Millions of years ago, a meteorite crashes to Earth, landing in Antarctica, which was at that time a tropical paradise. The huge chunk of rock descends in a massive fireball, scorching the ancient forest and destroying every living thing for miles around. Smoldering fragments scatter in all directions. In the distance, we see a distinctive mountain range.
The scene shifts to that same mountain range in the present day. The continent is now blanketed in a layer of ice and snow, and a frigid wind blows across the barren landscape. The camera zooms in on a small camp set up on an ice shelf. One worker plants a shovel in the snow. Another operates a bulldozer, while a third oversees the drilling rig attached to the dozer. A fourth man in a yellow-and-black parka walks across the screen. He speaks Scottish-accented English into a handheld radio.
"I've been yelling myself hoarse on this radio every day. It's just the weather dumps on us frequently here, and maybe my transmission doesn't get through. I don't know," he complains to whoever is on the other end as he steps into one of the tents.
A voice with an American accent answers through the static, "I can't understand one word of what you say, Willard.
"It's all going swell, sir," Willard, the man with the yellow parka answers, attempting to speak slowly, if a bit sarcastically, so the American can understand. But before the conversation can proceed, the drill hits something hard and begins to whine and smoke.
"Get the bit up," one of the techs yells as he gestures to the bulldozer operator. "Get it out!"
The dozer driver's eyes widen as he attempts to control the machine.
"Turn it off! Off!" Willard yells as he emerges from his tent waving the radio. "Hey! Switch it off!"
Smoke billows from the dozer's engine as the machine chugs and whines. Finally the belt turning the drill snaps and the machine grinds to a halt. Willard lets out a frustrated exclamation.
Some time later, the men raise the drill bit out of the bore hole and attempt to take readings from below using a notebook computer. Before they can analyze the data, another man approaches on a snowmobile.
"I think you'd better come and check out site two," he tells Willard with a Southern drawl.
"But what about this?" the worker with the red parka asks.
"Blow through it," Willard orders, as he hops on the snowmobile behind the other man and motors away.
"Find more meteorite?" Willard asks the driver as they hurtle across the snow.
"Nah. Something a little younger than that," the man answers.
As they approach the other campsite, a huge, stone head, like the famous Moai on Easter Island, can be seen poking out of a snowbank.
"Och, No!" Willard gasps as the import of this discovery hits him. He grabs his radio and keys the mic. "Billy! I don't want you to set that explosive. Do you hear me? I do not want you to set that explosive!"
Willard is too late though. Back at the other site, Billy's radio is sitting in the snow some distance from where he's working. He presses the plunger and the explosives in the bore hole go off.
Back at site two, we see a plume of snow ejected into the air in the distance.
"Wretched pyros," Willard mutters.
At some later time, it's not clear just how long, we see that a line of stone five stone heads has been excavated from beneath the snow. A helicopter is parked beyond them. Somewhere nearby, Willard is working in a shallow depression in the snow pack. He brushes off a crude wooden marker in the shape of a cross. The inscription reads, "Paul Caulfield / 1812 - 1834 / R. I. P. / HMS Beagle."
Willard scratches his head and muses, "This place has a busy history."
After slogging through the mud, Lara Croft emerges into a clearing where some tents and equipment are set up. A satellite radio crackles with static. Then we hear a voice with a Scottish accent—apparently the same man leading the Antarctic expedition in the opening movie—attempting to make contact.
"Tech four to five. Do you read me, Tech five? Tech...." the voice says. "Tony, ye loon, I know you're there." The radio crackles again then goes quiet.
Lara hears a whoop from inside one of the tents. She calls out a tentative, "Hello...hello?" Then a young man with wild blond hair and mirrored sunglasses, presumably Tony, staggers out into the open.
"What!?" he whines, "What do you want from me now?"
"Well, nothing that taxing," Lara answers. "Are you alright?"
"If you'd all stop," he says clutching his head, "I might be just fine! Just one hundred percent. Just....gaaahhh!"
"If you'd all stop?" Lara asks, glancing around and not seeing anyone else nearby. "Who are you talking about?"
"All you." He waves his arm vaguely in front of him. "Hundreds of you. Talking and chattering and breaking my brain up."
"Hmm," Lara interjects dismissively. "Well, I'm not quite sure where you're coming from, but I just want to know about the Infada artifact...in the temple up there?" She glances up the hill at the ruins.
"Voodoo magic and all huh? I don't touch the stuff myself."
"It's not voodoo," Lara says crossing her arms. She appears to be running out of patience with Tony. "Look, is there anyone else here with you?"
"Yeah, Randy and Rory...sheesh."
"Randy and Rory...where? What are you all doing here?"
As he answers her, Tony begins to collect his gear, stowing it in a metal trunk.
"Well, they're staying put. In that temple. I told them not to. I warned them first." His tone, at first concerned, changes and he gives a slight chuckle. "Not doing much now, I doubt, under half a ton of mudslide. Me, I'm leaving. Next bus out. This jungle has rooted enough rot into me. I'd offer the same advice to you, but you don't seem the type to take it...to care if I said you're gonna die in there. Hmph!" As he speaks, Tony moves away from Lara toward the edge of the camp. "Yeah.... Die...." His voice trails off as he jumps off a ledge and disappears into the jungle giggling.
Lara pauses briefly, hands on hips, to assess the situation. She clearly doesn't take much stock in Tony's opinions and continues on her way.
Lara emerges from the temple and sees Tony, the psychotic blond explorer, rafting down the river. She draws her weapons and fires. He laughs and makes some dramatic gestures, and the temple begins to crumble around her. Lara dodges falling stone blocks as Tony gets away. She starts to follow on foot then notices a quad bike nearby.
Lara emerges from the ruins and sees a boat chugging down the river. The pilot calls out to her and she climbs aboard.
"I don't want to be misrepresented by that retarded researcher you've just been with...."
"Lara." She introduces herself, deadpan.
"I'm Doctor Willard. I'd come to converse with Tony myself, but I saw you doing a rather more creditable job, I think. Indeed, I'm inspired. I'd like to offer you other work." He gestures for her to take a seat, and she does.
"What?" Lara answers. "Shoot the breeze with some of your other boys? No thanks."
"Fortunately they were the only lab rats we let loose into the field. Nah. My request is for three other artifacts like this." He points to the carved stone, which Lara has taken from her pack and now holds on her lap.
"The Infada tribe only had one artifact of this type. It's unique." She looks at Willard with unconcealed suspicion. "Anyway, what would your interest in it be?"
"I'll show you." He takes the artifact and sets it on a table next to an aluminum briefcase, which he proceeds to open. Taking a electronic probe from inside the case, he passes it over the carved stone, and a readout appears on his computer. "It's not from India," he explains, "rather, an island near Antarctica. It is in fact meteorite rock that has been fashioned and used by Polynesians who were once settled there many, many years ago. See that?" Willard points to the computer readout. "That's unique. An unknown material."
"So how did it end up here?" Lara asks.
"Formed from the planets, sculpted by Polynesians, distributed by goons. Our excavations and investigatings [sic] have lead us to this: A sailor's diary from Charles Darwin's expedition on the HMS Beagle." He picks up an old, leather-bound book and hands it to Lara.
As she settles back to read, Lara's voice blends into that of the sailor, and we flash back to the his recollections.
"August 14, 1834. This voyage is getting too boring for me to go on with this journal. Me adventures at sea are an embarrassment. The only tales I'll have to tell are hours of bird watching, picking and pressing flowers, following them blasphemous ideas of the guv'nor, Darwin." As the sailor recounts his tale, we see him on the deck of the Beagle, poring over his books, then looking out across the sea toward an island with tall, rocky peaks flecked with snow. "But this don't even concern me now. I just want food. Something more than vegetable broth in me."
Five men—Smythe, Henderson, Caulfield, Jonson, and our diarist, Stephen Barr—climb aboard a small boat and row out to the island. Stephen wears a red coat and carries a pistol. His tale continues. "Today, we five have made a pact. The only sampling we're gonna be doing is for meat...pure, solid, blood-rich meat." We then see the men hiking across the island, following animal tracks in the snow. The tracks lead into an icy cave.
"The snow's run out. The tracks have gone," Smythe, the man in the lead, says.
"Just keep going," Henderson answers. "We're on its trail."
They cross a narrow ice bridge surrounded on all sides by giant icicles, then begin to explore the cavern beyond.
"There's something here," Henderson, the one in the broad-brimmed hat, exclaims as he picks up a lizard carved from translucent stone. He whistles appreciatively as he examines it.
"Look, another one!" Caulfield calls out. "What do you reckon they're worth then?"
While the others are distracted by the finds, Stephen walks around, shining his lantern on some of the larger stone carvings. He notices the animal tracks continuing into the darkness at the back of the cavern.
"Too late. There's only four," Caulfield taunts, waving an artifact that looks just like Lara's Infada Stone. "None for you," he says to Stephen. But before Caulfield can do much more than gloat, a wolf appears on the ledge behind him and leaps down, biting his throat.
The others scream and scatter, but Stephen raises his pistol and shoots the wolf. It's a glancing blow, but the animal scurries away. Smythe shouts, "Come on!" as Stephen helps Caulfield to his feet. The others have already crossed the ice bridge. Stephen, half-carrying Caulfield, moves toward the bridge as the wolf returns to lap up the spilled blood. Just as the men are about to cross the ice bridge, the wolf barks and charges toward them.
"Stay back, bastard!" one man calls, while others shout, "Leg it! Quick!" and "Come on! Faster!"
Apparently the fragile ice bridge has taken as much stress as it can stand. It collapses beneath the weight of the two men and the wolf. The creature is impaled on an icicle, as Stephen and Caulfield slide down a steep tunnel and are ejected onto the snowpack outside. Stephen heaves a sigh of relief, but Caulfield has not survived the ride.
The men dig a grave for their fallen comrade, and we see the same wooden crucifix Willard found more than 150 years later.
"Nobody better say nothing about this to the guv'nor," Henderson tells the others. "else we'll be back having to hunt down that creature for his samples. Paul fell down a crevasse, OK?" All the men mutter in agreement except for Stephen, who stands silent.
"OK, Stephen?" Smythe presses.
Stephen nods and says only, "Amen."
The scene shifts back to Lara and Willard on the river.
"Stephen was to be the only survivor of the four," Willard picks up the tale. "When he arrived in London, he superstitiously sold off his artifact, having seen his pals murdered or killed with theirs." Willard then indicates various points on a world map as he continues, "One here in India, one in the South Pacific, and one in Nevada. The places where I'd like to go."
Lara closes the diary and hands it back to Willard with a slight smile. "Sounds good to me," she says.
The boat then motors out from beneath the forest canopy into the sunshine.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Special thanks to The Tomb Raiders Traveler's Guide for assistance with these transcripts. Their versions are quite complete and include numerous details provided by the developers, some of which have been incorporated here.
Stella's Tomb Raider Site: tombraiders.net.