Warning: This fanfiction will have violence and minor language, but nothing too graphic. This is also a bit of an AU type fanfiction.
Janja wrapped his forelegs around his stomach, wincing at the pain. Three days had passed since his last meal: the bitter, tough roots of a dying tree. Apart from being horrible to the taste, it wasn't at all filling. Of course, Janja wasn't the only one suffering; his entire clan had empty bellies, and with the Lion Guard always on alert, it seemed they'd never be able to eat.
Janja stared at his comrades. How could they sleep through the pain, he wondered. Hell if he knew, but he certainly was jealous. The hyena sighed, his head resting on the cold, stone floor of his cave.
"Stupid Lion Guard," he muttered. "Oh, I'd give anything for some tasty antelope, or oryx, or gazelle, or--" His nose suddenly quivered, picking up a delicious-smelling scent. "Ooh...zebra's nice too..." He stood, following the scent to the entrance of the cave. One part of him, the logical part, thought it would was too good to be true, that there was no way a zebra would be that stupid as to stroll right up to his cave. The other part of him, the hungry part, was far too curious to care.
A cool, midnight breeze ruffled Janja's fur as he poked his head outside. The scent was really strong now, and Janja was beginning to salivate in anticipation. He looked ahead to see something lying just in front of the cave's entrance. His eyes widened; could it be...? Were there really five zebras lying at his doorstep? He had to have been dreaming, or at least, hallucinating to due hunger.
"Alright, alright, I'm goin'!" Janja snapped at his stomach. "Jeez..." He approached the dead zebras, the scent growing stronger with each step he took. Janja noticed how heavy his breathing was; the scent was driving him absolutely crazy. Finally, he was standing in front of a zebra. This was it. It was time to see if he had really lost his mind or not. Janja bit down and...
It was real.
He tore off a piece of tender zebra flesh and downed it quickly, the rich flavors dancing on his tongue. He had no idea how, but somehow he'd been blessed with a real meal, finally. He looked back at his clan.
"Hey, furbrains!" he called. "Wake up!"
The rest of his pack awoke with a start, looking around in confusion.
"Huh?" Cheezi said. "What is it, Boss?"
"Food!" Janja devoured another chunk of meat. "So much food!"
It took a second for it to sink in to the other hyenas' heads, before they scrambled out of the cave, tripping over each other, and joining Janja in wolfing down the feast. How it got there was no concern to them, but they gladly accepted it.
Jasiri's head lifted from the ground, her ears twitching. It seemed that someone was intruding in her territory. The young female got up, walking outside.
There was no response, just the strong scent of zebra. It was odd. Zebras never strayed this far into the Outlands; they'd be torn up by Janja's crew halfway through their territory. But lo and behold, there lay a dead zebra. Judging by the marks on its neck, it'd been killed by a suffocating bite, and the scent of a hyena lingered onto it. Jasiri stared at the kill, puzzled. What sort of hyena just left prey for another hyena? Her mind wandered to Janja. The male had offered her many times to be in his clan before they became enemies; could this be his way of asking her again? Jasiri rolled her eyes in amusement.
"Nice try, Janja," she called out. "But it'll take more than a zebra to get me to join you. Still, since you left this for me..." She began to eat, her tail swishing happily at the taste of real food. That Janja may have been a nasty hyena, but he sure did know a way to a girl's stomach.
"Huh? Er...yes, dear?"
Reirei, the jackal mother, stared wide-eyed at the dead zebras in front of her and her family's den. Her husband joined her, rubbing the sleep from his eyes with a paw.
"Is, uh, everything ok--" Goigoi paused, seeing the fresh kill. "...Oh, my..."
"Get the kids," Reirei ordered. "We're having a feast..." She licked her chops. "Jackal style."
On the outskirts of the Outlands, far from the border to the Pridelands, a hyena was perched on a cliff, overlooking both territories. Far off in the distance sat Pride Rock, the lions' home. A dark figure stared at that iconic structure, a low growl deep in the back of his throat.
The figure turned, seeing a young male hyena climbing up to his perch. The hyena bowed respectfully in front of his leader.
"All residents of the Outlands have received their gifts, sir."
"Good, good. Tell my soldiers to rest for now. Tomorrow, we will make our formal introduction to the Outlanders.”
The hyena left, leaving the figure to continue staring at Pride Rock. His tongue ran over his his canines.
“A real king is coming, Simba. Be ready to surrender...or die.”
"Kion, wake up!"
"Huh...what?" The young prince's eyes fluttered open, seeing his sister, Kiara, standing over him, an urgent look in her eyes. "Kiara…? What's wrong?"
"You need to get out here. Now." Before Kion could say anything, the female cub was already rushing out of the pride's den. Confused and slightly dazed, Kion got to his paws and followed behind his sister. It was still very early outside, he observed. The sky was a brilliant crimson as the sun rose up from the horizon. The golden light of the sun slowly stretched over Pride Rock, as well as the rest of the savannah. It would've been almost peaceful to watch, had it not been for the shrill barks of panicking zebras. Simba and Nala were standing outside the den, facing the equines in question.
"You have to help us, Simba!"
"What are we gonna do!?"
"We'll all be eaten at this rate!"
"Calm down, all of you," Simba commanded, bringing the zebras to a hush. "Now please, one at a time. Tepe, you may go first."
"Well," began Tepe. "I was just waking up to do some early morning grazing, when I noticed how small my herd looked. I counted the mares and foals, and I saw that at least ten or so zebras were gone, a-and…" Tepe swallowed. "There was a very strong scent of hyena."
"It was like that with my herd, too," the second zebra said.
"And mine," agreed the third.
At the den's entrance, Kiara and Kion shared a shocked glance.
"Hevi kabisa…" Kion muttered.
"I see…" A thoughtful look formed on Simba's face. "This is no good...As you know, hyenas have no regard for the Circle of Life. The loss of so many zebra could cause an imbalance to the Pridelands. I shall have the zebra herds under close surveillance for the time being. You have nothing to fear, my friends. As king, I will make sure your herds are kept safe."
"Thank you, Your Majesty," Tepe said. With a humble dip of their heads, the zebras slowly began to descend the rocky structure. Kion walked to his father's side.
"Dad…" he began, causing Simba to glance down at him.
"Kion, I need you and the Guard to keep a close eye on the zebra herds. And be on the look out for hyenas. We can't afford for any of them to cause any more trouble."
"On it, Dad," Kion nodded. With that, Kion followed in the zebras' hoofsteps, searching for his friends in order to pass on his father's order.
"Kuji, wake up."
"Yes, love. It's time to wake up."
A tan, female hyena stirred from her slumber, her head lifting from the dusty, stone floor of a cave. Her eyes fluttered open, spotting her dark-furred mate standing at the cave's entrance. Dangling from his jaws was a lifeless zebra foal. Kujitoa's eyes widened.
"Don't worry about that," interrupted the male. He set down the foal in front of his mate. "Just...enjoy it." So many questions formed in the female's mind, but the scent of the foal was starting to drive her crazy. She'd let it go...for now, anyways...Kujitoa began eating, trying her hardest not to completely devour the entire thing like a savage. Mkombozi waited patiently beside her. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye.
"Aren't you going to eat any?" she asked. "This is the most food we've had in seasons."
"You know I can't eat until you've had your fill. I'll be fine."
"I'm not like my mother, honey; I'm not going to snap at you if you eat with me. Come on, eat."
"Oh, fine…" grunted Mkombozi, also beginning to eat. He felt Kujitoa's tongue run against his ear, which caused a smile to tug at the corner of his lips. For a while, they ate in silence, the only sound being heard being the buzzing of flies around the bloody carcass, and the crunching of bones. Suddenly, Kujitoa spoke.
"So…" she began. "What are your plans for today?"
"Border patrol." Mkombozi licked the blood from his maw. "Gotta make sure no one's followed the scent of zebra into our territory."
"You've been on those patrols a lot lately," Kujitoa commented. Mkombozi said nothing as he got up, preparing to leave. Kujitoa followed him. "Honey, wait…"
Mkombozi paused, feeling his wife's pelt brush against his. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched her gaze at him sadly.
"Look, I...I know you're still hurting from-"
"Don't." Mkombozi bit his bottom lip hard enough to draw blood. "Just don't say it. I'm fine, alright?"
"I...I need to go."
Without another word, Mkombozi walked out of the cave, his eyes squinting at the morning sun. He could feel Kujitoa's eyes burn into his back. It took even inch of him not to turn around and go back. He loved his wife, he truly did, but...there were things he had to do that she didn't need to know about.
Some time had passed. Mkombozi had made it a considerable way from his and his wife's cave, and was now near the edge of their territory. He glanced up at the rocky ledges above. Two dark figures were there, their shining, yellow eyes staring him down. He nodded to them, and they instantly headed down to greet him. It was two female hyenas, both towering over him. They dipped their head to him.
"Lord Mkombozi," they greeted in unison.
"How are the troops?" asked Mkombozi.
"They're up and ready to move," one of them replied. "Whenever you're ready, we're ready to follow you to the different territories."
"Good. I am heading to the jackal territory first. Have my army ready to go there." The larger of the two females, a scarred and muscular female named Malkia snarled, shoving her snout into Mkombozi's face.
"Watch it, male," she snapped. "We may be working for you, but I'll be damned I let you refer to my hyenas as your army." Mkombozi barely flinched, his icy stare locked onto Malkia's.
"Pardon me, but I think there are more important things to worry about than that." Malkia snapped her jaws, advancing towards Mkombozi. The second female, named Heshima, stood between them.
"Back off, Malkia," she ordered. "Lord Mkombozi is right; we can't be fighting each other. If we want this plan to work, we all need to work together."
"Hmph...fine…" Malkia rolled her eyes and turned to walk away. "The sooner we get this done, the sooner I can stop taking orders from a stupid male…" Mkombozi said nothing, only watching in silence as she walked off. Heshima sighed, before running off as well. Mkombozi slowly followed. He was used to such talk. After all, the female hyenas were often larger and more aggressive than the males. Not every female was so cruel towards males, however. His mind wandered back to Kujitoa, back to...Mkombozi gritted his teeth. He had to do this. For Kujitoa. For...them…
Jasiri lounged contently in her clan's den, a single eye open and watching the young cubs, Wema and Tunu, fighting over and gnawing on the bones of the zebra from last night. After getting her fill last night, her clanmates finished the zebra off, not leaving behind a single shred of meat. Still full from the night's feast, the Australian-accented female indulged in a morning of relaxing. Yawning, Jasiri rolled over, about ready to doze off…
Suddenly, her eyes snapped open. A particularly strong scent of hyena filled her nostrils. Could it be…? She scoffed, standing up on her paws. Had Janja really thought his offering of food would make her forget how much of an ass he was? Jasiri stalked towards the entrance of the den. Behind her, Wema and Tunu yelped and whined; they, too, had caught the scent. Looking back, Jasiri gave the cubs a comforting smile.
"Don't worry, you two," she began. "I'm not letting a fool like Janja get anywhere near here." With the cubs reassured, the female walked on. Standing just outside her den was, indeed, a male hyena...but it wasn't Janja. This male was much larger than Janja, a full-grown male, with a pelt only a few shades away from being completely pitch black. His eyes were a striking light blue, unnervingly pale and lifeless. He stared down at Jasiri with an unblinking stare, one that, admittedly, was making her a bit uncomfortable. But this only made her drive to protect her clan all the more powerful.
"Who are you?" she demanded. "And why are you in my territory?"
"Good day," the male replied. "My name is Mkombozi. My apologies for the intrusion, but I feel I may have a proposition that could be of interest to you." Jasiri cocked a brow.
"What sort of proposition?"
"I am going to give the Outlanders the life they deserve, a life where starvation and dehydration are things of myth."
"How so…?" As unbelievable as the idea sounded, Jasiri couldn't help but be curious.
"I am building an army, one that will storm the Pridelands and rid it of its tyrants." Mkombozi's voice grew harsh now, his fangs flashing at the thought of Simba. "Join me, young hyena, and we Outlanders will suffer no more."
Rid it of its tyrants? Jasiri thought. He can't mean… Her eyes widened. Oh no...I can't let that happen. I-I have to warn Kion!
"Hmm?" Mkombozi's voice brought the female back to reality. The male had tilted his head, curiosity shimmering in his eyes. "Do I detect a bit of doubt? You must understand the benefits you are being given, young one. All I ask is for you to join me." It was then Jasiri noticed the glowing pairs of eyes in the shadows behind him. Were...were these his soldiers? Would they attack if Jasiri refused? Jasiri's mind wandered to the cubs. She had to do something, for their sake.
"Can…" Jasiri bit her lip. "Can I at least have a bit of time to think about this? M-My clan is quite peaceful, and-"
"Say no more." Jasiri blinked. Well...that was easy…
"You mean it?" she asked, dumbfounded.
"Of course. I will not force anything on you. I shall give you, say...until nightfall to think about my offer. I do hope you agree...we'll need every fang and claw for this. For now, however…" Mkombozi turned. "I must take my leave. Farewell, and thank you for your time." Jasiri watched in silence as the male slunk off. In the shadows, the silhouettes of Mkombozi's army followed him. Eventually, there was a still silence as Jasiri found herself alone. Despite the heat of the Outlands sun, she couldn't stop herself from shivering from the chilling stare of the male...his monotone voice, devoid of any sort of emotion whatsoever…
There was no denying it. Kion needed to hear about this.