MLK Writing Contest #42 [Voting!]

Which is the best story in WC 42?

Poll ended at June 30th, 2018, 4:14 am

1. The Final Trial of Kovu
1
25%
2. Goodbyes
2
50%
3. Fighting with Tooth, Claw, Illegel Superweapons
1
25%
 
Total votes : 4

MLK Writing Contest #42 [Voting!]

Postby DGFone » June 21st, 2018, 4:14 am

Since you guys asked for the voting round sooner rather than later, guess I can't go beating around the bush for much longer and just get it over with and just create this topic already. Okay, it's not that I don't want to post it, but being away for work as I am now, let me put it this way: typing on a tablet touchscreen sucks! Which also, is yes, I did have to end up tying half my submission this way - for the extended duration that the writing round was for, I only had access to my regular computer for one week. It was enough to get about half of what I wanted written, but when time ran out, it was back to fingers-poking-the-screen for several thousand words. Awesome. /sarcasm.

That's my excuses. However, I also recieved a submission yesterday that wasn't mine, and when I checked my inbox, when I said that there were two submissions in, that was a whoopsie on my part: There was one story submitted, and the other messege was a promise to send in a story. That was what arrived in my inbox yesterday, so we have three stories submitted, not four like I let myself believe. But it also means that if I had posted the voting round sooner, the only story submitted would have one by default, which is not fun. Good news is that all three stories are nice and long, so once again, a little extra time to get through them!

One last thing: one of the stories has been already posted on FF.net, so if it sounds familiar, you propably already read it. However, the author did ask me nicely if they can still submit it, and because of that, seeing as its one of the more harmless rules to break, I allowed them to submit the story. So with the logistics of this round out of the way, let's get to the stories!

Story 1:
The Final Trial of Kovu: show
The Final Trial of Kovu

In the Out Lands, there is only one rule that truly mattered: the strong must prey off the weak to survive. Today, it was time to see where Kovu fell in this wild food chain. All his life he had known nothing but hardship and suffering but soon that would all come to an end. His pride and family were counting on him to overthrow Simba and reclaim the Pride Lands, but to do that he needed to accomplish one final mission, one final trial to prove that he was ready to take on the Lion King.


As the young male walked in the middle of a rocky ravine, deep in Out Lands territory, he couldn’t help but feel a slight wave of anxiety pass over him. Ever since he was a cub his mother, Zira had subjected him to intense training. She would make him spar with her and the rest of the pride, live for weeks alone without his pride to assist him, strike rocks with his paws until they bled or until the rock broke, and once she even had him outswim a float of crocodiles. This trial was different however because Zira told him that it would be his last… and most difficult.


“Today you will face your final test, my son.” Kovu remembered his mother’s last instructions as he continued to walk through the ravine, “Before we move forward with our plans we must take care of one last little problem. In the deepest most barren corner of the Out Lands lives a rogue lion. He poses a threat to our operation and everything we stand for. Normally I’d take care of such matters myself, but instead, I want you to handle this, Kovu. Find this lion and tell him that he must leave the Out Lands. If he refuses… kill him. Only then will you truly be ready to face Simba and avenge Scar.”


Kovu took a deep breath and tried to keep his mind clear in order to focus on the task at hand, but he found it very difficult. Despite being trained to kill, all his life, he never really killed another lion before. Sure, he had taken down antelope, and wildebeest, and even killed a few hyenas in self-defense; but this was different. Now he was being charged with killing a lion, a lion who could pose a threat to everything his mother had worked for. Kovu knew that he had to find a way to stop this rogue, but if it actually came down to killing him, he didn’t know what to do.


Eventually, Kovu reached the end of the chasm where a large ominous cave was buried into the side of the rocky wall. As Kovu stepped up to it, hot sandy air blew out ruffling his chestnut brown mane. Inside the cave was nothing but a pitch-black scenery. It was like staring into the gaping maw of a monster’s lair. Part of Kovu was telling him to run back home, retreat, to forget about this entire thing, but he pushed those thoughts aside for they were the thoughts of a frightened cub.


He was now a lion, and he would act like one.


“Come out!” Kovu shouted in a menacing tone, his voice echoing through the pitch-black cave, “I know you’re in there!” Kovu got into a fighting stance, ready for whatever would respond. There was no response, which got Kovu a little on edge. He was told that this was the place where the rogue was living. If he wasn’t here, then that must mean he had been misinformed. Kovu was about to turn and walk away, but then…


Tap… tap… tap… tap…


Kovu’s ears flicked and his adrenalin rushed to his head as he looked back towards the darkness. Where there was once silence, there was now the sound of footsteps echoing from inside the den. Kovu once again got into a fighting stance, ready for what was to come. He mentally prepared himself, but it was difficult. With every step the sound grew louder, and louder and louder, making Kovu unnerved and nervous beyond all understanding. Finally, in the darkness, a figure emerged that left Kovu speechless.


It was a lion, but one like he had never seen before. He was massive, towering over him as if he was a cub. His body was covered in battle scars and old wounds but what really got Kovu’s attention was his fur. His pelt was brown, and he had a similar dark mane like his own. If it wasn’t for the scarred muzzle, Kovu and this lion could have been twins. Still, none of that mattered right now. This was the rogue, so he was the enemy.


The rogue stopped right outside of his den and just looked at Kovu. The moment he saw the young male he breathed a deep sigh and shook his head in dismay. This wasn’t what Kovu was expecting at all. His mother told him that this rogue was a great threat, yet here he was not even trying to get into a fighting position or even attack Kovu for that matter. This still didn’t distract Kovu as the Outlander prince kept his fighting stance ready and his emerald eyes narrowed at his opponent.


“Boy,” the massive lion finally spoke in a deep and rather annoyed tone, “Why do you disturb my rest? Are the Out Lands so dull that you must pick a fight with an old lion to find amusement?”


“I come here on behalf of Zira and my pride,” Kovu stated, trying to sound intimidating, “She wishes you to leave the Out Lands, or else.” Upon hearing this, the lion raised an eyebrow at Kovu, wondering if this guy was serious.


“So…” the rogue shook his head in dismay, “Zira has resorted to sending cubs to do her dirty work for her? I was hoping she would come to speak with me herself, but instead, she sends you. That coward.”


“Do not speak of my mother that way, you filthy rogue!” Kovu growled, now feeling anger flair inside of him for what this stranger just said about his own mother, “She sent me here because you are not worth her time!” Kovu was still prepped for a fight, yet this rogue was still acting as if he was having a simple conversation with another lion.


“I used to be worth her time,” the rogue replied as he looked at Kovu with a sad smile on his face, “Now tell me, why are you here?”
“I just told you,” Kovu straightened his posture a bit, trying to get at eye level with the rogue, “You will either leave or I’ll make you leave.”


“That is what you will do to me, but that’s not the answer to my question,” the rogue replied once again, “Now tell me boy: why did Zira send you?” Kovu was silent at first for he thought the rogue knew the reason he was here. Since it was unclear, Kovu decided to explain.


“My mother sees you as a threat,” Kovu stated as he began to pace in front of the rogue. He was now more casual, but he still kept his guard up in case this lion tried something, “We will be moving on the Pride Lands soon and she claims that you are against us. Is that true?”


“I am against Zira… not you.” The rogue stated simply, “She’s just like Scar. The moment something or someone is no longer of use to her she will cast them aside. She did it to me, and when she once again controls the Pride Lands she will do it to you as well. You are just like me: expendable.”


“Liar!” Kovu growled, “Don't you know who I am? I’m Kovu, the true heir of Scar! The Pride Lands were once our kingdom, but Simba took it away from us! Scar took me in but Simba cast me and my family out! You know nothing of what I’ve had to go through in order to take back my kingdom!” There was a moment of silence as Kovu and the brown lion just stared at each other. While Kovu held an angry expression, the rogue just looked at him with pity, and regret.


“You’re right,” the rogue sadly replied, “I don’t know what you’ve been through, nor do I wish to.” Having said that, the rogue began to walk away.


“Where are you going?” Kovu sternly asked.


“To see Zira,” the rogue replied as he continued to walk, “If what you say is true then I have to speak with her before the Pride Lands becomes a battlefront.” The rogue only took a few steps before Kovu jumped in front of him and bared his teeth.


“You’re not going anywhere.” Kovu narrowed his eyes at the rogue. The old lion’s expression grew firm when he saw the defiance that Kovu gave him. Despite being half his own size and far less experienced, Zira’s son stood in the rogue’s way. Some would consider that bravery, but the rogue looked at this as foolishness.


“Boy…” He warned, “stand aside. My business is with Zira, not cubs trying to prove their worth.”


“Not happening.” Kovu replied in a similar tone, “You either leave now or I’ll make you. Choose.” Neither lion backed down at the other’s request. With the rogue towering over Kovu the young male was having second thoughts about all of this, but he couldn’t back out now. He had trained for so long and endured so much to be bested by a stranger.


“Very well then,” the rogue said with a solemn tone in his voice, “Zira’s madness must stop, but if ending your life means saving scores of innocents then so be it. I’ve given up hope for you long ago anyway.” Kovu saw the rogue’s claws unsheathe just in time to react. The Outlander prince dashed out of the way right before the rogue took his face off.


The time for talk had ended.


Kovu sized up his opponent and began to circle him, trying to see what he was dealing with. This wasn’t like a fight against one of the malnourished lionesses from his own pride. This lion was well fed, muscular, larger, and had clearly been in far more fights then he had. The only thing Kovu could do now was remember his training and rely on his mother’s guidance on how to fight.


“Think boy,” the male slowly began to copy Kovu’s walk by circling him as well, “I’ve fought much stronger animals than you. Do you really think you have a chance?”
Kovu then ran straight at the lion. The rogue lifted his paw to counter strike but right before he could land a blow, Kovu feinted the attack and retreated to a safe distance. Kovu then began to repeat the process again and again until finally, the rogue was beginning to grow tired of not hitting him.


“You must be joking.” The rogue mused as Kovu once again feinted an attack and ran a safe distance away, “Do you think you can win by tiring me out, boy? This isn’t one of your mother’s pathetic training sessions!” in saying that, the lion bolted towards Kovu, catching the young male off guard.


Kovu saw the massive beast charging straight at him and tried to dodge but it was too late. The rogue body slammed Kovu, sending his body flying into the rocky chasm wall and fell onto the sandy ground.


“I can fight like this all day, boy.” The lion smirked, thinking that he won the battle. His confident smile, however, quickly turned into a frown.


“Heh… what do you know.” Kovu teased as he stood to his feet, “So can I.” The rogue Growled and charged once again, raising his paw to strike Kovu. This time, however, Kovu didn’t retreat. Instead, he charged at the rogue, causing the lion to quickly strike at him. However, while the paw was in mid-swing, Kovu lunged at it and caught it in his jaws.


The rogue roared in pain as he could feel his bones crunch as Kovu dug his teeth into his paw. In a desperate attempt to escape, the rogue began using his free paw to strike Kovu repeatedly in the head. Kovu tanked the first 2 blows, but by the third, he began to get disoriented and let the paw go and backed away. The rogue instantly stepped back and began to seethe in pain as his now mangled left paw dangled on the end of his leg.


“You little brat!” the rogue roared as he began to limp a bit, “It’s going to take a lot more than a broken paw the take me down!” the rogue then charged at Kovu again. Kovu tried to focus, despite his head throbbing with pain, and get back into the fight. Yet the moment he looked up he saw the rogue was once again right on top of him.
Standing on his hind legs the rogue sent his good paw crashing down onto Kovu’s side. There was a sudden pop and Kovu roared in agony as he tried to back away from the attacker, but the rogue wouldn’t let him. Instead he pressed his attack and began scratching at Kovu’s back while trying to get the back of Kovu’s neck in his large jaws to crush. Kovu endured through the agonizing scratches while trying to move his neck away from the rogue’s mouth.


Kovu could feel the lion's hot breath roaring on the back of his head which enticed him to get away as quickly as he could. He tried to pull away, but the rogue’s paw kept him firmly in place. That’s when Kovu tried to look to his surroundings to help him out.


In a desperate move, Kovu scratched the ground with his right paw and flung sand over his shoulder and into the rogue’s face, stunning him long enough to get away. As Kovu collapsed near the side of the chasm wall, he let out a scream of pain as he landed on his cracked ribs. Ignoring the pain the best he could, Kovu looked back at the stunned lion and took in his situation. He was outmatched in strength and experience and this lion had a high tolerance for pain. He thought that breaking his paw would slow him down, but it barely did anything. If something didn’t change soon… this lion was going to kill him.


While the rogue roared in agony, trying to get the sand out of his eyes, Kovu looked around to see if there was anything he could use that could help him. Since he couldn’t rely on his own strength and skills to win this fight he needed something to turn the tide. That’s when he saw it, mere feet away from his head, jutting up out of the ground was something that he had seen all throughout these caverns but never really thought about using it in a fight. It was a little unconventional, but with his life on the life, Kovu was willing to try anything.


This was his only hope of bringing down his opponent.


Eventually, the rogue lion recovered and looked to see Kovu on the side of the wall with his back turned to him. He was pulling at something, but he couldn’t see what it was. It didn’t matter though. This young lion was about to complete his journey through the Circle of Life.


“I know it’s a little late for advice,” the rogue taunted as he walked toward Kovu’s back, “but I’m surprised Zira didn’t teach you the most important rule of all: never turn your back on your opponent.” Having said that, the lion lunged towards Kovu in an attempt to crush his neck with his jaws when suddenly…


SHINK!


The rogue gasped as he felt a tremendous pain on his right side which caused him to clumsily fall on top of Kovu in a heap. It all happened so fast the rogue didn’t even realize what happened until he was on the ground. Looking back, he saw half of Kovu’s body sticking out from underneath him and in Kovu’s jaws was a small stalagmite… sticking into the rogue’s side.


Kovu breathed heavily while still clutching onto the stalagmite, making sure it was indeed bedded into the rogue’s side. Seeing that his opponent wasn’t getting up or trying to struggle anymore, Kovu released his weapon and breathed a sigh of relief. He then pulled himself out from under the rogue’s body and staggered to his feet, fighting the pain in his ribs. It took him a minute to catch his breath, but Kovu quickly realized that the rogue wasn’t getting up.


He did it… Kovu won.


“Heh…” Kovu’s head jerked at the sound of the raspy laugh, “Guess… you got me. Eh?” The rogue was still alive, but it was clear that he wasn’t going to survive. His raspy voice and heavy breathing was an obvious sign that he did not have long to live.


“You brought this on yourself.” Kovu said, not out of pride but rather out of pity. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen a lion die, just the first that actually died by his own paws.


“Yeah… you’re right.” The lion let out another laugh, “Though… it’s fitting… I think… that I die here… by my greatest failure.”


“What?” Kovu asked, not understanding what the rogue meant, “What are you talking about?”


“Still…” the rogue continued, not paying attention to Kovu’s words, “at least I know that Zira’s plan for revenge… will be her undoing.”


“Explain yourself!” Kovu demanded, trying to intimidate the lion to reveal what he meant. The lion, still emotionless and not angered, looked over at Kovu, his killer, and smiled.


“She… never told you about me. Did she… son?” upon hearing this, Kovu’s eyes widened and he took a step back.


“What did you just call me?” Kovu gasped.


“Oh come on, kid,” the lion groaned in pain, “don’t tell me… you haven’t figured it out yet. Look at me!” Kovu looked at the lion, questioning what he was being told. There was no way this rogue could be his birth father. Zira told him that his father had passed away before he was born and that they had all been taken in by Scar. Yet, the more Kovu looked at the fallen lion, the more he saw that it was simply not true.
The rogue’s fur and mane color were very similar to his own. They even shared the same emerald eyes. To top it off, he somehow knew a great deal about Zira and her doings. Only those closest to Zira knew about her past, and this lion seemed to know about them all too well.


“I can tell by your face that you believe me.” Kovu looked back at the fallen lion, who was now wearing a rather victorious smirk, “That’s good… at least today wasn’t a total waste.”


“How?” Kovu gasped as he looked at the lion in shock, “My father is dead.”


“Well…” the lion let out another weak laugh, “He’s about to be anyway.” The lion then felt the pain increase, telling him that he didn’t have much time left. Lifting his head to see his killer better, the dying lion asked: “Tell me… kid… what’s your name?”


“Kovu…” Kovu replied, “My name is Kovu.”


“Kovu?” the lion repeated with a laugh, “Of course she’d name you after him.”


“What about you?” Kovu asked, surprising the dying lion, “What’s your name?”


“Chumvi…” The lion replied, his voice beginning to weaken, “Though… that doesn’t seem to matter much now… does it?” the rogue then began to cough as he rested his head back on the ground. With his eyes looking up at Kovu, he wheezed: “Zira… thinks she’s won. But… you’re not… like her. I… can tell.”


“What do you mean?” Kovu asked as he stepped towards the dying rogue.


“You… didn’t want… to kill me.” Chumvi smiled, “You… have a heart… kid. You know… what’s right and wrong. When the time comes, I know you’ll make… the right… choice…” having said that, the rogue closed his eyes and breathed his last breath.


For a moment, Kovu just stood there in shock as he looked at the still body. This rogue… was his father. Zira just made him kill his own father and she never told him who this lion truly was. The only thing that Kovu could think about all this now was: why?

(Transition)

It took Kovu some time, but he eventually made his way back home to his pride. Despite having a broken rib and scratched up back, Kovu strode into the main termite mound with a serious expression on his face, not showing any sign of pain. He wanted nothing more than to go to the back and just sleep off the wounds, but Kovu refused to show any signs of weakness when he spoke with his mother. Even though he had completed his mission, the rogue’s words still rung in his head.


He talked about Zira betraying him, about being used, and about how he would be Zira’s undoing. This shook Kovu’s world for his mother and family were all he knew. He loved them, yet that rogue, Chumvi, he seemed so sincere. One way or another, Kovu would get some answers from Zira about all of this.


As he walked towards the center of the den, he prompted himself upon a large boulder and stood up straight and tall. The moment he did so, he heard footsteps coming from the other side of the den. He looked to see none other than his mother Zira come into the light. Both mother and son just looked at each other for a moment in silence. Kovu didn’t have to say anything, Zira knew that her son completed his task.


In the silence, Kovu dared not speak out against Zira for he knew his mother would not take kindly to accusations. He hoped and prayed to the Great Kings on high that she would tell him why he had to do it; why he had to go and kill his own father whom he never met before. He hoped she would give him closure with what had just happened and tell him how Chumvi posed a threat to everyone. Yet all Zira gave him was a wicked grin and three simple words that made Kovu’s blood boil with rage.


“You… are… ready!”


The End


Story 2:
Goodbyes: show
Goodbyes

The glistening white moon persisted in the sky as a strong, unsettling wind confronted the air; Causing the leaves clinging onto the branches owned by the medium-sized trees scattered across the Outlander area to ruffle while in the process of blowing against the nearly dead grass visibly sticking out of the ground. Soon, the dark-furred teen, Kovu, felt that unmerciful wind add uneasiness to the thoughts rumbling about, meanwhile also adding more to his natural, Outlander appearance as his mane became more ungroomed than before. His face growing long as the night lived on. Soon, the unpleasant breeze evaporated into nothingness and the warmth of the den returned to crowd his body; the repulsive scent of the Outlander home managing to coast into his nose while his teen, muscular body rested against the thick, freezing stone ground.

His emerald eyes stuck on the ground as more images piled on and on in his mind. Different decisions, different actions, and different fantasies developing in his the busy mind of Kovu, creating the unintentional lip twitch of the lion as he predicted the appalling, dramatic endings of each plan he went through. Then his eyes shot up at the moon outside of the den.

C'mon Vitani, hurry up. I know talking with Zira can't be pleasing.

Kovu yearned for the idea of going after his sister and Zira. But another part of his mind pesteringly protested against this, arguing that there was trust he had to lend towards his own sister. Maybe he did have to believe in Vitani. However, Kovu had greeted the idea of bringing up the topic about the pride's situation as of now.

He was sick of fighting and sick of Zira.

The tiresome war that managed to spill blood on both sides made his stomach turn. Those were the feelings that had to be known to Zira. The twisted morals she spoke working to motivate him only had grown up to fire up the rage assisting him in creating ideas to deal with Zira. When was the last time Zira had ever opened her ears to listen to him? There were hardly any memories.

Zira had always assumed that Simba's beliefs had always managed to indoctrinate him.

And maybe that's where the aggressiveness shot from.

Often, on some days, Zira would give him these dirty looks that stirred up the confusion. Then soon realizing that Zira was holding a grudge against him for talking with their enemy.

Kovu was supposed to kill the king discreetly and without attracting his lionesses. Kovu had done none of that. He only gained passionate feelings for one of the Pridelanders, which was the princess, something that was strictly forbidden and to unintentionally add more salt to the wound, he was held responsible for his brother's death. Although Kovu believed he wasn't the one to blame, It was clear that the pride showed that hatred and ignored his attempts to explain. Now he's here with everyone against him. In his own home, caught between two Kingdoms. One where Kiara, the one that opened him up to a whole new world, and the other he shared his own blood with.

His ears fidgeted at the sound of light pawsteps crushing small rocks on the ground from a short distance, attracting his gaze. Hearing the pawsteps grow louder in sound offered him the idea of finally getting up on his feet, though as he made his way up, he felt his muscles tighten and his movement came out slow and sluggish. His bones popping as he purposely stretched out more of his back to ease the sluggishness, and finally, the lioness came into his view. Her lithe body standing at Kovu's height near the entrance of the den. Her expression was unreadable though, as much as he was glad to see her and that's when emotions once again broke out into an unfortunate rampage that made his tail to start swinging back and forth at a lively speed. Soon realizing this, he forced his tail to wrap around him as he decided to sit down.

Vitani looked around for a moment, then finally found Kovu, who found himself almost nervously smiling, feeling his lip twitch a little before he knocked down that reflex. Then she made her way towards him, stopping in front of him with a stern expression applied. Her blue peering into his. Kovu felt his tail also twitch while she did this and almost as quick as a cheetah, her eyes shot down to look at his moving tail and caught notice of him trying to force his tail to decrease the movement, then she looked back up at him with narrowed eyes.

"Are you alright?"

Kovu nodded absentmindedly, "Yeah, yeah of course. Why?"

"I'm sure you know why."

She had looked down at his tail one last time, then a frown crossed her face, "Okay, no. What's wrong with you Kovu?"

He sighed, letting go the fake expression of calmness and exposing the formerly deposited face of anxiousness, "I want to know what Zira said to you."

"That isn't none of your concern right now,"

Kovu's eyes widen, "What?" He asked sharply, then grimaced, "It is my concern. Anything regarding Zira's plans is my concern."

"Not anymore. Not after what you did. You remember, right?"

"Of course I remember, I just..." The patient, yet intense stare of his sister made him look away, bowing his head down to instead look at his paws, "I just don't want her to do anything to hurt you all."

"We can handle anything Kovu. You of all lions should know that. We're Outsiders."

"We can't underestimate Zira. Her craziness can stamp itself on us too. It's already starting to affect me."

"I can see that."

He looked up at her, "Whos side do you stand on?"

"That's a decision that I can't make."

"After what I did I thought it would easier for you."

"You're still my brother, aren't you?"

"Yeah."

"And Zira's my mother. Both of you have flaws that need to be fixed, and picking sides isn't going to help that." Vitani turned her back towards him, then began walking, "I have everything under control."

That sparked some more anger inside Kovu and he felt his chest begin to burn, "That's exactly what Kiara said after she was getting chased by flames."

She half turned to look at him, "Are you saying that you don't trust me?"

Kovu grudgingly replied, "That's exactly what I'm saying. It's too dangerous to try to persuade her more."

"I can take care of myself, Kovu. I'm not Kiara. Stop worrying so much and you'll be fine."

Kovu hadn't listened to the end of her statement, contemplating his own ideas instead. "Maybe I should have a talk with mother myself."

"She'll hurt you."

"That won't stop me from saying how I feel Vitani. Do you want to live here for the rest of your life? Rottening in the worst part of the savannah. Starving to death!"

"No one wants that Kovu, but that's the way it has to be." She reasoned, "Do you know what she would do if she heard you talking like that?"

"I don't care. I'm no cub."

Vitani scowled at him, "Then stop acting like one and think for a second. She won't listen to you. She has ears for herself and herself alone. Not anyone else."

"Well, I'll just force her to talk."

"And how are you going to do that?"

"If she doesn't listen to what I have to say, then..." Kovu put in thought over the words he were about to say, taking a chance to glance towards the sleeping lionesses, thenl looking back at his awaiting sister. "Then I'm going to join the Pridelanders."

"Oh, Kovu..." Vitani took a step back fearfully as if he were something else and that frustrated him. Kovu was still the lion just with certain goals no one could ever understand. There was no reason to be afraid. "You can't be serious about this."

"I'm dead serious and I don't want you to be afraid of me. I want you to stand with me and we can work together to overpower Zira."

"Overpower- do you even know what you're saying!?" She shouted in a whisper, "I don't fear you, Kovu. I fear that your own intentions will turn you crazy just like her!. Do. Not. Do it."

Kovu thought he felt the air suffocate him for a second. Then starting to blink rapidly as he saw two Vitani's standing in front of him and for some odd reason, he felt light-headed. Though Vitani had not yet realized what was happening to him and he tried to relax himself.

What's wrong with me?

"This is your mother, Kovu... you realize that right?"

"And the one that's put me through hell just to kill someone as sympathetic as Simba. I've seen the truth now."

"If you do this, you're going to regret it. What if the Pridelanders don't take you back? They already think you betrayed Simba."

"I'll share my part of the story, maybe they'll believe me then."

Vitani shook her head, "That won't be so easy. The Pridelanders will hold a grudge against us because of what happened to Simba and you think they're just going to believe you just like that? That's insane."

"He opened me up to the truth. They aren't what Zira says they are."

"You don't know that."

"I'm sure I do."

"You're lying to yourself Kovu."

"You have no right to say that!" Kovu angrily yelled in a whisper, "I'm not in any relation to Scar anymore. Simba told me what he was, what he did, and what happened to him. I'm not going to become a power-hungry maniac like Scar. He killed his own brother. I won't ever look up to someone like that. It's just not rational."

"Simba sent us to this place, remember?"

"That's our own fault."

Vitani chuckled out of disbelief, "I can't believe what you're saying. You had to have hit your head."

"Sometimes what comes unexpected, is the thing that wakes us up to the bigger picture. And now I've finally seen the truth." Kovu got up and walked past Vitani. He felt her eyes on his back and then he stopped for one last time. "Whether you like it or not, I will have change. My own revolution. My own peace, I guess."

"You don't know what you're doing."

"Goodbye, sister." He spat sharply.
_______________________________________________________________________

Kovu marched down the woods. Tracking down the sickening scent that belonged to his mother with eyes focused and determined. He continued to walk straight before taking a turn towards the right. Feeling the wet ground begin to stain his paws with mud.

Then he stopped.

His eyes fixated on the lioness sat down in front of him. He could have killed her there. His presence was unknown. She had been completely oblivious, but it wasn't going to end like that. For once he would be in control of his own decisions and with that, he glanced down at a small branch in front of him and purposely stepped on it. As expected, Zira's ears twitched at the sound of this and slowly turned her head to look over her shoulder. Kovu narrowed his eyes angrily as he met one red eye. Then, Zira turned her head to face the path of trees lying in front of her again.

"You've returned to me, my son."

Anger soared through his chest once again, claws beginning to unsheath. The memories of her angry outcries of the Pridelanders, the violence that unfolded, the training she put him through, flashed. The layers of the caring, loving persona he once had for his mother peeled away to reveal an indignant lion that had finally come to reveal himself. The former avenger that Kovu was raised to be, died and something else took its place.

"Vitani told me everything about you. Your hopes. Your goals." She got up to her feet and whirled around to glare at him, "I couldn't be any more disappointed in you. Not only did you manage to kill your own brother, but you're now planning to rebel against me. How... unfortunate."

"Zira, listen to me," He let out a breath before he spoke, ensuring that his voice was strong, "What you hope to do in the future, your goals, your insane philosophy that has tortured me for years now... it all ends here. Scar was nothing that you thought he was. He was a killer. Someone that inflicted pain to his own family. You're not as crazy as him, but you're close to reaching that line of insanity and before that happens, I must do what I have to do."

"What are you going on about?"

"You raised me to be like Scar, a killer. You wanted me to murder his nephew in retaliation to Scars death. You told me once before to kill anything that stands in the way of my objective, and you Zira, you're one of the things besides myself that stands in my way. Your life ends today and with your death, I'll become something that you'll hate."

Zira closed her eyes and shook her head. "You still have much to learn I suppose... it's not necessary for this to happen but if you want to murder me, go ahead." She reopened her red eyes, "That's just going to be another family member you've killed."

"What?"

"You believe that you aren't Scar, but look at you now. You've already got quite a lot of labels to your name, Kovu. Murderer, traitor, prince, lover... rogue."

"I'm no rogue, but after I'm finished with you, I'll-"

"I'd say the comparisons between you and Scar are logical. He killed his brother, you've killed your brother-"

"I didn't kill Nuka!"

Zira smirked. He was playing right into her paws. "Wouldn't you agree, Kovu?"

He puffed out his chest slightly, stopping himself from attacking her. "After I finish you off, I'll create my own journey. Finally, there will be peace."

"Peace?" She chuckled, then stared back at him, "Peace is something that only warriors can obtain. You're nothing but a child with foolish dreams. A joke to be precise."

Angrily, his claws unsheathed, his eyes shooting daggers at Zira, "There won't be anything to laugh about when I prove you wrong."

Her face darkened, "You don't know who you're messing with, my son."

"You've been my psychotic mother for many years. I know exactly who I'm messing with. The only thing that matters now is how I'm going to break out to the pride that Zira is dead."

"It only rarely occurred to me that you would betray me, but I see it now, I hate that I didn't listen to those subtle whispers that gave me hints about you. I guess I never thought of the consequences making you follow behind Scar like that. I was foolish to believe you wouldn't chase your own desires like him. Though, I never thought I would do such a good job of creating a better imitation of the lion I dreamed about."

"I told you that I'm nothing like him."

"This whole peace thing you've got pictured out in your head is just like Scars. Scar saw his own peace, though it wasn't exactly peace. It may have been peace in his eyes, but not in others. It's the same situation with you, my son. You think what you're doing is peace, but how would you killing me solve anything? Do you keep forgetting that those lionesses remember you being the cause of Nuka's death? How do you think they would react to you murdering me, their ruler."

"Don't talk like you own them."

Zira smirked again, "Don't beat around the bush, Kovu, just answer my question."

He kept silent.

She began to walk around him, "I must admit though, I am proud of what I created." She stopped behind him, noticing Kovu had removed his attention from her. "However, unfortunately, all good things must eventually come to an end!" Kovu quickly turned at the sudden rise in her voice to find Zira launching herself at the dark-furred lion, his eyes widening as her body flew through the air. However, it was no pounce like he expected; before he had time to react though, a claw painfully swatted his cheek that pushed him off balance and made him start to sway on his paws, snarling. Then he felt himself slip on the wet ground and cause him to fall on his back, and for that, Zira stood right on his chest, her claws gripping into his flesh.

"AAAH!"

His gaze fixed on her, gritting his teeth to fight against the pain while looking into her wild eyes, "I may have trained you, but that doesn't mean you're stronger than me! Now you will know what it feels like truly feel pain, Kovu!"

"You were never my mother, Zira!" Kovu shouted in response, "You were much less than that, you were a nightmare!"

"Shut up!" Zira angrily smacked across his cheek and she prepared to do it again, by raising her right arm, but the weight of the left claw that had been drilled into his chest had laid off and then the weight pushing down on him had disappeared, as well as Zira's figure entirely. His head spun as he laid on the ground in insufferable pain. He turned on his stomach and then proceeded to push up to his four paws, relieved that Zira hadn't done that much damage to him already. Still disappointed that he was caught off guard like that, however.

It indeed did take a while for his true vision to return, but a moment later, his eyes widen as he had caught notice of Zira fighting with another skinny lioness, one that had been struggling to withhold Zira's onslaught in their apparent wrestling match. He squinted his eyes to get a better view of the lioness fighting with Zira and the realization jolted him in the head.

Vitani...

Their fight went on for a few more seconds before they were separated entirely and all three of them were standing in a triangle. Vitani had glanced over towards Kovu, her blue eyes serious and hard as always.

"No..." he mouthed, but Vitani hadn't acknowledged that, and looked back at Zira.

"Both of you are now traitors."

"I would rather be hated for doing the right thing, then loved for doing something as conniving like following your own twisted ideas, Zira. I stand with my brother and that's something that I want you to never forget."

Zira's eyes lit up like a wildfire, but Vitani did not look away from those angry eyes. "Then you will both die together as fools."

Before mother and daughter went at it again, Vitani regarded him with a glance he caught a hold of. Then strangely, she gave him a nod. Kovu had no idea what that nod meant at first but then it struck him. Before he could fully process it through his mind, both of them roared as they charged at each other again, breaking into another struggle of who could get the higher positioning on one another and from his eyes view, it looked like Vitani was capable of holding her own. But another part of his mind yelled at the decision of leaving her.

I'll come back for you.

And with one final look at her face, he dashed off into the woods.
______________________________________________________________________

Simba's wounds had healed pretty well, Kiara could tell. He had been walking, better and faster than she thought he would after the assault the Outsiders committed on him. However, there was some part in her mind that believed that Kovu had nothing to do with it.

The princess took a glance at her father and four lionesses talking with Simba in the den behind her as she stood outside, at the top of Pride rock, alone. One of those lionesses had been her mother, Nala, and one other lioness, the Pride's wound caretaker.

The night was still young and the stars had just started to settle in as a soft breeze sprang past her and with that she couldn't help but release a deep breath. This had all been a struggle to take in. Her eyes had concentrated across the green filled land.

I know you wouldn't have done such a thing Kovu so where are you? Why haven't you made your shocking return, yet?

A frown made its way onto her face.

You're innocent. I know you are.

She glanced back to notice that her father had been talking with her mother, and the healer and Kiara knew the other majority of the pride had already been asleep so she got up on her four feet.

I can't lose you.

That was the truth. She didn't want nor could she afford to lose him, not ever, not now. It was too much of a weight to carry to lose someone that she had grown an intimate connection with. Kovu belonged to her as she belonged to him.

Kiara trotted towards the beginning of the downward slope, looking back one more time to check if her presence was still unknown and figuring that it was true no one sighted her, she accelerated down the slope, ironically wanting to retreat far away from her home as quick as possible. Soon she felt her paws press down onto the grass and at that point was where she fully ran at an exceptional speed. The desire to get to her only love proving to empower her body to exceed her limits and as dramatic as it sounded, it was all true. All of it. Her eyes had shown nothing but sympathy and love for that lion.

Kiara made into the tree scattered woods and she tackled the urge to turn back and stare at her home for a long moment, deciding that if she were to do such a thing doubt would begin to grow. Which she couldn't let hold her back. Her only goal was to find him, to see him again, to hear that he had no intention of hurting her father. It was her only motivation for running out this far and finally, at long last, she had seen an unrecognizable figure running towards her as well.

Kovu!

Through her heavy breaths, a grin started to form on her muzzle. It was him for sure, she had thought, but as the figure began to become more clear, more visible, she slowed down to squint. Kovu had gotten bigger and he had strangely grown a bigger mane. Was this him?
_________________________________________________________________________

Just a little bit more Kovu, c'mon!

Kovu internally shouted at himself to push forward, feeling his legs start to flame out of exhaustion, his heart rate increasing as he pushed forward.

"I think I'm the one who just saved your life!"

"Look, I had everything under control."

"Not from where I'm standing."

"Then move downwind."

There was little time he could spare as he wanted all of this over and done with forever. Kovu had never seen himself with anyone when he was younger. There was no introduction to 'love' or close relationships. It was all invisible to his eyes until he met her.

"I'm a rogue. Judge me now for who I am, or am I to be blamed for a crime I didn't commit?"

He had chosen his words wisely that day. He had caught Simba contemplating on his next move. It was smart of him, but it soon proved to be meaningless as Kovu didn't even come close to murdering the king discreetly. Though he had Kiara to thank for that.

"Thanks for saving me today."

Kovu scoffed, "What kind of hunter are you anyway, 'princess'. Almost got yourself killed out there."
"What?"

"You wouldn't last three days on your own."

"Oh and I suppose you could teach me?"

"Heh, yeah."

"Alright, impress me. We start at dawn."

He stopped his run. Pointing his head down and immediately going into withdrawing deep breathers.

"Training? This is just for fun!"

"...Fun?"

Another memory flashed.

"You betrayed Scar!"

"I want nothing more to do with him!"

His mother's voice struck through his mind, then soon fading. Doing this would create peace, something everybody needed, something he would give.
_____________________________________________________________________

Kiara found herself, staggering backward with her mouth agape. Witnessing the male lion take steps menacingly towards her. His purple eyes flashing with anger. His size making her lip uncontrollably twitch out of fear. He was bigger than her father. Scars scattered across his body, but to be more precise, a large scar cut under his right eye. Which added more to his insane figure.

"W-who are you?"

"A little bit late for you to be traveling out alone, hmm?"

"That's none of your business!" She yelled though it didn't come out as threatening as she hoped.

His eyes scanned over her figure more, then a brief chuckle erupted, "Oooh, you're the king's daughter aren't you?"

She withdrew her claws, lowering her head threateningly, but not out of anger, or bravery, but out of fear. "Don't you touch me!"

"Didn't your father teach you a lesson about going out alone at night?"

"That's none of your concern! I'm not afraid of you!"

"You should be."
_________________________________________________________________________

Again, he glanced up at the sky as he continued to run. The night was getting older as he went on, and he had no idea how long Vitani could fight. In the end, though, he knew it would be all worth it. From a distance, Kovu could see the towering Priderock looming above, bringing merely a pebble of joy knowing that he was close.

I'm coming Kiara.
_________________________________________________________________________

The night had turned cold as the rain dropped down from above. Immediately he felt his paws become uncomfortably wet, also making it somewhat difficult to run, but he ignored that idea of falling and pressed on. Not wanting to hesitate any longer.

With a terrified shriek, she barely dodged his claw targeted for her head. Her legs slipping along the ground and eyes growing wide in panic. The rogue took that chance to approach her again, trying to overwhelm Kiara with his terrifying presence, then he slung out his right arm once again. Kiara narrowly managed to see this coming and thankfully, her instincts outpaced the fear that would have inevitably made her freeze, and yelled at her to take a dive to right, flopping down on her stomach as his claw clipped a hair off of her, however doing no damage. Kiara turned on her back, glancing up at the lion who had suddenly picked up the pace on his assault, charging towards her and with a roar swinging for the head. Feeling his claws narrowly scratch her cheek as she jumped back in a desperate move, landing on her back, looking up at him.

"Please, don't!"

He ran towards her, jumping in the air and attempting to finish her off with one final move. Kiara, thinking quickly, wisely rolled out of the way and heard the lion land on all four of his feet casually. Then making a move to jump up on her feet and meet the lion's blood lustful eyes. She tried to think. Tried to think of any possible way to prevent the rogue from murdering her, but no ideas had come to mind, and panic started to erupt, and with exhaustion claiming her, she tried to take a desperate swing at the lion but it was so slow the rogue had time to counter immediately. Swatting Kiara on her back with a grunt, groaning as she stared up into the sky, and that's when the tears started coming. "Please..." she begged, "I don't want to die."

"That is the circle of life isn't it?"

Through tears, her eyes flashed angrily. "Why are you doing this!?"

"So I can hurt Simba where it hurts. Had you known that your father had individuals that wanted to hurt him and claim his power, maybe you wouldn't have run out like this. Makes you feel foolish doesn't it?"

Kiara didn't answer.

"I guess so." He walked towards

"No please!"

"I'll be sure to tell your father his daughter's last words."
______________________________________________________________________

Kovu slid to a stop. Glaring down a body that had been laid down without any movement at all and that gained his curiosity as he cautiously trotted over towards the body and paused at a certain distance. Was that a snob he heard and did he just see the lioness body fidget? He glanced down at the pool of dark red blood circling around her and crept closer.

"K-Ko..."

Kovu's eyes widen at the voice. He begged for it not to be her voice.

"Kovu... I'm-" And that's when he immediately knew. Kovu sped down to her side with worry and panic starting to crease his features. Hoping for the best.

"Don't talk, don't talk, okay? You're going to be okay, everything is going to be okay." His voice cracked at the end of his reassuring words, and that's when he saw Kiara's eyes losing their color. "I just need you to stay with me- Kiara! Stay with me, okay?"

"Kovu, I'm going to..."

"Don't you say it!"

He saw the large wound on her stomach. Kovu sat down and went into pressing down two paws on the wound in order to stop the blood. However, he felt the blood still sticking to his paws. "You won't die. You won't die." He muttered to himself and with desperation held in his voice, he let out a roar of help. Doing this repeatedly.

"I don't wanna die, Kovu. I don't want to leave you."

"Hey!" Her head had slowly moved off to the left. Kovu moved his paw upon her left cheek and moved her head himself to make her look at him again, "Look at me, and don't ever stop looking at me, okay? Okay!?"

"I... wanted to see you... wanted to know the truth. Did you..."

He shook his head hysterically, tears starting to break loose, "No, no, I didn't- I wanted to have his trust! I-I never meant for that to happen I-"

"Kovu... I lov-"

"Don't die, please, PLEASE! Don't die! I need you!"

"I love you, Kov..."

"NO! Don't you leave me! Don't do it!"

"NOOOO!" Kovu shook her body, trying to shake reality back to her, even though it proved pointless as her eyes were not fully closed with mouth agape. Tears fell from his face down onto her motionless body. "Please..." his voice cracked. Newborn dismay making his voice refuse to cooperate with him.

"I heard the roar this way!"

He looked up and angrily narrowed his eyes.

Pridelanders...

Kovu thought about explaining, but the way things were with them, it wouldn't matter what he said if he had Kiara's blood on his paws. They would definitely kill him without hesitation, so with that figured out, he moved up on his paws. Kings, his body felt so weak right now and he almost thought of fully letting the Pridelanders take him, though he didn't fully climb onto that decision.

Goodbye... princess.

And with one final look, he ran off.
___________________________________________________________________

Vitani sat there breathing heavily, glancing down at the body that laid in front of her. Zira was dead. In order to fully defend herself, she had to kill her own mother. It was sickening to look at Zira's half-bloodied body and feel the smell of that blood stain the air. Vitani knew she wouldn't be able to sleep this off for at least weeks. Maybe months. Maybe years.

She heard heavy pawsteps from a distance and she went into guard, her muscles tensing as she saw a figure through the rain and darkness running at her. Vitani got up onto her feet, unsheathing her claws if they were necessary. However, as the figure became crystal clear, it was obvious who it was, but her claws had still be unsheathed. The two siblings hadn't made eye contact.

Vitani sat back down, resting. Not glancing up at him, but noticing his bloodied paws. "Did you..."

"No," Kovu answered sharply, "No, I didn't."

"How?"

"Rogue," He shrugged, "Could've been anything, and now the Pridelanders will assume we are the ones held responsible for Kiara's murder." Kovu now became aware of the smell of blood just like Vitani and followed it. Glancing down at Zira's now dead body. However, in contrast to Kiara, there was no emotion for it. He didn't feel anything. "And mother... did you...?"

Vitani nodded. "I had to. There was no other choice. She was intent on killing me Kovu. My own mother."

"What do we do now? They won't be happy with you doing this."

Vitani shrugged indifferently, getting up on her feet. "Don't know. Maybe I'll run away, or something like that."

"I'll come with you."

She glared at him, "No."

Kovu looked disappointed. "Why not?"

"Because you carry another weight. Someone has to stay here and fight for their lives, or else, they'll have no one to guide them. You were raised to be a leader, remember?"

"I was raised to be a lot of things. Doesn't mean I have to be those things."

"I can't be here. This is just too much for me to handle and for my own sake, I'm going to just abandon this pride. The war-"

"Me?"

"Yes, you too. I'm sorry it has to be this way but that's the way it is. My decision is final."

"Then this is the end?"

"Not for you. Not for their king. Fight for their lives, Kovu. Protect them until your final breath."

Both of them looked at Zira's dead corpse. "Do what our mother couldn't. I know you can." She said and finally, walked past him, knowing that this conversation had reached an end. Kovu didn't look back at his sister and eventually, walked his own way.


Story 3:
Fighting with Tooth, Claw, Illegal Superweapons: show
Fighting With Tooth, Claw, Illegal Superweapons

Simba sat inside one of the Outlands’ caves, nervously waiting for the pride to all assemble before him. While he knew what he had to do, he still couldn’t help but feel anxious about actually doing it. He’d been running from it for so long, afraid of having to go up against someone who had almost destroyed the entire pride with the help of only a few hyenas. To think that now it was time to stop running and to take back their home? With the help of only one other being?

Logically, Simba knew that Ratchet was more than capable compared to even an entire extra pride, the lion had seen enough of the unusual lombax already to prove that. But he still couldn’t help but feel emotionally that it would be easier to just run, like the pride had far too many times already.

As if sensing his nervousness, Nala pawed the back of his head playfully. “Don’t be such a goof, Simba. You know this day would have had to come sooner or later. Time for you to be our king!”

Simba chuckled quietly. “That’s not helping much, Nala!” he complained, “but you’re right. We can’t keep running forever.”

It didn’t take much longer for the rest of the pride to gather around, with Simba noting sadly at how fewer members there were compared to what he rem embed growing up. Letting out a sigh, he cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention before speaking.

“Right, well, this isn’t the first time we had to do this, but you can all most likely guess why I asked everyone to be here. Nala and I overheard some hyenas not too long ago: they know where we are, and are planning to attack tonight.” At this news, the pride erupted into angry chatter, most of it about being discovered again. Waiting patiently for the complaining to die down, Simba resumed speaking when it was quiet enough to do so. “I know how much we hate to have to run yet again, but I’m making the decision right now: No more running, not this time, not ever again. If the hyenas are going to gather to attack our home here, then we are going to take back our home there. Our real home, at Pride Rock.”

He waited for the inevitable noise from the assembled pride members, but was only greeted with silence. Simba took it as a sign that he can continue to talk. “We were always running and waiting until we can find some help to defeat Tachyon. And, considering how badly we did last time we tried to fight him off, I always knew we would need a lot of help. Last night, Nala and I found that help, and better yet: he’s someone who not only knows who Tachyon is, but also fought him off and survived. Alone. Now most of you have already met him, but for those who hadn’t.” Simba looked over his shoulder. “Ratchet, if you may?”

From the edge of the cave, hidden in the dark shadows where Simba had asked him to wait, Ratchet emerged. “I didn’t just survive fighting that alien, but I gave him a nice whoopin’ too!” the lombax boasted, grinning ear to ear, “and I am really itchy to do it again!”

His grin faded. “Now I already have been told what we’re going up against, and I have a pretty good plan of what we can do.” He scanned the pride, eying each member, gauging each and every member on their ability. While it would be nice if they were able to wield guns, they didn’t look like the sorriest bunch of helpers he had the pleasure of working with. In fact, most looked down right fearsome in a close fight. “So the hyenas are going to show up here at night, but we’re not planning to be here for them to find,” Ratchet explained, “but we will still need a diversionary force to draw off anyone who stayed behind. If we can get Tachyon alone, it will make things a whole lot better. So if you don’;t want to fight him for whatever reason, you just volunteered yourself for decoy duty.” He made a nervous noise, rubbing the back of his head with a hand. “Actually, most of you will need to do that. The plan calls for this pride to look like we will strike at the hyenas as though we’re invading the Pride Lands for the border. In actual fact, a small group of us will make a direct strike at Tachyon and cut off the snake’s head while ignoring the body. Which means,” he glanced around the lions again, “who really, really wants to have a go at Tachyon with me?”

To Ratchet’s surprise, or perhaps not, everyone immediately began to voice their opinion that yes, they really did want to fight Tachyon instead of running around playing tag with a bunch of hyenas. Though before he could silence everyone up, it was Sarabi who took the initiative.

“Pride members, I understand that we all want to seek our revenge against the invader, but we must take heed what our new friend says. While I myself don’t know much about you, Ratchet, no offense,” the lombax simply gave a small shrug to show that he wasn’t offended, “Simba does. And while young and still prone to rash decisions, I trust my son. If he thinks we can risk our future for this, then I have no reason to doubt him, and ask you all to trust him as well.”

Still addressing the rest of the pride, Sarabi continued, “I know we all have our grievances with Tachyon. He took over our land, and killed our king – my husband! But still, we must not let our grief and anger cloud our judgment. If most of us are needed to make sure that we can attack that bastard alone, then we will do our best to make it happen! Sarafina,” Sarabi turned to her best friend, “you are our best huntress, and you know the Pride Lands second to perhaps only Zazu. I’m going to need you to help me lead the pride against whatever hyenas will stand in our way. As for Tachyon...” She turned her attention to Simba. “It may seem rather obvious, but you know Ratchet the best out of all of us, and he knows Tachyon. Plus, once you kill him, only you will be able to signal to the rest of hyenas that they must flee the Pride Lands or suffer the consequences. And since I know that you won’t go somewhere without him as well Nala, I must ask you to protect my son in this endeavor.”

Nala nodded her head at the queen. “I won’t let you down,” she replied.

“Which is where the rest of you will come in,” Sarabi continued, once more talking to the other lions. “Half of you with me, the other half with Sarafina. Just like a hunt, but this time it’s not for food, but for our home. Listen to your group leader, watch out for one another, and remember: we will need to get Tachyon alone.”

Glad to see that there wasn’t going to be too much arguing going on, Ratchet felt like it was time to reel the meeting in. “So that’s the general gist of the plan,” he said, “we got some time to work out the details some more, but I doubt there are going to be any drastic changes. So...” he gave a long glance over the lions. “...Any questions?”

A paw went up.

“Yes?”

“Yeah, I just wanted to know why you smell and look funny, like you got covered in some kind of red whatever it is?”

Ratchet frowned, almost letting out a growl of frustration of his own, which wouldn’t have impressed the lions. “I will not be answering anything about why I am covered in hydraulic fluid. Any real questions?”

This time, a paw went up and it did have something productive to ask. “So if we make sure that there will be no hyenas to get in your way, then you, Simba and Nala get to Tachyon. Then what? Last time we barely survived simply running away, let alone trying to fight him. That – monster, he was unstoppable for us.”

Ratchet opened his mouth to reply, but got a better idea. Having grown up with the technology, being able to call up one of his blasters and have it appear in his hand was no big deal, but it was very much something non of the lions had seen before, based on their shocked gasps as he twirled around the weapon, moments after having his hands empty. “When we get to Tachyon? Shoot him, that’s the plan. Blast his head clean off!” He grinned. “Which is the best part of the plan: Tachyon might expect you all, but unless he already knows about me being here, which I severely doubt, he won’t be expecting armed opposition.”

Making the blaster disappear again back into storage, he snapped a finger at Simba. “Which reminds me, after this I have an idea. I hope it will work, because if it will, you will also have a gun to use. Unfortunately, I only have one of those, and you won’t be able to share.” Turning his attention back to the others, he asked again, “anyone else?”

This time no one else spoke up.

“All right, everyone,” Simba concluded. “This is it. Today we go.”

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

“So what exactly is this thing?” Simba asked with an uncertain voice, eying what he can only describe as a very strange frog being held by Ratchet.

“A Sonic Eruptor!” the lombax replied, “it broke on me a while back, but I think I can fix the important parts. What’s more, now you will be the one providing the power needed to make it work!”

“Uhh, what? How?”

“Simple: Roar.”

Ratchet hadn’t heard a lion’s roar too much, but from what he did experience, he was very much impressed by. Lombaxes were also felines, but they were not famous for loud vocal abilities, having chosen more technological forms of conflict resolution eons ago.

As he disassembled the weapon, he went on to explain more of what he had in mind. “I found this chucked away in a random corner when we were inside of Aphelion. While I don’t particularly care for this gun, it has its uses, and since I am rather low on weaponry at the moment, beggars can’t be choosers, right? So anyways, this thing was made as a mechanical bio-engineered contraption by GrummelNet, whom I don’t think had the brightest of ideas in using a frog-thing when they created the gun, but that’s just me...”

As Simba watched the process in front of him, he had to be honest that for the most part, a vast majority of Ratchet’s words flowed right into one of his ears and out the other without any comprehension. He was still wondering how his roaring was supposed to be the key to it all when-

“...Simba, you paying any attention? Time to try it on!” Ratchet was holding about half of what he started with, though for Simba’s relief, non of the frog remained, having been dumped carelessly aside.

“Yeah, I guess so. Let’s give it a go.” Wondering what was going to happen, Simba stayed in place as Ratchet placed the contraption over his back, then began to secure it in place. It was unusual, though not painful, at least until Ratchet started to jab components into the lion’s throat. “Hey, watch where your poking me with that!” Simba complained, and used his own paws to adjust the thing. It still poked annoyingly into his neck, but at least now it wouldn’t stop him from breathing.

Ratchet finally felt satisfied with his work, giving Simba a once over just to make sure. “Well, here goes nothing. For what it’s worth, I think you look even more fearsome with that gun attached to you. Plus the colors really add to the charm.” Covering his ears, Ratchet pointed at a direction for Simba to try out the weapon and motioned for the lion to try it out.

Taking in a deep breath, Simba hesitated, all too aware that there were quite a few eyes on him. Feeling all too self-aware, he let out a roar, almost choking on it as he felt the device on his back do something, powerful. And very, very loud. Blinking, Simba saw exactly what it was that happened.

“That was awesome! I knew it would work!” Next to him, Ratchet was jumping in joy, running over to the area in front of the lion. Where there were pillars of rock that had supported the cave before was nothing more than dust, still settling. “Everything is just… gone! Vaporized! This is so much better than the stock gun!” Grinning, Ratchet turned back to the lions. “Tachyon has no chance! Not with this!”

Overcoming his shock at what he had caused, Simba allowed himself to feel a bit optimistic. Last time he had faced Tachyon, it had been a living nightmare. But with this… They just had a chance. Grinning back at the lombax, Simba replied with a very simple “There’s only one way to find out.”

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

Darkness covered the Pride Lands, made even darker yet by the overcast skies that blocked whatever starlight would have normally shone at this time. Moving far more by instinct and memory than by observing their immediate surroundings, Simba and Nala lead Ratchet through what was once their homeland, creeping towards Pride Rock. In the distance, the sounds of lion roars and the hyena’s distinctive laughter echoed around them as the rest of the pride did their part in acting as the distraction. So fair, that part of the plan seemed to be working, as every now and then, another group of hyenas would be heard running off away from Pride Rock, and towards wherever the noises of fighting were last heard.

A large part of Simba wanted to go and help his pride, but he repressed those feelings. They were more than capable, that he knew. Now, the three of them had their own job to do.

With a lack of hyena presence hampering their path, the three found themselves at their destination almost sooner than expected. But then again, for Simba, every moment felt like an eternity as the crept closer, so he really couldn’t tell if they had spent years getting there, or had simply teleported instead.

Silently climbing over the rocks, a different voice was heard from somewhere inside. High pitched, and very, very annoyed. “I don’t care how many of you it will take, I want those lions killed! Leave, now!”

It was Tachyon.

A moment later, a trio of hyenas ran off, leaving the three hidden felines in silence once more. And almost within pouncing distance of their target. Any moment now...

Forcing himself not to growl in anger, Simba stopped as he felt Ratchet jab him in the shoulder to get the lion’s attention.

“There is a possibility that Tachyon has a supply of nanotech on him, so if he survives your blast, don’t hesitate to use it again. Remember – you only have a handful of shots, so whatever you do, don’t miss!

Nodding to show that he heard, Simba swallowed hard as he calmed his nerves. “You do whatever you need to do, but I’m going!” Springing out of cover, he closed the last of the distance.

And found himself staring at the tiny creature that had killed Mufasa, his father. “It’s over, Tachyon,” the lion demanded, sounding a lot braver and more confident than he felt, “I’ve returned to reclaim my home.”

The lizard-like creature didn’t seem to be phased. If anything, he looked positively delighted to be facing opposition. “The brave lion returns to take back what was once his!” he taunted, emitting his own high pitched laughter. No wonder he got along with hyenas. “I already fought off annoying cats before. They were much more numerous and powerful than you can ever hope to be. You know what happened to them? I kill them all! Every. Last. One.” Noticing the weapon on Simba’s back, the alien squinted, trying to comprehend what he was seeing that. “I recognize that make. So you got in contact with those Grummels? Figures they would sell to anyone who would buy. No matter, that won’t help you. Prepare to die, lion!”

Not letting the alien a chance to strike first, Simba didn’t hesitate. Letting out a furious roar, this time he expected the odd sense of power as the roar was amplified by the weapon, and focused in a narrow arc that swept over the alien, covering Tachyon completely.

Running out of air, Simba closed his mouth, hoping that, as anti-climatic it would be, that Ratchet’s weapon had done the job.

Consumed by the shock waves, Tachyon had been sent tumbling into the den of Pride Rock. But instead of remaining still as a fresh corpse, the alien instantly got up, his body shimmering a bright blue but otherwise appearing completely unhurt. What had Ratchet called it, nanotech? Not waiting and acting as the lombax had instructed moments before, Simba ran in and roared again.

Still, his attack had no apparent effect, only causing Tachyon to tumble into hiding from the cloud of dust formed by the lion’s attacks. Keeping mindful that he couldn’t waste the roars, Simba could only wait, trying to peer through the choking dust and see where his target was.

Next to him, Nala joined his side, though without Ratchet. “Is it over?” she asked, glancing at the edges of her vision, also not seeing anything but dust.

“I don’t think so,” Simba admitted truthfully.

Sure enough, they were answered by Tachon’s voice, though now echoing and much louder than before. “Foolish lions!” the alien screeched. “I have wasted my time enough! Behold, the wrath of Tachyon!”

From the cloud of dust emerged a giant of… of a machine. Three legs and as large as a baobab tree, the ground shook every time a tree-trunk sized leg stomped on the ground, causing the two lions to scatter. On top of the contraption stood Tachyon, laughing at delight at the turn of events. “Run run run little lions!” he taunted, “but you can’t run forever!”

That was the moment that Ratchet chose to make his move. “They don’t need to!” he shouted up at the cragmite. “Remember me?” He fired his blaster at the walking-throne, but the weapon had only a minimal of effect.

“Lombax!” If Tachyon was angry before, he was straight up furious now. “So you’ve returned to give me the chance to wipe out your race once and for all!” Turning his attention away from the lions, the alien focused all of his attention on his most hated of adversaries.

While the lack of attention was a blessing to Simba, it meant that Ratchet was no longer able to help them directly, with the Lombax dodging and jumping away from Tachyon’s own attacks, but also not having much opportunity to fight back. Making his way around to the back, Simba took his time taking in a deep breath, letting out the most powerful roar he was capable of.

The throne wobbled and shook, but held its ground. No good. Simba roared again.

But only heard his own roar, down right pathetic compared to when it was amplified just moments ago. The lion realized what happened. “Ratchet, I’m out!” he alerted the lombax.

“There’s more ammo left!” Ratchet shouted back, narrowly avoiding a blast of fire from Tachyon. “You must have overloaded it!”

Unable to help now, Simba ran around looking for a way to attack, feeling frustrated and helpless as he did not much more than watch as the cragmite and lombax fought their own battle between one another.

It didn’t look like Ratchet was winning. The lombax shot his blaster at the walking throne, only for the weapon to click empty. Letting out a frustrated groan, Ratchet tossed the useless gun at Tachyon, the weapon clattering uselessly off the throne. “Go for the legs!” Ratchet instructed the lions. “Try to find a control cable and tear it!”

Nala saw it before Simba did. “There!” She motioned at where the legs articulated, with flexible components connecting the more solid pieces together.

Nodding, Simba made a plan instantly. “You go left, I go right!” Charging forward, he jumped up at the leg, and bit hard into the cable. It tasted terribly, and Simba felt pain as electricity coursed through him. But the lion held on, all too aware that if he let go, there was a very good chance that he would get crushed by the leg he was trying to destroy.

Working at the cable with his teeth, the lion was about to give up from the pain when it suddenly stopped. The lower half of the leg stopped moving as it lost power. But before he could celebrate his victory, Simba felt himself shaken and, losing his grip, tossed aside from Tachyon. Landing hard on the ground below, he had to wait several moments as stars clouded his vision.

Shacking his head to regain focus, the lion rose back to his legs, freezing when he spotted Nala not too far away. She was lying on the ground, but unlike him, she wasn’t trying to get back up.

“Nala!” Running over to his best friend, Simba felt fear tear into him as the smell of blood reached his nose. He nudged her gently, fearing the worst. To his great relief, she coughed and even managed to smile back at him.

“I destroyed the leg, look!”

Daring to glance behind him, Simba saw that Tachyon’s throne was no longer moving around. It was still able to shoot back at Ratchet, but two legs were very clearly unmoving and barely served to maintain balance for the machine. Another cough from Nala caused the lion to tear his attention away from the fight. “Nala, you’re hurt!”

His friend only smiled. “But you’re not. That’s all that matters.” She glanced over towards the sound of fighting, but didn’t watch for long. “I think you’ll need to rejoin Ratchet. You’re not helping him here,” she told Simba.

The lion shook his head. “I’m not losing you, Nala. The Pride Lands aren’t worth that much to me. Come on, let me help you get away from here.” He was about to pick his friend off to carry her away, but found himself violently pushed away from his friend. “No! Nala!” But just as he was to get back to her side, a large explosion erupted from where he was just moments before, a wave of heat overcoming the lion and tossing him off his feet once more.

---------

The last time Ratchet had fought Tachyon, he swore that the walking throne had been left behind as the cragmite had fallen into the dimensional portal. Even knowing that his foe had survived, the lombax didn’t expect a hard fight – a lone cragmite wasn’t much of a challenge, especially a small one like Tachyon. Even if Ratchet had only the minimal of ammo, and no nanotech to spare. Before the fight, he had taken the last dose from Aphelion’s stores and carefully placed it inside an enclosed container. He planned to keep the precious nanotech close, but not in a state where it would be wasted on healing a minor scratch.

Now barely able to just stay ahead of Tachyon's attacks, it was amazing how much he relied on Clank's help in a fight, Ratchet needed whatever advantage he can get. His spur of the moment idea to get Simba and Nala to help out by attacking even seemed to work, leaving Tachyon's throne immobile and noticeably closer to collapse.

But out of the corner of his eye, Ratchet saw that the attack didn't leave the three of them unscathed: Nala was hurt, with Simba retreating soon afterwards to watch over her. The lombax wasn't concerned that the lions were out of the fight, and he was even about to shout at Simba to carry Nala to saftey, unaware that this was exactly what Simba was planning to do.

But Tachyon had other plans. With his throne disabled, the alien decided to temporarily put his hatred for lombaxes on hold to take care of those responsible of damaging his mechanized throne.

Ratchet saw the telltale signs of an attack being charged up, and spotted where it was going to land. “Simba, MOVE!” Charging forwards, he pushed the lion out of the way before grabbing a hold of Nala. Pulling with all of his might, Ratchet dragged the wounded lioness away towards safety.

But he wasn't fast enough. Out of the edge of his vision, Tachyon's attack finished charging and released. Without hesitating, Ratchet blocked off as much of Nala as he could with his body, closing his eyes as the attack impacted the ground just next to him.

His ears ringed from the noise of the explosion, mirroring the pain his entire body found itself in. Forcing his eyes open, blurriness greeted his vision, everything out of focus and in disarray as Ratchet struggled to regain his bearings. The air around him was thick with dust and dirt, making trying to see and make things out even harder. A blurry tan figure caught his attention, allowing him to try and regain focus. It was Nala. Finding it hard to stand, the lombax half stumbled, half crawled in her direction, one of his hands fumbling clumsily as he tried to get at something on his back.

Ratchet, your vitals are pinging all over the place, are you all right? It was Aphelion, trying to reach him.

Cursing at the distraction, Ratchet pushed himself up against a wall to free up a hand to key up his radio. “I'm fine, just a graze. You need to stay up there and get some help!” Despite his reassurance, the ship wasn't buying it.

I'm useless up here! Heading back down, just sit tight down there.

Ratchet groaned in frustration. He really couldn't afford his own ship to start derailing the plan. “Negative, hold your position, Aphelion!”

No way, Ratchet, ten kilocubits and closing!

Having enough of the foolishness, Ratchet yanked out his ear piece and tossed it away in anger, choking back a cry of pain from the sudden movement. Taking in a moment of relative silence, he stared at the dusty air around him, trying to remember what he wanted to do before Aphelion interrupted him. Oh, right. With great effort, Ratched crawled over the last several steps over to Nala. His move caught her attention, and she lifted her head slightly to get a better look.

“You- Ratchet, you're hurt, what are you doing?” She noticed the telltale blue glow of nanotech in the lombax's hand. Instantly recognizing it as that healing nanotech, she shook her head, growling out a warning to him. “Don't you waste that on me!” she warned, “I am not hurt that bad, you he-"

Nala attempted, but failed, to avoid Ratchet's hand as the lombax pressed the nanotech into her wounded side. As the blue substance disappeared inside of her, the oddest of sensations overtook her. Nala stumbled back as she felt her body quite literally stitch itself back together in a matter of seconds, returning strength to her in the process. She returned to Ratchet's side, propping him up so that he was at least able to sit up rather than lie pathetically on the ground. “You shouldn't have done that,” she said, a hint of sadness in her voice. “It would have been better spent on you.”

As she helped him up, Ratchet hissed as the pain caused him to grow dizzy and lose focus. Maybe he was perhaps more hurt than he wanted to let on. “I can still fight!” He objected stubbornly. This part was true: down to his last weapon, Ratchet prepared to fire his most destructive weapon. Supporting himself against a wall, he shouldered the large, multi-barreled weapon that was almost as large as he was, aiming at the large silhouette of Tachyon's walking throne as it slowly emerged through the thick dust.

The last time he had used the RYNO 5, it was against the only remaining lombax he knew, so despite its sheer power, and for a lack of a better word, fun, of using the weapon, Ratchet had vowed never to use it again, tossing aside the weapon and whatever ammo it had left. When he found it in a dark corner inside Aphelion, Ratchet hoped that he wouldn't need to use it. But now he had no other options, though against the cragmite... perhaps the RYNO can redeem itself. Ignoring the strain of aiming the large weapon, Ratchet adjusted the sights one final time. “Hey, Percival!”

Tachyon turned towards the noise, infuriated that someone would dare make fun of his name. “You didn't just say that, lombax! Prepare to die!” He paused, noticing the gun being aimed at him. “That gun is illegal!” Tachyon screeched, “that's cheating!”

“I don't care.” With these simple words, Ratchet pulled the trigger, allowing himself to enjoy the moment as numerous barrels launched countless of bullets and rockets all centered at the walking throne, all toped off by a familiar tune of trumpets and drums blazing from the gun. If the designers of the weapon had one thing, it was class.

The music stopped.

All too soon, the weapon clicked empty as it expanded the last of its ammo. The lombax dropped his gun, too tired to hold it up any longer. In front of him, Tachyon's throne wobbled dangerously about, sparking electricity everywhere, but to Ratchet's horror, it began to stabilize itself, training its own weapons on the now helpless lombax.

Ratchet closed his eyes, unable to believe that he had finally met his match, here in a location where he didn't even know was, with his best pal Clank missing, and worst of all, to a foe which he had already defeated before. “I'm so sorry for all of this,” he whispered to no one in particular, preparing to accept that there was no way he was going to escape the next blast aimed at him.

But instead of the expected pain from Tachyon's attack, Ratchet heard the most beautiful noise he could think of: a lion's roar, amplified by sonic weaponry. Opening his eyes, he watched in awe as Simba stood protectively in front of him, unleashing his improvised weapon's last power reserves into the mechanical monstrosity in front of them.

This time, it was enough: the blast tore apart the throne's legs, tilting the machine dangerously to one side. Out of the dust, Nala lept into the throne, pushing with all her might, sending the main platform toppling to the ground, and more importantly, ejecting its occupant. Before the alien can regain his bearings, Tachon found himself blocked off from escape by two very angry lions.

“No, wait!” he pleaded desperately, “I'll give you everything I can, just don't kill me!”

Thinking quickly, Simba glared at the hideous creature. “…Anything?” he asked, ignoring the bewildered look Nala through at him.

“Anything and everything!” Tachyon replied. “Anything you want!”

Simba narrowed his eyes even more. “I want my father back,” he answered coldly. Before Tachyon can complain, the lion pounced and bit hard into the alien's neck, ending the life with a quick snap of breaking bones. A fate not blessed to many of Tachyon's victims.

Tossing the corpse aside, Simba stared at the scene in front of him. “Is it really over?” he asked. “It's really over. Nala… we did it. We won our home back!” His joy was quickly dampened when he spotted his best friend by the side of the third feline, the one whom was so instrumental for the victory. “Ratchet!”

Ratchet looked up upon hearing his name, having been busy slowly giving into the dizziness he was desperately fighting back. “Huh? Oh, it's you…” Ratchet gratefully rested his head against Nala, finding her side far more comfortable than a cold and hard wall of Pride Rock. “Wow,” Ratchet chuckled at seeing how much blood was covering his body. “Running out of nanotech really sucks.” He spotted the body of Tachyon out of the corner of his eye, but didn't seem to care that he wasn't the one to deliver the finishing blow. “You done good, Simba,” he finally muttered. “You dun good! You too, Nala.”

Simba shook his head. “Not good enough,” he insisted, “you dying wasn't part of the plan!”

From behind them, a new but not unfamiliar voice startled the lion. “Who said anything about dying? Make room for ol' Rafiki!”

“How did you get here?” Simba asked, stunned.

“Can't a monkey take a stroll through his own home without being asked questions?” Rafiki asked, though clearly amused, “you go on now, there is still one last job for you to do!”

Simba was confused. “Wait, which one?”

In reply Rafiki placed both of his hands on Simba's shoulders. “My king, it is time.” He pointed at the tip of Pride Rock with his staff, a gesture which Simba knew immediately what it meant.

Quickly pulling the mandrille into a hug, Simba glanced at Nala and Ratchet. She was smiling and motioned with her head for him to go, while the lombax just stared with a goofy grin, no doubt delirious. Nodding to his best friend, Simba let Rafiki free from the embrace. “You take care of him!” he ordered. He reached over with a paw and tossed the spent weapon off his back, feeling instantly much freer than before. With a deep inhale, Simba turned and began to ascend Pride Rock, aware of every step he took as he climbed to the point of his homeland.

From behind, Ratchet still had enough comprehension to notice when Rafiki started to work at patching him up, but was already out of it to not realize that Simba had left. “Hey... where'd Simba go?” he asked in a strained voice upon realizing that their little group now lacked a certain lion.

As if in reply, a lion's roar tore through the air around them. It was natural, unamplified, but at the same time…

It was majestic.

Moments later, Ratchet winced as right next to his head, Nala joined in with a roar of her own, then several more were heard across the lands below as the Pride Landers let the world know of their victory. Of their return home.

Slipping into unconsciousness, Ratchet thought of something very silly right then and there: he really wished Clank could be there to experience how awesome it was to be in the middle of a lion pride roaring in victory.

With the roaring still ringing in his ears, Ratchet allowed himself to finally fall into the waiting blackness.


Voting will run until Friday, June 29th! I again gave you all a little extra time to cover the longer stories.

Usual voting rules apply: Don't vote for yourself, and don't vote for a story that you simply know was written by a friend. Don't ask others to vote for your story either. Read each one carefully and give all the stories the same consideration before you make your decision.

Good luck authors!

For someone who can't stnd to type on a tablet, I certainly wrote a lot on this topic. Much fun.
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #42 [Voting!]

Postby XVLegend--D » June 21st, 2018, 12:02 pm

Oof, this is gonna be tough. Can't wait for the next one.
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #42 [Voting!]

Postby Azdgari » June 21st, 2018, 1:55 pm

Can't wait to read these!
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