Before and Beyond the Beginning

By Breech Loader

Breech: I listened to the score "To Die For" and "Run Away" while sorting out this. OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I mean, the hyenas were in the stampede too. It could well have been dangerous for them as well. So, why the hell not?

Chapter Seventeen: To Die For

When Banzai woke up, Shenzi was still asleep right next to him, her breathing as slow and calm as it had been hours ago. He was still lying on her; she hadn't pushed him off. He gazed at her beautiful features. They hadn't mated at all last night, but for now, being so close to her was enough. And there was now a marvellous possibility of him getting between her thighs. She knew he wanted her, and she didn't hate him.

He nuzzled her cheek, to see if it would wake her up, then brushed her bangs out of her eyes. That, combined with the rising sun, seemed to be waking her up. She looked up at him, some surprise on her face that he was still there.

"Banzai?" she asked him.

He just grinned at her. After a moment, she grinned back, and kicked him off her gently.

"So, uh..." he kept grinning and tried to move in close, "What's up for today?"

Shenzi smiled dryly at him, "We've got some wildebeest to hunt," she told him, "And I've got a pack to run." she got up, "Go find Ed. He'll come in handy."

Banzai was about to leave the den when he stopped, "Shenzi, I... last night, we spent all that time together and I wanted to..."

Shenzi grinned back at him, trying to suppress her deep flush of embarrassment, "Banzai, just go get Ed. I've got lots of work to be getting on with."

Banzai gave in and went to find Ed. It wasn't hard; when left to his own devices Ed would always go home. Maybe he shouldn't have left him alone to be with Shenzi... but then, he hadn't left him alone, had he? He'd just left him with Afisa. No problems there; Afisa wouldn't let any actual harm come to-

"ARGH!" Banzai yelled as Ed pounced him hard.

Then the deranged hyena started laughing at him, looking down and batting his eyes, before giving him a huge, doggy lick over the face.

"Ed!" Banzai protested, "Don't tell me you... watched?" Ed nodded until his teeth rattled, "That sort of crap is private! What if we'd been... well, you know..."

"Guh..." Ed grinned and shrugged, which Banzai guessed meant, "Well, you weren't."

"Ed... everybody knows you're 'special'," Banzai said finally, "Just how 'special' are you?" Ed sat there and giggled, "I mean, is it worth trying to get you a gal or not? Or will that scar you for life or something?"

There was an awkward silence. Banzai kicked Ed off him, "Well, let's find out," he said finally, and started walking to the dens where most of the females lived. As usual, Ed followed him, "When you look at those ladies, what do you think?" he asked.

Ed stared at the more-than-two ladies discussing techniques for training their cubs, and started to drool.

"Well, that's a start," Banzai stated, "Anything else?"

Shenzi smirked casually at Scar. Okay, so they'd failed yesterday, but that was because of Mufasa. And they'd gotten at least some meat out of it. Now she was sitting in front of him for the re-briefing. As usual, Scar was pulling his 'friendly' behaviour.

He wrapped a foreleg around Shenzi's shoulders. She wasn't entirely comfortable with it, but beggars couldn't be choosers, right? "Well, today is the day," he told her smoothly, "This day will either mark you in history as the hyena Matriarch who ruled beside the greatest Lion King ever... or condemn you to obscurity. How do you feel, my dear?"

"Like I'm gonna whup that little prince brat!" Shenzi grinned hugely, "I am so gonna tear him in half. I'm gonna rip off his-"

"Yes, yes," Scar interrupted, "And you look absolutely stunning," he smarmed, tilting her chin so that she had to look at him.

Shenzi had to keep reminding herself that Fisadi had acted very like Scar. But Fisadi hadn't been three times her size, and he hadn't had a voice like oiled grease either. She smirked a little, "And don't worry about Banzai or Ed acting up this time. I'll make sure they follow your orders."

"I know I can," Scar smirked, stroking her rough mane briefly, "Now... You see that ridge there?" he pointed out an overhanging rock, "You and your assistants-"

"Friends," Shenzi corrected him.

"Whatever," Scar waved his paw, "You will wait there for my signal. When you see me, you will start the stampede, guiding the wildebeest into the gorge. Once they're in the gorge, make your own way down there to meet me. Then you'll clean up any... loose ends."

"Like if somebody survives?" Shenzi asked.

"Nothing gets past you, my dear," Scar smirked as she started to turn away, "Oh, and Shenzi?" she turned back and he grabbed her by the throat, slamming her against a rock wall, "Failure will not be tolerated this time. Do I make myself..." he squeezed her neck, "clear?"

"Yes! Very clear!" Shenzi grinned in terror and nodded, starting to wonder if this was such a great idea after all.

Scar dropped her, "Now I have to place Simba in position. Get the others and get in position yourself. Do not fail me."

"Yes, Scar," Shenzi replied, rubbing her neck, "I mean, no, Scar... I mean... You can count on me, Scar!" she grinned wildly. She headed back to the Graveyard.

It wasn't tough to find Banzai and Ed. Banzai was trying to get Ed a girl. Shenzi laughed at the sight, and strode in, catching Banzai by the ear, "Come on, Banzai," she chuckled, "We've got work to do." The females he had been chatting to looked up and started laughing at him. Right on cue, Ed started laughing too.

"Ow, ow, ow..." Banzai complained as she dragged him away. Ed looked up from whatever space his brain had been occupying, and ran after them like a playful hyena cub, giggling.

"Come on, I know where we've got to wait," she told Banzai, "Don't attack anything on the way; we don't want to attract anybody's attention."

Banzai followed her. Just looking at that huge herd of wildebeest made his stomach rumble. Shenzi managed to ignore it for a while, but it went on for so long that it was starting to make her feel hungry.

*growl*

"Banzai, shut it up!" she told him.

"Aw, Shenzi, come on!" he whined, "There's gotta be a... a... loads of them over there," he pointed at the huge herd, "Nobody's gonna notice if I just grab one!"

"How many times do I gotta tell you, Banzai," Shenzi growled, "I'm in charge; I say when we go. Not Scar, not you, but me," Shenzi looked behind him, "See, Ed's not begging to ruin the plan. He's got some self-control."

Behind Banzai, Ed giggled quietly. There was a silence lasting about a minute, then, *growl*

"Shut up!" she told Banzai again.

"I can't help it!" Banzai whined, then jumped up, "I'm so hungry... I gotta have a wildebeest!"

"Stay. Put."

"But... can't I just pick off one of the little sick ones?" he pleaded.

"No!" Shenzi growled, "We wait for the signal from Scar." She didn't know what failure would result in, but it couldn't be pleasant. She saw Scar appear briefly over the ridge, "And there he is... Let's go."

They burst out from their place of concealment and drove the herd into a surprisingly well-choreographed panic towards the gorge.

Banzai was already enjoying himself. He hardly ever got to hunt for fun now that Mufasa was in charge. Only the occasional game of Meerkat Volleyball, which was frowned upon heavily in the Pride Lands.

"Chase 'em over the edge!" Shenzi shouted, snapping at a panicked wildebeest's heels, "And keep 'em together!"

The three of them were soon among the herd, causing more panic. They chased the wildebeest down the cliff face, and were guiding them along the gorge when suddenly Ed was caught by the hooves of a huge bull, knocking him aside. Suddenly, the big plan wasn't going quite as well as it had been.

"Ed!" Shenzi yelled. The earth shook with the pounding of thousands of hooves, and she couldn't see her friend - no, there he was! "Ed!" she shouted, spotting him jumping onto the back of a wildebeest, to keep himself out of their hooves. Then she took her first hit, a young buck catching her with its heels, knocking her away from Banzai, and straight into the center of the gorge and among the trampling hooves themselves.

Banzai was the first who managed to clamber out of the main trampling, panting, "Shenzi! Ed! Get out of there! You could be killed!" he shouted into the herd from his ledge of safety, hoping they could still hear him.

Well done, Captain Obvious, Shenzi thought, but there was too much panic to really put any venom into it. Hooves kicked, horns aimed to gore all around her, and she had to dodge every movement. A huge bull wildebeest slammed straight into her, knocking all the breath out of her.

Ed managed to leap from back to back of several wildebeest, and scrabbled for the ledge. Banzai was able to drag him out of there with his claws, with his brother whimpering in pain every inch of the way. Then he scanned the herd again frantically to find Shenzi. But with so many charging bodies in the way, it was quite impossible to see her from here.

"Hell with it!" he snarled, and leapt in to find her.

Ed started screeching and jabbering in terror, as he watched Banzai leap into the flood of animals he had helped guide into a panic, in his search for Shenzi. The Matriarch herself was half paralysed with fear as she stared at the onrushing herd, dodging them as they came. Suddenly Banzai collided with her side, knocking her out of the way of a rearing bull just before its hooves crushed her.

"Banzai!" she cried out in relief.

"Shenzi! Get out of here! You have to get out! Somehow!" Banzai begged her as they both dodged the huge, onrushing stampede.

Shenzi braced herself, then leapt and grabbed the cliff face with her claws, but did not attempt to climb any higher, simply hanging on just out of reach of the hooves of the herd. Banzai backed himself into a crack in the gorge where the wildebeest couldn't go and would run right past. Ed covered his eyes with his paws and whimpered, as if that would make them go away. The three of them waited, shaking, until the last of the wildebeest had passed by, and finally relaxed.

Shenzi dropped herself the less-than-ten feet to the gorge floor, and landed on her feet with a soft grunt, gasping with the adrenaline rush, trying not to show how much her ribs were aching from the hits she'd taken. She'd be fine. Ed jumped down from his ledge and landed beside her, panting softly.

"Uh, guys?" Banzai called from his crack, realising he was stuck. Shenzi and Ed both grabbed hold of him and pulled until he came out, "Thanks..."

"Well, that went as well as could be expected," Shenzi commented, shaking some dust out of her rough fur, "We're all still alive."

"Now what?" Banzai asked her.

"Now we find Scar, and tie up any loose ends," Shenzi told him, "He'll be in the gorge somewhere... But don't make any noise, got it?" The three hyenas walked down the gorge slowly and calmly, following the direction the herd of wildebeest had flowed in.

There was a last stray wildebeest. Shenzi stopped Banzai from chasing it, and let it go, as they trotted calmly down the gorge. There were more important things to worry about. Then Shenzi heard an almost beautiful sound echoing off the walls of the gorge.

"HELP!" it was the brat's voice. Damn! He'd survived. But he didn't sound happy... "SOMEBODY! ...Anybody! ...Help..."

So that was the direction they took. Soon enough they saw Scar, approaching and talking to the lion brat, hugging him, as if he cared about the broken body of Mufasa just lying there. Shenzi held Banzai and Ed back from leaping forward again. This was Scar's call.

"Simba... what have you done?" he asked the cub softly, putting on a good impression of being shocked.

"There were wildebeest... he tried to save me... it was an accident, I didn't mean for it to happen!" Simba wept.

"Of course, of course it was an accident," Scar put one paw around Simba and pulled him away from the corpse, "No-one ever... means for these things to happen," his tone became cold, "But the king is dead. And if it weren't for you, he'd still be alive."

Ooooh Scar, you muthafucking sonuvabitch, Shenzi thought. Geez, as if it wasn't enough that Scar had just arranged Mufasa's murder and was about to have Simba killed courtesy of them, in the brief last moments of the brat's life, he was going to make the little prince think he was responsible. Even she wouldn't have thought of that one.

"Oh... What will your mother think?" Scar asked Simba, a shocked look on his face.

"What am I gonna do?" Simba sniffled to his uncle.

"Run away, Simba," Scar told him, "Run... Run away and never return."

What a cunning, manipulative bastard you are, Scar, Shenzi thought as she walked forward with Banzai and Ed, watching the little brat flee, a smirk on her face. And people had the gall to claim that hyenas were stupid.

Scar didn't even turn around, "Kill him."

The three of them instantly chased after Simba. He had reached the end of the gully, and turned to see the hyenas grinning as they approached him from behind. With no other choice, he scrambled up the rocks, with Banzai in the lead behind him, scoring deep marks in the rock with his claws.

Banzai narrowed his eyes in eagerness. Finally he was gonna get Mufasa's brat... that'd show those lions for hurting Ed, for killing Mosi, for scratching Shenzi, for being assholes on the whole. When Simba leapt over the edge of the almost sheer drop, he didn't even pause, but jumped himself.

He was chasing the cub down the rift for several seconds before Simba rolled out into a huge patch of briars. The cub could fit through them with only a few pricks and scratches. The larger hyenas, however, were another matter, "THORNS! WOAH-WOAH-WOAH!" Banzai screamed, managing to skid to a halt right at the edge.

Then Shenzi thudded into his back. And for a second that was great, but then Banzai remembered who was right behind Shenzi. Ed slammed into her back, propelling Banzai out into the thorns with a scream and a howl.

Shenzi couldn't help herself. She just burst into laughter as she watched Banzai crawling out of those thorns, whimpering. Ed was rolling all over the place at the hilarity of the situation. Then she looked up at their quarry, leaving the other side of the thorns, "Hey! There he goes! There he goes!"

Banzai started to rip the thorns out of his ass with his teeth, "So go get 'im!" he told her.

Shenzi started to laugh again, "There ain't no way I'm going in there!" she told him, "What; you want me to come out looking like you? Cactus Butt?"

Banzai looked at Ed, who had stopped laughing but was now staring at his ass instead and grinning hugely, and spat a mouthful of thorns into his nose. Ed gave a yelp and rubbed his nose, "But we gotta finish the job..." he pointed out, still removing thorns.

Shenzi watched the fleeing fuzzball thoughtfully. Even if they could get through the thorns, it would take them a lot longer, and a lot more pain, to get through than the cub had. Besides, the brat had way too good of a head-start for them to catch up now. On the other hand, he was heading into desert, on his own. What chance did a little lion cub have of survival out there? She let herself imagine what Scar would do to her if she went back and told him that, 'hey, we saw the cub go, but we didn't arse ourselves to follow'. She allowed herself a small shudder.

"Well, he's as good as dead out there anyway," she said finally, "And you heard Scar. He's not coming back. And if he comes back... we'll kill him!"

Banzai grinned, picking the last of the reachable thorns out of his butt, and trotted over to the ledge, "YEAH, YA HEAR THAT?" he screamed as loud as he could, "IF YA EVER COME BACK... WE'LL KILL YA!" The words echoed off the rocks and out to the desert. Snickering, they headed back to Scar.

"Is he dead?" he asked Shenzi, glaring at the female.

Shenzi could lie with a smile on her face. It was part of being in charge, "He ain't gonna get any deader," she returned.

"Good," Scar smirked, "Now you will gather your army and lead them to Pride Rock. If anybody contests my takeover, ensure that they are shown... the error of their ways."

"Gotcha, Scar," Shenzi grinned, "Come on, boys," she told Banzai and Ed, "We've got us an army to conscript."