By the way, Tomb Raider, Lara Croft, and her
likeness are all copyright (c) EIDOS Entertainment, 1996. This
story is copyright to me, and may not be used without my express
permission. Any references to incidents or persons, either living
or dead, is purely coincidental.
Lara surveyed the room in which she stood. People
were milling about quietly; the subdued murmur of Appellate conversation
combined with the subtle yet elegant clink or champagne glasses.
Lara hated these functions (especially the polite, and above
all, meaningless conversation), but she had to show some respect
to the museum that had just bought her latest find. People tended
to be a little offended if you refuse to go to a function on
the grounds that you hated sharing a room with pompous upper
class superficial socialites. She wondered how many of them actually
cared at all about the museum (or more accurately, its contents)
and how many of them were just here to show how fashionable,
intelligent and, probably more than anything, how rich they were.
She didn't really feel comfortable in the black
pants and tasteful sleeveless gray top she was wearing, but she
felt distinctly more comfortable than she would have in a constricting
formal gown. The atmosphere reminded her of the social events
she used to attend as a teenager, and that was an association
she didn't care to contemplate right now. Instead she let her
mind wander to the times she had spent here as a small girl,
staring in wonder at the ancient mummies and jeweled artifacts.
When she was young, she had seen a movie where two children were
trapped in a museum late at night, and wished that she could
go exploring through the darkened corridors, cabinets throwing
strange shadows in the gloom
Croft, no ?"
Lara's private reminiscences were interrupted by
a male voice. She glanced around to see a brown haired and black
suited man standing at her side. He looked as if he was in his
early thirties, and she groaned inwardly. One of the things she
tried to avoid at these functions was the inevitable attention
of upwardly mobile men who wanted to tame the wild Croft, or
who felt that they could entice her back into the aristocracy.
His condescending tone placed him firmly in the last group in
Lara's mind, and she began to frantically concoct excuses to
"I read your book recently Slaying
Bigfoot. A charming work of fiction, I must admit. It's been
me to see how you've plunged the zoological world into turmoil.
What on earth persuaded you to write a book like that ?"
"The large shaggy rug on my loungeroom floor," snapped
Lara, turning on her heel. She had to get out of here,
before she said something she might regret (although right now
she could think of quite a few things to say that she doubted
she'd regret at all). The man reached for her retreating arm,
and as he grabbed her wrist she whirled around and twisted her
arm sharply, bringing a surprised wince of fairly severe pain
to his face.
"I'm sorry, but there's something I simply
must attend to in the next room," she said in a sweet
voice edged with steel. She strode towards the door, the middle
security guard startled as she pushed past. He walked after
? I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to stay out
of there. This
part of the museum is closed
for the evening."
very sorry, but I don't like crowds, and I'm feeling a little
claustrophobic. Could I just
rest for a few minutes in this room ? I won't go anywhere,
I'll stay where you can see me."
The security guard smiled.
don't blame you. Myself, I don't feel comfortable with all
these rich types.
I'd rather be down at the pub any
smiled back, "Believe
me, I know how you feel"
She wandered the cool sanctuary of the quiet, empty
room, she hoped that none of the museum's important figures had
seen what had just happened. She sighed - well, it could have
been worse. She wandered the room, always taking care to stay
within the sights of the security guard. Walking up to one of
the cabinets, she traced her finger on the glass, looking at
the display of small clay votive figures. Of course Lara herself
had provided quite a few exhibits for the museum, exhibits which
had brought a lot of comment from the archaeological establishment.
Her most important or dangerous finds were kept at home, locked
away where they would be much safer than here at the museum.
She smiled at the thought of the Ark of the Covenant, hidden
in the secret room underneath the stairs. One of the most beautiful
and special artifacts that she had retrieved. Still uneasy about
her decision to commit her latest find into their care, Lara
thought over her arguments for and against that had been continually
battling inside her head - she still wasn't quite sure if it
was totally safe. She pictured the intricate metalwork on the
bracelet in her mind, the circular designs framing the large
dark red stone in the center. The way the light used to glint
off the silver, and refract strangely within the stone.
of the main reasons she had decided to give to bracelet to
the museum was because
even having it in the house
made her uneasy it was too mesmerizing. She caught herself
staring at it for long periods of time, entranced by the play
of light and dark in the stone. She didn't trust herself around
it, and at least here it would be out of reach. Hopefully the
hundreds of people who wandered through, gaping at the exhibits
mindlessly would not pay too much heed to the entrancing stone,
the polished surface hidden by a half-inch thick layer of perspex.
She wondered why on earth it was her lot to constantly discover
dangerous artifacts ? Why, for once, couldn't she just find something
boring, like ancient Peruvian potsherds or the tomb of a completely
unremarkable ruler who had nothing to do with sorcery or ancient
genetic engineering ? Smiling wryly, she answered herself - "Because
then it wouldn't be any fun."
In the room next door, the constant murmur of voices
fell to silence as a figure stepped behind the lectern in the
center of the floor, and began to speak.
"S'about bloody time," whispered
one slightly tipsy guest to another. The other wasn't really
preoccupied as he was with massaging his still-sore wrist.
"Here, what's wrong with your wrist ? Let
me have a look, 'madoctor". The self-proclaimed if slightly
slurred doctor grabbed his wrist, and bent it so it was in
the light. The owner of the abused wrist gritted his teeth
the squeal of pain that would have otherwise emerged.
"Needs a bandage," said
the doctor, and promptly proceeded to drag his would-be patient
towards the room
containing, amongst all the historical artifacts, Lara.
"Look, let go of me you drunk loony !" he
hissed. Trying to be as discreet as possible , he attempted
to disentangle himself from this strange man. Still, every
the room was turning towards him and his undesired companion,
and he received a particularly frosty glare from the speaker
behind the lectern. This must be the most embarrassing evening
I have ever had - first rejected and injured by Miss Croft
and then this !¹ he thought, as he felt his face turning that
shade of red. To save any further embarrassment to himself
and any further damage to his social standing he stopped struggling,
hoping that when they reached the privacy of the room ahead
could get rid of this idiot.
stood with a slightly suppressed smile on her face as she
watched the couple weave
towards her hiding place.
She probably should be returning to the main room in any case,
to hear the curator talk about how wonderful she was for finding
that beautiful artifact, etcetera, etcetera, and how much the
museum appreciated her contribution. If they actually knew
what she had given them they might not be so glad of it, however.
Unfortunately this train of thought distracted her to the point
where the two men had reached the door. Lara watched as the
guard rose to meet them, but after a few seconds he returned
to his seat, and they entered the room. Lara moved to circle
around the outside of the room hopefully she could get past
without them noticing, and avoid their attention in this secluded
room (that didn't even bear thinking about). She stepped sideways
behind a large cabinet containing a sarcophagus, and started
to edge towards the door.
right there, Miss Croft."
She froze, uncertain. She was sure that they could
not have seen her, and certain they could not have heard her
quiet, sure steps. Who was this person, and what did they want
? She was severely tempted to dive behind the cabinet in front
of her, roll and, well, unfortunately carrying firearms was not
considered proper in polite society, and she hadn't precisely
been expecting anything out of the ordinary. She shook off the
acrobatic compulsion, and turned to face the person who had addressed
He was standing in the shadows, and Lara could
not manage to make out his features. However, it was easy to
recognise the previously pompous, but now exceedingly frightened
aristocrat who had harassed her earlier in the evening. The object
of his fear now rested a few millimeters away from the side of
his face - a small handgun.
gaze immediately went to the door, and saw that the security
guard was slumped,
as if asleep. "The
security guard - what did you do to him ?"
The hidden man chuckled dustily.
he won't live through. I'm not here to kill just anyone."
With this, he pushed away his captive, and swung
the gun around to face Lara.
She reacted immediately, ducking and diving forward
towards the shadowed man, hoping it was what he least expected.
The sound of the gun firing and cabinets shattering behind her
filled the air, and little bits of glass showered her body. She
heard the former captive scream, and scramble from the room,
and the raised voices in the next room. Her desperate dive connected,
as she cannoned into his lower legs, sending him crashing to
the floor. Unfortunately, one of his boots slammed into her ribs
as they hit, winding her and forcing a breathless grunt of pain
out along with the air. Even though she was screaming at her
body to get up, get away, she was forced to lie still for a few
moments before she could breathe again. She heard the steps of
high heeled and expensive shoes at the doorway, and the gasps
as they found the prone body of the security guard, but they
did not venture any further into the room, unable to see anyone
in the shadows where Lara now lay gasping for breath. As soon
as she was able to move, she started to scramble up painfully,
hoping more than anything that the shadowy man had been knocked
When she knelt to stand, she felt the right side
of her face explode in a burst of pain. The apparently unconscious
figure had swung the gun at her face as soon as she began to
rise, connecting and throwing her sideways. As Lara fell, he
rose to kneel above her, and started to bring the gun around
into her face.
She saw the gun swinging into her line of vision,
and she raised her hand to try to stop him. His wrist slapped
into her palm, but it took all of her strength to keep the gun
pointing just a few inches away from her ear. Panting from the
fall and fight, he looked into her face, and began to smile.
"Imagine - I will be the one to kill the," and
here he laughed, "famous Miss Croft. Who has evaded many
and survived much but I will have you !"
Bringing her knee up, Lara aimed for an incapacitating
blow. Surprised and caught off guard, the man lurched awkwardly
to the side, trying to avoid her attempt to put him out of action.
Which, of course, was all Lara needed. Grabbing onto to the man's
shirt, she pulled him further off balance, and slammed his head
into the marble floor. She was gratified to see that his eyes
rolled up into his head, and his body went limp. Swiftly retrieving
the gun from his hands, she stood, smoothing out her now hopelessly
messy clothes. Strangely, though, she felt far more comfortable
in them now.