Author's notes: Yeah, it's a movieverse story that got it's birth in from a comment in the director's commentary about how the one test audience that they previewed the movie for said that they wanted more of the Alex West character. Though definitely not classically handsome, there is certainly something about Alex and sensual appeal. I know that Kurtis and game related fic are more popular on this site, so I hope you VG fans can forgive me and I'll try to deliver a fair balanced splash of mayhem, action, mystery and a dash of romance.
And yes Bryce fans, I do have a soft spot for our favorite geek.
Any lovers of Peruvian and Incan history - please forgive me these flights of fancy and liberties I take with one of the greatest civilizations of all time.
Disclaimer: Tomb Raider, Lara Croft, her image and likeness are trademark and copyright © of EIDOS Interactive and Core Design. No infringement or challenge to these copyrights is intended. Alex West, Hillary and Bryce belong to Simon West and the PTB's at Paramount Studios.
The Lost Talisman
Chapter 1 – Comes A Pale Horseman
Hillary opened the door to an officious little man whose suit screamed solicitor.
"How may I help you?" Hillary requested, with an air of someone who was loath to offer any assistance to someone that might upset the calm of his household. Hillary and Bryce had seen too many of his type come to Croft manor and impart sad news or information that would plunge his lovely employer into untold dangers.
A thick brown package tied in twine was clutched firmly in the stranger's hands. The man replied. "I am here to see Lady Croft. My name is Gilbert Radfield. I'm with the law firm of Sommers, Whitfield, & Branscomb."
Cheeky as always, Bryce's head popped out from around one the pillars. "Hear that Hill? He's not one of the partners." Approaching the nervous little man in the doorway, Bryce continued, "I'm sorry chum. Lady Lara doesn't do business with anyone less than the head of the firm. She has standards."
A quietly menacing voice joined them in the person of Lady Lara Croft herself. "It is probably now obvious to this visitor, Bryce, that if I did have standards, I wouldn't let you within 50 feet of the door."
"Aw, Lara. I was just having a bit o' fun."
Trying to suppress a smile that she did not want to reward Bryce with, Lara extended her hand to the man at her door. "Lara Croft. And how may I help you, Mister…?"
"Radfield." The lawyer's palm was sweaty and he seemed distinctly more nervous in this lovely woman's presence. "I'm here on behalf of Alex West. He requested that we deliver this packet to you."
"Oh just great, the American again." Bryce popped off. Hillary jabbed him efficiently in the ribs and Bryce shot him a dirty look.
At the mention of Alex's name, Lara felt a pang of regret. It had been almost a year since the Illuminati affair and Lara had not laid eyes on Alex for over nine months. The American was annoying to be sure. But even after he had betrayed her by stealing the prayer wheels, Alex West still found a way to worm himself into her heart.
'Worm' being the operative word.
And yet. In those moments, as she watched him fall into the water with Powell's knife obscenely protruding from his chest, Lara couldn't imagine her life without the annoying American popping into it from time to time. Lara knew exactly what it would feel like to lose him as she breathed his last breath under the water in a kiss. When their lips parted, she could see in his eyes that he knew he wouldn't make it. Likely her attempts had only prolonged his agony as the giant gears crushed his trapped leg. With the last of his strength, he'd waved her away. And then she had dealt with Powell who had so cavalierly dished out death to those she cared about.
After that adventure, they'd been together for a while, but their lives and adventures had separated them again. Alex had been plagued with reoccurring dreams that he wouldn't talk about. For her part, Lara couldn't talk to him about the events during the alignment. Then, they just drifted apart. Better that way, Lara assured herself. Someone had found a way to use her affection for the rogue against her once. It could happen again. And she wasn't willing to bet his life on it again. There was no triangle of light to bring him back a second time.
"If you'll just sign here Miss, I'll be leaving."
Lara snapped out of the past and into the present. Hillary produced a pen like magic from one of his pockets and she abstractedly jotted down her signature. Turning away with the packet, she thought of something and turned back to Radfield as Hillary was escorting the lawyer out.
"I'm sorry Mr. Radfield, it is thoughtless of me. Do you need to stay to await a response from me? I can have some refreshments brought to you while you wait."
The lawyer look startled for an instant and then his face took on a sad and compassionate appearance.
"Lady Croft. It is I who should apologize to you. I was under the impression that you were already informed. Mr. West suffered an accident in the Andes two days ago and when word was relayed by a Mr. Sosa to West's solicitor in Lima of his death, this packet was over-nighted to our care."
Lara's eyes drifted down to the packet and Hilary saw the pain in them as her fingers tightened white-knuckled. Hillary stretched his arm out to touch Lara's shoulder, but in the space of that moment to the next, Lara straightened and steel flashed in her eyes once again.
"Thank you for your consideration Mr. Radfield. If I am in need of further assistance on this matter, I will be in touch."
Lara turned once again and made her way to the library. In the distance she heard Bryce say to Hillary, "I'm telling you Hills, no good has ever come of letting one of those types into the house. Next time, you need to keep that little sawed off popper you're so fond of in the foyer and scare the bugger right out of the mansion before he gets a chance to bring more bad news to our Lara."
Hillary was distracted as he followed Lara to the library. "Oh, just shut up, will you Bryce." Then, regretting the terseness of his response he added. "Sorry Bryce. I was thinking that very same thing."
Sitting at her desk, which had once been her father's, Lara opened up the bulging packet. Two smaller packets and a slim envelope addressed simply to 'Lara' lay in front of her. Gingerly she picked up an Etruscan dagger she used as a letter opener and slit open the packet.
Standing in the doorway, Hillary said, "Lara, dear. Do you need anything?"
"No Hillary. I'm fine."
"I know you are Lara." Grabbing the handle of the door, he gently started to close the door. "We're here when you need us."
To the closed door Lara gently responded, "I know. I've always counted on it."
She turned back to the envelope and unfolded what looked like two pages ripped out of a field notebook. Alex's masculine and angular writing scrawled down the two pages. As she began to read, she could swear she could hear his cocky Midwestern twang in every word.
Guess this is the proverbial "If you get this letter…" letter.
I'm not quite conceited enough (stop smiling, Lara) to think that you'd shed a tear on my behalf. Too much water's flowed under that bridge. But I need your help this one last time.
Lara could almost see almost see Alex's lopsided smile and laughing blue eyes. She smiled back at his image in her mind's eye.
So here we are. I instructed a lawyer here in Peru to get this to you if I was reported missing or dead. I know you're thinking that it's easy enough to miss a check in or two… but given where I was going – much less what I was going after and the company I was keeping… Well, let's just say that I took a long shot knowing that the deck was already stacked in the house's favor.
I know what you're thinking, and it wasn't the money - this time. You'll allow me my areas of expertise and Pre-Columbian is one of them. When certain parties interested in locating this particular tomb approached me, I had inkling as to what they were after. Frankly it put the fear of God in Mrs. West's blue-eyed, fair-haired boy. If they hadn't shown me the tablets, I would have laughed in their faces. Instead, those fools might find a way to destroy the world
I know you'll snort quite elegantly when you read this, but last year's Illuminati business changed me. I couldn't call you for help this time. I couldn't bring myself to be the cause of any harm coming to you. Couldn't get you to say what happened that day, Lara, and I never pushed it. I know the knife that buried itself in Powell was heading for me, when something changed. I think I know what you did and I have an inkling of what you sacrificed to make that happen. None of which would have been necessary if Powell hadn't gotten an idea of what you meant to me. Must have been someone watching us at the waterfall in Cambodia?
So I guess here is your chance to call me a hypocrite again. Couldn't shoot you then, wouldn't get your help before I left on this little jaunt and now I'm asking you to come to Peru. It's the damned equivalent of asking you to play Russian roulette with all the chambers loaded. But you're the only hope now for a lot of people and maybe even the future of most of the world. Always told my drinking buddies that you were a better man than I was, Lara.As the say, in vinoveritas
Now I need you to prove it and succeed where I must have so obviously failed.
Enclosed you will find copies of my sketches and notes as well as a scan of a rubbing of the tablet that they did not know I made. They'll probably have all of the originals. You're my clever girl and I know you'll find a way to beat them and find the treasure. Hell, it's likely that my (I'd like to think) untimely demise will be heralded by Julius Sosa and his goon squad approaching you to carry on where I left off. You're the best. I was probably just cheaper. Play them kiddo, and never drop your guard around Sosa for a moment. If I was stabbed in the back, it'll be his initials that you'll find on the knife.
There's more I'd like to say, but I wouldn't want to encourage you to dig me up just to laugh in my face. With any luck I went out doing what I love. Hell, in another thousand years maybe I'll be part of a find displayed in some museum of failed Tomb Raiders.
I wish I could say I have no regrets, but there are a few. You'd figure prominently in a couple, sweetheart.
There's a gift for you in one of the packets. I've made my fair share of mistakes and it's taken me a while to raise the scratch needed to make amends for one of the biggest.
Take care and give my best to Hillary and Bryce.
Lara then opened the flatter of the two packets and from it came the promised documents. Included with them was an extensive dossier on Sosa. Alex had made a mistake with Powell that he was not going to repeat with Sosa. From the details of the dossier, this time at least, Alex knew the type of snake he was getting in bed with.
Head of an international drug cartel based in Bogotá, Sosa was no one to be trifled with, Lara thought. What was Alex thinking? Then she unfolded his field notes… and she knew.
Sosa was after the Talisman of Manco Capac - a fabled Incan device that gave the wearer control over all who heard his voice. No wonder Alex wanted to keep the amulet away from Sosa. It would give him greater control and power than all the money from all the sales of any drug he could illicitly acquire. Her attention was drawn to the oddly bulging envelope that remained unopened.
Lara knew without opening the envelope what was inside. She sliced the packet and a delicately wrought prayer wheel with exquisitely executed silver filigree fell into her palm. A card fell to the table and on it Alex had written:
Now my prayers can always be with you.
Lara held the grip in her hand. Oddly, the metal felt warm, as if another hand recently held it. She twirled it as she was sure that Alex must have done.
"You should have kept it for yourself, Alex."
She knew what she needed to do. Hillary and Bryce were alerted to Lara's emergence from the library as the door slammed open.
"Hillary, we'll need to file a flight plan for Lima, Peru immediately."
"Lara, I'm sorry about Alex, but you shouldn't do anything rash."
"That's just it, Hillary. Alex isn't dead. Believe me, I know what it felt like when Alex was dead, when I knew my father was dead. And I can't tell you how I know, but Alex West is very much alive. But I'm not sure for how long. We need to hurry."
"Lara, this is crazy,' muttered Bryce.
Lara smiled sublimely, "Welcome to my world."
Bryce shook his head. "So I take it we're off to save the world again as well as one Alex West?"
I hope you liked this. Tell me if you think I should continue or if it's a bust. As always, any continuity issues, story insights and constructive criticism are always welcome.
En vino veritas: In wine – truth.