The Lion King: The Freak

Prologue: Mothers and Fathers

The gaunt young tigoness breathed heavily, as rain trickled down from the tall jungle trees above her. She was exhausted: she had come to death's door already.

And the wet weather didn't help. Every drop of liquid spat down at her by the sky soaked up what heat was left in her body. It made her slow, lethargic, and too soggy to walk properly—she'd tripped twice, already, and only at the last seconds had she twisted her body to avoid falling on her swollen belly.

She walked on, constantly battling against the heaviness constantly trying to make her eyes shut. Now and then she swayed on her feet and rested her side against whatever tree was closest, but she couldn't rest. Home was far, and the more time she spent outside, the wetter, colder, and more dead she got.

Her hunting trips over the past few days had been entirely unsuccessful. She had not been able to get even the smallest bite of food. At the end of her pregnancy, she could hardly walk without feeling nauseous. But she still had to try to hunt when her exhaustion and nausea subsided, because there was no one to hunt for her.

Being a crossbreed, between a male tiger and a female lion, she did not quite have the mentality of her tiger father to hunt alone, and had been rejected by every pride that she met. The strength of the pack was just too fragile to be upset by such a freak of nature, a name that she'd often been called.

"Freak," she spat, "it hurts me every time they call me that... but deep down, I know it's true."

"Mom didn't really seem like a cub-raiser... But I can't really blame her. Dad had raped her, taken her body for his own when she was much too young for it. It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me, that day, when the pride banished me..."

The tigoness was only six months old, barely finished suckling from the lionesses of the pride. She had never suckled from her mother, however; the still-young lioness said that even the sight of her only living memory of the intrusion upon her body made her ill.

The rest of the tigoness's brothers had died off. She'd seen one of them die herself—and so had her mother.

But this one was strong. She had managed to live through a cubhood of being totally ostracized from her so-called family. The lionesses had grudgingly taught her basic hunting skills, as the rest of the lion cubs refused to play or associate with her. But that didn't stop them from calling her what they did.


That's what they called her. It meant, loosely translated, "abomination", but the stigma attached to the word was one too strong to be expressed in other languages.


Despite her name, the tigoness had never, ever allowed another animal to see her cry or show any weakness and live. She knew that the only being in the world she could count on was herself, now that her brothers were dead, and that every other animal in the world was predator or prey. There were no friends, there was no family; no comforting home to come to after a lone hunt. No relatives to take pride in her efforts.

No one.

Forced solitude was a thousand times worse than any other fate the world could throw at a being. She knew this, somehow, though she'd never known any other sort of life. She somehow knew that there was something particularly Hellish about living with others who wouldn't give a damn if she was out in the desert, bleeding to death by herself.

She didn't care. No, that wasn't quite right—she did care, but she couldn't really do anything about it. She'd tried, time and again, in any number of different ways—but she always failed to find anyone that would accept her. So, instead of wasting her time attempting to accomplish impossible tasks, she did what she could do to improve her life—she hunted.

The desert was barren where she was, but that's how it always was. There were just a few trees there—trees, and a few square yards of parched grass. An underwater river of some sort lay meters below the ground, and that was provided life to the air—plantlife, and, sometimes, animal life as well.

Chukizo was stalking a small lizard, alone, like always. She was just about to pounce on it—when something pounced on her. The cub felt dagger-like claws rake her side, and a heavy weight pin her to the ground, and she tried to struggle out of instinct—but she couldn't get anywhere.

Then, a chatter of laughter focused her confused mind.

"Well look what we got here, boys... the freak, Chukizo!"

Three other cubs walked up to the tigon. The one that had spoken up was the son of the alpha male. He was flanked by his "girlfriend" (Chukizo didn't know if the lioness had been threatened by the alpha or forced by her mother to submit to the young male's fledgling desires), and another cub that Chukizo knew to be something of a cold-hearted sadist. Now, she was a hunter by nature, but she killed quick and she killed clean. But more than once, she'd walked in on this cub torturing an insect, or scratching up a mouse and to watch it run away and bleed to death.

The goon that had pinned her to the dusty ground was the alpha male's young nephew, or the cousin of the hateful little brat that was walking up to Chukizo. She stared up at him with no emotion in her eyes, but couldn't help but flinch when he spat on her too-bony snout.

"Look at you, you ugly piece of shit," he sneered.

The cub smacked her face, while the one pinning her down laughed in a goofy manner. The lioness had no reaction, and the other cub just smiled sadistically. Chukizo yipped in pain, but knew that no help was coming.

The alpha's son just laughed again.

"Yeah, that's right... go ahead and whine all you want. Nobody cares."

He laughed again, and called the sadistic cub over to him with a flick of his paw. The pale, maneless male sauntered up to Chukizo's face.

"Hello there," he rasped, unsheathing his claws.

The tigoness whimpered as the sharp, hooked naturally-occurring blades were brought closer and closer to her hapless form. The cub chuckled for a moment, a horrifying, dark sound, then slowly cut her face, enjoying each second of it.

Chukizo screamed, but the rest of the males only laughed harder. The young lioness tried to look away, but she was too late. Chukizo caught her eye.

"Please... help me..." the tigoness begged, and for a second, she thought that the other female might do something.

But the lioness just closed her eyes and turned away.

The alpha's son sniggered for another minute. Then he prodded his accomplices.

"Enough fooling around. Let's really see some blood!"

All three laughed, and the larger cub on top of Chukizo pulled head skywards, nearly snapping her neck then and there, but exposing her jugular and windpipe.

The sadist cub smiled more than ever, then stroked the tigoness's bare throat with the tips of his claws. It was intimate in a way—he was experiencing her body in a way that he was not welcome to. Like her mother, it seemed, Chukizo was being raped.

He chuckled again.

"I wonder... how does it feel, to be so utterly helpless? So uncared for, so humiliated and degraded? You have nothing, abomination," he tensed his paw, ready to strike. "Not even your pride and dignity."

Chukizo broke down and cried. It was hard, in a position like that, head tilted upwards, a fat cub pinning her to the ground. But she did anyway.

The pudgy cub on top of her laughed, covering her head with snot. The other two caught sight of this, and literally rolled on the ground, giggling themselves. The tigon esscried for another minute, and then looked at the other two cubs that she could see. They were still taken over by their humor at her situation.

And then Chukizo decided that she had had enough. She promptly stopped crying—she sniffed, twice, then allowed rage to take over…

Ten minutes later, when the tigoness became aware of herself again, she nearly vomited at the scene around her.

The fat cub that had pinned her had bleeding globules of gore where his eyes should have been. The sadist was cut... open, really, innards slowly oozing into the desert sand. The lioness was nowhere to be seen. But the alpha's son... he was worst of them all. His back legs were broken beyond recognition, and most of the skin had been pulled off of his face. Numerous cuts and bite wounds peppered his tan body.

"Oh, no..." Chukizo had thought. Whether she was horrified at what she'd done or simply by the consequences, she still didn't know.

The tigon grimaced as she remembered how she'd been chased out of the Desert by her own mother, and many other lionesses. They had banished her for life, under pain of death... in fact, they had actively pursued Chukizo for days, making sure that it was well-impressed on her how unwelcome she was... how unwelcome she always had been.

She'd never had a happy moment in the pride. No friends, no one to share in his accomplishments, no one to praise her, or offer a friendly paw when she needed lifting up. Life for her had been a living death—and, to be honest, her new home hadn't been much better.

She suddenly groaned and her eyes grew wide. The cubs were coming soon.

Heaving herself into a small cove, at least out of the elements, she reflected once again on how painful and difficult her life had been.

"Do people realize how hard it is to be hated and mistrusted by everyone around you? To never be able to find peace anywhere? And then, when you think you've finally found something special... you realize that you've been stabbed in the back by fate again."

It was about three months ago, some years after Chukizo had been banished from the Southern Desert. Since then, she had made no attempt to return—why would she go back? Life in the jungle was hard for one used to a desert environment, but at least she didn't have to worry about other predators. The tigoness was the baddest kid on the block... the only kid on the block. Since her exile, she had seen neither hide nor hair of another lion.

"But I'm no lion," she often had to remind herself. "If I were a true lion... things would be different. Mother would care about me, and I might even have a father."

"But that's not how it is. I'm a... freak The offspring of a male tiger and a female lion. A one-of-a-kind abomination."

She had been in her den, the hollow of a fallen tree, all alone and worried. It had taken her hours to trudge through the heavy rain back to her shelter. The rest of the animals in the forest had laughed at the wet cat, calling her names and making obscene hand gestures. One monkey even went so far as to throw something at her that hit her squarely on the head.

Big mistake.

With equal parts of violence and sleek, almost beautiful feline grace, she'd turned on her feet and ran up the tree. The monkey—a young one, to be sure—hadn't had a chance. He didn't even have time to react before she took him in her striped, clawed embrace—and then tore his head off with her jaws.

Chukizo started to feed on the monkey, though she was purposefully as quiet as she could be. After all... the monkey's parents were not to blame for his intrusion, and they did not deserve to have to face the gruesome disembowelment of their son.

"Life is cruel," thought the tigoness.

She licked his muzzle clean of the blood spilled on it, and curled into a tight ball. The tigoness needed the kind of warmth only created by company—but she wasn't going to get it. Over time, she'd come to get used to the cold. She never liked it... but she could live with it.


Chukizo had been sleeping for a few hours, but was suddenly awoken by the soft sound of padded paws approaching. Even though she'd had no contact with another big cat for so long, it was absolutely unmistakable.

She wasn't alone.

The tigoness had yet to overcome her intense, but justifiable fear of fellow big cats. After all, her last encounter with them had resulted in her banishment from the only home she had ever known, despite the fact that she hated ever waking minute there. She felt her breath catch in her throat as her limbs grew clammy and cold—but then she forced herself to realize that she was no longer a cub.

She was still an abomination—always had been, always would be—but now she was as big as any lioness, and as deadly, with fighting skills honed to a vicious, curved point by a lifetime of solitude and hate.

Chukizo growled loudly as the darkened silhouette of a skinny lion appeared at the entrance of her den. The lion stopped, for a minute, then plodded forward a little bit more. And she realized what was going on—she was staring a hired and paid assassin, dead in the eye. Apparently, the Bloody Shadows contracted out to lions these days.

"So... they really do want me dead. I wonder how much they paid… how good of a killer they could buy."

"Well, I won't make it easy for him."

The young female summoned her courage and roared at the intruder. But rather than roar back or attack, he just took another step forward.

Chukizo was about to make the first move when he fell over. Instinctive, but unwise concern for a fellow big cat made the female rush over to him. She stood over him, still cautious, but quickly realized that he had collapsed out of exhaustion. Exhaustion, and something else. He was no threat to her, she realized, least of all in such a state.

Now, the tigoness had no idea what to do. Sure, she'd occasionally seen the other lionesses in her pride care for each another, or other animals do the same. But seeing didn't compared to doing. Chukizo acted on instinct alone.

She put a paw in front of the lion's muzzle to see that he was breathing normally. Good. Then, she gently touched her paw to his jugular. Concentrating, she could feel a healthy pulse.

So the lion was stable. But what now?

Curious, she nudged him with her paw. The lion gave no reaction… so Chuziko shrugged and sat down next to him, giving him a careful looking over. It had been so long since she'd see another big cat.

He was a skinny lion, with dark brown fur. His scruffy mane was limp and black, though strangely, most of his body was not wet at all. He must have missed the rain, but… his face was damp. Why?

The tigoness shrugged, and went back into the corner of the den. She lay down, but didn't sleep again, not exactly. She kept one eye on the lion, just in case...

Chukizo was lightly sleeping, her one open eye had shut long ago. The lion hadn't made so much as a peep for the hour that she'd monitored him. He had just fallen down, and was quietly, peacefully sleeping. At least, that's what it looked like.

He was having a truly horrible series of nightmares: about how throughout his entire life, he'd been second-best, always shunned to the side when compared to his brother, and now with the crowning of his new nephew as future king, he had absolutely no chance at the throne. Never would he have a fair chance at life. Never.

The dark lion stirred, and slowly got up. He was in a rocky cave of some sort... how did he get there? Ah, yes... after he'd found out that the crowning of his nephew was imminent, he'd run as far as he could, as fast as he could. He hadn't bothered to inform his only three friends in the world where he was going or when he'd come back. In fact, the lion didn't even know if he wascoming back.

Groaning, he got to his feet, and looked around. Outside was a lush jungle, still watery from a recent rainfall. But inside the cave... was a lioness?

The dark lion jumped a little at the sight of her. She was no true lioness, that much he could tell at a glance. But she had the stature of one, and perhaps the jaw structure... but her fur was a subdued shade of orange, and scraggly gray stripes

Her face was a slightly more vibrant shade of orange, and after thinking for a moment, the lion realized that she had the muzzle of a creature he'd heard tell of from visitors to the Pride Lands and the Shadow Lands. She had the blood of a 'tiger' in her, he concluded, though he'd never seen one of the fabled big cats himself.

Chukizo suddenly woke up, to the sight of lion up and about. Understandably, she was surprised. She jumped to her feet, and the sudden action made the lion take a sharp step back.

The tigoness spoke, her voice harsh out of fear.

"Tell me your name and business, stranger. You're not from around here."

Despite his fear—and awe—the dark lion composed himself, and spoke in a soft tenor tone.

"Many apologies for my intrusion, dear lady," he said, and bowed his head slightly, though his yellowish eyes were still locked on her dark ones.

"I am Scar, of the Pride Lands, brother of King Mufasa, and uncle of," he spat bitterly on the ground, "Simba, future king."

The tigon lowered her guard slightly, retracting her claws. She had only heard of the Pride Lands in passing from lionesses from the Desert. She'd come in contact with two other tribes, one to the East of the Desert and one to the West, shortly after her exile, and they'd barred her entry on sight.

After those stressful encounters, she'd never even tried to gain access to the Pride Lands. Surely, if the strong lions there saw her, they wouldn't bother turning her away—they'd execute her then and there.

She nodded, curtly. "Scar of the Pride Lands… what is your business here?" she growled.

The dark lion paused, searching for the right words.

"I... was in mental distress. I—" he paused, and swallowed. He really ought not to say anything more, but he couldn't help it by that point. He looked to the side, and then he continued to speak. "You see… long have I held out the hope that my brother would not sire any cubs, or he'd crown me king at least from the time of his death until mine, to give me at least a few months of happiness..."

Scar paused. Never before had he spoken so much about himself, not to his so-called family, not to his friends, and certainly not to a stranger. But he felt the need to go on, and let all of his pain find an escape. He'd go insane if he didn't. But that didn't stop him from using language properly—he'd always been eloquent, albeit in his own, chilling way.

"But, my brother, the great King Mufasa, did not see fit to give me any pleasure in my life... I, Scar, who has saved him time and again from all the dangers of the world. I, the only being who has loved him unconditionally, despite the favoritism our father and everyone else displayed to him. I, who he so cruelly scarred all those years ago..."

The dark lion tapped the red wound that ran over his eye. They say that a blow lain on another with hate never does heal... and looking at the terrible injury that had been inflicted on the lion by his own brother, one could see the wisdom in those words. Even the tigoness flinched at the sight of the scar.

But after a minute in which the two big cats just stared at each other, Chukizo spoke up.

"I am… I don't have any idea what you're talking about. You see… I have no family. My father was a tiger, and my mother was a lioness of the Desert." She paused. "My father… tookmy mother's body. So, I was born into a world… that did not accept me. I… suppose I understand what it's like to be alone—in fact, I probably understand that even better than you. But the politics of a pride, of a family… I don't know the first thing about that."

The dark lion shivered for a moment. Here was a being that had been hated from the day of her birth, and apparently forced out of her own family. And yet there she stood, before him—strong, powerful, alive, and beautiful. Yes, she was beautiful, he accepted, with her rich fur color and her bright, attentive eyes, and her strong, lithe frame. She was no lioness, but there was something about her that was positively exotic.

"...What is your name?" he asked.

Now it was the tigoness's turn to look jarred. She brought her eyes away from him, and looked to the ground.

"...Chukizo. I am Chukizo."

Scar's eyes widened at the sad manner that the tigoness spoke. Why did she deserve to be sad? He could tell that she was tough: tougher than any lioness in his clan, maybe even capable of defeating Mufasa in single combat. Well—maybe not tough enough to take blows from paws the size of garbage can lids, but she could fight, he could tell, and hunt, and run, and move, and live in conditions a hundred times too dangerous for any lion or lioness he'd ever laid eyes on.

And yet there she stood before him, with tears in her eyes. And something about that struck him as terribly, horribly wrong.

He walked over to her. And he did something he'd never done before.

Scar, the freak of his family, the one always shoved to the side when his brother was around, the one who had only three beings in the world that he considered friends, nuzzled the tigoness.

Needless to say, she was more than a little surprised. Apart from her brothers, no one had evershown her any sort of affection, much less physical love like that. But she didn't attack. She just stood still, and felt the smooth, bluntness of his face against her flesh.

"What are you doing?" she asked, though she was starting to get into the moment.

"I don't know. It just seemed like the natural thing to do," Scar simply stated. He kept nuzzling her—my, he thought, what wonderful fur she had.

After a moment, she nuzzled her back. The tigoness and the dark lion were both unfamiliar to the feeling that had sprung out of nowhere, but to a bystander, it would seem natural. The two beings were one and the same, and both were in desperate need of someone to—just someone.

After another minute of affectionate nuzzling, their tender motions turned into something else.

Chukizo sighed. Scar and she had only spent half a day together when they'd first met, but in that time, they had mated.

Afterwards, the two had spoken quite frankly about their lives, and the options before them. It had been the tigoness's suggestion to kill off the King and his son, and Scar didn't like it at first. But after a moment of persuasion, he understood that that dark course of action was the onlycourse of action that would bring peace and stability to the world.

It was therefore justifiable. But killing his own brother, and his nephew… was still cruel. He would not enjoy them, he hoped.

"After all," thought Scar, as he walked back to the Pride Lands with only the stars to guide him, "they have more than earned their fate."

Scar had left her that night, promising to return when he could. He came to her to talk, and plan, and scheme, and do the other things that couples did—and then, after he killed his brother, he came to her again.

How proud of him she was. She kissed him and she held him tightly for as long as she could before prancing around with energy and excitement neither of them knew she had—she was ready to leave the isolation of the Jungle now and go to take her place at his side as Queen of the Pride Lands.

And then he explained that in the political strife of the introduction of hyenas to the Pride Lands, he could not bring his Queen to the rest of the clan. He hated the idea of having to leave her alone for so long, but she agreed with him. After all, the tigoness would only be acceptable to the clan in their weakest hour, when they would be physically unable to reject her.

Then, of course, Scar and her would bring unimaginable levels of prosperity to the land. Mufasa would be hated, or else forgotten as a weak, incompetent ruler, and she and her King would be worshiped, and loved, by everyone around them.

The dark lion had left again, promising to make life for the lionesses as hard as he could. Tactical leadership decisions were purposefully forgone by him; he did as much as he could to bring drought and famine to the Pride Lands. Eventually, the herds themselves started to leave.

And the lionesses suffered.

But somehow, they hung on. Sure, they'd gotten skinnier and skinnier, but they were never truly physically incapacitated. Scar had visited Chukizo again and again, each time with the same message: wait.

She had faithfully done so. And the last time she had seen Scar, they had mated again, and a few weeks after he left, she found out she was pregnant. The joy that she felt at this revelation was only increased by the thought that her children would grow up as sons and daughters of a king.

Scar had said that the lionesses were getting weaker and weaker, and that only the return of Mufasa could save them now. She had laughed at that and planted a kiss on his cheek just before he turned to leave, calling out to him to come back soon.

But the next time her mate was supposed to come to her... he never came.

At first, she understood. Overthrowing a kingdom was no small matter, after all, but weeks began to pass. And then she was sad—and then she was angry. Could her mate have forgotten about her? Was there some pretty lioness that had caught his eye? But as her pregnancy continued, there was a sudden migration: every herd of prey that had left the Pride Lands over the past few years returned all at once.

Somehow... the plan had failed. And the only way that Scar would allow his plan to fail is if he was dead.

She had mourned for weeks, and the troubles of being late in the stages of pregnancy only abetted that feeling of hopelessness. Again, she was totally alone: and now, she had less and less prey. With no one to care or hunt for her, she had practically died every day that she had taken an animal.

Chukizo had stumbled into her den. She had stumbled through life, ever since Scar had died—and then she felt her core tighten.

The cubs were coming.

The pain became more and more intense. It stretched the tigon's decrepit body to its limit... and even she knew that she would not survive much longer.

She laughed horribly.

"Do people really know how hard it is to be a freak? An abomination? Hated everywhere you go, with only a singlebeing in your life acknowledging that you exist? Having to live alone for all your life, without the hope of change…"

"And now, fate has cursedme with cubs on my deathbed. I'm not going live through this… They're going to cry over my body for hours before they die too. They will die before even being able to live, killed before even having a chance at life… and in the most brutal, painful, and horrific ways."

She hadn't spoken that much all at once, not even since she'd been with Scar. Her voice hurt, and she might have registered embarrassment—but she was just too tired, too cold, too hurt, too close to being dead.

A tear rolled off of her striped muzzle.

"I can't allow that to happen. I won't allow that to happen."

Gathering her strength and resolve, Chukizo set her mind on two goals: allow her cubs to have a glimpse of the world, and then kill them as quickly as possible, as humanely as possible.

Chukizo's eyes widened, and she started to push. Strangely, the rain and clouds suddenly cleared up, allowing the sun to shine once again.

Despite her pain, the tigon managed to give a sad grin.

"So... fate will be cruel enough to show my cubs the Sun. They'll see the Sun, and they'll see what they'll never be able to understand in their lives."

The tigon suddenly screamed—and felt a great release.

The cubs were born.

After a second in practical unconsciousness, Chukizo managed to turn. There were two cubs, one a female and one a male. The female looked like her father, minus the mane and yellow eyes, but with jagged black stripes.

"My daughter... you are beautiful. Your father will be proud." She paused. "Give him my love, and tell him… that I will be with him soon."

The tigoness smiled, tearfully, and closed her eyes. She moved her paw—and she heard a soft mew, then only a gurgle as she slit the throat of the small female.

"I'm so sorry, daughter. But your life in the next world will be better than any I could have given you here... a freak of a mother, with a second-generation freak of a child... no, I did what's best for you. Please don't hate me for it."

Chukizo heard the sound of the small body fall the ground, and opened her eyes to look at the male. Though blood was already pooling around his small paws, he did not react. He just sat there, looking at his mother curiously.

At first appearance, he looked like a lion. He was built with a broad body, and a small tuft of a black mane. He was perfectly in between the dark shade of Scar, and the deep tan of his mother. At first glance, he had no stripes.

But a sudden change in the lighting of the cave due to the sun cast a different pattern of shadows and light onto his unimposing form. His stripes were also black, but so small and so hidden by the rest of his fur that they could only be seen in very unique lighting.

"My son... you truly do have a body fit for a king."

Chukizo coughed, and looked down to see blood drip out of her muzzle.

"I wish that I could give you a better life..." She groaned—now, it hurt to even speak, but she had to try. She had to tell him why she was going to kill him.

"If the world will not allow me to give you life… I will give you a heavenly afterlife with your father, your sister… and I."

The tigon inched her way to the male, and held out her claw. She meant to cut his throat—but incredibly, he jumped out of the way.

How could a newborn, whose eyes should still be shut, possibly understand the dangers of being clawed?

Chukizo wore an expression of horrible pain and confusion, but she tried to cut him again.

But again, he stepped off to the side.

"Son... I wish only to ease your passing. Don't resist me, please," she begged.

She struggled to her feet, and made to claw him yet again. And so he jumped, higher and farther than ever, totally evading the blow.

And now she was mad.

"So be it, child. If you do not decide to follow the wishes of your mother, I'll have to make you!"

With that, Chukizo lashed out with a blow so quick and so powerful that no living lion or prey beast could hope to evade it. She aimed to crush the cub's fragile head.

But incredibly, he saw the danger again and jumped back. He jumped back, but even he wasn't fast enough to avoid it completely.

The tigoness's claws had extended, and the male's eye was cut. No, not his eye—her claw had missed his eye. Instead, it tore off a bit of skin, fur, and eyelid. His face was forced down by the vicious blow, but after a second, he looked up at his mother again. And now there was an expression on his face—an expression of hate, fear, and utterly powerful defiance.

She saw this. And she gasped.

"You really are Scar's son," she breathed.

Indeed, the cut had given him a triangular wound that was perfectly identical to Scar's. Though blood still dripped from the terrible wound, she could see that it was starting to mend itself already, though it would never vanish entirely.

The tigoness roared, or screamed: a pained, dying, rasping sound, and she nearly fell over. No, after a second of balancing, she did fall over. The physical stress of standing and striking blows had left her without any strength.

She was finished.

She lay on her side with her eyes half-open. She breathe through her mouth more than her nose, inhaling coagulating droplets of her daughter's blood.

"So... I'm not supposed to kill my son? He's going to… survive to face a world that will be a thousand times worse to him than it was to Scar? Or me?" Her voice was slurred, and now the blood on the ground was not just her daughter's—it was hers, too. She heaved—

And she coughed up even more blood. And then she looked around and saw her son, sitting there, with his head tilted to the side. He was just watching her die, it seemed—it seemed that his first memory, that his welcome into the world would be tainted with blood, and hideous, painful death.

Chukizo was only heartbeats from dying now—she could prevent it, but she could select the manner in which she passed. She could go down sad and angry and leave her son to fend for himself… or, she could give him whatever she had left in her.

Her decision was made before she realized it. After all, she was his mother—she was the mother of a cub that she knew was destined to be greater than her or even his father. He needed strength—he needed comfort, and nourishment. He needed something that only a few beings could give.

And she was one of them—and so she smiled.

"You are a cub, my son. You need milk." She looked into his eyes, so bright and intelligent that she almost looked away—and she winced before continuing to speak.

"I won't kill you…but it is my responsibility as a mother… to feed you. So, please…" She moved closer to him. Propped herself up, and offered him her breasts. She looked at him with as much intensity and love as she possibly could, because she knew that when she died, he would never receive emotion like that again.

And he understood her. He got up, cautiously—and then he walked to her. He set himself down at her side.

As he started to suckle from her, Chukizo felt a feeling of elation. She touched him once, placing her paw on his head before giving him the only kiss he would ever receive—and then she got herself into as comfortable position as possible. She was laying down to die, and, for the first time, she realized that she would miss life. She would miss living…

"Is this what being a mother is like?" she wondered. She gasped—and felt her heart stop. Her thoughts grew cloudy as blood began to settle and coagulate in her brain. But she managed to smile—because she was happy. At least she'd get to be with her son once in her existence.

That's why Chukizo, the abomination, the tigoness, the mother, passed from the world painlessly, even as her son continued to feed himself with a meal only she would ever willingly give.