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Twin Pistols Stories: Voting!
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dia2blo ̿ ̿ ̿ ̿̿'\̵͇̿̿\=(●̪•)=/̵͇̿̿/'̿'̿̿̿ ̿ ̿̿ Zebra
Originally Posted by Zebra
Angels of Rome
by Dia2blo and Zebra
"Look over there, kid." Sully said, carefully eyeing the dark figure in the corner.
"I'd like her to be in the auction." Nathan Drake stood, arms crossed as he admired the woman. She certainly had presence; her perfect feminine form seemed dwarfed by her masculine attire, and she seemed to have a cold stare. Her dark eyes were beautiful, but equally lifeless.
"No, no, no, Nate, she's not on sale." The old man patted Nate on the shoulder.
"Well should I know her?" Nate briskly replied.
"She's a little bit like James Bond. Sex for dinner, death for breakfast. Just without the sex." Sully said. Nate chuckled at his mentor's description.
" Alright, I get it." He couldn't help but continue to stare at the woman, but she returned no such favour.
"So then, who is she?" He felt dumbfounded; she was at the same black market auction that Drake and Sully had gone to so much trouble to locate, yet she didn't have a thug like appearance like the rest of the audience. She was here for a purpose, and Nate had to know who she was.
"That's Lady Lara Croft. Way out of your league, at least." Sully smirked.
"Yeah, that's what I got from your James Bond comparison, old man. No need to rub it in." Nate just couldn't tear his gaze away from her, wouldn't have been able to had his life depended on it. "Wait, did you say Lady?"
Sully sighed. "Well, even the British aristocracy isn't what it used to be anymore."
Before he had chance to approach the "Lady", the auction began. Nate snapped back to reality and remembered why he was here. He had to claim that diary...
*Two days earlier.*
“Do you see this, Lady Croft?”
The man held the photograph of an old, tattered book into the camera. The leather binding seemed to have been replaced at some point, as it didn’t seem quite as worn as the actual pages.
“This is the diary of Robert de Verdin. It is written in what most people and even leading historians would call complete gibberish. You and I, my dear,” that earned him one of Lara’s death glares, “know better than that, of course. I believe this diary holds a map pointing to the location of an artefact hidden somewhere in Rome. It will be auctioned off at a more than dubious event in Buenos Aires in two days.”
“What a lucky coincidence.”
“Coincidences don’t exist, Lady Croft. I propose you fly to Buenos Aires, acquire the diary and meet me in Rome to decipher it and find the artefact.”
“I’ve been to Rome before.” Lara said, slowly losing patience and interest.
“I know you’re in it for the adventure, Lady Croft. Have you ever heard of the Sleeping Angels?”
Her eyes widened slightly. “You mean Bramante’s?”
“That has earned me your attention, hasn’t it?” The man’s low chuckle was barely audible. “I will see to it that you are provided with whatever it takes to obtain the diary. See you in three days, Lady Croft.” And with that the screen turned black, leaving Lara to stare at her own reflection.
"So, the adventure begins." Lara smirked to herself, before jumping from her seat.
"Next we have a third century painting of..." Lara rapped her fingers against the wall impatiently as she waited for her prize to be presented. The room was bustling with voices, eager thugs hoping to get their hands on cheap trinkets that they could sell to private collectors. Lara had no time for such games. There were more than just thugs however; she knew that someone was watching her. Her past experience had taught her to always be aware of her surroundings.
"Now, we have a very rare item." The auctioneer, a short man with a deep scar across his left cheek, raised an item that Lara was very familiar with. The diary looked as though it barely held together, let alone being able to survive the man waving it about. Lara pressed away from the wall and pushed past the crowd towards the makeshift wooden stage. She signalled her first bidding. The atmosphere was tense. She knew that she would win the book, but she couldn't help but feel that someone was on her tail.
"Five thousand" A man yelped from behind her. Lara turned to see a well built, rugged man raising his arm. The game was on.
"God damn it Nate are you sure we can do this? I didn't think the broad would try for the diary."
"We have to get it Sully. I made a promise." The bidding war continued. The lady and Nate gave each other snide looks as they continued to up their bids. Six thousand, seven, eight. It seemed like Croft was just as desperate to get her hands on the diary as he was.
"Fifty thousand." Lara smirked, and turned to grin at the flabbergasted man. The thugs watching in anticipation fell to silence. Sully dropped his cigar. Nate yelped. Then gulped.
"Erh fifty thousand and one hundred." Nate could hear sniggers from the crowd. Sully smacked Nate's arm.
"Sixty thousand." Lara reciprocated, with a sly grin on her face and a hand on her hip. Sully grabbed Nate's arm.
"You're out of the game kid. Face it." Nate knew he couldn't afford even the previous bid, but he had to do everything in his power to get that diary...
The auctioneer looked first at Lara, then at Nate. “The current bid is at sixty thousand US dollar. Going once, going twice,” a longer pause, another look at Nate, “going three times. Sold to the lady by the bar for sixty thousand dollar.”
“No. No, no, no. Oh, crap.” Nate whispered.
“Relax, kid.” Sully muttered in a low voice, a frown cutting deep wrinkles into his face.
“Relax? What are you talking about? She’s got the diary.”
“That’s why I never go to an auction without a backup plan. Come on.” Sully got up, pulling Nate by his sleeve.
Lara paced through the moonlit Argentinean streets, eager to reach her hotel room, where she could properly decipher the ancient text. For a split second, she felt as though someone was watching her. She stopped. Silence swelled through the streets, save for the occasional taxi cab whooshing past her. She listened intently, and peered through the dim alleyway to her left for any signs of movement.
Sully pushed Nate against a wall and ushered him to be quiet. They watched as their target paused, Nate felt his heart race when he thought they had been spotted. She moved on.
"Quiet Nate. We have to use stealth. Just like the time in New York when-"
"Ok." Nate cut him off. They rejoined the chase.
Lara swiftly entered her room and locked the door securely behind her. She still felt uneasy; ensuring all the windows were locked, before placing the diary on a small coffee table and acquiring one of her nine millimetre pistols from under a plush pillow. She checked the magazine, and clicked the safety off, then placed the weapon next to the diary. She then exited to the bathroom.
"So the plan is we just barge in, grab the book, and hope she doesn't notice?" Nate looked puzzled as he and the old man crept through the hotel corridor.
"Well when you put it like that..." Sully smiled, and withdrew the set of room keys that he had swiped from the empty lobby desk. Room thirty four. He placed the key into the lock. Sweat formed on Nate's forehead, and the duo exchanged unsure looks. Sully turned the key.
The door swung open, but nobody was home. Nate instantly spotted the diary on the desk, as well as the single armed gun lying next to it, which meant that lady Croft was unarmed. Nate picked up the diary, but within seconds, a roaring thud burst through the door next to them. Sully fell hard to the ground, clutching his leg in pain.
"Sully!" Nate shouted, before grabbing the gun. He turned to face the door, but was too late. A smoking pistol was pressed against his forehead.
"What have we here?" Lara remarked, with an icy stare.
“I’m your auction buddy, remember?” Nate had tried going for casual, maybe a bit annoyed but his voice betrayed him, making him sound insecure and scared.
“Nate…!” Sully said in a warning tone.
“Oh, we aren’t buddies.” Hearing the word in her upper-class English accent sounded strange. “Put the gun down. And put the diary back on the table.” She said slowly, pronouncing every word clearly as if speaking to a small child.
Nate could feel the still hot metal of her pistol digging into his forehead. He slowly lowered his right hand, setting the pistol down onto the table, and then he repeated the movement with his left hand which was holding the diary.
“Now tell your grandfather to get out of my room.”
“Alright. I’m already on my way out, see?” Sully grunted out, trying to get her attention.
It was Lara’s fault to let her gaze wander from the younger to the older man for just the split of a second, as Nate grabbed the gun and the diary from the table and made a run for the balcony.
Nate winced as he burst through the glass window, landing harshly onto the solid wood of the balcony outside. Lara followed suit, leaping through the shards as elegantly as a ballerina.
"Run, run." Nate told himself, aware of the stream of bullets being let out at him. He began to sprint, engaging in parkour stunts as he leapt from ledge to ledge. Lara kept in the chase, but stumbled as Nate kicked a flower pot into her path. Startled by the noise, a man launched open a window, which impacted on Nate's left leg, causing him to lose his footing. He fell harshly from the rooftop, and landed onto the soft roof of a Mercedes convertible. Lucky.
Lara holstered her gun, and smoothly slid down a rain pipe to reach the ground. Nate had disappeared. She stopped for a moment, scanning the empty plaza for her lost foe. For a moment, she thought it was a rodent, or bird, but she quickly realised she was looking straight at the disorganised man; above her. He was climbing! Lara sprinted towards the building ahead of her, a decaying church, which was encased in scaffolding, making it an easy playing field.
Nate clambered higher and higher, desperately trying to make his way to the top. He wasn't sure what he was doing, but for Nathan Drake, acting on instinct and always keeping above and ahead of his enemies was the only way he knew how to survive.
Lara climbed and swung her way along the metal beams of the scaffolding, mindful of not hitting her head against one of them. The church stood in the middle of the plaza, there were no buildings adjoining to it. Once the thief made it to the top he would be trapped. Lara smirked, a feeling of victory spreading warmth inside her chest as the roof of the church got closer and closer.
She vaulted on to a beam and stopped, her foe was stood directly above. Drake clumsily raised both hands, making an awkward smile as the armed menace locked her sights onto him.
"Look lady, I need this more than your client ever could." He pulled the diary from his jean pocket.
"You assume my interest in this is for money?" Lara sniggered, pistol still concentrated on the man's chest. A tense silence swept across the church. Lara's vicious stare cut into Nate like a knife. One wrong move, and she would pull the trigger. He knew inside that she wouldn't hesitate.
"I don't assume. But I'm sure if you knew the truth about this, you'd help me. You're smart, just hear me out." Her expression turned even darker. Lara was not the type to take patronising commands from anyone.
"Just hand over the diary. Then I'll hear you out." She made it on her terms; it would always have to be Lara's way. She was the leader in this exchange. Nate crouched slowly, ready to pass the diary down, then it dropped.
"Oops." He threw himself off the foothold, and the diary plummeted from sight. Lara gasped and unleashed fire once more and the chase began again. Nate began to scramble down the scaffolding, ducking and whining as bullets whooshed past his head. Lara launched herself at him, tackling the man off of his feet and losing her pistol in the process. They flew into the hard brick of the church, and Nate yelped as his head slammed against the wall. They wrestled and scrapped, Lara delivering sharp blows to his rib cage. In one swift movement, Drake shoved Lara into a support beam. It snapped, and Lara fell limply to the floor as the wood splintered behind her. The scaffold began to rumble, unable to support the centuries-old brick structure.
Nate felt the vibrations of the collapsing scaffolding beneath his feet as he raced from platform to platform, leaping and jumping across the wobbling wood. Bricks began to fall from above like meteors, the clashing sound of 18th-century roof tiles meeting concrete created an earpiercing orchestra, the church freed itself from its wooden corset as its debris destroyed the rickety scaffold.
Lara winced as she forced herself from the collapsing platform. Her fight with Drake had left her with cuts and bruises all over, but adrenaline was beginning to kick in. She spotted a ladder perched at least two stories below on her right, but she knew that Drake had escaped in the opposite direction. She had lost the chase. She painfully threw herself onto the platform below, almost being crushed as bricks exploded from the battered wall. The entire roof of the church had already fallen, each tile soaring towards her like a razor blade. Lara panicked as the scaffold began to give way. Metal beams shook and snapped as the heavy tiles assaulted them. One story to go.
Nate sprinted and made one final leap, off of the wooden scaffold to the roof of a parked truck. He rolled then slid over the front window, skilfully landing on the ground below and running into the dark streets of Buenos Aires. His gamble had paid off. Not only had he escaped the chase, but he had left Croft believing that the diary she was looking for was buried beneath tons of bricks and rubble...
Lara clasped the sides of the ladder, and felt her hand burn as she quickly descended. She landed harshly on her knees, and clambered away from the collapsing church. Watching as the statue of an angel slowly broke and disappeared into the rubble, Lara couldn't help but think that its stone face almost seemed sad. She moved to sit on a wall nearby as shocked locals began to emerge on the streets to witness the destruction. Lara began to ponder on what had just happened. This would seemingly be a more difficult task than she was used to. The diary had to be somewhere under that rubble, and she couldn't comprehend why this man was so determined to uncover its secrets. Her gut instinct had been right; there was more to this than her employer had let on...
TO BE CONTINUED…
larafan25 ̿ ̿ ̿ ̿̿'\̵͇̿̿\=(●̪•)=/̵͇̿̿/'̿'̿̿̿ ̿ ̿̿ skylark1121
Originally Posted by skylark1121
It was four in the morning, and I hadn't managed to sleep half the night—mostly due to the dim lights pulsating from the so called kitchen Zip had renovated into a temporary headquarters. Since a rich girl like me hasn't much of a hand in reconstructing her own manor, Zip and I had been staying in an apartment in the city. I decided to leave my exhausted state of insomnia. I slowly rose out of bed, and somehow, I felt fueled and ready for the day ahead of me. The sound of cars racing down the street below was sort of comforting. They evoked a sense of darkness lifting from the city, revealing a thick fog. London weather had always been predictable, but it all felt so new living in this small space. It took a bit of strength and a stretch to pull the refrigerator door open, but once I managed to, it swung outwards with ease, revealing a bright yellow light. Straining my eyes, all I could see was a bottle of Orange Juice and some butter on the door-side.
Despite Zip's wicked HD setup in the kitchen, I remained in the living area and tuned into the small television propped up on an old wooden stool. It got about fifty channels give or take some fuzz, and most of them weren't worth the price, aside from the news channel I decided to tune in to. Protesters were standing outside an old church downtown. Apparently, it had something to do with herbal remedies and Marijuana grow op of all things. Accordingly, the church had been dilapidated for a while, and during the priest's state of absence, it had become suspiciously overgrown. Nobody could enter the church to figure anything out. All that could be seen were the windows, which were fogged up with a green mist and covered in unnatural plant life. Strangely enough, some shaky security footage was recovered which showed a black van pulling into the alleyway and some suited men exiting the vehicles carrying large metal crates into the church. They were followed by a tall, scrawny figure. The recap of the story was interrupted by a blond-haired woman dressed in a deep blue vest declaring breaking news. She began her report: “We're here today at St. Paternus’ church in downtown London, where a man has reportedly been yelling out of the window at protesters to go home. If you haven't been following this story, just last week, security footage was received, along with rumors of possible Marijuana grow op inside the old cathedral. The building—desolate for one year today—is said to be in rough shape and possibly structurally unsound. Protesters and curious folks are being held back by police. The building is currently inaccessible and possibly dangerous. Investigations are proceeding. After being interrupted by some violent protesters, the camera man zoomed up to reveal the man sticking his head out of the window screaming swear words and such. More interesting was the mysterious blond woman standing in the rose window... “Amanda.”
“Zip?” The man slowly rose from his slumber on the sofa. “I’m going to St. Paternus’ church.”
“What? Why?” he inquired.
“More Amanda business….”
“Not again… I mean, Lara? You don’t have to keep doing this to yourself.”
“Quite the opposite, Zip. You see, Amanda and I still have unfinished business.”
“She has tried to kill you… on numerous occasions.”
“I’ll phone you later. I’ve got somewhere to be.”
*** **** *** **** ***
I walked briskly through the crowd of protesters. They were like animals, but I managed to get to the caution tape without too many injuries. I lifted the caution tape to crawl under, but as soon as I touched it, a police officer shooed me off, saying that I could not enter the crime scene. Every attempt that I made to convince him to let me through failed, but I’ve never been one to surrender.
“Okay, officer—you win,” I said.
“Just don’t cross the tape,” he said, menacingly.
“You have my word.” He did have my word. I certainly wasn’t going to cross the caution tape… so I decided I would go under it!
I pushed my way through the crowd once more, and turned around the street corner. All of the action was at the church, so I didn’t have to worry about others watching me. I kneeled down to the ground, and grabbed the handle of a manhole. I lifted the door to reveal an opening to the oh-so-inviting sewers. I let myself down to the sewers—closing the door to the manhole. The horrid odor made me resent my plan of action, but I decided the sewers were somewhat worth my time, as long as they got me passed that tape and those officers. I pulled a flashlight out of my pack and began to make my way down the now illuminated, narrow hallway. I felt liquid under my feet, which made me thankful for my water-proof combat boots. The further I paced down the hallway, the more running water I heard. I turned two corners before I came to the source of the running water. Inconveniently, I had wandered upon a gushing waterfall of sewage. I glanced beneath me, seeing a fog of a green shade. In front of me lay five different paths. Trying to remember the overhead street layout, I decided that the pathway on the right would be the best choice. I backed up, took a run, and jumped. Effortlessly, I landed on the opposing metal. As I made my way forward, the water became deeper—as if I was going downhill. This reassured me that I was on the right path. By now, I was wading through the water. In my mind, I thought that I should be getting to the entrance of the church sometime soon. Looking upwards, I could see vertical entrances to different buildings. I came to the last one. I figured it was definitely the church entrance, since the church was the last building on the block. I jumped and grabbed ahold of the ladder. Pulling myself up, I came to another manhole door, and after finally managing to open it, I crawled out. The room that I crawled into resembled a cellar from some horror movie Zip had watched a few nights ago. I climbed the steep stone staircase and attempted to open the large wooden door mounted at the top, but it wouldn’t budge. I backed up, ran, and burst through the door with my shoulder. The force caused me to fall on my face in the adjacent room. I pushed myself up to my knees, and when I finally raised my head, my eyes were met with a horrifying sight. Apparently, I had chosen the wrong entrance from below, because my eyes were met with a large ballroom—full of high class diplomats, heirs, and heiresses of who-knows-what. The whole room was silent, and every single person was glaring at me. I stood to my feet—the sewer liquid dripping from my black athletic pants and combat boots.
“Don’t mind me!” I insisted. “I just… just… took a wrong turn? Yes.” I scurried through the formal ballroom, and closed the doors behind me. I came to a staircase, and climbed a few flights of stairs until I came to a window. Glancing out, I was right by the church. This building, which seemed to be just a fraction taller than the church itself, seemed as if it was only a few feet away from the church.
*** **** *** ****
I took in the view from the rooftop of the building. I could still see the crowd below making fools of themselves in the street. I had to focus. It was time to make a big jump. The building I was standing on seemed to be maybe two to three stories taller than the church, and with the added height differentials, I should be able to make the jump. I walked the other end of the rooftop and prepared myself. I narrowed my gaze to the rooftop of the church, and I ran. My run transformed into a sprint halfway across the roof, and I jumped at the exact right time. The world seemed to move in slow motion with the endorphins rushing through my body. I then realized I had made the jump, but had bigger things to worry about. The roof of the church appeared to be stained glass! All I could make out was a large, yellow rose imprinted on the glass before I landed on it. Right when I hit, the yellow rose stained glass broke, and I fell straight to the ground of the church.
*** **** *** ****
I slowly pushed my eyelids open revealing a dull, blurry room. I heard footsteps. I turned my head in shock, and I could feel shards of stained glass gently piercing my cheeks. A tall woman towered over me—her heels crunching the glass below her feet.
“Dammit Lara,” the voice was very familiar. The woman—who I now knew was Amanda—reached down and dragged me up by my arms and propped me onto a chair. After tying me up with ropes tightly, she proceeded to shout orders at surrounding mercenaries as she left the room. The forceful orders echoed in my mind as murmurs. One of the men had the guts to walk over to me.
“Looky who we've got here,” snarled the man. “Little Miss Croft! You know this ain’t no tomb, right?” I wiped the blood away from my mouth on my shoulder and muttered, “Not yet it isn't.” I could tell he he didn't like what I said. He then reached down to grab my feet. However, a swift kick in the head sent him wobbling backwards, crashing into a computer desk. After letting out a The man let out a painful groan, and I sent myself backwards, pushing the guy behind me off of the balcony with my chair, and with that, it was time to roll on out of here.
I couldn’t help but question my motives for coming back for Amanda once again, but it was too late to turn back. I was lucky enough that the chair had wheels on it. I shuffled my feet down the hallway, slowly progressing. The sunbeams from the stained glass windows blinded my view. I couldn't help but question my motives for coming back for Amanda once again. Upon reaching the door at the end of the hall, I lifted my tied legs and began turning the old knob with my boots. The grip was poor, and it took a few tries, but eventually the door released. I nudged it open about three inches with my feet. A beam of sunlight shot through to the mystery room, and as I began to push forward against the door, it grew until it was finally overshadowed by the rest of the unknown, dark, empty room.
I sat for what seemed like hours, trying to squirm out of my rope constraints, and eventually, I loosened the ropes enough to untie them. I stood, and the ropes tumbled to the ground. Moving forward into the room, I could feel a cool mist on my face. My eyes adjusted, and I could see the room more clearly. The perimeter of the room was adorned with sprinklers to aid the growth of the vines which grew tightly up the walls. At the far end of the room was a garden. In the center was a fountain, which seemed to be circulating some sort of pink liquid substance. As I moved closer, I could make out a figure in black with its back arched over the edge of the fountain. A small pink vial sat next to it. I approached the body, and upon pulling on the collar of the woman, I discovered it was Amanda. I kneeled and pulled her body on to my legs, looking at her pale face; her eyes gently closed. I grabbed her wrist to see if she still had a pulse. She did, but it was faint, almost as if she was sleeping.
I laid her body onto the creaky wooden floor, which had been stained by the strange pink liquid. I inspected the room and found tables holding countless bottles and jars full of strange substances. There were alchemy books scattered across the floor. I could also see cabinets that were almost sealed shut by their rusted edges. After prying a cabinet open, I found nothing of interest—only broken shards of pottery. I slammed the cabinet door shut, and the sound of shattered glass almost caused me to jump out of my skin. I stood on my tiptoes and made a discovery. There had to be at least twenty vials identical to the one located by the now keeled over Amanda. Timid at first, I reached out to grab the vile. It was thin and only required two fingers to hold it. The liquid was somewhat thick but still very fluid and bubbled easily as I lightly shook it about in front of my face. Looking back around the room brought me back to reality. My gut told me that this place wasn't safe. Time to go.
I quickly paced to the end of the room and began hauling a large antique desk in front of the door. Privacy would be vital if I were to leave my body in this room. The utter thought of doing so made me tremble, but I had more important things to worry about. Peering out the window, I could see the protestors still chanting. I sat down by the base of the fountain and popped the cork off of the vile. Doing so caused thin yellow fog to emerge from the bottle. With one last look at the room's condition and Amanda's body, I knew I had little time. Bottoms up!
*** **** *** ****
Where am I? I felt completely disoriented. I was floating in an all-encompassing darkness. A hand grabbed my shoulder and pulled it tightly. I turned my head: “Amanda? What is this place?”
With a look of guilty pleasure, she looked up towards me and said, “Our minds… our most recent memories.”
“Why did you come here?” I asked, knowing I'd never get an answer.
“Why did you come here?” She responded, already knowing the answer.
“I came here to help you, Amanda. This is dangerous, and you know it.”
“Pathetic, Lara. You know that? You'll bring nothing but chaos to my most enlightened state; our memories are no good together.” The room started to get darker. We weren't alone any longer, for a friend from our past memories had come to visit us.
“That can't actually be here, can it?” I said, as the frizzy, electrical entity moved closer, surrounding us from all sides.
“Whether he is with us or not, he can still be here. He is an energy! Just like our thoughts.” The world began to paint itself, and suddenly we were in Peru, and I was running through that horrid cavern—trying to escape death. Except, one thing was different. Amanda was by my side….
The force pounced towards us, “Amanda! Stop thinking about it!”
The room suddenly went black; you could hear the sound of emptiness echoing through the vast nothingness. I was alone in my mind and there was no way to escape. Amanda had left somehow. But before I could think of a way out, I was slapped into blinding consciousness, gasping and coughing on the ground.
In the background I could hear Amanda struggling, and as I opened my eyes, I was met by the impact of a chair being smashed across my back. As I rose from my vulnerable position, covered in wooden splinters, I noticed a needle stabbed into my arm, I turned to Amanda as I ripped it out and stabbed it into her as she tried once more to knock me out. The needle was more effective when pushed into your chest. Amanda lay back against the desk… shaking. She looked down at the incision, and touched it. To her shock, true mortality stained her hand.
“What have you accomplished?!” screamed Amanda.
“Enough. You may not like me, but at least you understand that you are human now….” Amanda Laughed. “And Amanda, what do you have to prove? You don’t have to do this to yourself.”
“I can’t believe I almost fell for that. Why is it that you think you can fix everything, Lara? Just leave me alone! You can’t save me!” With a look of fear and intense anger, Amanda came running at me, knocking us both through a large, red rose stained glass window. We fell and hit the hard ground below. The crowd began screaming louder at the bloody mess, which in turn, caused the police to stampede through the crowd to investigate. I slowly pushed myself off the ground, looking at all of the faces… then back at Amanda. I had no choice but to flee.
Pushing through the crowd of onlookers, I sprinted away from the scene as far as I could. I caught one last glimpse: Amanda was wheeled into the back of an ambiguous white van.
I clinched my fist and muttered, “Amanda, it would be very unwise to underestimate me,” and I knew she might never hear it. I glanced towards her one more time—no sign of movement. I wondered what Zip would say when I told him what happened…. I wondered if Amanda and I would ever come to terms. There were a lot of things that I wondered, and surprisingly, it gave me a thrill. Of course it did! I’d dedicated most of my life to wondering about things and thriving to find out their puzzles. Right that second, I vowed to solve the puzzle surrounding Amanda—things were far from over. And on that note, I turned and walked as the inevitable rain began to fall.
tomblover ̿ ̿ ̿ ̿̿'\̵͇̿̿\=(●̪•)=/̵͇̿̿/'̿'̿̿̿ ̿ ̿̿dizzydoil
Originally Posted by dizzydoil
Flash after flash, after flash.
It never stopped, but I never stopped either. I never stopped walking. The frightening amount of cameras wouldn’t kill me. Yet they seemed so dangerous, blinding me as I stepped further out on the dusty tarmac.
The putrid smell ‒ made infinitely worse by the heat ‒ oozing from the nearby fishing vessels started penetrating my senses like the intense camera flashes were still doing, but neither bothered me as much as the constant noise did.
Oh God, the noise.
I had little to be happy about as it were, but I did surprise myself thinking about how solitude would have done more good for me right now, than ever.
Bearing the voices of thousands upon thousands of rabid paparazzi was something I just wasn’t ready to do yet, if ever. They were all screaming at me simultaneously in their particular kind of broken English, vainly too since I couldn’t hear them.
If I’d ever been a lady, I sure as hell didn’t feel like one now. A lady wouldn’t long for home, but that’s exactly what I did.
No regrets, none at all.
I kept my stride up, probably looking stoic even though I felt otherwise. Whilst it was true that I wouldn't particularly care for my surroundings, a turmoil of emotions were bubbling inside of me ‒ probably enough to power a small city if negative thoughts could be made profitable.
Whatever façade I had was dangerously close to breaking, and did so when my world fell into darkness.
I bit open my recently healed lip in an effort to avoid screaming, my arms tangling in the leather of what turned out to be a trenchcoat. The survival instinct I still nurtured had warned for a scavenger, but all I’d got was a musky bundle of outerwear.
Relief and anger washed over me ‒ more so the latter ‒ when my nerves took it down a notch and I felt a well-built arm reach around me. He spoke quickly and with a distinct rasp to a nearby friend, both of them American judging by their accents.
Standing frozen in his grasp for a second, I realized the trenchcoat had formed a hood through which I could maintain some degree of much-needed privacy.
Thankfully, it muffled everything ‒ even the voice of my impromptu bodyguard.
“Don’t be afraid, kid,” he mumbled into my covered ear. I struggled to follow his guidance, being led through the endless hordes of paparazzi with my eyes still adjusting to the stark change of ambience.
I caught a glimpse of what I assumed was my “salvation” ‒ one of the sleeker makes of automobiles I’d ever seen.
“Who... are you?”
I forced out the words, causing a series of hacks and wheezes to escape my throat.
Something to drink would have been lovely.
“We’re friends,” said the man I hadn’t seen yet. “There’s a car straight ahead. If you wanna get out of here and to someplace safe, that’s your best bet. We’ll take you.”
I’d guessed as much, but their sudden appearance seemed far too convenient. Paranoia settled in, despite my attempts to shun it. “Where will you take me?”
“Somewhere safe,” he repeated with a sigh. “Far from here, that’s for certain.”
Good enough, I surmised. It wasn’t like I had a choice in the matter.
How on God’s Earth did I manage to end up with the prettiest red-head this side of the stratosphere? Sat all perched on that stool of hers ‒ right beside me I may add ‒ drinking that shandy she just ordered... not a bother in the world.
I mean, who could bother her?
Apart from me, of course. Nathan Drake's the name.
I was told my name was a famous one. Never really thought of it as such... Sir Francis Drake was just someone I looked up to, someone who was there for me when nobody else was.
Sully's bar was dead as a doornail. Lucky for me. Meant I could focus on the beauties in my immediate area ‒ my bottled beer, and the beautiful woman sat by my side. Of course she didn't know my attention was focused on her, at least not yet she didn't.
I’d been with plenty of women. I mean, everyone knows that. I’m just unlucky in love as I usually put it ‒ and well, it’s difficult for a man as good looking as me to keep the girls at bay. I was in love once. Elena Fisher was her name ‒ really pretty girl, couldn’t fault her. She just couldn’t accept who I was and so here I am. Looking for someone who loves me for me.
So I thought I'd give it a whirl, push the boat out etcetera (what harm could be done?) and raised my drink as a friendly gesture. Of course, as if I ever doubted, she returned the favour, but with an added bonus ‒ a confident and well-mannered smile. She was darn-bloody certain she looked fabulous, that was for sure.
And she wasn't wrong. You can trust me on that.
Giving my eyes the chance to have a wander instead of anything else gave me the opportunity to notice her wonderful, and I mean wonderful, bright blue eyes. Complete with an aquamarine bikini clinging to her, uh, shapely body and an accompanying throw-over, unbuttoned to showcase her, well... killer cleavage.
Beneficial to me, no doubt. Come on.
“So...” I said, raising my eyebrow en-dearly - making the first move. “Keeping yourself busy?”
“Busy? Not entirely,” she replied “Is there... anything I can help you with?”
Anything she can help me with? As if stroking the stem of her glass in the most suggestive manner wasn’t helping me enough already...
Being semi-obvious about my next move, much like she was with hers, I slanted backwards to give her my infamous once-over, “...well hello, gorgeous,” I replied.
“You can help me with a lot of things.”
That was cheesy. I felt cheesy.
Eh. Nothing ever, ever changes, Drake.
“Well then,” she said, sharing a smirk with me.
I loosened my throat with a gulp of beer ‒ the heat was beginning to get on my nerves, hers too I assumed.
“Shall we, I mean, would you like to...”
She saved me the bother, thankfully... I couldn't believe this beautiful woman was for real. Lifting her glass of shandy she threw back the final mouthful. “Retire? I'd love to, Mr. Drake.”
And wasn’t she just like a damn lion.
Safe to say, I certainly didn't expect that what with her being as cool as a cucumber no longer than five minutes ago. Damn... was I lucky, or what?
Seduced, or let’s say ravaged, by a wolf in sheep’s clothing ‒ the story of my life? Sure as hell seemed that way, and I certainly didn’t mind that now, or ever I think. In fact, it didn’t even feel like I was on this planet, or in the whole bloody universe, never mind the bed in that room.
At least that was the case, until my ever-so-lacking-recently misfortune caught up with me and that God-damn phone rang. Again, and again, and again.
I had to answer.
“Hello?” I answered kind of dyspenically. Well, of course I did, since you know, that’s how you answer a bloody phone when someone rudely interrupts a most alluring session of exercise.
“God-damn-it,” a familiar voice yelched, “I sure hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
My face must have spoken volumes, since Veronica gave me a look of sparse intrigue and disgust. I gave her a friendly smile, and pointed to the phone as if to say “I need to take this.”
Without even saying a word, she noted that it was “okay,” and her hand guided me to the door as if I didn’t know where I was going.
Once outside the room I rekindled the conversation on the phone, and demanded an explanation. I’m good at demanding stuff. It’s what usually gets me into trouble.
“Do you have any idea how beautiful this woman is?” I continued, “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”
“I understand kid,” he stated confirming my suspicions that the man on the other end of the phone was my long running partner in crime and best friend Victor “God-damn” Sullivan, “but this is important!”
“Let me be the judge of that, thank you very much.”
“Kid, you’ll lose the smug attitude when I tell you it’s Lara ****ing Croft,” he paused, as if he knew I’d need to catch my breath.
“Lara Croft?” I mumbled, “Chick who was missing? You found her?” I was amused.
“No, Drake. I didn’t find her,” he laughed, “but good news is she’s not missing anymore. She arrived, alone, in Yokohama this morning.”
Lara Croft. She was pretty famous, at least to me and Victor. He’d set his eyes on her from the very beginning, since her father was a big client of ‘Sullivan Antiquities,’ and he knew she’d be a perfect asset to company. That was the case, until she went missing on a trip with Sullivan’s close friend Conrad Roth to uncover Kublai Khan's lost fleet. Sully was beyond devastated, he had lost a close friend and worse ‒ at least for him ‒ an opportunity. So like most things with Sully, his actions make perfect sense. His sparkling opportunity to make big bucks with a new recruit was back on the cards ‒ if only he could convince her, especially after what I’m assuming she has been through. I guess that’s up to me though, right?
“...and you want me to go get her?” I added.
It was frightening, watching the horde of paparazzi emigrate across the road as I did the same. Unified only for the purpose of scaring the living **** out of me, weren’t they? I wouldn’t be spilling any beans, so they had little reason to follow me like they did. Celebrity blogs weren’t going to care, and the little footage they had of me wouldn’t suffice for television if there was any sense of quality left among the media’s cubicles.
I wanted to be pissed off but the energy wasn’t there. Hopefully, the car would be comfortable enough for me to respite like I did on the cruiser. Perpetual fatigue had became one of my strong points oddly enough, it was something I more than welcomed to stay with me ‒ at least until I was back on my feet. For now however, I was content with getting off of them and into the car.
The seats were clad in leather, which further confirmed the car’s exclusivity. I couldn’t help but wonder just whose car I’d got into ‒ was I being led into some kind of trap?
“Just sit tight, kid. We’re being knights in shining armour here,” the guiding man said, releasing me so that I could scramble into the vehicle. His words weren’t much of a comfort.
The glossy black door shut behind me, silencing everything and leaving me in relative solitude for a few seconds. I was literally speechless at this point, although thankful for the spacing between me and them.
In a matter of seconds, my “saviors” returned, one of them manning the car while the other sat beside me. They looked kind of dangerous. Dangerous and experienced, to be precise. Maybe I decided to sit in the wrong car after all.
Oh well. If death was imminent, at least I’d be passing comfortably. Shame about the smell though ‒ horrific amounts of cologne and a steadily growing odor of petrol masked the ever-so deadly smell of fishes, but I didn’t particularly want to dedicate my last breath to such.
“How’re you holding up?” the man beside me asked, earning a look of surprise as I didn’t really expect the concern. I might have been judgmental but considering the scavengers’ deceptive behavior, my paranoia was highly justified.
I felt homesick and scared. My answer was quite different.
“I’m fine,” I struggled, barely glancing at him through unruly bangs.
“Yeah, just fine.”
Lying through my teeth. Mother wouldn’t have approved. Then again, she wouldn’t have agreed to any of this and yet here I was.
“There’s a hostel not far away from here ‒ great place.”
“Sounds good,” I mumbled.
“Right. You heard her, old man.”
The car lurched into motion, forcing the paparazzi to step aside. Yokohama’s low cityscape glittered in the morning sun, giving me some impression of hope as we picked up speed and travelled further along the road.
“The name’s Nate, by the way.”
I forced a smile that faltered near-instantly. His name was familiar, and not in a good sense.
Only a second later, I realized that Conrad must’ve alluded to a “Nate” at some point during our trip. Something clicked inside my brain and I shivered.
I knew this guy’s type. Bloody hell, was I ever in trouble.
Last edited by Quasimodo; 20-04-12 at 01:19.