The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Fic: The Artifact (AU) (Updated July 7 2009)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 10:36 am 
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• Title: The Artifact
• Author: sabina
• Feedback: Yes, please. I crave it.
• Distribution: Anywhere. Just please ask me first.
• Spoilers: No spoilers whatsoever. This is an AU fic.
• Rating: It is going to get to NC-17.
• Pairing: W/T
• Disclaimer: The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series and its characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. The “Tomb Raider” videogame is the property of Eidos Interactive and Core Design. This fic is not meant to infringe any copyrights.
• Summary: Willow and Tara are two strong and independent tomb raiders who are both hired to find the same artifact. Trapped inside a temple they realize that not everything is what it seems and they have to work together and fight side by side for their lives as they try to find the way out.

• Note 1: I want to thank my beta reader TKOLove, who has supported this idea and putted up with all my questions and doubts since the beginning without ever complaining.
Your work makes this fic a better one, so thank you TKOLove.
• Note 2: I love Tomb Raider and this fic was something that had been in the back of my mind for long. Now I finally decided to write it. I hope you all enjoy reading it.
• Note 3: Thoughts are in italics



[center]Chapter one[/center]


“Sir?” asked a nervous young clerk as he knocked on the door of his boss’ office.

“Come in,” replied a voice from the inside.

“I know you said you didn’t want to be disturbed, Sir, but Mr. Turner is here, and he said it’s important.” The clerk anxiously awaited a response while trying to keep his hands still. He was new to the company, and although the working environment was warm and friendly, he had been advised to stay out of the boss’ way whenever he asked not to be disturbed. The young man was only too happy to comply with that because frankly, Mr. Steve Jenkins scared him. The almost black eyes that seemed to penetrate one’s soul and at the same time reveal nothing about their owner – they completely unnerved the new employee.

“You did well, Mr. Thomas. I was expecting Mr. Turner.” The older man didn’t even raise his eyes from his desk, but he could sense the clerk’s relief. “Please send him in.”

“Yes, Sir,” Thomas replied, and rapidly retreated. So far so good. I have been to the boogy man’s office and I have survived, he thought, mocking himself for his uneasiness. Whenever I’m around that man I feel like a five-year-old who stole a cookie before dinner. I wonder if I’m rediscovering my inner child, he speculated. Without giving more thought as to why he always felt jumpy around his boss, he went to find Mr. Turner.


*************

A man in his early thirties knocked on the door and entered the office. He was tall, and even through his fashionable suit it was obvious that he was hard as a rock; large muscles showed through the thick fabric. He had non-descript brown hair and an ordinary face. In fact, he had no distinguishing features except for his brown eyes; cold, hard, and shining with sharp intelligence.

“Hi Michael. I hope you come bearing good news. I don’t like to be interrupted for anything less than an excellent reason.” He spoke with both playful tone and edge of hardness.
“You know, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t found them. I’m the best at what I do. That’s why you hired me. I only stop when the job is done, Steve,” he said in a cold voice. His business voice.
“So where are they?”
“Well, Miss Rosenberg is currently on her boat in the middle of the Atlantic, enjoying the pleasures of fishing, diving and swimming.”
“She’s alone in the middle of the Atlantic?”

“That’s why she was so hard to track. Apparently when Miss Rosenberg isn’t working she likes to indulge herself with her other major passion – the ocean. So she periodically gets on her boat – usually in the middle of the night so nobody notices that she is leaving – and travels to wherever the wind pushes her.” Michael lost some of the edge to his business-like tone and his voice adopted a warmth that something akin to admiration. He knew that girl had an inner strength that he had never seen in anyone else. Well, maybe I’ve seen it in one other person. But after all, they’re two of a kind…

Steve’s voice shook him out of his reverie. “And the other one?”
“Actually Miss Maclay was also hard to track. She was somewhere in the Himalayas.”
“What was she doing in the Himalayas?”
Michael raised his eyebrow. That wasn’t a question he was expecting, since usually Jenkins wanted all reports to stick to strictly essential information. The way he had talked about Rosenberg’s location had already been filled with too much unsolicited information, and he’d been surprised that the black-eyed man had let him ramble about Rosenberg’s motivations. But now he was absolutely astonished.

“I know you’re thinking that my request to hear more about them is odd. We’ve had the best specialists working on selecting these two. But searching the world to find two people who fit the Goddess Shamia’s criteria – and who have a chance to make it through the whole challenge alive – was like finding two needles hidden amongst five billion haystacks. I know that we don’t have the time to select anybody else if these two don’t work out. I just want to know everything that I can about them so that I can assure myself that they are indeed ‘the’ ones.” Steve’s eyes were shining brightly, and his voice was profound.

Michael had never heard Jenkins talk so much, nor had he ever seen him show so much emotion. Usually he was ice cold, and his eyes were similar to two black holes where all light seemed eternally lost. He knew this project was Jenkins’ dream. A mad man’s dream if you ask me. Playing with gods is never good idea… mortals get screwed every single time. Anyone can see he’s losing it by the way he’s talking and the way his eyes are shining. It’s a lunatic’s glow. I’ve always known when to retreat – my timing is my gift – and this is the last job I’m doing for this guy, he swore in his head.

“It seems that Miss Maclay, like Miss Rosenberg, enjoys spending her vacations in total isolation. The difference is that Miss Maclay favors the mountains instead of the ocean. So, apparently after she finished her last job she decided to take a little time off. She disappeared from her house in the middle of the night, and for weeks I couldn’t find her. Then finally I discovered she was in the Himalayas. She traveled on foot for the most part, taking with her only the most essential pieces of equipment, and climbing whenever and wherever she felt like it.” When Steve hadn’t said a thing for a couple of minutes, Michael decided to continue.

“I have never seen two people live like that. Complete and total independence…and with that of course comes utter loneliness.” His voice actually shook a little with admiration for the two women.

“I wonder if they do this to prepare themselves for their quests. Whatever their reasons for living this way, it has taken a toll on them both. They are forged by fire, tough as nails, and also cynical and skeptical about love. They trust no one but themselves. Actually they each hold quite a low opinion about mankind in general.
Physically I’m sure that they can overcome whatever obstacles they find in their journey to finding the artifact, but…,” Michael paused, trying to discern what was going to be Steve’s reaction, “uhm, I don’t really know if they will fit Shamia’s primary request – the whole ‘charge in the air and electricity at first touch’ thing.”

And then Steve lifted his eyes and answered. This time completely in character with himself. “You’ve done a great job Michael. Now, I just need for you to give me their exact locations and then your task has ended. After that, the rest of the money promised to you will be deposited in your account.”

So Steve Jenkins is back. Good, all I care about is the money anyway. This way I can take a really nice, long vacation, and forget all about this case, Michael thought calmly. He had always been a pragmatic man.

“Ok, then Steve. Here they are; the exact locations of those two. I have a man monitoring them, so if they move before you get to them I’ll let you know.”
“Great. Farewell Michael.”
“Farewell Steve.”
They shook hands, and Michael disappeared through the door.


*************


So I found them at last. I was starting to think fate was playing a practical joke on me. To fail before it even begins was a really hard blow – one from which I probably wouldn’t get up. But everything is ok now., Steve sighed. Then he started recounting the whole story, rolling it over in his head to see if he was missing anything.


*************


It all started such a long time ago. One day I was playing in my grandmother’s attic, the way I had done thousands of times before. Only this day was different…this was the day I made the discovery that would forever change my life.
I was running and jumping around, and I landed on top of a wooden chest. It wasn’t the first time I’d done it, but this time the wood gave way and I found myself with a leg inside the arch. I managed to pull my bruised and bleeding leg free. I was a very active child, always getting banged up one way or another, so the fact that my leg was bleeding didn’t really scare me.

My attention was more focused on the fact that the chest was full of my grandfather’s books. I got excited beyond imagination. My grandfather was an adventurer, and a well known one in his time. I knew his books would be full of exciting stuff.
Poor Granny, she knew me too well. Consequently, driven by her fear that I would follow my grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and go chase…God knows what kind of adventure…she kept Grandpa’s diaries well-locked. Until that day.

Most of the box was filled with Grandpa’s diaries, but I discovered one book that was older. It contained the legend of Shamia. That book would change my life.
Shamia was an ancient Goddess whose origin had been lost in time. She was the Goddess of love and nature.
The book was rather vague about Shamia and her cult. Apparently the details had been lost in time just like almost all memories of her existence.
Well, I wasn’t very interested in a Goddess forgotten centuries ago. Gods came and went, I already knew that. But it was the tale regarding the exact details of how she lost her immortality that caught my attention.


When the Egyptians started to get powerful, so did their Gods.
They were strong and arrogant. They thought of humans as their own personal toys, pieces in an elaborate game of chess made only for their pleasure.
Shamia was the opposite. She believed in love and understanding, and in guiding humans instead of ruling them. The new Gods saw her as a disgrace to their kind, so the Egyptian Gods decided to eliminate her. To avoid a direct confrontation – the result of which would probably be a bloodbath – they came up with a plan that would attack Shamia’s vulnerability; her blind faith in the power of true love.

They knew she would be willing to bet her life on love overcoming all obstacles. So they challenged her, they challenged her trust in humans and in their love.
She made an amulet, a star, and she poured all of her immortality to that star, then broke it in different pieces, becoming human.
The other gods made the test field, a temple, full of traps and dead ends. And in there they scattered the different pieces of Shamia star.

For Shamia to win this challenge she would have to rely on humans. She would choose her champions – two people whose love would shine as a beacon that would guide other souls to love. Soul mates… two hearts beating as one.
For them to pass this test they would have to work together trust in themselves, as they trusted the other.

If Shamia was right and humans really were worthy and love truly was enough to beat all odds, then they would be able to pass this challenge. When they found the star, her status as a Goddess would return and the other Gods would disappear.
The catch was that Shamia only had her mortal lifetime to wait for her champions. If in her lifetime nobody earned the star, she would die as a human, and anything written about her was to be erased.

Shamia agreed, and of course that was the death of her. The rest of the gods didn’t play fair. The temple’s traps were too tough to be overcome by normal people. Physically it would take real athletes to be able to overcome all the obstacles, and even when one of her champions was physically able, the other usually wasn’t. And when the traps weren’t the problem, they would just get lost in the maze that was the temple and die there.
So Shamia looked for the right two humans all her life, but she never found them. She died of old age. Even though she never found the right two she never stopped believing that someday they would appear, because love could overcome it all.

When she died, her cult was destroyed, all that was written about her was burned, her temples were demolished until there wasn’t even a stone left standing, and her followers were persecuted and roughly converted. Those who refused were killed along with all their families.
When there was only one temple left standing all the Gods gathered together to watch it disappear. They were in for a big surprise.
Although Shamia trusted love above all, she knew that there was a possibility of failure, so as she poured all her powers to the star she directed some of them to the temple itself to ensure that it would be indestructible. That way some of her would always exist to remind every living being that love was always enough.

The other Gods were infuriated. They felt that the temple and its message of independence for humans was a threat to them. They erected a mountain enveloping the temple, covering almost all of it. So that the challenge could still be taken, Shamia’s magic prevented the Gods from being able to cover the entrance and some small paths for light to reach the interior of the temple.
The star still remains scattered around in that temple of doom. The legend says that if one day the right two shall pass the test, their reward will be the star and with it they will have the power of gods as long as they wear the amulet with the immortality of Shamia.

I read that book from the beginning to the end I don’t know how many times; the rise and fall of Shamia. I learned everything about the requirements to be accepted to the challenge.
Two people should meet in the lobby of the temple. If they are soul mates and if the time is right, they are found worthy. The air around them will be charged from the moment their eyes meet, and at the first touch a thunderclap will strike the temple door, signalling that they had been accepted, and the door would open. After they enter, the door will close and nobody can get in or out through there, so the two are trapped until they either finish the challenge or die trying.

The temple only lets one pair of challengers in for each century, and there’s only one right time to get the door to open every one hundred years. This, courtesy once again of the Egyptians, who did everything within their power to make it impossible to succeed.

For years that legend’s been hunting me. I want that star and all that comes with it.
The problem is finding two soul mates capable of overcoming this test. When I started this quest, I didn’t even know how to find soul mates, let alone deal with all the other problems.
But one day I fell asleep while reading the book, and the last line that I read, imprinted itself in my brain and followed me through my dreams Two hearts beating as one.
When I woke up I had my answer. I had assumed that the heart thing was a metaphor, but what if it wasn’t?

I’ve always been good with computers. Actually that is what my firm is all about: computers. We make protection software mostly, but if the payment is good we can do whatever program our clients want.
So I designed a program to compare patterns between heart exams, hacked into the archives of Health centers across the globe…and ran my program. And BINGO, after a few weeks I had thousands of pairs of hearts beating in time with one another.

When I started to narrow my search criteria, I first rejected all the pairs in which both parties were not between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. Then I eliminated any pairs in which one or more party had a physically limiting disease. Even after that I had an abundance of couples. With the help of a trusted team assembled to assist with the search process, I researched each and every one of them. It took us months but finally we had our winning couple – Tara Maclay and Willow Rosenberg.

After that, my next move was to gather as much information as I could about these two. I needed to know the best way to persuade them to get themselves into that life or death game. That’s when my lucky star decided to shine bright and strong. Their stories seemed like a soap opera that had come true -- disaster never far from their lives. Curiously they were probably the easiest people in the whole world for me to convince to go find this artifact.

Willow Rosenberg, daughter of two of the best archeologists of our time, Ira and Sheila Rosenberg.
She was a bright student with an IQ well into genius territory and strong interest in mathematics and all sciences. Her parents had left her alone or with nannies since she was a young child. They believed their jobs as archeologists were more important than using their time getting to know their daughter.

Until her mid-teenage years there wasn’t nothing unusual about her life. It wasn’t a happy one but it was the same as the life of lots of other kids.
She spent most of her time at school or at home studying. She wasn’t part of the popular crowd and was often picked on because of her brains and lack of fashion sense. She was what the other kids called a geek, and a lonely one to make it worse. An outcast.
It was at fifteen years of age that her life took a drastic turn.


When Willow was fifteen her parents decided that she was grown up enough to appreciate their vacation trips. This particular time they were going to see an intricate Egyptian tomb that had only been recently discovered. It was all so fresh that they were still working to determine which pharaoh or nobleman had been given this spot for his final resting place.

Well, I don’t really know how, I guess that will be forever between Willow and that tomb, but her parents left the mausoleum and she was left behind, trapped inside.
And as Ira and Sheila were used to being alone and had never made a habit of paying attention to their daughter, they returned to their boat, and prepared to make a trip down the Nile just as if everything was all right. It wasn’t until nightfall that Sheila remembered that Willow should be with them and that she wasn’t.

It took them five days to manage to get back to the tomb, and as they arrived, they saw Willow making her way out of the dingy enclosure. She was dehydrated, starving, and had some visible cuts and bruises. But what struck them was the hard-as-rock look in her eyes. It was a look that would never leave her afterwards. But she was alive.
How she managed, none of my people could find out. But that was her turning point.
For two years she didn’t say a word to her parents. Then when she was seventeen she went to college and to my knowledge has never seen them since.
She turned her attention from science to history, and applied her logical mind to the great enigmas of archeology.

She started doing all kind of sports and a couple of martial arts. Swimming and diving were what she did best, but running also became part of her daily life.
Then when she was about twenty, she got a degree in history and archeology. And she went abroad, making herself available to work on any excavation where she was accepted.
She always volunteered to enter first whenever a new door or a new path was open. After a time that wasn’t enough for her, so she resigned from her position as a helper in archeological sites and started chasing artifacts. The more legendary and dangerous the item is to obtain the better. After a little while she was noticed and millionaires, collectors, and museums around the world were paying her to go search for relics on their behalf.

And so she ended up working as a Tomb Raider. It’s a dangerous and often times deadly job, so of course it pays really well – especially if you are one of the best of the world. And Willow was. She had it all; the strength, the intelligence, and the willingness to risk her life whenever she had to.

By the time she was twenty-two, she was already one of the richest people in the world. She bought a great house with a beautiful view of the ocean, a swimming pool and a gymnasium. She also purchased her boat…and that was it. She sometimes makes large donations to children foundations but the rest of the money stays in her accounts.
Willow Rosenberg is now twenty-five years old. She has lived alone since she left college. She has no close friends and no known lovers. Her detachment from the society is almost complete.


Tara Maclay. The second element to my equation has also had a life worthy of being the plot for a really bad tragic movie.
She is the daughter of John and Claire Maclay. Her father’s family was wealthy, and for quite some time everything was good. But a bad stretch of luck in the stock market lead to the family losing it all when Tara was ten years old. Her parents had to sell their house and the rest of their assets to pay the debts.

From that moment on it seemed that the only way to go was down, because things just seemed to be getting worse by the minute.
The jobs that her father could find paid little money, certainly not enough to maintain the life their family was used to. John started to get depressed; he blamed himself for the whole financial disaster, and he began to drink to forget.

He was coming home later and later, and when Claire asked him where he was, his responses were harsh and evasive. One day he came home completely drunk and full of self-hatred…and he beat his wife and kids for the first time. From that day on, things were never the same. John apologized and swore that he would never do it again but something in him…and something in his family…was already broken beyond mending.
He hit them so many times after that, they lost count. They were certain it happened almost every day.

Tara’s mother was the only thing that kept Tara anchored to life. She loved her daughter very much, and she always tried to shield her somehow from all the pain that she had to endure. She gave Tara hope. But when Tara was sixteen Claire was diagnosed with cancer. They had very little money so there was no way to even try to treat Tara’s mother. She died a year later, and with her the only light that shined in Tara’s life was extinguished.

For some time Tara went down a self-destructive path. She would spend every night in the local bar smoking and drinking too much, and when the bar closed, she’d wander around until she’d collapse. That was the only way she’d found to shut down the screams and angry noises that haunted her dreams.
After one such outing she woke up chilled to the bone, dirty, feeling sore all over, and with no memory whatsoever about what she had done the previous night. When she pulled herself up off the ground, her eyes focused on an image that nearly made her sick to her stomach. There, in the reflective window of the liquor store she’d fallen asleep beside, she saw herself…or rather a ghastly shadow of the lovely girl who used to be Tara Maclay. If her mother could see her from wherever she was, her heart would surely have broken.

That was when she decided that it was time to change. Tara ran away from home – there was nothing left for her there – and started fighting for her life. She got a college scholarship and managed to graduate with honors. After graduation she received an offer from one of her teachers to stay and work with him in the translation of ancient documents.
She accepted. With him she learned a great deal and acquired the love for sports and one of her greatest passions – climbing.

After they’d been working together for about a year, the professor decided to reveal his little secret; he was not just a translator of ancient books, he was also a tomb raider. He actually went after the lost relics that he read about in his books…and he invited Tara to join him in his next expedition.
He needed backup for this one and Tara was just what he was looking for. Tara said yes without giving it much thought.
The professor explained to her that it was a dangerous job, that she could get killed, that she had to be completely focused on the task, and that she could never let fear rule her.

But all the warnings from her mentor didn’t impress her. Tara was excited with the prospect of the adventure. Since her mother’s death, the blonde’s life wasn’t really worth that much to her, and this was a once in a lifetime chance.

They spent a few weeks preparing themselves for their trip, and on a clear, sunny day they started their journey to the temple in Himalayas.

This is the part where the story gets a little fuzzy. Apparently something went horribly wrong and the professor disappeared inside the temple. It’s assumed that he got himself killed. Tara not only survived but managed to bring home with her the Stone of Amasia, the relic they went after in the first place. She sold it to a British museum with great profit. That was her first job as a tomb raider.

After that, she started to get tons of offers – good money in exchange for finding dangerous artifacts. It had been her first quest but she was already known in the collectors’ circles. Over the years her reputation of honesty and always getting the job done had garnered her the respect of other adventurers, and of her clients, too. She is considered by some to be the best in the world. There is only one person alive that can be compared to her when it comes to her work – Willow Rosenberg.

Now, she is twenty-six years old, and like Miss Rosenberg, she is a very wealthy woman…one with very simple tastes. She maintains her house near campus, and sometimes she teaches a few classes at the university. She has another house in the mountains where she goes to be alone and do some climbing, which happens pretty often.

She lives alone, has no close friends, and has never had any serious romantic relationships.


*************


“Mr. Jenkins?” The voice in the intercom brought him out of his daydream.
“Yes, Patricia. What is it?” he answered, slightly annoyed. He had already finished his recollection of the entire story and going over all he knew about the two women, but he really hated to be disturbed.
“The car is ready to take you to the helicopter, Mr. Jenkins. You said you wanted to get moving as soon as Mr. Turner gave you the locations of Miss Rosenberg and Miss Maclay.” Patricia knew that her boss hated to be disturbed over nothing, so she felt the necessity to explain herself.

The hurried manner in which Patricia added the reason why she had decided to call him, brought a cold smile to his face. She had been working with him since the beginning, and she was pretty good at reading him.
“Alright then. Tell the driver that I’ll be down in about five minutes. Thank you, Patricia.”
“Yes Mr. Jenkins.”

So Miss Rosenberg we will meet at last.



TBC.



*****************************


That was it for today :wink

I'll post chapter two in a few days. Let me know what you think of this one :bounce

_________________
"I think love should be irresistable, like a drug. When it happens you just can't help yourself." Amy to Lucy in D.E.B.S.


Last edited by sabina on Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:46 am, edited 11 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Artifact (AU)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 10:49 am 
wow this fic is really cool! I like how you told the backrounds of :willow and:tara without introducing them yet. Well ne wayz i really want to read more so please update soon!:D

I will never know myself until I do this on my own,

And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed,

I will never be anything till I break away from me.I will break away,I'll find myself today.-LP



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Artifact (AU)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 10:52 am 
That was a really good start! I really like the idea you have, of them being tomb-raiders, and the legend. Please post more soon?

-michelle



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Artifact (AU)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 2:07 pm 
I'm really liking this story. You've managed to make the exposition both informative and entertaining. I look foward to reading more. Wonderful job.



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 Post subject: RE: Artifact - 1
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 4:14 pm 


'Cause I'm a geek I'm gonna say this....



Coolness! :applause



I like the way you have you have set up the base line of their personalities and how you gave the background

description.

I'm picturing MUCH sparkage when they meet! :eek



post soon !



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 Post subject: Re: RE: Artifact - 1
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 6:12 pm 
Oh I love the AU, very interesting. I love the concept of their quest. Very clever idea, I will enjoy seeing it unfold!

- - - - - - - - - - -
"Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."


-Me & Bobby
McGee



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 Post subject: Re: RE: Artifact - 1
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:27 pm 
This is going to be fantastic. I'm sure of it. I love AUs... and Tomb Raider... hehe... :willow and :tara are so hot anyway...

Choosing not to decide is still a choice.



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 Post subject: Re: RE: Artifact - 1
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:33 pm 
This is very intriguing. Like everyone else, I like the way you have given us detailed information on W/T's backgrounds. They are perfect for each other, but I seriously doubt either of them will be in a rush to jump into a relationship when they finally meet(Soon right?). They both seem to be shut down emotionally.



I can't wait to see how the walls they built up will crumble and exactly what it is that will cause that.



Update soon?

Tara: My heart doesn't stutter.


Tara: Willow, I got so lost.

Willow: I found you. I will always find you.




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 Post subject: Re: RE: Artifact - 1
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2003 5:51 am 
awww...wow. c00l idea.. :clap

i can just imagine willow and tara both like Angelina Jolie in the movie.. c00l and definitely s0 SExy... :kiss



and yeah.. its intriguing, the adventure itself is exciting.. s0 i'll be patiently waiting for your update. thanks again.

yay!! :bounce . update soon.:glasses :bow


Cause you were made for me/Somehow I'll make you see/How happy you make me


I can't live this life/Without you by my side/I need you to survive
So stay with me/You look in my eyes and I'm screaming inside/that I'm sorry. » Evanescence



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 Post subject: Re: RE: Artifact - 1
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2003 9:42 am 
Oh wow, Tomb Raider! I was hoping someone would write something like this. It's an intriguing beginning, and there's a lot of promise both in terms of Willow and Tara getting to know each other, and of course negotiating the temple's perilous obstacle course :) I'll certainly be looking forward to reading more.



I'd like to archive this story on Through the Looking-glass ( alia.customer.netspace.net.au/glass.htm ) if that's okay with you? If you'd like an email address to go with it there let me know, and I'll have the whole thing online as soon as I can come up with a snappy Tomb Raider style title graphic.



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 Post subject: Feedback answers
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2003 4:23 pm 
Thank you so much kittens for taking the time to read this first chapter and also for your kind feedback :)

It was great to come here and see that so many people enjoyed reading what I wrote :banana



Doppelganger5x5 Thank you :) I’m glad you liked it. I hope I can keep you liking it.



Spot This was an idea that had been on my mind for quite some time. I love tomb raider and I thought Willow and Tara would be great as tomb raiders :wink



Marilda Thank you. I thought it would be better if the first chapter worked mostly as an introduction. Even if I miss Willow and Tara presence :sob

Oh well, they will make their first appearances in the next chapter :grin



WintersDreamer You can count on sparkage… lots of it actually… ehehe.



xita Yay. I have one of our “Ms Moderator Fantastico” reading my story :banana

Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy that you liked the concept of their quest :) . It is a lot more romantic concept then the ones usually used on “tomb raider” videogames… but this is Willow and Tara… love is always in the air :wink



Tempest Duer Thank you so much. Hopefully I can make justice to both tomb raider and W/T.



The Rose24 You’re absolutely right. This is not going to be a “oh-let’s-run-away-and-live-happily-ever-after” kind of first meeting. They are both loners and they are going to fight the attraction they feel for each other with everything that they have.

Of course that as they belong together (always and forever), I promise a happy ending.

They will finally meet in the next chapter.



Red Jassy Thank you so much :)

Tomb raider clothes sure are interesting…ehehe. I’m glad that you’re liking the adventure :)



Artemis You know that I first thought about writing this fic after starting to read “Hellebore”? Before that I had never thought about writing a Willow and Tara fic with a videogame as its background. Then I read “Hellebore” and I thought “Hey, it would be nice if someone wrote a tomb raider fic”. Then I started to think about writing it myself. And now some months later here it is.

I’m really happy that you’re liking it :grin

And I’d love for you to archive this story on “Through the Looking-glass”. I’m actually quite flattered that you want to archive my story next to all the great stories you have on your site :banana

And I think that a Tomb Raider style title graphic will be quite something :grin



**************



I’ll post chapter two on Wednesday. I hope I can keep you all liking it. Once again thank you for all the great feedback you gave me. You have just made my day :banana




"I know I was born and I know that I'll die.

The in between is mine.

I am mine!" - Pearl Jam



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 Post subject: Re: Feedback answers
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2003 7:32 pm 
Two more days? I can't wait that long. :(

Tara: My heart doesn't stutter.


Tara: Willow, I got so lost.

Willow: I found you. I will always find you.




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 Post subject: Re: Feedback answers
PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2003 9:46 pm 
Thanks :) Yay. I'll have it online in a couple of days. If you'd like your email address on the page, you can send it to me (alia@netspace.net.au), I'll add it so you can get feedback from anyone who reads it at the site. Thanks again :)



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 9:57 am 
• Title:
The Artifact

• Author:
sabina

• Feedback:
Yes, please. I crave it.

• Distribution:
Anywhere. Just please ask me first.

• Spoilers:
No spoilers whatsoever. This is an AU fic.

• Rating:
It is going to get to NC-17.

• Pairing:
W/T

• Disclaimer:
The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series and its characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. The “Tomb Raider” videogame is the property of Eidos Interactive and Core Design. This fic is not meant to infringe any copyrights.

• Summary:
Willow and Tara are two strong and independent tomb raiders who are both hired to find the same artifact. Trapped inside a temple they realize that not everything is what it seems and they have to work together and fight side by side for their lives as they try to find the way out.


• Note 1:
I want to thank my beta reader TKOLove, who has supported this idea and putted up with all my questions and doubts since the beginning without ever complaining.
Your work makes this fic a better one, so thank you TKOLove.

• Note 2:
I love Tomb Raider and this fic was something that had been in the back of my mind for long. Now I finally decided to write it. I hope you all enjoy reading it.

• Note 3:
Thoughts are in
italics




Chapter two




Willow Rosenberg was sleeping peacefully in a chair on the deck of her boat. She’d gone swimming for a while, eaten freshly-caught fish for lunch, was now taking a nap.
She woke up with the noise of a helicopter approaching, and quickly she passed from slumber to a fully-awakened state. She was always like that; she could never sleep soundly, courtesy of years spent wandering around inside crypts full of booby traps and things that went ‘bump’ in the night.

So, in less time that it would take you to rub your eyes, she rolled off her chair, picked up her guns, and was on her feet, pointing her weapons at the helicopter with a steely aim.

God, this girl really is a piece of work.
Steve thought, after seeing the whole maneuver through his binoculars. He was impressed.

When the helicopter was near enough to hear her, Willow shouted, “Stop right there, and tell me what you want, or you’re all going to play with the fishes.”
“Miss Rosenberg, you are under no threat. I’m simply here to visit with you. May I come aboard?” Steve hastily shouted back. He knew that she was an ace with those guns, and he had no desire to crash into the ocean. Besides, pissing her off would be a categorically stupid move.

Willow thought about it for a few seconds.
So, this has to be about work. And it has to be a pretty important job for someone to take the trouble to come and find me here. Hmm… What shall I do? I just got here last week, and I was thinking I’d stay for at least a month. The fishing is amazing, there are no crazy mummies, no poisonous spiders and no flamethrowers. Oh well, I can always come back!

“Yeah, you can come aboard.”

Steve jumped to the water and swam the few meters to the boat. There he found a ladder and climbed aboard. He got his first look at Willow, and couldn’t help but be surprised. She was beautiful, slender, and graceful…and looked as if she’d just stepped away from a fashionable party.

And this is the woman who’s known around the world for searching and fighting all kinds of dangerous things that would send anyone else running for the hills? Talk about looks being deceiving.


She moved to sit on the only chair on deck. “I’m sorry, I don’t have many visitors, so you can either sit on the floor or you can stand.” Her voice betrayed just a hint of amusement.
“That’s just fine, I’ll stand.”
“So, what brings you to this part of the Atlantic, Mr…?”
“Mr. Drake. You’re not an easy woman to find, Miss Rosenberg. I’ve been looking for you in order to extend an offer.” He stopped and Willow nodded for him to continue.

“I have an interest in history and lost artifacts, and I learned that a new temple was recently found in Egypt. I believe that inside the temple is a relic that my family’s been pursuing for generations – the lost Star of Shamia. I would like you to retrieve it for me. I’m willing to pay you whatever price you believe to be fair. But I should warn you, this temple is known as the ‘temple of doom,’ for no one who has ever entered it has come out.” He was trying to distract her from the lack of information about the Star.

He knew she was far from being put off by the danger. The redhead was well known for her love of life-threatening situations. The more risky it was, the faster she’d agree to it.
She seemed to be measuring the situation. Ever the professional, she wasn’t going to jump headfirst without knowing exactly where she stood. So he played his ace, hoping it would be enough to persuade her.

“Oh, and the reason why I had such urgency in finding you, bothering you in the middle of your vacation and all, is that word on the street has it that Miss Maclay has been hired to find the Shamia Star.”
At the mention of Tara’s name Willow lifted her head. She had never met the woman, but she knew Maclay was the other “best in the world” tomb raider.


So Maclay is part of this game. I don’t like jumping into things without knowing everything, and this could be a diversionary tactic. It’s probably quite obvious that I find the chance very appealing…the chance to put any doubt to rest once and for all regarding who is ‘the best.’ He must think I’ll accept this job without asking too many questions. But if she really is going to be there, it makes this a much more fun game to play. I’ll do it, but I don’t really trust you, Mr. Drake…so I’ll be watching my back.


With her mind made up, Willow switched to business mode. “Count me in. Now, I’ll need to see that book you were talking about. Is there any specific time for me to enter the temple?”
Man, I hate when the stupid doors are temporized. It’s really annoying. But in this case it might not be that bad; it would ensure that I would meet Maclay.
She didn’t know why, but the thought of meeting the other woman left her giddy. She told herself it was the heat and rush of competition, but she wasn’t feeling at all aggressive like she usually felt in this type of situation.

It had happened many times. Two adventurers, sometimes more, competing to reach the final goal, and she had always won before.
Only this time, my focus doesn’t seem to be on the winning…but rather on Maclay.
She tried to dismiss that thought.
I’m just curious to see her, to have a face and a body to go with the name. After the initial interest dies, I’m sure I’ll be right back to my cold, focused self.
She returned her concentration to what Steve was saying.

“Of course. I’ll send the book to your house. Is that ok?”
It will, of course, be the edited version – one of the two tremendously expensive falsifications that doesn’t talk about soul mates, and says Shamia’s Star lost it’s power upon her death, and is therefore merely a harmless (albeit priceless) charm of peace and love. I hope that’ll be good enough to satisfy her curiosity.


“Yes, of course. That would be great.”
“Then, Miss Rosenberg, I’ll leave now and we’ll meet again say in about two weeks? Does that work for you?”
“Yes, it does.”
They shook hands to seal the deal, and the helicopter sent a rope ladder for Steve to climb back in. In a flash the chopper was gone.


Willow Rosenberg, you’re incorrigible! Will there ever be a vacation where you actually stay to the end?
She was chastising herself, but she was smiling.


*******************



One down, one to go. I wonder if Miss Maclay will be harder to convince. Probably not, after all, this is what they do for a living. Two tomb raiders, who would have thought? I think this has fate written all over it. Shamia’s Star will be mine!


“Sir?” the pilot was trying to get his attention.
“Yes, what is it?” he answered, annoyed that his pleasant thoughts were interrupted.
“While you were on the boat, your secretary sent us a message. She said you should return to your office ASAP.”

Oh, man. What now?
“Ok then, let’s go.”


*******************


“Patricia, come into my office, please.” The secretary quickly got up and followed her boss into his office.
“So, now that we’re alone…tell me, what’s going on?”
“Well, Sir, apparently Miss Maclay decided to return from her vacation. We received information that indicates she’s coming back early.”
“When does her plane arrive?”
“Tomorrow at noon. But do you think it’s a good idea go talk to her at the airport? Won’t that look like an ambush and work against us?” Patricia was one of the few people who’d been in on this project since the beginning, so she could afford to ask some questions.

“Actually, it won’t matter. I’ll simply tell her this was urgent -- that I heard rumors about Miss Rosenberg’s interest in going after the Star too, and that I decided it was best not to lose any time.”
Patricia nodded, but she didn’t seem too sure.
“It worked with Willow, and I think it will work with Tara, too. They’re both anxious to meet one another so she’ll probably overlook a few of the details. It’s an opportunity that’s just too good for either of them to miss out on.”


*******************


Tara was feeling a mix of exhaustion and restlessness by the time she arrived at the airport. Something big was going to happen, she could feel it in her bones. That was why she’d decided to return early from her climbing holiday.
She soon saw a man walking toward her.He was not a man who could easily blend in with the crowd. He was tall with blonde hair, and when he got near her she could see that his eyes were black.
Strange combination. I think I’m about to find out the cause of my unease.


“Miss Maclay?” Steve Jenkins asked.
“Yes.”
“I hope you’ll forgive me for jumping at you like this when you’ve just arrived…it was very important for me to talk to you as soon as possible. I have a proposition for you. Maybe we could go someplace and sit down to talk?” He tried to be as polite as possible, knowing this was the crucial point.If he could just get her to hear him out, he was certain there was little chance of her refusing his offer.


I’m tired and I’m sure this is about work. And what’s with this weird sensation on the pit of my stomach? It’s not exactly bad, but it’s keeping me unfocused. This is my chance to walk away.

“Ok, there’s a coffee shop just around the corner…we can head over there.”
They walked in silence to the coffee shop, then sat down and asked the waitress for coffee. Tara was the first one to talk.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think you’ve told me your name.”
“Oh! How rude of me. I’m David Stewart,” the man lied.
They were silent again for a little while as Tara waited for him to make the next move. The ball was on his court now. The waitress brought them the coffee and it was only after she left that the man started to talk.

“Miss Maclay, I’m a history lover and a relic collector, as were my father and grandfather before me. You could say that I followed the family tradition.” He stopped to sip his coffee and to think about how to weave the rest of the story.
Tara was silent. She was trying to read the man in front of her, but she couldn’t see or sense anything. His black eyes betrayed nothing.

“Some time ago, I found one of my grandfather’s diaries and with it another book. It’s old and its title is too faded to read. In it there are many legends, stories of mystical objects lost in time. I read it with the curiosity of a scholar, and one of those legends caught my eye. It was the tale of a goddess whose name and cult have been long forgotten, erased from all inscriptions by the Egyptians gods. It was the tale of Shamia.” He paused again, as if he was recollecting his thoughts. He didn’t want to start rambling.

“So to make the long story short, Shamia made an amulet – a Star – and the legend says that a temple was made to keep the Star safe from unworthy hands. I believe that the recently discovered temple in Egypt is Shamia’s temple, and that the star still lies somewhere inside that temple. I want you to work for me and go find the amulet.” He stopped to take a little sip of his coffee, and quickly resumed talking. This was not a good time to give her time to think about what he’d said. He knew his story had flaws; the trick was to distract her from that.

“The reason why it was so urgent for me to find you is because I heard that Miss Rosenberg is seeking this relic too, and that she’s already preparing for the journey. This was something that my father and his father searched for before me, and I’d love to be the one to finally get it. With Rosenberg already getting ready I needed to find a tomb raider of my own who would be able to get the star”
Looks like my efforts to introduce Willow’s name casually weren’t wasted; Tara hasn’t heard a word I’ve said since, “Rosenberg,”
Jenkins mused to himself.


Willow Rosenberg is going after this thing? The person with whom I share the top position in the adventurer’s ranking?Figures she’d be on this case.I’d really like to meet her face-to-face, but I feel a weird vibe from this guy. This is probably going to be dangerous as Hell, but that’s never stopped me before. And I get to meet Rosenberg!
Tara felt her spirits lift just a little bit.

“I’ll do it. But I’ll need to see this book you’re talking about, and I’ll need a couple of weeks to prepare myself.”
“Of course.” He felt like jumping up and down, filled with the joy of child on Christmas day.
These girls are so easy. They’re already fascinated by one another. I could have gotten them to do this if I’d just walked up and muttered the magic words, “Willow” and “Tara.”


“I suppose you know where I live,” Tara said with her voice tinted by annoyance.
“Yes, I do. I’m sorry, but it was urgent that I find you quickly, so I looked everywhere.”
“Then get the book to my house by tomorrow afternoon. If you don’t mind I’ll go home now. I’m tired; it was a long trip.” She wasn’t really feeling tired anymore, but she wanted to be alone and analyze all that had happened.
“Ok then. I’ll send someone by your house to drop off the book. And don’t worry about the coffee, it’s on me.” They both got up.
“Bye, Miss Maclay,” he said as he extended his hand to her.
“Goodbye, Mr. Stewart.” She shook his hand and walked away.


*******************

For the next couple of weeks both Willow and Tara searched everywhere for things related to Shamia or the Star. They each came up basically empty. They discovered only vague references about a Goddess of love and nature that had been beaten by Egyptian gods.

Each woman had tests performed on the book given to her, and the results confirmed that the books were about eight hundred years old. That backed up the story they’d been told, and it fit with what was written in the book.

It had been copied from an ancient Greek document that was supposed to be the reproduction of the tales written in a temple of Shamia in Egypt. That temple was demolished when Shamia lost her battle against the other Gods --the information saved almost by miracle.
So it said in the book.Which was convenient of course, because the women couldn’t verify the source of the information.

Willow decided to stop worrying and start preparing herself. It wasn’t the first time she’d accepted a job going on so little information, and at least on this one she’d meet Tara. That had been on her mind constantly, and this was a job she wasn’t about to refuse.

Tara was a little worried – sensing she was missing something but not being able to tell what it was. But the mission was too tempting for her to give up. She’d just need to prepare herself a little better. By the time they both decided to stop chasing the rest of the story, they had exactly two weeks until the designated time to enter the temple.

They both took a week buying supplies, and then separately they traveled to Egypt to meet with their fate. Tara went to the site to study it, but she gave up quickly when she realized the door was firmly closed and there was no way to get inside before the designated time. There wasn’t much to see anyway; the temple had been built by digging into a mountain and was completely concealed and protected by the steep topography.

The blonde spent the remaining time resting and going over what little she did know about what she was soon to face.
Willow didn’t even go to see the temple. Instead she stayed in her hotel room relaxing and sleeping. She had a feeling she’d need to be at her best to survive what lay ahead.

Then D day came.

*******************

It was early morning when Tara arrived at the temple. She’d always been a morning person and she loved to get everywhere early. She found the temple door open as was expected, and she entered. She rapidly understood that this was an antechamber and that the real door to the temple was the next one. The room was square, its walls were rough and plain, and right in front of the door through which Tara had entered was another door.

Tara never got to finish her inventory of the room. When she was starting to analyze the new door to see how it would open, she heard a noise and felt a presence starting to fill her, warm and comforting.

Willow Rosenberg had entered the room

At her first look at the newcomer, Tara’s breath caught in her throat. She saw a slim girl with the most amazing red hair, even tied in a simple ponytail as it was. And the woman had the face of a goddess. Red sunglasses covered her eyes and added to the surreal aura emanating from this woman-angel. She was dressed in a green t-shirt and black shorts, and wore fingerless black gloves and scuffed black boots. She had a backpack tied tightly around her shoulders. Wrapped around each thigh she had a holster bearing an impressive firearm, and a shotgun could be seen resting on her back, attached to her backpack – just ready to be drawn if the need should arise.


She’s so beautiful! Wait. Where did that come from? She is my rival…we’re both here to get the same thing, and only one of us is going to win. I can’t think she’s beautiful. And she has a great butt, too. Tara stop it!



*******************


Willow had already seen the truck outside, so she knew that she was going to have company. But she wasn’t prepared for the sight that greeted her.

A blonde woman with a single ponytail was leaning gently on the door, checking it out. She was half-turned, the curve of her breasts highlighted by her position. And it was exactly to them that Willow’s eyes were pulled.
She has the most amazing breasts, full and luscious. Beautiful.Huh?! What I’m I thinking? Focus.She’s your enemy. Ok, so maybe not really my enemy, but I’ll go with any label as long as it helps me to get my concentration back. And I’ve been staring at her breasts…how lame is that? Ok, so she has
perfect
breasts, but that’s no excuse. Oh man…and now I’m babbling in my head? What the hell?



With the tiny part of her brain that wasn’t focused on the blonde’s assets, Willow saw that the woman was dressed in much the same manner that she herself was, with only slight differences. The blonde wore a dark blue t-shirt that clung to her chest, a pair of black shorts, and boots. She also had a bag draped tightly around her shoulders and she wore sports boots. Willow wondered briefly about the apparent lack of weapons. There was not even a pistol in sight – the blonde had a small knife tied around her thigh, nothing else.
Why doesn’t she have any guns? Oh my God, she’s turning around to face me. Why can’t I stop staring at her chest? I’m acting like a maniac, ogling her like this.
The redhead was starting to panic.

But then Willow suddenly remembered that she had her glasses on, so the blonde couldn’t have seen where Willow was looking, and the redhead relaxed a little. She decided she wanted to get a closer look…so maybe it was time to put her rusty social skills to the test.

She started walking toward Tara, and when there were only two steps separating them, she took her glasses off. Blue met green for the first time, and both girls were speechless. The air seemed to suddenly be charged, and tiny sparks were flying around the room, but neither of them noticed. They were simultaneously lost and found, swimming in oceans of green and blue.

Willow was the first one to shake herself out of her reverie.
“Hi. I’m Willow Rosenberg. Nice to meet you.” Willow extended her hand to the blonde.
Oh man…I’ve spent years building a reputation for myself – the “ice woman” who always gets the job done – no matter how dangerous or difficult the quest! And now, just because I’m gazing into the most amazing blue eyes I’ve ever seen, what am I doing? Introducing myself as if I’m at a party or something. This is serious; this is competition…I have to be cold and professional. I can’t act like a dork!


Willow was about to pull her hand back and put on her resolve face, when Tara’s hand moved to meet her.
“H-hello. I’m Tara Mma-Maclay”
And
now
I stutter? I haven’t stuttered in ages, and not ever on a quest. I’ve faced the kinds of things that for most people only exist in the darkest of nightmares…and not once have I trembled, or has my strength faltered. I’m a strong, cold, intelligent woman! So why am I acting like a flustered teenager just because I have two stunning green eyes staring at me?!



Both of their thoughts were forgotten as their hands met. They felt a jolt of electricity pass through them. The feeling was amazing and left their bodies tingling all over.
A lightning bolt struck the temple, and its sound resonated in the air for a long moment. The true door to the temple was open.

From a safe distance, Steve Jenkins was watching the temple. He felt the electric charge in the air and then saw clouds gathering fast in the sky. When thunder finally struck the temple, a smile made its way to his lips.

“And so the game begins!”


***********

So, there it was - chapter two.
I hope that you liked it


Please let me know what you thought about this chapter








"I know I was born and I know that I'll die.
The in between is mine.
I am mine!" - Pearl Jam


Edited by: sabina at: 10/10/03 6:49 am


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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 11:41 am 
WOW...great job.....:bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce



just make sure the bad guy gets his ass kicked (please)



A.



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 3:01 pm 
Wow IMPRESSIVE!



I'M so looking forward to it! and ALSO a HUGE FAN OF the tomb raider games! (and movies too!)



and the way you described Willow? WOW! PERFECT PICTURE OF LARA CROFT!



MOREE! PLEASE!!



~Arwen

Hear That Baby? You're My Always... Willow



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 3:44 pm 
Yeah! Great second part. Well done. Update soonish?



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 4:36 pm 
Very, very cool!! If there is that much sparkage just touching hands, I wonder what um... other touches will do :glasses



This is great!

-shuyaku

------------------------------------

"Oh God, Willow—you’re giving me the gift of Karen Carpenter. Just when I think I grasp the full extent of your love." - Tara

"Why do birds suddenly appear? It’s because, you are queer…" - Willow (Gods Served and Abandoned by AntigoneUnbound)



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 5:44 pm 
Hey. Great update. I really like the sparkage idea. more soon?

Michelle



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 7:38 pm 
Willow is totally hotter than Lara. This was an awesome update!

Choosing not to decide is still a choice.



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 7:54 pm 
Quote:
Both their thoughts were forgotten as their hands met. They felt a jolt of electricity pass through them. The feeling was amazing; both felt tingly all over.

A lightning bolt struck the temple and its sound resonated in the air for a long moment. The true door to the temple was open.




WOW. This is going to be an amazing story. I had a feeling there were going to be ulterior motives involved. I can't tell you how much I love your descriptions of W/T outfits and the fact they are dressed alike. There is always the instant attraction and connection I never get tired of. Love the way them joining hands opens the temple door. This is going to be a long, wild, ride, and I am strapped in and ready to go.

Tara: My heart doesn't stutter.


Tara: Willow, I got so lost.

Willow: I found you. I will always find you.




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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 9:07 pm 
Very interesting story. Can´t wait to read more.



BH

My tactic is to remain in your memory... My strategy is that one of these days I don't know how nor with which pretext you finally need me.Tactic and Strategy - M.Benedetti



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter two
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2003 9:20 am 
wow..

this is an awesome fic.. and the adventure haven't even begun.. yet!! :bow

:drool like their outfits.. and your description is quite interesting.. their outfits are drool worthy, definitely :glasses

oooh... its exciting.. first their interest to each other w/o having seen each.. and then their reaction to finally meeting. wow.. then i was expecting the initial surprise reaction of Tara seeing willow's enchanting green eyes.. but well she haven't seen willow's eyes she's already interested.. heheh :clap

love the fic.. can't wait to see how they interact with each other while thinking the other as their rival hmm. so interesting and i think its absolutely great.. plus the fact that they have to pass a lot of traps.. and again i say WOW..

thanks again. :bow


Cause you were made for me/Somehow I'll make you see/How happy you make me


I can't live this life/Without you by my side/I need you to survive
So stay with me/You look in my eyes and I'm screaming inside/that I'm sorry. » Evanescence



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 Post subject: Re: Fic: The Artifact (AU)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 7:14 am 
Great fic!!

I love the fact that they are suppose to be rival but they certianly won't be for long.. it's already too late i guess!



Really interesting story line, great idea. Let's just say that our two girls as Tomb Raider.. yummy! ;)



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 Post subject: Replies
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 7:47 am 
Hi :wave

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read these two chapters :)



And of course I want to send special thanks to all the kittens that have left feedback. It brought a big smile to my face to read your kind words :D



Now for the individual replies:



irishlassie101 We will not see much of Steve Jenkins for the bigger part of this fic, but don’t worry. In the end the bad guy sure is going to get his ass kicked :wink



Arwen276 I’m glad you liked my description of Willow. I just couldn’t resist dressing our favorite redhead in the exactly same outfit that characterized Lara Croft in the first videogames :wink

I liked the movies too, although I was a bit disappointed with the second one. But I have to confess that I like the videogame best :)



Marilda Thank you :banana



shuyaku Hum… what other touches will do? I guess that you’ll have to wait and see :devil :wink



Spot Thank you :) I thought the whole ‘sparkage thing’ would be a good idea. I’m glad that you liked it :D



Tempest Duer Thank you :banana



The Rose24 Thank you. Hopefully the story will live up to your expectations :) I loved the “soda machine” scene in “Hush” so I couldn’t resist writing something akin to that. Even if in this fic they are not witches, their joined hands still have power :D

It is going to be a long ride with some bumps in the road. Make sure you have your seat belt fastened :wink



bluehippocampus Thank you :)



Red Jassy I’m glad that you liked their outfits, although I can’t really take credit for that. It was Lara Croft’s outfit in the videogame.

They were fated to meet… So I thought it would be cool if they were both fascinated by the other even before they met :) Although Willow’s green eyes do send Tara into day-dream-land :wink



Willster Yeah, you’re right. They have just met but they are already lost in each other eyes. They can’t stay rivals for long :wink





I’ll post chapter three tomorrow.



Once again thank you to everyone who was kind enough to leave a reply :D

Keep the feedback coming (I think I’m getting addicted to feedback :wink ) :D




"I know I was born and I know that I'll die.

The in between is mine.

I am mine!" - Pearl Jam

Edited by: sabina at: 10/10/03 7:54 am


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 Post subject: the artifact
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 8:35 am 
I just have to say that I love this fic. You're writing is wonderful! I can't wait for the next chapter!



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 Post subject: The Artifact - chapter three
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2003 4:22 am 
Hi everyone




gottalovewillow
Your first post was a reply to my fic. I’m flattered

Thank you.



So here it is chapter three.


• Title:
The Artifact

• Author:
sabina

• Feedback:
Yes, please. I crave it.

• Distribution:
Anywhere. Just please ask me first.

• Spoilers:
No spoilers whatsoever. This is an AU fic.

• Rating:
It is going to get to NC-17.

• Pairing:
W/T

• Disclaimer:
The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series and its characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. The “Tomb Raider” videogame is the property of Eidos Interactive and Core Design. This fic is not meant to infringe any copyrights.

• Summary:
Willow and Tara are two strong and independent tomb raiders who are both hired to find the same artifact. Trapped inside a temple they realize that not everything is what it seems and they have to work together and fight side by side for their lives as they try to find the way out.


• Note 1:
I want to thank my beta reader TKOLove, who has supported this idea and putted up with all my questions and doubts since the beginning without ever complaining.
Your work makes this fic a better one, so thank you TKOLove.

• Note 2:
I love Tomb Raider and this fic was something that had been in the back of my mind for long. Now I finally decided to write it. I hope you all enjoy reading it.

• Note 3:
Thoughts are in
italics




Chapter three





Her hand is so elegant and strong, but gentle.I could hold her hand forever.Actually, I think I could hold all of her until the end of time.Whoa!What am I saying, here?Ok, ok, let’s try to be rational.I’m obviously attracted to her.Just that vulnerable look that she has in her green eyes right now makes me want to dive into her arms and never come back up.I have to stop this, now.If I’m going to be this distracted, I’ll probably get killed about five minutes into this quest.


Tara was getting confused.So Willow was gorgeous.Ok.But Tara had seen and talked to many good looking girls before and none had ever had this effect on her.
She was feeling oddly protective of the redhead, and that just wouldn’t do. They were going to be competing against each other and Willow was maybe the best in the world.Tara couldn’t afford to have a soft spot for her.

Willow was equally confused.Tara’s hand in her own felt so right, like pieces of a puzzle that finally slid into place.She was feeling warm and comfortable, and that was a new feeling to her.Willow sensed that she could trust Tara with her very life.
Uh?Excuse me?Hello, you’re going up against each other.She’s not your friend, and you sure can’t trust her.How many times have other tomb raiders tried to kill you, especially when you were both chasing the same thing?Countless times.Why would she be any different?
And with that last thought, Willow slid her armor into place and let go of the blonde’s hand.

Tara sensed the difference even before Willow dropped her hand.The redhead’s face had hardened, the line of her jaw tight and tense, and her eyes that before were bright and confident, turned into a shade of green like the sea on stormy days…cold and distant.When Willow spoke next, her voice had metallic intonations that chilled Tara.

“Well, now that we’re introduced, I think I’ll be going.I have an artifact to find.”And without saying anymore, Willow moved to the next room.

If I ever find out who hurt you so badly I’ll kill them!
vowed the blonde.
Why am I assuming someone hurt her?She’s just being professional, detached, like I should be!Emotions don’t have a place in this game!
Tara tried to convince herself.Putting on her own resolve face, she followed the redhead into the other room.

This one was different from the antechamber.For starters, it was circular and had three doors.Its walls were covered everywhere with pictures of nature; trees, rivers, bushes and grass, and people enjoying themselves at picnics and playing games.It was beautiful, but Tara didn’t have much time to appreciate it, as Willow had already opened and quickly moved through one of the room’s three doors.

Willow knew she wasn’t being rational.Her mind was screaming for her to stop running and start paying closer attention to where she was going – reminding her that moving carelessly inside a crypt was suicide – but she just couldn’t stop.She needed to get away from that blonde angel, who, with just one look and just one touch was making her heart begin to believe and trust again.Trusting other people had never worked out well for Willow, and this surely was not the right time to start again.So Willow ran to the handle that would open the next door and pushed it forcefully, but nothing happened. She pushed again with the same result.

Now this is weird.It should have opened.What am I doing wrong?


Tara was outside the door, simply looking at Willow.This new area was a long hallway, just wide enough for one person to pass at a time.At the end there was a door, with a lever next to it.It was that lever that Willow was pushing and pulling frantically, her brow furrowing further each time nothing happened.Then she stopped and just stared at the lever as if she were willing it to work.
A smile made its way to Tara’s mouth before she could suppress it.The redhead was just too cute for words.


There’s no way I can take the same path as she and stay focused on my goal.So I’ll just back away from here and I’ll choose another door.Well, ok, maybe I’ll watch her for just another minute.
After letting a sigh slip from her lips and stealing one last look at Willow, Tara walked away.
She stood in the first room, taking her time to choose a door.
I wonder if the car, the trip to Bahamas, and the computer electronics package are behind door number one, two, or three? I know behind which door is one very hot redhead…Oh goddess…I think I’ll go with the less complicated door number three.


With her decision made, Tara pulled the switch and stood back in a defensive position.After a long moment without anything happening, she relaxed again, and pulled the switch a second time.Again she tensed, ready for whatever happened when the door opened.And once more, there was no movement.

Ok, so this is weird.I wonder if only one path can be open at a time. But if that’s the case, why wouldn’t Willow’s door open?I guess I’ll have to follow the one way that’s already open and see what happens.


Tara walked inside the opened corridor, and after only a few steps she heard the door behind her close soundly.This startled Willow, who only then realized she was in the same room with the very person from whom she wanted to run.On instinct more than anything else, Willow pulled the lever once again.And this time it worked.They both heard a strange noise…like thunder approaching, getting louder and louder.Suddenly, a large stone ball crashed from the ceiling and rolled rapidly towards them both. Tara was nearest to it, so she only had time to jump awkwardly over the ball and land on her back with a thud.Willow on the other hand, had a couple of extra seconds to prepare herself.She made a perfect jump, drew her guns in mid-air, and landed on her feet facing the hole that had replaced the door.She waited a couple of minutes, surveying the scene without losing her focus.

When she was sure they weren’t going to be attacked from the new opening, Willow put her guns back in the holsters and turned to the place where Tara was trying to get up.
“Tara, are you ok?” she asked worriedly, while approaching the fallen blonde.
“Do you
handle
all situations like this?” she said trying to ease the mood.
Oh man, I am a dork. That was a really bad joke; heck it wasn’t even a real joke.

But Willow laughed.It was probably just the aftermath of the adrenaline rush, but she’d been so afraid that Tara had been injured, that now she needed to relieve the tension.

“You’re right, I have to stop being so
“lever”
headed.” Now they were both laughing out loud.Willow dropped to the floor next to Tara, unable to stand while the fit of giggles shook her body.
After several moments, they managed to calm down and Willow asked again, “How are you, are you hurt? I’m really sorry about the whole lever handle thing.It hadn’t worked before, and I had no reason to think it would work now…but I wasn’t exactly thinking when I pushed it, and then that huge ball fell from the ceiling, and everything happened so fast…and all I could see was that you were on the floor, and I couldn’t really think about anything else, I was worried…” she interrupted herself and blushed slightly when she realized she had said too much.


Wow. The only thing she could think about was me on the floor…she was worried.I only met this girl an hour ago, and already it warms my soul that she cares.I have to watch after my heart.I’m the “one night things with no strings attached” kind of girl.I can’t afford to be conquered by this green-eyed champion.

“I…I’m ok, I think.My back hurts and it’s probably going to be a little sore later, but that’s all.”

Willow was engrossed in deep thought, and when she finally spoke again, the first thing she said took the other girl completely by surprise.
“May I call you Tara?It kind of slipped out of my mouth before I had time to think about it.And well, to tell you the truth, I really don’t have any social skills…so I was wondering if it was rude of me to call you by your first name.”
“Of course you can call me Tara, as long as I can call you Willow.After all, it’s much easier to scream those names out…uhm…I mean in case another rolling stone comes crashing down on us.Much faster than Miss Rosenberg and Miss Maclay.It can save our lives.”She said seriously.
Oh good grief, Tara!
she chastised herself.
Willow laughed lightly.It made all of Tara’s aches from the fall worthwhile.

“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about another thing.Did you notice that the door to that first room only closed after you were inside this one?And also, that stupid handle only worked after the door closed.Did you try any switches out there?”
The blonde already thought about this, so she could see why Willow was asking.“Yes, I did.I tried the switch on another one of the doors outside, but it didn’t work.I pushed it several times, until I gave up and came here.”

“Hmm…” Willow considered all the information for a moment and then said, “You know, I think we are stuck together. That door wouldn’t close until you came in, and this door wouldn’t open until the other one was closed.If all the chambers are like this one, we’ll have to move together.”Willow didn’t know what to think about that.On one hand, she already felt more at ease with Tara than she’d ever felt with anyone.On the other hand, to like someone – to trust and to depend on them – would mean opening herself up to heartbreak all over again.

Tara had already reached the same conclusion, and felt almost dizzy with the prospect of spending all that time with the redhead.
Tara Maclay, meet the challenge of your life: to spend days fighting alongside the most amazing woman you’ve ever met…and not fall in love with her.Wait a second… fall in love?Where did that come from?

“Yeah.I think you’re right.”Silence fell over them as both women let the information sink in.

“So if your back’s ok, maybe we should get moving.I think the book mentioned something about ‘correct timing.’And well, if we were to get it wrong, it would be better for us to be early than to be late.”
“Yeah.I’m ok.Let’s get going, then.”
Willow extended her hand to help Tara get up, and was once more rewarded by a tingling sensation throughout her body.
This woman truly is special.


They looked deep into each other’s eyes and smiled.

As they passed over the hole left by the stone ball, they came upon the strangest room.It was massive in its length, maybe about fifty meters, and there were two solid platforms – one near the entry, and one on the end of the room.Situated between them were panels of suspended wood that looked as if they might fall if someone so much as sneezed.

To their left was a closed door with no handle in sight.

“Ok, so we’ll probably find the way to open the door somewhere on the other side.And only the gods know what’s below these wooden things,” Willow complained.
This is weird.If I were alone I wouldn’t be complaining.It’s Tara! I feel like I don’t have to be strong all the time.Like I can lose it once in a while and trust her to be there to put me back together.How’s that possible?It’s like I’ve known her forever.


Tara was looking around the room for clues, but she found none.“I guess you must be right.We’ll have to take our chances on the floating boards.”

“Ok then, let’s go.”Willow stepped carefully in the first panel, ready to jump at any sight of danger.When nothing happened, she progressed to the next one.

Tara followed her and moved to the first board.However, as soon as the blonde was completely on the plank, it collapsed and fell, despite it having held up for Willow.Tara had just enough time to do a back flip and return to the safety of the stone floor.
“Well, that could have been worse,” Tara remarked dryly, as she looked to the floor beneath the missing board.The floor was covered with deadly spikes.

Willow also jumped back to the relative safety of the room’s entry.“That was weird.It held itself up while I was there.I suppose it could have been built to collapse at the second touch.”
“Or maybe it was our weight difference.I’m heavier than you.”

“I don’t think it was that…there’s not that much of a difference,” Willow smiled and continued, “but you can easily find out.This thing looks like a chessboard, squares next to squares.Well, except that it isn’t eight by eight, but more like six by forty, and I guess that’s not really the important point here.So anyway, as I was saying before I got distracted by chessboards, you can try another panel to see if it falls, and even if it does, we’ll still have lots of ways to get to the other side.”

Willowbabble is adorable.
“Yeah, I think that’s a good idea”
“Maybe I could be holding your hand, so if the board gives way, I can hold you up and away from the spikes.”Willow’s tone dropped a little at the end.
And why would she trust me?


“I’d like that. I don’t necessarily want to have a close encounter with those pointy pricklies.” Tara smiled, a little overwhelmed with the prospect of holding Willow’s hand.

She trusts me to hold her hand…to keep her safe.Go me!Now the real problem’s going to be staying focused on keeping her safe, rather than on the fact that we’re going to be holding hands.Ok, so maybe she’d be safer by herself.
The redhead was about to give voice to her thoughts about Tara’s safety, when the blonde interrupted her.“I trust you.”Three little words that melted Willow’s heart.

“Then let’s do it.”Willow extended her hand and Tara took it without a second thought.The tingly feeling was present as before, but they both accepted it as part of whatever was happening between them.And by now neither one of them could deny that something
was
happening.Even though they’d met just a short while ago, it was like their souls recognized each other.They were drawn to each other like the tide to the moon, and were equally as helpless to fight it.

Tara stepped carefully onto one of the panels next to the stone platform, and waited for it to break, but it didn’t.So they just stayed like that, holding each other’s hand, lost deep inside each other’s, eyes until Willow realized it was best for them to keep moving.They had to seize the day; keep working toward the goal.The temple had some little holes in the ceiling through which daylight could enter.They didn’t understand how that was possible, as the temple had been built inside the mountain…but whatever the reason, they had natural light and were thankful for it.It gave them a plan; it would be better for them to move in the day and stop to rest at night.

“Tara…” She was about to say exactly that, when her stomach decided to complain loudly about the lack of food.She blushed.“Uhm…sorry.”
“That’s ok.You’re hungry and there’s nothing wrong with that.We need to figure out our next move, so what do you say we do some figuring while we eat?”
I have to marvel at how swift it was for me to begin thinking “us”, our move, our adventure.A lifetime of habits as a tomb raider working alone, erased from my memory in one morning spent with this redhead.The force sure is strong inside you Willow Rosenberg.

Willow smiled and nodded, and they sat in the corner away from the door, half facing each other.They both took from their backpacks a ball of protein and vitamins.

“You know…,” started Willow while chewing her protein ball, “…what bothers me most when I’m searching for relics?”Tara shook her head, and the redhead continued.“It’s having to eat these ash-tasting protein balls!It’s when I’m eating these things that I miss my kitchen and all the yummy stuff I can make…and eat.I love to cook!And heck, I’d love it a whole lot more if I could be doing it now instead of eating this thing!”Willow’s nose was wrinkled in disgust and she was nearly pouting.Tara thought it was adorable and couldn’t suppress a giggle.
Will I discover anything about her that I won’t think is adorable?I’m starting to seriously doubt it.


“What?” the redhead asked.
“It’s just that you look all cute with your nose wrinkled.You look like a five-year-old who wants to sneak cookies before dinner but just discovered that the cookie jar is missing.”Tara laughed as an image of a five-year-old Willow popped into her mind.
“You’re laughing at me?” the redhead asked playfully.“Be careful, because I have ways to make you regret that.”
“I would challenge you to show me, but unfortunately we need to figure out how to open this door.”Tara sounded disappointed for having to change the mood into a more serious one, but it was necessary.

“You’re right of course.I was thinking that maybe one of us could go to the other side and see if there was anything akin to a lever that would open that door.”
“That sounds like a plan, but maybe we could both try.On different paths, obviously,” Tara added.
“We can try.Ok, I think I’m done with this stupid protein ball.If you’re finished too, we can take a shot at it now.”
“Yeah, I’m done.”

They picked up their backpacks and tied them again safely around their respective shoulders.Each went to one board.Tara was the first one to step on, and it held, but when Willow stepped onto the one nearest her, it broke and she had to do a back flip to avoid the awaiting spikes.
“Tara, it’s no use.It’ll only hold one of us at a time.Since you’re the one already on the path you go ahead.I’ll wait here.Be careful.”
“Ok then.I’ll be back,” she said, and she winked at Willow, before turning around and resuming her walk toward the other side.

It was a trip without incidents.The other platform looked just like the one from which they started, except that on its surface sat an iron structure the same height as Tara’s waist.On that formation rested a large bowl that held some sort of liquid.No levers in sight.
“Tara, do you see anything that looks like a handle?”
“No, the only thing here is this copper bowl.I’m looking everywhere, and there’s just nothing more,” the blonde woman said sadly.
“Maybe you have to torch it,” Willow suggested.
“Let me just look around a little more to make sure that we don’t have any more options.” Tara searched everywhere but in truth there wasn’t much to look at, only the basin.So she decided to try Willow’s suggestion.

“Willow, I’m going to try to light it.” Tara pulled a box of matches from her pack, ignited one, and dropped it in the bowl.But as it touched the liquid, it extinguished itself.
“What happened?” asked the redhead.
“It didn’t work.I’m going to try another one.”She repeated the process with the same result.“It’s official; this thing won’t burn.”
“Is there any way to move it?The bowl, I mean.”
Tara tried to move it to no avail.The iron supporter was stuck deep in the floor, and the basin was well-secured in the supporter.There was no way she was going to be able to move any of those things.


********

That's all for today.
Please let me know what you thought of this chapter








"I know I was born and I know that I'll die.
The in between is mine.
I am mine!" - Pearl Jam


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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter three
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2003 5:03 am 
sabina! I'm deeply engrossed, and you've marvelly reproduced the Tomb Raider atmosphere with the whole set and the liquid bowl and stuff...BRAVO!



And T/W's attraction is slowly pulling them towards each other!



MORE PLEASE!!



~Arwen

Hear That Baby? You're My Always... Willow



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter three
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2003 6:28 am 
it's great



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 Post subject: Re: The Artifact - chapter three
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2003 7:16 am 
Those floating boards are tricky! I am totally into to your "Tomb Raider" world. There instant attraction is great - but it's going to be really interesting to see them deal with the demons that have kept them both so isolated for so long...



More soon?

-shuyaku

------------------------------------

"Oh God, Willow—you’re giving me the gift of Karen Carpenter. Just when I think I grasp the full extent of your love." - Tara

"Why do birds suddenly appear? It’s because, you are queer…" - Willow (Gods Served and Abandoned by AntigoneUnbound)



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