A Different Approach is a story written by Tiifu and GremlinPrescott. It is part one of the Back Lander stories.
"What? I was being honest."
"Sire, should we investigate?"
"Hold on friends, this could get dangerous."
The Nyuma Pride cast their gaze across the echoing plains before them. A dissonance swept across the shaking grass blades, and the pained howls of some poor unfortunate creatures flooded their hearing.
The lions were keeping a close eye on the border between the Back Lands and the Red Lands. Scattered murmurs made it difficult for Cheka to estimate how close the intruders were to their lands, but his mate, Hiba, was certain that they were close enough to be a threat.
"Darling, enough is enough. They're getting closer, I can tell."
Cheka nodded solemnly. "Yes. I agree. I'm certain that they're lions. Lions who don't belong here." He turned to Kosa, watching the scrawny adolescent scratch his matted fur.
"Kosa, take Vunja home."
"Eh?" He squeaked, peering up. "Why me-"
"That's an order, Kosa." Cheka demanded, his eyes narrowing.
Hiba nodded towards their den. "Now, Kosa."
With an irritable sigh, the lion turned away. "Yes, mo- Hiba."
With Kosa's departure, Cheka motioned his head towards the nearest border. Without any further words exchanged, the lionesses heeded his command, bounding ahead of their ruler.
But before they could reach the border separating the lands, an agile creature scampered towards them, his face fraught with fear and his ears dripping a crimson liquid. Upon noticing the pride of lions, he collapsed in an instant. His pursuers continued their chase, only halting when Cheka placed an intimidating paw in front of the unconscious jackal pup. He drew back a ferocious frown, revealing his incisive fangs.
"Get off our lands." He growled.
The two lionesses snapped defensively, with the larger of the pair moving forward. "Back off, Cheka. This is our business." She snarled.
Hiba bounded towards her mate, her eyes wild with anger. "Your business? This thing is on our turf. If this jackal is business for anyone, it's us. This thing is a pup anyway, who attacks a jackal pup?"
"One who got sick and tired of that thing's family invading our turf!" The slightly more compact lioness retorted, pushing forward.
Cheka threw a glance at the immobile body lying between the grass behind him. "I'd say your business with him is finished." He stated, bringing his gaze to the invader's eyes. "Dare I ask about his family?"
"Well." The larger lioness spoke again, "If you're that starved in these lands, you can have the mother... Or what's left of her. I'm pretty sure the rest of its family have been claimed." She snickered. "Hyenas do roam in our lands, you know that."
Cheka growled formidably. "Get out. And never return." Following his warning, he let loose a tremendous roar that echoed through the Back Lands.
Far, far away, a group of five animals near the outskirts of the Back Lands twisted their necks around. A young lion cub perked his ears up at the roar. "Hevi kabisa! Who was that?!"
"Can I eat it?"
"Kosa, I swear..."
"I am kidding. Geeze, come on."
The pride of lions cast their gaze upon the twitching creature, which they had discovered was still very much alive.
A grey mandrill peered down at the body. "Hm. Definitely still alive. I would imagine he passed out due to the shock! Anyone can see he's been through a lot. Where is his family?"
The pride threw disappointed glances around the den. Cheka allowed a light sigh to escape his throat. The mandrill nodded.
"Well. What are you planning to do?"
Hiba turned her head to the side. "Well, Rafiki, we heard that Simba's Pride recently had a jackal family crash their kupatana."
"I would not recommend Reirei and her family. No, no. Not at all!" Rafiki exclaimed, waving his hands in the air. "She is one very sly jackal. No, a very, veeeery big mistake you would be making."
While the mandrill conversed with her parents, Vunja plodded across to the body. She dabbed a paw at the jackal pup's nose. No response. She tried again. And again. Nothing. In a temper, she bit his nose instead, forcing the pup to let out a high pitched screech, causing heads to turn around.
The jackal pup was up, but frozen in place. He was surrounded by a pride - no, an army - of lions. For all he knew, these were the same lions that destroyed his family.
The youngest cub, who he remembered had just bitten him, giggled and wiggled her bottom, aiming to pounce. The jackal pup remained seated, though his shaking softened when she presented him with a playful smile.
"Hi!" She cried, bouncing towards him. "I'm Vunja! What's your name? Huh? Huh? Huh?! Tell me tell me!"
The jackal softened ever so slightly. "T...Tofauti..." He stuttered. His eyes latched onto her ears. "What happened... To your ear?"
"Hm? Oh, I'm brave! I defended my pride from a rogue lion one day!"
"Hush, Vunja!" Her mother snarled softly. "You were foolish that day."
"Hmph." The eager cub scoffed, returning her attention to Toufati. "So did you get your ears torn by those lions?"
While the two youngsters spoke, Rafiki turned to Cheka. "Well, that's your problem solved. Now I must return to Simba and let him know about-"
"Wait, solved? How?!"
Rafiki placed a comforting arm around his shoulder. "You have a new pride member!"
With the mandrill swiftly crossing the cave's threshold, Cheka was left with his mouth agape.
Well. Stranger things had happened before.