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Story (13) Fallen Angel

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Catracoth

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1

Monday, February 16th 2009, 10:44pm

Fallen Angel

Title: Fallen Angel
Rating: T for violence and minor language
Status: In Progress
Summary: After the events of Underworld, Lara uncovers a device capable of destroying the world, all while being pursued by her own dark shadow.

1/ Murder with Malicious Intent

Spoiler Spoiler

The morning sunlight shone through the windows to Lady Lara Croft’s bedroom, illuminating the room a shade of orange and yellow. The woman turned in her sleep, catching the ray of light on her eyelids, waking her up. She yawned and checked the time on the digital alarm clock to the left of her, resting on the nightstand. It was only half past seven and oh how she wanted to turn back to sleep, but she knew if she did, she’d wake up hours later, angry at herself for sleeping the morning away.

In this day and age, the last thing Lara enjoyed doing was wasting the free time she had in her busy schedule. If she wasn’t saving the world from idiotic villains, she was dealing with the affairs of the world and her own personal life. She was still recovering from her encounter with her undead mother in Helheim, but every time her memory flashed back to that moment, her mind replayed the moment she killed Natla, and that was satisfying enough.

Climbing out of bed, Lara pulled on her white silk robe and headed to the bathroom. She started brushing her teeth and was interrupted with a knocking at her bedroom door. After relieving her mouth of toothpaste and saliva, she bid entrance to her visitor. She heard the door open and close and resumed brushing her teeth. “Good morning, Lara,” Winston called to her. “I left your breakfast on the coffee table.”

“Thank you, Winston,” she replied, rinsing her mouth. She finished breakfast quickly and refreshed herself with some mouthwash before heading downstairs, the tray in one hand, and a cup of tea in the other. Taking casual sips as she walked, she reached the kitchen and smiled when she saw Zip sitting at the counter eating eggs and toast. “We’re up early, aren’t we?” she joked.

Zip took a sip of coffee and returned the smile. “Hard time sleeping,” he answered. Finishing his breakfast, he washed his dishes and dried his hands. “How about you?”

She sighed, crossing the kitchen to open the window, letting in some fresh air. “I’ve been better.” She leaned against the wall nearest the window and looked outside in time to see a flock of birds fly across the open fields where she went horseback riding and did some target practice whilst riding the magnificent animal. “It’ll all take some time.”

“You’re telling me,” he said quietly, taking another sip of coffee. A moment of awkward silence rose between them, diminishing when Zip decided to change the subject. “Don’t you have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow?”

“Unfortunately,” Lara admitted. “I hate doctors. Almost as much as I hate leaving the house on Saturdays.”

“Yearly check-up? Immunizations and all?”

“Don’t remind me.” She laughed at her reaction and bid Zip good-day as she went back to her bedroom to shower and get dressed. The steaming hot water relaxed her tense muscles drastically. She felt her nasal passages opening with the help of the steam. The past few days, she felt as if she was getting a bit of a head cold. Perhaps the doctor might prescribe an antibiotic should she mention her ailments.

Drying herself, she dressed in black jogging pants, a black tank top, and sneakers. Opening her accessories box, Lara grabbed a black hair tie and pulled her hair into a tight ponytail, relaxing it so it didn’t stress. Heading downstairs, she made her way to the gym and did some routines. Starting with rock climbing, Lara made her way to gymnastics and slowed it down with the treadmill.

After a few hours, she decide to call it quits and have another shower. As she left, the doorbell rang, making her smile. She was happy that it was installed to be heard in every room in the house. Making her way to the main doors, she checked the security monitor and opened the door. The mailman stood before her, seemingly annoyed. “A package for Lady Croft,” he said, holding out the signature device. Signing her name, Lara stopped when she noticed he was tapping his foot in impatience.

She handed it back to him and took her parcel. “Forgive my arrogance,” she started, “But you do realize this is a rather large home. It does take some time to get from one end of it to the other.” She could tell he wanted to speak a word of argument, but he knew she was right, and his impatience was unnecessary. Instead of speaking, he nodded once and headed back to his delivery truck. Lara closed the door and examined her parcel, instantly knowing what it was.

Opening it, she pulled out the new Walther SP22, equipped with a four inch standard barrel along with a two-stage trigger complete with an adjustable trigger stop. She was amazed that it took a week to mail something a distance of three miles - if Lara knew that it would have taken this long, she’d have driven up to the shop and picked up the gun in person. This weapon was for her personal collection, a recently added room in the garage that she liked to call the Caliber Collection. Guns of all kinds from different countries were stocked in there, along with spare magazines and accessories suitable for every weapon in there. Besides guns, there were knives, grenades, Kevlar vests, and holsters of all kinds. Despite the selection, Lara still preferred to use her dual Heckler and Koch USP Match handguns on her adventures.

Lara, after following the proper protocol to open the armory, stored the weapon in the inventory. Heading back to the main hall, she stopped when something seemed out of place. She felt as though she was being watched, being followed. Turning, she looked around and saw nothing. “Zip,” she called out. “Are you there?” No response from anywhere. Crossing the room to the P.A system, she cleared her throat before pressing the talk button. “Zip, where are you?”

A moment later, he replied. “In the gym. Why, do you need something?”

“No,” Lara said quickly, “I’m all right. Just checking.”

That was odd. She had a bizarre feeling like someone or something was in her house, and on her way to her bedroom, she didn’t let her guard down. Closing the door, she looked around like a little kid after watching a horror movie, checking her bedroom for monsters. She laughed at her paranoia and ran toward the bed. Jumping on it, she laid on her stomach facing the center of the room and pulled her novel from under the bed and began to read.

--

The next day, Lara was up bright and early again. She made herself breakfast, despite Winston’s protest to do one of the things he’s paid to do. She sat at the table and cursed under her breath that the newspaper hadn’t arrived yet and it wouldn’t for another hour. She was up an hour early and she loved to start the day with a good read. Finishing, she took her tea with her upstairs for a shower before she set out for her doctor’s appointment.

Lara ran the water in the rather large and spacious shower before going back to her bedroom for another sip of tea and to see if she could decide what to wear in under three minutes. After giving up on trying to decide during such a short window of opportunity, she went back to the bathroom and closed the door. She stood under the hot water for what seemed to be hours to her, but was only about ten minutes before she started to wash her hair.

Finishing up in the shower roughly another ten minutes later, she dried herself and rolled her eyes at a memory surfacing to her head when she realized her rather lengthy shower time. Months ago, Lara received the monthly water bill and after seeing the damages, had a go at the company. “Just because I’m wealthy,” she remembered herself screaming into the phone, “Doesn’t give you the right to overcharge me!”

Laughing, she wrapped herself in a white cotton bathrobe and headed back to her bedroom. Standing in the large walk-in closet, she eyed the numerous racks of clothing organized by type; winter wear, swimwear, casual, formal, combat, and more. She decided on something casual yet warm since it was rather chilly outside, according to the weather forecast. After dressing in a three layered black, white, and gray tank top, a black leather jacket, black slim fit jeans, and black boots, she tucked her pants into her boots comfortably, the way she liked them. Crossing the bedroom, she pulled a hair elastic from her accessories drawer, she tied her hair into a ponytail and grabbed a pair of sunglasses after noticing several rays of bright light illuminating her bedroom.

Descending the staircase, Lara bid Winston and Zip good day before heading to the garage. Deciding on having lunch out of the manor to pass the time before her appointment, she grabbed the keys to the Lotus Elise and played the CD that sat in the player. She smiled when King of the World by Porcelain and the Tramps played and drove out of the manor grounds.

The weather wasn’t as bad as she imagined, it was actually rather nice and sunny, but a bit chilly like the forecast noted. She was glad her Elise wasn’t a convertible or else she would’ve been rather cold. Pulling up to a red light, she strummed her fingers along the steering wheel to the beat of the song and suddenly got that same feeling as if she was being watched. Exhaling, she looked around nervously and didn’t see anything suspicious. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ she asked herself.

Shaking her head, she noticed the light turned green and hit the gas, driving toward one of her favorite restaurants. She checked the time and it was still a bit early for lunch, so she decided to head over to the bookstore. On her way, she caught another red light, this one longer than the last. Alongside her, a motorcycle pulled up in the left lane, a black Triumph Daytona, Lara deduced. The motorcyclist turned their head and looked at Lara. Their expression under the black helmet was impossible to figure out, but Lara chose to just smile once and look away.

After her trip to the bookstore, she headed to the restaurant for a bit of lunch, finishing in time to make her appointment right on schedule. Pulling into the parking lot beneath the doctor’s office, Lara closed and locked the car door before heading to the elevator, taking it to the first floor of the complex. Taking the stairs, she reached the third floor and opened the office door. She noticed the familiar face at the reception desk and smiled. “Good afternoon Rachael,” Lara greeted.

“Hey there, Lara, have a seat. Doctor Bright will be with you shortly.”

Lara sat in a chair close to the reception desk and crossed her leg over her left and read a magazine. She looked up when she heard Rachael’s voice. “Dr. Bright, Lara Croft is here to see you.”

A moment later, the doctor appeared and smiled at Lara. “Good afternoon, Miss Croft,” she greeted.

Smiling, Lara followed her to the examination room and took a seat in the rather comfortable beige chair. “In your last visit, you mentioned having some stressed muscles?”

“Yes,” Lara spoke. “I do. I’ve been rather tense lately - a lot’s been going on.”

“Doesn’t stop you from keeping in shape, does it?” she smiled.

“No,” Lara laughed, “It doesn’t.”

Dr. Bright nodded and took down some notes. “I’m just going to run to my office down the hall and Evangeline is going to run through the basics with you before I begin.”

“All right.” Lara looked around the office as she waited for the nurse. She looked out the window and noticed the black motorcycle racing down the street. She raised her eyebrows but shook the thought from her head. “There are lots of motorcycles around here,” she reassured herself.

--

The black motorcycle raced across town, en route to the Bright, Tracy, and Gordon complex. Pulling into the underground parking lot, the motorcycle slowed to a halt across the lot from Lara’s yellow sports car. Pulling the helmet off, the motorcyclist climbed off her motorcycle and locked the vehicle. Heading to the elevator, she made sure she was ready before the mission went into effect.

Rachael smiled when the other receptionist came in for her shift. “Hey there Alex.”

Alexandra sat at the desk as Rachael got up and pointed out the messages and gave her an update. “Lara Croft is in room C waiting for evaluation from Dr. Bright and Allison Peterson should be here shortly.”

Rachael headed for the elevator and nearly bumped into the motorcyclist who came around the corner the same time she did. Paying her no mind, she continued walking toward the reception desk. Rachael stopped when she thought she noticed something peculiar, but blinked and walked away, looking back once.

Alexandra looked up and jumped back when she saw the woman before her. She wore a black outfit consisting of a leather waistcoat with zippers on both sides, leather pants tucked into black motorcycle boots. She had wine red hair pulled into a braid, hazel-golden eyes, and a killer smile. “Jesus,” she yelped. “Can I help you?”

“I need to see Doctor Bright right away, it’s an emergency.”

“Right,” she said reluctantly. Pressing the button on the telephone, her eyes never left the woman standing before her. “Doctor Bright, could you come out here for a moment, we have an issue.” The woman narrowed her eyes hearing the receptionist. “You’ll have to fill out some paperwork regarding the medical problem.”

As Alex turned to get the proper paperwork, the woman reached behind her back and pulled one of the dual golden, suppressed M1911 handguns from her back holsters. “Actually, my problem isn’t medical,” she said, aiming the gun at the receptionist’s head as she turned around. “It’s psychological.” She pulled the trigger, the bullet flying out of the chamber, killing the woman.

Doctor Bright came around the corner with a document in her hands. “Yes Alexandra? What seems to be the problem?” She stopped and gasped when the assassin aimed the gun at her, nearly dropping the document.

“Me,” she remarked, pulling the trigger. The doctor was dead before she hit the ground with a thud.

Lara looked up from her position on the chair, alarmed by the sudden sound in the quiet office. She got up out of the chair and opened the door, peering around. Nothing. As she stepped out of the room, she gasped when the woman came around the corner, her hands clenched into fists.

She stopped when she saw Lara and grinned maliciously. Lara backed away a few steps and blinked. “No…” Lara was once again face to face with her homicidal doppelganger.


Well, how was it?
:D
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Tuesday, February 17th 2009, 2:11am

Fallen Angel

hey, Cat :wave2:

I left a message at www.tombraider.com. anyhoo, that is a very intriguing opening and I think you should write
to XBOX and EIDOS and ask/demand that they use your story as part of LARA'S SHADOW. I am looking forward to
more so please keep up the wonderful work. :grins :thumbs:
Good luck in your new bed. Enjoy your nightmare, son, while you're resting your head.--
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Tuesday, February 17th 2009, 10:24am

Wow, the tension was built up very nicely und your writing style is as incredibly detailed as usual. Please keep on writing :-)

(And I knew it was her since this fanfic is set to happen after the events of Underworld :D )
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Wednesday, February 18th 2009, 10:49pm

Here's chapter two, finished rather quickly. Chapter three is coming soon!

2/ Reunion

Spoiler Spoiler

Lara staggered away from her clone, frightened. “You’re supposed to be dead,” she breathed.

The doppelganger stopped and smiled. “Hope you aren’t disappointed.”

Lara’s eyes widened with surprise. “You can talk?” She backed away, her eyes still focused on the woman.

“Well of course I can,” she laughed. “That’s what Natla wanted.”

“Natla? She’s still alive?”

“Enough questions,” the doppelganger snarled. She reached behind her back and pulled out the dual golden M1911 handguns, aiming them at Lara. “Jacqueline Natla sends her regards.”

That precise moment, time seemed to slow down for Lara, the effects of adrenaline coming in rather useful. She looked to her left and saw the door to the stairwell. Kicking it down, she ran through the door, nearly avoiding being shot. Skipping steps down the stairs, she reached the underground garage and sprinted to her car. Vaulting over the hood, she crouched behind it, hoping to lure the doppelganger away giving her time to inconspicuously get in her car.

The deadly facsimile reached the garage and stopped, her eyes scanning the room for her target. She took slow, careful steps toward her motorcycle in an attempt to lure Lara out. Holstering one of the guns, she turned the engine over and revved it. Lara’s popped her head out but ducked back when several bullets flew her way. “Damn it!”

“Not that clever now, eh Lara?” she laughed.

Walking over to the car, Lara heard the footsteps and thought of something quickly. Sneaking round the rear of her car, she snuck behind the clone and connected her fist with her head. Lara quickly disarmed her and threw the gun to the side. The doppelganger elbowed Lara in the face and pulled out the second gun. Quickly, Lara jumped back and kicked her legs up, kicking the gun out of her hand. Rolling backward, she grabbed the gun and aimed it at her clone. As expected, the clone was fast, and she disarmed Lara, the gun sliding across the floor.

Lara jumped on the hood of her car and jumped in the air, kicking her opponent in the face. Elbowing her, she swept her leg under her, knocking her to the ground. Grabbing the guns, Lara shot out the tires of her motorcycle before aiming at her. “Don’t move!” The doppelganger remained still, kneeling on the ground a safe five feet away from Lara. “Put your hands behind your head, now!” Doing as she was told, the doppelganger grinned to herself.

“Where’s Natla?”

“Under Helheim last I checked,” she remarked.

“What do you mean? You told me she was alive.”

“No,” she snarled, “I told you she wanted me to talk. She’s dead - you killed her with Mjolnir, Thor’s Hammer.”

“Then who are you working for?” Lara felt her grip on the guns tightening, ready to pull the triggers if she wasn’t given the information she well craved.

The doppelganger didn’t answer for a moment. She exhaled and turned her head. “Natla cloned herself. Before you met her on the Andaman Sea, before you freed her for her assistance to open the doors to Helheim. I’m working for her clone.”

Lara nodded. “That would explain why Natla Technologies is still up and running. I thought her associates were just keeping it intact.”

Suddenly, the doppelganger leapt in the air, flipping behind Lara. Grabbing the guns, she knocked Lara to the ground and stood before her. “We’ll meet again Miss Croft.” Before Lara could react, the doppelganger knocked her out and headed to her motorcycle.

When Lara came to, she looked around to see she was alone in the parking lot. She got to her feet and rubbed her temples, a massive headache coming over her. She staggered to her car and turned the engine over, driving home.

--

“I don’t understand,” Zip said, “Why didn’t she kill you?”

Lara paced the foyer of her manor, her arms folded in a thinking position. “I don’t know, Zip. I don’t think she was there to kill me.”

“Well what would she have been there for? I doubt she was getting her yearly check up - which reminds me, don’t you have to change doctors now?”

Lara stopped in her tracks and glared at him. “This is no time for jokes Zip. Not only was Dr. Bright a good friend of mine, but that doppelganger gave me information I wasn’t prepared for.”

“What did she say?”

Sitting on the couch, Lara pulled the elastic out of her hair, relaxing it. She ran her hands through it, untangling any knots she might have from the encounter. “Natla cloned herself. The real Natla is dead under Helheim, but her clone is still running Natla Technologies in New York and the doppelganger’s working for her. I don’t know why, nor do I know why she spared my life. I don’t think Natla’s keeping me alive to offer me a business deal either.”

“Looks like you’re bound for a trip to New York then,” Winston smiled, setting a cup of tea down for the lady and Zip. “Shall I arrange transport?”

“Please do, Winston, as soon as possible.”

He nodded once before leaving to do her bidding. She took a sip of the tea and exhaled in happiness. “That’s delicious,” she smiled. Setting the cup down, she stood up and began pacing again. “I can only hope that my trip to Natla Technologies will shed some light on this.”

“Well whatever you find out…it can’t be worse than anything you’ve already been through.”

“You never know, Zip.”

Taking her tea with her, Lara climbed the stairs to her bedroom and sat on the couch, setting the cup on the coffee table. Turning the television on, it automatically set on the news channel where coverage was done on the incident at the doctor’s office. The doppelganger was unidentified, to Lara’s good fortune - the last thing she needed was the authorities pinning her for the crime - however would she explain she had an evil clone who’s boss is a clone of a woman bent on world destruction?

Changing the channel several times, Lara finally set on the Discovery Channel and picked her feet up on the table, crossing them at the ankle, and sipped her tea. A moment later, Winston’s voice came over the PA system. “Lady Croft, I’m happy to inform you that your flight leaves for New York tonight at quarter past seven.”

Lara walked over to the wall device and smiled. “Marvelous news, Winston. Thank you.”

“Best of luck, Lara.”

--

Preparing for her flight, Lara packed her bags filled with equipment she knew she’d need and set out to catch her flight. Arriving in New York around 2am the next day, Lara caught a taxi to Natla Technologies and set out on her mission. She changed into a black leather catsuit and equipped her leg holsters, holding her trusty dual Heckler and Koch USP Match handguns. She pulled her backpack on and connected the strap across her chest before putting her Bluetooth headset in her ear, connecting her with Zip. “Lara to Zip, do you read me?”

“Loud and clear Lara. Gotta love this technology of ours!”

“Indeed Zip,” she laughed. “I’m here now. I plan to infiltrate the building from the roof, working my way down into the building. I’ll ring you if there’s any complications.”

“Sounds good. Good luck, Lara.”

Going to radio silence, Lara took the window cleaner to the roof and snuck around to the roof door. “They’ve done some renovations since I’ve last been here,” she told herself. Natla’s office was no longer on the top floor, it was moved somewhere deeper inside the building, probably for security measures. Lara cursed that her mission was a bit harder, but where was the fun in easy things?

Leaving the room, she peered out into the hallway and ducked back when she nearly avoided being spotted by a passing guard. Lara snuck behind him and knocked him out, heading down the hallway. She hugged the wall and peered around the corner, spotting two more guards. She counted mentally and ran up to them, disarming them of their submachine guns. She delivered a good kick to the chest to one of them and an elbow to the other’s face, knocking them both down.

Proceeding to the stairwell, Lara noticed map of the building. She scanned it for anything that may be of assistance - computer database, employee lounge, testing facility, offices, Natla’s office. “Aha,” she smiled. She opened the door and proceeded down three levels before reaching the floor of Natla’s office. The floor was seemingly empty, she noted. Heading to Natla’s office, she opened the door and peered inside. Pulling out her handguns, she crept inside the office, closing the door behind her.

She stopped when she saw the doppelganger staring out the window. Lara prepared herself for what she was about to do. She slowly moved toward her clone and then started running, sprinting actually. As she neared her, Lara prepared to elbow her, sending her flying through the window. The moment she was about to touch her, the doppelganger turned around and grabbed Lara by the throat, halting her movement. “You’re not nearly as stealthy as you think you are,” she laughed.

“Good work,” a voice congratulated from behind Lara. The doppelganger threw her aside and cracked her knuckles, crossing the room to stand beside her boss. “Good morning, Miss Croft.”

Lara coughed violently, trying to get as much air into her lungs as quickly as possible. Coming to her senses, she stood up and holstered her guns, keeping her hands by her side should she need them in the near future. “I don’t know how to address you.”

Natla smiled. “As you always have done. The real Natla might be dead, but everything about her you’ll find in me.”

The Englishwoman tilted her head slightly and returned it upright. The woman before her was indeed Natla’s clone, this one was wearing a black blazer jacket, a light blue dress shirt underneath. She sported tight fitting black pants over black and light blue high heels, as if the woman needed to be any taller than she already was. Lara guessed she was 6’ 2”. Brushing her loose strands of hair behind her left ear, Lara inconspicuously turned radio silence off, including Zip in on the conversation, video and audio.

“Why didn’t you kill me at the doctor’s office?” Lara asked the clone.

She looked up at Natla who crossed the room to sit at her desk. “The reason for your doppelganger having spared your life will be revealed in due time, Lara. What I will tell you is that you might not leave this building as easily as you left the office yesterday.”

“What do you mean?”

The doppelganger snarled. “Aren’t we full of questions?”

“Shut up!” Lara turned back to Natla. “What’s your endgame, Natla? Why did the other one clone herself? What was she after?”

Natla folded her hands on the desk and cleared her throat. “While pursuing Thor’s Hammer, she was also working on uncovering another ancient artifact that might’ve helped her bring about the Seventh Age, should she fail with you, like she did.”

“Leave it to her to think ahead. What was this device?”

“She believed that it would give her the power to recreate the army of Atlantis - it has the same power as the Scion you destroyed over a decade ago.”

Lara raised her eyebrows, letting her guard down a bit. “What does this have to do with me?”

“Like I said, in due time.” Natla made a movement with her head, signaling for the doppelganger to make her move. She turned toward Lara and tackled her to the ground. Lara struggled and managed to kick her clone off of her. She jumped to her feet and pulled out her guns, aiming one at Natla, one at the clone.

“You’re not getting away with this, Natla.”

“It’s too late Miss Croft. We’ve already begun.”

Before she could react, the doppelganger was standing up and disarming Lara in a split second. She grinned maliciously before slamming one of Lara’s handguns against her neck, knocking her out. “Sleep tight, Lara.” As everything went black, Lara still heard her clone’s dark laughter echoing throughout the room.
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Thursday, February 19th 2009, 10:17am

Hm, like Lara said in Underworld, a certain person just doesn't know when to die - though she did, technically. Nice idea, I hope Lara manages to kill her and all of some possible remaining clones this time [hehe] I also like that you've given the doppelganger the ability to speak, what she says makes her seem rather arrogant and hateful.

I had to grin when reading this part:

Quoted

She sported tight fitting black pants over black and light blue high heels, as if the woman needed to be any taller than she already was.


I've always wondered how no one seemed to notice her unusual height - I mean, she ran a company and all the whole time, didn't anyone find this strange? :P
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Thursday, February 19th 2009, 1:26pm

Haha I knew someone would catch that line, :D ! Glad you like it.
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Friday, February 20th 2009, 12:41am

Fallen Angel

hey Cat, :wave2:

my God. the clone speaks! :grins and I started a forum on another site wondering why she was mute. anyway,
the story is very well done and the only question I have is what voice do you have in mind. is it Lara's voice
or another? anyway, well-written and very intriguing. I look forward to what happens next. :sun:
Good luck in your new bed. Enjoy your nightmare, son, while you're resting your head.--
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Friday, February 20th 2009, 1:44pm

Her voice is a bit like Lara's except with an American accent, and a tone of malice in her voice.
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Friday, February 20th 2009, 2:23pm

That's great! Better than mine, anyway. But mine's just Alister's diary but ya know...I'm rambling.

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Friday, February 20th 2009, 9:43pm

Fallen Angel

hey, :wave2:

so I take it we're probably talking Angelina Jolie catching Brad with Jennifer Aniston. something along those
lines, right? I look forward to seeing what happens next. :sun:
Good luck in your new bed. Enjoy your nightmare, son, while you're resting your head.--
BASEMENT JAXX

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11

Wednesday, February 25th 2009, 1:46am

Here's chapter three, as promised. I'll give you a sneak peek into the next few chapters; somewhere along the story, I'm going to include the events of Beneath the Ashes to aid in the story, and I know for a fact it's going to come out marvellously. There might be BTA spoilers in the future, but I'll warn everyone just in case.

3/ Together Again

Spoiler Spoiler

When Lara came to, she was tied to a chair with her hands behind her back. She shook her head and looked around - she couldn’t figure out where she was. She knew she was still inside Natla Technologies, she was positive. She felt a stinging pain in her arm and turned her head as far as she could to see if she could locate her injury. She spotted blood on her arm and groaned. Her earpiece was still in her ear, her guns still in their holsters. “Zip?”

“I’m here Lara. What happened?”

“I was knocked out cold. Track my signal and find out where I am!” she demanded.

She heard typing and waited for Zip’s voice. “You’re on the fourth floor of Natla Tech, in an empty office, room 403.”

“Where’s Natla?”

“I don’t know. I’m guessing she and your doppelganger took off.”

Lara groaned and pulled her arms, attempting to break the tie around her wrist. She cried out in pain but continued to pull. To her surprise, the rope snapped and she was free. She instantly checked her arm to see what was wrong and she had a puncture wound, possibly stab wound. “How the hell did that happen?”

“Zip, I’ve escaped. I’m heading out now. See you home.”

Lara exited the room and pulled out her guns, a look of fury on her face. She came across three guards who yelled for her to stop, but she shot them down and continued moving. Four more guards were dumb enough to get in her way and down they went as well. Reaching the ground floor, Lara holstered her guns and headed out the double doors. Crossing the street, she pulled her backpack off and put her guns inside of it. Walking down the street, a taxi drove past her, slowing to a halt as she called it. Getting inside, she gave the driver her destination and relaxed in her seat. It was going to be a long flight back.

--

Opening the doors to Croft Manor, Lara dropped her backpack on the couch in the lounge and dropped onto it. Winston pursed his lips and made his way to her. “Tea, milady?”

“Please, Winston.”

He nodded once and left the room to do her bidding. She rubbed her forehead and sighed. When her butler returned with the tea, she sipped it quickly and breathed deeply. Zip entered the lounge from the gym and noticed Lara sitting on the couch, a look of frustration on her face. “Any plans?”

Lara shook her head negatively. “The next time I see Natla, I’m blowing her to kingdom come. As for that doppelganger, I want her head in my trophy room,” she snarled.

“Jesus,” Zip exhaled. “Well, I have some news for you.” Lara nodded once to let him know she was listening. “I figured I’d contact someone who can help you. They were reluctant at first, but I convinced them. I wasn’t happy about asking them, especially after what happened in the past, but I know they can help.”

“Don’t tell me…Zip, you didn’t,” she pleaded.

“I wasn’t happy about it Lara, and I knew you wouldn’t be, but you have to admit, she’s good.”

Lara breathed deeply again and sipped her tea. A moment passed and she looked up, catching Zip’s gaze. “What time’s she getting here?”

Not a moment later, the doorbell rang. Winston crossed the room and greeted in the guest. Walking into the room, the woman stood before the three of them and crossed her arms. “Hello Lara.”

“Amanda.”

--

The two of them sat in the lounge in silence for what seemed like hours. Winston brought Amanda’s tea and set it before her, a smile gesturing a thank you appeared across her face. She sipped it quietly, her eyes never leaving Lara’s. “I suppose an apology is in order?” Lara didn’t make any movement other than blinking. Amanda sighed and set the teacup down, crossing her arms.

Lara cleared her throat. “I don’t see how one is necessary. We went our separate ways in Nepal.”

“Look, I know you’re reluctant on working with me. The truth is, I’m not doing this for you - I’m doing this to learn about the device Natla’s after.”

“What, so you can use it against me?” Lara laughed.

“No. Lara, do you know anything? Do you pay attention to detail?” Lara raised her eyebrows in concern. Amanda laughed, “Unbelievable. The great Lara Croft hasn’t got a clue. I was never directly doing anything against you. When I was working with Natla, my main goal was to get to Helheim to learn about it. Destroying you was just a perk. But I realized trying to kill you was getting me nowhere, and you’re obviously too great a match for me to meet - you could have killed me at any time, and you didn’t. That told me something.”

“That you should try harder?”

“That I should stop trying. My endgame was to learn about these ancient devices. Yeah, I was trying to exact my revenge, but that was never my main goal.”

Lara didn’t believe a word Amanda was telling her. But how could she anyway after all they’ve been through? She couldn’t let her guard down for a second around this woman, nor could she trust her as far as she could throw her. But if Amanda was willing to help her get to Natla, that was an offer she couldn’t refuse, especially knowing what Amanda is capable of.

The Englishwoman licked her lips and pondered what she would say. She looked up to see Amanda tracing the rim of the teacup with her index finger. “You really want to help me get to Natla?”

Amanda nodded, sipping her tea. “I know you’ve no mind to trust me, and I don’t expect you to, but give it a chance.”

Lara nodded. “I’ll tell you the same thing I told Natla on the Tisiphone; when you step out of line, you’ll get it.”

The American sighed and nodded. “Understood. I don’t know if he mentioned it, but Zip thought it’d be better that I stayed here for awhile, so I brought luggage. It’s out in the car.”

Lara narrowed her eyes. “I’d never normally allow such a thing, but you may stay as long as you wish. Here, I’ll help you.”

The two women headed out to the grounds outside the main doors to Amanda’s black Porsche Cayenne Turbo and unloaded her suitcases from it. Setting the alarm, Amanda followed Lara into the manor. Winston showed Amanda to one of the many guest rooms in the house, the one in the same position as Lara’s bedroom, just on the opposite side of the manor. Lara leaned against the door leading to the hallway leading to Amanda’s room, waiting for Winston to return.

He opened the door and gave Lara a questioning look. “Shall I lock the trophy room?”

“Quickly.” Zip heard them from the lounge and looked up at Lara. She peered down over the balcony and looked at him. “What? You can’t be too careful around her.” A moment later, Amanda appeared from the doorway and cleared her throat. Lara turned and smiled slightly, a gesture of good faith. “All settled in?”

Amanda nodded. “I just need to put my clothes in the closet, but I can do that later.”

Lara cleared her throat. “You’re free to any room in the house, including the gymnasium and the swimming pool. There’s horses in the stables out back if you ever feel like riding one, and we’re building a firing range in the garage near the armory - which, by the way is fully stocked in case you ever need anything.”

“Rather generous of you, given our past.”

“We may have split hairs, but I’m still quite the hostess,” Lara smiled.

Amanda returned the smile and descended the staircase to the lounge, Lara following. The two sat across from each other and Lara gave her the details. After an hour or so of discussion, Amanda retired to her quarters for a bit of sleep, and Lara went outside. Crossing through the patio, she reached the water fountain and walked around it. Heading to the stables, she passed by three of the horses who neighed happily at her presence. She stroked their heads and smiled when she stood before her favorite, Midnight. He was a black Mustang and Lara remembered how long it took her to tame him. But when she did, the two became the best of friends, and he was one of the best horses she ever had.

He neighed with excitement to see his owner. Lara laughed and fed him a carrot, stroking his mane. She kissed his nose and bid him farewell as she went back inside the manor. The moment she got inside, the doorbell rang. “Ah, the mail,” she smiled. Opening the door, she smiled as the mailwoman handed Lara her letters. “Thanks, have a nice day.”

“You too,” she smiled, turning to head back to her truck. Lara watched as she drove out of the grounds, flipping through her mail. All of the mail was for her, except one credit card bill for Zip. She found him in the tech room and dropped the envelope on his desk. “Over the limit again, eh?”

He looked up and picked the envelope up. “Why do you always think I go over my limit?”

“Because I know you,” she laughed. “And no, you can’t borrow extra money.” She turned to walk away and muttered something under her breath, sounding like “As if I don’t pay you a lot anyway.”

Lara dropped the envelopes on the kitchen counter and picked up the electric bill. She opened it and checked the damages, her eyes widening. “Oh my God.”

“What is it?” Winston asked, coming into the kitchen.

“The electric bill,” Lara informed him. “The company isn’t overcharging me.” A look of shock crossed her face before a smile. “Must be a sign of the apocalypse when a money-hungry company isn’t over charging the wealthy.”

Winston suppressed a laugh and brewed some tea. “What would you like for breakfast, Lady Croft?”

“Oh, thank you Winston but I think I’ll skip it today. I’m not very much hungry right now, but I have no doubts by lunch I’ll be famished.”

“Your favorite, then?”

Lara nodded once and smiled, her butler returning the friendly gesture. She wrote a check to the electric company and sealed it a blank envelope, addressing it to the company. The tea was finished by the time she returned from the mailbox, so she poured herself some and the minute she set it down after taking a sip, she heard a loud crash from upstairs. She turned around instantly and grabbed the gun hidden in the drawer underneath the dish cloths. She cocked the slide of the Browning BDM handgun and dashed out of the kitchen and up the stairs. She sprinted down the hall to Amanda’s room and kicked the door open, aiming the gun inside.

Amanda jumped at the sound of the door being kicked open and clutched her heart, breathing heavily. “Jesus, Lara!”

Lara lowered the gun and exhaled when she saw that one of the drawers in Amanda’s dresser fell out, most likely when she opened it, she didn’t realize how much it pulled out. Exhaling, Lara turned on her heel and headed back to the kitchen. Putting the gun away, she looked through the rest of her mail before heading to the tech room.

“Zip, did you find anything?”

He smiled, a look of pride on his face. “I was tracking Natla Technologies and I found out that Natla and your doppelganger left a few hours after you escaped.”

“Where did they go?”

“Prague. I pulled the transport logs from the airfield that held Natla‘s private jet and they arrived in Prague a few minutes after you got back.”

Lara nodded. “Arrange transport for two right away.” Heading over to the PA system, she pressed the talk button and looked up to the speaker. “Amanda, we’re heading to Prague straight away. Get ready and stock up in the armory if necessary.”

A moment later, Amanda’s voice was heard. “All right, give me twenty minutes.”

That gave Lara enough time to prep before they headed out. Taking a quick shower, she dressed in gray skinny jeans, a light blue long sleeved shirt, and brown boots. Rolling the sleeves up to her elbows, Lara tucked her pants into her boots before tying her hair into a ponytail. Heading to the armory, Amanda was already there picking out weapons. She wore black jeans over black boots, a white studded belt, and a black jacket with white embellishments. She had dual back holsters on under the jacket with two SIG-Sauer P245 handguns inside. Lara equipped herself with her standard equipment, packing extra ammunition for Amanda’s guns just in case.

When the two finished, they headed to the tech room to hear the update. “The plane leaves in twenty minutes to Prague, you’ll be there in about two hours. Ring me when you get there,” he said. “I’ll let you know where Natla is.”

“All right, we’d best set out then.” Heading outside, they got inside the car waiting to bring them to the airport. Lara was surprised to see Winston behind the wheel. “Hello Winston.”

“Lady Croft,” he smiled. “Miss Evert.”

“Hello,” Amanda smiled.

The trip to Prague was a fast one, to Lara’s pleasure. She dialed Zip’s number who gave her the coordinates to Natla’s base of operations. It was an office building, about as big as Natla Technologies in New York. Finding their way inside, they explored the building only to find it was abandoned. “Zip, where are they?”

“Somewhere in the building. Hang on, I’m bringing up the schematics now.” A moment later, Zip’s voice came back. “Underneath the building. Take the elevator to the subbasement - the building may be abandoned, but the electricity still works.”

Arriving in the subbasement, Amanda and Lara pulled out their guns, taking cautious steps out of the elevator. Ahead of them was a large, open space that looked a bit like a military base. Lara spotted Natla and the doppelganger at the far end of the room, Natla standing in front of a ghostly abyss, much like the Eitr in Helheim. The two made their way over to the Atlanteans, ready for battle. The doppelganger must have spotted them, since Natla turned around quickly, a smile on her face. “Lara and Amanda. How happy I am to see the two of you.”

“What are you up to?” Amanda asked.

“Give me a moment, and you’ll see.”

Before they could react, Natla expanded the abyss and stepped aside. Suddenly, a figure appeared before them, it’s eyes staring into Lara’s. “No…no, no…” Before them was another doppelganger of Lara. Not a moment later, another appeared. Another. Another. Lara counted eight standing before them.

“Oh my God,” Amanda gasped.

A moment later, Lara and Amanda were face to face with ten clones of Lara Croft.

RPG Character Profile
"A famous explorer once said that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are."

RedHell

Fridge Raider

  • "RedHell" is female

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12

Wednesday, February 25th 2009, 6:47pm

Finally Lara and Amanda work together without having any issues... but maybe she has ulterior motives, who knows?
And wow, 10 clones :-o Guess the next chapter will be action-packed.

I'm wondering how both got through the airport security, though, with all those weapons ^^

Again, a very nice chapter :thumbsup Looking forward to the BtA-related parts.
"It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept."