Read Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals Online

Authors: Dan Abnett,Nik Vincent

Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals (2 page)

BOOK: Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals
5.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Lara turned briskly on her heels and took over. She put out her hand for the man to shake.

“Lara Croft,” she said. “You called me on Samantha Nishimura’s phone. I came as quickly as I could.”

The tall, elegant, Asian man smiled slightly without losing the serious expression on his face. He gestured for Lara to follow him away from the desk. Then, he took a folded envelope from the pocket of his lab coat.

“We found this in Miss Nishimura’s pocket,” he said, handing her the envelope. “It’s addressed to you. Her clothes and possessions were bagged up when she was admitted, but I wanted to make sure someone saw this.”

“Sam’s unconscious?” she asked, looking at the envelope with her name on it.

“Yes,” said Chandyo.

“But she’s been here… How long has she been here?” asked Lara.

“A little over three hours.”

“Tell me what’s wrong with her,” said Lara. “Why isn’t she conscious?”

“What is your relationship to Miss Nishimura?” asked Doctor Chandyo.


You
called
me
,” said Lara.

Chandyo sighed.

“We didn’t have much to go on. Just the envelope, and nothing in the note was useful,” he said.

Lara turned the envelope over in her hands, and noticed, for the first time, that it had been opened.

“I’m sorry, we had to open it. There might have been something...”

“OK,” she said.

“We had her mobile, but all the contacts were listed by first names only. No listings for ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’,” said the doctor. “We called you because your name was in her contact list and on the envelope. It was lucky the phone wasn’t locked, didn’t have a pass code. Most people keep their mobiles secure.”

“More secure if you don’t,” said Lara. “In case...”

She almost said,
in case something dreadful happens and you end up in a hospital or a morgue.
Instead, she said, “In case something like this happens. That’s why it’s first names only in the contact list. In the end, almost any name will do.”

“I suppose so,” said Chandyo.

“If you only had the phone and the note, how did you know her
name
?”

Lara wanted to see Sam, wanted to be with her. She also knew that it was better to hear the doctor out, to listen to what he had to say. She had to reassure him that she could be trusted, that she could act as Sam’s next of kin, that she would act in her friend’s best interests. She had to keep calm and bide her time.

“She signed the note with her full name,” said Chandyo. “I thought it was odd.”

“Maybe,” said Lara, “but she’s Japanese, and there’s an elegance about some of the things she does, a formality. Tell me what happened, Doctor Chandyo. Can I see her?”

“She’s in the Adult Critical Care unit, Miss Croft. Are you in touch with her family?”

“I’m her only family here. She needs me. Please, tell me what’s going on,” said Lara. “Tell me how I can help her.”

“Miss Nishimura is in a coma. We’re doing everything we can, but she’s suffered an overdose. Have you any idea what she might have taken? We found no drugs on her, and toxicology will take some time. The next few hours could be critical.”

“An overdose? I don’t know. She wasn’t on any medication that I know of,” said Lara. She ran through her mind, trying to remember if there was anything at all that Sam might have been prescribed.

“She’s been dealing with a serious emotional trauma. She’s been depressed. She’d have told me if she’d been prescribed something. She might have seen a doctor about it though.”

“That’s helpful,” said Chandyo. “Was she having trouble sleeping?”

“She was tired all the time, and scared,” said Lara. “She had nightmares when she slept. I worried for her, but we’re close. We talk a lot. We live together. We saw each other almost every day.”

“Did she take recreational drugs? Does she have a history of taking any illegal drugs? If she does, you should tell me.”

“No. Absolutely not. I’ve known her a long time. She liked to be in control. She knew how to have fun. She didn’t need anything like that.” Lara was sure of that, at least. “I’d really like to see her now.”

“OK,” said Doctor Chandyo. “She’s in Ward 4E...”

“Thank you,” said Lara, as she walked briskly away, cutting the doctor off before he’d finished speaking.

“Prepare yourself, Miss Croft,” he called after her.

Lara stopped as Chandyo caught up with her.

“Miss Nishimura is very ill. She’s on a drip, and a ventilator is helping her to breathe. You should be prepared for a shock.”

Lara held out her hand to shake once more.

“Thank you, Doctor Chandyo,” she said. “I appreciate it.”

Lara walked away. If he only knew what she’d seen on Yamatai, the kind doctor would not have felt the need to warn her about a bit of medical equipment.

She took the lift to the fourth floor, used the hand sanitiser as instructed, and entered the ward. It was quiet. Some of the patients had visitors, mostly sitting beside the beds in ones or twos, but they were speaking quietly or not at all.

One elderly man, wearing a raincoat, despite the warmth of the room, was reading aloud gently from a battered book that looked like an old Penguin classic. Lara caught a few words of the text as she stood at the reception desk. She heard the name “Mr. Micawber.” He was reading Dickens. He was reading
David
Copperfield.

Sam was in bed 1, tucked away in the corner of the ward. She lay flat on her back in a hospital gown, a tube down her throat, helping her to breathe. Her hair looked oily black against the clinical whiteness of the pillow.

Sam’s Portuguese/Japanese heritage usually gave her a glowing, golden complexion, but her skin looked sallow now, and her eye sockets almost bruised.

Lara sat down, away from the IV on its stand and the machine monitoring the girl’s respiration. Sam looked like a girl, not like the young woman she had become. She looked young and vulnerable. Lara took her friend’s hand.

“What did you do, Sam?” she asked, knowing that she would get no answer. “How can I help you?”

Lara sat with Sam for ten or fifteen minutes, thinking of all the good times they’d had together. She remembered all of Sam’s antics at school. She had always gone her own way, been a free spirit. She had never cared what others had thought of her. She had come to the school an outsider, just like Lara, and that was how it had always been. It didn’t matter; they’d always had each other.

Lara was determined that she would help Sam now.

What was it, exactly, that Doctor Chandyo had told her?

The note!

Lara took the note out of her pocket, slipped it out of its envelope, and began to read.

Dear
Lara,

My very best
friend!

It’s all too
much!

I know that you understand. You were there. I don’t think that I can bear it any longer. You saved me once, but I don’t believe that I can be saved again. I don’t think I can be saved from Her. It isn’t your fault. Know that I don’t blame you. I just can’t live with what happened at
Yamatai.

Your true friend through all
eternity,

Samantha Nishimura

Lara tucked the note in the envelope and put it back in her pocket. It
was
her fault. Sam would never have gone to Yamatai if it hadn’t been for her, and none of this would ever have happened. Lara resolved, there and then, to do whatever it would take to bring Sam back.

She reached out to squeeze Sam’s hand.

“Hang in there, Sam,” she said. “Don’t you dare die.”

Visiting hours were over, and, one by one, people were leaving their loved ones.

“I’ve got to go now,” said Lara, “but I’ll be back. I’ll be back just as soon as I can.”

The ward was too quiet as she was one of the last to leave. Lara turned to look back at the old man in the raincoat. He had stopped reading, and sat, silent, the book resting in his lap. He was holding the hand of the woman in the bed in both of his, tears streaming down his face. She was clearly dead. He hadn’t called for help.

Lara hesitated for a second and then walked away.
Let him have his moment
, she thought.
Let him have one last
moment.

Chapter 3

L
ara returned to the flat hungry and tired. The natural consequences of a panic attack, and of dealing with Sam’s crisis. The hunger she could deal with immediately. Tired could wait.

She fixed a sandwich from the contents of her fridge and grabbed a bottle of water.

All the way home, Lara had been thinking about Sam and Yamatai. She had a vivid picture in her mind of Sam, bound and kneeling before the ancient, haggard creature. Himiko was more like a corpse than a woman. Her figure was almost skeletal, her skin stretched over the bones, desiccated and papery.

Lara had an intense memory of a light, an aura emanating from the ancient Sun Queen, like energy reaching out for Sam as if some magical transference were taking place.

Lara wondered whether the reality had grown to mythical proportions in her mind, because of the anxiety disorder. She wondered if the panic attacks had blown the experience out of all proportion. Had it been real? Was there any truth in the mysticism that she felt she had witnessed? Was the shaman Sun Queen somehow more than a figment of her fevered imagination?

Lara took the note out of her jacket pocket and looked at it again. When she had read it the first time, she had blamed herself. Sam had suffered on Yamatai because Lara had taken her there. She knew that was too simple. Lara knew that guilt wouldn’t help her friend.

“Let’s see. ‘I don’t think I can be saved from Her’,” Lara read aloud. “Her,” she said. “Why the capital letter, Sam? Why did you write
Her
with a capital? “OK. ‘I just can’t live with what happened at Yamatai’,” Lara read on. “
Her. She
is what happened at Yamatai.
She
is what happened to Sam. It’s not my imagination, and it’s not the anxiety. Sam believes it too. Sam believes that something happened between her and Himiko on Yamatai. She believes that Himiko infected her somehow and changed her life.”

Lara was not a doctor; there was nothing she could provide medically or scientifically to heal Sam.

Lara was a historian, an archaeologist. She understood myth and legend. She understood history and ritual and mysticism. She understood magic and wonder and belief. She knew about fear and faith.

Maybe, just maybe, there was more than one way to help Sam. An unconventional way. Something unorthodox. If there was, Lara was determined to find it.

The Book.

Lara would begin her research with the Book.

She put down her plate with its half-eaten sandwich and walked along the wall of bookshelves that ran the entire length of the large room. The Book wasn’t there. She walked back a step. The books moved loosely on the shelf. It hadn’t been put back in the wrong place; it simply wasn’t there.

Lara thought back to when she had last looked at the Book. She couldn’t remember. Was it yesterday? She glanced at the long, low coffee table in front of the couch. Her laptop was there, but not the Book. Bemused, Lara checked her bedroom. She seldom worked in there, preferring to compartmentalise, to keep relaxation and study separate. The only books beside her bed were a couple of lightweight novels.

“Where the bloody hell are you?” she asked, striding back into the living room. She sank onto the couch and dropped her head, trying to think. She smiled. It was right there on the floor. It was right where she had dropped it when the car backfiring had shocked her into the panic attack.

Lara picked up the Book, tucked her feet up on the couch, and made herself comfortable. She knew it was going to take some time.

The Book was often Lara’s first port of call. It was a collection of bits and pieces of information: notes, drawings, clippings, and references collected and added to over a long period of time. It drew together different sources, making connections, asking questions, and posing hypotheses. It had passed through any number of hands, had been annotated over and over again, and was a rich and wonderful resource.

Sometimes the Book posed more questions than it offered answers. Nevertheless, it was Lara’s go-to research tool of choice. It was invaluable.

Lara looked first at the section on spiritual transference. There were a number of myths and legends about an entity passing from one body to another through history. The chapter was cross-referenced with immortality. Beings and entities obsessed with life everlasting often took possession of a series of bodies in which to live. The spirit progressed through a succession of corporeal forms. Lara added some brief notes about Himiko, the Sun Queen of Yamatai.

She skipped through the references to vampires and werewolves, but then came across a note on a person called Ares and a society called the Ten Thousand Immortals. She stopped for a moment. Ares was the Greek god of war. The Ten Thousand Immortals were an ancient Persian elite fighting force. Other than the name, there seemed to be no connection to the subject. A recent addition in the margin in red ink suggested the name was now used by some sort of secret society.

Lara pulled her laptop off the coffee table and flipped it open. She typed “Ten Thousand Immortals” into the search field, and a page of results came up. She bookmarked the wiki page, and clicked on the link below it. It took her to a home page with a company or society banner. She bookmarked that page too, and moved on.

The Book was full of anomalies: snippets misfiled among the pages, nonsensical cross-references that should be put right. There wasn’t time now, but she tried to devote some of her study to unscrambling the Book.

Lara read about the Irish god Airmed, who could resurrect the dead. She read about Hé Qióng, the female deity of the Chinese eight immortals. She had eaten powdered mica, had remained a virgin, and carried the healing lotus flower for mental and physical strength.

Then, Lara looked at the Sami mythology and read about Beaivi, god of sanity. She cringed at the similarities to Himiko. Both were depicted as female, and both were associated with the sun and had female attendants, Beaivi in the form of a daughter. Lara dismissed her immediately.

She continued to search through the Book, looking for anything that might give her some ideas about how she could help her friend. There must be something, some ritual or potion, some prayer or superstition, some ancient remedy.

Lara would do anything to help Sam, she would go anywhere. She would pluck a lotus flower from Hé Qióng’s birthplace if it would help.

BOOK: Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals
5.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
Amanda Scott by The Dauntless Miss Wingrave
Living With Dogs by Dr Hugh Wirth
Lost Bear by Ruby Shae
Mixed Blood by Roger Smith
Más lecciones de cine by Laurent Tirard
Never a Bride by Grey, Amelia
The Accidental Boyfriend by Maggie Dallen
Crossroads by Megan Keith