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TRAOD-6-EN/2 :iconalvaro84:alvaro84 0 0
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Kyouko fejcsóválva ült le a padra, és a hátizsákjából egy kis füzetet meg egy golyóstollat kotort elő. A lehető legósdibb eszközök tűntek a legalkalmasabbnak a feladatra, amire szánta őket. Kinyitotta a füzetet az első üres oldalon és kipróbálta, fog-e a toll.
- Te meg mit csinálsz? - vonta fel a szemöldökét a másik lány.
- Leírok mindent, ahogy a hídon mondtad. Nem tudom, mi folyik körülötted, de hallgatok rád, mindent följegyzek. Jól jöhet, ha kiderül, hogy igazad van...
Homura bólintott.
- Hallasz ma még tőlem felírni valót. - Azzal követte Tatsuyát a homokozóba. Tomohisa ráhagyta a meséket, amiket a lány szerint ismernie kellett volna. Úgy gondolta, épp ideje egy kicsit kifaggatni ezt az új barátot.
- Sakura-san
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"Man, at this rate I'll really believe that this is your family! They're off their rockers. Okay, they think they know you. But they saw me for the fucking first time! Do you get it? I'm a complete stranger! Yet they let me into this fine house and just nick off! How do you think the brat could stop me if I began to loot it?"
Kyouko had just passed the door handle of the Kaname household's bathroom to her friend with a grin. The parents hadn't have a hard time to persuade them. One part of Homura tried to resist but the other was grateful for the invitation and their trust. Kyouko had similarly ambivalent feelings. She felt bad for exploiting this unusually hospitable couple and worried that she'd might cause problems to the ravenette but she'd have never skipped such a prime opportunity for a whole afternoon of freeloading.
"He couldn't but I'd wring your neck in that very moment!", the thin girl answered closing the bathroom door from the inside.
When she re-appeared in the blue jean
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3. Orientation
v 0.901
"The very first step will be to learn conjuring and using your weapon. Every magical girl has a tool for combat. It'll may surprise you at the first time but it'll be your magical weapon, the projection of your inner power. We know of someone who got ribbons."
"It's like winning the fork in the Battle Royale lottery.", Lara remarked with a touch of cynicism.
"I do not understand.", the animal replied.
"It's okay.", the girl said with a wave of her hand. The creature introduced to her as Yonbey, an escort Incubator for magical girls. He didn't deny his alien origin but he knew enough about the local culture to avoid the other more sinister translation of number four. His knowledge seemed quite lacking otherwise.
"It happened in a book my governess made me read, because 'a modern British lady needs an open mind'. My father didn't interfere. He had given her a free hand. He was never home anyway."
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3. Eligazítás
v 1.1
- A legelső lépés, hogy megtanuld megidézni és használni a fegyvered. Minden mágikus lány rendelkezik olyan eszközzel, amivel harcolhat. Lehet, hogy először meglep majd, amit kapsz, de az lesz a te mágikus fegyvered, a belső erőd megtestesülése. Ismerünk valakit, aki szalagokat kapott.
- Mintha ő húzta volna a villát a Battle Royale sorsolásán. - jegyezte meg Lara, némi éllel a hangjában.
- Nem értem. - közölte az állat, aki nemrég mágikuslány-kísérő Inkubátorként, Yonbey néven mutatkozott be. Nem tagadta földönkívüli eredetét, de tudhatott annyit a helyi kultúráról, hogy megpróbálja elkerülni a négyes szám másik, baljós elnevezés
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I want my hand back pg15 by alvaro84 I want my hand back pg15 :iconalvaro84:alvaro84 0 7 I want my hand back pg14 by alvaro84 I want my hand back pg14 :iconalvaro84:alvaro84 0 0 I want my hand back pg13 by alvaro84 I want my hand back pg13 :iconalvaro84:alvaro84 0 0 I want my hand back pg12 by alvaro84 I want my hand back pg12 :iconalvaro84:alvaro84 0 0


Goddess by 2ble-ZZ Goddess :icon2ble-zz:2ble-ZZ 161 7 No homo by Suley-sketch No homo :iconsuley-sketch:Suley-sketch 64 12 Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica - cosplay by Apllyker Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica - cosplay :iconapllyker:Apllyker 1 0 Akemi Homura by miura-n315 Akemi Homura :iconmiura-n315:miura-n315 860 0 Madoka by Tiribrush Madoka :icontiribrush:Tiribrush 201 17 hands by kirakiera hands :iconkirakiera:kirakiera 56 0 A scent of Spring by Szellorozsa A scent of Spring :iconszellorozsa:Szellorozsa 32 8 The White Gorgon by Eurwentala The White Gorgon :iconeurwentala:Eurwentala 350 44 Turrican title screen parody with Homura by bezefang Turrican title screen parody with Homura :iconbezefang:bezefang 3 2 Turrican 2 cosplay - Shoot or die by Ravenlordess Turrican 2 cosplay - Shoot or die :iconravenlordess:Ravenlordess 6 11 Lazy Fox by Eurwentala Lazy Fox :iconeurwentala:Eurwentala 247 24 SAKURA KYOKO!!! by Akiuumi SAKURA KYOKO!!! :iconakiuumi:Akiuumi 93 17 remake #9 by konekitae remake #9 :iconkonekitae:konekitae 6 3 Pangur Ban Animation by paulvkolesnikov Pangur Ban Animation :iconpaulvkolesnikov:paulvkolesnikov 12 4 Madoka Kaname by AlexaFV Madoka Kaname :iconalexafv:AlexaFV 191 18 Microraptor by NikolaosFlamel Microraptor :iconnikolaosflamel:NikolaosFlamel 10 1


Alvaro Acwellan
Current Residence: Fehérvárcsurgó - Hungary
Favourite fictional characters: Akemi Homura in many shapes and forms...
I'm through the first version of the disturbing scene that held me back and I've officially started editing and translating the upcoming TRAOD chapter 5: Searchlight. Also this is the longest chapter of anything I've ever written, I'll surely split it in two (or three) because of DA's text size limit but I'll post it all at once, in the usual two languages. In June. Or July. Life can happen as it did all this spring.


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She had enough time to think about it while she eyed the blood that slowly oozed through her fresh bandage. Lara sat there, leaning against the wall, face buried in her hands, with her murky green soul gem in her lap. She proved to be a lousy healer but she refused to give up until her vision blurred and a wave a dizziness knocked her down to the floor, dragging Homura along.

"Let it slide...", the little Japanese girl whispered with her hand on Lara's shoulder. It was everything she could do. Though the world wasn't real the pain was. "I don't know..." , she gulped for air, "if you're depleting your real magic... but if you pass out... I don't know where you end up."

The re-opened wound throbbed quietly, the fresh, naked bone modestly hid under the makeshift bandage Lara had torn off her disturbing new uniform.

"I don't understand how I could even try it. I've never done it, not even to myself! Homura, I've been so stupid! I'm so sorry..."

She received a sympathetic, lopsided smile from the girl on the ground. After a minute of silence she added, "Back in the outside world a good friend of mine was gravely injured. If I had learned about my magic just a bit earlier I would have tried to use it on him. It scares me to imagine fucking it up the same way, with a normal person, in the real world. You could at least understand what happened to you."

"What did you do then?", the Japanese girl asked.

"I gave him normal first aid."

"Is he... all right?"

"He's dead. Killed by Mathias."

Homura was too tired to answer. It would have been pointless anyway. She closed her eyes in pain. Lara felt like doing the same but then she realized where she was. She couldn't risk falling out of this dream, not now. She jerked up her head and looked at the girl. The sudden move, or something else, made her sway again.

When she saw Homura her blood ran cold. The girl's stump was covered in a stained, formerly gray camouflage patterned piece of cloth.

"Good God, who did this to you?"

"It doesn't matter, Miss Croft. I just need a little time. We can be on our way soon."

For a moment Lara didn't understand why Homura was so pleased. Then she realized that not only she didn't know what had happened to her arm but didn't remember why they were down on the floor to begin with. The hole in her last few minutes worth of memory was just as conspicuous as Homura's smile. It was so conspicuous that it looked like a deliberate message without words or messages to intercept. But what could the raptor girl try to message her with punching a hole in her memory? Perhaps the very fact that they may have disarmed her and taken away the control over her own dream she still wasn't helpless and she was planning something with her power.

"Clever girl!"

What else could she say to such an intelligent reptile? She exchanged a smile with Homura.

"When you can get up let's go get your gem! It can't be too far. But until we get it... Can you handle it?"

She held out a dead guard's assault Rifle for Homura.

"Of course, single-handedly! Don't you need one too?"

But Lara had already grasped the grip of an ice axe she found in the debris. The tool was the spitting image of the one she used outside to pulverize the giant wraith's head. It was apparently waiting right for her. It was the second time she felt in a video game. And, if it was a game, she would need this very weapon soon.

They didn't have to follow the corridor for long. It ended in another heavy steel door marked with the number they were looking for. According to the documents Homura's soul gem must have been locked up in there. So Lara tried to pry the door open with the head of the axe but it resisted.

She exhaled and held out her hand above the tip of the tool. St Elmo's fire slowly enveloped the edge in green glow. Then she started to work on the door again. The tip of the axe punctured it with ease and Lara cut through the steel plate like the lid of a tin can.

When she tried to get through the opening Homura held her back.

"I hope this time you don't want to cut yourself with the rim.", she said, tracing the ragged edge with her fingertips.

The older magical girl shook her head. This time their imagined realities were in line and Homura's fingers accurately followed the outlines of the opening. Lara saw the airlock's reinforced steel door, the sterile white walls and the room with stainless counters and cabinets she was supposed to see. The counters and trolleys were packed with medical tools and instruments, closed bottles and Petri dishes. But the middle of the room was suspiciously empty, apart from one single operating table.

She switched visions before Homura's worried eyes. She hoped to see more through her eyelids and she was right. Thin strands of light crisscrossed the murky dusk of the room in every imaginable angle. Of course they had a security system. It could probably even fill the halls and corridors with gas. So she began to cross the empty space with closed eyes. She lifted her feet above a thread of light, crawled under another then slid sideways through a glowing fence.

Homura couldn't see the light beams but she was sure that what her self-appointed guardian angel was dodging wasn't the security system of the research facility. No security system radiated magic like this one. And she couldn't feel any wraiths nearby, it had to be something else. She didn't want to disturb Lara in her worming through the magical defense of the room but kept scanning the area for the hiding stranger who had murdered the guards and whose magical imprint she sensed everywhere ahead.

Lara stopped for a moment. She turned her head around as if she was looking for something but she still kept her eyes closed. Then she seemed to find something. She froze, facing a big, locked cabinet. She vaulted over the operating table and sneaked to the sturdy piece of furniture with her back hunched. She unhooked the ice axe from her belt and began to pry this new door open, successfully this time.

She leaned into the brightly lit cabinet to examine her quarry. A nugget of moving, living light was sitting on the massive metal shelf. She placed it on her palm and opened her eyes to experience the feeling of holding someone else's soul with her normal senses. She expected a familiar ornate gem but she could only see a crumpled ball of hair-thin gray thread, still glowing faintly with magic.

"Get down!", she heard Homura's frightened shout. She bellied down without hesitation and used her momentum to kick back. The dropped ball unraveled into an eerily hissing wire that missed her head by a mere few inches.

As she followed her own move a second Japanese girl's disturbingly uncertain image flashed before her eyes. White skin, white teeth, white hair, white coat, white skirt. Her ice cold almond shaped eyes, frozen blue grin and the golden hem of her clothes could only emphasize her perfect camouflage in this sterile place.

"Goddamn chameleon!", she thought, returning to her survivor vision. She could finally see the slim figure glowing in the color of magic. She wasn't at all taller than Homura and held the end of every luminous thread in one hand. They glowed in the same hue as her body, totally unlike the wraiths' corpse-colored light. But where could she have been hiding if she was so radiant?

Her assailant quickly regained her balance. With a tug she joined the threads in a bundle and struck at Lara with this whip. The overage magical girl threw herself aside, kicking over a trolley of medical instruments. She grabbed one of the scattering objects, something heavy and expensive, and hurled it at the casually approaching stranger.

"Come on now, Akemi-san... What an unruly visitor you brought into the facility! You cause terrible headaches to daddy, when he was civil with you, even though he could have just dissected you!", the patch of light remarked. Lara heard the sadistic tone but couldn't see how she dodged the contraption adorned with a pair of LCDs. Apparently it had just flown through her. She opened her eyes again hoping to observe the monstrosity Homura's imagination unleashed on them. She resented her a little for hindering her own rescue but she was quite sure that conjuring this white chameleon out of her non-existent top hat was hardly intentional.

"Lizard is a wolf to her fellow lizard...", she growled as she grabbed the next random object. She tossed a rack of test tubes at the unknown girl and her aim was surely true this time. But the result was disappointing, she couldn't see the trick. Her opponent just pushed the flying rack aside, scattering and smashing the glass tubes on the white stone floor. But where Lara's bullet couldn't hit she herself ruthlessly did. She didn't even try to be gentle. She was fighting a mere vision, a phantom from the dark depths of Homura's mind. Her fist landed first, right in the pit of her enemy's stomach. Then she slammed her ice axe into her skull - or at least into the thin air where her skull had just been. What she thought to be a chameleon proved to be a ghost instead. She just disappeared from the weapon's way and Lara stumbled through the air. Hitting the ground she whirled around and faced the albino phantom who was still standing there and slowly turned toward Lara with a scowl. Then she took her hand off her stomach and ran her fingers through the air around her.

Lara suspected that she was playing with her wires. Every magical girl has a tool for combat, she murmured the mantra closing her eyes again. She had the choice to see these weapons or the moments when her enemy was exposed in the physical world. And she was in dire need of the former now. The sharp strands kept insanely lashing at her and she dodged them with moves she couldn't have imagined she was capable of. Part of her brain registered the trajectories and searched for the white magical girl's weaknesses. This fighting style seemed useless in close combat so she had to get closer to her. She grabbed an IV stand and used it to block the next attack. She gained two half stands and a fraction of a second to dart through the created opening. But she made a mistake too: she didn't count on the quick reactions of her opponent. One of the airborne wires took a sharp turn and coiled itself around her wrist. The phantom flashed a wicked grin at her and pulled the end of the wire. But in the middle of the move her face twisted and her body arched as a burst of bullets slammed into her back.

Homura had been standing aside and cold-bloodedly waited for the exact hundredth of a second when the ghost had to materialize for the attack. She surprised them both and the phantom left the world together with her wires just a moment too late. Lara could see the deflected bullets in her body, the entry holes, the broken rib and the damaged lung. She felt that one of the shots landed in her thigh but she closed off the pain and didn't even resent Homura for the stray bullet. The attack had freed her from the razor-sharp noose after all, and even she herself couldn't have been more careful in this situation. What's more, the thin girl's aim was excellent for someone who used the assault rifle with just one hand.

The phantom turned on her heel like the wounds had just angered her. Now she aimed her threads at Homura, slicing up her weapon. Small metal pieces clattered on the floor, then something thudded: a delicate hand.

"I thought we agreed! No more resistance, no more escape! But I don't care, you'll be much easier to handle when you're incapacitated. Do you really think they won't find use for you then?"

The sugar coated sadism in her voice was gone, the remaining whistling gurgle was hardly fit to display fine tinges. She snatched at the other girl's feet with her wires while Homura backed without a word, face livid. The ghost casually followed savoring every step and took good care to stomp on her dropped hand.

Lara's eyes blazed up. Her fury and some primal protective instinct crystallized into cold blooded brutality. Homura had become her friend, a member of her crew, and she had enough of this cursed island - Himiko - hunting them down one by one.

"I won't give you more sacrifices, you goddamn bitch!", she snarled under her breath, clutching the handle of the ice axe.

Limping in deadly silence she caught up to her enemy. Could the phantom really be careless enough to ignore a combat-capable opponent? Lara prepared for a failure, she flexed her unhurt leg to jump but she didn't need to. The attack took the pale ghost by surprise. The head of the axe rammed into her body above the collar bone and sunk deep into her chest. Such a horrible wound could have killed any of Mathias' zealots but this time her opponent was another magical girl. On the top of that it was a dream world with arbitrary distortions so she had no idea what she could have achieved. In the real world she would have taken her opponent out of action and Homura would have a mere few minutes left before she'd bleed to death. She had no time to waste.

She took hold of the phantom and twisted her arms back with quick, efficient moves. The magical girl's body was dead cold and completely solid but Lara had already seen her dematerialize in a blink of an eye. Yet she didn't phase out of her grip but slammed her head into Lara's face, filling her mouth with the taste of blood. The flavor called back some faint memory. A small furry body squirmed in her hands and she stabbed it with her hunting knife.

She would have liked to see the rest of the story but she couldn't afford daydreaming. She was tussling with a rabid phantom who seemed to be unable to dematerialize while in physical contact with someone else. Every magic seemed to have its limits and Lara was in dire need of this limit. It could finally turn the tides. She twisted the handle of the axe. Cool blood streamed down her hands just to drip further down and evaporate from the floor. She felt the undead body twitch in her grip.

"It was a well laid trap. And now you better hand me her soul gem... Lest something happen to yours!"

She squeezed the apparition's hand where she felt a hard, cold object. Her gem.

"Would you like to see where they keep it?", the pale ghost mockingly gurgled. "I show you!"

So she dropped sideways, together with Lara. The axe, losing its support, plopped down with a quiet clank. Then they fell through the closest wall. It felt like breaking a river's surface from below - but this surface had thickness and there was another room on the other side. Lara did the only thing she could, held on to the ghost who dragged her into another world. She suspected that she'd gladly leave her stuck in the wall but as long as she kept her hold they changed phase together.

They hit the shiny white stone floor hard but Lara didn't slacken her hold on her foe. She raised to one knee then stood up dragging the re-materialized, constantly struggling phantom up with her. She pushed her forward by her twisted arm, to the translucent glass and steel mesh container. This was the source of the familiar purple glow she sensed, first via her survivor vision, then her naked eyes too. She had finally found what she was looking for: a small gemstone, similar to her own, in a worn golden casing, with clouds of darkness floating around the numerous scratches and drilled holes in the crystal.

The next step would be opening the container but keeping hold of her enemy occupied both her hands. Then the ghost, like out of consideration, stopped struggling.

"How long have you known Akemi? I began to watch her well before she got here yet I've never seen you. You aren't among her friends from Mitakihara. You're a gaijin, anything happening to her is none of your concern. How would you benefit from taking her out of here?"

Lara didn't even flinch at the questions. She could easily imagine an Incubator in distress talking this way. The ghost's sentences could have had some meaning in the real world but they were pointless here. She scanned the equipment on the desk and the stands like expecting inspiration to get out of this nasty interlock. How could she stop a magical girl who could get away from any rope in an instant?

"Of course, you have it easy. You have your good old body. But haven't your grief seed addiction ever bothered you? Dad's team is looking for a way to cancel our contracts!"

"Do they? Doesn't seem so to me.", Lara grunted browsing through the labels of a row of ampules. Grief seed. It was something to ask Homura about. And definitely keep from the Incubator. Then her eyes zeroed on something.

"Glazadrine... If the journal's right it's good for many things. It may help you stay put if I say so. You may even help us out of here. Or tell us a few things."

Her captive winced in her grip.

"I see that you're just as curious as my father! You can find the real way out, not just the one out of the facility. I can help you enroll the research team. Who else could give better hints to the secrets of magic than a real magical girl? Dad's a real genius but you could greatly speed up his research! You're much more convincing than that lousy fraud Dr Sakura that Akemi called here!"

Lara didn't stop pinning her down, held her arms behind her back with one hand and one knee while she opened the package of a sterile needle that she then fitted on a syringe.

"I've already seen what this 'research team' has done to this unfortunate girl and it makes me sick. Do you really think I'd continue for your sake?"

The phantom didn't give up.

"Come on, think of the fame! And you could really enjoy it because you wouldn't have to chase witches anymore! You could just step into the light in the end so they could undo your contract too!"

Lara froze in the middle of the move. Witches. Another foreign phrase. The ghost began to feel that she had the upper hand. Lara couldn't see the satisfied grin on her face but heard her triumphant tone.

"With your help it can't take much longer. I could finally get them find Akemi's soul gem. They should just ask the right questions. You know these questions. And she trusts you. She just have to let out a little bit and you'll find a way to complete it. It'll go smoothly."

"Great. Then tell me why you didn't enroll yourself as a test subject! Especially when your father is among the team."

And she stabbed the needle into the ghost's neck. But the whole syringe slipped through the formerly solid skin. A few drops splashed on the counter and the syringe rattled along the smooth metal plate. Lara completely lost the grip on her foe and fell against the container. She instinctively covered her eyes but the reinforced glass withstood the impact with a quiet crack. She grabbed the dangerous syringe again and threw herself back, away from her loose prisoner. And she tried to come up with anything to survive against an opponent like her. She could only reach for one last straw: the moment when the phantom attacks. Even she had to materialize to make physical damage. In that moment she would be vulnerable.

Lara pulled herself up gripping a chair then picked it up by the backrest and waited for the right moment, muscles flexed. She kept her survivor vision on the ghost but then a familiar mesh of forking and joining threads flashed before her eyes. A wave swept through the air and rolled past the attacking phantom. It reconstructed the frenzied magical girl into a real ghost of gray rags and red glow. Someone interfered with the dream again, right in the worst moment. It couldn't be a coincidence. The world that wasn't Homura's memory instantly turned into something that wasn't Lara's. She couldn't be sure of anything anymore.

She was standing next to a stone sarcophagus that rested upon the shoulders of a group of hooded stone statues. There were no stainless tables and no glass containers along the walls anymore. Carved stone pillars supported the fluttering torches that replaced the room's fluorescent lighting. Now the purple speck of light lay in the hands of another, toga-clad statue, slowly fading away. It seemed that Homura didn't have much time left. Lara dropped the chair then leapt and rolled through under the legless gliding ghost.

She grasped the statue, dragged herself up and reached for the gem. But her hand bounced off something just as smooth and hard as bulletproof glass. She needed something to replace her lost ice axe. She ran her gaze along the crypt's floor. She saw dusty stone carver tools meticulously arranged along the sarcophagus like it had been the last great work the long dead craftsman used them for. Lara hoped that she could use them to break the invisible yet very real glass. But the ghost was much closer than the tools. She had only one last weapon: as the dead cold hands grabbed her shoulders to force her down she rammed the magically sharpened needle deep into the phantom's sternum then grabbed her waist to drag her down from the air.

The attack was a partial success. The apparition evaporated from her grasp but left behind an empty syringe. She landed a few steps back and just stood there, in corporeal form, panting like she had just finished a difficult job. The wounds on her chest and shoulder closed up rapidly. It took this long for Lara to realize that the pain radiating from her thigh wasn't the only one she felt. Her feet began to signal a new injury, first gently, then more and more intensely. It grew into a white hot glare that blindingly eclipsed the gunshot wound. She looked down and saw with terror that her feet had disappeared in the floor. She instantly knew that she wasn't just stuck. The white cast stone had fused with her body and she couldn't even imagine a magic that would be able to separate them. She thought that the easiest way would be discarding these feet and grow new ones. At least the easiest for a magical girl like herself. The pain blurred her mind. Perhaps she should have listened Yonbey when he tried to explain how to limit the connection with her body.

She heard banging from the door, maybe her imagination played tricks on her. That door opened to the previous room. Homura may have been able to follow her, despite her condition. Lara tried to warn her but her self-control wasn't enough for more than a guttural scream. The ghost jerked up her head. Grinning widely she stretched a razor wire between her hands then just canceled it with a theatrical wave. She stared at Lara for an unnerving moment then she quickly seized her bow, tore off her pendant and hung it on the statue's fingers, next to Homura's gem.

"It'll be better this way. The docs need some fun too. Now I go and pack up your noisy little friend for them. Then I'll turn these back on so they can enjoy the show.", she giggled, pointing at a camera and gave a shaky bow. Lara saw her lids twitch as she squinted more by the minute in the lab's cold white lights. The room was gradually getting back its modern equipment, the statue with the soul gems remained the last medieval prop. Lara felt like she got a dose of the drug too.

"And you'll keep your mouth shut about Endou Tsarina, Test Subject Two!", the apparition grinned.

She couldn't see or didn't care that the piled up darkness dripped down from the purple gem and streamed toward the door. She turned around and walked off to welcome the visitor with swaying steps, sometimes an inch or two above or below the floor. Apparently the drug's effects grew worse. It was just impossible that she could be stupid enough to introduce herself to Lara...

There was no more knocking. The door began to crackle and slowly split off its frame, then tumbled down.

"You're right. I do want to see her. So you are Kouki... It feels right. You really look like 'Curiosity' to me!", chirped a voice from the other side. Lara had already heard this voice and it made her skin crawl. "I don't even know how you came to be. Kyouko said that there are seven deadly sins. I didn't think that I could have more than fourteen."

Though the voice was Homura's a tall platinum blonde woman entered the room in tight white costume, with huge black webbed wings on her back. A doll trailed her in fingerless gloves and buckle boots. Her hips flashed between her black leather vest and tight leather pants. Her skin was white porcelain with splashes and tendrils of gray, her maroon hair fluttered in one long braid behind her back as she escorted her mistress like a bodyguard. She brandished a pair of oversized needles or metal stakes, her heavily painted eyes glowed in blue-orange circles and she grinned constantly, showing off her too many pointy teeth.

"Darf ich diese magischen Mädchen sezieren?", she asked as she turned towards Lara, mimicking her posture. She was just short enough for her eyes to fall in the level with those of the girl's who stood with her feet in the floor. In her face and shape Lara recognized her own distorted visage. She recoiled with a start - and so did the doll, in perfect unison.

"Nur den Geist.", the blonde woman pointed her raw bleeding stump at the ghost with while she flipped back her hair with the other, bandaged one. Tsarina staggered furiously towards the duo, knowing that this time there was no one to backstab her. She absently played with her fingers on the way, shaping a cat's cradle of her deadly wires.

"Aber Meisterin, ich möchte sehen was sie gemacht sind!", the doll protested.

"Ich möchte nicht.", the woman closed the argument in Homura's voice. Her servant shifted her grip on the needles and turned to the approaching figure.

Lara desperately alternated her visions to repel the hallucination. The blinking gave her a headache but at least she got back the picture of the familiarly short Japanese girl. But the doll refused to disappear or even change.

The ghost let out her wires and aimed from two sides at once at the only creature she regarded as a threat. Lara saw this attack horribly inaccurate but she had to admit that it made it even harder to avoid. But her curious double had no trouble dodging them. She sidestepped the whizzing threads with Lara's moves just much faster than she felt capable of, then stabbed the needles into the phantom's chest with deadly accuracy.

It happened exactly as Lara anticipated. The doll's momentum almost crashed her into Homura but she didn't fail to avoid the next slash. She climbed up the wall like a gecko and leapt on the ghost from the ceiling. Blocked another attack mid-air with her needles then fell through her immaterializing opponent and rolled on in a completely unpredictable angle. She kicked herself off the wall and instantly charged again.

Tsarina drew wires out of thin air with each of her fingers. She must have been very experienced in it but now she almost sliced herself up as they swished through the air on her disordered commands. The doll dodged them all in a magnificent dance, zigzagging closer in an erratic pattern, speeding up and slowing down to a still dazzling speed. It didn't take a single second for her to reach her foe and stab her again.

This time the phantom was too slow. She phased free from the thin black skewers but Lara's survivor senses still followed her as she hunched over with her hands on her stomach. Tsarina looked up in surprise then jerked her eyes away from the fluorescent lights that painfully pierced her hugely dilated pupils. She flitted up and began to yank out the light tubes, one by one. She was rewarded by a shower of glass shards and sparkles and a pair of needles into the hollows of her knees.

The hits seemed to sober her up. She shot up through the ceiling, just to descend above Homura's head. She thought over her situation with the remains of her reason. Her first guinea pig had proven to be too much to handle so she gave up on her.

"Homura, get down!"

This time it was Lara who shouted as the ghost slipped an immaterial noose around the girl's neck. Homura instantly bellied down but Tsarina followed and tried to re-position the string under her chin. Then it was her turn to scream. She had enough time to leave a thin bloody line on Homura's neck but all her determination fell short of completing the cut. The doll who had seemed to look for her blindly sprang behind her back to ready a needle spear into her skull from nape to forehead in the last moment before she phased in again. Tsarina's convulsing fingers dropped her weapon as she lost control over her body so completely that it took a second before she could disappear again. The doll made good use of the extra time. She broke the ghost's neck with a quick yank on the needle and knelt in her spine with a second loud crack.

They all kept their eyes on Tsarina. Homura stared at the point where she disappeared. Lara would have liked to know what she thought and felt but watching the phantom took too much of her attention. It was sickening to see how she landed with half of her body in the floor and tried to gather herself shaking all over. She hoped that their enemy would have the brains not to try to attack again. It was one thing to fight as a magical girl but this slaughter was something horribly different. And she saw that it was even harder on the master of the dream.

But Homura's Curiosity kept her watch above ghost and followed her every move with a perpetual grin, constantly relocating her needles to prevent Tsarina from re-materializing without impaling herself.

Lara and Homura exchanged a painful look. The little Japanese girl raised her eyes at the doll and stopped her with a headshake. Kouki's grin drooped as she stepped back, positioning herself between her mistress and the ghost, keeping the needles ready.

"I can't do this to a magical girl...", the raptor girl whispered.

Lara knit her brows. She suspected that the sentence had another, hidden meaning. But despite all the secret and her bad feelings she couldn't agree. The researcher's daughter was highly dangerous, lacking any common sense or morality.

"Homura! I understand that you wouldn't like to brutally torture another magical girl but this one is really no more than a ghost, a figment of your mind! If you had a brain I'd say that one part of it is trying to free the others from this world. But this dream is too nasty. I have no idea what you're doing to yourself and the reality and I don't think you'd like to explain but if you have any control over this world, I beg you to tell my double to kill her very quickly!"

'Quick' wasn't the word she was looking for. The doll's speed left nothing to be desired. The injured and drugged magical girl was simply no match for her.

Kouki waited eagerly for her mistress to come to a decision. Homura's brows wrinkled with pain as she ran her gaze along the lab's equipment, her own stumped arms, then her unbidden helper, her only link with the outside world. Her voice was still full of doubt as she gave the order.

"Töte sie und bring mir ihren Seelenstein!"

Only Lara could see Tsarina as she bared her teeth at Homura then jumped up to the air to glide through the ceiling. So she had some common sense after all, she just used it a bit too late. Kouki's grin widened. She carved a sphere in the air around herself with her needles and disappeared in a flash. All she left behind was a little glowing ball in the color of a completely new magic. Then this tiny ball of lightning shot out to hunt down the phantom, caught up to her in a second and devoured her in a bright flash of magic.

Tomb Raider and the Angel Of Death

Chapter 6, part 2

Confession Dial

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6. Confession Dial


It was a sudden idea and it didn't work. As she tried to yank the gem out of its place it grabbed her too and dragged her into the chaos inside. The world she had visited was gone and no new world had come to take its place. Buildings and trees zipped through her incorporeal form, the terrain wildly tilted and flickered under her feet. She manifested at a dozen places every second. It didn't take too long to lose her balance and fall. It was a familiar feeling, similar to bouncing down a cliff-side, lower and lower, every new environment a new impact. Then she crashed through the surface and landed in a bunker.

She hit the concrete with a violent gasp. Reality fell apart before her eyes, thin threads ran every which way just to reunite then part again. They twisted together and bounced around, dragging other threads along. Even the surrounding walls dissolved to strings. Some remote force tugged new bundles in her way and she just fell through them. Every time she smashed through a cluster thousands of new images flashed in her visual cortex, too fast to get a grasp on even a single one of them. Then the lights faded away and the environment stabilized. The force had apparently found what it had been looking for.

The bunker was gone. The sizes matched but the bare concrete burrow gave way to a small flat or hotel room. But it still lacked windows, the new chapter of the dream seemed to take place underground.

"Homura, I see an unauthorized person in your room. Move away from the door, the assigned staff is escorting you two to separate test rooms for interrogation. You'll have to explain the method and purpose of the intrusion. Don't even think about escaping. The entrance of the facility is out of your soul gem's range. Security has been reinforced since your last attempt."

A vexingly monotonous and tangibly hostile voice murmured from the walls, just about as friendly as Yonbey's smile. The little Japanese girl stood with her back to Lara and listened the speaker's commands without as much as a wince. But as soon as it fell silent she turned on her heel. With a quick jump she grabbed a vase from the chest of drawers by the wall, emptied it to the floor and hurled it right into the middle of the painting on the wall. There was something strangely awkward in her moves, like she felt uncomfortable in her own body. Then she waved to Lara behind her back to take cover in an alcove that was perfectly visible from the painting but hidden from any other direction, with the most awkward of her moves because her arm ended a little past her elbow.

Lara knit her brows at her sorry state but silently obeyed. A lot could have changed when she had been drawn into this new dream. Could this be the "regression and erosion" the Incubators' accidentally intercepted message mentioned? Anyway, the repulsive spokesman of this new world didn't leave Homura's deed without a comment.

"Your behavior hints that your Glazadrine dose has to be revised. Move to the opposite wall. The security squad is arriving soon to escort you to the examination room. As well as the unauthorized person. Yes, you, foreign agent. We must know how you could get into the facility. Despite your successful infiltration you're perfectly visible for the cameras now. I repeat, move to the opposite wall. Homura in one corner and you in the other. Don't try to resist the security squad, a policy of shoot to kill has been in effect since the escape attempt."

Homura gave a sigh and finally turned back to Lara.

"I hoped I can hide you if I don't look at you but it didn't work. They may have even installed a few more cameras. If they aren't just bluffing, that is."

The raptor girl was horribly casual about this new dream. Just the way the inhabitants of a war zone get used to shooting and bombing, danger and loss, she had grown used to torture and mutilation and drugs. She didn't even look surprised, like she had seen everything. Just like Himiko.

But Lara was terrified when she realized that she wasn't invisible anymore. The dream world had finally recognized and targeted her. It was waiting eagerly for her to spill something she'd keep for herself in the outside world. She had played with fire for too long, it was high time to act.

At least Homura remembered her and knew that they weren't in the real world. It probably helped her hold on. But no matter how much the whole machinery creaked from the gravel between the cogs the aliens had successfully propped up an apt scene for her interrogation.

By the time of the outside world it couldn't take much longer for them to succeed. Lara's only option was to be even faster. She needed one single strike but what would the tortured, jaded Homura have to withstand before her weapon hits? She wanted to warn the girl before she'd just disappear from her world.

"Akemi-san, listen! We don't have time to worry now. I'll get you out of here. I have no idea how long it'll take as the outside time is much slower than yours. But hold on, don't tell anything to anyone. Not that you don't already know this much. Once you're outside we'll come up with something, anything."

Then she quit the dream. More precisely she tried to - but nothing happened. She stayed in the underground chamber with her hostess while the speaker commented her attempt with poorly concealed malice.

"Madam, didn't you understand what I've told you? We have Homura's soul gem. If you try to leave the facility with her she'll drop dead before you reach the exit. It's just reasonable precaution in case of an invaluable test subject. I'm sure you'll acknowledge the importance of our research once we can have a brief talk. So please move to the corner away from Homura. While waiting you may help yourself with soft drinks from the fridge. Our organization provides them free of charge."

Lara didn't even bother to react, she turned to the girl instead.

"It means that you can't conjure up your bow, right?"

Homura nodded.

"What a pity. I'd have liked to ask you to kill me."

"If you really want to help then please help me block the door!", the girl answered. "This room is quite secure. The only entrance is the airlock, there's no other way to get in here."

She stepped next to Lara and started to tug the chest of drawers awkwardly towards the door with her one hand.

"We'll need the bed too. And the fridge."

Lara helped and listened. She didn't have to wait too long for the answer, though it didn't come in human language. Quiet hissing began somewhere deep in the walls and she saw the invisible enemy in her mind's eye as it seeped closer and closer. Then she imagined smelling it. Suddenly, the thought of letting her worries go and lying down on the bed at the airlock gate felt appealing. It was exactly what she was looking for, after all: a way out of the dream. It was so surprising to see the little Japanese girl running up and down, busting the grates on the walls and stuffing pillows into the air ducts.

As Homura finished with the ventilation system she dashed back to Lara and frantically shook her shoulders.

"Don't go that way! That exit must be their doing, you can never know where it takes you!"

Exit. Lara felt that something was wrong. She felt the grip of a gun in her palm but her hands were empty. Scent of gunpowder mingled with the taste of her own blood in her mouth. She could almost see an army of samurai wraiths charging from every direction but they could have only come through the closed airlock in the middle of the opposite wall. The only exit. And the only entrance. There was nobody else in the room, but they expected a security squad enter through that very door. They would come to drag the two of them away, for questioning or dissection. Would she see them as wraiths too?

It was her turn to shake herself. No matter how calm Homura tried to behave she saw real worry in the Japanese girl's lavender eyes. She had every reason to worry, Lara thought. Those pillows would hardly stop the gas and even if they would they'd stop air too and slowly but steadily suffocate them inside.

She searched through her clothes once more. The result wasn't surprising: she was completely unarmed. But at least the physical movement stirred her up. She glanced around wide awake and picked up the flowery branch that Homura had dropped to the floor. She tore off one of her bandages and knotted the browned piece of cloth to the branch. It was the lousiest weapon she had ever had but this time she trusted her magic. A few color pencils made acceptable bases for the bolts that found their way into the air ducts one by one. She pocketed the rest.

No one could track the traces of her projectiles from behind the cameras. A series of small explosions shook the room then thin smoke billowed from where the pillows had been. Homura just waited for the consequences, sitting on the floor with her eyes closed. She didn't have to wait for too long.

"Homura! We're sensing serious damage in the ventilation system of your room. Stand away from the door for your own safety and let the designated staff escort you to the examination room. While they measure the Glazadrine level in your system I'll work out a series of tests to examine your abilities you've been hiding so far."

Another pathetic attempt, Lara noted. She suspected that the unnerving voice belonged to Yonbey, a surprisingly stupid delegate of an incomprehensibly advanced civilization. But she wasn't prepared this for level of stupidity. He seemed to have completely forgotten about her. It was even more worrying, she knew that even idiots could hold unpleasant surprises.

She couldn't see Homura's thoughts but she was sure that the girl was annoyed with being ordered around. At least she played being annoyed.

"What are you planning to do? Gauge out my eyes to see if they're evil?"

"Even you can't support these absurd charges, not that there's any court you could charge us at. We have proof of having no part in the loss of your arm. Your country would have good use of your shield as a source of your abilities. It's an unfortunate waste. But you can make amends by co-operating at last."

Every magical girl has her weapon to fight wraiths. So Homura used to have a shield. It must have been useful but it was hard to imagine her beating her foes to pulp with it. That's why she used a bow when she saved her outside. Another magical girl with sketchy equipment, one more blunder from the Incubators' side. The aliens seemed so unprepared, so incompetent that it was nigh impossible. Lara's instincts shrieked like a dog whistle.

"Of course you have nothing to do with it. I'd have probably lost it too if I were just strolling around the city."

"You've probably got rid of it yourself to stop being useful to us. Autotomy isn't unknown in nature. Lizards throw away their tails as a decoy for predators. I should revoke Kaname Madoka's admission to visit you. You should thank Major Croft for these privileges while she's in the facility. She won't be here for too long, I assure you."

Homura gave Lara a startled look over her shoulder. The older magical girl looked herself up and down just as scared. Her bloodstained tank top and pants were simply gone and a clean grey camouflage uniform took their place. The dream world had changed before their eyes and assigned a new role for Lara. Those who meddled in it were apparently done with caring about appearances. They could do anything to learn what they wanted.

"UN/VP... It doesn't make sense...", the Japanese girl muttered then raised her pleading amethyst gaze at Lara. "Go away! Leave me here before they re-shape you! And when you're outside, run and never, ever let the Incubators find you! I have no idea what's going on in the real world but you must believe me. This isn't something a mere mortal can handle!"

Lara answered with training her makeshift bow at the door. They locked up this unfortunate girl in her own mind. They turned her own dreams against her. Yet her first thought was to save an uninvited stranger... This was how she imagined a real magical girl who had more reason to fight for others than to repay for some arbitrary wish the aliens had granted. She froze in the middle of the move. Himiko may have been the same. And she might have been dreaming inside her disembodied soul gem for more than a thousand years. Of course she was insane. Lara didn't even hope to have a talk with her like she had with Homura - but she could easily imagine that they'd have to fight in a dream like this. She was on a mysterious, exciting training ground where anything could happen. She would may even learn what was going on. She flashed a grim smile at the master of the dream who had just called a magical girl a mere mortal.

"You don't know me if you you think it scares me away!" Then she produced a pair of color pencils and drew the bow.

For a brief moment the raptor girl seemed to forget herself. She stared at her gratefully for a second - then quickly looked away and answered with downcast eyes.

"All right. If you still want to help then help me look for some weapons and my soul gem. I don't really stand a chance now", she held up her crippled left arm with a sad smile, "but if we can get them I can defend myself. Then I'll just need a hideout where Madoka can't find me. Once there, I can safely kill you. And... thank you. If not for you they'd have already found her in my last dream."

For a little, Lara rested her hand on the girl's shoulder. They shared a look then she drew her bow. Her magical bolts proved even more effective than they had outside, tearing through the stainless steel slabs like paper sheets.

They waded through the remains of the double gate in a hurry. A much simpler door opened in the left wall right behind the airlock. Lara kicked it open and dragged Homura through it to the next room. Displays covered one of the walls, most of them showing deserted halls and corridors. Another door slammed shut on the other side, then a series of electronic locks clicked.

Lara just waved. She hadn't come to kill. Instead she wanted to learn as much as possible as quickly as she could, then disappear before someone would summon the mysterious Madoka upon them.

She ran her gaze along the monitors. One showed an approaching squad, armed to the teeth, but none of them looked like someone she would have called "Madoka". Even Homura didn't seem to recognize the cryptic person so Lara hurriedly started to type on a terminal at hand. The computer had been left there in panic. The person working on it must have been unprepared for her being interested in research material or feared for his life enough to leave easy access to everything. She found long records on various experiments they had carried out on Homura. They carefully documented the tests and set up theories about her abilities. One of the recurring topics was the small round shield attached to her left forearm. Lara had to revise her impression about Homura's poor equipment because it was much more than a mere shield: it seemed to affect the very curvature of space-time. A series of slow motion records about her transformation followed, then came countless pages discussing blood samples and DNA sequences.

"Come on, where did you bastards hide that gem?", she grunted but kept on reading.

She found a report about capturing and controlling Homura. She read through this new part very carefully. As a magical girl trainee she tried to judge her own strength too. According to the records they needed a whole military squad armed with tasers to capture the skinny little lich next to her. Sleeping gas and drugs proved effective too in a controlled environment. Lara gave a stern nod. She would be careful about such attacks but Mathias' demented followers could hardly pose a real threat now that she was aware of her magic.

Then followed the notes of a certain psychologist called Dr Sakura Kei, profusely interrupted with the critical comments of the report's author. The next section contained a detailed analysis of a series of drug tests, revolving around a substance called Glazadrine which they wanted to use to tame Homura. Lara kept reading, brows knit, completely forgetting about the prisoner who followed the same article peeking over her shoulder. When she reached the escape attempt and the lost arm she jerked up her head to see that the terribly indifferent reports mesmerized the Japanese girl too. Her single hand whitened as she clutched the backrest of the chair and gritted her teeth, lost in the report. The text was soon interrupted with pictures about the operation to remove a metal shard that threatened with damaging her lung, that led to the discovery of her soul gem that she had been hiding within her rib cage. Then it continued with samples of the gem, analysis of its crystalline structure and comparisons with nervous tissue. Then came the most horrifying part: the effects of the examinations on (the other?) Homura.

"Poor devil...", the thin girl murmured with her eyes fixed on the screen. "How could she survive it with sane mind?"

Lara gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.

"So this is why our magic must be kept in secret. I'm not really surprised. Of course I won't leave you here. But where did they get these memories? Aren't these yours? I don't think they could come up with something like this and I'm afraid they have a few surprises for us. I'd like to know what else to prepare to."

Homura thought it over then shrugged.

"I have no idea. I have already been a guinea pig, in another world. It was very much like a nightmare but that time it was over much sooner. They must have built this dream out of those memories. Or they have really put me in another Akemi Homura's place. There's many of me. I'm glad that dream soul gems don't work the same way as real ones. They may have mine but they can't use it to force me to do whatever they want. And I can just walk out of here because its range doesn't mean a thing. But I still need it to use magic. This habit dies hard.

They left the room rather violently through the second door but they had no chance to catch up to the researcher with the monotone whom Lara identified as Dr Endou via his writing style. They skittered along the long empty corridor with hunched backs, ready for an ambush in any second. They had spent minutes in the monitor room but the squad they saw coming was still nowhere - either they had disappeared off-screen or the building was so huge that they hadn't even arrived. But the girl's soul gem couldn't be too far from her room. Lara tried to keep track of their distance and direction from there while she followed Homura and kept an eye on the door signs.

Since Dr Endou's escape the speakers didn't comment on the girl's behavior nor her unauthorized visitor who followed in her tracks evaluating her movements. Lara found the situation elusively strange, it felt like watching the heroine of a video game. The developers had done a good job, the environment and the Japanese girl's model and animation was perfectly realistic. Lara wasn't sure that Homura would be her choice as the protagonist of this depressing and probably dangerous game but apart from her missing forearm she looked healthy and much more like an experienced fighter than a weary guinea pig. It was high time to get some weapon for her or at least reclaim her magical powers. If they could find the squad that was supposed to find them she would also acquire something more suitable than her bow of cut flowers that was already short on ammo.

But she had to wait in vain, the underground facility was deserted. Soot stains and bullet holes in the bare concrete walls marked an earlier battle but the security guards were nowhere, not even their dead bodies. As they progressed the building looked more and more like an ancient structure carved in rock. A familiar timber gate stopped them in their way. Lara shot another arrow into the huge bar that held it closed and yanked it via the attached magical string. The big panels came down cracking. Lara leapt into the next room and hissed loudly as something left a bleeding cut along her arm. She turned on her heel but couldn't see anything. Homura gave a worried look but she kept silent.

Then, right behind a turn, they found a battered map with Japanese legend. The rock around the board was overrun by lush green vines. Lara swept aside a stalk and read.

"KAZAMINO UNDERGROUND RESEARCH LABORATORY.", the katakana informed her. "YOU ARE HERE.", said the caption next to a point far below the surface. The author seemed quite generous with emphasis.

"They just don't stop poking...", Homura murmured.

Lara raised her brows.

"I've already been here.", the girl explained. "It was just like this: a deserted bunker after battle. There will be a burnt tank up in the entrance hall. It still doesn't make sense but at least they found a memory that's mine."

She was right. Lara shook her head and blinked. The sight of the underground tunnel reverted to its earlier state, the overgrown rock walls gave way to the concrete of the Japanese bunker from World War Two. Piles of debris, trash and bones lay by the walls but there was no living person and no usable weapon in sight. They paced faster and faster, darted from pile to pile, Homura nimbly and with empty hand, Lara keeping her last pencil arrow ready and fizzing with magic.

After a few turns they finally found the missing security squad. They littered the trash covered ground, rag dolls with glazed empty eyes, dressed in uniforms like Lara's, their weapons scattered around their bodies. She knelt down and examined a corpse. Someone had apparently slit the soldier's throat with a razor wire. Someone took them off by surprise, just as easily as Lara would have done. There was a much more dangerous enemy hiding in the facility.

Her decision was ready. She grabbed Homura's wrist and dragged her down.

"Can we heal others or just ourselves?", she asked. The Japanese girl stared at her with wide eyes.

"How long have you been a magical girl? We don't make contracts in your age."

"I have no idea. All that I know is what Yonbey told me today. And I'm not even sure about those things."

Homura nodded.

"I see. Something's happened to your memories. It may have even been my doing. If so - I'm sorry. But the answer is yes. We can heal in many ways, our magic automatically repairs our bodies so we can survive grave injuries. But we also can deliberately repair or even improve our bodies. I, for example, have learned to perform heart surgery on myself."

It was Lara's turn to drop her jaw.

"Can a magical girl have heart condition?"

"Of course. If you didn't wish to heal it won't change just because you turn into a magical girl. You have to take care of everything yourself. I used to be short sighted too but it hindered me in battle so I repaired my eyes. But such changes need a lot of magic and even more if you try to heal someone else. Even ordinary people have some resistance against foreign magic and we have much stronger. I'd need a lot of cubes for this, I mean if I could use my magic, but you'd need much more."

Lara grabbed the girl's defective left arm. Homura tried to pull it back but Lara didn't let go. Finally, Homura gave in and let her examine it. The stump looked long healed.

"Shouldn't your magic automatically repair it? Yonbey said that we got it to keep us fit to fight. Or it's just too much?"

"We aren't the same. Our abilities are usually somewhat related to our wish. I knew someone who could recover even if you cut her clean in half, should her soul gem stay intact. She had used her wish to heal someone. I'm not like her. I stand and fight as long as there's enough left of me to move. You don't want to see me like that. But my magic can only stop me from bleeding to death."

Lara watched her thoughtfully.

"We need every hand. I'll try to fix you. I have no idea what I wished for and what it's good for but I'll do my best."

"I'll try to help you control your magic but you better know the bones and everything else you want to re-grow."

Lara looked right in her eyes and flashed that grim little half smile.

"I'm good at bones."

"Are you a doctor?", Homura returned the look.

"An archaeologist."

The thin girl burst into laughter.

"What can I lose? This is all a dream, isn't it?"


Tomb Raider and the Angel Of Death

Chapter 6, part one

Confession Dial

Another long, long wait before an update. Unfortunately I can't promise I speed up my writing...

Alternative title: A farewell to Arms

This chapter is another "mature worthy" chapter but for a different reason. I pay an old debt with this one. It is a homage to P.K. Atomyst's "Test Subject One", one running fictional work (at now on hiatus, and also some stress relief. TS1 just grew huge tension in me and it called for a violent resolution. But I guess I'm growing more like Urobuchi-sensei with solving problems...

The chapter's title is the name of a small round object in Doctor Who. It's time lord tech and looks remarkably similar to Homura's shield. It's used in a very sinister way which I found very fitting at this point.

Music I listened and felt fitting while writing it all:

Sucker Punch OST: Sweet Dreams [Are Made Of This]
Matrix Reloaded OST: Chateau (Atomyst <- I said that this Tsarina character made me think of certain someones!)
Passarella Death Squad: Just Like Sleep

Tags: Angel of Darkness || Underworld || Lara's Shadow || Test Subject One || Glazadrine || Demolition Derby || Mad Drug Party || Cat's Cradle || Everything's funny in this world || The deepest shade of mushroom funny

I have good news for the fans of Tomb Raider games. I've moved my spotlight to older titles though I know that Angel Of Darkness is another controversial piece of the series. I didn't find its plot solid and profound enough either but I use what I feel right to use and will continue on this path. See you in Prague!

Message for BHS: Here's my version of growing new familiars. Situations with great emotional impact can implant new elements into one's mental landscape. And I guess Kouki | Curiosity has one more similarity to your Sayaka's nutcracker. Also she's the very embodiment of a really bad pun.

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Next Chapter: (TBR)


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6. Gyóntatókorong

2. rész

Volt ideje elgondolkodni ezen, amíg a padlón fekve szemezett az új kötéssel, amiből lassan szivárgott a vér. Lara mellette ült a falnak támaszkodva, kezébe temetett arccal, ölében a zavaros zöld lélekkövével. Csapnivaló gyógyítónak bizonyult, de nem adta fel, remegő kézzel addig próbálkozott, míg a látása elhomályosult, megszédült és Homurát is magával rántotta.

- Hagyd...! - suttogta a kis japán lány a vállára tett kézzel. Többre ő sem volt képes. Ha a világ nem is volt valódi, a fájdalom nagyon is az volt. - Nem tudom... - kapkodta a levegőt - fogy-e ettől a mágiád... de ha elájulsz... nem tudom, hova kerülsz.

A feltépett seb most csendben lüktetett, a Lara egyenruhájából szakított kötés szemérmesen takarta a meztelen, friss csonttöredékeket.

- Nem értem, miért mertem megpróbálni. Ilyet még magammal se csináltam soha. Homura, én annyira hülye voltam! Úgy sajnálom!

Együttérző félmosolyt kapott a földön heverő lánytól. Egy percnyi hallgatás után még hozzátette:

- Rossz rágondolni, mi lett volna, ha az öreg Rothon próbálom ki odakint. Te legalább értetted, mi történik.

Homura fájdalmasan hunyta be a szemét. Lara majdnem követte a példáját, de az eszébe villant, hol is van. Nem szabad megkockáztatnia, hogy kiessen ebből az álomból. Felkapta az arcát a tenyeréből és a lányra nézett. A hirtelen mozdulattól - vagy valami mástól - megint megszédült.

Mikor Homurát meglátta, meghűlt benne a vér. A lány karcsonkját egy valaha szürke terepmintás, csúnyán átvérzett kötés takarta.

- Úristen, ezt meg ki tette veled?

- Ez mindegy, Miss Croft. Csak egy kis időre van szükségem... Mindjárt indulhatunk.

Lara egy pillanatig nem értette, miért ilyen elégedett Homura. Aztán rájött, nem csak azt nem tudja, hogy mi történt a karjával, de azt se, hogy kerültek mindketten a földre. Olyan feltűnő lyuk tátongott az emlékeiben az elmúlt néhány percről, mint Homura mosolya. Annyira feltűnő, hogy az már szándékos üzenetnek tűnt, lehallgatható szavak és gondolatok nélkül. De mit akarhatott üzenni a raptorlány azzal, hogy lyukat ütött a memóriájában? Ha csak nem éppen azt, hogy hiába fegyverezték le, hiába nem irányítja az álmát, mégsem teljesen tehetetlen - és valamit tervez ezzel az erővel.

- Okos kislány!

Mi mást mondhatott volna egy ilyen értelmes hüllőnek? Összenéztek Homurával egy rövid vigyor erejéig.

- Ha fel tudsz kelni, menjünk a kövedért! Nem lehet már messze. De addig is... Elbírsz egy ilyennel?

Az egyik halott őr gépkarabélyát nyújtotta Homura felé.

- Persze, fél kézzel is! Neked nem kell fegyver?

Lara akkor már a törmelék közt heverő jégcsákány nyelét markolta. A szerszám a pontos mása volt annak, amivel a kinti világban verte szét az óriás lidérc fejét. Úgy tűnt, hogy szándékosan neki készítették ide. Másodszor kerítette a hatalmába az érzés, hogy egy játékba került. Akkor pedig, ahogy a játékokat ismerte, hamarosan szüksége lesz pontosan erre a fegyverre.

A folyosónak hamarosan vége szakadt. Újabb súlyos vasajtó zárta el az útjukat, fölötte a szám, amit egész eddig kerestek. A dokumentumok szerint itt helyezték el Homura lélekkövét. Lara ezúttal a csákány fejét verte az ajtó résébe, hogy fölfeszítse, de az ellenállt.

Kifújta a tüdejéből a levegőt és a kezét a szerszám hegye fölé tartotta. A csákány éle körül lassan felfénylett Szent Elmo zöld tüze. Aztán újra nekiesett az ajtónak. A csákány hegye most könnyedén szaladt bele az acélba. Lara úgy vágta vele körbe a vaskos rozsdamentes lemezt, mint egy konzervdoboz tetejét.

Mikor át akart bújni a nyíláson, Homura visszafogta.

- Ugye most nem akarod végigvágni magad az élével? - közben az ujjai hegyével körberajzolta az tépett szélű léket.

Az idősebb mágikus lány némán megrázta a fejét. Ezúttal a látása egybevágott a képzelt valósággal, Homura ujjai pontosan követték a lyuk körvonalait. Megerősített vasajtót, steril, fehér falakat, a légzsilip túloldalán egy faliszekrényekkel és rozsdamentes munkapulttal szegélyezett termet látott. A pult tetején és guruló állványokon műszerek és orvosi eszközök, lezárt üvegek és petri-csészék. A terem közepe viszont egyetlen műtőasztaltól eltekintve gyanúsan üres volt.

Homura figyelő tekintete előtt hunyta le a szemét. Zárt szemhéján keresztül még többet látott. A derengő szürkeségbe éles pengeként hasítottak a termet mindenféle szögben átszelő cérnavékony fénycsíkok. Hát persze, riasztórendszer, ami talán gázzal is eláraszthatja a termet és a folyosókat. Így, csukott szemmel vágott neki az ásítóan üres térnek. Óvatosan átemelte a lábát egy szál fölött, átkúszott egy másik alatt aztán oldalazva átbújt egy fénynyalábokból szőtt kerítésen.

Homura nem látta a fényszálakat, de abban biztos volt, hogy önkéntes őrangyala nem a kutatóintézet riasztórendszerét kerülgeti. Semmilyen riasztórendszer nem sugárzott mágiát. Azt is érezte, hogy nem lidércek rejtőznek közelükben. Nem akarta megzavarni Larát a terem mágikus védelmének kerülgetésében, de tekintetét fel-alá jártatta a falak mentén, azt keresve, honnan ugorhat elő az ismeretlen, aki az őrséget legyilkolta, és akinek a lenyomatát mindenütt ott érezte maga előtt.

Lara most megállt egy pillanatra. Úgy forgatta a fejét, mintha keresne valamit, de a szemét továbbra is csukva tartotta. Aztán úgy tűnt, megtalálta, mert határozottan az egyik bezárt szekrény felé fordult. Átvetette magát a műtőasztalon, aztán félig felegyenesedve odalopakodott a vaskos bútordarabhoz. Újra leakasztotta az övéről a jégcsákányt és ezt az ajtót is megpróbálta felfeszíteni vele, ezúttal sikerrel.

Odahajolt a ragyogóan kivilágított szekrényhez, hogy szemügyre vegye a jutalmát. Tojás alakba gyűlt mozgó, eleven fényrög ült egy tömör fémpolcon. Óvatosan a tenyerébe vette, aztán kinyitotta a szemét, hogy megszokott érzékeivel is megtapasztalja, milyen valaki más lelkét a kezében tartani. De a várt díszes kövecske helyett csak szürke drótgalacsint látott, mágiától izzó, hajszálnál is vékonyabb huzalból fonva.

- Hasra! - hallotta Homura rémült kiáltását. Habozás nélkül bukott a földre és azzal a mozdulattal kirúgott hátrafelé. Az elhajított galacsinról letekeredő fényszál kísérteties sziszegéssel hasította a levegőt pár centivel a feje felett.

Ahogy a szemével követte a saját mozdulatát, egy pillanatra megvillant előtte egy másik japán lány zavarba ejtően bizonytalan alakja. Fehér bőr, fehér fogak, fehér haj, fehér kabát, fehér szoknya. A jéghideg mandulaszemek, a kékre fagyott vigyor és a ruhája arany szegélye csak kihangsúlyozták a rejtőszínét ezen a steril helyen.

"Átkozott kaméleon!", gondolta, miközben visszatért túlélő-látásához. Most már izzó mágia-színben látta a Homuránál semmivel sem magasabb, karcsú alakot és a kezében összpontosuló fényszálakat. A ragyogásuk épp olyan volt, mint a saját testéé, egyáltalán nem emlékeztetett a lidércek hullaszín fényére. De ha így világított, hol rejtőzhetett eddig?

Támadója egy pillanat alatt visszanyerte az egyensúlyát. Egyetlen nyalábba rántotta össze a termet behálózó szálakat és ezzel a korbáccsal csapott le Larára. Ő félregurult a csapás elől, útközben felrúgva egy műszerekkel teli állványt. A szétszóródó tárgyak közül megragadott valami nehezet és drágát és a nyugodt léptekkel közeledő mágikus lányhoz vágta.

- Már megint milyen rendetlen látogatót hoztál az intézetbe, Akemi-san! Szörnyű fejfájást okozol apának, pedig jól bánt veled, mikor egyszerűen fel is boncolhatott volna! - jegyezte meg a fényfolt. Lara leplezetlen szadizmust érzett a hangjában. Nem látta viszont, hogyan tért ki a két LCD monitorral ékített berendezés elől. Mintha az egyszerűen átrepült volna rajta. Újra kinyitotta a szemét, remélve, hogy így jobban megfigyelheti, milyen szörnyűséget idézett a fejükre Homura képzelete. Egy kicsit neheztelt rá, amiért így megnehezítette a saját megmentését, bár aligha akarattal húzta elő ezt a fehér kaméleont az ingujjából.

- Gyík gyíknak farkasa... - morogta, ahogy a következő tárgyat megragadta. Egy kémcsövekkel teli állványt repített az ismeretlen lány felé, a célzás ezúttal biztosan tökéletes volt. De csalódnia kellett, nem láthatta a trükköt. Ellenfele egyszerűen a kezével söpörte félre az állványt, az üvegcsövek csörömpölve szóródtak és törtek szét a fehér kőpadlón. De ahol az állvány nem ért célba, Lara kíméletlenül becsapódott. Nem is próbált kíméletes lenni, puszta álomképpel harcolt, egy fantommal Homura elméjének sötét zugaiból. Először az ökle vágódott az ismeretlen gyomrába, aztán a jégcsákánya hasított keresztül a koponyáján - vagyis a hűlt helyén. Akit eddig kaméleonnak hitt, most kísértetnek bizonyult. A fegyver közeledtére egyszerűen eltűnt, Lara pedig átesett a puszta levegőn, aztán földet érve megpördült. Az albínó fantom ugyanott állt, grimaszolva fordult meg, fél keze még a gyomrán, ahol az ütés célba talált. Aztán két kézzel végigsimította maga körül a levegőt.

Lara sejtette, hogy megint a szálaival játszik. Minden mágikus lánynak megvan a maga fegyvere, mormogta a mantrát, miközben újra behunyta a szemét. Választhatott: vagy ezeket a fegyvereket látja, vagy azt, hogy ellenfele mikor van a világban, sebezhetően. Most pedig égető szüksége volt az előbbire. A szálak őrülten csapkodtak utána, ő pedig olyan mozdulatokkal kerülte el őket, amikről azelőtt el se hitte volna, hogy képes rájuk. Agyának egy része közben kritikusan figyelte az útjukat és kereste a fehér mágikus lány gyenge pontjait. A technikája közelharcban haszontalannak tűnt, tehát oda kellett jutnia hozzá. Megragadott egy infúziós állványt és azzal hárította a következő csapást. Lett két fél állványa és egy töredék-másodperce, amíg az eltérített szál helyén besurranhatott. De ő is hibázott: nem számított az ellenfele gyors reakciójára. Az egyik szál élesen megfordult a levegőben és a csuklójára tekeredett. A fantom gonoszul elmosolyodott, ahogy megrántotta a szálat. De a mozdulat közepén eltorzult az arca és ívbe feszült a teste, ahogy egy rövid sorozat a hátába csapódott.

Homura csendesen meghúzódott a fal mellett és hidegvérrel kivárta azt az utolsó századmásodpercet, amikor kísértetnek mindenképp fizikai formában kellett lennie a támadáshoz. Tökéletesen meglepte mindkettőjüket, a fantom pedig megkésve távozott a fizikai világból a szálaival együtt. Lara látta a lövedékeket eltérülni a testében, látta a golyók ütötte lyukakat, a törött bordát, a sérült tüdőt. A saját combjában is érezte az egyik eltévedt lövést, de a fájdalmat most kizárta a tudatából, és nem is neheztelt a találatért. Homura támadása kiszabadította a pengeéles hurokból, és ebben a helyzetben ő sem lehetett volna elővigyázatosabb. Sőt, a vékony lány kiválóan célzott ahhoz képest, hogy fél kézzel használta a gépkarabélyt.

A fantom úgy fordult meg, mintha a sebek csak feldühítették volna. Most Homurára célzott a szálaival. Először a fegyvert szeletelte föl a kezében, aztán a csengő fémdarabok után valami más puffant tompán a földön. Egyetlen finom, karcsú kéz volt.

- Azt hittem, megegyeztünk, hogy nincs több ellenkezés, nincs több szökési kísérlet! De sebaj, magatehetetlenül sokkal kevesebb baj lesz veled. Azt hiszed, akkor nem veszik hasznodat?

A hangjából már hiányzott a negédes szadizmus és minden szavát sípoló hörgés festette alá. A szálaival veszettül kapkodott a másik lány lábai után, Homura pedig hamuszürke arccal, egyetlen hang nélkül hátrált. A kísértet kényelmesen követte, minden lépést kiélvezve és persze gondosan rátaposva a lány elejtett kezére.

Lara szeme felizzott. Őrült düh és valami ősi védelmező ösztön egyesült benne hidegvérű brutalitássá. Homurát most a barátjának, a saját legénysége tagjának érezte, és elege volt abból, ahogy ez az elátkozott sziget - Himiko - szépen lassan mindannyiukat levadászta.

"Tőlem nem kapsz több áldozatot, te rohadék!", vicsorogta magában, a jégcsákány nyelét szorongatva.

Halálos csöndben sántítva érte utol a támadójukat. Az tényleg ennyire könnyelmű lett volna, hogy teljesen figyelmen kívül hagy egy harcképes ellenfelet? Felkészült, hogy kudarcot vall, ép lábában ott feszült a következő vetődés, de nem volt rá szüksége. A csapás készületlenül érte a sápadt kísértetet. A csákány hegye a kulcscsontja fölött hatolt be és tövig szaladt a mellkasába. Egy ilyen borzalmas találattal odakint bármelyik őrült szektatagot azonnal kivégezte volna, de most egy másik mágikus lánnyal állt szemben. Arról pedig, hogy az álomvilág hogyan torzult az igazihoz képest, fogalma sem lehetett. A valóság szabályai szerint mindenesetre ellenfelét harcképtelenné tette, Homurának pedig csak percei lehettek hátra, mielőtt elvérezne. Nem volt egy pillanat vesztegetni való ideje sem.

Beleakaszkodott a fantomba és gyors, hatékony mozdulatokkal hátracsavarta mindkét karját. A mágikus lány teste halott-hideg volt és teljesen szilárd, de Lara látta már egy pillanat alatt anyagtalanná válni. Most valamiért mégsem csúszott ki a szorításából, inkább az arcába fejelt, vérízzel árasztva el a száját. Az íz újra felidézett valami homályos emléket. Bundás test vergődött a kezei közt, ő pedig keresztüldöfte a vadászkésével.

Érdekelte volna, hogy folytatódik a történet, de most nem ért rá álmodozni. Egy dühödt fantommal birkózott, aki talán nem tudott eltűnni, amíg fizikai kontaktusban volt valakivel. Úgy tűnt, minden mágiának megvannak a korlátai, és Larának égető szüksége volt erre a korlátra. Végre nem volt tehetetlen, végre megfordíthatta az erőviszonyokat. Csavart egyet a csákány nyelén. Hűvös vér csorgott a kezeire, hogy aztán lecsöpögve azonnal elpárologjon. Érezte, ahogy az élőholt test megrándul a szorításában.

- Szép kis csapda volt. Most pedig jobban teszed, ha ideadod a lélekkövét, mielőtt baja esik a tiednek! - Erősen megmarkolta a kísértet kezét ott, ahol egy kemény, hűvös tárgyat tapintott.

- Szeretnéd tudni, hol tartják? - szörcsögte gúnyosan a fehér szellem. - Megmutatom!

Azzal Larával együtt elvágódott. A csákány úgy pottyant a földre, mintha kihúzták volna alóla a terítőt, ők ketten pedig nekiestek a terem falának. Aztán olyan érzés következett, mintha víz alól buktak volna fel a levegőre, de itt a felszínnek vastagsága volt, a túloldalon pedig egy másik helység várta őket. Lara egyetlen dolgot tehetett, kapaszkodott a kísértetbe, akivel egy világba került. Sejtette, hogy az szívesen otthagyná őt a falba szorulva, de amíg fogva tartotta, vele együtt váltott halmazállapotot.

Durván csapódtak a fényes fehér kőpadlónak, de Lara egy pillanatra sem lazított a szorításán. Fél térdre emelkedett, aztán felállt, közben felráncigálta az újra megtestesült, a szorításából folyamatosan szabadulni próbáló fantomot is. Hátracsavart karjánál fogva taszigálta maga előtt arra, ahonnan áttetsző üveg és acélháló tárolóban ismerős lila ragyogást érzett. Most már a szemével is megtalálta, amit keresett: a sajátjához nagyon hasonló kövecskét, hiányos arany foglalatban, itt-ott fúrások és karcolások nyomaival, amik körül sötétség terjengett a kristályban.

A következő lépés a tároló felnyitása lett volna, de a kísértet fogva tartása Lara mindkét kezét lefoglalta. Az, mintha tekintettel lett volna rá, abbahagyta a vergődést.

- Mióta ismered Akemit? Mielőtt idekerült, jó alaposan megfigyeltem, de téged soha nem láttalak. Nem tartozol a mitakiharai barátai közé. Gaijin vagy, semmi közöd ahhoz, ami itt történik. Mi előnyöd származik abból, ha kiviszed innen?

Larának arcizma sem rezdült a mondatokra, amiket mintha egy bajba jutott Inkubátor súgott volna a kísértetnek. A valódi világban talán lett volna értelmük, de itt semmit sem jelentettek. A tekintetét végigfuttatta az asztalon és az állványokon gondosan elhelyezett felszereléseken, mintha tőlük várt volna ihletet, hogy kikeveredjen ebből a róka fogta csuka helyzetből. Hogy kapcsoljon le egy mágikus lányt, aki bármilyen kötelékből azonnal kicsúszhat?

- Persze, neked könnyű. Megvan a saját tested, ahogy megszoktad. De soha nem zavart, hogy mióta szerződtél, grief seed-függő vagy? Apáék azt kutatják, hogyan szabadulhatnánk meg a szerződésünktől.

- Tényleg? Nekem nem úgy tűnt! - mordult fel Lara, miközben egy sor ampulla feliratát bogarászta. Grief seed, erre rá kell kérdeznie Homuránál. Sokkal inkább nála, mint Yonbeynél. Aztán megakadt a szeme valamin.

- Glazadrine... A napló szerint ez sok mindenre jó. Ha kapsz belőle, talán nyugton maradsz, ha azt mondom. Vagy kivezetsz minket innen. Esetleg elmesélsz nekünk ezt-azt.

A fogoly megrándult a szorításában.

- Látom, hogy kíváncsi vagy, akárcsak ők! Megtalálhatod az igazi kiutat, nem csak az intézetből kivezetőt. Segíthetek neked bekerülni a kutatócsoportba. Ki más tudná a legjobban rávezetni őket a mágia titkaira, mint egy valódi mágikus lány? Apa igazi géniusz, de veled sokkal hamarabb rájöhetne mindenre! Sokkal meggyőzőbb vagy, mint az az ócska csaló Sakura, akit Akemi hívott ide!

Lara közben a térdével és fél kezével szorította tovább a kísértet karjait a háta mögött. A másikkal feltépte egy tű csomagolását és azon igyekezett, hogy egy fecskendőre illessze.

- Már láttam, mit műveltetek ezzel a szerencsétlen lánnyal és felfordul tőle a gyomrom. Komolyan azt hiszed, hogy folytatni fogom a kedvedért?

A fantom nem adta fel.

- Gondolj csak bele! Híres lennél és ki is élvezhetnéd, mert boszorkányokat se kéne többé üldöznöd! A végén előállhatnál, és akkor a te szerződésedet is visszacsinálnák.

Lara egy pillanatra megállt a mozdulat közepén. Boszorkány. Újabb ismeretlen kifejezés. A kísértet kezdte nyeregben érezni magát. Lara nem látta az arcán szétfolyó elégedett mosolyt, de hallotta a diadalmas hangszínét.

- A te segítségeddel nem tarthat már sokáig. Végre sikerült elérnem, hogy megtalálják Akemi lélekkövét. Már csak a megfelelő kérdéseket kéne feltenniük. Te tudod, hogy mik azok. Ő pedig bízik benned. És ha egy keveset is elárul, te majd megtalálod a módját, hogy kiegészítsd. Menni fog, mint a karikacsapás!

- Nagyszerű! Akkor már csak azt mondd meg, miért nem jelentkeztél te magad kísérleti alanynak, főleg, hogy az apád is köztük van...

Azzal a tűt a kísértet nyakába döfte. De az ellenállás nélkül csúszott át ott, ahol az előbb még szilárd bőr volt. A lendülettől néhány csepp drog a pultra fröccsent, aztán a fecskendő is követte, zörögve pattogott végig a sima fémlapon. Lara hirtelen minden fogást elvesztett ellenfelén és a tárolónak zuhant. Ösztönösen eltakarta a szemét, de a megerősített üveg halk roppanással megfogta a súlyát. Gyorsan megragadta a veszélyes fecskendőt és már vetődött is hátra, minél messzebb elszabadult foglyától. Közben pedig megpróbált kitalálni bármit, amivel egy ilyen ellenféllel szemben életben maradhat. Egyetlen szalmaszálba kapaszkodhatott csak: a pillanatba, amikor a fantom támad. Ahhoz, hogy fizikai hatást fejtsen ki, még neki is meg kellett testesülnie. Abban a töredék-másodpercben még ő is sebezhető volt.

Lara egy székbe kapaszkodva feltápászkodott, aztán a támlájánál fogva felkapta azt és feszülő izmokkal várta a pillanatot. A tekintetével követte a lecsapni készülő kísértetet, amikor ismerős szövevény villant meg a szeme előtt. Újabb hullám futott végig a levegőben és átcsapott a felé száguldó fantomon. A nyomában nem egy megvadult mágikus lány zuhant már előre, hanem egy vörös izzásból és szakadt rongyokból szőtt igazi kísértet. A legrosszabbkor kezdtek belepiszkálni az álomba, talán nem véletlenül. A világ átalakult valamiből, ami nem Homura emléke volt, valamivé, ami nem az övé. Most már semmiben sem lehetett biztos.

Kőszarkofág tövében állt, amit kétoldalt csuklyás szobrok tartottak a vállukon. A terem fala mentén már nem asztalok és üvegszekrények sorakoztak, hanem faragott kőoszlopok, vibráló fénycsövek helyett a huzatban lobogó fáklyákkal. A lila fényfolt pedig egy másik, tógába öltözött szobor kezében pislákolt egyre halványabban. Úgy tűnt, nincs már sok ideje. Eldobta a széket, aztán ugrott és átgurult a lábak nélkül lebegő jelenés alatt.

A szoborba kapaszkodva újra feltápászkodott és a kőért nyúlt. De a keze visszapattant valamiről, ami épp olyan sima és kemény volt, mint a golyóálló üveg. Szüksége volt valamire az elveszett jégcsákánya helyett. Végigfuttatta a tekintetét a kripta padlóján. Poros kőfaragó szerszámokat látott a szarkofág mellett rendben kiterítve, mintha a rég halott mester csakis erre a nagy műre szánta volna őket. Lara remélte, hogy valamelyikkel a valóságban is be tudja törni az üveget. De a kísértet sokkal közelebb volt, mint a szerszámok. Larának egyetlen eszköz volt a keze ügyében: ahogy a halott-hideg kezek a vállába akaszkodtak, hogy a földre nyomják, ő tövig a fantom szegycsontjába döfte a mágiával élezett tűt, aztán a derekánál fogva megpróbálta lerántani a padlóra.

A támadás részben sikerült. A jelenés egyszerűen elpárolgott a kezei közül, de üres fecskendőt hagyott hátra. Néhány lépéssel hátrébb ért földet, és csak állt újra megtestesülve, lihegve, mint aki nehéz munkával végzett. A sebek a vállán és a mellkasán szemmel látható sebességgel forrtak össze. Lara akkor eszmélt rá, hogy a combjából sugárzó fájdalom immár nem az egyetlen, amit érez. A lába gyengén, aztán egyre erőszakosabban jelzett, fehér izzással homályosította el a lőtt sebet. Lenézett és rémülten látta, hogy a bokája eltűnt a padlóban. Azonnal tudta, hogy nem egyszerűen beszorult. A fehér műkő összemosódott a testével és fogalma sem volt, miféle mágia tudná a két anyagot szétválasztani. Arra gondolt, hogy talán egyszerűbb lenne megszabadulni azoktól a lábaktól és újakat növeszteni. Egy mágikus lány számára talán ez a legegyszerűbb... A lőtt seb fájdalma semmi volt ehhez képest, a kíntól már gondolkodni sem bírt. Talán meg kellett volna hallgatnia Yonbeyt, amikor ki akart térni arra, hogyan korlátozza a kapcsolatot a testével.

Dörömböltek a terem ajtaján, vagy talán a képzelete játszott vele. Az ajtó a szomszéd teremre nyílt. Homura abban az állapotban képes lett volna utána jönni? Lara figyelmeztetni akarta, de az önuralmából csak artikulátlan üvöltésre futotta. A kísértet felkapta a fejét. Vigyorogva húzott ki egy pengeéles szálat a két keze között, aztán egy színpadias legyintéssel eltüntette. Tűnődve nézte Larát egy pillanatig, aztán villámgyors mozdulatokkal leakasztotta az íját, letépte a medálját és Homura köve mellé, a szobor ujjaira akasztotta.

- Jobb lesz így... A dokiknak is kell egy kis szórakozás. Megyek, összecsomagolom nekik a zajos kis barátnődet is, aztán visszakapcsolom ezeket, hogy élvezhessem a műsort. - mutatott egy kamerára kuncogva, és imbolyogva meghajolt. Lara látta, hogy a szemhéja meg-megrándul, ahogy egyre jobban hunyorog labor hideg fehér fényeben. A terem fokozatosan visszakapta modern berendezését, már csak a lélekköveket tartó szobor maradt a középkori díszletből. Lara úgy érezte, mintha ő is megkapta volna a maga részét a drogból.

- Te pedig hallgatsz Endou Tsarináról, mint a sír, kettes számú tesztalany! - vigyorgott a jelenés.

Nem látta vagy nem törődött vele, hogy a lila kőben összegyűlt sűrű sötétség a padlóra csöppen és lassan az ajtó felé csordul. Megfordult és esetlen, kacsázó léptekkel indult a látogató fogadására, néha a padló fölé, néha alá lépve néhány centivel. Láthatóan egyre jobban a kábítószer hatása alá került. Magától csak nem lehetett olyan hülye, hogy bemutatkozzon neki...

Többször nem kopogtak. Az ajtó recsegni kezdett és lassan kiszakadt a keretéből, aztán bedőlt a terembe.

- Igazad van, tényleg be akartam nézni. Szóval te vagy Kouki... Tényleg úgy festesz, mint egy kíváncsiság! - csicsergett egy hang a folyosóról. Lara hallotta már ezt a hanghordozást és már akkor is borsódzott tőle a háta. - Nem is értem, hogy kerültél elő. Kyouko szerint hét főbűn van. Azt hittem, nekem sincs több, mint tizennégy.

Bár a hang Homuráé volt, magas, platinaszőke nő lépett be testhezálló fehér kosztümben, a hátán méretes bőrszárnyakkal. Peckes tartású baba kísérte, ujjatlan kesztyűben és csatos csizmában, cipzáros fekete bőrmellénye és szoros bőrnadrágja közt kivillanó csípővel. A bőre szürke foltos fehér porcelán, mélybordó haja hosszú copfban repkedett a háta mögött, ahogy testőrként kísérte úrnőjét. Sötéten kifestett szemei kék-narancs körökben izzottak barna rúzsos, hegyes fogú vigyora fölött, két kezében hanyagul egy-egy karónyi tűt lóbált.

- Darf ich diese magischen Mädchen sezieren? - kérdezte a baba, és közben szembefordult Larával pontosan az ő pózát felvéve. Épp csak annyival volt kisebb, hogy a padló tetején állva a szeme egy szintbe essen a kőbe ágyazott lányéval. Az arcában és az alakjában Lara felismerte saját eltorzult mását. Döbbenten hőkölt hátra, mire a baba vele tökéletes szinkronban szintén hátrahajolt.

- Nur den Geist. - mutatott vérző karcsonkjával a kísértetre a szőkeség, miközben a másik, bekötött csonkkal hátrasimította a haját. Tsarina dühödten tántorgott feléjük, tudva, hogy ezúttal senki sem támadhatja hátba. Közben oda sem figyelve játszadozott az ujjaival, gyilkos szálaiból macskabölcsőt formálva.

- Aber Meisterin, ich möchte sehen was sie gemacht sind! - tiltakozott a baba.

- Ich möchte nicht. - zárta rövidre a kérdést a Homura-hangú nő. Szolgája keményen megmarkolta a tűket és a közeledő alak felé fordult.

Lara kétségbeesetten váltogatta két látását, hogy elűzze a hallucinációt. A villódzásba belefájdult a feje, de végre újra az ismerős japán lányt látta. A hátborzongató baba viszont nem akart se eltűnni, se megváltozni.

A kísértet kinyújtotta a szálait és kétfelől célozta meg az egyetlen lényt, akit veszélyesnek ítélt a teremben. Larának úgy tűnt, a támadása szörnyen pontatlan volt, de el kellett ismernie, hogy ettől csak még nehezebb lett elkerülni. Kíváncsi hasonmásának viszont egyáltalán nem okozott gondot. Lara mozdulataival tért ki a süvítő szálak elől, csak sokkal gyorsabban, mint amire ő képesnek tartotta magát, aztán a tűit halálos pontossággal a fantom mellkasába döfte.

Pontosan az történt, amire Lara számított. A baba a lendülettől majdnem Homurának esett, aztán félreugrott a következő vágás elől, szempillantás alatt felkapaszkodott a falon és a plafonról a kísértet nyakába ugrott. Estében a tűivel hárított még egy támadást, aztán ahogy semmivé vált ellenfelén átesve földet ért, megint valami teljesen váratlan szögben gurult oldalra. Azonnal elrúgta magát a faltól, és újra rohamra indult.

Tsarina minden ujjával egy-egy szálat húzott elő a puszta levegőből. Bizonyára nagyon gyakorlott volt ebben, de most kis híján saját magát szeletelte föl velük, ahogy teljes összevisszaságban hasította velük maga körül a levegőt. Lenyűgöző látvány volt, ahogy a baba egymás után mindet elkerülte, tökéletes kiszámíthatatlansággal cikázva egyre közelebb, hol gyorsabban, hol lassabban, de még mindig szédítő sebességgel. Egyetlen másodpercébe sem telt elérni ellenfelét és újra keresztüldöfni.

A fantom ezúttal nem volt elég gyors. Azonnal elszabadult a vékony, fekete nyársakról, de Lara túlélő érzékei továbbra is követték, ahogy mindkét kezét a gyomrára szorítva összegörnyedt. Csodálkozva nézett fel, aztán elkapta tekintetét, mert a fénycsövek fájdalmasan döftek hatalmasra tágult pupilláiba. Mérgesen libbent feljebb, és elkezdte kiráncigálni a csöveket a helyükről. A jutalma üvegszilánk- és szikraeső volt, meg egy-egy tű két térdhajlatába.

Ettől mintha magához tért volna. Átlibbent a mennyezeten, hogy Homura feje fölött ereszkedjen le újra. Úgy tűnt, átgondolta a helyzetét, ha ugyan tudott még gondolkodni. Első kísérleti nyula túl nagy falatnak bizonyult, így inkább lemondott róla.

- Homura, hasra!

Ezúttal Lara kiáltott, ahogy a kísértet anyagtalan hurkot vetett a lány nyaka köré. Homura azonnal a földre vetette magát, Tsarina utána, és még mindig testetlenül megpróbálta a pengeéles szálat újra átvetni az álla alatt. Aztán rajta volt az üvöltés sora. Volt ideje vékony véres csíkot hagyni Homura nyakán, de minden elszántsága kevés volt, hogy a vágást végigvigye. A baba, aki addig látszólag vakon keresgélte, az utolsó pillanatban ugrott a háta mögé, hogy egyik tű-lándzsáját a megtestesülése előtt a tarkójától a homlokáig a koponyájába készítse. Tsarina fegyvere kihullott görcsbe ránduló ujjai közül, és annyira elvesztette az irányítást a saját teste fölött, hogy eltartott egy másodpercig, míg végre újra eltűnt. A baba ezt az időt is gondosan kihasználta. Egyetlen erőteljes rántással eltörte a kísértet nyakát és egy második reccsenés kíséretében a hátába térdelt.

Mindannyian Tsarinát nézték. Homura tágra nyílt szemmel meredt a pontra, ahol eltűnt. Lara nagyon szerette volna tudni, mit gondol és érez, de a sebzett fantom még jobban lekötötte. Émelyegve figyelte, ahogy láthatatlanul elterül félig a padlóban és egész testében remegve próbálja összeszedni magát. Nagyon remélte, hogy lesz annyi esze, hogy ne próbáljon újra rájuk támadni. Egy dolog volt mágikus lányként harcolni, de ez a mészárlás még őt is elborzasztotta. Ahogy elnézte, az álom gazdája még rosszabbul viselte a látványt.

Homura Kíváncsisága közben a kísértet fölött állt és vigyorogva követte minden mozdulatát, időnként áthelyezve a padlóba szúrt tűit úgy, hogy Tsarina semmiképpen ne testesülhessen meg újabb nyársra húzás nélkül.

Lara és Homura egyformán fájdalmas arckifejezéssel nézett össze. A kis japán lány a babára emelte a tekintetét és egy rövid fejcsóválással megállította. Kouki vigyora lekonyult és hátrébb lépett a gazdája és a kísértet közé, a tűket továbbra is készenlétben tartva.

- Nem tehetem ezt egy mágikus lánnyal... - suttogta a raptorlány.

Lara összevonta a szemöldökét. Érezte, hogy a mondatnak volt még legalább egy rejtett jelentése. De minden titkos tartalom és minden rossz érzése ellenére sem tudott egyetérteni vele. A kutató lánya halálosan veszélyes volt, híján minden belátásnak és morális gátlásnak.

- Homura! Értem, hogy nem akarsz brutálisan megkínozni egy másik mágikus lányt, de ez tényleg csak egy kísértet, az elméd játéka! Ha lenne agyad, azt mondanám, hogy az egyik része el akarja szöktetni a többit ebből a világból. De ez tényleg rohadt egy álom. Fogalmam sincs, miket művelsz magaddal és a valósággal, és szerintem te sem akarod nekem elárulni, de ha van valami hatalmad ezen a világon, kérlek, mondd meg a másolatomnak, hogy végezzen vele nagyon gyorsan! - Nem. A "gyors" nem az a szó volt, amit keresett. A baba sebességében nem talált semmi kivetni valót, a sérüléseitől és a drogtól szédülten kóválygó mágikus lány egyszerűen nem volt neki ellenfél.

Kouki türelmetlenül várta, hogy a gazdája végre elhatározza magát. Homura szemöldöke fájdalmas ráncokat vetett, ahogy végigfuttatta a tekintetét a labor felszerelésén, a saját karcsonkjain, aztán kéretlen segítőjén, aki az egyetlen kapcsolata volt a külvilággal. A hangja még mindig tele volt kétellyel, mikor a parancsot kiadta.

- Töte sie und bring mir ihren Seelenstein!

Csak Lara látta, ahogy Tsarina Homurára vicsorgott, aztán felugrott a levegőbe és átsurrant a plafonon. Tehát volt elég esze, csak későn használta. Kouki szélesen elvigyorodott. A tűivel kivágott egy gömböt maga körül a levegőben és egy pillanat alatt eltűnt. Egyetlen, teljesen új színű mágiával ragyogó pont maradt csak utána, ami apró gömbvillámként libbent a fantom után, hogy egy másodperc alatt utolérje és mindketten eltűnjenek egy mágikus villanásban.

A Sírrabló és a Halál Angyala

6. fejezet / 2. rész


Ez itt a második fele. Mert még így megvágva is túl sok volt a DevArt 64k-s limitjéhez. Most komolyan, milyen ősmaradvány ez a határ? Mei a Homuraptor most biztos rosszallóan csóválja a fejét.

A fejezet első fele:…


Add a Comment:
bogidream Featured By Owner May 1, 2018
Boldog szülinapot :) Na, meg persze május elsejét ;)
alvaro84 Featured By Owner May 1, 2018
Neked is köszönöm!
Moraja Featured By Owner May 1, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Boldog május elsejét! Meg szülinapot is :D
alvaro84 Featured By Owner May 1, 2018
Köszönöm! :)
MahouShoujoMaisoon Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2018
Rank your favorite to least favorite of the holy quintet. I just want to know that's all.
alvaro84 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018
Well, you can easily guess that my absolute no.1 is Homura. She's not perfect, she's not completely right in the head but hey, this is why I love her! I even have another version of her, a little different from her canon self but still very similar.

Then, let's see. The people she's closest to are my next two favs. Madoka is someone with a strong sense of responsibility. She can kind of complete Homura and they love very much and mutually support each other. Yeah, I know it's not a Rebellion fact :D But I just can't (or don't want) to imagine the whole thing ending up like this. I think there's more to Madoka than she showed during Rebellion. Her plan was to save Homura and it hasn't failed - it just hasn't completed yet. Really, we're talking about a deity, not a 14-yo schoolgirl. I really think she was the mastermind behind everything that happened. It's possible that her sense of responsibility (for who she had tamed) made her give up her godhood but I repeat, I don't think it's the end of story.

Kyouko is in this tier too. In my works she's an "older sister" figure for the two little lovebirds (even though she's technically much younger than Homura at that point). It may be unexpected, she did surprise me too but this is what happened. In the original series she was the character that seemed hiding something (to me at least). She's wild and restless but has strong morality behind her street urchin mask.

Then come Sayaka and Mami. Mami didn't get enough screen time to get close enough to me so I feel her a bit of a stranger. Sayaka is very different. Her story played a very important role in the series (and her downfall was what got me hooked on Madoka Magica) but she could be quite annoying at times (looking from Homura's point of view that I assumed so easily...). So while Mami is kind of distant, Sayaka is ambivalent.
MahouShoujoMaisoon Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2018
Well, when it comes to PMMM, I am always on Mami, Kyouko and Sayaka's side because I feel like not only are they badass but they also have the potential to develop like Homura yet they are shoved aside by the fanbase because of too much Homura (I never said I hated Homura even if I find her actions in the sequel to be too iffy). Kyouko although there are barely any haters of her is quite ignored, Sayaka is overhated (though I hardly see anymore haters of her) and Mami is surrounded by head jokes and boob memes.

By the way, have you tried the Different Story manga? I really loved it so much because at least Mami and Kyouko aren't just background/supporting characters and although Sayaka has already developed in the anime, she also played an important role in the manga as well while Madoka and Homura are just tagalong characters.
MahouShoujoMaisoon Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2018
What do you think of Magia Record?
alvaro84 Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2018
I can't tell yet. I'm following Clione's translations on YouTube but even the existence of rumors is a rumor at the point I'm at. :o
TheIronDude28 Featured By Owner May 1, 2017  Student General Artist
Happy Birthday! Have your cake and eat it too:cakerun:Cupcake GIF Icon - Five Nights at Freddy's:ihavecaek:Super Fantastic Golden Platter Cake 3DMinecraft cake (Pixel art)Fun cakeBirthday cake  iconcakeCakebirthday cakeCake for ShiftehHappy Birthday ReiFree Avatar - CupTardCakeBirthday Cake  :DKimRaiFan's Bday CakeavatarAnimation sm Happy Birthday 2
All the cake are belong to you! :D (Big Grin)
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