When Zim came to it was completely dark. He could vaguely remember waking up a few other times but had quickly been drugged again before he could get his bearings. Now he had absolutely no idea where he was.
Slowly his eyes began to adjust to the dark and he could only just make out the wooden crate he was trapped inside. Trapped! He was trapped and couldn't get out! His heart began to pound as panic rose up inside of him, forcing away all sense and reason. He scrabbled; twisting around in the tiny space as he desperately looked for any way out. He was an Invader, and Invaders could not be contained!
All of a sudden the crate bumped joltingly and light flooded in from a sliding opening. Zim didn't think twice before he shot out of the crate like a bullet, blinded by the sudden bright light he ran until he careened head first against a tree, abruptly stopping his panicked flight.
He blinked dizzily and looked up stupidly at the tree he had smashed into at top speed. Turing his head from side to side he could see that he was in a wide field of some sort with tall golden grass and the occasional tree or rock standing out like an island. Behind him was a truck with several humans milling about beside two empty wooden crates. For a split second he didn't know why there was a second crate, and then he remembered; the Dib!
Where is that miserable human? Zim thought, looking around until his gaze fell upon the pale fur of Dib in his lion form. He blended in so well with the tall grass that Zim had a hard time spotting him while he with his shockingly green fur stood out like a sore thumb.
Before either of them had a chance to speak the humans suddenly got back in their truck and sped away, leaving a trail of dust in their wake. "No! No wait!" Dib cried, bounding a few paces after them, but it was no use as the truck quickly drove out of sight, leaving them completely alone.
"Where are we?" Zim asked Dib who stood panting in the dust left from the truck. He didn't reply. "Hey, Dib-filth. I asked you a question. Do not ignore Zim!" Zim said indignantly. All too suddenly Dib whirled around, lashing one large paw with claws extended at Zim, catching him on the side of the face. "You idiot!" Dib snarled as bright green blood splattered the grass. "We're in Africa! Because of you we're stuck here now!"
Zim rubbed at the stinging slashes on his face, already beginning to heal. "I'm not the one who got us turned into these smelly hair monters." He growled. "That was your fault."
"If you had never come to Earth in the first place then this would never have happened!" Dib persisted, looking furious. Zim glared at him, his own claws sliding out of their sheaths. He tried to think of some nasty come back. "Your head is big!" He finally spat. Dib let out a yowl and leaped on Zim, scoring his claws down his shoulder. Zim batted back at him, but his claws only slid harmlessly through Dib's fur as he slipped to one side. Seeing his chance Zim gave Dib's tail a hard bite, feeling satisfied as Dib let out a squeal of pain, but before Zim knew it Dib had twisted around and slammed him down in the dirt, pinning him so that he could only thrash weakly. Zim was surprised. It seemed like Dib was adjusting to his new body much faster than Zim was, adapting to the new animal instincts.
They would have continued fighting until one of them was very badly hurt, when a voice from somewhere up the tree Zim had first run into made them freeze. "Dat's not going to fix your problem." It said with a laugh. Zim and Dib stopped mid battle and looked up into the wide-set branches of the tree, startled that anyone would address them. "Who said that?" Dib demanded. An animal Zim couldn't quite recognize swung out of the highest branches and came to rest on the ground just beside them. "Monkey!" Zim growled. Zim hated monkeys. Ever since GIR had started watching that awful Angry Monkey Show Zim couldn't stand them.
The "monkey" all of a sudden swung a long stick and struck Zim forcefully on the head. "Ow! Quit it!" Zim cried out in pain. "Correction; I am a baboon." The animal said. Dib snickered and Zim growled, the fur rising on the back of his neck and shoulders. The baboon warningly raised the stick again and Zim begrudgingly backed down, not wanting another blow to head at this point.
"Who are you?" Dib asked the baboon while Zim angrily murmured under his breath, cursing in Irken. The baboon smiled. "You're a long way from home." He replied, his gaze sweeping over Dib and remaining on Zim for a long moment. Dib gave the baboon a hard look through his glasses. "How do you know that?" He asked. The baboon gave him a shrewd look. "If you want old Rafiki's help, I can tell you how to change yourselves back." He said. "Yes!" Zim and Dib said eagerly. "Wait, how did you know we're not lions?" Dib asked, hoping that Rafiki would at least answer one of his questions. "I've been around enough lions to know the difference." Rafiki answered. Zim looked at him wide eyed. "There's more lions?" He asked. Rafiki laughed. "Oh yes." He gestured in a northward direction. "Plenty more that way." He said. Zim swallowed. He wasn't really sure he wanted to meet more animals, at least not predatory ones and not in the current predicament they were in.
"Then tell us how to change ourselves back!" Zim said, wasting no time in getting to the point. Rafiki put an arm around each of them, pulling them closer and looking hard in their eyes. "The curse on you is a tough one. It can only be broken once you have learned how to set aside your differences and work together." Rafiki said, speaking softly and earnestly. Then with a speed belying his appearance the old baboon leaped back up into the tree and disappeared with a hair raising laugh.
Zim and Dib stared up after him, stunned into silence. Neither of them had any idea how exactly they were supposed to set aside their differences, or even what that meant. All they knew was that they were alone again, still without a clue of how they were supposed to get out of this mess.
"He was absolutely no help at all! Stupid, pathetic Earth creature!" Zim grumbled. Dib cocked is head to once side. "It just doesn't make any sense. And how'd he even know we're not lion cubs is what I don't understand." Dib said. Zim shrugged his skinny shoulders. They both sat there then, still unsure of what to do. "Hey, Zim." Dib broke the awkward silence. Zim glared at him. "What?" He growled. "Can't you just call that robot of yours and have him come and get us?"
Zim's tail twitched ill temperedly. Did the human even know how stupid he sounded? "Do you see my PAK?" Zim asked hotly. Dib rolled his eyes. "Well, no. But you're obviously not dying." He replied with exasperation. Honestly he was a little confused, but he wasn't about to let Zim know that. "It's sill there." Zim said, twisting his head around to try and look at his back. "It must have been fused down into me when I transformed." He concluded. Dib only blinked at him. "Then if it's still there use it to get us out of here." Dib said in response. Zim shot him a dirty look; he didn't need Dib to tell him what to do.
Without another word Zim closed his eyes and tried to access his PAK, he could feel that it was sill there, but he wasn't entirely sure if he could use it. He grit his teeth, focusing hard. It was not supposed to be this difficult.
Dib watched with revulsion as Zim's back bulged. He let out a shriek of pain as his skin tore, a stream of blood turning his fur hot and sticky. "I can't!" Zim gasped, giving up when the haze of pain nearly made him pass out. He shuddered. Being unable to use his PAK scared him badly, but he supposed he should feel grateful that it was still giving him the vital life support. It only made him angrier at Dib for doing this to him.
"Alright." Dib said swallowing. "So we can't use your PAK. Okay. We'll just, uh…" Dib looked around for anything that might possibly be able to help them.
The sound of a snapping twig made them both jump and they found themselves pressed against each other in sudden fear. "Maybe we should get somewhere safer." Zim suggested, hoping it wasn't already too late for that. The grasses behind them rustled and Zim gasped as he barely caught sight of something moving, circling them, closing them in. Some sort of predator, waiting to pounce so it could feast on his squeedily spooch.
Zim and Dib held their breath, every muscle tensed like a coiled spring, ready to fight or make a run for it, which ever came first. Whatever was hunting them moved closer, but all they could make out was a dark shape before whatever it was crashed out of the grasses, making them both scream. "Hey, Nala, Come check it out!" A brownish-gold lion cub with sparkling, happy eyes said excitedly. "There are two cubs I've never seen before."
A second lion, this one lighter in color and clearly female stepped out of the grass and stood next to the first. "Hi!" She said. Zim and Dib shot each other alarmed looks. "I'm Simba, and this is Nala." The first cub spoke when neither Dib nor Zim replied. "Where are you from?" Nala prompted when still they didn't speak. "Er… not from here." Dib said awkwardly, not knowing how to explain to these two lions that they were actually a human and an alien from halfway across the planet. "Welcome to the Pridelands then!" Simba said with a grin. Zim looked confused. "The what?" He asked. "The Pridelands." Simba repeated, sweeping his tail to gesture about them. "It's our kingdom. My dad is the king and we live at Pride Rock. I'm the future king!" Simba said, puffing out his chest proudly.
So, that was what they were calling this place then. The "Pridelands." Zim probably would have called it "stinky-hot-grassy-place."
"I'm Dib." Dib introduced his self, interrupting Zim's train of thought. "And this is-"
"I AM ZIM! The greatest Invader to ever live!!!" Zim crowed triumphantly. Simba and Nala gave him confused looks. "Eh. I mean I'm hu- I mean… I'm normal!" Zim said with what he hoped was an innocent grin. "He's an alien." Dib said. Simba and Nala still looked confused. They didn't know what an alien was, but Zim and Dib seemed nice enough. "Nice to meet you!" Nala said. Simba circled them, sniffing at their fur. "Do you have a Pride?" He asked. "Well, uh… we…" Dib mumbled, made a little nervous as Simba scrutinized him. "You don't have a Pride!?" Nala said, looking both alarmed and sad. "Then you need to come back with us." Simba said assertively, nudging both Zim and Dib to fallow Nala. "Okay, sure." Dib said, figuring something would be better than nothing and they would certainly be safer wherever they were going than out in the open. Wouldn't they?