02/03/09 - Kidnapping

Characters:

Nonceba, Female Lioness
Gadi, Male Lion Cub
Kiokota, Female Lioness Cub
Kinyago, Male Lion (Rogue)


The morning sky is thick and grey, dreary with clouds that don't even promise rain - just shadows. It's not exactly the day one chooses for a little family trip, but Nonceba decided without the sun, it wouldn't bake her poor cubs as she leads them out to the very edges of the valley for the first time. She reaches the lone acacia on the border where she pauses, looking over her shoulder to spy her eldest pair. "Come on, just a little further and you can rest."

Gadi is grumbling as the heavy eyed cub lumbers after his mother, sleep still seeming to rule his thoughts as he pauses frequently to yawn. He's not very fluent with words yet, only periodically muttering something akin to the word - he prefers to speak in yowls. He offers one of protest as he finally reaches the tree, slumping down immediately against the roots and yawning to show the little points of newly grown baby teeth.

Unlike her brother, Kiokota is loaping along without so much as a complaint. She's picked up a few more words along the line, but due to the louder nature of her siblings she has turned into the quiet one. She follows a step behind her brother, all the way to the base of the tree. Rather than yawning, however, she reaches out and scratches her cubby claws on a nearby root, stretching her body out in the process.

The gray morning seems the perfect cover for one interested in causing trouble. The gloomy, dreary nature of the world on this particular day adds cover to the gray form of Kinyago. He's been lurking since the initial confrontation with Kori, looking for some opportunity to further his harassment of the lion. Whatever his reasons, they are his own, it seems that the dark Kopje guard is the gray lion's target. As he spots a lioness and her cubs coming out near the borders, it seems as if luck is on his side. From his half-hidden vantage point, the wind in his favor, the lion's yellow eyes catch sight of the dark girl who looks so much like her father. He could almost laugh himself sick at how perfect this could be… if it weren't for the lioness in the way. "What… beautiful children you have." He croaks out, slinking forward to show himself.

Nonceba turns to cast a squinted look to her son before she regards her daughter, a soft smile touching her face. "One day, you'll be big enough to reach the claw marks of your father and grandfather up there." She murmurs as she looks to the bark of the tree, gouges carved that reach nearly up to the canopy of branches. She appears about to say something else when the voice behind her brings the lioness whipping around like a snake, fur bristling from the back of her skull to the base of her tail, though the raised auburn stripe is broken by the long, old claw scars along her back. "Who are you?" She utters in a low growl, though her attempts to look threatening are marred by rounded eyes and a nervously jerking tail.

Gadi gives his mother a rather dour look, likely along the commentary of 'I could be sleeping right now, who cares about a tree', as his tail thumps against the ground. Mismatched eyes watch his sister's actions as his head tilts to one side, a quiet grunt uttered as he stretched out a lone paw to scratch absently at an exposed root. The croaking voice of Kinyago seems to take the boy by surprise as much as it does his mother, and the clay-colored cub bolts upright from the ground, falling back onto his rump with wide, blinking eyes as he stares at the grey lion.

Looking up at the claw marks that are still quite far out of her reach, little Kiokota gives an appreciative nod of her head. She tries to pull herself as far up as possible, but still falls quite short. She's about to come back down to earth when the croaking voice surprises her and causes her to fall backwards roughly, falling roughly to her brother's side and giving a shake of her small brown head.

Watching the lioness whip around so quickly gives the lion a good look at her, and that's enough to bring a wicked sort of grin onto his face as he stands more fully. The cold eyes watch her every movement, from the flick of her tail to the way her chest moves when she breathes. "You must be Kori's … mate." The word 'mate' is given a strange sort of tone, one that's hard to read. "Ekundu told me all about you." Rumbling a laugh, he continues to advance, stepping ever closer to the lioness. "You're much prettier than I imagined, but no matter…"

Nostrils flare as the scarred lioness settled a hard gaze on the grey lion. She shifts herself, standing between her cubs and the rogue as the tips of dark claws gleam from her paws. "How do /you/ know Ekundu?" She asks through her teeth, memories shifting back to her own brief recollection of the big red-maned lion when she retrieved Kori from the Utatu.

For now, it doesn't seem to matter that Nonceba is protecting her cubs. In his mind, the lioness is all that matters. Once she's dispatched or run off, it would be simple enough to take them. The lion presses forward still further, "Ekundu? How do -I- know him?" The lion laughs darkly as he steps forward and slams one paw, claws extended, down onto the ground. "I killed him." The lion claimes boldly, snarling as he steps forward. The truth of things would probably come later, but for now the lion focuses on his prey, beginning to growl under his breath. "Don't cry little girl. I'll make it quick." He snarls and raises the clawed paw again, ready to strike if she so much as tries to summon help.

If there's one thing Nonceba has proved, it's she can put up a scrap. The only survivor of her litter, the youngest of her generation, and now a mother facing a threat to her children. Curling back her lips, she displays curving white teeth and growls back to the lion. "No. I will." And without another word, muscles bunch and the lioness lunges forward, a snarl erupting from her jaws as a wide forepaws aims a swipe for the lion's leering face.

While the tenacity of a mother protecting her children is certainly fearsome, Kinyago has lived most of his life as a rogue and has learned a thing or two about fighting bloody battles. The lion knows immediately that she isn't going to go down quietly. "So be it." He says the three words slowly, turning his head quickly so that her claws rake into the black of his mane. A growl rumbles up from within the lion as he turns his cold, sickly yellow eyes towards her. The truth of the matter is, he doesn't -want- to kill her, so… With a powerful turn, he swipes that raised paw towards the lioness's own face. His claws are only drawn in at the last moment, using the power of the blow alone to try and knock her backwards, perhaps into the tree behind her.

The drawbacks of a pridal lioness prove themselves as the first blows are exchanged. Without the pride, she can brawl, but true fighting with her own species are a rare occurrence - a feat he undoubtedly has had more experience with. Her claws tangle in the gritty mass of mane, and it keeps her from pulling back as quickly as she'd like. As her open paw begins to swing through the air, his own paw collides with her face. Stars erupt into her vision as she staggers backwards, claws wrenching themselves free of the lion so she can try and regain her balance.

As his paw connects, the lion's mind works quickly to analyze the situation. He seizes the opportunity and rushes forward with the bulk of his weight. Although he may not be that big for a lion, he's certainly got a few pounds on even the largest of lionesses. He aims his shoulder towards her in a rough and forceful shove, trying to ram past her towards the cubs near the base of the tree.

Nonceba recovers from the initial blow, but only in time to see the inevitable collision about to take place. Eyes widen as the lioness attempts to brace herself, but he's just too fast, and he rams into her with crushing force. A fine mist of blood is expelled from her nostril as the air is blown from her lungs, no doubt signs of an injury when he clubbed her across the face. The brief, slow motion collision roars back into full speed as the lioness is driven against the tree with a screech of pain, all but colliding with her own cubs.

Gadi has been watching with those wide, mismatched eyed full of terror and incomprehension. He's never seen anything like this, and he's scared, and instinct keeps him firmly rooted to the spot and hunkered as close to the ground as he can. He huddles close to his sister right up until the moment his mother all but falls on top of him, and the clay-colored male yowls in alarm as he scrabbles away from the tree as fast as his tiny paws can carry him.

Wide, frightened eyes watch the battle going on before her with a look of shock. Kiokota had never seen anything quite like it in her entire, short life, and it's quite enough to leave her shaking. The only thing that startles her back to reality is the yowl from her brother and the harsh *bang* as her mother is shoved up against the tree. There is a split second where she is held still with indecision, and then the girl bolts behind her brother.

With a snarl, Kinyago presses the lioness to the tree for a moment, and then gives a harsh, throaty whisper. "Kori is… a lucky lion, but I'm not here for you… not today." His face turns abruptly, watching the cubs try to escape. With one final shove, he pushes away from the tree and the lioness and races behind them at full speed. The dark girl is the first to be scooped up in his clutches, the child giving a cry of fright as she's lifted from the ground. Then, the lion sets his eyes on the boy racing to grab him as well.

Nonceba is left at the base of the tree where she slumps down to, bruised and battered as blood trickles down from her nose. Through blurry vision, sees sees her cubs, hears their cries as though they were coming from down a long tunnel. "No…no…" Visions flash across her eyes, shadows on a black backdrop, memories of her own blind fear, the half-deafened roars of a lion and the cries of her mother, and then the searing, white hot agony along her back that makes the lioness curl up into herself. "…no.. not again…" It's the last thing she mutters before the lioness falls still and silent.

Gadi tries, he runs like he never has before, oversized paws forcing him to stumble and lunge most of the steps. He flees blindly, not knowing the lay of the land, but he runs regardless. Away, away from this nightmare. But he's still so little, and his lungs and infant muscles burn with the effort, and there was never any real chance of his escape. With a wild, terrified and angry squeal, the cub is caught up by the grey lion, and though he valiantly swings his paws and squirms his hardest, there's no escaping for the child.

The gray lion skids to a stop, his paws digging into the earth. Those ill, yellow eyes look towards the lioness where she lays and for a moment… just a single moment, there is a flash of sympathy. Then, years of regret and angry well back up in the lion's heart and drive any softer feelings away. It's a bit of a challenge to carry two cubs in his muzzle. In grabbing the boy, the girl had ended up hanging just from the edge of his maw, held by her scruff. Still, with little time to re-adjust them, the lion breaks into a run once more. It's not the all-out sprint, but a more steady pace, being careful to jar the cubs too much.

Time passes, and he races through the pridelands, breathing heavily onto the two cubs in his jaws. It is Gadi's struggling that begins to make things difficult as he comes to the far western border of the Tsavo territories, having run strait through. One of the cub's claws catches part of his lip, causing a flash of sudden, unexpected pain. With a toss of his head, his front teeth lose hold of the dark girl, who ends up flung into the nearby grasses. It takes all of the lion's self control not to -chomp- down on the boy… but he needed him for later. For a second or two, he considers searching for the girl, but just then a roar echos in the distance. For all he knows, it could just be a Tsavo lion greeting the day, but rather than not chance it, Kinyago abandons the girl and continues running until he's out of the Tsavo territory and into the neutral grounds between.

It is in this wide expanse that the lion finally stops, laying himself down into the tall grasses and setting the cub down between his paws, holding him in place. Catching his breath, Kinyago snarls and puts his muzzle right down near Gadi's face and says with a huff. "You will stay here." He commands, not knowing if the child can even understand. "If you follow me. I - will - kill - you." These words are said slowly before he releases the boy and stands, his legs burning from the effort of the run. As he turns and begins to walk away, the lion looks back and murmurs in a softer tone. "If I live… I'll come back for you. If not, at least I'll be with my mate and children again. And you, your fate will be in the hands of the kings." And, with that said, Kinyago stalks off, an evil thought playing at the fringes of his mind. A new idea to cause just that much more grief to Kori.

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