AN: The end begins here, if that makes any sense to you. This is the first story of the three-part finale. It's what this series had been leading up to. I hope you like it.
Chapter One: Virusi
"I like it…"
The Interceptor was finishing off the juicy remains of a mouse he had just caught. It was sweet, salty and crunchy. The perfect reward for a successful hunt. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so exhilarated…
Almost as good as killing Shocker, he thought, licking the gory remains of the mouse from the tips of his claws. He swallowed the rest, savouring the taste as he licked his muzzle clean of the blood. Almost.
The Interceptor stared down at the ground, knowing that his greatest enemy—a psychopathic cub by the name of Shocker—was buried far below. He enjoyed the thought of the immortal villain choking on earth again and again and again. For all eternity. It was an eternal execution
And every time he resurrected, Shocker would think of him. That was the best part of all.
The Interceptor slashed the ground with his claws as he walked away, as if that would somehow communicate with Shocker, who was buried several miles away. "Sweet dreams, you little brat."
He walked along through the scenery of the jungle, taking a sniff of the evening air. He frowned, ever so slightly disappointed that he couldn't detect the scent of any more mice nearby… He was quite looking forward to another hunt. It was his favourite pastime, after all. Killing creatures that were much smaller than him… It felt so rewarding.
The Interceptor stopped at the edge of a river which cut right through the trees. He was able to cross a large fallen tree trunk that bridged the gap, however, and passed it with ease. He scanned the area carefully with his meticulous eyes, and came to a startling conclusion.
The jungle was boring.
Yes. It had to be the most boring place on earth. He was sure of it. He couldn't remember the last time he'd actually felt at home here. All the business with Shocker becoming his 'partner' just managed to make him feel even more bored. Wasn't there a kingdom somewhere that had a horde of marauding wildebeest he could chase? At least then he would be using his talents to their fullest extent…
This place is so dull, the Interceptor thought, knocking a rock aside. It rolled into a bush with a slight rustling noise. The jungle seemed so peaceful right now. Any other animal residing there would appreciate the tranquillity of the area. But the Interceptor, of course, despised it. He wanted some noise. He wanted some action. Something that he could sink his teeth into and tear apart with his claws!
"This is so boring!" the Interceptor complained aloud, thrusting his forepaws into the air and slamming himself against the trunk of a tree. "Something has to happen around this miserable place. Something better than just mice!"
He gnashed his teeth together. It was the only sound that could be heard in the jungle. Otherwise, everything else was silent. "Come on… Someone try to kill me. Anything. I want blood!"
The Interceptor turned his head—
—and his look of anger suddenly changed to one of horror.
At first, he assumed he was just hallucinating. But the smell of rotting flesh was far too potent for that to be the case.
"What the hell…?"
He edged closer to the ugly sight, wondering what in the world had caused it.
The body of a cub was lying up against a tree, reduced to nothing more than scraps and bones. Most likely the work of starving buzzards, the Interceptor assumed. All that remained were a few chunks of dead flesh dangling from the bones and a rusty golden staff protruding from an empty ribcage, stained with dry blood.
The Interceptor lowered his head, staring into the empty eye sockets of the cub's skull. "Someone really had a party with you, didn't they?" he muttered, raking his claws across the skeleton's brittle ribs.
His paw fell on the golden staff, although it looked to be at least a thousand years old by now. He stroked the edge of it, wondering if the object had any sort of useful purpose. Probably magical, he thought, examining it closely.
He gripped the edge of the staff tightly, wrenching it out of the cub's shattered ribcage with an unpleasant cracking noise. A few shards of bone fell to the ground, as the Interceptor held up the thing.
"Well, this is something interesting," he commented, feeling the magical object. He noticed that the staff felt quite hollow in his grip; if it was magical, then the magic had been drained out of it for a long time. "I wonder who this belonged to?"
Deciding that the staff would be of no more use to him, the Interceptor threw it into a nearby bush, where no one would ever find it.
"Sorry, cub," he said to the skeleton. "I could have hunted you down instead of some idiot with a staff. I would have made your death a bit more interesting, too."
The soulless eye sockets of the cub's skull stared blankly at him; the Interceptor would have been lying if he said that he didn't find it somewhat startling.
"See ya round, kid," he said, before turning and leaving the body behind.
The Interceptor walked off down a dirt path, forgetting all about the body of the cub a few minutes later. He was far too focused on more pressing matters—such as finding the next mouse to kill or thinking about how boring life was in the jungle.
He was too far away by the time the evil chuckles sounded…
"I hate it when things just wash up here," Chambo complained. "I'm sick of it."
Chambo lived in the Wet Lands: the kingdom of a pride that was well known for housing the most enormous river that could be found for hundreds of miles. The place was never short of fresh drinking water. That was for sure.
"Stop grumbling," said Chambo's friend, a lion called Uzoefu. "We have a job to do, and that's that."
The pride's king had employed Chambo and Uzoefu to look after the river. The kingdom often had a problem with junk washing up on its banks; it could come from anywhere and everywhere. There was no telling what might surface next…
"Yeah, but I'm sick of this job," Chambo replied, plucking something green and sloppy out of the river. It stretched on for as far as the eye could see, giving animals the false impression that it was endless. "Seaweed? In a river? That's just ridiculous!"
"Anything washes up here," Uzoefu said, gathering up some sticks from the water. "You know that by now—we've been doing this for three years. It hardly surprises me."
"Well, maybe we should think about another career," Chambo said, sitting himself down on the edge of the river. "There would have been plenty of work in the Pride Lands—if they were still around. We could have been royal advisors! I mean, who else are they gonna get? A hornbill?" He chuckled at his joke.
"These are the easiest," Uzoefu said, picking up a few leaves and piling them up on the ground. "Leaves always wash up here. The key is to pile them up so they all stick together. That way none of them will ever slip back inside the river."
"Whatever," Chambo said, turning away from the river. He felt sick. Sick of doing the same thing for the past three years. Day in, day out. Nothing ever seemed to change. "I wish something exciting would wash up here…"
"Be careful what you wish for," Uzoefu responded, shooting him a disapproving glare. "You just might get it."
Chambo rolled his eyes. "Sure," he said sarcastically.
The sudden sound of thrashing water caused the two lions to turn around, staring in surprise at the river.
"What the—?" Uzoefu exclaimed in surprise.
The oddest thing of all had washed up on the riverbank.
It appeared to be a throbbing green jelly-like mass of gunk, dripping with disgusting slime. It was pulsating slightly, as if alive.
"What the hell is that thing?" asked Uzoefu, stepping towards it. "I've never seen anything like it before… It's incredible."
He slowly reached out to touch the mass of gloop with a paw, only for Chambo to bat it away.
"Don't touch it," he scolded. "You don't know what the heck it is."
Uzoefu scoffed. "Chambo, I've been doing this for three years," he told him. "I think I can handle something that's a little bit green and gooey. Just let me do my work."
Chambo averted his gaze, turning away for just a second.
But it was just enough for him to miss seeing Uzoefu getting sucked right into the bulging blob.
He returned his attention to his friend, only to realise that he had disappeared.
"Uzoefu?" He looked around for any sign of him—but he was nowhere to be found. "Uzoefu?"
Suddenly, the green jelly-like mass began to quiver and bubble. With the sound of a boil bursting open, it exploded, covering Chambo with gunk and slime. He recoiled in disgust, trying to shake the disgusting fragments off of his body.
He looked up just in time to see someone standing where the mass of gloop had once been. It was a lion, although it was unlike any lion Chambo had ever seen. He was covered completely in black fur, with two blinking red eyes staring right into his soul.
"It's good to be back," said the lion, stretching out his legs. His gaze soon fell upon Chambo, who was staring at him in horror. "Ooh… hello, there."
"Who… who are you?" Chambo stammered, backing away. He had never seen anything like this before in his life. It completely defied all of his beliefs.
The lion merely stepped towards him, lifting up one of his paws and extending his index claw. It changed colour from black to an almost magma-like red. He smiled, poking Chambo in the shoulder with it. "Ouch."
Chambo examined the wound. It was only a small pinprick. But before long, he soon began to notice that his flesh was bubbling and crawling an ugly orangey red colour. The small wound expanded across his whole body, boiling him alive as he let out a shrill scream. Before he even knew it, his body burst into flames.
Within seconds, there was nothing left of Chambo.
The lion walked on casually across the much drier land, still with a pleased smile on his face.
"Look out, everyone. Virusi is in town!"