The Fall of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Terrorist in the South

[The long-overdue sequel to Rikki Tikki Tavi, by Rudyard Kipling. Written by me, Anna Stromberg. Edited/proofread by Leeli Jackson.]

Forward: This story was originally written for an assignment to make an ending for the story, “Rikki Tikki Tavi”. Upon finishing the story, Maggie and I (Anna Stromberg) have decided to make a sequel. None of the characters (Except for Cleo) belong to us, and all credit goes to the original author of Rikki Tikki Tavi—Rudyard Kipling. This story will make much more sense if you have read the story. Enjoy!

Prologue

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, dubbed ‘vicious killer in the south’ by many modest snakes, had yet to realize what horrible things he had done… How much pain he had caused. With every single kill, young or old, he always thought to himself,

They are only snakes! The vermin down below that threaten many just lives like my own. I am doing a favor to the world as I rid them from my territory…’ dismissing every second thought, every glimpse of righteous instinct. Although mongeese aren’t  inherently friendly towards snakes, they only kill for food. They don’t usually wipe out entire nests of snakes, or become so attached to humans. Alas, Rikki’s friends always cheered him on, poisoning his perspective. Skittish themselves, having grown up in the hospitality of a human-tended garden. Always jumping at every misplaced leaf (let alone snakes that have hungry families waiting). Nagaina had valiantly fought with Rikki in her dying den. The horrid mongoose had already killed her mate and around 25 unborn children in less than a hour. None are sure if she is alive, and she was deemed dead. Rikki had emerged from the hole, barely a scratch on him, claiming her death. His foolish friends idolized him, boasting all around that nothing could stop him. It was all they could do to believe, and scurry off. All means of safety were gone. Nagaina, dead or alive, would search for revenge among the outbacks, hoping to redeem what was taken from her at all costs.

I

Nagaina coughed, blinking in the dust and carnage. A terrible sadness filled her once more. She had lay there, seemingly forever, hoping, praying, that all was gone. Perhaps hoping that she was dead, no, she had to be alive. She would get revenge. Rage boiled in her heart. She rose up, scanning the ruin of her burrow. It was unusable, not to mention depressing to be in. She slithered out into the night, cautious of every twitching leaf. The shrieking calls of a shrike filled the air, making Nagaina shiver. Slinking out of the garden, she thought back to all of the rumors of Secretary Birds, spotted moving in from the north.

“Now, the name doesn’t sound like much, but once you see one of ‘em in person, it is sure to terrify the most noblest of desert-dwellers,” the snakes would say, claiming of birds nearly as big as humans. Lesser known to the population, they were disregarded as a mere fantasy. But well-respected snakes would describe their vicious beak, and precise hunting skills even a mongoose would envy. Elegant, grey and black, with tall legs immune to a snake’s fangs. They would tell stories of them, wide-eyed and truthfully as ever.

“Perhaps they could kill a mongoose, as well…”, Nagaina muttered quietly to herself, “and of course, Rikki, spoiled by his humans, would have never encountered one of these marvelous birds…” she looked up at the sky, dull light gleaming off of her black scales. Everyone thought she was dead. Rikki had probably killed countless other snakes by now… Judging by the distinctive tracks—rattlesnakes, sidewinders, mambas, cobras, kingsnakes—others had fled the garden sanctuary. All in the same direction, she noted. She would go there later, knowing of the group forming down below. Plans were set in place long before she hatched, back when rats ruled the land. Nagaina resisted the urge to tell everyone she was alive and well… Oh, how heartbroken they will be… But I must stay hidden, if my plan is to work…She thought sadly, sighing to herself. Nagaina knew it was necessary, though. She had a job to do: finding one of those birds.

II

As Nagaina slithered along in the baking heat of noon, she formed a plan. She was a snake, obviously. One of the main food sources of the Secretary birds. That was a negative, considering that once found, she had to convince one of these birds to help her. She thought back to what was a little more than a mere day ago. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, an astoundingly vicious mongoose, had helped to kill her fine husband, Nag. He had gone out to find food for their children, soon to hatch.Then, Rikki had dug into her nest and crushed every egg but one, while the wife of Darzee, a wicked bird, had tricked her into leaving her young unguarded.He used this single egg to bait her, and have her watch as he  smashed it right in front of her… Arrogant Rikki had then lured her back into her ruined burrow, stained with blood and bits of shell. There they fought. Nagaina knew that no one could win in conditions such as this, so she had played dead. It wasn’t hard, her sadness had weighed her down anyways. Dull, blunt anger flashed through her, but she ignored it. She knew exactly where she was headed. Rumors of the birds moving in had given her new energy. But it was wearing off, and she was getting tired and weak. Nagaina was near ready to give up, but then a great shadow passed over her. A huge grayish bird descended awkwardly. It spread its neck feathers, but not too aggressively.

“Vat’s a snake like you doing out ‘ere at this ‘our? Couldn’t ya sense the marker?” the bird clicked, blinking at her with gray-brown eyes, its heavy accent startling. It’s mask was still quite yellow-ish; it couldn’t possibly be more than a couple years old. It stooped down to get a better look. Nagaina, taken aback, almost missed the opportunity,

“What, you’re not going to tear me apart?” she flicked her tongue, lowering her half-spread hood. The bird looked incredibly bored, if not amused.

“Oh, no. I couldn’t possibly. I don’t like the taste of you cobras. Too long, as vell. Besides, you look veather vorn enough, eh? No, not good at all. What brings you ‘ere, stranger?” It scratched at the ground absentmindedly, curling it’s talons. Well, I certainly got lucky… thought Nagaina. She explained the long story to the young bird, who nodded,

“Oh, ya, I ‘eard about that. Those ‘umans are crazy, blastin’ the snakes, collectin’ ‘em by the bulk. Seen pretty sensitive about the wildlife, those new ones… Food’s low, very low for some of us. Not bad ‘ere, for me.. ‘Bout time someone’s come over ‘ere.. So, you need ‘elp, ya? I can do that. ‘Tis be my pleasure.” Nagaina gratefully thanked the bird, whose name was Cleo, as she had found out. They began the short trek back home. It was easier with a friend to talk with.

III

Rikki stretched languidly, yawning luxuriously. His humans had set out food for him, his favorite kind, too. Ah, they were so kind. Why on earth would anything, even snakes, want to harm them? Oh, how lucky they were for Rikki to be here, killing those twisted brutes. Yes, he would do whatever they wanted, as he loved them so; a family united. He walked outside, the midday sun glaring back at him warmly. He blinked slowly, letting his eyes slowly adjust to the bright light of day. He thought back to all of the snakes he had slain, all the lives he had saved. Casually, he scratched an itch on his neck, his ears twitching. I am a true hero! Oh, how lucky the world is to have me!., he thought proudly. I have killed the wretched Nag, aided only by my master’s gun! I have killed a murderous generation to come, saving us all! Nagaina was soon to follow! She was foolish, her death quick! His gaze flicked to the high thorns, where his beloved friend Darzee was singing another one of his tunes. Noticing Rikki, he flitted down beside him, beaming,

“Rikki, Rikki, our famed hero! You had saved us, dear friend, us all, and we shall never forget, no- no-no! The terrors, the savage lot, are dead-dead-dead! Not a single one shall ever return, not ever! Not with you around, brave Rikki-Tikki-Tavi with eyes of red!” he sang, bobbing up and down. Rikki purred, still smug with his amazing feat. Yes, Darzee was right, never will a single snake ever terrorize his home again, not with him around! He froze, feeling a weird sensation as if someone was watching him, but he passed it off as Chuchundra, the woeful muskrat. He would talk to him later, tell him that the horrid serpents are gone, and all is fine again.

“Ah, yes. Hello, Darzee! It’s another beautiful day, isn’t it? Not to be ruined by any wretched beast! Tk, Tk, Tk,” he chuckled to himself, his bushy tail swishing behind him. Darzee bobbed his head in agreement, piping up again,

“Yes, yes, Rikki! Only you, the mongoose with eyeballs of flame, can see off brutes like those! You-you-you, guardian of the garden!” he chortled, hopping from foot to foot. Darzee was a talker, all song and no brain. Rikki loved him dearly, anyways, a good friend at heart. Rikki swelled with pride, who wouldn’t? Shaking out his fur, he thought ahead. Another glorious, carefree day. Ah, all the snakes in the world couldn’t ruin his fun today!

IV

Nagaina blinked, staring round the corner of the bungalow, now brightly lit up in the darkness. They had been watching the enemy since noon, to gather information. Their  joyful lies almost made her sick… Now, soon, they will strike. Special care would be taken with the humans. No one would end today as Nag did that wretched night. She had already talked to a few trusted snakes, ones who would quickly get past the shock of her being alive. Nagaina knew of the underground nearby, a safe haven for the hunted. They would take care of Rikki’s family, hold them off. The two of them, snake and bird, would go into the garden at around midnight, Rikki’s most vulnerable time. Rikki would have no idea what was coming. She glared at him, prancing foolishly with his friends, oblivious to the danger nearby. Jackals bayed hungrily in the distance. The poor things were caught in the rebound of over-hunting. Cleo shook out her feathers, looking empathetically at Nagaina,

“Disgusting little things, aren’t they? I’ve always ‘ated those little rats of birds…Tailorbirds, ya?” she said, eyeing Darzee with calculating eyes. “Seem’s they’ve got a kink in the nest, anyway, idiot creatures. From what I’ve ‘eard, that pitiful chick woulda’ died anyway… Runt of the litter, mother prob’ly just wanted an excuse…,” she clucked disapprovingly, turning back to face her, “‘Tis a shame Nag, was it, got killed for it, eh?”, she shook her head slowly in sympathy, looking up at the sky, night had already fallen. “And what’s with this red-eye business?” Cleo spoke again, perhaps to brighten up the mood a bit, “Everyone knows that’s a common rumor… But when you’re talking about tailorbirds…” she trailed off, pricking her feathers. Nagaina turned sharply at the movement in the corner of her eye. Rikki was headed back to go inside. Now was her chance.  Let the games begin… She thought, silently slithering closer. She went face-to-face with Rikki, letting her hood expand, her long fangs bared. Rikki recoiled, letting out a startled tkk-tkk-tkk!

“Foolish rat!” she spat, her eyes glittering coldly, “Your blood shall be spilled in payment of the lost ones. We have taken what you hold most dear. Dead, dead, before you could do anything to help!” Nagaina  snarled, and she started to sway back and forth, anger rising up, her voice dripping with malice, pure and true hate, “Now you will die in vain, Rikki. Ha ha, fight, fight! Get up and fight! Look around you, mongoose,  you have no escape!” she shrieked, and flung herself at him, jaws open wide. He jumped back, just barely, her fangs grazing his flank. Rikki scrambled to his feet and quickly swung a blow at Nagaina. She shook it off, swelling with rage. She lunged again, hooking his ear. Rikki squirmed, his claws catching on her hood, drawing blood. Nagaina didn’t care, though, not anymore. Faster than any snake should be, she coiled herself again, and while Rikki was still in shock, she struck one last time, her fangs sinking deep into his neck. He screamed aloud, twisting and bucking madly in a desperate attempt to get the huge snake off him. Nagaina held on, black eyes glinting gleefully. The mongoose dropped to the ground, thrashing. Suddenly, the door burst open and the man came out, his gun gleaming in the moonlight. Nagaina shrunk back fearfully. In a flash, Cleo flung herself out of her hiding place, rasping harshly, and leaped at the man, knocking him down. With precise, unique skill, she gave him a good hard whack on his head and knocked him out. His head bled profusely from a gash, blood pooling across wooden porch. Inspecting her work, she clicked approvingly. She looked back at Nagaina,

Crrkkk! ‘E sure looks ugly now, eh?” Cleo said, turning to look at Rikki. Nagaina glanced back at the mongoose, who was convulsing on the ground, his mouth foaming, tinged with blood. The bite marks had turned an ugly color. He slowly froze up, the venom paralyzing him. Only his eyes, clouded with pain and co, were moving.

“You have tainted your kind’s reputation. Soon, they too, will be hunted, for whatever reason. Perhaps skins, like we were once. Look at all the damage they’ve done, anyways… All are destined to die…” Nagaina hissed half to herself, narrowing her eyes. “Have you ever heard of payback, mongoose?” Nagaina spit in his face and turned to face him fully, laughing bitterly, “Well, this is what it feels like. Wonderful concept, isn’t it? I find it hilarious, ‘The great Rikki-Tikki, guardian of the garden’ reduced to such a mess as this?” her lip curled spitefully. Nagaina continued angrily, reveling in his pain, “Look what you’ve done. Killing has consequences, doesn’t it? Maybe you should have thought before you committed genocide on the garden families…” she flicked the end of her tail casually, watching his breathing stutter. While it is true that Mongeese are incredibly resilient to venom, when faced with large amounts, it can be proven to be a deadly dose. Although the mother and child human had died rather quickly, Rikki would suffer for a while. For  once, the odds weren’t in his favor, and they never will be again. Other snakes gathered around to watch. They held their children, not sure if he would come back and kill them.

Epilogue

Rikki later died, but the entire time he felt only blinding pain. He watched as every single one of his friends and family died, and there was nothing he could do. He soon forgot what it was like to not be in constant pain. His breathing had finally failed, and he suffocated. After death, no one, not even a scavenger, would touch his body, knowing of the poison running through his failed veins.

The community was mystified, every person still wondering to this day what had happened to that poor family. Police suspected a freak accident with a rabid mongoose, and laws were passed that all mongeese were illegal as pets, and they were tagged as an invasive species after the fauna was inspected. Snake population flourished, and all was well again.

A particularly starved jackal had wiggled it’s way into the garden and eaten Chuchundra in his wretched sleep, his pained cries relished by Nagaina. Although he had done nothing, really, he was acquainted with that dreadful mongoose, and encouraged the death of her kind. The coppersmith, in his annoying splendor, was delightfully eaten by the snake rebels, who, along with the rest of the resistance, had stayed hidden through Rikki’s frightful rule of the garden. He would live no longer for any more lies to escape his fat beak. Scientists, intrigued by the stories, had taken Darzee and his wife to their lab. They had been studied on what had influenced such horrible singing, and how… uniquely weaved their nest was. Later investigations showed an odd mutation, a unique strain of tailorbirds, and it was noted how lucky they were to be alive. Such stupidity wouldn’t be tolerated in normal nature. They were separated to stop them from ‘continuing’ and ruining more innocent lives. It was a faulty gene. They lived in captivity for the rest of their lives, which turned out to be very short indeed, barely enough to reproduce anyways.

Cleo eventually went back to her den, but made sure to spread the news of returning food and peace. She and Nagaina made sure to ‘carefully’ inspect the house, just in case there was anything useful… Food, maybe bedding… They basically looted the whole place, although they were kind creatures, and they allowed the more unfortunate animals to do their own thing there, too. A truce had been called between secretary birds and cobras. Sensible mongeese went into hiding from human retaliation, their reputation tarnished. Shortly after, poor Nagaina, after completing her mission, slunk off and died of lack of purpose. She and Nag were happily reunited in a nice place somewhere in the dead realm.

-The End

Note: The original story (and most of the characters) belong to Rudyard Kipling, and we do not take credit for his work by any means.

This sequel of the story was written by the authors Anna Stromberg (main) & Margaret Claire McGuirk (Co.). This story was edited and proofread by Leeli Jackson.

 

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