Author's Note: I am re-writing this story with the help of Roudy Redd and Sharks Potter because I think the original version was too corny and inaccurate to history. Along with the fact that in one chapter, one of the character acts way out of character. So, I hope you enjoy this new and improved version even more.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of The Lion King characters. The only ones who are mine are the human characters, some various animals of the Pride Lands, and Kovu and Kiara's daughter, Rosa. Enjoy!
The year was 1878. It was the dead of night out on the Texas plains. Despite the clop of the horses' hooves on the packed earth, there was no other sound. Just a dizzying silence. Exactly the way he liked it. He'd been at this for a day and a half. Not that he was complaining. When he did his job, he did it right. Subtle signs in the dust that wouldn't have been seen by the quick passerby were the clues he thrived off of. Speaking of which, he thought a grin tugging at his lips. He dismounted and the group halted.
"This is where we walk," he said simply pulling the rifle from the saddle bag.
"What about the horses?" one of the hunters probably a son or nephew on his first hunt said.
He glanced back at them and shrugged, "You could walk 'em or tie 'em up here."
The boy looked into the woods skeptically. His companion seemed to voice his concern when he asked, "You sure them pumas'll be in there?"
The man decided not to answer or ignored him. He stepped into the woods carefully. Before the three others could follow him, it seemed as if the trees had swallowed him.
The group kept close and the man gave a whispered warning, "Watch yourselves. They attack from high ground."
"From the trees?" one of the men asked.
The grin returned for a split second, "Not all Texas is flat. You should know that." True to his word, they found themselves in a dried river bed sinking low into a tiny canyon. "Light your lanterns, boys, pumas have good eyesight and like to attack in the dark."
The tracker flinched and clenched his jaw at the younger hunter as the boy clumsily fixed his lantern. They kept working their way through the river bed occasionally stepping up onto the bank. The ground to their right sloped downward easily and rolled back up a hill. Their lights cast shadows on the debris and more than once Joshua Cody heard the boy whimper at the monstrous shapes. This time, however, he didn't reprimand him. They were making themselves the perfect bait for the puma to be lured out.
Josh decided to add the finishing touches to ensure their success tonight. Drawing a pocket knife from his left coat pocket, he pricked his right thumb and let several drops of blood splatter onto the ground. The bait in place, he slowed his pace and signaled for his companions to stop. It was time to fish or cut bait.
He tensed inside as the familiar feeling settled over him. Ever since he was a young boy he could sense when eyes were turned on his back. The feeling continued for several more seconds till it started. The tawny cat about eight feet long measuring from tail to nose flew out of the trees with a banshee scream. Guns were fired but way too late. The youngest hunter had yelped and dropped the lantern, shattering it on a rock. Josh simply ducked out of the cat's way as it bounded back into the woods with a ticked off screech.
Slowly he got back up and stared angrily at the two hunters. "You two didn't tell me you wanted to shoot it."
"Why else would we come here looking for a puma? A pet?" the leader of the hunters huffed angrily. He shook his head, turned around and picked the younger one up by the scruff of his shirt, "Get up," he ordered.
Josh gritted his teeth and grabbed the collar of the elder hunter, pulling him up so that they were seeing each other face to face. Raising his shotgun, he pointed it right at the hunter's mouth. "I only hunt for food…never for sport. You told me that you wanted it alive!" The man's portly face contorted with fury.
"Unhand me this instant, you bastard," he shouted, "or I'll have the law on you!" Josh smirked.
Josh then opened his coat, revealing a gold star badge clipped to the left breast side of his vest. "I am the law." Josh said. "Care to discuss your problem directly?" The anger immediately left the hunter's face.
"You never said there was a law against hunting," he said.
Josh just growled, reared back his fist, and punched the hunter square in the stomach, causing him to double over onto his knees, gasping for air. "There are some things that the law doesn't have in the books." he said. "One of them being nasty little men like yourself. But as I am the sheriff of Northbrok, I could arrest you if I wanted to. And just so you know, the town judge is an old friend of mine. The both of you could spend a real long time in a nice small jail cell. Would that sit well with you?"
They both shook their heads vigorously. "We didn't mean to… What I …" he finally stopped himself before he put his other foot in his proverbial mouth. "No, Sherriff Cody."
"Good. Now I suggest y'all take your guns, go back to your horses, and get the hell out of here! Otherwise, I'll take your guns, and your horses, and leave you to the rattlers!"
The pair scrambled to get their things and hurriedly picked their way back the way they had come. Josh blew a deep breath out of his nose and glanced down. The shattered lantern had caused a small fire and smoke began curling upward into the air. He pulled his canteen off his belt and dumped the water onto the small flames. They hissed out of existence indignantly. He also picked up as many pieces of glass as he could. No need for the cats to get hurt from these idiots' mistakes.
Suddenly the feeling was back. He turned to look over his shoulder and caught the glowing eyes of the puma. They both held still sizing each other up. Then Josh tipped his hat to the beast. The cat's ear twitched and like lightning, darted back into the trees.
Josh tried to simply ignore the light behind his eyelids but it couldn't be helped any longer. He opened his eyes wearily. Getting home last night in the dark was not something he'd like to do again. He swung his legs out from the blankets and sat up. For a while he stared blankly at the wall. His cabin was small. A two room place with one being his kitchen and sitting area the other his bedroom.
He glanced up the wall and a grin crossed his face at the memento. On the way was an ornate dream catcher. Feathers from several birds dangled on strips of deer hide tied to the hoop. On the crisscrossing of tightly pulling strings were many beads of varying colors. He had other such memories hanging on the wall or on the single shelf with his books. He had very few possessions such as these and he got by with what he had.
Rising from the bed, he walked out to the porch and sat down on the chair to watch the sun continue its rise.
Just then, Josh heard the faint sounds of a horse's hooves trampling the earth, along with the sounds of a rider whistling and yelling, "Hyah!" Josh turned his head to the left to see a man riding a horse, along with a heavy bag dangling off his right shoulder coming his way. Suddenly, he remembered he was still in his nightgown. Hurrying inside, he changed. By the time he had finished and placed his hat on his head, the rider had dropped down from his horse.
Josh nodded and took the envelope. The return address made him quirk an eyebrow. He'd gotten letters of thanks from British explorers he had helped to track and he assumed it was another. Thanking the rider, he went inside to open it. Going over the letter, he had to blink several times to see if he'd read the name right. The Charles Burton? Josh had heard many stories from the Brits he helped about the once general in Queen Victoria's army. But due to some unknown incident, he had been suspended. Now he was Chairman of the British Royal Society, requesting Josh's appearance in London. He read over the letter again and saw a date. He sighed. He was to catch the steamer next week for South Hampton. Josh put the letter down and rubbed his hand over his face. He'd been meaning to find some assistant deputies.