MLK Writing Contest #39! [Voting!]

Which is the better reboot story?

Poll ended at February 27th, 2018, 6:14 am

1 [Wornhole]
2 [Smoldering Crater]
3 [Untitled]
No votes
4 [Untitled 2]
No votes
Total votes : 6

MLK Writing Contest #39! [Voting!]

Postby DGFone » February 20th, 2018, 6:14 am

Delaying the deadline by one day more did give two more submissions in, so I hope the wait was worth it. Here are the stories:

Story 1:
Wormhole: show

“Your Majesty, we’ve never been out of the Leo Galaxy before. We don’t know what’s out there!” a female hyena with a dark mane exclaimed as she struggled with the ship’s controls.

“They took my brother out there, Shenzi!” the male lion in the captain’s seat replied, worry lines etched into his sharp features. He ran a hand through his thick, oily, black mane, a few loose strands freeing themselves and falling down onto the shoulders of his captain’s uniform, along with a myriad of dandruff. He’d not bathed in a while, but how could he when his beloved brother had been taken hostage? All about him animals scurried back and forth, fiddling with the controls of the ship and rattling off information to one another.

“Scar, it’s too dangerous!” a lioness at the navigation terminal shouted, “We’re heading directly towards that black hole!”

“You think I don’t know that!” the reckless captain snapped, “What do you propose we do then, huh? They’ve got Mufasa on that ship, and I’ll be damned if little Simba is going to grow up without a father!”

“Well how is losing his uncle too going to help anything?” a hornbill at the communications terminal wondered.

“We’ll figure this out, Zazu!” the leonine captain roared, cupping his face in his hands as he tried to think. What would Mufasa do if it were him here? Scar knew he had more intelligence than his brother, but he wasn’t as quick on his feet, and working under pressure was most certainly not his forte. The lion drummed his fingers against his skull, each impact a dull thudding that reminded him why his brother was the king and he simply a captain. He was best at thinking about things behind the scenes, but no one else had stepped up the task of trailing after the alien invaders to rescue their beloved king. Without Mufasa, Earth would be sent spiraling down the tubes of political catastrophe, and he knew that for a fact—some would want Scar himself to fill his brother’s shoes, others would wish to place the burden on young Simba already, though he was yet a cub. Still others would be in favor of a regime change, and the entire planet would end up suffering as everyone struggled to have their way. It wasn’t imperative just to Scar that Mufasa be returned, but perhaps to the entire galaxy.

“Captain!” Shenzi yelped, steering the ship away from the black hole at a sharp angle as Scar lifted his heavy head from his palms and gazed at the screen projecting their surroundings.

“Wait… where’d they go?” he asked, standing so that he could approach the screen and examine it more closely. “Sarafina—where are they? Where is my brother? They didn’t—”

“They didn’t fly into the black hole, Captain, but I’m not sure where they did go,” the navigations expert reported monotonously, “I’m scanning the area for any anomalies.”

“Good, do that. Zazu! Open a communications channel, see if you can pick up on any chatter. Shenzi… get us away from this black hole before we end up crushed into oblivion.”

With a flurry of “ayes” the crew went about their tasks. Scar paced for a moment, tuning out the scuttle of the rest of the ship’s restless crew behind him as he tried to focus. There was so little information about the alien invaders who’d attacked Earth and kidnapped Mufasa. They were basically flying blind, chasing after the vessel that held the king hostage, and as he rarely did in his life, Scar felt hopeless and defeated. There was nothing he could do in this moment and it infuriated him. The concerned captain absentmindedly traced a finger along the deep scar along his left eye, a memory of the deep gash he’d earned by making the wrong call on a critical mission several years back. Mufasa had assured him that it was alright, but he felt the heavy burden of guilt settle over him at the thought of the lives lost because of his poor decision and had asked to be addressed as Scar ever since—as a reminder that he wasn’t perfect, and that his flaws left deep scars on the kingdom. Yet, here he was on the precipice of doing it again. Before he could reflect on that too much, Sarafina called out again.

“Captain! I’m picking up a wormhole just starboard of the black hole! They must have gone through it!” the lioness exclaimed.

“Shenzi, you heard her! Through that wormhole, now!”

“But Captain, we have no way of knowing what’s waiting for us on the other side!” the hyena protested.

“My brother, your king, is waiting on the other side. Now get through there! When we bring him home, you’ll all be hailed as heroes, and if we don’t bring him home… you’ll all be dead to me!” the dark lion snapped, returning to his captain’s chair and dropping down heavily, “Now let’s go after them!”

“Aye, Captain,” Shenzi consented, her voice making her reluctance more than obvious, yet the hyena gathered her courage and began to adjust the ship’s trajectory. She’d trained for this, to pilot intergalactic vessels into possibly uncharted space and even to her death, if necessary—she was sworn to serve the kingdom, and the king himself, come what may. Her grip on the controls tightened, she flicked a few switches and the ship began to teeter, wobbling as it struggled to pass the black hole, the hyena pilot fighting to keep it just out of range of the imploded star’s massive gravitational pull as she maneuvered the large vessel towards the wormhole on the other side.

“The instruments are going mad,” Zazu cawed, “We won’t be communicating with anyone like this, I’m afraid!”

“There!” Sarafina shrieked, “Dead ahead! Dead ahead! The wormhole!”

“It’s so close to the gravitational pull,” Shenzi groaned, “How do they do this so seamlessly? Their technology must be far more advanced than ours.”

“Belay that, just get us through!” Scar yowled, leaping to his paws, his tail swishing violently as his hands grasped at his mane once more. The ship buckled, rocking precariously, alarm sirens blaring as the lights began to flash in a warning of imminent peril. Scar toppled to his knees, catching the right arm of the captain’s chair in both arms and clinging to it for dear life. The ship grew more and more unstable as it plummeted ever nearer to the wormhole, the rift in space splayed out before them, the vast unknown it represented terrifying him to his core, though he would never venture as far as to admit that to anyone, least of all this crew who desperately needed a fearless leader. That’s why Mufasa was always better suited to leadership than I.

Everything swirled hallucinogenically around them, the viewing screen blanking out to a static feed, the blaring alarm klaxon stirring up a murderous headache of throbbing pain and never-ending deafening sounds. Scar felt he was losing his mind, and knew that this was the end. He’d pushed his crew too far, and they were being pulled into the black hole. It was all over. He clutched the seat’s arm ever more tightly, the metal and plush leather digging into his arms, a dull pain he hardly noticed adjacent to the pain in his heart and in his head. He wanted to apologize to the crew, thank them for their service, tell them that they were all heroes in his eyes for having risked it all on this mission, but his lungs were devoid of air. He’d never be able to be heard over the din filling the ship, anyway.

Suddenly, it all stopped, and the lion in the captain’s uniform began to wonder if he was dead.

“There it is,” Shenzi muttered breathlessly. The captain opened his eyes and stared at the screen before him. There, the vessel they’d been chasing was docked against a large starship resembling a freighter, and appeared to be positioning for some sort of transfer of goods. The hyena pilot began moving in closer, engaging the stealth protocol as she did so, her fingers deftly handling the controls as if she were born to fly this vessel.

“Get as close as you can. I’ll take a small landing party aboard and we’ll find my brother,” Scar murmured, as he leaned over her shoulder. Shenzi nodded, carefully adjusting the ship’s position. Knowing this part would go well in her very capable paws, the captain swiveled on his pawtoes and practically glided out of the bridge, thumbing on the communicator on his wrist as he made his way to the ship’s exit.

“Banzai, Zira, Sarabi, meet me at the hatch. We’re boarding.”

When he arrived, two lionesses and the male hyena were already waiting for him, their combat gear and protective helmets donned. As he slid his head into his own helmet and affixed an oxygen tank to his back, the trio waited patiently, their weapons drawn, stern expressions etched into their faces. The captain pulled on his combat fatigues and plate armor as quickly as possible.

“This is a stealth mission, but above all it is a rescue mission,” he elaborated through the helmet, “And I know you, Sarabi, are just as dedicated to retrieving Mufasa as swiftly and silently as possible as I am. This mission requires finesse, not firepower—however, should things get out of hand down there… be ready to blast our way through.”

The animals before him nodded. Scar signaled, prompting Banzai to pull the lever to release the hatch. As it opened, the hyena approached silently, his expression hard. Sarabi followed after him, her tail flicking with agitation. Scar started after her, but Zira caught his arm, stopping him in his tracks.

“Scar,” she whispered, her voice distorted by the helmet.

“Zira, we can talk later, this is—”

“Just in case we don’t both make it back out of there, Scar. Please,” Zira persisted. The captain cut a worried look sidelong at his other two squadmates, before returning his gaze to the striped lioness before him and nodding ever so slightly. Her face lit up with a bittersweet expression as she continued, “I just want you to know that it’s been an honor serving under you, Captain. I don’t think what happened before was your fault, and I think you are an excellent captain, far more capable than most. And… Scar… I love you.”

The lion’s heart began to thrum more vigorously against his chest as a wave of panic threatened to overtake him. This wasn’t the time. Instead of a sharp quip, the captain nodded solemnly.

“That means a lot to me, Zira,” he said, turning from her and marching to the edge of the hatch, following as Banzai and Sarabi stepped out onto the enemy ship. Gesturing with his hands to give the other three orders, Scar led the charge along the roof of the small vessel, looking for any entry point. He froze however, when he caught sight of his brother, paws bound in laser cuffs, being led, blindfolded into the freighter by some very strange creatures beyond description. The aliens practically glowed with an ethereal light and they strode about on four legs like some sort of primitive beasts, guiding their captive with six large arms each and a head somewhat avian in nature though absent of feathers or any other earthly features. They pivoted on their awkwardly shaped bodies, pulling at Mufasa’s restraints to lead him aboard the larger vessel. A vessel that, Scar could see through the entry shield, was full of a vast array of caged creatures of all sorts, none of which he’d have ever dreamed existed were he not seeing it for himself.

“How are we supposed to get him out of their clutches without being spotted?” Sarabi barked, fear and frustration dripping from her words.

“Zira… we’re up,” Banzai murmured softly. The slimmer lioness nodded, fixing the captain with a deep stare before looking Sarabi in the helmet.

“Leave that to us, Your Majesty.”

Scar nodded. He trusted them. Without another word, lion and hyena slipped off the roof of the smaller ship and infiltrated the freighter. Their movements were somewhat erratic, yet tactical. The duo made their way, undetected, to the far side of the docking bay, then leapt from their hiding places, shouting and blasting at the locks on some of the other captives’ cages. All manner of strange creatures burst forth into the large space, chaos taking hold. The enemies were caught off guard and rushed about in a panic, fervently trying to reclaim their escaped prizes. In the frantic bustle, Scar and Sarabi dropped deftly to the catwalk below and rushed the two aliens who still held Mufasa captive. Pulling their weapons, they fired, laser blasts striking the strange beasts with a splatter of blue as the aggressors fell to the ground, pulling the lion king with them. Sarabi leapt into the air, spinning around as she did so, a leg flying outward, landing a hard kick on what appeared to be the head of one of them.

Scar slipped up nearer, letting her aggro draw attention away from himself as he got to work picking the locks of the laser cuffs that bound his brother. He started with the feet-cuffs, and did his best to work quickly as Sarabi worked to finish knocking out the two aliens they were fighting and keep her eyes open for any more aggressors. Luckily, the chaos Banzai and Zira had incited left the aliens too preoccupied to notice the situation of their latest captive. A loud click informed Scar of his success and he tossed the manacles away from his brother’s paws.

“Mufasa!” Sarabi gasped, tearing the blindfold away from her husband’s visage, revealing the brilliant ruby eyes she’d grown to love. He beamed up at her as his dark-furred brother began to work on undoing his handcuffs.

“You found me,” he purred.

He found you,” she corrected, gesturing at Scar, “No other captain would risk it to come after you. He led us here, in spite of the perils to the crew or himself, to find you and bring you home.”

Mufasa turned his bright smile towards his brother, “I always told you you’re a better leader than you thought.”

“Say that when we’re safe at home with Simba,” Scar grunted, fiddling with the lock just a little more until a click was heard. Soon the three were upright, heading back towards their ship. But Scar stopped. Where was Zira? Banzai?

“Captain! We have to get out of here!” Sarabi called from the catwalk.

“Get the king onboard. I have to find them,” he ordered softly.

“Scar, no—!” Mufasa started, fear chiseling his features. However, Sarabi shook her head and guided her husband back towards the ship.

“You can’t stop him. We have to go.”

Scar turned away from the duo as they began to clamber up the side of the alien ship so as to return to their own vessel. He scanned the area for any signs of his crew, but couldn’t see them. He activated his suit’s stealth system and veered towards the last place he’d seen them, thumbing on his wrist communicator.

“Zira, Banzai, report,” he hissed into it. No answer. He ran a few paces more, ducking behind a supply crate. “Banzai. Zira. Come in.”

“Captain… we’re surrounded, in docking bay C-2115. There’s so many of them,” Banzai’s voice informed him, “Zira’s hurt. I don’t know how we’re gonna get out of this one.”

“We’ll think of a way.”

“Did you get the king?”

“Sarabi got him back to the ship. He’s okay. The mission’s over. Retreat. Now!” Scar ordered, looking around his surroundings in an attempt to locate docking bay C-2115. He couldn’t see anything written in a language he was familiar enough with to discern.

“Negative, Captain. They’re on us, and boy are they pissed. We’ll lead them right back to the ship.”

“I don’t give a rat’s ass, Banzai! We’re not leaving here without you two!”

“Scar…” Zira’s muted voice came in, “They’ve damaged my oxygen tank. I won’t make it back, and Banzai can’t get past them without taking hits… it’s over.”

“It is NOT over!”

“Scar… you can’t save us, but this isn’t your fault. We knew the risks. We did this for the kingdom, and for you… if you come after us… you will die, too. Don’t do that to your brother. Don’t do that to Simba…” the lioness croaked. Scar pursed his lips. He cared deeply for his squad, for his whole crew, and these two had been with him for a very long time. They were loyal soldiers and good friends. Forcing himself not to show emotion in the face of this, he steeled himself and replied softly.

“Copy that. Zira… I love you, too,” he lied, knowing it would make her feel better in her last moments, before turning and sprinting back towards the ship. As he slithered back through the hatch to find Sarabi waiting for him, he shook his head sorrowfully at her, the lioness nodding in grim understanding as she pulled the lever to close the exit. Scar thumbed on his communicator again.

“Shenzi, Sarafina, we have the king and are ready for departure. The mission is over. Let’s get back to Earth.”

“Aye, aye, Captain!”

As the ship slowly started to ascend, the captain began to strip off his armor, helmet and oxygen tank, feeling the weight of failure drop onto his shoulders again, and let his heavy lidded eyes close softly.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Sarabi murmured, placing a soft-furred hand on his shoulder. The captain sighed.

“It doesn’t matter. We still lost two good soldiers. And friends,” he replied. Her somber expression mirrored his and soon Mufasa swept them both up into his massive arms in leonine embrace. The ship was on its way back through the wormhole, and then on to Earth, a galactic crisis averted, though at a cost. Scar knew one thing with certainty. This wormhole was the farthest he would ever travel outside of the Leo Galaxy.

Story 2:
Smoldering Crater: show
Smoldering Crater

Mufasa glared at the trio of hyenas in front of him, forcing himself to keep calm rather than charging at them and quickly killing them off. “You three, especially you three, know that hyenas are not allowed into the Pride Lands,” he told them coldly, “you better have a good explanation for trespassing the border.” The lion quickly looked behind him. “And since Zazu is about to return with the pride’s lionesses, don’t think of yourselves as being the ones to outnumber me here.” Not receiving a reply from either of the three hyenas, Mufasa let out an annoyed sigh. “So? Does anyone of you care to explain why you were spotted, and now caught, inside the boundary of the Pride Lands?” He let out a groan when he received a round of the high-pitched giggling that hyenas emit. If there ever was a worse sound…

“Heh, don’t blame us! We were sent here!” Came the reply from Shenzi, earning a raised eyebrow of disbelief from Mufasa. “We didn’t want to come over here, and certainly not to cause trouble! Just to deliver a message!”

“Yeah! Just to give a message!” Banzai echoed, “Right, Ed?”

Sure enough, unlike most of the time the trio would try to weasel their way out of trouble, Ed nodded excitedly in agreement. As annoying as it was to deal with these three, Mufasa was aware enough that if Ed ever replied to a question, despite not talking, his answer was almost always the truth. But that also meant that if the three were indeed here to say something, it was most unusual.

“Look, I don’t care what your reason is,” Mufasa replied, “the law is the law. Neither one of you can be here.”

“No, no! We promised him that we would at least give the message to you! We promise to leave right afterwards! Also, he didn’t give us the chance to say no!”

Mufasa was caught off guard. Last time he checked, Shenzi was the matriarch of the local hyena population. “You promised… who?”

He received nervous giggling at this question. “Well, we can try to explain, but we really can’t! Here, he gave us this!” From behind her, Banzai kicked over an oddly shaped… rock thing towards Mufasa. Upon getting close, it expanded in front of the lion, forming a flat, rectangular surface which appeared to waver as if water, and formed an image, also much like looking at a reflection, expect that Mufasa wasn’t looking at himself. Plus, it wasn’t himself that he was looking at, but rather, something that he was only able to describe as a lizard-like creature. And then, to his amazement, the ‘reflection’ spoke:

“Greetings, inhabitants of this dusty, forgotten hole of a world. I am Emperor Percival Tachyon, Prince of the Cragmites, and starting with your world, future conquer of the galaxy! So I tell you now: Join me in my quest to rule over all living creatures! Appropriatewagesandbenefitstobedetermined. However, should you choose not to aid my humble call, run away and leave your lands to me, or die in a vain attempt to stop my unstoppable power!

Little did Mufasa know, as he watched the three hyenas turn their tails and flee before him, that it was his last time seeing the Pride Lands.

“Where did that noise come from? I think I just spotted something over there.”

“Keep your head down, Simba! It’s not safe out, even at night! We might get spotted!”

“Come on, Nala! Someone might be hurt. Follow me!”

Under cover of night, two lions made their way towards a flickering light nearby, as if there was a fire going on, except that there was nothing around to start one. As they got closer, they saw that it was a fire, burning lightly inside a smoldering crater in the ground. Peering cautiously over the edge, the two looked down, observing the scene below.

“You don’t think this was an attack, do you?” Simba asked in a hushed voice, “if it was, we’ll need to move again. And, I really don’t know how long we can keep running like this.” He pawed at the ground, agitated. “I really hate things now. Things we don’t understand coming in and forcing the pride to run? Talk about umph-!” He was interrupted by Nala, who pressed his muzzle shut suddenly.

“And we will have to run again if you keep this up!” she hissed back, “I just saw something. Look!” Motioning down below, Simba followed her gaze at a figure down below, not moving despite the surrounding flames. “They look hurt, and I doubt it’s one of them.” Without any hesitation, Nala broke cover and ran down towards the figure while avoiding the occasional flame, Simba close behind. The two slowed down as they came close, alert for any sudden movement.

“It’s breathing, but looks hurt.” Simba took the initiative at looking over the figure they found. “Look at the stripes on his fur. Is that a tiger? Odd that the ears are so big. And I thought tigers weren’t this small… Looks almost like Rafiki in a way as well.”

Despite his whispering, the noise seamed to have been enough to alert this creature, who stirred slightly, and began to cough.

“-Clank? Clank, is that you?” Opening its eyes, the creature shifted around, glancing around despite groaning from the movement. “Aww, Aphelion, you’re all beat up. Hang on, I’ll fix ya up in no time.” Crawling towards the center of the crater – towards a red bird-like thing, the ‘tiger’ didn’t look like he noticed either Sima or Nala, still watching him from nearby. “Clank? Clank, you in there? Aphelion, if you can hear me, open up. Man, how did I even get outside of you..?”

All of the sudden, the bird thing emitted a sudden hiss of flowing air and the top half simply peeled upwards, allowing the ‘tiger’ to crawl inside. “Clank? If you’re in hear, you can come out now, this is not a joke!” Yelping in pain from a sudden unintended movement, the ‘tiger’ rummaged inside the ‘bird’, as if looking for something. “Where’s that nanotech… found it! Wait, is that all that’s left? Well, I hope it’s enough...” Pulling out what looked like a glowing ball of something else unfamiliar to the lions, the creature allowed the ball to disintegrate like water and flow over him – and disappear inside his body. “Wooh, much better! Aphelion, run a systems diagnostic, would’ya?”

From below, or around him, the bird thing shuddered around, emitting a horrible groaning noise as various lights flickered on and off, much to the nearby lions’ astonishment. And then the bird spoke, although in a female voice. “Scanning systems. Electronics - online. Avionics - Online. Flight controls - lightly damaged, offline. Fuel systems ruptured - offline. Warp drive – crushed, offline. Also, immediate area scan reveals two visitors, Ratchet, just off your three.”

“Huh?” Glancing quickly in the direction of Simba and Nala, this ‘Ratchet” didn’t take long to spot them. “Wow, local wildlife. Hope they’re friendly.” Then suddenly calling out the two lions, he asked, “Hey, do you know where I am? Where’s the nearest space port? Or just city or town?”

“The nearest what? No, haven’t even heard of them, so I don’t think there are any close... Who are you, anyways?”

“No near cities, huh? Well, that sucks. Guess I’ll have to try and patch you up with whatever we’ve got, Aphelion,” Ratchet replied, though appearing to talk to the bird thing he was inside. Turning his attention back to the two lions, he then added, “the name’s Ratchet.” he patted the ‘bird’ next to him. “This is Aphelion, my spaceship, though she’s rather busted up at the moment. Sorry for crashing by here. Last I remember, I was off to buy some equipment when, well, I woke up here. Though I do recall some strange explosion just before that. Kinda strange, right?” He paused, “Speaking of which, where is here?” He hopped out of his bird and began to walk around it, searching for something.

Simba looked over at Nala cautiously, though the two seamed to have come to a conclusion after only a moment’s stare at each other. “You’re not too far away from where we live. I’m Simba, this is Nala.” The lioness next to him nodded in greetings “...And you say that there was an explosion?” Simba sounded rather nervous when he asked this, “you weren’t – you weren’t hit by... whatshisname as well?”

“We were run off from our home by some maniac lizard. Lead an army of hyenas on us, and we were too weak to fight off,” Nala added in, “Killed Simba’s dad here in the process, and we were on the run ever since.” Simba next to her let out an annoyed huff at the memory, but didn’t say anything else. “We are trying to figure out how to fight back, but don’t have the strength to challenge him yet. Called himself Percival Tachyon,” Nala added dryly.

“Per- Tachyon??” Ratchet stopped for whatever he was searching for. “Oh, COME ON!!” he screamed suddenly, “ISN’T ONE TIME ENOUGH?? Can’t ever catch a break!” He kicked hard, accidentally hitting his ‘bird’, emitting a rather loud clunk and hissing in pain, clutching his foot while hopping up and down on the other. “Aphelion, find Clank. NOW!”

But instead of Clank, whoever it was, out in the distance, the unmistakable crackling laughter of hyenas was heard in the distance. No doubt, there would be a large party of those soon.

“You know Tachyon?” Simba asked, getting an angry nod from Ratchet. What else can cause such a sudden and violent reaction?

“Yeah, I ‘know’ him,” Ratchet finally answered, “fought him too. Thought I won’t ever have to deal with him again. Was sure he was long dead, but if he’s here...” he fell silent for a moment, pondering in thought. “...Killed my dad too.” Cursing under his breath, he looked around, trying to pinpoint the location of the distant hyenas. “Are those Tachyon’s dudes?” he asked, “tell you what – if you know where that loser is, I will help you fight him. And defeat him, permanently, this time… Aphelion, you found Clank’s location yet? I left most of my arsenal behind, and if you can’t fly, I won’t be able to do this alone...”

“Sorry, Ratchet,” Aphelion replied, “non of my sensors can locate his signature. Not even his low-level transmissions. He’s not here, Ratchet.”

At this news, Ratchet sank to his knees in defeat, all strength lost in an instant. “Not here?” he repeated in a whisper, “but he was right there… Not again, not again, Aphelion. Please tell me you found him!” He stared towards Simba and Nala, but with a gaze that didn’t notice neither their approach close to him, nor the ever louder crackling of hyenas, signaling their approach to the location.

Unsure of exactly who this ‘Clank’ was, but knowing enough that Ratcherd cared for him a lot, Simba wasn’t sure what to say. But unlike Ratchet, he was all too aware of how much time they had left before the hyenas found them. “Ratchet… we have to leave before the hyenas find us. And if Tachyon is with them, we won’t stand a chance. Come with us, we know where it’s safe here.”

At this, Ratchet looked up at the lions, but didn’t move. “I can’t leave Aphelion out here. And I still gotta find Clank. He has to be here somewhere!”

From behind him, Aphelion had other ideas. “You won’t be able to fix me in two seconds, Ratchet. And I can still contact your nav unit when I find Clank. Go. It’s not safe here for you, not with just your wrench.”

Ratchet shook his head, refusing to believe what he was hearing. “I’m not going! I’m not leaving you too!”

“Go, you stubborn Lombax!” his spaceship shouted, causing Ratchet to jump up to his legs in fright, “you know where you will find me, and you can’t defeat Tachyon when dead! Come back to me when you have a plan. In the meantime, I will transmit for help, and with any luck, it will arrive very soon. Until then, go with them and don’t do anything stupid! I know you, Ratchet: don’t rush off into battle without thinking. You’ll only give that Cragmite what he wants.”

“But-” Ratchet was about to protest again, but was pulled back by Nala suddenly, who wasn’t very keen on hearing him try to argue some more. “All right! All right! I’m going! Just let me go!” He shrugged Nala’s grip off, and pointed at Aphelion with a stick much like Rafiki’s, though where he got it from was a mystery to the lions, as he didn’t have it just moments before. “Any word from anyone, and you tell me right away!” he ordered. Then quietly, he added, “I’ll be back before you know, Aphelion. You know I’ll never leave you behind, right?”

Finally turning his attention back to the lions, he sighed. “Fine. Lead the way. She’s right – can’t fight Tachyon like this. We need a plan. And guns. Lotsa guns.” As though finally getting his first good look at the lions, he added in an amused voice “What are you two, anyways? Can’t say I ever saw anything like you before.”

Nala snorted at they made their way out of the crater, Simba leading the way cautiously. “Can’t say we ever seen someone like you either.”

“Touche. Nala, right? Touche.”

The odd trio slunk away from the approaching hyenas, unsure of the future, but all three hopeful that things were going to improve very soon.

And hopefully, put an end to Tachyon’s ambitions for good.

Story 3:
Untitled: show

“Oh, be quiet, you big baby.”

“You’re the, gah! baby, little sist-ow!” Nuka’s yowls erupted out of the mouth of the cave into the blue midday sky.

Vitani rolled her eyes and took a moment’s break from her ministrations to nudge a stick towards Nuka, which he reluctantly bit down on. She then returned to her work, pressing a salve of crushed acacia leaves onto a shallow but raw wound on Nuka’s left forepaw. “Pay more attenshun next time,” she muttered as she chewed up and spat out another gob, and rubbing the mix of saliva and leaves onto the angry red stretch of skin. Nuka rolled his eyes and mumbled something that couldn’t make it past the stick, lying prostrate on the cool stone floor as Vitani sat next to him and poked the collection of herbs.

The grass outside rustled, and paw steps echoed off the stone floor. A dusky-coated lion, an early adolescent tuft growing from his chest, padded over to the cave’s inhabitants and winced at Nuka. “You okay?”

Nuka spat out the stick and glared up at his brother. “Oh, I’m fantastic, thanks for asking. I was actually just howling in pleasure at having my leg sliced open.”

“Nuka!” Vitani snapped. She stood up, the salve complete, and turned to Kovu. “He’s fine.”

Kovu kicked at a pebble the ground. “I didn’t see the rocks. I wouldn’t have tackled you that hard if I’d known.”

Nuka rose gingerly to his feet and stared at him, hard. The dark hairs growing on his chin twitched. Kovu’s eyes were fixed on the opposite wall. Nuka sighed, the tension evaporating from his frame, and he collapsed back to the cave ground in a heap. “Yes, uh-huh, I know, I get it,” he grumbled.

The cave was quiet for a few moments. Vitani felt an ache in her chest, an inky mix of worry and fear that had seemed to churn deeper and darker every time she watched her brothers interact. Spending your childhood in constant training was difficult enough, mentally and physically. But their mother made it worse; she played favorites. Maybe all parents did it here and there, but she barely even pretended not to.

It had been that way was since Kovu was born. Kovu was cradled and listened to lullabies while Vitani and Nuka watched. Kovu was told the great things he’d do while Vitani and Nuka listened. Kovu practiced on Nuka and Vitani, not the other way around. In her grand designs, Kovu was the claws and the teeth and the glory. Vitani was an accessory, and Nuka was an afterthought.

It affected both of her brothers. How could it not? Nuka hated the Pridelanders for what they did to Scar and their mother. Of course he did. The three of them did. Nuka wanted to make Simba hurt, to take back what was theirs. But how much of that was hating Simba and how much of that was wanting, just for once, to have their mother look at him the way she looked at Kovu?

Maybe it was even worse for Kovu; Vitani couldn’t tell. The constant pressure was one thing. Kovu had lived with it his whole life and he did a pretty good job of hiding it, but Vitani knew that it was a weight that never left his shoulders. But especially recently, a schism was opening up between him and Nuka, and even Vitani a bit. Every time mother screeched at Nuka or crooned to Kovu, that gap got a little wider, from a spidering crack to a sprawling chasm.

Vitani loved her mother, but she loved her brothers too. Right now, in the gloom, the three siblings could have been strangers.

She turned abruptly towards the entrance of the cave. “Hey, you guys want go someplace really cool?”

It was silent. Vitani felt two confused stares boring into her back. She glanced back at her brothers. “Well?”

Her brothers exchanged a look. “Ahh,” Kovu hesitated. “What do you mean?”

Vitani groaned. “I mean, that it’s barely midday, and we don’t have anything until stalking practice at dusk. So…” she trailed off expectantly.

Nuka stretched lazily and licked his chops. “What kinda place? Better not be anyplace dumb. And my paw’s still bleeding. Shouldn’t we give this thing some time to settle?”

Vitani marched over, wrapped her jaws around the nape of her brother’s neck, and unceremoniously dragged him to his feet. “Owowowow—oh, wow. That stuff works fast,” he noted, testing his weight on his injured forepaw.

Vitani chomped at the air in Kovu’s general direction. “Am I gonna have to bite you too?” Kovu looked back and forth at his siblings with a puzzled expression before shrugging and gesturing with his head.

“Lead the way, Tani.”

The sun was enormous over the savannah in an ocean of clear sky. It was a glorious day. Vitani found herself enjoying every step, from the hot sand on her pads to the cooler blades of grass that crept between her toes. The colors around were absolute, without a hint of subtlety: the deepest green in the grasses, the bluest blue in the sky above, and in between it all, a melange of tawny pelts and, at least for two of them, jet black manes.

“Are we there yet?” Nuka said, still limping slightly. Vitani wasn’t certain it wasn’t just for show.

Vitani’s eyes brightened. “Actually, yes.” She dashed ahead, up to a hill overlooking a valley below. Kovu and Nuka followed close behind.

“Is… is that?” Kovu stuttered.

Nuka grinned. “No way.”

“An elephant graveyard.”

Below, strewn about the red clay and earth, titanic husks littered in mazelike, twisting piles. The bones almost looked unreal compared to the normally pristine ivory tusks associated with elephants: they were dark grey, worn by wind and dust over many seasons. It was a strange, somber sight.

To some lions, at least. To others, it was a playground.

“RACE YOU!” Vitani cried, jumping over the cliff and skidding downward on the steep incline down to the valley, her brothers close in tow. Nuka’s, with a significant advantage from gravity given his larger frame, made it to the bottom first and danced a victory strut.

Kovu made it last, panting and laughing. He gestured at Nuka’s paw. “I knew it wasn’t that bad,” he grinned as he passed. “Big baby.”

Nuka smirked at him. “Good enough for this!” He leapt at his brother, tackled him and sending them tumbling end-of-over-end down the side of the skeleton into a massive pile of bones.

Vitani rolled her eyes, not unaffectionately. “You two seriously have rocks for brains, you know that?”
There was no reply. Vitani hesitated, padding over to the pile. “Hey, c’mon. You guys alright?” She peered closer at the pile that seemed to have eaten her brothers alive.

Four strong paws suddenly appeared out of the pile in an instant and unceremoniously dragged her into the melee.



“Gah, not the eye, Nuka!”

“Oh, you like that huh?”

“Geroff me”

“Say the magic word.”


The clinking and clacking of bones against one another mixed with peals of laughter and rang out through the graveyard.

“Wait wait wait wait.”

“Oh, you’re not getting away that easily.”

“No, wait.” Vitani hissed. Her brothers paused. “Listen.”

There was just echoes. Then, they heard the wind carrying voices from across the clearing. “Well, well, well, Banzai… whaddawe got here?”

“Looks like an elephant graveyard, Shenz. You wanna check it out, Ed?”

There was a moment’s lull.

“Yeah, you said it, Ed. I’m starved. Let’s see if anything’s kickin’ around down there.”

The siblings extricated themselves from the pile as quietly as possible and slunk away in the opposite direction of the voices, up and out of the graveyard and back into the plains, where the blades of grass were just beginning to glow amber in the first rays of the evening.

Story 4:
Untitled 2: show
"I'm sorry mother." the young cub said looking up at his mother's face. Zira's expression was so angry that Kovu felt as though his mother's gaze was piercing through his fur into his soul. "She didn't seem so bad, I-I-I thought we could be fri-"
"FRIENDS?!" Zira cut off her son's words.

"You thought you would go through the daughter would just welcome you with open arms?! WHAT AN IDEA...." Zira's expression suddenly changed, she was a devious lioness, how could she resist using her son's only real friendship to her advantage? "What... An idea! Oh you brilliant child."

Nuka looked on, he didn't feel angry towards Kovu who had taken so much away from him. It no longer surprised him to see his mother praise Kovu even when he was making mistakes.
Vitani had always supported Kovu, because she believed in Scar's decision to pick him as his chosen one to continue his work. This had created a rift in the brother and sister relationship they have.

"Ha so you didn't tell her then." Vitani said, her cheeky and sarcastic tone hadn't changed despite the drama.

"Shut up." Nuka said dismissing his sister's playful banter. "I'm not in the mood for your games today."

"Nuka?" As much as they playfully fought and trained together, it still upset her to see her older brother down like this.

As Zira took a tired Kovu into the outsider's den to sleep and sing a lullaby to him. Nuka and Vitani waited outside for a moment, giving Zira and Kovu a moment alone before they entered.

Nuka thought about how his mother had used to do the same to him.

"Y'know, its just that it wasn't that long ago it was just me and you training together and mother was teaching us."
And Nuka started to remember one of those times.

"Shhh. Not yet. The best Ace up your sleeve is one you leave hidden until the perfect moment." Nuka said to Viatni, she was hunched down in her pre pouncing pose. Nuka rested his paw just above her back.
"What?!" She sneered back at him.
"I dunno, I just heard that once."

The two started laughing and the deer in front of them over heard this and sprang up onto all fours and started running.

"GO!" Zira shouted! Watching her two cubs from a nearby rock.

Vitani pounced up and started running toward the deer.
Nuka followed but kept a distance, if the deer tried to turn and run then he would cut it off.

As the two ran forward, the thrill of the hunt and the excitement got to them, they were having fun and Zira hated that.
"Stay focused!" She was ruthless in her ways of teaching her cubs, it matched her own hunting style, win by viciousness, show no mercy.

"Nuka its yours!" Vitani shouted, she dug her claws into the ground and dag up the dirt as she skid to a halt.
The deer turned toward her and ran to the left around her.
The only thing between it and escape now was Nuka.

The deer looked to its left and its right, open fields surround the three of them. But Nuka would surely catch up to it. No turning back now, the only way is forwards.

"Come on." said Nuka to himself.

The deer pelted forwards, Vitani rolled out of the way just in time but it continued forward with its antlers out and head down. Charging toward Nuka almost like a bull.

Just as the deer was about to hit Nuka the lion suddenly sprinted off to the side, the deer ran straight past where he had just been and into a body of water just behind, unable to keep its balance the deer, slipped, its antlers dug up the ground as they got stuck into the dirt and grass.

"Yeah how do ya like that?!" Nuka shouted triumphantly. Instead of going to claim his prize he went over to his little sister and helped her back up.

"What are you doing?!" "KILL IT!" Zira didn't like to interrupt their training but it was too late regardless. The deer pulled its head up and galloped on to freedom.

"Woah that was awesome."
"Did you see how big those things were."
"I thought you were toast."
No. How could she let her cubs behave like this, they lost. Dinner had got away.

"Why didn't you kill it?! Nuka?!" Zira was angry but also simultaneously calm in her tone. She had planned to teach them this lesson.

"It didn't seem so bad, mother, it was a harmless deer"

"No. Its kill or be killed. Scar would have killed it. He wouldn't let us go hungry."

"Well maybe I'm not as much like him as you think."

Sometimes, Nuka, sometimes, you need to be cruel to be kind."
She raider her claws and quickly slashed Nuka's back. He grunted and winced in pain.
Vitani could only watch, scared and confused.

Nuka felt the same weakness he once had in Kovu, his mother had beaten it out of him. Maybe he needed to do the same thing. No. He thought. He will wait until the perfect moment to reveal his ace card. It might take a long time but just wait for Kovu to mess up to swoop in and take the glory for himself. Sometimes you just have to be cruel to be kind.

And there was always one thing Kovu wouldn't steal from him, one thing his mother couldn't cut out of him, his memories of the good times he had with his sister.
I'm the older brother and I should have been chosen and one day I will make you all proud of me.

Zira's lullaby had finished and Kovu was asleep. Nuka had one last thing he needed to do before he could sleep.
No more happy memories, no more being known as the goofy and flea ridden one.

He watched as the small geyser in front of him erupted, spewing up some small amounts of fire and lava from the surface, he closed his eyes and walked into the flame. Letting the heat in to burn away those happy memories, he needed the pain and the anger to replace those happy times. The fire would fuel him.

Being burned just enough to he washed away the debris. his mane was burned off and now appeared scraggly at the top. He had a more psychotic look to him.
But the flames had drawn him in.
It excited him. The fire was his new obsession. And it would be better fuel for him than those memories which he no longer thought about.

Now all he could think about was the fire and the mission; kill Simba.

There are four stories this time around, so: not bad! Voting will run until Monday, February 26!

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.

Good luck authors! Hopefully this is only a new beginning!
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #39! [Voting!]

Postby FlipMode » February 25th, 2018, 7:02 pm

Voted :)
Enjoyed reading them all as well. It's great to see this contest revival went well.
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Re: MLK Writing Contest #39! [Voting!]

Postby Azdgari » February 27th, 2018, 4:45 am

Seems like it was quite a runaway...
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