Millions of years ago, a meteor survived the plunge through the Earth's atmosphere, impacting the then warm climate of Antarctica...
The first people to discover this land were a tribe of Polynesians. Despite the now freezing conditions, there was an abnormal abundance of life and the tribe settled, worshipping the meteorite crater for the powers it appeared to hold.
Generations later though, catastrophic events forced them to flee in terror...
Today, the same area is being excavated by the research company; RX Tech, who are picking up unusual readings from the meteorite's impact zone. It is in this zone that they uncover the body of a sailor from Charles Darwin's voyage on The Beagle. It seems a few of his sailors had explored the interior of the crater...
Following a story from one of the sailor's journal, RX Tech have started to take a particular interest in, not only the crater area, but other parts of the globe where the sailors traveled to... and died in...
One of these places is India - where Lara is currently searching for the legendary Infada artifact. Unaware of its true history, she only knows that in local beliefs it was supposed to hold great powers and has been revered by tribes there throughout the years...
Soon she will discover a lot more...
An enormous meteor hurtles towards an unsuspecting Earth. An island continent sits amidst a tranquil sea on an overcast day. The island is lush with vegetation, insects and animal life.
At twilight, a dragonfly flits past one of the continent's many marshy rivers. A small red frog leaps from the long leaf it was sitting on as a bolt of lightening strikes in the distance. The meteor has entered the earth's atmosphere and has become a giant ball of fire. A primitive crocodile swims lazily upstream while a small rodent crawls out of its hiding place to investigate the source of a low rumbling sound, like distant thunder, that can be heard.
The fiery meteor streaks downward, breaking through the clouds and illuminating the sky. The meteor impacts with the ground and a flaming shock wave propagates from the impact site. Creatures attempt to escape or hide, but to no avail. The wave of destruction overtakes them.
The landscape is devastated, scorched and smoldering. What trees that still stand are aflame. In the distance lies a small mountain range, with no longer a trace of vegetation. Pieces of the meteor that were propelled into the air by the impact fall back to earth elsewhere.
ANTARCTICA PRESENT DAY
Millions of years later. The distinctive mountain chain is the backdrop for a new drama. The island continent is not a lush tropical island, but now covered with snow. There are no indications of the previous climate of this land as snow continues to fall, and the frozen landscape is white; punctuated only by the temporary structures of a research team's campsite.
A worker, dressed for the icy conditions, stabs his shovel into the snow, after finishing clearing it from the treads of a large red bulldozer. Connected by a drive belt to a gasoline engine on the back of the bulldozer is a drilling rig. A second worker is inside the cab of the bulldozer operating the drill, while the first worker comes around from the front to oversee the drilling. The drill is noisily spewing up ice, as a third man, Doctor Willard, is attempting to speak into a radio over the noise of the engine and drill.
Doctor Willard's Scottish accent grows thicker as he shouts into the radio, "I've been yellin' myself hoarse into this radio everyday. It's just the weather dumps on us frequently here." He attempts to block out the noise of the drilling with his free hand and steps into a shelter. "An' maybe my transmission doesn't get through. I don't know," he gripes.
A voice with an American accent harps back through the radio's heavy static, "I can't understand one word of what you say, Willard."
Willard sighs with annoyed resignation. Loudly and snidely, he carefully pronounced, "It's all going swell, sir!" Just then, a loud boom can be heard coming from outside. Willard cuts off his transmission.
Outside the worker is gesticulating wildly to the drill operator and yelling, "Get the bit up! Get it out!" The drill right is producing a screech from the slipping drive belt caused by the drill bit meeting resistance. The once smoothly spinning drive belt is now pulled taut. In the cabin of the bulldozer, the other worker has started to panic and attempts to raise and then lower the bit. Willard exits his shelter crossing and waving his hands in front of himself to signal that the driver should pull the bit up.
Finally, with the drill still engaged, the bit hits rock and a loud thump is heard. The operator is completely flustered and gasps as the drill, which was now throwing up rocks along with the ice, produces a thump with great finality. Willard, stepping out of the shelter, is growing frantic and yells, "Turn it off! Off!" The motor continues to rumble and drive the belt. Finally, at the top of his voice, Willard screams, "Hey! Switch... it... off!" But his screams go unnoticed. The motor is producing black smoke and as the worker outside is watching the gradually slowing drill bit, the drive belt snaps and shoots past. Narrowly missing the worker's head. Willard, exasperated shouts, "Dah!"
The two workers have pulled the mangled drill bit up and one of them drops some sort of sensor device into the hole. The second worker examines the readout of the sensor on a hand held computer. Willard gestures to the worker. The worker looks up and shakes his head.
Just then a snowmobile races up and pulls a sharp one hundred and eighty degree turn in front of the dig site. Willard looks over to the driver, and the driver tells him with a southern drawl, "Think you better come and check out site two."
Willard mounts the snowmobile behind the driver, and the worker looks back at his computer, and a red indicator lights up, indicating solid rock. The worker turns and asks Willard, "What about this?"
Willard turns back and says, "Blow through it!" The snowmobile races off.
Willard asks the driver, "Found more meteorite?"
"Hah! No, somethin' a little more younger than that," the driver replies. The snowmobile pulls up to the second site. Willard turns to look at a bank of snow. Peeking out of the ridge of snow is a statue much like the ones that can be found on Easter Island.
Willard gasps as an awful realization dawns on him, "No!" He quickly lifts his radio to his head and calls into it, "Billy, I don't want you to set that explosive. Do ye hear me?"
Back at the other site, Willard's calls are unheard, as the other radio lies in the snow several meters from the workers. Willard repeats his words, "I do... not.. want ye to set that explosive!" Still, his cries are unheard as Billy hits the detonator and an explosion pops show and rocks into the air. Willard and the driver drop for cover behind the snowmobile as debris is hurtled toward them. They sit back up and shake the snow off of their jackets as Willard curses, "Wretched pyros!"
The explosion shakes the ground and causes snow and ice to settle all around. It reveals several more of those statues, all set in a semi-circle, facing out to sea. Willard and the driver return to the first site and Willard climbs down to examine the crater created by the explosive charge. He finds two pieces of lumber nailed together in the shape of a cross. Willard finds, scrawled into the wooden cross:
1812 - 1834
R. I. P.
Willard frowns and scratches his head. He mutters aloud, "This place's had a busy history."
Lara Croft shifts uncomfortably in her seat as the Bentley rolls smoothly down the streets of Oxford. She takes a small mirror from her purse to check her hair, as she whispers to herself, "I don't bloody know why I still go to these things." Lara doesn't realize her disdain has made her words loud enough for another to hear.
"Perhaps, it is so that all those lonely archaeologists can have the pleasure of your company, mum," Winston, Lara's elderly butler and occasional driver, mutters into the rear-view mirror.
Lara frowns, "I don't understand why they send me invitations if I'm not welcome there. Besides, it takes nearly an hour just to get up here from home."
"Miss Croft, you know I don't mind the drive," Winston assures her. "Besides, you are responsible for so many of the antiquities in their collection. Of course you are welcome there."
"I'm not so sure," Lara replies. Her eyes stare pensively out the automobile's window. Lara wonders if the museum's invitation isn't merely out of obligation to her newly government appointed position. Winston turns the stately vehicle off of Worcester Street onto Beaumont Street.
The silver Bentley pulls into the parking garage across the street from the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology3. When the vehicle comes to a stop, Lara instinctively reaches for the door handle, but withdraws her hand as Winston begins to get out of the vehicle. Winston shuffles slowly around to the opposite side of the car and opens her door for her. "Thank you," Lara nods, trying to smile pleasantly.
Lara picks up her wrap and steps out of the car, lightly holding Winston's arm. She looks stunning in her long black dress. The evening is cool, but not cold, so she hangs her wrap on her arm. A group of young men appear to be arguing, and the winner finally steps forward toward her.
The well-dressed young man smiles pleasantly at Lara and escorts her across the street, up the main steps to the museum's facade, and into front entrance. It appears they've reopened the front entrance since Lara's last visit, and guests no longer have to enter through the west entrance. The front door opens directly into the Randolph Gallery where all of tonight's festivities are taking place.
A waiter wanders by with a tray of glass flutes. Lara picks one off the tray as he saunters past. She takes a sip of champagne and looks around the room. Crowds of people mingle between the classical sculptures that are arranged in this gallery. Most of the people in this room are well-dressed middle-aged slightly over-weight men who are going bald. Lara smiles to herself as she recalls Winston's comment in the car. Lara recognizes many familiar faces, but not doesn't find a friendly one in the bunch. She's not surprised.
For now, no one approaches her and she is left alone and unharassed as she stands in the midst of this crowd. Lara quietly reflects upon the busy year she has had after returning from China. Shortly after retrieving the Dagger of Xian, she had a very eventful trip to Melnikov Island in the Bering Sea, where she retrieved the Golden Mask of Tornasuk. The renovations to her home have finally been completed after those cult thugs broke in and shot up the place last year. Her activities over the past couple of years have caught the attention and favor of Science Minister Lord Sainsbury of Turville, who recently appointed her an ambassador for British scientific excellence. She regrets how much of her time has been spent fending off film producers, who are trying to get her to sign a movie deal based on the books she's written that detail her exploits. It's been months since I've been overseas, Lara sighs. She's starting to get that itch to get out into the field again. Get a hold of yourself, girl Lara thinks to herself.
Eventually, as is the way these things always seem to go, younger and less well-dressed men begin to flock around Lara. They do their best to pretend to be interesting. Graduate students, Lara sighs to herself. Lara bravely endures, as they vainly attempt to make small-talk Unable to make conversation about anything other than what one or another of them dug up at a recent project, Lara's interest is briefly piqued by one of the men, who mentions some interesting findings as part of a dig in India.
The crowds start to migrate toward the west end of the gallery, where a small podium and microphone have been set up. Finally! Lara is relieved that this evening will soon be over. A distinguished old man steps up to the podium and begins his droning. Lara faces the podium and looks attentive. The man talks about the newly reopened front doors, changes in the museum's operating hours, and how the museum is the recipient of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Then he introduces the new director of the Ashmolean and a younger man steps up to take the podium. Lara recognizes this man as Dr. Christopher Brown, formerly the Chief Curator at the National Gallery, London. Dr. Brown gives his speech about his vision for the the Ashmolean. He extends his thanks toward the museum's private benefactors and encourages their continued support, and finally begins to name and thank individual archaeologists and institutions that have contributed pieces to the museum's various galleries. When he finishes, everyone applauds gaily. Lara smirks to herself, Big surprise. Her name and contributions have been left off of the list.
The evening is starting to break up. There are private tours through the galleries to show off the latest acquisitions. Lara decides not to waste the trip up to Oxford, and wanders north through a couple of galleries. A couple of fellows have gathered in the Indian art exhibit. Lara catches part of their conversation.
"Preposterous!" one man shouts, "There isn't the slightest evidence that suggests it even exists, much less is located so far west!"
A second tries to calm the first by using a smoother tone, "Of course there is evidence. We've heard the usual local superstitions about the powers of the Infada Stone."
"You call that evidence?" the first man interjects, "Besides, what fool would go trudging through those dangerous jungles looking for it?"
A third man, clearly Scottish, chimes in, "O'course there is interest. Remember that crazy lass that planned to start at Calcutta and work her way up the Ganges looking in old temples?" The men all start chuckling.
Lara remembers how her last trip to Calcutta, a little over two years ago, was cut short. She never did manage to investigate the leads she got on that artifact in India. She clears her throat to get their attention. Silence falls on the men like a ton of bricks, and they all turn to face Lara as she smiles cutely, lifts her hand and wiggles her fingers, "Hello", to them.
"Miss Croft," the surprised Scot pronounces, "so good to see you again." He is back-peddling as fast as he can. Lara continues to show her teeth. The smile is starting to get saccharine. "Did you ever find anything in India?"
"My trip to India was cut short," Lara replies, "but now that you mention it, I've had to put that trip off. Have you any suggestions for local sights to take in?"
The Scottish man smiles, "I hear Kanpur, is lovely this time of year."
"Thank you," Lara replies and wanders off.
The second man asks quizzically, "You don't think..."
"I most certainly do," the Highlander replies.
"She has a team?"
"A team of one."
"Is she out of her bloody mind?"
The Scot, staring down the corridor as Lara walks away, "Certifiably." There is almost a hint of admiration in his voice.
On the drive home, Lara stares out the window and, with a contemplative look on her face, watches the countryside roll past. She turns, looks forward and says, "Winston?"
"Yes, Miss Croft?"
"When we get home, would you be a dear and book me a round trip plane ticket to New Delhi?"
"Of course, Miss Croft."
Lara Croft's plane lands in the airport at New Delhi, India. A driver is waiting at the gates to take her south to Agra. From there, Lara hops a train to Kanpur.
The humidity in Kanpur is oppressive. Lara steps off the train and walks around the out-skirts of town asking if there was anyone who would be able to be her guide. The reaction is similar everywhere. The Indian people are friendly and warm until Lara opens her mouth. Less than three words escape her mouth before most of the locals lose interest. It's not about archaeology. It's about her British accent. I see fifty years isn't quite enough time for these hard feelings to go away, Lara thinks to herself. Lara, tired of getting nowhere, walks over to a street vendor, purchases a small meal and sits at a make-shift table.
A boy in his teens approaches as Lara enjoys her repast and tells her, "For a tourist, you sure ask a lot of questions." The short boy is thin and ruddy.
Lara looks up from her meal, and asks, "What's your name?"
"Sajit Vohra, at your service," the boy replies.
"Sajit, is it?" Lara asks coyly, "I don't know if you'll do."
"Sajit knows the jungles very well," Sajit answers, standing very straight and thumping his chest with his fist, "What are you looking for? I probably know where it is."
Lara tears off a generous piece of bread and hands it to the boy, then pushes her plate of bhindi masalewali towards him. The boy accepts, scoops some of the spicy okra onto the bread and eats. He looks at Lara, waiting for his next cue. Lara asks, "Do you know about artifacts?"
The boy politely swallows and answers, "It depends on which one you want."
Lara raises one corner of her mouth and tells him, "Now look, I'm not interested in buying one from you. I'm looking for a very special one. It's called the Infada Stone."
"There is no Infada Stone," the boy quips. "Just ridiculous superstitions, but I know of some ruins where maybe you can go look for it." Lara can't tell if the boy knows anything or is just pulling her leg to turn a few rupees.
Lara examines the boy and decides that whether he knows anything or not, he strikes her as sincere. Lara finally shrugs her shoulders, and says, "You can take me there?" The boy nods, and a price is agreed on.
Lara goes off to hire a Jeep, and she returns with it a little later. The boy climbs aboard and they head off, out of the city, and into the jungles. The midday heat is starting to subside and the air decides that it can't hold the humidity up any longer and it begins to rain. After their long drive down twisted vegetation infested roads, the boy looks up and yells, "Stop here!"
Lara pulls the Jeep into a small clearing. They climb out and push through dense tropical plants. The boy stops short, but Lara pushes forward and the vegetation suddenly ends, and Lara stops as well. They've arrived at the top of long slope and she asks him, "What now?"
The boy sticks his head out past the vegetation and tells her, "Down there."
The boy points down the slope, and repeats, "Down there!"
"You're not going with me?" Lara asks.
"You can't pay me enough to go down there with you. I am going back now to the Jeep to wait for you. If you do not come back tonight, I take the Jeep back to get help," the boy tells her, as if he intends to actually come back. Before Lara can ask another question, the boy turns and trudges back to the Jeep.
"Just lovely," Lara mutters. "Thanks for the vote of confidence," she shouts back to him, knowing that he's probably already out of ear shot. Lara takes a long hard look down the slope and wonders, I wonder what I've gotten myself into this time. (follow plot)