A Lovable Evil by Dark One

Summary: Doctor Who meets Lara Croft amidst some strange happenings on an alien world
Rating: All Ages
Categories: First Doctor, Other Doctors, Multi-Era
Characters: The Doctor (1st), The Doctor (Author-Created)
Genres: Action/Adventure, General
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2003.08.24
Updated: 2003.08.24


Chapter 1: Change for a Time
Chapter 2: A New Tomb to Raid
Chapter 3: The Uncertain Principal of Uncertainty
Chapter 4: The Other Others
Chapter 5: Every Which Way But Bad
Chapter 6: Lost on the Way to Nowhere
Chapter 7: Truthful Liars
Chapter 8: Who Needs Love When You Have...Love
Chapter 9: The Scepter, The Boy, and The Others
Chapter 10: Unions, Reunions, Reinsurances, and Weird
Chapter 11: Who's What

Chapter 1: Change for a Time

Dave sat quietly in the corner of the TARDIS's console room contemplating his life. Mainly, he was trying to understand just how he had come to find himself in league with this man called the Doctor. Although the whole adventure had only ended only an hour before it seemed more like a year. In what felt like an instant, he had been transformed from a young naive boy trying to avoid an odious job on a boring star freighter into the companion of a time lord.

It was not at all an easy task, either, because by his calculations his whole world had been turned upside down. This was the first time he could actually reflect on the matter. All he could think of was that one-minute he was reading a book, secure in his own reality, and in the next, he learned that a race of killer robots known as the Daleks were out to get him along with everyone else. After that, everything was a blur to him except for watching his ship explode in space.

Maria, who was now the Doctor's other cohort and Dave's former superior on the freighter, was not unscathed by the incident either. Her strong will and fiery personality had been severely tested by the whole affair. In fact, from the time they had escaped the exploding vessel she had said nothing at all except to ask the Doctor if there was any where she could go that would provide her with a hot shower and with it an opportunity to think. He grudgingly obliged and she had not been seen since.

For his part, the time traveler busied himself silently around the controls of the ship. His class four inversion circuit had long since burnt itself out making it necessary for him to watch the console intently lest they find themselves dematerialized and adrift forever.

"I can't take it anymore!" Dave started, not realizing how busy the Doctor actually was, "I have to know. Why is it so big in here and not out there?"

The Time Lord glanced up from his work, half-irritated at being interrupted and half because he was startled by the sudden break in the silence. "Sorry, what was that?" he asked distractedly.

Rising to his feet, the boy moved to the opposite side of the room where the ship's pilot standing, still focused firmly on the gauges in front of him. "The TARDIS," he explained, "is bigger on the inside than on the outside."

The time traveler, still in a very distract state, glanced around for a moment and then at his companion. "Yes, I suppose it is," he said at last returning his face to the controls.

"Well, why?" Dave questioned.

Again the other lifted his head. A smile of confidence fell over his face and a gleam shimmered in his eye almost as if the Daleks had suddenly agreed to be a force of peace in the universe. "You wouldn't understand," he answered.

It was probably the most annoying answer that he had ever heard. Even so, from the little that he actually knew about this man he was sure that it would be a lost cause to argue the point any further. Instead, the boy moved on to another question that had been vexing him even more anyhow. "Do you think Maria is alright?" he asked.

"I'm sure she's fine," the Doctor answered, his eyes now firmly fixed on the gauges in front of him.

"How can you be sure of that?" Dave asked in a voice that sounded more concerned than even he expected. "She's liable to wander off somewhere without thinking."

The Time Lord lifted an eyebrow. "Liable to wander off?" He laughed. "That sounds more like you."

"Me?" the boy asked curiously. "I'd rather just sit here and do nothing. I don't think you know us as well as you think you do."

The Doctor lifted his head from the console once again and stared into his companion's eyes. His face bore a strange expression as if he knew something strange was about to happen. "I know the two of you far better than you think," he whispered.

The young man stared back at the other in wonder. He was just about to ask what the Doctor meant by that statement when the doors behind him flung open revealing Maria. She looked much better than she had before too. After having a shower her face, which had been covered in dirt and sweat from crawling through air ducts, glistened, magnifying her dazzling blue eyes. Her wet hair fell back behind her and lay flatly down along her back. To fulfill the transformation she had shed herself of her old ship's uniform in favor of a short skirt and a white blouse causing her to look somewhat like an innocent schoolgirl. "I would have been back sooner," she explained, "but I nearly got lost."

The Doctor smiled knowingly. "Very possible," he admitted, his face still buried in the console, "but I'm would have found you eventually."

The girl glared back at the Time Lord with disdain. She was very sure that, in time, he would have found her. The only problem was that she was not sure how old she would be by then.

She was just about to say as much too when Dave, who wanted to avoid an ugly scene interrupted. "That's a new look for you," he said, smiling as widely as he could. "I don't think I've ever seen you like that."

"It's certainly better than that old uniform," she admitted, stroking the skirt. It was not her favorite look by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, she pretty much hated it but given the choice between it and what she had been wearing, she was thrilled for the change.

The Doctor looked up yet again from the monitor to see what the other two were going on about. "Where did you get those clothes?" he asked curiously when he saw the young lady.

"I found them in a closet," she responded. "I hope you don't mind."

The Time Lord quickly turned his head back to the panel in front of him. "Not at all," he told her, "I just didn't expect you to be wearing that for some time. Still-"

Dave glanced back and forth between the young lady and the time traveler. "What's wrong with it," he asked, irritated with the Doctor's tone.

"Nothing at all," answered the other half-consciously. All of a sudden he had begun to work more frantically at the controls than before and in a matter of seconds he had turned into a nervous wreck. His face scrunched itself into a tight mass as his hand moved swiftly over the buttons and knobs of the TARDIS and small drops of perspiration began to form and roll down his face toward his nose.

Puzzled, Maria glanced over at her companion as if to ask him what had spooked the Doctor so. The boy shrugged his shoulders in ignorance. As far he knew there might have been nothing wrong with the man at all. They had, after all, only known him for a very short and even then it was under some very unusual circumstances. Even so, he had to admit that the Doctor was acting kind of strange.

"Are you alright?" the young boy asked, trying to figure out what it was that the time traveler was doing.

"Time space transference!" the time lord yelled in excitement, nearly sending the two youngsters through the ceiling.

"Excuse me?" replied his female companion, lifting an eyebrow.

The Doctor glanced over toward the other two in astonishment as if he had forgotten that they were there. "Don't you see?" he explained excitedly, "that's what causes it."

"Causes what?" Dave asked sharply. He was starting to get a little irritated about not knowing exactly what was happening.

"The transference, of course," replied the other.

Suddenly, it was obvious to Maria that the conversation was headed toward a state of confusion coupled with a couple of raised voices and she wanted to head it off before it got totally out of control. "Could you please speak in terms that are a little easier to grasp?" she asked exasperatedly.

"It's quite simple," replied the Time Lord. "A time space transference is going to take place soon."

"And now for the million dollar question," the young man jumped in, scrunching his face in thought, "What is a time space transference."

The Doctor rolled his eyes in annoyance. "It is a transfer point in time and space."

"Transfer point?" remarked the female of the group curiously. "To another time and space?"

"Correct," answered the traveler, moving his eyes back to controls in front of him, in particular, at a lighted monitor. "There we go," he said triumphantly, tossing his hand across the top of the screen. "A bilateral temporal transference point."

"A what?" Replied the other two, almost at the same time.

Once again the time lord rolled his eyes at his companions. Their ignorance was starting to annoy him even more than before. "I have found a transference point," he explained, this time in the driest voice he could muster.

Dave shifted his eyes back and forth between the two people in front of him. Neither of them said a word nor did they look as though they had one in mind. Instead, they were both staring at him, awaiting the question that they all knew was inevitable.

"So, what does that mean?" he asked, still shifting his eyes between his two companions. "Are we going to go back in time or something?"

Maria raised an eyebrow. "Now why in the universe would we do that?" she replied sarcastically.

The boy shrugged his shoulders. He did not know of any reason at all but since it seemed to be such an issue with the Doctor he figured that it was an appropriate question. "I don't know," he said smiling, "but I wouldn't mind going back to a date I had last summer with a very gorgeous blonde."

Suddenly, the young lad's eyes glazed over as if he were in some sort of trance and, for all purposes known to man, he was. So much so, in fact, that he did not even notice the evil glare from Maria.

"I don't think so," said the Doctor in response to the young man's fantasy. "But I am afraid that the two you will have to make a short trip backwards."

"What?" remarked the other two, again almost simultaneously.

The time traveler smiled gently at his two young companions. He could see that the whole affair was, at least at some level, very bothersome to the both of them. "Oh, don't worry," he reassured them, "I'll be there. Only it won't be me."

"Would you stop with the double talk!?" Dave boomed frustratedly as he pushed himself into the time lord's face. Just once, he wished that he could hear something from the Doctor and understand it without the use of an encyclopedia.

"There's no need to be hysterical," replied the other, pulling a small white bag out of his pocket. "Have a jelly baby."

The angry young boy stared in disbelief at the sack in the man's hand. Very rarely had he seen any one try to end a fight in such a manner and when he had been privy to it the result was always less than spectacular. In fact, he almost felt insulted by the gesture. How dare this man think that he was so weak that such a bribe would suffice to extinguish his rage?

Even so, the prospect of sweets was so inviting that he could not pass up the chance, no matter how angry he was. Quickly, he launched his hand into the bag and, removing a piece of the candy, thrust it into his mouth. "Could you just please just tell us what's going on?" he complained between chews.

"And do it so that we can understand," Maria added, crossing her arms.

The Doctor shook his head. "It's not that simple," he explained, "Let's just say that you'll be with me for a while but I won't see you ever again...at least not to my knowledge."

"Well, thank you very much," Dave said sarcastically. He was now more confused than ever and along with that he was starting to become a little frightened as well. Quickly, he turned to toward Maria for solace but she seemed to be in somewhat of a stupor as well. The fire in her eyes was now gone but it had been replaced by a flat pale stare of bewilderment.

Only now did it occur to both of them how uncertain their future was. They had only known The Doctor for a few hours but in that time he had managed to save both of their lives a number of times. What was his game now?

"Here, take this," ordered the Time Lord, removing a small, thin, square device from the control panel and extending it toward his companions, "This will explain everything to my counterpart."

"WHAT COUNTERPART?" Maria yelled with the last vestiges of her fiery personality.

Gently, the Doctor reached down and took hold of the young girl's hand and placed the device into her palm. "There's nothing to be upset about," he said calmly.

"Ah, yes, I see now," mocked the young boy, his fear and confusion turning to anger, "You're going to send us off to who-knows-where."

"Actually, I'm not going do anything," the traveler explained solemnly. "You see, ever since we left your ship we have been caught in the wake of a gravity well around the transference point I was telling you about. I have no control over the TARDIS what so ever."

Suddenly, Dave's confusion began to wane. He still had no idea what was happening but at least now he knew that there was no conspiracy going on. "Now wait a minute," he said, trying to bring his thoughts out into the open, "If you can't do anything with the controls then how do you know about the future?"

The time lord smiled brightly at both of his companions as if he were trying not to spill the beans about a surprise party. "Let's just say that this is the future."

Just then the TARDIS smacked headlong into the heart of the temporal transference point, throwing everybody off balance and sending both Maria and Dave rolling toward the side wall. At the same time, the whole TARDIS began to shake violently as if there was an earthquake.

For a moment, they could see the Doctor clearly, holding tightly to the control panel in front of him. But only for a moment, however, because a sudden bright light ripped its way through the time ship nearly blinding both youngsters.

In fear they reached out and took hold of each other so that they would not easily be separated. Their heart's pounded with fear and sweat poured from their bodies as they awaited the end of the phenomena around them. Several times both of them attempted to cry out to the other but were greeted with only a muffled message. Then, as quickly as it had begun everything stopped. The shaking subsided, the blinding light dissipated, and the couple once again found themselves on the bridge of the TARDIS.

In disbelief, they looked around at their surroundings. It was almost as if nothing had happened at all. The hat rack was still in the corner, the console was intact, and they were definitely, exactly were they had been all along. The only difference was that the Doctor had completely disappeared.

"What happened?" asked Maria.

Dave shook his head. Every thing was exactly the same as before except that he somehow felt like something was wrong. He just wasn't sure what. Gently, he unclenched his arms from around his companion. "I don't know," he answered curiously. "Are you all right?"

The young girl nodded her head affirmatively and carefully rose to her feet. "I don't understand," she said, "I thought that convergence point was supposed to send us back in time."

"He did say that didn't he?" the boy asked, pulling himself off the floor as well. "But I didn't think we would still be here."

"I know," agreed the other. "This is really weird." As she spoke she moved over toward the control panel in the center of the room. "And so is this," she continued as soon as she had gotten a clear view of it.

Curious, Dave joined her to see what was so unusual. The controls that he had been looking at moments before, over the Doctor's shoulder, had somehow changed. There were now switches where buttons had been and dials instead of switches. Even the monitor that the time lord had been observing the temporal transference point from was gone.

Suddenly his mind flew in a million directions at once. "Is this the right panel?" he said, glancing around the console.

"That all depends on what you want to use it for," said a sudden voice from behind. Startled, both youngsters whirled around in fright to see who had spoken. There, before them stood a very well dressed gentleman. He was a rather advanced in years and while he appeared to be a short man he looked as though he were very high in stature. This was due, in part, to the suit that he wore which was of a very old fashion variety right down to the string bow tie that dangled limply from his shirt collar. It seemed to give off an air of aristocracy about him. Then, to complete the image a long black coat was draped over the man's shoulders.

At the top of his head was placed a small black hat. It looked very much like a stocking hat yet it also seemed to be much stiffer than that. In fact, the best description of it is of a hat without a brim.

From underneath that, long, straight, white strands of hair hung loosely down his back nearly to his shoulders in the back. In the front it was cut short and pulled back neatly underneath the hat.

"Where'd you come from?" Dave blurted out suddenly, his heart still racing from being startled.

The stranger threw his hands up and grasped the lapel of his coat. "Where did I come from?" he repeated in a most offended tone, "Where did you come from?"

Maria's eyes widened. The last thing that she wanted was another discussion that went around and around in circles like the one that they had just had with the Doctor. "That's kind of hard to explain." She said. "You see The Doctor-"

"The Doctor?" interrupted the stranger with a curious look, "My dear child, I am the Doctor."

Suddenly, the young lady's eyes narrowed into a scornful scowl. "CHILD!" she boomed, "What do you mean child? I may only be seventeen but I am not a child and even if I were I am sure that I could tell the difference between The Doctor and someone like you who is probably nothing but a common stowaway!"

Dave cocked his head curiously to one side in thought. "Something about this seems awfully familiar," he told himself.

"So, a stowaway, am I?" questioned the man, ignoring the boy completely. "How do I know that you haven't stowed away, hmmm?

Maria's mouth widened into a huge smile, he had just walked into her verbal trap. "We can't be stowaways, "she chuckled smugly, "because we have this." Confidently, she lifted her hand toward her elder revealing the small square device that the Doctor had given to her.

"Oh, and what's that?" replied the man from behind a far smugger look than that of the young lady's.

In a flash, the girl's victorious expression fell into oblivion leaving behind it a look of extreme confusion and nervousness. In truth, she had no idea at all what the device did. The only thing that she did know was that it was supposed to explain everything to the Doctor's counterpart whoever that might be.

Out of desperation she turned toward her companion for assistance. Unfortunately, his only contribution was to say, "Now that's a good question."

This was soon followed by yet a second evil glare that made the young boy's blood run cold. His mind raced, looking for anything of value. That's when it hit him. Before it was given to Maria, the device had been lodged in TARDIS' control panel. Swiftly, he grabbed the small apparatus from the young lady's hand and shoved into the first slot that he saw. Then, with all the confidence he could muster blurted out, "We have no idea what it is."

This did not improve relations at all with his cohort. In fact, as soon as he had finished speaking, she somehow managed to morph the look that she had been giving him into something that looked far more menacing the dark one he had previously received. "But," Dave continued through his horror, "we think that it has a message on it."

"Oh, does it now," remarked the older gentleman, chuckling to himself. "And just what would that message be?"

Quickly, Maria swung her head around toward the stranger, allowing him access to her evil glare. "Well," she said, now frustrated beyond all belief, "we don't know but it fits into the panel so it must accessible from there."

The man nodded silently and made his way over to the panel where he proceeded to work the controls until a scrambled picture began to form on the view screen in the wall. It spun this way and that, as the old man attempted to correct its quality and in only a few moments he had managed to pull it into enough alignment to reveal a large image of the Doctor.

Suddenly, both Maria and Dave were filled with elation and, at the same time, a thousand questions, but before they could ask any one of them they were shushed sharply by their newfound companion. That being the case, they both stared up at the screen, listening to the message in awe. The problem was that all they could do was stare because neither of them could make head or tales of what the Doctor was talking about.

The strange old man, however, seemed to take it all in without so much as a second thought. Even during the part that consisted of nothing but a great deal of math equations he never moved his eyes from the screen.

"What was that all about," asked the girl when it had finished.

"I'll put very bluntly," answered the gentleman. "That was the Doctor that you knew. I am the same Doctor...just a little earlier."

Back to index

Chapter 2: A New Tomb to Raid

Miss Lara Croft stared intently at the ancient artifact that sat boldly on the pedestal in front of her. Even after the many adventures that she had been on and the many things that she had seen in her life she was always amazed at the sight of a new find such as this, especially one that no one else in the world had seen for thousands of years.

But now she had done just that and it was one of the most beautiful things that she had ever found. "It" was a long golden rod three feet high and was ornamented from top to bottom with precious jewels and stones. It was so ornate, in fact, that the light cast from the young explorer's flare reflected brilliantly off of it, lighting up the whole chamber as if it had been a light bulb.

What was even more amazing was that the rod was not lying horizontal on the stone slab but, in defiance of all laws of nature, was standing upright out of the pedestal. It stretched up high toward the ceiling, making itself almost as tall as the woman that was staring at it. This gave off an even more grandiose appearance.

Intrigued, Croft made her way around the artifact with a professional eye, looking for any sign of booby traps while at the same time trying to understand how it could have defied gravity for so many centuries. It was soon obvious, however, that there was nothing to be found on either count.

That being the case, she turned to the ancient hieroglyphics that were etched into the stone walls around her. Normally, she would have looked at them first but this time she did not feel so confident about it. From what she knew of the sect that had built the tomb anything that was on the wall was almost sure to be misleading, some sort of riddle, or just out right false.

"Well, here goes nothing," Lara told herself as she reached out to touch the stone pictures. . Slowly, she moved the tips of her fingers across them as she spoke each word out loud. "What is good is evil and evil is good. Kindness and Hatred are the same." The explorer sighed deeply in annoyance. It was just as she had thought a riddle. More over, a riddle that she was not sure was solvable.

Frustrated, she peered back down the hallway where she had entered the chamber. There was no way that she could just take the artifact and run. If there were some sort of trap she would be dead before she took two steps. There had to be something more substantial than an ancient riddle.

Once again Miss Croft ran her hand across the hieroglyphics. Like before, it was all a jumble of incoherent phrases that seemed to make no sense at all. In defeat, she pulled her hand back and placed it on the top of one of the nine-millimeter pistols holstered around her waist.

Her mind was a muddle. She turned and leaned back against the wall that she had just been looking at and tried to clear her head. The meaning of the riddles, the rod standing up on end, her eventual escape, it was almost too much to comprehend at once.

Slowly, she moved her eyes around the room looking for anything that would help her figure out what to do next. The only halfway unusual thing about the room was a pile of dust in the far corner that seemed to be slightly higher than normal. Even so, it was most likely the product of a gust of wind that had somehow made its way into the tomb and built it up over centuries. Still, the young explorer was out of any other possibilities at the moment so there was no reason not to look. Lackadaisically, she pushed herself off of the wall and made her way to the far corner where the unusual pile of dust had formed. Then, with all the resolve of a high school girl taking a final exam, she squatted down and began to sift through the formation.

There was nothing there. As she had first suspected it was simply a pile of dust that had formed naturally. Even so, Miss Croft continued to play in it with her index finger, still trying to come up with a solution.

And that was just when she found one. In moving her finger through the dust she managed to knock it into the wall, a most uneventful phenomenon except that when she did so, she felt a strange indentation that seemed very much like the hieroglyphics on the opposite wall beside the artifact.

Swiftly, she knocked the remaining dust out of the way to reveal a group of small symbols near the floor. It was no wonder that she had not seen them before. The rest of the wall was completely blank and since they were covered over there was no way of knowing that they were ever there.

With exuberance, the tomb raider stretched out her hand over the miniature figures as she translated each of them. Like so many of the other messages on the far wall it did not make a lot of sense, at least, not at first.

"The key stands before you." Lara said, reading the words in front of her out loud. She scrunched her face in at it. There was no key to speak of anywhere in the room let alone in the wall that she was staring at. More over, she did not even remember having to unlock anything inside of the tomb for quite a long while.

The only thing that she could think of that the phrase would be referring to would be the artifact. Resolutely, she rose and made her way toward the mysterious golden rod. It looked, to her, the same as before. Nothing had changed at all.

As she moved nearer, however, she began to get a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that she was getting close to discovering something and it was nothing good. Despite all of that, the intrepid girl sallied forth, moving closer and closer to the object with curiosity gleaming in her eyes.

"Hello, what's this?" She chimed to herself, suddenly stopping. She was now staring unwaveringly forward with her eyes fixed, not on the artifact, but on the pedestal upon which it sat. Directly in the middle of the stone tablet was a small hole only slightly larger around than the rod that floated above it.

Croft gazed in wonderment, trying to understand how she had missed something so obvious before. It had to be the keyhole and the key that was mention could be nothing else than the ornate rod itself.

But what, if anything, did it open? Lara was determined to find out. With reckless abandon she stepped forward, grasped the artifact firmly with both hands, and, using all of her might, shoved it impetuously into the hole.

For a moment, everything was deathly quiet. There was no hint of sound anywhere. Even the wind that had been rustling around had ceased. It was as though the young lady had suddenly gone deaf.

Then, all at once, the ground below the explorer began to shake violently, knocking her off balance. Instinctively, she reached out and grabbed the stone pedestal in front of her for support.

This was only effective for a short time, however, for the trembling beneath her was growing stronger every second. The thick layer of dust and sand that had formed upon the ground swirled around as if it were water exiting a bathtub. She could feel herself slowly sinking and there was nothing that she could do about it but tighten her grip on the pedestal.

It was not enough. The young explorer could feel a great tugging on her legs like a thousand invisible hands, all clinging to her ankles, pulling her down into the dark unknown. , Her grip on the stone slab began to slip, giving way to the unseen forces and allowing them to drag her helplessly below.

It was some time before she opened her eyes again. She did not know how far she had fallen but she knew that it must have been quite a way because every inch of her body, from her head down to her toes, seemed to be in pain. Even her hair ached. Still, she was extremely elated that she was still alive and in one piece.

With great care, the young lady pulled herself up to a sitting position and struck a flare so that she could get a view of her surroundings. She appeared to be in a huge dome shaped cavern of some kind. The sidewalls ran straight up and were worn smooth from a great deal of water that must have once run unabated through the cavern.

Directly in front of her was a small passageway. However, it was the most unusual that the Lara had ever seen. It was obviously man made and appeared to have been there for a great many centuries, long before even the artifact that had brought her there had been constructed. While many stones had, at some point in history, been dislodged from the rock face, most of the passageway was more or less intact. What was strange was the fact that it appeared to have melted into its present form.

But she could not allow herself to focus on that yet, there were far more confusing things afoot. One was that the hole which she had fallen through seemed to have completely disappeared. There was no sign of it anywhere. Puzzled, Croft pulled herself up to her feet to get a better view but to no avail. There was simply no sign of it. It was as though the hole was never there.

So, being left without any other course of action, the young lady turned her attention back to the passage that she had discovered earlier. She was not truly fond of this, especially since the structure appeared to have suffered sever physical trauma at some point. This left her slightly paranoid that booby traps, pit falls, or worse might be hidden nearby. It was her only choice, though, and so she resigned herself to look into it.

Cautiously, she stepped toward the passage, ever vigilant that danger might be close by. For added assurance she pulled out one of her pistols and drew the hammer back. If something was going to happen Lara intended to be ready for it.

It was not an attack that she had to worry about, however. As she approached the strange passage way a faint but ominous sound began to invade her ear. It was a sharp crackling sound almost like that of popcorn popping.

Lara knew it all too well. It was the sound of fire, a great deal of fire. Immediately, she stopped in her tracks to consider the matter. She recalled many adventures that had nearly ended because of the hellish flames. But that alone was not the sole source of apprehension for her. She also recalled past enemies that had attempted to stop her in her quest and how they had perished within the flames. It was, the explorer believed, the very worst way that anyone could die. Even Devon, one of her greatest rivals, who had once tried to dispose of her by pushing her off a cliff into a dark abyss, had said that he could never kill anyone that way.

The young lady took a deep breath, "Perhaps it's only a torch on the other side of the wall," she told herself, trying to calm her nerves. It did not help. If she was right and it was only a lit torch than it meant that someone else was down there with her. And, while that would have been less of a concern, it started her mind roaming about, trying to think what kind of person it could be and how they got there and, more importantly, what they were after.

So, without any other options open to her, Miss Croft vigilantly placed her side arm back into its holster and once again stepped toward the strange opening. As she moved she could hear the crackling sound growing louder with each stride. It swirled around her as if it were a hundred thousand people all mocking and ridiculing her in unison for her fear, but it only served to strengthen her resolve. She had never been one to back down from any challenge and she was not about to start now.

At the same time she began to feel an intense heat building up around her. Whatever was ahead was no torch that. Before long it felt like she was in an oven, being baked to a crisp. When she was close enough the young lady confidently, yet reluctantly, stretched out her hand and touched the stone wall next to the opening. Instantly a sensation of heat shot through her arm, scorching her fingers.

But the explorer was undeterred. Slowly, she drew herself forward and gazed into the chamber beyond. What she saw, despite how prepared she had made herself, caused her heart to sink. There before her, was a vast chamber stretching out for what seemed like miles and all of it flooded by a lake of fire and lava.

Now that she actually saw it the heat from the lake seemed more intense than before. It moved in close, surrounding the young lady's body as if it were an anaconda constricting around its prey so that she could hardly breathe.

The good news, if you could call it good news, was that a stone path sat high above wound its way deep into the cavern. It went on straight for a very long time then ducked sharply behind a large rocky outcropping and disappeared. All in all, the whole cavern gave off the impression that she had somehow just passed through into the very gates of hell.

Cautiously, Lara kneeled down next to the walkway to examine it. She was not about to step out over a huge lava pit if there was a chance that she would fall in. On the surface the stones that made up the path looked very sturdy. In fact, they were almost too sturdy. After seeing the condition of the door she expected them to be in a little worse shape. It didn't really matter. Sturdy or not the obstacle in front of her was her only chance for survival, either that or sit around and stare at it until she starved.

So, with a determination that, until then, had been unknown in the human heart, the young lady pushed herself out onto the walkway. For a time, she was going well. The inferno's previous effect upon her seemed to have disappeared and now the only thing that she felt was raw determination.

It was not long before she came to the far bend where the stone path disappeared behind the rock face and since it was not collapsing all around her, she figured that it was time to take a breather. She needed it too. The intense heat around her seemed to be sucking all the energy out of her body.

More over, she felt sick. Her head throbbed and she was light headed. Also, her mouth had dried up and her tongue felt as though it would crack with the slightest movement. She knew that she was quickly becoming dehydrated. Ever since she had entered into the fiery cavern she had lost a great deal of water through sweat. What was worse, she had no liquid of any kind with which to rehydrate herself. Again, her only option was to continue.

Moving a bit slower than before, the young lady pushed herself onward around the path toward the other side of the rock face, dragging one foot forward and then the other. Several times, she almost tripped over her own feet, nearly sending herself into the fiery lake below.

It was also getting harder to see through the migraine that was continuing to form behind her eyes. She longed to set her trusty sunglasses in place to reduce the pain but she feared that the darkening of the room would only make matters worse. She could only hope that the trek would not last too much longer.

And to that point, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that the path that she was on was soon to come to an end. The bad news was that it was an abrupt end. It was so abrupt in fact, that as soon as it completed its way around the protruding rock face it ran itself directly into the cavern wall.

Once again, Lara's heart sank. This was the last frustration "You've got to be kidding!" She exclaimed in disbelief. Was she never going to be free? In desperation she scanned the room around her for anything that would be of help. . She knew she had to get out and she had to do it quickly or she was going to have a stroke...or worse.

Just then, her eye caught hold of a small notch in the rock across from her. It almost looked like something that she could get her hand around but she was not sure. The heat was making it hard to focus and the rocks in front of her seemed to jump and sway at every opportunity.

In truth, this was not a difficult jump even with a full-blown migraine. The problem was that once she had reached the notch she might find herself stuck there. As far as she could tell there was no where else to go.

More over, the distance between the stone walkway and the wall made for a one-way trip. She would only be able to reach it by making a running jump from the very edge of the stone. Needless to say that when one is hanging from a rock face a run up would not be possible at all.

But, as before, her options were limited to the point of a catch twenty two situation and Lara was quite certain that if she going to die she was going to do so trying and not standing about thinking. So, with grim determination, she backed up as far as she could and took a deep breath, focusing all of her concentration on the one small notch. Then, when she was ready, the young lady launched herself forward and, with the grace of an eagle, sailed blissfully across the gap and snatched the object with her left hand.

At the same time, her momentum carried the rest of her body forward. She groaned as the pain coursed through her arm but pulled herself up nonetheless.

To her relief, she immediately spied a second place in the stone that she could hang onto and without haste; she hoisted her right arm into it. Now she only needed to find a few more to take her to the top.

Unfortunately, there was something that needed to be dealt with first. The dehydration she had been experiencing was turning into heat exhaustion. She now felt more lightheaded than ever and a massive force inside of her continued to compel her eyes to shut so that she could sleep.

She resisted as long as she could but before she could move even an inch the lady's eyes slowly fluttered shut and her grip on the rock face was relaxed sending her plummeting toward the fiery lake below.

Back to index

Chapter 3: The Uncertain Principal of Uncertainty

Dama yawned widely as he awoke from his prolonged nap. He had not meant to fall asleep at all but the serenity of the surrounding area seemed to flood over him, making him feel as if he was at peace with the universe. There was a warm sun in the sky, a cool breeze, and a thousand trees all around him. It was his favorite spot in the entire world, nowhere else that he knew of was so serene. There was literally, no place like it anywhere.

Of course, everyone he knew had told him to stay clear of the forest. They were all sure that there was something evil about it. . "Dama, you must not go there." They continually pleaded, as if he were a naive child. "The others will find you."

This, however, only succeeded in making him laugh. For years they had gone on about "the others" and their evil ways. Even his mother used to tell him stories about how they had attacked his village and dragged his father away in the night, never to be seen again. But the boy never took notice. It was, he thought, a most ridiculous tale and was most likely told to keep the more curious children in the village from wandering too far from home. He, however, had been alive for thirteen years and in all that time he had never even caught a glimpse of "the others."

Besides, even if it were true he was not going to be alone for much longer. Vee, his friend from the next village over, would soon join him. True, he had only met her once before but in that short time he felt like they had become great friends. It was as though they had known each other their whole lives. They had such a wonderful time that they had decided to meet a second time at the very same spot. Now, as he waited patiently under the shade of the surrounding trees he felt a calmness that he had never felt before.

Just then, a small voice sparkled out from behind a thick group of nearby bushes. "Dama?" it whispered cautiously. "Are you there?"

The young man instantly sprang up in joy. His companion had finally arrived. "I thought you'd never get here!" He chimed, happily searching foliage with his eyes.

At the same time a slender form stealthily wound its way up behind him like a wild beast stalking its prey. The boy never suspected that it was there. He was more interested in calling to his friend who was still concealed within the bushes somewhere. As he searched high and low the form came closer and closer until it was directly on top of him.

That was when it struck. "BOO!" The young lady yelled, nearly sending her friend high into the treetops. "My goodness, you're easy to sneak up on."

Dama whirled around to face the girl. He should have known that she would have done something like that since she had deeply enjoyed teasing him the last time they were together. It did not matter much to him though because she had finally arrived. "You seem very happy today." He said with a huge smile.

"Oh, I am." The other replied in a most chipper tone. Gently, but forcefully, she grabbed her friend by the wrist, led him over to an enormous rock, and sat down. "Do you remember," she continued, "I told you that I wanted to help my village but I wasn't sure if they would let me?"

The boy nodded. "It was because they did not know if you had the skill, right?"

"That's right." Agreed the girl, smiling from ear to ear. "But I think I have found a way.

The young man's face lit up. "Wow!" he exclaimed, looking deeply into his friend's eyes, "Congratulations. What is it that you are going to do anyway?"

Now, the girl's smile somehow managed to grow another foot in length at the question. "I'm glad you asked," she said in an odd tone.

Suddenly, the lovesick smile fell from Dama's face. Something was not right. With each passing millisecond Vee's smile began to look less and less like an expression of pleasant joy and more and more like an expression of evil satisfaction. At the same time a strange feeling came over him as if a sudden amnesia had begun to enter into his body. With haste, he opened his mouth to ask what was happening to him but no sound came out. He felt his body start to slip away into unconsciousness and he knew that he had little chance of survival. What had his friend done to him?

Just then a strange sound began to penetrate loudly through the calmness of the forest. It was like a pulsating whine that would grow and then shrink and then grow again. In fear, Vee leapt to her feet and ran back into the forest leaving Dama on the ground in a deep sleep. A moment later, the source of the noise soon materialized into the form of a British Police Box.

However, nothing happened for a long time after that. Dama laid still upon the cool forest floor without any movement or sound at all save for his chest which raised and lowered itself peacefully with each passing breath waiting for an end one way or another.

Finally the door to the police box slowly opened and a young girl's head popped out. Deliberately, she swung it back and forth scanning all around for any sign of danger. Seeing none, she stepped confidently out into the deep forest as if she were out for a Sunday stroll in the park. "It's all clear!" She yelled back. A second later a young boy, looking quite flustered, emerged from the police box followed by an older looking gentleman.

"What's wrong with you?" the girl asked when she saw her young friend's face.

The boy shook his head. "I'm just having a hard time understanding how the Doctor could be so young in the future and so old now."

"Young man," the third member of the party intervened, wrinkling up his face as if it were a raison, "I thought I had explained that it is all due to regeneration."

The young lady shook her head. "Now, don't start with that again." She ordered. "Dave, just take it that every so often he changes. That's all you need to know."

Dave nodded his head as if he now fully understood. In reality he did not have a clue but at the moment a far more important question had entered his mind so he thought that he would give it up for a while. "So, what are we doing here?" he asked.

With a wide smile The Doctor thrust his hands into his coat pockets and took a deep breath of the cool air around him. "My boy," he answered, "I've never been here before. Besides that, I have to figure out what to do with you and Maria don't I?"

"What do mean what to do with us?" The young lady choked, pushing her companion to one side. "We're coming with you."

The time lord shook his head vigorously. "Of course you're coming with me." He answered. "I can't just leave you off and hope for the best, can I? I mean that I must get you back to Earth."

"Earth?" Cried the other. Suddenly her express changed at the thought. She was no longer the tough young woman that she had been when she was on the freighter. Instead, she was now just a scared little girl. "I don't want to go back to Earth!" She moaned. "I can't go back to Earth."

Dave moved closer to his friend to get a better look. He had never seen her like this before. She had always been in control and even when she was not she always looked as though she was. Now the eyes that had been so fiery before seemed to be glazing over as if she were about to cry.

The boy opened his mouth to say something but he could not think of anything that would help. Still, his heart stretched out to her. He did not know why but, in that moment, he wanted to throw his arms around her and let her cry on his shoulder. He wanted to, but he was sure that she would not let him.

"My word child!" Exclaimed the Doctor in shock. "What ever is the matter?"

The girl shook her head and turned away. "I just can't." She retorted sadly, "That's where she is." Then, silently she turned and briskly walked away into the nearby brush.

"I wonder what's wrong with her." The Time Lord asked once she was out of sight.

"Maria is a mysterious person at times." Dave answered. "Sometimes she can be Atilla the Hun and other times your best friend. One thing, though, I have never seen her like this before though."

Just then a short cry echoed through the air like a knife. It was Maria. Like a pair of rockets, both men shot after her. They found her behind a large rock kneeling over a young man taking his pulse from his neck.

"What happened?" Yelled the boy as soon as he saw them.

The girl shook her head. "I don't know." she responded. "But I think he's still alive." Quickly, she shot a glance toward the Time Lord. "Doctor, can you take a look?"

"Take a look?" Repeated the older man. "My dear I am no physician. I am a scientist."

"Its all science," Dave snorted, trying to help.

"And you probably know more about it than we do!" Maria yelled curtly. She was starting to get annoyed by this Doctor's arrogance. At least the other one would have helped her without question. "Besides," she continued, "it can't hurt."

"Oh, all right." Replied the Doctor irritatingly, stepping forward. Gently, he kneeled down beside the unconscious man and began to look him over. "How curious." He exclaimed. "There isn't a scratch anywhere on him."

"What do you mean?" Dave asked, kneeling down beside the other two. "He's unconscious. Shouldn't there be some sign of trauma or something?"

Maria now looked carefully over the victim. The Doctor was right, there was no reason that she could see that he should not be awake. "Maybe it's something internal." She explained, looking around the forest for any sign of help. "What should we do?"

The time lord stood up and clapped the dirt off of his hands. With a look of deep regret he gazed down at his companions. "Leave him." He ordered firmly in a voice of extreme egotism.

The other two were aghast. Even in the short time that they had known this man they would never have conceived of him giving such an uncompassionate order.

"You can't be serious!" Maria yelled, standing up. "We can't just leave him here, he might die!"

"She's right." Dave concurred. "Besides, you wanted to explore the planet. I'd say this was a good opportunity."

The Doctor shook his head. "And where would you have us take him, hmmm? We don't know where he came from or even if it's safe. His people could all be murders. Besides, we don't know that he is dying at all. He may not even be injured!"

The angry young girl's eyes flared up into a great inferno as they gazed upon the man before her. Dave could tell that she was fighting an urge to say something that she knew she would regret later on. There was nothing that he could he about it either. If he tried to stop her she would only turn her wrath upon him. The older man knew it too and, without showing a hint of emotion, prepared himself for the upcoming verbal onslaught. But, to the surprise of all, the young lady instead, turned on her heel and marched further on into the surrounding brush.

Now that he was alone with the Doctor, Dave felt an urge to say something himself, at the very least to defend the honor of his friend. "You know," he explained gently, "It may not be good to rile her up like that. Somebody might get hurt."

"Really?" questioned the Time Lord as smugly as he could. "I was only pointing out some facts. Is it my fault that she can't handle it?"

Suddenly, the boy's eyes now filled with the same ire as Maria's had. This man was truly annoying him as well. Although he had sworn never to clean out another freighter's waste receptacles, as was once his job, he could not help but wish that he were doing so at that very moment. Silently, and with a Maria like stare, he turned and dashed off after his friend, leaving the Doctor alone with the unconscious body.

It did not take long for him to find her. She had only wandered off a short distance so that she would not get lost, although as things were going, she would not have minded too much if she had. Dave found her sitting beneath a large wide branching tree trying to collect her thoughts.

"You all right?" Dave inquired as soon as he saw her.

Maria looked glumly over at her friend and, to his surprise, smiled slightly. "I will be." She muttered. "I just needed to leave before I hit that jerk."

Dave nodded his head and sat down beside her. "Yeah, he's a real goobie. But he did have a point about not knowing where to go."

"I know." Agreed the other, "But he could have been a little nicer about it." Her companion only nodded. Nostalgically, she reached down between her outstretched legs and methodically picked a single blade of grass. It looked just like the grass she remembered seeing on Earth long ago and it almost brought back her old feelings.

She looked over at boy next to her. He was gazing at her as if he wanted to say something but it was not the right time. She wanted to tell him everything that she was thinking too but could not bring herself to do it. It would mean looking weak. Even though she was not his boss anymore she could not bear the thought of it. "So, do you have any ideas?" She finally asked, trying to change the subject.

Dave shook his head in silence. What ever it was that he was thinking about had begun to consume him. In fact, in his mind, the whole universe had disappeared and he. He and she were the only two people left. It was almost as if they were in Eden.

Then, for a moment, Maria's eyes strayed into his, making a strange connection. It frightened and, at the same time, excited her. But she could not explore it now. She had to do something about that poor man.

Inspired, somehow, by a new confidence the young lady leapt to her feet, nearly knocking her companion over. "I going to go get help." she explained as if she were on the losing side of a great battle.

The young boy shook his head and stood up as well. "Get help?" He repeated, perplexed, "From who, where?"

Maria set her hand firmly upon her hip and stared directly at the boy. "I don't know." She admitted confidently. "But I'll find someone."

Dave opened his mouth to try to stop her but he knew that it was a useless gesture. Instead, he said the next best thing that he could think of. "Well, at least take the Doctor. He might come in useful somewhere."

The girl sighed heavily. She did not want to ask but she knew that her companion was right. So, mustering up all the authority that she could, the young lady stormed back into the clearing to hand out her orders.

There was only one problem; the Doctor was nowhere to be found. For that matter, the body was gone too. The only thing besides trees that they could see was the TARDIS but when tried, they found the time vehicle door was locked tight.

At that moment the two youngsters began to worry. No matter what they thought of the Doctor they were sure that he would not just leave them alone. And, after being so cautious about moving the body, they were also sure that he had not wondered off anywhere. Something was dreadfully wrong.

Back to index

Chapter 4: The Other Others

Miss Lara Croft slowly opened her eyes. She did not know where she was or even if she was alive. The last thing that she remembered was falling head first toward a sea of magma.

Curiously, she placed her hand on top of her head and felt around for any singeing or scaring but there was none. As far as she could tell she was perfectly fine. But what had happened?

Slowly, she rolled over and tried to stand up. As she did, she could feel her legs wobbling beneath her. On top of that her head pounded. She was still suffering from dehydration but if she had not known it she would have sworn that it was a bad hangover.

That being the case, Lara decided to scan her surroundings while she regained her faculties. The whole area around her was dimly lit by a number of torches spaced out around her. They were, however, hardly sufficient to the explorer's liking. Without a second thought she reached back and popped out one her own flares, throwing a bright green light over the whole room.

Now that she could see the room far better the first observation she made was that she was not in a room at all. It was, in fact, a large granite cave that had been hallowed out into passageway. To her left, on either side of the chamber, were two darkened halls.

It was when she gazed down at the dirt floor, however, that she noticed the most significant feature of the area. Someone or something had made several small patterns in the soil around her. Some seemed to sloth along slowly while others were very distinct and spaced out. They had to be footprints. Someone was definitely about.

Without a second thought the explorer dropped her free hand and drew one of her silver nine-millimeter pistols. It was surprising to her that they were still there. Someone obviously did not consider them a threat.

Stealthily, she began to make her way down the hallway on the right side of the room. At the same time she glanced constantly up and down the hall in case someone decided to sneak up behind her.

Mysteriously there was no sign of anyone around. There were no more prints to speak of. There was not even any sound. She began to wonder if she was not wandering into a trap. The young lady leaned back against the wall. Maybe she was being a little paranoid. But even if that were true, it still did not explain why she was not dead. There were too many mysteries about.

After a few minutes of rest to clear her head the explorer proceeded on her way. . Further on in front of her she spied a curious opening leading off to the right. It was, as far as she could tell, just like the one she had encountered before that had opened up into area over the lake of magma.

As she moved down the hall, a faint murmuring began to waft gently out of the opening and into the corridor. With each step that she took Lara could hear it growing louder and louder until it turned into a whisper and then into a voice. Finally, it split itself in half and became two distinct voices.

Croft now gripped even tighter to her pistol her. It felt to her as though the whole world had somehow been turned upside down. One minute, she had been in an ancient tomb that no one had been inside for centuries, then she was falling into a lake of fire, and now she was hearing voices. Stealthily, the explorer crept up to the edge of the opening and peered around the corner. Inside, was a small room. It was all covered in shadow with practically no light what so ever except for a small glowing light in one corner. What was strange was that it appeared to be some sort of computer monitor.

Miss Croft's paranoid state suddenly jumped a notch at the sight. On top of all the other mysteries around her she was seeing something that looked very much like a computer screen in a place that was lit mostly by torches.

The soft glow of the monitor did little itself to lighten the room or even give Lara a glimpse of what was in the darkened corer around it. The darkness in the rest of the room seemed to swallow up any significant light it may have had. It was, however, enough to see a dark figure of moving from within the shadows

In front of the dark corner, a young lady stood nervously discussing her situation with whatever was hiding in the blackness. "You failed!" Barked the darkened figure in a gruff but gentle voice. "I granted you your request and you failed...miserably!"

"Forgive me." Whimpered the other pathetically. "I couldn't stay, I would have been caught."

For some reason, the woman's voice made Lara smile. There was just something about it that was peaceful. Even amidst her continuous whining it chimed out happily, putting a spell on the young treasure hunter.

"You didn't want to be caught?" Repeated the shadowy figure. "You say that as if you were doing something wrong. Did I not tell you that we are helping them?"

The girl nodded her head in agreement. "You also said that you would make me wealthy." she said, feeling a little braver now. "So I can feed my family."

"All in good time." answered the voice in the darkness. "All in good time. But I cannot deal with this right now though. There are other matters at hand." With that, a hand emerged from the shadows and flipped what appeared to be some sort of switch below the monitor. "Do come in Miss." Snarled the voice pleasantly.

Croft fell back against the wall. Apparently she was not as stealthy as she had thought. She would have to practice more when she got home. For now, she had been invited in and she intended to accept. Perhaps she could finally get some answers.The young lady took a deep breath to calm her nerves, turned, and marched confidently into the chamber.

At the same time the flare that she was carrying suddenly flickered and went out leaving her surrounded by the deep shadows of the room. Nonchalantly, she tossed it to one side and turned her attention to toward the blackness where the voice had come from.

"You rang?" She asked smugly, still holding tightly to her pistol.

"Yes, I did." Without a word the other lady turned and exited, leaving Lara and the dark figure alone to talk. "Now then" The figure continued. "What might your name be?"

The explorer placed her now free hand on her second weapon. "You invited me." She reminded the voice. "Perhaps you should introduce yourself first?"

"Very well." conceded the gruff voice. "I'm called Atans. And you?"

"Why have you brought me here?" The adventurer continued, ignoring the question to her

Atans shook his head from beneath his darkened veil. "I did not bring you here. Fate brought you here."

Lara lifted a curious eyebrow. There was something she did not trust about the figure but she was not sure what it was. "Most people who talk about fate are usually trying to justify something."

Suddenly, a loud burst of laughter shot forth the shadows nearly causing the young lady to jump with fright. "True enough!" Chorused the other. "True enough. I did not bring you here but I will admit that it was I that saved you from the depths of the fiery lake."

"My gratitude." Nodded the explorer. "But why?"

"Because you needed it. Replied the creature. "You see, I have spent my entire life trying to help people. I would not regard you with any less respect?"

Croft gazed suspiciously around the room. Somehow she expected a trap to be sprung right then but, to her surprise, there was nothing. Perhaps she was not in any danger, after all. Besides, if someone wanted her dead why would they have bothered to save her? None of it made any sense. "Well judging by the last person that was in here," she said, "it seems like you would want something from me."

At that, a low hum floated out from the corner. It almost like a low growl but with a pleasant connotation attached to it. "There is one thing," Said the other. "Something that will get you home and that will assist me in my quest to help the people of this world."

"Get me home?" Questioned the young lady, bewildered. "It's only a cave. I've found my way out of many before."

"I am sure you have," Atans retorted, smugly. "Unfortunately, the shadowy figure continued, "You are not on your own planet any more."

Now, the young Lady's eyes narrowed. It was a most ridiculous declaration. The cave walls, the sand, the air, everything around her indicated that she had not gone anywhere. But even if it was it was notenough to get her to go gallivanting off to who knows where. "And how do I know that I'm not still on Earth?" She inquired.

Once again the mysterious figure let out a small growl like sound from behind his cloak of darkness. , "I'd wager you've never seen the like of me before." He huffed, pulling himself upright and stepping into the light.

He was, to say the least, hideous. His long slender body rose nearly an entire foot over the young lady. His arms, which hung quite low to the ground, seemed to make his whole body appear to be in a grotesquely anorexic condition.

Probably, the worst feature of all, however, was the face. Like the rest of the body it was shrunken in, forming small pockets and folds everywhere. This was especially true for the area around the mouth that caused the lips to curl up and move off to one side. There was also, nothing resembling a nose. The only part of the poor beast that did not look as if it needed a physician was its eyes. They stood out powerfully from with a set of deep sockets.

Miss Croft never moved. She did not even blink. Within her life, she had seen the strangest most unearthly creatures imagined and there was no reason to think that his appearance alone would be enough to make her think that she was not still on Earth. And, in the end it was something else that caused her to change her mind.

It was his eyes. Strangely, they were the only part of him that seemed to be the least bit human. In fact, they were more human than she had ever seen. They were large, bold, beautiful blue eyes that appeared to be as peaceful as the sea. Within their sockets they each floated from side to side, looking as if there was something of great concern in them, such as an unending pain; a pain so intense that no human heart has ever felt it.

Slowly she felt something come over her. It was like coldness within her soul, as if the pain was more than she could bear. It was like a wave of pity washing over her but stronger as if she could not resist doing something, anything, to help.

All at once Lara felt as though she completely understood the creature in front of her. He had saved her, she felt, because he needed too. It was not a matter of simply wanting to; it was something that he had to do. Something deep within the recesses of his heart made it necessary. If he did nothing, the pain would kill him. Now she had to return the favor.

The young lady nodded her head. "You were saying something about a deal?" She asked, sliding her pistol back into its holster.

Atans nodded and returned to his darkened corner. "You are very strong, Miss." He commented, "Most people, even the most vile, cannot bear to see the pain that I carry with me. So, I sit here in the dark and do all I can for the poor people of this planet."

"And what is so poor about them?" Inquired the explorer, folding her arms in front of her.

For a moment, there was a silence in the air and then a long sigh. "Far from here," he began in far more solemn voice than he had used, before, "there is a powerful man. He has made himself a king and imposed strict laws upon all of his people whom we call, the others."

"I see." Responded the young lady "And they have never tried to revolt or runaway or anything?"

"I have." The creature answered, "But the king is a tricky one. He has somehow deceived them into following him and that I am some sort of evil monster. The poor souls don't know how bad they have it."

Lara raised an eyebrow. "You mean they've been brainwashed?" She asked.

"Something like that." Atans agreed. "From birth they are taught about how great the king is and are conditioned to serve him. Many of them do not even question their existence because they have known nothing else."

The tomb raider bit down on her lower lip in thought. "But you said there was something that could help you?" she asked after a moment.

"It is the king's scepter." Explained the creature. "You see, even I was once a high official of the king and used it daily to control the more free thinking subjects. That is, until I couldn't take it anymore. I, and several others, revolted but we failed and were banished here and proclaimed that I am the evil one. With the scepter his reign will end and the people's will begin. And, of course, in payment for retrieving this item, I will use it to send you home."

Croft nodded. "Well, if it's the only way to get out of here I might as well give it a go. Besides, doing some good while I'm here couldn't hurt I suppose."

"Thank you, my dear;" Atans said. "One of my associates will guide you and explain the details to you. Just remember to avoid speaking with that evil ruler or he will try to trick you as he has done so many."

Now Atans paused for a moment in thought, presumably about whom he was going to send as a guide. When he had made up his mind he reached over and pressed a small button on the panel in front of him. "By the way my dear," he continued, "you never told me your name."

"Lara." Answered the explorer somewhat coldly. "Lara C-"

"You rang, master?" Interrupted a voice from behind. It was the same young lady that had been there before

"Yes," acknowledged the shadowed figure, "I am going to give you a chance to redeem yourself, see to it that Lara here makes it safely to the others village and then into their castle. She has agreed to retrieve the scepter for me."

The girl smiled and bowed obediently. "Yes sir," she agreed, "and thank you." Then, without hesitation, she turned, and led the tomb raider out into the hall. From there, they proceeded on in the opposite direction that Lara had come from, venturing deeper, it seemed, into the cave.

All the while, the only thing that Croft could think about was why exactly she had agreed to help Atans. Only a few moments before it had seemed the right thing to do but now, for some reason, she was not so sure. She could not come up with any logical reason not to but something still seemed rather strange and she did not know why. She surmised that when you are no longer on your own planet some awful things must happen to your mind."You're a quiet one." Announced the guide cheerfully, brining Lara back to reality with a start.

"I've got a lot on my mind." She answered. In reality she had more on her mind than she realized for now that she not lost in her own thoughts anymore, she came to the sudden and startling comprehension that they had traveled a great distance.

In short order they turned down a long narrow hallway. At the far end the tunnel came to a sudden stop. That would have been the end of the journey if it were not for the small wooden ladder leading upward toward the surface.

The girl nodded. "I bet." She said, grasping the first rung and pulling herself up. "It's not everyone that gets a chance to contribute so greatly to the cause."

"Now wait a moment." Croft interjected. "I am not doing this for you. I mean, it is compelling to help out, especially if this king is as a manipulative bug as your master says, but really it's none of my business one way or another. I'm just trying to get back home."

At that a small smile penetrated the other girl's lips and for a moment Lara had a sinking feeling that something was amiss. When she reached the top of the ladder, however, all of that changed. She had ascended from within the depths of a cold dark canyon into a brightly lit meadow. All around her a great deal of overgrown grass served as a means of hiding the entrance from anyone who might be prowling around. Silently, it bent and swayed in step with a peaceful breeze that made its way gently across the plain.

Unfortunately, she did not have time to admire the view. Upon exiting the cave her escort had immediately set off toward a huge nearby forest on their left. As she went she stealthily crouched low in the long grass so that only the very top of her head was visible. Every now and then it would disappear from view and then shoot up again in the next second like a jack in the box.

For her part, Lara gazed on for a moment trying to not laugh. She knew that her guide was trying to keep out of view of any enemies that might be lurking about but she could not help but chortle slightly to herself at the sight. Still, she knew that she could not separate herself too much from the other women who appeared to making good time, with a hint of embarrassing seriousness, the young lady ducked her head and followed along.

When she reached the edge of the forest the guide stopped to allow her charge to catch up. When Miss Croft finally joined her she set one finger over her lips indicating a need for quiet. The explorer nodded in agreement.

From then on neither of them made the slightest noise. They made their way through brush, fallen leaves, twigs, and a great deal of other obstacles, all the while making almost no noise at all. It was very difficult and had Croft never done anything of the sort before she would have been greatly out of luck in.

To make matters worse, her escort moved much quicker through the thick foliage making it difficult to keep pace. Several times Lara lost track of her escort all together and had to move straight ahead on instinct through the thick leaves before she, at last, came into view again.

Nearly three hours later, weary and exhausted, they finally came to a stop. Silently, they bent down and swept away the brush in front of them so that they could see. They found themselves in front of a steep incline that rolled down to what appeared to be a small village. Most of it was made up of simple wooden houses standing in a few straight roads along a wide dirt street.

Outside these houses and directly in front of the hill that Lara and her guide were perched on, the many inhabitants of the town, each clad brilliantly in a white robe, had gathered and setup tables for themselves in order to sell fruits, vegetables, leather goods, and almost anything else that could be imagined. What was extraordinary about the whole thing was that there was a strange sense of order to the whole affair. As Lara gazed upon it she expected that at any moment pushing or yelling or at least a little rude gesturing would occur. At least, that is the way things happened in London, especially around Christmas. But nothing of the sort occurred. In fact, the whole affair was as ordered as a Catholic Mass.

But even more magnificent was the huge stone castle that towered over everything in the background. It was, in essence, the epitome of the medieval fortress with huge towers extending far into the sky connecting the embattlements, ready for an imminent attack.

"Well, that looks pretty secure," Croft observed, "even for my standards."

The guide nodded and smiled. "It certainly looks that way but I heard that there is a hidden entrance on the far side."

Slowly, Lara turned her head toward the guide. "You heard?" she asked coldly, "You don't know for sure?"

"It was a very reliable source," the lady reassured.

Croft merely shook her head. "I've heard that before," she chuckled, "I guess if I'm going to get home I've got no choice. I also suppose this is where we part company."

"Right on both counts." Nodded the other, turning to leave.

"One more thing," announced the explorer before it was too late, "I never got your name."

The guide smiled heartily, "Oh, I guess not," she admitted, "its Vee."

Back to index

Chapter 5: Every Which Way But Bad

The Doctor paced back and forth across the black and white checked tile, trying to figure out what his fate would be. He had been locked in the large room for the longest time and even though his host, whomever it was, seemed to very gracious he could not help wondering what was in store for him in the near future. It was bad enough that he had been dragged away from the TARDIS and his companions against his will. Now he had been tossed into a large room and forced simply to wait.

It was, by all accounts, a most unusual room too. On each of the far ends of the room was a set of double doors, identical to each other in every respect. They were made completely of wood and were decorated from top to bottom in ornate engravings resembling something that Michelangelo himself would have come up with had he thought about it.

In the very front of the chamber was platform with several steps leading upward underneath a lavish silky red carpet to a large ornate. It was not hard to figure out by all this d├ęcor that the owner was indeed very powerful, a fact that, while important to the Doctor, did not impress him in the least.

After what seemed like ages a great commotion began to rise up out in the hallway. It steadily grew louder and more obnoxious by the second until it was, at last, directly outside the room. Then, the wooden doors off to the right of the throne burst open and a flood of people nearly fell in after it. They were all surrounding a central figure asking him a jumble of questions all at once as if they were a pack of reporters, all trying to scoop each other at once. With a mere wave of his hand, however, the central figure sent the entire group swiftly fleeing in the opposite directions leaving him alone with the Doctor. At the same time another man, who appeared to be somewhat of a cross between a guard and a butler stepped forward and pulled the doors shut in front of him

He was, the Time Lord thought, a strange looking man, nothing like he would have expected. He was an old man, far older than what the Doctor looked, with a long white beard that hung far down his front.

Behind that, the man wore a long gleaming white rope that fell nearly to the floor. As he stepped into the room it swayed gently this way and that as if it had been caught in a breeze. Even stranger was the fact that there was not a wrinkle or even a smudge anywhere on it and with the technology that the Doctor had seen thus far, albeit a small amount, he was sure that it could not be so clean.

"Well, it's about time." Chided the Time Lord when the doors had finally clanged shut. "I assume that you are responsible for my being here?"

The old man nodded. "I apologize." He said calmly. "But you were in great danger in the woods."

Smugly, the Doctor strolled up the nearby stairs and examined the throne with a fine eye. There was nothing of any particular interest about it but he wanted to check the calmness of the other man and hoped that his snooping might reveal something more than his eye had caught. "Apparently so." He finally retorted. "A person could be set upon by several large men and drug off to who knows where.

"It is, I am afraid, more pleasant than the alternative." Explained the long bearded man. "If the others had discovered you things would have been far worse."

All of a sudden, the Doctor's mind focused in on his companions that had been left in the forest. What had happened to them? He wanted to ask but he was not yet sure that he could trust this man. Still, there was an air about him, something mysterious and yet calming at the same time. "I beg your pardon," he said, abruptly changing the subject. "But who are you?"

The old man shook his head in disappointment. "I apologize again." He said. "I am Odg, Ruler of this land. And you?"

"I am called the Doctor." Responded the Time Lord, arrogantly grasping at the lapels of his overcoat. All the while, his mind was trying to fit everything together into something tangible. He was not finding very much.

"Tell me," the Doctor continued, "Who are these others that you mentioned?"

The ruler lowered his head in shame. "The others," he explained in a sad tone, "are a group of rebels. Long ago they attempted to take my kingdom from me but they were thwarted. Now, they are bent on revenge. They lie and cheat my people into trusting them and then, they turn them from me"

The Doctor sighed deeply. "Why don't you just destroy them and be done with it?" He asked slyly.

"I cannot." Replied the old man, shaking his head. "Most of them are my people who have merely been brainwashed. It would be like attacking my own children." At that the man's eyes began to water ever so slightly with tears and His face hardened with anger and frustration at the thought. "You see," "I love them."

The Doctor squinted curiously. Obviously, any king would want to protect his people; after all, without them he'd have nothing to rule over. It was also not at all unheard of that he would liken them to his children. But, in all his travels, the Doctor could not remember a time when a ruler had actually declared such great love his subjects. It was odd and yet at the same time reassuring. So much so that he almost felt that he could trust this man implicitly. In any case, no real harm had yet come to him and there had been ample opportunity for it.

It was enough for him to take a chance on Dave and Maria "Tell me. Have your people come across anyone else like me only a bit younger?"

Odg thought for a moment and then shook his head. "No." He answered. "I am afraid not."

It was the time for choice. The Doctor had to decide then and there if he should fully mention his newly found companions. If he trusted this king and was wrong he would be submitting them all to terrible danger. On the other hand, if Odg was not lying then there was already a great danger. "Yes." He finally admitted after thinking a moment. "There are two youngsters that were traveling with me, a girl and a boy. If your men would have let me speak or even spoke to me I would have called to them so that they could be here too."

"I do apologize for that." Said the king. "But you are a stranger and we could not have any noise at all or you may have been detected by the others. But now that we know about them, we will search."

With that, he made his way slowly back to the door, cracked it slightly and whispered something to someone on the opposite side. It was too low for the Doctor to hear. A moment later he turned back into the room. "There, that should take care of it," the old man reassured.

The Doctor let out a half smile. He was still not sure if he had done the right thing but he felt like he did not have any choice in the matter. "Thank you." He said graciously. "When you find them bring them back here. Then you can escort us to our ship and we will be on our way."

"Until then." King Odg smiled. "My home is your home. You may go anywhere in the castle you like except for rooms below, that is my private sanctum."

The Time Lord nodded in agreement. There was nothing he could do now but wait. Besides, it was an excellent opportunity to explore, a pastime that he could never resist. That is except for one thing, he was tired. Being kidnapped had worn him out. "Thank you." He said again. "Is there somewhere that I might gather some rest first?"

Odg nodded affirmatively and opened the large wooden door. "You will show this man to a room." He ordered. "He is our guest."

Without a word the guard spun on his heel, moved into the room and across to the set of doors on the other side. There, he made a motion with his hand for the Doctor to follow him. The Time Lord responded promptly and in a matter of moments they were moving swiftly down a long corridor.

"Lovely castle, this." Remarked the Doctor, trying to break the silence. The guard remained quiet.

"Would you care for a jelly baby?" He asked, this time reaching into his pocket for the bag of candy. Still, there was no answer. The sentry simply continued to walk with his eyes stretched out in front of him. Eerily, it reminded him of the ghost of Christmas Future.

Just then the guard stopped next to a plain wooden door. , He pushed it open revealing a small yet cozy room. In the very back was a window that looked out over a beautiful flowing forest, hills and plains. It was also, the Doctor surmised, facing in just the right direction as to allow a great deal of sunlight though out the day.

Just below that was the bed. It was sort and not made of any spectacular wood but it appeared to be sturdy enough to serve its purpose. Also, as there was no fireplace in the room, a very think and colorful quilt was draped over the top to keep out the cold.

Other than that the room was almost completely empty. There was a small table to one side that housed a short candle in case one had to move in the night but judging by the numerous scrapes on the leg it was truly a matter of conjecture as to weather or not it actually belonged in the room. Every thing else inside was solid gray stone.

"Excellent!" Remark the Doctor, rubbing his hands together and moving toward the bed. "I shall rest here for a bit and then I shall have a look around this place. You will tell me the moment my friends are found won't you."

The guard nodded his head, turned to leave, and closed the door behind him. It was more an answer than he expected and also a far less assuring one. The situation was truly confusing. For some odd reason he trusted King Odg extraordinarily more than anyone else he had ever met. This coupled with the fact that it had only taken him a few minutes to form this opinion gave him a bad feeling.

It was enough to make him all the more curious about what was going on. So curious, in fact, that he was about to forgo his planned nap in favor of exploring the castle in depth when he was distracted by loud scratching noise.

Intrigued, the Time Lord looked around the room for the source. He saw nothing unusual. Then, he heard it again, this time slightly louder. It seemed to be coming from near the bed. Using all his strength he took hold of one the wooden posts and pushed it toward the center of the room. There was yet another scratching noise.

To his surprise, there was a small square hole in floor where a stone should have been laid. Not only that but it seemed to stretch down rather deeply. Almost frantically, the Doctor searched himself for a flashlight but all he could come up with was a small match.

It would have to do. Gingerly he kneeled down and struck the match on the hard stone floor. Unfortunately, it did not help much. The bottom was still too far away. One thing that was certain, though, was that it was not a regular hole. All the way, as far as the Doctor could reach, there were four visible sidewalls. It had obviously been created for some purpose and not by accident.

As he pondered this, the flame on the match had begun to eat away at the wood, making the Time Lord's fingers more uncomfortable by the second. He was about to drop the whole thing completely into the hole to see if he could see the bottom when finally something appeared.

Once again, a scratching noise appeared from within the small abyss but this time, in the light of the match, a hand appeared out of the darkness and clutched onto a tiny notch in the sidewall. It was a young and slender hand and all but the fingers on it were covered by black glove.

"He - hello?" Stuttered the Time Lord. He was not sure if he was actually seeing someone's hand or if his mind was playing tricks on him for some reason. Suddenly, there was another bout of scratching even louder than before but this time it was preceded by a loud grunt. Now a forearm and a shoulder were visible. "Hello." A female voice answered back.

The Doctor was stunned. It was a person and not his mind. But, what were they doing climbing up such a small hole? "I beg your pardon," he asked, "but might I inquire who you are and what you are doing?"

Once again there was more scratching and groaning as the young lady's face appeared out of the darkness. "No you may not." The other responded. "I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you."

". "Well, I have to confess," Snapped the other," you must be an ace of an escape artist."

"I can hold my own if that's what you mean." Retorted the climber, moving ever closer to the top. She could now see the man's face clearly staring back at her. She was not impressed.

"Perhaps you would like some assistance anyhow." The Doctor offered.

The Lady only shook her head. "Thank you," she said, "but I'm not sure that you're up to it."

The time traveler's eyes opened as wide. "What are you saying?" He asked leering deeply at the girl. "Madam, I may be old but I am not feeble."

"We'll have to debate that another time I'm afraid." Rebutted the lady placing her hand on the very top of the hole, "I'm out now." And with that she squeezed herself fully into the room. It was quite an event to witness and one that could only be compared to a chick escaping the confines of its shell.

Yet, even that could not truly describe the event for when the young woman began to pull herself out of hole she was caught around the waist by a set of holstered pistols that were strapped to her side. She quickly twisted and contorted herself in several directions to attempt to solve the problem but none of them prevailed. In the end, she was forced to set all her wait out in front of her on her hands. Then, in a move that very few yoga masters could perform, she lifted her self out of the hole vertically, swinging her legs over the top of her head until she was comfortably upside down and standing on her hands.

"Are you alright?" Asked the Doctor in a mixed state of shock and hilarity.

Skillfully, the young lady turned herself around so that she was, more or less, facing the Time Lord. In doing so, she made an extraordinary discovery. The man's clothes were nothing like anyone else's that she had seen. "You're not from around here are you?" She asked, ignoring the query.

"No, I'm not." He answered, "I am known as the Doctor and I am a visitor here. As are you if my eyes are seeing straight."

The escape artist smiled and rolled herself forward so that she was once again back on her feet. Suddenly, she did not see this man as much of a threat as she had thought. Still, she had been warned about the tricks of the others so she kept up her guard, at least most of it. "Hello." She said, scanning the room. "I am Miss Lara Croft."

"My pleasure Miss." Responded the time traveler, extending a hand. "I take it you are from Earth? If so, how did you get here?"

"Yes, I am." Croft nodded, "And I was just about to ask you how you got here."

The Doctor scratched his head for a moment, then moved over to the bed and sat down. "That is rather difficult to explain." he said, "Suffice it to say that I landed my ship here."

"Ship?" Responded the explorer. "Sailing or otherwise?"

"Otherwise." Answered the Time Lord, "Very much otherwise."

Thoughtfully, Lara bit down on her lower lip. The Doctor had obviously come of his own free will and what was more Atans obviously did not know he was there. Could he be a trick of some sort? Being a stranger herself she had no way to know. "She did, however, find it strange that he would list his "ship" as something other than the sailing variety. Her mission, she thought, would have to wait for a moment. Something unusual was definitely going on.

The Doctor had to admit the same thing. After all, in his experience Earth women did not usually show up on strange planets and not know how they had got there. There was, it seemed, only one thing to do. It was one of the most dangerous plans he had ever come up with but it was the only one that seemed as though it might help both of them understand what was going on. They would have to tell each other the exact truth about who they were and what they were doing. The trick was to convince Miss Croft. "I must say," he began, " finding someone from Earth here is most interesting."

The young lady moved across the floor and sat down on the bed next to the Doctor so that she could get a better look at him. "Well, I'd agree to that." She said, folding her arms in front of her "So is finding an oddly dressed man who claims to have a space ship."

"Yes." The Doctor chuckled to himself. "I suppose I should explain that a bit further, shouldn't I?"

Lara nodded affirmatively. "I think I'd like to hear that." She said, "This place just keeps getting more and more confusing all the time."

Back to index

Chapter 6: Lost on the Way to Nowhere

Dave tugged nervously at the door of the TARDIS trying futilely to open it. As usual, securely locked. Ever since the Doctor had gone missing, about four hours earlier, both he and Maria had been attempting to figure out what to do next. It had only taken them about twenty minutes to narrow down their options, either look for him or wait for him to come back, but after that neither one could agree upon which of the two was correct.

On one hand Maria, who was the more sensible of the two, was in favor of waiting because they did not know the land around them or what fate might befall them if they ventured forward. This, of course, was met by resistance from her companion who debated the issue with a lot of meaningless words that narrowed down to him calling his friend a coward.

Maria glared at the boy. She could not believe that he was being so naive. "Look," she said in a quite hostile voice, "we can't just go running off. We don't even know where to start."

The boy's face hardened from frustration. He knew he was wrong and he hated it. "Stupid thing?" He yelled, giving the TARDIS a hard kick to the side.

Maria, who had just taken a moment to look for any clue of the Doctor's whereabouts, stood up from the tuft of grass that she had been stewing over. "What are you doing?" she asked as calmly as she could.

Dave turned around, leaned up against the TARDIS, and issued out a second quick kick with the heel of his foot. "I'm trying to get back inside." He said angrily. "I thought I might be able to think better if I could lie down somewhere."

"There's plenty of grass." Remarked the girl.

Her companion shook his head. He looked just a pouting child who had been forced to eat his vegetables. "It's not the same." He whined. "Can't we just pick a direction and go?"

Maria shot an unpleasant glare in Dave's direction. She wondered why he could be so intelligent about some things and so idiotic about others. She remembered he had once told her that he had a chance to go on to university but he turned it down in favor of "seeing the stars." That, of course, translated into his becoming a janitor on a star freighter. And now he was stuck traveling with her and the Doctor. "I suppose we could scout out a little ways for clues." She said at last, after a lengthy pause

Suddenly, the boy's face lit up. "It's about time!" he said sarcastically, "I hate doing nothing."

The young lady waved her arm around, calling her friend to her side. "To be honest," she confessed when he had joined her, "I hate doing nothing too."

And with that, the two companions set out away from the TARDIS in search of any sign of the Doctor. They moved out slowly, scanning the ground for any minor detail, a smashed tuft of grass, a footprint, anything.

That is why when Dave happened to spy a small, brightly colored flower his mind drifted away. It was the most beautiful plants that he had ever seen. Unlike most plants that he had known the petals of this flower were an amalgamation of pinks, reds, blues, greens, and a plethora of others all swirling around into beautiful shapes and designs. It gave him an idea.

"Hey what's this?" the boy called, pulling his friend over to a large tree where the plant was rooted.

Maria swept herself off excitedly toward the bloom hoping that they had found what they were looking for and that they were at least a little closer to finding the Doctor. When she saw that this was not the case, however, her mind immediately flew into a rage.

She wanted to yell at the boy for not focusing on the task at hand. She wanted to ask him if he actually cared about the Doctor. She wanted to but something prevented her. The swirls of color on the flower seemed to call out as if they were trying to hypnotize her. She too had never seen such a blossom. It was extraordinary. So much so that the only response she could come up with was a resounding, "Wow."

Dave smiled smugly. His idea was taking shape. With luck, in the next few moments he would be able to say things that he did not think he could ever say and even if his companion did not share his sentiments he would, at last, be free of the anguish of his secret.

Slyly, he gazed back and forth from the flower to Maria's face, studying each carefully. "Hey, I've got an idea." He said, reaching for the plant. "This would look really good if we -"

"NO!" a young lady screamed from a short distance away, frightening both Dave and Maria into the trees. "That's a Udijis plant!"

"What the-?" Maria cried in half a panic.

"A Udijis plant." Explained the stranger, gently picking up a stick from the forest floor. Carefully she prodded the flower near its top. Suddenly, a large stinger leapt out with lightning speed and cut a deep gash into the branch.

Dave blinked in amazement. "Uh, thanks." He said in somewhat stunned tone. "That could have taken my hand off."

"Your welcome." The young lady smiled, shooting the young boy a charming yet almost seductive look.

Maria gasped. The stranger's look sent a wave of anger through her whole body. She did not know why but she suddenly felt as though she was about to lose something precious. For an instant she had an inkling of it and it made her happier than she had ever been before. No worries, no concerns, just pure love.

But it was only fleeting. The next second found her back to her usual self and she was suspicious about something. Dave could sense it too. He had worked with her long enough to know that she was about to make some sort of accusation. He wanted to stop her right there and then but he knew it would be a useless effort. "Now what?" He asked in a voice that sounded very irritated.

Maria smiled evilly. "I was just wondering who this is and how she happened upon us just in time, that's all."

The stranger bowed politely. , "I am called Vee," she began I was just on my way to see my friend when I heard voices. I followed them and when I saw that you were strangers here I had to see what you were up to."

"There you go." Dave broke in. "She was curious about us."

It was not good enough for Maria. Although she could not place it something about this person just did not seem right to her. "How convenient for us," she said cynically, "that you arrived at just in the nick time."

Again the stranger smiled. "It was my pleasure." She said patting Dave on the shoulder.

All of a sudden the boy's eyebrows popped up. Something had just occurred to him. "Hey, didn't you say that you were going to see a friend?"

The girl nodded affirmatively. "Yes!" She said, nearly jumping off her feet. "We just met the other day but we're getting really close I think. His name is -"

"Excuse me!" Maria butted in. "What difference does that make?"

Dave shook his head in disappointment. "And here I thought you were supposed to be the smart one." It was not the brightest thing to say and under any other circumstances Maria would have probably slapped the back of his head but, being in the company of a stranger, she thought she should act a little more civilized than usual. That being the case, she shot a dark glare toward her companion, nearly making him flinch.

"I was just going to say," the boy continued ever so cautiously, "that she might be looking for that guy we found."

The strange girl's eyes shifted uneasily, giving Maria yet another piece of evidence to add to her conspiracy theory. Any normal person, she thought, would immediately yell out or at least question what was going on. This girl, however, did neither. She simply stood silently, moving her eyes back and forth between her and her companion. "What did your friend look like?" She asked as innocently as she could.

The other girl instantly dropped her head and took a big breath. "Ok." She began. "I'll tell you the truth." Gently, she placed her hands on Maria and Dave's shoulders and closed her eyes as if she was concentrating hard on what she wanted to say. Suddenly, both of the friends began to feel faint. Something was wrong. All of the energy in their bodies seemed to be drifting away. They reached up to try to free themselves from their attacker's grasp but it was too late, they were paralyzed. A moment later, they were unconscience.

It was some time later when they finally opened their eyes once again only to find themselves in what appeared to be some sort of cell. At least, that is what it looked like to them. It was obvious that they were underground inside of a small dug out section in the wall.

Even more peculiar was the fact that it seemed to have been constructed around them while they were both knocked out. There was no door at all. The bars that separated them from the outside world, while fashioned out of wood, were sturdy and unwavering and since there was no other perceivable way in or out it was clear that it had been put up and secured around them after they were placed inside.

The only convenient thing about the whole situation was that it was not completely dark. . A torch had been placed on the wall outside of the cell and even though it only gave off a very dim light it was enough to see by.

"What happened?" Dave asked incoherently as he slowly pulled himself up to a sitting position next to the wall. There was no answer. "Maria?" he called, twisting around.

She was still unconscious, lying face down on the dirt floor. Immediately, the boy swung the rest of his body around and moved her onto her back. As soon as he had done so a great deal of air burst from her lips signifying that she was still alive.

"Maria?" Dave called again, shaking her gently by the arm. Once again, she pushed out a big puff of air and now she began to stir.

"Dave?" She asked, fluttering her eyes open and looking around. "Where are we? What happened?

"I don't know." The boy answered. "But I think we're going to be here for a while."

Slowly, the young girl drew herself upward so that she could get a better look at her surroundings. Unfortunately, it was quite obvious that her comrade was not over reacting. There was absolutely, no way out, at least, not from inside.

So, with a great deal of effort she set her hands firmly on the ground and pushed herself up onto her feet. At the same time a tidal wave of blood rushed upward into her brain, setting her extremely off balance. This, however, only lasted a moment and when she had regained herself she made her way to the bars of her cage and peered out.

It all amounted to very little. The torchlight, while lighting up one side of the outer room, illuminated only solid rock. The other side was shaded in almost total darkness. This, Maria presumed to be the exit. It was a moot point, however, since there was no foreseeable way out of the cell.

"Any luck?" Dave asked, stumbling to his feet and making his way over to his friend.

Maria shook her head in disappointment. "None." She answered, gesturing toward the darkened corner. "But if there is a way out, it's over there."

The boy nodded with sympathetic anguish. They were, for all accounts, stuck. There was nothing they could do but wait and hope that an opportunity or an idea would appear. At least, it would give him a chance for something else.

Thoughtfully, he turned his head and stared directly at his friend. She did not even notice him. Her mind was too busy running rampant with scenarios to free them should a guard appear. Dave did not mind at all. In fact, it made it all the easier for him.

When they had first arrived, the Doctor had mentioned something about going back to Earth, which had made Maria, react uncharacteristically hysterical. Ever since then, Dave could not help but wonder why and now was as good a time as any to ask.

In all reality it was simple question. More over, it was a question that Maria would most likely have been willing, albeit begrudgingly, to discuss. The only problem was that her cellmate, even if his intentions were good, was about as subtle as a freight train. Some people would have begun with, "There is something I've been meaning to ask you," or "I'm kind of worried about you," he, on the other hand, went for broke and blurted it all out at once.

"So, what's wrong with Earth?" He asked, as calmly as if he were asking if she would like a piece of pie.

The response was not at all what he expected. "What?" She gasped in amazement. She knew exactly what he was asking but it blew her mind that he could be so insensitive about it. A moment before he had been very astute and looking for a way out and now, all of a sudden, it seemed like he was one star short of a solar system.

Dave, seeing the exasperated expression on his friend's face, decided to tone down his tactics a bit. After all, it was obvious that he had done something wrong even if he did not know exactly what it was. "I was just wondering," he said, more gently this time, "What about Earth made you so upset before. It's not like you to get that upset over anything."

Maria's face lit up in understanding. Despite his rudeness, her companion was simply wondering about her. Maybe he cared about her even more than she thought he did. "Oh, I'd rather not talk about it." She said, smiling.

Now Dave was sure that something was wrong. Maria's tone had never sounded so unusual. It was down right timid, and Maria was never timid. For a moment, he decided that it would be best to drop the subject right there. Anything that would make her act like this had to be serious and if he pushed her to tell him it would just make things worse.

Unfortunately, it was not that easy. Somewhere, in the pit of his heart, the young boy ached for her and although he never thought of himself as the best person to give advice he wanted to help. He had to do something "It must be bad." He said, nervously placing a warm hand on her shoulder. If you change your mind and want to talk, let me know."

The young lady's mouth stretched into a slightly crooked smile. "Thanks." She said thoughtfully. It was not easy for her to say anything at all but she had to say something. After all, he was her friend even she did not want to admit it sometimes. Deliberately, she turned, shuffled over to the rock wall, and planted herself on the ground.

That was when it hit her. There was no one else. Dave, despite his childlessness at times, was her only friend in the universe. The only other candidate was the Doctor and she had not known him for very long at all. Who else could she turn to for solace?

"Dave." She said, still in a low voice. "Maybe I should tell you." She patted the ground next her with one hand. "Sit down."

The boy, in a mixture of confusion, solemness, and excitement, complied. He did so while trying his best not to look as though he had no emotion at all because he had no idea which one was the most appropriate. "Are you sure?" He asked, setting a hand on her shoulder. "I mean, I don't want you to do anything you don't want to do."

"I want to." Came a sharp and sudden reply. It was the sort of response that was nearly customary for the young girl. "I trust you more than anyone else."

Dave smiled. It was good to hear her back to normal if even for a second. "Thanks." Responded the other. He did not really know what else to say.

Maria nodded. She had not actually heard him but she did not much care. Her mind was focused elsewhere. Specifically, she was thinking of Earth. "It was," she began, "about three years ago. My father met this woman, Illia Stauss. And a year after that they got married."

"You didn't think they should have?" Her companion interjected solemnly.

The young girl shook her head. "Actually," she said, "I thought it was a great idea." Just then, her lower lip began, ever so slightly to quiver. "They were," she continued in a cracking voice, "perfect for each other." It was obvious that she was struggling to keep from bursting into an all out bawl.

Tenderly, Dave reached down and took hold of his friend's hand to give her comfort. Normally, he would not have dared to try such a thing for fear that she would scold him for it but under the circumstances he did not see the harm. Besides, she was like a completely different person. Once again this girl, who had seemingly been a pillar of granite, was beginning to crumble. "Are you going to be alright?" the boy asked.

Maria took a deep breath and nodded again. "I will be." She choked. "I suppose think I'm silly for breaking up like this."

"No way." Dave answered. "I've just never seen you this upset before. Not even when you saw that dead guard outside our quarters on the freighter.

"That's because," the girl continued, "He wasn't my father." Here she paused for a moment to collect her thoughts for what she was about to reveal next had never been told anyone before. She was not even sure why she was telling Dave. The only conclusion that she could come up with was that no one else had ever asked. Deep within her she actually wanted to tell someone but the whole prospect was extremely frightening. Every time she had even considered talking about it something stopped her as if the truth were a bomb waiting to take out anyone that was in range. But Dave was different. He seemed to be a more caring than anyone that she had ever known before and because of that she trusted him.

"You see," the girl finally continued through a cracking voice, "Illia was not as perfect for father as I thought. She only wanted access to father's money and when he found out..." Once again, Maria stopped short. The memories were coming too fast now and with them all the past emotions that went with them. Quickly, she turned her head to conceal the single tear that had formed in the corner of her eye.

It was not necessary, though. Dave knew what was going on. He just did not know what to do about it. The whole thing seemed too big for anyone to solve. He wanted to say something; anything that would make it seem all right but nothing came to mind. All he could do was squeeze his friend's hand a little harder.

Stealthy, Maria whisked the tear away and turned back toward her companion. She knew what she wanted to say but the rush of feeling in her nearly choked her into silence. But, she had to say it. If she kept quiet she felt like she would simply burst into a thousand pieces like a balloon. There was only one thing for it; she would have to put all her strength together into this one last sentence. She swallowed hard and took a deep breath. Then, with everything she had left she blurted it out.

"She killed him!" The young girl yelled. At the very same moment a flood of tears exploded from within her and she threw herself at Dave and sobbed wildly.

The young boy said nothing. He simply held her close and stared off into space. For as long as he knew her she had never once mentioned anything about this. He could only imagine what sort of pain she had felt for so long not saying a word.

It was a sight to be pitied. All Maria could do for a long time was to hold onto her friend and weep for her father. "I couldn't even go his funeral." She finally whispered after a great sniff. "She was the head of the police. I...I had to get away, so I joined up on the freighter. They didn't even ask my age."

"It's ok," Dave replied, hoping that he could say something that would not upset her more. "At least, you're all right now."

The young lady looked up. Now, more than ever, a flood of tears covered her lamented face. So much so that it gleamed brightly in the dim flare light. "Maybe," she said, "but there is no one out there anymore who loves me.

Suddenly, the boy's eyes perked up. Here was an opportunity, not to take advantage of Maria's situation but finally express some feelings of his own, feelings that he had kept hidden for a long time as well for fear that they would not be accepted. But now he did not care. He could not simply go on letting his best friend think that she alone. "I...I," he stuttered. But he knew he could not delay. Just as Maria had gathered up her strength before he did the same and in one quick phrase he launched his words. "I love you."

The girl stared back in wonderment. In one supreme swoop she stopped mourning. Yet another feeling was intruding on her now, a feeling of joy. It was all a jumble and she almost felt guilty but she could not help it. All she could do was smile. "I love you too." She whispered. "I have for a long time but I didn't think you -"

"Me too." The boy interrupted. "And I'm sorry...I should have waited for a better time."

Maria shook her head. "Your timing was perfect." She said staring into the boy's eyes.

Dave stared right back. They could see in each other the pain and joy that had manifested its self in each other, both were elated and saddened by it. Slowly, almost as if they were of one mind, the two friends moved closer to each other until they were almost nose-to-nose and then they moved forward still. Finally, their lips touched and they knew that things would never be the same again.

Back to index

Chapter 7: Truthful Liars

Miss Lara Croft sat comfortably on the edge of the small bed listening with fixed interest as the Doctor explained what exactly had happened to him. She had already given him her account and now it was becoming obvious that at least one of them had been lied to. The only question was who was it?

In the case of the Doctor the answer was totally obvious. It had to have been Atans. After all, while claiming to be such a good soul, he had the audacity to ask Lara to steal the king's scepter.

On the other hand, Lara accused Odg. From what she had just heard he seemed to somewhat manipulative. Besides, she had seen Atans along with the pain in his eyes. Every time the young lady even considered for a second on not fulfilling her mission her mind would wander back to those eyes and all the pain that she had seen in them. No, Odg had to be the liar. The only problem was that the Doctor was not about to agree in the least. If he was lying then he had to be the best she had ever seen.

"Madam," the Time Lord said when she had, as bluntly as she could, given her opinion, "I appreciate your point of view but have you ever considered that you have been brainwashed by this creature? Odg made it quite clear that it is standard practice of his enemy."

"What are you talking about?" Yelled the tomb raider, jumping up off the bed. "Are you saying that I don't know what I am doing?"

The Time Lord nodded. "That, my dear, is exactly what I am saying."

As soon as the words had passed the man's lips Lara went for her pistol. "Listen to me." she ordered. "I work for nobody but myself and anybody that gets in my way pays for it. If there is anyone who is brainwashed around here it is you."

Slowly, the Doctor pulled himself up to his feet. "Yes, my dear, you may very well be right about that and I would have even thought it probable except one thing. The description you gave of this Atans, reminds me of a race I encountered long ago known as the Evlids."

Miss Croft shook her head. "That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard." She scolded. And even if it were true my next question is, so what?"

"Oh, you stubborn girl!" Snapped the old man. "They Evlids are a race of mind readers. Can't you see that you're being manipulated?" Instantly, the Doctor reached out and grabbed the young lady's arm. "You have been brainwashed?"

Immediately, Lara dropped her free hand onto the butt of her pistol. "Yes, I am a stubborn girl." She smiled. "And if you don't get that hand off of me you'll regret it."

Reluctantly, the Doctor released his grip. "So, you are not going to listen to me, hmm?" He said. "Well, then I'll just have to keep you here where you can't causes any trouble, won't I?"

That was all Croft needed to hear. No one got in her way and certainly not some old space relic. With lightning speed she deployed her weapons and trained them on the man in front of her. "Look, I don't think I need to kill you but I am very capable of doing it so don't get in my way. Got it?"

The Time Lord shook his head. "Oh, I've got it." He answered. "But what's to stop me from following you, hmm?"

"Well, first off there are these." The explorer answered, cocking the hammers back on both guns. "And if that's not enough..." Here she paused momentarily in thought and then smiled evilly. "Well," she continued," let's just say that anybody with half their wits would consider that enough."

The Doctor's eye gleamed. It was obvious to the young lady that he was going to follow her no matter what. So, in an effort to avoid a great deal of unnecessary bloodshed, not to mention the cost of ammunition, Miss Croft decided to attempt a nonviolent solution to the problem. She stepped backward a few feet and slowly removed her backpack, careful to keep one pistol trained on her adversary. She then removed, from inside, a set of handcuffs.

"My goodness, child. I thought you were some sort of archeological explorer. What are those for?"

Croft smiled knowingly as she clamped the old man to the bedpost. "No reason really." she answered. "Except I stole them from a Texan friend and I hadn't got round to taking them out yet."

With that, Lara spun around and made a b-line for the door. The Doctor said nothing. He was too busy working on his own plans. She may have won this round but he was not about to let a pair of handcuffs stop him.

As soon as his adversary had left the old man set to work on freeing himself from his forced confinement. Without a second thought, his hand reached down into his coat pocket and fished around until he came up with his trusty fountain pen.

What he had to do next appalled him to no end. After all, it was his favorite pen, given to him long before he even acquired the TARDIS. He almost wanted to skip it but there were so many mysteries floating around that he could hardly justify it. Besides, there were hardly any other options open to him that did not require his cutting off his hand.

So, after a few deep breaths, the Doctor shoved the end of the favored pen into the keyhole on one of the handcuffs. He cringed as he felt its tip interact with the hard metalworkings of the lock. Slowly, he twisted the writing utensil around, trying to free him. After a few seconds there was a small click and shackles that had held him at bay opened easily. Unfortunately, as he had expected, the tip of his pen was bent.

With a deep sigh of regret, he threw his fetters aside, placed what was left of his pen back in his pocket, and moved over to the door. Somehow, he had the feeling that the young explorer might be lurking in the hall just outside the room, waiting for him to exit.

Slowly, the Doctor pushed open the door until there was a slight gap between it and the doorframe where he could see out into the hall. Then, like a curious child, he stooped over and peered out of the room. Though his vantage point was severely limited by the door he could see well enough for his liking. He glanced right and then left but nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary.

It was, he surmised, safe to exit. Unhurriedly, he pushed the door open the rest of the way into the hall. For a moment he had a sensation of being watched but only fleetingly. As he now looked around the hall without anything encumbering his vision it was clear that he was alone.

Now was the heard part, figuring out which way Miss Croft had gone. The Doctor glanced off to his right. It was the way that he had come from earlier as he was escorted from King Odg's throne room. Chances were, he figured, that if she had gone that way the guards would easily discover her. That, then, left only the passage to his left.

He took his time strolling down the corridor almost oblivious to the fact that he was following the young lady. His mind drifted off to a great admiration of the architecture around him. The stone walls did not look that much different than those he had seen in other areas of the universe but somehow they seemed to call to him. It was the fact that walls were nearly identical everywhere that had caught his attention. They had no individuality.

The question so grated on his mind that he was hardly aware of anything else. So much so that when he rounded the corner into the next hall and found himself face to face with Miss Lara Croft's nine-millimeter pistol it hardly fazed him.

"Some how I thought you'd get away." The young girl said irritatedly. "Now the question is what to do with you. " I may just have to shoot you. "

The Doctor shook his head. "I'm sorry, were you saying something?" He asked, still slightly distracted.

Lara was now more annoyed than ever. "What, you're not even listening to me? This is beginning to sound like a bad Monty Python sketch."

"Monty who?" replied the other glancing to his side. It was then that he finally noticed the gun in Lara's hand. "Dear me child!" He said, pushing the weapon away. "Put that out of sight before you hurt someone."

The young tomb raider stared back at the old man in disbelief. No one had ever talked to her like that before, especially when she had a gun pointed right at their nose. It was nearly the most insulting thing anyone had ever done to her. What was even more astounding to her, however, was the fact that she actually listened to the man and holstered her weapon. She could not think why in the world she did it but she did.

The Time Lord noticed it too. Despite all his complaints he never expected the girl to actually follow his command. More over, for a moment Miss Croft seemed to have a cold blank stare in her eye.

Immediately, the old man's thoughts drifted back to what he had mentioned before about the Evlids. At the time he had only mentioned them in passing without giving much thought to their actual involvement but after seeing what had just occurred he was beginning to wonder. He needed to test the theory.

Drawing his face into the most serious and mean expression the Doctor stared directly into the tomb raider's eyes. "Stand on one foot!" He yelled as forcefully as he could. Like clockwork, the woman's left leg raised off the ground.

"What did you do?" Lara inquired angrily. "Why can't I move my leg?"

The time traveler chuckled lightly to himself. "As I told before, girl, you have been brainwashed, most likely by an Evlid. All anyone has to do is sternly give you an order and you will do it. If humans weren't half immune to it you probably would have killed me already."

Miss Croft was not amused. The idea that anyone could make her do anything that they wanted to seemed utterly ridiculous. Of course, that left the question about her leg. She still could not move it no matter how hard she tried. It was as if it did not belong to her at all.

"I don't believe you." The lady announced. "It's probably more likely that you've done something to keep me from getting to that scepter."

The Doctor shook his head. "Oh, it was me was it? And why? What motive could I possibly have to do such a thing?"

"Power." Lara responded. "I mean, you are an older man. Perhaps you think it could make you young again."

The Time Lord shook his head. There was obviously no way to get through to this woman. More over, if neither of them truly took charge of the situation they would both be stuck standing in that for eternity, Lara because she was still stuck on one leg and the Doctor because he needed Lara's help to figure out what was going on. There was only one thing for it; he had to make the first move.

"Put your leg down!" He ordered sharply. The young lady complied. "Now listen, child. One of us is right and one of us is most definitely wrong and I consider it imperative that we find out one way or another."

The explorer leaned sideways onto her left foot. She would never have admitted it but she was quite ecstatic to have it once again under her control and leaning on it was the best way she could think of to prove it to herself. On the other hand she was still vexed by her companion's ramblings. "What's your point?" She asked as if she were an irritated school girl.

"The point," the older man repeated, "is that we will never know for sure which of us is right as long as you are obsessed with that scepter. So, I will help you find it.

Lara nodded her head. As much as she detested the thought of working with someone, especially this someone, she had to admit that it was better than to lurk about all evening, wondering if a senile old man was following her. "Alright." She relented. "But if you do that to my leg again I swear I will shoot you straight through the head, got it?"

The Doctor nodded and turned to look down the hall adjacent to the one he had started in. It was fairly short with four wooden doors all on the right side. At the very end of it, the corridor split in two. Straight ahead, it became a set of stair leading upward, most likely toward a tower. The other hall turned left and disappeared behind a corner. This, in particular, was curious because the direction it went was right into the outer wall. It could have been, he supposed, just a niche in the wall. Of course, that brought up the question of why. In turn that brought up several other questions, most of them pointless to the current situation, which made him even more curious.

"Are you all right?" Lara asked when her companion had been dazed for an extraordinarily irritating amount of time.

The Time Lord shook his head back to reality. "What was that?" He replied, still half dazed. Then, like a bolt of lightning he understood. "Never mind." He quickly continued. "Let us examine this curious oddity shall we."

Miss Croft shook her head as the old man moved on ahead of her. She wondered how she had gotten herself involved with such a weird character. Still, she couldn't fault his curiosity. In truth, she had noticed the architectural anomaly as well but had not had a chance to examine it because of the Doctor and his one legged trick.

Now, as the duo moved toward it they began to realize that it was actually a spiral staircase. Neither of them said a word when they discovered its true identity either. Instead they each turned to the other with an expression that seemed to say, "We should have known."

As they began to descend, first Lara and then the Doctor, a feeling began to come over them, that the whole scenario seemed too easy. It was almost as if they were in a bad sci-fi action story.

The Time Lord, in expectation of an environment of utter darkness, pulled out his matchbook and struck one. The tomb raider rolled her eyes. "If you're going to come on an expedition like this," she scolded, "you should really bring the proper equipment. With that, she reached into her backpack, pulled out a flare, and lit it.

"And why should I do that?" Responded the Doctor, tossing his match onto the stone steps. "You seem to be prepared for the both of us."

Lara rolled her eyes and continued down stairwell. It seemed to wind around forever. More than that, the further they went the narrower it seemed to get and it began to make both of them strangely nervous. Neither of them was really the kind to get apprehensive over such a thing, however, glow from Lara's flare, coupled with the odd events they had already been involved in, they were not exactly surprised by the fact.

Still, the steps seemed to go on into the earth for quite a distance yet. Conversation seemed inevitable; at least, it was in the case of the Doctor. "So, who is this friend of yours that you mentioned before?"

The young lady shook her head as if she were coming out of a flare-induced trance. "What?" She snapped. The sudden lack of silence was annoying to her...if not expected." "Oh, that would be Devon. A regular tart he is. Still, he's a good deal better than the other one."

"The other one?" Repeated the Doctor.

Miss Croft did not answer. Instead, she stopped. A large metal door was blocking their path. "I guess we're at the end then." She said looking over her shoulder at the old man. "Shall I open it?"

The Doctor nodded affirmatively. Lara bent down, grabbed the handle, and twisted it. However, it caught quickly on the way down. She tried again with the same result. There was no doubt about it, if she was going to get in, she would have to pick the lock. The young lady took a deep breath and began a thorough examination of the structure. Besides the handle, that she had already tried, there was not much else to discover. The whole thing appeared to be fused directly into the stone wall. There was no sign of hinges, or a keyhole, or anything that might be useful in opening it.

Meanwhile, the feeling that The Doctor had been having of being on the right track had suddenly gotten a bit larger. Along with it he was getting a feeling dread too and at least part of that was due to something that he had just realized. "Hmmm, that's strange." He said curiously. "That door is metal, but most of the things I have seen around here are wood or stone."

"Must mean there is something important behind here." Lara answered, still examining the door. She refused to believe that she could not find anything useful from it. There had to be at least a keyhole somewhere, otherwise, how did anyone else get in. It had to be there somewhere.

At the same time, The Doctor, not being in a position of usefulness at the moment, let his mind drift backward to the previous conversation. "So, young lady, are you going to answer my question or are you going to ignore me."

Lara did not even turn her head, she was too busy trying to figure out the door. "What question was that?" She answered, half oblivious to the fact that she was speaking.

"About your friend." Replied the other. "Not that Devon fellow, the other one. You said he was worse."

Lara smiled slightly to herself. "Oh, that would be Larson." She said. "Yes he is a bit off in the head you know. The weirdest part is that he has this thing for starfish. He eats them like mad whenever he can. Puts little sugar sprinkles on them."

"Really?" Answered the other in wonderment. "Sugar sprinkled starfish? It isn't what I'd expect most Texans to eat."

"Quite." Croft stood up and turned back to face her companion. "Well, I can't find anyway around this thing right now. There is no keyhole and if it has any hinges they are in the wall. We may have to find an alternant route."

The Doctor nodded in agreement. Still, there was something very fishy about it all. "May I have a look first?" He asked, squeezing around Lara.

"You don't believe me?" The tomb raider replied, half insulted.

"Oh, it's nothing like that, child," answered the old man, his nose almost touching the door's metal frame, "nothing like that. However, I see things in a way that most people do not."

Now, Lara was intrigued. What had she not seen? And what did The Doctor mean he sees things in a way that most people do not? It all came out in one word, "Oh?"

The Time Lord nodded. "You see, my dear, you were looking for a way in. What if we are already in, hmm?"

"I beg your pardon." Interrupted the other."

"It's quite simple, really." The old man continued. "You assume that this door is meant to keep us from getting past it but that someone with a key could open it easily. Correct."

Lara nodded. "What if it were only meant to be opened from the other side?"

"But why have a door that only opens from side?" Croft asked, trying to jump ahead of where her companion's explanation.

The Doctor smiled. "Indeed. Such doors are only to keep people in one place, such as in a jail cell."

Now the young lady was totally lost. Some how, in all her years of study, she must have missed something. She thought she almost understood it all but not quite all. Even so, she thought she would give it a chance. "Are you saying that we have to find out who the jailor is and have them open the door for us?"

"Very nearly." Replied the Doctor. "That is at least part of it. The other part is that who ever is the one to open this is not from around here at all."

Lara nodded again. "Well, you are right about seeing nothing else made of metal around here. Are you saying that whoever built it is an alien like us?"

"Indubitably!" Replied the Time Lord. "And all of that leads up to a theory of how we get in here."

"What's that?" Asked the young lady.

Without hesitation, the Doctor pulled his right hand into the air and made a fist. He then, turned and gave two quick knocks on the metal door, sending a pair of loud vibrating kongs wafting through the air. "We knock." He said triumphantly.

Back to index

Chapter 8: Who Needs Love When You Have...Love

Maria lay quietly in Dave's arms not thinking of much of anything. In only a matter of moments she had turned from a strong willed single woman into a weak and quivering little girl hiding in her boyfriend's arms. Life was indeed strange. Even more so was the fact that she lying in the middle of a dark prison on some alien world.

Slowly she pushed herself upright and then to her feet. "I think we got distracted." She chuckled softly. "We were trying to get out of here."

As if on command Dave stood up. His first kiss with Maria had left him in a bit of a stupor from which he still had not totally recovered. "Um, oh yeah." He laughed. Expeditiously, he strolled over to the bars of their cage and began to look them once again. A split second later, however, he turned back around and smiled at his girl friend.

She was still standing beside the wall with a very contented look on her face. It was a look that he had only seen once before and then only for a fleeting second. Now it was fixed firmly on her face with no sign of departure. "You know," he said, "That's a different look for you."

Maria cocked her head to one side. "What do you mean?" She asked, somewhat confused.

The boy's mouth grew into an even bigger smile than before. At the same time a streak of red crept up from underneath his collar and moved up his neck and over his face until it finally reached his forehead. "I just mean you're usually so stern." He answered. "You look much better with that pretty smile."

Now it was Maria's turn to blush. She had never known Dave could be so sweet. He was usually just complaining about everything. He must have been way more serious about saying he loved her than she thought.

The bad part about it all was that she could not think of a thing to say in return. For what seemed like an eternity, she just stood there and smiled hoping that something intelligent would come into her head. In the end, she did the only the only thing she could, giggle out, "Thanks."

She could not believe it. It did not seem like her at all and yet that is what came out of her mouth. Fortunately, Dave did not seem to notice. His smile only got bigger. To her, however, it was embarrassing. Especially, when she remembered what she was wearing.

The young girl looked down at the skirt she was wearing. It, and her legs below it, had turned a deep brown from all the dust and grime she had been sitting in. Not that it mattered a whole lot at the moment. She was more concerned with getting out of her cell. All of a sudden life seemed a bit clearer again. This new relationship with Dave, no matter what it was destined to be, would have to wait.

Confidently, she marched up to the bars and began to look them over again. Unfortunately, neither she nor her companion had time to do a very thorough job of it. As soon they began, the sound of footsteps could be heard down the hall. They grew slightly louder every second until they swung around the corner, into the chamber outside their cell in the form of a dark figure.

The person, whomever it was, paused in the shadows as if they were studying the two youngsters. In a few moments, however, the dark form once again began to gradually move forward. As it did its shape started to become and more clear.

Maria and Dave stood behind their bars with extreme curiosity. They were not at all sure what was about to happen. All they did know was that, considering their current situation, it probably was not going to be pleasant.

As the shadowy figure approached the youngsters braced themselves for a struggle. They could feel their hearts begin to beat faster in their chests and their eyes narrowed. Quickly, they shot a glance at each other to confirm that they were both thinking the same thing or, at least, to let the other know that they had a plan.

Finally the shadowy figure stepped into the light. It was Vee, the girl that had warned them about the Udijis plant. She looked scared. Even when she saw Maria and Dave her mood did not brighten. In fact, her expression grew colder.

"You two!" She whispered loudly. "What happened to us? Where are we?"

Both Dave and Maria shook their heads. "We don't know." The boy answered, still fixated on the cell bars. "How did you get out?"

"It's a long story." Answered the other, jogging up to the cell. Then, with a few quick swipes of her hand along the bars of the cage, a small opening appeared near the bottom. Without a thought of hesitation both prisoners scurried out into the open area beyond.

"What now?" Maria asked glancing around the room. "How do we get out?"

Vee thrust her hand out and grabbed the girl firmly by the wrist causing her to pull back from shock, but only for a moment. "There are a couple of ways." She answered. "Just follow me, ace, we're getting out of here." With that, she sped off in a hurry pulling Maria along by the arm. Dave, who was trailing along in the rear, quickly lurched forward and grabbed his friend's other wrist.

Like a mole, the small group rushed into the dark underground caverns leaving any sign of light, either torch or natural or anything else, behind them. After that they were simply running blind behind their leader. They ran this way and then that and then this way again. It was like mind numbing puzzle and before long they all began to wonder if they were still attached to the person they thought they were. For that matter, they wondered if they were still attached at all.

As they went, Maria rubbed Dave's wrist with the tips of her fingers. He was still there. But why was he not saying anything? It was not like him to have no comment or witty remark. Maybe he decided it best to stay quiet but that did not seem likely either. Usually someone would have had to tell him to shut up at least once anyhow. Something strange was definitely afoot, either that or she was suddenly extremely paranoid.

"Hey." She called forward in a whisper. "Can we stop a second?"

"Quiet." Came the murmured reply. "Do you want them to hear us?"

The young girl reached back once again with her fingers. Something was wrong. For some reason it did not feel like Dave's hand. She tried to think back to the last time that she had touched it. At the time it was dry and somewhat course to the touch, almost like stiff sandpaper. Now, however, it felt soft and smooth. The hand that had been grasping her wrist had obviously never done any of the kinds of labor that her friend had done. It had certainly never cleaned out a waste receptacle or polished the inside of a freighter's ion converter.

"Dave?" She whispered, ignoring Vee's warning. There was no answer. Suddenly, she stopped hard, pulling hard on the arm in front of her. This, however, did not instantly deter their forward progress. For a second the young lady still found herself moving forward and probably would have continued on by being drug if she had not employed the full force of her will and pulled backward as hard as she could on the leader's arm.

"What are you doing?" Vee yelled in a whisper. "We have to keep moving or they'll catch us."

"I think they have already caught us." Answered the other girl sternly. "Dave is missing." With that, she pulled her other arm hard back and dislodged it from the unknown person behind her. "Who are you anyway?" She asked.

"I am your salvation." A voice whispered from the shadows. It was almost hypnotic in nature and with every syllable Maria could feel an urge to run from it as if it were, in some way, malevolent by nature. At the same time, however, it was such a still soft voice that she wondered if it were anything to worry about at all.

Instinctively, she stepped backward to give herself a little room between her and the voice. Vee, who was still right behind her, set her hands gently but firmly on the young girl's shoulders. "Don't worry." She explained. "Just listen and everything will be fine."

Maria slightly jumped at the touch of the other girl. Between the pitch darkness and the hypnotic strange voice the mere touch on her shoulder bestowed her with a strange a sense of dread. She could feel beads of sweat forming on her brow as she stared out into the black nothingness. It almost felt like she was dreaming.

Silently, she took a deep breath. The anxiety was growing inside of her with each second but she did not want to show any sign of fear. "What do you mean, my salvation?" She asked sternly.

"Exactly that." Answered the voice. "I have a special ability to see people's pain. I know everything that troubles you. More importantly than that, I can make it go away."

Immediately, Maria's thoughts went back to her father. "What do you mean you can make it go away?" She asked fearfully. She was getting more apprehensive by the moment and was almost sure that the answer to her question was most likely going to be that she would be dead in a matter of mere moments. In reality, she did not really want to ask the question at all but the possibility of any sort of reprieve of the pain in her heart was too great to ignore.

"He means," Vee answered, leaning into Maria's ear, "that anything and everything that is causing you pain can be made to go away."

"That's right." The voice answered. "Through my power you can live a life free of problems. All the trouble and strife you feel right now can be swept away in an instant never to return."

"What are you talking about?" The girl replied. The fear that had been growing inside of her was now turning into confusion. What sort of power could possibly take away so much strife? It went against all reality. It was like a fairytale.

"Your father." The other continued. "I can bring justice to his murderer. I know it must sound impossible but I can help. It is...what I live to do."

"Trust him." Vee whispered softly into her ear. "It sounds strange but he can really do it."

"How do you know about my father?" Maria exclaimed, pulling herself away from the arms behind her.

From the darkness came a quick snicker from the stranger. "My dear." The voice said. "I know because you know. I sense in you a need for justice for father. He was...murdered?"

It was astounding. Who ever this was he knew her deepest secret. Could have over heard her conversation with Dave? It was the most logical answer she could think of. The only other thing she could think of was that he was reading her mind. "I wasn't eavesdropping." Said the voice in the shadows. "And even being so far from earth you can still get justice. I can help."

Once again, Vee moved behind the girl and placed her hands firmly but gently on her shoulders. "You see." She said." He knows your pain. Let us help you get rid of it."

The young girl's mind began to fill with wonder. She wanted to believe them but it still seemed impossible. She was as far away from earth as she could possibly be not to mention that she had traveled through time as well. "I still don't understand." She said. "How can I possibly see justice for my father when his murder is so far away?"

Through the darkness Maria could hear the stranger's footsteps crunch on the cavern floor as he started to walk toward her. At the same time small flames begin to peek up timidly from torches along the walls on either side of them sending a dim light into the cavern. The owner of the unknown voice could now be somewhat seen.

He was still mostly a dark shadow but his tall thin silhouette was now visible in dim lights. For some reason it seemed to exude a feeling of pity, yet, at the same time, a sense of total control. "I am called Atans." The stranger offered. "Look into my eyes and all of your questions will be answered."

In that moment Maria forgot about everything she held dear, the Doctor, Dave, everything. The only thing she could focus on were the two bright blue eyes that were now visible in front of her. An eerie feeling penetrated her body as if something unreal was happening. She could feel her mind slipping away from herself as if she were entering into a different level of consciousness.

From behind, Vee gripped tighter to the young girl's shoulders. "Now, you'll understand." She said. "It seems strange at first but don't fight it."

"Become more than what you are." Atans explained. "That is how you gain your justice. Your stepmother never thought you would amount to anything. If she did, you would have been killed too."

Suddenly, Maria's face perked up. She had never, in all this time, wondered why she had been left alive. It was not like there had never been a chance. After all, as head of the police unit Illia the power and the opportunity to get rid of her but never did. Why? The only thing that she could think of was what Atans had told her. Her stepmother did not consider her a threat, even if a thousand years past she would have still believed Maria still unable to expose her.

More over, she was now sure that she knew what the shadowy figure had meant. She may not be able to bring her father's murderer to justice but she could strive to become far more than what she was ever expected to be. It would be, in a small amount, revenge. The young girl's face twisted into an evil smile. "What do I have to do?"

Back to index

Chapter 9: The Scepter, The Boy, and The Others

Miss Lara Croft stared wide-eyed into the corridor in front of her. She was still not quite sure what had just happened. She had tried every thing that she could think of to open the large metal door in front her but nothing had worked. Then the Doctor, conceding that they were nearly out of options, decided to try the last thing that he could think of, a simple knock. To the surprise of both of them, it worked.

Moments after the time lord had banged on the door it slowly began to peel away, revealing a long hallway. It was not, however, anything that either the Doctor or Lara expected. Instead of the cold brick and mortar that they had been traveling through it was metal.

It was plain, almost too plain. The sides, which were painted a basic white, extended up into an arch shape ending about four feet over the explorers' heads. A few feet below, on either wall, two bright, nearly florescent, lights were fixed into place, one near the floor and one just below the apex of the ceiling. What ever had created the castle they had just been in could not have made this.

"How did you do that?" Croft asked, still amazed that a simple knock had succeeded where she had failed.

The Doctor only chortled slightly to himself. "Simple." He replied. "It was the one thing that should never have worked."

Lara raised an eyebrow. "I'm not sure I understand you logic there." She answered.

"Not many can." The Doctor explained arrogantly. "Not many can, my dear you. Like most people in the universe you see a locked door and automatically assume there is a key."

The young lady turned and stared back at her companion. "Why lock a door if you can't open it?" She asked.

"Why use a key when there is somebody else at home?" The old man answered.

Croft drew her pistols and whirled around pointing them down the bright hallway in anticipation of attack. "So, somebody let us in?"

"No no no." Grumbled the Doctor, resting his hand on Lara's arms and gently pushing the weapon down. "It's a puzzle. You see, you were intent on finding a way to open this door and the most obvious thing to do never occurred to you did it?"

"Never." Lara answered from behind a sudden smile of revelation and returning her pistols to their holsters. "So," she reasoned, "that is why knocking was the right thing to do, because no sensible person would believe it would work and-"

"And would not even bother trying." Continued the Time Lord. "Shall we go?" He asked, stepping into the new corridor.

Lara nodded cautiously and followed suit, taking the opportunity to glance around the walls. The power was obviously still on because the lights and there was no sign of cobwebs or dirt or unkemptness of any kind. It was obvious that it was still being used for something. "Do you still think this Odg fellow is all that?" She asked suspiciously.

The Doctor shook his head. "Dear girl." He said. "Even if this is his, it by no means condemns him to any sort of a crime."

The young lady rolled her eyes. "Whatever." She sighed. "Let's just have a look about shall we? I have a feeling that the scepter is somewhere around here."

"Very well." The older man agreed.

With that, the both of them set off down the corridor. Strangely there was no sign of a door leading out of the hall anywhere. In fact, the whole passage way seemed to stretch out forever without any sign of deviation.

It did not take long for the two explorers to realize this. After nearly ten minutes of walking straight ahead Miss Croft began to have suspicions. An hour later she had nearly given up hope. There was absolutely nothing anywhere that could be a considered a door. And then they came to a dead end.

"This is unexpected." The Doctor said, examining the wall in front of them. "I suppose there could be another catch to it somewhere." Slowly, he ran his hands all over the obstacle looking for something that would indicate a way around. Finding nothing, he turned back to his companion. "Do you have he ideas?" He asked.

Lara did not move. She just stared blankly ahead as if she were in some sort of a dream. There had to be something somewhere. And where did that scream come from? In only a matter of seconds the questions built up into frustration until she could not take it anymore. Something had to give. Angrily, she turned to the side wall, reared back her arm and through a punch it as hard as she could.

To her surprise she found herself flying head first through the wall and to the ground with a thud. She immediately rolled over to see what had happened only to find that the bottom half of her had disappeared. It was still there, she could feel it but her torso seemed to end at the wall. "Um, Doctor?" She called, wondering if she were still in the same dimension.

"Miss Croft?" Came a muffled answer. "Are you still all there?" The Doctor was on the other side of the wall staring at Lara's back half which seemed to have been cut completely off at the waist. Carefully, he bent down and grasped the young lady's ankles as tight as he could and, with all his might, attempted to pull her back through. Unfortunately, the task was slightly beyond the old man's abilities and nearly broke him in too. At least it proved to Lara that all of her appendages were, indeed, still attached even if she could not see them.

In a matter of moments, both of the confused parties managed to pull Lara back to the side where they had begun. When they had done so, she pulled herself up to a sitting position where, for several seconds, simply stared at her companion with a look of apathetic wonderment.

"Why didn't you think of camouflaged doorways?" She finally asked. "I mean, you came up with that knocking trick relatively easily."

The Doctor shook his head. "My dear girl," he said, "I can't think of everything. You have a mind too you know."

"Yes," Croft retorted, climbing back to her feet, "but according to you it's clouded with a lot of rubbish and can't be trusted." With that, the young lady turned around in a most premadonna like fashion and, flipping her ponytail around, marched right back through the hidden door.

At last, she could get a halfway decent look at the new area. The hallway looked very much like the old one. The only difference between the two were the three large gray spaces, presumably actual unconcealed doors, which lined the new area all the way down the right side. The left wall was simply identical to what she had already seen.

After recent events, Lara was not about to take any chances. Confidently, she stepped to the left and began to meander down the hall, dragging her hand along the wall. She was looking for more hidden passages.

Just then, the Doctor stepped through the invisible door. It took him a moment to realize what his companion was doing and even afterward he had serious doubts about the condition of her mind. In any case he decided that she knew what she was doing, at least in part. So, to satisfy his own curiosity, he turned around and began to examine the barrier he had just walked through. This was accomplished by a series of pokes and prods which ultimately proved nothing at all except that even Time Lords can be distracted, from time to time, by mindless frivolity.

"Having fun?" Lara asked when she returned from her trek. Her exploits had revealed nothing of interest and she was ready to see what was behind the three gray doors.

For his part, the Doctor was so wrapped up in what he was doing that he barely noticed the young lady's presence at all until she spoke. It startled him into a near frenzy. "My goodness, child!" He yelled, swinging around and placing his hand over his heart. "Are you trying to kill me?"

"Sorry." Croft apologized. "What do you think; door number one, door number two, or door number three?"

The old man crossed his arms and looked ponderously at area in front of. Finally, he turned to the young lady, shrugged his shoulders and marched directly toward the nearest door.

However, he soon discovered that there was no apparent latch with which to open it. "This entire place continues to be one big mystery after another." He said in frustration, dropping his hands on to his hips.

At the same time, Lara came up beside him and methodically examined the whole scene. Finding nothing, she resorted back to old tactics. She reached out and touched the surface of the door. Suddenly, she could feel the scepters presence from behind the wall. At the same time she began to feel an overwhelming urge to get to it, almost as if it was calling to her.

She could feel a wave of frustration beginning to settle in. It was nearly just like the Doctor had said; the place was one big mystery. What was it even doing, being attached to a medieval type civilization?

For that matter, she began to wonder what she was actually doing there at all. Without delay, her mind answered for her. She was getting the scepter for Atans or was it for her? Even the question brought out more questions. It was like she was trying to piece together a puzzle that she did not even know she was working on. She felt like she was in a weird nightmare where nothing made sense at all. Slowly, almost incoherently, she turned and began to walk away to clear her mind.

Upon doing so, she felt a small twinge in her head, causing her to stop. After a moment the feeling disappeared. She took another step. The twinge returned. Unhindered, the young girl took another step and then another. Then, all at once, a great pain thrust right through her head sending her stumbling off balance.

As quickly as he his reflexes would allow the Doctor stepped forward and grabbed Miss Croft by the arm to steady her. "Are you all right?" He asked warmly and looking her over for possible causes of the problem.

Lara's eyes had glazed over slightly and sweat was streaming down her face. She opened her mouth to try to answer only to find that she could not say anything. Then, in her mind, a voice began to speak to her. It was Atans. "Help." It pleaded low and soft.

From that moment, all of the questions flooded out of her mind leaving only one thought, the scepter. Aggressively, she threw her arms up and pushed the Doctor to one side. "Well," she said, in a far more aggressive ton than she had been using, "we're going to have to blast it open." With that she pulled out both of her pistols and aimed them directly at the door.

"What are you doing?" The other yelled, grabbing onto his Croft's arm before she could fire. "How do we know these are even doors?"

Lara swung around, knocking the man to one side and focusing her weapons on him. Even in the course of a few seconds, she looked worse than before, almost like a zombie. "They are doors." She gasped. "And one of them leads to the scepter so stay out of my way!"

The Doctor, casually and intelligently, stepped backward to give the young lady some room. She took it, and rolled back around to face the door. Without a second thought she fired. . The bullet ricocheted back, nearly taking the young lady's ear off, and ended by sticking its self into the ceiling.

"My goodness!" The old man yelled from a ducking position. "Get a hold of yourself."

Not hearing a word of it Miss Croft turned and resorted to a series of swift sidekicks to the obstacle in her path. It did not move an inch. The frustration began to wear on her. At the same time voice in her head began to grow louder until it seemed as though it were screaming at her to get through the door by any means necessary.

By now the small twinge in her head had grown into a migraine. Worse yet, Atans's voice continued its soft cry for help from inside her head. The frustration was too much. Suddenly the young lady whirled around, clamped her hands to her head, and screamed as loud as she could before falling limply to the ground.

As fast as he could, the Doctor rushed to her aid. Kneeling down beside her he placed two fingers over a vain young lady's neck. There was a pulse. It was faint but her heart was still beating. How long it would last, however, he did not know.

Thoughtfully, the Time Lord closed his eyes and began to meditate to clear his mind. At the same time he stretched his hand back and placed it on the door behind him to steady himself. He was not very well balanced at his age.

Suddenly, the door began to vibrate slightly. Then, for no apparent reason, it suddenly swung open, sending the Doctor rolling backward into the room beyond. For a time, he just laid there on his back, motionless, attempting to discern what had just happened. Either by a twisted coincidence or by some unknown force, the door that Lara had been unmercilessly attacking had opened to a mere touch.

After a bit of thought the old man conceded, considering all that had happened up to that point, that it was a relatively normal occurrence. Of course, traveling around with a half brain - washed human that had been sucked out of her own space and time and helping her look through a very high tech structure, that was attached to a medieval type castle, for a powerful artifact was nearly a slow day for him.

Still, he decided that he had best examine the door just in case there was actually a reasonable explanation for it. The only problem was making it to his feet. It had been ages since he had last crawled around on the ground.

He was by no means to be considered feeble, however, for his health was relatively excellent. It was simply that getting up off of the floor at his age, especially after being sent rolling backward, was not the easiest of tasks. Despite all of that, however, he finally concluded that he had better do something before he was finally considered to be dead.

Slowly, he rolled himself over and started to push himself up to his knees when, seemingly out of nowhere came a bright flash of light. Instantly, The Doctor could feel a great weakness overtake his body. His eyes rolled back underneath there lids until all was dark. Then, he fell quietly back to the ground.

Back to index

Chapter 10: Unions, Reunions, Reinsurances, and Weird

Miss Lara Croft sleepily fluttered her eyes open. She felt like she had been asleep for ages, and with no end to the strange dreams either. At least, they seemed like dreams. Actually, she was really not sure of anything at all. Where was she, and how did she get there?

Inquisitively, the young lady squinted, trying to get a view of her surroundings. At the same time, however, a bright white light flooded all around her, sending a wave of tears pouring into her sockets and blurring her vision. Achingly, she closed her eyelids and tiredly stretched her arms out as if she were a big cat. Then, after a giant yawn, she brought them back in and attempted to rub the sleep out of her eyes.

It did not help. As soon as she finished she tried a second time to gaze around the room but the bright light around her persisted. That was when it finally occurred to her where she was or, at least, where she had been. Even at this realization, however, she could hardly believe it. All of her memories, between the times she had begun skulking around those dark caves up to the present, seemed like a series of strange dreams. They were all so clear at the time but now that she was awake they began to fizzle away into little incoherent pictures in her head. But how could they have been real? One thing that was for sure was that something had happened. She really did not know where she was or how she got there. She was beginning to get a headache from it all.

Wearily, she laid her head down to think for a moment. I did not help much. She had not noticed it before but whatever it was that she was laying on was as hard as a rock. It brought to her mind a vague memory of falling helplessly onto the floor and then passing out. Maybe she was still there, on the floor.

Even with that revelation, though, the bright light made it nearly impossible for her to think seriously. She rolled herself over to face the wall. It was a most uncomfortable transition too. She felt as though she were a teenage, once again doing her best to avoid the torture halls of education in favor of a much sought over extra five minutes of sleep.

Once she was actually on her side, however, her perspective changed radically. All around her, the light radiated out creating a fascinating silhouette of her that seemed to dance frantically about. It was almost as if the illumination behind her was from a flame rather than a man made object. If it were, though, it would have to be a very large flame.

There was only one real way to find out for sure and lying around thinking was not it. If she was going to find out where she was and what had happened to her she was going to have to do some exploring. With a deep breath she closed her eyes slightly to avoid the bright light behind her. Then, unwaveringly, she rolled over on to her stomach, preparing to push herself up to her feet.

She never counted on the possibility that she was not still on the floor. The young lady instantly found herself floating for a split second. Then, with all the force of a howitzer, fell to the ground with a resounding thud.

"Well that was awfully clumsy." Croft remarked slapping her palm against the floor. "I wonder what other embarrassing things I can do."

Just then, almost on queue, the bright light that had been filling the entire room suddenly shut off. Instantly, the whole room was pitch black. "Fabulous" Lara moaned apathetically. "If its not one thing it's another."

With a deep breath she pushed herself up to her knees and began to try to think of where to begin. There was only one thing that she could do, continue to explore. Half excitedly the young lady rolled back onto her feet so that she in a squatting position. She was about to stand up but in the total darkness it occurred to her that it might be safer to stay as she was. She had not gotten a chance to see the layout of the room and she wanted to be sure there were no booby traps waiting for her. Avoiding them in the dark would be far easier on all fours.

Slowly, she dropped back down to her knees and began to crawl forward, feeling her way around the room. After a moment, she reached the far wall. There was nothing too special about it except that there was another platform there, just like the one she had woken up on. Further on, Miss Croft found a long flat wall.

That being done, she moved back across to the center of the room where the light had come from. As she moved directly in front of it she prayed silently under her breath that it would not come back on. Just to be sure, she reached into her backpack, pulled out her trusty sunglasses, and slipped them into position.

It was all a moot point, however, for when Lara actually reached the center of the room she found nothing of interest what so ever. From her knees, she flailed her arms out, looking for the mysterious object but to no avail.

She was missing something. If only her trusty lighter hadn't fallen into a dark abyss on her last adventure she would not have this problem. Suddenly, she stopped everything and rolled her eyes. What ever had knocked her out had obviously done something to her brain. Even if it had not she was not about admit forgetting something so silly.

Lara reached back into her pack and removed a flare. In mere moments the whole room was illuminated by a bright green light. She could now make out everything around her with nearly perfect detail and it all left her with more questions than she had started out with. It was a relatively small but symmetrical chamber, very plain except on either side where identical stone slabs about three feet high. Undoubtedly, this is what she fallen off of earlier. It reminded the young explorer of several sites she had come across in her travels around the world. Each of them had vastly different purposes too, ranging from sacrifices to meeting chambers.

This one, however, was a total mystery. Most of the other places that Lara had seen had some sort of identifiers. Here, there were no inscriptions, tools, pictures, or anything of the sort, just plain white walls and two slabs.

That is, with one exception. In the exact middle of the room, a large scepter floated in mid air. As soon as she saw it Miss Croft lifted an eyebrow. Of everything that had been running through her head, only one part had not seemed like a dream, a scepter. . It looked exactly like the one that had brought here there, long and golden and adorned with jewels.

The young lady approached cautiously, all the time examining the area around it, looking for some sort of reason that it would be floating. She found nothing. Even after examining every inch of it, squatting down to look under it and standing on tiptoe to look over it, she could find nothing of consequence.

There was only one thing left to try, touching it. Slowly, she reached out her hand toward the scepter. Suddenly there was small clang from somewhere in the room. The next thing that she knew she was enveloped by a soft white light.

"Stop!" Someone cried in earnest.

Croft froze. The voice somehow seemed familiar to her but she could not place it.

She moved her hand down to her pistol and stealthily drew the hammer back. She was not going to take any chances. Still looking straight ahead, she moved her eyes to glance off to the side. The light, though duller than the first one, was still too bright to make out anything except a silhouette.

"Are you all right?" The voice chimed again. Lara turned to face the figure in hopes of getting a better view. The light was still too bright. "Who are you?" She asked.

"Ah, yes." The shadow answered drawing forward slightly. "They said you wouldn't recognize me very much."

The young lady gripped her weapon firmly but for some reason the closer the mysterious person came to her the less frightened she was of him. As he approached the darker area of the room the explorer tossed her flare onto floor to get a better view.

What she discovered was an older gentleman who appeared to be somewhat familiar. It was all as if it were part of an elaborate dream. "It would still be easier if I knew your name." She scolded.

The man stopped and smiled courteously. "Of course," He said with a slight bow. "I am the Doctor."

"Doctor?" Croft repeated, still grasping tightly to her weapon. A wave of images started to filter through her head. It still seemed like a dream but with him standing right in front of her there was no denying it. "I think I know you."

The Time Lord nodded. "You do." He answered. Lifting a boney finger he pointed past the young lady right at the scepter. "And that is what you have both been searching for."

The young lady's ears perked up. Another flash of images began to run through her mind but this time they seemed just slightly more real than before. "A creature!" She exclaimed to herself. "There was some sort of creature."

"That's right." Another voice sang out. At the same time the darkness in the room faded and normal illumination appeared. Lara could see everything clearly now including the new person. "Greetings to you, child, I am Odg, Ruler of this land."

Lara blinked incoherently for a moment, futilely trying to take everything in. Everything in her mind was running together. The lines between her memories and dreams were all blurring together and the more she tried to understand it all the worse it got. Finally, she conceded that she was not going to figure it all out on her own. "What's going on?" She asked suspiciously.

"You remember the creature?" Odg continued stepping up beside the Doctor. "He is one of the Others. Like so many of my people he has tricked you and clouded your mind with false images."

The Time Lord nodded. "That's right, you've been brain washed, or you were."

Croft shook her head, trying to get the cobwebs out. "Brain washed?" She asked. "For what purpose?"

Odg lifted up a long bony finger and pointed directly to the object in front of Lara. "The scepter." He answered. "In your world you are renowned for retrieving the irretrievable are you not?"

Lara lifted an eyebrow. "In my world?" She thought back hard over all the images that had flashed through her head. Obviously she was somewhere strange, Odg's clothes suggested that, but she never considered until now that she was not in her own world.

It was nearly hopeless. Every time she had asked a question something new would come up giving her a thousand more questions. There had to be an easier way. "Alright," she began with a deep sigh, "tell me straight through what has happened to me thus far."

The two older gentlemen glanced over at each other and nodded affirmatively. In short order they directed the young lady out of the chamber and into the hall, the same hall they had been in before they had been knocked out. Somehow, it seemed more familiar, more than anything else she had seen since she woke up. She did not even question the invisible wall at the end of the corridor.

Even so, she was still not quite ready to trust either of her elderly companions. Something told her that despite their age they were not to be trifled with. She made a point of staying behind them as the traveled.

As they went, the Doctor conveyed Croft's story to her as best as her could remember from what she had told him. The whole thing kind of made her angry. She never trusted anybody except her butler, Winston, and not even him when it came to certain things such as her weapons cabinet. How had she let her guard down to be taken in by such a thing?

When they at last reached the older part of the castle, complete with stone bricks and torches Lara stopped in her tracks. The change in scenery seemed to have an overwhelming affect on her. For a moment, she stared back and forth from the old stone structure around her to the stairwell where the science fiction type complex was. She wanted to ask but the Doctor was still recounting her adventure to her and she wanted to make sure that was correct before she started questioning other things.

"It is a long story." Odg interrupted when he saw the young lady's puzzled expression. It was not hard for him to understand her confusion. He expected as much. "Allow the Doctor to finish his tale and then I will tell you mine."

The time lord's ears perked up. "Oh, I am nearly finished anyhow." He said with a tone of extreme curiosity. Truthfully, he was only nearly halfway into it. However, he had been as curious to know about the discontinuity of the areas as well and if he had continued on with his story, especially in the long winded in depth way that he had in been telling it, chances are that it would be a long time before they got to it. Even then, it was doubtful that any of the three of them would remember.

"Very well." The old king nodded. "This Atans, you met is not of this world. Nor am I. We crashed here long ago in a star ship, which is what you were just in. He was my prisoner then, in a war that our two planets were waging. The ship's communications blew out and there was no way to contact homes and in time we put the behind us and agreed to build a new life. At least, that's what I thought we had done. We found the inhabitants of this planet kind and helpful but naive. Atans used his mind powers to manipulate them. Before I could stop him he had used some of the ship's wreckage to build a computer that would increase his mind power."

Lara shook her head. "I suppose that makes sense," she said, trying to fit it logically into her head with all the disjointed images that were still running through it, "but how does the scepter figure into all of this. After all, I found one just like it on Earth."

Odg smiled. "You are from Earth? That explains a lot then." Croft tilted her head attentively at the remark. The old man continued. "We found some ancient manuscripts that mentioned a place called Earth and some sort of a portal. It also mentioned a group called the...Gia Orony?"

"Gia Oreni." The explorer corrected. "Suddenly my research makes more sense. All I really knew about them was that thought the world was too corrupt and that they possessed a treasure that was endowed by the gods and would be able bring peace. They must have meant it was a passage to a place where they could finally build a utopia for themselves. I wonder how they got hold of such power?"

"Pardon my interruption, Miss Croft," The Doctor said sticking a finger into the air, but I believe we should finally determine what is to be done next. Now then," he continued, turning back to Odg, "Atans is an Evlid, but what planet are you from?"

"Eavahn." Another voice echoed from down the hall. It belonged to a young man who had stealthily showed up behind the whole party and had been listening in for some time. The Doctor recognized him immediately as the boy he had seen in the forest and again just before he had fallen unconscious when trying to help Miss Croft.

Even so, the Time Lord Partially ignored him anyway. There was something far more important standing at the young man's side. It was his very scraggly and exhausted companion, Dave. He appeared to be nothing but dirt except for his hair, which was a fine mesh of sticks, bugs, and other unidentifiable things. His face wore an expression of pure melancholyness and confusion.

"My goodness, boy, what's happened to you?" The Doctor scolded. "And where is that friend of yours, hmmm?"

Dave stared blankly back at the elderly gentleman. He was not feeling in the best of moods and the Doctor's comments seemed more crass than helpful. "It just so happens," he began, "that Maria and I have spent the last several hours locked in cell in some huge cage. Somehow, I got out. She didn't."

"And that means she's in terrible danger." The young man to his side explained, turning toward Odg. "Majesty, Dave described the women known as Vee who betrayed me. If she has gotten to his friend-"

The king nodded sorrowfully. "Yes, Dama, this Vee seems to be strongly under Atans's influence."

Miss Croft's mind began to churn. Even though all of her memories were a bit fuzzy she was still cognizant enough to understand where Dave had been. Nonchalantly, she pulled out one of her pistols and began to make sure it was fully loaded. "I suppose then we might as well go get them then."

"Oh, so you are just going to run in there with your guns blazing then?" The Doctor gibed.

Lara smiled wryly. "That's the general idea." She answered.

"No...please." Odg begged. "Those are all my people. They are simply, confused."

"And what if you hit Maria?" Dave added.

The Doctor folded his arms triumphantly in front of him. It seemed to make him look twice as arrogant and full of himself as the young tomb raider had suspected in the beginning. "And what about you?" She asked Dama, hoping for at least a little recognition.

The young man shook his head. "We can still save them I think. We undid the damage they had done on you."

Croft took a deep breath and placed her pistol back into its holster. "Alright then," she asked the Doctor, "what did you have in mind?"

"What indeed." Answered the other. "What indeed."

Back to index

Chapter 11: Who's What

Miss Lara Croft strolled confidently through the dark tunnels. With every step she grew more and more amazed that she could even remember the way. The last time she had traveled through the caves she had been under Atans's spell. Everything since then, up until she had woken up amidst an intensely bright light r, was a flurry of hazy memories.

The most perplexing part of her journey thus far had been the forest. Even if she had been very clear on the way it is likely that she would have been just as lost. The only things she truly remembered about the first trip were the back of her guide's head and the blur of the trees as they flew by.

Somehow, in the end, the young lady had managed to reach the cave and even she had to admit that it was nearly a miracle. The only thing that cast dispersions on the theory was a very dark spec that seemed to have guided Miss Croft on her way. Before they had parted company, the Doctor surmised that there might be such a thing since the others were expecting he back and wanted to show her the way. Now that she was back in the tunnels, however, things only seemed more conspicuous. There was absolutely no one around.

The young lady stood motionless for a moment staring at the ornate scepter in her hand. She was having serious doubts about the whole plan but it was far too late to start changing things now. It was only that she found it hard to believe that giving Atans what he wanted would somehow free those under his control. Still, she supposed that the Doctor knew what he was doing so she went along with it.

A few minutes later a dark shadow passed in front of the explorer followed closely behind the sound of soft muffled breathing. Lara narrowed her eyes, trying to see the figure through the blackness. In a few seconds a faint outline became slightly visible but was still mostly obscured by the dark.

"Yes?" Croft began when she realized the shadow was not about to speak first. "If you aren't going to do or say anything useful than you might as well get out of my way."

"It's about time." A young sarcastic voice blurted out. "We were thinking of going on to plan B."

"Well, it's not like it was a cake walk." Lara snapped back. "No one bothered to explain that it would be hidden in some weird building."

"We didn't feel it was important." The voice answered back. "Besides we weren't positive and did not want you running around off kilter trying to find something that might not be there."

Lara's ears suddenly perked up. "Off kilter" was not a phrase she expected to hear from anybody around her with the exception of the Doctor or his companions. Hastily she pulled a flare from her backpack and lit it, sending a bright green light flooding through the cavern and illuminating the owner of the voice that had been speaking to her.

It was a young girl, somewhere in her teenage years, and wearing what used to be a blue and white-striped skirt. That is, it used to be. At present it was so tattered and soiled with dirt that its original appearance was all but lost for good. It was only by luck that Lara noticed the small patches of faded color peeking out from behind all the grime.

This person she was dealing with had to be the Doctor's companion, Maria. No one that she had come across thus far had dressed anything like the girl in front of you.

With a sigh, she squeezed the scepter tightly in her hand. She so wanted to use it to change the girl back right there but she had no idea how to do it or even if the scepter could do it. Even if she had it would not have been the right time. She had to stick to the plan.

"Well, give me the scepter." Maria ordered, holding out her hand. "I'll give it to Atans. "

Lara pulled the scepter back. "I don't think so." She retorted. "I'll give it to him myself. He sent me after this thing and I will I give it directly to him. It's the only way I'll get home."

Maria nodded understandingly and stepped off to one side, allowing Croft to pass. She then promptly followed the explorer as she proceeded down the hall. In only a short amount of time they happened to make it to a small dimly lit room.

Miss Croft recognized it instantly. It was the exact room where she had awoken before she met Atans for the first time. For a moment she lingered, giving off an impression of reminiscence. In reality she was quite busy with a small square transmitter inside of her pocket. With Maria tagging along behind her, she had nowhere to put it. If she simply threw it onto the ground it would blow the whole plan.

As she looked around the cave, she began to pick at the lining of her pocket with the sharp corner of the transmitter. It only took a second to loosen up a small stitch and open a hole. Then, leisurely, she strolled over to a dark corner and pretended to inspect the wall. Meanwhile, she ran her finger over a small button on the transmitter and pushed it out of the hole in her pocket.

All the while, Maria paced nervously back and forth near the entrance of a hall on the other side of the room. "What are you doing?" She asked irritatedly.

Croft turned with a sigh. "Just making some last minute memories." She answered, looking over the scepter. "I should be leaving once I get rid of this."

"Well, let's go get rid of it." Answered the other, hastily. "I don't have all day you know." Lara nodded and ambled rapidly past the young girl and down the hall.

A few seconds later a loud screeching sound pierced its way through the chamber. It echoed off of the walls with a mysterious reverberation. Further down the hall, Lara could faintly hear it and made an effort to dig walk slightly louder in case Maria became suspicious. A few moments later the TARDIS materialized of

"This is it!" Dave yelled, leaping excitedly from the time ship. Now all I have to do is find Maria, right?"

"Yes yes." Agreed the Doctor, stepping out behind the boy. "However, it would probably be a good idea for all of us to stay together for a little while. At least until we know where to look."

Just then, Odg and Dama stepped cautiously out of the time vehicle, intrigued and slightly frightened at the short trip.

"Amazing!" The King exclaimed as he exited. What did you call this mode of travel again?"

"Hmmm?" The Doctor responded. He had only half heard the question. Most of his mind was focused more on the caves around him. Then, as if an alarm clock had gone off next to his ear, he shook his head and came back to reality. "Let's not worry about that right now." He said pointing off to the tunnel that Lara and Maria had disappeared down earlier. "I think we should go that way." The rest of the entourage, having no real idea which way to go, nodded in agreement.

"What if we run into this Atans?" Dama asked as they began toward the hall. Ever since they had left he had become increasingly nervous and paranoid that something would go wrong.

The Doctor shook his head. "If Miss Croft does her job correctly," he reassured, "we won't have to worry about anything of the sort."

Further down the hall, Lara was standing outside of the room where she had first met Atans. Maria, who had been following her since she had arrived, stood behind her, happily dancing from one foot to the other as if she was a four year old on Christmas morning. In her brainwashed state, the excitement of the scepter's presence was very overwhelming.

Croft ignored it all with relative apathy. What she was about to do would change everything anyway...she hoped. So, without further delay, she mustered up her courage and walked forcefully into the darkened room.

Strangely, the mere sight of it made her smile slightly. It was one of the few things that she seemed to remember clearly. She also remembered the dark figure in the corner. He was still there.

"Is that what you were looking for?" The tomb raider asked, tossing the scepter into the dark.

"Excellent!" Replied a darkened voice. "You have done well."

Ever so slightly, Croft began to dig the heel of her boot into the dirt. The voice was all too familiar and its presence, while not frightening, made her nervous beyond belief. She wanted to grit her teeth right then and there but she had to keep up appearances until the Doctor arrived.

"Thank you." The young lady replied with a smile.

"Something's strange about her." Maria noted, slithering up. She looked Lara up and down for any visible flaws or signs of deception. "I don't know what it is but something is definitely strange."

Atans nodded. "Thank you my child, I shall deal with it. "Please stand guard by the door."

"Fine" Huffed the other. "But I'm not a child." With that, she turned and glided gracefully out of the door.

"So," the voice in the dark continued, "You have managed to clear your mind."

Lara moved so that she was standing as straight and upright as she could and crossed her arms in front of her. "Yes, thanks to the people in that castle. You know, seeing as how that is my only way home, you might have bothered to let me keep my mind."

Atans shook his head. "I apologize." He said. "I couldn't take the risk of you saying no."

Miss Croft shrugged her shoulders it was nearly time. "Well, you have the scepter, and I am kind of anxious to leave."

The figure in the dark corner nodded. Before he could do anything with the scepter, however, the young lady held up her hand. "Just a sec." She said. "I just thought of something. When I was climbing that wall I didn't see anywhere that you could have come from. I wonder, could you show me where you were right before you rescued me?"

"What difference does it make?" Atans replied. "You are here, is that not enough?"

"Well, I'm just curious," Lara replied, "it's my nature. Besides, I'm going right back anyway so it won't hurt if you show me."

For a moment there was an uncomfortable silence. Atans sat back in his corner stroking the scepter in his hand and thinking. Croft, meanwhile, slipped her right hand down on to the butt of her pistol. She was not sure what would happen next but was not about to let herself be attacked. After all, it was now known that she was no longer under the influence of any mind control and that could spell disaster. Then, after what seemed an eternity, the shadowy figure rose and stepped across the room to the back wall where he pushed a small, almost unnoticeable button.

"Very well." He finally answered, as a door, cleverly disguised as a wall, slowly opened. "I will show you then."

Nonchalantly, the both of them stepped through the passage and disappeared from view. At the exact same time Maria came rushing back into the room. "Sir!" She yelled. "Someone's coming this way and I don't think they're -"

The silence all around interrupted her. "Atans?" She inquired to the darkened shadows. "Are you there?"

"No but we are, young lady." The Doctor snapped stepping through the door.

Maria whirled around to face the Time Lord. "Oh, I should have known it was you." She said when recognized him. "You can't take me with you. Atans told me about you."

"And what was that?" Dave asked, following right on the Doctor's heals. "He's lying, whatever it was."

The young lady simply shook her head. "Whatever." She replied apathetically.

"Believe them." Odg said, appearing at the door, followed soon after by Dama. "You are under a spell. Fight it."

For a moment, Maria did not move. She simply stared out into space as if she was considering what had been said. In reality, she was waiting to strike. Looking for an opportunity that was to her advantage.

The Doctor, for his part, took his own advantage from the girl's pause to move closer to the back wall. "Dave, Dama." He ordered. "Help her. Odg, help me."

The boys nodded affirmatively and stepped forward between Maria and the Doctor. At the same time Odg slipped behind them and began feeling around the wall. "Doctor?" He asked. There was no answer. The Time Lord was too busy examining the rock face for himself. "Doctor?" He asked again. There was still no answer. "Doctor, it might help if I knew what we were looking for."

"What ever it is you won't get it." Maria interrupted. Forcefully, she marched forward toward the quartet; intent on stopping whatever insurrection they might be planning. Dave braced himself for the worst. He did not want to fight his girlfriend but she, being under Atans's control, had different plans all together. Without a second thought, she stepped up and shoved him off to the side. In retaliation, the young boy grabbed her by her arm and pulled her away from the Doctor and Odg. The young lady turned angrily onto Dave and threw a hard punch into his jaw sending him flying crashing to the ground. Dama countered that by grabbing the young lady's collar and tossing her out into the hall.

"I'm sorry." The Doctor finally replied to Odg's question, oblivious to the carnage. "You were asking what we were looking for. The computer that increases his power."

Dave shook his head as he slowly returned to his feet. "Why do I have a bad feeling about all this?" He asked himself. Lethargically, he shrugged his shoulders. What ever happened he was determined to rescue Maria whether she wanted it or not. With that, he marched out unwaveringly out into hall and was blindsided straight into the wall by Vee, who seemed to come out of know where.

All at once the battle came to an abrupt stop. No one moved. They all just stared at each other, Dave and Maria and Dama and Vee.

"Why are you doing this?" Maria yelled furiously. "Can't you just leave us alone?"

Dama shook his head. "Girls, listen, you are being tricked. Your minds are not working right."

"No, for the first time they actually are!" Vee shouted back. "We have found truth. We were living in darkness and now it's all clear."

"You should join us." Maria continued. "Dave, you've never known this feeling. It's better than anything else.

The young boy stood silently for a moment contemplating what he had just heard. In his gut he knew that she did not mean any of it but that did not stop his stomach from tightening. From his eye, a small solitary tear formed and ran half way down his face. "Is it a better feeling than love?" He choked.

Maria chuckled lightly to herself. "Love is meaningless." She answered almost gleefully.

Back in the room, the Doctor stopped feeling around the wall for a moment. He could hear everything that was being said. Having dealt with the Evilids before he knew how they worked. "Ignore her boy!" He called out. "She is only trying to get into your head."

He was nearly ready to step out to try to calm the situation himself when Odg found something. It was a small crack in the rock. The unusual thing was that it seemed to run straight up and down instead of here and there as a normal crack would. "Doctor!" He called, pulling the Time Lord back to the moment. "I may I found something."

The Time Lord moved forward excitedly, nearly pushing Odg out of the way. "This is it!" He said as soon as he had touched it. Quickly, he moved his hand around until he found a small button hidden in the rock face. As soon as he pushed it the rocks parted at the crack revealing a small control panel.

Back in the hall, Maria leapt forward knocking Dave to the ground. Vee followed suit and before long the whole hall was filled with sounds of a scuffle.

The clamor quickly echoed through the stone passages bringing assistance to the girls from all over. Out of nowhere, people began to show up and join the fight. Dama, who was not experienced in fighting at all, appeared to be swallowed up by the crowd. Dave faired slightly better but only because Maria insisted on taking him on herself.

"Doctor!" The boy yelled from within an anaconda like headlock. "Anytime would be good!"

"Patience, child." Replied the other, bending over the computer. He was busily focused on the controls in front of him.

Odg stared out into the hall. Dama had completely disappeared and Dave was slowly turning blue in the face from the headlock. "Doctor?" He said calmly. "Perhaps if you explained what you were doing I could help."

The Time Lord shook his head no but in the midst of it he stopped short and turned to his king companion. "Hmmm, you might at that." He agreed. "You already said that Atans augmented his mind power by creating a computer, correct? In the past I have known Evlids to need a neural link to keep control of several people at once. It is quite a fascinating technology really. You see - "

"Doctor!" Dave interrupted, this time from the ground, trying to free himself from a chokehold.

The Time Lord nodded. "Of course, of course." He muttered. As quickly as he could he ran his fingers over the controls, trying to find a way to turn the machine off.

Impatiently, Odg stepped up and tore off the front of the computer, exposing its innards. "Where I come from its easier to do this." The Doctor shrugged. It was far more barbaric than he liked but it would ensure that the system stay down.

Odg took the gesture as an approval. He reached down, grabbed a hand full of wires, and pulled. They snapped soundly amidst a flurry of sparks sending the two elderly men reeling backward.

Out in the hall all of the combats that were attacking Dave and Dama suddenly stopped and fainted. This included Maria who, by now, was totally on top of the boy choking him. She immediately fell on her victim causing him both pleasure, because the battle was over, and pain because of how Maria had landed on him.

"Is every one all right?" The Doctor called.

Dama pushed the pile of people that had landed on top of him to one side and looked around for Vee. "I think we are." He replied. "But what about the girls?"

Odg pushed himself up off the ground. "I think they will be all right." He said. "Now if we can just get rid of Atans."

That situation belonged to Miss Lara Croft. She was standing firmly on a ledge high above the stone path looking over the lake of fire. She could feel the intense heat of the lava wafting its way upward toward her. It brought back the horrid images that had invaded her mind the first time that she had seen the lake. She almost wanted to turn and walk away but there was too much at stake.

Atans said little of anything. As long as he had the scepter he did not care why Lara wanted to see the pit. Besides, he planned to have her under his control again quite soon. At least, that was the plan. Unfortunately for him, the moment that he was about to try it was the exact moment that the Doctor and Odg destroyed his computer.

Atans's neural link sent a sudden surge of feedback his body. For a moment his body constricted back in pain then righted itself.

That was when Croft struck. As Atans tried to catch his breath and reorientate him, Lara reached in and grabbed the scepter back from him. Then she turned and jumped off of the ledge onto the stone walkway below.

Atans quickly shook off the remaining effects of the surge and leapt down in front of Lara. Suddenly, any sort of calmness that the creature had was now replaced by furious anger. "You little minx!" He cried out. "What are you up to?"

Croft scanned the area, trying to learn her surroundings before the now inevitable battle. The outlook was not good. Besides Atans being in front of her she had managed to land right in front of a broken off portion of the walkway. She was trapped. Her only advantage was the scepter.

"Come now." She replied smugly. "You know I'm not just going to give this back to you. And you can't be angry about being double-crossed either. You were probably going to try to rehypnotize me anyway. Am I right?"

Atans opened his eyes widely in a last ditch effort to hypnotize Miss Croft. "But I brought you here for a purpose." He explained in a soft voice.

Lara shook her head. "If you knew anything about how I got here you would know that is impossible. "

The Evlid's eyes grew narrow. Without his neural link her mind could not be taken over so easily. If he was going to get the scepter back it was going to have to be by other methods. Considering his opponents size he decided to try his strength. With a snarl he charged headlong at the young lady. At the same time Lara squatted down, preparing for Atans's assault. As he drew near she took a step forward and leaped high into the air, flipping over her attacker and landing on the other side.

As she passed over his head, however, Atans grabbed the scepter. Then, he quickly spun around and thrust Lara aside with one hand, sending her bouncing off of the edge of the walkway.

Swiftly, Croft grabbed the ledge with one hand just barely keeping her from falling off, much to Atans's dismay.

As she rolled back up to safety her enemy placed the scepter in position over his forehead. "Let me show you why I wanted this thing so badly." Atans chuckled. "You see, my species has always had mental powers other than manipulation. We also have a little psychokinetic power too." With that, he gathered all of the energy he could muster into his mind. If he could transform some of it into a psychic wave Lara would stand no chance.

"Don't you get it?" Miss Croft yelled. "You've lost. The Doctor has probably already freed all of your servants."

Atans said nothing. Instead, he unleashed a huge wave of psychic energy from his mind, blowing open another huge gap in the stone path. Lara jumped backward just in the nick of time. It was just long enough for her to deploy her pistols and fire several rounds at her enemy.

The alien convulsed from the impact of the bullets. At the same time he lost his grip on the scepter and threw it forward. It hit the catwalk and bounced off of the side.

In a flash, Lara replaced her weapons and dove forward. Grabbing the ledge tightly she swung her out and seized the object with her feet before it plummeted to a fiery demise. With the help of her momentum carrying her forward she pulled herself back around into a flip that landed her safely back on the stone path.

Atans was now badly injured and teetering on the edge of one the large gaps in the rock trying to recover from the bullet holes in his chest. Blood ran from his wounds and off of his body where it congregated in a large red pool on the stone walkway. Lara, with as much animosity as she had ever had, drew one pistol from its holster, aimed, and fired. The shot impacted into the Alien's head, throwing him backward into the flames below.

Solemnly, she turned and made her way back along the path. After a few minutes of wandering around the caves she found the TARDIS along with its crew and several disoriented people, presumably those who had previously been under Atans's control. .

Dave and Dama were on the ground next to the time ship holding tightly to Maria and Vee who had just begun to wake up. The Doctor was checking to see if the sudden destruction of the computer had caused any sort of brain damage in the girls. That is to say that he was busily asking questions about who was who and if they could follow the pen with their eyes and so on.

"You can have this back now." Lara said, tossing the scepter apathetically to Odg as she walked by.

The King nodded happily. "Thank you. We can now send you home anytime you like."

Croft nodded. "The sooner the better."

Maria sat up in Dave's arms. "Is he...gone?" She asked weakly. Croft nodded affirmatively and the young girl smiled. "Good"

"Good!" The Doctor huffed. "What's so good about anyone having to die?"

Vee pulled herself up so that she was propped up against the TARDIS. "As long as he won't be hurting us any longer I don't care."

"Me either!" Dama yelled. "Good riddance I say."

Odg shook his head. Atans's very presence had made things difficult. It would be a long time before any true peace would be known. "My children." He explained. "It is sad when anything must be destroyed. We must pity Atans and be sad that he could not willingly bring peace.

Lara said nothing. She wanted to go on a rant about how much better they were all off now but she had had enough of all of it. She fully intended to go home as soon as possible and live in her hot tub for at least a week.

Maria shook her head. "Maybe I'll understand one day. For now, I'm just glad it's over."

"I'm just glad you're all right." Dave chimed in, with small kiss.

Suddenly, the girl's eyes became three times larger than they had been. With everything that had been going on she had completely forgotten about what she had shared with Dave in the cell. As it came back a huge smile began to make its way across her face. With one arm she reached up and grabbed her boyfriend's shirt and pulled him close so that she could return the gesture.

At the same time, The Doctor unlocked the TARDIS, and stepped inside. "Whenever you two are finished." He said sarcastically. In an effort not to be left behind, Maria and Dave slowly stood up and made their way along behind him. "Well, Miss Croft," the Doctor began, "It was certainly a pleasure working with you. I trust in future meetings you won't threaten to kill me as much?"

"Future meetings?" Lara chuckled. "Since I get the feeling that somehow we will actually meet again, I'll try to remember not to shoot you."

Odg moved over to the young Lady. "I hope you will extend me the same courtesy if we ever meet again. Thank you both for your help with everything." Both parties nodded happily.

"Now what?" Maria asked as the doors closed behind them.

The Doctor smiled. "Now we go adventuring...again."

The End

Back to index

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=229