National Treasure: Redux v4
Rated T for violence and language.
This is part four of my "National Treasure: You Pick the Adventure" aka "National Treasure: A Different Kind of Adventure" repost. The story was first posted throughout June of 2008 and deleted early in November. I'm reposting the storylines into separate stories, by request from the many people who read and enjoyed the original story during its brief four month run here on the site. Please read and review again, even if you did last time. Thank you :)
I know, I know, you're all sick of this first chapter. Hell, I'm sick of this chapter. Just skip it and go to the next one…
Chapter I: Have Some Common Sense
Riley threw open the back door to his old red van and tossed the roll of duct back in amongst the mess of wires and computer parts. Stupid duct tape, wasted on Ben's stupid dad. Riley really wished Ben would have agreed to use the tape on the mean Declaration lady. She practically stole the show with the whole invisible code on the back of the Declaration of Independence thing. She wasn't even supposed to be on their treasure hunt. But now, just cause she knew what a…a whatever cipher it was, Ben thought she was great.
Stupid Ben. Stupid Ben's dad. Stupid mean Declaration lady.
Riley grumbled angrily to himself as he reached into his van to get his laptop. Ben had said get the necessities, but Riley found it hard to part with any of his stuff. He'd practically lived out of his technologically pimped out ride since college when Ben invited him on his search for the Templar Treasure. Now he had to leave it here, tucked away in the dark corner of some parking lot a few blocks from Ben's dad's house just waiting for the feds to come pick it up. And Riley would never see it again.
On top of everything else, it was dark and cold outside, and Riley had left his jacket in the Gates' stuffy house. He was shivering, even with his hoodie still on. He absentmindedly glanced at his watch and groaned. It was after two o'clock in the morning. Way past Riley's bed time. And Riley knew, that Ben knew, that if Riley didn't get a good night's sleep, then Riley would be very unhappy later.
He was wallowing in his own self pity so deeply that he didn't hear another car approaching until it was practically on top of him. He turned and immediately paled when he saw that he recognized the shiny catering van. It was a van with the words "Olympus" written in large blue letters on the sides that had he'd chased all over Washington D.C. That was Ian's van and it was coming, right at him, really fast…
Riley reacted in a second, hopping up and into his van with a yelp, barely managing to get out of harm's way as Ian's vehicle stopped an inch away from Riley's van's bumper.
As soon as the disguised catering van came to a screeching halt three figures leapt out, leaving only the driver and front passenger inside. One of the three moved to the driver's seat of Riley's van, while the remaining two pushed their way into the back and slammed the door shut behind them.
"Hello there, Riley. Did Ben finally come to his senses and abandon you?"
Riley gulped. Ian and his most trusted henchman, Shaw, were staring him down. "No, no…I, uh, actually have to bring him some stuff, so I should probably get going…"
He started to get up but was shoved back down by Shaw's strong hand. Ian fished Riley's keys out of his hoodie pocket and passed them to the front. Then the engine started and the whole van pitched forward.
"Hey! Don't you guys have your own getaway car? Now you've gotta steal mine too?"
"Shut up, Riley," Ian barked.
"What? No way! I—"
But Riley's mouth snapped shut as Ian pulled a gun seemingly out of nowhere.
"Well if you're so eager to speak all the time, why don't you tell me what, exactly, our friend Ben has found on the Declaration."
"I, uh... …we found…nothing?" Riley tried sitting up again in an attempt to get out of the way of Ian's pistol, but was shoved onto this back again by Shaw, much harder this time. But Riley didn't like being shoved, or man handled in any form, so he batted at Shaw's large hands and kicked spastically at him, all the while yelling, "Hey! Quit it, man…get off me!"
Shaw did move away, but only so Ian could bash Riley across the cheek with the handle of his gun. Riley's head snapped to the side and he saw stars for a moment. Then suddenly he was being man handled again as his arms were pulled roughly behind him and forced together at his wrists with what he could only assume was his own duct tape. What a waste.
Ian shoved him onto his back again and Riley blinked up at him. He vaguely remembered wearing his glasses but suddenly they were gone and now the right side of his face was stinging painfully where he'd been pistol whipped. "What's your problem, man…" he slurred.
"I'll ask you again," Ian demanded. "What did Ben find on the Declaration?"
"I dunno," Riley muttered. He really wanted to pass out all of a sudden and ignore his aching cheek. Shaw yanked him up by his hair and he was jerked awake.
"Come on, Riley," Ian growled. "I know how much you love to run that mouth of yours, now why don't you tell me what I need to know and you won't get hurt."
Riley's terrified gaze met Ian's and he saw that the British man was serious. Dead serious. He swallowed hard. "Uh, it was just a…a bunch of numbers…some kind of cipher…I don't remember what it was though." He felt bad giving away even this much, but it wasn't enough for Ian to go by, and Riley was telling the truth when he said he didn't remember the numbers or what exactly they were for. He did remember having to go to Philadelphia, but Ian didn't need to know that.
"It was another clue? I thought it was supposed to be the map?"
Riley tried to shrug, but stopped when he realized how badly his shoulders hurt from his arms being pulled behind him. "So…if that was it, you can let me go right? And my van of course."
Ian sighed and shook his head. "No, I think it would be best for everyone if you stayed with us."
Riley blinked. "Um…what?"
"I need some sort of insurance. A bargaining chip if you will. Ben has the Declaration, and all the clues. I am clearly at a disadvantage. But this is where Ben and I differ—he cares too much, and I'm sure he will gladly give up any information he has in return for your safety. Frankly, I don't care what happens to you."
"What?! But…come on, Ian. We-we're buddies, right? You buy me a new computer, I help you and Ben out with treasure stuff. I-I let you beat me at poker. It's a win-win situation that seems to have worked for a while now and I think we should stick with it and—"
"Do you know what your problem is?"
Riley blinked at him, his mind still a little sluggish from the blow to his face. "That I'm so much smarter and better looking than you?" If he had, in fact, been completely conscious of his situation, he most likely would have said something else.
"No," Ian growled, apparently not amused by the comment. "It's your big mouth."
Riley jumped at a loud ripping sound coming from somewhere behind him. Before he could even respond, Shaw had reached around him with the duct tape and pulled a strip taught over his lips and around his head.
"That's better," he said smugly.
Ian nodded and grinned maniacally down at Riley, who glared miserably back up at him.
"Aw, don't look so down, kid. It's a win-win situation, after all. You don't say anything and I don't feel annoyed enough to kill you..."
Ian looked like he might have wanted to gloat some more, but he was suddenly interrupted by the rumble of a vibrating phone. Riley's eyes widened as he felt the small object in his jeans pocket. It must have been Ben, probably wondering what was taking so long. Ben would help him, Riley was sure of it.
Ian nodded to Shaw who patted down Riley's hips to find the phone. Riley shivered as hands snuck down his sides and reached into his pockets. Soon the little vibrating device was found and Shaw tossed it to Ian, who flipped it open.
"Benjamin Franklin Gates! I can't believe you are doing this. You know, I hope they catch you…maybe then you'll finally learn your lesson!"
Ben rolled his eyes. "Yeah sure dad," he said as he found the book he was looking for nestled between some old history books. He was quick to hide it in his jacket. "Thank you Thomas Payne…"
"What? What did you say?" Patrick twisted himself as much as he could to see his son behind him.
"Nothing, dad." Ben moved to face his father, holding the remote control for the television out to his free hand. "I'm sorry about this, I really am, but it's something I have to do. Just…" he sighed. "Take care, dad."
With that he left the living room where his father was sitting, confined to his chair with a soda in one hand and the television remote in the other. Ben met Abigail in the entrance hall to the home and grinned disarmingly at her. She raised her eyebrows at him, clearly showing her disapproval of his plan.
"And you'd better take damn good care of that Declaration!"
"We will," Ben called back to his father. Abigail just shook her head.
Ben spied an old coat hanging on a hook near the door and fished through the pockets. "Aha," he said triumphantly, a set of car keys out. He held the door open and gentlemanly gestured for Abigail to go first. She did, sending Ben a smile that he hoped was more playful than criticizing.
"And now you're stealing your father's car," she said accusingly as Ben unlocked the doors to Patrick's Cadillac with the click of a button.
"Well we can't very well take Riley's van anymore, I think that would be a little obvious." He paused just before getting into the driver's seat. "Where is he anyway?"
"Are you supposed to pick him up?"
"He was just getting his laptop and whatever else he needed. He's supposed to meet us back at the house. But that was almost fifteen minutes ago."
"You do realize the FBI are on their way. Right now."
"Yes, thank you, I do realize we are in a hurry." Ben sighed, slightly annoyed now, though he wasn't sure who he was more annoyed at—Riley for not coming back to the house or Abigail for being as condescending as she was. "Get in. We're going to pick him up."
Ben sped down the few blocks to the lot where they had left the van, constantly checking his rearview mirror for flashing lights or any FBI looking vehicles. He really, really didn't want to get caught now. Not with the stolen Declaration of Independence and a possible hostage. He wondered what Dr. Chase was even thinking of all this. She'd been happily surprised to see that Ben was right about the back of the document, and now it seemed she wanted to be as involved in the treasure hunt as he and Riley were. The more he thought about it, the more he figured that it wasn't exactly a bad thing to have her hanging around.
He circled the lot, drove around the park, checked every shadowed alleyway in the vicinity but saw no sign of Riley's van.
"Damn it, Riley," Ben muttered.
"Do you think he got cold feet?"
Ben shook his head. Abigail didn't know him well enough to think he would just chicken out and disappear like that. Riley was fiercely loyal to Ben and would always be there for him, unless something happened…
Ben didn't think twice. He pulled his phone out and used his speed dial to call Riley's cell. It rang once, twice…with a click it was answered.
"Riley, where are you? Where's the van?" he said quickly before Riley could even get a word out.
"Slow down, Ben," said a very un Riley like voice. Ben paled and Abigail sent him a concerned look. "Riley's right here. We're taking him and his van for a little ride."
"Ian," Ben growled. Abigail gasped, recognizing the name as being the man that had nearly kidnapped her for the Declaration. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Insurance, Ben. You've managed to hold on to the document and seen the back of it, which puts you a few steps ahead in our little game. I just thought I would even out the score a little."
Ben groaned. He couldn't give up the Declaration, or the new clues, but he couldn't leave Riley to get hurt either. And he knew instinctively that Ian and his goons wouldn't hesitate to hurt the young man. They had made their strong dislike for Riley and his antics very clear through the whole treasure hunt.
"So how do you want to do this, Ben? Are you going to help me get the treasure, or should I just shoot your little friend now and get it over with?"
"NO!" Ben shouted. "No, don't…just don't hurt him. Can I talk to him?"
Ian chuckled sadistically on the other line. "No, no I'm afraid that's impossible. I've shut him up, and frankly I like him a lot better when he's not running his mouth. I don't know why we never considered it before—we could have sewn his lips shut and found the treasure a long time ago."
"I'll tell you what Ben—you tell me what the next clue is and where you're headed, and we'll meet you there."
"No, Ian. No deal. I want to meet you right now. I want to know Riley's okay."
"Sorry Ben, but we're already on the open road. I wouldn't want to be coming back anywhere near your dad's place. Not with the feds on their way. How was it, by the way?"
"Seeing your dad. I'm sure he was thrilled to find out what you were doing."
"Yeah…thrilled. Where should we meet you?"
"'We'? Did you bring him with you, or are you still dragging Dr. Chase around?"
"Ben," Abigail whispered, looking frantically out the windows at their ominous surroundings. "We have to go…"
She was right. They'd been sitting there talking for a long few minutes by now. Ben didn't have that kind of time to spare, and he was definitely too frustrated to try to drive while talking to his mutinous financier.
"Ian, we don't have time for this. Where should we meet you?"
"That depends, Ben. Where are you going to solve your little cipher?"
So Riley had been able to tell him that much, but not where they were going. Ben shuddered, thinking of the horrible things they must have done to Riley to even get that much information from him.
"Philadelphia. We need to get to the Franklin Institute to see the Silence Dogood letters."
"Alright, Ben. You solve your little number puzzle, and I'll contact you in Philadelphia. Deal?"
"Like I have a choice?" Ben grumbled.
Ian laughed. "I guess not. See you later."
There was a click as the call was ended.
"What are we doing?" Abigail asked. "Where are we going?"
Ben started the car again and zoomed forward, heading for the highway. He passed her the book he'd taken from his father's house.
"My dad usually keeps a few hundred dollars tucked in the pages. We're going to Phily and we need to change out of these clothes. Then we're going to get Riley back."
Ian flipped the phone shut and slipped it into his pocket. "See, that wasn't too bad. We're one step closer to the treasure." He smiled down at Riley, who glared up at him in response from where he was lying awkwardly on the floor of his own van.
Ian kept his little staring competition going for a minute before turning to the driver. "How much further?"
"Ten minutes, tops," the man called back.
Wow, Riley thought. They were almost there already? Was that even possible?
As if to answer Riley's unspoken question, Ian explained "We need to switch vehicles. I'm afraid we're a little conspicuous like this. But don't you worry…I've planned ahead."
He leant down and patted Riley's cheek with a smile. Riley flinched away and Ian laughed cruelly.
"This is going to be easier than I thought," he said, straightening up to look at Shaw. "By this time tomorrow we'll be rich men."
Shaw grinned back at his boss. Riley rolled his eyes and turned away from them. He had so many snappy come backs right now that he couldn't even say. It was hard enough to even breathe with the tape over his mouth. He had to consciously suck in every breath through his noise and try to ignore the stinging pain his cheek.
But that pain was easily drowned out by the growing ache in his arms and back. Rolling to his side had helped a little, but his shoulders were protesting every little move he made. He couldn't even feel his hands any more.
Stupid duct tape. Stupid Ian and Shaw and other guys. Stupid Riley, for getting into this stupid mess.
Suddenly the van hit a particularly large bump and lurched forward. Riley found himself sliding towards the front of the vehicle, unable to stop himself with his arms secured behind him. The top of his head hit hard on the jumbled mess of mother boards and other technological stuff as the van came to a screeching stop.
Ian threw the back door open as Shaw grabbed Riley by the collar of his hoodie. He was yanked out of the car rather roughly and fell to his knees on the pavement as his head swam. He looked around and blinked stars out of his eyes, only to find that they were in some kind of an underground garage that was completely empty except for a single compact car parked across from the two vans.
Shaw pulled Riley up by his hood and forced him towards the car. Three of Ian's goons had already squeezed into the back seat, leaving Shaw and Ian to take up the front seats. So where was Riley going to sit?
He watched with dread as Ian leaned down into the driver's seat. A second later the trunk popped open with a slight whooshing sound. Riley gulped.
"In you go," Shaw said.
He tightened his grip on Riley's hood and forced him forward. Riley struggled, he really did. He dug his Chuck Taylors into the pavement and twisted his body this way and that to try to get away. He did not want to get in the trunk. He could not stress how badly he did not want to be in that cramped, dark space.
Shaw, growing impatient with Riley's lame struggling, kicked out the back of the young man's legs. Riley let out a muffled groan and would have collapsed to his knees again if not for Shaw's iron grip on his sweatshirt. With his other hand, Shaw grasped the back of Riley's belt and hoisted him up and off the ground.
Riley was still struggled like mad, trying to ignore the pounding in his head and the nausea that was rising in his stomach. But it was no use as Shaw plopped Riley callously into the trunk and ignored the younger man's muffled protests as he slammed the door shut, leaving Riley trapped in the darkness.