There are forces in this world. This much is commonly known; forces such as acceleration, and gravity. Many names for the same thing, but there are far more forces in this world, and some are universally different. The largest in the world is a type of energy unlike any other. It's not electromagnetism, and it doesn't have any type of frequency. It's simply there, and it affects everything differently.
It's based on emotion, the thoughts of sapients around, and the common energy around it. It doesn't interact with anything except itself, and those it has personally touched in some way. Yet those that have found themselves touched by this energy have found themselves changed, chaotically.
-Excerpt from the Chaos Theory
Judy Hopps sighed. She stared at the computer screen in front of her again, and demanded that her paws hit the keys. She wasn't feeling it, the words weren't coming out right, but Nick was about to be here soon and she wanted at least something down before he came in. 'The suspect seemed simply out of sorts, like he was drunk, but when using the breathalyzer on the scene-' she wrote painfully.
"Carrots? You in there?" Nick Wilde's voice cut through straight to Judy's mind. She growled in exasperation for a moment, before slamming the laptop down. She'd deal with the rest of the report later.
"Yeah! Almost ready, just give me a second!" She called back out, surprised that Nick was here so early. It was one of their few days off from the Zootopia Police Department, and she wasn't technically supposed to be writing reports at the moment, but they had just finished the case yesterday and it needed to be in next week. Judy never liked taking days off, preferring to work or at least try to get something done during them. Her partner on the force, a red fox by the name of Nick Wilde who was adamant that his name was not by his choice, agreed most of the time. If he didn't feel like being lazy, that is.
Unfortunately, they had caught up on all of their cases and didn't have any open at the moment that weren't waiting on warrants, so for once they saw no reason why they shouldn't try to enjoy the day. But the reports weren't going to just wait around, and someone had to do them.
"That's what you said on the phone a few minutes ago Carrots..." Nick's voice drawled out from the other side of her apartment door. Once again, Judy had to question herself in letting the fox know where she lived. Especially because he had gone around and introduced himself to everyone in the entire building the first day after finding out.
It said a lot about her, Judy thought, when a mammal who doesn't even live in the apartments knows all of her neighbors better than she does.
"Sorry, sorry..." she said, finally stepping out of the door. She preferred wearing her uniform instead of her casual clothes, but as technically she wasn't working at the moment she wasn't allowed to. On the other hand, she did keep her badge on her. Never know when something was going to come up, and it was always better to be safe than sorry.
"I'm not in a rush Fluff, but usually you're quicker than that. What happened." Nick said from besides the door. He had his usual sly grin, along with some cheesy Hawaiian shirt that looked like it came from some touristy place. Judy was never one for fashion, but she honestly could not see how the fox thought bright yellow didn't clash horribly with his red fur. Or maybe he did, and was just waiting to see if she broke first.
"Nothing, nothing. Nothing happened, Nick," she said, locking the door and ensuring it was locked. It happened once, a while ago, that she forgot to lock her door. After her place was ransacked (by Nick, she found out later, just to prove to her why she should always lock her door) she never did that again.
"Sure, sure. I get it, you want to keep it secret. I get that, I do."
'Oh crackers', Judy thought, 'now he's going to psychoanalyze me again. Figure out what's wrong even if I don't tell him. Sometimes it would've been easier if he wasn't a fox.'
"The whole Robotnik breaking out thing again, right?" Nick asked at the same time as she said, "I've been worrying about Robotnik." Nick just nodded his head sagely, ignoring the loud cries of 'they were thinking the same thing again!' by her two noisy neighbors, the antler-ordisons...or something like that. Judy had never been too sure what their last name was. One day it was something like podunklesons and the next it was a combination of their original names.
"Look, don't worry about it. As much as it pains me to admit, the government does have some good things to them. Like tracking down egotistical megalomaniacs," Nick explained, leading Judy down the stairs. They were never sure where they were going to go on their days off, but usually it ended up with Judy over at Nick's apartment watching movies for several hours.
Unless it was laundry day. Then Judy avoided Nick's place like the plague.
"That's high praise, coming from you."
"See? Even they have some good points every once in a while. They hired you, did they not?" Oh Nick. Always trying to be smooth and reassure her.
"Technically that was Bellweather and Lionheart, not Bogo."
"My point still stands. Not every rotten apple is rotten to the core."
Judy looked at him for a second, smirking. "So what you're saying is, Bellweather did some decent things." Even now, a year and a half after the Bellweather incident, or as Nick and Judy referred to it, the 'Night Howler case', talk such as that would've been met on the streets with glares of accusation.
Then they saw who they were glaring at, and realized that no, it was just these two poking at each other. Like they do all the time.
Nick's ears folded back, "One, Carrots. She did one good thing. And that was in hiring you."
"That's not what I just heard."
"I think your hearing must be going out then. Do those big fwuffy ears needing a hearing aid?"
"As much as your eyes do," Judy countered. Nick stared at her for a moment, as if sizing her up.
"And just what, pray tell, does that mean?"
"Have you looked in a mirror? Because I'm blind right now from staring at you."
Nick scoffed, his paws pulling at the shirt, as if demonstrate the fabric. "This? This is the highest of all fashions, Carrots."
"Guess you're just upside down then," Judy said. Nick scoffed again, before breaking into a silent chuckle. After a moment, Judy did too.
"You know, Nick, when I said earlier that you were upside down, I didn't mean it quite so literal," Judy said, looking up at the hanging fox.
They had, almost in silent agreement, decided to walk around the Savannah Central park. One of the apple trees that had been planted around still had one of the fruits hanging by a small branch, and Nick had decided that he was going to show Judy just how foxes got their food. Naturally, this led to him having almost fallen down, and ending up having to grab the branch to make sure he didn't fall.
"Ha ha Carrots, now if you're done making fun of me, could you try and catch me? I don't want to ruin the shirt."
Judy rolled her eyes, "I'm pretty sure I would get a medal for that," she said, but she went underneath the fox anyways. She wasn't about to let him get hurt for real.
He looked down for a moment, his green eyes making sure that the grey bunny was actually there, before letting go and landing on his feet a meter away from where Judy was. In his hands was the apple. "Ta-daa," he deadpanned, before starting to crunch his way through it. He smiled a bit when he heard Judy's quiet giggle.
They walked in silence for a while. The air was starting to get a big chillier, even in Savannah Central, due to the oncoming winter. They still had a few weeks before it hit hard, but it signified the end of autumn. The trees had already lost most of their leaves, with only the evergreens retaining theirs. The path was a dirty brown, covered in the dead leaves that have been trampled by so many already.
"Talked with Miles recently?" Judy asked suddenly. The ground continued to crunch beneath them, and as seemingly random as the question was, Nick didn't seem all that surprised.
"Not for a while. Last time was...I think two months ago?" Nick answered. Judy nodded silently, shoving that information back in her head in case they ever needed it. Probably not, but it was handy to know.
Miles 'Tails' Prower was probably the most unique celebrity that the two had ever met. He had at first just wanted to live an ordinary life, despite being as he would call them, a 'Chaos-Touched'. Someone who had touched a Chaos Emerald, a gem of incredible amounts of energy, with their bare paws. Six months ago, he had abandoned living silently when security robots, who had been placed there because City Hall wanted to be seen as 'progressing', started to attack seemingly random citizens. Nick and Judy were right on his two tails for most of that time, but each time they had no proof for arresting him, and he was a minor anyways.
In the end, it turned out that Dr. Ivo 'Eggman' Robotnik had been behind everything, and was working underneath Snowpeak, the largest mountain near Tundratown. If Miles wasn't in Zootopia at the time, it was quite likely that the city would've been the next West or South Island, the first places that Robotnik had ever attacked, and suddenly found itself with only robots remaining.
Unfortunately, the madman had one last trick of his sleeve, and he forced both Nick and Judy to grabbing onto a Chaos Emerald bare-pawed, triggering a fluctuation of Chaos energy, called a 'Chaos Effect', that sent all seven Emeralds back to various dimensions. Miles left the city, along with Sonic, to try and hunt them down before Robotnik escaped. Which he did, four months later. The security team in charge of the cell had no idea how he did it. Suddenly he was there, then the wall collapsed, all defenses were shut down, the lights were turned off, and he walked out. He hadn't been seen since.
Miles had assured them that four months was a record. All of the other times Eggman had gotten arrested, he was in prison for barely a week or two. A month at maximum.
Unlike many of the other Chaos-Touched, however, they hadn't been altered. All of the usual signs of a Chaos-Touched; large size, five fingers on each paw, simply weren't there in Nick and Judy. Miles had told them that not every Effect is the same, and they simply hadn't been changed the way many of the others had.
"So, Carrots..." Nick started. Judy shivered as a cold wind passed by them, and she bundled herself more into her fur. Nick grabbed her and hugged her closer, if only because his larger body shielded her more from the sudden cold wind then bunny's jacket. "What movie you want to watch?"
"Hmm..." Judy thought aloud, "Two weeks ago we watched the Bunnyburrowan Horror, and I couldn't sleep for a week because of that. No more horror movies. How about Groundhog Day?"
Nick made an expression of disgust, "That old movie? With the comedian who wasn't funny?"
"I thought he was plenty funny."
"And you claim I have no sense of taste."
Judy burrowed deeper into the nest of blankets, the sun shining directly on her eyes. She took only a moment to recognize where she was; on the couch, in Nick's apartment, covered with more blankets than what all of the baby bunnies back at the Hopps House could dream of. Why Nick had all these blankets, she didn't know, but it was definitely comfortable! She almost didn't want to get up to go...to work...
Judy panicked, kicking off half of the warmth before checking the clock. 5:45. She still had a few minutes, and Nick only lived ten minutes away from the precinct. "Nick, get up, time to go!" she yelled into the bedroom door.
She hopped over to Nick's spare closet, finding one of her own spare uniforms laid there, looking as if it had recently been ironed. Thanking the fox internally, it only took her less than five minutes to get it on. "What's the rush Carrots?" Nick asked, walking into the room lightly, his own police uniform already on. Judy only pointed over at the clock, before Nick nodded. "What's the rush then?" he asked again anyways.
Judy sighed, and tried to wait patiently as Nick slowly went through his many keys to lock his apartment door. He always tried to do this, especially when she was in a hurry. She knew that he only did it because it annoyed her, much like many of his other mannerisms that he only did because it annoyed her, and also to show her how exactly one should go about always locking their apartment door.
The walk from Nick's apartment to Precinct One was much shorter than she would've expected, especially since apparently Nick hadn't moved since before his hustler days. Meaning that he lived just a few blocks away from the police department as what many would consider to be a criminal. Incidentally, Nick was always proud of his completely clean record. Not even a parking ticket, or even some basic complaint about his college days. Not a thing. Even Judy had one or two complaints on her record!
The tall blue and white building that represented 'safety in Zootopia' was as large and intimidating as it was a welcome sight for the bunny cop. The doors opened easily, and there at the front desk was one of her favorite mammals.
A giant cheetah. Literal. Next to him was an almost freakishly large rabbit, as tall as Judy was despite being nearly ten years younger. A package of donuts lay open, facing towards the door as the cheetah, Benjamin Clawhauser, waved them in.
"Judy! Nick! How are you two doing? Enjoy the day off while you could?" Clawhauser asked. "Feel free to snag a donut. Oh, but be careful of the glazed ones, someone-" he said, glaring over at the rabbit next to him, "forgot to check if they were jelly or not."
"They told me they weren't jellified! Oh wait, hold on got one coming through," the rabbit, a Chaos-Touched named Cream, said before going back and getting some actual dispatch work done. Hovering behind her was a small blue...thing...named Cheese. Cream was honestly sure that her mother, Vanilla, had named them both that for specifically the purpose of the pun.
"Don't you know Cream? If you ask for non-jelly donuts they always sneak in one or two. No one likes 'em," Nick smirked. He checked the time slyly; they still had a good ten minutes or so before Bogo would demand their time in the bullpen.
Clawhauser gasped, "Nick! Humphrey would never do that!"
"Humphrey the Hippo? Have you ever seen a hippo up close Benji? You can't trust 'em," Nick said.
"So like foxes, then?" Cream asked simply, looking up from the radio and papers scattered around. Nick pretended to be hurt by the 'innocent' rabbit's remarks.
Judy just sighed in amusement at her partners antics. "Hey Cream...have you heard from Miles lately?" Judy asked. Cream had started working there one day a week, just for some work experience, after Robotnik's arrest. As she was a minor, she had to jump through a large amount of hoops to do it, but with four of the other dispatcher's on her side, it was only a matter of time. Apparently she had taken to the role like a fish does water.
"Tails? No, I haven't heard anything from him. But that's usual though, silence from them is a good thing. It's only when things go horribly wrong that they start to communicate more."
"Hmph. Everyone knows that communication is the key to a brighter future," Clawhauser said, his eyes gleaming with emotion as he stared into the windows outside.
Nick looked thoughtful for a moment, "Wait, you read Spider-mammal too!?" Clawhauser let out a loud squeal of delight and suddenly grabbed Nick, pulling him into a discussion about the famous comic book character.
"Well, if you hear from him, just let us know. Something's up I think," Judy said, grabbing Nick by the arm and trying to drag him to the meeting room. Clawhauser hung on for a bit before he realized that Judy was not only dragging Nick, but himself as well.
"Sure, will do," Cream nodded as she went back to the radio.
The meeting room, or known to many officers as the bullpen, was a stark contrast to many of the other rooms in the department. It was plain, with only a clock, a few tables and chairs, and a podium. The Chief of Police, Adrian Bogo, although no one was actually sure that was his first name as it seems to change around every couple of months, ran the bullpen personally, and doled out assignments based on where he thought they would run best.
It was unusually quiet when Nick and Judy sat down at their usual seats in the front, something which alerted both of them that something was going to change that day. Exactly on time the door opened, and out walked the cape buffalo looking as serious as he always did.
"Settle down, settle down. Bit of a change up today. Snarlov, Grizzoli, route 12. Everyone else, same as yesterday's. Hopps, Wilde, my office," he said, walking up to the podium and then just as quickly walking back out, leaving almost no room for any explanations.
Nick and Judy looked at each other. Route 12 was their route, or had been. "Huh. This is the earliest the Chief's summoned us to his office. Wonder what we did this time," Nick said, shrugging off any unanswered questions.
Grizzoli was a massive grizzly bear, and one of the biggest members on the force. He made for an intimidating sight as he stood in front of them. "Hopps, Wilde, route twelve was yours previously, right? Any particular notable areas?" he asked, his deep voice rumbling.
Judy shook her head out of her own reverie, partially in shock at her partner's non-chalantness, and partially because she hadn't spoken to Grizzoli in months, and had forgotten exactly how deep his voice was. "Uh, no not really. The Snarlbucks there has a lot of traffic, and they've been held up a couple of times before, same with the Stripes."
The bear nodded and walked away. "Nick, shouldn't you be taking this a bit more seriously? How often has the Chief called us while still in the bullpen? Usually he waits two minutes," Judy said, following the vulpine down the corridors to the Chief's office.
"A lot, actually. Almost after every big case. Mostly because he had to redact most of it. I wish he'd let us read the redacted files. Then we can at least know what to avoid in the future."
"He does let us read the files."
"He does? Huh," Nick shrugged, stretching to get his hand around the doorknob, and opening it so that way Judy could get in easily.
"Chief? Officers Hopps and Wilde reporting," Judy said, hopping onto one of the much larger than she was seats, slowly squishing into the soft cushion. Nick did the exact same thing after kicking the door closed.
Bogo looked away from the computer screen, and took off his glasses. Judy braced herself for a message that she knew she wasn't going to like. "Hopps, Wilde, this is going to be a shock. This is in no way relevant to your successes and mishaps as police officers for Precinct 1, however solely because both of you are needed on different assignments. As of now you are no longer partners."
'You are no longer partners'. Somehow, in all of Judy's misgivings, she hadn't even considered that. And it was worse, much worse, than anything she could have expected. 'I wonder how long it'll take for us to work on the same cases again. I'm guessing two days, at maximum,' Judy thought to herself.
To: Miles Prower (email@example.com)
From: Judy Hopps (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Any sign?
I hope that the last few months have been treating you well. Things have been quiet here in Zootopia. There's been no sign up here about anything strange, although that's not to say we won't keep our eyes and ears open. I did want to ask you a few questions however. Have you found any sign of where Robotnik is? None of the newscasts have said anything, even about him escaping.
Also have you talked with Cream recently? She pops into the police department on the days she doesn't have school, to act as a dispatcher and 911 associate. The other dispatchers have told me that she's 'a real saint' and 'wait, she's only part-time? Why is she not full-time!?'. I think they've forgotten she's a minor.
Thanks again for all your help. Can we count on you again if anything happens?
Judy Hopps, ZPD
To: Judy Hopps (email@example.com), Nick Wilde (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From: Miles Prower (email@example.com)
BCC: Adrian Bogo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Re: Any sign?
No sign yet. The government thinks he's busy searching out the Emeralds, same as us. We've gotten five so far, but I think that's mostly because Sonic, Knuckles, and myself have gotten so good at finding the entrances to where they're held.
Also I do occasionally call Cream, despite whatever she tells you about me not doing so. I'm surprised actually that Vanilla's letting her even have a part-time job, let alone one that works for the police, considering the amount of trouble you guys usually get into.
If I'm ever in the area, I'll do what I can. Same as the rest of us. So count that as an unofficial 'yes'. We'll keep looking for him though.