This is just a short prologue to this story. It's going to be an Angel/Lara Croft crossover, set during Angel season 4. I will probably carry on with it at some point quite soon depending on interest etc. It will be mainly Wesley, Lara centric. Hope people enjoy.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I do not own the rights or characters to Angel or the Lara Croft Movies. This work is written purely for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of any of my readers.
The alleyway was quiet, the calm of late evening broken only by the whirring of AC units, and faint stains of music drifting from an open window somewhere nearby.
Her footsteps were quiet, and as she walked steadily down the alley, eying the building numbers, she could hear the dull murmur of traffic from the street behind her. It was a wide alleyway, lined with tall warehouses, some of which had been converted into housing. Here and there pot plants grew, bright spots of colour attempting valiantly to distract the eye from high walls of brick. It wasn't that well lit, but the even though it was late evening it was still light enough for her to see fairly well. A few buildings had lights in their windows, but most appeared to be empty. From the faded hoardings, it appeared that some company had part partially developed the alley, in the hope it would prove a popular spot. Judging by the seemingly abandoned construction materials, and the empty unfinished shells of several half converted warehouses, they had been mistaken. Either the company had gone bust, or there was some other reason for the work being halted.
Pausing for a moment to consult the address she had jotted down during her phone call with Bryce, she thought she heard a melody she recognised. Glancing up, she saw that she stood next to number 47. As she set off again down the alleyway the music grew louder, until she reached number 53. It stood half way down the alley, seemingly tacked on the end of a long line of brick warehouses. Just beyond it there was the entrance to a small side street. She stopped in front of the door, noting the fresh paint. From the looks of it, the building had originally been built as a small house or office, presumably for a guard or night-watchman. It was much lower than the tall warehouses to its right, and far more homely. It looked old, far older than most of the buildings in the area. Brightly polished numerals on the door gave the number, and a small bronze plaque listed the name of the man she had come to see.
The music was easily recognisable now, an aria, from Tosca. Her father had loved Puccini, and as a young girl she could often remember him playing it on the old gramophone in his study. She remembered the soft carpet before the fireplace, where she had lain so often, the familiar smoke of his cigar, as he sat back in his chair, engrossed in the beautiful music. Just above the door was a small round window, like a porthole. The brightly lit circle of glass was propped open on a catch, the source of the music. She pressed the doorbell. Through the door she heard a faint buzzing noise. She waited for a moment, then pressed again. Again came the faint sound of the bell over the soothing music.
Nothing stirred through the frosted glass of the small window set in the door. After a few moments Lara rang the bell again. Yet again the buzzer produced no reaction from within.
She tried the door, but it was firmly locked. It was a solid piece of woodwork, set in thick stone. If she'd really needed to, she was sure she could have picked the lock, but she decided instead to check the side alley for another way in. Plus it would have been rather, tricky, should Mr Martelli turn up back at his house and find her picking the lock.
As she walked around the building, she once again dialled the mobile number which he had given her when they arranged to meet. Just like earlier, the number rang and rang and then flipped over to voicemail. She closed the call, and then dialled the number that Bryce had uncovered. This time all she got was an engaged signal. It would have been a bit more reassuring, if she hadn't got the same engaged signal for the last 2 hours.
She walked deeper into the small side street, surveying the sidewall of the house. It was darker here; the tall buildings cast deep shadows which she guessed would never lift even in daylight. There were signs that people had passed this way before though, and then up ahead, set in an archway against wall, stood another door. This one was most certainly unlocked. Apart from anything else, a thin line of yellow light was projecting into the alley. It was the first thing she had noticed.
She drew nearer cautiously, keeping to the shadows as much as possible. Combined with the lack of any reply to the bell or phone, an open door did not bode well. Trying to shake of the feeling of deep unease she gently pushed at the door. It swung open easily, casting a bright rectangle of yellow light across the dark alley. The light picked out a line of carved symbols in the wood of the doorpost. Keeping a wary eye out for movement in the alley behind her, she bent down, tracing her fingers over them. She didn't recognise any of them, although some looked like variations on ancient Sumerian. They were deeply cut into the wood, and as she thoughtfully traced a finger over one, she got one hell of a shock. As she touched the wood, she got what felt like an electric shock. For a moment she thought she heard low muttered voices, reciting words in a strange tongue.
She withdrew her hand hurriedly from the wood, more than a little disturbed. She had encountered things that defied explanation several times on her travels, but she had not expected to do so in Los Angeles. When a contact at the British Museum had pointed her the way of Senior Martelli, she had assumed that he was simply an academic. Suddenly she wished she had taken the time to enquire further. Assumptions got you killed, she thought ruefully, remembering the comments by Sergeant Lawson on the topic. Then again, he'd expressed it somewhat more colourfully. Pulling a small penlite from her pocket she carefully played the beam over the rest of the door frame. More symbols, along with a couple of crosses, pinned by nails on either side of the door.
She walked slowly inside, firmly ignoring a small voice in the back of her mind that was telling to run. "Signor Martelli" she called, voice raised slightly over the music. She found herself in a small backroom, two of its walls lined with locked cabinets. It looked like a shop. There was a glass display case along one wall, while to her right there was a long counter, with a till at one end. She surveyed the contents of the display case, taking in a number of ornate and beautiful forged daggers. There was also a collection of shuriken, a sizeable double headed axe, and what looked like a claymore, but far larger than any man could lift.
None of this fit with the impression she had gained of the man she had spoken to on the phone. He certainly hadn't mentioned anything about being a dealer in
bladed weaponry. She gazed around the room, taking in the small heavily barred windows. It definitely didn't fit with her assumptions.
"Signor Martelli" she called again, as she circled round the back of the counter, heading for a doorway back there. There was the typical string of beads hanging down, but behind them to her surprise stood yet another door. It was made of dull metal, thick, and slightly ajar. As she pushed it open, she noticed with increasing apprehension that there were bloody finger marks on the metal. As the door opened the music swelled over her, its calm and beauty unsettling it that deserted house.
The room beyond was small, lit by a number of soft lamps. The walls were panelled in dark wood, into which were set a number of glass display cases. A couple of deep armchairs were pulled up in front of the fire, while in a corner stood a and wide wooden desk, its surface lined with green leather.
It wasn't until she walked around the desk that she found the body. She gagged, trying hard not to vomit. On the carpeted floor, now sodden with blood, lay the remains of person in the tattered remnants of a suit. The desk and overturned chair were coated with droplets of blood, but she hardly noticed them. The blood was nothing new, but the skin of the dead man was burnt and scorched all over. Strange markings were branded into the flesh of his back. He lay face down, so she, already guessing who it was, leant down and managed to tug him onto his back.
She let go hurriedly, unsure if she was seeing correctly. The dead man's face was covered in blue spikes which seemed to project from his skin, while his lifeless eyes still seemed to shine a bright red. Despite this, she recognised the face of Signor Antonio Martelli.
The cause of death was obvious; there was a gaping wound in the man's chest. Lara pulled back abruptly, retreating from the smell and sight of death. The music rose to a crescendo, and in sudden anger Lara yanked the CD from its tray, so that the room fell blissfully silent.
She slowly returned to the body, leaning down to press her fingers against the man's neck. He was stone cold, clearly dead for several hours. As she bent down, her eye was caught by a small light flashing under the desk. Stretching out her hand, it came in contact with a small hard object. Closing her fingers around it, she pulled back to reveal a mobile phone. Flipping open the lid, the small screen lit up to display a grand total of 20 missed calls and numerous messages. Scrolling deftly through the menus, she discovered the last call to be answered had taken place around 3:30 pm.
Less than 20 minutes later came the first missed call. Since the phone clearly belonged to Martelli, for she recognised her own number among the missed calls, that meant he had last answered his phone almost an hour prior to their arranged meeting. As he had failed to attend that meeting, it seemed likely Martelli had been dead for a good 3 hours.
Lara was just considering how she was going to explain this situation to the police, when she heard a soft click behind her. Spinning round, she found a tall dark haired man standing in the doorway from the shop. What really drew her eye however, was the automatic pistol in his right hand, which was currently pointing in her direction. His eyes flicked from the body on the bloodstained carpet to her, and then he brought up his other hand, to hold the pistol in a firm two handed grip. There was another louder "click", the unmistakeable sound of a safety catch being disengaged. The pistol barrel rose slightly, to point directly at her chest.
She tensed, not unsurprisingly. The competent way with which the man was handling the gun suggested it would be a bad idea to try anything even if she had been considering it, which she hadn't. She let the phone drop to the floor, and slowly raised her hands, with the palms facing towards him. Any thoughts that he might be an undercover policeman were rapidly dispelled as soon as he spoke.
In a distinctly English accent he said. "Keep your hands where I can see them! Now tell me, who are you, and what are you doing here?" His tone and expression were dark, making it clear he would brook no argument or shoddy answers.
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