Shenzi waited in the grass for her opportunity to strike. She'd been waiting a great deal of time for this opportunity to present itself. A cool breeze soothed her slightly, she'd been on edge. If what Vitani told her was true, which Shenzi held doubts, this was the best way in. The only reason she held any hope to the cub's information was that she seemed to connect with Banzai earlier.
She almost jumped out of her fur when a voice whispered in her ear. "Hey, miss me?"
She had to put her own paw to stop herself screaming in surprise. "Simba? That you?"
"The one and only." He smiled down on her, never looking more magnificent to her than in that moment.
"You… why'd you come back for us?" She asked.
"I realised something, it's like my friend Timon says 'you've got to put your past behind you'. You and Banzai got me out of the exiled lands and now I'm getting you out of the Outlands." Simba said looking over at the termite mound.
She nodded up at him. "I… thanks." Unsure if she should be grateful for his return or angry for him leaving.
"So what's the plan?" He asked.
"If my information is good, they'll be a patrol coming out of that little gap in the ground. When that happens we can dive in undetected. Banzai should be in the bottom chamber, apparently that is where Zira keeps prisoners. We just keep going downwards and then we'll find him. We set him free and run to the exit." Shenzi explained.
"Rough plan." Simba said.
"You got anything better?"
"Kinda." He smiled. "Nala agreed to help. I was going to go it alone but she came after me with an idea. She'll be distracting them outside. I don't think they shall pass up the chance to get the Queen, do you?"
"No, I don't think they would. So while most of them are off hunting her…"
"We get an easier time inside." Simba nodded.
"That girls braver than I thought." Shenzi smiled. As if on cue a large group of lionesses ran out snarling, heading for Nala's last known location.
"Hope she'll be OK…" Simba glanced backward at the Outsiders.
"She'll be fine, let's get Banzai." Shenzi said, dashing for the partially concealed exit where the lionesses had just left from.
The inside of Zira's lair was dank and depressing. Insects scrambled beneath their feet, looking to either escape or bask in the moonlight Simba and Shenzi had let in. The air felt much cooler inside than out and that was clear through a sudden chill taking hold upon the pair as soon as they entered. Bones littered the floors and an overpowering stench of death floated down the tunnels. It all created an atmosphere of despair. It took them a moment for their eyes to adjust to the darkness so they stepped carefully.
"Remember, down." Shenzi whispered.
"Yep." Simba said, trying to avoid excessive conversation which might attract unnecessary attention.
Shenzi gave him a quick tap and made eye signals towards a small piece of light on their left. The two crawled there to look down upon what could only be described as a throne room. Sitting on the throne was a small male cub with dark markings. He actually looked rather afraid. Around him were some more familiar faces, Zira was pacing and muttering to herself, the adolescent Nuka was chewing his claws, he actually had a few new scratches and Simba had a horrible feeling that they'd been inflicted by his mother, the female cub Vitani kept looking around and seemed fixated by the only non-lion in the room. The scarred baboon from earlier was breathing deeply, looking slightly troubled.
"Oh if she's out there then so is he." Zira was saying.
"Are you certain that your eyes have seen his bride?" The baboon asked her.
"Of course, everyone knows the price of lying to me." She shot Nuka a deadly look and he flinched slightly, Simba felt a jolt of sympathy for the lion who was hardly older than a cub.
"Can… can I say something?" The cub in the throne asked.
"Yes you may, my sweet child, my dear little Kovu." Zira said, it was such a strange shift in emotion. She'd gone from steaming one moment to being full of affection the next.
"She's psychotic." Shenzi said, shaking her head. Simba agreed. "Psychotic and she has Banzai, we have to move."
"Wait, I don't know that cub, that Kovu. Why is she treating him differently?" Simba asked.
"I dunno, never seen him before." Shenzi shrugged.
"He's not Scar's son?"
"Nope. Scar died before he could have any more cubs." Shenzi said. Simba grunted with acknowledgement but kept his eyes on the scene in front of them. He'd missed what the cub said but Zira was lavishing praise on him for it, it was like her other children didn't exist. "Come on, I'm through waiting around." She said watching Vitani leave the room unnoticed. Simba and Shenzi went deeper and deeper into the lair and it got colder and colder. Eventually they found what they were looking for. Banzai the hyena was asleep in a pit. He wouldn't be able to crawl out of it, not by himself.
"The stick, use the stick." Came a voice from behind. Simba turned to see Vitani standing next to a large stick.
"Banzai wake up!" Shenzi wasn't sure if she should shout or whisper.
"I am awake, wait just one moment." He grumbled.
"Banzai, we're here to save you. Get up." Shenzi hissed at him.
"Wha… Shenzi?" He looked up at her and then scrambled to his feet. "Shenzi! You came for me!"
"Well durr, did you think I'd leave you here?" She smiled at him.
"If mother finds out…" Vitani began muttering.
"Here, grab this." Simba said, holding the stick in his jaws. He lowered the stick down to Banzai who grasped the other end and Simba managed to assist his climb.
"Hey you came too." Banzai greeted Simba. A rumble came from above.
"Zira is coming." Shenzi gasped. Vitani gave a small whimper. Zira stepped into the chamber flanked by the baboon and one other unknown outsider.
"Well, you came back for the vermin. Take him, having you instead is a good trade." Zira snarled and stepped forward to Simba.
"Hold it lady." Shenzi shouted and held Vitani with her paw. "Step closer and your little girl gets it."
Zira paused, she looked slightly concerned but nowhere close to level a parent should be by their child being threatened. "I'd rather you shed Nuka's blood but he's not here, I am willing to sacrifice her for justice, for Scar. I have been training her to die for our cause, it just comes earlier than I had anticipated." Zira resumed her advance toward an appalled Simba.
"You'd let her die?" Simba gasped.
"If need be, I'd rather avoid it but if her blood must be shed then so be it." The lioness snarled.
"Damn it." Was all Shenzi said and she released Vitani, who scrambled into the shadows.
The Outsider beside Zira roared and pounced at Simba, all he did was dodge and she feel into the pit where Banzai had been held. "Now!" Simba yelled as he kicked dust in Zira's face then landed a heavy swipe on her flank. She began slashing blindly all around her, the hyenas slipped past her, Banzai taking a slight scratch on his rear end, and Simba managed to barge through to join them. The baboon's eyes widened in fear and he turned tail and ran.
"Do you remember the way out?" Banzai asked them.
"I think so." Shenzi replied.
"You think so?" Banzai repeated as they ran through the tunnels.
"Sure, just err… uh oh." They skidded to a halt as the baboon turned around with a wicked grin with another pair of Outsider lionesses blocking their path.
"Kill them." The baboon screamed and the lionesses roared.
"This way." Simba shouted as he ran into an opening on their left. They found themselves in the throne room they'd seen before. The cub was still perched up on the throne and Nuka was skulking in the background, he screamed when Simba entered. A small glimmer of moonlight shone directly onto Kovu from a hole in the roof.
Kovu sprang to his feet "Who are you?" He asked.
"The enemy." Zira said as she entered with the baboon and the two lionesses from earlier, it seemed she'd left the first one in the pit. "Kovu, this is Simba. This is the one who killed Scar."
"You… You're Simba?" Kovu asked as he tried to make himself look as small as possible.
"It was an accident." Simba protested.
"Liar." Zira hissed.
The hyenas looked at one another. "I think you care about the boy, Zira." Shenzi said as she ran toward Kovu. "You may leave Vitani but little Kovu is another story." She cackled as she dived onto the cub.
Zira screeched as Kovu yelped under Shenzi's strength. Simba wasn't entirely sure what to do here. He wouldn't let Shenzi kill the cub but a hostage seemed the only way out of this dead end.
"Let him go." Zira snarled.
"If you let us go." Shenzi said.
"You and the other hyena may go but not Simba." She said flexing her claws.
Shenzi considered this for a moment. "Deal." She said edging her way to the only exit with Kovu whimpering beside her. Simba felt his heart sink, this was it then. He looked around, Zira and the Outsiders were closing in on him and from behind Nuka was attempting to sneak up on him. Simba instinctively went for the high ground, determined to go out fighting. The hyenas were on the exit now, right next to the baboon and for the briefest of moments Shenzi whispered something to the baboon. He looked enraged and attempted to strike her across the face but she blocked it using Kovu himself as her shield. The poor cub was thrown across the room and Zira spun around. All she'd seen was the baboon hitting Kovu and the baboon knew it. His face fell from outraged to terrified in the blink of an eye. Zira roared louder than Simba had ever heard her and he took that moment.
"Let's go!" Banzai said whilst head-butting the baboon closer to Zira. Simba ran the fastest he'd ran for a very long time as he flew toward the exit, following the hyenas.
"I thought you guys were going to leave me." He said.
"Naa still might need you later." Shenzi said with a mischievous grin. The baboon's screams echoed through the corridors sending shivers down Simba's spine.
"Don't let him get away!" Zira was screaming hysterically followed by a series of roars.
"I see the surface." Banzai said huffing while he did so and the three dashed out of the termite mound. The chase continued though and Zira was determined to catch and kill them. It lasted until they reached the river separating the outlands from the Pridelands.
"Jump now!" He shouted and leapt across the river just managing to scramble his way up. Zira screamed again as her quarry escaped.
"You think this border will stop me?" She hissed.
"No, but they might." Simba made a gesture behind him, toward a large gang of various animals, some were part of Simba's pride, and others were a mismatch of other predators like cheetahs or strong herbivores like Rhinos, all of them looked ready for a fight. "It's good to be king." Simba said, giving Zira a daring smile.
Zira paced the boundaries for a few long minutes. "This is not over. You will fall and Kovu will rise." She spat, before giving him one last murderous stare and skulked off back to her lair.
"Sooo, what happens now?" Banzai asked.
Shenzi stood atop pride rock. The wind was blowing her fur left and right but she'd hardly noticed. In spite of how she wanted to feel she was scared. She wanted to brush this off, to think nothing of what Simba would say when he finally emerged from the cave. She looked down at her friends. Banzai gave her an encouraging smile while Ed rotated his head like an owl and chuckled. She chanced a look upwards towards the sky. There wasn't a cloud in sight and the sun's rays shone down unobstructed, yet it wasn't like being stuck in an unbearable heat, it was relaxing. She heard movement from the lion's cave and spun to attention. Simba was coming out, along with that irritating bird Shenzi never liked.
"It wasn't easy but I think we can do it." Simba said with a warm smile.
"Really? I… we can?" Shenzi couldn't quite believe it could be true, something like this happening now, after everything that happened.
"It came against my recommendations but a compromise has been made." Zazu said with a hint of distain in his voice but Shenzi didn't really care what bird brain thought.
"Your clan is permitted access to the Pridelands and has hunting rights here." Simba said. "You are not yet full members of my kingdom however and will be under surveillance." Simba continued with a much less formal tone. "I'm asking to trust you guys now. You saved my life."
"After putting it in danger in the past." Zazu muttered.
Simba continued as if there had been no interruption. "Then Rafiki helped Ed recover from his sickness."
"Now he knows not to eat that weird purple plant, right Ed?" Banzai nudged Ed who sadly nodded.
"What I'm doing has really split opinions around here so you need to show everyone in the Pridelands that you can be behave."
"Be good little hyenas now, got it." Shenzi nodded. "Never thought I'd be saying this but thank you. Thanks for everything." Shenzi hopped down the rock face back toward Banzai and Ed.
"You're welcome." Simba called after them.
Shenzi felt like a massive weight was lifted from her shoulders. They were free to do as they pleased, within reason. She'd have to restrain her darker more violent side now but it was a price she was more than happy to pay. She snorted at Banzai when she reached the two hyenas. "You wanted to eat him."
Rafiki watched with great interest as the hyenas wandered off to inform the rest of the clan of the decision made. He chuckled and retreated back to his tree. "Well, Mufasa." He addressed the painting of his dear friend and former king. "It appears to have worked. I doubt it will be entirely peaceful the odd shake here and there is to be expected, yes?" He chuckled again and began making changes to the hyena portraits on the tree. He briefly considered moving them away from Scar and placing them with other animals included in the Pridelands but he would wait and see for that. "Your boy is everything I had hoped him to be." Rafiki said and leaned against one of the paintings. "Oh no." he gasped realising he may smudged it and accidently 'killing' someone who was still alive. "Sorry Kovu." He said and began to clean up the picture of Zira's youngest and most loved cub. "Kovu." He muttered again in deep thought. "Hmm I think Simba may have learned a very important lesson for the future indeed." He said admiring the paintings of Kovu and the Outsiders, maybe one day he will welcome you too." Rafiki began to hum to himself.
(A/N) and that is the end. Thank you to all those who have reviewed and those who haven't I would encourage you to do so. Pleeease? I did enjoy writing this and so far all feedback has been positive, it really encourages me to know there are people who enjoyed what I wrote (Take that Primary school English teacher!)
Again thank you guys :D