Scene: A Matter of Pride

From The Interference Chapter 18: Adventures in the Savannah

Four beams of light shot down from the Gummi Ship into the atmosphere of the newfound world. The world itself, known as the Pride Lands, could only be described as "earthen." Rolling savannas, wide deserts, lush oases...

...and then this place. An expanse of cold, jagged rock, littered with elephant bones, pits of acid, and steam geysers. It was locally known as the Elephant Graveyard.

But as the beams of light impacted a clearing of the rock, depositing the four adventurers into the field, their unforgiving surroundings weren't the first thing on their minds.

Sora, the Keyblade Master, was delightedly surprised. "Hey! Check us out!"

Donald looked down on the others from a couple of feet above them. "Yeah!"

Alexander Karsath, the Interference, cringed as he experienced his new form. Yes, he'd been expecting this, but – as usual – the concept paled in comparison to the reality.

The Pride Lands was based on the movie The Lion King, and its inhabitants were entirely composed of talking animals – no humans whatsoever. So, just like for Halloween Town and Atlantica, the quartet had been transformed to fit in.

Donald Duck had been transformed into a full-grown pelican. Judging by the way he kept his wings flapping to stay airborne, the form came rather naturally to the wizard.

His companion Goofy had become a turtle. It fit his theme of shield-wielding, but the fact that his head was still the same made his form odd to behold.

Alexander and Sora stared at each other for a moment as they realized their similarities. Both of them had become lion cubs. They were of a similar size and shape, and both had larger spikes of fur on their heads that resembled their hair.

But Sora's fur was a dark, dark brown color, while Alexander's was a lighter color closer to hazel. Sora's crown-shaped necklace had also remained. And if you bothered to notice, Alex's spiky "hair" laid a little flatter on his head than Sora's, almost drooping to his eyes.

Finally, Sora tore his attention away from their new forms to look at their surroundings. Immediately, he noticed the cold blue stone and the acid pits. "Okay..." he said slowly, his enthusiasm wavering. "This place is kinda creepy, though." Donald mumbled something in agreement.

But then Goofy gulped in fear. There was a hyena in front of him, looking at the group with menacing eyes. Sora glanced at Goofy, then looked back to see that there was another hyena in front of him. Donald faced down yet another of the hyenas, sighing in a resigned manner.

Alexander panicked as more and more hyenas came out of the woodworks to support the initial three. They appeared in the clearing, in the layers of the cliff walls above them... It was the whole pack!

One of the hyenas – the loony, drooling character known as Ed – cackled insanely with an unnerving glee in his high-pitched voice.

The quartet naturally formed a circle with their backs to each other. Sora tensed up, looking back and forth at all the hyenas surrounding them. "Heartless?" he asked quickly.

"Hyenas, Sora," Alex corrected him nervously. "They live here."

Internally, the Interference was trying not to panic. Sure, he knew their lives probably weren't going to end here, but... well, the uncomfortable new lion form put a damper on his confidence. And seeing the sharp teeth and claws of a whole pack of hyenas in-person didn't help him any.

Donald made an effort to defuse the situation. "Don't mind us! Just passing through. We won't be any trouble."

"Yeah, that's right!" Sora added, nodding vigorously.

Some of the hyenas on the ground started to circle them in a worrying manner. One of them, the female character Shenzi, replied, "Don't be silly. We'd love you to stick around for lunch."

The group only got more nervous. Sora looked back and forth and said, "Um... we didn't bring anything to eat."

Alexander placed a paw over his eyes and lowered his head to the ground, muttering, "You didn't just say that... Please tell me you didn't just say that..."

Sora caught on. "Uh-oh."

Another hyena, Banzai, just laughed at their reactions. "That's not gonna be a problem!" he announced.

Goofy gulped. "G-Gawrsh, Sora... I think WE'RE the lunch!"

Ed cackled and licked his chops.

Donald flapped furiously, looking left and right before letting out a panicked cry. The hyenas charged in, and all four adventurers took that as a cue to start running in different directions.

But they didn't get very far. Alex couldn't even get started before a hyena bowled him over. Sora got further and gained a little speed, but he ended up launching himself forward to roll onto his back.

Banzai kept grinning as he closed in on Sora. "Going somewhere?"

Donald and Goofy found themselves cornered against the cliff by the majority of the pack. Alexander tried to roll onto his feet again, but two of the hyenas pinned him down while one placed a claw on his belly. Suddenly, things seemed to be going out of control. And it looked like Banzai would have the first taste, lowering his jaw and moving to take a bite out of Sora...

But a lion's roar echoed into the clearing, and Banzai clamped his mouth shut right in front of Sora's face. Glaring in the general direction of the roar, he growled, "Man, that Scar's got the worst timing...!"

"Just let him roar," Shenzi advised, walking over to him.

"Naaah..." Banzai muttered, "we'd better go see what he wants. Sounds like he's grumpy enough already."

Shenzi just sighed, rolling her eyes. "Fine."

The hyena pack raced out of the clearing, leaving the quartet alone to recover. Sora got to his feet and watched them until the last one was gone, and then turned to Donald and Goofy. "I dunno what that was about," he remarked, "but I'm glad it's over!"

Donald and Goofy also let out a massive sigh of relief, sharing Sora's sentiment.

Sora looked to the other side of the clearing, where Alexander was still on his back. Worriedly, he asked,"Hey Alex, are you okay?"

Alex shook his head. "No no, I think I'll just lay down a while and... Yeah. See if that works."

Donald grunted. "He's fine."

Sora rolled his eyes and walked over to Alexander on all fours. Looking down at him, he said, "C'mon Alex. You knew we weren't in any big trouble, didn't you?"

Alex averted his gaze. "Well, yeah, but..." He sighed. "It's one of those close call things. One second makes a difference, and... I didn't know if me being here would make that difference or not. And then this form just... Gah..."

Finally, Alex tried rolling back onto his feet. He failed once, but then managed to scramble onto all fours the second time. Looking at Sora, he said, "If we'd been normal, two dozen hyenas wouldn't have been that big a deal. But we were defenseless back there!"

Sora nodded. "Everything's harder on four legs..."

"Amen to that," Alex agreed.

Donald flapped his way over to them. "Better start practicing!" he advised them.

Alexander glared up at him. "Easy for you to say, birdie."

Hearing this, Goofy dashed over to them – which was surprising since he was a turtle and had only been one for three minutes. "Hey, I found a trick to it! Here, lemme show ya."