- Chapter 11, Scene 1-2 by Incarnate Firefly. Edited by Asante
- Chapter 11, Scene 3 by Asante. Edited by Incarnate Firefly
The Lion King VI:
Fall of Man
"Why aren't they back yet?" Fasa grumbled.
"Not this again," Uzuri groaned. "I thought we came out here to relax."
"We are relaxing," Timir said.
"Then why are we doing exactly what we spent the last few days doing at Pride Rock?" Uzuri countered. "Asking each other over and over again why Simba and Asante aren't back yet."
"Don't be insensitive, Uzuri," Nyota grunted. "Fasa's just worried about them."
"We all are," Timir replied in the same agreeable tone.
The four of them were gathered at the top of Zulu Falls. Timir and Uzuri lounged on the rocks while Fasa and Nyota looked out towards the borders from their vantage point.
"What if the humans have those gun things Daniel told us about?" Fasa fretted. "How will they sense them coming?"
Nyota's nostrils flared. "I can smell humans."
"Well, okay, we can all recognize the scent of humans from hanging out with Daniel," Fasa conceded, "but you know Grandfather's reflexes aren't as quick as they used…"
"No, I mean I can smell humans now."
Timir and Uzuri rose from their perches. "How many?" Timir whispered.
"Just one," Nyota replied. "Remember what Daniel said we should do if we encounter any of them. Let's get out of here."
"Which way, Nyota?" Uzuri asked.
Nyota hesitated, trying to discern which direction the scent was coming from. "Follow the stream," she said, gesturing upstream away from the waterfall. "Stay close to the rocks."
They had barely taken a step when the first shot rang out. Timir, who was bringing up the rear, flinched at the sound, a reaction that saved his life. The bullet whizzed past his nose; it would have taken him through the head if he hadn't stopped.
Nyota glanced in the direction where the gunshot resounded and spotted Nguvu peering out from behind some boulders, adjusting her target.
"Run!" Nyota shouted. "Split up, now!"
The human fired again, this time at Fasa, but he ducked behind a wide boulder, the bullet pinging off the rock. Uzuri ran past him in a different direction.
Nguvu shifted her aim towards Uzuri.
Before she could fire, Timir jumped out from cover and leaped at the human. She rolled to the side, bringing up her gun to fire at him.
"Screw that damn stick!" Timir shouted angrily, dodging out of her line of sight just as she fired.
The four adolescents dashed around the rocks and fled along the stream. "Run and don't look back!" Nyota roared.
Nguvu knew she couldn't outrun the lions, so she hurried up a large boulder to get a better view of them. She pulled back the slide and took aim at Fasa.
Uzuri couldn't help herself and looked back, catching sight of the human on her perch, her gun aimed at them. She saw where the gun was pointed, and tackled Fasa.
"Uzuri!" Fasa yelped.
The bullet ricocheted off the rock they tumbled behind. The two lions rolled into the cold water with a splash.
Nguvu swore, adjusting her aim back towards Uzuri, who stumbled against the current. "Let's see you dodge this."
A golden paw swiped at Nguvu's rifle, knocking it off target before she could fire. She stumbled off her perch, landing on her back with her rifle still in hand. She looked up into the fierce teal eyes of a golden lion with a messy brown mane. The creature loomed over her on the boulder where she attempted to snipe the younger lions. The lion roared, and though Nguvu didn't understand his words, she inferred the basic translation. "Get away from them, you bitch!" Kopa snarled.
Half a score of adult lions dashed from the trees. Some of them ushered the younger lions away while the others hurried to back up Kopa, closing in on Nguvu. The poacher shifted into a crouched position and pointed her gun. She didn't have enough bullets to shoot all the lions, but the animals skittered back from the weapon. Nguvu took their wariness as her opportunity to turn and flee.
"That hunter's too dangerous with that weapon," Kovu advised. "We got the kids, let's get back to Pride Rock."
"No," Kopa growled. "We take that Lion Hunter out before it can hurt anyone else." He took off after Nguvu.
Several of the knights followed suit, including a reluctant Kovu.
Kiara helped Uzuri and Fasa out of the water. "Are you two okay? Is anyone hurt?"
Uzuri nodded. "I'm good."
"We're fine," Fasa agreed. He then found himself pulled into a quick, tight hug by his mother.
After a moment, Kiara released her son. "Follow me. We have to get back to Pride Rock."
"What about that human?" Fasa protested.
Kiara had already turned and headed back for the trees. "Don't argue with me, Young Lion."
"We have to help Dad and Uncle Kopa!" Fasa shouted.
Uzuri smacked the back of Fasa's head with her paw. "You are not going anywhere near that human, Mufasa!"
"The hell?" Fasa yelped.
Kiara turned back to the two young lions. "Uzuri, calm down."
"Kiara, what's taking you?" Vitani called, leading Nyota and Timir away.
Uzuri continued to shout at Fasa. "In fact, I am never letting you out of my sight again!"
Fasa stared blankly at Uzuri. "Uzuri, why are you so angry?"
Uzuri flung her forelimbs around Fasa. "I'm not angry! I thought we were going to lose you!"
"Uzuri…" Fasa murmured.
"Don't," Uzuri interrupted.
Fasa nuzzled Uzuri, purring affectionately.
Uzuri released a sigh. "I love you, Mufasa."
Fasa nodded. "I love you too, Uzuri."
Not far off, the Pride Land Knights pursued Nguvu back towards Zulu Falls. The lions used the rocks as cover, Nguvu trying to shoot them several times. They were closing in on Nguvu, who was almost out of ammunition. After a quick check, she realized that she was down to only one bullet. If she was going to die, she could at least take down one more lion. She neared the edge of the waterfall. With nowhere else to go, she turned and lifted her rifle, making her final stand.
"Down!" Kovu ordered.
The knights did as instructed and took cover from Nguvu's rifle.
"Come on!" Nguvu roared.
Without warning, Kopa leapt out at Nguvu from the side, having circled around while her attention was on the knights taking cover. With no time to think, she brought her rifle around. "This is for you, Seth."
Kopa skidded to a halt, gaping down the barrel of Nguvu's gun.
Nguvu took a step back as she readied herself to fire, and her foot slipped on the wet rocks beneath her. The shot went high, and Nguvu fell backwards over the edge of the waterfall with a piercing scream. Kopa watched the human fall and disappear beneath the mist at the bottom of the waterfall.
Mchezo silently prowled the edges of Pride Rock, his gun raised. There were no lions about, but he was sure he would find the big one here. Where are you, Monster? Don't think that running home to your friends will protect you.
He began to scale the rock, scanning the ground for signs of lion activity. His tracker's eye identified numerous paw prints in the soil surrounding the kopje. As he walked up towards the promontory, he noticed scratches on the surrounding boulders where the lions had sharpened their claws. He spotted the entrance to a cave.
Faraji slept soundly in the den, still wearing the splint Daniel had fashioned for him. His head was propped on his paws. Mchezo silently stepped inside the cave and spotted Faraji lying by the far wall. The hunter regarded the slumbering creature curiously when he saw the splint binding its leg.
So Daniel has been taking care of them, Mchezo thought. Interesting. He raised his rifle, taking aim at Faraji's head.
At the last second, Mchezo detected movement out of the corner of his eye. He immediately dropped and rolled forward, barely avoiding Bado's claws. The hunter spun around to face the smaller lion standing at the cave mouth.
Faraji jerked awake at the commotion. "Bado?"
Mchezo backpedalled, scrambling to aim his rifle at Bado. "Where's your big friend?" he growled.
Bado couldn't understand what he was saying. "I won't let you hurt him!" he snarled, looking defiantly down the barrel of Mchezo's gun.
"Bado, run!" Faraji shouted.
"No," Bado replied calmly.
"You stubborn idiot! You don't have to save me!"
"Yes I do!"
All Mchezo could hear was a series of roars and chuffs. He adjusted his aim, pointing right between Bado's eyes.
"Get down!" Mheetu roared, barreling into Bado. The two lions tumbled away from the entrance just as Mchezo fired. The shot missed, taking a few hairs off Mheetu's mane. The old lion ushered Bado behind a rock for cover.
Mchezo moved towards the den's entrance and saw several other adult lions making their way to the cave. Amongst the crowd were Nala, Madoa, Afua, and Boga. They took cover when they spotted Mchezo's rifle. The hunter scrambled to reload.
Mheetu peered around the boulder at the hunter and realized his weapon was momentarily disabled. He stepped out into the open, his muscles tensing for a pounce. Mchezo finished reloading and took aim just as Mheetu leapt.
"Villain!" Mheetu roared, swiping the gun from Mchezo's hands just in time.
"He's unarmed!" Afua roared. "Move in!"
At his instruction, the other lions hurried to assist Mheetu.
The human ducked back, drawing his machete without slowing down. He swung and left a shallow cut on the old lion's face. Mheetu snarled in pain, blood dripping from his cheek. He glanced at Faraji, still lying defenseless in the cave.
"Trying to protect your cripple, eh?" Mchezo spat. He looked over the white lion's shoulder and saw his comrades getting closer. Without warning, he threw the blade at Faraji.
"My son!" Mheetu cried. He leapt to intercept the blade, catching the handle in his mouth before it struck his son. This gave Mchezo the opportunity to grab his gun and take aim.
Madoa and the other lions flinched at the sound of a gunshot. Mheetu stood motionless for a moment, a confused look on his face. He dropped the machete from his mouth, and then crumpled into a heap.
Madoa stared blankly at her fallen mate. "Mheetu?"
"No!" Faraji wailed.
Her son's cry of despair brought Madoa out of shock. Her claws extended and she sprang forward, murder in her eyes. Mchezo didn't even see her coming. He was thrown on his back, the lioness pinning him. She bit the barrel of his gun and yanked it from his hands. The rifle was snapped in two between her teeth.
Looking up into the lioness' wrathful eyes, Mchezo knew his time had come. He sighed and closed his eyes just before Madoa's fangs encircled his throat.
The others simply watched as the Lion Hunter was torn apart by the relentless lioness. Bado winced as Madoa delivered the deathblow. He then ran to his lover and nuzzled him. "Faraji?"
"Dad!" Faraji cried out.
Nala ran to Mheetu's side and nudged him with her nose. She could feel him breathing, but when she gently pushed him onto his side, she discovered the earth stained red beneath him.
"Sis?" Mheetu coughed weakly.
"Mheetu," Nala lamented. "My baby brother."
The other lions watched sadly as Madoa walked over to tend to her dying mate, her muzzle and claws covered in the Lion Hunter's blood. Afua and Boga looked away, and Boga noticed the rest of the Pride returning, escorting the rescued heirs.
"See to Faraji and our son," Afua whispered to Boga.
The lioness nodded and made her way to the den.
With a deep sigh, Afua went to meet Kopa and Kiara, who led the approaching party.
"Everyone's okay," Kopa called, gesturing to his party with a relieved smile.
Kiara frowned, recognizing the anguish in Afua's eyes. "Kopa, something's wrong."
Kopa glanced at his sister in confusion and then looked to his friend. He faltered. "Afua, what is it?"
Afua hesitated. "Kopa, there's – you've got to be strong. O – okay, Buddy?"
Kopa's eyes widened in alarm. "What happened?"
Night had fallen over the Pride Lands. The lions were gathered in the den, waiting. Mheetu laid his head in Madoa's forelimbs, his mate licking his forehead tenderly. He opened his eyes and looked up at the king. "Chaka," he sighed.
"Hey," Kopa said, feigning a smile, though tears were brimming in his eyes.
"It's bad, isn't it?"
Kopa shook his head. "Nah, you'll be fine."
"Nala?" Mheetu called.
Nala walked over and nuzzled Mheetu tearfully. "I'm here, my little brother."
"Blessed? How are we blessed?"
"Though we were separated by Scar, we were brought back together." Mheetu looked to Kiara, who stood by Nala. "Beautiful Kiara, that was thanks to you. You will be a great queen."
Kiara regarded her uncle desolately, unable to find the words to respond.
Mheetu turned to Fasa and Nyota. "You two," he chuckled, "as different as night and day…" His eyes almost drifted closed but he forced them open again. "When it is time for Kopa and Kiara to step down, you'll make us all proud."
Mheetu continued to address each member of his family. He spoke to each one of his sons, saving Faraji for last. "My son, you know how precious you are to me, don't you?"
Faraji nodded, weeping silently.
"There was never anything wrong with you. I'm sorry if I ever indicated that I believed otherwise." Mheetu's eyes drifted to Bado. "I must apologize to you as well, Bado."
Bado shook his head. "You made us feel accepted."
Mheetu smiled. "I'm glad you felt that way, but I just want to say it with the right words. You have my full blessing. I know you'll make each other very happy." He then addressed Afua. "You will also bless them, won't you Afua?"
"Yes," Afua replied with utmost sincerity.
Mheetu closed his eyes for a moment and nuzzled into Madoa's chest. "Milady," he sighed. "I can't imagine what life would have been like if I hadn't found you. I hope I made you equally happy."
Madoa pressed her cheek against Mheetu's neck. "You did."
Mheetu shivered, his body growing weaker. He couldn't stay awake much longer. "Chaka," he gasped.
Kopa moved nearer and nuzzled Mheetu's mane. "I'm still here."
The dying lion felt a tear wet his mane, and he opened his eyes with a smile. "Your friends and your family have thanked me so many times for saving you from the river. They don't understand – you also saved me. Without you, I would have died alone in the wilderness. I love you, my little brother – my nephew – my son…"
Kopa's shook his head desperately, sending more teardrops flying. "You're not leaving," he cried. "I order you to stay. I'm king, so you do what I say, damn it! I command you to stay with me!"
Mheetu chuckled. "Of course I'll stay with you. That's my last promise to you – the same promise my mother made to me and Nala when we were cubs." His breathing grew faint, his words more quiet. Kopa had to lean in closer to make out what he said. "You – you are never far from my sight – or my protection. Does that reassure you – Kopa?" That was the first time Mheetu ever referred to his nephew by his real name.
Kopa was overwhelmed by Mheetu's words, which held the same love and tenderness as his mother's voice when she once told him that very same thing. The king couldn't hold back his sobs any longer.
Mheetu's head drooped to the side and his breathing faded. His eyes drifted closed – and then he was gone.
Slowly, Kopa left the den and made his way up the promontory. He sat at the edge of the throne, gazing out over the kingdom, aglow beneath the starry sky. Kiara came out to join him soon after, taking a seat beside her brother.
"I saw Grandfather last night," Kopa muttered.
Kiara glanced at Kopa in surprise. "You saw Mufasa?"
Kopa nodded. "He warned me that the Lion Hunters were coming. I could see him, I spoke with him, and yet I just…" He looked up into the sky. "I still didn't believe it was really him. I…" He started to choke on suppressed tears. "If I had believed – if I had warned everyone sooner…"
Kiara shook her head. "Kopa, this isn't your fault."
"Yes it is," Kopa sobbed. "I didn't prepare us in time." He turned, ran down the promontory, and fled Pride Rock.
He didn't go anywhere in particular. He just ran as fast as he could, but no one can outrun grief. He didn't stop until he was out of breath. Alone in the savannah, Kopa lowered his head and wept.
Upon the crest of a nearby hill, he saw his grandfather Mufasa standing with Mheetu. The white lion gazed solemnly at Kopa.
The king recognized that look well. Mheetu had given him that look many times throughout his childhood. "I won't hear any whining from you, Chaka," Mheetu often said when the cub complained about learning a new skill. "No matter how hard it is – no matter how many times you fail – you never give up."
His chest quivering, Kopa stood to his full height and gave Mheetu a nod. "I'll make you proud," he promised, tears trickling down his cheeks.
Mheetu smiled one last time at Kopa. Then he and Mufasa turned and walked away, their bodies fading into the night.
Continue to Chapter 12