Update 3/08: It's been quite a while since I've actually looked at this thing...honestly, though, it's probably my favorite fanfiction work to date. I decided to go through and make it adhere to regulations by deleting all review responses. Other than that, as of right now I'm leaving it in tact. I may revisit some grammar, but I think I'm much too in love with it "as is" (it's like my baby! If I had a baby, that is...). So, yeah. Thanks for the continuing support, guys! Seriously, I can't believe I'm STILL getting reviews on this! Believe me, it makes my day when someone tells me they love something I wrote...three years ago (It's been that long already! Gads!).
Oh, and there is no sequel. Ransom is NOT the sequel. I wrote a sequel, once upon a time, and I was never entirely happy with it, so I ended up taking it off the site. I'm not going to write another, but thanks for asking anyway.
A/n-OH MY CHEESE, HYPE'S IN A NEW FANDOM! That's right, folks. Hype's in a new fandom. As in, not writing LOTR for once. That was a complete waste of four sentences…Anyway, I was watching National Treasure for the four zillionth time when I had an idea. This is that idea put onto paper…er, Microsoft Word.
Disclaimer-I don't own National Treasure (though I keep Riley locked up in my closet. He's mine, I tell you, MINE! MWAHAHAHA—GAAK CHOKING COUGH COUGH! I swallowed my gum…) because I'm not intelligent enough to come up with all of the stupid riddles and stuff. I tried once, and I failed miserably. Trust me.
Ian Howe knew going to the Franklin Institute seemed like an absurd idea. He didn't have the Declaration of Independence, so chances were slim that he'd find "the key in Silence, undetected". However, that was not his plan. If he knew Ben Gates, which he did, the man would've already figured out how to read the map on the back of the Declaration. Ian guessed that whatever was there would lead to "the key in Silence, undetected". If Ben was looking for the Silence Dogood letters, chances were he'd be there. And Ian would be ready for him. His thoughts were interrupted as a grade-school kid bumped into him.
"Oh, sorry sir. Excuse me," the boy said, before walking outside the building.
"It's OK," Ian said, after the boy. He smiled slightly. However, the boy was gone. Ian made his way to the letters, while his men dispersed around the room. If Ben was there, they'd find him. If Riley was there, they'd find him. If neither of them were there, he'd wait an hour or so before assuming that Ben had beaten him again. As Ian turned to look at several more of the letters, he noticed the boy from before with a very studious look on his face. Ian frowned. The boy looked as if he was counting the letters…wait. What if Ben or Riley had the boy do the work for them? It would be suspicious if a grown man was standing there counting letters on the papers. Besides, Ben was a wanted man now; showing up at a political building could get him arrested, or at least put the FBI closer on his trail.
Ian waited for the boy to be done counting. As before, the child raced outside. Ian followed him, and his men, noticing the action, followed suit. The boy dashed across the street just as Ian and company exited the building. He waited for a moment as a bus pulled across the crosswalk, and smiled to himself. He had guessed correctly. The boy was talking to a young man holding a newspaper. Riley.
Whether being paranoid or practical, Riley had decided not to go in to the Franklin Institute and find the letters corresponding to the Ottendorf Cipher. As Ben had used his credit card to pay for the Declaration of Independence and the replica they had passed off to Ian a few days ago, he was sure that either the receptionist would be on the lookout for him, Ben, and/or Abigail, or would be able to pick him out if the FBI came around with a picture. But if he didn't go in to find the letters, how would he find the next clue? The answer came to him as a schoolboy walked along the sidewalk near where he was sitting.
"Hey!" Riley called to the boy. He stopped, and looked curiously at Riley, "Come here!" the boy hesitated, and came a few feet closer, "Here, I want you to do something for me. Take this post-it note," he quickly scribbled a grid onto the note for the first four letters in the clue, "Go into the Institute, and find these letters on the Silence Dogood letters. You know what those are, right?" The boy nodded, but didn't take the post-it note.
"I'll do it if you give me a dollar," the boy said, grinning suddenly. Riley rolled his eyes and rifled through his wallet. He retrieved a pencil and a dollar.
"See, the first letter is the page number, the second is the line on the page, and the third is the letter in the line. Think you can do that?" he asked. The boy nodded, "I've got a lot of these. If you do this one right, I'll give you another one for another dollar. Ok?" Riley asked. The boy nodded again, and dashed across the street into the Franklin Institute. Riley rifled through his pocket to make sure he'd have enough dollars to supply the kid. After all, what was a few dollars if you were looking for the greatest treasure in the world?
It wasn't long before the boy came running back, and handed Riley the post-it.
"T, H, E, V," the boy said triumphantly. Riley wrote it down on the newspaper he had recently bought. He handed the boy the next post-it and another dollar. In this manner, it wasn't long before Riley had nearly the entire message.
"The vision to see the treasured past comes as the timely shadow crosses in front of the house of pass and…pass and what?" he mused to himself. He knew that Ben or Abigail would probably know and would be off back to the store by now. However, they were too busy becoming inconspicuous, and Ben had insisted on getting the next clue as soon as possible. Riley looked up, musing as to what the final four letters would be. His eyes chanced on the bus. No luck there, just an advertisement for some tour or another at Independence Hall. He grinned as he saw the boy dashing across the street, once again miraculously not being hit by a car.
"The last letters are S, T, O, W," the boy said, triumphantly. Riley wrote that on his newspaper, and put it down as he rummaged through his pocket and produced a five.
"For your trouble," Riley said, grinning.
"Thank you," the boy said, returning the smile as he took the five-dollar bill and pocketed it. He had made $27 in all, enough to buy a few comic books. As the boy walked off, Riley stood up and turned to collect his newspaper when a voice he hoped he wouldn't hear drifted past his ears.
"Hello, Riley. Remember me?"