Disclaimer: Not Mine. The end.

Between the end of Chapter 4: Stay in the Light and Chapter 5: The Citadel on the flight from France to Syria.

For what it's worth I'm not super happy with this still though it is meant to feel unresolved. Where it falls in the game's story makes that lack of resolution very necessary.

Comments are welcome.

You Cannot Lose If You Do Not Play

By, Nicole Silverwolf

"If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time." -Chinese Proverb

It was unclear what jolted him awake. Turbulence maybe. Dim not even pre-dawn light touched the farthest point on the horizon. Beyond that Nate could only make out the blinking red light from the tip of the charter's wing.

The exhaustion alone should have kept him out the entire 8 hour flight to Syria.

But the sick almost panic settling deep in his stomach, tightly coiled muscles reaching for some weapon belied the forgotten dream that must have been the cause.

A thin, scratchy blanket made of cheap polyester and found on almost any commercial airline was tucked around his shoulders. He hadn't bothered with it before leaning his head against the plastic window and nodding off. The lone flight attendant had been busy with a demanding customer the entire flight. Besides, Nate was pretty damn sure he would have woken up if she had tried to tuck it around him.

A confused crease between his eyes lingered until he looked up and over to the seat next to his. Reclined back as far as the seat would go (which was not much at all), Victor Sullivan snored with his arms loosely crossed over his chest. Sully had the ability (like Nate) to sleep almost anywhere and as soon as they'd sat down, before they'd even taxied to the runway he was sound asleep. Except that clearly hadn't been the case.

Nate watched the older man critically for long moments. He should go back to sleep, try to squeeze out another hour or two before they landed. At first glance, everything looked fine. But in the early hours of the morning he could inspect more closely. Admit to thoughts he rarely acknowledged to himself.

It had been close in France.

Uncomfortably close.

Reminders of their mortality were abundant in this line of work. Seeing the lives of great kings, powerful men and women long after they were ashes had that affect on most people. Those had never bothered Nate though. Even that hairy trek through the Nepalese mountains with a bullet wound in his stomach hadn't been the same. He'd been alone, betrayed by friends, nearly defeated by the enemy and elements.

But choking on smoke inside the burning tinderbox of a chateau had been different. It had to do with the company he was sure. Because it was fine if he risked everything, but entirely different when Sully was involved.

There was a slight wheeze to every intake of Sully's breath, a rattle that came from more than the cigars he'd been smoking since Nate had known the man. Imperceptible to the casual observer and surround sound blaring to Nate, he tried to focus on the drown of the engines and failed completely.

They both reeked of wood smoke.

He'd avoided meeting the older man's gaze for more than a moment or two as they'd driven to the airport. Once back on roads instead of dirt paths, the trip had gone faster and Nate had put on the radio, trying to keep up with the rapid fire precise French. The almost argument they'd had outside the castle's smoldering remains hung heavy in the back of his mind.

Because Sully was fine. And just because he was a little older than Nate didn't mean he was getting tired of doing this.

Or that he shouldn't be doing it anymore.

Or that Sully was going to say he was finished with treasure hunting, put his foot down and actually mean it this time.

Because that was ridiculous. Sully was right. He'd had Nate's back for twenty years and had never let him down. There was no reason to believe otherwise.

The elder man grumbled in his sleep, shifting stiffly to ease some some pressure point in the horrible seat.

Almost unconscious then, this need to test him.

And even now Nate shied away from acknowledging the fear that had never really left him since childhood. If they found Iram, proved what even Francis Drake couldn't, then there'd be no way that Sully would be able to deem him unworthy of continuing to hunt with him for treasure.

So he'd just have to be careful to keep Sully out of the line of fire. No more desperate climbs through burning timbers. He could at least promise that. They were well ahead of Marlowe now, and so long as they caught up to Chloe and Cutter they'd have everything they needed to complete the map.

Convinced of his new strategy, Nate curled down as much as was possible under the blanket. Sleep tugged at his consciousness again and he heeded it with less trepidation than he might have before. Sully would be fine and Nate was convinced he could keep it that way.


Owari

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