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Chapter 19: Punishment
Sciarra, lifting his chin, walked to where Monteleone was waiting in his chair. The boss wasn’t as handsome as before, now lacking the entire front row of his teeth. Of course that would be soon solved as he had a personal dentist to fix that little problem. But he was furious and if he could kill Kurtis, he would've done so without hesitating. But he'd more important matters to attend to and Kurtis wasn't for him.
“Did you call me, signore?”
“Bring me Maddalena.”
Sciarra didn’t expect otherwise. With a sly smile painted on his face, he went toward the prostitutes’ area, grabbed the redhead woman by her arm and led her there. Maddalena released herself from the bully’s grip and said: “No need to take me in tow.”
A group of men and prostitutes gathered around them, interested in the scene. Monteleone said then: “Sciarra, what should we do with the youth we caught from the excavation?”
“Kill them all.” He
Chapter 18: The Healer
Lara passed out shortly after, for she'd lost too much blood. The bleeding slowed after a while, but Kurtis, who held her against his chest, felt his own shirt soaked through with that blood he loved. The blanket was wet and his arm was slippery because of it.
He didn’t want to think. He didn’t want to think about that. He just had to take her there. It was her only chance. The hospital was forty miles far from there, along a dusty road full of rocks and potholes. She wouldn’t make it alive. He had to take her there.
The road wasn't long, since she didn’t live so far away, but for him it was an eternity. He didn’t know whether to accelerate and thus risk her falling from his arms, or to slow down and risk her dying there. If he had the strength, he would've wept with rage. But all his forces were focused on arriving soon.
No journey had ever seemed so long.
Marie heard the engine roar from afar, so she went outside to meet her son, surprised to see him vis
Chapter 17: The Silver Bullet
At first, he saw only darkness. Then he saw her, sitting, lifting her brown eyes to the gun targeting her. She had no time to react.
The bullet, small and made of silver, struck at her heart, next to the left breast. Everything happened very fast, but he saw it in slow-motion. A jet of blood soaked the white fabric of her shirt. Then she began to slide off the chair.
He tried to catch her, but she fell. And she stared at the ceiling, with open eyes, dead, while beneath her a dark pool of blood widened.
He sat up abruptly, letting out a scream. He took a few moments to catch his breath.
She was there beside him, naked and asleep. It had just been a nightmare. He laid down again, fixing his gaze on the tent ceiling while the sweat ran down his back.
“You okay?” He heard her murmur sleepily at his side.
“Sleep, Lara. Just a nightmare.”
She lifted her head, and a lock of brown hair half covered her face. She pulled it away. “What did you dream?”
Chapter 16: Bare Truths
Lara had the good sense to quietly turn off Zip’s communicator after ending the conversation with Monteleone, so the subsequent dialogue with Selma wasn't recorded. By transmitting the recording to his computer, Zip directed everything so that it could also be heard by Kurtis, who at the end frowned.
“Well?” Selma said, anxious. “What do you think?”
“I agree with Lara.” He answered. “Even if what Van Der Brieck says is real, Monteleone’s theory about feelings is the biggest load of bullshit I've heard in my life.”
Lara smiled - she didn’t know why, but she had been sure he'd be wise about it.
“Still,” Kurtis stated, “there’s something I don’t like in that guy’s voice. I think there’s more to it and he’s hiding it.”
“Yeah, same here.” Zip said, blowing a bubble of gum from his mouth. “That fucker’s hoity toity voice, with all those manners. He's
Chapter 19: The Supreme Temptation
At that moment, Dr. Boaz, extremely pale and twisting her fingers, asked to see Karel.
“What do you want?” He said, looking up from Rouzic’s notes about the Periapt’s symbolism.
“The woman is under treatment, as commanded, Meister.” She said. “If we continue the dose for some days we’ll have her docile and completely at your mercy.”
Karel looked at Giselle and smiled with amusement at seeing her overwhelmed look and her clenched teeth. “You can barely hide your hatred and loathing for Lara Croft.”
The scientist bit her lower lip. “That woman's hateful and despicable! She's spent two days tied up and under treatment, yet still she dares to challenge me.”
“Well, be grateful at least she didn't bite you.” Karel chuckled.
“You can’t negotiate with that bitch. She hates you, mein Meister, and she’ll do anything to damage you.”
The Nephilim shrugged and added: “That will on
Chapter 18: Giselle Boaz
Lara wondered if it was worth opening her eyes. She already knew what she was going to see: nothing. The Laboratory’s rooms were locked and bolted, leaving the patients in darkness, bound to stretchers and without any chance to move.
She silently reviewed all similar situations she’d been in, and came to the sad conclusion that this was by far the worst. Her ankles and wrists hurt when trying in vain to remove the straps. The slightest movement was torture.
Darkness had sharpened her hearing, so she could hear murmuring, far-off crying, and the occasional scream or screeching metal. So at least she wasn't totally isolated.
But where was she? That place resembled the Strahov Sanitarium, which she knew by Kurtis’ descriptions. As to what they would do to her, Lara guessed it, and while not harbouring any hope of getting rid of that, she resolutely decided not to give the enemy the satisfaction of seeing her desperation.
The door opened with a clang and a pulsing yellow
Chapter 15: Putai
It was getting dark when they left the stronghold. The return trip had been easy, with the skeletons leading the way, though Lara felt awkward about following a bunch of bones who treated Kurtis with great respect, and was mostly miffed when she noticed the traps didn't react to his presence. She commented about taking Kurtis everywhere from then on to avoid booby-traps and also something about her work no longer having any intrigue or passion.
The sunlight blinded their eyes when they came out. Jean, who was there leading the excavators, ran towards them: “How did it go? Sacré bleu!” He said, looking at Kurtis. “What happened, Monsieur Trent?” Kurtis had half of his face black with clotted blood.
“Occupational hazards,” said Lara. “Is the infirmary already set up?”
“Yes, by there.”
Upon entering the stronghold, they had left behind a wasteland devastated by the sirocco, but now there was a real camp.
Kurtis refused help
Chapter 16: Bloodstained Sand
Screams and gunfire woke her up. Lara jumped out of bed and took the shotgun from under the bundle of clothes she was using as her pillow, then she decided she couldn’t go out in her underwear and hurriedly put on some clothes. She secured the Periapt in her backpack and left the tent.
“What the…?” She exclaimed... and then she saw it. Several Jeeps were arriving, from which men were jumping off and invading the camp, armed with submachine guns, led by... “Gunderson!” Lara cursed a thousand times for not having killed him when she had the chance.
Chaos erupted. The terrified excavators fled to the only place that seemed safe: the stronghold. The Bedouin, who felt war as if it were in their own blood, took up arms with savage cries and rushed to meet the invaders. The result was one group bumping into the other and forming a maze of terrified and angry people, all yelling amidst the fuss.
“Oh, c'mon.” Lara muttered, annoyed.