MLK Writing Contest #35 [Voting!]

Which is the best story?

Poll ended at December 26th, 2015, 11:08 am

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Total votes : 4

MLK Writing Contest #35 [Voting!]

Postby DGFone » December 19th, 2015, 11:08 am

I said I won't be able to place this contest on an extension, and so here is the voting round. However, despite the shorter amount of time given to write compared to other contests as of late, we did get three submissions in, so if you ask me, not bad at all! So without further ado, here are the stories:


Story 1:
Untitled: show
Scar watched as the sun torpidly fell from the sky, the clouds above emblazoned with hues of saffron, vermillion and lavender. The cold wind tousled his fur, and he saw the stars scintillating in the vast expanse of the welkin, looking down on his corporeal existence with stoic regard. However, the gentle susurrus of the night did little to nought for his obfuscated mood, and he found himself sighing quietly.

He closed his eyes, listening to the thrum of crickets and the distant song of a lark. He tried to focus on the blessings he had been given, but it was a vain attempt.

With a slow and defeated gait he rose from his bluff overlooking the Pridelands and turned towards the tenebrific Shadowlands. He plodded along steadily, head hung low with the weight of admitting defeat. It was not an easy thing for him to do. Defeat always had a way of prodding his infirmities, making him feel inferior to others – especially to his brother, who had emotionally crushed him earlier that day. Though he had managed to hide his pain behind a mask of apathy, he felt utterly destroyed. He could only hope that the hyenas would condole with him, because he had failed them most of all.

Eventually his paws led him to the edifice of the elephant that had died long ago in a time that no one alive still remembered. It was a morbid sight, but Scar couldn't help feel at peace. Perhaps it was the silence of the place, or the way in which the creature was eternally resting and free from strife – either way, it assuaged his pain – if only slightly.

That pain was renewed, however, when he saw three twinkling pairs of eyes gazing out at him. Quickly the trio of hyenas bounded down the tusks, approaching him with fervor and hope in their hearts. He tried not to meet their gazes, but it was no use. Banzai looked at him, brows furrowed. “So is everything okay? Is he gonna let us...you know.”

Scar looked at him silently, his eyes telling the hyena everything he needed to know.

“Oh,” Banzai scuffed the ground with his paw, glancing away. “But you said...”

“I know what I said!” the lion snapped, causing the trio to flinch. “I...” His body trembled slightly as he choked back a sob. Ed tilted his head at Scar, addled more than ever. Scar glanced up at Shenzi. “Can we talk alone?”

Uncertainly, the female hyena looked at her acquaintances. “Surely whatever you need to say y-”

“Please?”

After a moment's consideration, Shenzi nodded and stood, giving the others a terse farewell before ambling off with Scar. They came to the bank of a dried riverbed, the desiccated dirt around it faded and grey. Though there was nought to drink, nor any gentle thrum of flowing water to soothe them, they sat down quietly and gazed upon it as if hoping for it to be otherwise. They sat there in silence for several minutes, and then Scar finally spoke in a broken whisper. “Nothing's fair.”

Shenzi looked at the dark lion before her, saying nothing.

“Him and I are so close, I sometimes feel like I could apprise him of every secret I've ever had and he'd be okay with it. I could tell him about the time when I was younger and was hunting in the Outlands, or the time I went on an adventure when I told mother I would be asleep,” he continued after a pause. “And yet whenever I attempt to broach this subject with him, this one subject, he tells me I'm an idiot and that it's never going to happen for as long as he lives.” Grimacing, the lion ran his claws through the dirt. “Am I asking too much of him?”

Shenzi pursed her lips and stared at the ground as she considered his words, attempting not to give in to the whimsy of her sadness. “Because he has faith in you doesn't mean he has faith in us,” she said finally.

“But he should,” Scar replied, as if pleading to Mufasa himself. “I've done nothing that would lead him to distrust me. I would never in a million years say or do anything to hurt him...” He felt something on his shoulder, and he turned to see Shenzi smiling at him – it was a faint smile laced with pain – but it was there, nonetheless. He wasn't able to return the expression, so after an awkward moment she retracted her paw and sighed. “I let you down,” he said blankly.

Shenzi shook her head. “You did what you coul–”

“And I failed,” he interrupted petulantly.

“You did what you could,” she repeated. “It's more than we could ever ask for. It doesn't matter if you failed, because you cared enough to try.” The hyena tried another smile, but it had no effect whatsoever.

When Scar spoke next, it was in a voice so low and tenuous that Shenzi had to strain to hear it. “I want nothing but the best for you guys, you know that...it's the least I can do for my friends.”

“Well maybe 'the best' isn't something we're meant to have,” she offered with a diminutive shrug.

Scar glared at her, his disposition turning to anger. “Don't you ever say that,” he said, jabbing her in the chest with a paw. She winced slightly. “You three were always there when I needed you, so I can't stand to see you suffer like this – I won't stand for it.”

Shenzi's gaze fell to her paws. “Yeah...”

After a moment his anger melted back into sadness. “Sorry...you didn't deserve that.”

“It's okay.”

“Is it ever?” he countered with a feeble laugh. “Maybe my brother's right. Maybe I'm just an idiot.”

Then, Shenzi did something he wasn't expecting: She leaned against his side. Scar found himself at a loss for words, mind racing at a million miles per second. “Look,” she said, oblivious to his discomfort. “You did your best, and that's what counts. Maybe someday if you keep trying he'll listen to you.”


“By the time it's too late, perhaps...”

Shenzi tried her best not to face-paw. “It won't be. You just keep chipping away at that impenetrable exterior of your brother's, and eventually he'll listen to you. Trust me.”

Scar didn't reply to that. Instead he found himself increasingly befuddled by her proximity. He leaned away from her, hoping that would get the message across.

She smirked at him. “Not one for comforting, eh?”

He considered his words. Then, uncertainly he said, “No, I am. I'm just not...in the mood for it right now.” He looked away awkwardly.

She raised her eyebrows, whistling lightly. “Not in the mood for comfort? You must be really upset.”

He smiled faintly at that. “You haven't the slightest idea.”

For the next several hours they sat there beneath the stars, watching as the constellations slowly made their way across the sky. Though they were in the depths of the Shadowlands where almost nothing lived, Scar could still hear the lark's song lilting through the dead silence. It was a barely perceptible tune that was lambent upon the wind, but he allowed himself to think that the song it sung was meant for the two of them and them alone. It was a capricious thought, but it was all he had to bolster his courage in the face of the toils to come. Perchance, if fate allowed, there would come a time when lions and hyenas could walk softly beneath the light of the moon in tandem; where the primordial feuds were long forgotten. It was an infinitesimal hope, but he could dream.


Story 2:
Ghosts of the Past: show
Ghosts of the past, an intro


The antelope stood in the open, seemingly unaware of the danger that was slowly creeping up on it. Grinning in anticipation for the upcoming charge, the lion edged ever so closer, knowing that pouncing too soon would result in the prey getting away. Just a bit closer, and it will be the perfect distance to strike!

...Nearly there…

He froze suddenly as the antelope moved. No, it didn't move – his heart clenched in despair as it fizzled in and out of visibility as though it wasn't really there. Despite being not quite in position, he knew he had to move now, otherwise it would be too late.

Leaping out of hiding, the lion charged at the prey, which once more looked solid just as it was supposed to be, and upon instantly reacting to the lion's presence, it bolted and ran off in the opposite direction.

The surrounding scenery, as plain as it was to begin with, was all a blur to the lion as he gave chase, but at seeing his target begin to fizzle again, he knew that it was too late, and despite that, still kept on the chase, a more primeval part of him edging him on, telling him that he can still win this.

Then all of the sudden, everything around him went black, and the ground beneath his feet stopped moving, causing the lion to fall flat on his face in a tumble of limbs and fur.

“Turn the generators on! We need power!”

The lion slowly untangled himself from the mess that he fell into, feeling undignified, but overall, feeling more hurt mentally than physically. “That was my only chance to hunt this week!” he complained, tearing off the goggles off his muzzle with a paw. Now that they weren't rendering images of the hunt into his eyes, he was left completely blind with the uncomfortable thing on. His ears twitched as he heard loud clicking from around him as the backup electrical slowly came to life, wincing and blinking as over his head, a series of lights turned on one at a time as a reaction to a continuous rumble of some hidden generator behind some wall.

From nearby, a human walked over, shrugging his shoulders in sympathy. “Sorry about that, Simba. But you already know that I can't control when we have power and when it fails. Consider yourself lucky that you got to do this at all this week. Nala's run last week had to get canceled completely.”

Simba gave a grunt in reply, glaring at the omni-directional treadmill that caused him to fall when it stopped working right in the middle of his sprint in the virtual hunt. “Well what else am I supposed to do now? Sitting around for a week doing nothing at all is very boring you know…”

His complaint only earned a chuckle from his companion, who didn't seem like he fully appreciate the shear numbness of being stuck inside a concrete bunker for all his life. “I happen to know quite a few people who would gladly swap places with you in half a heartbeat. Better live a boring but safe life than to have to fight for it every living day, at least according to them.”

Motioning for Simba to follow him, the human allowed the lion through a small rusty door before turning the lights off and sealing the room shut. “I do hope that you realize how much effort goes into even allowing you to try out experience a hunt or some other aspect of surface life,” he added quietly as Simba passed by, “many of them probably have it worse, I suspect, having been alive long enough to live it and remember what it's like, and then to know that they will never get to do such a thing ever again for as long as they live. Not even through a VR set like you use. All the power we can spare into those fancy setups go towards the few of you lions we got.”

Simba for the most part, ignored the lecture. While he knew that he had been born on the surface, he didn't remember any of it, with whatever information he was able to find out about his earliest days involved getting sent down here to the underground system of aging tunnels that he called home. At least as far as he cared, he lived down here all his life, and Nala as well. Despite being only one of three lions down here, they didn't even get to spend that much time with each other, for some odd reason. It also didn't help that he was told this lecture by someone else at almost a daily basis.

“It's not my fault I can't hold a gun to defend the border like you humans can,” he defended, “I would help out if I can. You know me enough to know that I'm not lying!” Long ago he had given up trying to get recruited to a surface mission. He was always declined, being told that it was too dangerous and that he was too valuable to risk. Still, every now and then, he trying asking again, but so far, to no luck…

“Well, about that, I think we have a solution to that problem, Simba. I was sent down here to grant you your wish. A surface mission, if you want.”

Having long ago learned to tune out such pranks played on him, it took the lion a moment to realize what he heard. “Aww, come on now, Artyom, don't start paying that bull on me. Do I really need to list all the reasons why I am not allowed up there?” He stared at the human, not amused by the joke.

Artyom simply looked back at the lion. “Not a joke. If your interested, find Nala, tell her that you'll be gone for about a day, and then find me by the main entrance. I'll have your gear ready.” Without a further comment, the human turned and walked off into the dark tunnel.

Simba could only stare back, trying to process what was going on. Eventually realizing that he was still next to the closed door leading to the VR room, he bolted down the tunnel as quickly as he dared in the low vision. “Hey, wait!”

---2033---TLK---2033---

Simba had seen humans come back from surface missions. They were always loaded down by weapons, gear, and whatever supplies they had set out to collect from the world above. But what had always struck him as the most unusual were the heavy suits they wore, which combined with the reflective gas masks, made them look quite intimidating to say the least. Though perhaps growing up with them around, and knowing what all the gear did, left Simba with a healthy sense of respect for even the most run down and scrap-yard junk gun that still fired a round out of its rusty barrel.

Lions of old, he was told once, did not know to fear the weapons. Made even more ironic in that even the most run down gun back then was still far superior to what was being made by hand down here in the tunnels, which made said lions of old rather vulnerable to a human with a itchy trigger finger and no sense of shame at such a lopsided engagement.

But now that he was being forced inside one of these suits, did Simba only begin to appreciate just how heavy and cumbersome they were. He felt as though he was already carrying a second version of himself on his back, and he didn't even have any gear on yet. To make things worse, it was his first time in the stiff and heavy boots that he had to wear. Not only were they uncomfortable, he was also unable to use his claws with them on, his only other weapon he had. As if to compensate for that fact, a small set of metal claws were crudely attached to the boots, but his attempts to use them on a rusty old can he found proved without a doubt that they couldn't compare to his own natural and retractable set of knives.

Next to him, Artyom seemed to be taking quite the amusement at the lino's struggles with the suit. “First time in a enviro-suit, eh cub? Don't worry, you'll get used to them quick. Besides, better than getting all dosed up with radiation the moment you leave these tunnels.”

He placed a gas mask in front of Simba, who noticed that it looked like it was specifically shaped for a lion's head. “It kills your hearing, smell, and vision. But you can't survive up top without it either, so put this on.” He then placed some spare filters in front of the lion. “I'll show you how to swap then out now, but it's imperative that you learn how to do so yourself. If I'm not around, you life could very well depend on you being able to replace a worn or broken filter with a fresh one.” He seemed to think over his statement. “Well, as fresh as we can make them. Half an hour is not long with these filters. But then again, feel free to breath in the radiation if you prefer that.”

Looking at the mask with disgust, Simba didn't like the idea on relying with his life on something so small and fragile, but he was taught enough about the dangers of radiation to know that of all the ways to end one's life, taking off a gas mask while on the surface was not a good idea.

So as much as he hated the long preparation and suiting up time, his eagerness to get to the real surface for the first time in his conscious life kept edging him on to deal with the stalling and endless lectures.

And yet, despite feeling like it was taking forever, before he knew it, they were ready, and Artyom and Simba waited at the front gates, gun and metal claw at the ready as the heavy set of metal doors in front of the slowly opened.

He didn't really know what to expect, but nothing more than more tunnel was certainly a disappointment. Despite himself, Simba let out a growl of annoyance. “That's it? More tunnels? They look even worse than what we live in, and[i] I don't have to be in this stupid suit back inside.”

He felt a gloved hand pat him on the shoulder, albeit roughly. “You'll see soon enough, but quit your yapping. Down here it's still safe, but if you don't learn to keep quiet, I will have no other option but to force you back in. Got it? I will not have you risk either your life or mine because you are getting uncomfortable. You want to see the surface? Deal with the reality of getting there first. Now come on.”

Not used to Artyom talking so sternly to him, Simba could only nod feebly before following the human.

Turned out, that he didn't really need to fear just visiting another tunnel, for only a short walk revealed that around the bend, their tunnel slowly angled up towards a dim glow of light.

Feeling his excitement rise up again, the lion followed the human up the gentle slope, seeing what looked like clouds up high. Were those clouds? He heard about them, but the VR set he got to use periodically never rendered any.

Artyom continued forwards, stopping at the end of the sloping tunnel. Making sure that no danger was around, he motioned for Simba over to his side.

“From now on, make sure that you stick close to me. Way to easy to get lost up here, and be left vulnerable to anything that will try to turn you into dinner… Are you listening to me, Simba?”

The lion didn't answer, only staring around in both amazement as well as muted horror at the land around him. It was nothing like what he saw in the VR set, not this burned, scarred and gutted… wreck of land. He didn't even know how to describe the carnage around him properly.

Sighing through his gas mask, Artyom knew that Simba needed time to come to adjustment to his first vision of the outside world. “What can I say cub? Welcome to the nuclear world.”

Still speechless, Simba could only continue to stare and ask himself: [i]What did he just get himself into?


Story 3:
Elements: show
Elements


Scar never wanted to kill them, but what other way could things have occurred? The elements, they say, make up all vital things in this world, but so, too, can they break you.

The bravest. The strongest. The fastest. The keenest of sight.

Mzizi. Zatili. Ua. Mbingu.

These were the elements Scar was provided. Well, no, perhaps 'provided' was not a totally sound word to use. He had chosen them, sure. The handpicked members of his very own Lion Guard, with he, son of the great Ahadi, as leader. Surely, had he wanted another within his ranks, his wish would have been granted. Once there was a time when the great kings of the past looked down on the cub born Taka with warm, glowing regards. It was not as though he was trapped, cut off, a chronic loner whose only chance at happiness had been squandered early in cubhood, had it ever existed in the first place. He was royalty, and his position as leader was its spoil.

But maybe 'provided' was indeed the correct diction. Did Scar have any choice but to denote Mbingu the keenest of sight, simply because the lion, younger than Scar by a few moons, could see things in the darkness others could not -- so much so that sometimes those of Pride Rock wondered if anything was truly there? Could Zatili, brother of Sarabi, be considered the strongest despite regularly losing in snowy contests of strength to both Mufasa and even Scar, who did not fancy himself a brute by any stretch of the imagination? Perhaps Mzizi was indeed the bravest by definition, but his carefree abandon bordered on reckless; countless were the times he needed rescue as a cub because he had gone here, done that, without any resolve beyond simply wanting to emanate some sort of bratty showmanship -- it was not as though his feats were necessary, nor were they triumphant.

And then Ua... well, Ua, she truly could outpace anyone in the land.

Scar remembered the day he met the lioness, then a cub, arriving over the horizon with her mother, an escapee from a nearby pride for reasons neither really ever disclosed. They were taken in without question -- that was the thing about Scar's father, his insistence on simply doing the right thing, even if the pride's safety could have been compromised by an outsider's unequivocally welcomed arrival.

Not that he minded much; though she was shy at first -- these things happen -- Ua became a great friend to all in the pride, Scar not excepted. His feelings for her were not romantic at first -- the young cub with the starting mane blacker than those around him felt it impractical to dive into such feelings immediately, plus he had only recently been spurned by Sarabi, who clearly had chosen his older brother; her loss. But time passed, and Scar felt twinges of deeper affection for the young lioness who could sprint faster than any gazelle in the land.

And oh, what a graceful stride it was! Ua, even far removed from attaining adulthood, moons from joining the hunting party, could not be outrun, her darker brown fur bristling with every muscle hinge and pivot as she maneuvered in between, say, a herd of galloping wildebeest, a tall, dangerous order that even King Ahadi warned against.

Yes, she was the fastest, there could be no question. It was her end and her end alone that haunted Scar.

Now, the day Scar had learned of his power had been, up to then and every day since, the greatest of his young life. How could he choose a better, worthier time? He, the second born, Taka, prince of the Pride Lands, son of King Ahadi, brother of Mufasa, given a new title to celebrate: leader of the Lion Guard? How could he say no to the very proposition, first and foremost? He fancied himself a strong, competent lion, a worthy successor to his father had his brother not bested him in the race to this world. To that point, Scar, having attained a certain level of young adult gusto but far from what he became when it all ended, expected nothing more than a quiet life, always at the ready if his brother went to the Kings early but mindful of his place within the circle of life. But a challenge? Worth? Meaning? A departure from the mundane that threatened to pacify his reasonable, yet passive, lifespan?

Assembling the guard was no oft-debated task. Growing up among the Pride Landers and their offspring, he knew straight away the best available for the squad -- call it intuition to a fault, but he simply considered himself a good judge of character. But again, he had few other choices; by the time he was to assemble his sentry, Mufasa was obviously out of bounds and Scar had little interest in taking on Sarabi. The others aside from those he eventually picked were either too young or simply ordinary in every which way, or in a few cases were so committed to the beckoning of the hunting party that no other group -- no matter how important, particularly in Scar's eyes -- would do. In later years, he rued not choosing Zira, who might have fit in under keenest of sight, but he had not noticed her yet, certainly not in the way she had or would.

But he was happy with his selections at first -- and Ua, Mzizi, Mbingu and Zatili shared the sentiment, so what choice did he have but to exude a little pride? He was -- they were -- the Lion Guard, the defenders of Pride Rock and the Pride Lands.

Talk rippled through the community that their little Taka, now Scar at his own behest, had taken on the duty with much pomp, certainly surpassing the apathetic reception of his predecessor, himself too a prince who could never quite shake the shadow of his brother and the lessened responsibility that came with it. Where lived out his days in docile apathy, only assembling his guard at the most opportune, necessary happenstance, Scar was initially one of the most active, go-getter leaders the pride elders said they had seen or heard tales of in many, many years.

And, Scar thought, how could he not be? Ahadi's blood ran through his veins too, and his constituents must have recognized by then that if the roles were reversed and he, Scar, were the successor, Mufasa instead relegated to a lieutenant role such as the Lion Guard, the pride would continue its glory days unopposed by the hardships that could befall it. It was not the position of a lifetime, the Lion Guard's head honcho, but it had its perks, that much was true.
For a while, it was a formidable team, Scar's Lion Guard, a fine-tuned mechanism that relied on each of its parts as key and integral. Mbingu was often the lookout, perhaps a scout. The force of Zatili's muscle-bound body, which only grew with experience, could send a hyena sprawling many paces away, with the lion barely batting an eye to do it. Mzizi could not be tamed, a redoubtable battler on the front lines as well as the group's rallying cry. Ua, ensuring no being could ever escape their clutches, dazzling foes with brilliant feats of acceleration that left them ripe for defeat. And Scar, head of it all, his mighty roar supplemented by the power of the Great Kings, a harbinger of justice and great power.

No rock went unturned, no hyena escaped unscathed, no visiting pride -- on the few uncommon occasions one even set paw within the Pride Lands' bounds -- went without bowing a knee to King Ahadi, and it was the Lion Guard that paved the way to incalculable success. After a time, Scar could even sense his brother's frustration -- Mufasa, the future king but still a mere doted-upon prince, lounging in the shade hearing war stories of his elders and observing menial king duties while Scar and his friends played the heroes.

The setup might have been grand, a long-lasting partnership that continued far into Mufasa's kingly reign, had Scar not had the dream.

It was simple: One evening, Scar found himself atop Pride Rock, its denizens -- and every other member of the Pride Lands, perhaps more still from neighboring lands -- stretched as far as the eye could see before him. Rafiki playfully fiddled with a headdress of sorts -- Scar had heard it called a crown -- made of tiny tree twigs and adorned with a glinting object found in the deepest reaches of the nearby gorge. "For de king," the mandrill whispered. "King Scar of the Pride Lands." A great, whooping cheer rose from the massive attendance. Mufasa -- and Scar's father -- were nowhere to be found.

Ua later confided in Mzizi that Scar spoke of the dream often to her. She and Scar's friendship had budded into something more, exceeding platonic yet separate of romantic, though the path to such feelings was seemingly within their grasp. Many evenings the two lions spent the night together, sometimes in hurried, dire talk of various Lion Guard duties, but other instances simply to talk the talk of the day, whatever it may be.

"He keeps seeing himself as the king," Ua murmured to Mzizi with a disapproving gaze. "I ask him about Mufasa and his father. He doesn't know where they are. All he knows is it's his coronation as king."
"Do you think it's affected anything?" Mzizi asked. "Anything at all?"

"Just that he says it's becoming all he thinks about. That even the Lion Guard seems irrelevant in comparison."

Ua worried about her friend, the lion she liked to call Taka despite his insistence otherwise, though she felt his resolve lessen with each affable regard. And it came to a head one day when, as she recounted to Mzizi later, when Scar, completely unprompted, glanced up from a meal, his face wet with the juices of a fresh kill, and announced to no one in particular despite Ua's placement nearby, "What if Mufasa was gone? What if I was the king of Pride Rock?"

The day Ahadi died, Scar did not arrive in the former king's chambers but for a brief moment to pay his respects to his father, frail in death and in old age, though nothing more. Sarabi did not even realize he had come and gone, and Mufasa had received just a curt nod from his brother, though he unburdened later to Sarabi that his brother's gaze felt elsewhere, perhaps on another plane entirely.

And it was true -- Scar had let his mind wander that day, a byproduct of his father's sudden, but not unforeseen, demise. Mufasa was king now, as was customary and had been planned ever since birth.

But what had Mufasa done besides lurk in the shadow of his elder? Scar was the active one, the defender of Pride Rock, daily ensuring the safety of the Pride Lands with his Lion Guard. His brother merely sat around and waited for the throne to come to him. Well, now it was his -- was he ready for it? Was he truly prepared for what was in store, equipped to lead his fellow lions into the next chapter of the circle of life?

Admittedly, yes. Mufasa was a wise ruler from the start, sturdy in his resolve and even-tempered with his constituents, a brave and capable leader.

And it pained Scar so.

He recalled pacing. Lots and lots of pacing. He was beneath the promontory of Pride Rock, the rest of the Lion Guard reclined lazily before him, enjoying shade from the potent summer sun. They lay, but not he -- Scar paced. And paced. And paced.

"You're gonna wear a trench in the ground, bud," called Zatili sleepily.

"Yeah, Scar, what's eatin' ya?" Mbingu asked, swatting a fly from his left ear.

"Oh, isn't it obvious?" asked Mzizi, eyes rolling as he perked up from a brief nap. "Muffy's in charge."

Yes, Scar explained, yes, that was it. Mufasa had assumed the kingship of Pride Rock despite doing little to earn it. Why, Scar might be stronger by now, was he not? He had the roar of the elders on his side, after all. How could such a powerful lion be unfit to lead?

What if, the lion wondered aloud, a regime change was in order?

But the very elements that partially benefited his rise to prominence could only shake their heads at the proposition. The Pride Lands had been ruled by the same dynasty for as long as any one lion could recall, and things always seemed to occur the way they should, as though balance in the world had been reached, captured and hung over Pride Rock like a great grass blanket, enveloping its citizens in a warm, peaceful embrace.

They laughed off Scar that day, disregarding his scenario as quickly as it had come, suddenly called to an important meeting with Mufasa and Sarabi that threatened to last the entire evening, matters of pride security the chief topic of discussion. Ua did much of the speaking; Scar, he claimed, felt weak in his vocal cords, perhaps the onset of illness. He wished to not speak with Mufasa, nor any others, lest he make things worse; rather, he observed from afar, his mind adrift with the thoughts of elements and their place within his greater purpose.

It all went so fast thereafter, a blur of extraordinary proportions given the enormity of the situation. Soon Scar found himself on the northern border, flanked by his regiment, staring down a pack of hyenas that thought it worthwhile to check in on the new management; word of the great Ahadi's death had traveled.

Soon the animals slunk back into the crevices of their rocky home, and Ua and the others were ready to turn back home. Scar remained.

"Hey, Scar, you good?"

He asked them what they thought of him. Their responses varied, but they were chiefly positive, encouraging words. He asked the same of Mufasa, the answers less doting but altogether genial.

Scar arrived at his point quite suddenly: Would they, his Lion Guard, support him in a coup?

His yellow eyes had lost the boyish pride that once gleamed within them. They darted about, leaping from lion to lion, each of whom stood, mouths agape, Ua silently shaking her head.

"You will not help me take down my brother?" he asked. "Rid the land of a king not fit to be king? Instill the leader you've followed since we were barely out of cubhood? Proclaim your allegiance to King Scar?!"

"How?" Mzizi called. "You are but one lion, and we, though four more, do not stand a chance against the rest of the pride, even if we wanted to."

"Why, with my roar, of course."

It was the word Ua had dreaded for many moons. Scar's roar, the Great Kings' roar, the powerful sound that beat back enemies, frightened attackers, ruined opposing conquests... a tool in the vanquishing of King Mufasa? An instrument of... evil?

Mzizi objected immediately. Mbingu and Zatili followed. What Scar was doing was insane, they said, the sign of madness. Mufasa was the rightful king, Scar his heir until he bore a son. His designs on the throne were unfounded, in jest, machinations for a title that did not befit him. He was Scar, the second born, Taka, prince of the Pride Lands, son of King Ahadi, brother of Mufasa, leader of the Lion Guard.

They were the first to go. All the while, Scar had been readying himself for a moment he had only dreamt of: the loudest, strongest, most potent roar he had ever mustered, an unspeakable force that, he felt, would send shivers down the spines of even his own guard, perhaps even forcing them onto bent adherence to his unmistakable rule.

But when the roar rose from his throat and reverberated across the Pride Lands, narrowly missing Ua and careening in the direction of Mzizi, Mbingu and Zatili, Scar had not expected what came next: a wave of chaos, one that shook the ground before them, impacted his once-subservient battalion, panicked looks in their eyes giving way to blank stares before their bodies collapsed to the ground, unmoving, no more.

What happened next was certainly not Scar's intent, either. Ua shrieked, her gaze moving quickly from her fallen comrades to Scar, a look of abject fear within her eyes Scar had never seen, nor did he wish to. She turned to run, mouthing something as she did so that, seasons later, Scar still struggled to make out within the confines of his mind. He tried to call to her, to stop her, he himself taken aback by the scene, by their friends strewn about on the ground in front of them.

But all that came was, again, that roar, mighty still though weakened, perhaps in Scar's conflicting shock and dismay over what had occurred. He shut his eyes immediately and he held his breath for what felt like an eternity. He did not want to lay eyes on what he was certain of: four motionless lions, not three.

The story was simple, at least as it was relayed by Scar: Another lion pride, banded together with some hyenas, threatening to invade the land after Ahadi's death. Scar and the Lion Guard had made it in time, he told Mufasa, but the battle was swift, and they were outnumbered. Finally, seeing his friends downed around him, Scar let out the Lion Guard's roar that he should have emitted from the start, and it beat back the Pride Lands' attackers; he watched them disappear over the horizon, swearing vengeance one day but seeming uncertain of such a thing so long as the lion with the great roar remained.

But it came at a price, said Scar: his roar, he felt, was absent, vanished just like the lives of his friends, gone with the Lion Guard, which he felt he could no longer lead.

The elements gave, and so too did they break him.



As custom, voting will run for a week. The usual voting rules apply: Don't vote for yourself, and don't vote for a story that you simply know was written by a friend. Don't ask others to vote for your story either. Read each one carefully and give all the stories the same consideration before you make your decision.

Voting ends on Saturday, December 26th!

Good luck to the authors!
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #35 [Voting!]

Postby Gemini » December 25th, 2015, 12:48 pm

I wasn't quite able to make the deadline this time, but I decided to read all the stories and vote. :) Merry Christmas everyone!
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #35 [Voting!]

Postby Carl » December 26th, 2015, 4:49 am

I'll try to read and vote tonight.
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #35 [Voting!]

Postby Gemini » December 26th, 2015, 4:51 am

^ Please break this three-way tie. lol It'd be kinda awkward if everyone won. xD
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #35 [Voting!]

Postby Carl » December 26th, 2015, 7:59 am

I have now voted. They were all good stories, though, so it was a bit tough to choose.
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #35 [Voting!]

Postby Ninaroja » December 27th, 2015, 9:52 pm

Bum... missed the vote
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #35 [Voting!]

Postby Gemini » January 14th, 2016, 10:49 am

I wonder who won this one. lol
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