Vacation is a four letter word
Working Vacation - Part 1Disclaimer:
This is a derivative work using characters and intellectual property belonging to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox Television, and Eidos and probably others. When/Spoilers:
Post BtVS Season 7 / Tomb Raider (post AoD and CoL)Rating:
Action Violence and Some Sensuality (And maybe some subtext... but no sex)Distribution:
TtH, atbvs.creative, FaithfulChickies, my blog fanfic pages. Otherwise-ask. AN:
The locations mentioned in this fic actually exist but neither Lara Croft nor Faith have ever been to them and they aren't necessarily exactly as depicted in this fic. See end for links.AN:
This is an experiment in one way to write LC - light on the action.AN:
Takes place between my Red Raider prologue
and Girl in a Bar
but doesn't require knowledge of either.AN:
Feedback appreciated as always.AN:
Mild tweaking 20-Feb-2005. - - -
Lara Croft did not take vacations. Especially not for health reasons. She thought this as she left her doctor's office. She thought this as Hillary packed her bags and made her reservations at a resort in the US. She thought this as she boarded the plane at Heathrow. She thought this as turbulance over the Atlantic made even First Class uncomfortable. She continued to think this as she climbed into the BMW X5 that was waiting for her at Logan Airport in Boston. She was still thinking this two hours later as she checked into the Mt. Washington Hotel and was shown to her room.
Even a seasoned adventurer needs sleep occasionally. After a quick dinner in the main dining room, Lara collapsed gratefully on the bed in her suite, too tired to make plans for the next day.
Returning from a short run the next morning, Lara found one small package and several larger ones from Hillary waiting for her at the front desk. With the assistance of a bored bellhop, Lara took the packages up to her suite.
Opening the smaller package once she was alone, Lara found an large envelope and a note from Hillary that said,
I hope you are enjoying your vacation. Please see the
enclosed envelope for alternate activities when you
Since a Croft on vacation in a sleepy mountain resort was the epitome of boredom personified, Lara immediately opened the envelope. Inside was one of Hillary's standard project portfolios, containing a map, a number of arial photographs, and an outline of the interesting facts concerning the project. Lara put this aside for a moment and opened the larger of the other two packages to find that, among other things, it contained a number of her favorite tomb raiding tools. Lara grinned. Things were starting to look up.
She wasn't sure how he'd managed it but spread out in front of her were a pair of her favorite pistols, one of her favorite knives, the eclectic set of electronics she now took on every trip, and several types of amunition for a variety of conditions. Completing the collection were a set of solar powered rechargable torches, a couple of all weather flares, an assortment of cameras and other kinds of site monitoring equipment.
Opening the second large box, Lara found a variety of clothes appropriate for her chosen profession and the spring weather packed in a sturdy case. The gem of the collection was a semi-stylish version of the black kevlar bodysuit she'd become fond of. At the bottom of the case was a lightweight first aid kit filled with the usual familiar assortment of bandages, quick acting poison antidotes and ointments.
Connecting the special camera phone Bryce had included with her other equipment up to her travel hardened sub-notebook, Lara briefly tested the setup by dialing a local ISP. Connecting to the e-mail server back in Croft Manor she downloaded her e-mail for the past two days. Happy with the results, Lara switched over to the hotel's internal wifi network and, setting up a secure connection to the video conferencing server back in Croft Manor, paged Bryce and Hillary.
"I'm assuming you have everything?" Hillary asked as soon as he appeared within camera range.
"Yes. Except an explanation." Lara growled.
"Yes. An explanation. This site," She waved the project folder at the camera, "is over an hour from here."
"It was Hillary's idea." muttered Bryce.
Hillary gave Bryce a dirty look as he began. "We thought it would be more relaxing. That site is just enough of a challenge that you should be able to relax while exploring it in the morning and spend the afternoon at the beach. And then you can spend the rest of the week relaxing in the mountains. The perfect vacation." Hillary grinned at her.
"And the reason for the night vision gear and other things you sent me?" Lara enquired with a raised eyebrow.
"Well...," Hillary began nervously, "there have been a few unexplained occurrences at night there recently. The owners agreed to let you have free access to the site if you agreed to check them out."
"And these unexplained occurrences are what exactly?"
"Strange symbols appearing on rocks, people hearing voices, strange lights, that sort of thing."
Flipping through her stack of photographs, Lara commented "I don't see any pictures of any unusual symbols."
"They apparently disappeared before anyone could take photographs of them."
"So basically," Lara growled. "You're telling me that this 'American Stonehenge' is haunted and they want my professional opinion? For free?"
"Okay." Lara grimaced and Bryce looked like he wanted to be elsewhere as she continued in the tone of voice she normally used with bureacrats who were annoying her, "I'll take a look. But I think we need to talk about your recent project choices when I get back. Is there anything else?"
"No." He smiled at her like a motivational coach. "Have fun tomorrow."
Lara growled at him again and left the video conference, forcefully closing her laptop in annoyance. - - -
Lara headed south first thing in the morning, dodging the local wildlife as she went. Shuddering, she decided she never wanted to be that close to a moose ever again. Two hours and several cups of atrocious American coffee later and she was in North Salem, NH.
After chatting with her for a few minutes, the Visitors Center manager gave Lara the self guided tour map and pointed her in the direction of the stone structure.
Lara found it interesting in the same way she found a stone fence in the middle of an empty pasture interesting. Compared to the archeological sites she normally explored there really wasn't much to it. Just a bunch of rocks. Sure, there was something that looked like an altar and several rock chambers but nothing that really cried out for her unique talents. As far as she could tell there were no hidden passageways, tunnels, or puzzles to solve.
Before leaving Lara filmed the entire site. She planned on repeating the procedure later that night. And hopefully she would also be able to observe the strange lights. Maybe Bryce could make something of it all. At the very least it would keep him out of her hair for the rest of the week.
Lara spent the rest of the day driving up the coast on Route 1, occasionally stopping at places like Nubble Light and Long Sands to look out at the ocean. Hillary had obviously had good intentions, Lara grudgingly admitted, but someone should tell him that early April in New England was not really warm enough to do more than get your feet cold and wet if you walked on the beach. - - -
After a casual dinner at one of the multitude of seafood restaurants along the coast, Lara headed back to New Hampshire, arriving in North Salem with just enough light to start setting up her equipment. She placed several different cameras in unobtrusive locations, giving her complete coverage of the site in both the visible and infrared spectrums. A number of small motion sensors and microphones were intended to provide additional information about the night's expected activities. A final touch was one of Bryce's new toys, a small radar scanner that would hopefully provide a unique view of the area and its companion energy detector.
Lara thought this was all overkill for what sounded like a simple ghost, but she wasn't the one who would have to spend weeks analyzing the information she collected.
Once everything was in place, Lara changed into her kevlar body suit, black gloves, boots, and a black hood. Armed with her guns and other weapons in special quick release pockets, Lara was essentially invisible. The electronics were all on automatic, sending their signals to be recorded by a number of devices in her X5, which she'd parked unobtrusively a mile down the road. She wasn't expecting any company but there was no reason to be careless.
Perched unobtrusively in a tree with a view of the altar and several of the rock chambers, Lara put on her night vision goggles and made herself as comfortable as possible, settling in for the night.
Just before midnight Lara was startled by a green glow approaching the altar from the other side of the site. An orange glow joined it there from her left. There were a number of strange figures gathered around the altar chanting in a strange guttural language. She hoped the cameras and microphones were getting everything, the figures were indistinct from her viewpoint.
This continued for an hour before the chanting ceased and the figures retreated back into the woods. Lara waited another hour before climbing down out of the tree. Carefully making her way to the altar, Lara examined it for any evidence of the activities she'd observed earlier. There were a number of strange symbols decorating the edges of the altar. They were already starting to fade as Lara quickly recorded them with her small digital camera.
In the early dawn, after checking her equipment to make sure it was still functioning, and leaving it in place until she'd had a chance to review what it had recorded, Lara headed towards her vehicle to change back into her regular clothes with the intention of heading to a local diner she'd noticed the previous day for a much needed breakfast.
Approaching her X5 from the rear, Lara came to a surprised stop as she came around the left side. The driver's door was open, and sitting there, with her combat boot covered feet dangling out of the door, was a young woman, dressed in dark leather, her dark brown hair tied back, sharpening a short stick with a deadly looking knife. Lara instinctively reached for her pistols, stopping when she was addressed directly by the woman in a low, sultry voice that promised either death or sex, or possibly both.
"You have some interesting toys here Lady Croft." she purred as she slid out of the X5 and stepped in front of Lara.
- - -
Author's Notes cont.:Location 1:Mt Washington Hotel and ResortLocation 2: America's Stonehenge