TALES FROM THE OUTLANDS
VOLUME ONE: THE TALE OF ZIRA
PART TWO: THE QUEEN OF HATE
CHAPTER SIX: DREAM SO PRETTY
"Simba! Scream your dying gasp to me! It is time for you to meet my love!" Zira's claws flashed and plunged towards Simba's throat. She ripped a long slash with her claws, and blood spurted into her face. Her tongue licking the dripping blood off her lips, she watched Simba breath his last breaths, then his eyes slowly began to close. She roared towards the heavens a maniacal laugh that echoed all around her as she lifted the dead king easily and threw his lifeless carcass off the presentation cliff of Pride Rock. Her eyes blazing like fire, Zira turned towards Simba's daughter who stood wide-eyed and shaking visibly, frozen with fear
"Oh, is sweet Kiara scared? I'll make it all better!" In a flash her claws had picked Kiara up by her throat and in a mere second later, Simba's daughter was squealing in Zira's grasp.
"Now it's your turn, my little one! It is time for you to meet my son!" She let go of her hold and watched Kiara fall from her grasp towards the unforgiving earth and the impending doom of impact. With blood still dripping off of her claws and her face, she turned towards the lionesses and spread her muzzle into a wicked smile of complete triumph.
"Sing for me lionesses! Sing your dirge of sorrow and my hymn of victory!" The lionesses slowly raised their heads, tears dripping from their eyes; they roared their mournful cry towards the heavens. The lionesses ended their song, and then one by one they bowed their heads in respect and fear to the new ruler of Pride Rock. The day had finally arrived that Zira had waited for, and a feeling of absolute triumph coursed through her veins. At last her vengeance was quenched. She had waited for this moment as long as she could remember, and now everything was complete. The sunset behind her turned the color of the sky to a radiant blood red, while a fountain of flames rose up below her causing her pelt to glimmer and gleam in the eerie brilliance. Zira sat up on her haunches and spread her paws in a great "V" above her. Her deep voice screamed one last resounding verse towards the sky,
"THIS IS FOR YOU SCAR!"
* * * * *
Zira suddenly woke from her dream with all the force of a lightning bolt. She tired to regain her equilibrium as she looked around in a daze. She was shaking but it was not due to fear, it was due to ecstasy. She sighed long and deep as she ran hr paws down her lithe body, then laughed her wicked laugh that would chill any creature to the bone,
"What a fabulous dream!"
She would never be the innocent lioness she once was; now all she felt was a deep emptiness, and a deep sense of hate that would never leave her. Her nights were filled with dreams of Simba's death, and how she loved every second of them, while her days were filled with only death and destruction. Her once golden pelt had changed to a dark auburn, and her eyes had changed from light amber to a dark burgundy, almost to the point of being blood red. Any creature she saw, she killed for no reason except that it gave her pleasure. Why should they be happy when she would never be? She wanted every creature to suffer, she wanted The Circle of Life to become a circle of death, and she wanted each and every creature to feel pain and agony, the only two emotions she felt every second of her life. She had abandoned all the teachings of her parents, and Aiheu meant nothing to her now. To Zira, The Great Circle of Life was a straight arrow towards her teeth and claws, Aiheu did not exist, and The Great Kings of the Past were nothing more than a collection of dead lions who cared nothing for her. She would never realize it, but she had become a female Scar. She now felt just like Scar had, but Scar found Zira to end his pain and bring him joy. Zira was all alone, she had no one to love, and there was no one who could end her agony. She only had the opposite, but the way she embraced this emotion will be spoken of for years to come.
Zira loved to hate. She relished in it. It was a way for her to forget about her pain, by giving pain to others. She was once called Ushandra, but Ushandra's life ended when her love and her son died. She chose a new name to match her new identity. She decided there would be none better than the word hate itself, so she was reborn as Zira, Swahili for hate.
After a few hours of having her fun, slaying any creature that unfortunately crossed her path, Zira would return to her favorite spot, hoping for more pleasant dreams. Of course this dreams would be dreams of the death of her enemies, because, as she would say, "they soothe my inner kitty and help me some rest." The only problem was it would be quite a while until she fell asleep. The sound of blood dripping onto the ground from an entire pelt covered in it was, after all, a little annoying.
* * * * *
"Ushandra, what have you done?" That voice, it couldn't be. She swung her head behind her, but saw nothing,
"Scar, is that you?"
"Oh, so you do remember your real name after all?" Zira looked in all directions; she was in hazy, mist-shrouded jungle.
"My love, show yourself to me!"
"Ah, I still hear that sweet voice, but how could it belong to a lioness who is doing these terrible things?
"Scar, why aren't you answering me?"
"Why have you become what you became?"
"Scar, where are you?"
"I... don't know. I... enjoy it!" Despite her desperate efforts, Zira couldn't find her love, only hear his voice, a voice that was starting to cause her a deep sense of fear, it sounded so angry and so unlike the of voice her love.
"Enjoy it? You enjoy killing innocent creatures, just to quench your lust for blood, a lust that is insatiable?"
"Their blood flows for you Scar!"
"Listen to yourself, you're mad!"
"Are you not proud of me?"
"Proud? You disgust me! I thought I knew you! The lioness I have watched these past weeks is not the same one I feel in love with."
"What do I have left other than my hate? My love is dead, it died with you!"
"Your love can never die! Our love can never die! Ushandra we are one!"
"Stop calling me that, my name is Zira!" Silence surrounded her. The lioness looked down empty mist filled paths that never ended, she felt terribly afraid.
"Scar?" No answer, "My love?" Only silence answered her calls. Zira screamed in fear but all she heard was her echoes. Had she died and this was her punishment? She tried to run down a path surrounded by ghostly trees, but it seemed never to end, and when she looked back behind her, it seemed like she hadn't even moved. She began to quiver with fear, the sound of her heartbeat echoed around her causing her to slump to the ground and grind her paws over her eyes, trying to stop the now flowing tears. She lay there on her stomach, her paws covering her eyes, and crying like a hungry cub, feeling more afraid than she ever thought possible
"Oh you don't like being alone? I thought that is what you wanted."
"Scar?" She looked back, but still an empty mist.
"Why don't you show yourself to me?"
"You don't want to see what I look like, believe me it would kill you."
"Then show me, that is what I want Scar, I want to die so I can be with you!"
"You do not want to be where I am."
"Where are you?"
"Let's just say, I shouldn't have done the things I did." Zira nodded, he didn't have to say anything more.
"Oh... I'm sorry. Then I want to make you proud of me Scar, and give you some happiness!"
"Do you think you are making our son proud?" Zira cocked her head to the side, she had not thought about that.
"Have you seen our son?"
"Why would he be where I am?" Zira nodded once again.
"But I want to be with you Scar, I want us to be together for eternity."
"Do you really want to endure what I am going through? I can't even begin to explain what awaits you. That is why I am telling you this now, to warn you but after all you've done during the past week, I don't think you have much of a chance left."
"I already know it is too late for me Scar, but I still lust for revenge, I want Simba dead for what he did to you!"
"Simba was not the one who killed me."
"Then tell me who did so I can avenge you!"
"Do you have to ask?" Zira thought for a moment.
"Oh yes, now I know who shall pay with their lives."
"Then send them to me, I would love to see them again, especially her!"
"Her heart will be served to you Scar!"
"Must you be so descriptive?"
"Of course, remember what my name is." Zira began to laugh, so did Scar.
"A lion after my own heart, how I love you... Zira!"
"Oh I love you too Scar! You do not know how great it makes me feel to hear you say that, especially when you call me by my new name."
"Well, it suits you perfectly, no name could have been better!"
"So much like yours, eh my love?"
"Yes, our names define our whole being!"
"Do you still love me Scar!"
"I always did, always had, and always shall!"
"Tell me you love me Scar!"
"I love you Zira!"
"Then grant me my only wish, let me kill Simba for you!"
"Why kill him, wouldn't you rather have him suffer, like we have!"
"Yes! For eternity!"
"Well, I doubt that, but I will tell you all you need to know, believe me I had plenty of time to devise these plans."
"Allow me to be the instrument of these plans Scar, let me do this in your name!"
"What about Ushandra?"
"Ushandra is dead! My goodness died with our son, perhaps it is with him."
"Perhaps, but Zira, listen to me, I don't want to you to kill Simba."
"Why not? We already know I am damned."
"I can't tell you."
"You can see the future? Are you telling me when I attempt to kill Simba, that is when I will die?"
"Take it anyway you want, but I can't say either way." Zira nodded, but wondered if Scar could see the huge grin she had on her face.
"Zira, let me tell you this now, there are things that I can not say, but those I have seen, that are bound to happen if you choose this path, are you completely sure this is what you want?"
"Yes my love! Tell me what I must do!"
"Then let's begin."
* * * * *
Her fur pulled painfully as she tried to move, all her muscles contracting at once as Zira suddenly awoke. She gritted her teeth as her matted pelt pulled as she rose to her paws, intending to find the river to wash off the blood that had now long since dried. Still, although she looked and smelled awful, she smiled as she wondered if it really was all just a dream or maybe she really had been talking to Scar. Nevertheless, whatever it could be defined as, Zira now felt like she had a reason to go on living, and now with that reason she also had purpose. She decided she would no longer be the slayer of the innocent, but the lionesses who would bestow revenge upon all those who had hurt her, and her love. In this process she would bring Scar joy, and of course, in her twisted mind, a sure shot that she would be with him when she died. Her sinister laugh echoed around her once more, it was time to put Scar's plan into action. She walked into the foliage and the leaves closed behind her like a curtain.
If only she knew a wise, old monkey had been watching from a nearby tree, far away. He moved his hand down his painted face, and sighed a low moan into them, as he shook his head. He looked back up, with tears in his eyes, but she was gone. His head hanging low to the ground, he walked slowly away.
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE JOY OF VENGEANCE
Zira's gaze fell upon the cave where the tracks had lead. The predator had followed the tracks for many days, endlessly tracking her prey. The tracks headed south and finally ended up in a graveyard full of the bones of long, dead elephants. Zira grinned as the tracks split into two main groups, one set leading into the cave, and the other leading around it. She sniffed the air, the scent was still fresh, and they were still here, at least a few of them.
"The first phase begins!" Zira padded into the cave and unsheathed her claws. Her keen sense of smell quickly picked up the scent and she followed it downwards, her paws not making the slightest of sounds. Since she had been "left alone with no defense," she had to lean how to become a hunter, and she soon learned to perfect the art of stalking and killing prey. If she had not mastered these arts, she would have starved. The past week alone in the jungle had made her into an efficient killer and now she would have the chance to put her skills to the test. Her ears suddenly twitched as she picked up the faint sounds of laughter further into the depths of the cavern. She effortlessly sprang up onto a ledge, like the cat she was, and stalked ever so slowly down towards the depths of the cavern. She suddenly froze as she heard the strangest sound in front of her, and then had to jump back before her whole face would have been singed from a small geyser that suddenly spewed forth a fountain of fire dangerously close to her muzzle. Hearing similar geysers erupt around her, she silently thanked her good luck. The geysers would allow enough light to show her where her prey could be found, since they would illuminate the cavern just enough for her to remain hidden, but would also show her prey's shadows. The voices became louder, the scent reached the point of nausea, and then she saw them. It was the two hyenas, the large male, and the crazy one, the two she had seen back in the Pride Lands.
"Argh, those stupid geysers, they always wake me up! Why did Shenzi have us come back her anyway?"
"Hee, Hee, Hee, Ha, Ha, Hee, Hee!"
"It's not funny Ed! Shut up, I'm trying to think!"
"I'm sure that is something new for you!" The two hyenas turned and saw a large female appear and saunter towards them. Zira snarled, but held back the sound as she remembered the females' voice; it was the one who had delivered the killing blow to her love.
"Shenzi, why are we here? I thought you told us we were leaving this place? If Simba comes looking for us..."
"He won't, but let's hope he does, or my plans will not be fulfilled."
"Where is Fabana anyway, and where is her... what would you call that?" All three of the hyenas started laughing at once, Zira didn't get the joke.
"She is teaching him the lessons of life, too bad Scar couldn't!" Shenzi began her wicked laugh once more.
"Yea, we taught him the lessons of death!" The large male began laughing with the female and after Ed looked at both of them he decided to join in as well, of course he had no idea why he was laughing, or what he was laughing about.
"I am going to check on Fabana and she how our little friend is doing. Banzai, you and Ed stay here. I'll be right back and then the real fun begins."
"All right sis', but why am I always stuck with drool boy over here?" Ed began laughing again. Zira watched Shenzi walk away and steadied herself, claws flexing, waiting for the precise moment. Ed's laughter was the perfect diversion.
"Will you stop that laughing! Stop it you idiot! You know, I could just die putting up with you."
"Good idea!" Banzai froze as he heard a strange voice behind him and then when he turned, his eyes spread wide as he saw a lioness lunge towards him, her claws aiming right for his neck. He didn't feel anything; all he saw was a flash as the light from an erupting geyser reflected off the lioness' claws. Banzai looked down with a stupid expression on his face, when he wondered why the entire floor around him was starting to become covered in blood. He followed the trail up his body, but his eyes closed before he understood the truth. With a dull thud, Banzai fell lifeless to the floor.
"Eeek, Eeek, Mmmph, Eeek!" Ed screamed as loud as he could as he saw the lioness turn her stare on him.
"Don't be afraid, I'm not going to hurt you." Ed looked around, not knowing what to do.
"Don't you remember me?" Zira swung her tail around and grabbed it with her claws dangling it before him. Ed tried to look for an escape route, but then thought of the only thing that might save his life. He looked down at his fallen brother and then back up at the lioness, then he waved at her with his paw, like he did back when he first saw her.
"Ahhhhh, isn't that cute. Yes that is the way I want to remember you!" Ed had one last chance to scream as he saw the lioness pounce towards him. He tried a second time but couldn't due to a lioness' jaw clamped firmly on his throat.
* * * * *
Shenzi chuckled to herself as she walked down the path into the lower depths of the cavern. She wished she could have seen the look on Scar's face if he ever found out the truth. She still wondered what her face must have looked like when she found out the news. What Scar and Fabana did was considered extremely taboo and forbidden among lion laws. However, Shenzi supposed that Scar had no female left to turn to, and since Fabana was the only female, hyena or not, who showed him any love before her became king of Pride Rock, Shenzi supposed both of them had no choice. It was still hard for her to believe that the two completely different species could produce an offspring. But now this would be her secret weapon, and with it she would fulfill the one dream she had always dreamed of. Her ultimate goal would finally come true, and she would rule Pride Rock, making the lions do whatever she wished. At last she, and her pack, would be at the top of the food chain, and she would be Queen of Pride Rock. Shenzi smiled, no make that Pack Rock. As soon as her mate Skulk had reassembled her pack, she would invade the Pride Lands, and with sheer numbers overwhelm the lions into submission. However, if most of the lions died in the battle, she wouldn't mind that too much either. Shenzi laughed out loud at that thought.
"Shenzi, what's so funny?" Shenzi looked down upon the small cub who had apparently been following her and grinned a smile that she hoped was a pleasant one.
"Hello their dearie, have you found your mother and father yet?" Shenzi hated to keep up this game, but she couldn't let the half hyena, half lion know the truth. No matter how much he looked, acted, or smelled like a hyena.
"No, I don't think I'll ever..." Shenzi rolled her eyes as he started scratching himself, "...Argh these bugs, are biting me again! I mean I don't think I'll ever, (more scratching and biting,) find out who my mother or my father is."
"Don't worry, what was it I heard that one time, Hakuna something? Oh well, trust me my little friend, soon you'll understand everything!" Shenzi had a hard time trying to keep a straight face, especially when she kept thinking about what the cub's name meant,
"Shenzi leave him alone!" Shenzi turned and saw Fabana trudge up towards her.
"How can you even let yourself speak to him when you know what you did to his..."
"Shhhhh! Quiet Fabana, we don't want our little friend to get confused now do we?" Fabana was about to reply, but both froze when they heard Ed's scream.
"What in the name of Roh'kash?" Shenzi ran towards the sound but called back to Fabana.
"Fabana, take Nuka and get out of here!"
* * * * *
Shenzi ran back into the cavern were she had left her two brothers only a few minutes ago. The smell of blood was in the air and even worse was the smell of death. She ran over the ledge and gasped when she saw Ed being choked to death by a lioness. Ed's life was long extinguished as his head hung loosely from Zira's grasp, and with a slight twist of her own neck, Zira dropped the lifeless hyena. Shenzi's jaw dropped like a stone when she realized who she was looking at. It was the lioness she saw when she and her pack killed Scar!
"You, who are.... What are you... what are you doing!"
"What am I doing? What does it look like! You are more stupid than I thought."
"You've killed my brothers!"
"Exactly, and you killed my love and my cub!"
"I am going to make you suffer lioness!"
"Come on then, impress me!" With a bark Shenzi dropped to a low stance and began to pace around the lioness. Zira in turn began to circle around Shenzi.
"Well, what are you waiting for she-hyena?"
"I was just thinking what your blood will taste like."
"That's funny, I was thinking the exact same thing, but I plan on finding out!" With a roar Zira lunged at the female hyena, but unlike her two brothers Shenzi was much more experienced in combat. Shenzi expertly sidestepped and swung her claws in a backward slash, her claws ripping a long gash in Zira's side.
"Ha! First blood is scored by me, just like I did with Scar!" Shenzi never heard a louder roar. Zira swung her head backs towards Shenzi, her body shaking with rage, her eyes burning with hate, and lunged at her again with more force than a charging rhino. Shenzi tried to sidestep once again, but was too slow and the enraged lioness tackled the hyena to the ground. Shenzi closed her eyes and waited for the impending doom, but nothing came, no pain was felt. She looked up and saw the lioness standing over her, snarling and gnashing her teeth.
"Before you die, I want you to know who it was that killed you, and I want you to know what you did to me!"
"What are you talking about?"
"You killed Scar, he was my husband, my mate, and my love! Then you, and your kind, killed an innocent cub. That was my son! But worst of all, you killed Ushandra, and you created me!
"No, let me explain, I have a mate, I have pups!"
"I am hate incarnate, I am Zira!
"No wait, stop! If you kill me, you are no better than I am!" Shenzi screamed as she saw Zira plunge towards her throat. In desperation Shenzi flailed wildly with her claws, but managed to grab Zira's left ear and stop the plunge. Zira looked towards her ear then grinned a grin that froze Shenzi to the bone. The lioness suddenly ripped her head the other way, then screamed as a huge chunk of her ear remained attached to Shenzi's claws. Zira looked back down at the female hyena, with eyes red as fire and tears streaming out of them,
"I'll see you in hell Shenzi!" Zira plunged her jaws towards the hyena's throat and clamped her muzzle around it, then with all her strength she pulled, closing her eyes as she was rewarded with a geyser of blood.
CHAPTER EIGHT: A BLESSING IN DISGUISE
Zira slowly rose her head, wincing as the sharp pain coursed through her body from her wounded ear. She tried to rise to her paws, but recoiled once again as the long gash across her flanks added another surge of pain that crashed through her body. She caressed her face with a paw, wiping the blood, sweat, and tears off of her face. She grinned, despite the pain, as she viewed her handiwork the lay around her. She tried to laugh, but that only made the pain worse, so she settled for her favorite phrase,
"This is for you Scar."
"Yes, you have done well, at last the evil of Shenzi is eradicated." Zira swung her head towards the unknown voice, her smile quickly changing into a snarl as she saw another female hyena standing in an indifferent pose atop a ledge, not very far away.
"Ah, I see I get to add another hyena to my death toll for the day!" Zira judged the distance and figured she could reach the hyena in only a mere leap. She steadied herself and was about to spring, but suddenly stopped, at least temporarily, due to the female's words.
"Yes do it quick so I can be with Taka."
"What! What did you just say?" The female only closed her eyes and thrust out her chest, presenting easy access to her throat.
"Tell me hyena, or you will die!" The female only grinned, making Zira realize that threat was useless.
"I shall ask for nothing else! Do you worse murderer, end my suffering and obliterate my sorrow forever!" Zira squinted at the strange female with an expression of confusion. She noticed with some disdain that this hyena's entire face was covered in scars, and her left eye was missing, although a few tears now dripped from its empty socket. Zira couldn't help but be curious. She decided to try a different approach,
"I don't... want to. I want to know why you said the name of my love?"
"Shut up! Don't you ever say that again! He would never love a vicious bitch like you!" Zira snarled deciding to kill this wretched creature. She had enough of her insults, but suddenly froze in horror when she saw something that almost caused her to faint.
"Fabana, what is going on and who are you talking to?" Fabana began to shake as she turned towards the sound but it was too late, Nuka was already by her side. Fabana turned toward the lioness but saw the expression she had expected. Zira's eyes were spread as wide as her jaws,
"What the hell is that!"
* * * * *
"Good lioness, please do not kill my son!" Fabana could think of nothing else to say. All previous thoughts were obliterated, but after she spoke the words, she suddenly realized that was the worst thing she could have said.
"I mean this is Taka's son." Fabana felt like kicking herself in the face that was even worse! Zira looked at the cub, back to the hyena, back to the cub, and then back to the hyena. Her head seemed to be shaking as if she kept saying "no," in her mind it was.
"Scar and you? A lion and a hyena, together! My love and a hyena mated!" That final thought was too much for the lioness to bear. The loss of blood from the previous battle, the weeks of grief and agony and to top it all off what this hyena had just told her, her tortured mind couldn't handle it. Zira's eyes rolled back into her head and she fainted.
"Hmmmm, she took that pretty well." Fabana just shook her head as she watched the lioness collapse. She looked down at Nuka and felt like her heart was about to break. The poor cub had a look of confusion on his face that needed answers but the cub couldn't even begin to ask the questions.
"Fabana who is that, what is happening, and what did you just say!"
"Don't worry Nuka, just do me this one favor." Nuka looked back up at his guardian.
"Look at this lioness," Nuka looked back down, "This is your... mother." Fabana tried to hold back her tears but she couldn't. Still, she knew this would only be a temporary solution. When Nuka began to grow older and as his mind would become more and more developed, he will have to know the real truth one-day, Fabana just prayed to her gods that she would not be around to see it.
"But, Bana what happened to Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed?" Fabana looked at the remains of her children, almost forgetting they were there. She felt no loss with Shenzi, in her mind her daughter had already died a long time ago, but she did feel a deep pang of grief when she looked at her sons, especially when she thought of Ed.
"They are... in a better place. They are experiencing more joy there, then they could have ever experienced here. Deep down, Fabana knew she telling the truth about her sons, but she secretly prayed to her god Roh'kash that Shenzi was in another place, hopefully face to face with Scar. Fabana was sure he would be so happy to see her daughter once again. An idea began to form in the hyena's crafty mind, this lioness had said Scar was her love as well, why hadn't Taka ever mentioned his so-called soul mate before? Fabana thought Taka only loved her, well and even thought her would never admit it, also Sarabi. Fabana looked at the lioness for a long time, the unconscious creature breathing in deep, long gasps, her face twisted into a mask of confusion and denial. How easy Fabana, and the rest of the world, could be rid of this killer, especially now since she was in this vulnerable position.
"Nuka go outside for a moment, I have something that I need to do."
"Bana, I don't want to, I am so confused right now, what am I..."
"Shush now," Fabana patted her son's head, stroking where a mane would grow a deep black, "I'll make everything crystal clear very soon."
"All right, maybe then these... ugh, bugs will stop biting me." Fabana watched her son disappear over the ledge, and waited until she couldn't hear his scratching noises any longer. Slowly the female turned her empty socket onto the lioness, and then her "good" eye gazed down upon her. Fabana crept towards Zira and unsheathed her claws.
CHAPTER NINE: MERGING MINDS
Consciousness slowly drifted back to the lioness. Her ear was pounding with pain, as was her side. She purred as she felt the soft paws of some creature caressing her ear. Her mind suddenly jolted back to reality, her eyes sprang open, and they focused on a hyena. It was the female, but she was busy wrapping Zira's ear in cool moss and dead leaves to stop the bleeding, and hadn't noticed Zira had awakened. Zira's mind recollected everything in a split second and she snarled tumultuously, intent on ripping the hyena apart. But when she tried to move her legs she couldn't. She desperately tried her back legs but was given the same unfavorable results. She looked down and snarled even louder as she saw her front and back paws were tied tightly together with vines. Zira began thrashing her body in an attempt to brake the bonds, but she soon realized it was futile. In agony she looked back up at her captor and was dismayed when she saw her smiling.
"When I get free I'm going to feast on your heart!"
"Hmmmm, that wasn't the response I was hoping for, especially after all the nice things I've done during your nap. Look, I bandaged up your wounds. Without me I don't think you would have survived."
"Oh you want me to say thank you? How about I curse you in more words than you could think of?" Fabana looked down at the lioness's enraged face. She indifferently tapped Zira's ear with a backhanded paw, causing Zira to scream in pain.
"Oh, I am so sorry, did that hurt?" Zira roared and was about to reply with the worst curse she could think of, but before she had the chance Fabana had grabbed Zira's head, unsheathed her claws, and had the longest one placed on Zira's throat in a mere second.
"Don't even think about it! Think about this instead." Zira looked down and gulped as she saw Fabana was tapping her throat with a claw.
"Do you realize I could kill you this very second if I wanted to? Don't answer just nod if you understand me." Zira tried one last time to break the vines, she decided the only answer was to nod her head.
"Good, now before I change my mind, I am going to ask you something and I expect you to answer me the right way. If you give me the wrong answer..." Fabana looked down and grinned, "Nod your head again, if you understand me. Zira nodded.
"Very well then, as you can see I took a lot of time nursing your wounds, and I expect you to grant me a favor in return. Now I am going free you, so we can talk like civilized creatures. Do you understand?" Zira nodded once again. With a long look Fabana studied the bonds and slowly released her hold, she positioned herself with a claw at each vine.
"Do you promise me, you will listen to me after I set you free?" Zira said nothing, only grinned a wicked smile. Fabana cocked her head and squinted, not quite sure what to make from that response, but still with a sharp slash from both her claws, the vines that had bound Zira's paws were cut. Zira sprang to feet and Fabana held her breath, since she expected the lioness to break her promise, but to her relief Zira just stood there examining her side and her bandaged ear.
"I didn't ask you to do this, but I guess I do owe you a thank you since you did."
"Your welcome. Now you're going to kill me right?" Zira looked at the female for awhile, but just shrugged her shoulders.
"No, I don't like to kill those who already want to die. It's not fun."
"If you had to endure the life I had, you would understand how I feel." "What makes you think I haven't?"
"You haven't lost the only creature you've ever loved!"
"No, I've experienced worse, I watched him die!"
"Who are you talking about?"
"My God, you hyenas are stupid. Who do you think I am talking about? Scar!"
"His name is Scar."
"Maybe that is what you call him, but to me he will always be known as Taka. He was the lion no one knew the noble creature underneath who never had the chance to shine. Scar was the name of the darkness that consumed him."
"How fitting, Ushandra was the lioness no one knew. I am the darkness that consumed her!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know."
"No one does. Ushandra is dead, as is Taka. But unlike Scar I am still around.
"And your name is?"
"Fitting, I am Fabana."
"Why didn't Scar ever mention you to me?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing. Tell me your story first and then I shall tell you mine." Zira and Fabana told each other their whole life stories and how Scar became a part of both of their lives. Both of the creatures were astounded that their lives were very similar, and even more incredible is how the each looked upon Scar. Their love for him was based on the same reasons. When each had finished the two creatures stared at one another for a long time. Zira was the first to speak,
"You really loved him?"
"Yes, Taka was the only creature I ever truly loved. It was fate that brought us together, but fate tore us apart."
"But he is a lion and you are a hyena."
"I'm glad you can tell the difference."
"I mean, we cannot mate outside our species, it is... wrong!"
"And who says so?"
"I thought you said he means nothing to you now, so why should his laws?"
"That means nothing, it is utterly wrong! I can't even conceive the two of you together, and when I do, it makes me sick!"
"Oh, that is too bad, ask me if I care."
"Do you... what do you take me for, a fool?"
"Do you really want me to say what I think of you?"
"Scar would never love you!"
"He never did, Taka loved me."
"Don't start that again, Scar is gone!"
"As is Taka, now you know how I feel!"
"I still can't even imagine you two... together, Scar only loved me!"
"That is true and Taka only loved me!"
"What does it matter anyway, he is dead!"
"But, he will always be with us, and he watches over us always."
"Always?" Zira felt tears begin to form in her eyes, Fabana noticed them and tried to change the subject."
"Who do you love, Taka or Scar?"
"What kind of question is that? They are the same lion."
"Think about what I just said in my tale." Zira thought for a long time, and finally nodded.
"All right, I think I know what you mean, how can I say this... Ushandra loved Taka, and perhaps she is with him, but I will always love Scar."
"Well said, but I am hopeful one day I will be with Taka. I know that day will be very soon, because I only have a few days left on this earth. That is why I let you live, if I killed you I would never see Taka, I would only see Scar, and I want to spend eternity with my love."
"Well that is why I did what I did, Scar had to be avenged and my first victims were your offspring. I am sorry but I feel no grief or pity, those emotions died with Ushandra."
"There is nothing I can do or say about that, I will never forgive you for what you have done to me, but the only way you can set things right is grant my request."
"Forgive me? How can I forgive you? You and your kind slaughtered my son!"
"I swear to you, I was not a part of that, nor did I know anything about it, but now I understand what Shenzi meant when she said her pack's hunger was temporarily satisfied."
"I don't know whether to believe you or not, but you seem to posses virtues that I never knew existed in a hyena."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"When you die the world will surly grieve."
"No, I don't think so. Who would care about one female hyena when our reputation is stained by the likes of those such as Shenzi?"
"Scar saw the same qualities in you as I do, that is why he loved you Fabana."
"No, that is why Taka loved me."
"Whatever, what is this request that you want me to do for you?"
"I want you to watch over my cub and be his mother." Zira almost felt like she would faint again.
"Watch over that... abomination?"
"Yes, there is nothing wrong with how he was created."
"If you say so!"
"All right, ponder this then, how do you think their are so many species of animals out there? It is a common work of nature."
"Spare me your twisting of morality Fabana, I would never let that thing into my pride."
"You owe me Zira!"
"Not that way, don't even say that you are going to give me this male for the one you kind took from me!"
"I shall offer you something even greater if you just watch over my child."
"What are you saying?"
"I know of another pride many miles away, and wait until I tell you who the king is, trust me you and him will get along beautifully."
"Don't play with me Fabana, even though our lives are similar, doesn't mean we are friends."
"Granted, but if you don't want this vital information, then so be it. But it would give you the edge, after all how are you going to conquer Simba's pride all by yourself?" Zira snarled and began to pace around the hyena, Fabana just stared into Zira's eyes and smiled, Zira decided Fabana was right.
"All right, Fabana you win, but I will only go on with this charade until the cub is old enough to know the truth, and don't expect me to love and cherish him like he was my own." Fabana laughed,
"Trust me, you will learn to love Nuka."
"What did you say? What is his name?"
"Nuka, why?" Zira began to shake and her laughter filled the entire cavern.
"What, what is so funny?" Zira could hardly talk. She was laughing so hard tears were dripping out of her eyes.
"Nuka.... Oh Nuka... Ha ha ha ha, what a perfect name!"
"I didn't name him that, Shenzi did just to spite me."
"Does he know what it means in our language?"
"Yes, he does but he doesn't mind, as a matter a fact he likes it."
"Oh, all right I guess I won't make a big stink out of it. Ha, ha, ha, ha!"
"Lovely play on words Zira, just call him Nuka please, not the translation."
"OK, I'll watch over Stink, I mean Nuka." Fabana couldn't help but laugh herself, something she hadn't done for some time.
"Stop it, you're making me laugh!"
"Ha, ha, ha, well you are a hyena aren't you?" Fabana answered Zira with a classic hyena laugh.
"All right we better stop, or I am going to have to start calling myself Ushandra again. You know, I haven't felt this good for a long time."
"Neither have I. So you will watch over my sweet Nuka?"
"Yes I will, who knows he may become the cub Scar always wanted, I'll just have to change his name when he does." Fabana smiled as thrust out her paw. Zira looked down at the paw for awhile, but then grinned herself, and extended her own paw. The two creatures shook on the agreement, and then Fabana told Zira all she knew. Zira listened to every word and decided that she would allow Nuka to become to first member of her pride, not as a chance for redemption, but as a chance for all her dreams to become a reality.
CHAPTER TEN: THE LAST OF HER KIND
"Nuka!" Fabana called for her son, and smiled when he appeared over the rocks.
"It's about time Bana, I was getting bored. Where have you been and what happened?"
"Listen to me, my sweet Nuka, I have to... go somewhere for a long time."
"Sounds fun, I'm coming too right?"
"No, sweetie you can't, but I found a new friend for you to keep you safe.
"You're... Mother." Fabana tried to hold back her tears. She hated to keep up this lie, but she knew there was no other way.
"My mother? You found her!"
"Yes, my son," Fabana nearly slipped, but she caught herself just in time as Nuka squinted and cocked his head, "I mean you are her son."
"Where is she, tell me where I can find her, is she near?" Nuka was shaking with excitement. He began looking all around frantically, causing his little tail to swish around him.
"Zira!" Fabana's voice called her name, but Nuka squinted again, he knew the language of the lions well, and he knew what the name meant, but soon forgot when he saw a beautiful lioness saunter towards him, and sit next to Fabana.
"Hello Nuka," Fabana didn't know is she was impressed or disgusted at how sweet Zira could make her voice sound, "Nuka, I finally found you."
"Mom!" The young lion ran towards her and hugged her with his paws. Zira was stunned; she didn't know what to do. She looked at Fabana for help, but just saw the hyena looking away. Somehow Zira found the best words she could as she hugged Nuka back.
"Yes my son, I love you too, I have always loved you." She looked down at the young male who had the biggest smile on his face she had ever seen. As she did with her own son, she licked Nuka's face, but then spit onto ground, as she realized Nuka must not have had a bath for weeks.
"Oh, sorry mom, you know them hyenas!"
"We'll just have to fix that, I can't have my son smelling like a hyena can I? Wait until we return to my jungle, I'll show this nice river where you can take a bath."
"Wow, you live in a jungle, awesome!"
"Yes, I'm sure you'll love it. It will be a lot better than that cold, dark cave you've been living in." Zira looked over at Fabana for approval, but was dismayed when she saw Fabana was just staring at the ground. Nuka looked up and noticed it too.
"Bana is something wrong?"
"No, its nothing."
"Why are you crying?" Fabana looked up and her tears could be easily seen.
"It's nothing Nuka, I am just so happy to see you like this." Nuka grinned; Fabana's heart broke.
"Hey Bana, I'm still confused, what happened to Shenzi and the others?" Before Fabana could reply, Zira did.
"Don't worry Nuka, they only got what they deserved, you won't have to worry about them any more, I took care of that. Nuka was still too innocent to understand what Zira meant.
"Oh all right, but to tell you the truth, I never liked those three anyway, especially Shenzi, but I still wanted to say good-bye."
"Well, Shenzi is busy painting the floor red right now, but I'll relay the message to her." Zira grinned but as she looked at Fabana, she was met with a cold stare that instantly got rid of her smile.
"Fabana, what's wrong, you don't look very happy?"
"I told you nothing is wrong!" Nuka jumped back, "I'm sorry I didn't mean to yell, I am just so tired, go on ahead, we'll catch up."
"That's all right Bana. Mom, you and Bana hurry up. I have so much I want you to tell me. I am so happy I finally found my real mother."
"Yes, sweetie so am I, you run of now, we'll join you shortly." Zira grinned as she watched Nuka scurry away over the rocks. She didn't need to turn; she could feel Fabana's cold stare penetrating her fur.
"You know Fabana, I never realized what a great liar you could be."
"Shut up and look at me before I rip your throat out!" Zira turned and smiled wickedly.
"Something the matter Bana?"
"Don't you dare corrupt my son!"
"Now why would I do that? You're planning for Simba to die from laughter when he sees Nuka? You know I have to teach him a few things?"
"You will not crush his innocence! Not as long as I am alive!"
"The way I see it, that shouldn't take too long."
"You had better remember your promise!"
"Oh I'll remember it Fabana, all I am supposed to do is watch over Nuka right?" Fabana nodded and began to walk away. Zira watched the female hyena scamper after Nuka allowing her muzzle to twist into a sinister grin,
"I'll watch him all right. I'll watch him become a killer!"
* * * * *
The predator crept through the foliage without a sound as she stalked like a lioness. She spied her prey, splashing around in the river, and her eyes narrowed to slits. It would have to be quick and without pain, she knew this was the only way and this would be her only chance. She crept closer through the vines, her eyes locked on her target. She tried to blot out the agony that was pounding at her brain, by rationalizing that this was a mercy killing. She crouched low to the ground, and planned her attack. Her prey was too occupied with his fun to notice her; he was downwind, and unaware of his danger. She formulated her strategy, she would burst through the foliage, and slash her prey's throat, so he would feel no pain, and hopefully die before he realized what had happened. Her prey suddenly turned his back to her, now was the time to strike.
Her claws extended and flexed, she was about to spring, but just then her prey turned back around, and grinned as he picked up a huge pawfull of water and let it fall over him like a waterfall. Fabana faltered, she couldn't see, her eyes were blinded by tears, and she fell to her knees. She was ashamed at what she had planned to do. She rose her head and gazed upon her son with all the love a mother could have, and tried to tell herself that this was the only way. She couldn't let her son grow up in cruel world such as this, and with Zira as his new guardian, she shuddered at the vile possibilities that could happen. How could she allow the sweet innocence of a cub to be crushed by the queen of hate? Fabana knew her hours on this earth were growing short, but if she did do this horrible thing, she knew her son would die innocent and pure. He would be with Taka and all the kings of the past forever, but where would she be? Murder was murder and if she went through with her plans, she knew that she would never be with Taka, but if she didn't would Taka ever be able to be with his son? Taka never knew Fabana had a son, she had kept it from him and gave birth to Nuka in a secret place. Only Shimbekh the seer knew, but that truth died when the oracle had died by her own paws. Nuka grew up in Fabana's den and Fabana made sure no one ever found out about him. When Scar died Fabana took Nuka back to the Cave of the Hyenas, deep within the Elephant Graveyard where she planned to raise him herself, but then Shenzi found them. The nefarious plans Shenzi had for Nuka would have been carried out, but how ironic that Zira had ended all those plans. Nevertheless, now the irony was even worse, Nuka's savior would quickly become his corrupter, and Fabana knew the plans Zira had for Nuka would rival those of Shenzi. Still, Fabana couldn't bring herself to destroy her own son. She only prayed that he understood how much she loved him, since this would be the last time he would ever see her.
"Bana, is that you? Why the hell are you staring at me? Can't you see I'm trying to take a bath?" Nuka blushed and tried to cover himself with his paws as he saw Fabana emerge from the foliage.
"Nuka, I am the one who bathed you, when you were just a cub, I seen everything before."
"Well, it's still embarrassing. I am almost an adult you know, would you please turn around while I dry myself?" Fabana grinned and complied; she heard Nuka splash out of the water and begin to lick himself dry.
"You know Bana you should take a bath more often too, it gets rid of those damned bugs, plus you'll smell a lot better too."
"Maybe some other time, there is something I want to tell you."
"Well, keep talking but don't turn around yet, I still have a few places left to dry."
"Do you like it here Nuka?"
"Yea, it's great, there is so much to do, and now that I found Zira, I couldn't be happier."
"What do you think of her?"
"Well, to tell you the truth... Is she around anywhere?" Nuka scanned the foliage, "Guess not, well anyway she tells me she loves me, and she's my mother, and all that, but she just seems..."
"Uh yea, exactly Fabana, does she always have to act like her name?"
"She's been through a lot. It is amazing she's still alive." Fabana's thoughts drifted to ways she wished she could fix that.
"Do you like her Bana?"
"All that is important is I like you Nuka."
"You can turn around now, I'm done." Fabana turned and gazed upon her son. He looked better then her ever did. His pelt was shiny and clean, his thin, black mane gleamed, and he smelled wonderful.
"Wow I'm impressed, any lioness would kill to have you."
"Let's hope so, but now that you brought that up, I have a few... questions about lionesses that I was wondering if you could answer. See I've been having these dreams and when I wake up I..."
"Don't worry Nuka you'll find all about the kind of stuff on your own. Come over here I need to tell you something." Nuka walked towards the female. He was surprised when Fabana pulled him towards her and gave him the biggest hug she ever had and then proceeded to kissing his face.
"Uh Bana, what are you doing?"
"I just want to hold you for awhile. Nuka do you like me?"
"Uh well, as long as I can remember you've been like a mother to me."
"Oh, that is all I wanted to hear." Fabana squeezed him tightly again."
"Well, you've always been there for me, and I guess I really like you, even more than Zira, I feel like I could always tell you anything, you're like my..."
"Yea right, but that's crazy isn't it? I mean me being related to you." Nuka began to laugh just like the hyenas he grew up with, Fabana just looked down at her son and smiled.
"Bana, do you think I'll ever meet my dad?"
"Trust me, some day you will."
"You've never talked about him, what was he like?"
"He was the lion of all lions, he was the greatest creature to ever live, and you are his only son."
"What was his name?"
"How come mom never tells me about him? I ask and ask, and try to do everything to make her happy, but it seems like I never have her full attention."
"You'll find out everything some day Nuka, I just hope everything will turn out all right."
"Fabana," Nuka looked back up at the female, "How do you know so much about me, it seems like you've been with me since I was born, and why have I always been with hyenas, why have I never been with my own kind?"
"Nuka these are answers you have to find out for yourself, but please no more of these unanswerable questions, I have a question for you."
"Nuka, promise me you'll stay sweet and innocent forever."
"I'll be fine Bana, I have my mother to take care of me."
"That is my damned point! She is not your..."
"Bana?" Nuka wore a look of absolute confusion when he saw Fabana start crying. Fabana noticed it and tired to wipe the tears away with the back of her paw.
"There I go again, crying like a pup."
"What is it Bana, you haven't been yourself lately. You always seem so sad, and whenever I try and talk to you, you always end up like this.
"Nuka, I have to go away."
"Where are you going?"
"I can't tell you, but I won't be coming back." Nuka grabbed Fabana's paws with his own.
"No, you can't go. I'll never get to see you again!"
"You'll always see me," Fabana touched the top of her son's head with a claw, "Right here."
"That's not good enough, I want to hear your laughter, I want to talk to you, I want you to be with me forever."
"No creature lives forever Nuka, we just have to remember the good times we shared." Fabana looked down and saw Nuka was getting upset.
"Fabana," Nuka was beginning to cry, "Don't leave me!"
"We will be together again someday Nuka."
"I can't wait for that day!"
"You must Nuka, maybe your father will be with us on that day as well."
"That is my dream Fabana. I pray constantly that you, me, dad, and my mom will all be together in one place. That will be the best day of my life."
"I pray to Roh'kash that this day will come soon."
"Can I tell you something?"
"I know this might offend you, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I always wished you were my mother. You are always so good and friendly, I guess I... Love you!"
"Nuka," Nuka looked up and saw Fabana had the biggest smile on her face he had ever seen, and her eyes her brimming with tears, "You don't know how much I always wanted you to say that, I am happier than I have ever been!"
"Well, its true," Nuka gave Fabana another powerful hug, "Well, I better make sure how mother is doing, she said she has to start teaching me these lessons to make me a better lion."
"All right, but just remember your promise Nuka, and never forget it."
"I won't Bana, I always be just like you!"
"That is all I ask, take care of yourself." Nuka gave her another squeeze and just for good measure a lick on Fabana's lips. He blushed and ran off, but before he disappeared, he waved one last time, then dived into the foliage and was gone. Fabana watched the last of her son's tail become enveloped by the leaves and waved herself,
"Good-bye... My son!"
* * * * *
The moon cast its rays upon her as Fabana walked down an endless trail. She didn't care where it led she just enjoyed the scenery. She took in all of life's wonders and pleasures for the last few hours and then fell to her stomach by a waterfall. She watched the cascading water for awhile and breathed in the cool air. Her thoughts were a jumble with images of her son and her one and only love.
"Taka, oh my sweet Taka, how I have always loved you. I know the hour is close at hand, but I am so afraid. Please I pray to you, Roh'kash, and Shimbekh that I will see you soon. Taka, I have lived a life of virtue, only killed for sustenance, and always did what I believed was right. Then I met you, and saved you from death by your own paws. We feel in love with each other, but how I wish you understood how much I truly loved you. But you didn't, you were too filled with hate and an unquenchable lust for blood. If only you knew you had a son, but you do now don't you? Watch over him like you always have, and please keep him pure and virtuous like I have been. That is all I ask. I have done all I can, Roh'kash give me peace."
Fabana sighed deeply and gazed at the starry, night sky. She could almost see Taka's gaze smiling upon her, and when she saw a shooting star, she knew her wish was granted. She laughed a classic hyena laugh for the last time as she thought about the last prophecy Shimbekh, her best friend, had told her.
"Fabana, my dear Fabana, you will live a long, but toilsome life. At last you will find peace in a paradise, the likes of which you have never seen. Through chaos and scars you will survive, seeing much but understanding yourself even more. When at long last you will be secure from the help of an incarnate of an emotion, an emotion which you will never show, at last you will be consumed with bliss from its opposite. Then under a starry sky, and as a shooting star screams across the horizon, at last all your prayers will be answered."
Fabana placed her head on her paws and closed her eyes, descending into the sleep of eternity. She awoke in a realm of splendors where she was finally reunited with her one and only love.