This story is a sequel to my other story Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. If you haven't read it or played the game yet, I'd advise you to read my novelization of the game first before going on with this story. Thank you to all.


Chapter 1: Bolt From the Blue

Arena, Strahov Building

Prague

22 November 2003

21:45

It had been a hard-fought battle against the hybrid creature that had once been Kristina Boaz, bearing traits of human, insect, and even of the hostile Nephilim race; ultimately however, there was a victor. As the Boaz-Fly twitched and struggled to stay conscious, the opponent loomed over the creature in its death throes as it finally lay still, defeated by Kurtis Trent.

Pointing his gun down at the monster, Kurtis looked defiantly at what had become of Boaz. And as its movement stopped, his expression turned to one of momentary pity for what her fate amounted to.

And yet, as Kurtis turned to leave, Boaz used her last ounce of strength to rise back up and skewer him through the gut. Relishing the underhanded attack against the man, Boaz pulled back her spiked arm and watched as Kurtis started to fall. It was in her false sense of victory that it couldn't react in time to the Lux Veritatis throwing his Chirugai at the treacherous monster, cutting the head clean off, and as the rest of the body fell to the floor unceremoniously, Kurtis was falling as well. He fell to his knees in pain, gripping at the hole through his stomach with one hand and the other holding him up, then he slumped to the floor with a groan.

Lara's anguished cry reverberated through the steel catwalk, echoing in the cold, dimly lit chamber that housed the remnants of Eckhardt's sinister laboratory. She had just returned from a perilous mission, one that had culminated in the deaths of both Eckhardt and Karel. Her heart pounded in her chest as she bore witness to the scene before her, the sight that sent a chill down her spine.

Kurtis lay motionless on the unforgiving floor, his once-strong body now reduced to a fragile shell. His pallid face bore the unmistakable signs of pain and suffering, and his blue eyes, once filled with determination, were now clouded with anguish. Lara's eyes darted around the cavernous room, her surroundings a chaotic mix of discarded equipment, flickering monitors, and eerie shadows cast by dimly lit sconces on the cold stone walls.

Desperation clawed at her as she desperately searched for a way down from the towering catwalk that separated her from Kurtis. Her fingers clenched the edge of the metal platform, her knuckles turning white from the intensity of her emotions. With a frantic urgency, she located a spot where she could safely descend and lowered herself, her heart pounding in her chest.

But in her haste to reach Kurtis, disaster struck. Her foot twisted upon landing, and an agonizing cry of pain escaped her lips. Tears welled up in her eyes, mingling with her frustration and fear. The searing pain in her foot seemed almost secondary to the torment of watching Kurtis slowly slip away.

Summoning every ounce of her strength, Lara hobbled toward him, her steps hampered by the throbbing pain in her injured foot. She knelt beside him, a sharp gasp escaping her lips as she turned him onto his back. Blood continued to flow from his wound, staining the cold floor with a crimson pool.

The agony etched on Lara's face mirrored the torment in her heart as she pressed her trembling palms against the wound, desperately trying to staunch the bleeding. Kurtis's voice, weak and strained, reached her ears, pulling her gaze to his pale face. Those piercing blue eyes, dimmed by pain, tried to offer comfort even in the face of imminent danger.

"Hey, Stranger," he murmured, his voice barely audible amidst the chaos. His attempt to lighten the mood, to ease her burden, tugged at the corners of her trembling lips. "Don't... don't worry about me."

Lara's eyes welled up with tears, her heart aching for this man she hardly knew but had come to care for deeply. She babbled incoherently, her voice quivering with grief, as she tried to convey the depth of her feelings. It was a pain she had long buried, the pain of loving someone and losing them.

"Bugger, Kurtis, I can't lose you," she whispered, her voice choked with emotion. Her eyes closed briefly, her tears flowing freely as she fought to keep herself from breaking down completely. She had embarked on this mission alone, but now, in this moment of crisis, she realized she was no longer alone. Kurtis had become an integral part of her life.

In the dwindling moments of Kurtis's life, he found the strength to speak again. Lara's heart ached as she leaned in, her breath hitching as she brushed her lips against his. It was a tender, bittersweet kiss, a testament to the connection they had forged in the midst of chaos.

As they parted, Kurtis's eyelids drooped, and Lara saw the light in his eyes dimming, the struggle to hold on becoming too much. His final words, whispered with a wheeze, hung heavily in the air. "I love you, Lara," he rasped, his voice barely more than a whisper, and then a fit of coughing wracked his frail form.

Lara's heart shattered as she watched him, tears streaming down her cheeks, her voice breaking as she responded, "I love you too, Kurtis." She cradled his head against her chest, her tears falling upon him like a torrential rain. In that poignant moment, their love was sealed, even as Kurtis took his last, labored breath, and the world grew dim around them.

Tears continued to flow unchecked down Lara's cheeks as she gazed down at Kurtis, the weight of his life slipping away from her. Her heart was a heavy burden of sorrow and frustration, the kind of deep-seated anger that could only be directed at the monstrosity that was Boaz. If only she had made it back in time, she thought bitterly, if only she could have prevented this gruesome outcome. It was a painful reminder of her relentless journey, where she emerged alive while others often met their untimely end.

With a voice heavy with grief, she repeated her love for Kurtis, her words a testament to the profound connection that had developed between them in the midst of chaos. Laying her head gently on his chest, she found solace in the rhythm of his fading heartbeat, sobbing herself to sleep in her inconsolable sorrow.

Hours passed, and Lara stirred, her confusion and disorientation filling the void left by Kurtis's absence. Her eyes darted around the dimly lit chamber, her heart racing as she realized that she was alone. Panic gripped her as she searched for any trace of him, but Kurtis's body had vanished, leaving only a haunting pool of blood as evidence of his presence.

Pushing herself up on shaky legs, Lara's gaze fell upon Kurtis's mystical shuriken, an enigmatic weapon that pulsed with otherworldly energy. Trembling, she reached out and picked it up, feeling its strange vibrations beneath her fingertips. As she clutched the weapon, its blades extended, whirling with an almost sentient purpose. Lara had to struggle to maintain her grip as it spun her around, pointing toward a shadowy tunnel.

A subtle smile touched her lips, a glimmer of determination in her eyes as she made her decision. With newfound resolve, she began to walk toward the entrance of the tunnel, disappearing into its darkness. The legacy of Kurtis, and the love they shared, drove her forward into the unknown, ready to face whatever challenges lay ahead.

(Six months later...)

Croft Manor

Surrey, England

15 May 2004

16:30

Lara found herself standing amidst the solemn stillness of the cemetery, her father's grave a somber focal point in the otherwise tranquil setting. The late afternoon sun cast long shadows across the weathered tombstones, painting a melancholic picture of the passage of time. The air was heavy with the scent of freshly turned earth, a poignant reminder of all her losses.

As she stood there, her gaze fixated on the marker that bore her father's name, a torrent of memories and emotions flooded her mind. The man she had loved and admired so deeply was no longer there to offer guidance or share in her joys and sorrows. The weight of her grief pressed down on her chest, making it difficult to breathe.

Lara's thoughts drifted back to the enigmatic stranger she had encountered just a few months ago. His presence had stirred something within her, a spark of emotions she couldn't quite put into words. But now, like everyone else in her life, he too had vanished into the abyss of uncertainty. The sense of longing and despair welled up within her, intensifying her feelings of isolation.

In the midst of this emotional turmoil, Lara couldn't escape the haunting questions that had plagued her for months. Her relentless quest for answers about the Lux Veritatis had yielded disappointingly scant results. Frustration gnawed at her, as the elusive truth remained just beyond her grasp.

Tears welled up in her eyes, spilling down her cheeks unchecked. They were not just tears of frustration, but tears of profound loss and a profound sense of isolation. She was adrift in a sea of uncertainty, desperately seeking the missing pieces of a puzzle that had consumed her life. All she wanted were explanations, reasons to understand why she found herself waking up day after day, alone and adrift in a world that had grown increasingly unfamiliar.

Standing there before her father's grave, Lara was a complex tangle of emotions. She felt the weight of her grief, the ache of abandonment, and the frustration of her unanswered questions. As the tears continued to flow, she knew that she couldn't rest until she unraveled the mysteries that surrounded her, until she found the solace and purpose that had eluded her for far too long.

With a heavy sigh that seemed to carry the weight of her emotions, Lara reached for the backpack slung over her shoulder. The zipper slid smoothly open, revealing the carefully folded letter tucked away inside. Her fingers trembling slightly, she delicately extracted the piece of paper, her grip tightening around it as if it were a lifeline in the sea of uncertainty that surrounded her.

Lara's eyes, glistening with unshed tears, fixated on the handwritten words that covered the page. The paper bore the telltale signs of being handled many times before, its corners slightly creased from repeated readings. She brought the letter close to her heart, clutching it as if it held the answers to all her questions, or perhaps the solace she so desperately sought.

As she began to read the words she had penned, her gaze shifted from the letter to the surroundings. The cemetery's peaceful ambiance provided a stark contrast to the turmoil within her. The soft rustling of leaves in the gentle breeze and the distant chirping of birds.

Her voice, barely above a whisper, quivered with emotion as she recited the contents of the letter. Each word carried a piece of her heartache, an expression of her longing, and a plea for understanding. The emotions that had swirled within her for so long found voice in her reading, the pain in her heart palpable in the tremor of her voice.

Lara's eyes remained fixed on the letter, but her thoughts wandered beyond the words on the page. She pondered the significance of the letter, its purpose in helping her navigate the labyrinth of her emotions and the mysteries that enveloped her life. The letter was a lifeline to her past, a link to the feelings and memories that had shaped her journey.

At that moment, surrounded by the serenity of her family cemetery and the contents of her letter, Lara was a portrait of vulnerability. She was searching for meaning, seeking solace, and reaching out for something, or someone, who could provide the answers she so desperately craved.

'Dear Winston,

I am leaving for a while. I need to clear my head. Sorry if I did not say goodbye, but I am just not in the mood for any small talk. After what had happened in Prague, I have reached the point that there is more to life than raiding some ancient tomb with priceless artifacts inside. You remember after Alex and Terry I never imagined I'd fall in love again, but I did, in the process and I lost him.

I need a break from everyone and to find myself again. I am not the Lara you all know and love anymore. Don't worry too much about me, I'll be fine and will be back soon.

Sincerely love,

Lara'

Lara returned home, the familiar surroundings of her house offering a stark contrast to the emotional whirlwind that had consumed her at her father's grave. She carefully placed the heartfelt letter she had written on the worn kitchen counter, the place where it would soon be discovered by those who cared about her. A sense of finality hung in the air as she turned away from the note, her decision made and her path set.

Making her way down to the garage, the coolness of the concrete floor met the warmth of her boots. Her collection of vehicles lay before her, each one a testament to the adventures and experiences that had defined her life. But her eyes settled on one in particular – the Kurtis Motorbike. It stood as a tangible memento of a dear friend, a connection to a past filled with shared trials and triumphs.

Lara regarded the motorcycle with a bittersweet smile, her fingers tracing over the sleek curves of the machine. It was as if the spirit of her absent friend lingered within the chrome and leather, a silent companion for the journey she was about to undertake.

Determined to escape the overwhelming emotions that had held her captive, Lara donned her motorcycle helmet. As the visor obscured her face, she felt a sense of liberation, a fleeting respite from the weight of her emotions. With a practiced hand, she swung her leg over the seat cushion and ignited the engine. The familiar, throaty growl of the motorbike filled the garage, a sound that had always been music to her ears.

Lara shifted into first gear, the machine responding with a surge of power that reverberated through her body. She accelerated out of the garage, the world outside rushing to meet her. The open road beckoned, and she surrendered to its call, her grip on the handlebars tightening as she sped away from the familiar confines of her home.

As she rode, her thoughts were consumed by memories of Kurtis, his face and laughter etched into her mind. The wind whipped through her hair and helmet, mingling with the tears that streamed down her face. She rode faster and faster, the scenery becoming a blur, not caring where the road led. It was a desperate attempt to outrun the pain that had plagued her for so long, to find solace in the speed and the freedom that only the open road could provide.

At that moment, as the world rushed by and the engine roared beneath her, Lara sought refuge in the act of riding, hoping that the miles ahead would offer some respite from the anguish that had gripped her soul.