TOMB RAIDER: LEGEND - PC/PS2/GC/XBOX

FAQ/Walkthrough by J Woodrow  <mansion880@yahoo.co.uk>

Version 1.0 - 2008/03/03
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                                  Lara Croft
                                  T  O  M  B
                             R   A   I   D   E   R
                              ------------------
                               L  E  G  E  N  D


-- Adaptation by J Woodrow ----------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  BOLIVIA - Tiwanaku

     Anaya telephoned today. She heard a
     rumour about an ancient temple in Bolivia
     that contains an ornate stone dais. It could
     be the one I'm looking for. I'm setting out
     first thing in the morning.

     "I've been looking for certain artifacts."


-- Nepal, Part 1 --------------------------------------------------------------

A light aircraft cut through the dark of a storm. Lightning flickered, rain 
lashed the fuselage, propellers struggled against the wind. Its pilot peered 
out to the port side, and checked his instruments. In the private cabin, a 
woman sat with a child at her knee. The little girl held a notebook of drawings 
and stories.

"Just because no one's ever caught one," she said, "doesn't mean they're not 
real."

She rested her head on her mother's shoulder but caught something sharp. The 
woman unpinned a brooch from her lapel and placed it on the seat at her side. 
"That is very true," she said, "but perhaps they don't wish to be found. I've 
heard they are rather fierce."

"Yeti only look fierce,' the girl explained, showing her picture of the 
mythical monsters, surrounded by temples and snowy mountain peaks. "They 
probably don't like being so cold all the time. I shouldn't like it either."

"You never have to be cold, my Lara, if you don't want to be." She kissed her 
daughter's head. Lara caught sight of an orange glow through a cabin window. 
"Look!"

At that moment the plane rocked and they were thrown to the floor. The woman 
called to the pilot: "Henry! What's happened?"

"Lady Croft, please stay seated."

The co-pilot made urgent signal. "Mayday, mayday ... this is Bravo Tango Two-
Two-niner..."

Lara stared out at the engine on fire. Lady Croft grabbed her daughter's arm, 
hauled her to a seat, and strapped her in. The pilots struggled to control the 
aircraft.

"We've lost our portside engine ... trying to get crossfeeds open..."

"Are we going to crash?" the little girl asked.

As Lady Croft stumbled into her seat, luggage hurtled through the compartment.

"...starboard engine non-responsive..."

She tried to put a brave face on the situation but her voice betrayed anxiety. 
"Not unless it's absolutely necessary."

The little girl's eyes widened.

"...stabilizer jammed ... kicking rudder ... losing altitude. We're going full 
nose down!"

The two passengers were thrown around in their seats as the plane bucked 
wildly. Alarms sounded and Lara's mother looked anxiously on her daughter. 
"Close your eyes, darling."

Lara shook her head. "I don't want to close my eyes."

The flaming engine lit the cockpit nightmare red as the pilots wrestled at the 
controls. In an instant the windows were blown through in a blinding flash of 
white.

-- Meet Tiwanaku --------------------------------------------------------------

Legendary adventurer Lara Croft hung expertly off the sheer rock face of a 
mountain, high above the clouds. A bird soared free as wind whistled round. She 
shuffled confidently sideways off a narrow cranny. This was free-climbing: no 
ropes, no tools, absolutely no safety net.

"You know, I think you forgot your climbing gear on purpose."

The voice of her right hand man and tech expert, known to all only as Zip, came 
in her ear via a headset.

"What would give you that idea?" Lara hoisted up on a ledge that broke under 
her fingertips. She clutched to another as she fell. "Really, Zip, it's like 
going up a set of stairs, only far less boring."

"Yeah, well, I want to throw up every time you look down. Hey, Alister's back." 
Zip greeted Lara's research assistant, Alister Fletcher. "Grab a headset."

"Back so soon..." Lara said, jumping for a cranny. "From Florence, wasn't it?"

"Decided on Genoa at the last minute," Alister sighed. "My dissertation will 
never see daylight at this rate. But never mind that, what are you doing in 
Bolivia?"

Lara launched through the air and soared for a rock ledge. Hands in fingerless 
leather gloves snatched at the last moment. "Ascending," she said as she pulled 
up and performed an elegant handstand onto a high plateau. "Alister, meet 
Tiwanaku. She's a lovely pre-Incan civilization, currently in ruins."

Ahead was a series of ledges, caves, and waterfalls.

"Delighted."

"I've been looking for certain artifacts," Lara explained, "well, for some time 
now, and an old friend working in La Paz has tipped me off about a rather 
promising rumour."

"What sort of artifacts?"

"An ornate stone dais, among other things."

"A big rock," Zip confirmed. "And she won't say why."

"Ah, well," Lara said. "Where would the suspense be, otherwise?"

She presented quite a figure in this untamed environment: olive shorts and 
tight cropped top for unrestricted movement, feet in rugged boots. Long brown 
hair tied in a ponytail, twin pistols strapped to her thighs. Such supplies as 
she needed she carried in a small backpack. Though bare legs and midriff were 
exposed, there wasn't an insect in Bolivia that would dare bite her.

She hopped from one rock to another across a mountain stream. Birds flapped 
skywards at her approach. Nearby a waterfall tumbled to a rocky pool. A knotted 
vine dangled overhead between high ledges. Loose rocks rolled gently away at 
her feet and splashed into the pool. Lara dived in and swam across. As she 
climbed out of the water she sighed with pleasure. "Ah... That was lovely." She 
shook herself dry a little, and mounted a low ledge.

-- PDA Check ------------------------------------------------------------------

"Hey," Zip said, on the headset. "Do me a favor and check your PDA?"

Lara carried an electronic handset with comprehensive data support. She tapped 
a few keys. "It still works," she confirmed, "if that's what you're wondering."

"Cool - they said it was waterproof. You should be able to swim with it, no 
problem. Unless you eat it, then you'll have to wait an hour."

Lara examined a heavy boulder that blocked her way along a rock gully. Putting 
her shoulder to it, she shifted the heavy rock to the edge of the gully, where 
it toppled to shatter below. She was clear for a short jump to a small grassy 
outcrop where tree roots snaked from above. She climbed to jump safely onto a 
rock ledge. Just ahead, a river ran to the waterfall that cascaded to the rock 
pool she had swum through below. Somewhere behind the shower of water she made 
out a cave in the rock, and she used the dangling vine to swing towards it.

Back at home base the guys saw what she saw through a camera on her headset. 
Alister made a plea: "The video is going to make me sick if you keep on 
swinging, Lara." She jumped off the vine through the waterfall, and her voice 
echoed in the cave passage. "Look away from the screen, then."

The cave was pitch dark, but she wore a flashlight clipped to the shoulder 
strap of her trusty backpack. Its powerful beam showed the way through cold 
puddles to daylight. She looked down on her starting point, with the waterfall 
and rock pool just below. A rocky platform jutted in front where she stood, and 
from it she judged that a thin ledge in the rock face might lead her around to 
where the frothing river spilled over.

As she moved hand over hand along the narrow ledge, Zip warned her to be 
careful. "Deep breaths, Zip," she replied. "This will be a long trip, 
otherwise."

"I forgot you were such an optimist."

She made it fairly effortlessly around to where the river tumbled to the fall. 
Lara sprang off the ledge to its bank and splashed through the shallow rushing 
waters upstream along a narrow gully that was lined with fallen rocks and 
branches.

Suddenly the ground shook. Close ahead a massive boulder became dislodged by 
the stream, and rolled fast towards her. At the last second she pressed herself 
flat to the rock wall, and the boulder crashed past, tumbling over the fall.

"That," Zip gasped, "was too close."

With more caution now, Lara made her way upstream until she came to a sheer 
waterfall. There was no way to climb up it, but she spotted a fallen branch 
that spanned the gully, and splashed back a little to a flat rock to jump up to 
it. She shuffled across and swung to a smaller branch sticking out from the 
gully wall. It bent under her weight but did not break. She leaped 
acrobatically onwards to a rock ledge beside the waterfall, and sprang sideways 
across the water to another ledge on the far side. As she clung by her 
fingertips she heard a voice nearby, and ducked down to listen.

-- First Contact --------------------------------------------------------------

"Copy that. I'm here but I don't see no climber."

A uniformed man splashed through the stream close above her. He carried a gun.

"Yeah, well I can't shoot on sight if I can't see nobody," he muttered through 
a headset. "I got worked up thinking I'd get to put someone down today, and now 
there's nothing. He owes me one."

Lara pulled up and drew her weapons. The guard had his back to her and was 
still pissed at his fruitless task.

"Hell yeah, I'll tell Rutland myself, you know it - give him the radio."

He paced ankle-deep in the water. Lara stayed out of sight and listened for 
information.

"It's a snipe hunt anyhow," the man grumbled on. "You saw the cliffs below the 
LZ - no way someone free-climbed that. Ask Sanchez. Nobody's out here but the 
idiot twins upstream, so I'm putting down anything that moves. Yeah - tell 'em 
both to stay put or they're going home in a box. I'm not gonna be checking no 
ID's. I'm not letting anything get past, tell him that much. Or tell that 
freaky chick with him. What's her story? I sure wouldn't mind-"

Whoever was on the other end had had enough bellyaching. The guard snapped to 
order.

"Copy that. Check back in twenty."

Plain that he wouldn't let Lara just walk past, and equally plain that on 
somebody's orders he wanted her dead. The soldier turned suddenly and raised 
his gun. Before he had time to fire a round Lara ruthlessly shot him where he 
stood. The body splashed into the shallow stream.

"Any idea who he is," Zip asked, "or who he works for?"

The man's uniform bore no insignia and he carried no ID.

"I haven't the foggiest," Lara said. "He is deliberately unremarkable."

"Is that good or bad?" Alister wondered.

"It's deliberate," she replied, "which isn't good."

She reached another short waterfall, and cast about with her binoculars for a 
way to climb over. A fallen tree trunk swayed in the current, caught on a rock.

"That's a mechanism," Lara realised. It could serve as a lever if suitably 
weighted. She examined a rock on a ledge just above. "That's something I could 
move."

She hopped onto the tree trunk, and it began to tip under her weight. She 
quickly jumped to the rock ledge before it fell again. Now she sized up the 
boulder. She put her shoulder to it and soon tipped it over the edge, where it 
landed on the flat part of the tree trunk and raised the other end up. Lara saw 
at once that a branch formed a convenient means for her to swing up to the 
waterfall. She soon clambered up on a rock shelf that divided the fast-flowing 
stream.

She had reached the first ruins of the ancient city of Tiwanaku. A partly 
collapsed portal was blocked by a fallen plaque. This was a large metallic disc 
bearing the face of a god or some such. Despite its size, the disc was already 
broken and looked quite fragile. Alister reckoned it was ready to fall apart.

Lara carried a grapple: a superstrong electromagnet attached to 25ft of 300lb 
test microfilament wire. Suitable for a variety of purposes. She latched on to 
the plaque by casting it out, and tugged sharply. The heavy disc ground 
forward, toppled into the stream and broke apart. The way ahead was now clear.

-- Second Contact -------------------------------------------------------------

Lara entered the portal and flattened herself to a wall as she heard voices 
nearby. A uniformed soldier dropped down off a ledge to splash beside another 
guard, midway through an anecdote. "Swear to God," he said.

"So, what - it jumped out and started swinging?"

"Nah, it sort of danced around. Screaming or yelling, whatever."

"Yeah? Well, I would have kicked the hell out of it."

Lara smiled to herself. These were the 'idiot twins' all right. She crept past 
behind them, and as she made her escape listened with some fascination as the 
story went on.

"Yeah, whatever, man. Came flying at me screaming monkey talk like that and I 
just did the first thing that popped into my head. Just - bam! - flicked it 
right between the eyes."

"And it started smoking it?"

"That's what it wanted. Monkeys get hooked on 'em, go crazy when they see you 
smoking. Funniest damn thing I've ever seen."

"Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it."

"Swear to God."

"Who are these guys?" Zip wondered.

"The question is," posed Alister, "Why go to so much trouble to guard some 
ruins."

Lara agreed. There was something here these men wanted, or wanted to keep 
others from finding.

Unseen, she worked her way up ledges beneath a waterfall to a stone platform, 
where she used a hanging vine to swing back through the water to a higher 
ledge. Close by its edge, tongues of carved stone snake heads were shaped as 
horizontal metal poles. Lara jumped out to the first and swung to the second. 
"I see her!" came a shout from below. Too late to stop her, but it brought the 
attention of another guard, running from a turn up ahead. Lara ran forward and 
fired fast. The dead man slumped to the ground and slid over an edge of a wide 
gap in the pathway. For good measure Lara finished off the two men down below 
from relative safety. She felt no remorse; these were paid soldiers and it was 
kill or be killed. This was her world, and she wasn't playing games.

Now she faced a wide gap where the ruins had crumbled. She stood on the edge of 
a stone path. Overhead was another circular metallic plaque. Lara fastened her 
grapple and swung off it, the rock edge crumbling behind her as she crossed.

Up steps she entered a ruined passage, open to the skies. Insects buzzed and 
hummed in the stifling heat. At a corner she emerged to a wide bowl in the 
rocks. On the far side a stone temple cascaded from the mountain itself to 
solid walls all around.

-- Falling in Love Again ------------------------------------------------------

"Isn't she beautiful?" Lara sighed. "I'm falling in love all over again."

"You say that to all the ruins," Zip quipped.

Lara took out her binoculars. "I'm a terribly lucky girl."

A helicopter swept around the cliffs ahead. A black Jeep rolled down to the 
foot of the ruins.

"And here come the bloody tourists to spoil it all."

"Your cam doesn't pick up detail that small," Zip told her. "What do you see?"

The black Jeep bumped to a halt at the temple steps. Two armed men jumped out 
and ran up to enter the main buildings.

"Men with guns. Mercenaries, by the look of them."

Other men fanned out and cast around the ruins directly beneath where she 
stood.

"What they are doing there?" Alister wondered.

Lara put the binoculars down. "Getting into trouble."

At her feet was a pile of loose boulders held by broken branches. With a shot 
from her pistols they broke free, tumbling down a long slope to one side. 
Directly towards two uniformed men waiting menacingly below.

"Rockslide!" shouted one, looking up. "Hey, it's her!"

Too late. The boulders dashed the hapless mercenaries to pieces. Cover blown, 
Lara slid down the slope with pistols ready. The soldiers were dead but two 
more appeared to her left.

"She's over there," shouted one. "Cut her down!"

"Bingo," the other grinned. "Draw her fire."

Lara unloaded at one after the other, killing both, then moved up a slope 
behind rocks. Another mercenary rolled into sight. "Got somethin' for ya, 
baby!"

She gave it back in double measure. From his body she plucked a light machine 
gun to even the odds. Off a low rock ledge the dead man had guarded hung a 
knotted rope. Lara jumped to grab it and shimmied up to swing to a higher ledge 
opposite. She crouched down, as more voices came below.

"You see anything? Anybody there?"

"I hear something."

In among the rocky canyons surrounding the ruins they had not been able to 
pinpoint the gunfire. Lara slid down a slope and ran towards them. Ducking 
behind a remnant of wall, she spotted a partially crumbled stone pillar, and as 
the mercenaries came towards her, she shot at the pillar, breaking it down on 
their heads. She charged in on the carnage, crossing a narrow stone bridge to 
cut down survivors. Two more appeared behind their vehicle at the steps to the 
ruins, and she used what cover there was to get the drop on them. When all 
seemed quiet she picked over the bodies and swapped the light machine gun for a 
powerful assault rifle.

-- Death by Irony -------------------------------------------------------------

Lara moved cautiously up the stone steps to the temple entrance. A shot zipped 
close overhead as the two missing mercenaries reappeared. She drew her pistols 
but they promptly fled. From inside the passage at the head of the stairs came 
cries of agony and the sound of traps being suddenly sprung.

"Ow!" Zip winced. "That sounded permanent."

"Death by irony is always painful," Lara commented dryly, shaking her head. 
"Amateurs." These men had fallen foul of the very thing they were sent to 
protect. She entered the temple after them and moved carefully down short steps 
to a ritually decorated stone passage, dusty with cobwebs.

No sign of the two guards but they surely didn't get far. Even so, the passage 
showed no sign of danger. Lara stepped carefully forward, and noticed a rock 
or two on the stone floor, which appeared as smooth tiles shortly ahead. Her 
experience told as she rolled one rock forward with her boot. The smooth floor 
opened up on its first contact, revealing a legion of wickedly rotating spiked 
traps underneath. The fleeing guards had been swallowed without trace.

Lara looked carefully about, and saw a metallic plaque identical to the one she 
had grappled in the stream, set into the stone architecture above. She ran 
forward and jumped over the pit, and deployed her grapple once more to latch on 
and swing only just above the lethal traps. Zip called out, "Lara!" She 
released to land safely the other side, much to his relief. "Glad you're on 
your toes."

"It's a useful survival skill."

Up stone steps she came on a small chamber filled by a series of pulleys, 
weights, and chains.

"What's all this stuff for?" Zip asked.

"Moving heavy materials deeper into the mountain, probably," Alister surmised. 
"Sometimes ancient builders had to tunnel around hard rock deposits."

With no way forward apparent, Lara clambered up one weighted chain, as far as 
she could, until blocked by a large round weight that hung around the chain. 
She jumped off to another alongside, which began to descend under her weight, 
operating pulley wheels at one side of the chamber with much clanking and 
grinding. Lara scrambled as high as she could and spotted an opening off to one 
side. She hopped back to her stationary chain, above the weight at its middle 
that had blocked her, and jumped from it to the high opening. A rough-hewn 
passage led to a second small chamber with a single chain in its centre, 
stretched floor to ceiling. As Lara jumped to it the chain clanked downwards 
and carried her gently to the ground.

A ruined passage ended in a deep pool of water. With no other way forward Lara 
dived in, and swam through collapsed rubble, guided by light streaming from the 
broken ceiling above. She emerged where the stone passage continued down a 
short flight of steps. As Lara rounded a corner a wild beast confronted her, 
hunting among the ruins. Zip gasped: "Is that a jaguar?" The animal bounded to 
attack, and Lara retreated up the steps as she unloaded her pistols. It seemed 
reluctant to follow, and bounded away as she shot at it, but returned to attack 
as she ventured along the passage again. She had no choice but to finish it 
quickly. The beast rolled and died with a low growl.

"Why predators attack prey larger than themselves is a mystery," Alister said.

Lara stood over the magnificent creature splayed lifeless on the ground. "And a 
pity."

A timely reminder of the danger that faced her in the ancient temple buildings. 
Down more steps the passage widened and seemed quiet, but as she stepped 
forward the walls suddenly converged as massive blocks of stone, pounding 
together and sliding apart, raising dust as they ground relentlessly back and 
together. Lara gathered her wits and chose her moment to dash the short 
distance between.

At the next corner she faced the same hazard, yet now two sets of wall section 
crashed together one after the other, making a gauntlet twice as long. She 
could never hope to sprint through before being crushed to oblivion. Yet she 
had to pass somehow.

To one side stood a low cage. Ominously, a skull dangled inside.

Alister's voice trembled slightly. "Is--is that the skull of a monkey or a 
person?"

"Spooky," Zip agreed.

Whatever its contents the cage appeared sturdy, and Lara dragged it to the 
first set of pounding wall blocks. She slid it between the crashing jaws of the 
trap, and as hoped, they were held apart. She slid the block further in and 
followed close behind as she pushed, and was in this way mercifully protected.

"Ah!" Alister said, approvingly. "Cunning."

She pushed further in and timed the moment to proceed through the second set of 
pounding blocks. With a last heave and a tidy jump out of harm's way, she was 
through.

Up steps she saw an archway at the end of the passage. Reaching to lintels 
either side were carved skulls. A clear warning. Lara tiptoed cautiously 
through, and a stone door slammed down behind her.

Zip stated the obvious. "Looks like you're going forward."

An ornate stone door on a ledge to the far side of the room where she now stood 
closed down simultaneously.

"Yes," Alister agreed. "But how?"

Lara looked around. "With patience and persistence."

She was in a large stone chamber. Light flooded in through slots across the 
roof. Primitive sculpture studded the walls. The door ahead was on a higher 
level, to which there was no ready means of access. Lara stood on a wide raised 
platform with a jetty in front. The floor below appeared flooded by shallow 
water.

Her platform bore three prominent pressure pads, shaped as decorative stone 
tiles. She gingerly stepped on one in the middle of the jetty, and the door on 
the higher ledge banged open and shut a few inches, apparently ready to open 
fully but somehow held fast. Lara glanced to left and right and saw large 
wheels rocking back and forth, pinned by wedges. These were evidently part of 
the 
mechanism that operated the door but the wheels could turn only so far as the 
wedges would allow.

Lara stepped off the central pad and the door ceased its banging. She tried 
first one then the other of the pads, and observed how the wedges retracted 
from the stone wheel on the relevant side. Unfortunately, it appeared neither 
wheel would turn unless the central pad was weighted at the same time, yet by 
herself she could weight only one. Close by one of the pads was a hefty cage 
such as the one she found earlier in the passage of traps.

"That's not nailed down," Zip suggested, "as far as I can tell."

She hauled it over the nearest pad and it fitted perfectly, weighing it down 
sufficiently to set the stone wedges to retract. By itself this served no 
useful purpose. A plan began to form, but she needed at least one more 
makeshift weight to test it. Lara then spotted another cage in the water below. 
Gladdened, she hopped down.

At once she was set upon by a jaguar that prowled in the shadows. The beast had 
become trapped in the chamber with her, and seemed maddened by hunger. She was 
left with no option but to clamber out of the water and shoot it from safe 
vantage above. It gave out a low throaty growl as it died.

"Someone picked an unfortunate place to hunt."

She examined the cage. It was no use in the flooded section of the chamber 
below, but was too heavy for Lara to lift. The jetty had low steps to the water 
but she couldn't hope to shift the cage upwards. To the other side of the jetty 
was a narrow ramp made of stone, propped at the middle like a fulcrum. Its end 
was supported by a third cage, identical to the rest.

Alister reckoned, "you should be able to move that, if it's any help."

Lara grasped the third cage and pulled it from the stone ramp, which tipped and 
splashed to the ground. The ramp now formed a lever, and Lara considered the 
possibilities. Perhaps she could use the ramp to scoop the cage up off the 
lower level to where it could be put to use? With determination, she heaved the 
cage up onto the tilted end of the stone ramp. She could manage to push it only 
just over its very end, but judged that sufficient. With the certainty of her 
plan, she now clambered up to the central jetty, and looked down on her 
handiwork. All she needed was a good weight applied to the other end of the 
ramp. She gained what height she could by mounting the steps at the end of the 
jetty and jumped off, landing full on the raised end of the ramp. Like a seesaw 
it tilted up, and the cage was shot into the air, where it sailed down right 
beside the pressure pad on the platform above.

Lara climbed up and pushed and pulled the crate over the pad. The wedges 
holding the wheel on that side pulled back. She now noticed the means of 
activation was a large weighted chain in one corner. Next she stood on the 
central pressure pad, and to her relief the ornate door up in front slowly 
opened to its fullest extent.

"Man," Zip said. "This place is weird and complicated."

"It probably wasn't so when it was fully furnished," Alister informed them. 
"We're looking at the stripped-down version of what's left a thousand years 
later."

Lara had the mechanism figured out, but now she faced a problem. As she stepped 
off the plate the heavy door closed down again, clearly on a short weight. It 
was the work of minutes to bring the third crate up in the same way as the 
other, and she promptly had all plates weighted down and the door fully open. 
No doubt she could manipulate the extent of its opening through certain 
adjustments between the three pads, but for now she was grateful that her exit 
was clear.

To the back of the chamber were ledges, and at one corner she found height to 
grab to a weighted chain. Until she activated the wheel on that side it had its 
bulky weight raised too high to allow this, but she now climbed up a little and 
sprang to a ledge built around a pillar. She pulled up to a platform and found 
a long chain strung out towards the exit door. She made her way down to the 
open door, sufficiently raised to pass underneath.

She stepped confidently into a passage yet the door closed suddenly behind. At 
once the seemingly solid floor parted between her feet.

"Oh, damn," Zip gasped. "Move, move!"

Scything blades descended above her. Lara ducked and rolled forwards. Other 
slicing steel blades swept low. She dived over and somersaulted across the 
retracting stone floor to the end of the passage, where she landed with the 
breath knocked out of her. A heavy door slammed shut just behind.

Lara got to her feet and looked around.

"You still in one piece?" came an anxious Zip.

"And still breathing, yes."

She was in another ornamented passage, partly ruined. At a turn she overlooked 
a dark chamber, where the floor had crumbled away. She could just barely make 
out strange spiked pole devices spaced evenly on its floor. She hung from the 
passage end and dropped down to examine them.

As she slid down a rock to splash through shallow waters, a jaguar appeared 
from a dark corner. Weaving among the slender spiked poles she fought it off, 
and soon had the eerie chamber to herself. There was no apparent exit, yet she 
saw ledges higher up on the far side where the ornamented passage continued. 
There seemed no way to reach them. She stood alone on the floor with the 
strange pole devices.

There were five in all, each consisting of radial arms off a wooden pole in a 
carved base of tribal figures, the entirety studded with vicious spike blades. 
She couldn't guess their purpose but they had a decidedly sinister air. 
Nevertheless, they surely held the key to advancement. At one corner of the 
chamber, in a pool of light from the broken ceiling she mounted a rock platform 
to jump up and catch onto the nearest. It rotated on its base under her weight, 
and turned to face another device. She swung to catch hold.

"It's the centre of the evil coat rack empire," Zip said in hushed tones.

Now that he mentioned it, they did have that appearance. The second device 
similarly rotated as she hung on, and Lara swung to catch a third.

"None of this appears in any of the literature," Alister remarked. "But I'd say 
they were ceremonial in nature."

Lara swung off the last spiked pole to grab a ledge on one wall. "If that's the 
case, it's not a ceremony I'm keen on witnessing."

Her feet crumbled dust and her hands slapped on the cold stone of ledges as she 
worked carefully around the dank dripping chamber, shimmying and snatching to 
higher ledges before she could leave the strange sinister devices behind. The 
ruined passage continued close above, and soon Lara dropped to its floor.

The vaulted roof of a long passage was broken through at intervals where 
daylight streamed in. She scrambled over fallen blocks, and at a corner emerged 
to the outside air. A rope bridge stretched in front. On a platform the other 
side, Lara spotted mercenary activity. She flattened herself to a pillar and 
drew her binoculars.

-- Nepal, Part 2 --------------------------------------------------------------

The mercenaries surrounded a number of ancient monumental stone structures that 
ringed several carved stones set into a huge disc of rock projected high in the 
centre of a natural amphitheatre.

The arrangement of the stones on the platform triggered a burning memory.

Young Lara stared wide-eyed at a collection of smooth carved stones arranged in 
a ceremonial circle. Each glowed with vivid green light at its tip, in various 
curious designs. As she brushed one with her hand it flashed, and the design 
broke apart then joined again. She gazed in wonder. The little girl and her 
mother had somehow survived the plane crash, and now sought shelter in an 
abandoned mountain temple. The body of an adventurer lay slumped by a central 
stone. A strange handle projected from it, and the curious girl reached up with 
her hand.

"Lara, have you found anything for the fire?"

The girl jumped as her mother called, then she turned back to the irresistibly 
fascinating device. She tentatively touched it with her fingers, and it 
instantly retracted. A mechanism was put to operation and the device at her 
feet revolved in a grinding of metal and stone. She stepped back, suddenly 
afraid as green light glowed at her feet.

"Lara, what are you-? No, get back!" Her mother snatched Lara away as part of 
the floor rose up to form a disc of light that pulsed with energy. "Good Lord, 
what is it?"

Lara pointed at the disc. "There's something in the light."

"Stay here." Her mother approached the device and seemed to see something 
there. "What ... Who are you?"

A disembodied voice echoed nearly incomprehensibly. "...your daughter!"

"What...? What about my daughter?"

"...the sword..."

"You stay away from her! She meant no harm!"

The voice became multiplied, overlapping. "...take out the sword."

The girl stood rooted. "What's happening, Mother? Who's there?"

The voices grew louder, more distorted. "...the sword ... explode!"

Lara's mother shouted desperately, "Oh, God, no!" and pulled the sword from the 
stone.

In a blinding flash Lady Croft was gone. The green light faded. The chamber was 
ghostly quiet.

"Mother?" The little girl stepped forward. "Mother...!"

Young Lara sketched the symbols on the stones with a look of intense 
concentration. Alone, the little girl walked from the chamber. She left her 
childish drawings behind.

-- James Rutland Talks --------------------------------------------------------

A gunshot snapped Lara back to the present.

"Hold your fire!" a man's voice ordered.

Lara held her pistols at the ready, covering the mercenaries on the raised 
platform.

"Lara Croft!" A darkly handsome young man appeared on the other side of the 
rope bridge. "I've been hoping I'd get to meet you." He turned to his men. "At 
ease. We're just gonna talk."

A skimpily dressed blonde perched in the open door of a helicopter and watched 
with interest as the man walked out on the bridge.

Lara stepped out to confront him, pistols levelled. He strode casually across 
to meet her half way. "I'm listening," she said.

He reached into his back pocket and flourished a strange pointed object. Lara's 
eyes narrowed. The man grinned behind dark glasses. "Maybe you found a piece of 
this?"

She recognised it as a part of the sword her mother pulled from the stone. He 
waved it at her. "Is this what led you here?"

"Where did you find that?" she asked sharply. 

"It doesn't matter. What's important is what it does." He looked at her 
intently. "Do you know?"

"What I know is my business."

"So you don't then. And that means you don't have a piece." He turned to go 
back. "Amanda said you were sloppy. You should've paid more attention in 
Paraiso."

Lara lowered her weapons in surprise. "Amanda? Amanda is dead. What the hell do 
you know about Paraiso?"

"We're done talking."

The men at his command cocked their weapons. He strode back to the helicopter 
and the waiting blonde.

In a second the helicopter hovered nearby. Rockets blasted the bridge either 
side of Lara. She gathered herself quickly and ran forward, tracer fire raking 
behind. Planks fell away as she leaped over a gap without pause, and jumped to 
cling to the edge of the circular platform.

Automatic fire greeted her as mercenaries scattered behind stone pillars and 
sniped from cover or circled to close in. Lara moved fast, putting down first 
one then another in a blaze of deadly fire. The helicopter moved away.

The battle arena was a wide stone base of rock. Water spilled from the mouths 
of stone effigies carved from the cliffs that towered on all sides. Pillars, 
columns, and arches were arranged in concentric circles to the outer edge of 
the irregular shaped platform. Squared stone columns formed trilith gateways. 
Towards the centre of the platform stood thick, mostly broken arches decorated 
with carved skulls and reptile heads. In the inner circle five rounded, 
polished obelisks framed a single stone set at the head of some mystical 
inscribed device. Each obelisk had a scooped trough where perhaps fluid might 
run to channels in the central dais.

All this Lara took in as she prowled among the stones, firing fast at the 
remaining mercenaries. She helped herself to ammo as she went, and soon enough 
stalked the last man running for cover between the stones. As he fell she had 
the ceremonial arena to herself.

-- The Stone Dais -------------------------------------------------------------

Lara knelt beside the central stone and examined it in awe. Its design was 
unmistakable. "There is more than one. Father, you were right." She ran a hand 
over the stone.

"What was that?" Zip broke her reverie.

Lara got to her feet. "Keep yourselves caffeinated, lads. We've some work ahead 
of us."

"Means we're still alive," Zip said. "Can't complain about that."

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
Of the three Abbingdon estates my father left me, I consider this one to be my 
home.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  ENGLAND - Croft Manor

     "I've been looking for certain artifacts..."

-- Returning Home -------------------------------------------------------------

Lara crossed the reception hall of her magnificent stately home. Bells chimed 
the hour faintly on the mantelpiece beneath a portrait of her parents, the late 
Earl and Lady Croft. She entered a glass partition office at one end of the 
hall. "All right," she asked Zip. "Who was that?"

In natty black dreads and blue vest her right hand man was casually dressed but 
razor sharp. Zip reclined his seat and showed her a file on his PC. "You've 
heard of the Rutlands, right? From the States. Well, you just met the Senator's 
youngest son, James Rutland. He went to West Point, and that's about all he's 
done."

"Call up the footage, please."

The tech expert bent over his keyboard. Winston, Lara's faithful family butler, 
greeted her. "Welcome home, Lady Croft. Will your hand luggage require emptying 
or filling?"

"Winston, take a look at this." She showed him footage of the stone dais. "It's 
almost identical, just configured differently."

"Identical to what?" a thickly-bespectacled Alister asked.

"Something I saw a long time ago in Nepal, miles from any pre-Incan culture."

Winston pondered a shot of Rutland holding his pointed artifact. "And you 
believe this to be a fragment of the sword?"

"What sword?" Alister said, as Lara went on. "More likely another of its kind. 
Zip, I want you to find out what you can about this Rutland, particularly where 
he is at the moment."

"Try Peru," Zip suggested. "He talked about Paraiso."

"He did imply there's information about the artifacts there," Lara agreed.

"He said you've been to Paraiso," tried a bewildered Alister. "What happened 
there? And who is Amanda?"

Lara studied Zip's computer screen. "Alister, go over these images and see what 
you can work out. Zip, ring Anaya and see if she can meet me in Paraiso, 
Saturday morning."

She turned decisively for the stairs. Another adventure was about to begin. The 
three men watched in wonder.

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
Father was right, the dais stones are not unique. I also saw a sword fragment. 
Unfortunately, it was in the hands of an unpleasant man surrounded by 
mercenaries. He mentioned Amanda Evert as if he'd spoken to her recently -- a 
ghoulish thing to say.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  PERU - Return to Paraiso

     Rutland implied a connection between the
     stone dais and the ruin near Paraiso. I
     hope Anaya will meet me there despite it
     all. We may not find anything besides a
     dozen corpses, Amanda's among them,
     but I have to know for certain.

     "I think Amanda might not have died down
     there..."


-- Unwelcome in Paraiso -------------------------------------------------------

Lara's heavy boots raised dust off the paved stone of a street of shanty huts 
and rough adobe houses. Peasants fled at her approach. Wooden shutters and 
doors banged the length of the street. "They don't seem quite so keen on 
visitors these days," she sighed.

"Well hey, you're the one with guns," Zip remarked. Lara wore her customary 
pistols strapped to her thighs. "You can't blame me for knowing how to 
accessorise. Any word from Anaya?"

"She said she'd meet you at the statue in the marketplace."

Birds flew off telegraph wires. The town now seemed deserted. "At least we'll 
have our privacy."

Kids had left a football on the roughly paved street. A dummy keeper guarded a 
makeshift goal strung with cheerful bunting. She kicked the ball idly past him. 
A fruit stall stood abandoned. Flies buzzed, birds fluttered away, voices 
whispered and more shutters banged as Lara strode between houses. Under a 
broken clock, a wide arch led to the market square.

-- Rendezvous with Anaya ------------------------------------------------------

Her old University friend Anaya Imanu sat waiting on the rear fender of a 
yellow Jeep. "Hello Lara," she called in warm Caribbean tones. "You realize 
that the streets were not deserted a moment ago."

"And I've been trying so hard to blend in." Lara looked around with a little 
uncertainty. "I hope I'm the one that frightens them, not something else."

"There is nothing here, just a heap of pottery shards ... littered with the 
bodies of old friends." Anaya walked to one side, lost in memory. "If I knew 
this was where it would lead, I would never have told you about Bolivia." She 
wrapped her arms around herself.

"Yet here you are," Lara said, gently.

Anaya turned. "La Paz is not so far away."

Lara put her hand on her friend's shoulder. "Neither is the past."

Gates to the marketplace crashed open as a military truck slid to a stop in a 
cloud of dust. Her friend sensed imminent danger. "Lara!"

"Go!" Lara pushed Anaya firmly away. "I'll catch up."

Anaya sped away in her Jeep. Lara drew her pistols. "Zip, get Anaya on her 
cell. Tell her I'll find her once I've sorted out this lot."

"You got it."

Men sprang from the truck and opened fire. "Get around her! Angle in, keep her 
spinning."

More hired guns. As Lara returned fire a gasoline can strapped to the side of 
the truck exploded. The men scattered and took cover behind crates and pillars. 
Lara jumped down by a market stall and rushed the closest mercenary.

"Target in range," a voice yelled. "Put her down."

Lara Croft had a few tricks for close combat; she kicked the mercenary in the 
head and jumped away, giving him a taste of both pistols, then picked up his 
assault weapon and shot the next one ducked behind barrels. A third moved in 
from the far side of the square, round a cart stacked with drums and barrels. 
Lara threw her grapple and tugged the metal drum at the back away. The cart 
tipped and the heavy barrels rolled to the ground, crushing the mercenary. The 
last man came from the front of the truck. She took him at distance.

Doors flew open on one side of the square and more soldiers charged in. "Look 
everywhere," one ordered. "Smoke her out."

She paused to reload and looked out from behind a pillar as the men moved in. 
She showed herself quickly and blew the first one away.

"I see her!"

They fanned out under colonnades to right and left, and Lara edged in. Drums of 
some volatile chemical had been left stacked next to crates at one side, and 
these exploded on a single shot, sending a ball of flame that toasted the 
nearest men. Fast shooting did for the rest.

All appeared quiet yet now she heard banging from a balcony overhead. A wooden 
door was battered off its hinges as a thug charged out, shotgun ready. "Is she 
still here?" he called down. There was no one left to answer.

Lara could easily have taken him from distance but such braggadocio deserved 
better reply. She shinned up a flagpole and jumped to a balcony through a 
broken rail. Now on a facing balcony the thug was well within range, but still 
he showed cool insolence, so she cast her grapple and dragged him off his feet, 
and then jumped across to his balcony and kicked him hard until he crumpled to 
the ground. 

From his hand rolled a useful gift: a fragmentation grenade with a powerful 
blast radius. She plundered his shotgun and entered where he kicked the door 
down. At once she was confronted by his buddy hiding there - she blasted him at 
close range courtesy of the borrowed shotgun. The room was sparsely furnished. 
Grenades had been left on a table. Lara kicked open the only other door.

The plaza outside swarmed with mercenaries. Although useful for close work she 
quickly realised the shotgun would be of limited effectiveness here. She ducked 
back for her assault rifle, and then returned outside.

She picked off a sniper on a balcony just opposite then raked fire to the 
ground below. She moved over a tin roof for cover as incoming came from 
different directions. She decided to try out the grenades. With a soldier in 
the plaza below targeted, she tossed one down. The explosion came a second 
later and blew him off his feet. Grenades came her way and the fire was getting 
hot.

A street lamp stuck out from a telegraph pole at the centre of surrounding 
buildings. She swung over on her grapple and her boots clanked across a wide 
tin roof. A mercenary appeared from an open room ahead. She heard rapid ticking 
as a grenade bounced towards her. "Eat this," the man growled. Lara dodged 
aside from the blast and shot him, then moved cautiously inside. A sentry 
waited off the balcony through the opposite door but she got the drop on him 
and ducked back in. To one side an open balcony faced a rustic mechanic's hut, 
where a truck waited service with its axles on cinder blocks. All seemed quiet 
below.

She jumped down and headed along the paved street. A pair of mercenaries 
suddenly showed themselves from cover; Lara backed off as they poured fire in 
her direction. Flames crackled behind her as the mechanic's hut was wrecked. 
That truck would need more than a tune-up. She tossed a grenade at the closest 
man sheltered behind a newsstand and pinned him down with a quick burst of 
fire. Barrels shattered in the resulting explosion, erupting water, and she 
shot the other as he reeled in the blast.

Lara advanced determinedly. With a sudden roar a flatbed truck skidded to a 
halt, and mercenaries tumbled out. She backed off as yet more reinforcements 
appeared around the corner, then took cover in the protection of a propped 
sheet of corrugated iron as she came under heavy fire from a machine-gun 
mounted on the truck. Where it stopped, on a pole overhead was an electrical 
cable and fuse box. A careful shot ignited it and the gunner below was 
gratifyingly electrocuted. She tossed a grenade and finished survivors.

A barricade had been set up at the end of the street around the corner. Several 
soldiers poured fire from behind it. She noticed a gas canister left in front, 
and another careful shot detonated that. In the chaos of the explosion she ran 
forwards. A few bursts of rifle fire and a rolled grenade ended resistance.

Parked behind the barricade was a sleek black motorcycle. Tracks led away 
through the dirt.

-- Any Bike Will Do -----------------------------------------------------------

"Anaya called on her cell," came Zip. "She's got mercenaries after her."

Lara looked up the road out of town. Her eyes fell on the motorcycle. "Tell her 
I'm on my way."

"Right."

Lara jumped on and took off along the cracked earth of a sandy gulch. She 
leaped a bank into a dried-up riverbed. The powerful machine took it in stride; 
it was smooth and easy to handle on the wide dusty track. The path split left 
and right but rejoined a short distance ahead where she scratched through 
scrubby brush between sheer sandy banks.

Up ahead a ramp loomed. She hit it at speed and sailed through the air.

"Yeah, baby!" Zip whooped. "Do that again!"

The track narrowed significantly and she dodged past towering rocks in her 
path, smashing aside crates strewn in the way.

"Anaya says they're closing in," Zip said urgently. "You've got to get moving."

She was doing her best. She guided the bike at full speed through a low tunnel 
carved in the rock, and then met another ramp over a wood dam. There was no 
time to think as she soared up and over, only to see another wooden barrier 
ahead. No ramp over this one, but a loose drum stood in front. She coolly took 
aim as she approached, and blasted the dam apart.

"Yeah, Lara, bomb your way through!"

Closing ahead she saw a trail of dust, and soon came on a motorcycle fugitive. 
"There's the first one," Zip warned.

She came under fire as the rider looked over his shoulder to draw a bead. She 
answered with a rapid volley, and sent him flying.

As the riverbed became rougher and more hazardous she met two more 
motorcyclists, as violent as the first. "Cut her down," they yelled. "Grease 
her!"

She bobbed and weaved, keeping up continuous fire but looking ahead to dodge 
rocks and ledges. She managed to throw the pair off then gave full attention to 
a tricky series of bumps, jumps, and solid rock barriers. As the track levelled 
slightly the roar of motorcycles warned she had company again, and now three 
were on her. "Open fire! Flank her! Kill her!"

"Hurry, Lara, Anaya says they're getting closer."

She had her hands full fighting off the determined assault but kept up as much 
speed as she could. Just ahead she spotted a discarded gas bottle and fired on 
it, directly in the path of a bandit. He flew screaming off his machine.

"Whoa!" Zip exclaimed as she brushed the flames close. "Watch out."

Another explosive cylinder stood just ahead and she repeated the trick.

"Whooo," Zip cheered. "Fireworks in Peru, I love it!"

Up ahead she saw a wooden bridge. Smoke and flame rose off. Beneath it 
stretched a wide canyon. "They blew up the bridge!"

"Punch it, Lara."

The motorcycle roared across the planks. Lara ducked between scattered flames 
to a shallow ramp on one side, and gunned the bike straight up. Zip yelled out, 
"Whoooo-hoooo!"

She clattered down the other side, and adjusted course slightly to keep on the 
more solid planks of the bridge section. Ahead lay another gap, and a second 
ramp, partly obscured by smoke. She gave the throttle a blip, and hit it full 
on.

"Yeah!" Zip cheered his approval as she flew through the air.

Safe down on the far side, Lara picked up the chase.

"Lara, Anaya says they're almost on her. They'll get her if you don't go 
faster."

She came up on dust raised by bikes twisting through the rocks and bumps up 
ahead, soon joined by others. The enemy were ever more determined to block her, 
and opened rapid fire. Lara returned it and switched between targets, veering 
wildly to avoid each attack and raking the rider ahead with shots as they were 
forced to switch hands to keep her in sight. "Lay down some fire," they shouted 
to each other, "make her stop."

Before she knew it there were no fewer than four bandits swarming around. She 
used the terrain to her advantage, diverting to high ledges and swooping 
overhead, aiming down as she landed.

"That's right, fly over those bastards," Zip encouraged her, watching the chase 
on his screen. He urged Lara on. "Open the throttle! You won't get to Anaya in 
time at this rate."

She kept up speed, carving her way between obstacles, firing constantly. Bikes 
catapulted past as riders collided and fell to her gun. As many as they were, 
the motorcycle thugs were no match for her skill. As she entered another low 
tunnel she sensed she had finally shaken them off.

She emerged from the tunnel to a flat open run of the riverbed. Fresh tracks 
were in evidence. A shadow loomed in the dust ahead and Lara cut through the 
trail of a convoy of trucks. As she came up on the rearmost vehicle, its tail 
dropped and crates tumbled down. Lara swerved to pass close to the riverbank, 
and came through to see two other trucks side by side just ahead. One was 
empty but the lead truck had its tailboard raised. In moments it dropped, and 
more crates began flying. Two mercenaries opened fire from the back of the 
speeding truck. Lara found her hands full trying to dodge the crates and 
bullets, yet still return fire. Even so she proved the better shot, and one 
guard went flying as she turned attention to the next. A few shots later his 
body slid off the bed, and the tailgate dropped further to drag in the dirt. 
The empty truck carried on at the same speed, and pressed Anaya hard in front.

"Now what?" Zip wondered. "How are you gonna get to her?"

Lara could see Anaya's Jeep desperately weaving ahead of the monsters bearing 
down, but in the narrow riverbed she could not squeeze by to help. She would 
need a more direct route.

"Punch it, Lara" Zip urged, until he saw what she was about to do. "Truck to 
truck? Man, be careful."

Lara sped forward and hit the loose tailgate full on. She bounced up on the bed 
of the truck and her bike slithered to the front.

-- Wrecking Crew --------------------------------------------------------------

Lara dismounted and hopped on top of the cab. Anaya glanced in her mirror and 
was astonished to see Lara there. Coolly, she changed down to allow the truck 
to gain a little. Lara somersaulted forward off the cab, and unloaded her 
pistols into the windshield. It shattered as she landed in the back of Anaya's 
Jeep. The truck skewed and rolled out of control. Lara settled into the 
passenger seat with a wave of greeting as Anaya sped forward. Behind them the 
trucks smashed together in a fireball of destruction.

-- Digging Up the Past --------------------------------------------------------

Safely away, Anaya pulled up and the women stepped out. They had arrived at the 
dig site.

Lara looked down on the ruins. "It hasn't changed much."

"What are a few years after all," said Anaya, "When stacked atop thousands 
more."

"There's something I didn't tell you before." Lara ran some sand through her 
fingers. "I think Amanda might not have died down there."

"Is that what this is about?" Anaya asked. "Closure?"

Lara dusted her hands. "Isn't that what it's all about? Why we dig up the past. 
To understand it."

"I am an engineer Lara, I build for the future. I don't dwell in the past."

"You will someday. Eventually, everyone does." Looking down at the boarded-up 
workings her memory stirred.

From the fresh excavation a blonde imp in a cheesecloth shirt called to her 
friend. "Lara! Get down here, you slacker. Jason says we're about to break 
through!"

A younger Lara worked shoring up the banks of the dig. "In a minute, Amanda," 
she reminded her. "We have some structural concerns."

She looked doubtfully at a winch that had carried equipment down into the hole 
where Amanda dropped eagerly. "Would you just get down here," the impulsive 
girl called as she shinned down the rope.

Lara took firm hold and dropped hand over hand, keeping a tight grip. As she 
neared the bottom the pulley snapped, and Lara fell hard down the shaft.

"Did the rope break?" Amanda called.

Lara landed unharmed on a wooden platform rigged at the bottom of a bell-shaped 
chamber. Flies buzzed among the sparse vegetation that grew in thin light from 
above. Low to the foot of the chamber were several stone lintels to doorways 
silted up with the passage of time. One in front had been partly excavated, and 
Lara crawled through.

"Looks like we lost the lights," came Amanda's voice. "I hope you brought 
flares."

Lights had been strung on poles along the length of a dirt passage that sloped 
steeply ahead. Lara tossed a flare down. It glowed red as she slid after it.

"The planks over the sinkhole broke, so you're going to have to swing across."

Amanda had already gone ahead over a shallow pit. Lara caught a pole suspended 
above and swung hand over hand to the other side.

"You're lagging!" Amanda giggled from the dark tunnel ahead.

"You're such a tourist," her friend sighed.

This part of the workings uncovered a ritual burial ground. Mummified corpses 
clustered in alcoves throughout the cave passages.

Lights were restored shortly after where Lara rounded a corner. She spotted 
Amanda ahead, but then they heard a scream. Amanda ran off along a turn in the 
passage, calling out to another of their party. "Eva!" She then gave a short 
shriek as the figure of their colleague came flying past.

Before Lara could find out what had happened the roof collapsed, and heavy 
rocks barred her way.

"Amanda?" Lara shouted. "What's happening - can you hear me? Amanda!"

More rocks tumbled down and the ground shook. Dust choked her; there was no way 
to get through. Lara turned back to a fork in the passage, and ran through the 
dark. She crawled under spikes of a broken gate to a stone chamber.

Slumped on the floor was a shocking sight. One of the party lay dead.

"Oh, Sarah! God, what's happened?"

Water dripped and echoed off the dank ceiling. There was nothing to be done.

Her friend had been examining a carved sculpture on a wall, lit with arc lamps. 
As Lara approached, her feet triggered a pressure pad and spears shot from the 
walls either side. Fortunately they were partly decayed and posed no danger. 
Lara wondered for a moment if the trap had somehow caused Sarah's death, but 
the body seemed unmarked.

At one end of the stone room was a rock slope, too steep to climb, opposite a 
stone platform, too high out of reach. Looking up, Lara judged that one of the 
spear poles might take her weight if she could reach it. Beside Sarah's body 
was a sturdy crate, and Lara soon managed to drag it under the spear and jump 
up.

The stone platform was part of a higher floor, and by jumping across to the 
carved sculpture Lara was able to reach the far side above the rock slope. The 
room ahead was dark and she tossed a flare for guidance. Lit up on the floor 
was the body of another student. "My God!" Lara gasped.

"Lara!" came a man's voice. "Over here!"

A stocky bearded figure in leather waistcoat and baggy shorts gripped the bars 
of a gate.

"Kent?" she ran to where her friend was trapped. "What's going on?"

"It killed Oscar."

"What did?"

"I don't know--I don't know, I didn't see. This gate won't budge. Get me out!" 
Kent shook the solid bars and looked frantically behind.

"It's all right. What-"

"There's a hole above me, you've got to get me out! Hurry, we've got to get out 
of here."

A rope hung off a winch the team had been using, yet a curtain of spear poles 
that projected from the walls either side blocked her from jumping to it. A 
huge rounded stone ball weighed down a pressure pad underneath. The ball must 
have been laboriously hand-carved, presumably for the simple purpose of 
weighing down the pad. Or trigger its trap.

"Hurry, Lara, it's gonna come back."

"Hang on, I'm coming."

She rolled the ball off the pad and the spear poles retracted. With the way 
clear, Lara ran quickly to the ledge and jumped for the rope.

"It's coming! Damn it, Lara."

"I'm almost there."

She swung to a platform ledge above where Kent was trapped. Oscar had set up an 
arc light to examine the roof of the chamber, hung with eerie stalactites. Here 
was an identical barred doorway, but these bars were raised.

"Hey," Kent exclaimed from below, "I think I see a light."

"Stay there, Kent," Lara warned. "I'm coming down."

Lights had been strung along a rock passage. Lara dropped down.

-- Demon of the Past ----------------------------------------------------------

"Amanda?" Kent called, cupping his hands. "Amanda!"

A girl's distant voice answered, "Kent?"

He turned impulsively. "It's her!" Then he ran off down the passage towards the 
voice.

"Wait," Lara said, urgently. "Kent...!"

Further up the passage he stopped, looking suddenly to one side. With a 
terrified scream he was snatched and disappeared.

"Kent!"

From the shadows Lara heard a deep animal growl and caught a glimpse of fiery 
tendrils reaching out. Was it some kind of creature, alive down here? She took 
a step backward as the shadow turned its attention and moved towards her, its 
malevolent growl echoing along the passage. She was now alone, and looked 
desperately to find some way to safety. She had seen what it did to the others; 
there was no option but to take flight. She rolled away as the unknown entity 
reached to grab her, passing close overhead, and then ran quickly down the 
passage, where she tripped and stumbled, letting out an involuntary scream. The 
creature rumbled behind her and closed in, gliding through the air in a demonic 
rush to her destruction.

She ran on, vaulted low rocks and fled blindly down the passage. Up ahead she 
saw a hanging rope, and jumped to catch it. The rope snapped, and she fell to 
the ground. Closing fast, the creature flew over her head and disappeared into 
the solid stone of a wall like a shadow in the light. Mercifully it was gone.

Lara caught her breath and looked about. She was in a darkened chamber with a 
platform ledge to one side. Another rope hung off wooden scaffold just in 
front, too high out of reach. The chamber was decorated with skulls and 
carvings, and the ceiling was studded with the small spikes of stalactites. It 
gave the chamber a threatening air, perhaps once a place of sacrifice. Lara did 
not intend that she should perish here. In one corner was a stone platform, 
with a platform ledge close by. She could use these to jump over and catch the 
rope. On climbing up, hands slippery on the cold slabs, she discovered another 
smoothly rounded stone ball, as tall as she, which served no obvious purpose. 
The ledge proved easily reached from the platform.

Here was a doorway, though solidly barred. Each bar bore a skull as macabre 
decoration. Turning to the rope, Lara found it disappointingly just out of 
reach. As she fell to the ground Lara triggered a wide pressure pad that shot 
spear poles from the carvings either side. These posed no danger but gave her 
the makings of an idea. They were exactly the right height to give on to the 
rope off the ledge. However, as she stepped off the pressure pad the spear 
poles retracted. She would need something to weigh the pad down.

Lara climbed back on the small platform and put her shoulder to the stone ball. 
It gently rolled to the edge, teetered, and tumbled to the floor drawing 
sparks, where it gathered momentum to roll out over the pressure pad and come 
to a stop. Suitably weighted, the stone pad released the spear poles as before. 
Lara jumped over to the ledge platform to try for the rope again.

"Lara," came a voice, "Jason's dead! Everybody's dead."

It was Amanda, pressed behind the bars of the door. Lara was relieved but 
anxious.

"There's something, I don't--I don't know what it was," Lara stammered. "I only 
saw-"

Her petrified friend ran suddenly at a noise or movement. "Argh - no!"

She disappeared up the passage, and a last surviving team member followed, 
running in blind panic as he was closely pursued by the unknown entity. Lara 
was powerless to help as cries echoed.

She turned quickly to the pole and the rope, and swung to the platform ledge at 
the side of the chamber. Either side were a pair of barred doors to a passage 
much as the one where Amanda ran off. Another ahead was wide open. With no 
choice, Lara went through.

The team had been at work here as the way was strung with lanterns. Lara hopped 
over loose rocks, where large boulders stopped up a branch in the passage. The 
dirt floor ahead was split by a gap. In its depths an array of sharpened spears 
stuck straight up: a trap for the unwary and a warning to intruders that none 
must pass beyond. A pole had been rigged overhead and Lara swung quickly hand 
over hand to the other side. She hurried along the tunnel passage to a large 
stone chamber. Facing her from inside the chamber was an ominous block carving 
set to the floor that perhaps represented some deity in figurehead, forbidding 
entry. Heedless of ritual superstition, Lara moved in.

-- Amanda Falls Behind --------------------------------------------------------

"Amanda."

Her friend had found temporary refuge and was attempting to prise a gem of some 
kind from a stone tablet in a wall. The girl turned anxiously. "I think this 
stone unlocks the door."

"I don't like it." Lara watched her back as she moved to investigate. "Are you 
sure you're reading it properly?"

"That thing is coming! You have a better idea?"

"The door might be trapped."

"We're trapped." A roar echoed down a passage. "Oh, God!"

Amanda shrank away as she saw the creature coming. She turned for the stone and 
scrabbled desperately to release it. The creature growled and rushed straight 
at them. Lara covered her head and braced herself for the strike, but as Amanda 
finally prised the gem free the creature dissipated to thin air. The two girls 
looked at each other in astonishment.

The ground shook. Dust crumbled. A cave-in was imminent.

"Amanda, run!" Lara led the way through an open arch but Amanda was hit by 
falling rocks. Lara turned back. "Amanda!"

Close over her head a barred gate dropped down. She snatched under it and used 
all her strength to try to force it back open, but could barely hold it up. 
Amanda lay dazed among rubble on the other side. As Lara strained to hold the 
gate, water rose above her ankles. The chamber was flooding rapidly.

Amanda struggled to release her foot, trapped under a heavy rock. As the water 
rose up around her she straightened herself for a gulp of air and ducked under, 
tugging at her foot. The water came to Lara's neck. She snatched a breath as 
the flood closed over her head, and looked for Amanda, still trapped and now 
crying out for her to help. Gurgling bubbles streamed from her lips. Stone 
blocks fell between them, and Lara could no longer see her friend. Blood 
pounded in her head as the last breath of air escaped her lungs. The gate 
slipped from her grasp and slid shut. Lara tugged uselessly on the solid bars 
as more stone tumbled down.

The chamber was now completely submerged. With a last helpless look, and with 
lungs close to bursting, Lara kicked backwards and scrambled away.

-- Going Back In --------------------------------------------------------------

"To be perfectly honest," said Anaya, "I think this is a terrible idea." The 
pair stood solemnly at the dig site. "Everyone agreed to leave things as they 
were."

"I will, as much as I can," Lara said. "But from what Rutland said, I'm sure 
there's a clue down there about what killed my mother. I have to go back."

"There is no use trying to enter at the same point. It's caved in."

"The river had to get in there somehow."

"I'll leave you to figure out the how." Anaya shook her head. "I can't go down 
there. I am sorry."

"It's fine. Really. If there is any trouble, call Zip and he'll patch you 
through." Lara indicated her earpiece. "Don't take any chances. I'm not losing 
any more of my friends."

She jumped down to the excavations. Nesting birds flapped away. Rotten crates 
and barrels lay strewn about, and the archaeological digs were boarded over. 
Rusted signs forbade entry.

"So," Zip asked, "how you getting in?"

"The same way as the water, I hope. If you get a call from Anaya, patch her 
through straight away. I'm a little concerned about leaving her by herself."

"I'll keep her company," Zip promised.

In a cave to one side of the site was a pool, a stone well at its bottom. 
Although deep, the water was clear. It may not have been easy for a swimmer 
less practiced than Lara, but she dived confidently in and swam down.

The well led off at one side to a funnel chamber open at the top, where Lara 
surfaced for air. Diving once more she went deeper, and slipped under bent 
metal bars to a second funnel, and another opportunity to grab some air. Deeper 
again she swam to a third bell chamber, and though she saw her way ahead, Lara 
took no chances by coming up for more air while she could. It was further to 
the surface this time, and she kicked hard to make it. Now fully prepared, she 
ducked down again and made for the narrow arched passage at the foot of the 
funnel. With a few strokes she was through, and the passage opened out to a 
large domed cavern. Atmospheric pressure kept the room only half flooded. 
Fissures in the ceiling admitted daylight, and a short depth below Lara made 
out bright circles of light from some unknown device. She swam down to 
investigate.

The light emitted from a large gemstone held to the belly of a carved statue. 
Lara thought she recalled something similar when last she saw Amanda. The light 
within the stone appeared to pulse and glow alternately green and blue. There 
were four such carvings in all, each with its lit gemstone. At one point 
underwater a hole in the wall admitted a stream of water, too powerfully for 
her to swim through. She surfaced for air.

On a hunch she chose one light at random and swam back down. Sure enough, with 
a little effort she found that she could lever the gem out from its setting, 
where it served as an eyeball lens to radiate a brilliant glow. A stream of 
bubbles told her that on activation air had been released. She surfaced again 
and considered. Within a few moments the gem appeared reset and the light 
dimmed. Lara chose another and tested it, with similar results.

There didn't seem to be any relation or order between the devices, and with no 
better plan than to attempt to prise each gemstone out as quickly as she could, 
Lara swam down to see what the result might be.

-- Amanda Survived ------------------------------------------------------------

Lara heaved the last lens outward, and kicked for the surface as air streamed 
from the stones. Each carving changed configuration.

As the stone settings rose up grates were exposed. The water in the cavern 
drained out and Lara sank to the rock-strewn floor. Drips echoed as she wrung 
out her hair and cast about for her next move. Something caught her eye. She 
bent and prised an object from between fallen stones. It was a black rubber-
soled hightop basketball shoe.

"Is that what I think it is?" Zip asked.

"It's called an anachronism," Alister said.

It was certainly an object out of time; the ancient civilisation that built 
these ruins had not left it there. Lara ran a thumb over the boot. "It was 
Amanda's," she said solemnly.

"Hightops don't fall off your feet that easy," Zip pointed out.

"It's been unlaced." Lara's brow furrowed. That could only mean one thing. She 
looked about the cold chamber. "I never imagined she could have survived."

"There was a lot of water," Alister reminded her. "She still might not have."

This was where she had last seen her friend. Here was the collapsed rubble. At 
several points were slender portals to barred exits. She recognised one faced 
by a ceremonial stone figurehead where she had entered, and another where the 
deadly demon tracked them down. Up shallow steps, as the focus of the chamber, 
was the tablet from which Amanda had prised the curious gemstone. The tablet 
was now broken, and Lara saw a chamber behind. She climbed through.

-- The Queen's Story ----------------------------------------------------------

A larger tablet faced her, covered with an inscription carved onto the stone. 
Lara read what she could interpret.

"It tells the story of the last Queen of Tiwanaku. Her father was king, but she 
was lost and raised by a warrior. She became queen after a shaman named Tunupa 
discovered her royal heritage."

Alister knew something about that. "Tunupa is another name for Viracocha, their 
god of creation."

Lara read on. "The shaman brought her to Lake Titicaca, where she borrowed his 
staff, an object of great power."

"According to myth," Alister said, "Viracocha originally lived in the lake."

"The god of indoor plumbing," Zip joked.

Lara continued her translation. "She led her people into an era of peace. After 
many years of wise and just rule, there was some sort of power struggle. She 
died shortly thereafter, and she was carried off in a boat to Paradise."

"Remind you of something?" prompted Alister.

"The King Arthur myth. Yes, the similarities are striking."

"King Arthur?" Zip wondered. "A little help here."

"It's the same story," Lara informed him. "A youth, unaware of his royal blood, 
rises from obscurity to become a wise king, with the help of a friendly wizard 
and his magical staff or sword, and afterwards he is transported to paradise."

"Many cultures share similar legends," Alister explained. "The Great Flood for 
example, everyone has got that one too."

Behind the stone was a passage and steps to a slope too steep to climb. Beside 
it some ledges that she climbed to a short platform. Using her grapple she 
swung from a rafter above the slope to a higher section of the passage ahead. 
Water ran down the walls and she soon faced another slippery slope. She climbed 
to a recess in one wall and used her grapple as before.

She emerged to a wider passage and steps. Light streamed through the open 
ceiling and leaves drifted where vegetation had broken through. A rank of huge 
stone carvings faced another across the passage, like heads of sentries 
forbidding entrance. The floor between was of hefty flagstones, in parts broken 
through. A bottomless pit yawned beneath. Lara thought she saw a path across 
the remaining tiles, and gingerly picked her way across, but as she paused for 
direction the ground trembled. All at once what was left of the flooring 
dislodged, and fell to the depths. One flagstone after another disappeared 
until she stood on the sole remaining stone tile. It was as likely to fall as 
the rest. Alister yelled, "Lara, get out of there!"

As the tile crumbled under her feet, Lara shot off to a thick pillar, already 
collapsing. She scrambled up and jumped off as it toppled, landing on a tile at 
the edge of the pit. It gave way immediately but she clutched at an edge of the 
floor in front. She hung by the fingers of one hand and gazed to the bottomless 
depths before hauling herself out.

"Phew!" Alister gasped. "Nice footwork."

"Why, thank you."

She had reached her goal. A vast chamber stretched before her. The room was 
dominated by a huge stone structure mounted to the far wall.

"Wow," came Zip, "this place is amazing. Might be a good place to use the RAD 
mode of your binoculars?"

"You could be right."

Lara carried with her a pair of state-of-the-art binoculars that featured 
'Remote Analysis and Display' of object characteristics. This system proved 
invaluable in suggesting uses for certain elements of a particular environment.

To one side was a solid column, carved to a representation of a figure standing 
guard. A matching column on the facing wall had partly crumbled. The figure was 
topped by a huge stone ball such as she had seen in the excavation site those 
many years ago. "That's something I could move."

She descended half a dozen steps and crossed a floor of stone slabs to a 
curious sculpture set into the centre of the chamber. It was a statue of a 
creature very like a jackal, waiting obediently at the foot of the huge figure 
carved to the back wall. Its eyes were violet gemstones with a larger one 
studded to its decorative headdress. "That's a mechanism," she judged. Nested 
in a niche under the central structure, facing the statue, a primitive likeness 
of a human face was set with mouth agape and eyes of identical violet gems.

A second stone ball lay on the ground nearby. By the shattered flagstones 
around it she guessed it had toppled from another high structure alongside. A 
fragment of ladder could be seen in its design but it appeared to lead nowhere, 
and in any case could not be reached from the ground. She noticed an identical 
but unbroken structure on the opposite side of the chamber.

That one was plainly too high to climb but a light at its summit drew her eye. 
A third stone ball was illuminated there. "Perhaps moving this would get me 
somewhere," she mused.

Surrounding the jackal sculpture were three decorative stone tiles hollowed in 
the middle. As she stepped on them each depressed as a pressure plate, but her 
body weight was not enough to trigger any mechanism. She needed something 
heavier. She put her shoulder to the ball on the ground and heaved it onto the 
nearest tile.

The ground trembled as the structure next to the plate on that side began to 
change configuration. Air was released in a stream of pressure that became 
magnified as it echoed through the chamber like a human sigh. Stone columns 
ground out and could be seen as arms of the primitive being that the structure 
now represented. Its face was exposed, and the eyes gave forth dazzling twin 
streams of violet light.

"Wow!" breathed Zip. "That must have impressed the villagers back then."

"I know it impresses me," Lara agreed.

The fragment of ladder she had discerned on the structure could be seen now as 
part of long sections opened out, leading to the top of the structure itself. 
The stone was partly damaged, and was still out of reach from the ground. It 
gave her an idea. Perhaps the structure on the other side might open in the 
same way, and if so its ladder would certainly lead to something useful.

She decided to test each pressure plate, and hauled the stone ball off the 
hollowed tile. With the mechanism released the structure closed up again, and 
its light was shut off. Lara rolled the ball onto the middle plate.

The jackal sculpture rose on its plinth.

-- Viracocha's Staff ----------------------------------------------------------

As rumbles subsided Lara stepped up to the base of the statue and deciphered an 
inscribed symbol.

"The queen's shaman. A dais with a sword set into it, or in this case 
Viracocha's staff." She gazed upwards. "This is it."

"Do you believe it's the same one we saw in Tiwanaku?" Alister wondered.

"There is more than just one dais," Lara reminded him. "But possibly."

Zip seemed unconvinced. "So the shaman would be Merlin and the staff would be 
whatever the hell King Arthur's sword was called?"

Alister was crushing. "It's called 'coincidence'."

"Tuh!" Zip muttered. "Funny name for a sword."

The central carved figure was flanked by a pair of stone ladders, easily 
ascended. Lara scrambled up to a narrow platform above. Here were gigantic 
carved statues of serpent heads, mouths interlocked. She could barely make out 
a passageway of some kind through a niche between, but this was far too small 
to allow her to squeeze through. There seemed to be an intense blue light 
shining deep within. She returned to the floor.

The third carved stone structure bore the rounded boulder at its height, but 
was quite impossible to climb in its present configuration. She put her weight 
to the boulder at the middle tile. The jackal sculpture sank back to the 
ground. She rolled the heavy stone to the third plate, and as hoped it ground 
to operation in the manner of the first. Now light shone from the eyes of the 
figure on that side, arms wide and ladders exposed ready to be climbed.

With three large round balls in the room and three pressure plates on the 
ground it seemed fairly obvious what action was required for the central device 
to activate but it would take some effort and ingenuity to achieve.

To begin with she needed a second ball, and knew just where to find one. She 
returned to the guard figure she first noticed with a ball balanced on top. A 
metal fixing on its helmet gave on to her grapple and she heaved as hard as she 
could. The upper section broke away, and crumbled to the floor.

"Aww," Zip said. "I liked that one."

"It was nice, but it was in the way."

The stone ball rolled across the floor, coming to rest against a wall. Lara 
pushed and manoeuvred it towards the pressure plate where the light from the 
opposite structure struck down.

The structure opened once again with an awe-inspiring rumble and shower of 
stones. Now two sets of light beams shone down to cross over the head of the 
jackal sculpture. She needed only to raise it by depressing the middle plate 
and surely the purpose of the mechanism would become known. For that she would 
require a third ball and she had already seen where it was lodged. Lara turned 
to the ladders either side of the third structure, and climbed up.

The ladder section was divided halfway up, perhaps to prevent easy access. Lara 
found it little trouble to leap sideways to a ledge under the head of the 
statue, and up to its mouth, and its head, and from there return to the upper 
ladder section. In no time she scrambled to the top of the towering structure. 
Here was the third ball, and here too a beam of light from a lens in the stone 
ceiling to a hole in the structure. Lara could not imagine what ingenious mind 
had devised the wondrous mechanism. She heaved the ball off the structure, and 
it crashed to the floor, where it rolled to the nearest pressure plate, and 
nestled.

Lara descended the ladders and eagerly manhandled the ball to the empty plate 
behind the jackal sculpture. Knowing it would rise up she could anticipate its 
effect but was curious to discover the means of operation on the central 
structure, if such was its purpose.

The jackal sculpture duly rose on its plinth. Its decorative headdress cut 
through the beams of light from either side, focusing and directing it through 
the violet gemstone to emerge from its eyes. Intense beams shone to the eyes of 
the figurehead beneath the central device, and as the others before, with a 
rumble that shook the foundations of the immense chamber, the structure changed 
configuration and sculpted arms opened.

"I must say, I'm impressed, Lara," Alister said. "This is magnificent."

"It's quite the display, isn't it?"

She could see that the passage she noticed behind interlocked serpent heads was 
now revealed. She hurried up the stone ladder to investigate.

-- The Queen's Sword ----------------------------------------------------------

Lara stepped slowly up a narrow stone passage draped in cobwebs. At its end was 
a strange glowing orb that Lara had glimpsed from the passage entrance. Its 
surface shimmered and glinted with iridescent blue light. It housed what 
appeared to be a golden sculpture with ornamental headdress, but Lara realised 
it was the perfectly preserved remains of the last Queen of Tiwanaku.

"Look at her, she's beautiful. We were so close before. So close."

"Wonderful, Lara," breathed Alister in awe.

In front of the orb was a weapon mounted on a stand. "Do you notice anything 
familiar about her sword?"

"That's what Rutland was holding," Zip confirmed.

"Except this is just a ceremonial copy. And what do we have here?" She picked 
up a heavy curved shard of greenish metal. "The tip has broken off. My God, I 
had no idea it looked like this. I've seen this before, at Waseda University in 
Japan, but I didn't know it had anything to do with these artifacts."

"Hell, I'll get a hold of them right now," Zip suggested.

"It's not there anymore. It was stolen by Shogo Takamoto."

"Takamoto? Yakuza is nothing to mess with, Lara."

She put the sword fragment in her backpack. "I don't care, Zip, I want that 
piece. Arrange a meeting."

"Okay, but-" he broke off. "Hang on, I got Anaya calling on her cell. I'm 
patching her through."

Still up at the excavation site, Anaya came through, her voice low and urgent. 
"Lara, Lara can you hear me? Those bastards from town are here, and they are 
coming down after you."

"Well, this is a tomb. I'll make them feel at home."

Zip took over the line again. "Sorry, I wasn't keeping track of Anaya. I got 
distracted, but she seems safe for now."

"It's all right. Just let me know if our mercenary friends get any closer to 
her."

"Got it."

Lara had what she came for. It was time to get out. Alister posed a practical 
question. "How will you make it back with the floor missing?"

She looked to the temple entrance the other side of the gap and began to work 
out a route using ledges high off the ground. "I suppose I'll have to take the 
high road back."

She jumped to a ledge at one side and climbed to a platform created by one open 
arm of the structure. From it a bold leap carried her over to the ladder 
section on the first structure. She climbed easily on top, and made her way 
across it to a column top off the wall on the far side. A ledge ran around the 
wall, and though broken in parts was not a great test of her athletic ability. 
She dropped easily to another flat column top.

A creeping vine hung down across the middle of the chamber, and Lara jumped to 
grab hold. She shuffled about to face the direction that seemed most likely to 
advance her. She dropped to the flat head of the nearest carved sentry 
sculpture.

The mercenaries Anaya warned of prowled below. They had tracked her this far 
now that she had cleared the way, but were halted by the collapsed section of 
floor. Lara crept overhead.

"I don't see anything," one mercenary said. "You?"

"Think she fell down there? Maybe we got lucky."

"I haven't had any luck today."

"How's the knee?"

"How's my ass!"

"I wasn't the one who tripped."

"And I wasn't the one who couldn't hold on to the damn rope."

"It was wet. I don't know how in the hell she got down here without a rope over 
all those slippery rocks and-" He broke off suddenly and snapped the chamber of 
his gun. "There she is!"

Lara pulled the pin from a grenade and tossed it down. The pair stood no 
chance; by the time she slid down a slope off the sculpture they were bodies to 
plunder. Shots came from the passage inside and with a lobbed grenade a lone 
mercenary met the same fate. Lara slid down the slippery slope and moved 
cautiously around the stone where she read the story of the last Queen of 
Tiwanaku. Through the smashed gap in the tomb door she heard voices.

"I'm getting nothing from either of them."

"Maybe their radios are off."

"Maybe they're sleeping. Maybe they're taking a dirt nap. Go find out!"

"What about you?"

"Just do it, Miller, and stop whining for once."

Before they came looking, Lara leaped through the broken gap and surprised 
them. She tossed a grenade to keep two busy and ran at a third. A few shots 
later and she turned to finish the survivors. They had left a stout rope 
dangling to the bell chambers now high above. Lara made her way swiftly up and 
over rocky debris and ledges to a ladder. Through broken bars where she had 
once swum down Lara mounted a series of ledges. A sentry lay in wait but she 
had the drop on him. She rushed up, dodging side-to-side, and his panicky 
shooting was for nothing. Close behind him a tethered rope had been strung, and 
she began a strenuous ascent. As she reached the excavation site at the top she 
heard voices.

"I seen a panther, I think. It's hard to tell."

"Jaguar. They don't have panthers down here."

"Jaguar, then, whatever. I saw a damned spider big as your hand, too."

"Tarantula. You grow up in a cardboard box or something?"

"Excuse me for not knowing all those scientific names, all right? I know what 
matters."

"Just watch for any bad news, all right, Einstein? If that Croft woman somehow 
makes it up here, that big brain of yours is going to end up soaking into the 
ground."

"Like hell."

Like this. Lara sprang to the excavation site. Taking cover behind a plank 
partition she sized up the opposition.

At least half a dozen men prowled the area. One sentry came close and there was 
nowhere to hide. "Found her!" Lara opened up with her automatic rifle and moved 
fast. She circled among the site debris, and ducked, rolled, and fired on each 
man as he came running. Grenades tumbled and she dived and moved, returning her 
own. Explosions and screams ripped the air as gunfire chattered. She ran onto a 
low wooden platform, cutting down one mercenary there, replenished her ammo 
from the body and turned to pick off the last survivors. More men jumped from 
the higher ground but she had a good vantage point to see them coming and drop 
them as fast as they came. At last things quietened down.

"Zip, have you still got Anaya on the other line?"

"Yeah."

"Tell her to get under the jeep - someone's coming."

Up on the ridge a mercenary appeared and fired on Anaya's vehicle. Lara picked 
him off with a burst of fire from below, and ran forward to see if her friend 
was still safe.

-- Artifacts Recovered --------------------------------------------------------

"I hope you found what you were looking for," Anaya said firmly, "because I am 
never coming here again."

"I was right. This is all she left behind." Lara held up Amanda's boot.

"She got out and didn't tell us? Why has she been hiding all these years?"

"Maybe not hiding, exactly - just not keeping in touch with old friends. 
Perhaps she found or learned something down there that she wanted to keep to 
herself."

The two women returned to the Jeep. Anaya stowed the gear, Lara got in front.

"Zip, did you speak to Takamoto?"

"Eventually. He didn't want to see you, so I reminded him how much you hate the 
word 'no'."

Lara slammed the door shut. "I'm a horrible conversationalist." She adjusted 
her boot on the dash. "I trust he wants to get together on neutral ground?"

"You'll love this. He wants to meet at Toru Nishimura's offices, across the 
street from his penthouse."

Lara checked her pistols. "Nishimura? Takamoto doesn't know we are friends?"

"Nope. All he knows is Nishimura is hosting a corporate party tomorrow night 
and you'll meet him there."

"Better and better."

Anaya hopped into the driver's seat.

"All right, then," Lara declared. "I'm heading there straight away." Anaya 
backed the Jeep, and raised an eyebrow as her friend murmured, "I'll need to 
find something to wear, though."

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
I've been looking in the wrong direction from the beginning. The artifact's tip 
looks nothing like that of a traditional sword, and now I know where to find 
one. And somehow Amanda did survive, but I can't imagine how she escaped 
without help.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  JAPAN - Meeting with Takamoto

     I haven't seen Takamoto in a long time. I
     doubt he misses me after our last
     meeting. If he still has the artifact,
     however, he'll lose more than face Sunday
     night.

     "Conventional reason doesn't work with
     yakuza."


-- Fashionably Late in Tokyo --------------------------------------------------

Elevator doors pinged. A slender pair of legs stepped in.

"What exactly happened last time you and Takamoto got together?"

An elegant painted nail pressed a floor button, and Lara answered Zip. "He was 
trying to pass off forged relics from the Asuka period, and conventional reason 
doesn't work with yakuza."

The doors opened. In her little black dress and heels, with backpack strung off 
her shoulder as a purse, an immaculate Lara stepped out.

"But you let him go," Zip continued.

"And now we're going to have a useful conversation. It's turned out quite 
nicely."

She had reached media magnate Toru Nishimura's tastefully decorated offices in 
good time for the party. She walked down a hall and stood for a moment looking 
down on the room. The party was in full swing though there was a relaxed 
atmosphere. There were perhaps thirty guests, chic young Japanese in cocktail 
dresses, suits and tails, dancing or chatting in twos and threes. To one side 
of the room a bald-headed bartender in a white jacket stood alone behind a wide 
counter, polishing glasses.

"Lara, got a call from Nishimura," Zip said. "He's in his office, so he won't 
be mingling. The bartender will hook you up with him, though."

"Ever predictable," Lara sighed.

Curved stairs led down either side of the balcony. The circular motif was 
carried from the floor, where a colourful modern art water feature stood in the 
centre of glass concentric rings, a pool flowing beneath. The light sound of 
laughter and chat carried across the room as Lara slipped unnoticed down a 
quiet corridor. It led to a single marquetry door at the end, with an 
electronic keypad and camera mounted above. Lara tried the door. "It's locked."

"Office doors usually are," Zip pointed out. "He said to see the bartender when 
you got there."

She returned to the party and approached the man in the white jacket polishing 
glasses at the bar. "Good evening, I believe Nishimura-san is expecting me."

"Ah, Lady Croft. He is in his office, down the hall behind you. I will let him 
know you are coming."

"Thank you."

She went back along the corridor and noticed the keypad had changed from red to 
green. She entered Nishimura's office.

-- Nishimura's Warning --------------------------------------------------------

It was a spacious, richly decorated room with polished marble floors.

"Welcome, Lara. You have been enjoying my little party?"

Nishimura stood by a window. He was a portly man in a white linen suit with 
dapper wing-tip collar.

"I'm enjoying it very much, Nishimura-san," Lara replied in perfect Japanese. 
"When Takamoto arrives, however, it may cause you some inconvenience."

Nishimura came forward to greet her. "Take care, he is a very dangerous man 
when his interests differ from yours."

"You'd be amazed how persuasive I can be, even with dangerous men."

"I am convinced. I am dangerous too, you remember. But please, enjoy the party 
while you can, and good luck."

Lara exchanged bows, then left.

-- Meeting with Takamoto ------------------------------------------------------

The party seemed to have broken up. Guests hurried away up the stairs and in 
their place a gang of men lounged in open-neck suits, cradling guns. 
Undoubtedly yakuza. A man stepped forward. Liver spots pocked his bald head. 
Lara remembered Shogo Takamoto, changed little since their last encounter.

"Be brief, Ms Croft. I have many demands on my time, you understand."

"Of course, Takamoto-san. I am looking for a piece - a sword fragment - in the 
care of Waseda University. Or it was, until you stole it."

Takamoto laughed and turned to his men. "I am not a thief, and you would be 
wise to avoid such accusations."

"Then I suggest we skip to the negotiations."

"I don't have any idea what you are talking about."

"Of course you do. Just name a price."

"Ms Croft! Are you deaf?"

"I don't know; let's see. Try begging for your life, like you did the last time 
we spoke."

The insult was too much. They levelled eyes at each other then Takamoto shouted 
to his men in harsh Japanese, "Kuruse - kill her. Kill her now!"

Bullets splintered the heavy wooden bar as Lara dived behind it. She kicked off 
her pumps and ripped her dress to the thigh, revealing pistols strapped in 
holsters.

Yakuza advanced. One approached with gun ready but a little too casually, 
expecting a helpless woman to be cowering behind the bar. He poked his dyed-
blond head around. Bullets blasted him backwards. The other men stood in 
stunned surprise as Lara jumped up with pistols drawn.

They recovered quickly. A hail of fire swept the room as Lara sent another thug 
spinning, and then ran forward to snatch up his automatic rifle. She turned it 
on the next and a third closing in behind her, moving rapidly and looting fresh 
corpses. Takamoto seemed to have fled, sending more of his gang from the 
direction of a corridor at one side. Lara had acquired a hand grenade or two, 
and tossed these down the corridor as she kept new arrivals pinned back with 
the rifle. A few explosions later and the gang were no more.

-- Heading for the Roof -------------------------------------------------------

When the shooting died down, Nishimura poked his head from the other corridor. 
A monitor on the wall fizzed and cracked to the floor. Lara holstered her 
pistols.

"Where did you get those?" Zip marvelled.

"Basic etiquette. Never arrive at a party empty-handed."

Nishimura was impressed too, but showed concern as he glanced at the 
devastation caused to his offices. "Takamoto has no doubt returned to his 
penthouse. Do not follow him, Lara, his men will be waiting."

"His lobby is a death trap," Zip confirmed. "I know you're into those, but it's 
not really a winning option.

"If I can't go down, I'll go up." She turned to Nishimura. "How do I get to the 
roof?"

"The roof? There is an elevator." Nishimura handed her an electronic key, with 
a small bow and a word of warning. "Be cautious. There is construction above."

Lara gathered weaponry from the dead yakuza. Zip was worried. "I don't know 
about this, Lara."

"That's why we have to view the problem from a different angle. Namely, the 
roof. Nishimura gave me the pass to the lift, and I'm on my way."

Along the corridor opposite to Nishimura's lay a private door. Lara used the 
key, and moments later glided up the outside of the building in a sleek glass 
elevator.

As Lara came out, she faced a bare room behind plate glass. A gallery or 
showroom of some kind. Its door would not open, but Lara saw a few crates 
inside and a motorcycle partly unpacked.

"Odd place for a bike," she mused. "And a nice one, too."

"Huh," Zip agreed. "Well, it's a crime to keep a bike like that locked up on a 
roof."

The corridor was otherwise empty, and as Lara approached a glass door at its 
end, it slid open automatically. She emerged to the roof. This had space for a 
helicopter landing pad. The lights and buildings of Tokyo glittered all around. 
Sounds of traffic carried up. One tower block stood out nearby.

"All right," Zip said. "That building across the street? That's Takamoto's."

"He is likely to be on the top floor," thought Lara. "This is going to require 
some creativity."

To one side of the roof was a low ramp for a sheer drop to the street hundreds 
of feet below. "I don't think this walkway gets much foot traffic." Far below, 
evening traffic crawled through Tokyo. "Terribly inconvenient, but I may be 
able to make use of it."

She looked to a building opposite, where the walkway continued and various 
scaffold platforms stretched in the direction of Takamoto's offices.

There was nothing on the roof but for a single ornamental tree in a stand; air 
conditioner vents; and an oil drum inside a chain-link cage. Lara made out a 
likely drainpipe on the wall behind, which reached to a higher roof section. 
She hopped on the ventilation duct close beside, but barbed wire coiled on top 
of the cage meant she could not climb over. The hazardous-looking oil drum gave 
her an idea.

She stepped back beyond the helicopter pad and took careful aim with her 
pistol. One shot, and the drum exploded, blasting apart the surrounded cage. 
The drainpipe was exposed.

"Nishimura's gonna bill you for that," Zip chided.

"It's not a party until something gets broken," Lara replied, innocently.

With her bare feet, Lara shinned effortlessly up the pipe and hopped onto the 
flat roof of the showroom. Its glass skylight slid back under her grapple, and 
Lara dropped through.

She was in an office space with unpacked crates all around. Down some stairs 
waited the bike. She hopped on and fired it up. Alister was doubtful. "Lara, 
what exactly are you doing?"

"Mmmm. Listen to that, 0-60 in under three seconds."

The powerful motorcycle purred as she eased it out onto the roof.

"Be careful out there," Alister advised. "There's more road far below than 
there is up top."

Lara gave it just a little gas, as she turned hard for the unfinished walkway. 
With a throaty roar the bike launched up the ramp. Overhead was a strut between 
cantilevered arches. Lara fired her grapple and sprang off the bike as it piled 
into a shuttered wall. "Lara," Zip gasped, "this is crazy-people stuff!"

In the crash debris a cluster of gas canisters boiled in flames. Alister cried 
out a warning. "Lara!" She dived sideways just as they exploded. Shrapnel flew 
over her head. A fiery orange ball rocked the night as she clutched safely to a 
ledge.

"Don't ever do that again," Alister exhaled.

"Not on that bike, I won't."

She dusted herself down. Directly ahead was a network of scaffolding. She 
hopped and caught a metal pole wrapped in striped yellow and black tape. It 
didn't appear a particularly safe site; various oddments were scattered on the 
plank sections, and as she stepped gingerly over, one section began to tilt 
dangerously. Lara sprang across a short gap to safety.

"At least when she's leaping about on cliffs, they stay put!" Alister 
exclaimed.

"Man, I don't know what she's thinking," Zip agreed. "She's crazy."

"I can hear you, you know. And it's a tad distracting."

"Sorry, Lara," Alister said, sheepishly.

"Shutting up now," Zip offered.

A glass window section hung from a rope obstructed her. A well-aimed shot from 
her pistol sent it crashing to the ground, far below. Using the rope, she swung 
across another gap, and ran to the end of the scaffold. A wire cable had been 
strung between this building to Takamoto's opposite. She jumped to grab it and 
slid swiftly across, traffic crawling through the Tokyo streets twenty stories 
beneath.

She landed on a flat metal platform that shielded aircon units. Suspended to 
one side was a hanging cradle, probably used by cleaners. She hooked it with 
her grapple and jumped on. As it swung back she jumped boldly, launching her 
grapple once again to hang off a set of spotlights at the corner of the 
building. Suspended perilously, she shuffled about and gathered momentum for a 
leap to another flat metal aircon platform. From that she negotiated two more 
hanging lifts and fired her grapple to another spotlight fixture. Adjacent to 
this was Takamoto's roof garden, where a section of rail appeared conveniently 
twisted away. She dropped through.

A raised terrace bore cherry trees in full blossom and decorative stone 
lanterns. The air of tranquillity was broken by the arrival of three yakuza in 
company of dogs. They spotted her at once and released the dogs to attack. Lara 
hopped up on the terrace where they seemed reluctant to jump. As automatic fire 
chattered about she turned and picked off the first of the thugs. A stray 
bullet caught one of the lanterns, which exploded and wiped out another. Lara 
kept moving and soon finished the third, and then put the dogs down in 
comparative safety.

"Okay," Zip warned her, "it gets worse from here. This is like a yakuza 
factory."

Lara headed for the door where the gangsters came out. "Then let's see about 
shutting it down."

She seemed to be in the service entrance. A quick look down a flight of stairs 
showed nothing more than a few packing cases and a locked exit. A sign on the 
stairs indicated Takamoto Securities had their offices above. Lara padded up 
the stairs and along an empty corridor.

"Where are they?" Zip wondered. "It's not like they don't know you're there."

"You'll see them when I do," Lara assured him.

At the end of the corridor was the service entrance to Takamoto Securities. 
Lara opened the door and slipped in.

The trading floor was a high-ceilinged room of partitioned cubicles and side 
offices with a raised conference area at one side. A large electronic screen 
showing a jumble of stock market figures dominated the room. Modern art lined 
the walls. Lara had little time to take it in, as several men patrolled the 
room beyond the partitions. She quickly ducked out of sight and prepared her 
weapons.

She moved out to the centre of the room and caught three together. She lobbed a 
grenade and sprayed fire to keep them busy. Then she ducked back towards the 
raised area behind her, where two more opened fire. One came down a short 
flight of steps. She threw a grenade, and closed in on the other. Another 
guard came from his office hiding place, so she scooped up a dropped weapon to 
finish him at close quarters. The last stragglers were picked off from cover. 
After the intense action the trading floor seemed quiet. Lara explored the area 
but found only closed doors, with no exit even from the conference room.

"Looks like there's no way out," her indispensable advisor fretted.

"There's always a way, Zip."

The large electronic screen drew her attention. It was suspended either end at 
the top by wires. She took careful aim and shot away the supports. Using her 
grapple she then caught on to the screen, and pulled. It tipped forwards and 
crashed down flat off the floor, revealing a raised room behind.

"She's never cared for TV, much," Zip remarked.

"She did them a favour," Alister agreed. "Maybe now they'll read a book for a 
change."

From behind the screen two more yakuza appeared. One barked harsh instructions 
in Japanese as they opened fire on the intruder. Lara had her weapon ready and 
killed them both from the floor. Then she hopped up on the flat screen and 
moved through to a closed door marked as an exit.

"There could be more out there, Lara," Alister warned. "Do be careful."

She cautiously opened the door and stepped out to another roof garden. This was 
a higher terrace, overlooking the first at one side. There was no other person 
in sight. She looked out over the Tokyo skyline with the moon full overhead. A 
dark crane loomed to the opposite side, and neon advertising signs buzzed 
against a metal tower stretching up to the building's penthouse. Lara sized it 
up. "What a lovely evening to be outside."

"Uh-oh," Zip groaned. "You know what that means." Motion sickness ahead. "I'll 
get the dimenhydrinate," Alister sighed.

Lara first clambered up a short pole that supported the frame of an aircon 
unit. She shuffled around it and climbed on top. Judging it too far to jump 
across to, she used her grapple to snag part of the metal structure off which 
the lowest neon sign hung. A good tug brought it swinging through ninety 
degrees. It then formed a flat platform that she ran swiftly across. She jumped 
to a service platform with a short ladder to a higher section.

From it she repeated the trick in hauling down a higher section of neon sign, 
and shinned up a pole built into it to jump up to a higher metal plate. Off 
that she grabbed a slender pole, and shinned upwards as far as she could.

"Please don't look down," a queasy member of her support team begged.

"Heights don't bother me, Alister."

"They make me positively nauseous."

"Like I told her in Bolivia," Zip agreed.

"I'll try my best to keep my chin up, but I do need to concentrate. If you 
don't mind."

She angled for a jump backwards to grab a bar off the neon sign structure. Her 
weight caused it to tilt back down, and she returned to the pole with an 
acrobatic leap. Now she could shin up again, and this time land on a long metal 
platform formed by the structure in its new orientation. She saw the way 
forward from a much smaller platform a short but dizzying jump ahead. She 
needed to be quick, as the sign began to tip back into place as she ran.

The platform was the cover of an air conditioner a long way above the first. A 
thin metal rod was fixed to the wall directly ahead, presumably a lightning 
conductor. She jumped to it and shinned to the top. It creaked ominously. Zip 
warned her, "hurry up, Lara, it's not gonna hold!"

She noticed a series of horizontal poles projecting from the wall behind, 
perhaps for banners or flags. Just as the lightning rod broke away she leaped 
to grab the nearest. This new perch was no better; the pole creaked and bent 
under the sudden weight. She swiftly swung off to the next, alarmingly weak as 
the first.

"Hurry, Lara," Alister urged, "they'll snap at any second."

Like an acrobat she swung off and grabbed to the next, then straight to the 
last. Each pole snapped the moment she flew off. She landed on a private 
balcony to the penthouse apartment where she caught her breath.

She stood high above the neighbouring buildings, looking out across the 
sparkling city. The new moon hung over dark clouds. Neon glittered to the far 
distance. No sound carried from the traffic below. Through a glass double door, 
trouble waited.

Stealthily Lara opened the doors to Takamoto's apartment. Down a short flight 
of stairs was an open-plan gallery space, where yakuza stood in conference 
under a fabulous crystal chandelier. No doubt they waited her arrival but could 
not anticipate her daring means of entry. She took careful aim at the 
chandelier and decided to wake them.

With a single shot the heavy glass decoration crashed to the floor. Urgent 
shouts erupted and Lara backed away to a reception area, leaving the carnage 
below. Here another thug ran swiftly down stairs and she shot him as he came. 
Another stood shocked in a lounge at the top and she made him pay for inaction. 
Gunfire raked up from the gallery below and glass balcony screens shattered. 
Lara took advantage of the improved view to toss grenades down on the last of 
the survivors. Double doors opened at the far end of the room and another thug 
burst in. Lara jumped down to finish him among the glass display cases.

A side storage room appeared empty so Lara moved out through the double doors. 
It seemed quiet enough. She turned to a corridor along the polished wooden 
floor.

"Whoa!" Zip shouted. "Hang on. You see that turret down the hall?"

On the far wall facing Lara was a small but sinister mechanism. "Yes. You smell 
a trap?"

"I do. Be careful."

The turret was a hi-tech gun pointed straight at her. Now that she looked, 
lining the hall either side were metal panels housing vertical holes. It all 
looked innocent at first glance but Zip had a nose for these things. Lara took 
his advice. Behind her was a guardroom that she decided to check out.

The room contained a few desks and computers. Corkboards were filled with notes 
and paperwork. Along one side a control panel held a number of monitors, on 
which closed circuit TV showed various spots in the apartment. There was the 
gallery where she infiltrated, and here was a private room with guns laid on a 
table, owners not in evidence. Another room held a large dragon sculpture 
suspended over a conference table. No doubt the centre of operations for 
Takamoto's criminal gang. On the far wall of the guardroom was a fire point. An 
extinguisher stood ready, and as Lara tested a button sprinklers came on in the 
corridor outside. "Good thinking," Zip said. He had been right - in the fine 
spray laser lights were revealed crossing between the holes in the metal 
panels. No doubt when the beams were broken by the unwary the turret gun would 
kick into action.

Despite the deadly obstacle Lara needed to pass down the corridor. She returned 
and studied the lights, flashing on and off in sequence. It would be difficult 
if not impossible to pass safely among them. She would need some assistance.

To one side was a large, beautifully decorated metallic ball, mounted on a 
stand. "What's that?" Zip asked.

"It's more modern art than archaeology," Alister said. "In this context, at 
least."

Decorative or not, the ball looked immensely sturdy, and was conveniently 
sized. Lara had an idea. She put her shoulder to it and pulled it from its 
stand.

"As lovely as that is," Alister commented dryly, "don't you think it's a little 
big to bring home by yourself?"

Zip was intrigued. "Just let the lady work, buddy."

Lara heaved the heavy ball towards the corridor. As the first beam was broken 
the turret gun opened up, spitting bullets straight at her. They flashed 
harmlessly off the metal ball's surface as she kept her head down and continued 
to push.

"Now that's art with form and function!" Alister declared.

In no time she was under the very nose of the gun, and it ceased.

"Made it," Zip sighed with relief. "How bad you hit?"

"I've been better. Let's not do that again."

Someone was bound to have heard the gun. Lara passed empty leather seats of the 
reception and made haste along the hall. Here was a section of Takamoto's 
offices done out in more traditional style. Along a corridor of dark wood 
flooring and tatami mat she noticed through a bamboo screen window a 
conference room containing the hanging dragon sculpture she saw on the guard 
monitor. The room appeared to be deserted as she stealthily slipped in.

-- Takamoto Found -------------------------------------------------------------

"You should not have come here," a voice boomed. Takamoto appeared behind a 
full-length window looking down on the room. "This is my province, not one of 
your rotten little tombs."

"Tell me about the sword, Takamoto."

"What about it? What is it that fascinates you, Ms Croft?"

"Let me have a look at it and I'll tell you."

"Your persistence will be the death of you."

He turned and left. Before she could pursue, screens slid back in the space 
underneath his office and three yakuza burst in, shooting.

Lara moved quickly and blew the first thug away. Her superior fighting skills 
served her well at close quarters and she vaulted over the next nearest, 
pouring fire as she descended. The third was caught in the act of reloading his 
shotgun and she finished him with a concentrated burst.

"Okay, Takamoto's split," Zip said. "What next?"

"Catching him."

Lara could not reach up to Takamoto's office. The area beneath it that 
harboured gangsters had no exit. Looking round, she considered a large window 
overlooking the boardroom. Bulletproof glass for protection, naturally. The 
enormous dragon sculpture swung lazily over the conference table, figurehead 
perhaps of this particular yakuza clan. It faced directly to the thick glass 
window.

With a deft jump, Lara stood on the polished wood of the table and looked over 
the dragon. It carried between its front claws a metallic pole, which proved 
ideal for her to latch onto with her grapple. A hefty tug and the sculpture 
began to rock back and forth on its mountings. Its wide arc brought the 
dragon's snout in contact with the glass.

With a crash the window gave way. As she mounted a wooden chest to climb up to 
it, two yakuza appeared from the corridor beyond. These gangsters had shotguns, 
which while effective at close range cost vital seconds to reload. Lara took 
advantage of this disadvantage.

"I admire your straightforward approach," Alister said.

An elevator stood ready with its 'up' light illuminated. Takamoto's office 
further along was deserted, but here at least were the weapons she saw on the 
closed circuit TV. She fully replenished her stock of ammo and set off in 
relentless pursuit of the miscreant.

-- Artifact Revealed ----------------------------------------------------------

Lara stepped out of the elevator into a large circular room of polished dark 
blue marble, topped with a wide glass dome. Huge statues of serene Oriental 
figures gazed down from points around the room, yet she felt the presence of 
evil.

"You have disrespected me. You have broken into my house, you have killed my 
men." Takamoto stood on a raised tier overhead, stripped to the waist ready for 
combat. He bore the full-body tattoos of the true yakuza.

"I've simplified your payroll," Lara returned. "And now, if you don't mind I'll 
streamline your inventory."

"You speak of this?" Takamoto held a staff tipped with a curious blade. "It is 
the most prized of my collection."

Lara folded her arms. "And why is that?"

"I am fond of recovering objects from dead Englishmen - in this case one of 
your Crusaders. Some have even said the warmonger was one of your King Arthur's 
knights. I do not know how the fool came by it, for it is clearly far older 
than the 11th Century, when your people lived in huts of mud."

"And for this reason you would rather die than hand it over?"

"No." Takamoto whirled the weapon around him. "For this one."

From the tip of the staff he unleashed a burst of energy towards Lara, an 
iridescent stream of green light. Though startled she acrobatically leaped 
aside, certain that its touch would mean harm. As the bolt of light dissipated 
she sprang up quickly to try to stop Takamoto using it again.

The floor was a dangerous place. Not only was there nowhere to shield herself 
from the bolts of energy Takamoto released, but turret guns opened up and 
tracked her as she ran. Behind each statue she noticed a vertical pole that led 
up past Takamoto's tier. She judged she ought best face him directly.

"You were a fool to come here," he taunted. "Beg for your life."

She climbed up, and quickly took stock of the arena, ignoring his mockery.

"Your fate approaches," he intoned coldly. "Where is your clever tongue now?"

The tier was a wide platform of glass sections that circled the entire room. 
The heads of the four huge statues protruded above, affording some cover at 
least. Takamoto lurked behind one such, across the room from her. He swept the 
staff in front of him and a wave of energy coursed towards his victim.

"Here is what you wish for. Do you understand, Ms Croft? The artifact is mine."

He seemed most comfortable utilising the staff in one of two heights: either 
low to the ground or waist high. As each successive wave shimmered towards 
her, Lara had to make a fast decision whether to jump or roll.

"Your movements betray your confusion," Takamoto sneered, as he unleashed 
another wave in her direction. "You will not be so lucky this time."

She took refuge behind one of the statues and tried to anticipate the next wave 
as it came. Though powerful, and its slightest touch harmful to her, it seemed 
not to be able to penetrate thick stone. Still she could not hide forever and 
stepped from behind to draw a bead on the furious gangster as he continued to 
taunt her.

"Have I satisfied your curiosity now? It is time to die!"

Time perhaps that he himself should die. Lara unloaded one clip after another 
as Takamoto showed himself, and stayed ready to duck for shelter if she 
misjudged his actions. The power of the staff seemed to protect him from the 
full force of the gun, but she laid down relentless fire. Wounded, her target 
took sudden flight around the perimeter.

"Now you will see your foolishness," he shouted. "Try to take what you came 
for."

Lara pursued him, keeping up concentrated automatic fire until ammo was gone. 
She switched to pistols and blazed away. As a wave of energy sliced out from 
the staff she jumped if it came high or ducked under if low. At a moment she 
lost sight of him another stream shimmered towards her; she was caught in the 
open, and dropped swiftly from the side of the tier to hang safe underneath 
before springing back up to resume the attack. Soon enough the crazed Takamoto 
sank to his knees.

"Hitoko de!" he cursed. "Assassin! Hell swallow you."

-- Recovery and Exit ----------------------------------------------------------

Lara picked up the staff from its usurper's lifeless hand, and broke the 
ungodly weapon over her thigh. She snapped the haft off and examined its carved 
head. "This is it, all right."

"Did you see what it can do!"

"Yes, Alister. I did."

A helicopter hovered above the glass dome. Lara looked up as Zip told her the 
good news. "Nishimura's got a chopper waiting for you."

"Excellent. Tell him he's my new favourite person."

The rotund Nishimura appeared inside the helicopter cabin with a wave of 
greeting. He tossed a rope ladder through the open skylight at the centre of 
the dome, and Lara climbed nimbly up. The pilot pulled clear as she was lifted 
high above the dazzling spectacle of Tokyo by night. Nishimura extended a hand 
to help her inside.

"Thank you, Nishimura-san," she said loudly, over the noise of the rotors. "I 
am very relieved to find you here."

Taking his seat, Nishimura mopped his brow. "I am relieving myself too. What 
about Takamoto? Where is he?"

Lara sat back in her seat. "It depends on whether he was naughty or nice."

Zip broke in on the headset. "I've got a line on James Rutland, by the way. 
Want to go to Ghana?"

"Absolutely," Lara eased her legs and settled back. "Africa is among my 
favourite continents."

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
Takamoto's artifact proves there is more than one sword of this kind, as with 
the stone dais. Now I need the piece Rutland showed me, to see whether they are 
fragments of the same relic.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  GHANA - Pursuing James Rutland

     The coordinates Zip provided are deep in
     the Ghana rainforest. I don't know what
     Rutland is after, but I'm sure he keeps that
     artifact close to him. I'll have to convince
     him to part with it.

     "Long-distance relationships inevitably come to
      an end."


-- Hunting Rutland in Ghana ---------------------------------------------------

Lara left her Ducati and slid down a grassy slope to a small cave in the 
undergrowth. She was back in her familiar adventurers kit, with a few 
additional items hooked to her belt. She snapped on a light attached to her 
shoulder strap and looked around. "No sign of Rutland so far," she told Zip. 
"Have we worked out what he is doing here?"

"No. But there's something else. When I was going over the map, Winston said 
your parents have been there - your Dad worked this site before you were born."

"That's not so peculiar. It happens occasionally."

The shallow cave was hewn from rock. Stone steps led down a ravine into bright 
sunlight. Lara brushed aside thick fronds of foliage. A few scattered birds 
rose from cover on her approach. At the foot of the steps the ravine opened to 
a magnificent vista.

-- The Postcard Business ------------------------------------------------------

From distant mountains, a wide river tumbled to an expansive waterfall. White 
water crashed to mist at the edge of a crystal blue lake.

"If all else fails, I can get into the postcard business."

Lara stood on a cliff edge. Far below she made out a stone construction on an 
island at the foot of the falls. Beyond the edge of the waterfall she spotted a 
vehicle, and uniformed men tossing rubbish into the stream.

"Oh, now look at the little termites mucking it all up," she frowned. "That 
won't do at all."

"Looks like they didn't get in from this side. Any ideas?"

"We'll see." She looked around, then down. "I do my best thinking plunging off 
cliffs."

Lara took a few steps back and then ran straight off the side of the cliff, 
arcing through the air to snap her arms into a graceful swan dive. She cleaved 
the clear waters of the lake far below, and rose to swim a few strokes to the 
shore.

"The water is absolutely perfect," Lara sighed, shaking herself dry. "I've 
missed Ghana."

She was on the little island with the stone construction. This was a wide 
archway fronted by pulleys and chains, which appeared to be a drawbridge of 
some kind against the streaming waterfall. A carved skull at its centre gave 
warning to those who might seek to pass through. A diamond-shaped bronze plaque 
bearing a woman's serene likeness shone at its top, but although she was able 
to hook it with her grapple, Lara found it would not budge, since the 
drawbridge was held fast by a stone pin on a rope. The other end dangled free 
overhead, and in moments she hopped up on flat rock ledges alongside to jump 
and hang off it. A stone lever groaned and the pin was removed. Dropping 
quickly, Lara hooked the plaque, and this time the stone gate swung free.

-- Grand Entrance -------------------------------------------------------------

The pulleys rotated and hidden machinery ground into life. Lara stood open-
mouthed as the waters of the vast tumbling waterfall parted like curtains in a 
theatre as the flow was diverted. An enormous ancient building was revealed 
behind.

"Oh," nodded Zip, "so that's where we put the temple."

"Grand entrances are always impractical," Lara said. "It's what makes them 
grand."

At that moment a handsome figure appeared on a high ledge of the building. 
"Lara! You're a busy beaver, aren't you?"

"Oh, look," Lara jeered. "It's Rutland." She waved a hand to her side. "Fancy 
dropping down for a chat, then?"

"Only if you can shoot this far."

Lara shook her head. "You know long-distance relationships inevitably come to 
an end."

"I'd wish you luck with that," Rutland replied. "But uh... you know."

He shrugged and walked off into the temple. Lara prepared to go after.

"Alister should really have a look at this," she told Zip.

"He's still trying to figure out where these sword pieces originally came from. 
Just you and me for now."

Ancient African carvings flanked a doorway. Lara entered and descended steps, 
where she left the roar of the waterfall behind. Dust swirled faintly in the 
cold clammy air. Vegetation had begun to break through and green lichen stained 
the passage floor.

At a turn, Lara came to a pool of fast-flowing water. It looked safe so she 
jumped in and attempted to cross, but the current was too strong. At the far 
end of the pool she could barely make out what appeared to be a raft. Her 
grapple and the current soon brought it to her side. It was made of metal grid 
floated on plastic barrels.

"So what kind of ancient artifact you got there?" Zip joked.

"The modern kind. Rutland's men must have been using it to move about."

She jumped on, then ran across to grab a rope hanging down across the middle of 
the pool, and from that swung to a second rope, and away to the far side of the 
pool. She noticed how the swift current on this side had held the raft in 
place. She wouldn't need it again, so didn't bring it back, but it having been 
there meant that Rutland's men were on this side.

At a corner, a giant relief depicting a scorpion was set into the wall.

"I've seen this before," Lara said. "In my father's sketchbook. He has been 
here."

She moved cautiously up stone steps, and ran into the first of Rutland's men. 
He came forward, shotgun ready. "Say goodbye, darlin'," he taunted.

Gladly. Lara tossed a grenade and the thug was gone in a flash. She ran past 
the broken body.

"Darn," Zip cursed. "It wasn't Rutland."

"He's still about somewhere," Lara remarked grimly.

At the next corner, she found a pair of savage spear poles interlocked across 
the passage. Bones lay scattered about, and she noticed other spearheads 
protruding at various heights along the passage. Each bore a skull, symbolic no 
doubt of their lethal purpose. They did not seem set to be triggered as she 
jumped the interlocked poles and moved on.

"Huh," Zip grunted. "Not very effective for a trap."

"Not these days," Lara agreed. "Something must be jamming the works."

The passage was lit at intervals by flaming brands, and at the next corner she 
could see up ahead that the end of the passage was blocked by a closed iron 
gate. More stalled spear traps were strung along the passage between. At her 
feet Lara found a wide flat pressure plate of raised stone, that when depressed 
raised up the closed gate. The instant she stepped off it the gate began 
closing again, so she set off at a run, and vaulted and ducked under the stuck 
spear poles before rolling under the last closing gap of the gate, which then 
thumped down solidly behind her.

She was in a cavernous room, and saw straight away that Rutland's armed men 
were busy at work on a platform to the back. She ducked behind a stack of 
crates and took stock. There appeared to be about five men in all. The nearest 
stood together across a metal bridge section. With the element of surprise, 
Lara charged out into the open and over the bridge, guns blazing. She cut one 
down, tossed a grenade to another, and turned to finish a third mercenary as 
she reached the far side. The grenade blew out a thick column that supported 
the flat stone platform where other men worked overhead. It crashed down as she 
clambered up broken steps and hopped on a ledge to one side. A soldier ran to a 
heavy machine gun mounted on a stand. Lara hauled quickly to her feet and threw 
a grenade. He failed to traverse the heavy gun in time to stop her and the 
explosion took him out. For a moment she had the chamber to herself, but then 
came a shout, and more mercenaries spilled from a doorway across the room where 
she had entered. The heavy machine gun was to hand, and she wasted no time in 
spraying fire among them as they spread out to attack. A stray bullet caught a 
drum at one side, and a fiery explosion rocked the room. Suddenly a grenade 
tinkled across where she stood, so Lara abandoned the mounted machine gun to 
drop down where she could deal with the lone survivor.

With peace at last, Lara considered the room and what the men had been up to. 
To either side was a large circular stone device. Water cascaded behind one, 
that she surmised was a waterwheel, its use not immediately apparent. It 
struggled to turn against the weight of an ornately carved pillar that lay 
tilted against it. "This waterwheel appears to be jammed," she observed.

"We may never know what it does," Zip agreed. "That pillar looks too heavy to 
move."

"There's more than one way to get a wheel spinning."

A heavy obstacle would need a heavy lever to move it. Lara climbed back on top 
of the rock ledge and checked over the mounted gun. The magazine was still 
loaded, and with a heave she lined up the sights and gave the stone pillar a 
good dose of large calibre lead. It split and cracked apart, tumbling down. 
With a groan, the waterwheel spun free. A hidden mechanism triggered.

"Waterwheel's got things running again," Zip remarked.

The passage of dormant traps where she entered sprang to life. She took note of 
an identical series of traps in a passage above.

"Congratulations, you got your wish," Zip said. "The place is a deathtrap."

Lara shrugged. "It needed a woman's touch."

The wheel that had been released bore a number of poles sticking out. Lara 
jumped from her platform to a hanging rope, and swung off to grab onto one. It 
carried her slowly around, and up to a height where she could jump off to a 
second rope on the far side. From that she swung to a platform ledge. At the 
opposite side of the room was a similar ledge. Between the two hung a metal 
lift on a pulley that Rutland's men had evidently been using for access between 
ledges. Lara latched onto it with her grapple and pulled it towards her. She 
hopped on and looked over to the other platform ledge. The stump of a broken 
column shone with a metallic band, and she used that to draw the lift back. The 
clashing sound of traps now rang out beneath. She jumped onto the second ledge 
to examine the higher passage. Stationary poles barred access. Smashed bones 
cluttered the passage floor.

"I'll have to get these traps moving again to pass through," she informed Zip.

"Only you would think of it that way. I don't like it."

"You're not living if you don't live a little dangerously."

A rope dangled close by, and Lara soon swung from it to grab a pole on the 
second waterwheel. The wheel rocked a little as she swung to another pole on 
it, but plainly would not work without power of some sort. Lara jumped forward 
to a ladder carved in the rock face, and climbed to its top to investigate.

In a small rock chamber lit by flaming lanterns, another ladder section led up. 
Flames cast jagged shadows as she scaled the green-tinged walls. Using narrow 
crevices in the damp slippery rock Lara made her way across to what appeared to 
be a sluice.

"This channel runs directly down to the wheel," she observed.

"Can't have a wheel without a couple thousand gallons of water," Zip said.

"No," Lara agreed. "It's simply not done."

Bars across the channel formed another ladder, and a low cave at the top 
brought her to overlook a huge cavern the other side. On its floor at her feet 
were a few scattered crates and another of Rutland's rafts. A jaguar stalked 
the otherwise empty space. She dispatched it with a few shots from safety, and 
then jumped down.

Water sloshed somewhere close by, and the other side of a high wall she saw 
gushing waterfalls. Her side appeared dry, yet Rutland's beached raft gave the 
clue that it was not habitually so. One section of the wall appeared to be a 
lock gate lowered on chains.

Stone steps at one side led her around to a ledge, where she clambered up and 
jumped onto a hanging stone block device. This descended under her weight and 
raised up a counterbalanced block just beside. She quickly ran to it and off to 
a short section of ladder. From a platform on top, she looked down on the full 
extent of the cavern.

One side was flooded by water streaming from holes in the cave roof. The lock 
gate held back the water. Giant stone pulleys were rigged to a device above 
where she entered, and she saw very clearly that if she could somehow put it to 
operation, the central lock gate could be raised and water would flow through 
and down to the stalled waterwheel in the other room.

There was no way down from her platform other than a plunge into the flooded 
section. She emerged close to another of Rutland's rafts. Though she could 
climb out at more than one spot there was no useful purpose and nothing to aid 
further progress. Somehow she needed to raise the lock gate. To one side she 
spotted a rock ladder, but could not manage to climb on the low ledge beside 
it. She swam to the raft and looked about. A broken column nearby showed a 
decorative metallic band. Lara hooked her grapple to it and tugged the raft 
towards the column. It soon caught a gentle current and drifted to a wider pool 
section where the ladder waited. As luck would have it, another column with 
metallic banding stood close by, and Lara managed to heave the raft over to it, 
banging and clanging off edges. She hopped onto the ledge and ran to the 
ladder. It went nowhere in particular but from its height she jumped backwards 
to a counterbalanced block similar to the last, and as this fell under her 
weight a second block rose alongside. The gap here was greater but she chose 
the right moment to leap and grab on, and before it fell too far managed to 
jump off to a stone ledge beyond.

Water cascaded from above, and looking up she spotted a diamond-shaped plaque 
for her grapple device to latch onto. She swung through a shower of water to 
land on another platform ledge. With her rock climbing athleticism she soon 
made it past pillars and crevices to a platform in the corner of the cavernous 
room.

Here was a pressure pad, that when activated set in rotation a short platform 
just in front. A large stone block on it was toppled to the ground, which might 
at least make the journey back to this spot less arduous should Lara fall. The 
pressure pad did something else too: on a central platform alongside was a 
large statue of a woman in chains, arms upraised, and as the short platform 
revolved about, it set into operation a shaped stone that served as a manacle. 
One raised arm of the statue was released as the stone swung away.

Lara moved to take a look, but as she stepped off the pressure pad the short 
platform unwound, and seemed likely to tip her off if she tried to cross too 
soon, so she paused until it seemed settled. The manacle returned to its former 
position.

At the central stone platform she examined the statue. It bore on its head an 
urn, symbolic no doubt as the bringer of water. The chains from each arm led to 
pulleys that surely operated the lock gate in the room underneath. A bronze 
mechanism shone between pointed breasts. Lara attempted to put it to action, 
and it moved the arms, but these were held fast by the manacles. Each would 
need to be released before the mechanism would work.

To the other side of the platform was a second lever device, and beyond that 
another platform. On it was a pressure pad and a thick stone block. Lara jumped 
across and hauled the block over the pad. It operated the platform lever and 
released the second manacle. Lara assessed the situation. The stone block on 
this platform would keep the lever platform wound and the manacle open, but the 
other platform had no such helpful device. She hopped back to size it up. 

Taking a deep breath Lara stepped on the pad to revolve the lever platform and 
open its manacle fully. As she stepped off, the platform unwound and she waited 
for the right moment to hop on and jump off to the central platform. The 
manacle was already closing, but she quickly cast her grapple to the shimmering 
breastplate and tugged. The arms of the maiden lowered down and the lock gate 
on its chains rose up. This released a couple thousand gallons of water to flow 
through the channel that led to the waterwheel below.

"Looks good," Zip said. "Think the wheel's turning yet?"

"Let's have a look."

She dived off the platform to the now flooded part of the room below. Wooden 
crates bobbed in the fast-flowing water at the entrance to the channel. Lara 
soon dropped down the cave ladders to return to the waterwheel. To her 
satisfaction, the torrent moved the stone wheel and the traps in the upper 
passage were now fully operational. And potentially lethal.

"Much better," Lara said.

'You know," Zip responded, "you scare me."

"You may want to close your eyes then."

She used the horizontal poles off the slowly turning wheel to take her up to 
the rope from which she could reach the platform again, and stepped forward to 
assess the passage of traps.

Now that the spear poles were moving she might at least pass, but it was a 
route into deadly danger. Lara watched as opposing sets of spiked poles clashed 
together, held briefly, then retracted. They swept back again at vicious speed. 
Screwing up courage she judged the moment carefully - as they first seemed to 
part - and leaped through. The spears clashed shut just behind. She was faced 
now by the identical hazard, and for better or worse was imprisoned between. 
It was as risky to turn back as go on, so she judged the proper moment again 
and jumped through, to find yet another set barring the way. Timing her moment 
she passed safely.

Now she faced a daunting dash along the passage in the teeth of scything blades 
that slid back and forth along grooved channels either side.

"There's no avoiding these," she realised.

"This isn't gonna fly, Lara," Zip warned. "If one of those things even touches 
you..."

"I know," she replied, grimly. "Which means I'll have to stop them somehow."

A stone block had become dislodged from a recess that it appeared shaped to 
fit. She had used a cage to a similar purpose, and here judged the stone might 
be sufficient to guard against the deadly blades. She hauled it round, stood 
behind and pushed. The blades clanged against the solid stone and as she 
cautiously pushed the block, became forced back. The ruse was precarious, as 
the blades seemed ready to glide past if she moved too hurriedly. As Zip 
pointed out, the slightest touch from the wickedly sharpened steel could be 
fatal, and they could slice her from behind all too easily if they broke free. 
She slowly slid the stone forward and the blades were carried back in their 
grooves and then ceased their endless motion. Lara clambered carefully on top 
of the block and jumped clear.

"They don't build them like that anymore," she sighed with relief.

Yet they built them like that then, and in this case only just up some steps 
around the next corner. Though she could risk a dash with acrobatic leap and 
roll, heaped bones were proof that where others had found their way this far, 
luck alone did not carry them further.

There didn't appear to be a block handy this time. However, looking around she 
noticed a darker patch on one wall behind her. It seemed to be a recess stopped 
up with a square block of stone, presumably for the secret use of whoever set 
the fiendish trap. Behind protection of the block as before, with some effort 
she made her way slowly past the blades. She had just to be careful that one or 
other did not slide past to continue its movement behind, cruelly slashing the 
back of her legs.

Safely through, Lara ran gratefully along the passage. "I must install some of 
these in the gym."

Zip was unimpressed. "Remind me later to cancel my membership."

Lara jogged through a low archway and along a silent corridor, up and down a 
short flight of steps. A spear trap ahead blocked the way, though it was partly 
broken and thankfully stationary. Yet something was wrong. She paused on 
approach.

"What is it?" Zip asked. "You hear something?"

"I feel something."

The stone beneath her feet trembled as a low rumble came from behind. A giant 
stone ball rolled towards her, broad as the corridor was wide. It tumbled down 
the steps, gaining momentum.

"Oh, Hell, no!" Zip yelled.

The moment her legs found motion Lara ran forwards and jumped over the lowest 
spear in the trap. She dare not try to stand clear of the ball; there was 
simply no room to avoid it. A second set of horizontal poles stuck out of the 
wall, with the lowest spear broken, leaving a gap that she rolled under as the 
ball crashed through each flimsy trap and gained relentlessly on her. Close in 
front she saw an open doorway, and ran as hard as she could for it, jumping as 
she went across a narrow pit of spikes. With inches to spare she dodged wide at 
the doorway, and the rolling ball behind her crashed through, to pitch 
harmlessly over the side of the ledge where she stood. It smashed a rock 
boulder from a lower cliff section and splashed into a deep crystal-blue lake.

"Oh, I've missed Ghana!"

A sardonic voice came over her headset. "Narrowly escaping death again, I see."

"There you are Alister. You've found something about the sword fragment, then?"

"A few things, actually. I extrapolated the markings on the artifact to get a 
sense of what the entire pattern would look like, and then I found what-" His 
voice cut abruptly.

"Whoops," Zip explained, "we have a prob-" His voice also was suddenly cut off.

"Alister? Zip?"

The line was dead.

"That's odd..."

Alone for the moment, Lara looked around. A few scattered birds flew in the 
clear skies overhead. In front of her and curved around was a mighty waterfall, 
and looking down, she recognised the little island where she first lowered the 
drawbridge to enter the temple. Somewhere at this higher level Rutland had 
called down to her before disappearing inside. She was on his trail now close 
behind.

A metal pole stuck out from one wall. Roosting birds fluttered off as Lara 
jumped to it. She soon swung to a rock pillar, and clung to a crack to climb 
around. She jumped to another section, which crumbled on contact. A large 
section was dislodged overhead, and fell solidly behind her as she quickly 
swung off to higher wall poles, and on to a wider ledge. Relieved to find 
safety, Lara tried to restore contact over her headset.

"Zip? Alister? Do you read me?"

They didn't.

"I don't like this at all."

She had reached the highest ledge, and alongside was a metal lift. Rutland had 
been up here all right. She used it to drop down a stage, where she leaped to 
land on a man-made platform at the middle of the rock temple. A second lift 
served as a bridge for the intrepid explorer to jump over to a far platform, 
where she tried once again to make contact.

"Zip, are you there? Alister?"

She gave up in disgust.

"All those satellites and computers just to perfect the science of talking to 
oneself."

Water poured down in a sheet over part of the temple wall. A long jump saw her 
swing off a pole just beside, and on to a broken stone jetty. As Lara shuffled 
to one side and grabbed for a higher ledge, loose masonry crumbled overhead, 
and another section gave way. She sprang off to one side just in time.

She swung from more horizontal poles, turning about to a higher section of 
pillar, that likewise began crumbling at her touch. She was ready this time, 
and scrambled to safety around the corner of the pillar.

"Hello?" Lara tried. "Are you chaps getting any of this?"

Still no signal. She pulled up on a higher edge of the pillar.

"What the devil are they doing?"

She had reached a high doorway, and with a last look at the tumbling waterfall 
behind her, Lara headed back inside the darkness of the temple.

She entered a dank stone passage. Lit brands guttered at intervals. On a corner 
something caught her eye.

-- Dearest Amelia -------------------------------------------------------------

Lara bent to find a small object on the floor. "This shouldn't be here... Oh."

It was a piece of jewellery. Something about it looked very familiar. She 
turned it in her hand and read an inscription.

"'Dearest Amelia - Yours always - Richard'."

Lara clasped the brooch in her hand. "It was Mother's." Her parents had been 
here, in this very passage, where her mother somehow lost the precious 
keepsake.

She stood and spoke urgently. "Zip, can you hear me?" Still nothing. "Where are 
you?" she sighed.

Down stone steps the passage grew pitch dark. Lara switched on her flashlight 
just in time to see a spiked pit that stretched before her. Close to the 
ceiling, midway across, she noticed a metallic embellishment shimmer. She 
jumped forward over the pit and deployed her grapple to latch on to it, and 
swung to the other side. A short way forward she met an identical hazard, but 
took it as easily. Further ahead, the passage was lit again. She stepped 
through a doorway and pressed flat to a wall as she heard voices around a 
corner.

"I thought I heard something," said one.

"She's here somewhere," said another. "Track her down."

Lara showed herself in a blaze of gunfire. A mercenary ran across a rope bridge 
to face her, others appeared firing behind. Looking up quickly, Lara spotted a 
precarious stone section under the ceiling. A burst of fire brought it down, 
smashing through the flimsy bridge and the mercenary on it. With a few shots 
she finished his comrades on the other side. Another plaque glimmered overhead 
where the stone was dislodged, and she soon swung across to replenish supplies 
from the dead bodies.

Through an open doorway was a high room hewn out of the rock by thunderous 
waterfalls. Rutland's men had been at work here too, with arc lights mounted on 
stands placed strategically around. To one side were metal wall bars, and Lara 
swung out and splashed through a torrent of water to reach a pillar 
fortuitously cleft with cracks that served as handholds. She clung on with wet 
hands. At a higher level were more poles to reach a high platform, where a 
fast-flowing stream ran from under a barred gate. Drums of some dangerous 
chemical stood about. Here was the limit of Rutland's expedition, and his men 
were in evidence.

A metal bridge section had been laid across the stream and as Lara made her way 
over she spied guards at the foot of steps the other side. Stealthily she 
hauled first one then another of the drums of chemical to the top of the steps. 
A good kick sent them down.

"Found her!" a guard yelled as she showed herself.

The drums exploded, sending balls of flame that engulfed the men at the foot of 
the steps. Lara charged down and picked off another mercenary firing from a 
rock platform ahead. To one side was a rickety bridge of wooden planks. She 
came under fire from the far side and dashed across. The planks bucked and 
swayed, and as she reached the far side one guard threw a grenade that blew the 
bridge apart. Lara clung to the platform at the far side and sprang to her 
feet, blasting the two uniformed soldiers there. She took temporary refuge 
behind steel containers as the last two mercenaries tried to pin her down. One 
held a grenade launcher. She jumped up and charged for their platform across a 
convenient section of bridge. They were no match for such aggression and one 
crumpled as the last body slipped off the platform to the raging torrent below.

Stern carvings adorned the entrance to an adjacent chamber hewn from a rock 
cave. Water poured in at fissures and light streamed from above. Temporarily 
distracted Lara did not see a jaguar leap from a corner. She knew well enough 
that she must always keep her wits about her, and stepped backwards, firing 
both pistols. The jaguar backed off and she tossed a grenade to finish the 
beast quickly. She holstered her guns and assessed her next move.

Broken steps led up on the left and right. A rope dangled between them. The 
right stairway was too high out of reach, but she clambered up the left side. A 
sheet of water trickled down across the flight, which crumbled to a slippery 
slope after only a dozen steps. As she stood halfway and looked up, the stairs 
trembled and a huge rounded boulder came tumbling down towards her. With a 
moment to spare, Lara jumped off to the rope at the side. As she hung there 
recovering composure, a second boulder thundered slowly down behind the first, 
and crashed to dust on the floor of the chamber. Lara swung forward to the 
opposite flight and stepped cautiously up. Sure enough, a third boulder dropped 
heavily down and rumbled towards her. She stepped coolly into an alcove at the 
base of the steps, and the stone ball thundered safely past. That seemed to be 
the extent of traps for the unwary, though they might have guarded great 
secrets. At the top of the steps she found an ornate metal door and a pressure 
pad that opened it.

More intimidating statuary graced the entrance to the chamber beyond. Rutland 
was here somewhere; she could feel it. As she went in, the door closed slowly 
down behind.

-- The Ghalali Key ------------------------------------------------------------

"Lara," a familiar figure greeted her. "You came for the Ghalali Key too, then. 
Perfect."

Rutland stood in the centre of the small circular chamber of dark stone.

"Pretend I don't know what you're talking about." Lara folded her arms.

The suddenly sinister young man paced slowly towards her. "Oh, you know, it's 
what puts the sword back together. It's the size of a fist, and according to 
Amanda's research..." Rutland looked around as he spoke intently. "It's here."

"What do you know about Amanda?" Lara demanded. "Where is she?"

Rutland looked surprised at the question, but offered no answer. "So, your 
father did some digging here, didn't he? You know, Amanda thought maybe he 
found the Key."

"I don't know what you're talking about." Lara narrowed her eyes and nodded to 
the object in Rutland's hand. "Tell me about that sword segment you're so fond 
of waving about."

"Ha! Well, I have been spending some time with it, and I've learned a couple of 
things. Let me show you."

Lifted by some mysterious force, he jumped easily to a sculpted ledge overhead. 
The fragment gave off faint traces of green light, such as she had seen from 
Takamoto's staff. "Ready for this?" Rutland called down. "Watch."

He jumped off the ledge and ran at her, the dagger-like shard in his hand 
trailing green light. Lara knew what it meant, and rolled aside from the 
charge. She drew her pistols to hold the crazed attacker off.

"Damn you, Lara. I can see why you've spent your life searching for these 
artifacts - too bad this time Amanda and I beat you to it. Amanda said you'd 
try and steal this from us. You're nothing but a thief in cargo shorts."

He stabbed with the shard, giving out a flash of green light.

"Bet you wish you could do that, huh?" he sneered. "That hurt, didn't it? 
C'mon, admit it."

Lara backed away rapidly and tried to keep distance. Rutland made little 
darting runs to cut her off.

As she kept up pinpoint fire Rutland began to lose strength. In a moment he 
rose to one of the four surrounding statues, a sculpture of a bird of some kind 
with its outstretched wings forming a platform too high for her to reach. In 
some unholy manner he charged up the shard, and in doing so recovered strength 
fully. With a cry of triumph he jumped down to resume the attack.

Now he threw grenades, which bounced menacingly towards her.

"Magic artifacts are great and all," he taunted, "but there's nothing like good 
old-fashioned frag grenades, don't you think?"

She dodged away, and threw one of her own.

"Hey, you have some too! Mine are bigger." He threw another to prove it. She 
returned the compliment, as she ran to one side to avoid the blast. "Don't 
waste those Lara," his voice became a singsong taunt: "you don't have very 
many."

The series of explosions caught him off guard, and blew him off his feet. Even 
so, the curious power he possessed by wielding the shard prevented telling 
injury. "Fine," he spat, "we'll do it your way."

He rose up to a platform to recover again. No matter how accurate her fire, all 
efforts so far were for nothing. Since he drew power from the sculpture it 
seemed clear it should be her priority to block the source of his strength.

She cast an eye over one structure. It loomed tall, head poised as if to 
strike, wings outstretched. A stone of markedly different tone stood prominent 
at the breast. Lara saw it glimmer, and noticed fissures on its surface. 
Keeping a watch on Rutland, Lara tested it with her guns. The husk broke away 
showing red underneath, and she poured fire on. The red shell shattered, and 
under it a metal plate was revealed, bearing the likeness of a human face. She 
quickly put away her pistols to use the grapple on it.

"That's not gonna work, you know," said Rutland, angrily. "You're just speeding 
things up."

A swift tug and something was dislodged. The platform sculpture toppled to the 
ground and crumbled away.

"Whoa, what are you doing?" Rutland shouted. "I thought archaeologists were a 
little more careful than this."

He hadn't grasped her plan yet, so focused was the madman on tearing her apart. 
As he rushed towards her Lara backed away, and directed fire at the next 
nearest sculpture. She held her attacker at bay with a few shots and a 
judicious grenade, and his weapon seemed to lose power. He leaped up to one of 
the sculptures, which gave off a yellow glow as he recharged the sword 
fragment.

Lara took her chance to blast away another stone breast. She had only a few 
moments to grapple the exposed metal plate before Rutland descended to renew 
the attack.

"Yow!" he said as another platform crumbled. "That toy of yours is pretty handy 
after all. I still bet you'd trade it for mine, though."

He swiped the fragment viciously in her direction, and then lobbed a grenade as 
she backed off. His triumphant gloating was undiminished. "That was a big one, 
wasn't it? Did you like that? Here's another." His nimble victim saw it coming 
and ran to one side. Rutland laughed callously. "You know why I like grenades? 
You don't have to see who you're throwing them at."

Lara stuck grimly to her task. One more stone was shot out, and as she hauled 
another structure down, Rutland hadn't noticed that three of the sculptures 
were now destroyed and only one remained.

"I bet you'd do anything for this kind of power, wouldn't you?" he continued. 
"Like betraying your friends, for instance. Too bad you're so unfriendly, Lara. 
You, me, and Amanda would make a great threesome. You wouldn't believe what 
Amanda has uncovered. You'd know if you hadn't left her for dead in Paraiso."

She ignored his constant taunts, and even as he rose to charge his weapon 
again, she stood firm underneath and shot away the support. As this last 
structure toppled to dust she switched to her strongest weapon. Now they were 
alone to face each other, and she would make him pay.

-- Two Shards -----------------------------------------------------------------

Rutland fell to his knees, clutching his wounds. The sword fragment spilled 
from his grasp. Lara picked it up.

"I'm really not your enemy, Rutland."

She examined the fragment next to her own.

"These pieces weren't broken apart," she realised. "They were designed to 
separate and reattach. The Ghalali Key does that?"

Still on his knees, Rutland groaned for answer.

"I don't suppose you'd tell me where this came from. The Crusades? King 
Arthur?"

"History doesn't interest me," he rasped.

"Well then, why don't you stay here and consider the future. Make sure I'm not 
in it, however. You won't enjoy seeing me again."

Lara left him bent on the ground.

"Your father might not have found the Ghalali Key," Rutland grunted, "but 
Amanda doesn't know that, and she's at your mansion right now." Lara turned 
sharply. Rutland forced a grin. "You'd better have good insurance."

-- Hasty Departure ------------------------------------------------------------

A motorcycle ripped through a narrow gully. Lara held the throttle wide open.

"Lara?" came a voice in her headset.

"God, finally." She raced down a rocky passage. "I've been trying to get 
through for ages. What happened?"

"This woman just tore her way through the front door," Zip said, breathless. 
"She had some sort of ... I don't know what the hell it was."

"It was like black smoke," Alister volunteered.

"I'll be there straight away."

"No," he quickly assured her, "we're fine. Look, you've got to follow Amanda, 
she's going for another piece of the sword."

"What! Where?"

"In Kazakhstan. I found a photo that matches the pieces you have."

"All right. Do an inventory and try to locate something called the Ghalali 
Key." The bike roared between narrow rock walls. "Meanwhile, it looks as if I'm 
bound for colder climes."

"Pack warm!" Zip offered.
 
"I mean to be cold," she replied, then revved the bike hard.

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alister found records of a third shard in Kazakhstan, but Amanda broke into the 
manor and learned its whereabouts from him. I need to hurry to beat her to the 
site. I wish I knew what she and Rutland are up to.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  KAZAKHSTAN - Project Carbonek

     The sword fragment was taken to a secret
     Soviet laboratory decades ago, a facility
     rumoured to study the paranormal. Alister
     is going to try to confirm the facts of the
     story while I'm en route.

     "There seems to be trouble below..."


-- Trouble in Kazakhstan ------------------------------------------------------

Lara slid down an icy slope, tightly wrapped in a short sheepskin jacket, 
thermal pants and lined boots. Snowflakes drifted from a leaden sky.

"Alister, I'm at the base. Go ahead."

"I was right. It was a secret Soviet project from the Fifties called'Carbonek'. 
The laboratory was studying an ancient sword fragment, but some mysterious 
disaster brought the KGB down and they erased it all from history ... almost."

Her feet crunched in the snow as she walked to a cliff edge. She raised her 
binoculars and looked down on a complex of military buildings. "There seems to 
be trouble below." Soldiers stormed the base.

Zip spoke grimly. "You got there right on time."

"Or a little late." Bodies crumpled in the snow as muzzles flashed and 
automatic fire crackled. "Those are Rutland's men attacking the Kazakhs."

"Or Amanda's," Alister suggested. "Most likely she is the one behind this."

Lara readjusted her sights and scanned over the complex.

"The lab is somehow connected to that military base," Zip said, "but we don't 
know how. If you could find the command center, we might get a better idea. 
Now, after the firefight dies down, you should try-"

"Oh, come on now, Zip. Waiting is for the patient." Lara was on the very edge 
of the sheer cliff. "Or those without parachutes."

"Well, I'd look around more," Zip muttered. "But... go ahead and jump when 
you're ready."

Lara stood by a chain-link fence topped with razor wire. One section was broken 
through, perhaps by a heavy snowfall. With a deft leap she sailed out over the 
sheer drop.

The ground zoomed towards her. A rail track and low platforms led to a concrete 
tunnel under the cliff. A flat-roofed building stood directly ahead, and she 
was falling, limbs splayed, straight towards it.

"Now, Lara!" Alister shouted.

A quick tug deployed a mini-parachute, breaking her fall at the last moment to 
complete the typically daring infiltration. She landed gently on a corrugated 
roof and discarded the 'chute.

"Very nice, Lara, but you've just leapt from the frying pan into a nest of 
hornets."

Floodlights dotted the compound. A limp flag hung off a pole. Up ahead she saw 
the soldiers who had just stormed the base securing their positions. Without an 
assault weapon stealth alone would never get her past all that opposition; she 
needed to reduce the odds fast. On the roof where she stood was a machine-gun 
nest with its abandoned weapon, ready aligned. Her opening move seemed obvious.

Quickly checking the sights, Lara opened up on the first unsuspecting guard, 
and another behind. Moving around, she sprayed fire across the entrance of a 
building directly ahead as more came running, and tracked left and right to 
pick off stragglers. Barrels of fuel exploded, and wiped out men rushing to fan 
out. She picked off one sniping from the side, and returned swiftly to drop 
others sheltered behind a truck. Still more fired from windows, and she raked 
each fresh target, dropping bodies one by one until all appeared quiet.

Lara scooped up a discarded weapon from the abandoned nest, and jumped down off 
the roof. She moved towards the hut, designated an armoury. More mercenaries 
emerged from cover, and Lara dodged behind the truck. Grenades tumbled around. 
She dived forwards, and fired fast. Quick as they appeared she took them down, 
and with a few tossed grenades and the last standing drums to explode, her 
brutal attack wiped out resistance.

That seemed to be that. A dozen men in two minutes, but they must have known 
what to expect and she didn't like to disappoint. Inside the armoury a steel 
ladder led straight up to an open skylight.

Lara stepped cautiously out on the roof. A guard in a tower opposite opened up. 
Quickly she returned fire, and he threw himself to the floor. As he popped up 
for another try she jumped to grab the side of his tower and finished him at 
close quarters. More guards were in evidence below. She forsook a zip line 
direct to the ground and slid down a ramp to a rooftop overlooking the 
compound.

At once she was spotted. A voice shouted, "Grease her!" as gunfire rang out and 
grenades bounced close to the ground underneath. The blast could still hurt 
her, but from the relatively safe vantage point she threw grenades of her own 
and poured fire. One guard manned a heavy machine-gun, bedded in behind 
sandbags. She scrambled off the roof to try at close range. He was not able to 
traverse the gun quickly enough to stop her, and soon the compound was 
silenced.

Most areas were fenced off but a muddy track led through the snow to a steel 
gate. That seemed most likely to lead to the command centre. Lara examined an 
electronic switch by the gate. "There's a keypad here, Zip. Do you know any 
good Kazahk codes, offhand?"

"No. But I can hum along if you do the singing."

There was no way through the gate or over. A light shone above the door of one 
hut marked with a green cross. There might be someone around who could open the 
gate.

-- Allies Under Fire ----------------------------------------------------------

Lara kicked the door open. It seemed to be a medical hut. Inside, a mercenary 
held two Kazakh prisoners at gunpoint. As Lara burst in he took a panicky shot 
but she ducked and rolled. "Get down!" she shouted to the captives. A fusillade 
of pistol fire blew the mercenary to the wall. He slumped lifeless and Lara 
holstered her guns. The shocked prisoners barely moved, and lowered their hands 
as the body of the mercenary slid from a gurney to the floor. They looked 
incredulous from the dead man to the new arrival. "You are American?"

"British. And it looks like we share an enemy."

Bullets shattered the windows as reinforcements arrived outside. Lara ducked 
down and spoke urgently. "Where is your command centre?"

The two men cowered on the floor and argued in Russian. "Don't tell her," said 
one. "What's she doing here?"

"Well, if she uses the code without the key, the alarm will trigger and Central 
will send us help."

"What are you saying?"

"We're guarding snow and wolf piss here! You want to go yourself?"

The gunfire intensified. The man turned to Lara and spoke in English. "Through 
the gate. The code is K1879."

Lara replied in crisp Russian. "Spasibo - thanks. Wish me luck."

The two men stared open-mouthed as she lifted the gun from the dead mercenary, 
and left the hut.

Zip came on the headset. "I don't know what the hell you guys were talking 
about, but I think the gate they mentioned is up ahead."

"Lovely. That keeps things simple, doesn't it?"

Attackers lay in wait outside. Lara shot the nearest and ran to the heavy 
mounted gun. Protected by sandbags, incoming grenades detonated uselessly as 
she swiftly traversed the gun. When the last mercenary fell she returned to the 
gate and input the code to the keypad. The metal doors clanked open.

As Lara advanced up the muddy slope on the other side, barrels rolled down and 
exploded as mercenaries opened up. Lara jumped to one side and returned fire. 
At the command centre entrance stood more barrels, and she aimed for one beside 
the two men. Live by the sword... A fiery explosion engulfed them.

-- Command Centre -------------------------------------------------------------

The Command Centre was deserted, but filled with electronic equipment. Computer 
terminals lined the walls and the far end was stacked with banks of dials and 
switches. Blueprints were pinned to a board. A central console faced a darkened 
monitor.

Lara checked over the main console, and tapped a few keys. An aerial photograph 
came up on a computer screen.

"Satellite photos?" Zip shrugged. "We've got our own, there's nothing there."

"The lab wouldn't be visible from above," Lara reasoned. "We need maps."

She called up the photo on the big screen. "There it is," she said with 
satisfaction. The featureless landscape became overlaid with a plan of the 
route to the secret laboratory, many miles distant.

"Oof," Zip exclaimed. "That's a hike."

"I'm not walking." Lara noticed a closed circuit TV screen. "There's a military 
transport train that runs past the lab. It looks like Amanda's boys are ahead 
of me - I'd better run."

She glanced to a ladder at one side of the room.

"Whoops," Zip chimed. "Satellite feed's showing your train is about to roll. 
You better run fast."

Lara climbed up the ladder and emerged through an open skylight to the roof. A 
radio mast stood opposite with a ladder at its foot. Red lights flashed at 
intervals to its height. Pylons led back to the compound. From a platform on 
the radio mast a cable was strung all the way down. She jumped over and sized 
it up, breath steaming in the chill of dawn. The mast hummed faintly. She 
hopped up and grabbed hold of the cable, and sailed down at speed.

The compound was deserted and she dropped off at a sentry post high above. She 
looked over to where she infiltrated the base. Snowflakes tumbled. She noticed 
guards searching the outer compound. There was no other way down off her 
platform, so she hopped up for another cable and took off over their heads. 
"Hear that?" said one. A shot zipped out as another voice shouted: "found her!"

Lara dropped to the corrugated roof where she first landed. She turned to the 
huge doors of the train tunnel, now open and heavily guarded.

"Keep her spinning," a mercenary shouted. "Flank her!"

One man stood out in the open on a platform running alongside the rails. From 
her higher position Lara dropped him easily then turned attention to others 
moving in at the foot of her building. Unable to draw a bead due to stacked 
crates, a dropped grenade dealt most easily with them.

"Train's leaving," Zip reminded her.

The loading bay doors parted and through the tunnel behind it the rear cars of 
the train could be seen pulling away.

"Better get moving then, or you'll miss your train."

"Hurry, Lara," piped Alister. "Don't let that Amanda woman get there first."

At the tunnel doors two guards appeared, shooting. Between them stood a sturdy 
motorcycle.

"Forget the train," Lara said. "I have a better idea."

She took out the guards in a blaze of fire and hopped on the motorcycle. Two 
seconds later she roared up the tunnel in pursuit of the train.

The bike ran down off the end of the tunnel platform and hissed through wet 
slush as she ran alongside the escaping train. Tyres skidded on crusty ice, and 
she fought to steer straight. As she passed the rear carriages the front of the 
train broke away, and began to disappear up the track.

"What's that?" Zip asked. "What's going on?"

"They're decoupling the cars."

She gunned the bike to catch up. The path ahead was treacherous, with rocks and 
trees partly obscured in low visibility. She threaded carefully along a winding 
path, trying to keep the train in sight.

"You're falling behind, Lara. You're losing time."

Just as when she had last taken to a bike, mercenaries soon appeared. They were 
determined as ever to stop her, closing fast on their motorcycles and veering 
in her path. "Close her down, shoot her!"

Lara weaved between trees, trying to shake them. They overtook, and moved to 
block her, firing from all directions. A few hits would be fatal, so she moved 
side-to-side. This forced them to switch guns from hand to hand looking back, 
giving her the advantage of continuous fire. In a half dozen shots each rider 
tumbled from his machine. More joined the chase. Up ahead she spotted a stray 
barrel of oil or chemical, and as riders closed in she detonated it in their 
path, immolating would-be assassins.

She sped on and fired constantly, keeping her eye on the path ahead, weaving 
steadily between rocks and trees. The mercenaries were no match, hampered by 
having to look over their shoulder. As many as there were she took them down 
one by one.

All at once the clanking train seemed to slow down. The rear cars were left 
behind and came to a stop as they entered a tunnel.

"Damn, I can't see well enough," Zip cursed. "What happened?"

"They let loose a few cars and they're blocking the tunnel, but I think I saw a 
path off to the right up ahead."

Without losing speed she rode off to the side of the tunnel. Here was an icy 
track that soon narrowed considerably. It branched to a high and a low path 
around the mountain, and she fought to keep the bike steady.

"You're awfully close to a long fall there, Lara."

She didn't need reminding, but couldn't lose time. She kept as much speed as 
she dared, carving left and right as the path twisted. She glanced off rocky 
walls and bounced over bumps but kept up the chase, the train thundering 
through the mountain tunnel alongside. The upper path looked the safer bet, 
since she could land on the path underneath if she slipped on a turn. The lower 
path had a risky looking snowy ramp to a jump, and all of a sudden Lara found 
herself balancing across a decrepit wooden bridge. Her wheels caught a bump and 
launched the bike high.

"All right!" Zip cheered. "Catch some air."

She was pleased someone was enjoying it, as she wrestled to keep the speeding 
bike under control. It launched off the end of a short rock section and bounced 
off another.

"Yeah, baby, do that again!" Zip yelled in delight. He gasped as she did just 
that. "Whoo! Okay. Now you're just showing off."

"Zip, I never 'show off'."

"Yeah, yeah, I know."

Around a narrow mountain pass the road levelled out and she caught up with the 
train. Even with the rear cars missing it seemed very long. She sped alongside, 
weaving a path as before between rocks and trees. Soon enough motorcycle 
bandits made reappearance. 

"Take a shot," a rider yelled. "Cut her down."

She dodged and dived as before, since they seemed just as determined. Her bike 
had brakes too, though if she used them Zip was quick to remind her, "You're 
falling behind, Lara, you're not going to make it if you don't speed up." She 
had more pressing problems. As two or three crowded her she kept one eye on the 
path ahead and looked for loose barrels that lay strewn with other debris along 
the route to the base. Whatever chemical they contained detonated on a shot, 
and helped thin her attackers.

The bikers were trouble enough, yet looming from the cold mist ahead came the 
shape of a speeding RV. A hostile mercenary emerged through the sunroof and 
opened fire as the sinister black vehicle closed in. She angled to one side for 
a clear shot and kept up the fire until it collided with a tree and crashed out 
of control. No sooner had it fallen behind than another appeared and gave 
chase, soon joined by a third.

Lara bobbed and weaved as best she could among the rocks and trees rushing by. 
She was still harassed by motorcycle bandits, and cut them between trees, 
keeping up constant fire to pick them off one at a time.

The RVs were more problematic; for all that they soon crashed or fell back 
there were many of them. Eventually no fewer than three vehicles closed in. The 
drivers veered across and jostled her trying to throw her off course. As one 
lost control it collided with another and she fired rapidly at the third. A 
stray shot hit a barrel and its windshield exploded in flames. All the while 
she faced sudden death from a rock or a tree, but with tremendous relief she 
saw at last a break in the path up ahead.

Once again the train shed rear cars that stopped up a tunnel so she could not 
follow directly. Just as before she cut around to the side along an icy rock 
path. It seemed near identical to the one she negotiated shortly before. Here 
was another rickety log bridge and more twisting turns. As the road narrowed 
she saw a log ramp built up ahead, and hit it full on.

The train passed below on the other side and she soared over, landing on a 
muddy path between pylons and trees. She kept control and took off up a second 
log ramp.

Zip was thrilled. "Whooo-hooo! I'm glad we got that one on tape."

Lara skidded through slush along a narrow path under a rocky overhang and drew 
parallel to the train. The passing section of carriages happened to be flatbed 
cars. She raced alongside and saw her chance: just short of a girder bridge, 
she jumped the bike off the path and thudded onto the train. She got the bike 
under control and cruised towards the front.

"Damn," Zip gasped. "So now you're gonna tell me you planned to do that?"

"Of course I did."

"Of course you did."

-- Runaway Train --------------------------------------------------------------

Lara dismounted and moved towards the engine. The train was now passing over a 
long bridge of iron girders. Snowy mountain wastes stretched far beyond. She 
balanced precariously over the roof and crept up to the cab. The mercenary at 
the controls stuck his head out and began firing. Lara whipped her head back 
and ducked down. The driver thought he had her at his mercy but she had spotted 
a gas canister strung across the line ahead. Too late he saw it too. Lara threw 
herself flat and covered her head. The driver screamed as an explosion engulfed 
the cab. Lara recovered and beat flames off her jacket. Too hot, she ripped it 
off and flung it aside.

With the driver dead she was trapped on the roof of a runaway train. She 
crawled towards the front as it sped into a tunnel.

She saw up ahead a low stanchion, and ducked just in time. Her eyes narrowed as 
she spotted a concrete pipe hanging over the track up ahead. With a few rapid 
shots she shattered the hook on its chain, and the pipe crashed to the rails, 
sending the engine screaming along the track as it collided. It was headed for 
a solid door and there were no buffers. Lara searched about and spotted a 
metallic hoist to one side. She cast her grapple and swung off, momentum 
spinning her through the air on the end of the high tensile cord as the engine 
piled into the dead end wall, metal screeching as it smashed to a halt in a 
blazing collision of concrete and steel.

Lara dropped safely to a metal platform. She was in a cargo terminal. Crates, 
winches, and debris lay scattered about. The train blazed in the middle of the 
room.

"Phew!" Zip gasped. "I feel like I just lived through a train wreck - how about 
you?"

"Undoubtedly," Alister answered.

Lara got to business. "Amanda's already inside, and the door's sealed."

"So now what?" Zip asked.

"There's a vent on the wall to the right of the cargo door. The fan's running; 
she's got the power on."

"How will you get in?" Alister wondered.

"One way or another."

A rope dangled ahead, too far out of reach. Lara kicked a loose crate aside to 
give herself room on the platform. Using her grapple, she swung the heavy metal 
beam off which the rope hung towards her, and jumped out to it before the beam 
swung back. It carried her across the loading bay to a dock, where a ladder led 
her to a jump for a large metal sign on one wall. Hanging off it, she made 
acrobatic leaps across pipes to another, the other side of the burning wreckage 
below, and dropped to a second loading dock. Here again she caught on to a 
metallic crane arm, and jumped for its dangling rope. As the crane arm swung 
back, she scrambled up the rope a little, to escape the intense heat of flames 
crackling just underneath. She dropped safely to a suspended metal platform.

A large ventilation fan clanked noisily high on a wall directly in front. She 
judged the shaft behind big enough to climb through, and duly shot out the fan 
blades. With a jump to a ledge underneath she was soon inside.

Behind was a service tunnel, lined with piping and vents, its metal surfaces 
lit icy blue. Without her jacket Lara wore only a ribbed jersey top.

"It's getting colder," she said as she moved further in.

She slid down a short slope and stopped as she assessed the route ahead. Broken 
power cables snaked across the floor, sparking blue flashes.

"It's live!" Zip warned, rather needlessly.

She jumped over one set and ducked under another, and came suddenly on a grisly 
sight: a blue-faced corpse trapped behind bars.

"It looks like you've wandered into another tomb after all," Alister remarked. 
"I wonder what he's doing here?"

"He's been trying to get out since the Fifties. He's frozen to death, the poor 
fellow." Lara shook her head. "Hardly a proper end for a scientist."

Icy cold air wafted from a shaft across the tunnel. Beside the body lay a scrap 
of paper.

"'The experiment has gone wrong," Lara read. "The KGB has sealed the facility.' 
He tried to escape through the vents but got trapped."

"My God," breathed Alister.

There was no way past the bars for her, either. Turning to a tunnel at the 
side, Lara reasoned that the cold air must be escaping somewhere. There was no 
other way forward but a jump to a metal bar, off which Lara swung to a ledge 
with the aid of her grapple. She slid down another steep slope, with a well-
judged hop at its middle to clear more arcing cable. She was lower down and 
further inside the facility.

"It is much colder in here than it was outside."

Icy blasts of air hissed through meshed fans. Emergency lighting glinted along 
the steely blue surface of the service duct. The way was barred at one side, 
and the other temporarily blocked by a fast-spinning fan blade. More loose 
cable sparked and flashed in front of it. She first shot the blade to pieces, 
and then rolled close underneath.

Alister shouted, "Watch out!"

Lara followed the duct to another short slope and more cables. Some dreadful 
calamity had evidently befallen the place to leave it in such disrepair. More 
spinning blades blocked her for a moment before she broke through, running and 
ducking beneath yet more electrified cable. Down another slope with a jump over 
another such hazard, Alister spoke up.

"Um... I'm not sure turning on the power was a good idea."

"Looks like a few things in there won't be getting the juice they need," Zip 
pointed out.

"The heater must be one of them," Lara said, flatly.

She swung across another deep space with the help of her grapple, but could not 
gain enough distance to carry off to its end. She dropped to the floor and 
climbed on a crate, turning about to try again from a spot closer to the edge. 
Eventually she stood at the top of another short slope with a fan blade at its 
foot. She quickly broke through and dropped out of the duct at last.

She was in a large room, dimly lit.

"Look at the lights, she's only found the emergency power."

"She came in through the main doors," Zip said. "I don't think she's been here. 
Looks like there's a generator at the other side of the room - she would have 
started it."

If she would, then Lara will. First she made exploration. Directly opposite was 
a door, which showed a red light. It stayed firmly shut as she approached.

"I think there's some sort of mechanism that opens the door," she surmised. "It 
would need power to work."

On the back wall was a large glass panel marked with a diagram of some kind. 
Lara examined its dim surface. "It's a map of the facility."

"Very retro," Zip remarked. "It probably looks like a carnival sideshow when 
the power is on."

To that end, Lara turned next to the contraption Zip had noticed at the other 
side of the room. It was a sizeable machine with a motor and dials. She tried 
to hook up the generator by pulling a rounded lever at its front. The motor 
whirred and spluttered, but did not catch. She gave up. "It sounds as if it's 
out of fuel."

A tank on stilts stood close beside, with a spout attached. Probably the fuel 
came from that. A rope dangled off it, out of reach.

Lara climbed on a rusted metal control box and jumped to an equally rusted air 
conditioner hood hung off an adjacent wall. From this she barely grabbed to a 
section of metal grid that formed a platform walkway. There was a short gap to 
the far end of the room, corners lit with intense glow of red light. From one 
edge of the walkway she was able to jump out to grab the dangling rope. Her 
sudden weight lowered the pipe it was attached to, and fuel of some kind spewed 
to a funnel on the generator.

"That should do it," Lara said with satisfaction.

She stood in front once again, a few steps back for leverage, and used her 
grapple on the rounded starting lever. This time the generator kicked into 
life. The large map on the wall lit up, and the electronic door was released. 
Overhead lights came on.

"There you go," Zip said.

Lara checked her bearings on the large diagram on the wall, now brightly 
illuminated. "You have to admire this map's simplicity."

"And what do you know," Zip observed. "It looks just like a carnival sideshow."

The map was studded with light bulbs, some lit, others flashing. She guessed 
these represented the main features of each room, and that they were linked in 
some way, under differing requirement of power. The room she was in had its 
generator active, and its bulb was one that was lit steady. The facility 
appeared to consist of three rooms leading off a central area. Each room bore a 
legend in faded print. Through the now released door Lara entered a corridor 
that the map suggested should lead her to the central area.

She stopped dead, eyeing with suspicion a cloud of lurid green vapour streaming 
from a duct across the width of the corridor.

"I wonder if that's toxic," Alister said, rather unnecessarily.

"I'd guess it's coolant," Zip suggested. "But who knows what sort of lethal 
crap the Soviets were using."

"I'd rather not find out firsthand," Lara muttered.

Glancing up, she saw an elevated section of metal grille above head height, 
forming a short platform. From it she swung off a pipe to a higher section, 
safely above the streaming green vapour. She saw now that a fence in any case 
blocked the route below. Across further grille sections and a convenient 
dangling rope, she passed along the corridor to a corner. She jumped 
confidently to a short section of grille, but stumbled and fell to the floor. 
The green coolant choked her.

"Get up above it," Zip advised, urgently.

"God!" she gasped, "It burns."

Coughing and spluttering, Lara jumped up to safety. She would be sure not to 
make that mistake again.

She had a longer section of the corridor to negotiate, and the floor below was 
thick with clouds of escaping coolant. Against the wall just above her head was 
a stout pipe that looked as if it would take her weight, and she was about to 
reach for it when Zip yelled out, "Stay back!"

Alister exclaimed, "It's charged."

Violet-blue static fizzed and cracked in a burst of energy, passing steadily 
along the metal pipe.

"That's live!" Zip confirmed.

The charge seemed to be local, and pulsed at regular intervals from one end of 
the pipe to the other. Lara judged a moment to jump up in its wake, shifting 
along the pipe steadily, hand over hand as it sparked out just ahead. In 
seconds she had shimmied to the corner of the corridor, but saw no way to drop 
down or move on. The static charge on its next cycle crackled towards her along 
the pipe, and with no other alternative she leaped backwards and clung to a 
ventilation hood on the opposite wall. Fortunately it held her weight, and she 
manoeuvred around the corner and dropped to a metal strap and back again to 
another, off which she dropped to a sturdy grille platform.

Fluorescent lights flickered along the last length of the corridor, thick as 
ever with poisonous vapour below. A metal pipe overhead seemed the only means 
of negotiation, yet this too pulsed with a lethal burst of static energy. As 
before, she judged the moment to jump up to grab on to the pipe, and swung 
along in the wake of the violent discharge. "Careful!" Zip warned.

Spumes of vivid green coolant streamed from the walls beneath her as Lara 
shimmied quickly hand over hand along the pipe length. She made it to safety at 
the corridor end and dropped gratefully to a last grille platform section as 
the fizzing sparks of electrical energy pulsed through their next cycle behind 
her. The exit ahead showed a green light, and as she hopped down to face it, 
metal doors slid open automatically.

-- Reunion with Amanda --------------------------------------------------------

Lara stepped cautiously through, and glanced about.

This was the large central room from the map. On a low metal platform ahead, a 
woman in black with platinum hair worked intently on some kind of machine. Zip 
recognised the intruder at the manor, and exclaimed, "Hey, that's her!" 
Incredulous, Lara recognized her too.

"Amanda?"

The woman looked up without surprise or enthusiasm. "Dammit, Lara, I'm busy."

Lara approached warily. "I see you've changed your look. That was you in 
Bolivia, then? With Rutland."

"I've been all over, and I'm going to places you can't conceive of," said 
Amanda wearily. "You're the one being left behind this time. Sorry."

She walked away across a flat metal bridge. Lara followed after.

"I'm sorry, Amanda. If I'd known that you were alive, I swear I would have done 
everything I could to save you."

Amanda stopped and turned on her heel. "Please. I got over that a long time 
ago." She stood with hands on hips and gestured expressively. "You know what 
really used to bug me, though? When I got out and saw that you left without 
even trying to... oh, what is it archaeologists do? Oh, right. Dig."

"We'd thought of it as a memorial."

"Whatever." Amanda left through a door, muttering to a guard. "Don't let her 
follow me."

Lara started after Amanda but the guard unclipped a grenade and rolled it 
across the bridge towards her. Lara flung herself back to safety as it 
detonated, sending one end of the metal bridge to the ground. The guard left 
after Amanda.

The contraption Amanda had been attending caught Zip's eye. It seemed to be a 
weapon of some kind. "Check out the big gun thing! How spaced out is that? 
Maybe it'll help you."

Lara hopped up on the low metal platform and took a seat behind the gun. Faint 
pulses of blue light enveloped the machine, which gave off the chattering sound 
of an electrical generator. Using its controls, Lara rotated the gun on its 
platform and faced about the room. Some loose crates were stacked behind her, 
and as she depressed a trigger, energy was given off. A crate moved with the 
unseen force. Lara was awed. "Did you see that?"

"Yeah," Zip said. "Getting crazy interference on the video too. I'd say what we 
have here is one of Nikola Tesla's toroidal coil guns, except... that would 
be... impossible." His voice trailed off in wonder.

"You may be right," Lara said. "It doesn't seem to work very well."

She stepped off the gun platform.

"Well, they'd theoretically need a lot of power," Zip said. "Like from that 
Tesla tower across the way. If you could get that Tesla tower fired up... Wow. 
I never thought I'd get to say that!"

The Tesla tower was a system of pipes, ducts, and glowing orbs that pulsed with 
traces of electrical energy, out of reach from where Lara stood. "Mmm. We might 
be able to bridge the gap somehow."

The metal bridge had collapsed at one end to form a steep ramp down to the 
floor. Three guards patrolled the area below.

Lara slid down and drew her pistols. The first guard was ready but she dropped 
off the twisted end of the bridge and finished him fast, scooping up a grenade 
from the body. At once she came under fire from the far end of the room. The 
second guard carried a bulletproof shield, and stood impervious to her gunfire. 
She rolled a grenade and blew him off his feet. The third guard broke from 
cover, and she loosed off a few shots as she closed in. She tossed another 
grenade, but to her consternation he picked it up and threw it back. She dived 
aside and tried again, this time with a burst of gunfire forcing him to cover. 
The grenade did its job and she had the room to herself.

It was a vast laboratory housing the huge mechanical device that Zip believed 
to be a Tesla tower. A faded Soviet flag was emblazoned on one of its tanks. 
Arcs of electrical energy pulsed and fizzed up vertical pipes bearing 
illuminated orbs. A panelled glass floor covered thicker pipes and valves. Lara 
examined one of the vertical pipes.

"Wow," Zip exclaimed. "Don't get hit by any of those electrical arcs."

"I thought you said it wasn't running."

"That's just ambient discharge. If the tower was on, you'd know it."

"And if I were the energy source, where would I be?"

"Up top."

She waited until one cluster of discharge passed up along the pipe, and then 
took a deep breath and grabbed on. It was safe to touch the pipe so long as the 
static was not too close. Quickly she shinned up, and sprang off to grab a 
ledge at the base of the machine. From that she climbed to a higher one, where 
a pair of horizontal poles led her out to a trailing rope. She dangled high 
above the laboratory floor. Lara shuffled about and swung to another of the 
vertical pipes, thankfully without ambient discharge. She caught her breath and 
decided the only way forward was via two other pipes, each bearing a 
potentially lethal charge. She aligned herself carefully and jumped at the very 
moment the static passed upward along one pipe, holding for just a moment to be 
sure of her direction then off to the next, shinning upwards and leaping off to 
land safe on the roof of a solid mesh cage. She dropped to a floor.

Slumped against a wall nearby was a corpse. "Another scientist. No warmth for 
him up here either." Fallen from his frozen hand was a piece of paper. Lara 
uncovered a little more of events at the base before it was shut down. "They 
funnelled Tesla energy into the artifact, and there was an enormous discharge 
of some sort. The KGB shut down the operation, removed the core, sealed off the 
lab in sections, and left behind those scientists who weren't forcibly 
removed."

"A peculiar turn of events," Alister remarked.

The tower activator was in a heavy cage closed off by a large solid door panel. 
This was marked in Cyrillic script as an electrical hazard. Lara judged she 
could slide the door open but could see no immediate benefit. She certainly 
wasn't about to step into the potentially lethal device, even though a control 
dial next to the door showed there was no power.

"Can the tower be powered up from here?"

"Not without the core," Zip replied. "Looks like it's not here. I'd guess 
that's what those tracks in the floor are for."

Rails led back in a direct line to an electronically operated door. It opened 
automatically on her approach, and somewhere in the distance a buzzer sounded 
as she went through.

The rails led along a corridor lined with thick pipes. Sockets were suspended 
from long cords at intervals just above head height. "What are those hanging 
cords and sockets?" Lara wondered.

"Decoupled high-current cables," Zip replied. "You're lucky they're off, or 
you'd be standing in the middle of a painful light parade."

The corridor was otherwise empty, but at a turn she saw clouds of noxious green 
coolant escaping from the pipes. Fortunately, just as before, there were low 
grille sections and metal bars to assist onward passage. In a moment she 
overlooked a large room.

"Okay," Zip said. "There's the core up ahead."

Some kind of device rested at the rail terminus across the room. Zip was 
excited at the discovery but Lara had work to do before she could examine it. 
She dropped into the room and came under attack from a number of guards. She 
ducked and dived and returned their fire. One threw a grenade, and warned his 
comrades, "Pineapple coming - get down!"

Lara rolled aside, and shot him for the insolence. A barrel near one soldier 
caught a stray bullet and exploded in flames, cutting him down. A last shot 
from her pistols, and the room became silent.

It was in a state of devastation. Some kind of accident had occurred here. 
Broken metal sections lay scattered about the floor, and the rail tracks that 
led from the door sparked intermittently where debris made contact. At the 
track end sat a squat cubed metallic device that was evidently the battery core 
for the Tesla tower at the other end.

"It doesn't look like it has a charge," Zip observed, "but you might be able to 
juice it from the control room above you."

Behind a huge sheet of plate glass high over the room, fluorescent light glowed 
in a tower. To one side a ladder led up, but was broken away too far out of 
reach. Steam rose at vents in the floor. A large illuminated diagram on the 
wall matched one Lara had seen where she first restored power to the facility. 
The lamp for that section was here lit up, and a similar one for the room she 
was in glowed at intervals. That meant this section had power but it was 
intermittent. Three pulsing lights on the map representation most likely 
matched three faintly glowing blue orbs suspended from the rafters. They needed 
more power.

Lara put her shoulder to the core, and was able to get it underway a short 
distance. "There's heavy debris on the track. I don't see how I can move it..."

"It doesn't matter if the core doesn't have power," Zip told her. "Get it 
charged, and then we can deal with that."

She would have to find a way up to the control room. Looking around, she saw a 
network of platforms, ropes, ladders, and walkways raised off the floor, which 
though precarious might be linked (with a little athleticism) to fashion 
access. One ladder against a wall nearby looked easily reached off the top of 
the core device, now that she had moved it. In moments she was up, and sprang 
off it to a ledge.

-- Headset Hijack -------------------------------------------------------------

Amanda's voice came in her ear. "Hello Lara."

"What the-" Zip exclaimed. "How the hell did you get on this channel?"

"Hush, Zip," Lara said. "She must have taken a headset while she was 
rearranging your office."

"You're so smart, Lara. Do you know why the Soviets called their project 
'Carbonek'?"

"It's the castle where Lancelot sought the Holy Grail," Lara shrugged. "Not the 
first connection to Arthurian myth I've come across."

"'Myth', she calls it. A limited word for a limited perspective. You were 
always such the scientist, you're probably right at home with all these Tesla 
contraptions, aren't you?"

"As much as anyone, I suppose."

"The Russians activated a power in the artifact that literal minds can't 
handle, and it destroyed them, so don't push the wrong buttons."

"You'd better not either."

"But I know which ones are the right ones."

"You've learned to read Russian since I last saw you? Amanda?"

"She hung up," came Zip. "What the hell was that about?"

"She's having difficulty obtaining the sword fragment and she doesn't want to 
blow everything up in the process."

Blow everything up!? "Uh... maybe you should have told her what she wanted to 
know."

Lara pressed on with her task. Through a series of nimble jumps to poles and 
broken mesh ledges, she clambered around the ceramic mount of one hanging orb 
to spring to a platform where another short jump had her grab to a ladder. A 
section rolled down to the floor that at least offered an easy way back, should 
she fall. Yet she was nearly there. Taking careful aim, from the walkway nearby 
she shot a barrel visible through the plate glass of the control room. The 
resultant explosion shattered the window, and a convenient hanging rope had her 
swinging through it a moment after.

She landed at the feet of a long-dead body. "Another unlucky scientist."

He also had kept a log. Lara learned more of the tragedy.

"He writes that at least a dozen of his colleagues were killed in the 
experiment. The artifact converted the Tesla voltage into something else... a 
wave of concussive force of some kind."

"That's familiar enough," Alister said. "So why were they shut down?"

Lara read on. "Mmmm. They refused to repeat the experiment and when the KGB 
tried to persuade them otherwise, it got nasty."

At the rear of the control room bleachers had been set overlooking the lab 
floor. No doubt the experiments conducted here had a privileged audience. In 
front was a long lever. Lara put both hands to its handle and pulled down.

Flashes of energy in waves of brilliant blue sparks jolted down from the orb 
nearest the core. The cage that surrounded the helix on top was depressed and a 
charge released that sent the heavy metal debris in contact with it flying 
aside as if made of cardboard.

"Oh, man!" Zip laughed. "Now, that's how you do it."

Lara looked dubiously at the waves of no doubt deadly energy that pulsed to the 
core. "Is that supposed to stop at some point?"

"It's not charged all the way. I don't know what's wrong."

"How am I supposed to move it if I can't touch it?"

"The cable on your grapple is insulated."

"Right..." Lara said, sceptically.

She left through a door to a remnant of metal walkway, and dropped down to the 
lab floor. On the wall the illuminated diagram of the facility now showed power 
restored to the room she was in. Lights pulsed along the track leading back to 
the Tesla tower. All she had to do was move the core out there.

Lara skirted the core carefully, staying away from the powerful electrical 
force that surrounded it. She retired a safe distance and cast her grapple to 
its metallic surface. To her relief the cable was indeed sufficiently 
insulated. With one hefty tug the core rolled along the track. The first heavy 
debris blocking its passage was blown away, and sent tumbling through the air 
in a shower of sparks.

"Okay," noted Zip with approval. "That's how it works."

The core had rolled closer to a second orb, and received a dazzling blue stream 
of electricity in addition to that from the first. Lara tried her grapple 
again, with a similar spectacular result. As it rolled on up the track, the 
core attracted a stream of electricity from the third overhead orb.

"Yeah, there we go!" a jubilant Zip announced. "Full power, baby."

Lara placed herself close to the door. With the track fully cleared and the 
core fully charged, it took just one more tug on her grapple to send the device 
trundling straight at the door, which burst open in the face of the 
irresistible force.

"Now that's how you open a door," Zip said. "Man, they should've worked on 
mass-marketing this tech. Tesla was a genius."

"I prefer doorknobs," Lara remarked.

Illuminated chevrons in the flooring pointed the way to the Tesla tower.

The passage was still polluted by coolant, so Lara hauled up on the grating to 
swing safely above as before. The flashing chevrons indicated transit of the 
core. She hurried around the corner to catch up. The overhead cables now gave 
off power and the thick pipes alongside crackled with energy. She could not 
pass. "What's happened here?"

"Weird," Zip remarked. "The core must have powered these cables somehow and 
those rails in the wall are the most convenient conductors around."

Lara used her grapple to hook one of the hanging sockets. She tugged, and as it 
swung it broke the energy field closest to her. As it swung back the field was 
restored, then broken again. She chose her moment to dash through.

"Watch yourself!" Zip shouted.

She tried the next socket and ran through again. The series at the last 
corridor section had acquired more power, and needed a pair of sockets swinging 
together to break the energy field. With patience and daring Lara made it back 
out to the laboratory housing the Tesla tower. The core had arrived at the end 
of the rails. Its illuminated orb spun busily, giving off waves of brilliant 
blue light.

"Cool," Zip said. "Now, all you have to do is get the panel out of the way, and 
we're in business."

Lara positioned herself to the side of the heavy door bearing Cyrillic script. 
All or nothing. She cast her grapple and heaved it open.

The core trundled forwards into the tower and the heavy door slid shut. The 
room darkened as power built. There was a sudden burst of energy and ventilator 
hoods on the tower flashed with sparks and exploded across the room. In the 
laboratory below the three orbs on pipes glowed blue, fizzling and crackling 
with energy. The tower control dial had flipped to maximum.

"That's what I'm talking about!" Zip cried with glee. "That's like a Christmas 
tree in Hell!"

Power was restored across the lab, and a nearby door to a control room became 
unlocked, although clearly malfunctioning. It opened and slammed 
intermittently, and Lara realised she could not easily pass. Nevertheless she 
chose her moment and dived through.

"Careful," Alister warned. "It's charged."

-- Shields and Maps -----------------------------------------------------------

On a bench at the centre of the control room lay a curious object.

"It's a shield," Lara described it, "10th or 11th Century. Probably recovered 
with the piece we are looking for. It resembles Lancelot's crest, doesn't it?"

"It would if the bugger had existed," Alister sighed.

Lara picked up the artifact and turned it over. The inside bore markings of 
some kind. "Ah, what's this, now? It looks like a map. Have a good look and see 
what you can make of it."

"What do you think it's for?" Zip wondered.

"Maybe our knight needed help finding his way home," Lara joked. She placed it 
down again. "Or perhaps this piece wasn't all he had."

"You think he stashed more of the sword somewhere?"

"Possibly. But the map is useless without a reference point."

"I'll work on it," Alister said. "Going offline."

"Splendid."

By a second malfunctioning door across the control room lay the body of yet 
another scientist. "Frozen to death," Lara said, "like the others."

He had time before he died to update his log.

"A number of minor relics were recovered along with the artifact," read Lara, 
"but the poor fellow couldn't find anyone to help him study them."

"I empathize," Zip muttered.

"Why their lack of interest?" Alister wondered.

"They were too contemporary for serious study," Lara said. "It seems they date 
from as recently as the first millennium."

"I'm sorry, but am I missing something? How old exactly is this artifact we're 
looking for?"

"Older than you'd think."

Alister went off to do more research, and Lara sized up the second 
malfunctioning door. Zip was quick to remind her, "It's hot!" Once again she 
judged the moment and dived between.

She was back beside the coil gun. Through a door to the walkway on the opposite 
side three guards came running, and took up position. Each carried a 
bulletproof shield, and the walkway was too far for a grenade. She had to reach 
the door they emerged from, where last she had seen Amanda. Lara stood ready 
beside the gun, now with full power. As the guards opened fire she mounted its 
seat.

The device pulsed with energy. Zip could barely contain himself. "I don't think 
I've ever been happier! Show me what it can do."

She knew the gun harnessed electrical energy to influence metallic objects, but 
it was useless as a weapon directly against the guards on the far walkway. She 
operated the gun and turned it about, where she spotted metal drums on the 
floor close beside. She manipulated one into the air and bore it round, to face 
the guards across the room. With depression on a trigger the drum shot forward, 
slamming into the railing where it exploded in a ball of fire, incinerating the 
hapless mercenary behind it. She turned the gun again and picked up another 
drum, launching it full on into the next helpless target. With no shortage of 
drums to fire across, in minutes the last mercenary was blasted off the walkway 
and fell screaming to the floor.

Now she had to get across to the walkway. On Amanda's order a mercenary had 
blown out the bridge between. To one side a metal platform was suspended on 
thick cables. It appeared to hang on a rail close to the ceiling, along which 
it might travel.

Lara turned the gun as high as she was able and switched the power to attract 
the hook from which the cables were strung. The platform creaked and groaned, 
tilting under electromagnetic attraction, until its weight slid down the rail 
towards the centre of the room. Lara guided it as far as it would easily go. 
Now she had a temporary bridge to the other side. She hopped off the gun seat 
and jumped over.

An automatic door opened to a corridor. As ever, coolant streamed in foul 
spumes. She hopped up onto a low metal grille safely above. This section 
appeared able to slide along the corridor but broken pipes barred the way. She 
took steady aim with her pistols and shot them away. Now clear, she connected 
to a wall bracket with her grapple and hauled to a turn in the corridor. 
Another section of metal grille seemed as easily moved, yet halfway along the 
corridor was an electrified pipe strung across. Lara set the section in motion 
and as the grille glided towards it, she ducked safely under. The next section 
was similarly blocked by a fallen pipe, and an electrified hurdle required that 
she jump up over this time as she passed.

The corridor branched left and right. One side was impassable, but at the other 
an electronic door opened on approach.

-- Amanda's Pet ---------------------------------------------------------------

Lara stepped into a circular room with a metal floor and what appeared to be 
another coil gun at its centre. Around the walls strange glass orbs similar to 
the ones she had used to power the Tesla core glowed with arcs of electricity. 
Other orbs, here dormant, were suspended from the ceiling. In a tower room 
high overhead, Amanda's black-gloved fingers tapped busily at a control panel.

"Amanda," Lara called up. "I'm sorry for what happened, but we can still work 
together."

"There is no 'we', Lara, there never was. It was just me down there. Me and 
this." Amanda fingered a curious violet pendant on a choker at her neck. "Do 
you remember it? I touched it, and it touched me back."

Lara was dubious. "I don't think that was a good thing."

"I tamed it then. And made it my own."

Amanda closed her eyes. A strange dark cloud seemed to form about her, emitting 
from the pendant. What Alister described as 'black smoke'. In a fiery glow the 
smoke drifted down, taking the form of the unknown entity that stalked the 
excavation site where Lara's friends had been killed those many years ago.

"My God ... Amanda!"

"A little friendlier than it was in Paraiso, isn't it?" The creature uttered a 
low growl and bounded across the laboratory floor, trailing spidery black 
tendrils, and with eyes glowing fire. "I taught it how to fetch."

"You're mad! It killed our friends, Amanda, and it almost killed us!"

"And it saved my life, once I'd mastered it." Her pendant now glowed fiery red. 
"It's all about a broader perception. I'd stay away from it if I were you, 
though. It can still be a little touchy."

The creature sailed into the air and coiled ready to strike.

Lara took to her heels. She knew from experience her weapons were useless. 
Amanda revelled in her predicament. "Stay out of its way, Lara, I don't control 
it, I only unleash it. It'll kill anything in its way."

The automatic doors had locked. There was no escape from the chamber. As Lara 
ran desperately around the room the entity stalked her, swooping down for 
sudden vicious attacks. It seemed to anticipate her direction, setting out 
balls of fiery energy that detonated as she approached, sapping life as they 
knocked her off her feet. "That looked painful," Amanda mocked. Lara set a 
zigzag path and looked ahead, ready to jump aside as each orange glow formed.

Around the room were set pairs of flickering Tesla orbs. Between each pair, 
under a shallow lamp against the walls, stood a switch to a fuse box that 
showed a red light. On a hunch, Lara grabbed the nearest switch and threw it. 
The light turned green, and at the centre of the room a lever arm reached down. 
A quick assessment suggested there were four fuse switches and four such arms. 
Somehow she must activate the device at the middle of the room, and then 
perhaps power the gun there. Nothing else had a hope of deflecting the entity.

She ran ahead of its swooping attacks, and jumped aside as a fireball spawned 
at her feet. The next rusted fuse box was to hand and she drew down its lever, 
releasing a second arm at the centre of the room. She ran for the next, pursued 
every step by the wrathful creature.

As the fourth lever was depressed, large orbs were released on swinging arms. A 
cylinder lowered at the centre of the device. Something was suspended inside.

"There it is," Alister exclaimed. "The sword fragment! Clamped overhead."

"Zip, what do I need to do to get it out of there?"

"I--I haven't got a clue. I know a little bit about Tesla technology, but this 
place is a mystery."

Lara made a break for the gun. She jumped swiftly aboard and rotated it, trying 
to get the entity in her sights. It swooped suddenly and knocked her clear out 
of the seat. Lara dusted herself down and jumped back in. As the entity soared 
close she gave it a burst of Tesla energy, and the creature howled as it was 
thrown back. Once she had it in her sights she was not going to let go, and 
gave it a full blast.

"I wouldn't make it mad if I were you," Amanda cautioned. "It's really not 
going to like that."

To her consternation Lara found the creature resistant to the full effect of 
the force field. The best she could do was draw it to one side, and fire it 
straight at one or other pairs of Tesla coils mounted to the wall. In a fiery 
glow of deep red the entity evaporated.

"It'll be back, Lara," said Amanda, coldly. "Get out of there while you can."

After just a few moments the entity reappeared through an opposite wall, and 
gathered itself to attack, strong as ever.

"Oh good," Amanda gloated. "No harm done. Now really, Lara, get out of the 
way."

Now more adept at handling the fabulous contraption, Lara swivelled the gun to 
face the creature again. It scuttled aside but she caught it in the 
electromagnetic force, and drew it around to a Tesla coil as before. With some 
satisfaction she shot it against the device, and it duly dematerialised. Though 
temporarily safe, Lara knew she could not keep up the tactic indefinitely.

"Lara!" Zip called. "Knock back those Tesla nodes - the big metal spheres. 
That'll complete the circuit."

Taking the hint, Lara angled the gun upward and fired a burst at one of the 
large nodes. It rocked back, close to a set of Tesla coils, from which it 
received a charge that emitted dazzling blue waves of electricity to each side.

"Stop it, Lara," Amanda warned. "Stop interfering. There's no other way to 
retrieve the artifact."

Determinedly, Lara angled to the next dangling orb, and fired again, sufficient 
to set it swinging away. Its waves linked with the orb already repulsed.

The entity reappeared, and swooped to attack, but was held back by the energy 
field. Doubly sure of her plan, Lara turned swiftly to the next nearest orb and 
kept up a charge.

"Stop!" Amanda continued to rant. "What are you doing?"

By now the charge in the first orb had diminished, and the field became broken. 
Lara turned quickly to the entity as it broke through, and shot it against a 
far coil as before.

"Oh! What have you done?" Amanda raged, powerless to stop her former friend.

Now Lara operated the gun as swiftly as she could, building a charge that 
rocked first one orb, then another back, and the third, and the last, linking 
them together until she was contained in an impenetrable wall of electric 
energy.

"What did you do?" wailed Amanda. "You're going to kill us both!"

"This must be the experiment that blasted those scientists fifty years ago," 
Zip exclaimed. "You've got to pull out the artifact from the focal point, 
before it happens again!"

Lara sprang from the seat of the coil gun. With the power diverted between the 
orbs, the central core was released. She had bare moments in which to cast her 
grapple to the metallic ring that held the fragment.

-- Prize Obtained -------------------------------------------------------------

The artifact - the handle of a sword - came free, and Lara snatched it in 
triumph.

Blue flashes sparked from the nodes. Lara shielded her eyes as a ring of energy 
burst out. A bolt of electricity shafted to the ground, shattering the glass 
floor at her feet. She looked up to the control room, and saw Amanda flee. The 
unknown entity seemed to have vanished. The structure was now dangerously 
unstable; Lara had to get out fast. She dropped into the hole and found her way 
ahead through a broken duct.

"Damn, you're lucky," Zip said. "You know that, right?"

"I'd like to think some skill was involved."

The energy field overhead crackled and fizzed. A charge was building up and an 
explosion seemed imminent. Lara nimbly jumped into the duct and crawled up. 
"Did Alister have any luck with the map I sent?"

"I'm back," came Alister, with new information. "You're not going to believe 
where this leads."

Lara shook her head. "Oh, you're going to find me extremely credulous today."

"Cornwall."

Lara stopped, surprised. Behind her the laboratory rocked in an explosion. "As 
in, take the M5 to the A30 Cornwall?"

"As the crow drives."

"Well then," Lara said, scaling the duct, "let's see who can get there first."

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
I found a third sword fragment, and a map scratched into a knight's shield. I 
also found Amanda, alive and unwell. Something pushed her over the edge -- 
she's not the girl I used to know. And she's in control of the entity that 
attacked us in Peru. I don't know if she escaped the Soviet lab alive, but I'll 
never assume her death again.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  ENGLAND - King Arthur's Tomb?

     The map on the knight's shield leads to a
     site that claims to have unearthed King
     Arthur's grave, a distinction also claimed
     by countless others. But this particular
     site meant something to a knight one
     thousand years ago, so it may mean
     something to me.

     "Swords in stones... they're part of
     the monomyth."


-- Destination Cornwall -------------------------------------------------------

Teeming rain. A sleek black motorcycle splashed to a halt beside a waiting van. 
Zip sat with his arms crossed on the wheel. He leaned out of the driver's 
window as Lara dismounted and unzipped her wet leathers.

"There seems to be a fine line between coincidence and irony." She referred to 
a gaudy painted sign: Professor Worth's King Arthur Museum.

Zip turned as Alister appeared from inside the van. "You sure about that map?"

"Unfortunately," Alister replied, clambering to the front seat. "There was some 
nonsense about the discovery of the real King Arthur's tomb here years ago, 
soon discredited." He looked scornfully at the painted sign. "And yet another 
roadside attraction was born."

Lara eyed the museum dubiously. "Well, let's see what we can see, shall we? At 
least it should be educational."

The van was parked beside solid steel shutters. An owl hooted. The rain didn't 
look about to ease off. Lara grasped a drainpipe and shinned up the side of the 
building.

She dropped through a roof open to the skies and thudded to a dusty floor. The 
museum had the look of a theme park, or might have done once; rubble and debris 
lay propped against walls done up to look like a medieval castle. Lara stood by 
an empty ticket office, metal barriers scattered about. "Either housekeeping 
should be fired, or no one's been inside for months." Through an archway she 
found a model representation of a sword in a stone. "Now, this is familiar 
enough."

"Go for it, Lara," Zip suggested. "Test your royalty."

She put a foot to the stone and tugged hard, but the sword did not budge. "No 
'King of England' jokes, Alister, I probably have to turn on the power first."

The only light came from the moon breaking through boarded windows, and the 
occasional flash of lightning. Rain dripped from the broken ceiling. Near the 
ticket office stood the remains of a gift shop. A few tired displays housed 
King Arthur figurines, models of Camelot, and rather incongruous toy serpents. 
Exit doors through the back would not open. "They must be electric. I'll have 
to find the power main."

"The place is locked up pretty tight on the ground floor," Zip pointed out. 
"Probably have to try up higher."

A hefty crate lay under the shop entrance. Just above it, Lara spotted a 
metallic ventilation grille. She brought it down with her grapple, then hauled 
the crate out and used it to climb up.

Through the small ventilation hole was a box room of rough boards. It was 
nearly empty. "This place has seen better days."

"Mmm," Alister murmured dismissively. "It's been condemned since the death of 
the owner, one Professor Worth. I shudder to think that at one time he had 
students."

Low to the floor between empty shelving, another ventilation cover glinted. 
Lara yanked it away and slid through.

She landed in a small courtyard. Rain tipped down and there was the odd clap of 
thunder. Bare branches poked over a wall topped with coils of barbed wire. To 
one side was the emergency exit she tried from inside, still without power. 
Along an alley she spotted an electrical fuse box, under shelter but behind 
iron railings. A thin ledge built out from one wall led over, and looked as if 
it could be reached from the sill of a barred window underneath. With a little 
athleticism, Lara was soon over.

Out of the rain at least, she dropped beside the fuse box and drew down its 
reset switch. A light changed from red to green. "And we have power," she 
announced.

Flashes of light illuminated the outside passage. A trailing cable arced 
directly into a wide puddle of rainwater. It looked dangerous. Lara shinned up 
a drainpipe in the corner of the alley beside her, and edged back over the 
railings along the thin ledge. The bright spitting cable cast vivid shadows on 
the wall. Now she had to be careful, only too well aware of the likely effect 
of splashing through the electrified puddle. With a few nimble jumps she landed 
safely over to one side. The emergency door was now operational.

"Hey, now that the power's on," Zip suggested, "maybe you can go back and pull 
out Excalibur."

"It's not Excalibur!" Alister cried. "The Sword in the Stone and Excalibur were 
two different bloody swords. Arthur got Excalibur after the Sword in the Stone 
broke in his battle with Pelinore. Oh, good grief, nobody gets it straight."

"That's because nobody cares."

"Boys..."

"Sorry."

Lara tried the handle of the emergency exit from the gift shop and regained 
entry to the museum. As she passed the ticket office, a recorded announcement 
boomed out.

"Come ye hither and hearken to the tale of KING ARTHUR! How he was reared by 
Sir Ector, but born - yea verily - of ye loins of King Uther Pendragon, 
unbeknownst to all save MERLIN. How ye wondrous wizard MERLIN didst bringeth ye 
boy Arthur to ye Sword in ye Stone, which no man hadst been able to lifteth. 
How Arthur didst then taketh ye sword, thusly becoming KING OF ENGLAND! Thou 
too may attempteth to pull yon sword from yon stone, but wilt Merlin find thee 
kingly enough to enter... THE TRUE KING ARTHUR MUSEUM?!"

Now it had power, Lara was confident the sword in the stone device would 
operate the sturdy wooden door alongside. She put her foot to the stone and 
tugged again on the sword. With a tinny fanfare, the wooden door drew upwards.

"Enter, Once and Future King! Merlin deems you worthy!"

"Pfft," Alister scoffed. "The real Merlin would roll around in the mud and bark 
at you. And I'm being generous by calling it 'mud'."

"There's no difference between stupid and charming with you, is there?" Lara 
declared.

"Hmph."

The museum took the form of a mocked-up medieval castle housing various life-
size model dioramas. The room was much decayed, strewn with rubble and 
collapsed scenery. Water splashed in drops across the rotten wooden floor. Lara 
took in what was left of the exhibits. The animatronic displays seemed still 
partly functional. The first showed a young man in princely dress and an older 
man in wizard's garb studying a plan on a library wall. A button on a recording 
device triggered a booming commentary.

"So that there wouldst be no squabbling betwixt ye knights, Merlin bequeathed 
upon Arthur yon ROUND TABLE, which wast a table neither square nor buttressed, 
but circular in form. 'Twas a symbol of unity and equality, and 'twas from 
whither Arthur's knights took'st their name, The KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE."

"I'm assuming you're taking notes," Lara remarked.

"Yea," Zip replied. "Verily."

Lara activated another display.

"BEHOLD ye HOLY GRAIL! Such a vision of yon CUP OF CHRIST didst verily 
appeareth to Arthur and his knights, whereupon several amongst them didst quest 
for to find it anon. And they 'twere four: Lancelot, Galahad, Percival, and 
Bors, and yonder they journeyed, none e'er returning, though Galahad didst see 
the Grail and yea, his heart 'twas gladdened muchly."

Zip voiced his scepticism. "How did they know he found it, if he didn't 
return?"

"Exactly," Alister exclaimed.

The story was certainly intriguing. In a far corner stood representations of 
three knights. She tried the recording alongside.

"Thus didst King Arthur gather 'round his person ye greatest knights of ye 
realm that they mightst be paragons of chivalry and virtue. Gaily they came'st, 
yea and 'twas an assembly as hadst nought before been seeneth, and verily, 
there wast much rejoicing."

"Hey, push the button again. It's like electro-shock therapy for Alister here."

Lara smiled. "I like to think it keeps him sharp."

There seemed no obvious exit from the room, yet a series of horizontal poles 
suggested a way to cross the wide broken section of floor. She swung from one 
to catch the second, which rather alarmingly swung back under her weight. 
However, when flush to the wall this proved suitable to allow a jump to a last 
pole. Lara could see a second room ahead, but it was partly blocked by a solid 
wooden wall. She swung to it to see if she might somehow squeeze through. She 
panted a little as she struggled for grip, when to her surprise the wooden wall 
began to drop down. Quickly, she sprang back to the safety of the horizontal 
wall pole. She saw now that the wall was in fact a drawbridge on a chain, and 
as it rattled down it left the entrance clear. She quickly swung back and 
dropped through, as behind her the drawbridge clanked shut.

The room beyond was even more ruined than the last. Broken boards were piled by 
the door, leaving a wide open space across the floor. The painted partitions 
for the exhibits leaned at odd angles. For fun, and perhaps to learn something, 
Lara continued the animatronic tour. As she pressed another recording button, a 
nearby display came alive. Under the eye of Merlin and a young Arthur, a sword 
appeared to rise from the waves.

"And what of EXCALIBUR, ye mighty sword of legend? 'Twas MERLIN who didst 
bringeth Arthur to yon magical lake wherein didst dwell ye LADY OF THE LAKE, 
and from her hand didst Arthur take Excalibur, and yea, ye sword couldst ne'er 
be broken for 'twas its magic."

"I'm confused," Zip said mischievously. "Weren't Excalibur and the Sword in the 
Stone the same thing?"

"THEY WERE TWO BLOODY DIFFERENT SWORDS!"

"Now, Zip," Lara tutted. "That was too easy."

She surveyed the room and the hole in its floor. Though it looked easy enough 
to climb up if she fell, there was no way past the collapsed gap to the 
opposite edge, where there were more displays and an arched doorway. Midway 
across the gap, a statue of King Arthur himself, housed in a wooden surround, 
hung off the wall. The cable that secured it looked fragile. Taking her pistol, 
Lara shot the pin from its hasp and the wooden housing swung flat, forming a 
convenient stage to the other side.

Soon across, Lara found a continuation of the animatronic saga irresistible. 
She tried the nearest display.

"Then didst MERLIN fall in love with Nimue, to whom he didst teacheth his 
magicks. But ere long, she didst use her magicks against her lover, imprisoning 
him. Wherefore it wast that when Arthur didst do battle with Mordred, Merlin 
couldst not protecteth him. It seemeth that oftimes ye wisest of men canst 
maketh mistakes."

"It was his own fault, really," Lara remarked.

"Never trust a woman?" tried Zip.

"Don't believe in magic."

The final display featured two knights in hand-to-hand combat.

"For hours didst Arthur and Mordred hackle upon Salisbury Plain, Arthur with 
Excalibur, Mordred with its scabbard. Then it wast that both were disarmed, and 
Arthur didst strike Mordred a fatal blow with ye spear of Sir Bedivere. Anon 
came'st more tragedy, for Arthur wast himself mortally wounded in ye battle, 
and yea, yon sky didst darken."

"There's a logical explanation for that," Alister volunteered. "It's called 
'evening'."

"You're so literal, Alister," Lara chided. "Archaeology is half metaphor, you 
know."

She had lifted one sword from a stone to gain entrance, and was drawn to an 
identical feature beside another wooden door. As she raised up this sword, 
planks fell from a wall close by and a pendulum weight was exposed. This was 
the mechanism that released the door, and though in too poor repair to be 
operational, soon gave to her grapple. The commentary rumbled on as she drew up 
the heavy wooden door.

"Before he didst die, Arthur bade'st his knight Bedivere to returneth Excalibur 
to yon Lady of ye Lake. And lo, didst Arthur's body then slumber, and yea, it 
wast borne away to Avalon, where it is said that from thither shalt he some day 
returneth to claimeth again his crown!"

As Lara released her grapple the door drew rapidly down. She rolled underneath 
just before it closed.

"Well, if he went to Avalon," Zip wondered, "then whose tomb is supposed to be 
here?"

"Maybe the grunting Saxon," Lara ventured, "or the Roman fascist that Alister 
believes the whole legend was built around."

She had emerged from King Arthur's castle to a large room in much better repair 
than the museum. Scenery lay stacked against a wall, and crates and barrels 
were piled at one side. "Hmmm. This is where the "truth behind the myth" is 
supposed to be explained, but it's been turned into a warehouse."

"Fitting," sniffed Alister. "There's been so little truth everywhere else, why 
start here? The only factual basis behind the King Arthur myths died centuries 
before this place was built."

"Give Professor Worth some credit," Lara countered. "If he had to close an 
exhibit for renovations, at least he picked the most boring one."

Now that she looked, one wall appeared to have been mocked up as a very 
credible facsimile of an ancient building. Or was it possible that the museum 
had incorporated the remains of an actual medieval site? High in one corner a 
ventilation cover glinted. She always had good reason to investigate when the 
opportunity arose.

She soon brought down the cover, but the exposed gap was too high out of reach. 
The stack of crates and a handy forklift gave her an idea. The controls 
appeared simple enough, and with a bit of trundling about she soon had a 
makeshift platform rigged up below the ventilation hole.

Inside was a low room of dusty cobwebs and empty shelves. Papers lay strewn on 
a desk and the wall above was hung with various maps. "This must be our kindly 
professor's office space."

"Done up as spottily as his reputation," Alister remarked dryly.

"Said the pot to the kettle." Lara leafed through some papers on a desk. "Hmmm. 
Professor Worth says here that the tomb of King Arthur - the one his museum is 
built over - is a fake."

"No surprise there. At least he knows his 'museum' is for tourists."

"But Professor Worth believed the sarcophagus was placed here by Arthur's 
contemporaries to lure thieves from the gravesite of the actual King Arthur."

"Who doesn't exist," Alister asserted.

"That's where you and the professor differ." She dropped back down through the 
ventilation hole and looked around the warehouse. Behind the remaining crates 
there appeared to be a passage. She saw cobwebs and rough wooden pilings.

The forklift made short work of clearing the crates and she descended shallow 
wooden stairs. A tattered carpet led along the stone passage at their foot. It 
opened out into a rotunda of walled arches. The carpet ended short of a four-
pillared portico housing what looked like a large stone coffin.

"This definitely isn't Arthur's tomb."

"We knew that already," Alister agreed.

"What's wrong with it?" Zip wondered.

"I've seen enough tombs in my life to know when I'm looking at a cenotaph."

"Say who?"

"A diversion. This place is trying too hard. It's hiding something."

"A body?" Alister sighed wearily.

"No, that's the problem." Lara examined the stone coffin. "It's authentic 
enough for its age. But its age isn't entirely authentic."

Zip was still struggling. "And what does that mean?"

"She's saying that the sarcophagus is from around the 11th Century, which is 
when the Arthurian myths were invented. The real Arthur came five centuries 
before, so it's old but well, not old enough."

"It could be anyone in here. If there's anyone at all. No, there has to be 
something else here..." She looked carefully about, and noticed one wall, 
behind loose crates, a little different to the others. "Hmm," she thought. 
"This looks relatively fragile." She would need the forklift to shift the heavy 
crates before she could find out.

She jogged back up the wooden stairs and started the forklift. It trundled 
easily down the stairs and picked up speed along the stone passage. To test a 
theory Lara ran straight ahead and rammed the stone sarcophagus. It cracked 
apart, and as expected did not contain any human remains. Curiosity satisfied 
she backed the forklift up and drove hard against the crates by the fragile 
wall. The seemingly solid stone gave way, and a passage was revealed.

"Now, this is better."

"Nice," agreed Zip.

"Be careful," Alister advised. "You don't want to demolish anything important."

"Really, Alister. I have a velveteen touch," Lara said, as her forklift crashed 
through the rubble, "but I'm glad to see you now think there may be something 
important here."

Up ahead along the dark stone passage a rank of savage metal pikes shot back 
and forth the full passage width, too fast for her to attempt a dash past on 
foot. She stayed safely in the forklift and moved forward, splintering the 
pikes and smashing the trap to pieces. An identical hazard lay around the next 
corner, and while any medieval interloper would have met an impenetrable 
barrier, Lara simply crashed through on her mechanical steed. Just beyond, a 
sturdy portcullis blocked the passage. Lara sized it up. It was much too solid 
for her to drive through with the forklift. "There has to be a way to raise 
this door."

She moved forward and engaged the forks under the iron bars. With a simple 
switch the forks raised up, levering open the portcullis. Lara trundled 
through. Up ahead was another fast moving pike trap and she gave little pause 
for it, but now the passage came to a dead end. Just as one end of the passage 
had been crudely stopped up, this too looked a rather impermanent wall. The 
forklift had already proved invaluable in such a circumstance; she backed up 
and rammed forward.

The stone blocks of the wall cracked and crumbled and she burst through, but 
the other side was a sheer drop. Momentum carried the forklift onwards, and for 
a moment it teetered on the edge. Lara acted fast to dive off and cling to the 
broken stone of a walkway as the stricken machine toppled over and crashed to 
the floor far below in a burst of flames.

"Are you all right?" Alister enquired anxiously.

Lara clambered to her feet. "I decided to take the slow way down instead."

"Shoulda told that to the forklift," Zip remarked.

She was in a very high room, dimly lit. The walls were studded with tiny 
alcoves and barred niches that looked as if they held many ancient secrets. A 
stairway led down around the walls, yet was broken in sections. She descended a 
few steps to the edge of one section and sized up a jump forwards to the next. 
It looked just a little too far, but a ledge close to the side proved enough 
for her to shuffle to it. As she flung herself across a broken gap, the ledge 
cracked and crumbled. She dropped just in time to the section of the stairs, 
but this too trembled and shook and seemed set to fall. It had evidently been 
some many years before others passed this way, and none would pass the same way 
after. She ran on down and leaped off before the section dropped to the ground.

"Be careful, Lara!"

"Please, Alister. This will take some concentration."

"Yeah, pipe down, Alister, or I won't let you sit up front with me anymore."

Lara continued downwards and jumped to a wall bar to swing forwards to an 
alcove. She dropped down further short sections of steps, crossed at one point 
by a hanging rope, and along more crumbling ledges until she slid off the last 
of the collapsed stairs and reached the ground.

"I'm glad you made it down safely," Alister said.

"So am I."

"But it doesn't mean you don't have to be quiet anymore," Zip reminded him.

There was nothing of interest at the foot of the room, but a flight of steps 
led away through a high arch to a stone passage. At a turn was a broken bridge 
over a slow-moving slick of oily water. Flames glowed at intervals on the 
shimmering surface.

"Looks like there's oil seeping into the water table," Zip said. "Who knows how 
long it's been burning?"

"I wonder if the architect's design deliberately took this into account," 
pondered Alister. 

For him it was a curiosity, for Lara a potentially lethal trap. She jumped over 
and continued up low steps. Around a corner a sheet of flame licked through a 
series of metal grilles over the width of the passage. "There's your answer, 
Alister." Here was an obstacle no man could easily pass.

"Wow," Zip exclaimed. "You know you're going to ruin your boots..."

Lara had no such intention. "Not on the path I'll need to take."

It looked too much of a risk to attempt to run blindly over the flames, which 
ignited at intervals in sections. Their coming and going was a touch 
unpredictable. Part way along the fiery passage a squared metal cage offered a 
possible solution. She cast her grapple to haul it closer. Large enough to 
contain a man it bore locks on each side and was perhaps some medieval torture 
device. It might prove invaluable to her here. Lara positioned the cage over 
the first grille as far forward as she dared, and climbed on top. From it she 
observed the pattern of the flames. One section came alight every few seconds 
then extinguished briefly. In front and beyond were flaming strips of fire. 
Lara timed a jump to land exactly on the centre section at a moment the flames 
receded, then a quick step and a hop over the last section found her safe at 
the far side. She seemed little injured. To her annoyance, at a turn in the 
passage alongside she faced an identical hazard.

Lara used her grapple to drag the metal cage back across the first passage of 
flames. Mercifully it did not seem to conduct the fierce heat. She positioned 
it over the first fiery section of the next passage and performed nimble jumps 
to get through. The way ahead was now completely blocked by a heavy stone door 
on chains. There did not seem to be any means to raise it. "Maybe there's a way 
up and over," thought Lara.

Relying once more on her trusty grapple, she hauled the metal cage forward 
again, and pushed it flat against the stone door. In moments she stood on top 
and looked down to a chamber beyond. There appeared to be more than one exit, 
and other rooms beyond, but every doorway was rendered impassable by sinister 
ranks of revolving steel blades. She hopped down and approached one of the 
vicious traps.

Each of the three doorways around the room was barred by these windmill blades 
rotating in pairs at variable rate. They were surely designed to make mincemeat 
of anyone trying to dive through.

"This looks like my garbage disposal," Zip remarked.

"I hope you're not leaping through there, Lara," Alister fretted. "There must 
be a way to stop them up."

"I certainly hope so."

Beside the door where she dropped down stood a lever. It opened up the door, 
and Lara dragged her trusty metal cage through. An alcove to one side housed an 
identical cage but there seemed not much else of interest. She pushed her cage 
determinedly towards the chopping blades that hindered progress to a room 
straight ahead. As the cage slid under the blades they clattered to a halt. The 
sturdy device seemed perfect for holding the lethal trap open. Leaving the cage 
wedged, Lara slipped through the gap underneath the stopped blades.

Now she was in a similar room to the last, chopping blades at each end. High 
alcoves at either side could not easily be reached. Beyond the chopping blades 
across the exit she saw another corridor of fire. She would need her metal cage 
to cross. Gingerly she tugged it from the jaws of the trap and hauled it across 
the room to stop up the exit blades. She passed underneath and considered the 
fiery floor of the passage beyond. The flames here burned constant, with no 
chance to dash across.

"No way you're long-jumping that," Zip warned.

"No, I'll have to make a path," Lara conceded. "But it might have been worth 
trying just to hear you lads squeal about it."

It was too far to jump even with the help of her cage. She remembered the one 
housed in the alcove off the first chamber. Two might do it.

With patience and care Lara pushed and pulled her cage back through the steel 
jaws of the traps to recover the second metal cage. Using each to stop up the 
traps as she pulled the other through she soon accomplished her goal. She 
pushed first one then the other out above the burning fires, and hopped up and 
easily across with little damage.

The passage ended at a heavy door. Beside was a lever to open it. Water dripped 
and echoed as a low wind moaned. Saintly carved figures gazed down from niches. 
Lara pulled the lever and ran through the briefly open stone door to leave the 
infernal place behind.

The passage was rougher here. Her boots kicked up the dust of many centuries. 
Stone steps led a twisting path to a low doorway; bars fell behind her as Lara 
stepped through. The passage beyond opened at one side to a wide flooded room. 
She stood on a pressure plate and a barred gate in the passage ahead drew 
upwards. As she stepped off it crashed shut, too swiftly for her to reach and 
pass through.

"Hey, Alister, why don't you head on down there and stand on that plate for 
her?"

"Why don't you go down and hold that door open?"

Whatever she did she would have to do alone. With each exit barred there was 
nothing for it but to dive into the pool of water in the flooded room to try to 
find another way out.

She swam to the far side and hauled out on a low stone ledge. Lit torches shone 
through bars in alcoves. Other niches were dark. Something glimmered in one 
alcove across the water.

"You see that crate up on the shelf over there?" Zip suggested. "You could use 
that on the pressure plate."

"It's not a crate," Alister protested, "it's a coffin. Someone's revered 
ancestor is in there."

"Hmmm," Lara murmured thoughtfully. A body weight was just what she needed.

A heavy metal chandelier hung low over the water between her and the barred 
alcove. She used her grapple to set the chandelier swinging. It crashed against 
the bars and dragged them into the water. The coffin was revealed. Lara hauled 
it from the alcove, where it splashed into the pool and bobbed to the surface. 
She dived in and climbed on top.

Using the coffin as a raft she hooked on to a metal torch holder near the 
entrance to the pool and dragged her craft as far as she could. She nimbly 
jumped to the pressure plate once again, where she latched onto the coffin to 
drag it from the pool. As hoped, though it was not too heavy for her to haul 
from the water, it had sufficient weight to hold the plate down.

"And here's your final final resting place, sir," Zip announced.

Lara ran down through the now open door. "If we're through having fun, it's 
time to get back to business."

The passage here was even older and more decayed. Crusted stalactites hung from 
the rock ceiling. Water lapped in a flooded passage beyond. It was not too 
deep, and there were no signs of danger. Lara jumped in and swam to an 
underwater lever just opposite. A strong current flowed through bars at either 
end of the passage section. The lever raised one set and she was carried 
through. Another coffin had become lodged against the bars here, and she took 
the opportunity to clamber aboard. She squeezed out her ponytail and considered 
her options.

"I'll take this time to adjust some travel arrangements I've made," Alister 
said. "It shouldn't take too long."

"Coward," Zip tutted. "Don't worry, Lara, I've still got an eye on you. 
Probably won't be able to hear each other too well when you're under water, 
though."

"There is a god," Lara muttered.

Alister laughed.

"Hey," Zip said, "I heard that."

She was in a network of subterranean passages. Raised alcoves to either side 
bore little of interest. The coffin drifted in the firm current and came to 
rest against yet more bars. There was no lever in the water or anywhere else 
that might open them. She cast her grapple to a metal torch holder and backed 
the coffin raft up the flooded passage. Halfway along she noticed a low arch 
that had no bars. She deftly hopped through.

Here were more flooded passages faced with bars. There was one other alcove she 
might have used to get through, but she could not reach it from the water. 
Close by she found another underwater lever. On the other side of bars next to 
it waited her raft. She opened the bars to allow it to drift through, and once 
again clambered on top. As it passed the open alcove she jumped off.

From some indistinct direction came a long low moaning sound that echoed 
faintly about the dank passage. It was impossible to tell if it were the wind 
or some living creature. The water streamed though the passage under her feet, 
and with no other option she jumped in.

The swift current carried her forward and spilled from an opening into an 
underground lake of murky green water. It was heavily polluted and she could 
not have dived down had she wanted. Lara coughed and spluttered, and splashed 
towards the rocky shore. Again she heard the eerie cry of some unknown 
creature. Or perhaps she imagined it, and it was simply the wind.

The lake was in a vast underground cavern. Built into the rock at one side an 
immense gothic facade towered over her. It had the appearance of a magnificent 
temple. "Will you look at that," Lara breathed in awe. "Oh, this is brilliant."

"Hmmm," Alister conceded. "That is interesting."

Long low steps led to a darkened entrance. Lara tried the massive door. 
"Locked," she muttered.

"What?" Zip said. "Whoever built this place didn't think the lake of fire and 
the blades of death were enough?"

There was no other entrance, or any way she could see to pass out of the 
cavern. A jetty in front led towards curious monuments on rock platforms either 
side out over the foul water. There were in all four large metal cylinders 
fastened on chains, each bearing a ghastly visage. Beside each was a cogged 
lever attached to a rope. Lara used her grapple to test one. It lowered a 
vicious-looking cage towards the water, but served no immediate purpose. She 
returned to the temple.

It seemed she might work her way within via high ledges lit by flaming bowls 
hung on pole stands either side of the entrance. However, where she was able to 
climb up at one side a steep ramp slid her back to the ground.

She examined the metal pole stands, and noticed that they rotated easily about. 
She calculated that if she pulled each one a quarter turn she might use them to 
swing along the face of the building. Returning to the low ledges again she set 
her plan into practice.

This time as she slid down the ramp she leaped out to grab hold of the pole 
stand. Her weight caused the arm to swing back, and she now faced the second 
much further away. A higher bowl guttered overhead between them, and she used 
her grapple on this to swing across. As with the first, as she landed on the 
second pole arm it swung about, allowing her to swing onwards to more ledges 
around the temple walls. From thin window ledges she jumped to a chain, and 
ascended.

She was now on the roof of the building, high against the cave ceiling. The 
roof was almost bare but light shone from a cupola open at the base. A rope 
hung from its centre and she wasted no time slipping down.

-- Myth Becomes Fact ----------------------------------------------------------

On the end of the rope was a large bell. Lara dropped off to the floor of a 
darkened crypt. Around its circular floor were ranks of stone coffins, a dozen 
in all. At one side was an alcove where a strange translucent orb glowed with 
golden light.

"Signal's poor, Lara. What are we looking at?" Zip asked.

"We're looking at myth, except it's real." Each sarcophagus bore a 
transliteration in Old English. She read the names: Llenlleawc, Trystan, 
Bealan. "They're all here," she said. "The court of Camelot."

"You're sure about this?" Alister asked. "King Arthur who wast verily of ye 
loins of Uther Pendragon. Hmm?"

"I've no doubt about the authenticity of this tomb, Alister. Arthur was the 
11th Century figure that became legend. The Once and Future King was as real 
then as the air I'm breathing now."

The orb housed a figure in much the same manner as the remains of the last 
Queen of Tiwanaku the intrepid adventurer had found in Peru. She touched a hand 
to the surface.

"I don't know, Lara."

"Excalibur. The Sword in the Stone." Lara sounded distant. "That's how it 
always goes, doesn't it?"

"Pardon?"

"Swords in stones, Alister. They're part of the monomyth." She considered the 
stone standing in front of the golden orb. "There wasn't just one Excalibur or 
one Merlin. We keep seeing swords and daises all over the world because they 
were everywhere."

"So, you're saying that everywhere they went they raised up kings..."

Lara looked once again at the figure in the orb.

"...shaping the course of human destiny?"

"Well," she replied, "it's a possibility."

"Who?" Zip asked. "And what happened to them and their swords?"

"Perhaps they're in Avalon - it's as good a place as any." She looked to the 
effigy on top of the sarcophagus bearing the inscription Myrrdin. "Except, our 
Merlin was killed, and our Excalibur was left in pieces in the hands of the 
locals."

"So where is Avalon?"

"I don't know," Lara mused. "On the other side of the looking glass, perhaps."

The glowing orb was housed in an arched recess facing the only door. Directly 
in front was the stone, bathed in the golden glow, at the head of a distinctive 
circular motif bearing symbols and ancient carved writing. She had seen 
something of the kind on the dais in Bolivia, and elsewhere. A Maltese cross 
was etched onto the stone floor in the centre of the crypt. The mournful echo 
she heard by the lake rang faintly. There was no way out other than the heavy 
door, as firmly shut on this side. The hole through the cupola with its hanging 
rope could no longer be reached, and would lead her nowhere if it could.

She considered the bell on the floor. Its rope disappeared into the cupola and 
reappeared through the crypt ceiling to one side. A stone weight was suspended 
from it as a counterbalance. As the weight swayed gently on its rope the bell 
rose a little and fell.

"Looks like you could move that if you wanted to," Zip suggested.

A broken column nearby looked about the right height to jump to the weight, but 
was a little too high out of reach. Lara used her binoculars to cast about for 
some means of assistance. Her eye fell on one shattered sarcophagus. "It may be 
time to rearrange the furniture."

-- Bedivere's Legacy ----------------------------------------------------------

Lara squatted down by the empty tomb marked 'Bedwyr' and read an inscription. 
She dusted it with her hand. "It says Bedivere returned a fragment of Excalibur 
to Arthur after the other pieces were carried off by the knights."

"Where'd they go?" Zip asked.

"To find Avalon, perhaps," Alister put in, airily. "The quest for the Holy 
Grail: Lancelot, Galahad, Percival, and Bors. Their tombs are empty..."

"It says this fragment was left with Arthur to help him leave this mausoleum 
when the time came. Perhaps it will help me instead."

With effort she dragged one heavy section of sarcophagus away and slid it 
across the stone floor, where she pushed it up against the broken column. Now 
she was able to clamber on top and jump out to grab the rope.

Her weight lowered the stone counterbalance and raised the bell off the floor. 
It had no clapper and sounded a dull note as the weight hit the ground; 
hoisting the bell off the crypt floor served no obvious purpose. She had hope, 
however. A hanging metal chandelier alongside it gave her an idea.

Lara hopped down and looked for a good spot to gain maximum leverage. The 
rounded motif on the floor facing the strange glowing orb seemed about right. 
She cast out her grapple to the chandelier and pulled hard. As it swung on a 
wide arc, she jumped back up on the broken section of Bedivere's sarcophagus, 
and off the low column to the counterweight once again. This time, as she 
pulled hand over hand, the bell was raised to a height where it met the 
swinging chandelier. A resonant clanging tone echoed out.

-- The Final Piece ------------------------------------------------------------

Magnified by the acoustics in the tomb, the bell tone was at such a frequency 
that as it resonated the golden orb shook and cracked, then radiated light as 
it shattered.

Lara hopped down as the bell clanged to the ground. She approached the still 
glowing orb, which now revealed human remains. A knight in full armour bearing 
the large fragment of a mighty sword.

"Arthur Pendragon, king of the Britons," Lara said reverentially. She drew from 
his hand the sword, and spoke quietly. "I wouldn't take Excalibur if I didn't 
need it so. I hope you can forgive me."

She turned to go. An urgent voice came in her ear. "Lara, there's something 
going on up here... Alister, you see that?

"See what?"

"Ah, hell! Get your hands--! Get off-"

"Zip? Alister?"

"Hey! Let go!" Alister shouted, amid sounds of a struggle. "Lara!"

"Zip! What's happening?"

Communication was lost. She had to get back to the museum, fast.

Directly ahead, the huge door stood open. Hurrying through, Lara found herself 
once more at the tomb entrance beside the polluted subterranean lake. There had 
to be a way out somehow. Her eye was drawn to the four statues. Perhaps now she 
could discover their purpose. As she approached, the lake boiled and a 
terrifying creature emerged.

Towering above her a sea serpent with glowing eyes shrieked and fanned its 
spiny gills wide. In a second it spat foul acidic bile in her direction and its 
massive head struck down. Lara jumped aside, drew her pistols and began a 
determined attack. Her puny weapons had not the slightest effect, and she 
risked devastating retaliation.

Lara retreated to the safety of the tomb doorway and considered her options. 
There was no way to swim past the sea creature, and nowhere to swim to if she 
could. The four statues drew her. She had just seen how a ringing bell could 
open a door to solve one dilemma. Here perhaps four bells might light the way.

Boldly she ran out on the jetty. The creature briefly submerged giving her the 
opportunity to turn and start shooting one statue. A resonant tone sounded, 
building in the acoustics of the cavern to a loud booming peal. The creature 
emerged and at once seemed attracted to the sound. It held its head close, 
peering at the cage suspended beside. Here was her chance. Lara holstered her 
guns and deployed her grapple, hooking to the metallic lever beside the bell 
statue. She already knew that the lever dropped the suspended cage, and since 
the beast held its head close underneath the result was that it struck down 
with wounding force. The cage smashed apart. The enraged creature shook itself, 
shrieking and screeching, and knocked the bell statue down in a fury of 
retribution.

Lara turned to the statue on the opposite side and shot that with her guns. As 
before, the creature briefly submerged and came up close on her side. For as 
long as she kept the statue ringing the note held the creature's attention, and 
she repeated the trick with the lever and the suspended cage. Again the 
battered beast struck out to destroy the statue that seemed to attack it.

Now Lara ran off the jetty and had plenty of space to manoeuvre as she went to 
the far side of the cavern to fire on the statue over there. The best she could 
figure, the cages might have been used to feed the beast and thereby appease 
it. When it was dinnertime the statues would have been sounded to summon it 
from the depths. Now the beast rose from the water, and for an uncomfortable 
moment moved to attack her, screeching its din, but as the ringing resonated it 
turned expectantly and received another cage to the head for its trouble. Four 
cages, four missing bodies in the crypt...? It was too unlikely.

The beast was far from done for, yet Lara felt confident that she had the 
correct strategy, though she did not know what the outcome would be. If she 
just kept her wits about her and stayed ready to dodge when the creature 
attacked, then she had only the last statue to fire on to draw its attention. 
Her plan worked perfectly, and the last cage dropped on its target.

This proved too much. The beast writhed, stunned from the blow, and collapsed 
with a dying roar into the fetid waters of the lake.

Lara saw now a high cave passage, surely her escape. The creature's body rose 
from the water with its head close beside it. She ran out across the jetty and 
plunged into the lake, and then swam quickly to where she could clamber out by 
the nearest cage lever. She emerged coughing and spluttering. Fortuitously, the 
greenish grey hulk of the serpent's prone body served as the perfect path to 
reach a rock ledge leading into the cave.

The cave met a stone passage where a yawning chasm barred progress. She had her 
grapple, and so latched onto a hanging brazier suspended over the gap, and 
nimbly swung across. Here was a pole over another gap, and when she landed the 
far side Lara was tilted down a long slope into a rock passage dripping with 
stalactites. She vaulted a gap with a pant of effort and continued her slide.

Suddenly the head of the beast rose from deep waters in her path. Not dead, 
merely stunned, the sea creature had stalked her through underground caverns 
and now bared its fangs ready to strike.

Lara leaped over as its head crashed down. She sailed towards an iron 
portcullis strung over the path. With lightning reaction she latched on with 
her grapple. Jaws snapped at her back as she swung through the air. Turning 
back she pulled out her pistols and shot off the hasp, dropping the portcullis 
behind her. It slammed hard against the head of the furious beast, trapping it 
beyond. It screeched and banged against the solid metal. Lara held out her 
pistols and fixed the demon with a stare. They seemed to reach an 
accommodation. The sea creature slid silently back to the depths.

Lara holstered her guns and looked about. She was now stuck in the rock passage 
between two portcullis gates. The near presence of rasped breath reminded her 
that the monster remained close behind one, so she turned attention to the 
other. It protected a stone-built chamber with what seemed to be a blocked 
doorway ahead. First she needed to get over the gate.

Twin heraldic shields were mounted on the gate. From either she could jump up 
to the top of the gate, and from it catch onto the chain that raised and 
lowered it. She could see very well that there was nothing of interest the 
other side of the gate, nor any way beyond, but noticed a ledge with a lever on 
it close above. She rarely met a lever that let her down, and worked out how 
best to get to this one. The hasp on the end of the chain glinted invitingly, 
and after dropping swiftly to the floor a volley of bullets shot it clean off. 
Now she had a hanging chain. In moments she was back up and swinging resolutely 
towards the lever on the ledge. The chain clinked and rattled as she built 
momentum then flew off and landed safe.

The lever operated a small iron bar gate. It cranked open and Lara ran through 
and slid down a slope in a dark rocky passage. She landed on a ledge and 
recognised at once saintly statues of knights in alcoves. Here was where she 
operated a lever to raise the door that released her from the infernal network 
of firetraps and blades. The fires appeared extinguished however, and as she 
jumped down a rough voice startled her. "Somebody out there?"

Lara flattened herself to a wall as a pair of armed men came up the fire 
passage. There was nowhere for her to hide.

"Found her!" the second man yelled out. "Take cover."

With no other option Lara came out with guns blazing. The first man fired off a 
shotgun and before he could reload she cut him down. The second fled back along 
the passage but she dropped him too. There were bound to be others nearby and 
she gratefully plundered their weapons.

Though they had put out the fires in the passage, the mercenaries had not 
figured out how to halt the scything blades. One metal cage was wedged under 
the first set with the other cage out in the open of the room beyond. As Lara 
moved towards it a voice came from above.

"I see her," yelled a guard as he jumped down off a ledge.

With her new weapon Lara blasted him close and he skidded to a stop. Another 
guard opened up automatic fire from the ledge. Lara ran for cover under the 
balcony beneath. She used her grapple to bring the cage near, and then hopped 
swiftly on top and from it joined the shooter on the ledge. He got the full 
effect of the shotgun up close and fell with a groan. Rather than return it 
seemed more convenient to drop off the side of the balcony ledge to the next 
alcove, where the scything blades had been stopped up with a third cage.

The main door was still raised and Lara dashed out to the corridor of flames. A 
mercenary ran to block her the other side of iron bars and she shot him 
quickly. Though partly extinguished, fires here still burned, and while she 
might have returned for her metal cage to ensure safe passage, Lara knew time 
was tight. She had to get back to Alister and Zip. She risked injury or worse 
with a rapid dash and jump to the passage turn. Another mercenary advanced 
shooting, but she rapidly replied. She decided that perhaps if there were many 
more it might make sense to carry an assault rifle, and plundered his weapon. 
Once again she risked injury by nimble leaps over flames.

Yet another sentry waited the other side of the river of fire. His body gave up 
ammo and grenades. Lara moved stealthily down the dark passage to the stair 
chamber. Getting up might prove tricky but get up she must.

A mercenary came out of the shadows bearing a grenade launcher. She dodged 
about and unloaded a clip as she tossed grenades of her own that finished him. 
To her good fortune the mercenaries had rigged up an electric hoist, fully 
powered. She hopped up and operated the controls.

As the lift neared the top of the chamber a guard emerged to find out who was 
on it. Left out in the open Lara fired fast to put him down. The hoist had 
reached the limit of its travel. Now she had to get off but it was suspended 
high out over the room. To one side she caught the glimmer of a metal plate on 
a coffin in one of the barred niches. She hooked on with the grapple and set 
the hoist swinging. As it neared the last fragment of stairs she jumped off, 
and ran towards the passage that led back to the warehouse.

"There she is! Grease her!"

Guards moved behind crates up the passage. One set loose a dog that bounded 
viciously towards her. Pistols were enough to put it down, and then she 
levelled 
her assault rifle and charged around the bend. A lobbed grenade took care of 
the crate and the guard behind it, then another guard opened up as a second dog 
bounded forwards. Her rifle finished it before it came close. The whimper had 
not died before its handler died too.

She moved to the next corner, a little more cautiously. Sure enough, another 
guard was in evidence ducked behind a crate. She rolled a grenade and retreated 
safely out of the blast radius. He died with a agonized groan.

Now she had reached the cenotaph. Loose crates lay about, and as she emerged 
two guards moved in. Safe behind a bulletproof shield the nearest forced her to 
take cover.

"Get back!"

Nearly out of grenades, Lara moved in between crates and kicked hard. Off 
balance, the guard stumbled, and she finished him easily. She used his grenade 
to take out the other. She ran on up the strip of carpet that led to the wooden 
stairs to the warehouse, praying she was in time to save her friends just 
outside.

As she came up the stairs yet more mercenaries appeared. Again they had the 
protection of a shield, and again this was not protection enough. In a few 
short explosions Lara had the empty warehouse to herself.

-- Team Reunited --------------------------------------------------------------

"Jake? Morgan?"

The other side of the shutter, a guard held Zip and Alister arms raised at 
gunpoint. He glanced nervously over his shoulder, and called out again. "What's 
going on?"

Zip and Alister exchanged glances. The guard edged backwards and jabbed a 
button to raise the shutter. He fingered his trigger and peered cautiously 
under. Nothing.

Zip shrugged. The pair ducked aside as the guard flew through the air and 
clattered the van between them and fell to the ground. That's got to be Lara.

"Hello, lads."

"Hey Lara," Zip said. "What's up?"

It was a relief to share a joke. "They didn't make off with your credit cards, 
did they?" she asked. Then, seriously, "Is everything all right? Alister?"

The mild-mannered researcher rubbed the back of his head. "I'm...fine. I'm 
fine." His voice was shaky but he smiled a little. "Just not my usual evening 
routine."

Lara nodded. "Then let's go home."

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
I never would have predicted that my search for an ancient sword would prove 
the existence of he 11th century King Arthur and the court at Camelot. Now the 
pieces of his legendary sword Excalibur are in my hands, and yet my quest is 
far from over.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

______________________________________________________________________________

     o  ENGLAND - Croft Manor

-- Home Again -----------------------------------------------------------------

A log fire crackled. Lara, Winston, Zip and Alister gathered round the shards 
laid out on a table.

"Brilliant," Alister gasped. "This is brilliant. King Arthur was real, the 
Knights of the Round Table were real, and now we have Excalibur right here in 
front of us. Those stodgy bastards at Oxford will have kittens when they hear 
of this."

"It's even bigger than that, Alister," Lara said. "What Arthur called Excalibur 
is a powerful artifact that predates him by millennia."

Zip flopped onto a couch and brought them to earth. "Well, it's still in 
pieces. Who brought the superglue?"

"While I was in Ghana, I asked you to look around for the Ghalali Key. No luck, 
I take it."

Winston shook his head. "It was not among your father's collection."

"Or his records," Zip added.

"It wasn't in Ghana either, or Rutland was... Hello, what's this?" As Lara put 
two pieces together the hilt formed a shape that seemed familiar. "I've seen 
you before, haven't I?" She turned to the portrait over the fireplace. "Hang 
on."

Lara's parents looked down from the painting, her mother seated in front. She 
wore on her lapel a green-jewelled pendant brooch. Lara held the sword up to 
show the shape on the hilt matched the design of the brooch.

"A striking resemblance, don't you think?"

"The pendant was a gift from your father," Winston came respectfully forward. 
"I never knew from where he had obtained it, until now."

"Where is it now?" Alister asked.

"It's in the Himalayas. My mother had it with her when..." Lara's voice trailed 
off. She made a firm decision. "Zip, Alister, I'm going to Nepal. Please make 
the usual arrangements."

"We'll take care of it," Zip assured her. He moved ahead of Alister. "C'mon, 
man."

Lara turned up the staircase. Winston spoke after her.

"Not to presume, Lady Croft, but I'd hoped you wouldn't try to use the sword 
yourself after what happened to your mother."

"She removed the sword - that's what killed her. I don't intend to do the same. 
If my father had known any of this..." She looked again at the portrait. "He 
tried so hard. And they hated him for it."

"No one hated him, Lara."

She turned savagely. "It bloody well wasn't love, was it? His reputation was 
destroyed." She continued up the stairs. "Now there's more than one thing to be 
salvaged from that mountain top."

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
The effect of putting the restored Excalibur into the stone dais was feeble and 
incomplete, but it proved that these were no mere bits of carved stone and 
forged iron. They are powerful tools of a forgotten age, and they are still 
capable of great and terrible things.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  NEPAL - The Ghalali Key

     The key to restoring Excalibur is also the
     relic my mother prized most, innocently
     given to her by my father in Ghana to
     replace the pendant she lost there. Once
     again I am compelled to go into my own
     past.

     "This has always been what it's about..."


-- Return to Nepal ------------------------------------------------------------

Lara landed heavily on a stone platform high above a steep precipice. She faced 
a jagged peak, clouded in snow flurries caught by an icy wind. "The wreckage 
should be just on the other side."

"I can't see anything," Zip answered. "You sure you're in the right spot?"

"I never forget a face."

Even a rock face. Lara stood on a ledge built hundreds of feet in the air on a 
cliff of black rock. Cloud swirled below, white peaks stretched to the 
distance. A monastery tower was built against the craggy mountainside in front. 
Snowflakes drifted from a crisp blue sky. She hopped to grab a decorative stone 
ledge and began to work her way around.

Zip spoke out wryly. "Once again, we find ourselves on a mountain without 
climbing gear."

"And I doubt any of that snow and ice is stable," Alister added. "You should 
keep moving before it breaks on you."

Lara shuffled nimbly along the ledge. "I have done this before, you know."

The stone crumbled behind her the very moment she shimmied to a narrow 
platform. Taking a breather, she assessed other ledges ahead. Fearlessly she 
slid down a steep narrow slope to spring forward at its edge to a second tiny 
platform. She jumped forwards to the edge of another, topped with fallen rock, 
and dropped to a decorative ledge to work her way around it. She faced a sheer 
drop of hundreds of feet, but took a bold leap backwards to the monastery 
remnants on the facing mountainside.

A ledge began to give way under her, and crumbled to the abyss as she scrambled 
aside. Quickly she hauled up to another platform edge and looked about. To one 
side were the last fragments of a sloped walkway. With no other option, she 
hopped a short gap to run up. Her fears were realised as the walkway collapsed, 
and she ran on ahead of each crumbling brick before a desperate leap to a 
horizontal wall pole. The metal groaned as she swung quickly to a stone tower, 
and the brittle pole snapped a moment after. She pulled up to the flat surface 
of the tower and glanced around, searching the way ahead again.

Thick icicles jutted down from frozen overhangs on the sheer cliffs either 
side. Directly in front she saw a hanging bell of bronze or some such metal 
that looked as if it might bear her weight, at least for a second or two. With 
her grapple ready she launched herself towards it and swung out and beyond, 
releasing to grasp onto the nearest vertical shard of ice. It trembled and 
creaked as she turned to the next, and shattered like a whip as she jumped off, 
to the next and the next. Each exploded in a shower of ice as she released and 
leaped away.

Thin ledges of ice led her around a rocky outcrop, where she pulled up into a 
flat depression in the rock close to the summit. There was no way to climb 
upwards and nowhere to continue around.

"Now what?" Zip wondered. "Back down, and up somewhere else?"

"Mmmm," Lara sighed, "I'm not ready to give up yet. I might have to make my own 
path."

To one side was a shallow recess, the makings of a cave nearly filled with snow 
and ice. Though at first sight impenetrable, Lara judged that the ice was not 
too thick, and tested it with her pistols. The sheet of ice shattered, and a 
cave passage was revealed. She followed a tunnel formed in the ice through the 
rock.

She emerged the other side to a vista of snowy peaks and undulations stretching 
from foothills far below. On the side of the rocks directly beneath was the 
torn carcass of an aircraft.

"There it is," Lara announced, solemnly.

"Man, that's a wreck," Zip murmured. "How old were you, eight, nine?"

"Something like that."

The monastery buildings continued around the mountain peak. Broken passages 
clung to rocky outcrops. With a few leaps and jumps she slid down across flat 
stone walkways to a shattered remnant, and off to another, which tilted the 
moment she landed. In an instant Lara jumped forward and hung from a metal 
strut torn from the aircraft. Ironic that this should now save her from certain 
death.

Twisted into the stone walkway ahead was a larger section of fuselage, and she 
deployed her grapple to latch onto its metal frame to swing to safety. She came 
through a narrow passage, and emerged to a sudden burst of noise as a 
helicopter swept overhead.

"Look," Alister remarked. "Now that's proper gear for getting to the top of a 
mountain."

"That's one of Rutland's. I told him to mind his own business, and here he is 
following me to the ends of the Earth."

"Maybe he heard you wrong," Zip joked. But the chopper meant trouble. "You 
think he's in there?"

"I doubt it. Not when he could be at home with his feet up."

Now that she knew she faced competition, Lara hurried to her task. She jumped 
to the steel remnant of an upright wing section, and clambered down.

"This is all quite surreal, actually."

"I'd imagine it would be," Alister said, with sympathy.

One propeller hung grotesquely off the end of the wing. An engine had come to 
rest beside. Further down were landing gear and seats. The main body of the 
aircraft lay just below. About to jump down, she heard a low animal growl, and 
spotted a snow leopard prowling among the wreckage. Her sad memories did not 
cloud the threat of immediate danger. She finished the beast quickly, and 
jumped down.

"Okay," Zip started, "be careful. You know this thing could go over the cliff 
any second."

"I knew it then, and I know it now. I'll be fine, Zip. Don't worry."

She glanced into the gutted hulk of the fuselage. It rocked precariously in the 
wind.

"Whoa - hold up!" Zip yelled. "You walk in there without weighing down this 
end, you'll go right over the edge."

"Good advice, Zip. You do look after me."

"You and Winston. He signs the checks."

Close by, Lara noticed the other engine, which had caused the calamity. Perhaps 
now it could be used to rescue the situation. She grappled it towards the 
fuselage. It slipped easily across the sheer ice, and she manoeuvred it 
carefully so that it slid inside the edge of the wreck. Metal creaked and 
groaned but eventually she had it safely weighted down.

She stepped gently into the cabin section, now torn and tattered, and moved 
carefully to the front. The ghosts of memory troubled her. Wind whistled 
through the broken fuselage, which creaked and rocked as Lara stepped 
cautiously towards the cockpit. On the shell of the control panel a small 
object glinted.

"Is that it?" Alister asked.

"Yes," Lara said quietly. "It is."

As she reached for it, her weight finally tipped the nose down. The object slid 
forward but Lara snatched it up. The plane began to slide over the edge. She 
dived for the open tail and ducked as a loose seat came tumbling towards her. 
With a roll and a leap, she launched out as the wreckage shot over the edge. 
She landed safely, glancing over her shoulder as the fuselage plunged to the 
ice far below.

-- The Key Obtained -----------------------------------------------------------

She took the object from her jacket. It was the brooch her mother had removed 
from her lapel as her daughter snuggled beside her.

"Lara?" Zip said. "You okay?"

Lara snapped back to the present. She put the object away. "Of course."

"Just checking. It's usually someone else's past you're digging into."

Lara used her binoculars to scout ahead. "That's where you're wrong, Zip - this 
has always been what it's about." A snow-covered temple roof stood out in the 
distance. "Now, there's one more place I'd like to visit. It shouldn't take too 
long."

The wind whistled about the desolate peak. Somewhere in the distance a wolf 
howled. Lara had a few ghosts to lay yet.

From the indentation left in the ice by the fuselage she jumped out over the 
cliff edge, and landed on an icy slope that carried her towards a second. She 
had to time her moment to jump forward before reaching the end of the slope, 
where she grabbed to a metal bar. It creaked, ready to snap, so she immediately 
flung herself off to a second slope. As she neared its end she jumped again, to 
land on another. A slide and a jump brought her to yet another slope. Halfway 
down it, a wall of ice had to be shattered by pistols in time to crash through, 
where she kept the presence of mind to jump off again to yet another icy slope 
just beyond. From the end of that one she clutched to a metal bar, which as 
ever seemed ready to break - it creaked as she swung, and snapped as she flew 
off. She landed safe on an ice shelf in front, where she gratefully caught her 
breath.

At this lower level, the monastery formed a network of tunnels and alcoves, 
frozen over. To one side a passage had formed through the ice, and she made her 
way through to glimpse decorative arches studded around a cave. Set in ice, the 
holy structure of relics in niches was impossible to date.

"My God, Lara," Alister gasped, excitedly, "this is fantastic! Look at them 
all. This is a find in itself."

She made her way cautiously across ledges that crumbled at her touch.

"I do not like this place at all," Zip said, emphatically.

Lara jumped to grab a wall bar behind her, and swung to grab onto a long thin 
stalactite. It creaked under her weight, but seemed to hold.

"Don't slip," Zip advised.

"I've got it."

She shuffled about to align with a flat platform of ice, but her luck seemed to 
run out as she landed on it. The sudden weight toppled it to one side, but she 
quickly caught her balance and ran on, to snatch an icy ledge on a wall, just 
as the platform collapsed. Her feet kicked powdery snow, and frosted breath 
came in short pants as she moved sideways along the icy ledge. She pulled up on 
a flat spot, deep inside the blue-lit cave of ice.

"This must be where Santa's evil brother lives," Zip remarked.

Somewhere through the caves of ice came the distant sound of a helicopter 
outside. The way ahead became even more precarious, over thin ledges of ice 
that looked ready to crack any moment.

"Bloody hell," Alister exclaimed. "It's too bleeding chancy, Lara."

"I'll be fine," she assured him.

The sound of the helicopter drew nearer as she worked her way further around 
ice ledges, which splintered and cracked as she jumped one to another.

"Good grief," Alister moaned. "I can't look any more."

"You always say that," Zip countered, "but you keep on looking."

Daylight came from a passage above. Lara pulled up and stepped cautiously 
through. The helicopter chattered loud overhead. Mercenaries spilled out and it 
lifted away.

"Rutland's men. I've been wondering where you chaps were."

She came under attack at once. Half a dozen men moved around the monastery 
outbuildings, and crowded in with automatic fire and grenades. Lara moved 
swiftly around thick blocks of ice, shooting and running. Scattered about were 
gas canisters that exploded to her advantage if a mercenary stood close, and in 
a few frantic moments she had the ground to herself. From somewhere above a 
thug lobbed grenades with a launcher but she had time to roll aside, and 
mounted a low block to zero him. She jumped closer and finished the impudent 
assailant. Behind her a last determined mercenary threw a hail of bullets from 
an adjacent structure. Using her grapple, Lara swung off a hanging temple bell 
to the low building where he sheltered, and shot him at close range.

A zip line was ready rigged. She jumped to grab hold, and sailed down.

She landed at the top of a short icy slope into a dark cavern. Icicles hung 
about, and decorative pillars were frozen into the thick ice. She crunched 
across puddles that were frozen solid, and came to a deep pool. Wind moaned and 
tiny waves lapped. Small floes of ice bobbed in the freezing water, forming a 
bridge of sorts part way across. There was no other way forward but to trust 
these would hold her. She jumped over the first.

"You're not gonna make it across," Zip warned. "And you'll end up a Popsicle if 
you try to swim it."

He was right. In the sub-zero temperatures Lara knew she wouldn't survive long 
if she fell in. She faced a bigger gap to the next floe. "Hmmm. If only I could 
walk on water."

Looking up, she noticed a large chunk of ice suspended from the cave roof that 
looked ready to break away. A shot from her pistols brought it down, and as it 
splashed to the water she hopped over and on to another floe, and saw to her 
relief a cave opening where there was a stone ledge.

"Not to rub it in," Zip volunteered, "but I'm glad I'm at home."

"Lovely, Zip. That's quite enough of that."

"Sorry."

She faced an underground river, moving swiftly to what looked a dark fall. 
Upstream she saw other buildings and light in the cave ahead. The river was 
undoubtedly too cold to risk trying to swim. As she pondered how best to get 
across, ice floes came drifting down river. She took her chance and ran out, 
leaping from one to another. Her luck ran out as she missed her footing and 
fell into the icy river. She scrambled to climb out and ran across another floe 
to the lighted cave.

"God, Lara," Alister exclaimed, "you must be absolutely freezing. Are you going 
to be all right?"

Lara shivered. "My bones ... have gone numb. Oh my God, it is so very cold... 
But I'll be fine." Those few seconds had nearly been too much.

The cave was a stone passage thick with ice. Open doors at the end revealed 
steps leading up.

She ascended to an awe-inspiring sight. The face of Buddha gazed serenely 
across a huge temple building. Caught off guard by its magnificence, Lara came 
under sudden attack from a snow leopard leaping from stairs to her right. Lara 
dodged around pillars on the balcony where she stood, and retreated back down 
the steps as the hungry beast bounded after her. Tough and tenacious, but no 
match for her guns.

"Good thing these weren't here last time I came."

She knew this as the place where she sought refuge with her mother after the 
crash, and they had last been together. The place where she stumbled on the 
dais, and witnessed its terrible power.

Now quite deserted, the roof had broken through and the floor below mostly 
crumbled away. All that remained were foundation pillars and a few stone flags. 
Ice cracked and groaned, and snow drifted in. Stairs at left and right twisted 
down to the broken floor. Though she might make a path across what was left of 
the floor, she saw only a pair of very solid doors at the far side, on a level 
below the giant statue. Something moved up there.

She decided to make her way at this upper level, and spotted a ceremonial bell 
hanging from the ceiling. She jumped out and cast her grapple, and as others 
had before, this bell held her weight as she swung on a long length of cord. 
She climbed up enough to see another bell a short distance ahead. She set 
herself swinging back and forth, then released the magnetic grapple at the 
height of the swing to latch on to it. She saw now that the movement on the far 
balcony was a second snow leopard, hunting with its mate. She swung quickly to 
a third bell, and then off to join the predator on the balcony. She had come 
too far to let it stand in her way.

Soon enough she stood alone beneath the serene statue. A small squared chamber 
in front bore a pair of golden doors, ornate and very solid.

"That's strange, these doors weren't closed before. Suppose I'll have to work 
out how to get them open again."

A golden square was set into the platform that was the chamber roof. It had 
every appearance of a pressure plate, which she guessed might operate the 
doors, but her own weight was insufficient to trigger it. The hands of the 
statue held scales balanced either side of the central platform.

Alister was impressed. "What a remarkable contraption."

If Lara stood on either one, each scale tipped gently to the ground. Two crates 
stood to one side, one large and one small, and a golden crate the other. All 
were easily moved with her grapple, and Lara judged these might be used to 
weigh down the scales. The golden crate bore markings that matched the square 
plate on the platform, so she decided her effort should be directed to raising 
it there. She needed only to figure out how.

She first hauled the smallest crate onto the scale pan on one side. This held 
the pan down and brought the opposite side level with the top of the platform. 
Lara hopped up there and stood on the raised pan. Her own weight was greater 
than the small crate, so she was borne gently down. Now she grappled the golden 
crate onto that side. As she guessed, the golden crate was much heavier than 
the small crate, so that side remained raised. Lara jumped up on the platform 
and stood with the smaller crate on its side of the scales. Together they 
weighed more than the golden crate, so now her side tipped down until she was 
flush to the ground. Without stepping off, Lara now hauled the larger crate 
onto the pan, and as hoped, the pair of crates weighed more than the golden 
crate alone. It stayed raised at the level of the platform above. With some 
satisfaction she jumped up and grappled it off.

Lara manoeuvred the crate onto the square plate, which it fitted perfectly. Its 
weight caused the plate to depress slightly, and underneath Lara heard the 
heavy doors grind open. A remarkable contraption indeed.

"Every object here has a symbolic function," she mused. "If only the outside 
world were the same."

She dropped down off the platform and went through the doors. They now closed 
behind her.

"Oh, bother. Well, one thing at a time."

A short flight of steps led down. A familiar arrangement of stones was laid out 
below.

-- Excalibur Reforged ---------------------------------------------------------

Lara approached the centre stone of the ancient dais.

"How did you know that would be there?" Zip wondered.

Lara kneeled and spoke solemnly. "Give me a moment, please."

With a look of concentration she tipped the pieces of the sword out onto the 
floor, and roughly assembled them. From her jacket she took her mother's 
brooch, which she now knew to be the Ghalali Key. The sword flashed briefly as 
she brought the key close, startling her. It gave off sparkles of light and 
then floated in the air, rattling and trembling. Lara released the Ghalali Key, 
and it hovered over the hilt. She shielded her eyes from a blinding flash of 
green light as the sword became whole, and floated back to the ground. The 
Ghalali Key remained suspended in a fading glow, and Lara took it back.

She gazed at the legendary sword of King Arthur. "Excalibur reforged."

"Well done, Lara," breathed Alister.

Lara took up the sword and held it in wonder. She looked to the stone. "It's 
broken," she murmured, "but perhaps..."

With both hands she plunged Excalibur into the centre of the stone. It cracked 
and crumbled apart. It would not be used again. Lara sheathed the sword to her 
back.

"Well, if that's all it does," Zip said, "this has been a big waste of time."

Lara looked about. "Now I suppose it's time to work out how to leave this 
monastery."

"How about swinging Excalibur once, just for fun."

"It's a priceless artifact," Alister protested, "not a toy!"

"I'm just saying."

Yet it was a sound idea. The heavy doors had closed behind Lara and there 
seemed no way to operate them from inside. Beneath the steps was a passage to a 
similar door, also shut. This door appeared veined with cracks. There was no 
other way out from the chamber, but it had been built to house the stone for 
Excalibur's purpose, and the magical sword could surely command its power to 
any obstacle. Lara stood back and swept the sword in the direction of the 
cracked door. A green light streaked out, that smashed the door to pieces.

Zip approved. "Hell, yeah!"

"And now we know how young Arthur became king." Lara stepped through the 
doorway to the lower level of the temple.

Dislodged chunks of ice broke down on the remains of the floor, which shook and 
began to fall away under her feet. Alister shouted: "Run, Lara!"

She dived to a section of floor supported by a foundation pillar, yet it too 
began to topple. She ran forward to another, clung on and pulled up, and then 
ran to one side for a longer slab section as it swayed and began to fall. No 
sooner had she touched on it than the section keeled forwards, pitching her to 
grab a shorter slab ahead. She was close to the balcony edge where she first 
ran into a snow leopard, and as the last section of floor fell away, she leaped 
for it, and barely caught the edge with her fingers.

She hauled up to safety.

-- Chapter Closed -------------------------------------------------------------

"So," a very relieved Alister sighed. "Any more sightseeing, Lara, or are you 
finished?"

"We're going back to Bolivia. Then we'll see."

-- PDA ------------------------------------------------------------------------
The dais functioned only briefly, and in that time I found one answer and a 
dozen more questions. Most maddening of all is Amanda. It's impossible to 
separate the truth she knows from the nonsense she believes. Only time will 
tell.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_______________________________________________________________________________

     o  BOLIVIA - The Looking Glass

     It's time to return to Bolivia and finally
     learn what these ancient artifacts can do.
     Amanda must want to activate the stone
     dais as well. Perhaps she knows its
     purpose, or only thinks she does.

     "There's something in the light..."


-- Bolivia Redux --------------------------------------------------------------

"There she is, I see her!"

Lara stepped out though the Tiwanaku temple passage where she found the dais 
before. Though the rope bridge was gone, mercenaries had rigged up a zip line. 
Rutland, Amanda, and their guards were at work on the dais. Rutland looked up 
on the shout and saw Lara. He gave a little wave.

Lara put a finger to her headset. "I'm going to need a clear head for this, 
lads. No distractions, please."

"Good luck," Zip urged.

Lara took a deep breath, grabbed the zip line to the dais, and slid swiftly 
across. She drew her sword from her back and advanced.

"Anyone between me and that stone dies."

"Stop!" Amanda held up a hand. She was dressed in a skimpy top and tight jeans, 
her pale body laced with tattoos. "I don't want anything bad to happen, but it 
will if you come any closer."

Amanda fingered a pendant at her neck. Before she could act Lara swept her 
sword and cast them all to the ground. Amanda lay stunned. Rutland lifted his 
head and croaked an order to his men. "Kill her."

Rutland's men had been busy. Power lines were strung out across the drop to the 
surrounding mountains. Arc lamps had been rigged among stacks of crates bearing 
the mark of NATLA Industries. Two heavy machine guns were mounted on stands. If 
the mercenaries expected opposition they had it now.

The awesome power of Excalibur was unleashed as Lara strode among the stones on 
the dais, sending men to oblivion with each lash of her blade. The energy 
carried through rock, so that it had only to sweep in their direction to blast 
each as they came. Those behind bulletproof shields fell as easily as the rest. 
Men ran to the heavy guns but the vengeful Lara was too quick. Grenades boomed 
through the air but she kept moving, slashing and striking until only the last 
one remained.

"It's over now," the thug grunted. "Nowhere to hide."

-- Amanda Rises ---------------------------------------------------------------

Rutland staggered to his feet, mortally wounded. Amanda went quickly to him. 
"James!"

"Amanda..." he groaned, "see you... you..."

If they were to meet again it would not be in this life. Rutland collapsed to 
the ground.

"Oh, God... James!" Amanda fell weeping over his body.

"I'm sorry, Amanda," Lara said. "Truly."

Lara walked to the stone at the centre of the dais, Excalibur at the ready. 
"What are you doing?" Amanda demanded. "Stay away from there!"

Lara turned. "It's what I came for."

Amanda rose up and tore the pendant from the choker at her neck.

"You don't need that," Lara insisted. "We can both do this."

"It only works once," Amanda hissed. "And I'm going to be the one."

Lara brought her sword to her side, flexed her fingers, and stood ready.

Amanda closed her eyes and drew her hands together. The pendant whirled between 
her open palms, spinning in the vortex of a violet glow that increased in 
flickering arcs to a burst of brilliant light. The unknown entity materialised, 
this time in the form of a tall hideous demon. Amanda was gone.

The beast hovered in the air, bony talons outstretched, and emitted a guttural 
roar. Suddenly, a burst of glowing red energy shot out towards Lara, and 
blasted a rock as she rolled aside. Another seemed certain to follow. She 
searched for cover until she was able to strike back. Ordinary weapons would be 
useless against this unnatural apparition - Excalibur was made for the job.

The entity sailed overhead, sending out waves of energy that threatened to 
knock her from the platform. Lara took what shelter she could, though even the 
monumental stones could not shield her from the force of each blast. She ducked 
behind columns that crashed around her as the beast lashed bolts of energy 
down.

Lara swept Excalibur in the monster's direction, and seemed to catch it wide 
open. It roared and flew up, abilities dulled temporarily. Lara took her chance 
and kept up the pursuit, slashing as close as she could get. The entity dived 
and swooped around the stones, and she did not waste a stroke aiming in the 
wrong direction but waited until it became still, ready to attack. As the 
infernal beast felt the force of the mystical weapon it seemed paralysed, 
hooked arms held wide. Lara stood directly underneath and timed stroke after 
stroke as fast as she could, knocking it back as its arms came together, and in 
this manner preventing its counter strike.

Now it sank to the ground and stayed dormant. A figure stood in the centre of 
the ghastly blur of light. To her horror Lara realised that the figure was 
Amanda, and that her former friend had become subsumed by the unknown entity 
and in this state become a part of it. She seemed to be waving her arms to the 
sky, whether summoning strength or struggling for release, Lara could not say.

Putting her feelings aside Lara ran in and slashed at the entity on the ground. 
Excalibur drew off most of its power, yet the beast revived and took to the air 
to resume the attack.

Lara took cover and sustained a heavy blow or two, but kept her feet and 
pressed hard, sweeping bursts from her sword to knock the entity down if she 
could. At any chance she ducked behind solid stones to protect from the full 
force of each wave, even though these seemed to penetrate the very ground to 
knock her down again. A timely roll seemed good defence. She kept mostly to the 
centre of the arena, as on any strike she might be sent skittering over the 
edge.

There was danger as well in drawing too close. A wicked black claw struck down 
as she attempted another sweep of the sword. With a determined effort she 
landed several telling strikes and the beast crashed down. Lara threaded 
eagerly between stones to get close and slash it on the ground. It recovered as 
before, but from the moment it arose she kept up the attack, turning to keep 
her furious prey in sight as it soared about the arena. It collapsed for a 
third time, and with the last of her strength Lara dashed in and plunged 
Excalibur to the hilt. This time was surely enough.

Blue flashes and red clouds boiled and whirled around it as the creature 
twisted and writhed. The red disappeared and the demon was gone, and in a flash 
crackling waves of blue light fell to the ground where they faded to nothing.

-- Answers Breed Questions ----------------------------------------------------

Amanda's body lay on the cold stone of the arena, the pendant spilled from her 
hand. Lara kneeled to pick it up, and saw the death head on it. She shook her 
head sadly.

Battered and weary, she went to the stone at the centre of the dais, drawing 
Excalibur. She stood for a moment then plunged the sword into a slot in the 
stone. Strange green glowing liquid oozed out and flowed to the device on the 
ground. Channels filled and spread out to the polished stone obelisks that 
surrounded the device. The motifs and decoration on each glowed with the same 
intense green light of energy. She had seen this before.

Lara drew from her pack the sketches she made as a child in the monastery in 
Nepal. Here were the same symbols and motifs. She touched a hand to one glowing 
stone and it opened up briefly, radiating light, then closed again. She 
consulted her book, and then approached the next obelisk. She continued 
methodically until each stone had revealed itself.

There was one final act to the ritual. Lara went to Excalibur and raised a hand 
to it, just as she had done inadvertently as a child when all had been 
prepared. She drew her hand away, suddenly unsure, then lightly pressed the 
hilt of the sword.

It retracted, and the stone device ground into operation. The outer disc 
rotated and rose up, forming a portal of light that reached across time.

Ghostly voices echoed. "No, get back! What is it?" "There's something in the 
light..." "Stay here."

Lady Croft appeared through the portal. "What ... who are you?"

"Mother! It's Lara. Your daughter!"

At the mention of her daughter, Lady Croft turned instinctively to the little 
girl. "What about my daughter?"

Lara saw in an instant the terrible consequences about to unfold. She yelled 
out: "Don't touch the sword."

Her mother couldn't understand the distorted warning. She wrung her hands and 
implored, "She meant no harm."

Words echoed across the void within the portal. Amanda came to and wickedly 
grasped the situation. "Take out the sword," she ordered.

"What!" exclaimed Lara. "No! Mother! Mother, listen to me..."

Amanda shouted out: "It will explode unless you pull out the sword!"

"Oh, God, no!" cried Lady Croft as she disappeared from view.

Lara screamed "No!" as brilliant green light burst from the portal. She tried 
to reach out but knew all too well the power unleashed could not now be 
stilled. She turned her back quickly and leaped away from the circle. A 
dazzling explosion ripped it apart. The broken Excalibur clanged down in front 
of her.

"You idiot," Amanda screamed. "You ruined everything."

Lara got to her feet, wrathful anger rising. "All these years I blamed myself, 
and it was you. You killed her!" She levelled her gun at Amanda.

"Killed her!" Amanda was scornful. "She's not dead. She went where I was 
supposed to go, where you could have gone."

"Make sense right this second or I swear I'll execute you where you stand." 
Lara jammed her gun between the shocked Amanda's eyes.

"I told you to pull out the sword," Amanda insisted. "I TOLD YOU!"

Lara stood over Amanda and punctuated each word with a close shot: "Where -- is 
-- my -- MOTHER!"

"AVALON! It's not a myth. Don't you get it?" Amanda panted. "You'll never 
understand. I'm wasting my breath."

Whether or not Amanda had intended that Lara should pull her sword from her 
side of the portal, Lady Croft had heard the words that triggered her fateful 
action. It was done. Lara turned away. With a sudden burst she spun round and 
pistol-whipped Amanda senseless. "From this moment," she uttered viciously, 
"your every breath is a gift from me."

"Lara?" came Zip, quietly.

She was lost in her emotions. "For years my father believed Mother was alive. 
It was what kept him going. I pitied him for thinking that way." She picked up 
Excalibur and spoke briskly. "Alister, go to the British Museum immediately. 
Ring me when you get there. Dress in layers - you'll be there a while."

"Right. I'm off."

"Zip, call Professor Eddington at the Cavendish Laboratory. Arrange a meeting."

"Will do," he replied, but wondered: "What should I tell him?"

"Tell him..." Lara considered. "Tell him my father was right about everything, 
and there may still be time to do something about it."

Lara Croft, tomb raider adventurer, grabbed the rope line and swung away hand 
over hand, leaving the temple, the dais, and Amanda behind.


-- THE END --------------------------------------------------------------------


                                  Lara Croft
                                  T  O  M  B
                             R   A   I   D   E   R
                              ------------------
                               L  E  G  E  N  D


                      Story designer .... Eric Lindstrom
                      Dialogue writer ... Aaron Vanian

_______________________________________________________________________________


_______________________________________________________________________________

(c) 2008 J Woodrow 

This document includes an unofficial transcript and storyline from Lara Croft 
Tomb Raider: Legend (c) 2006 Core Design Ltd. Copyright is claimed for original 
material herein and no declaration of ownership of previously copyrighted 
material is intended or should be inferred. Transcript may contain errors or 
omission and is not representative work of the acknowledged copyright owner. 
All contents are for personal and private use and no part of this document may 
be altered or amended or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any 
means for profit without the express written permission of the copyright owner.
_______________________________________________________________________________