alan out of here.
Parker walked over to the gear as Eliot threw the rope up, making sure it was secure before sending Parker up.
3rd Person POV (Base camp)
Hardison was in the tent.
"Okay, I got a fix on and Ms. Scott. Signal's coming down the mountain. But there's still no audio yet, and-and it looks like there's a big storm coming through. And it's bouncing radio signals all over the place." Hardison informed Sophie, still trying to not freak out.
Sophie was pacing in the tent.
"Let me know the second that you hear anything." Sophie said, just then Drexel came over, and grabbed Sophie's arm.
"A word." He ordered as he walked Sophie over to the side of the tent.
"Oui?" Sophie said, putting on her French persona.
"Stop it. The Germans and the Japanese think I'm running a game on them. I can't get my office on the phone, I have no idea what's going on, but what I do know is you're in the middle of it." Drexel told Sophie.
"Check your stock price." Sophie said, dropping the act.
"I can't." Drexel said.
"Just give it a sec." Sophie smirked at Drexel.
Just then Drexel's phone went off and he looked at it.
"What the hell is going on?" Drexel asked, not liking the stock price.
"Oh dear. Miyashta's pulling out, which means the Germans are pulling out, which means your stock's gonna crash and we can take your company." Sophie said.
"Nice accent. Now who are you, and what do you want?" Drexel asked Sophie.
Nate and Karen then walked in. Drexel saw her and asked her what she was doing. He tried to brush it off, but Karen told him off. Sophie then walked up to Nate and hugged him.
"Hey, baby, oh!" Sophie said, glad to see Nate, and kissed him, throwing Nate off guard.
"I'm running The Moscow Circus Con, you're the Ivan, go." Sophie whispered and warned Nate.
"I'm kind of dying of altitude sickness here." Nate told Sophie.
"Well, do it quickly." Sophie said. Nate was still catching his breath.
1st Person POV (Kaira)
We got the rope hooked up and ready.
"All right. I go up, set up a pulley." Parker said.
"Assuming we have enough rope." I added.
"I then pull you up, then Kaira, then him." Parker went over the plan.
"We're gonna deadlift him outta here. And then carry him back down the mountain." Eliot finished the plan.
Parker looked at Alan again.
"We're burning daylight, Parker." Eliot said, rushing Parker.
"Well, then, we better hurry." Parker said, starting to climb up.
Eliot went over to Alan's body as I watched Parker climb. I heard the rope snap, then Parker fell.
"Parker!" Eliot and I both yelled.
I looked Parker over, and she seemed okay.
"You okay?" I asked her.
"I've got it." Parker said, us helping her up.
Eliot held the frayed piece of rope.
"Rope snapped. We're gonna be short. I gotta take the rigging off him we need the rope-" Eliot said, causing Parker to go off.
"No!" Parker said, grabbing Eliot.
"Parker!" Eliot yelled at Parker, pushing her off him.
"No!" Parker yelled.
"It's done!" Eliot yelled.
I grabbed Parker, but she pushed me back to, shouting no again.
"This is what we're supposed to do! We're supposed to get him back to his wife! Nate would do it, Sophie would do it, Hardison would do it. They would do the right thing. I want to do the right thing!" Parker yelled, getting all her sadness out.
My first instinct is to hug the thief, so I do, rubbing her back. Parker pushed me off and Eliot started gathering the rope.
3rd Person POV (Base camp)
Once Nate got his breath back, he played his part.
"I am not buying any of this." Drexel said.
"I don't care. I can gut your company any time I want, okay, and pick up the pieces later. Look, the widow gave me the notebook, okay. The account numbers, everything I need to prove that the majority of your mortgage assets aren't even yours. Except, of course, the worthless ones." Nate explained.
"You're bluffing." Drexel said.
"Okay. Have you heard from your Russian?" Nate asked him.
"What do you want?" Drexel asked.
"What I want you to do is, I just want you to wait a few hours, just stall. Because we're getting into position to profit from Miyashta's announcement." Nate whispered.
Drexel looked back, then at Sophie and Nate.
"When I get back, I want to see that notebook." Drexel said.
"Yeah." Nate brushed it off like it wasn't a big deal and three of his team were still off comms. Nate left.
1st POV (Kaira)
Of all the shit I've had to do over the years, this was probably the most heartbreaking. Mostly because of the blond-haired thief I call my sister. All Parker wanted to do was the right thing. And I did too. And how upset Parker got broke my heart. I was hoping we would've been able to drag Alan out of here and reunite him with his wife, but what was more important was that we get that notebook and phone out of the crevasse. And us. As much as it pained me to leave Alan down there, I knew it was the only choice we had left. We needed the rope, and we needed to get out alive. Parker covered up Alan after Eliot took the rope off. He shined his light towards Parker.
"Hey. It's a good thing it was us." Eliot said to Parker.
"Because we'd leave him?" Parker said.
Eliot flipped his flashlight.
"Because they would've kept trying, and they would've froze right next to him. Especially Hardison. So it's a good thing it was us. The three of us, we do things they can't. Won't." Eliot said.
"Does that make us bad?" Parker asked.
"It makes us... us. Now you can take that as a gift. Or you can take it as a curse." Eliot shined the light in Parker's face.
"But that's up to you." Eliot said.
"I pursed my lips, holding back my own emotions.
"Parker, as much as it kills me that we have to leave him down here, we have to make this call. We have to get back to the team. And I need them." I looked at Eliot, then Parker.
"I need you two. You're the most important things in my life. So if having you live costs us leaving Alan behind, I will pay it. Not because I like it, but because I won't ever pay anything with your lives." I said, letting my emotions out.
I feel both Parker and Eliot grab and squeeze my arms. Eliot got up, then Parker. I whispered, "I'm sorry." I whispered to Alan, hoping his spirit heard me. I got up, wiping my eyes. Eliot was getting the rig ready.
"Wait. I want to play that last message on his phone. Just in case he wants us to do something for him." Parker said.
I nodded my head yes.
"Fair enough." Eliot said.
Parker got out the phone and played the video.
"Attention basecamp." The video said.
We played the rest of the video and then climbed up and started walking. "Hardison!" Eliot yelled over comms.
3rd Person POV (Base camp)
Hardison started freaking out.
"Yeah, yes, yes, yes! Wait a minute, Parker, Kaira, you there?" Hardison asked, way too excited, and relieved.
"Talking uses oxygen." Parker muttered out as the trio kept walking.
"We're okay." I breathed out.
"Look, y'all, I just - I just want to say that, y'all my peoples, and I-" Hardison said, relieved to hear them again, wiping a tear.
"Hardison." Eliot said, trying to get Hardison on track.
"You know, I was so scared." Hardison said, about to cry again.
"Hardison, shut up! Listen to this." Eliot said.
They played the video.
Back in the base camp tent, Sophie went to grab a bottle of champagne when Nate grabbed it and put it back.
"Let me get this straight. When I said- when I said, "simple stall", you heard multinational, high finance, feeding frenzy, right?" Nate questioned Sophie.
"Tomato, Tomatoe." Sophie brushed it off.
"Nate. I've got Eliot, Parker, and Kaira coming down the mountain, and I got something you need to hear." Hardison said. Nate put his hood up.
"Go check on Karen." Nate said.
Nate left the tent.
"Can you? Well, tell them to try again when they get to high camp." Nate said over comms.
Just then, Nate was ambushed by Drexel and his men, and punched by Drexel.
"The hell was that for?" Nate asked Drexel.
"Calling your bluff. Show me the notebook, or I'm closing the deal." Drexel ordered Nate.
"I'll have to go get the notebook." Nate said, leaving.
"You haven't got it, have you?" Drexel asked Nate. Nate faced Drexel.
"That's what I thought. Tell you what. If your team finds it, if, I'll tell my fella not to kill them. If they hand it over. Hell, he'll even give them a ride back down the mountain." Drexel said, clicking his tongue.
He left. Nate cracked his jaw and went back to the communications tent. Nate all but collapsed in the seat.
"This is not going well for you." Hardison realized, seeing Nate's demeanor.
"I got a-some bad news and some good news. Bad news is, Drexel knows we don't have the notebook yet." Nate explained, getting his breath.
"And the good news?" Hardison asked Nate.
"He said give them a ride." Nate said, chuckling.
1st person POV (Kaira)
Having heard the video, and making half a plan, Eliot, Parker, and I made it to the high camp, where we saw a black snowmobile. Eliot looked at the snowmobile, as I looked around us.
"Now where could he be?" Eliot asked himself.
We walked down some past the snowmobile and Eliot held up his fist. I walk forward with him, seeing yellow and blue striped rope on the tent. We both look at each other, trying to figure out where the Russian went. It then clicked when we looked back at Parker where he was.
"Parker!" Eliot yelled.
"Parker, watch out!" I yelled as the Russian burst out of the snow, me and Eliot tripped trying to run up, and the Russian cocked a gun and had it aimed at Parker's side.
We backed off, as the Russian wanted the notebook. He ordered us to drop it in Russian.
"Eliot, Kaira, no! The notebook is all we have!" Parker said.
I looked at her. Eliot opened his coat pocket and took out the notebook. He tossed it to the Russian, who let Parker go, but still had the gun trained on us. Eliot grabbed Parker and moved her towards us. The Russian lit a flare and started burning the notebook. He sat the flare in the snow along with the burning book, then got on the snowmobile and drove off.
3rd Person POV (Base camp)
At the communications tent, Drexel walked in.
"You. I have a snowmobile out there. Frequency 2 6 8, get 'em on the line right now." Drexel ordered Hardison.
"O-okay." Hardison said, pulling up the frequency.
"Dmitri, you hear me?" Drexel said, grabbing the speaker, as the snowmobile passed the signal cutoff.
"I destroyed the notebook. Nothing but ashes." Dmitri said.
"Good work. You get back here as fast as you can." Drexel said.
He hung up and left. Hardison got back on his laptop.
"Nate. Nate, we got a serious problem, man, a serious problem." Hardison said over comms.
Sometime later, Sophie was already at the tent. Nate walked in with Karen. Just then, a video came on the monitors. The video was of a confession Alan made, where he admitted that Drexel cut his rope. Drexel, of course, tried to brush it off. See, when Parker played the video for Hardison, Eliot had asked if Hardison could copy it. Hardison said that he could barely hold the comms audio and that he needed to get the video down in range of the broadcast line. And they got the opportunity when the Russian, Dmitri, ambushed the trio. Parker had put the phone in his pocket. Dimitri came in, and the Park Service arrested Dmitri. Parker, Eliot, and Kaira came in.
"This is hearsey!" Drexel yelled.
"Dying declaration. Admissible in court." Nate told Drexel, getting in each other's faces.
The Park Service arrested Drexel. Eliot took off his underhat cap. The group got closer.
"Hardison, how are you doing this?" Sophie asked Hardison.
Hardison chuckled. "I'm not. Dude just tried to email this the night he died, and it all just sat on his phone until it could connect. Alan Scott is getting back at the man who killed him." Hardison said, impressed and maybe slightly heartbroken Alan didn't survive.
The video kept going, with a message Alan made for Karen, which was his goodbye. Kaira just grabbed Eliot's hand, squeezing it hard, starting to choke up some at just how much Alan loved Karen, and how much she loved him. The beautifully ironic thing was he said in his message was for her to not look for him because he was always with her. And that's what Karen did. She came to look for him. Kaira was still holding Eliot's hand, wiping tears off her face.
"You did it. You brought him back to her." Eliot told Parker.
Kaira just held Eliot, walking out the tent, thinking of their relationship and how many close calls they've had. Hardison then walked in and saw how emotional Parker was.
"Hey." Hardison said, kind of awkward, bumping Parker's shoulder.
Parker just grabbed Hardison and pulled him into a hug, burying herself into him. Nate and Sophie watched the hacker and thief.
Later, the team was back at HQ, ready to be warm and breathing in proper oxygen. Hardison grabbed a soda from the fridge, and when he shut it, Parker was right there. "You realize, this isn't going to be normal, right?" Parker told Hardison.
"You know, my nana used to say that what's normal is whatever works for you. We all work okay." Hardison said.
"I should meet your nana." Parker said, walking away.
"Hey, you should, she- wait what?" Hardison took a sec to process what Parker said.
Kaira and Eliot were cooking, with Eliot wearing a blue flowered apron, which surprisingly worked, at least in Kaira's eyes. Kaira was cutting veggies, and Eliot was planting as Sophie walked past.
"Hey, good job on Drexel, by the way. Never seen you use that opening before." Eliot said to Sophie.
"The trick is to gauge whether he's the type of guy to forget his conquests. You know, it's all in that split second when they can't quite remember. They clench their jaw, they stammer, they wave their arms around. It's a dead giveaway." Sophie explained Eliot and I brought out some food to the table.
"I'll have to keep that in mind. Thanks Soph." Kaira said, smiling at Sophie.
Nate came down the stairs.
"So I see we're all eating together again, uh, at my table, in my home." Nate said, seeing us all at the table.
"Nate." Sophie said.
"No, no, good." Nate muttered.
"A word." Sophie said, walking up to Nate as Eliot and Kaira finished putting the food on the table.
"Look, we're both adults, right? And it took us a long time to reach an... equilibrium, as it were." Sophie said to Nate quietly.
"That's a lot of words." Nate said.
"And it was very memorable." Sophie said, a hint of a smile on her face.
"It was. I agree. Never happened." Nate said.
"Never happened." Sophie looked back at the team, then to Nate.
"And we don't tell-" Sophie said when Nate cut her off.
"Never tell them." Nate added, in agreement to not talk about San Lorenzo.
They chuckled and Nate went to leave.
"But listen, you may as well start calling me by my real name." Sophie said to Nate, causing him to turn.
"It's a bit silly, pretending you don't know it, after that night." Sophie said, teasing Nate some.
"No, no, no, no. It's just, you know if I do that, they're gonna, I mean, they're gonna know that somethings, you know, ch-ch- changed. They'll figure it out." Nate pointed out.
"Yeah, maybe." Sophie smiled a bit.
"You know, definitely, definitely. Yeah, just, uh, no. I-I'll call you Sophie, okay? That's safest." Nate said.
"Uh-huh." Sophie hummed.
"Really." Nate whispered.
"Right, so if I were to ask you-" Sophie said when Hardison interrupted. He had climbed up on a chair after getting a signal from something on the light fixure.
"Better call the exterminator." Hardison said, pulling the microphone bug out of the light. "Cause you got bugs." Hardison said.
Nate and Sophie walked over.
"I thought you swept the place?" Sophie told Hardison, sitting down.
"I did. It's a passive burst transmitter. It's the kind I use. Whoever this is, they got game." Hardison said as Nate sat down, passing the bug to Sophie.
"You'll have to sweep the whole place again." Nate said.
"I'm not it." Hardison said.
"Somebody's taking a run at us." Nate realized.
"Sterling." Eliot pointed out.
"Could be Stark." Sophie suggested, passing the bug to Parker.
"Or maybe Damien Moreau had friends." Parker pointed out.
"Yeah, or my father, or the Irish mob, or anyone of, what, 50 odd millionaires that we've tricked, imprisoned, or generally ticked off." Nate pointed out. Kaira grabbed the bug and looked at it.
"Nathan's got a point. We've pulled off some big jobs over the years." Karia pointed out.
"That puts us at the top of everybody's list." Eliot added.
"And when you're that high up..." Parker said.
"It's a long way down." Nate said.
Nate sat the bug down on the table. Everyone starting drinking and eating, knowing they had a new threat to face in the morning.