***War and Peace***
With the revelation of Outlanders coming for war, Priderock became a chaotic place of scrambling lions. Lionesses sharpened their claws on smooth stones and sparred lightly to refresh their skills. For most of them, this would be their first real fight since the overthrow of scar if ever. There was an air of nervousness, mixed with anticipation. Every lioness there wanted to fight the outlanders that attacked their King; it was a matter of pride.
Alex stared out at the gathering storm clouds. Something that never ceased to amaze him about the Pridelands was how the weather always perfectly mirrored his feelings. It was as if the kings of the past had something to say about the whole situation. The teenager shrugged and returned his focus to the wrapping he was applying to his forearms and wrist. One thing that he had learned long ago was that animals will bite whatever they can and the more protection for bare skin, the better. Once finished, he stood and picked his staff from the wall and sharpened the end to a point. The wood was hardened in the fire at his feet and he spun it a few times to loosen up his arms.
With his knife hung on his belt, Alex took off toward the main cave. He was ready to join the other lionesses that had gathered for the briefing. He was about to enter, when an angry roar erupted from a side cave. Alex rushed into the cave to find Simba and Nala glaring at Timon and Pumba.
"She's gone?" Nala asked angrily.
Timon was petrified. "Well- you see- we just… AAAHH! She got away!"
"Calm down Timon." Simba told him firmly. "How did she get out? There's only one entrance."
"There's a small hole in the back of the cave," responded Pumba. "She must have moved some rocks aside to get out!"
Simba growled irritably and began his habit of pacing.
Alex almost laughed as he remembered his earlier conversation with Kiara. She had clearly remembered what he had said about digging out a back door. "Not that it isn't important that we find her," he began carefully, "But I think we have a bit more of a pressing matter at hand."
Nala nodded reluctantly. "Zira and the outlanders need to be dealt with first. We can find Kiara later."
Simba was silent for several moments as he contemplated the suggestion. He shook his head and looked up at Alex. "I would feel a lot better if you went to go find her, Alex."
"But what about the battle?" he countered.
Nala brushed up against her brother. Alex, you are great at fighting, but you wouldn't hold up in a full out pride-battle; lions are just too big and tough. I'm not okay with you throwing yourself into this."
Alex frowned, but he knew she was right. He could fight hyenas all day and come out on top, but lions were a different story entirely. They were big, more than twice his weight, and they were tough. A well trained lioness could shrug off blows in ways that humans could not. Alex recalled an old hunters joke that said: When unsure of what you're shooting at, shoot it. If it drops it's human, and if it runs it's a human. The point being that humans tend to give up easily when wounded, but animals will fight to their dying breath to ensure their survival. Pain didn't deter lions like it did with humans, it encouraged them.
"Fine. I'll find Kiara, but as soon as I make sure she's safe, I'm coming to help you against the outlanders."
Simba gave a half smile. "Of course."
"I'll see you guys soon then." He knelt down to give Nala a strong hug. "Be careful." He told her, knowing well the dangers of a battle.
"You too." Simba countered, pulling his brother in law into an equally strong embrace.
With nothing more to say, Alex left the cave and descended down the ramp past drilling lionesses. He watched his family sadly, knowing well that some would not return from the fight. He prayed that they would emerge victorious; to be forced from Priderock was a fate worse than death.
As he reached the edge of the common area, Alex broke into a run in the direction that Kovu had fled. He ran around boulders and over streams; through frightened herds and groves of Acacias. Dark clouds blanketed the sky and blotted out the setting sun while sharp and sporadic gusts of wind rolled across the savannah.
As he increased his distance from Priderock, Alex began to scan the surrounding area for any sign of Kiara. However, he found little sign of the young lioness. A crushed plant here and a paw print there gave a good indication that he was on the right track, but it was vague. Alex was always worried that he wouldn't be able to find the next marker and would lose her path completely, but every hindered feet or so his searching would be rewarded with another clue of his niece.
He continued along for almost a half hour longer before voices in the distance caught his ear. Alex headed in the direction from which they came, and soon spotted a pair of lions nuzzling each other in the evening light. Alex stopped for a moment to appreciate the sight. Despite all the violence, drama, and turmoil that had occurred in the last few days, Kovu and Kiara found simple happiness and bliss in being with one another. It was something that he wished happened more often in the world. Maybe, he thought, they could stop this war.
"Kovu," Kiara said softly. "We have to go back."
"You're kidding! But we're finally together!"
"If we run away, our families will be divided forever."
Kovu sighed and looked up at the clouds. "Alex?" he asked in a surprised tone as the teenager approached them."
"What are you doing here?" Kiara asked, equally surprised.
"Simba sent me to make sure you got home safely."
"Well we were just going there! I need to talk to my father."
Alex shook his head regretfully. "He isn't there. No one is."
Kovu looked at him curiously. "Why not?"
"The outlanders have invaded the Pridelands. The entire Pride has left to meet them in the fields."
"What?" they both exclaimed simultaneously.
Kiara looked to Kovu urgently. "We have to stop this!"
"But how?" Kovu countered. "They hate each other, we can't just talk them all out of it!"
"I think that you're missing the point Kiara", Alex began. "The outsiders are generally bad. I don't like to use that phrase, but they are. Scar was an evil lion, and his followers are no better."
"You're wrong." Kovu replied adamantly. "Most of us never even knew Scar. We were only fed lies by my mother. If we can convince your pride that we aren't all bad, maybe some of my pride will see the same in them."
Alex smiled at the young lion's wisdom. "Well, it's worth a shot I guess. But frankly, if we don't hurry there won't be many people left to talk to."
Kiara nodded seriously. "Let's go."
The trio ran across the savannah just as rain began to fall. It wasn't long before they all were soaked to the bone, but it didn't bother them. They were on a mission, and nothing would stop them. Alex led them towards the battleground where he knew Simba had planned to meet the outlanders.
They reached the canyon that separated them from the battle that raged on the other side. Alex bolted across the bridge of dammed logs that had accumulated from a long past flood. They could see the prides fighting each other tooth and nail. Suddenly the groups parted and they could see Simba and Zira circling each other. Both prides watched their leaders begin the fight for control. Kovu and Kiara ran ahead of Alex, and to his amazement, leapt in the middle of the fight, separating the two rivals.
Kiara faced her father adamantly and Kovu did the same to Zira. Alex was just catching up to the two when he saw an outlander begin a leap towards Kiara from the opposite side. Alex thrust his spear into the dirt and vaulted over the distracted princess to deliver a solid kick to the attacker's face. The force sent them both sprawling across the mud, but Alex quickly stood and backed against the two younger lions on guard. He wasn't about to let anyone attack either of them.
"Daddy, this has to stop."
"Stay out of this!" he told her firmly before turning to Alex. "I thought I asked you to take her back home!"
Alex shook his head. "Sorry Simba, but she's right. This has to stop."
"Daddy, I wise king once told me that we are one. I didn't understand then, but now I do."
Simba stuttered. "But they-"
"Them? Us? Look around, they are us." She said softly. "What differences do you see?"
Alex looked around in amazement as all of the fighters' expressions softened. They understood what she was saying. There was no reason to fight. He looked up at the sky to see the clouds part. The rain ceased to fall and the wind stopped blowing.
Simba nodded slowly and smiled. "It is time for this to end."
The moment was shattered by Zira. "Vitani! NOW!"
"No, mother!" the lioness refused. "They're right. This has to stop." The outlander walked forward and stood alongside Kovu.
"If you will not fight, then you will die as well!"
The other outlanders looked at each other hesitantly. They clearly already had problems with fighting a peaceful pride, but now Zira was commanding them to kill their own family! It must have been too much, because one by one they walked over to stand with Simba's pride.
Alex swelled with a mix of pride and relief. They had done it; Kiara and Kovu had managed to end a war just by talking. It was yet another lesson that he wished more people in the world could have learned.
"Where are you going?" demanded Zira towards her fleeing followers.
"Let it go Zira." Simba said calmly. "It's time to put the past behind us."
She glared at her mortal enemy for a moment without speaking. Then in barely a whisper, "Oh no Simba… I'll never let it go. This is for you, Scar!" With that, she leapt at Simba with her claws extended towards his throat.
Alex leapt to intercept her and knocked her to the side, but the lioness rolled and tackled him to the ground. Alex drew his knife out of his pocket and managed to slash her across the shoulder, but Zira ignored the pain. She lunged out and bit his arm aggressively with her crushing jaws. Alex yelled in pain as he felt his forearm break under the protective wrapping. In a single movement he reeled back and thrust his knife deep into her abdomen. The evil lioness fell back, but quickly stood. She was about to lunge out at the teenager for a final blow, but was caught midair by another lioness. Alex watched in horror as Kiara tackled Zira to the ground and the two rolled off the cliff.
"KIARA!" he screamed in unison with Simba, Nala, and Kovu. Nala helped Alex to his feet and they all rushed to the edge of the cliff as fast as they could. Simba leapt down the terribly steep stone to where Kiara had fallen. Alex watched in amazement as she tried, despite everything, to save the evil lioness.
"Zira please…" she begged. "Give me your paw!"
The slipping lioness sneered at Kiara. "I would rather die!" With that, she proved her words and threw herself from the ledge. Both prides watched in stunned silence as Zira fell from the cliff and into the canyon below. It was a dramatic fall, made eerie by the gleeful smile that was plastered to the lioness' face. She truly preferred to die rather than accept help from a Pridelander. Alex shook his head at the sheer insanity of the descision.
Simba and Kiara soon arrived back at the top of the canyon, and to everyone's relief they were unharmed. After a brief hug from Nala and Alex, Kiara raced to Kovu and the two shared a deep and intimate nuzzle. Alex walked over to Simba and nudged him.
"Like I said before," he said quietly. "I think it was a mistake to exile him."
Simba nodded and smiled. "There are a couple of other mistakes I made as well." he walked over to his former enemy. "Kovu, I was wrong. You do belong here."
Kovu and Kiara smiled, grateful for the king's decision.
Simba looked around at the mix of Pridelanders and Outlanders. "Let's go home." He said strongly. "All of us."
The days passed quickly, but not quickly enough for the wounded teenager. Rafiki had fixed Alex a cast for his cracked forearm and told him to keep it on for seven weeks. Though he hated the cast and wished he could have it off as soon as possible, it was still better than the weeks of rehabilitation after the hyena- mauling so long ago. At least he could walk around this time.
The outlanders successfully integrated into the Pride's daily life, and soon the malnourished lionesses had regained the weight they had lost in the outlands. Had Alex not already known who had had come from Zira's pride, it would have been impossible for him to tell who was who. They even acted the same; Kovu had been right. The vast majority had simply been misled by Zira, and once they realized the error of their thinking they were just like any other pride member.
The sunlight shone down on Priderock and Alex trotted down the trail for the ceremony. Today was Kovu and Kiara's wedding day. Despite his cast, he was overjoyed at the occasion. He reached the common area just as the rest of the pride did. Simba and Nala led the newlyweds past the onlookers and toward the lip of the great stone. Alex smiled at the procession, but Nala wasn't as pleased.
"Alex!" she hissed in a loud whisper.
"Get over here!" she demanded.
Simba smiled. "Come on, you're supposed to be here too!"
Alex navigated through the crowd and fell into step alongside the King and Queen. "I thought only the royal family was part of the procession."
Kiara laughed and pushed him playfully. "Well, Uncle Alex, you are part of the royal family."
"You always seem to forget your place around here." Nala said through a grin.
Alex smiled. "Sorry, I'm not too great at this sort of thing."
"Well we're glad you're here now." Simba said warmly as they reached the tip of Priderock.
The group looked over the savannah to see the gathered herd animals that had come to see their new prince. Simba let loose a deafening roar, and Kovu followed suit with his own thundering roar. Simba looked to Alex and nudged him. He was clearly impressed by his son-in-law's roar.
Alex was satisfied with how everything had turned out; no one had gotten seriously hurt (except himself) and Kovu proved to be the lion that he hoped he would. He stood on the promontory of Priderock with his true family, and all was well. It seemed that a new golden age was dawning over Priderock, a new age that he intended to be a part of.
***Final Author's Note***
Well I'm finally done with this story, and frankly I'm glad to be. Not that I didn't enjoy writing it, but the nature of the story was starting to bother me. There was little I could do that would still stick to the storyline, but also allow me some creative freedom. I mean honestly, you all knew exactly what was coming long before I ever hinted at it, and that's just the way it is. I hope you enjoyed reading this, though I don't think it's one of my better works.
I've already started my next story about if things had gone a little better for Kovu and I hope that you check it out. It won't be that long, but it should be good. After that I have another story pretty well planned out that I think will be epic. If you want more information about either you can check out my Profile.