Aesthetic: Qumolangama (Mt. Everest)
Artist: Bj Jones
“I’m sorry you’re going where?” Benji looked up from the laptop and stared at his Sire in shock. They were stuck at IMF Headquarters filling out what felt like a year’s worth of forms. Saving the world created a lot of paperwork. “Why?”
“You do realize he’s insane right?” Wilhelm commented, without glancing up from the files he was going through. He had sent in the last of the mission reports the night before, and now was studying Intel coming in from a variety of teams out in the field. “I thought this was an established fact.”
Benji ignored the analyst and continued staring at Ethan. “Isn’t this just like a tiny bit over the top?”
Ethan chuckled slightly. “It can’t be that hard to imagine.”
“Yes. Yes it can.” Benji waved his hands around dramatically, before turning to Luther who was ignoring all of them behind his larger bank of computers. “You’re okay with this?”
“He’s going with Quintus.” Luther stated as if that somehow answered everything. “Besides, it’s not the first mountain he’s climbed.”
“Yeah, but it’s THE MOUNTAIN.” He ignored all the looks he was getting from the team. “It’s just not a walk in the park or a hike on Sunday morning.”
“No, it’s not.” Ethan let his feet slide off the desk they were resting on, and stood moving over to Benji’s desk, leaning against the edge. “Which is why I’ve been planning for a few years now. What’s going on here Benji?”
He sighed, then looked down at his laptop. “It’s dangerous and you’re not going to have us as backup.”
“I’m not climbing it by myself barehanded.” Ethan reached over and gripped his Childe’s shoulder. “Besides, I’m going with Quintus who’s climbed it at least five times, plus a team of professional Mountain Guides, and a load of Sherpa’s. Though Luther isn’t coming with me to base camp … “
“Hell fucking no.”
That got a snicker out of Benji, and an eyeroll from Brandt.
“He is going to be nearby, actually in the Phortse Village in the Khumba Valley working with the Khumba Climbing School.” Ethan hoped it would assure Benji somewhat, to know that someone was going to be close at hand.
Though Ethan wasn’t a professional climber, and most of the time when he did take time to relax and go climbing it was freestyle. He enjoyed the challenge of climbing, had been on a few expeditions to Denali and K2, but had always wanted to climb Everest.
After saving the world while hanging off a cliff face with one hand, he decided to just do it. Besides, how hard could it be after that nightmare of a mission. He contacted Quintus who started to put a team together, get the proper permits, and in between missions he joined smaller expeditions to prep for Everest.
The new boss at IMF wasn’t happy, Ethan hadn’t really cared and sent his husband after him. Then asked Luther to hack the systems to make sure he got the time off. His Mate cackled the whole time, so he didn’t think it was too much of a hardship.
Later, Luther informed him that he had signed himself off, so they could travel together. He would only go as far as Phortse Village. Which was farther than Ethan had anticipated, but he knew Luther had wanted to visit the school, they had been sending money and equipment over the past decade.
Quintus was the one who informed them about the school. Alex Lowe, who built it in honor of his brother, who died on Everest, had the idea to train the local Nepali residence proper and safer techniques to give them a better foundation for climbing, while building a community. They founded the school in 2003, but the building wasn’t finished until 2019. Since everything either had to be carried into the valley, or made on site. Over the past fifteen years they had trained over 1000 students, actually two of the kids who graduated, would be on Ethan’s expedition.
Luther always had a soft spot for kids, and since the school was interested in setting up a computer lab, Ethan’s trip was a perfect opportunity for him to help them set one up.
“Let’s just hope that the world doesn’t need saving, as this is a 70 plus day expedition.”
“It’s Everest.” Benji felt as if that needed repeating. “The highest mountain in the world, well there has been arguments that it isn’t comparing to some mountains like that one in Hawaii, it’s base settled in the ocean which technically makes it taller … but what I’m trying to say it’s over 8000 meters, the jet stream hits it’s peak… you need oxygen to climb it.” He glanced up at his Sire. “Will you be using oxygen, I mean technically you do not need it.”
“Yes, I will be as it still puts pressure on the lungs. But if something happens, I can give mine up to help someone, as technically I don’t need it.” Ethan was pretty sure that wasn’t an answer Benji was looking for. “And it’s actually 8,848 Meters.”
“That didn’t help,” Benji deadpanned.
“Benji I promise you I’m not taking any chances, I’ve got a supportive team, oxygen, and trained professionals.” Ethan gave him a small smile. “I’m not going to take on any terrorist while I’m up there, and Luther would personally send Brandt up the mountain to smack me if I do anything stupid.”
“Wait! What? Hell fucking no!”
Benji glanced at the two, chuckling lightly. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, Mr. ‘lets hang off a cliff with one hand to save the world’, would want to climb to the top of the world. I mean you did free climb the Burj Khalifa.”
“In your gloves I might add.” Ethan gave him a look before making his way over to Luther, who was finalizing travel plans. “The most dangerous part of this journey is actually flying into Kathmandu.”
Brandt took over Ethan’s spot on Benji’s desk, smiling down at his Mate. “How’s this, while the moron climbs up a mountain that is freezing cold, how about we go on vacation to a tropical island?” He didn’t mention that he already booked the holiday.
“Now see, that’s a vacation.” Benji gave his Sire a pointed look.