Author's note: Oh yes, loads of apologies are in store! You know how I said I'd update in a week last time? Well, yeah, that promise went down the dumps. You know how you always think that you'll get loads of free time when you have a vacation? Well, SURPRISE! It's the exact opposite. I've been bouncing between football practice and practice for a dumb music programme (which I don't even want to be a part of :P ) so much that I barely had time to write! But well, that is no excuse and yeah, I know that! XD
All said and done, this chapter was fun to write. It was quite hard, too. I hope you notice the line breaks; there are quite a few of them! Haha okay it's 2:45 A.M now, and I am completely out of Red Bull, so before my eyes begin to bleed, I'll let you read this long-ish chapter.. Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 9 : A Familiar Feeling.
"Is that all? Boy, this is going to be one hell of a year!" Guvu complained, as the lions around him fought against each other with tired expressions on their faces. The Pride wasn't doing well on their first day of training. He hadn't expected them to be the perfect soldiers, but he wanted more. Scar had a whole army of hyenas. What did he have?
His small coalition had arrived. They were a group of five, strong lions, and Guvu had asked them to help train the other Pride members. He didn't like the Pride's attitude much; it was as if they weren't bothered at all by the impending threat. He could find only one word to do describe the general feeling in the Pride.
He looked on as Malka rattled a lion almost twice his size with quick jabs to the face. Dodging the older lion's swipes with unwavering ease, he took a few steps back and growled. The old lion lunged forward, focusing all his force on his charge. Malka side-stepped him easily and looked on with a sly expression, as the old lion scrambled to his feet and stared at the young adolescent, completely bewildered.
"Age is not a factor here." Guvu's articulate voice rang through the crowd, as he walked up to Malka. "Malka, you have learned well, but what have I told you about over-confidence?"
Malka raised a brow. "Huh?" He was expecting praise.
No one saw the charge. Before Malka could blink, he felt a powerful body pin him to the ground effortlessly with a nearly unsheathed paw to his neck. Opening his eyes, he found Guvu's imperial form standing over him, facing the rest of the Pride.
"The hyena is a deceptive creature. I can give you my word that it will attack you first, so if you aren't on guard all the time, you will be nothing more than scavenger food. I have seen another lion around here who is your age, Malka, and you will train with him."
"Yes, sir," Malka replied nonchalantly, and walked back towards the other adolescents.
Guvu turned to the older lion. "You call that a fight?"
Guvu growled. "Fight me."
The lion looked up, his eyes wide. "But –"
A roar from Guvu cut him off, and the lion leapt at the Warrior General. Guvu rolled back and in one thunderous motion, his paw sent the old lion reeling. Guvu walked up to the near unconscious lion and placed over paw over his neck. "Now listen here and listen good. A year from now, there is a good chance that you'll be dead. You, your mate, and your cubs. Your skeletons will be scattered all across the plains." His voice was loud enough for the entire group to hear. "If this ignorant attitude of yours persists, mark my words, you will not live long. There is still time. Pick yourself up and train. Fight. Fight for what is right. Fight for your Pride. Do you understand?"
The lion stared into Guvu's eyes and shuddered. He could be nice at times, but there was something cold, something terrifying about him. He tried to speak but he couldn't find his voice.
"Do you understand?!"
"Yes, sir!" His voice was unsteady, and he tried not to look up at Guvu. Guvu simply turned and walked away from the crowd, as a deafening silence filled the air. The lions stared at each other, brows raised. The murmuring erupted once Guvu was out of ear-shot.
"He's such a spoilsport!" Simba wasn't very loud, but there were some lions who could hear him rather easily.
"Oh, don't be such a wimp!" A cocky voice chided him. Arrogance personified, Malka walked past Simba with a know-it-all look on his face.
"Where do you think you're going?" Simba cocked his head. Malka was an interesting character to him.
"What does it matter to you?"
"Well, I was just wondering if I could join you, maybe?"
Malka raised an eyebrow. "You want to join me?"
"Yeah. I don't really know you."
"Do you really want to know me?"
"Do you want me to want to know you?"
"Oh, shut up." Malka rolled his eyes, and wordlessly walked through the plains, Simba hot on his trail.
"So, Kopa," Malka finally broke the silence, "what do you do for fun here?"
"Oh not much, really. Everyone here is either grown up or a spoilt brat." Simba smirked.
"Takes one to know one." Malka grinned.
Simba looked away in annoyance, but he couldn't help but feel a little amused. Malka was fun; a word that had seemed foreign to him for quite a while. He saw a familiar gleam in Malka's eyes. A gleam he had longed for for months. A gleam of adventure.
"So, where are we going?" Simba questioned.
"I don't know."
Malka's only reply was a careless grin.
"You don't know? What do you mean you don't know?" Simba repeated.
"What does a normal lion mean when he says he doesn't know!?"
"What makes you think you're anything close to normal?"
"Well, for starters, I don't hang around with a lioness twice my age!"
"Yeah, you're right. You hang out with a lion who may as well be your grandfather, and that's perfectly normal!"
Malka turned around to face Simba. "Hmm you do seem a lot less dull than those other Grass landers. Maybe you could be a little more of a match to me than them," he remarked smugly.
"A match? Puh," Simba huffed. "You do you think you are?"
Malka held his head high and put out his chest. "I'm the great Warrior Malka! No one shall screw with me!"
Simba had a smug look on his face as he walked past his new weird friend. He had to admit, walking aimlessly through the savannah talking and arguing about the most trivial things was more fun than most other things he did. The verbal jabbing continued back and forth, as the two youngsters ventured further away from the Pride's waterhole.
"So Kopa, that other lioness cub has a crush on you, eh?"
"Yeah, Wivu," Simba said in an exasperated tone. "How did you know?" The look Malka gave him made it evident that the question was stupid.
"She is a tad cute, ya' know.."
"Yeah? Why don't you talk to her then?" Simba replied, a little hopeful.
"Are you kidding me? She's not my type. My mate will be awesome! She's just a pain in the back side!"
Simba smiled smugly. "She means well and she's really nice and all….but yeah, you're right."
"Of course I am," Malka replied with a grin.
Simba was about to say something when he noticed a slight, albeit evident change of expression on Malka's face. He was serious now, edgy, even. Malka stopped suddenly, and Simba turned to face him.
"I…I'm not sure."
"This is just another one of your pranks, right?"
Malka was rock still, and the expression on his face told Simba otherwise. Malka took a couple of steps back. "Let's head back. It's starting to get late."
"Who's being the wimp now?" Simba remarked, and continued to walk on, till he too began to feel a little eerie. This was a different side to Malka, a cautious side.
It was then that Simba caught whiff of something. Something was different. The winds weren't the same anymore. There was a scent, a scent that was rather difficult to pick up.
"Let's keep walking," Malka said, a determined look suddenly set on his face.
"What in the world is that?" Simba whispered.
"I…I don't know. But I'm sure as hell going to find out."
The young adolescents walked toward a large expanse of grass, where a herd of Thomson's Gazelle were grazing in the distance.
Malka extended a paw pushing Simba back.
"Smell that?" Malka asked, looking to Simba.
"Yeah. It's Gazelle. What's so dangerous about Gazelle?"
"No, you dimwit. There's something else there."
Simba sniffed the air hard. Malka was right. Something was amiss. There was a different scent in the air; a familiar scent, a carnivorous scent.
"Lions.." Simba gasped, as realization finally hit him.
Malka nodded, as the two youngsters stooped low into the grass, looking on and waiting for someone to make a move. A few minutes of silence passed, before Malka spoke.
"What could these lions be thinking? Do they really think they can catch a –"
Malka was cut off by a massive roar, as a beige, seemingly strong lioness powered through the grass, sending dust and loose pieces of gravel flying in every direction. Alarmed, the gazelle scattered in haphazard fashion, leaving an old member of the herd isolated and completelyvulnerable. Perfect.
"There's no way she'll be fast enough –"
Malka wasn't cut off this time. He stopped talking himself, and simply stared in stunned silence. The lioness was fast. Faster than any he had ever seen; so fast, in fact, that the Gazelle was having some trouble distancing itself from the speeding monster. As the lioness started to speed up even further, two silent observers were left gaping.
All of a sudden, another lioness shot out of the grass and crashed into the Gazelle with pointed precision. The hunt was over in less than a minute. Two victorious lionesses stood over their dinner.
"How…what… No way!" Malka normally had a way with words, but now, he was a dizzy, rambling heap of confusion and shock.
"That was breathtaking!" Simba was slightly less shocked. This whole situation was definitely familiar, and a sense of déjà vu swept over him. He had seen the exact same thing before, when his mother had taken him out to watch their hunts. The ambush tactic was also the exactly the same as the one his mother and his aunt would use to bring down small and mid-sized prey; he had also heard that this was a technique which was unique to the Pride Lands. As the all too familiar sense of regret began to take control of his emotions, Simba shook his head, pushing his thoughts away. When he had company, it was possible to ignore the burning sense of guilt that plagued him. It was only when he was alone that the thought gave him an unbearable migraine.
"Let's go find out who they are," Malka remarked, regaining his confident composure.
"Are you crazy?! Did you not see what they just did? Do you want to be their dessert?" Simba was a little less enthusiastic.
"Oh come on, Kopa. As long as you keep that trap of yours shut, we'll be fine!"
Simba scoffed, but didn't say anything in reply. There was something about this situation he didn't like. As they went further and the scents of the lioness duo got stronger, Simba found himself reminiscing. There was definitely something off here.
"My word, Sarabi! He's adorable! Aren't you, my little Simba?" An adult lioness nudged the lion prince with her nose.
They stood a hundred feet away from the lionesses. Simba stopped when his friend did, both contemplating their next move. Malka stood in apprehension, while Simba still couldn't shake the long forgotten memories out of his head.
"Your mommy and I will always be there for you, sweetheart. Say, Sarabi, should we take him on our hunt today?"
The brown, smaller lioness noticed the two adolescents, and her eyes widened. She beckoned for the other lioness to follow her line of sight. The large, beige lioness turned around to look straight into two nervous faces.
"Good morning, your Majesty. How is my little nephew doing today?"
Simba paled, the colour rapidly gushing out of his face. Shaking his head, he stared once again at the lioness before him, trying to convince himself that he was either seeing things or that it was simply a case of mistaken identity. Malka's expression told him that the former was not true, and deep down, he knew that the latter wasn't, either. All four felines stood staring at one another in silence, unsure how to react. None had expected such a situation to arise. For Simba, this was all too much to take. Trembling with uncertainty, he turned to Malka, who seemed as undecided as Simba himself.
With one fleeting glance at Hasira, Sabini hauled the dead Gazelle on her back, racing into the undergrowth with dizzying speed. Hasira ran after her, occasionally looking back to make sure they weren't being followed.
"Phew, that was close!" Malka sighed in relief. "We must have scared the crap out of 'em! Kopa, we make a good team! That was so cool!"
Simba nodded half-heartedly, his heart beating ever so fast. He had been trying desperately to rid himself of the past, and a large chunk of it had come straight back to him. But why? Why was his aunt here? Why was she away from her home? Dozens of questions bombarded Simba's mind, relentlessly nibbling away at his conscience.
"Let's go back. I need…water," Simba managed to say.
"All right, princess. Come on," Malka beckoned for his new friend to follow, as the duo walked back to the Pride; lingering thoughts and a one-sided conversation keeping them busy.
"Who do you think they were?"
"Probably some lions from Bahati's Pride," Sabini replied.
"Yes. They were too young to be rogues out on their own like that."
"We can't really afford to be seen next time. We want to remain conspicuous, and I don't think today helped much."
"And whose fault is that?" Hasira snapped. "If it wasn't for you and your brilliant idea to go into their land, no one would know of us."
"Hey! Nafsi and I just wanted some Gazelle for a change. What is with you these days, Hasira?"
"Just…leave me alone," Hasira said, running past Sabini and toward their hideout. Sabini rolled her eyes. Hasira's attitude was changing for the worse.
The walk back to the caves was a short one.
"Mom! Can we eat now!"
"Yes Chumvi, wait for them to get back."
Sabini chuckled at the voices nearby. She loved kids, and ever since her nephew had disappeared, Chumvi was the sole victim of all her pampering.
"Hello, Nafsi," Sabini greeted her friend with a warm smile, and Nafsi returned the favour. The group sat down to have their fill.
"Where is Hasira?" Nafsi enquired.
"I'm surprised you even care." Hasira walked to her portion of the kill and began to chew at it, neglecting the stares two annoyed lionesses and one confused adolescent were giving her.
"Hasira, you need to stop this now. You know you can't change anything. Let go of the past, Hasira."
Hasira refused to even acknowledge Nafsi's attempt to advise her, and continued to eat her fill. As the evening wore on, Sabini related the day's events to a concerned Nafsi and a thoroughly excited Chumvi.
"Why were they on the border?" Nafsi enquired.
"That's so cool! Can I go meet them?! Maybe they're my age. Maybe they like tag! Maybe –" Chumvi stopped his enthusiastic suggestions when he noticed his mother giving him a stern glare. He knew exactly what that meant.
"What did you do, Sabini?"
"Well, we ran for it." Sabini looked to the ground, thinking hard. This aroused Nafsi's curiosity.
"What is it, Sabini?"
"Huh? Oh, it's nothing." Sabini smiled.
"It's something serious, isn't it?"
"No, Nafsi, not at all. It isn't important. It's just….it's just that one of those lions we saw. He looked exactly like a younger version of Mufasa."
Sabini was on the verge of adding more to her opinion, but a deep, low growl told her that she had already made a mistake. The two lionesses turned to look at Hasira, who was none too happy at the deceased King's mention.
"Why, Sabini? What have I ever done to you? Keep his name out of your filthy, royal mouth!" Hasira stormed past the group and walked off into the night, leaving two stunned lionesses behind.
Two pairs of eyes watched the scene unfold with utmost curiosity. This was something they could use.
"Interesting," Spotty remarked, a smirk forming on her face and an idea in her head.
"So, Scar indeed was right about her. That is something we can exploit. We should go after her, shouldn't we?" Dotty questioned.
Spotty simply walked in the direction Hasira had left, her sister close behind.
"Stupid fools. They don't get it. They will never understand. And Sabini…urrghh! She is becoming more like that useless waste of a sister she has!" Mumbling to herself, Hasira paced back and forth at the edge of a small waterhole. "One day….one day I will show them all the meaning of true pain!"
"Oh, I'm sure you will, dear."
The sudden voice startled Hasira, and she stepped back, almost falling into the waterhole. She could make out the forms of two lionesses, their faces twisted into crooked smiles.
"Who….who are you?"
Spotty was sly as can be. "Oh, let's talk about us later. The question is, who are you?"
Hasira growled. This was too close for comfort. "Stay away from me, or I will rip your brains out!"
"Ah, aggression," Dotty chuckled. "That's such a wonderful trait, isn't it?"
"What do you want?" Hasira snapped.
"All right then. We'll get straight to it. We want an alliance."
"Do you want to go back home, Hasira?"
"Home is where the heart is!"
"And where is your heart?"
"I have no heart left!"
"So you have no home, either. We are giving you one, Hasira. Join us. Come back to the Pride Lands."
Hasira gaped. "So you…you work for…"
"Why would I want to live in his kingdom?!"
"Because you have to admit that it makes perfect sense, Hasira. You are now a nomad. A rogue. And anything, anything is better than that. With your beauty and charm, you will be treated like a queen! Who knows!?" Spotty winked. "Who might even become the queen. Yes, dear. Queen of the Pride Lands. Such a prestigious title! Isn't that all you have ever wanted in life, Hasira?"
Hasira stood in perfect silence. What Spotty had said was true, to a large extent. But was she determined enough to betray her own Pride? Hasira was in two minds.
"Food for thought, Hasira. Food for thought. It is clear that you need time, and time is what you will get. Think about it. Zira will be here in a few days. When she arrives, we will send word. It is then that you can let us know of your decision."
Hasira stood watching, as the two twins disappeared into the darkness as quickly as they had arrived. Was it all worth it? Could she muster the courage it took to go against her Pride? Did she really care for them?
'Did they really care for her?'
Hasira's thoughts blackened, an unfamiliar darkness filled her eyes, removing every shred of doubt. 'Had they ever cared for her?' She had nothing to lose now; she had already lost enough. She had suffered enough. She was tired of helping her Pride and suffering for them quietly in the shadows. She wanted to be noticed. She wanted to be acknowledged. She wanted to be revered and respected; she wanted her own legacy. She wanted to be queen.
Hasira had made her decision.
Author's note: Well, honestly, the sadistic side of me loves writing for Hasira.. Muahaha!
Okay, then. I hope this chapter makes you less pissed with me for keeping ya'll waiting so very long. :P How did you like it? There is one thing that I've been meaning to ask.. Is Hasira getting enough development as a character? Can you relate to her? Or do you want to see more of what goes on in that weird brain of hers? Do let me know!
I know that I've kinda neglected a couple of characters here and I always try to give all of them equal development, but well, what can ya' do! I'll give it a shot anyway. What do you think of Malka as a character? Hehe I guess that's enough questions from my side, haha! And yeah, too much Red Bull can do this to you.. :P Well, me, at least.. The nice chapter will be up on…. No! No more promises! :P I will try to update as soon as possible, though.. Leave a review! Ciao! :D