A/N: Hey all! Check out the new cover to the story!
Forgive me for another late update. I would love to update weekly but as you can see, that is not possible – busy as my schedule gets, I will seriously try not to make you guys wait more than three weeks for a chapter. Worse come to worse, one month.
Anyways, my life has been pretty crazy over the past two weeks – I've been hard at study and commissions, and I've watched Monsters University (awesome movie!) and I have seen Gordon Ramsay in real life…yes, the god of the kitchen in real life! I'm a fan of that awesome chef from hell!
Now in the story, we will be diving into unfamiliar territory that isn't explored in the movie. You know how Simba grows up after one song of Hakuna Matata, right? Fortunately that is not something that I want to follow, because if I did that then it would be terrible. Nothing cool would happen! But do bear with me as we go through this part – if it gets terrible tell me. It's my first time at this, and I appreciate good feedback. For you music lovers out there - on this chapter, put the track Border Patrol by Two Steps From Hell on replay, you won't regret it.
The Lion King is owned by Disney but OCs belong to me. As always, the proofreading credits go to the awesome yeti1995.
His claws found purchase on the rough, unforgiving bark, and he slowly made his way over, expertly crossing branches and hopping from one tree to another, taking great risks over the dizzying heights of the canopy.
Climbing a tree, even for an expert like him, was a harder task than it looked. The primates in the forest had an opposable thumb that they were able to utilise, and here he was with none. What guided him was experience. The thinner branches would not be able to take his weight, but the thicker boughs paved a way in the trees. And he had to be very quiet – the leaves were a friend at concealment, but an enemy when it came to their rustling noises. One wrong move – and it would be harder to catch his next meal.
A few bouts of movements high above the jungle undergrowth, and he was zoning in on his prey. The hunter licked his chops, thinking of how many days a warthog would satisfy him. From where he was proudly perched, he waited for his unsuspecting prey, almost like an eagle from above.
Closer and closer, the golden-eyed predator came.
Kiara walked with her new friends in the jungle undergrowth, never failing to be excited by every new thing she came across. The butterflies that darted in and out of the vegetation were more vibrantly coloured than those in the savannah. The birds that flew overhead made many different kinds of calls, and here they sounded louder when their voices echoed through the abode of old, towering trees.
She was led to a place where a waterfall plunged into sparkling waters. A beam of sunlight gently inched its way through the cover of leaves, reflecting off the pool, and vines hung and dipped low among rocks that supported many roots. Fallen logs made the place look slightly cluttered, but about seven meters above them, where many layers of water cascaded and fell into a rocky pool, a huge log lay in place, spanning a bridge across two cliffs.
The Princess was indeed still sad, but these new things kept her off her thoughts. But the thought of her father – her father. How it stabbed at her heart after a seemingly long time. This place gave her rest, but she had to go home and tell everyone about what happened. Perhaps, she thought, she'd stay here for a while. Just for a day, still knowing that she had to get back to her mother somehow. She thought she'd let Timon and Pumbaa know.
"Umm…Uncle Timon? Uncle Pumbaa?" She started, looking at the duo that was walking up to the logs.
"I like them crispy," said Pumbaa, totally oblivious to the Princess.
"Crunchy!" Timon argued back, as the warthog thrust a log upwards with his snout, exposing a musty smell of rot into the air. Kiara cringed slightly.
"No, the best bugs are crispy," Pumbaa declared.
"Guys?!" Kiara shouted, halting the both of them in their bickering. "I need to – uhh…"
"Oh, now you've made the kid hungry," Timon folded his arms, glaring at Pumbaa. He turned back to Kiara, grinning at her. "Hakuna Matata kid, we have a lot of grub."
Kiara's stomach growled at the sound of food. She had not eaten in hours. "I could eat a whole zebra…" she groaned, thinking of her favourite food.
Hearing this, the pair looked at each other, Timon glaring at a curious-eyed Pumbaa. The meerkat's look said it all – I told you so – and he nervously turned back to the lioness cub. The meat eating, carnivorous lioness cub, he thought fearfully.
"Eeeeah. We're fresh out of zebra."
Kiara's face fell. "Any antelope?"
"Hippo?" She asked, getting desperate.
"Listen kid, if you live with us, you have to eat like us."
"Uhh well, that was something that I wanted to talk about –"
"Give it to her Pumbaa!" Timon gestured proudly, lifting up a huge, heavy looking red slug.
"Eww! That's gross!" Kiara's nose scrunched up in disgust. Pumbaa however, was already starting a feast of his own. Slurping up a long, green worm from the ground, he burped loudly.
"Slimy, yet satisfying," he said contentedly.
"Here kid, have one," Timon handed a squirming blue beetle over to her. Kiara shook her head, smiling nervously.
"No, I don't do bugs…"
"You'll learn to love 'em!" Pumbaa cried. "As my friend Timon here says, Hakuna Matata."
"What? What does that mean?" Kiara was puzzled. That phrase kept popping up over and over between her newfound friends. Perhaps she should have paid attention when her Dad was teaching her the ancient language – her Dad. Thinking about him was like sending a stake through her heart. Watching him through the stampede, watching –
"Hakuna Matata. What a wonderful phrase!" Timon gestured with his hands still holding the blue beetle, bringing Kiara out of her dark thoughts as she watched him curiously.
"Hakuna Matata – ain't no passing craze!" Pumbaa sang, shaking his rump along to a rhythm in his head. Both of the animals started doing a duet, dancing along to their sudden burst of song.
"It means no worries
For the rest of your days!
It's a problem-free
The duo finished with a flourish. "Hakuna Matata!"
"Sing it kid!" Timon did a knee-slide on the ground, pointing to Kiara enthusiastically, hands outspread.
"Uhh…Hakuna Matata!" Kiara half-sang, looking amusedly at both of them with her brows raised.
"Yeah that's it! Keep going!" Timon encouraged. "The tune of the year!"
"It means no worries," she started shyly, and the duo continued without missing a beat for her.
"For the rest of your days!"
Kiara laughed. "It's a problem-free!"
"Philosophy!" Timon and Pumbaa belted out smoothly.
"Hakuna Matata!" The trio finished cheerily, leaning into each other.
Neither did the trio know, amidst their joy, that he was watching them from the treetops.
And he dropped effortlessly, claws extended, the embodiment of death descending from above. The cub was the first to look up, and she screamed, darting out of the way immediately. But the warthog was a second slower, and it couldn't avoid his latching claws as he hooked on to its bucking form.
"AHHHH! Get him Pumbaa get him!" Timon yelled helplessly, unable to do anything to save his friend from the latching claws of the beast that had seemingly fallen out of the sky. Pumbaa was kicking and trying to run out of the feline's grasp, and both he and the predator were struggling, one to keep life and the other to take it. The noise startled many birds, which flew out of the bushes, calling in panic. The predator took advantage of the sudden shock, and leapt onto the warthog, effectively pinning him down.
"If you stop struggling I promise I will make this easier for you," he growled as Pumbaa kicked out at his chest.
"Get off him!" A young voice yelled, and all of a sudden he found his back getting assaulted by the cub. "Get off get off! Please! You can't eat my friend!"
The feline reared up onto his hind legs, violently throwing the cub off. Turning away from Pumbaa, who immediately darted off into the safety of the bushes, he focused his gaze onto Kiara.
"Would you like to have your turn first?" He grinned, black-rimmed and gold-flecked eyes narrowing. A long, black-tipped tail swayed playfully behind him. But the most significant feature on him was a scar that ran down the right side of his lip just under his nose, extending down to his pale-furred chin. It made him look even more intimidating. Time seemed to slow as he paced over to the cub, not even bothering to hurry.
Kiara froze in fear, her bravado from the attempted rescue gone. "I – I…"
"Looks like a lioness has left her cargo behind," he said, "and what's lost is found. I'll make this quick. I promise," he said, unsheathing his sharp claws once again.
"DO NOT TOUCH HER!" A voice boomed, and for a moment Kiara thought her father had come back to life – until another identical creature leapt in front of her. Now there were two dangerous, fully grown predators in front of the cub. Leopards. One was pacing in front of her, growling, while the other, the scarred one, stood defensively, holding a snarl on his once smiling muzzle.
"She is mine!" The leopard, which had seemingly jumped to her defence, roared at the other.
"I do not understand how another of my own kind has not even the courtesy to introduce himself when he steals a kill," the scarred one snarled, his voice significantly deeper than the other. He started to pace around his opponent, haunches raised.
"My name is Chui, and this is my claim. Tell me likewise or I will make sure you won't live to see the next sunrise."
"What are you talking about?" The other leopard narrowed his eyes.
"Tell me your name!" The scarred leopard hissed.
"Why in the world should I? You jungle leopards and your stupid rules. Now if you excuse me, I have a job to do."
"A stupid jungle leopard? I think not," the one who called himself Chui mused, his voice suddenly taking on a different tone. Prowling low and flicking his tail, he flashed a grin at the other feline, his smile – suggestive?
"What are you doing?" The other asked, narrowing his eyes in suspicion. Chui gave a playful raise of his eyebrows here, a flick of his tail there. Suddenly, Chui slid his tail under the chin of the other, nearly making him leap away.
"Gah! What in the world are you doing?!"
Chui kept his tail in place, in the sensitive nook of the other's throat.
"I am merely…hunting," he purred. The other leopard flinched, brown eyes growing wider and wider by the moment. "Care to join me…for lunch?"
The leopard flinched. From where Kiara was, she could begin to see the differences between the two similar looking felines. The one that was standing somewhat protectively – no, possessively – in front of her had smaller spots and his fur was a bright cream-yellow, contrasting to the deep green tones of the jungle. The one known as Chui had more bulk up on his shoulders. All over his coat and his face, black rosettes were painted over a dark gold, akin to the shadows of the leaves in sunset. And his low voice, compared to his commanding tone before, was spilling like honey.
"No way in the name of the Great Kings that I will join you," the cream-yellow leopard hissed, disgusted. Chui seemed to slither, walking slowly around him, all the while grinning with a playful look on his face. It scared the other leopard.
"No, cub, move and I kill you," Chui suddenly shot a glare in Kiara's direction. Then, eyes softening, he turned back to the other spotted cat. "You will want to join me – when all of this is over." Chui mischievously maneuvered his tail to slide on top of the other's muzzle, and started inching behind him. The cream-yellow leopard froze in place, too shocked to move.
"What is wrong with you?!"
But no reply came. Chui's tail slid off, leaving him staring into the jungle. He could still feel the bigger leopard behind him, and he didn't dare turn around. It scared him, to tell the truth – this was not like anything he had encountered in his life.
"You had better not do anything - stupid!"
But only silence met him. This was it, he thought. Turning around with a ferocious snarl – he was shocked. Chui was gone. And so was the cub.
"Where did she go?!"
And then he heard a small scream from behind him.
Turning back to face his opponent, he realised that he was gone as well – and clawing up a tree at top speed, his muscles pushing him vertically further. And in his mouth hung the cub, held in his jaws by her nape.
"NO!" The leopard roared from the ground, and started to climb after his prize.
Kiara nearly felt as if she was flying as she hung from Chui's jaws. When she looked down, the heights were dizzying and her head spun, but when she looked forwards, the branches were practically rushing to her face, threatening to snap into her eyes with every jump her captor took among the trees. She didn't even have the courage to scream for help as the wind rushed by her. When she looked back, she saw a sight that frightened her as much as this rush through the canopy – the other leopard, the one that had seemingly saved her, was running on the branches precariously, lacking the grace of her captor, but still clumsily making his way across, shouting as he did.
The chase carried on, with the scarred leopard taking the lead effortlessly and the other hot on his tail, desperately trying to catch up. It seemed to Kiara that the one at the back was not familiar with his paws on the jungle's branches, and when the chase came upon a rushing river, it was here that her captor stopped on a thick bough, glancing around for a way across. There! On the opposite bank, there was another branch. The leopard knew how the monkeys around the area would spring across to the other bank on this invisible connection. Taking a quick glance around him and seeing that he had no choice, he crouched down, preparing for a leap of faith across the rapids.
Kiara clamped her eyes shut. They were going to die here and now, she thought. No no no, she did not want to die!
Time seemed to stop when her captor sprung, claws outstretched, out into the open.
And all of a sudden time resumed its flow when Kiara felt the impact of her captor landing onto a branch, his precision letting his front legs hook on to the bough before he pulled the rest of his body up. He ran forward a few paces, and Kiara felt his hot breath panting from the exertion.
Turning around just in time, the captor and his captive saw the other leopard fail at his leap and fall into the water, kicking and screaming.
"Listen to me – I – " he paused unintentionally, choking water out his mouth as he was swept away helplessly, "I will get you – !" the last of his sentence was drowned out by the sound of rushing water.
The leopard with the scarred lip stood on the branch with the cub in his mouth, both staring into the rushing waters silently for a few moments. Then as suddenly as time had paused and flowed during the leap over the river, time seemed to stop again as Kiara looked up into the intimidating shadow of her captor. The predator stared down his chin, looking at her. Wide, reddish brown eyes met narrow, hazel eyes that flowed with gold.
Kiara forced her words out of her tightening throat. "What…what are you going to do with me?"
The leopard looked down his chin – and grinned.
He struggled. When he managed to get his head above the surface he gasped for air, greedily swallowing it before the water's invisible chokehold pulled him back under. It was him against a great river – and it was a battle that was hard for him to win.
Being cynical, he would have laughed if he wasn't dying. Circle of Life? Pah. Without death there cannot be life, and now that he was dying it seemed funny that his life was going to sustain the ugly, worthless ones that dwelled in the waters. His mouth released a trail of bubbles, his cry of pain drowned as the river tossed him against obstacles that he was sure were boulders. Or branches. He couldn't tell – he was hurtling forwards, seemingly being thrown through thick, liquefied air. In which he couldn't breathe at all. He needed air.
No he was not going to die. When he died he wanted to go down fighting – and when he died he would make sure that the one who led to his end would suffer the same horrible fate. But he couldn't kill a river if it killed him. His killer was shouting at him, roaring unheard words in his ears as it tossed him forwards. That was why he needed to fight till the end, to get the oxygen back into his lungs. This was something that he told himself over and over. Breathe. You must breathe. Do not die now. You have to breathe.
And when his front, his chest came hard into contact with a rock, his claws instinctively sunk into the grainy, slippery surface. His energy was slipping away, but his determination to live was not. With a growl that washed away with the rush of the river, he pulled his upper body up on to the rock, his mouth gaping open, welcoming the sweet oxygen that entered it.
Coughing and spluttering, Bato growled angrily at himself and everything else around him. He had failed and nearly gotten himself killed. But he had survived. And as he used his remaining strength to get on to the mossy surface, his temper started to build. Not even a raging, cold river could calm him down.
How he hated the taste of losing to another that was weaker than him. How he hated the taste of failure. His failure had resulted in he himself nearly getting killed.
For that, everyone was going to pay.
Now I know that this chapter may not have been very much, but it is one that is transitional. These have to happen to set base for even better things – so I hope it was alright! Bear with me here. If you thought it was awesome, or terrible enough to use as virtual toilet paper – please tell me. I'll do my best not to disappoint. :)
What did you think of these new additions of Chui and Bato into the jungle?
All in all I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, and see you on the next chapter. Cheers!