(A/N: I don't know if I'm going to continue with this. I don't know if I'll get writer's block during chapter 2, no reviews and no motivation and I'll take it down and go back to "retirement." Alternatively, I may get sucked into this myself, lots of reviews and begin posting more stories. Needless to say, if you enjoy it - review! And any suggestions are welcome - tell me if you're looking for something shorter than "The Siku Choka," same length or whatever. Watched TLK 1, 2, 1.5 and read TLK:6NA? If you saw a character there - Disney owns it. If you didn't, they're mine (the concept of the Siku Choka is mine too). Enjoy!)
"Fifteen paw prints," stated Nala, looking down at the indents in the ground. "They all belong to this year's Siku Choka competitors," she continued, scanning the prints. She sighed. "And there's mine," she finished off, hovering her paw over the print she had made two days ago.
One of the Siku Choka workers, a leopard, was standing opposite her.
"Just place your paw in your paw print, Ma'am and, once I can confirm that it's yours, I will let you proceed to the infield with the other competitors."
Nala lifted her head up away from the ground and turned until she was facing her mate, standing next to her.
"You sure you're okay with this?" she asked.
Simba didn't give a nod or any sign that he approved of what Nala was doing, but he didn't give her any signs of disapproval either.
"You're a very intelligent lioness, Nala. You know your own weaknesses but you're a very good huntress. I know you love your daughter as much as I do and if you ever thought for a moment that you were not capable of surviving this, I know you would've never entered yourself."
Nala smiled. His speech sounded rehearsed, but she knew it had come from the heart. She moved in a step towards him and licked him on the cheek.
"Thank you Simba," she said, taking a step back. She turned back towards the leopard. "Okay," she stated, "I'm ready now." She placed her paw inside her paw print.
"So am I," added Simba, placing his paw inside his own.
Nala looked across to see what her mate had just done. Her smile instantly fell.
"Sorry Nala," replied her mate, "it's too late to turn back now."
Nala gasped and looked up at him. He was serious!
"Simba, you can't be…?"
Simba didn't reply. He just looked his mate back in the eye. The look he gave her showed that he was.
"No Simba!" Nala finally broke. "I won't have this! You can't enter the Siku Choka!"
"Why not?" asked Simba.
"Why—SIMBA! Look…couldn't you have told me before now? At least we could've discussed this!"
"You never would've said 'yes.'"
"Darn right I wouldn't have! Do you know the first thing about hunting?"
Simba glared at his mate. "Did I not help the hunting party bring down an elephant on our anniversary?"
"Did I not kill a wildebeest on your birthday?"
"Was I not, for the first time ever, able to pin you two weeks ago?"
"I WAS ASLEEP!"
"Simba – LISTEN! Seriously, listen! Okay…so maybe you can hunt. Gosh darn it, Simba – every lion can hunt! The Siku Choka is for those who are exceptional at it. N—no offense Simba, b—but…"
"No, none taken Nala, seriously. I understand what you're getting at, but…"
"What was the first question they asked you when you went to sign up?" snapped Nala, interrupting her mate.
Simba thought back to it for a second. "Do you think you have what it takes to win the Siku Choka?"
"Exactly. And what did you reply?"
"Yes. They don't let you compete if you say 'no.'"
Nala sighed. "Alright, so maybe you knew that…but look, hun…I'm not going to kick you out if you say 'no,' but, seriously…I'm your mate…now tell me, do you seriously think you have what it takes to win?"
Simba nodded. That still wasn't good enough for Nala. She shook her head.
"Simba, tell me three things you even know about the Siku Choka."
"It lasts 24 hours, you get 10 points for bringing down a piece of prey and 1 point for completing a lap on our 1.5 mile circuit, and a lot of lions die."
Nala groaned. "You still don't get it, do you?"
Simba moaned too. "Alright," he finally said, "you want to know how I really feel? Come here – give me your ear."
Nala did as he asked and moved her ear close for him to whisper into.
"I think," Simba whispered, "you don't want me to enter because you don't want to be humiliated in front of our pride when I kick your butt at your own game."
So that's how he was going to be, was it?
"Okay Simba," Nala stated. "You win. I give in. Your paw print's on the ground, you're in the Siku Choka. Good luck to you. Just don't expect me to spoon-feed you again when it starts."
Nala stormed off in a huff towards the infield. Simba looked back over at the leopard. "She'll get over it," he told him.
"So tell me how this works again," Timon demanded.
"Very well," Zazu sighed, annoyed that neither he nor Pumbaa had understood it the first five times. "You see these fifteen paw prints? You place those ten bugs you have on the paw print of the competitor that you think will win. If they win, you win."
"Win? Win what?"
"Well that depends. Pick a paw print first."
"Hmm…" said Timon and Pumbaa aloud as they looked down at the paw prints.
"Who won it last year, Pumbaa?"
"I think Nala said it was Tumaini."
"So another lioness. That makes two wins for females in a row. I think it's time a male is due for a win…so…this paw print here looks like it was made by a big, muscular male lion – who's does that belong to?"
Zazu sighed. "That's not one of the competitors paw prints, Timon. That's a paw print from where you were just standing."
"I think this is the print you're looking for!" exclaimed Pumbaa, pointing down at the biggest of the fifteen actual paw prints.
"Excellent," replied Timon, "Zazu…Pumbaa and I will put our ten bugs on this competitor."
"Good choice," replied Zazu. "I put five berries on that same lion. His name is Tonka. He is a rookie but he is very strong and very friendly – he has been very cooperative with our pride during negotiations over the years."
"Blah, blah, blah, come on Zazu – just tell me how much we'll win."
"Unfortunately a lot of lions think he will win, so you will only get twenty bugs back if he does."
"Twenty!" exclaimed Timon. "That's it?"
"But if you bet your bugs on Juveda," Zazu continued, "you will get three hundred bugs if she wins."
"But then that means she probably won't win then?"
"Hmm," thought Timon, "what do you think, Sarafina?" he asked aloud as the former Siku Choka champion walked on by him.
"You want to put Kiara down on the ground first and then reply?"
Sarafina dropped the young cub out of her mouth. "I said, split them," she replied. "Put five on Tonka and five on Juveda…though personally I was hoping you'd bet on my dau—"
Timon gasped. "Pumbaa, I just had a great idea. Let's split the bugs – five on Tonka and five on Juveda!"
"Great!" Pumbaa replied.
"Very well gents," Zazu concluded. "Give me your ten bugs and I'll make sure they get to the officials."
Timon handed them over into the hornbill's wings.
Zazu looked down at the bugs. He held one up in the air.
"This one is dead," he commented.
"So?" shrugged Timon. "We can still eat them."
"Sarafina? Is that you?"
Nala whirled around. "Pardon?"
"Oh…sorry…nope, it's not. I—I thought you were, from behind you looked like…"
Nala chuckled. "It's okay Lenny. Sarafina's my mother. Lots of lions think we look alike. I'm Nala, by the way."
"Okay, well hi Nala but…how did you know my name?"
"I saw the Siku Choka two years ago. I remember faces. So you're in it again, huh?"
"And your brother Bahati? And what about his new mate, Nakshi?"
"Nah, they're back ruling the kingdom. Shouldn't you be doing the same? You're the queen of these lands, right?"
"Ah, I get it. Your mate's protecting the lands today?"
Nala sighed. "Sadly, no. He entered himself into this event too."
"What's wrong with that? You've already got yourself a teammate!"
"I just don't know if he's up to this though, Lenny. He's not exactly the best hunter on Earth."
"Neither am I, but hunting's only half of it Nala! It's something I learned last year. If you play your strategy right, you can score points in this game without ever being in danger!" Lenny exclaimed enthusiastically.
"Really? Did that work for you?"
"Eh…not really. I finished last."
"But…" continued Lenny, "…just think about it. Perhaps your husband's not the best hunter on Earth, but how much strategy does he know? Did you ever teach him Siku Choka strategy when you were watching two years ago?"
Nala tried to think back.
"This is not a race."
"When it gets down to the final hour or two, or even three, the hunting and killing picks up a lot."
"Try to use the darkness to your advantage just before the sun rises, then you can sleep until there's just a couple of hours left."
"Because we bank the circuit on both sides the prey feel as if they're locked in, and there's the fact that all of our scents and sounds means that it's a lot harder for the prey to work out where the competitors are."
"What could be a brilliant strategy could turn out to be nothing. And most of the time, you use strategy just to get a mere ten points…but then the next second you could end up having someone like Tumaini who scores fifty points at once purely through luck."
"Then maybe he thinks he can win on strategy! I don't know…be confident at the least. If you don't feel good about his chances, why should he? Pfbt…listen to me blabbing on. I always finish last, what do I know? I'm off to take a nap before the event starts – see you soon!" And, as quick as he had appeared, Lenny disappeared.
Nala watched him walk away with a newfound sense of respect for him. Yes, his mane was…well, it wasn't, and he wasn't the smartest or strongest lion on Earth…but boy, he was full of wisdom! For the first time since her argument, Nala was able to muster a smile. Perhaps Simba was right after all…
(A/N: Well, let me know what you all think!)