Here is chapter 7! I hope you like it :D Thank you for reading it, and of course, Thank Shadewolf7 my beta ;)
The previous chapter's end:
Erwin made sure the next idol was secured safely inside his pack before making his way back topside with Herman and the wolf, meeting the rest of his mercenaries at the entrance. "It is safe for you to enter, though only you three are to wait. The rest of us are leaving Egypt." He pointed to the three best known for marksmanship amongst the non-snipers. "If Lara and her friend show up, kill them... after all, this place is meant to be a tomb... Wait inside the temple, it will provide adequate shelter."
The three picked up their packs and did as they were told, checking their guns as they left.
Chapter 7: The Path of Ra (Part II)
The temple had remained nearly undisturbed for centuries, but that day all changed. Hurried steps broke the long silence as the three sharpshooters made their way to the second story, finding slowly crumbling support columns to use as cover. They would be invisible from the entrance.
"Think they'll come?" one stage-whispered across to his fellows.
"Oh yeah, they'll come. That Croft woman never gives up."
"Yeah, well, her luck'll run out today," the third snapped, mounting a sight onto his rifle, "Now shut up and keep watch."
Indy and Lara moved towards the entrance of the temple, noting disturbed sand and dust crossing the ruins. They hoped that the tire tracks aboveground were from tourists, but now it was nearly certain—few entered here, as it had been mostly stripped bare.
Herman had beaten them to the temple—Herman and whoever he was working for this time.
"We're too late," Indy growled, eyes flashing with impotent rage.
"Maybe they missed something," Lara pointed out.
"Good point," Indy made his way into the main room of the temple, immediately zeroing in on the broken tile.
"Think we'll find something down there?" Lara asked, coming up to peer over into the darkness.
"More than up here," Indy rolled his shoulders, "Unless you'd rather wait with Ra," he indicated the giant statue with a smile.
Just one more step… the sniper thought to himself, signaling that he would take out the man in front to the other two.
His finger tightened on the trigger, a hair's breadth from firing—and Beethoven's Fifth sounded out in nearby, startling him into shooting wild as Croft tackled the man to the ground, twisting to scan the shadows of the second floor balcony where the three were concealed.
She spotted them and rolled behind a column of her own, shouting at the man to do the same.
"Why didn't you turn off your phone, you idiot!?" he snapped at his compatriot, receiving a frightened, embarrassed glance in return.
"Just kill them!" the third ordered.
They opened fire, silenced rifles sending bullets hissing down at the two partially concealed below.
The bullets cracked into the column that Lara and Indy had taken refuge behind, shattering the previously perfect hieroglyphs into meaningless dust. Indiana glanced sideways and noticed Lara leaning back against the column, both pistols held up to her chest and obviously intending to start shooting back any second.
"They're cover's too good," he hissed, "Shooting at 'em's not going to do anything!"
"You're right," Lara muttered back, tossing him a vicious grin, "Distract them."
"With what? A joke?"
"Just do it!"
"Right," Indy muttered, then sprinted out from behind the column, diving for the next one over as the sniper fire converged on him.
A formerly beautiful mural of a pharaoh kneeling before Ra shattered as the bullets hit it. "Hey!" he shouted in protest.
Lara took his distraction to roll out from behind the ruined column, then took off in a crouching run for the stairs, hoping Jones would hold their attention for long enough.
"That was a priceless piece of history, you idiots!" the archaeologist shouted behind her and Lara allowed herself a tight smile. He was doing just fine on distracting them.
One of the snipers ducked back into his cover to load a new clip into his rifle. "I'm done with this—get them out of there! I'm tired of playing games."
"Then let's liven things up!" Lara hit him with a crescent kick, throwing him onto his back and sending the rifle skidding across the floor with a clatter.
One of the other mercs stepped out from behind his cover, leveling a small pistol in Lara's direction when a bullet caught him in the shoulder, causing him to stumble back with a sharp cry as the gun fell from nerveless fingers. "That's for the mural!" Jones shouted up.
Lara offered a smile but was quickly dissuaded when the sniper came back up, fighting. She blocked and dodged, but was quickly losing ground and the third finally took his attention away from Jones, who shot a few rounds in his direction to keep him distracted a little longer.
Lara Croft had had enough. When the sniper moved in for another punch, she dodged forward, inside his guard, and brought a knee up, hard. "You brought it on yourself, you know," she informed the man as he tipped over in obvious agony.
And Jones ran out of bullets.
As soon as the cover fire disappeared, the formerly pinned mercenary turned his attention from Jones to Croft, charging to bodily ram her. Lara was knocked off balance and took a step back in an instinctive attempt to ward off a fall… right into empty air.
Her flailing grab managed to save her from an unpleasant landing below, but her grip was tenacious at best and the mercenary smiled. "What a… difficult situation you seem to be in, Miss Croft…"
He moved forward and ground his heel onto her fingers and she bit back a scream, gritting her teeth and resolving not to give him the satisfaction, no matter what.
"Yeah, well, your 'situation' will be even worse!"
Lara had never been quite so glad to hear her temporary partner's voice.
A moment later, the mercenary that had forced her over the edge fell past her, screaming. A crack and a thud from below announced his arrival at the first floor and Lara let herself turn her attention back to her now-failing grip.
"Lara!" Indy heard the shout and lunged for the edge, noting the purplish-red bruising already visible across one of the woman's hands, knowing that there was no way she could hold on much longer.
He reached—and was brought up short by a sharp jerk on the back of his shirt as the third sniper, the one he'd forgotten, stepped in. Indy didn't have time to react before he was sent sprawling by a vicious backhand across his face, sending him staggering back against the wall. His head banged back, dazing him slightly, and a follow-up punch to the jaw sent him sprawling.
"Ready to die?" the mercenary sneered, leveling a pistol.
"Uh… not today!" Indy lashed out with a foot, knocking the other man down and sending the pistol clattering across the floor.
"Jones, hurry it up!" Lara's voice sounded distinctly strained.
The archaeologist started to stand but the mercenary was not out yet and grabbed him by the throat.
Indy tried to pry the hands off his throat, but the mercenary was just too strong, so he flailed for the gun instead, only to find it just out of reach.
He scrabbled for something—anything—to use to get that iron grip off his throat and his hand slipped down into a crack near the wall. His fingers found something slightly curved and hard.
I'm going to hate myself for this, he observed silently as he grabbed the equivalent of a decorative plate and lifted it out of the crack where it had lain, forgotten… and smashed it over the mercenary's head, hard.
And sucked in a rasping gasp of air as the man keeled over, unconscious.
He made his way to his knees and threw himself down on his belly to reach over the edge, wrapping both hands around one of Lara's wrists just as she lost her grip with her other hand. After several moments, he lifted as much as he could, allowing her to grab the edge again and help him pull her to safety.
Then he rolled onto his back and focused on breathing, getting the last of the black spots to fade out of his vision. "That was close," he observed.
"Too close," Lara agreed. "We'll have to be more careful-"
Beethoven's Fifth rang out again.
"What is that?"
"A cell phone," Lara replied as she found the object and plucked it off the unconscious would-be sniper.
"Hm. It's Herman… he doesn't know your voice, does he?" She offered Indy the phone.
He raised an eyebrow, but accepted it. "Yes?"
"Are they dead?" The voice over the line made Indy bristle, but he kept his voice smooth, if slightly insulted.
"Good. Take the next plane to Norway."
"Norway. Got it. By the way… regards from Miss. Croft."
"What?" Then Herman seemed to make the connection. "You!"
"Yes, from me, too, and—Hey!" He turned to Lara with a comical pout, "He hung up on me."
Lara shook her head, smiling a bit, "How thoughtless of him."
Several minutes later, they had managed to secure the unconscious mercenary and made their way down into the catacombs where Erwin and Herman had been not two hours before.
"What were they looking for in here?" Lara asked, squinting through the gloom, "I can't see a thing."
"The next statue, I'll bet," Indy replied dryly. "Look, this sarcophagus has been opened—recently." The archaeologist placed his hand on the cover, "Got a light?"
"Only this one," Lara offered him her keychain, upon which resided a little LED light.
"Thanks," Indy accepted it absently, still squinting at the glyphs he could barely make out in the low light, then he focused the tiny beam on the short passage.
"Ra will guide your search," he translated aloud before aiming the light into the open edge of the sarcophagus.
"It's empty," Lara pointed out needlessly, having known that it would be but dissapointed nonetheless. "The statue must have been there."
"Yeah, but look at this…" Indy trained the light on something else, a map etched in detail into black stone.
"The Mediterranean Sea," Lara breathed, "Complete, but… it's incredible. I can't believe the Ancient Egyptians explored so far."
"Yeah, and check this out—the Scandinavian Peninsula."
"My god…" she breathed, "How could they have… hold on, there's an inscription over Norway, but it's in runes of some sort… I don't know the language."
Indy tipped his hat back and peered at it for a moment before breaking out in a surprised whistle. "Viking runes in an Egyptian sarcophagus!"
Lara grinned, "Well, Jones, what does it say?"
"Well, my Old Norse is a bit rusty, but…" he read over the runes carefully, "Guarded by the warrior soul, the last god of the damned awaits... hidden in the Eternal Snow where the fog is never driven away." He paused.
Lara barely kept herself from rolling her eyes, "And what does that mean? I left my Viking-English dictionary at home."
Indiana scratched his chin thoughtfully, "Warrior soul could refer to… and eternal snow… that narrows it down a bit…"
Indy ignored the interruption to his train of thought, "… and fog that's 'never driven away'"
"Jones!" Lara snapped impatiently.
"Hammerfest!" he pounded a fist into his hand, now certain, "It's the only place that matches everything."
"Hammerfest. It's a Norwegian city that's got snow practically year-round due to the latitude and it's near the sea. The fog that comes in off the ocean freezes and doesn't lift for months on end and the Norse ruins in the area are perfect for the 'Warrior Soul' reference."
"Very well then, Dr. Jones," Lara was impressed by his quick insight, "Let's start heading for Norway."
Indy glanced at her, surprised at the use of his title, then froze when he felt something brush against his leg. Very slowly, he looked down—and his fears were confirmed. A large snake was beginning to climb up his leg, attracted to the human warmth.
Lara turned when she realized she was not immediately followed, "Jones?"
At the sight of his pale face, she started to get a bit worried, "Are you all right?"
"Snake," he managed.
She aimed the light at the offending creature, then relaxed, "It's not venomous," she informed the petrified archaeologist, thinking that was the problem.
"That's not the point!" the strangled hiss made the relic hunter smiles.
"It's just a snake, Jones. Scared?" she thought that would sting his male pride into doing something, but the part-time professor was terrified of snakes and not afraid to admit it.
"I hate snakes! Would you get it off me!?"
Lara didn't bother to stifle her laugh, "All right, all right, just… don't move."
"I'm not moving." Not moving at all, in fact. "Will you hurry?"
"Try to relax, Jones," Lara scolded, gently unwinding the snake from her companion's leg and turning it loose near the sarcophagus, "Better?"
"Only when we get out of here," Indy shot back, still unnerved by the snake-encounter.
"Let's get going, then—it's a long way to Norway."
To be continued...
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