Shikon in the Serengeti

CH. 13

Searching

"Sango! Sango! Sango! Sango!" Kagome chattered on as she tried her best to rattle the demon slayer out of her slumber. The girl's berating had the whole pride awake and watching the strange spectacle of the human's attempts to rouse her sleeping friend. The slayer only managed a small groan and pried open one eye before both eyes widen in realization that Kagome was up in her condition. The sleep completely gone out of her system, Sango quickly jolted up, nearly startling the other girl.

"Kagome, what are you doing up?" Sango inquired as she looked over her friend like a worried mother. "You shouldn't be up like this just yet. You might agitate your wounds -"

"Sango, I need to borrow Kirara and fast!" Kagome all but let out her words in one breath.

Sango glanced at her feline companion then back at Kagome. "What? What for?"

"I don't have time to explain!" Kagome grabbed Sango's shoulders in a near desperate, iron grip. "Please, Sango - !" She was abruptly cut off when she suddenly found herself placed on Kirara's back. Sango leaped on and sat behind her.

"Best I go with you to keep you from doing anything reckless," Sango said as she pulled Kagome toward her so the younger girl's back was almost touching Sango's body and had Kagome almost reclining against Sango for support, "besides, I can get some answers out of you if we go together." Kagome took a moment to assess Sango's words before nodding. With a word, Sango had Kirara airborne and flying over the savanna, leaving the pride watching in awe to see a feline fly.

"Now will you please tell me what's gotten you all worked up?" Sango turned her attention to Kagome.

"He's here. I just know it." The younger girl turned to looked up at the slayer. "Inuyasha..."


"Inuyasha!" Shippo practically screeched when the tumbling bodies of the two large felines wrestling each other narrowly avoided turning the little fox into a pancake. A quick flash of red and a strong jerk on Shippo's furry vest pulled the fox kit off the ground and suspended in the air from the tree. Shippo whipped his head around to find Inuyasha perched on the tree's branch and keeping a tight grip on the kit. "What took you so long - !" Inuyasha callously dropped Shippo onto the branch, which the kit clung desperately to after nearly toppling off the limb.

"Be grateful I even pulled your sorry tail out of there," Inuyasha reprimanded. He turned his eyes back on the two beasts that were still mauling at each other. As much as he didn't mind joining the fight, Inuyasha settled with merely watching the battle unfold between the two animals.

"Wh-what do you make of that, Inuyasha?" Shippo asked as he pulled himself together. "Should we leave them to their own businesses?"

Inuyasha narrowed his eyes in concentration after giving a half-hearted grunt as his answer to the fox kit, granted Shippo couldn't quite make out the half-demon's meaning of his reply. Something about one of the feline beasts had struck some interest in Inuyasha's slowly-growing curiosity. But what ever it was that caught his attention wasn't a very positive spark. The darker of the two beasts carried a strange scent about it – ominous and unsettling was more like it.

The fighting animals broke off their wrestling struggle and began to circle each other at a fair distance. Fangs were bared, and claws scraped the ground below them as fierce growls thundered from each throat. Both beasts eyed each other with unyielding focus, just watching for a possible opening or fault in the other's defenses.

It didn't take long until the darker creature made its first move and swung a powerful paw rimmed with sharp claws and caught its opponent on the temple, momentarily stunning the golden-furred beast. Another dark paw swung down and crashed upon the distracted cat's head before the owner of the paw wrapped both front limbs around the lighter-colored cat. The trapped beast quickly clawed its opponent's strong limbs and shoulders while trying to escape the headlock and fangs assaulting its face. Losing balance from the tons of muscle weighing down on him, the gold cat's hind legs gave way, and the two continued their wrestling bout across the ground, kicking up dirt here and there. The scuffle was soon a blurred shadow in a cloud of dust.

The half-demon kept close tabs on both creatures as the match raged on. At best, he can assess that either beast has a good chance at winning. However, to be honest, Inuyasha's instincts shifted favor to the dark-furred big cat. Though he can't quite place a finger on it, there was something about that cat that rings uncertainty along with a sense of an impending threat. Just before he can think the matter through, Inuyasha's focus on the animals' battle was now placed on the constant tugging on his sleeve. Actually, the fox kit's quick jerk on his furry ear was what got his initial attention.

"Inuyasha, let's just leave them alone and get outta here while they're still distracted!" the fox kit hassled as he attempted to drag the dog demon along with him. "Aren't you the least bit worried about Kagome? She's the reason were here!" Shippo quickly found himself airborne and hanging on for dear life once Inuyasha sprung out of the tree and practically flying across the savanna.

"I don't suppose you've seen the others around, have you?" Inuyasha asked.

Shippo shook his head. "I was hoping they'd be with you."

"Then it looks like we got separated after getting tossed around in that void."

"You think we should look for them? What if they get lost? Wait, what if we get lost? We don't know where we are! A-a-and what about Kagome? But the others will get more lost! And we -"

BASH!

"Quit your yammering and start making yourself useful!"

And with that, Inuyasha catapulted the little kit into the air. Luckily, Shippo caught himself once he transformed into his floating bubble-like form. Seeing it's best to help by looking instead of worrying, Shippo scoured from the air, all the while chanting to himself, "I gotta keep it together...! I gotta keep it together...!" Inuyasha covered his search on the ground and sped across the savanna with hopes of picking up any familiar scents of his friends, and, if he's lucky, Kagome's.


The old Lion King finally wrestled the darker lion off and wrenched his mane out of his opponent's fangs. The moment he broke free, Simba swung a huge paw down upon the dark lion's head, jarring him to give Simba the opportunity to land a smashing blow to the other side of the lion's face and knock him down. Simba seized the opportunity to wrap his jaws around the dark lion's throat to throttle him into submission. Claws scrapped at his face once the Lion King got a good grip.

Several minutes of powerful struggles, the dark lion broke off the fight and distanced himself from the Pride Land's ruler. The nomad assessed his opponent. Despite his slow decline from his prime, this old King was no slacker when it came to fighting. The battle had proved the dominant lion to be worthy of his position as a strong leader. A threatening roar left the Lion King's fanged mouth as he charged at the unwanted intruder on his territory. A quick clash from a tackle pushed the nomad further away from the Pride Lands as its king forced the nomad into retreat.

Once out of sight, Simba let loose a triumphant roar to remind his would-be adversary that he still reigns as the king of his lands and to announce his victory against the threat to his territory. He growled a scoff and turned back toward Pride Rock to nurse his wounds. But even if he did achieve a victory, the win did nothing to quell another worry on his mind.

"To think a nomad snuck in the Pride Lands so easily," Simba mumbled, shaking his mane clear of the dirt from the fight. "He must have been one of the nomads that were wandering around the borders." The old lion avoided putting weight on his strained paw as he stopped to take in any scent that is not of his territory. He caught a few, a small number of them, but not the nomads. They were similar to Kagome's; they were human scents.

A recollection of the events prior to his fight brought back his earlier questions about a strange, runty creature. It's features were almost that of a miniature human. But it's scent was... nothing he had ever sensed before. The second stranger he encountered, the hostile one as he remembered, also displayed the same features as Kagome's human traits; however, that one gave off a completely different scent. Who were those strangers? Looking around, Simba saw no sign of the two creatures from earlier. He dropped the interest of looking for their whereabouts and continued his trek back to Pride Rock.


Shippo's flight across the savanna has yet to give him any leads to Kagome's whereabouts. Though now that he thinks about it, he hasn't seen Sango, Miroku, Kirara, or Kikyo ever since they landed in this strange land. Landing in a tree to catch his breath, Shippo undid his transformation to ease the strain he has to overcome from staying in a transformed state over long periods of time.

"Whew," he breathed out, "this place is too big. And everything looks the same no matter where I go!" He ruffled his hair in frustration. "At this rate, I'll never find anyone! And I don't even know if I can find Inuyasha again... Agh, stupid Inuyasha, throwing me off like that and expecting me to find him after I find the others! I'm a fox, not a dog, you stupid, stupid – EEK!" Shippo's arms and legs flailed about in panic when he felt a pair of mandibles latch on to his tail.

He turned around to find a huge, spotted feline perched on the same branch he was resting on. Instinctively, he unleashed a plume of smoke. The smoke cleared, revealing the spotted cat with a mouth full of leaves. Spitting the leaves out, the cat looked around to find its escaped prey.

Just above the cat, the fox kit hid himself with his Hidden Cloud Technique. Granted, he could have simply flown off, but the poor kit found himself entangled in the tree's foliage and knocked his head against a thick branch. The foiled escape attempt forced Shippo to hide himself when the spotted cat cleared away his momentary distraction. Sweat beaded on his forehead as his pursuer looked around for him. He managed to do the best he can to mask his scent with that plume of smoke from earlier. Hopefully, it would be enough to dissuade the cat from continuing its search of him.

Just then, a rustling in the tall grasses has caught the feline's attention. From the grasses, a wild boar leaped out. The sight of a more tantalizing prey piqued the cat's interest and had it chasing after the pig. The creature disappeared from sight as it pursued it quarry.

Once out of sight, Shippo relaxed and undid his illusory spell. He heaved a sigh of relief and leaped from the tree branch to the ground below. Looking around, he readied himself to depart once he was satisfied with the clear area.

"Close call, wouldn't you say?" a male voice spoke out from behind.

"EEEK!" Shippo scrambled back, his bushy tail standing on its end. But his panic quickly subsided the moment he heard the jingling of metal against metal. He'd recognize those ringings anywhere. And sure enough, a black and purple-robed man stepped out from behind the tree Shippo was hiding in. "MIROKU!" The fox kit latched himself to the young monk's robes.

"Good to see you again, Shippo," he said, patting the young fox's head. "I'm glad to see you safe."

That's when a slight realization dawned upon the kit. "What?" he almost shrieked, pulling his head away from the monk and glaring up at him. "You were there the whole time? While that big cat was about to make a meal out of me?" He leaped from Miroku and settled himself back on the ground. "What were you doing hiding? You could have helped me!"

"You seemed to handle yourself quite fine earlier," the monk reasoned.

"I nearly died!"

"And yet you didn't. Can't you just be proud of the fact that you can handle an opponent single-handedly with your fox magic?"

Shippo's red-tinted face disappeared at the realization. He did, in fact, stump the cat good and without the usual aide from anyone else. A spark of pride lit up in his heart.

"That aside," Miroku interrupted the kit's moment of self-praising, "have you had any luck finding the others?"

"No," the fox replied, "but I did run into Inuyasha earlier. We just split up to find the others. And now that I found you, we might have better luck finding the others."

"Let us hope so. This is a strange world." The monk surveyed the area. "I have yet to sense any other human presence around here. Yet..."

"'Yet'?"

"I could be wrong, but I sense a great power nearby. And it is no ordinary, ominous power."

The kit's tail was rightly ruffled. "Wh-what do you think is the cause of it...?"

"Let us hope for everyone's sake that it is not who we could believe it to be."

My greatest apologies for not having updated in so long... too long for anyone's taste, I'll admit. I know I probably disappointed a lot of people who were expecting quicker updates from this fanfic. I can make all the excuses I want, but that's not much of an apology compared to simply updating more chapters. Though I can't guarantee daily updates, I can at least say that I'll try not to draw out the wait for years like I just did. Thank you, those who have decided to remain as avid readers of this fanfic. I'll try not to disappoint you next time.