The Last Full Measure of Devotion
Chapter 1: Expedition
Summery: For Ben and Riley a wilderness treasure hunt quickly turns into a struggle for survival. No slash.
A/N: Okay, so this is a story that I've been writing/outlining for a while. I'm starting another escapade!
Big Disclaimer: I cannot take credit for the idea of the title. It was already thought of by someone who authored a lovely Star Trek Original Series fanfic.
It seemed very appropriate though; it comes straight from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address. Since Lincoln is someone Ben so highly esteems, I thought it fit. And then the phrase was mentioned in the second NT movie. So hopefully I won't get an angry email saying that I stole their title, I mean I just put up this huge disclaimer.
Also, I apologize if certain parts of this story are similar to other fanfictions but I'm not trying to rip anyone off because I had these ideas down for a long while before that.
I am not Jon Turteltaub or Jerry Bruckheimer. I do not own these amazing films although I am frighteningly obsessed/passionate about them.
Just a warning, the first chapter is kind of slow!
"Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice."
Riley Poole had never been much of an outdoor person. He had been permanently traumatized by it when at the age of nine a giant toad leapt onto his face.
Luckily, he had the world of technology and computers. He operated mostly from his basement in high school, which would invariably explain his pale complexion. Every once in a while he would think to himself that maybe if he had spent more time outside, he would be bronzed and shapely and perhaps be able to get more ladies.
Then he would remember that toad and was glad his field of technology did not drag him too far off of civilization. However, after he agreed to go along with Ben, this changed. Being dragged around the world was the last thing he ever dreamed himself doing.
But he didn't dislike it. Far from it. He wouldn't trade those experiences for the world. They had turned his life completely upside down, but he loved it. Who else could say they helped unearth two of the greatest national treasures known to man?
Which was the reason when Ben asked if he wanted to come along with his expedition team in search of another treasure Riley jumped all over it.
He pretended to think about it. The truth was he jumped all over the chance for another adventure. It had been five years since the discovery of the City of Gold. He felt like a squirrel that had been cooped up too long and was released with a dose of adrenaline. He needed to do this; he didn't want to be left behind.
Ben explained to him the basic premise of this hunt. It was on such short notice so Riley had to digest the information basically on the plane ride over.
They were going to hike through the Rocky Mountains in search of an Aztec cave. Riley was a little incredulous at first.
"There's an Aztec cave in the Rocky Mountains?"
"Well, there turned out there was an Olmec cave inside Mount Rushmore," Ben answered pointedly. "Besides, all we're doing is hiking up into the mountains. I already have a expedition crew assembled."
"Boy, that sounds familiar," Riley grumbled.
"Riley, I ran a background check. Some of these people are well respected in the archeological community. And some are my students for goodness sakes. It won't be another Ian situation."
Riley sighed and tapped his chin, feigning contemplation. "No crazy capers or illegal escapades?"
Ben held up his hand. "None! I promise."
"Alrighty then," Riley smiled. He and Ben shook hands. "You know Ben, I would have helped anyway. Even if we had to break into Area 51."
"I know," Ben said, grinning back at him.
So that's how Riley found himself trekking through the Aldo Lepold wilderness of the New Mexico Rocky Mountains, with a waterproof bag, equipment, essentials, the whole shebang.
"Ben?" he whined at the world famous treasure hunter a few yards ahead of him. "Are we almost there? I think my blisters are forming blisters."
Ben rolled his eyes in visible annoyance. Riley had been motoring his mouth non-stop all day. The other members in their team had given him lots of room as if he was a student driver on the road. Only Ben had a built up durability to his complaining.
Some of the other people had given Ben looks as if to say 'that guy is your partner?'
But they never questioned him about it because he was the renowned treasure hunter, and he was leading the expedition.
Except Ben sometimes heard them talk about Riley behind the young man's, and, they thought, his back. Not many details went unnoticed by the treasure hunter and it made Ben a little sad to hear his friend being talked about in a disrespectful manner.
Still, couldn't Riley restrain himself a little in the presence of the other crewmembers?
With this in mind, Ben wasn't feeling particularly hospitable at Riley's whining.
"Riley, I told you we'll reach the rest point in a half hour."
"Yeah that's what you said a half hour ago."
Ben sighed and hitched up his backpack. "Why don't you just admire the view or something?"
"I've been admiring it for five hours," Riley complained, the wonders of the natural world temporarily eluding him.
"My feet are killing me."
Ben frowned, digging his hiking stick into the soft earth.
"Riley, you were so excited to come on this trip. I thought you could handle it."
"I can," Riley said quickly. "You know I wouldn't pass off something like this."
"Then why have you been whining for the last five and a half miles?"
"Because I'm getting tired, my blood sugar is low and whining is the only coping mechanism I have at my disposal at the moment."
Ben couldn't suppress a chuckle and stopped, sitting down on a rock. "Okay, how about we take a ten minute break. Then we'll go the rest of the way."
"Sounds good," Riley said in a relieved voice. He looked around and saw a conveniently placed log to sit on. He was about to seat himself down when Ben said, "Hold it!"
"What?" Riley said in exasperation, his bottom halfway between the air and the log.
"Poison ivy. Don't want to sit there."
Riley looked down and sure enough there was the three-leafed plant, growing innocently out of the decomposing log.
"Where would I be without you Ben," Riley muttered as he looked around for a suitable resting spot.
"In a world of itchiness," Ben said and pointed to another rock. The younger man finally plopped down and took off his backpack. He rubbed his sore shoulders and looked around in confusion.
"Where's everyone else?"
Ben raised his eyebrows and looked further up the trail. "They went on ahead. Apparently you scared them off."
Riley shrugged, he was used to that kind of reaction. Taking out his water bottle he took a sip and looked up into the sky, framed by evergreens. It looked like rain.
"So…" Riley began. "Are we going to set up camp soon or what?"
"As soon as we get our destination point. Which I said would be another half-hour."
"What are we doing there?"
"Riley, you weren't paying attention during the briefing were you."
"No need to get snippy. But if you must know, I was worrying too much about dying out here in the middle of the woods."
Ben's eyebrows shot up. "Is that what's bothering you?"
"What's bothering me?"
"We're not going to die out here Riley."
"Says you. What about bears and things like that? I don't want a bear to eat me."
"Stop being absurd. Bears are scared of people. They won't bother us."
"Sorry, nature isn't really one of my fortes."
Ben sighed and rolled his eyes. For someone who wanted to come along he was certainly making a huge fuss.
"Why don't you like the outdoors?"
"This one time when I was little, a huge toad jumped on my face."
"Good grief, Riley."
"Dr. Gates!" Came a distant voice from the top of the hill. "Come on!"
"That's Nathan. Come on let's go."
With a sigh Riley heaved himself up, his sore legs protesting.
"You don't understand! It was absolutely enormous! It had warts and everything…"
"Okay, I get the picture!" Ben muttered. Riley lapsed into a sulking silence for a few moments but quickly got over it.
"So," he said as he fell into step with Ben, "Do you think it's true that there's treasure in the cave?"
Ben shrugged but there was a glimmer in his eye. "Maybe, it's possible, but not likely. But after everything we've seen I wouldn't be surprised."
Riley grinned at this prospect, feeling rather heartened.
"Cool. And it's a temple for what exactly?"
"Tlaloc." Ben said a tad impatiently.
"Tee-la-lock," Ben sounded out.
"Oh, right!" Riley said, suddenly remembering. The expedition had been so sudden, that all the information was still sinking in. Knowing the mythology behind the cave hadn't been a priority for him. Riley would have been content with just know the Aztec god's name, but Ben, in typical Ben fashion, kept on explaining.
"He was an Aztec water god, probably one of the oldest. The Aztecs feared him because they believed he brought floods and droughts. They drowned people, especially children to appease him."
Riley shuddered at the thought. "That's terrible."
"Yeah, it is." Ben agreed, ending abruptly. He decided not to tell Riley that before someone was sacrificed his or her tears were collected into a bowl. And if they weren't crying, the priest would tear off their fingernails. Ben suddenly felt disturbed. He hadn't really given it much thought until now. What kind of person would do that to a child?
Riley caught his look. "What's up?"
Ben shrugged and stepped over a rock. "I guess I find the concept more distressing now that a baby's on the way."
"Hey, how's that going?" Riley asked, knowing his friend was already in full proud-parent mode.
Ben grinned. "Oh man, Riley. I can't tell you how great it is. The doctor said the baby is healthy as anything."
Riley smiled back. He was absolutely excited about the prospect of being Uncle Riley. "Hey, you never told me how you found out that Abigail was pregnant. I mean, you don't have to tell me."
Ben shook his head still wearing a goofy grin. "No, it's okay. Basically, I came home one day and she gave me this map…"
"I think you guys are the only couple in the world who tell each other big news by leaving a treasure map lying around."
"Do you want me to tell the story or not?"
"Okay, sorry. Keep going."
"So anyway, she leaves the map. And I follow it all the way into the kitchen. And there is a loaf of bread in the oven."
"A what?" Riley said incredulously. "Wait I get it. 'A bun in the oven.' Um, that's a pretty bad pun. Not to mention kind of creepy."
"Hey, take it up with Abby. She's the one who thought of it."
"Hee hee. Who knew she had such a weird sense of humor," Riley mused to himself. "But wow, Ben. That's great." He smiled. The little talk about a new Gates baby had improved his mood considerably.
But after another half an hour Riley became bored again.
"Are we there yet?"
There were another few moments of silence.
"Are you sure we won't get mauled by a bear?"
A/N: There is not an Aztec cave anywhere in the Rocky Mountains. Tlaloc is an actual Aztec god. I did some research on it.
I'll explain the cave more in detail about it in the next chapter. Sorry if this is confusing.
I was originally going to make it take place some nondescript mountains but thought it would be more fun to bring in a real place. And plus I learned some interesting things about the mountains in New Mexico for the story…hee hee. Reviews are insanely appreciated!