Rosa and the rest of the lionesses were out today on a practice run for hunting. It had been decided that the youngster had been sheltered enough, and so the small group of huntresses were going out on an official hunt, preparing their young charge for when she would support the family. Rogers was not with them, for this was something Rosa had to do on her own. Kiara and Nala were there for moral support.
"Now I want you to be very careful out on this hunt, okay?" Kiara instructed.
Rosa nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I will," she said, not really paying attention. She was too excited about the whole idea to focus.
"Rosa, please pay attention. It's dangerous to hunt." Kiara turned to Nala. "Why doesn't she pay attention, I'll never know."
Nala chuckled quietly. "Now, Kiara. You weren't exactly a model student yourself when you began. If I remember correctly, you got yourself into quite a bit of trouble with Kovu." She called to Rosa, who perked up at her voice. "Rosa, come closer to the main group. We only split up when the prey is in view."
Just then, the lionesses in the front spotted a small heard of gazelle, grazing about fifty feet away. "Shh!" said one of the lionesses. "Keep quiet."
The lionesses ducked down into the grasses, Rosa following suite after Nala dropped a paw onto her back to force her down. "You all know what to do," she said quietly. "Spread out and follow our regular strategy. Rosa, you have a good vantage point. Stay here, don't make a sound, and watch."
Soon, the lionesses slowly crept up towards the heard as Rosa watched with anticipation.
She saw that her mother was about ten feet away from a young male. She shifted her shoulders, flattened her ears, and pounced.
The chase began at once, and the lions fanned out to herd the gazelle and break them up, searching for that one infirm creature that would satisfy their bellies. Things were going well and Rosa's side of the chase was holding up well. Abruptly there was a cry of pain and Kiara went down, flopping onto her belly. "Wait!" she called out to the others, finding that she couldn't move her leg.
Rosa and the other lionesses ran up to her. "Are you alright, mom?" asked Rosa.
Kiara gasped with pain as she tried to move. "No, my paw... it's stuck..." Her eyes widened as she looked behind her. Her hind paw was fully jammed into rail tracks that ran uninterrupted through the grass. "Get me out of here," she said, a trace of fear in her voice. She might have broken something...
Rosa turned to Nala. "Grandma, help me grab her leg, or something!"
Nala nodded and grabbed onto Kiara's leg with her jaws.
Rosa began to worry as Nala tried to pull Kiara's leg out. "Please don't rip it off Grandma."
"AH!" Kiara yelped. "It's stuck fast... I think it's broken. Try to... separate these things and loosen it up."
Nala raised an eyebrow. "What are these anyway?" she asked.
Kiara shook her head. "I don't know... but it's starting to hurt, really bad!"
Rosa turned to Nala again. "Grandma, what do we do?" she asked.
Nala sighed and looked around at the injury. "I... don't know. Perhaps if we tried to twist her leg just slightly and work it out slowly..."
"Are you okay with that, mom?"
Kiara nodded. "I am... if it'll get me out of here."
Rosa nodded and turned to the other lionesses. "Come on!" Then she grabbed Kiara's ankle again. "Ready mom?" she asked, her mouth muffled.
The other lionesses prepared themselves, and Kiara nodded quickly. "Let's get this over with."
"Okay on the count of three."
Nala started. "One... two...!"
Suddenly, a whistle was heard in the distance. 'WHOOOO!'
Rosa let go of her mother's leg and jerked up to see what it was. She saw a small smoke trail far in the distance. It was a train that Rogers had told them about. "Grandma, look."
Nala stood up and glanced at the train. "It's not coming towards us... I think it's safe," she said quietly. "Hurry everyone! We don't want hyenas or the like coming along."
Rosa shook off the feeling and went back to Kiara.
Suddenly she heard the train whistle again. 'WHOO WHOO!'
"Wait," said Rosa. "That sounded louder that time!"
The other lionesses stood up, and Nala's eyes went wide. "Oh no... it's turning towards us!"
"What?!" Kiara yelped, and started to panic. "Hurry! Get me out! Hurry!"
Rosa then understood what the tracks were. "Oh no. The tracks... the train runs on them!"
She quickly put Kiara's leg in her jaws. "Pull!" She then tugged as hard as she could to free her mother.
The lionesses, now growing desperate, grabbed onto whatever part of Kiara they could and pulled. Kiara yelled. "It hurts!"
"Don't stop!" Nala said sharply. "Better to lose a paw than be crushed!"
The giant black locomotive came closer and closer towards the lionesses. Steam shot from its sides and the whistle blew loudly into the air. "WOO WOO!"
Rosa stopped pulling eventually and watched in horror as the train came closer towards them. "Oh my."
Suddenly, there was a loud screeching noise that filled the air. Rosa was stunned, the train was slowing down. Then it stopped two feet in front of them.
The lionesses were frozen in absolute shock at the giant metal monster just before them. It was colored black and it towered over them as if it were biding its time. Steam slowly emerged from its sides as a slow deep metallic moan was heard from the bowels of the 'Iron Horse'.
The lionesses watched in terror at the giant monstrosity before them. Two of them suddenly bolted out of pure fright, while the rest merely watched to see what the thing would do next.
Just then, something emerged out of the locomotive. It was a human man, dressed in grey suspenders and a striped hat. Soon, another, more dirty man covered in soot followed him. They slowly approached the lionesses.
The lionesses seemed startled by the appearance of the men, and a few of them snarled involuntarily. The rest only watched with a mixture of curiosity and alertness.
"It seems this old girl has her foot caught in the rails," said the man in suspenders.
"Should we help her out?" asked the soot covered man.
The man in suspenders nodded. "Looks like it. Come on."
The lionesses looked back and forth between each other, and formed up around Kiara. But she chuffed at them, making them part again and allowing the men to go to work, but the remaining lionesses, excluding Rosa, regarded the humans with heavy suspicion
The man with suspenders grabbed onto Kiara's leg as the dirty man held down her head. Slowly, the man in suspenders twisted her leg and pulled it out from the rails. "There we go," he said, slowly backing away in case the lionesses attacked him.
"I still say we should've used the cow catcher," said the dirty man as he too backed away.
Soon, they climbed back into the locomotive, where it was safe. The whistle blew two quick times and slowly began to move again.
Kiara and the other lionesses retreated to a safe distance, watching the train leave. They all heaved a sigh of relief. "Grandpa's will be happy to hear this," Rosa remarked.
More humans were seen in the coaches of the train, with looks of amazement and wonder on their faces. A littler girl waved at the lionesses as they passed by. Soon the train was far from sight, with the whistle still blowing as it disappeared.
Later, back at Pride Rock, Rogers was examining Kiara's injured foot.
"How's it look?" the lioness asked.
Rogers smiled and said. "Nothing serious, just twisted your ankle is all."
Simba soon came out, looking a little cross. "A train. A train right through our hunting grounds!" he was muttering. "This doesn't bode well," he said as he came up to Kiara and Rogers.
Rogers turned to Simba. "She'll be alright, sire."
Simba nodded and flopped onto his stomach. "That train is going to change a lot of schedules. I don't want something like this happening again."
"What do you plan to do?" Rogers asked. "You can't change the world, sire. You're just one lion."
"You're right," Simba said. "But that doesn't change the fact that we have less land to move in. How long until we see human settlements coming through here? Or hunters?" He laid his head on his paws. "I can't change the world, but it'll certainly change us." Kiara said nothing.
Rogers turned to her. "By the way, how did you manage to get your paw out before the locomotive could hit you?"
Kiara shrugged. "It stopped before it could hit me, actually. The humans on the train were very nice! They were the ones who helped me out. It was really something, I thought for sure they'd do something more drastic..."
Simba looked surprised. The humans helped his daughter?
"Well," said Rogers. "That was...kind of them."
Simba nodded slowly. "Surprising. Most of the animals I've seen them interact with, they're just using them as food like us."
"Well, we humans need to eat too."
Simba shook his head. "No, I meant... I'm surprised they took the time to help her. I'm grateful of course, but... still. It's a good omen….Or so Rafiki would say," Simba added with a smile.