Dark clouds loomed drearily overhead as a group of bears stood together alongside an exhibit wall. Among them slouching grumpily a pink-furred bear exhaled deeply; their breath made visible from the chilly evening weather. As the vapour dispelled across the bear's face, the animal impatiently pushed herself off the wall.
"What's taking them so long?" Sara said agitatedly, crossing her arms.
The yellow-furred bear narrowed his eyes dully as the violet bear placed a paw on Sara's shoulder. "Relax," Cara added. "They should be here in a bit." She scanned her sister's face; her brow rose curiously, then, quickly narrowed concerned. "Worried?"
"It's not my life on the line—You'd think they would be in a hurry."
Her sister's smiled warmly, eyes half-closed with an air of mirth on her face. "You're worried."
She didn't dignify her with a response, her eyes flickered ahead, lingering on a large archway hanging over the paved walkway. The sign wasn't sightly or extraordinary, to say the least, it served a purpose. One wayward glance at it displayed: Africa. Sara discouragingly shook her head, turning to Gay with an annoyed glare. "Call them."
Gay furrowed his brow, shaking his head. "It's been ten minutes. We can wait for a few more before checking in."
Sara growled inwardly, then, exhaled slowly with a sour look. "Fine."
Cara reared her head past her sister's shoulder, quietly raising her finger apprehensively as Gay glanced in her direction. "Maybe we should scout ahead—"
A loud thunderous crack echoed through the air, and a bolt of lightning streaked through the sky, followed by a low rumble. The tremor caused Gay to groan annoyed.
"Not another shower." He covered his head, desperately trying to hide his hair. Shortly after, the masked bear held a first-aid kit over his head.
"Actually…I don't think that was thunder." Cara remarked unsurely, her ears twitched.
The rumbling continued, the subtle vibrations accompanied by panicked cries brought their attention toward the pavilion gate. A herd of animals rushed through the archway, the mob brushed by them in a huff, carrying a draft of cold air with them as they turned the corner. The group blankly stared, each giving a bewildered expression.
"What's the rush?" Sara inquired, dismissively raising her brow.
Gay shrugged calmly, then, glanced toward the gate. "At least we're on the right track."
Shortly after, another set of errant cries caught their attention.
"Hey! We're walking here!"
The group quickly hopped up from the wall and turned the corner. As the last remnants of the mob scattered across the grounds their gaze drawn to a blue bear, the bear's back firmly planted to the wall, leaning against it with an agitated scowl and a wide-eyed expression.
Lech's eyes meet the group's lingering gaze, his brow narrowed discouragingly. With an abrupt, and unnecessary, leap from the wall to the pavement. He marched toward them with his hands behind his head, walking with a swagger in his step. His lecherous gaze hovered over the female's faces, then, to the yellow bear's brow. "Ladies…" He said smugly with a smirk. Both female bears glowered at his remark, he remained unfazed. "What no-"
Lech soon felt something tug at his ear, "Not now." Mike insisted. The mouse craned his head backward, letting out a deep sigh, muttering under his breath.
Cara's attentive eye caught a somewhat thoughtful, yet, grim look on his face. She watched the mouse's gaze shift to her; he gave a half-hearted smile. "I'm fine, cupcake." He paused. "Just…Worried."
She narrowed her brow and gave a concerned look; he gave a half-hearted chuckle. "I'll be fine. Promise."
A set of steps signalled the last of the new arrivals, a dark-grey and teal coloured bear respectively, both loudly panting as the latter wiped his brow with his free hand.
"Hah, sorry about that," Prozac stated.
Lech crossed his arms, tilting his head. "You guys need to get in shape." He added.
Gay saucily rolled his eyes, giving the bear mildly annoyed look.
"I'm guessing all that commotion came from there," Prozac interjected.
A collective nod confirmed his quarry, he sighed, brushing himself off, and soon after a cleansing breath, lead the group with a stern look.
The bears crossed the gate, treading past the African enclosure at the centre of the area and traversed the long winding path toward the smaller exhibits. Each eye lazily wandered around as they marched past each display, the place was a mess; trashcans knocked over from the mass hysteria — a large murky brown river seeping into the nearest water grate. Crumpled and crushed leaves left aimlessly around them, and small twigs littered the grounds, snapping underfoot as they ran.
Prozac's gaze lingered on each crude illustration of the inhabitants in the exhibit area, he inhaled sharply, feeling his heart race with each step. The exhibit should be around the corner. However, as they reached the edge, an imposing figure blocked their path, the group abruptly came to a halt as the towering ape rolled his shoulder with a grimace.
"Y'all need to get out of here. It's off limits." He said lowly.
Prozac gave an odd look, briefly adopting a seemingly cooperative tone. "Okay, but could you please—"
"The hell, why?!" Lech brashly interjected, brushing past Prozac's shoulder. He sighed deeply, disdain vividly on his face as he scowled knowingly. Politeness was out of the question now.
"King's orders no one can disturb the trial."
Both bears shared a glance. Their countenance held an air of suspicion. Even the mouse blatantly shook its head in disbelief, his snout twitched, eyes straining past to a half-opened trashcan behind the ape.
"Then why were the animals running away from here?" Prozac asked solemnly.
"Minor complications, he's handling it."
"Bull." Lech huffed, turning back to the group. "I say we bum-rush em, he can't take us all on."
The Gorilla's eyes flared threateningly at Lech, he scowled and glared back adamently.
Sara rolled her eyes. "Oh, that's a great idea…We'll be right behind you." The pink bear sarcastically exclaimed, a smirk on her face.
In response, Lech stepped forward threateningly, a rough and bumpy sensation scurried down his spine, but he was briefly held aside by their leader. "Hold it." He calmly turned to the ape. "Have you seen two—"
"Just move along, ain't got time for your search party."
Prozac felt a vein form on his head.
"Everything is fine, move—"
"Hey!" A loud voice exclaimed, the group turned to the mouse draping over a thin, long cloth around the rim of a trashcan. He stared adamantly at the ape. "Explain this!" His whiskers twitched angrily.
The ape rose his hands apologetically. "It's tape, calm down."
"Let me reiterate, bull." Lech cracked his knuckles threateningly.
"None of you are getting through here!" He exclaimed, then, his ears twitched.
A loud booming crash from afar made the group wearily turn to the exhibit. The gorilla coldly blocked their view, widening himself further to impede them. However, a sharp cry of anguish rang from behind, a look of obvious concern and hesitation quickly appeared on the ape's face.
"Listen, we could play this song and dance all day—" The mouse stated.
"Or we could head over there right now and help." Prozac finished giving him an honest look, traced with compassion on his countenance.
A low snarl erupted from the ape's throat, brow narrowing grimly as he shook his head, discouragingly."…Come then." He loudly grumbled.
The bears followed the ape, stopping at the edge of the rhino enclosure as the gorilla leered over the rail his paw clenching tightly.
Prozac hopped on to the ledge and peered down, finally finding the animal they were searching for.
Evil stood amongst many; the predators bunched around him ready to strike at a moments notice, his shoulders rose and frequently fell from apparent exhaustion as he hunched over. Various cuts and scrapes visibly ran through his fur from head to toe. The bear wasn't wholly beaten, the few Hyaenidae standing against him were battered, sharing the same exhaustion, however, the source of the standoff laid at the bear's feet. One of them was taken hostage, the metal hook wrapped around the animal's neck roughly keeping him in place with a threatening gesture.
Prozac's eyes wandered ahead, noticing the lion was seemly distracted, glancing ahead his eyes widened suddenly. His brow tightened at the revelation of their next missing member laying flat on the grass near a tree.
"Do it; I dare you! It'll be your last mistake, mutt!" Vivi brazenly announced.
Prozac snapped to the female voice hanging behind her pack, her body lowered in a threating hunch. He let out a deep breath, stepping off the ledge.
"Get back, you twit!" He heard Gay exclaim.
Prozac's eyes flickered wildly to the source.
"Alright!—" Lech felt a paw wrap around his mouth, thrusting him to ground.
The commotion caused the lion to glance upward, seeing his lackey meandering over the railing. He scowled, focusing is attention elsewhere.
Lech meanwhile, was met with angry gazes looming over him.
"We have one opportunity. I'll handle this; help the injured." Prozac commanded. Sara tilted her head suspiciously, furrowing her brow at the bear.
"He's got it." Lech begrudgingly admitted, pulling himself up from the ground.
She smirked at his attitude, placing her paws on her hips. "At least someone knows what they're doing."
"Just keep your head down." Lech snarled lowly, ducking and lumbering unseen against the wall across the exhibit.
"Typical." She scoffs. "Doesn't get his way and he's about to throw a tantrum." She scoffs, following the bear's lead as she lingered behind him, the others following suit. All except one.
Cara paused, staring back at Prozac pensively. He shut his eyes, laid the device at his feet, adopting a meditative stance with his paws clasped together.
"What's he going to do?" She pondered.
"What he has to." A solemn voice stated.
She turned behind her, meeting the gaze of the dark bear, his grey eyes calmly peering at her.
"He'll be fine, don't fret. If anything happens, we will be there to help."
A moment of hesitation made her weary, and a sad expression flooded her face.
Death watched her with a grave look, he wanted to reach out, but he knew better. A warm smile was all he could muster; he felt a pang of guilt in his chest. However, she smiled back genuinely, walking past him. For a brief period, he almost felt at ease, the pang lessening as he followed shortly after.
"Mike…" Prozac's voice strained, growling and growing slowly as the mouse rested on his shoulder.
"I'm going with you."
"Mike…" Another vein formed on his head; his muscles contracting and expanding wildly as his body roughly, and violently began to shake.
"You said you've got one shot right…? Let me try to reason with him. You'd have one less thing to worry about."
His teeth chattered as he felt a cold sweat form from his brow, then, he shut his eyes as a familiar, growing pain started to fill his body. The same unnatural rhythm of his muscles expanding and contracting fueled by his frustrations slowly began to bubble through. His eyes narrowed intently.
At the other end of the exhibit, the rescue team began to mobilize. The first to land had been the gorilla with a heavy thud. However, as Lecherous bear tried to follow suit by climbing onto a nearby tree, Sara purposely waved her hand out openly to the bear, drawing his attention with a condescending smirk on her face.
Lech felt his ears burn at her jeer, but, surprisingly, kept his cool and started to furiously climb down the tree, soon after, the others shortly followed after except the two female bears.
Cara glanced longingly back at her sister.
"We don't need to go further. We've done enough." Sara said, crossing her arms, narrowing her eyes cautiously.
Cara stared at her in silence with a contemplative look, she let out a sigh. "If that's what you think, fine, but I'm going with or without you." She quickly climbed up the wall and hopped onto a tree branch, the wood creaking eerily to her sister's ear.
Sara shook her head, discouraged. "This is going to bite us, I know it." She muttered, following after her.
The two shortly followed the group each noticing the incapacitated animals laying on the ground; complete opposites, one remained silent and motionless on his stomach, the other cried out with pained gasps and grunts, desperately trying to escape the branch crushing their wrist. A collective grimace overtook the group.
"That doesn't look good." Lech scratched the back of his head discouragingly.
"Really?" Sara sarcastically exclaimed.
The blue bear rolled his eyes, then glanced back. "D, could you—" He paused, eyes drifting to the ground.
As the dark-furred bear dragged his feet forward, he felt something brush against his ankle; his gaze dipped down, terror and dread nearly overwhelmed him. An owl laid limply against the tree. Instinctively he reached out and paused, his paw hovering over the avian's form as retracted his hand and sighed.
Gimp strode over to the fallen bird, kneeling as he placed his paw at his neck gently, leaving it there briefly before leaning toward his chest: a steady beat drummed on. He let out a sigh of relief.
Death felt his shoulders drop, his paw resting on his chest.
"Please…Get it off!" Tiffany cried in agony, the other ape's face tensed at his pained voice.
"H-hold on, bud."
Gimp's eyes widened, he reached out with a hesitant look of concern.
The lecherous bear growled out: "Dude, don't—" his words were unheeded as the ape lifted the branch. A harrowing scream bellowed from ape's maw, eyes watery as the weight rose from his wrist. The sound made the group cover their ears at the ear-splitting shriek of the poor ape, and his horrific cries echoed across the grounds. His brother's eye widened, paws trembling.
"Put it back it down!" Sara exclaimed firmly; the gorilla lowered the branch.
"What? You can't just put that back!" Cara bemoaned her eyes widened in fear, and the gorilla pulled up the branch.
"Maybe if he waited a little longer…"
"A little help here!" Tyrone screeched aloud.
Lech gestured toward them with his thumb, eyes drifting downward.
Death crept forward with a tentative look, but a dull focus slowly replaced his uncertainty. He took a deep breath and lead his paw over the ape's wrist. A sharp crackle and a pale eerie glow enveloped his wrist. The horrid shriek of the ape began to simmer, lapsing to strained breaths. The dark bear pulled back, the eerie light faded as he placed his paw at his side. A resounding thud rang from beside him, glancing over his shoulder, the large branch was tossed beside the wounded animal.
Shortly after, Gimp rushed to their side, laying his medical kit beside the wounded ape. The bear's eyes dipped toward the injury narrowing sharply at his paw, it's wrist seemed to have swelled a bit. He brought his hand to his mouth pensively, then, sifted through his medical kit. The masked bear frowned sourly, eyes continually darting toward his package and the animal's wrist. He exhaled hard, a look of frustration on his face.
Gimp eyes wandered about, searching intently, shortly his gaze stopped toward the tree, a few branches scattered around the ring of the trunk. He rushed toward the tree, grabbing a bundle of branches and quickly shuffled back to his patient's side. As he dropped the branches to the ground, the other gorilla gave the bear a dubious look.
"Do you need anything?" Tyrone asked.
He nodded silently, pointing to the ape's wrist as he grabbed four long branches and a roll of white tape from his kit.
Cautiously, the ape lifted the animal's wrist as the medic placed one branch on his wrist. Seeing this, the ape grabbed a limb and put it under his wrist. Gimp then set both on each side and slowly began wrapping the tape around his swollen appendage, a dutiful glare rested on his face as he rolled the tape till it became tight. He let out a quick sigh, swiftly cutting the tape. He glanced upward at the ape to watch him wipe his brow, letting out a sigh of relief.
"What are you doing?!" A loud cry beckoned the group to turn to the source.
The ape's wrist trembled with rage, aiming an angry grimace at the feline. "Oh I'm sorry, it's not like someone wasn't crying in pain or anything!" He rose his hand, furiously flipping his finger at the lion king, causing some of the hyena to snicker at his gesture.
"You cretin!" Leonard bellowed with a scrunched brow.
His cohort beside him glared openly at them, but slowly, her expression changed to a bewildered look. Vivi's ears twitched at an odd sound, a deep grunting, she glanced upward and her eyes shrunk suddenly. "Uhhhh, king."
"If I wasn't occupied here—" He raved madly.
She growled stubbornly at the feline before belting out: "Yo, King Moron, incoming!" But it was too late.
The ground quaked under the behemoth's feet, standing at a long and stout frame, the teal bear leered at the pack with a grim expression. Nostrils flaring, eyes wide with rage as Prozac glared at the lion.
The lion's face contorted into a mix of awe and fear, his tail stiffening. "Good lord…" He muttered as his eyes widened.
"Took you long enough." Evil scoffed lowly.
A loud snort was his only response, he aimed a leer at the bear and gestured downwards. Evil smirked, setting his hostage free, batting him away with his weapon. Upon seeing this, the pack suddenly rushed forward, however, at the same time, the giant bear began winding his arm back.
"Batter up!" The mouse yelled aloud.
His lumbering swing sent the pack flying violently through the air, accompanied by a lowly cackle from one of them. The female hyena followed the group's flight, barely wincing at the constant tempo of each thud crashing to the ground. Vivi peered over to the group.
"I think I broke my tail!" One cried.
Vivi squinted dryly, staring back at the pile of animals weakly rising from their flight. "Y'all alright, Edd?"
She shrugged her head casually. "He's fine." Her gaze shifted back to the Lion. She scoffed loudly, snapping him out of his trance.
"We will…handle this." Leonard said.
"You don't look all that confident."
"We can deal with this…monstrosity," He turned to her sternly. "Be cautious. Recall your pack, we will overwhelm them."
She nodded silently, turning away to the few pack members who were able to rise, two still struggled to get up while the other three trailed toward her.
"Ready?!" She bellowed out, two of the pack nodded obediently while one of them continued to do so erratically with a stupid grin as they walked past her. She abruptly pulled back the one wearing an animalistic smile. "Edd, stick with me. We've got a giant to topple." A hint of genuine mirth came from her tone.
A low laughing chirp signalled their charge; a shuffling duo waned between each other, switching places with short bounding strides in a zigzag pattern. The remaining two spread out, running in opposite directions creating a significant gap as they rushed toward the bear from each side. And, with a longing glare, the tawny feline stayed at a distance, primed to pounce.
The mouse's body tensed, eyes narrowing sharply. "Don't fall for it, wait for your moment." Mike insisted as the pack drew closer.
The seemingly roving movement broke suddenly as one of the shuffling animals paused in front of them, shortly after, his partner hopped on to it's back and quickly leaped upward at the bear with a violent lunge. And, the former promptly lunged to the bear's feet. Without any thought, the behemoth bear caught the animal out of the air, neglecting the other aiming to nip at his feet.
The predator's jaw widened only to taste cheap metal, Evil swung directly at the mongrel's maw with a dull thwack. He watched the animal retract sharply before rushing between the hulking bear's legs, he scowled following it. However, the monotonous sound of mud sloshed about behind him clopping loudly; his eyes narrowed suspiciously, a tingling sensation rose from his back.
He abruptly glanced to his side, a flash of brown made him reflexively jolt toward the hyena as it leaped onto the bear, throwing him to the ground, its volatile chomps obscured by his weapon latched on its neck. The grey bear wrestled with the animal dodging each attempt to gnash into him as he used the crowbar to rein him in, furiously flipping the beast on it's back as he held it down.
The restrained animal chirped lowly. And without warning, the bar was wrenched from Evil's grasp, quickly tossed aside by the other animal, a wolfish, pleased grin spread to her face. The hyena looked at him wistfully, then, mockingly tilting her head. And swiftly meet a sharp elbow swung at her snout. She winched, her eye firmly shut as she stumbled back, the other lazily wandered to the bear running to the direction she threw the crowbar. As the pain subsided, she licked her lips, following the other predator as they both bolted toward their target.
Evil knelt over quickly, frantically glaring over his shoulder with a side-eyed glance, one hyena drew closer to him running at full speed; he braced himself and clenched the bar tightly. Then, aimed low opting to sweep its legs, resulting in the animal to abruptly crash and crumple to the floor as it slid into the muck. The sounds of rapid footfalls and ragged breaths drawing closer caused him to swiftly dodge a swipe aimed at his hip.
"Watch it!" A familiar brash voice cried from behind.
Tensing up, wide-eyed, Evil swerved around. Catching a glimpse of the lion's eyes as the feline descended upon him with a rending slash.
A streak of red drifted through the air, clumps of fur falling to the ground. An outstretched arm shielded Evil from the deathly assault, barring a wide gash along the breadth of his arm.
The lion scowled, aiming a murderous glare at his guardian, and, the bear behemoth stared back with a stern glance of his own. With a low huff, he launched the hyena in his arm, it swirled erratically in the air till it landed on the other animals trying to rise again, abruptly sending it back to the ground again in a pile.
A thunderous roar bellowed from the lion as he charged again, only to be accosted by the bear with a clout punch, slamming the cat to the ground. With a grimace he quickly recovered, a mad look in his eye as he dodged another blow and latched onto his arm sinking his teeth into the bear's arm, sharp pain followed as he shook the feline to and fro with no avail. Opting to strike him again directly on its head, It seemingly did the trick.
As the feline fell to the ground, prowling out of his range, he peered back to his cohorts; Vivi had rushed off to aid the others briefly pulling herself from the fray. He shook his head, turning back to the bears as he gave a cold look. "How long will you last, freak?"
"Are you always this pompous, man?" A loud voice chimed.
The lion's ears jutted out, eyes sliding anxiously. "What is the meaning of this?
"What you want me to spell it out for you?" He continued in a chiding manner.
He growled inwardly, becoming accustomed to the familiar voice on his person. "Rodent…You know I can pluck you up and swallow you whole right?" He proposed.
"Fat chance." He scoffed.
Leonard ducked under the lumbering swing and hobbled backward, eyes trained on his attacker.
"Just call this off, we've already caused enough damage as it is."
"Clearly. Rodent, I don't think you know who you're talking to."
"Clearly. It ain't royalty, 'cause civility just left the exhibit ages ago."
Leonard quickly ducked under an errant shot aimed at his head from the giant bear.
Mike barely latched on to his dark mane from the sudden tremor. "Hey, chill I got this!"
"I will only say this once: Leave. I'm trying to remove this pest."
"C'mon man, he ain't…" He paused unsurely, finding a positive quality in Evil eluded him. The Lion continued.
"Twice he has wronged me, robbed me! I intend to reward him in kind." He dodged another swipe. "The longer he stays here, the more chances he has to ruin my life. To take my home…Not again, never again." His voice grew soft to the mouse's ear causing him to narrow his eyes, biting his cheek anxiously.
"King,' He exhaled deeply, clutching his mane tightly. "I…I know you're hurting right now. It's an empty, uneasy feeling ya got, but as long as you got another shoulder to lean on...it helps. A lot."
Leonard scrunched his brow bitterly. "A weak sentiment…How would I look to her, to anyone? A sad, pathetic feline. A mate who cannot harbour the strength to endure hardship, just a snivelling cub."
"If she cares, she'll listen. Plain and simple. It's what families do, they don't leave ya." A low scoff came from the lion.
"That's rich coming from you."
Mike furrowed his brow, seemingly dubious to his tone, his whiskers twitched.
"I suppose its easier, you are supposed to be dead."
A low pitched growl came from the mouse's throat.
Leonard paused, swiftly bobbing around another attack from Evil. "Oops! I struck a nerve, didn't I!" He hummed, "Take your familial prattle elsewhere. Your perverse influence is detrimental and unnecessary."
"A RAT has no business caring for another's offspring. Is that clear enough for you?"
Mike blinked blankly, eyes half-closed. "At least I still have a son." He responded slowly with a cold tone.
Leonard felt his spine tense, baring his teeth as he eyed the behemoth cocking another punch. At that moment, he deliberately leaned toward another blow, tilting his head. A deep crack rang out, followed by a dull thud, the mouse's body lurched and rolled to the ground.
Prozac's eyes widened in fear.
The lion glanced upward at Prozac, staring intensely at him as he shook his head. "How careless, can't distinguish friend from foe?"
Prozac's gaze lingered over the fallen mouse, lying limp on the ground. A lump formed in his throat.
"Ooh, Don't think he's gonna get up from that!" He heard from behind, he felt a massive pang in his chest.
Evil's brow tightened, eyes narrowing dourly at the bear. "It's not your fault, Pro."
His words were lost to him, jagged wheezing breaths and another familiar contracting sensation drew his attention, he knelt forcefully on one knee, the subtle tremor caused Evil's eyes to flare.
"Hey, stay with me here. Get angry!"
The behemoth's eyes remained on the unmoving mouse, a sorrowful gaze lingered on his face.
The king tilted his head, coyly. "And what has that accomplished? Tell me, do you intend to incur your anger toward all your allies? Because at that point you'd be doing me a favour." He chuckled.
The bear began to deflate, losing its mass by the second. Prozac turned to the Evil, a mixture of pain and concern was wrought on his face. He made a weak gesture toward the fallen victim.
Evil shook his head apprehensively, a sad expression on his face as he tried to reach for Prozac.
The hesitation on Evil's face was palpable, his eyes narrowed sharply. "God damn it." He choked out, peering back at the feline with a grim expression before sprinting around the lion. However, Leonard leaped toward him, trying pounce on the animal, but Evil quickly lurched to his right, avoiding the pounce, he reached down and hurled mud into the lion's face blinding him. He let out a wild wail, waving his claw aimlessly as the bear tucked his body into a ball, and rolled under the feline's grasp. He angrily wiped the mud from his eyes, swerving his body to the direction the bear was running and trailed behind him, lunging toward with a wide slash. A harsh sound of rending metal filled the air, sparks cascaded to the ground.
Evil recoiled from the blow, his body jerked to his left, then another heavy blow sent him reeling to the floor square on his back as the crowbar was flung out his hands across the grounds. A loud groan escaped his throat, a mild stinging pain rapped on his cheek. And again, a low, distinct chirp hummed behind him. He rose up sluggishly to his feet, his eyes drifted to the two hyena approaching, both slowly moved toward him, their eyes lingering downward. He squinted dryly, the animals were seemingly distracted. Following their gaze, he scowled begrudgingly down at the grey mouse laying on the grass.
"Ugh, of course." Evil sprinted toward the twins furiously.
From behind, however, Leonard watched him pensively, brow furrowing. "Cute." He remarked condescendingly as he purposely slowed his pace, prowling behind him. He let the bear run, creating a decent gap between them.
A sharp running kick sent the hyena reeling, staggering in place as Evil leered at its twin rushing toward with a lunge. A smug, devious smirk stretched across his face as he swayed inward, dodging the attack and grabbing the animal by its neck, he quickly redirected the predator into the other colliding head first into each other with a loud clunk. As the two predators shook dazed, Evil knelt down immediately to pick up the mouse. He could only take a single step forward, a sudden and sharp blow sent him careening to the ground abruptly with a pained grimace.
"You didn't forget, did you?" Leonard jeered, eyes trained on his clawed bleeding back. "Because I haven't. You little wretch."
Meanwhile, amongst the onlookers, two of animals desperately wrestled with one another. The yellow bear actively pulling the blue bear back.
"Come on! There's no time."
"At least wait for Death!"
The couple glared at each bitterly. "Nope." Lech slipped out his grasp by jostling his elbow roughly into his ribs, Gay winced at the sharp pain reflexively letting him go. "Go wake up sleeping beauty, I got this!"
The blue bear brazenly rushed forward, prompting the yellow bear to shake his head. "He's so dead." Gay gave a dejected sigh, swiftly rolling his eyes as he rubbed his side. He quickly blocked Death with his arm. "Don't bother, we might need you to resuscitate him. Hopefully, he doesn't do anything stupid—"
Death tilted his head, raising his brow dubiously.
"I know. I know." He turned toward the others, standing over the black bear on the grass. Gay scowled, looking cross at the pink-furred bear, she was glaring down at the black bear trying to drag him across the field as the violet bear held his legs. "Well?"
She glanced meaningfully over her shoulder.
He turned toward the ape kneeling down and patting his brother's brow. The ape stared down at bear and rolled his eyes. "Sorry…my wrist hurts."
Gay's brow narrowed in disbelief. "Oh, that's just petty." He turned to Sara.
"Wake him up then."
"He's out cold." She abruptly dropped him, then swiftly kicked him in his gut, no response, she pointed lamely at Fighter. "See."
Her sister gave her a hard look, shaking her head.
"Oh God…Why am I the only competent one here?" Gay loudly proclaimed.
"Excuse me, drama queen?" She blurted abruptly with a sour look.
"Ignoring that. Gimp, could you?" A subtle popping was heard, the masked-bear tilted a bottle into the plain cloth in his paw, then, handed the towel to Gay quickly.
Gay placed the cloth against the bear's snout, letting the scent linger in his nose. Suddenly, a loud fit of coughing erupted from the bear's throat, rising up from his slumber.
The pink bear squinted dryly, visibly frowning annoyed. "How was I supposed to know that was an option?"
A brief silence took her as she leered downward.
"I mean, you could have asked?" Cara added, breaking the silence.
Sara glanced at Gimp blankly, then abruptly stared at Cara with a scornful look. Cara causally shrugged, sporting a warm smile. Her sister growled inwardly at her, scornfully rolling her eyes.
The fit of coughing slowly died down as Gay patted the bear's back. "Easy, easy now. Don't want a repeat of last time."
Cara squinted curiously at this, the yellow bear gave her hard look.
"Don't ask," Gay added casually. His gaze lingered downwards, the shackles clamped on the bear's wrists had made him glower at them, he glanced backwards. "Gimp do you think you could get those off."
"Forget it, I'm," Fighter stopped suddenly, eyes widening in a panic. A loud, repetitive patting made Gay turn to the now frantic bear; his eyes were agape, searching wildly. He decided to aid in his search for a moment, calmly combing the area with his eyes, he squinted dryly. Fed up with his fruitless effort. He felt a tap on his shoulder, seeing a pink finger point across the grass under the tree's shadow, his eye stuck on the crude doll laying in the grass.
"Why am I not surprised. Whatever Evil's paying for it now." He rolled his eyes, "A shame we're all here with him, though."
Fighter gave a distressed look, his snout scrounged, eyes narrowing sharply as he whipped his head behind him. His gaze fell on the lion, slowly approaching a crawling animal dragging itself across the mud. The bear rose in a huff but felt a hand quickly pull him back by the chain.
"Hold it, we don't need another one running off."
"We still need to make sure everyone gets out in one piece."
For a moment, he looked at him inquisitively, slowly he directed his vision toward the adjacent side of the exhibit, watching a pair of hyena hovering over their leader. "Right…"
"What about Mi-"
Cara suddenly stopped, eyes drifting to the yellow bear as he gestures to cease, bringing his fingers to his lips. Her eyes furrowed.
"We'll think of something." Gay continued.
"He'll want something…"
"I doubt it. King's already focused on skinning Evil."
Fighter's eyes lingered below at the toy, laying in the grass. "I…I think…we might have something to doll him up." He smiled wilily.
A shadow loomed over Evil's head as he continued to drag himself away from the prowling predator. Its eyes focused on his head as he winded up his paw.
"Hail to the king, baby!"
Leonard paused, shortly after, his vision darkened suddenly, sharp pain caused him to recoil with a jerk. He viciously opened his eyes; another bear with long ears and a cocky grin stood in front of Evil armed with a crowbar. With a guttural roar, he lunged for the hook in his maw.
Lech growled out in response before being dragged by the lion's grip, violently shaken from left to right as he hung on for dear life. And during this furious struggle, a thought came to his mind. He took a reluctant breath, loosening his grip slightly and let the bar slip from his grasp. Falling lamely to the earth. Then he slowly began to crawl toward Evil with a wide-eyed expression as the lion seized the metal in its maw and with a distinct sharp crunch, he snapped the bar with his jowls.
The lion swerved around and vigorously spat the metal from his mouth, glaring at it with a white fury, he began to claw and scrape adamantly at it. Thrashing until the bar was rendered beyond recognition. He panted heavily, mane matted with sweat and blood from his excursion. And finally, a harsh sound pierced his haze. "Chill out, ya lunatic!" He aimed a glare at the source, Vivi stood over the wounded bear with a dull, yet annoyed expression.
Leonard shook his head, regaining what little composure he had before turning to his left, the bears were already halfway to their group. Lech carrying the Evil over his shoulder. He locked eyes, as did Evil, the bear calmly gave him a rude gesture with his finger without breaking eye contact. "Right…Right." He growled inwardly.
"Get it out of your system? Cause we got a living thing, you could take out your frustrations on." She prodded the bear below her. "I won't judge." A morose smirk creepily spread to her face.
"No. This one is leverage…" He watched her shrug dully, then craned her neck. "But before that, I have a message I wish to send…"
She nodded knowingly, staring past the feline toward her pack mates. "Boys, when you're done picking yourselves off the ground, remind the apes why they're here, would you?"
The four hyena that were able slowly congregated away from their leader toward the lion patiently.
Meanwhile, the bears argued among themselves.
"No. This is a terrible plan." Gay announced.
Lech's brow furrowed, he shook his head and gave a dissatisfied look. "Yeah, this plan blows. I doubt he'll bite."
Fighter gave the yellow bear a meaningful pleading glance, he wore a disarming smile. To his disappointment, however, Gay didn't relent to his gaze.
"No. I will not use you as a bargaining chip." He reiterated.
"As long everyone does their part...Evil." Fighter glanced at Evil purposely, "We should be able to get Pro out his mitts. Besides…You're the savviest, capable one here."
A prideful smirk graced the bear's face along with a playful eye roll, he cupped his chin. "I mean… he's not wrong."
Lech rolled his eyes sourly, blowing a raspberry. "Pfft, Yeah, right."
Fighter handed him the doll, gesturing openly for him to take it. But Gay brushed the doll aside.
"I may acknowledge your flattery, but that doesn't mean I'll throw my buns willingly in the fire." He replied with a stern gaze.
His ears lowered, eyes drifting toward the doll with a dull wistful look. "That's…That's understandable, but concerning."
Sara promptly tilted her head, then snapped her fingers loudly, drawing the attention of the others as they glanced back.
"You got a problem with my plan?" Fighter surmised.
"What about them?" She pointed ahead casually to the pack of hyena trudging their way to them. The group collectively glanced over at the mob.
Fighter felt his brow narrow, he scratched the back of his ear awkwardly. "I…I hadn't thought that far ahead."
"Dude you skipped a step."
His eyes narrow intently as he caught Lech, giving a judgmental leer.
"Oh, my bad! I mean, it's not like I was out for five, ten minutes or something…Head feels like it's gonna snap like a pencil." He rubbed his head.
"Felt like an hour—Ahh!" Evil intercepted with a grimace. A sharp stinging sensation flared on his back as Gimp dabbed his wound with a rag.
Fighter watched the female bear raise her hand. "Anything else?" He asked.
She pointed lamely to Gay. "Again, why him?"
"As far as I see, he's the most trustworthy option."
A dismissive cloud of doubt hung over the group, each carrying unsure expressions. The bear let out an exhausted sigh before calmly glaring down the group.
"Pro's down. Death won't be let near him, Gimp's probably the only one that can treat injuries and Lech…" He felt his brow tighten as he gave a serious look. 'Yeah no. Not happening."
"I could take em." Lech puffed his chest. He was abruptly pulled away by Sara.
"What about us?"
Fighter's eyes brightened briefly. "Your pheromone thingy work on opposite species?"
"She can't even control it." Lech blurted abruptly, chuckling to himself.
Sara swung at him hard, a sharp hook aimed at the animal's arm. Lech winced immediately, then coughed aloud unconvincingly.
"Then you're as a useful than a broken pencil."
She squinted dryly, a look of displeasure and disdain vividly on her face. "Alright, then."
He then turned to Cara, unsure as he narrowed his eyes. "What?" She asked curiously.
He looked at her, then to the ground. He looked back at her, then to the ground again. With a loud inhale, he replied: "No. Just. No." In a low voice, clicking his tongue.
Upon hearing his tone, Sera bobbed her head displeasingly with a look of bitter annoyance. "Oh, she's useless too then. Great, great." She slowly clapped. "Good plan."
"You're a wild card to me, I'm…I'm sorry."
"Shove it, asshole," Sara stated dryly.
Lech rolled his eyes. "Now who's the drama queen?"
He felt a small jab at his chest, he scowled knowingly, leering at Gay. "Butt out of this." The two began to bicker.
Cara waved to them to garner their attention, her eyes dimming. "Guys come on, we don't have time-"
Sara scowled, rolling her eyes. "If he wants to be idiot, let em." Then they started to bicker.
A cluster of random noise rang from either side of Fighter. The collection of harsh sound pierced his mind, grinding bitterly to his ear.
"My butt hurts." Evil blurted out. Gimp reeled away with half-shut dubious eyes.
Fighter felt his head pulse with pain as he gritted his teeth.
"Focus! God Damn it!" He bellowed in a thick distressed tone, the group abruptly returned to the bear with mixed expressions of displeasure and worry.
"Big baby," Lech muttered.
"Fine! I'll go!"
"That's a senseless sacrifice." Sara swiftly surmised.
"Not if everybody plays their part." Again, he aimed a glare at Evil. The albino bear scowled but nodded weakly.
"Now, if you excuse me, I need to make sure he doesn't bash my head in for the stunt I pulled,"
An exasperated groan escaped Gay's maw, prompting Fighter to stop briefly. "Ohhh...Poor choice of," He quickly covered his mouth.
Fighter gave a weak quizzical glance, which elicited a loud smack beside him.
"Shoot, I forgot to pick him up." Lech held his head, gritting his teeth.
"With what your third arm? Ow!" Evil winced as Gimp dabbed him again, forcefully as he reached for gauze in his kit.
Fighter, curious, began to scan the ground broadly till his eyes lingered on something off. He stared at a small lump in the distance, blankly peering unable to discern what it was. A limp, unmoving grey clump which parted the tufts of grass around it as they swayed to the wind.
"Please, Don't freak out," Gay stated aloud.
Then, it dawned on him. He remembers, who, not what. And at that moment, the reality of the situation hit him harder than anything earthly ever could. The bear's broad shoulders dropped slowly; his arms laying at his sides, and his paws that were tightly clasped began to loosen. Surprisingly, his legs held, feet quivering quietly as stood unmoving. And his breaths became quick, desperate gasps each carrying an audible heaving.
"I don't think he's gonna be ok," Cara announced with a hint of concern.
Gay tapped his shoulder lightly, no response. He quietly called his name, again, no answer, he even leaned closer and looked upward, a vacant misty eyed stare was all that remained. He bit his lip, internally wincing at his state.
"You should have told him." Cara chimed, she clasped her hands worriedly.
"I was afraid he'd charge in like an idiot, not this."
"We interrupting something?"
The group turned toward the predator pack standing broadly across them, the one that spoke shambled forward from the crowd.
"Cause we can wait." He smiled wildly, his eyes shifting to the statue quaking in place. "Haha, look at em' squirm." The group briefly chuckled, a burst of excessive laughter persisting longer than needed. "Calm down, Eddy. Look, we're here to 'negotiate.' Whose in charge?"
"That'd be me," Lech announced without missing a beat. Soon afterward, a loud scoff came from the predator in response.
Lech coldly glared at the pack leader, cracking his knuckles. However, he felt a little jab to his side, he caught the yellow bear's gaze; a stern look in his eyes.
"Buy some time, please." He mouthed.
Lech looked at him intently, then nodded. The bear marched toward the pack, stopping in front of them as he folded his arms. "What do you want?"
"Release Evil, and he'll consider this obstruction benign, or something." He rolled his eyes.
"That's all. Wow, how gracious." He purposely lowered his gaze, leering at the animal.
"Oh, right. The King wants to send a special message as well." He leaned to the right of the bear, which he quickly blocked and continued to agitate them.
"Oh, he does. Why can't the big man come here himself?
The hyena looked at him blankly, then snorted lowly. "I mean, I could do that. It's your funeral."
The group behind the bear groaned aloud.
"Dumbass," Sara dryly announced, her eyes drifted curiously past the bear.
Lech's brow narrowed threateningly attempting to keep up the façade of authority under his belt, but the hyena stood unfazed by his intimidation.
The predator cracked his neck causally with a dull expression aimed at the bear. "Anyways, he said:" He coughed deeply, then tilted his head around Lech's waist to peer to the gorilla. "This indiscretion will haunt you, and you will live to regret this." His words made the ape instinctively pull his injured brother closer to him, cautiously staring with wayward eyes.
"That's a bluff," Lech called out.
The predator shrugged. "Hey man, it's not my life. I could care less about what happens to those clowns. Now. Cough em—Wait." He squinted curiously. A yellowish blur fluttered behind the bear. "Hey!"
"Took you long enough." Lech blurted abruptly.
Shortly after, Lech swung wildly landing a clean punch across its maw. The predator lurched back into the pack, stumbling on its feet as it fell to the ground. The hyena huddled around the animal as it slowly began to rise, he spat out blood from his maw. A collective growl spurred among the among themselves.
The hyena looked over his shoulder, shaking his head. "Naw. I got this." Then, he sent a leer to the bear and the pair locked eyes.
"Bring it beta." Said Lech, wearing a cocky scowl.
With great exertion, Gay rushed back into the fold with a distressed tone.
"Gimp, he's…got a broken leg. And I don't…d-don't,"
"Breath. Breathe." Said Sara, patting his back.
He knelt carefully placing the animal on the ground. Then, his eyes went wide, another shadow hovered over him. He whipped around and wildly sliced; dark fur parted as a red line took its place around its knee. Gay felt his brow tighten as he shook his head. "Jeezus...A little warning."
"S-Sorry." Fighter replied in a monotonous manner, a coldness lingered in his tone. He slowly stepped around him, then, knelt forward with an intent glare aimed at the mouse. A faint reddish hue trailed from its ear. His gaze blurred, steading toward his midsection. Fighter's brow narrowed sharply, anxiously waiting for the rise of the mouse's chest, a subtle shift of the rodent's body made him calmly shut his eyes.
"He's...breathing." He barely barked.
"Oh, thank God." Gay proclaimed. He stood up and wiped his damp knees. And turned to Fighter, glaring downward. He placed his paw on his shoulder. "Hey, relax. Gimp can do this." He glanced back at Gimp carefully. "Right?" An unsure tone crept its way into his voice.
Gimp nodded silently, his eyes drawn to the mouse. He started rummaging through his kit to pull out a pair of tweezers. A look of concern visibly in his eyes; the tweezers shook in his paw. He perked up at the slightest tap on his back. Turning slowly to Cara as she gave him a calming, gentle smile. The tweezers settled in his paw as he nodded solemnly.
Gay sighed deeply, shifting slowly toward Fighter; watching his ears perk as he turned toward the scuffle. "Maybe you should sit this one out?" he said.
"Unlikely…" He muttered, still staring down the animals from afar.
"Damn it, where did…" Someone muttered lowly.
Gay felt his eyes narrow as he whipped toward the voice. "What are you doing?" He squinted, then placed hands on his hips. Aiming an annoyed scowl at Evil as fiddled with the doll. "Oh no, you don't."
He felt a firm constricting grip on his shoulder, quickly keeping him in place. Glancing over his shoulder, he caught a dangerous glare that screamed: Don't. As he stared directly into his dark-yellow eyes. "Okayyy." Gay fearfully drawn out, slowly wriggling from his grip. The bear nodded, turning back to the predators.
"I…I'm going. Stay safe." Fighter announced. Walking out toward the scuffle.
The yellow bear, despite his quivering feet, reached out. "You don't need to," He stopped suddenly as Fighter sent him a glare. Then, slowly moved toward him with a blank ominous expression issuing a look of fear from Gay as he stayed mere steps away.
Gay stubbornly narrowed his eyes, loudly gripping his paw tightly as he spoke louder alerting the others. "You can let yourself rest. Please! Death can," A rough and abrupt lunge from Fighter made him flinch, but slowly the tension began to slip away as his arms wrapped around him in a tight embrace, his chin resting on his shoulder. "I…I won't. Lose myself to this…"
With a heavy, defeated sigh, he rolled his eyes and patted his back. "Be careful."
Fighter's eyes narrowed at his words, a dour expression etched on his face. The bear steadily began to notice the others troubled stares. Moreover, the gaze of calm grey eyes resting on him.
Death's brow tightened, a stern look on his face. "Do not let your anger cloud your judgment, you will regret it."
Fighter blankly blinked, tiredness seemed to have crept into the animal's countenance; he felt his grasp tighten on the bear. He pulled away abruptly and began to walk toward the quarrelling animals at a steady pace.
Death's brow tightened anxiously, glancing back at the wall behind them at the ladder stretched against it. "Everyone quickly!" He pointed to the ladder, the remaining animals nodded following his lead, the gimped bear opened his kit and slowly placed his patient within an open crevice before shutting it and following the others. However, the apes lagged behind them.
"No. I'll stay here…and rest. Ty...grab the old crow first."
Tyrone stubbornly narrowed his brow, trying to pull him under his arm, but his brother openly brushed him aside and clutched his wrist. The sight made his chest tighten.
"I'll be fine…" He muttered, laying his head against the trunk of the tree.
Tyrone begrudgingly did as he was told, instead, grabbing the owl and slowly treading to the group with an uneasy tinge in his gut.
As the group gathered together, the scuffle continued. The blue bear landed a staggering hook across the hyena's face, then, through the pain, the hyena lunged to the bear's knee grasping it in his jaw before enduring another blow from the bear. It released its hold slumping back, lazily slinking near his pack.
"Want some more?" Lech boldly proclaimed.
The hyena spat downwards and scowled. "I think I've had my fill." A twitch of acute pain made him laboriously open his eye as he strained to look past the bear. He let out a tiny mocking chortle. "Didn't think the Alpha needed backup."
Lech's eyes went wide as he felt a paw grasp his shoulder, peering over his side, he saw the black bear standing behind him. "Lay off. I've got this." He said.
"No." Fighter stated grimly.
Lech's brow furrowed "I'm not stepping down."
"Don't have to." Fighter half-smiled, although the expression was off, forced even. Lech squinted dubiously at his gesture. Fortunately, he didn't have time to question his demeanour.
"Hey, hate to break it to you, but you're outgunned." The hyena motioned toward his pack members beside him. "But since you're causing us so much trouble, how's about you smooth it over with us by handing over that lump of mouse meat too. You ain't gonna get any use out of him, right?" He let out a fit of laughter, letting his head hang back as he guffawed which slowly enveloped the rest of his pack as they chirped together intently in a high pitched choir of chaotic chortles.
As the laughter died down, the hyena squinted knowingly. "Edd, cut it,' A first, he turned to the obnoxious animal standing before him 'calmly' wagging his head around. Dumbfounded for a moment, he questioned his senses briefly before recognizing where the last laugh erupted from. The animal dubiously ogled the black bear mimicking his gesture only a few steps closer than initially, the bear's company sharing the same concerned look of discomfort.
A burst of lingering and strained laughter continued as the group started to fidget at his sustained guffaw. "Ya mind letting us in on the joke, Mr. Comedian?"
He continued, tears welling from his eyes as the sardonic laughter echoed loudly.
"Dude. Cut it out." Lech stated, squinting dryly.
One of the Hyena scowled. "Hey, that's our that's thing stop."
The forced, ghastly laughter continued much to their chagrin.
The hyena's eye twitched angrily as stomped his foot down. "K-knock it off, or we will kill the slackjawed idiots behind you!" He snapped. And finally, his fit of maniac laughter ceased, as if a switch had been flipped. "Good, we finally understand one another."
Fighter wiped his eyes calmly. "Funny…ain't it?"
Lech narrowed his eyes cautiously at his demeanour, his spine tensed briefly.
The hyena shook his head and proceeded to walk around them, Lech growled inwardly stepping out brashly. However, before he could advance, the hyena shouted purposefully: "Don't bother! Both the king and boss can crush your leader if you so much as cough right now!"
An audible groan of pain came from across the exhibit, Lech glared at Vivi explicitly stepping on Prozac's injured arm. He hesitated.
"Its been fun playing,"
"It's all a barrel of laughs…" Fighter interjected, slowly trailing on. "Cept' no one wants to be a punchline…" His eyes flickered like a flame; he calmly shut them breathing three full breaths.
"There a point to this?"
The bear's ear left ear visibly twitched. "The point…I…I lost it." He lazily replied.
"Lunati-" He was cut short. Battered by two consecutive blows, the first generation of stinging pain was a crushing hook aimed downward on the base of his skull. The second impact had been a straight punch, accompanied by a sharp crunch.
Fighter rolled his wrists carefully, a dull annoyance on his face as he stared at his chained wrist. "Let me pitch it to you…Doesn't matter how tough you are—Nothing—hits harder than life. I guess we're all just gluttons for punishment, huh?" His speech prompted an impersonal and cold stare; aimed directly at the lion glaring from afar.
For a moment, an onlooker narrowed her brow the hyena's curved tail twitching belligerently.
"Stand down, Vivian," Leonard ordered. She gave him a firm glare, waiting with furrowed eyes. "I assure you, it won't be an issue; let them think they've wo, and we sweep the rug from underneath them." He watched her gaze linger past him, Vivi spat bitterly at the grass muttering something. "Excuse me, didn't quite hear that." He stepped into her line of vision, peering down authoritatively at her.
Vivi stifled a growing growl in her throat. "Fine." She bitterly returned. The lion sighed as he whipped around and started to prowl toward the edge of the exhibit.
As the lion made his approach, Fighter looked down at the predator sputtering on the spot, its mouth flapping wordless gasps. Its attempts of faltering speech created a deep crack, audible only to the hyena.
"That's your jaw, right?" Fighter asked. The hyena went bug-eyed as he stared up at the bear, making a fist. "Let me help."
The blue bear abruptly stepped over the black bear's feet. Lech leaned forward, dipped down, and thrusts his arm upward for an uppercut aimed squarely to the hyena's jaw. The third strike sent the animal careening to the grass, landing flat on his back with an open maw.
Fighter's brow rose inquisitively. "Not bad. Could be better." He chimed.
Lech scoffed aloud, visibly shaking his head dismissively as he gave Fighter a friendly scowl. "Shut it. Show off." Fighter then forcefully shoved the bear aside, stumbling beside him briefly before quickly getting his footing. "Watch it, dick!" He yelled, agitated. A sudden realization soon dawned on Lech as two brown blurs charged toward Fighter and leaped to him baring their fangs. The bear quickly drew the chain out at arm's length as one latched to the chain, dangling precariously; it promptly kicked off the bear's stomach to land on the grass.
But before the hyena could strike Fighter aimed a quick kick across the predator's face causing the animal to reel and stumble about dizzily. Shortly after, many sharp pangs of stinging pain dug at the bear's forearm reflexively, causing his shoulder to tense.
The other hyena loudly gnawed at his cuffed wrist while its claws latched to his arm, firmly planting its legs on the bear's back. The added weight made Fighter knell forward as he gave a wide-eyed expression.
Seeing the struggle, Lech growled openly. "Get off!" He attempted to get the animal off, however, with a loud snort. Fighter reached out to grasp the hyena's head and roughly dragged his claw against his forehead, a loud yelp of pain soon followed before he gripped the animal's neck and slammed it into the grass.
Lech paused with a blank-eyed expression awkwardly clasping his paws together and stepping backward. "Never mind." As he stepped back, he felt something brush against his leg, turning to the hyena trying scamper past him; they locked eyes. The predator gave a shy smile, giggling while the blue bear cracked a cocky smirk. He grabbed the mongrel by the tail as it let out a distressed yelp. He began to batter the beast, laying punches in its gut before picking it up and body slamming the hyena to the grass, it curled up whining briefly as Lech dusted his paws off proudly. Then, curious, he glanced quickly over at the black bear lifting the hyena up and tossing it into its comrade, colliding with it and rolling to the ground violently as the other toppled over. Without a second thought, Fighter leaned forward and ran at a full sprint toward the recovering animal.
Lech slowly began to follow the bear, cracking his knuckles with glee; however, he quickly paused as the lion walked into view. A brazen thought entered his mind as he rushed forward to attack the feline but was swiftly struck with the back of the animal's paw, sending him to the ground with ease. He growled inwardly, glowering at the lion as he slowly rose back up.
The sound of rapid drumming steps toward the hyena's ears made it quickly swerve away; a heavy thud rang in its ear, mud splattering across its face. The lumbering swing from the bear rested inches from where its head resided, its eyes widened at the trembling fist.
"Stupid." Fighter chided, bearing the tremor rushing up his arm.
Again, he tried to reach for the hyena, grabbing it by the ear and dragging it underneath him as rose his fist, but a quick clamping ache gripped his shoulder before he could pummel it. His jaw tensed, eyes widening intently as the bear peered at the predator's pack mate latched to his side like a leech, quickly he rolled to the grass, tossing and turning with the beast. Suddenly, a loud splash echoed out, and finally, the hyena relinquished itself from his shoulder.
As the bear rose from the scuffle another splash erupted from behind, his eyes darted wildly to the previous hyena, he charged forward leading with two rolling jabs from his right. Then retraced his fist as the animal retaliated with an empty chomp. Fighter stepped forward, peppering his face with jabs as the animal impatiently repeated his vigorous assault only to achieve the same result: two pestering punches aimed at his snout.
The hyena swivelled back snarling lowly with a grimace as it prowled toward his foe, watching closely as the bear stood calmly in its stance. The predator swayed loosely from side to
side as the bear lowered his right paw; pre-emptively, it ducked and headed straight under the bear's jab and widened its jaw. But the bear hopped backwards, drawing his right leg back and swiftly dragged his left foot, his eyes focused on his opponent's temple. A hollow crack followed shortly after, the hyena crumbled into the pool with a splat as the smashing left hook drove the animal down lifelessly into the water.
A notched ear perked and twitched at another sound; Fighter barely let out a gasp before the other hyena rushed toward him leaping at his neck, he ducked his head and swayed back barely dodging the lunge as the hyena landed with a plunk. The bear rushed forward and aimed a straight at its head, but it swiftly swivelled around it and chomped at his wrist, a cold clank rang out as it quickly retracted its maw. Then the predator furiously attacked with a spastic vigour, swinging and swiping widely in succession as Fighter shuffled and weaved through his assault.
A wild dance commenced between them, the pair weaving and around each other sporadically changing positions as each of their blows were nearly avoided by the other. During the demented dance Fighter eyed a brick wall across them out of the pool, the bear aimed a determined glare at it before throwing a few weak jabs, jostling the animal's cheek, it drifted backward, snapping at him as the bear peppered him with jabs.
The hyena growled lowly, dipping out of his range and tucked under his opponent to slash at the bear's leg. It slid around the bear's feet and aimed another shot at his hip, clipping his waist as fur flew to the grass. The confident predator then lunged up and slashed downward at his opponent's chest.
Fighter narrowed his eyes and withdrew, stepping toward the attack with an outstretched fist as it leaped right into his straight, landing bitterly as his snout burned. It recovered quickly hobbling backwards but the bear closely followed with an intense glare guiding the animal with wide hooks and sharp jabs. Fear began to settle, it hopped back quickly only to brush lightly against something behind it.
The moment it realized its mistake Fighter lunged forward and aimed a hook downward at his face with his right and continued with his left for an uppercut sending its head into the wall. He wasted no time slipping in and striking its leg, a sharp crack accompanying the blow. Again, the bear moved in and hit the animal with a clean right hook, then gave it a left.
The predator could not run, nor evade the onslaught of rolling hooks, relentlessly driving it turbulently from side to side as its head jerked to each strike. The last blow was a stiff uppercut, slamming the hyena into the wall.
Fighter let out a heavy breath, deeply gasping aloud as the animal wobbled, stumbling in place. But, despite the hyena's dazed state, the bear stepped forward. The bear rose his fist for another punch. However, the predator's head lazily dipped down and collapsed to the ground as the punch collided with stone. A loud popping noise rung out, a small fragment of the brick fell near the hyena's head. A sharp stinging ache filled Fighter's knuckle, he clenched his right paw in frustration. "Gah…Gah…Overextended…Stupid." He muttered, shaking his head, discouraged.
For the moment, his foes were beaten. However, he could not shake his unease. From the corner of his eye, he watched the lion prowl toward the group, slowly closing the gap as Lech trailed behind him. Fighter's gaze glazed over as he watched the prideful beast saunter toward the others, and slowly, he started to drag his feet toward the beast. However, his trance was broken by the calm water around his ankles. He paused. Then, glared down at his reflection in the pond and scowled knowingly, scoffing aloud.
He took a moment to breathe, making an effort not to gaze at the lion and snapped toward the adjacent side of the exhibit.
As he attempted to move, he immediately felt his leg brush against a lump of unkempt fur. His eyes lowered to the unmoving animal laying in the water, its head submerged in the water at his feet. He stepped over the unconscious hyena feeling his brow immediately tighten as thoughts raced through his mind. The loudest one, a voice so evident in his mind loudly proclaiming: Let him drown. But despite himself, he ignored it. Grabbing the animal by the scruff of his head and dropped it outside of the pond.
Fighter slowly winded his shoulder around while a flat smile crept on his face before unceremoniously slamming his fist into the animal's belly; it wheezed and coughed up water loudly. He then knelt down over it and clasped his paw around its snout as the hyena looked dubiously at him. "Stay down, pup." He said, inches away from his face. The hyena slowly nodded his head as the bear rose to his feet.
The bear marched toward the couple, readying himself for another fight, but, as he tried to close the gap, the captor openly rapped her claws against the bear's head, a soft growl of pain caused Fighter to stop a few feet away.
"So, funny guy, what exactly do you plan to do here?" Vivi asked, her tail wagging behind her. He stood still as stone, silently eyeing the animal cautiously.
"Cause, the way I see it, you've got two options: You could run at me…but I think we both know where that path leads," She lowered her head slightly, eyeing him as her snout hovered over the captive bear's neckline, blowing her hot breath against it. Then, slowly, she rose with a smooth smile. "Or…We do things my way."
Fighter tilted his head dully. "A joke then." He calmly rose his brow incredulously.
"No. Clearly, we're both not in the mood." Her brow narrowed as her eyes duly focused on his face. "We'll play a game. Do exactly as I say, and you'll get your friend."
The bear tapped his feet, leering at the hyena as a wide smirk wrapped around her maw, her black lips curling deviously with delight. "Trust me." She said, still smiling. His gaze dipped down at her captive.
Prozac furrowed his brow knowingly and sternly shook his head.
"I don't think you need any more incentive not to be an idiot."
Fighter took a long breath, shutting his eyes, then solemnly opened them. He expected a crazed look from the predator; her smile had a trace of it, but her eyes were focused, patiently awaiting his response. He knew she was right, but another thought came to his mind, one which almost made him crack a smile. He wiped away any traces of intent from his face.
"I'll play your game." He said in a lower tone, his eyes narrowing dourly.
The hyena nodded firmly, her smile slowly fading as her eyes narrowed. "Knell," Vivi commanded calmly.
It took a moment, but Fighter slumped down on his knee cautiously causing Vivi to roll her eyes.
"All fours, dummy." She peered over the teal-bear, then gestured toward the black bear casually. "Can you believe this guy?"
Prozac felt a vein form on his head as he watched Fighter hunch over and knell on all fours like a dog.
"Now. Roll over." The bear rolled around in the mud briefly, stopping afterward to rise again. "Roll over." She ordered back. The bear gave a blank and dubious stare. "What? I said: Rollover. Give me a show mutt."
She stepped off Prozac only to plop her rear on the bear's head, and he growled in his throat, his eyes narrowing sharply as he began to realize what she was doing. It was clear to the bear as he watched Fighter rolling around vigorously and slowly panting aloud, the sweat visibly trailing down his brow as Fighter hung his head downward.
Vivi observed the animal's form gravely, her fiery eyes narrowing half shut to an almost wistful expression as she spoke. "Y'know I really wanted to fight you, would've been fun." She chuckles deeply, a regretful air in her tone. "A shame." She shrugged, sighing openly. "Regardless, I still need to repay you for the trouble. It's the principal of thing, y'know." Her eyes shifted into an impassive glare. "Crawl. Slowly to me."
Fighter crawled slowly toward the hyena as she trailed on.
"But now…I have to do you dirty. Like that mouse."
A noticeable spasm of the hunched bear's brow brought about a curious raise of her eyebrow, however, what drew her further as she inspected his person was the corner of his snout curling into a grin.
"What's so funny?"
"Don't worry about it." He calmly replied.
A faint rumbling beneath her made her eyes widen as something wrapped around her leg suddenly, dragging her upward and violently tossing into the air as she soared over the railings. A loud crash signalled her landing outside of the exhibit grounds. And once more, the behemoth returned looming over the black bear with a concerned look, watching Fighter rise slowly. Prozac sighed aloud, shifting into his prior form.
"Take a knee." Prozac narrowed his brow as the bear continued to get up despite the difficulty. "I won't let you,"
Fighter rose his hand apprehensively, breathing heavily as he shook his head.
Prozac paused, unsure, but felt some of his tension ease as the bear knelt over on the grass.
"I'm dead weight...Protect your family…" He muttered, wiping the sweat off his brow.
Prozac squinted pensively then nodded as he turned away. As he began to run toward the others, he heard a faint voice behind him, a low murmuring which carried melancholy chuckle. He felt his chest tighten, but he continued to walk toward the lion.
Leonard stood across the group mere steps away—too distracted by the thought of escaping his trap to notice his approach—Disdain slowly welled up inside him as he eyed his former cohort standing right beside the source of their escape; his scornful look catching the eye of the ape standing beside the ladder.
The lion grimly eyed the gorilla as the ape slowly met his gaze and angrily leered in turn: unflinching to one another's bitter stares. Until,
devious inspiration dawned upon the king's mind, breaking his gaze and turning his eyes to the other ape laying soundly on the grass.
Initially, the gorilla hadn't noticed; till the lion purposely shifted his body and followed the feline's trajectory as he inched to his brother. The ape tensed instantly, surprise visibly on his face as he felt the grip on the animal in his paws loosen. One thing was sure: he would not make it.
With a haughty smile, Leonard gestured beside the ape openly waiting for a response as one of the bears began to climb the ladder. The lion slowly rose his paw and swiped away at the air, his eyes turning to the ladder with a firm expression. Vigilantly waiting for a response to his veiled threat. And—with great pleasure—watched the ape slowly reel his foot backward.
An abrupt sweeping kick quickly collapsed the metal ladder causing it to fall flat, and with it came Evil crashing down with a loud crack. An agonizing roar rang out as the bear held his knee; the pain was abrupt and sharp as glass as it throbbed.
The group turned to the ape furiously, each wearing looks of frustration and confusion.
The yellow bear quickly glared at ape but paused as a loud cough made him and the collective animals feel a chill down their spines. "Oh no…" Gay muttered.
"Good. Good. For once, something is going right." Leonard announced. "Now stand aside, this will only be a moment." His eyes narrowed suspiciously, legs tensing as the sound of wet plopping mud ringing behind him. He whipped around toward the attacker and leaped overhead, confusing Lech as he landed behind the bear, turned and swung hard, batting the bear with ease toward the group as he fell flat on his stomach with a grimace.
"Welcome back," Gay remarked flatly. He watched the bear try to retort, but Lech grimaced as he tried to rise, holding his side briefly as he steadied his breath. The yellow bear let out a deep sigh and knelt down to help the other, much to the lecherous bear's discontent.
"Now. Hand Evil over." Leonard announced coldly.
Lech furrowed his eyes and blurted out: "Bite me." Beside him stood a shocked, angered bear with a gaze of pure displeasure on his face as restrained himself from dropping him.
"Oh my God…" Gay let out dejectedly, pinching the bridge of his snout.
The lion tilted his head curiously, then gave a flat smirk. "If you insist…" He took a menacing step towards the group, eyes looming over with malice. The group slowly trailed back toward the wall.
"Annnd we are dead," Sara muttered, feeling her sister's grip tight around her; she reflexively returned her embrace.
As the lion descended upon them, his ears perked at a distinct eerie crackling sound rang lowly to the feline's ear. However, "Stand down!" A voice loudly ordered the feline's brow narrowed intently, slowly turning to the Prozac. The bear stood ruggedly in his giant form, staring the animal down.
"You dragged yourself back into the fray, how inspiring." His eyes drifted to his wounded arm. In response, Prozac growled staring down the feline with a silent glare.
"Hopefully you don't make the same mistake again." They stared each other down, slowly inching themselves toward each other ready to fight at a moment's notice.
Regrettably, the masked-bear eyes flickered longingly across the grounds, the image of their leader's wound ever present in his mind. He looked down instinctively at his kit, a thoughtful expression on his face, which quickly turned to confusion as he suddenly was lifted up into the air, clumsily dropping the bag and alerting the others to his abduction.
"Hey, let him go!" Lech uttered hastily.
The yellow bear gave the ape an annoyed scowl. "Really?!" Gay blurted out.
The ape's face tensed his brow tightly scrunched down as he avoided the bear's gaze. "I'm sorry." He replied, then turned to Evil. "Now come with me or," He paused as he heard an ominous crackling noise from behind, he suddenly turned toward Death staring at him with a determined glare.
"Put. Him. Down." Death commanded, arms outstretched and his fingertips sparking with pale energy. The ape narrowed his brow, hesitation in his eyes. "I won't say it twice."
The ape's grip on his captive tightened, stifling a gulp from his throat.
As the standoff continued, the purple bear stepped forward, raising her hands apprehensively in a calming manner, speaking abruptly. "Let's all calm-" The ape's ears perked, it's arm jerked toward her suddenly. The abrupt strike caused Cara to lurch to the ground onto her knees.
The ape went wide-eyed fear rushing to his face—A sentiment Death too shared—as the others crowded around her.
Cara held her jaw, rubbing her cheek with a grimace as tears came from her eyes. However, a sudden shift in temperament caused immediate shock in the ape as she turned aggressively toward him with a mad look in her eyes as her sister held her back. The violet bear squirmed in her sister's grip, judging from her outstretched arms she seemed adamant on choking the poor ape as she muttered: "Let me go." Repeatedly as she wriggled in her sister's grasp.
Sara shook her head nonchalantly, narrowing her eyes and rebuked, "Men." in a harsh tone as she rolled her eyes. Her sister, rather calmly stared at with a hard look. "Y'know...eventually that excuse won't be valid, right?" She countered.
And with a bitter smirk, Sara replied, "And I welcome it."
Then, shortly after, Sara aimed a sharp glare at her attacker, her cold, contemptuous glance made his chest tighten. Before the ape could even muster an apology, a cold shock ran up his spine, stiffening his body and immediately causing the animal to plummet to the ground. The masked bear quickly wriggled and writhed out of the ape's now twitching grip, and the pink bear simply nodded solemnly at his state. Her eyes trailed to Evil slowly picking himself up, the doll laying at his feet.
Death meanwhile heard a subtle sniffle, he turned to the ape's brother bearing a teary-eyed look of sadness and terror as he stared back at the bear. The grey-eyed bear sighed, averting his gaze with a grave grimace. "It had to be done." He stressed.
"Its…good to see that you're improving with your…condition." A seldom and voice announced.
Death's eyes widened briefly before calmly narrowing as he felt a small amount of relief rush over him. Glancing over to the wall, he watched the owl smoothly rising from the ground. Death rushed to his side.
"Let me guess…Leonard's vendetta is causing us all turmoil." The owl surmised.
Death nodded in response. "More or less." However, their reunion was cut short by another abrupt conversation. He quickly glanced in the direction of the chatter. Unlikely and unbefitting advice was given to by no other than Evil. He wore a straight look as he handed something to the pink-furred bear.
"Bite his nose. He should be dazed long enough for you to run." He surmised.
Sara leered at him but didn't bother to respond, instead of clutching the dark doll in her paw as Cara began to voice her concerns. But as she spoke, Lech openly reached out toward the pink bear as she retracted from his grasp.
The blue bear scowled with a grouchy leer. "Forget that I'll go-owww!" He hollered and winced before clutching his chest.
Gay shook his head knowingly. "I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that's a broken rib," He stated as his brow rose, he watched the masked bear nod in agreement as picked up his kit.
Death's eyes narrowed curiously as he glanced back to the quarrelling sisters.
Sara rose her paw impatiently to Cara. "I'm tired of this." She punctuated, pointing to the ground then gesturing toward Evil angrily. "Whatever he's done is not worth us getting killed for. I'm putting a stop to this."
"I know that, but you don't have to do this."
"Oh, I know. As much as it pains me to 'trust' this hair-brain scheme. It's all we have right now."
"Even so…" She paused and slowly began to look at Death with a pleading look, the dark bear sighed deeply.
"I'm afraid…I can't do that for a while. That's my fault. "
"Don't apologize." She let out a deep sigh. "Let's just get this over with."
Cara felt her eyes water as she watched her sister march toward the scuffle. Then felt a cold hand clutch her shoulder firmly, she nodded knowingly softly thanking Death.
The pink-furred bear strode toward the fray with a determined glare, her weary eyes narrowing as she watched the quarrelling animals glare at one another from adjacent sides. At that moment, the battle was at a standstill, each animal looking worse for wear as their hides carried fresh scrapes from their fight. She stood away from the duo and called out to them. However, both were too distracted by one another to notice her outcry. The only one to acknowledge her was the black bear resting on the grass; rising to his feet lamely he slowly began to examine her and quickly narrowed his brow sharply as he saw what was on her person. He immediately barked out: "Hey! Get out of here!"
Sara snorted lowly at this, trying not to smile at his fake outburst.
Both beasts paused with puzzled looks before slowly glancing at the pink bear standing across them. The lion's head tilted curiously as the teal bear's eyes widened. Without a word, the bear lurched toward the feline to apprehend it, but the lion swiftly avoided his grasp by leaping out of his reach and darting toward the small pink bear. She did not flinch at lion's presence as he blocked her escape and crept around her menacingly. Much to the giant bear's horror.
"This is has gone on long enough." She said firmly as the feline loomed over her with a predatory gaze clutching her paw tightly as she narrowed her brow.
"I much as I admire your boldness," Leonard glanced at his teal adversary his eyes carrying a haughty animosity to them before drifting downward. He playfully rose his paw, claws barred and slowly drew down to her head and continued. "what stops me from…"
For a moment, he hesitated. With a flick of the wrist, Sara ran her claw across the doll's throat causally. The lion's paw flinched then froze as he watched her cold gaze staring back at him.
Leonard cautiously stared down at her in silence, then glanced at his adversary as the Prozac's eyes furrowed with fear and utter confusion. Afterward, he directed his vision behind the behemoth and watched the black bear's eyes, the regret was palpable as he hovered his paw around his throat and stared at the doll with caution. The lion let out a stubborn growl and conceded with a scowl. "Right…Your terms?"
"Don't touch me, my sister..." Her eyes trailed upward briefly. "Or the yellow one and I'll hand it over. Deal?" She said.
"You have my word…"
Sara rolled her eyes. "And how long will that last?"
The lion interjected in annoyance and sighed. "Hmph, Smart." He glanced at the bears ahead of him. "Unlike those who shall not be named…I keep my word. I assure you, none of those you have mentioned will be harmed," Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
A brief moment of silence hung over the both of them; eyeing one another as she held his prize in her mitts. An assured sense of confidence radiated from her as she smirked smugly at him, the thought of her exploiting him further had crept its way into his mind, but he refused to let it show as continued to glower down at her sternly. He rose his paw adamantly. "On my life."
Sara crossed her arms stubbornly, tilting her head to stare past the lion quickly before returning her gaze to him. "Fine." She lobbed the doll unceremoniously at his feet before coolly swerving backward to the group, however, as she walked away, she stopped suddenly. "Oh, one more thing…" She glanced over her shoulder, earning a weary look from Leonard in return.
Sara pointed to Lech casually. "Could 'accidentally' kick that one in the groin? That be lovely." She added.
The lion king stood in awe for a moment. Whether it was her boldness or her nonchalance, Leonard couldn't help letting out a small chuckle at her request. "Haha...We'll see." Leonard darkly replied.
Her remark earned the ire of most of the group, a few of them giving her annoyed glares—excluding her sister, she gave a stern look of disapproval as she shook her head. As she brushed past Evil, he nodded silently and crossed his arms. "Honestly…I'm impressed. Bitter, but impressed nonetheless." He replied. She didn't bother to respond.
As Leonard drew his attention forward, he observed the bear blocking the other's path with his frame, his eyes narrowed. "I don't think I have to remind you what will happen if you try anything."
Prozac glared at feline sharply. "I'm aware." His brow furrowed indignantly as he continued to act as a gatekeeper.
"Good." He glanced at Fighter behind him. "Now come along." Again, as the bear tried to walk around him, his protector blocked his escape.
"He stays here," Prozac announced in a harsh tone.
The lion looked bewildered for a moment before slowly letting out a jovial chuckle dragging the laughter out to the point it became clear it was of a mocking nature. He stopped then let his gaze dip and turned into a dark glower. "No." He calmly stated, trailing his claw against the doll's head provocatively.
Prozac glanced over his shoulder to see Fighter grimace as he gritted his teeth and let out a low grunt of pain, then interjected with an angry snort.
"Really? You're going to drag him along to watch!"
"And let him stay here and plan with you?' The lion tilted his head dubiously followed by a dismissive eye roll. 'Please, I'm not stupid."
Fighter swayed around the large bear's reach, then turned to him and looked into his eyes while giving a half-smile. "I'll be fine…" He said winking before turning to the lion with a dull and annoyed expression, dragging himself toward his captor but before Fighter could reach, he stopped as the lion kept a steady glare.
"This is your final warning." He heard Leonard announce.
"They are my responsibility, I won't let you hurt them!" Prozac interjected intently.
The lion gave a bemused smile, then narrowed his brow. "Well, you've failed, horribly in fact."
The king's remark caused the bear to bawl his fist tightly as he narrowed his eyes sternly. "Even so, I'm,"
"And I wasn't referring to your kin." He added.
Shame slowly crept its way into Prozac's mind, he audibly clenched his fists tighter.
Fighter paused, raising his brow curiously as he watched the two animals suspiciously. "What…"
Leonard rose his paw abruptly to silence him. "Quiet the adults are talking." Then aimed a stern gaze on Prozac. However, the bear continued.
"It was an accident, I should've been more careful…I'm…sorry." Prozac's voice lowered, eyes drifting downward.
For a moment, Fighter stared intently at the bear, then, shook his head and solemnly shut his eyes.
"If he didn't-"
"Silence!" Leonard bellowed out while abruptly slamming his foot down, the black bear turned deliberately to the lion as the feline felt his vision blur. "I have the power here!" Again, the lion slammed his foot down for emphasis while a low shredding noise rang out, drawing Prozac's gaze to linger downward as his eyes widened intently.
"I have control!" Leonard stamped with rage in his eyes. "And I will kill…" He stopped suddenly in a dull stupor, slowly realizing his mistake.
As the lion rose his paw at a hefty pace, his eyes were drawn to the puffs of cotton stuck to the underside of his hand. Beneath his feet laying in ruins in the mud was a mangled remnant. The doll laying lamely in a paw-shaped crater: Its head bisected lengthwise into two stocks, the arms and legs were torn from each socket with only one of its legs hanging on by a thread.
The sight caused a swelling feeling in the pit of his chest, he hesitated for a moment before staring down the black bear in front of him, but, to his surprise, the bear remained unscathed standing with a deathly glare as he clenched both paws tightly. A rush of relief came over him, he interjected with a deep cough to clear his throat.
"Ahem…Well then. I…Have to commend your…"
"Choose your next lie carefully…" Fighter calmly stated.
Leonard scrunched his eyes darkly. "Ask your friend. He's responsible for what transpired." His eyes finally trailed down to his bawled fists, fingers twitching tightly as it looked like he could barely close his right paw. He paused, unsure.
"Naw." Fighter's voice sounded dejected, deadpan for a moment before a dry chuckle spasmed from his throat as he got closer to the lion.
On closer inspection, Leonard fixed on a dark red liquid dripping from his left clenched hand, he tried to speak, but the bear interrupted. "…Unlike you, I can see between the lines." And with a flick of Fighter's wrist, blood landed on Leonard's face causing the lion to reel in shock. The bear glanced back at Prozac with a sharp glare. "Go. Now!" He ordered. Then immediately ran up to the lion and hopped onto his face staring intently as a low, threatening growl permeated from the feline's maw. Undeterred, the bear clamped down hard, chomping on the feline's nose as it let out a sharp roar of pain and frustration.
The lion's vision began to blur with rage as he began to wildly shake his head around violently leaving Fighter to cling to beast's face by his mane, dangling precariously until a low ripping was heard followed by a clout thud of the bear landing on the ground. Immediately, the lion king rushed the bear as it rose from the fall. Quickly, Fighter rolled under an errant slash, but shortly after the bear's eyes widened as he reflexively rose his arms to block.
A loud resonant crack was heard. The attack sent Fighter careening backwards rolling haphazardly across the grass till he landed on his chest. He groaned aloud as he slowly rose to his feet, only to trip and fall; his eyes trailing to his uncuffed wrist. The attack severed the cuff off his arm as the right cuff still clung to his wrist. However, this realization faded quickly. Heavy and fast footfalls promptly urged him to recover, to dodge, but he was too slow.
The sound of a wet crunch echoed across the grounds. A few onlookers turned away, some looked on bitterly, and others began to argue as the sounds of pained grunts, and growls rang out. However, those spectators were fortunate enough not to have a front row seat. That unlucky individual froze as Prozac struggled to remove the lion's maw from his side.
At a loss for words, Fighter watched in horror as Prozac writhed in agony desperately trying to separate from the lion by wailing on its head, but to no avail. He should have left, but against all the odds, he stayed. Why would he? It was a fact the bear forgot in his moment of desperation. Blood began to trickle and splatter at their feet, eventually landing on the black bear's knees, which slowly caused the bear to snap out of his stupor. He let out a guttural roar and leapt onto the lion's face again.
He wildly scratched across the lion's face, relinquishing the deathly grip it had as the lion then quickly swatted him off. Fighter slid roughly on the ground, then rose to his feet to stand against the lion's wrath. "Come on, come-" The lion abruptly swung and landed a firm slash across the bear's face. Fighter dodged the next swipe, but two more swipes came just as quickly, the last one sending the bear at the feet of Prozac.
Meanwhile, one onlooker regrettably narrowed his pink eyes. Letting out a sigh and reaching for the back of his mask, hovering over the zipper as Fighter rose again. A firm yellow arm grasped his hand tightly.
"We can't afford that right now…" Gay stated with a worrying look.
Gimp nodded, narrowing his brow dubiously as Gay turned to their other ally.
The dark grey bear clasped his paw tightly, closing his eyes intently as only a low crackle buzzed out and a tiny spark flickered in his palm. He growled lowly trying to drag out another surge of power and bitterly watched as the pale light continued to only flicker in and out like a faulty lightbulb. Death then shook his head discouragingly.
"Great." Gay muttered. "Maybe-"
"That's not gonna work!" They heard Lech blurt abruptly.
"Oh what now?!" Gay turned toward the others bickering behind.
"What? We can bash his head in!" Cara suggested. Watching her point toward the ladder.
Lech scoffed, shaking his head dismissively at her. "And throw away our only escape? That's pretty stupid."
"And what do you suggest then?"
"I don't know anything but that!"
"At least I'm trying to help!"
"Oh please. Don't act like you need too! You're as safe as can be!" Lech furrowed his brow glaring directly at Cara.
Cara eyes watered, but quickly narrowed intently as she growled out: "I didn't ask for it!"
Sara stepped up abruptly, getting between them and aiming a glower at the blue bear. "Lay off!" She turned to her sister. "Honestly, it is pretty stupid."
"I know." Cara sighed aloud.
Lech turned to the pink bear and scowled, making a fist. "Make me!"
Gay rolled his eyes, striding toward the group with raised hands, gesturing openly with hands in a T-shape. "Guys come on, Focus!" He aimed an odd, derisive glance at one of them. "Skewed priorities aside…."
Sara squinted dryly at Gay's remark, folding her arms and giving a glazed expression as she looked at the ground.
"We have the numbers. Maybe we can wake up…"
A clump of mud splattered across his face, his shoulders rising in shock. Gay wiped the muck bitterly and turned to the blue bear with a scowl. "Oh, we're doing this now…"
He squinted, annoyed. "Wait, I didn't-" Gay accusingly pointed his finger at Lech.
"Hey, that wasn't me! I can barely-"
"Of course you'd take that route." He interjected bitterly. As the two bickered, Cara turned to her sister with a knowing look. Sara shrugged coolly, narrowing her brow as she kept her arms crossed.
"What? My hands are clean."
An audible sigh caught her attention as Evil limped past her clapping his paws together as he broke from the group. As the infighting continued, Leonard loomed over both bears scrunching his eyes in irritation.
"Do as both a favour and stay down." He glared sternly as the bear staggered in place, barely keeping himself on his feet as he teetered lamely.
"Al…diavolo…" Fighter coughed out.
Leonard's vision glazed over, the worn and dishevelled appearance of his adversary was nostalgic, yet frustrating; he calmly shut his eyes. "Stubborn…the both of you…" He muttered. He rose his claw, then opened his eyes. "Last chance," Leonard announced.
"To hell with that." Fighter smirked, wincing as his cheek burned.
"Hey, asshole!" A voice shouted aloud, the lion grimly glared out behind him as he saw the albino bear standing ahead of the group. Evil grimaced briefly, wincing as he patted his knee while mustering an angry scowl. "Stop pussyfooting and end this already." He announced.
Leonard glanced over at the bear carefully, he stood alone. He furrowed his brow, narrowing his eyes with a hint of suspicion. But that disappeared, replaced with a dull gaze and a gleam of malice. The feline turned to Fighter. "You are beaten. Nurse your wounds." He turned and headed toward Evil prowling menacingly to his prey with each step.
A throaty wet cough prompted the bear to glance downward, his gaze settling on Prozac's smaller form laying on his back. The teal bear clutched his stomach with a grimace as blood trailed down his side. Fighter quickly knelt beside the bear holding his wound.
"…You didn't need to do that." His brow narrowed firmly, stifling a gulp as he felt a remorse pang in his chest. "You should have just left me." He somberly shook his head.
Prozac groaned with an annoyed, pained expression as he tried to pull himself up."If you think…I'm going to let you get mauled…You're crazy." He grimaced, biting his cheek.
Fighter peered over the bear regretfully his vision wavered at the sight of him, prompting a growl to roll out of his throat and slowly rise with a glazed determined look. Prozac narrowed his eyes knowingly. "Don't…"
"Hey! King of nothing!"
The lion stopped dead, furrowing his eyes before letting out a sigh, then swerved around and slowly strode to the bear calmly stopping directly in front of them.
"Finish what you started…" Fighter announced.
Leonard watched Fighter with a steady glare trained on him and was met with a steely-eyed look. The lion was not deterred by his malice; instead, he beckoned the bear forward with his paw. "Come at me then. I encourage you…" He squinted darkly. "Indulge in your namesake while your ally bleeds out without your attention."
Fighter stood silently his eyes narrowing intently as he glared defiantly at the lion.
"Or save your kin and stop meddling in my affairs!" Leonard's eyes flickered wildly staring bitterly over the bear as his paw gripped the mud. He watched the bear wipe blood from his cheek, still staring back at the lion coldly. However, the bear's brow rose slowly, then he glanced over his shoulder and shook his head. With a forlorn sigh and a curse, he turned and knelt down to help Prozac. And with that, Leonard smirked smugly, however…
"He wouldn't have too if you'd grown a pair!" Lech blurted abruptly. And just as quickly Leonard's prideful mirth was wiped off his face and replaced with a scowl as he narrowed his eyes dryly.
Leonard glanced back at the group with a weary look, briefly eyeing the pink bear causally waving her hand for his attention, then pointing out to the long-eared blue bear. "Perfect opportunity for our deal!" Sara remarked aloud.
"At this point, if it shuts both of you…" The pitter-patter of clattering stone and a familiar growling caused Cara to pause, her eyes widening intently as her ears twitched. The bear's gaze swerved up to the wall.
"You wanna repeat that…"
"Uh, oh." Lech heard beside him. He suddenly felt someone tap his shoulder, slowly turning to Gay. "Wha-" His eyes flickered to the ground as a looming shadow soared overhead. "Aw crap."
All eyes fell to the source of the sound echoing across the grounds: A lioness. She stood alone her pale blue eyes staring longingly at the lion across her, then she slowly her eyes drifted around the exhibit inspecting the area littered with fallen animals, and finally, she glanced back toward the group of bears huddled together. Serena furrowed her brow inquisitively and returned a glare forward.
At that moment, it seemed like an eternity for Leonard starring dumbstruck as his mate prowled toward him. A chill ran down his spine. What made matters worse however wasn't the damning evidence surrounding him but a certain someone with a cheeky reply. "Looks like someone's in-"
The lion wiped his head around hastily at Fighter. "If you intend to live till tomorrow, then hush." He kept a steady glare, watching both bears narrow their eyes at him. "Stay…behind me." He ordered with a waver. To his delight, they listened, shuffling out of sight behind the lion as the sounds of the lioness steps perked the lion's ears. He turned slowly over to the lioness, walking up to the Evil in the middle of the grounds.
"If you've got an issue with me take a number-"
"Move or be moved," Serena stated firmly to Evil.
The grey bear gave a puzzled look then shrugged. "Sounds fair." Evil quickly shambled away from the lioness as she continued her trek, stopping in front of the lion. There was a loud silence at first each of them stood stock still staring down one another tensely.
Leonard broke the silence. "So…How was the park?"
"It rained." She flatly stated.
He narrowed his brow, eyes fixed upon Evil. "Dandy…Well, if you excuse me." Unfortunately, the lioness purposely blocked Leonard's route for escape. He let out a sigh. "I know what it looks like but-"
"A desperate attempt at murder." She rose her brow inquisitively.
The lion's mouth curled into a scowl. "What part of this desperate?!" He replied, offended.
Serena gave him a sharp, knowing look, tilting her head dully.
A low derisive snort quickly caught the attention of both of them.
Leonard narrowed his brow in exasperation prompting him to cough out, "Quiet.". In the most hushed and threatening tone, he could muster. The lion whipped his tail at the bears behind him. "Things are under control."
Her brow narrowed dubiously. "Honey, both of Matilda's boys, are either injured or unconscious."
"An entire pack of animals are battered across the exhibit."
"They knew the risks."
"You've traumatized these animals."
"They were already imbalanced anyways." He rolled his eyes calmly.
He watched her snout flare, sniffing the air briefly before her eyes squinted intently. "And is that blood?"
His eyes seemingly trailed off wistfully. "Yes. It is…But the blood was spilled in self-defence."
"Oh, that's a load!" Lech cried out.
Both felines sent a hateful leer in response prompting the bear to instinctively flinch at their gaze. They both immediately returned their attention back to one another.
"And not to mention the fact you've been lying to me about this whole plot!" Serena added.
Leonard brow rose inquisitively. "It seems your more upset about that then the other transgressions." He watched a patient smile form from her lips.
"Oh extremely, but that doesn't take precedence over the fact your waging an unnecessary war." Her narrowed eyes coldly.
His eyes widened in shock at first before swiftly narrowing them vexingly. "He burned down our home twice!" Leonard said through barred teeth.
"And what!" He exclaimed.
"We are still here!" She stamped emphatically. "We are handed food and shelter on a platter for us. Given free rein if we are smart enough not to escape our enclosures. And, despite everything, we still have each other."
"All valid points but we are still wasting away here."
"So you would rather be back on the plains scrounging scraps for an entire pride?"
"At least we had our dignity."
"Unbelievable." Her mouth went agape, shaking her head in disbelief.
"Honestly I don't see-" His eyes drifted past his mate, quickly shifting upon noticing a familiar face above. A cheetah sprawled over the rail looking extremely exhausted sporting a swollen eye. The lion took a deep breath and shut his eyes. One job…Each of them had. One. Bloody job.
Serena noted her mate reaction amusing her for a moment before focusing her attention again. "I had to pull her off before she did any permanent damage." Leonard scrunched his brow dubiously as he gave her a blank expression. "Tali."
A low snort erupted out, causing both felines to stare at the source: a black bear carrying another bear leaning on his arm. They watched the bear closely as they trudged together at a steady pace. Leonard scrunched his brow discouraged as he saw Fighter blankly staring forward, avoiding their gaze as another set of steps began to walk toward them quickly.
The lioness was dazed by the bear's presence. And without missing a beat, the lioness' eyes quickly darted to Fighter's notched ear. Her heart rose rapidly. It was a rich experience, dreamlike; even so, no one would wake her from it. A part of her felt relieved, then, another felt resentful slowly edging her out of her happiness and shattering her mirth. The revelation broke out of her trance, returning her gaze to the lion.
"What. The hell!"
Leonard recoiled reflexively at her thunderous tone, stepping backward cautiously. "Dear, I-"
"He's been here this entire time!" She roared aloud.
"I didn't know how-"
Serena crept closer to Leonard. "I'm going to murder you. I'm going to murder you and make it look like an accident." She stated calmly while staring daggers at him.
"Calm down." He watched her shake her head at him, blankly in disbelief.
"I can't believe this. For…all we knew he was…" She growled, inwardly her brow trembling as she kept her gaze. "Why didn't you tell me?" Serena said in a low tone watching Leonard narrow his eyes.
"I didn't know how to break it to you."
"Tell me!" She snapped aloud, her voice growing hoarse. "That's all. You had. To do." She abruptly turned her head away.
Leonard sighed deeply. "And burden you with the fact he wants nothing to do with us.' His tone lowered. "Frankly, even I'm not that cruel."
Serena let out a frustrated sigh, her head throbbing with a dull pain. She bore the ache and aimed another cold glare. "As disappointing as that sounds. I'd rather not think he was released on his own…or dead at worst."
Leonard sighed deeply, dejected. "Well, now we're in the same boat." His eyes flickered past her, focusing on one individual. "Except...There's one straggler I need to drown." He stamped around her menacingly, but she quickly swerved back and blocked his exit again. He let out a growl.
"I need you to focus on what's important."
"What's important is that nuisance to be removed!" He vehemently exclaimed enraged, his nostrils flaring; his mind clouded with malice.
Serena stood with a sorrowful gaze for a moment but slowly it faded away as she pensively stared down the lion, then calmly replied. "Fine…"
"Now I—wait, what." He squinted dubiously while tilting his head back, confused at her sudden decision.
"Did I stutter? Go on."
Leonard's brow narrowed intently, observing her closely.
"If you think this will help, kill him. But I won't make it easy for you." She readied herself, back tensing as she growled softly. "You're hellbent on this, you've already hurt everyone around you, what's one more?…"
The lion felt his muscles tense sharply, her words penetrating the foggy haze of hatred permeating his mind. Leonard hunched over threateningly as he watched his mate commit to the same gesture, he slowly drew his hind legs for a pounce. It should have been simple, not requiring much thought, but the moment he took his stance, he felt it. The quick quiver that plagued his legs for just as much as a single breath.
It was just one more, right? One more thing in his way.
He growled inwardly, then exhaled loudly. Leonard slowly eyed her and furrowed his brow, and finally, he relented. "God damn you." He mumbled, exiting his hostile stance.
She rose solemnly, nodding approvingly with a stern glance.
"Weak!" He heard behind her. Lech crossed his arms.
"Yeah, all that bluff for nothing." Gay blurted abruptly.
"Will you two! Ack—" Prozac coughed out as the masked-bear wrapped his wound around the waist and reached below for a moment as he continued. "Shut. Up. It's like…you want us to get killed." He felt an intense stinging sensation as Gimp dabbed damp cotton on his arm.
Sara turned to Gay and gave a calm look. "Don't let his stupidity bring you down, you're better than that." She swiftly replied.
Lech aimed a cold leer at in response.
"I'll keep that in mind." Gay snorted lowly.
As the group conversed, a brown owl slowly walked away from the bears toward the two lions.
"Good you've finally talked some sense into him." The owl looked upward wistfully with a smirk.
Serena's eyes narrowed then turned to Leonard sourly, he shrugged and glanced away. She shook her head, discouragingly. "Why am I not surprised." Then glanced back at the owl. "Did he hurt you?
His brow narrowed darkly. "Aside from my pride, no." The owl rolled his wing slightly, grunting a little as he shuffled in place. Then took a deep cleansing breath.
"Good that's…" She noticed his eyes staring upward intently. "What is it?"
"Now, I don't know if this is the head trauma but…I smell something. Can't quite place it right now." He rested his wing on his head.
Serena took in the familiar scent, a dry and potent smell lingered in the air.
"That's definitely smoke." She turned to the lion.
"That not my doing."
"Am I supposed to take your word for it?
He narrowed his brow, turning away purposely but quickly rose his eyebrow. "Ah, well, there was a bit of lightning earlier I suppose it may have stuck somewhere nearby…"
"If that's the case where is the fire?"
"It's fine, I'm sure."
Serena narrowed her eyes at him with a cross expression. Clearly perturbed at his nonchalance.
"It seems rather close," Owl commented aloud.
As the trio conversed, near the edge of the exhibit the masked-bear clasped his paws together and clapped provocatively. He gave the yellow bear a swift nod.
"So, who's carrying him out?"
Sara rose her hands apprehensively. "Don't look at me."
"I've done enough today, so I'm in the clear."
"Suuure," Lech said, loudly snorting as Gay pouted sourly at him.
"I'll do it." Fighter said. "It's not like-" The bear instinctively cracked his knuckles—a terrible mistake—with a dull expression which quickly shifted to horrific shock as his eyes widened and he shrunk back in pain. Instead of an audible crack, a sharp ache quickly racked his right knuckle. The group gave dubious looks as he regained composure. "No. I'm good."
"Haven't heard that one before," Lech remarked. His gaze dipped down and narrowed at his wrist. "You gonna get rid of the jewelry or what?"
Fighter paused, staring at his wrist longingly, then glanced back at Lech dryly. "I thought about it…Then I thought: There's unchained potential here." He smirked a little jokingly.
Lech frowned annoyed and rolled his eyes. "Mouthy prick." He muttered, then glanced over at Gimp and gestured toward him. The masked-bear nodded in response.
Gimp squinted at his wrist briefly, staring dimly before reaching into his kit, pulling out a single key. The masked-bear then grabbed the bear's wrist.
And with a resonant click, the dangling cuff immediately fell to the ground.
Fighter stared blankly at the damaged cuffs with a bewildered look before shooting a meaningful glance at the masked-bear, he watched Gimp pull out a pair of handcuffs from his kit and open them with the same key. Curious, Fighter rose his finger apprehensively. "I have several questions…"
"Save em'," Lech said. The brute smacked the back of the bear's head swiftly.
Fighter whipped around reflexively raising a clenched paw threateningly at him and suddenly tensed. A sharp ache ran through his hand. A quick glimpse at his opened hand revealed several scrapes across it. He scowled knowingly and shook his head as Lech smirked smugly at him. Ignoring a joking jeer as he eyed the first aid kit in Gimp's possession.
The masked-bear acknowledged his gaze with a nod and reached into it as Fighter knelt down and showed him his paw. However, as the bear pulled out band-aids, Fighter's gaze drew downward, staring directly into the Gimp's kit. He shut his eyes and abruptly averting his gaze, dipping down contemplatively at the broken metallic binds along the grass. The bear reached out openly for them, something that hadn't gone unnoticed.
As Fighter stretched out, Evil and Lech shared a meaningful glance. Shortly after, an abrupt kick from Evil nudged device away from Fighter's grasp and into Lech's paws. To which, Lech then chucked the cuffs behind him nonchalantly as Fighter frowned at the both of them.
"I'd rather not have another tacky decoration littering my room." Evil stated firmly, prompting Gay smugly smirk.
"It fits right in honestly," Gay replied.
He shrugged casually. "I'm just saying you have terrible taste in décor."
Fighter tapped the band-aids covering his paw lightly, the pain stung less but still managed to make him tense. He then gave Gimp a firm nod. "This'll have to do." He glanced over to Prozac. "Ready?"
"I'm alright. I can walk." He stated.
Fighter narrowed his eyes and glared at him. "Just because you can, doesn't mean you have to."
Prozac paused, staring at him with a thoughtful look.
Suddenly, Fighter tensed again, his shoulder rising slightly before slowly falling at the gentle grasp on his shoulder. He peered over at the violet bear.
"You probably need the rest. I'll walk Pro over."
He stared for a moment, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully before letting out a sigh. "Knock yourself out…" His eyes trailed down again, his trodden gaze had not gone unnoticed by Cara.
"He'll be fine. You said it yourself he's still breathing." She mustered a warm smile.
"Doesn't mean he'll wake up anytime soon." Lech blurted out.
An air of annoyance slowly seeped its way through the group, some scoffed aloud at the blunt and seemingly tactless response.
Sara simply rose her brow at his remark. "Wow. Pillar of support you are." She stated, dryly.
"I'm amazed you still have friends," Gay added.
The blue brute stared blankly at him, his eyes trailing above his head briefly. "I'm amazed you're rocking a comb-over." He smugly smirked. The crude observation made Gay scowl and cover his head embarrassed. "Besides Mike's tough. He'll pull through."
Sara squinted dryly, then turned to him and crossed her arms; a look of contempt and annoyance in her eyes. "You don't power through a concussion moron."
Lech blew a raspberry and dismissively tilted his head. "Pssh, I didn't know you were a doctor all of a sudden."
"No, but I'm smart enough to know head trauma isn't good."
He snorted lowly. "Now's who's the supportive one."
"Hey, at least I acted like I give a damn."
"WE'RE HAVING A MOMENT!" Cara screamed out suddenly at the two. Her outburst startling them both as they both gave odd looks and turned away from one another. "Thank you." She smiled warmly as if nothing happened, then turned back to the wide-eyed Prozac.
"We're all...friends here. You can… " Much to her dismay, he avoided her gaze. Opting to stare blankly ahead, a dull gleam in his eyes. A low growl emanated from his throat, causing her to shrink back for a moment.
Prozac's brow furrowed indignantly at him but sighed knowingly.
Cara coughed deeply, holding her arm tightly as her eyes narrowed dourly. "R-Right. Never mind. Stupid me. Haha!" She anxiously chuckles out, she watched Prozac sheepishly place his hand on her shoulder. And without hesitation, she grabbed his paw roughly with a deathly grip.
"Ow! OW! You're crushing my hand!" He cried as Cara dragged Prozac away. A resounding click also signalled the Gimp's exit, passing Fighter along the way as he joined the group leaving the bear alone.
Fighter fixated ahead starting intensely. There stood the one responsible. The one that orchestrated it all, without penance. The bear's head felt clouded, thoughts hazing over as the growl from his throat became more pronounced as he clenched both fists. Fortunately, the dull pain from his paw made him wince reflexively, unfurling his fist. His expression softened, and he glanced back at the group, staring pensively at the yellow bear, then sighed deeply as he started to walk forward.
"Why hello there!" The owl announced amicably as he winked.
The black bear nodded solemnly, hesitation in his eyes as they dipped, then he slowly glanced back at the owl. "How's your head?"
The owl rubbed his chin, a seemingly thoughtful expression on his face which faded as he rose his brow provocatively. "Dull aches, pains wrapping around my cranium, could be better." He smirked coyly. "You?" He watched Fighter's shoulders lower at his response, pausing briefly.
"About the same." He cracked a small smile. The owl returned the gesture, his head jovially tilting toward him.
"Good. Good. We share the pain, that's usually how healing works, hm?" He playfully wagged his brow.
"I suppose…It's still a pain, though."
The owl chuckled lightly, as did the lioness as she stood with a content smile, but a deep intruding cough abruptly cut through their mirth.
Leonard narrowed his brow darkly. "Have you come to gloat?" He glared back at Fighter coldly.
Serena quickly turned to her mate and issued a glare, frowning visibly at him. Her mate scrunched his brow, turning away with a low rumble from his throat. The lionesses eyes furrowed, "I'm sure he's better than that." She said.
Fighter interjected with a derisive cough, the lioness, however, hadn't noticed. Instead, Serena smiled warmly at him continuing to speak. "So, how have you been? You taller than I remember."
"Yeah." His tone lowered, eyes narrowing as the bear let out a quiet sigh.
Leonard gaze slowly slid to the bear, his mate continued to question Fighter, each answer short and dry accompanied with a fatigued expression. Leonard squinted intently at the bear carefully.
"Tired?" The owl aske, squinting curiously.
"I bet." She interrupted, not giving a chance for Fighter to speak. The bear's eyes narrowed dully.
Leonard watched the bear slowly begin to tap his foot. "Serena, perhaps-"
"I know an apology for how things transpired might seem hollow now, but I'm sorry I couldn't be here sooner."
"Maybe we could catch up later, on your terms obviously. I couldn't imagine how-"
"Dear." Leonard purposely rose his voice slightly. His mate let out a sigh.
"Let him speak." He concluded.
Serena gave an unsure glance, furrowing her eyes at the lion before nodding firmly. "Fair enough. I suppose you've come here for a reason." She turned to the bear, noting his dead silence as he stood in front of her with an eerie unblinking stare. For a moment, a lump formed in her throat, she stifled it with a dry cough. But the bear's next words made her heart skip a beat.
"Stay the hell away." He said coldly.
Serena paused, gasping inwardly as her eyes dimmed.
Fighter turned to Leonard sourly. "Especially you." He punctuated with a glare.
Leonard narrowed his brow, resting on the bear's face as he scowled begrudgingly at him. The lion gave a slow nod, squinting curiously for a moment before focusing on his mate sorrowful gaze. His chest tightened up at this as she spoke again.
"Goodbye." He turned toward the owl, uttering an apology.
"I'm not the one whom you should be apologizing too." He said.
"I have nothing left to say."
A familiar whooshing followed by a distinct rustling caught the attention of the animals, each turning to the source of the disturbance: a bush.
"What now?" Fighter growled lowly.
The bush twisted and turned as leaves scattered around it, ferocious growls emanating from it as the bears stared dubiously at the sight. Slowly a panting cheetah crawled out, covered with fresh cuts and scrapes along its pelt as it dragged itself out. A look of panic in its eye. Before it could even have the chance to escape, a small ball-shaped mass slammed onto it. It let out a howl as the chaotic ball left another mark on its back and rolled toward the group. The chaotic mass shortly disbursed splitting into two animals; a hyena and a mongoose.
Tali's eyes narrowed determinedly as the hyena leaped toward the animal, the mongoose evaded her by weaving underneath the legs of one the bears. The predator followed, knocking the blue bear on his back firmly as she blocked the animal's escape. The mongoose quickly zipped around the hyena, hopping around the bear and rushing toward the lions across the grounds. However, the hyena plopped itself down on the bear's chest, kneading her claws against his body.
"Ack, get off me!" Lech cried, gritting his teeth.
"What's the matter, Mutt, afraid to dance?" Vivi chided, bearing a knowing grin. 'Cause It's no skin off my nose if you don't wanna, I've got plenty to dance with."
Tali stopped mid-stride, furrowing her eyes in disbelief.
Vivi smiled slyly then lunged at Gay and snapped at the yellow bear as he barely avoided the snap of her jowls. Her eyes stirred to a pink blur rushing toward her with claws bared. The hyena spun around, bent over and kicked shoving her hind legs into the bear's stomach violently.
Sara's eyes bulged, holding her stomach reflexively as she started to cough wildly. Her sister quickly rushed to her side.
"Who else?" Vivi's wild eyes wandered, catching brief glimpses of frantic expressions before stopping. Her predatory gaze settling on Prozac. She provocatively tilted her head, a pleased grin slowly forming across her face as the bear leered in turn. Before she could even attack, a pale yellow blur latched onto her face obscuring her vision. Vivi flailed about blindly swinging away at the group around her.
The lioness' eyes furrowed at the scene, a sentiment shared by the owl as they both sent a glare at the lion. Leonard glanced back at his mate, her disappointment made prominent from her scowl. He sighed and peered around her.
"Vivian! Stand down!"
The hyena continued to thrash about, not even responding to his command.
"Whelp. I've done all I can." His eyes dipped downwards, noting a vacant space left behind. A smile slowly stretched across his face.
Serena grimly watched his expression, shaking her head. "Are you proud of this?" She asked harshly with an annoyed look, eyes flaring.
"Not particularly." He scoffed lowly, scowling as his brow narrowed discouragingly. "Honestly, she wasn't my first choice."
"We're putting a stop this." Serena felt a feather tap her leg slightly, she peered down at the owl as it had a doubtful expression on its face.
"We need to proceed with caution. One strike from you could cause more harm than good."
Serena's eyes narrowed discouraged, biting her tongue as her mouth curled into a frown. "You're…right." She glanced over to scuffle, her eyes widened in fear as she caught the black bear running ahead of them. "Oh, no."
"Get off me ya' mutt!"
The hyena shook about wildly to throw off the mongoose hanging off her face, her anxious thrashing whipping up the grass and muck around her and pelting the crowd. An unpleasant scent wafted around them—a mixture of sweat and an unknown putrid aroma lingering in the air—causing most animals to recoil at the horrid smell, even the mongoose's nose began to itch twitching reflexively till she let out a sudden sneeze.
Tali tensed as she felt a paw grasp her back. "Gesundheit," Vivi announced roughly. However, her ears perked twitching to the sound of plopping mud—exactly enough information she needed. Vivi waited till the sound drew closer and immediately turned her head toward it. A loud thwack rang out as Tali landed with a thud, loudly gasping as she hit the ground hard.
Fighter's eyes widened. "No!" He exclaimed reflexively reaching out for the mongoose. A loud snap resonated from bear's arm, caught in the predator's maw as it latched to his wrist. He grimaced as a sharp pain burned through his wrist. And muffled cackling ringing in his ear. The bear struggled with the animal's grip, but her hold was too strong. Kneeling down in pain as the animal weighed him down.
Death soon rushed forward and grasped the beast roughly trying to shake her off. Unfortunately, the predator used this to her advantage, releasing her grip as he pulled desperately and hopped back, slamming her head into his nose. He winched immediately and clutched his bleeding snout.
Vivi landed firmly on the ground, her eyes shifting to the mongoose crawling away from the group and promptly leapt forward and pounced on the animal, pinning her on the ground. "Adorable, trying to-"
A wet clump of mud splattered across her face forcing her to shut her eye. Vivi shook her head, then, glanced at a grey bear waving straight at her with a smirk.
"Really? When I'm done, with-ack!" She felt something tackle her from behind, a cold sensation wrapping across her neck and a hand slamming her head to the ground. Warm blood trailed down her head as Vivi wriggled and writhed under the weight of the black bear, but the animal kept her down, laying its knee down into her spine. The hyena's growls turned to quick gasps, her desperate flailing grew slower as she struggled to draw breath.
The mongoose rose to her feet sluggishly, coughing as she clutched her chest. The animal's eyes wandered ahead shakily, she watched the bears slowly recovering from the chaos. Her vision steadied on the teal bear glancing over to her with a cautious look; however, Prozac's gaze shifted from a wary glare to a pained grimace as he spouted out commands to the others. She soon followed his gaze and shrunk back in shock at the scene.
Fighter strangling Vivi with the handcuffs, grasping the chain with his teeth and paw while holding the predator down with his left hand. The blood dripping from his wrist as his arm convulsed.
Tali inched her way toward the struggle, stalking closer to the couple. She reached out openly. "Hey! Please, Look at me."
A moment passed before the bear finally peered in her direction, she stood beside him. He stubbornly narrowed his eyes at her and barked out, his cry muffled by the chain clenched in his maw. What worried her most was the dead-eyed look Fighter had as he continued to hold the predator down.
"It's over. You don't need to…"
A throaty growl came from the bear as it clutched the chain tighter around the limp animal's neck.
Tali narrowed her eyes resolutely, then nodded silently to herself. She rested her paw on his back. "If you do this, I won't stop you but," She glanced over to group along with the bear as he lingered on them.
"Whatever happens…I'll be here."
Fighter peered over the unmoving animal doubtfully as his eyes narrow, then winced. His wrist ached, pain pulsing sharply as but his lip. The bear tensed as he felt a paw tapping his arm.
"Come on, we don't want that to get infected now." Tali rose her brow inquisitively, she gave him a small smile.
He calmly stared at Tali, then let out a sigh, loosening his grip on the chain and letting it fall to the ground with a thud. And slowly removed his hand from the predator's head. Fighter rose, his nose twitching at an unfamiliar scent and with a grimace and wiped the sweat off his chest eliciting a small sneeze from Tali.
Shock washes over them, their eyes widen as the predator rose with its maw inches away from the mongoose's face…
The masked-bear gripped his first-aid kit tightly in his paws, a fresh dent on the bottom as the hyena dropped to the ground with a thud. Gimp shut his eyes and let out a breath of relief. However, respite did not come easily. Sirens blared, a wailing alarm ringing overhead as the sound lingered.
The pack of animals tensed at the loud intrusion, each anxiously scanning around for the source finding nothing, the noise was loud but didn't seem to grow closer. And that was enough for them to leave.
The bears quickly rallied at the edge of the exhibit, scrounging for the discarded ladder and placing it against the wall to escape the enclosure as the sirens grew louder and the smell of smoke became more apparent.
The lioness' eyes flickered back at her mate, sharply narrowing as she gave a knowing yet frustrated frown.
Leonard shook his head dismissively, staring at his fallen cohorts, then to his mate. "I suppose I was wrong. Hopefully, nothing comes of this."
Serena sighed deeply, flicking her tongue. "I doubt that."
The hasty escape from the rhino exhibit had gone relatively unnoticed, a raging fire made an excellent distraction for the animals to slip undetected. Battered and beaten the bears would survive another day. At first, the den was hectic, however, slowly the commotion died down as the animals licked their wounds. But this could not be said for everyone.
Evil grumbled lowly, peering at the small chest at the edge of his room. The bear slumped lazily on the edge of his bed with an annoyed scowl, a sharp brooding expression on his face as he narrowed his eyes. "King's going to be a problem…" He muttered. A low sigh came from his lips, then a pained grimace.
Evil turned to dully stare at the door, rolling his eyes knowingly. "The doors never locked…" He announced. A familiar creaking rang from the door.
"So, did they have amputate-" He paused immediately.
Fighter entered the room, pushing the door open with his shoulder. Evil's gaze lingered on the bear, a drill resting on his casted wrist.
Evil nearly leaped out of his bed but the dull pain was enough of a deterrent for him to stay put. Fighter briefly observed his excitement as he shut the door, then, silently walked toward his bed as Evil straightened himself.
Fighter stopped in front of his bed, reluctantly staring at the drill before slowly handing it to Evil. To which, Evil abruptly swiped it from his paw and briefly caressed the device.
Again, Evil paused. Eyeing Fighter suspiciously as he watched him plop down beside him on the floor. He watched Fighter slouched lowly, idly grasping his cast with a blank expression.
"So, where was it?" He asked.
Fighter shut his eyes and exhaled softly. "Closet…This time."
"…I did say "this time". He muttered.
Evil shook his head dismissively, crossing his arms.
"Why are you giving it back so easily?"
Fighter narrowed his eyes, then, stared at ground wistfully. "You…did good."
"Pfft, that's a first." Evil narrows his eyes suspiciously, staring off idle to the corner of the room. "So…How's our resident rodent?"
"Woke up…Barely hold a conversation…Staying in Gimp's room for now."
Fighter went silent, glaring at the ground as his brow furrowed.
Evil scowled briefly at the bear, then shrugged. "Could be worse...' He rose from his bed, walking toward the chest and opening it. Then, glanced over to Fighter causally. "He could be stuck with two bums in his room." He gave the vilest smirk he could muster but the bear stayed silent.
Evil huffed dejectedly, his hand over the chest. "Or he could be stuck babysitting a crybaby for the night." Slowly, he lowered the drill into the chest, however.
"Or…he could be under house arrest." Fighter quipped dryly.
Evil's brow furrowed indignantly then turned, a spark of playful malice in his eye. "Or you could wake up with a hole in your head." He brandished the drill, staring back at Fighter. "Hint. Hint." He stated wagging his brow.
"Yeah, yeah, drill it in why don't ya." He tried to wave dismissively only to wince halfway through as his right hand ached.
Evil squinted quizzically, scowling at him blankly. "It can't be that bad."
"Oh, its pretty bad. Heh." He dryly chuckled.
The bear gave him a dead stare, calmly replying with: "…I'm left-handed."
For a moment, Evil gave him a blank, astonished stare before squinting dubiously at Fighter. "Noooo."
He nodded silently.
The grey bear let out a snort, then guffawed loudly his cackle echoing outward; to the dismay of others.
"Hey, dillweeds, some of us are trying to sleep!" Lech bemoaned aloud from his room.
"Yeah, knock it off, pricks!" Sara shouted.
A familiar and frustrated groan rang from cavern followed by an audible grimace.
Evil rolled his eyes and let out another chuckle. "Ha ha, god! That's..."
Fighter's brow rose incredulously. "Hilarious?"
Evil wiped away a tear. "Sad. Pathetic even. But, you said it, not me." He smirked smugly prompting an eye roll from Fighter as he rose to his feet.
The door creaked open as another animal entered the room, a raccoon. Jimmy sheepishly stepped in, scratching his head. The animal stared at them both longingly as the door shut behind it. It stood there for a moment twiddling its tail as its eyes narrowed anxiously.
Fighter shook his head and let out a sigh. "Spit it out man…"
Jimmy took a deep breath, "Sorry…for not noticing sooner." his tail swept the ground wildly.
The bears both raised their brows incredulously, then shared a meaningful glance before starring at the raccoon.
"Yep, it's all your fault." Fighter shrugged casually, raising up from the ground.
"Definitely, all the blame should go to this guy." Evil scoffed.
"I mean…its not like a homicidal douche kidnapped us."
"Or try to poison me." Evil added.
"Yep. Definitely." Fighter held his chin contemplatively, then snapped his finger. "Buuut—ow." He winched reflexively. "If it makes you feel any better…Evil will gladly give you a hug." He dryly smirked.
Jimmy sheepishly smiled, turning to Evil. "Well, If you're …" Before he could even rustle toward the bear, Evil brandished a weapon; The drill vibrating menacingly in Evil's hand as he narrowed his eyes darkly. Jimmy raised his paws apprehensively. Shortly after, the black bear brushed past him, briefly ruffling his head with a playful roughness as Jimmy craned his head out of his reach.
"Oh and Pro wants you to keep it down."
Evil rolled his eyes. "That was obvious." He squinted curiously at the bear opening the door, brow rising as he watched him stand at the threshold.
"Where are you going?" Jimmy asked curiously.
Fighter's eyes narrowed wearily, his ear twitched. "I'm getting a glass of water."
"That stinks. I guess I won't tell you where your little fork is…" Evil announced.
The black bear paused at the door, clutching the frame tentatively before eyeing the smirking bear.
"I consider myself fair and honest." He watched fighter deliberately tilt his head dubiously, an unamused expression on his face. Evil pouted annoyed, ears visibly drooping. "I'm honest." He reaffirmed.
"Right. Where is it?"
Evil's eyes dipped up excitedly as he tapped his chin thoughtfully, then gave a wolfish grin. "Guess…"
"You buried it."
"Oh, close, but so cold."
"Ya' hid it in Lech's room."
"Please that's the first place you'd look. Think harder."
"A hint, Mr. Fair play."
"Please, I already have."
Fighter's eyes narrowed sharply, he turned to Jimmy briefly with a raised brow but the raccoon shrugged, equally befuddled by his cryptic remarks.
"Stumped? I guess it's a putrid end to our little game."
"Another sleepless night for you, I win-"
Fighter snapped his fingers together and pointed at Evil. "You hid it the bathroom…"
Evil mouth widened wickedly, proudly brushing his whiskers.
"Originally, I wanted Tank to swallow it whole but even he has his limits."
Fighter's eyes furrowed. "You're despicable." He chided.
"And don't ever think otherwise!" Evil replied as the door shut. He stared blankly at the door, a quiet and pensive expression on his face. A low sigh escaped his throat.