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.
Chapter 2. Where the characters learn to break rules. All the rules.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"What!? Chief, you can't just make me and Carrots not partners anymore! We've been partners for over a year now! Look at what we've done! Things you didn't think we could do, or anyone thought we could do!" Nick yelled, jumping up on the seat, if only to look at Bogo's eyes directly. He stared at the glasses, and wondered idly if he should be staring into Bogo's eyes or the glasses. Could the buffalo see without them? If so, how good was his eyesight...
"I told you Wilde, it's not about your successes and mishaps as police officers."
"Then why? Why after so long!?"
"You're being moved, Wilde. And Hopps will join you in several months. Surely even you can wait that long."
And that was hit number two. 'Wow,' Judy thought, 'Bogo doesn't really pull his punches, does he.' Nick sat down and looked on in disbelief. "I'm...I'm what?"
"You are one of the few mammals in the ZPD that's qualified for a new task force. You, Delgato, and Fangmeyer are part of the 'Chaos Incident Investigation Team'. Mayor Reich has seen fit to make the team after several incidents that simply don't have any explanation," Bogo explained easily, as if he had been anticipating this exact behavior. Knowing him, he did.
"But...what about me Chief?" Judy asked. If she was going to be joining him in a few months, then what would she be doing in the meantime? It was unusual for one officer to move up or around without their partner being with them; it wasn't that partners were for their entire career, but rather most of the higher-ups understood that having someone around who knew them well would make any assignment much easier to process.
"You have a special assignment. Officer Trumpent found records of a drug chain in the Rainforest District. Not much is known except they seem to deal in Gemfield," Bogo continued, seemingly not affected by the amethyst eyes. For all Judy knew, he wasn't. Gemfield was a new drug on the scene. From what Judy knew, it had massive addiction problems, similar to some kind of amphetamine, complete with major high. It had low amounts of drawback, asides from small amounts of radiation, about a hundred times more than a simple banana. In small doses, practically nothing. In large doses, however...
There were some calls to legalize it, after it was discovered that the radiation could actually help mammals afflicted by other types of radiation, such as nuclear. Scientists came down hard against it, saying that using a drug that worsens radiation symptoms to help those afflicted with nuclear radiation, using a new type of energy was simply bad practice, and should be considered a Class-3 Controllable substance until such time as they could study it further.
"What you must do, Hopps, is to find the dealers, find their supplier, and grab a sample for the lab techs. They think if they get a bigger sample, they can make a sensor to easily locate other groups of it, and prevent it getting into the city entirely. Also to eventually take down the dealers and supplier, but you'll be working with the Special Forces Division for that."
"So you want me to go...what, sit on my tail for hours per day while Carrots here gets to do a drug bust practically on her own?" Nick said, sitting down again. Chief Bogo sighed, and pushed another manila folder over to the fox, who took it with a confused look on his face. He opened it, and after a few moments, expressions flirting just the edge, a mix of shock, disbelief, and finally disgust showing themselves.
"If you consider solving that to be 'sitting on your tail', Wilde, then yes. I do."
Judy looked over to the folder, only to be greeted by a picture that absolutely could not be real. It was the picture of a mammal, a canid of some variety, that was all Judy could tell, who's entire body was covered by some kind of white suit with no openings. Maybe a body bag of some variety? But if he was killed from before... Then she saw it; it wasn't a white suit, or a bag.
It was bone. He was covered, quite literally, by his own skeleton.
"Now that that's cleared up, Wilde, CIIT is on the third floor. You can keep the cubicle down here, as I know you two well enough to know that no matter what I say you're going to work on each others cases. Hopps, Clawhauser has the file you'll need."
"Bone? Ew, Judy, that's messed up!" Clawhauser said, a white glazed donut hanging from his neck. After they had left Bogo's office, their heads held low. They would still get off at the same time as each other, assuming she wasn't undercover or anything, so it wasn't all bad. At least, that's what Nick had tried to say. She remembered his motto, 'Never let them see that they get to you.' It took them both a good ten minutes to stop and go their separate ways, knowing that they wouldn't be working as partners for the first time in...since Nick joined the force. Since before Nick joined the force.
She walked out to the front desk with her head held high, and her eyes cleared of water. There was no reason to cry, and she still had a job to do. Best get to it. Then she had promptly told both Benjamin and Cream about her assignment, and Nick's. Clawhauser was in disbelief, and thought it was a hoax. Cream however...
"I can see why it got punted to CIIT then. That's...definitely not normal," she said, still splitting her attention between the computers in front of her, which kept track of all of the police cruisers, and Judy.
Judy looked the cream-colored rabbit. "You've heard of them? What are they?"
Clawhauser answered in his usual style, "The Chaos Incident Investigation Team, supposedly their cases are a lot different than the usual ones. There's only four members, seven now once you include the new three. Shaping up to be quite the team. Poor Nightclaw though...they grabbed her as their dispatcher," Clawhauser cried, as if mourning a fallen comrade.
"Huh. How come we haven't heard of them? You'd think that'd be something all over the rumor mills."
"And how often do you listen to the rumor mills? Trust me, Judy, they're all over the mills. And being ground to flour," Cream answered. Judy was about to ask how she heard, and then stopped herself. Rabbit hearing. It's a blessing and a curse. She had grown so used to avoiding any rumors that of course she'd almost instinctively block it.
Of course though, that's what one has to do when the ZPD isn't used to having rabbits. "So Bogo said you'd give me the file out here on what it is exactly that I'm supposed to be doing," Judy said. Clawhauser looked shocked for a moment before diving underneath the table, probably to search for the folder.
Cream and Judy looked at the cheetah for a moment, listening to him mumble under his breath as he searched, before Judy held out her paw to Cream, who nervously chuckled and gave her the folder. "Thanks Benji!" Judy called out, giggling lightly when she heard the thunk of Clawhauser hitting his head along with his 'you're welcome?'
Nick wasn't sure what he was expecting as he walked through the door. It was a simple door, marked "CIIT" in simple paper, only to have the name crossed out and replaced down the side with "Special Investigations Team". From CIIT to SIT. Or, Nick let out a small chuckle, from sit...to sit. The room was a modified meeting room, of which there were dozens in the ZPD, mostly unused. There were a few that were more used to seeing traffic, especially the ones near the detectives, but in general, most officers didn't like sitting in meetings.
A long wooden table, nine chairs surrounding it, a -Nick's heart rose at the sight, maybe this wouldn't be too awful- coffee maker on one of the counters, and a massive stack of papers on one end. A simple binder sat on the table. On the wall stood a tall poster proudly reading, 'List of known Chaos-Touched', with a long list of names on it. Nick only briefly took a glance at the bottom to see two names very familiar to him, 'Nick Wilde' and 'Judy Hopps'.
Fangmeyer and Delgato, a tiger and lion that Nick knew fairly well, had also been transferred apparently, and were sitting at some of the chairs looking bored. A ram, a horse, a panther that looked fairly familiar, and amazingly enough a wolverine sat on four of the other chairs. Nick prided himself on knowing everyone in Zootopia, and if you give him a minute, he could figure out these guys' names before they introduced themselves.
It was a common tactic truth be told. If someone feels that you know them even before you've ever met, you feel a closeness to that person, and are more liable to either buy from them or sell to them. Common manipulation, but it was only so common because it worked. If it didn't work, Nick wouldn't bother with it, and neither would most others. Mammal psychology, Nick would say.
"Fangmeyer, Delgato. Nice to see two more familiar faces up here. Hammerhorn, right?" Nick asked with a smirk. The ram grinned and nodded. One for one so far. "Hooferton, Nightclaw," he continued as the panther waved jovially, and the horse seemed rather impressed.
"Now just give me a minute, I don't see too many wolverines around here. Let's see, you're not Tornadus, you don't have the scar above the eye. I can already tell you don't know me, so that rules out Wolvine, so on process of elimination you must be Logan," Nick conintinued.
The wolverine, a short stout fellow looked up. "Did someone say my name? No, good. Wilde, finally. Welcome to sit," he said quickly. Hooferton chuckled.
Nick sat down on one of the available chairs, next to Fangmeyer, and attempted to wait patiently while Logan spoke. "Lion and tiger over there have already got the speech, so they're going to get it twice. Get over it fox, I am not going to be bothered to learn everyone's name. Or anyone's."
Before Nick could say anything, or even open his mouth, Fangmeyer elbowed him softly. Ah. Logan was that kind of boss. Fun.
"We are here because we are the best. We get the impossible cases, the ones that no one else can solve. It is our duty to do the impossible, to see the invisible. To touch the untouchable, and to break the unbreakable. Logan out," he said, before quickly going and slamming the door.
Silence reigned for a few moments. "Row, row, fight the power?" Nick asked, grinning. Nightclaw only shook her head for a few moments as the ice broke and the others chuckled softly.
"Alright Nick, because Logan over there didn't say anything about why you're here, I'll explain. The four of us were moved to this backwards team a little more than a month ago, when things started getting weirder. Logan was the head, and still is, but counted as a member," she said. She continued after seeing Nick's nod, "We were all fairly impressed with the way you and Hopps kept going during the robot incident, and even managed to arrest Robotnik himself. And then there was that Chaos Effect. To have someone that was Chaos-Touched on the team would be a big help to figure out some of the cases even we had no idea."
"SIT, or CIIT, whichever you prefer, is the department where cases go to die. If the detectives downstairs can't figure anything out, they come to us. We're expected to get either results or an explanation they can use. The first step, and the step these two have already started, is to study the Chaos Theory," Nightclaw pointed towards both Fangmeyer and Delgato.
"And here I thought I was done with studying once I went through the Academy. You mean to tell me it was a sham all along?" Nick said, smirking. "But uh...I'm not Chaos-Touched. Neither is Judy so...not sure what I can help you with," Nick continued when only a few snorts came out. 'Tough crowd,' he thought.
"I think you'll find the Theory far more entertaining than anything in the Academy. Thank the lords for that..." Nightclaw said, before she reconstituted herself into attempting to be serious again, "So with seven on the team, six because no one in their right mind counts Logan, five because I'm the dispatcher and no one in the right mind counts me either, and with Hoofington and Hammerhorn again on almost permanent patrol duty..."
"You guys are stretched thinner than a snake, I get it. So what, you just need us to be extra minds or what? Besides, what you want then is Carrots, not me. She's the brains, I'm just the lazy tagalong."
"Tagalong, he says. I know better, Wilde. We tried gunning for both of you anyways, but we got shot down by Mayor Reich. As in he came in, asking for Hopps to work on the Gemfield case, so we could only relocate you even though we got in our paperwork nearly a month ago. We knew as soon as we were assigned that we wanted both of you."
"Reich? What does he want with Carrots?" Nick asked, his mind whirling at a mile a minute. Reich was a wolf, the newest mayor elected to office. After the debacle that was Bellweather and Lionheart, the city council took away almost half the office's power and moved it to themselves. The mayor after that, some elephant named Trunkaby, tried to move some back but got stalled out.
Reich ran on a platform that promoted equality and education. Sounded good, and sounded even better after the now-mandatory reference and background check that went back nearly twenty years for people in office. Some mammals called it a breach of privacy. Nick called it insurance.
"Couldn't tell ya. But hey, take a look at the Theory there, it's in the flashy binder. If you want you can take a look at the newest case that came in, all three of you newbies got put on it FYI," Hooferton said, quickly getting up - Nick hadn't realized exactly how tall he was, nearly four times Nick's size! - and grabbing Hammerhorn and leaving the room. This time closing the door gently.
"I should head out too. You three, study the Theory for a bit. I need to get back to dispatch. If you have any questions, let me know. If you three decide to go anywhere, let me know," Nightclaw said, before also exiting the room.
Now alone with only people he knew, he took a moment. "I don't like this guys. Something smells off."
Delgato nodded, "Yeah, something's fishy with all of this. Something doesn't quite add up."
"So what is this whole Theory thing anyways?" Nick asked rhetorically, grabbing the binder and opening to the first page. It looked about as exciting as one would expect a police report to look. In small lettering, it simply said "The Theory of Chaos and all it Includes".
"It's the set of hypotheses, tests, and disproven tests that the author did. They remain anonymous though, and as far as I've read, and I've read the entire thing, they never once mention who they are," Fangmeyer said, pointing to the empty "Authored By:" column.
"Huh. Well, it's a good thing I know who," Nick said, grabbing a pencil and smirking at the other two, who just looked on in disbelief as the fox wrote in a name. They looked over his shoulder as he penciled in the name in almost-too-elegant lettering.
"Miles Prower? Isn't that the kid you two arrested like six months back?" Delgato asked.
"We never arrested him, but yeah, that was him."
"Huh. That makes a lot more sense now. I mean, look at this," Fangmeyer said, pointing to one of the first paragraphs, "While it is not known where the Chaos Emeralds have come from, myths about other Chaos-Touched have appeared throughout time. However, after further review it was only a single Chaos-Touched, Sonic the Hedgehog, who thought it would be fun if he had crazy adventures where literally nothing went to plan and absolutely no one would believe him. Unfortunately for him, some of us do."
"Does that happen throughout the entire thing?" Nick chuckled. Miles was always so serious when he knew him, so it was nice to see that sometimes the fox could be joking around.
"Oh yeah. Here's another one, 'I humbly thank my anonymous companion, Espio, for his complacency and allowing me to shock him thirty plus times during the course of this experiment. I also thank him for remembering that my body is soft and does not like sharp ninja items being stabbed into it.'"
"Crazy like a fox indeed..." Nick said, finally grabbing back the binder to see what the SIT had deemed 'necessary reading'.
Judy sighed in disbelief at getting another one of 'those' cases. The kind where they had almost no information, no leads, not even a worthless blurry picture! This was just as bad as her first case, although admittedly this one wasn't nearly as vital. For one, she hadn't staked her career on it, and two, this one actually did have some information. Even if it was just a police report. Specifically, which road corner, and at which time. And that was it. The official report from the officer was only slightly larger; and Judy sighed in relief when she saw at least that much.
At approximately 1:15 am, on the corner of Pine and Lark, Officer Trumpent had smelled and felt something different. It smelled like what one would expect rubber to smell like, except this was fresh and wasn't burning. It caused her to feel like as though an enormous pressure was diving down on her, and the only thing she felt she could do was to back up.
Sanity not excluded, she powered forward, and caught two shifty looking mammals, she couldn't tell what they were in the darkness, and neither could the cameras watching, who darted out and promptly went into hiding. Back at the precinct, Trumpent concluded that after looking at small samples that it was Gemfield she had smelled, but in a much larger amount. A drug deal or something had gone down.
Judy debated with herself for only a few moments, before starting up her new cruiser. After she blew up her old one, both she and Nick were required to walk their beat for about two months, before Bogo eventually bowed down to pressure and allowed them to use a different one. She got the message loud and clear. 'Don't blow up the car this time'.
She would just go and check things out today. Most likely she wouldn't find anything, and she was fully aware of that, but it felt good to be back on a case again. Especially one as large as this one could be.
Her phone rang with a text before she could leave, and after wondering who in their right mind would text her at work, found the answer easy enough. She read it aloud, in her mind replacing her own voice with Nick's, 'Got any tips on studying large amounts of useless paper? I forgot how after the Academy.'
Rolling her eyes at her part-...ex-partner's, Judy thought sadly, antics, she replied, 'Take it home and read it there. Then walk around reciting it for fifty laps.'
She chuckled as she imagined his deadpan voice when the response came in, 'No thanks Carrots.'
From: Nick Wilde
To: Miles Prower
Subject: Chaos Theory
Because I know Carrots is going to rag on me if I don't ask this, how're you doing? Now that's done, here's some real news for you. Carrots and I got split up. I got moved to some team called the, I kid you not, "Chaos Incident Investigation Team". Guess what's required reading? The Chaos Theory. That giant set of papers you wrote.
Any way for me to skip reading it and just go to the source?
From: Miles Prower
To: Nick Wilde
BCC: Adrian Bogo
Subject: RE: Chaos Theory
Really? They made that required reading. Of all things they could've done, they just made the entire thing required? Seems like a waste of time to me. I mean, most of it's obvious stuff in retrospect, although some things like the math isn't.
Just follow your instincts. Something I've noticed that I never managed to test was that most sapients have a knack for understanding Chaos without fully understanding it. If something seems chaotic, that's generally because it usually is. It just follows it's own set of rules, that's all.
Chapter 2. I like this one a lot better, which is kind of sad considering that chapter 1 is supposed to be the introductory chapter and all that.
Also I've decided to just get rid of their email addresses. That way FFNet can't yell at me.
Until next time!
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
So I'm announcing a new drinking game. Whenever someone finds a continuity error, take a drink of whatever you want! By the end of this chapter you'll be drunk enough to not care!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Skye Lanmarck was pretty easy going. She had her own shop, she was a well-received mechanic, despite being an arctic fox in Zootopia, and unlike many other foxes she knew she had yet to be brought in to the ZPD on any real charges. Then she met a nice young tod named Miles Prower, who shared her fascination of machines, and was able to talk and understand all of her ramblings whenever she thought up something crazy. Oftentimes, Miles would even offer his own suggestions!
Then one day, about six months ago, everything got turned upside down, inside out, and nothing really made sense to her anymore. She found out that the city was about to be invaded by a madman, her friend was actually a famous celebrity, and that her rent hadn't been received in two months, despite sending it in two weeks ahead of time each month.
Needless to say, she was pissed off, and so after arguing for nearly four months, she got a bonus from her major employer that forced her landlord to keep her shop open for another year. Although Skye never did like working for the shrew. He was a shrewd, pun quite intended, businessman, and nothing he ever did was for free. For the first few months, Skye thought that Mr. Big was going to ask something, anything, of her. She became tense, worried that at any moment the Polar Bears of Tundratown would be coming after her.
Although they never did. Afterwards, Skye thought that she had just been panicking for no reason, although that quickly turned falsehood when one day, two months previous, she had been 'enlisted'. She was picked up and bound, with almost no warning, and found herself in front of Mr. Bigwig himself. He explained, in his usual cold demeanor, that a new drug had recently been making the rounds. At first, Skye thought she would've been forced to try it, to make sure it was 'safe' for Big's usual clientele.
But no, she found herself back at her shop, unharmed (albeit with slight rub burns from the ropes), with a simple message. "I know what you've been up to in your shop, Skye. Help us make Zootopia a better place."
How Mr. Big knew about her new hacking hobby, she didn't know. Ever since Miles' had vanished, and asked her to hack into the security robots that had been littered around Zootopia, she had been interested in the almost random hobby. She knew engineering well, what was adding a simple 'software' in front of that?
Turns out it was extremely hard. Even now, many of the notable hackers in Zootopia had no idea what her screenname was. She simply wasn't notable. And to be frank, she preferred that. But when a Mafia businessman makes it his business to ensure that the police get all wind of another gang in the area, well, she could only hope for the best.
Fast forward two months. She found where the gang had been hiding (Corner of Lark and Sequoia), which businesses were their fronts for money laundering, and what their chain of command was. She couldn't find who the top guy's were, but had more than enough evidence to send it all to the ZPD to get them to clean it up.
And she knew just the officers. "To Judy and Nick..." Skye whispered conspiratorially, despite no one being in her shop to overhear. Probably for the best, otherwise her handler might have to make another call.
Judy remembered why it was exactly that she didn't like the Rainforest district. Because someone had, six months ago or so, turned all the sprinklers on to full, and since the district recycled water like no tomorrow, no one had seen to it yet to try and fix it.
Sometimes Judy wondered if they even saw anything wrong with sun combined with rain.
She had driven down to where Officer Trumpent had put in her report. Officially, she was here as a beat cop, but unofficially, she was here to check the place out. Minus the rain, it was a fairly nice place. Long green vines hung down from the rooftops, and it almost seemed like the wood was singing in its element. The buildings were nice and well kept in this part of town, although she could see the small alleyways that could lead to the seedier areas.
She found the corner easy enough. It was away from the sprinkler lights, so at night it would've been much darker than the surroundings. As Judy inched closer, she could almost feel something tingling up her back. Something wasn't right. She immediately perked up, her ears and eyes flying everywhere to take in every sound, every sight. Cars passed her slowly, some with waving fans and others with slight glares, but Judy gave no mind. Something wasn't right with this place.
It was an almost electric feeling that went up and down her spine. This was the area, definitely. She could almost feel that same feeling that Trumpent had described, a kind of inescapable pressure. But whereas Trumpent had the feeling of trying to escape, Judy had the feeling of wanting to know more. Of trying to get closer. She listened to it cautiously, her body and mind wanting to go forth more but her own instincts told her to wait, to remember the same feeling of control.
As soon as she remembered where she had felt it previously, she ran at full speed back to the cruiser, and left quickly, almost peeling out of her parking spot.
She never wanted to remember the feeling of being controlled by a Chaos Emerald. But remember it she did.
"What do you guys say to checking out that scene?" Nick asked, bored out of his mind and slowly spinning on one of the chairs. The Chaos Theory was dry reading, and Nick was sure that it could put a rabbit on caffeine to sleep. Some parts were good, but it was a lot like that book that you knew you should finish, but you just couldn't quite bring yourself to do it.
"Have you finished your assigned reading yet, Wilde?" Delgato asked, looking over his own copy.
"I'm not a kit, we're not in school, and you're not my teacher."
"No, but I will discipline you."
Nick smiled treacherously. Fangmeyer watched in amusement as his partner slowly lost his cool with the fox, who was navigating the dangerous and treacherous waters of 'Mt. Delgato'.
"That's not what I meant, Wilde!" Delgato yelled, a slight tinge to his cheeks.
"Amazing. Are you knee-deep in water with the pyramids in front of you?"
"Because I'm pretty sure you're in denial!"
The door slammed open as the wolverine from earlier, Logan, walked in. Nick continued chuckling softly, even as Delgato and Fangmeyer shut up and went back to their reading, trying to pretend that's what they were always doing.
Logan went up to the counter, poured himself a cup of coffee, and left, slamming the door closed. "Uh...what was that all about?" Nick asked, turning to the other two. They shrugged.
"I think he has a caffeine addiction," Fangmeyer said.
"Do you think we should tell him that Carrots and I swapped all the coffee to decaf a week ago?"
Fangmeyer stared in amazement. The ZPD was not a small building, and no matter how fast a mammal was, the cameras could catch anyone. No one had ever seen Hopps or Wilde pull any pranks, unlike the lab technicians who were caught all the time, but on the other hand, it does fit... "I'll let you be the one to do that."
"No thanks, I like my hide."
An odd silence purveyed through the room, only to be disturbed by Nick's cell phone starting to ring in a jingle that everyone in the ZPD knew by heart, if only because of Clawhauser and his Gazelle obsession. The fox raised an eyebrow as he looked at it. Why would Fluff be calling him now?
"Nick, come on, pick up!" Judy said wildly, pushing the numbers she had memorized. She was usually proud of her memory, but there were times, like now, where she cursed it with every fiber of her being.
"Carrots! Can't even go a whole day without listening to my voice huh?" Nick said jovially from the phone. She could almost imagine the smirk on his face, if he wasn't worried about why she was calling in the first place. Immediately Judy felt herself relax. There was just something about Nick that made her relax, feel more at ease with whatever was going on. It wasn't normal, she knew that as it was something that started six months ago, but she didn't quite understand why. She just chalked it up the Chaos Effect, and said nothing about it to anyone.
"Har har Nick, I need you to look up something. Got a computer in front of you?" she asked quickly.
"Carrots, I'm in a meeting room that's completely bare except for a decaffed coffee machine and three copies of the Chaos Theory. Oh, and I guess Delgato and Fangmeyer are here too." Two more voices said a quick 'hello!' afterwards.
"Ok, well, when you get a chance check out what the composition of Gemfield is. I got the same feeling from just the area that it was in as I did with the Emerald."
Nick was silent for a few moments, although Judy could hear him get up and making some weak excuse to leave the room. She could almost track him in her mind; going past another two meeting rooms, down two flights of stairs to their old joined cubicle. Mention of the Emerald sparked his own memory, she knew. He had tried to call her name to snap out of it, but it wasn't until he physically stopped her that she regained focus.
The aftermath of the whole Robotnik mess left quite a stir with many mammals. Some wanted the whole story, and not the half redacted mess that the media got their hands on. Fortunately for Nick and Judy, the case got handed a twenty year confidentiality agreement, where the non censored version wouldn't be released for another twenty years. The only three people in the entire ZPD who know what happened were Nick, Judy, and Chief Bogo. Even the mammals down in the Records Department don't know the full story (a fact that they used a couple of times when they managed to get the other two in some kind of trouble. Didn't happen often though, most of the time it was good-natured glares.)
"Gemfield, Gemfield...alright, I got up the report from the lab techs..." Nick said, trailing off as he reviewed the report. The silence went on a lot longer than Judy was anticipating, forcing her to wonder if Nick had found something that would explain it...or wouldn't explain it.
"Uh...I'm not a chem guy, but I don't see how this is possible."
"Not sure I can, Carrots. Ok, Gemfield has a chemical formula of C11H15NO3...even in the notes that says that it defies logic..."
"That's the exact same formula for ecstasy, you know that other rave party drug that mammals like to pretend they did at college parties years ago? Except it has another oxygen molecule added." Judy stayed silent as she waited for her part...ex-partner to continue, "Except that ecstasy doesn't have any additional molecular slots. It's completely taken. And yet the lab techs all agree that there's another one in there."
"So it's a free-floating thing?"
"Does that exist?" Nick asked. She could almost hear the shrug in his voice.
"Seems rather Chaotic to me."
Nick stayed silent for a moment. "Be careful, Carrots. Something isn't right. Meet at my place tonight?"
Judy had to forcefully stop the shudder that went through her body, "Sure, sounds good. I'll be careful, I'll just finish some reports or something." And reluctantly, both said their goodbyes, Judy waiting until Nick hung up, and Nick waiting for Judy to hang up.
It was an awkward moment. Nick expected Judy to hang up, and from the burgeoning silence but still very obvious 'there was still someone on the other end', Judy expected Nick to hang up. Problem for Nick was, he didn't want to hang up. They knew this would happen, truth be told. The day they got separated, and stopped being partners, they would still have to have that feeling that the other was there. They had been partners for over a year, and had been friends for a little over two. Give or take a few months.
An idea came into Nick's mind. Officially, only Officers on specific cases should actually work on those cases. Unofficially, Bogo didn't care. As long as it got done and solved, no one would care. "Hey, Carrots...are you up for a drive?"
Nick opened up the CIIT's file, the one containing the one case that he was assigned to. "3264 Desert Circle."
"All the way in Sahara Square? Sure, I could do with a drive. We picking up Delgato and Fangmeyer too?"
"Nah. They're still 'studying the Theory'."
"Shouldn't that be what you should be doing?"
"We'll be fine. Come on, I'll meet you down on the ground floor," Nick said, actually hanging up this time. It was completely spur of the moment, but they both knew that they worked better together than apart. And if they could solve two cases at once? Even better. Besides, this was a way to introduce Judy to the new CIIT cases that she would have in a month or two.
Judy smiled as Nick hung up. She had, incidentally, forgotten that little fact about the ZPD. At least in Precinct One. The other Precincts might care a bit more, but Bogo honestly didn't care what his underlings did so long as the cases got solved and the bad guys got brought in. And that no one saw that little video of him dancing to Gazelle's app that Nick had caught Clawhauser looking at once.
The door opened wide and the very fox she was thinking about hopped in. "Going my way?" Nick asked, buckling up quickly. Judy rolled her eyes, but smiled anyways.
"Only if you're going mine."
"I'm good with any way."
"So this is what you, Delgato, and Fangmeyer were talking about," Judy said as she quickly started driving. They both knew Zootopia extremely well by now, and knew most of the shortcuts by heart. "Spreading rumors about your own promiscuity."
Nick acted hurt, "Ah, Fluff, that hurts! But you know there is no lass that could withstand me!"
"More like there's no lass that would stand you."
"I'll have you know that I'm well-known as a bit of a vixen's mammal."
"I'll have you know that I know that you aren't."
"Did you know that no one at the station knows how we switched up the coffee machines yet?" Nick asked abruptly. The quick change in subject took Judy off-guard, but she caught on quick enough with a snort.
"For detectives, they're awfully bad at figuring things out."
"Well how often do you think they'd check the source of their coffee?"
Judy laughed, remembering how just three days ago they had caught at least three or four of their colleague's taking a nap suddenly. It didn't effect Nick all that much; he still had his snarlbucks 'addiction'. Everyone was confused as to how it had happened, as they were sure that no one could have changed the coffee once it was in the machines, at least without getting caught.
Which was true. So Nick and Judy hadn't even tried. Instead they called up the ZPD's coffee supplier and asked them to relabel their decaf as normal coffee on the next shipment. Five minutes later, and they were still laughing at how easily the supplier went with it.
Sahara Square was nearly always the same. Huge tracts of sand everywhere, not enough places to put it, and the occasional tree and massive amount of heat. Nick reached down to turn the AC on almost automatically as they came out of the transition tunnel between Central and the desert. Each district had its own speed limits, and the Square was the fastest of the four major districts. The actual fastest was some swamp district down south that had 'no speed limit' as its only major attraction. Judy, and thus Nick although mostly by association, had become very good at knowing exactly when the speed limit started.
"Jeez Carrots, little warning?" Nick said as he was suddenly pushed back against the seat. He only needed to spot the speedometer; Judy had accelerated from a normal thirty to a sixty in only two or three seconds.
"You had plenty. You turned the AC on."
"I did?" Nick asked, only to realize that he had, in fact, turned the AC on. "Huh. When did I do that?"
"About two seconds before I sped up," Judy said, quickly checking the GPS navigator. There was a time they had the voice on, although it didn't last long as one of the available voices had been ex-mayor Lionheart's. The voice stopped working after they turned around the tenth time in five minutes only to hear him say, "You'll need to turn this vehicle around now!"
"You know, Carrots...you're going to have to go back eventually," Nick said suddenly, staring out the window. It was obvious to both of them what he was referring to; when she suddenly ditched her investigation back in the Rainforest district.
Judy turned somber. "I know, Nick, I know. But next time, I'm not going alone."
"No, you aren't Carrots. No you aren't." Silence reigned between the two, interrupted only by the roar of the engine as Judy accelerated, as if attempting to leave the bad thoughts in the sand behind them.
"This is the place right?" Judy asked ten minutes later. They had pulled up to an apartment complex, looking closer to Judy's place than she preferred. Nick checked the file. "Seems so, yeah. Come on, apartment 5B."
"5B. So fifth row, second from the start. That one?" Judy pointed out. It was one of the only apartments with the window open, although from the outside it didn't look like anything special.
"I think so. This might be one of those backwards places. Come on, let's see how horrendous this is," Nick said, walking up the pathway marked 'Management'.
The inside of the building was a lazy pink, like they couldn't come up with any better color and just splashed the paint on the interior. Simple carpeting, not even all that comfortable, and paintings of which only the strangest of mammals would ever consider to be called 'art'. There were a few couches, and a few desks spread apart across the room. A small hedgehog worked in one of them, miniature even compared to Judy. "Hi, welcome to-oh my! Officers, what could I do for you?" she said, pushing up her overly large glasses. To Nick's mind, she looked and acted a bit too much like Bellweather to be given a free pass.
"Can you open up apartment 5B for us?" Judy asked. A slight gasp emanated from the mammal, who nodded quickly.
"Yes, certainly officers! Oh my, that poor boy. Have you found a reason for him to be in that state yet?" she asked quickly.
"That's why we're here, to investigate some more. Could you take us up?" Nick asked this time. He thought he caught a glare from the small hedgehog, but it would've only lasted a second. No Bellweather then, if this one couldn't keep her emotions out of working with a fox. Nick smiled internally. It was much easier to work with someone who wore their emotions on their sleeves than one who didn't.
"Yes, certainly," she said again, walking out from behind the desk. She walked fairly quickly for something so small, although Nick and Judy were didn't have to work all that hard to keep up.
They were carded through a locked door, which led to the actual apartments. Eight on each floor, with the first being 1A and the last being 8A on the first floor, the hedgehog explained. 'So it was one of the backwards places', Nick thought to himself. He much preferred the normal method, as it was much simpler to understand. Judy's own apartment was the much better 4C, the third apartment on the fourth floor.
At the end of the hallway lay an elevator, with three sets of buttons. One for the taller mammals, medium (Judy had to stretch a bit) and small. This was usual for Zootopia, although why this apartment had accommodations to fit the taller mammals who couldn't fit through the door was yet another question they had. It almost seemed like this place was built from the ground up with almost no thinking involved. The elevator was overly large, something that once again piqued Nick and Judy's interest. It was fit for an elephant, so could fit all three without a single problem, but the hallway wasn't. Yet another thing to note about this place's odd structure.
The hedgehog walked up to a corded off room, filled with yellow tape and unlocked it. It had been some time since it had happened, if only a day or two, but they had left the body there to help the CIIT team try to guess what had happened. The body was scheduled for removal in another day or two, as the reporting officers said that they had checked for signs of life, and had found none.
"I'm not going in, I've already seen it one too many times," the hedgehog said, still looking rather sad at the admission. Nick nodded, and ducked under the tape to walk inside, Judy following.
The inside was seemingly cozy. It had a few portraits hanging on the walls, and there seemed to a thin layer of dust everywhere that signified a well lived-in home. There were only two tables, a much larger one that had the seemingly recently collected mail, and an endtable next to a couch. The television was off, directly facing the couch. And exactly as the picture had described, a canine of some variety had his hand out, looking as if he was reaching for something, but was completely covered. "What the heck..." Judy asked, knocking softly on the extended arm. A small hollow sound, the sound bone makes when knocked on, answered her.
Nick put his ears to where the skull was. Except in normal skulls there's holes for the eyes, ears, mouth, etc, but here there was nothing. A completely blank slate. "I...don't know. I've never even heard of this kind of thing before," Nick said aloud.
Judy took a step back, and reached for her phone. "They didn't take many pictures in that file did they? Come on, we can take a few more. I'm surprised it doesn't smell in here."
"It does, but not badly. It's more what you would expect if he wasn't...actually...Carrots, take a lot of photos, I'm going to look for something like a sledgehammer!" Nick said, immediately starting to search through the apartment and shooting through the various rooms.
Judy nodded, and started taking snapshot after snapshot. "You think he's still alive!?" she called out, wincing internally as she heard a loud crash coming from one of the other rooms.
"If he's anything relatively normal, probably! Mammals can go without food or water up to three days, and if this is only covering him... if he hasn't suffocated completely yet, maybe we can still help him! Found one!"
"I'm not going to ask how you know that, or why this guy would have a sledgehammer. Right, I took about twenty, I'm going to call an ambulance!"
Nick came out, green eyes blazing as he held the blunt weapon in his two paws. He nodded, and started to take a look around the body to see if there's a better place to attack, so he wouldn't need to break or hurt the canine any more than necessary. He found a nice solid piece in the chest, and took a few aimed hits.
"Dispatch, this is Officer Hopps, we have a 10-52 at 3264 Desert Circle apartment 5B!" Judy said into her radio, as she winced as a loud 'crack' came from Nick whacking the mammal with the sledgehammer. She imagined that this is what it must be like working with gangsters, except that instead of calling in on the radio, she'd be called the boss to tell him of the job done.
"Hold on hold on, Hopps? What are you doing there? Ambulance has been alerted, should be there in ten minutes, what's going on?" Clawhauser said. A loud crack echoed throughout the room as Nick hit him again, choosing another angle. He was rewarded with a much worse sounding 'crack' as the bone started to break under the pressure. "And what am I hearing?"
"Remember that weird case about the canine covered in bone I told you about earlier? That's where we are. Nick and I had an idea; this guy could possibly still be alive!"
"What!? How!? All of the others wrote it off as an impossibility! The morgue was scheduled to pick up the body in just a few hours..."
"Wow Benji, you are on top of things," Nick said breathlessly, panting heavily. There was a nice large crack on the torso, heading up towards the skull. Nick was aiming for anywhere but that area, although he knew that suffocation could be a very real risk, if the canid hadn't already. But he thought he heard some breathing, or struggles to breathe earlier...
"I know! It's my New Years resolution!" the radio operator said. Judy had unhooked it, and moved over to try and help Nick. She pointed at one of the top parts of the large break, shortly below his trachea. Nick tilted his head in confusion, and she just shook her head and mocked hitting it. Nick shrugged, and went with it.
A much larger break shattered any amount of silence that was possible, and it almost echoed as both Nick and Judy took a look at what happened. A large piece of the bone broke off, showing that there was in fact still a canine under there, and they were still breathing.
From: Judy Hopps
To: A. Bogo
Subject: Still think you're wrong
Before you start to sigh and want to hurt us, or yell at us, or whatever it is you do whenever we enter your office, this time I just want to reassure you; no matter what Carrots and I say, we are not together. We're just good partners. Really good partners.
I mean seriously, who else would trust me enough with a sledgehammer?
Nick Wilde (Your bestie!)
From: A. Bogo
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
Subject: Re: Still think you're wrong
Next time, Wilde, try not to use your 'partner's' account when sending emails. Also I want to remind you that if you accidentally hurt any mammal more than necessary then I will be detracting the amount out of your paycheck, if I don't fire you immediately.
Secondly, I'm still not putting you two back together yet. Officially. Unofficially, I don't care what you do.
And that's chapter 3. The beginning I'm still not sure about, but the last picture in my mind (where Judy contemplates that this is what working with the mafia'd be like) just puts a smile on my face. Also if someone could check the chemistry on that. I was an idiot in high school and didn't take chemistry (I was more into physics) so I have absolutely no idea if this is possible. If it isn't, great. If it is...well I'll have to think of something.
Until Next Time!
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
The most ironic thing about this story is that I was writing it when there was a massive storm outside. I make no promises that my feelings on storms have not influenced this story.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The canine almost immediately started whimpering and struggle fruitlessly, the body seeming almost like liquid. "Stop, stop, you're only going to hurt yourself! Relax, help is on the way," Judy comforted, as Nick ran out of the room, breaking through the yellow tape easily. Judy could handle calming the mammal down, but someone had to go and make sure that everything was open for when the ambulance got here. He was only waiting a minute or two before he heard the sirens, and motioned to them as they ran inside.
'Well, now we know why this place has elevators built for taller mammmals...' Nick thought as he led the ambulance team, a couple of rhinos, through the apartment complex. It was mostly straight, although he did have to hold the doors open a couple of times as they fought their way through. Every moment seemed to tick in Nick's mind, going both too fast and yet not fast enough.
The hedgehog that led them here to begin with was nowhere to be seen. While ordinarily this wouldn't warrant Nick's attention, the landlady had been acting rather odd while she led them here. He filed it away in the back of his mind as he rushed back to Judy and the bone-covered canine. Maybe she knew more than she had said...but that was a thought for another time.
The canine muttered, the sound barely able to be heard. Judy's ears perked at the sound, trying to hear anything she could, but everything was just a mumble. The rhinos picked him up with ease and quickly brought him outside. Judy and Nick ran alongside, trying to hear more of what the poor mammal had been saying. Every time they thought they heard something and could make it out, everything that was happening was simply too loud and drowned it out.
"We have it under control you two, now that he's breathing and awake we'll get him under an IV," one of the rhinos said, pushing the still struggling canine into the back of the ambulance outside. Judy nodded, and watched as it drove away, its sirens going full blast.
She watched in silence for a few moments, joined by Nick shortly afterwards. "You know he'll be fine, right?" The fox asked almost callously, as if he wasn't worried at all. Judy knew better.
"Yeah, I know. Come on, we have to fill out the reports," she sighed, hopping up into the driver's seat of their vehicle.
Nick rolled his eyes, "We don't have to do anything, Carrots. This one's all me. Come on, we still have some time left. Feel like just cruising around?"
Judy answered with a simple nod, and a fake smirk crossed her face. Nick recognized the look and despite knowing that she wasn't nearly as normal as he'd prefer, acted like it was anyway and grabbed onto the passenger handle with a fake look of fear. They could take their time later to think about what happened. For now, they were going to be fine.
"Wow Carrots, hasn't even been a day yet and already it's like nothing's changed," Nick said, holding two steaming cups. They had ended their day similarly to how they always used to, and for a few moments they both went their separate ways as they were used to, only to stop and turn around. According to Clawhauser, the look on their faces when they remembered they were supposed to get together that night was hysterical.
They went back to Nick's apartment, a one bedroom that was nearly twice as large as Judy's, and despite her insistence in asking, he would never tell her how much it cost him. They preferred going to Nick's apartment to watch movies and such, otherwise they'd hear Judy's neighbors arguing over every little detail in the movie. The current record for them being annoying was nearly three hours...after the three hour movie had already finished.
They were continuing to go through their basic motions. They'd come in, change out of their uniform into casual clothes - Judy kept a spare set over at Nick's 'just in case' -, Nick grabbed a massive pile of blankets that he often referred to as 'the nest', and went to make some drinks. Judy meanwhile moved the couch to their preferred position, and quickly walked over to Nick's movie collection, which featured an alarmingly high amount of old classics. Movies such as "Gran Moreel" and "Beauty and the Ugly Duckling". And that wasn't getting into his collection of old westerns.
She picked out one at random, barely even looking at the cover or title. She had already seen many of them, even if not recently, and just wanted to get the canine from earlier out of her head. "Huh. Robin Hood. Been a long time since I've seen this one," Nick commented, giving Judy her usual request of hot water with just a hint of carrot. Judy glanced down at the cover, the fox on it smirking back at her.
Judy awoke to the sound of her phone ringing. She reached out blindly for it, only to accidentally knock it away. Forcing herself to get up and go grab it, she answered sleepily, "This is Judy..."
"This is the Sahara Square Hospital. Is this Judy Hopps?" the line answered quickly. It took the rabbit a few moments to wake up as her mind suddenly kicked into gear.
"Yes, this is she. What's happened?" Judy asked quickly. Nick came out from his door and yawned, stretching impressively. He looked quizzically over at the doe as she she held up one of her fingers asking for him to wait.
"We have an update on that coyote that was brought in earlier. He is alive, safe, and awake, and is asking for you and Nick Wilde. Apparently he has some information for you two," the hospital contact answered.
"Excellent, we'll be down there right away. Thanks for the update," Judy said, waiting a moment before hanging up. She turned to Nick, "That was the hospital, the one that took that coyote from earlier. Apparently he's awake, and has information for us."
"Does he now? Well that's good, because I have some questions for him..." Nick said, quickly stepping back into his room to grab a shirt. Judy debated with herself if she wanted to go as she was or change into her uniform, but when Nick came out in his usual day clothes Judy knew the choice was made for her.
They had to call a Zuber, a kind of cab driven by regular mammals versus cab drivers, as neither she nor Nick had a car. They got picked up by another rabbit, almost snow white when compared to Judy's grey. "Sahara Square Hospital, please," Judy said after getting in.
"The hospital? Sure thing babe. Meeting your mauled boyfriend or something?" the rabbit asked, barely looking back at her. She did notice however that he was very afraid of the fox next to her.
"Wait a minute," he said before she, or Nick, could say anything, "aren't you Judy Hopps, the officer? What you doing up at three in the mornin'?" he asked.
Judy looked at his ID badge, pinned to the dashboard with a carrot sticker. "Yes Lucas, I am Judy Hopps of the ZPD. Now could you please hurry up and get driving," she said, growling out the words through her teeth.
"Yes'm!" Lucas responded, suddenly far more afraid of the rabbit than the fox. Nick chuckled as he noticed this and smirked at Judy, who huffed silently. Even years after, she still didn't have much patience for idiots who only looked at someone's species. The drive was fairly silent, with neither Nick or Judy talking much, although they did seem to have a habit of trading yawns. The hospital seemed to loom in the darkness as they pulled closer.
Nick always hated hospitals. He always found them a bit too stuffy, too uptight, and just too damned clean. They smelled like someone poured a gallon mixture of bleach and chlorine on the floor per square foot, and then scrubbed it out with vinegar. Maybe adding some cinnamon, to taste. As soon as they exited the Zuber, Nick made a resolution that he would buy a car as soon as he could. Being stuck in a car with two rabbits as a fox was not his idea of fun. Being stuck in a car with one rabbit was. At least a certain one.
They had gone up to the front desk, covered by some kind of large rodent (not a capybara, Nick was sure. But it was definitely something he was unfamiliar with...), who looked up for only a moment before giving them the room number of the coyote. They didn't even have to sign in or check their ID. At first, Nick thought something was wrong then remembered who he was with; everybody by now knows who Judy Hopps is.
"So, Carrots...did you hear what this guy said earlier, when we got him in the ambulance?" Nick asked. Judy shook her head, before doing a double take.
"Wait, he said something?"
"I could barely make it out, and only because I was straining. Makes me wish we had Finnick with us. He said something about Gemfield, but that's all I got."
"Gemfield, huh...why are you bringing this up now?"
"Because I have a feeling that's going to be important..." Nick said, as Judy froze. "Carrots?" he said, staring back at the bunny. Her nose was twitching slightly, and her eyes seemed glazed and out of it. His first thought was 'Another vision? That's the first one in six months!', while his second thought was, 'I hope she doesn't break down.'
"Nick...can you feel that? Something's...different, here," Judy said slowly. She looked both ways towards different doors, and Nick could see her ears go every which way. To be honest, he'd tell her she was pretty cute doing all this if it wasn't freaking him out.
"Carrots...? Maybe you should stay down near the front desk," Nick suggested. They were up on the third floor, and had been walking quite a ways. But that part didn't matter to him, what mattered was why his partner was acting so off.
"N-No. I'll be fine, let's keep moving," Judy said, pushing herself forward and grabbing Nick's sleeve. The fox shrugged and went with it, not fighting even a little bit. He kept his eyes out though, waiting to see if Judy froze again or seeing if there was some kind of trigger for it.
"Nick...remember the Chaos Emerald back in Miles' lab? Remember how it called to me, and I felt like I had to answer?" Judy whispered, breathing lightly. Nick remembered the event, and it wasn't a good memory.
When a mammal grabs a Chaos Emerald with the intent to hold it using their bare paws, the Emerald fluctuates, causing what was called a 'Chaos Effect'. The effects were random, and well-named. Six months ago, Nick and Judy had a run-in with one of the Emeralds, causing Judy to almost reach out for it subconsciously. She said that the Emerald had called out for her, and that since then she had only felt anything like it twice.
Once when they did get hit by a Chaos Effect, and another only yesterday.
"Yeah, I remember that. Is that what's happening now?" Nick asked, also whispering. The bunny shook her head, but pointed to the door in front of them. The coyote's room.
"No, but it's something similar. And it's coming from right in here."
"Alright then. I'll go in first," Nick said, pushing the door open slightly and quickly taking a look around. The room was what you would expect from a hospital room. It smelled weird, there was a single bed with a few chairs off to the side, and surrounded completely by medical equipment that Nick had no idea what any of it meant.
"I don't see any-Carrots?" Nick asked quietly as Judy poked her head through Nick's ears. She had climbed up his back and was now looking out at the same thing he was.
"Whatever it was, it's gone now. Come on," Judy said, opening the door for real this time as she strode through.
The bed had a single occupant, a small grey coyote. He was leaning up, currently asleep against the pillows. The massive amount of bone that they had seen him covered with wasn't there, but was instead replaced with IV drips and various other lines.
"Are we just supposed to stare at him like creeper's and wait for him to wake up or are we going to do it ourselves?" Nick asked. Judy glared at him for a moment before lightly shoving the coyote's leg. He remained asleep.
A goat nurse walked in, driving what looked like a janitorial cart. She looked up in surprise as she saw Nick and Judy standing around the sleeping canine. "Oh my, are you two here to visit Chris?" she said, not bothering to keep her voice down.
"If that's who this is, ma'am, yes we are. We got a call that he wanted to talk to us, we're the officers who..." Judy started, before trailing off as she thought about the best word to use.
"Oh! Yes, Chris did say he wanted to talk to you. Let me wake him up for you," the nurse said, walking up and violently shaking his arm. The coyote woke with a start, before focusing on the nurse.
"Whoa, what hit me? Hi, who're you? And who are you two!?" Chris asked, pointing to Nick and Judy as he finally saw them. The nurse looked quizzically at him for a moment, as if gauging if this was a usual reaction.
"Chris, I'm Karly Hornsmith, your nurse for your time in the Patient Care Unit. We met earlier today, do you remember?" she asked kindly, staring into the coyote's round eyes.
"Uh, sorry miss. I'm in a hospital though? What am I doing here?" he asked. The nurse turned to Nick and Judy.
"I'm sorry to call you two all this way for nothing, although this is quite odd. He was quite lucid earlier today...I'm sorry Chris, but what's the last thing you remember?"
"Those two aren't cops are they?" he asked. Nick shook his head and almost had to hold Judy's head to stop her from nodding. "It was just some new drug my friends got, called Gemfield or something. It looked like pure glowing crystals. They promised me an amazing time, but if it got me in the hospital it couldn't be that good..."
"Do you remember where your friends got it?" Nick asked. The coyote looked at them suspiciously.
"You're sure you two aren't cops?" at Nick's insistence that they weren't, he continued, "At some place down in the Rainforest District. Next to Leaf street or something. Why?"
Nick had to quickly think of something as he continued to hold Judy's head, "Uh...well when we called in the ambulance for you, you just seemed to be passed out. Mumbled something about Gemfield."
"Sorry man, I don't got a clue. But you should probably let go of the bird, she's turning a pretty blue," Chris said. Nick looked down straight into Judy's amethyst eyes, glaring at him. He only had a moment to let go before she bit down hard. He thanked himself internally that he had decent reflexes, as that could've hurt a lot.
"Nick! Don't lie to him! Yes, Chris, we are ZPD," Judy said, glaring at the fox. The coyote seemed to panic for a moment before suddenly looking as if he fell asleep. It was obvious from his uneven breathing and occasional open eye that he was faking.
"Way to go Carrots, now there's no way he'll answer anything."
"But he was the one that wanted to talk to us! I don't understand, why would he not talk to us after specifically requesting us? Doesn't he know about the bone thing?"
The nurse shook her head, "He might have before, but he doesn't recognize me, and we did have a very nice long chat for several hours not long ago. It could be that he had so little oxygen to his brain that it might have messed with his short term and long term memory."
"Did he say anything on the way in?" Judy asked. The nurse shrugged, and mentioned that they should probably check at the front desk. All of the ambulances have cameras and microphones, just to make sure that there's no obvious murders that happen inside the ambulance.
Nick walked over and whispered into the coyote's ear, "Hey, you know Gemfield's illegal right? We've already got you, but if you give us more maybe we can try to get a lighter sentence."
"Isn't it illegal for cops to go around saying that they aren't cops?"
Nick looked at him like he was insane for a few moments, "Of course not. Besides, we're not cops now, we're off-duty. And we found your stash of Gemfield at your apartment."
"But that's impossible, I used it all! They gave just a small amount as a kind of trial...I don't know any more, I swear!"
"Right...Karly, could you keep an eye on our friend here, see if you can't jog his memory a bit? He's part of an ongoing investigation for the ZPD," Nick said.
The goat looked at him strangely, "Oh. Should we be getting a guard in here?"
"No, he was a victim. Might be safe actually to get one in here anyways though." The nurse nodded her head, and walked over to phone it in. Chris whimpered a bit. Judy smirked at Nick, who sighed and walked back up to him, "Listen, you're not in trouble. We found you in a very strange scenario, so we wanted to ask some questions. What's today's date?"
"I don't know anything, I swear! The last thing I remember is doing the drugs in the kitchen!"
"Carrots, do you know if Gemfield messes with memory?" Nick asked. Judy narrowed her eyes, and Nick could tell that she was thinking alongside the same lines as himself.
"No it doesn't, not from what we've found. If the last thing you remember is the kitchen, we found you frozen in the living room. Could you explain?"
"I have no idea!"
Nick and Judy looked at him, gauging him to see if he was lying, before nodding their heads and walking back out. They did tell Karly the nurse, and the hippo that came in to guard him, to try to keep jogging his memory. They weren't going to get any more out of him, at least not without more time, and they weren't going to get that until they brought him for a questioning.
They wandered in silence down the halls and downstairs, finding themselves at the front desk quicker than they had expected. They asked from the front desk mammal, a nutria according to Judy, if they could access the ambulance records from Chris Latrans earlier in the day. When Nick asked how Judy knew his last name, she pointed out that it wasn't her fault that she actually looked at his information after they got back to the precinct. Despite it not being her assignment.
After proving that they were actually ZPD officers this time, the nutria led them down to the security hall, a long room filled with monitors and various mice and other rodents. "Could we have the ambulance tape from vehicle 8858?" she asked nicely. One of the mice turned to repeat the order to the mouse next to him, who did the same time.
This continued until it got to the last mouse, who was carrying a cup of coffee bigger than he was. The mouse sighed, and carefully put down the coffee, before running to get the tape, who gave it to the mouse who asked him, who gave it to the mouse who asked him. "Poor interns..." Nick said as he saw the tape slowly move down the line. Judy and the nutria nodded slowly as they watched the mouse version of a line conga.
The last mouse, the one the nutria talked to, grabbed the tape and set it up. "The tapes can't leave the hospital, but we can send you a copy of the video, and we can watch it now if you want."
"That'd be perfect, thanks," Judy said, watching the monitor in front of him change to the inside of an ambulance. It was in black and white, but it was obvious to tell what was going on anyways.
The mouse fast forwarded it several times to get to Chris Latrans. Finally he showed up, covered in bone just as they had found him earlier except for the piece that Nick had knocked out with a sledgehammer.
One of the rhinos, after pushing him in, had grabbed a bonesaw and was now literally cutting the bone of the coyote's body, starting at the muzzle. The other one quickly measured what the thickness of the bone covering was, and quickly tried to get as much oxygen to the canine as they could by pushing it up using a line.
After cutting a large piece of the muzzle bone out, Nick and Judy saw Latrans take his first deep breaths in a while, before screaming out "Jack Savage knows where the Gemfields are!". He fell unconscious barely a moment later.
The security mouse looked unimpressed, and looked back up to the officers, "That what you need? Cause he's silent until he wakes up here, but we don't have cameras for that. Hippo and all that."
"Thanks, we appreciate it. And yes, send it to jhopps at zpd dot com. Thanks again!" Judy said, closing the door as she and Nick followed the front desk nutria out.
"So Nick...who's Jack Savage?" Judy blurted out as they exited to the parking lot.
"I have absolutely no idea," Nick answered quietly, his mind wandering a mile per minute trying to figure out who it was. And he knew everyone, but he knew no one by that name.
From: Judy Hopps
To: Miles Prower
You really should talk to Cream more, she does miss you. We're all doing fine here, although now there's...something... that's come up. Have you heard of the drug 'Gemfield'? If you have, do you have any idea what side effects it has?
Because we just found a canine covered in bone who was supposedly doing it, and now he has no memory of it. According to us, neither of those are Gemfield side effects. Any idea?
From: Miles Prower
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
BCC: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Re: Gemfield
Uh...what. I've heard of it, yeah...but...uh...Bone encapsulation and memory loss? Are you sure you're working with Gemfield here? I've never even heard of a single case of bone encapsulation before. And I work with Chaos. I'll keep an ear out though.
From: Adrian Bogo
To: Miles Prower
Subject: Re: Re: Gemfield
Fair warning, Gemfield's a flagged name on our server's, so you may be getting a few calls in the next few days. Also if WildeHopps are asking you questions, I am legally obligated to ask for your consulting rate.
Don't worry about rates, I won't charge. Much.
And that's chapter 4. Editing this was harder than it should've been. Let me know if you catch any errors that don't seem on purpose. Thanks! Also yes, Tails texted Bogo there at the end. Sorry about the delay on the AO3 version, I got caught up in something. Fortunately that's why there's two chapters today!
Until Next Time!
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
So if you aren't drunk yet from chapters 3 and 4, well here's another one to make your liver hate you! Also drunk editing is not good editing.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"You sure you don't know anyone?" Judy asked for what seemed like the fifth time. Even their Zuber driver, a sheep, was getting tired of the same question. They had called for another car after they exited the parking lot, and were quickly on their way back to Nick's apartment.
"Answer's not going to change in five minutes, Carrots. We'll check it out once we get in tomorrow...er, later, alright? I think I might have some more free time then you will since I don't have to go to the bullpen anymore," Nick answered, looking out the window idly. Judy nodded as she remembered that they weren't technically partners anymore...although it's not like that was going to stop them.
"Do you think that Bogo knew that even when he tried to split us up we wouldn't?" Judy asked. The sheep was getting bugeyed at the gossip he was getting, and slowed down a bit to make sure that he could get all of the conversation. His fares were based on distance, not time, thankfully. That meant he could get more of this juicy info. How often did one have the Judy Hopps in their car!?
"Pretty sure he knew, or at least had some idea. It's not often that we can pull one over him. Why, you think he wanted us to work the same cases?"
"I think he must have had to. Split us up, get double the work done. Although I wonder what Mayor Reich has to do with it. You said he wanted me to work the Gemfield case...What's his angle?"
"Angle? Reich doesn't have an angle, he's just a dictator that doesn't like dictating," the sheep said, finally drawing attention to himself. He couldn't help but want to hurt himself for saying that out loud; it was common knowledge to most of the prey animals that Reich wasn't for them, and although he preached commonality and peace they knew that something wasn't right. No one like Reich could come out of the woodwork and do what he did.
"A dictator that doesn't like dictating? Sounds like a perfect government worker to me," Nick said, winking at the sheep, who pulled himself closer inwards and tried to make himself much smaller than he was.
"Nick, be serious. What do you know about Reich?" Judy asked, looking forward intently.
The sheep looked up into his mirror, and weighed how much more trouble he could possibly get in versus how much he was already in. "In for a penny, in for a pound...I've only heard some of the rumors, but some of them are just...strange. And not in a good way. Someone barged into his office, and while he was on the phone handed them a filled out piece of paper for what they were complaining about, with a post-it note saying 'To be put into effect soon'. They didn't say a word.
"But that's not all. Oftentimes he'll pile on work on himself instead of the assistant mayor, the opposite of what Lionheart did. He'll give him days off, saying that he'll handle the workload. And sure enough, when the assistant mayor gets in again, the work will be done. He works later than all the others and gets there earlier, sometimes even before the janitorial crew have gotten finished!"
"Sounds like he's just married to his job then. That doesn't seem too bad," Judy responded. Certainly nothing like what she had expected. She expected a lot darker things, like scandals or corruption, not...simply working too hard.
"I know, it sounds like it's a good thing. We certainly need it considering Mayor Lionheart and his successor, but this guy...I've met him once. Gave me the creeps. Anyways, we're here. Total comes to...thirty two twenty," The sheep said, reading off the machine in the center of the console.
"Right, thanks for the info. Keep the change," Nick said, handing the sheep a fistful of bills. Judy gave a quick glance to her phone to check the time; 4:43. That still gave them a bit of extra time before they were supposed to show up at the station.
"What's the plan Carrots?" Nick asked as he unlocked the door. The room was only slightly chillier than it was when they had left. He flicked on the lights and turned on the heat; just because they had fur doesn't mean they had to chill. And it looked to Judy like it was getting darker outside; the clouds were moving in.
"What makes you think I have a plan?"
"Because you always have a plan. I'm thinking we go back to sleep for a bit, and wake up in the morning and then investigate. Good?" Nick asked, holding back a yawn. They had only gotten a few hours of sleep, and knowing them the day was only going to get crazier and crazier.
"Sounds like a plan for you maybe. I'm going to check a few things. Zoogle didn't come up with anything when I searched for Jack Savage, and that always rings alarm bells," Judy said, piling into the cushions and blankets on the couch. She pulled out her phone and plugged in the charger, knowing she'd need it today.
Nick shrugged, "Alright. Your choice. See you in an hour," he said, stepping into the bedroom and closing the door. Judy could almost hear him fall onto the bed and start snoring softly. She rolled her eyes, knowing the act for what it was.
She logged onto her police email account, in case she needed to pull any reports. She searched the system for the name, knowing that if a search engine on the internet couldn't pull up much then it was unlikely for the ZPD to be able to do it. She nodded to no one as her hunches were correct; there was no one in the ZPD's records by that name. Of course, she had checked previously, but sometimes data gets lost on the airwaves. Also she may not have access to some files, specifically the ones involving dangerous individuals involved in government and such. She'd check again once she got to the precinct.
Idly checking her messages, a few stood out to her. A few were from Chief Bogo, telling her (aka Nick, considering he sent it from her account) to not let Nick use her account so much, unless they wanted a joint account. There was a reply from Miles on there about Gemfield and its properties, but nothing useful.
And then there was the one from Skye.
Skye Lanmarck was an arctic fox that she and Nick had met six months ago, back when Miles was still in the city. He had apparently made friends with her, as she could talk mechanics and engineering just as easily as Miles himself could, and had disappeared off their radar after Miles had left Zootopia. She owned a vehicle repair shop up in Tundratown, which unfortunately didn't see much use due to Zootopia's distrust of vulpines, but was apparently still in business.
Judy read aloud the message, making sure that she didn't miss anything, "To Judy and Nick; I don't know if I ever said thank you for what you two have done. Wilde alone has done wonders for the names of foxes everywhere. There's no easy way to say this, which is fortunate because I'm not saying it.
"Two months ago, Mr. Big (that's not a surprise is it? It shouldn't be, I knew Nick at least suspected something and I strongly think Judy did too) contacted me about a new gang that had shown up, calling themselves 'The Zootopian Zenomites'. He wanted me to try and find out as much as I could about these new guys, where they were, what they were doing, everything.
"I think Big wanted me to report back to him on all of this...and don't worry, I did! He's getting a more direct form of this email. But here's what I gathered; they have around eighty members, their headquarters are at corner of Lark and Sequoia. Don't ask how I got that info, it's not pretty.
"They sell mostly drugs, but they're also assassins, and they aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. Generally they only try to go after the ones the police are least likely to care about. They've already hit around four polar bears in under a month.
"These guys are bad news. Take the worst part of Big's syndicate, and the worst of the worst gangs you know of, and these guys are worse than that. They regularly deal Gemfield (that new drug that's on the streets? That's because of these guys. Somehow they can make it, and it's a closely guarded secret.), but it's not the normal Gemfield that the scientists are currently trying to make. It's a new one, and a lot worse.
"Let's see...other details you may want to know before going after them...their money laundering sites, as far as I could tell, were "Boe's Simple Laundry", "Zootopia Car Wash in Rainforest", "Awkward Savings" (the really weird supermarket in Rainforest. They have the craziest stuff there...), and most alarmingly "Zootopia Rainforest Bank and Savings".
"Yes. They have a bank. I don't know how they got in, exactly, but they did. I don't know Chief Bogo's email address, otherwise I'd send this message to him. Big's men are planning on attacking over the next three weeks, but I don't know the exacts.
"Hope you're doing well. Signed, Skye Lanmarck," Judy finished. She put the phone down, and stared out the window for a while. She idly took in the image as her mind whirled, trying to take in all the details from the email. It looked overcast, but bright. It looked like a storm was coming in. Judy's countryside instincts kicked in, and she realized that it was probably going to rain soon. She sighed, and tried to relax. She organized her head and put in a giant mental to-do list.
First things first, she had to warn Bogo. An email of this import, if the information was correct, was a massive boon. But they first had to check it out, and make sure that all of it was correct. She drafted up a quick forward, and sent it onwards with a simple message of "I'm going to look into this."
Secondly, she checked the time. Thirty minutes had gone by...where did it go? She couldn't have been thinking about things for that long..."Hey, Nick!" Judy said, lightly knocking on the fox's door. Without waiting for a response, knowing that he was already awake, she continued, "It's just about time to go. I'm gonna take a shower. Check your email, there's a message from Skye in there!"
The walls weren't thick, although they weren't as thin as her place's, so even as she stepped into the bathroom she heard him say, "Skye who?"
"The mechanic!? What does she want now..."
Judy focused on finishing quickly, if only to let Nick take his sweet time in there as he was sometimes prone to doing. As she turned off the water, she heard him curse, "Holy cheese and crackers!"
She smirked. Sometimes you can teach an old fox new curses.
Clawhauser was manning the front desk, as he was prone to doing in the morning shifts. He had dark circles around his eyes, as if he wasn't getting much sleep, and opened up with a large yawn as Nick and Judy walked in. "Nick, Judy!" he called out, waving brightly.
"You ok there Benji? You look kinda..." Nick asked, pausing to try and think of a word that he wouldn't feel insulted by if it was said to him.
"Sick? Yeah. I got a cold yesterday, and it hasn't left me alone yet. How're you two feeling?" Clawhauser said, blowing his nose with a tissue that he had on desk. He looked at them with a sickly grin.
"Uh, yeah. That. We're fine, at least so far. Right Carrots?" Nick asked, turning to the grey bunny next to him, who nodded.
"Hey Clawhauser...you have access to the records department right? Do they have records there that they don't keep online?" Judy asked, thinking for a moment. Nick rolled his eyes, already telling exactly where this was going.
"I don't think so...if we have it, it's online, although you may have to have special access. Need help looking someone up?" Clawhauser asked, eager to help as he always was.
"Yeah, could you look up if anyone's named 'Jack Savage'? We heard the name last night but had no idea who it was. And you know Nick and his memory for mammals."
"Jack...Savage...there we go. Let's see, one record," Clawhauser said, typing into the computer and pausing to sneeze into a tissue. "Born 1986, died 2014. Doesn't seem to have any notable things...mortician says he died to drug overdose of Gemfield. Wait, that can't be right..."
"Isn't Gemfield new? Like, coming out within the last six months new?" Judy asked. Nick nodded.
"Yes it is...this can't be right. Hold on, I'm going to send a message to records, see if they know what's going on. Sorry Judy!" Clawhauser said, quickly sending an email.
"No, that's fine. What kind of information do you have on there?"
"Not much more than that. He didn't have a record until he died. Lived at 3493 Lark street down in the Rainforest district. Moved in a few years ago to go to school, graduated and then...poof. Nothing. No job, no friends...wow this is bizarre. Usually we don't get records this blank."
"I don't know, Carrots got records more blank than that twice now," Nick interrupted with a smirk. Judy glared at him, knowing exactly which records he was talking about.
"Oh that's true! This must be a goldmine huh Judy! Good luck!" Clawhauser said, ignoring Judy's mood and passing over the record that he could. He'd keep an eye on it, and if Records updated it he would let her know.
"Thanks Nick. You're such a help," Judy said sarcastically, walking over to the usual briefing room. It was sometimes a hassle to have to go to the bullpen each day, but Chief Bogo made sure to keep it short. Not sweet, but short. If she was needed elsewhere, he'd tell her in his usual blunt way.
"Wilde! Hopps! Office!"
Or sometimes she wouldn't even need to go to the bullpen. Like today, apparently. "Huh. Wonder why he called me in too. Isn't it usually you that gets in trouble?" Nick said, heading towards the Chief's office. It was a little ways past the cubicle farm, laid out in its own area.
Judy already did have trouble reaching for this door, as it wasn't made for mammals her size. But each time she had to come in, she jumped up to grab the door handle, and pushed off against the frame to open it. Nick, who watched the show a lot, said that it was, "A thing of grace" to watch.
She was ninety percent sure he was being sarcastic.
"You called for us, sir?" Judy said upon swinging in. Bogo looked over his glasses at her, and motioned for both of them to sit down on the overly large seats. Bogo's office was light on furniture; three large chairs that made both Nick and Judy sink into them, a desk with a computer on it, a printer off in the corner, and a single painting that simply said, "placeholder painting".
Judy looked at it in confusion. He must've gotten a new one.
Bogo looked at them, his eyes appearing large in his glasses, as he sighed and pulled them to start cleaning them. "I don't know what I'm going to do with you two. In under a day, a day, barely even half of one, you two have done more in your assignments than the other teams have in a week. And the worst part is, this is slow.
"I do however, remember assigning you to two different teams. So I'm going to ask just once...what. Happened."
Judy and Nick exchanged glances. They had assumed something like this, judging by Chief Bogo's Across-The-ZPD-Yell (trademarked!). Judy took the chance to go first, maybe she could talk some sense into Nick before he said something to make Bogo blow up, "I went to the site of the Gemfield report, sir, and it reminded me a lot of the Eggman Incident six months ago. I thought that since Nick was there, he could explain to me what was going on then and compare it to now."
"Also she missed me."
The water buffalo Chief of Police breathed deeply, taking in Judy's explanation while ignoring Wilde's. "I see. Then why would you go the coyote's apartment? That wasn't your assignment."
"Because it's always better to go to the scene then just read about it. And I was thinking maybe I could catch something in case Nick missed it."
"Also she missed me."
"Shut UP Nick!"
"I don't care if she misses you or not Wilde. I got an interesting call from Mayor Reich last night, saying that if I had mistakenly put you on the CIIT's assignment, I was to take you off of it, and that it wasn't to happen again."
Nick and Judy looked up, about ready to say that it was their business how they dealt with their own assignments, only to see Bogo smirking at them. "On the other hand, I told him the truth. I don't care. Get it done. If that means working together..."
Judy could barely contain her smile, and almost leapt across the seat to hug Nick, staring up at Bogo in confusion and wonder at the same time. "Now go. I don't want to see you two in here for another week," Bogo said, turning back to his screen. They were almost out the door, smiling broadly, as he called out again, "Oh, and Wilde? Get your reports in! They're late!" Nick's face fell, and he wandered sulkily towards the elevators.
"Hey, I'm going to go check in with SIT, just in case they found anything," Nick said, making sure his phone was charged before heading towards the elevator.
"Sure. I have a few things I need to do," Judy responded, walking towards the the doors to the lab. Nick watched her go for a bit as he waited for the elevator, before rolling his eyes at his own silliness and going back to tapping his foot.
The doors opened, eventually, with an all-too-happy 'ding!'. Stepping in and hitting the button for the needed floor, he then had to wait even longer as the elevator seemed almost geriatric. Finally stepping out he briskly walked over to the CIIT 'headquarters'. He wanted to get back to doing constructive things, not...dealing with this. Oh well, everyone has to.
Opening the door, he wasn't sure what he was expecting, but it wasn't Delgato and Fangmeyer arm-wrestling, with the Chaos Theory open between them. Nick watched for a moment, trading glances with Nightclaw, who merely shrugged from her place in front of the radio equipment.
"Whoever loses has to quote an entire passage from the Chaos Theory. They've been at this since before I got in, and I got in at four," Nightclaw explained. Nick looked at them wildly.
"Why on earth would you two willingly get here at before four in the morning?" Nick asked. "By the way, do I need to know or do anything for this place? I left before I got the full welcome."
"Because we can," the two tigers said in unison, shrugging as much as they could while continuing their contest. "And not that we've seen. Got anything on that bone thing yet?"
"Yeah, it was a coyote. Guy's still alive, although he has memory loss. Gemfield doesn't do that does it? Make someone lose their memory?"
"Memory loss? That's a new one...it seems almost every time we run into it, it has a different effect. There was one guy that claims he got lost in time for a bit!" Nightclaw said, rolling her eyes, "Course, that guy was also bat-guano insane, so there's that."
"You guys know any Jack Savage? He was screaming out the name when he was being put into the ambulance. Carrots and I can't find anything on the guy, although Clawhauser somehow pulled up some records. I'm not too sure how though..."
"Benjamin has higher record access than you guys do, that's probably why. Beat cops have the lowest, and unless Records got around to updating the database, that's probably where you're still at," Nightclaw reasoned.
"But do you know the guy?"
"Savage...the name's familiar. I remember thinking the name was odd because of the whole Savage attacks going on at the time. I think he died though," the panther said.
"He didn't die, he was picked up by aliens!" Fangmeyer piped up, distracting Delgato just enough for him to slam his arm down on the table. "Ha! I win! Pay up!"
"Aliens. Right. Thanks guys."
Delgato interrupted his own speech on the 'Chaos Effects and Transitions', "Couldn't have been aliens. Maybe it was the ZIA!" he said with a smirk. Nick rolled his eyes and walked out the door, trying to avoid a 'discussion' between the two tigers about what constitutes as unhelpful advice and how it violates their bet.
From: Nick Wilde
To: Judy Hopps
Subject: How does anything around here get done?
Just got out of the SIT meeting. Turns out it was just Delgato and Fangmeyer arm-wrestling. How does anything get done around here if everyone does goofs off all the time?
From: Judy Hopps
To: Nick Wilde
Subject: Re: Stuff done
It really only boils down to those that aren't part of secondary departments. I've heard rumors that the beat cops are the ones that have to get everything done, as even the detectives aren't on the ball sometimes. From what I've seen, it's very true.
Also they have us, so there's that.
PS: Get out to the car, I have it warming up already. And take the stairs, the elevators take forever.
And there's five. Finally Jack Savage gets in the picture. For those unaware, Jack Savage is the name of a beta character in Zootopia, alongside Skye (both were intended to be the original main characters, then when they came up with the Zootopia setting they switched to Nick, then to Judy. It's actually kinda interesting to me the entire history of it...)
Until Next Time!
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Welcome to chapter 6. If there appear to be any continuity errors, trust me when I say they aren't. It's foreshadowing. Yes. Foreshadowing. Definitely. Yep. Can't be anything else. Certainly not the author forgetting character's names halfway through writing the chapter...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Judy watched Nick go into the elevator out of the corner of her eyes. She was heading down to the lab technicians in the basement. The only way down was via the stairs, as apparently the department had been first built up using the stairs and elevators, and then built downwards until someone realized that using the elevators to bore into the earth would be 'expensive'.
The Zootopia Police Department's lab was a relatively new area. It used to be the Records department before they got moved to the third floor. Records was apparently still dusting out all the cobwebs. The lab hallway was a sterile white, in contrast to the rest of the building, with only two doors on the side ending with a double door. An ID scanner lay to the side of all of the doors.
She scanned her badge in, and waited 'patiently' for the doors to open. The lab's weren't open to most beat cops, but they made a special consideration for her, considering she was the 'hero' that saved the city back during the Savage Attacks, and had somehow come up with the plan to knock out Dr. Robotnik.
There were only four lab technicians. Rocky, a raccoon who was more likely to steal everything that wasn't nailed down, experiment on it, and then come back for everything that was; Nathaniel, a rabbit who for some reason's only exemplary claim to fame is that he didn't have a punny name and that he was relatively normal; Chippy, a squirrel who once said there is nothing wrong with switching the coffee to triple espresso specials while hanging from the ceiling, and gave Nick and Judy the strangest ideas sometimes, and finally their boss.
A pig named Din. Short for Dinkles, so it was obvious why he preferred Din. He was sure that his parents weren't of the 'sound mind' part when they had him. Either that, or he was completely unplanned so they took it out on him. One of the two. He seemed normal, until there was an idea abound. Then it was all gloves off as he focused to the point where the others occasionally had to remind him to go home. That being said, he didn't listen very often.
Rocky looked up as Judy entered, "Judy Hopps, as I live and breathe! What brings you down here to our not quite so humble abode?" he asked quickly, eyeing her suspiciously.
She had gotten rid of her wallet, and the only item she had on her besides her clothes was her badge. Rocky worked nights, and had more often than once been found with her wallet in his locker. Of course, she then had to explain why she had covered her wallet with capsaicin, which led to a ceasefire between the lab and her.
"Is Din in? I need to talk to him about a case," Judy answered, looking around. The main lab, the one she was in, was a large square room. Computers on one side (one with a video of a young kitten trying to climb a ceiling fan playing), and various other lab-based equipment strewn throughout on various tables. On the other side from the computers were three desks put into the wall with glass completely covering them.
"Din? Don't think so yet, he doesn't usually get in until nine or ten. What's up?" Rocky asked. "If you need something feel free to ask me. I'm not gonna get my paw stuck."
Judy hesitated a moment, before throwing caution to the wind, "Any updates on the Gemfield info? Nick and I need to have something. Chris Latrans seemed to lose his memory after the whole bone thing."
"Bone? Oh right the bone dog!" Rocky cracked himself up before turning back and attempting to look serious, "I can check if there's anything. We've been running scans on the stuff but it seems every time we try one angle, everything changes. I swear, it's like a powdered Chaos Emerald or something."
Judy looked sharply at him, "Could it be?" If it was a Chaos Emerald, that would explain a lot. Specifically how everything just seems crazier in general.
Rocky turned to her grimly, "Nah, we tried to crush one once when we had one here a few months ago. Thing took twenty thousand pounds of force and shattered our hydraulic presser. I don't think there is a thing out there that can hurt one of them." He ran over to one of the computers, laughed briefly at the cat video, and typed something in.
"Nah, doesn't look like it yet. One of the scans just finished, so it's now apparently a, oh you'll laugh at this one, 'combination frozen H2O and N2O'," he said, laughing simply at the obvious malfunction. Judy stared at him, willing to explain the joke, "Right, you didn't take chemistry. It's saying it's frozen nitrous oxide and dihydrogen monoxide. Laughing gas and water."
"Told you you'd laugh! Gettit? Laughing gas? Anyways, that couldn't be it because otherwise it'd be exploding."
"Exploding?" Judy's eyes widened as she felt a minor shift in the air. Some small thing, and it kind of reminded her of the Chaos Emerald, except far more raw, more primal...more explosive. A small sigh came from the back of her mind. Of course the visit would end like this. It's not a visit to the lab techs if something weird doesn't happen.
Judy took off running and got past the doors just fast enough to feel the breeze as a small part of the lab suddenly erupted into fire. "I got this!" Rocky yelled out, grabbing a fire extinguisher and coating the fire in the gas.
"Next time tell me if it's explosive before telling jokes! Also if there are any updates let us know!" Judy yelled out, before rolling her eyes at Rocky's lazy 'sure, sure'. How the lab techs dealt with things backfiring so nonchalantly she would have no idea. Especially because it seemed like every time she went down there, something exploded. The inner pyro in her was happy every time, but there were multiple reasons she didn't come down here that often.
She let her heartbeat go down and tried to relax before finding her cruiser. Their cruiser. Even if the mayor didn't want them on the same case, they'd do it anyways. Because this was Zootopia, a city where anyone could be anything. And also they worked extremely well together, so no officers would ever begrudge them of that. She checked her email, and sent a cheeky reply off to Nick when he asked how anything got done. It was a good question, to be fair; most of the precinct was dedicated to being beat cops, with detectives at all the other precincts being more common. It was the inverse of what she expected going through the academy, but it made sense.
Beat cops could go anywhere, and by having a central hub they could get used to the entire city. Precinct detectives, on the other hand, were limited much more in scope but far more specialized. There was a lot of red tape around being a detective, anywhere except Precinct One, where it was considered a badge of honor to have risen through the ranks even through so much bureaucracy.
By the time Nick got out to the cruiser Judy had already turned on the radio, and was listening to the weather report. She smiled inwardly as her own observation earlier was proven.
"...scientists are still unsure as to what caused this low pressure cloud that is currently hanging over Zootopia, but experts warn that it's going to cause heavy rains for a few days..." it said as Nick climbed into the seat.
"Listening to the weather Carrots? I thought country bunnies could tell the weather by their ears or something," Nick said, buckling in. It probably wasn't a good idea to tease her about that, but Nick knew approximately what he was doing. He felt the vehicle start to move forward.
"Don't you know Nick? I can. Just as I know that you should watch out," Judy said, braking quickly and sending Nick forward. "See? Watch out Nick...the bunny knows."
They drove in high spirits. Neither Judy nor Nick knew what they were expecting...if they were expecting anything. Maybe more of the same kind of feeling that Judy had had earlier? She brought it up to Nick, the feeling of the Gemfield exploding (they had a nice laugh about that, considering it was barely big enough to hurt a fly), and then he asked a question.
"Did this feel anything like what you felt before when you were here, or at the hospital?" he asked, laying down the two options. She thought about it, trying to keep one eye on the road. They weren't quite in the Rainforest district yet, but it's still dangerous to not look ahead.
She was silent for a few minutes, and by that time Nick had shrugged it off and was debating how to get Judy to pay for coffee. "It felt...it felt like both."
"What felt like both?"
"The Gemfield thing. It felt almost exactly like both, but in much smaller amounts."
"So you can tell when it's going to explode? That's handy. Seems to me you like working with explosives."
"I will admit that they are fun," Judy said, smirking at the gobsmacked red fox next to her. "What, you never expected we 'country bunniekins' knew how to have fun? Alcohol and explosives. Although I never did much of the former...but plenty of the latter."
"In all seriousness though," she continued, "I mean when there's Gemfield around. The three places have only one thing in common, and that's Gemfield, so either when it's active..."
"Or if there's a large amount of it. A kind of walking drug sensor. Like a wolf, but only for Gemfield," Nick finished. Judy glared at him half-heartedly, as the comparison had come up in her own mind as well, before settling with a sighed smile.
"Yes Nick, like a drug wolf."
"Judy, the amazing Gemfield Rabbit! Come one, come all!"
Judy, after checking to make sure no one was behind her, promptly stepped on the brakes again.
They parked at the same place that Judy had parked last time she had come to the Rainforest District. They were going into the same area that Officer Trumpent was in when she had submitted her report, and the same area that Judy had called Nick from. Because they had run into an expected roadblock on the SIT's case, what with trying to track down a known dead person who had no records, they had universally agreed, without talking, to try and get something done on Judy's Gemfield case.
"It was right about...here, according to the report," Judy said, going back to the same location described in Officer Trumpent's report. She had a similar feeling, but felt the same call to check it out. Weaker, much weaker, but still there.
"I don't feel a thing, Carrots. Sure you're not just hypersensitive?" Nick asked, wandering down the alleyways without hestiation. He seemed to know this portion of the Rainforest District well, Judy noted. Then again, he seemed to know everywhere in Zootopia well...
"I doubt it. It's stronger this way," Judy said, forcing herself to face down one of the alleyways. Nick nodded and walked alongside the dimly lit area. It was what one would expect from an alleyway in the Rainforest; it had its corners and its bins, and seemed unwelcoming.
But even as Nick walked through the entire thing, and even went through some of the bins that Judy wasn't able to get to, they didn't find anything. "And of course they would choose this place for a drug deal. No cameras," Nick noticed. He looked up at where the various cameras should be, noting that they were broken down and in disrepair, if not outright gone.
"Well...there's nothing here. Whatever it was, it's gone now. Come on, we'll write a follow-up report and then see if the Chief wants to do anything about that drug bust..." Judy said.
"Wait, what's that about we?" Nick asked smirking, walking back to their cruiser. His eyes laid on a sign about a block away. "Uh...Carrots...does that sign say what I think it says?" he pointed to it.
Judy looked at it for a moment, before she said exasperatedly, "Wow. How did we miss that..." Nick shook his head, as he wasn't sure how either. Tucked into the corner was a small sign saying "Jack Savage; private investigator".
She tried to rationalize it in her head, before she realized that she was getting the same feeling as before, much stronger, and she tried to laugh out, "Watch out Nick, my Gemfield sense is tingling." Tried to, because she was honestly still worried as to what that was.
Nick snorted, and started to head towards the place. If Judy could try and joke about it, it wasn't as serious as it could have been. The place was a small one, one and a half stories, and not even much of an office space. It was barely bigger than an apartment, and not well taken care of. The other buildings seemed to have built away from it, leaving it alone and seemingly unwanted. A lone window was on the front, too dusty to see through.
Nick and Judy both pried their ears forward, trying to hear anything. Nick shrugged, and tried to push open the door. It creaked open on hinges that desperately needed to be oiled...or made of stainless steel. The building seemed deserted. "Hello? Anyone here?" Nick called out.
"Yes? Hello!" came a voice from much further in, much further in than was thought possible. It was a bright and jovial voice, not much older than Judy. "Feel free to come in, I'm in the office in the back!" Nick's mind snapped to work as he tried to place it. It didn't seem afraid, but it did seem...off.
They followed the hallway, which seemed to take a darker turn with every step. A few doors lay off to the side, one leading to the kitchen and another to a very bland living room. At the end of the main hallway lay another door, with "Jack Savage, Private Investigator" made out of cardboard on top of the glass. The door seemed unable to close, tilted as it was, leaning against the door frame.
They walked inside, expecting more of the same. That's exactly what they got; a very strange carpet which made them feel as if they had to check for fleas, a small desk that had no computer, or anything electronic of any kind. And a small rabbit with three large black, almost whisker-like marks on his cheeks.
"Hi," Judy said, taking in the new bunny quickly, "who're you?" He seemed slightly taller than she was, although much less fit. He also was seemingly in his natural habitat, judging by his crumpled clothes. But she knew better than to judge a mammal before she knows them.
"Hi!" he said, hopping over the desk easily. Judy scoffed internally. The desk was barely two feet high, if he couldn't jump over that then he wasn't worth being a rabbit. "I'm Jack Savage, private investigator! See, I have a sign and everything!" he said grinning, pointing to the cardboard in the glass.
"Hi, I'm Nick Wilde and this is -" Nick tried to introduce himself, only to be cut off as Savage whirled around and gave him the universal sign for wait.
"Wait! I know! If you are Nick Wilde then you, my beautiful madam, must be Judith Hopps!" he said brightly, as if he just figured out a hard puzzle. Judy looked unimpressed. Then she got an evil smirk and Nick couldn't wait to see what she would do.
"Oh wow! I am!? Nick, why didn't you tell me!?" Judy yelled out excitedly, hopping around. Nick laughed internally, even as he tried to go along with it.
"Oh wow! You are? Judy, why didn't you tell me!?"
"Oh ha ha you two. Bundle of laughs you two be. So what I can do for the illustrious duo of the ZPD?" Savage said, quickly changing gears to something that could be considered 'formal'.
"Aren't you supposed to be dead?" Nick asked bluntly. Obviously the bunny wasn't dead, nor did he seem all that hurt either. In fact, there was little reason he could possibly think of for Savage to even be considering claiming to be dead. It's not like it was a tax write-off or anything. One of Zootopia's weirdest tax laws made sure of that.
"Oh right...I forgot that's what happened here. Eh, I tried that whole being dead thing, didn't really like it," Savage said nonchalantly, waving his hand around, as if trying to dust off some cobwebs.
"We're on a case, and your name was brought up," Judy started, causing Savage to look directly at her. His eyes pierced straight into hers. She absentmindedly noted that they were blue, nearly the same color as Sonic's fur. She doubted a connection, but it was strange for him to have that almost exact same shade.
"It was? Interesting. Like I said before, how can I help you two?"
"What do you know about Gemfield?"
"About what?" Savage seemed taken aback.
"Gemfield, the drug. The drug that had a massive deal go down just a few nights ago a block away from here. That drug," Nick explained. Savage looked confused for a moment as he tried to rattle his memory. A few moments passed before a look of dawning understanding came upon him.
"Uh, no comment."
"Yes comment, Mr. Savage. Come on, if you know something that could help us...why was Chris Latrans shouting out your name?" Judy asked.
Savage seemed to be thoughtful for a moment, before eyeing both Judy and Nick, as if appraising them of something. "Huh. I guess not everyone is...what I know of Gemfield is quite a lot. I have no idea who this Chris guy is though."
"Coyote, got wrapped in bone a while back?"
The marked rabbit looked ahead for a while, unseeing. "Oh. Ouch. That's...not good. He's not dead is he?"
"You'd be happy to know your customer is alive. But with no memory."
"He's not my customer, I don't sell the ticked stuff. Heck, only reason I know about it is because police like you force me to."
"What do you mean, 'police like us'?" Judy asked. Savage shrugged, before standing up and leaning against the wall.
"Exactly what I mean. Precinct Three, the Rainforest District precinct, came around here about three months ago, threatening everyone with eviction if they didn't behave themselves. And by 'behave', they mean if they catch a single whiff of any of the big name drugs, including Gemfield, they'd kick you out faster than a coocoo bird kicks out a nest of eggs."
"What? I assure you, Mr. Sava-"
"Call me Jack. If anyone's earned the right, it's you two."
"I assure you, Jack, that we didn't know anything about that!"
"Oh, trust me, I know. Cheese, they even gave out flyers on the ticked stuff. Here, I'll get it out for you," Jack said, rummaging through his desk. Contrary to the almost too jovial and bright rabbit that he was when they came in, he seemed extremely down-to-earth now.
"What was with the happy act a minute ago?" Nick asked, passing over the yellow slip that Jack had gotten out to Judy.
"Oh that? Precinct Three doesn't like PI's, and for good reason. Half of the mammals that go missing in Zootopia are from the Rainforest District. And what with bureaucracy being the way it is, it's better in almost every case to work the private sector. So I act like an imbecile and get them to leave me alone."
"You don't do that with everyone?"
"I saw a cop car, I act like an idiot. Can't be that hard to figure out."
"This is...surprisingly detailed. It has everything on here, from what it does to what it looks like...only thing it doesn't have is how its made. And Precinct Three gave this out?" Judy asked, showing the flyer to Nick. Sure enough, it even had the chemical composition on there as well.
"Yeah. I'm sure that if they had that information they'd put it on there as well. Moronic, as far as I know. Why reveal your entire hand when you can try to bluff...only to know it wasn't a bluff?" Jack said.
"Maybe they thought it'd be better to get all the information out there so that people will know what to do?"
"Maybe. Anything else I can do for you officers?"
"Yeah, what do you know about the drug deal that went down a few nights ago?" Nick asked. Jack nodded, as if he expected that.
"Not a whole lot. Two mammals of about equal size, one carrying a glowing brown sack and the other carrying a briefcase. They checked the contents and then left."
"Why didn't you just say that before?" Judy asked, glancing at Nick. The fox was more familiar with that type of criminal activity than Judy was, but he only shrugged.
"Precinct Three doesn't exactly have the best opinion on freely given information. The rainforest is full of gangs and criminals, so they think that any freely given info is just trickery, or something to put them on the wrong trail."
"Well we do have to check it out anyways. Did you get a good look at the two mammals?"
"Not as much. One was a fox, I know that, a little smaller than you," Jack said, pointing to Nick, "and the other was a bit smaller, probably a weasel or something."
"So we have a fox and a weasel...how stereotypically appropriate," Nick deadpanned. Jack shrugged.
"I'm afraid that's all I know. Anything else I can do for you two?"
"Nothing else comes to mind. Can we get your phone number in case we need to reach you again?" Judy asked. Jack hesitated for only a moment before reaching down and grabbing one of his cards, giving it over. It didn't have a picture, but it had his name, phone number, and most importantly, current address and occupation. Everything they'd need.
"Thanks Jack! We'll call you if we have more questions," Judy said, as both she and Nick walked out the door. They were silent for a few minutes as they walked back to their cruiser, before they hopped into one of the side alleys.
"He wasn't telling the whole story, was he Nick?" Judy asked, keeping an eye on the seemingly abandoned house. Nick smirked and shook his head.
"No he wasn't, Carrots...no he wasn't."
From: Judy Hopps
To: Benjamin Clawhauser (bclawhauser); Records Department (wtfrecords)
Subject: Jack Savage update
Nick and I found Savage. Apparently he 'didn't like being dead'. He's alive, Nick took a quick picture of him using his phone, it's attached. I also attached a picture of the card he gave us. Address seems to check out, but it also seems abandoned. Could you guys search up the deeds and make sure what's going on? Just seems way too weird for us.
From: Benjamin Clawhauser
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
Subject: RE: Jack Savage update
Ooh wow a bunny! He seems so...disgruntled... the way he stands there looking like he hates the world! Odd to see a bunny private investigator, but I've seen a bunny cop so anything's possible! hehe.
I fished out the deed from the system and sent it to you guys, didn't really look at it. It should have all the information, otherwise SOMEONE (points to Bogo) needs to go talk with Records again!
You're doing great!
Oh god Clawhauser's email hurts my soul. Also attachments are...also eliminated on FF.net. Well. Also, I apologize once again for forgetting that AO3 exists. Once again, double chapter. I swear, I will be able to remember this eventually.
Until next time.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Funny thing about this chapter and the last two; pre-editing they were all exactly the same word count; 3,637. After however, they're all different. I tried to keep them similar.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"What are they doing..." Skye whispered, looking through her binoculars. She blinked in frustration as she watched Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps go straight into the lion's den known as Jack Savage's place, and then come back out no worse for wear a mere half hour later.
She had set up on a small tall apartment building a block away. Despite her usual fears of her white fur giving her away, even if they looked up they wouldn't be able to see her seeing as how her fur was soaking wet from being in the Rainforest District...and the sky was grey. She sighed, and reminded herself again how she got into this mess. She was a mechanic, not a spy or a hacker. A mechanic. She worked on machines, not with them. She didn't even understand half the mumbo-jumbo that Mr. Big kept spouting at her.
He kept saying, "Just keep an eye on them a little longer Ms. Lanmarck. We need to know what they're doing, where they're going, and who they're investigating. Keep it up, Ms. Lanmarck, and your debt will be repaid enough soon."
Skye rolled her eyes, 'Of course he'd say that. He's been telling me that since the beginning.' Her 'debt' had, to her, long since been repaid, ever since she was forced to join the Zootopian Zenomites to effectively gauge their strength. Just lucky for her that they didn't question her motives, or legitimately anything about her. Took a look, saw a fox and boom! Instant membership. Assholes.
She drafted another quick message to Big's contact; a polar bear named Kevin. Not a nice guy, but on the other hand he was about as fair as could be. "N & J headed to Savage's place, they're still looking around," she said, making sure that she could still see them as they skulked around the alleyway they were in. Her phone went off a second later as he contacted her.
"Savage? The bunny rabbit?" Kevin responded in the usual polar bearian accent.
"Yes Kevin, the bunny rabbit. The one with weird marks on his cheeks that was part of GUN a few years back. You know, the one that everyone was sure had died?"
"I'm not going to ask how you know that."
"Good, you shouldn't. I don't know what he has to do with them though...hey, I've been watching them for a while now, what's stopping me from making contact with them again?"
"How you go about assignment is up to you. I care not. Mr. Big and I care only for the information."
"Gotcha. So nothing, then. By the way, Kevin, the second cylinder's backfiring on your van, I can hear it over the phone. It's got a squeak to it that doesn't sound good. You should take it to a mechanic. I know a good one."
"Hush Ms. Skye. We bears are excellent mech-" the line went dead as Skye heard an explosion in the background. She winced; it sounded like the whole engine backfired. Well, not her problem. She looked back at the red fox and grey bunny, now staring perfectly up at her. They waved.
She waved back, as her phone vibrated with a new text message. Grinning, she checked it, 'Know any good mechanics aside from yourself?'. From Kevin. Of course it was. 'Try Beary's in Sahara.' she texted back, even as she ran back down the building. It was time to catch up with some friends. 'Yeah,' she thought to herself, 'I'm no good at this whole 'spying' thing.'
"Hey, Carrots, not to alarm you or anything but we're being watched."
"By Skye, I know. She's not very good at hiding. Think we should let her know we see her? I wonder how long she was there."
"Couldn't have been much longer after we got here. You keep an eye on Savage, I'll try to hear what she's saying," Nick said. The vixen was across the street, and several stories up, but Nick's hearing was pretty good itself.
"I think she's talking with her boss..." Nick said, trying faintly to make out the words. He looked down at Judy, with her radar-like ears also pointed up that direction, except she was mouthing along with it.
"It's not a big deal to their boss if she comes down to report on us," Judy said, keeping her eyes locked on Savage's place.
"Yeah, Big's like that with his field agents. I feel lucky, I've only had to do two. Finnick's had five," Nick said, now waiting for Skye to look down to wave to her.
"One of these days Nick, you're going to tell me what you were up to during those days."
"I'd rather not, Fluff. Bogo knows, but I ain't telling."
"I'll get it from him then."
They waved up at Skye once they realized that she was looking down at them. She waved back, even as she winced away from her phone as it sounded like there was an explosion in the background. She popped out of view a few seconds later.
"Wait for her or continue?" Judy asked.
Nick shrugged, "I'd prefer to wait. Better to use the buddy system than to go alone. What is it that Wolford always says? 'Never split the party'?"
"Sounds like it, yeah. You know, I never realized he was big into those RP games until two months ago."
"Really? I thought it was obvious, I had him pegged the moment I saw him."
"We can't all be hustlers in a previous life," Judy said simply. Nick nodded. It was an old time for him; practically a lifetime ago, even though it had only been a few years. He was glad to be out of it, always running from Big's goons, always trying to make a buck out of everything.
Skye made a quick appearance, running out of the apartment building she had been on top of. She stopped for a quick check on the street to make sure no one was coming, before running the rest of the way, her bag bouncing on her back. She had long slim jeans on, highlighting her legs, and a simple shirt. It seemed almost too casual, like she was planning on hanging out with friends versus trying to get a report on them.
"Hey you two," Skye whispered, out of breath as she slipped into the alleyway. Nick grinned as he saw Judy take a deep breath.
"Hey yourself! No notes, no messages, not even a sign on your door saying what's going on, and then a massive text dump and a simple 'hey'? Geez Skye...you're as bad as Nick and me," Judy grinned. Nick rolled his eyes.
"If I remember right Carrots, that was all you."
"I said sorry!"
"So what are you two doing?" Skye asked, trying to ignore their bickering. It was humorous, to her, the way they would 'fight' only to snark at each other more and more. She wondered if they were always like that or if it was just a show they put on.
"Keeping an eye on someone. Want to join, Ms. 'Mr. Big's Agent'?" Nick asked. Skye glared at him for a second half-heartedly, before shrugging and nodding.
"Right, so here's a plan. Nick and Skye, you two go around this alleyway, see if you can keep an eye on Savage. I'll go through the side and see if I can't find...something," Judy said, pointing around the corner. The two foxes nodded, and they shot off into the grey and brown.
Nick was hard to spot except for the blue of his uniform, and Skye was white. Judy sighed as she saw just how easily both of them were to spot. That was one thing they were going to have to change...at some point.
"They don't hide well, do they?" A voice came from behind her. She yelped and turned around to see nothing there. "That said, I think with a bit of training, they could do rather well." The same voice said, from another direction. It sounded rather deep, although it held no hostility. Judy turned, to see no one there either. She focused on her ears instead. "Goo-" the voice was cut off as Judy punched where the voice was coming from. She felt it connect with a warm yet hard body. Not a mammal then...maybe a reptile?
"Well, I see Tails wasn't kidding when he said for me to be careful. I'm not here to hurt you," the voice said, as what looked like a chameleon seemed to appear out of thin air. He changed a variety of colors, before settling on bright violet.
And Judy noticed that his hands had five fingers. "You are...?" she asked hesitantly, her hand aiming for her tranquilizer gun. She wasn't sure how well it would work on a reptile, but it put down mammals fairly quickly. Zootopia didn't have many reptiles, as she had heard about a forced exodus back when the city was still in it's primordial stage. Many of them still haven't forgiven the city.
"Espio. Espio the Chameleon," he said, bowing but never taking his eyes off the bunny. "And you are Judith Laverne Hopps, the red fox over there is Nicolas Piberius Wilde, and the arctic is Skye Median Lanmarck."
"What are you doing here." It wasn't a question.
"Just keeping an eye out. Tails asked for me to. He said that he didn't like the way so much crazy stuff happens to you, so he sent the ninja in."
"You're a ninja?" Judy asked disbelievingly. She probably shouldn't, as she had first hand proof that she couldn't detect this guy unless he spoke up, which means he was obviously excessively trained in stealth. And weren't ninjas supposed to be extremely stealthy?
"Could you find me before? Just keep going Hopps...I'll be around..." Espio said, smirking as he shimmered and wavered into nothingness again. Judy tried to focus, to find some outline, and instead found nothing. Excessively trained in stealth, check.
Judy sent off a quick email to Miles, but knowing that she couldn't really do anything about the odd chameleon now. Reptiles were extremely rare in Zootopia, with only being about fifteen, and ten of those were turtles in the Canal District! And there certainly were no chameleons! She shook her head, and tried to focus on what she needed to do. She was investigating Jack Savage. Espio, and the investigation on him, could wait a bit. She wasn't about to forget it anytime soon.
She rushed over to the dustbins outside Savage's Private Investigator office. She flattened her ears and got a quick look, making sure he was still there by looking through the first floor windows. They were slightly dirty, but still clean enough to show that he was there, hunched over his desk looking at something.
Judy wasn't sure what she would find, but as quietly as she could she opened up the dustbins, and suddenly got a face full of dust, ash, and her Gemfield sense went off faster than a lightbulb burns out during a power surge. The can was mostly empty; a few papers, a few paper bags with fast food remnants in them, and finally a brown sack. It was the sack that Judy went for first, surprised by its weight. It was definitely full of something, but it was still lighter than she would've expected.
She looked inside, taking care to keep her face away from whatever it was. A white dust coated the inside, but her Gemfield sense was blaring full alarm, commanding her to find the source of the dust. She forced the feeling down, noticing that it was much easier now than it had been before.
She hoisted the sack, making sure that none of the white powder spilled anywhere, and continued looking through the can. Most mammals would be surprised by what someone could find by looking through the trash. And it was with the greatest of surprise that she found what looked like a simple note, written on old style rough paper, almost a parchment.
'Jack, feel free to take this and go. Kyuu has already found another location to bring to the surface in much higher quantities, and I must do the same. I thank you for allowing me to use your elevator.'
"Elevator? What?" Judy whispered, already committing the note to memory. This one note gave several leads; Jack Savage, again, this Kyuu mammal, and whoever wrote the note.
"Having fun searching through my trash like some kind of raccoon, Hopps?" Jack called out of his now-open window. Despite the amount of evidence she had found within, he didn't sound too worried. In fact, he sounded downright pleased, as if she was on the cusp of some big answer that would change the world as she knew it.
"Raccoon my tail. Care to explain any of this, Jack?" she asked out loud. She wasn't sure if the other bunny could see her or not, but she didn't particularly care either. Nick and Skye also came out to see what it is exactly that she had found, and why she was talking so loudly.
"Any of what, exactly?"
"Well alright then," Judy said, motioning for Nick to get one of his recorders out. He hurriedly did so, only pausing to try and understand what her hand signals were. "We have one bag of suspicious white powder, which I'm certain contained or does contain the drug known as Gemfield, a few suspicious receipts that don't have your handwriting at all on them, and a note."
"A...note?" His voice seemed surprised, as if he had known about everything else, but not that.
"A note. Would you care to hear it?"
"Y-Yes. Please," his voice slightly hitched. 'Well,' Judy thouht, 'that's one way to surprise him.'
"'Jack, feel free to take this and go. Kyuu has already found another location to bring to the surface in much higher quantities, and I must do the same. I thank you for allowing me to use your elevator.'" Judy quoted from memory. She grinned, proud that she hadn't needed to check the note at all.
"You're-You're joking. That means nothing, and the gangs around here put stuff in my trash all the time."
"Who is this Kyuu?" Judy asked suddenly. Jack was silent for several moments, and right before Judy was about to ask again he started.
"Kyuu is...a nickname. For a fox. I don't suppose Wilde knows anything about him?" Nick shook his head, and Judy repeated it. The longer they could go without telling Jack they were both out there, the better. "I didn't think so. Tick...you've already come this far. Might as well get the full story. What was that doing out there...come on in, both of you."
He opened the window the rest of the way, more than large enough for both Judy and Nick to pass through. Skye came in a second later, and Jack closed the window, only now noticing that Judy's tranqilizer gun was pointed at him. He seemingly ignored it, and turned to Skye.
"Haven't met you yet. Jack Savage, private investigator."
"Skye Lanmarck, mechanic."
"Well this seems a bit too big now...ticks...so before you shoot me, Hopps, I need to explain one thing, but it might be easier to simply show you."
"Show us what?" Nick asked. He was still recording everything.
"Six months ago, something happened here. I wasn't always a private investigator, I used to be a federal agent. Worked for GUN for a while, then was called back here when my investigations turned sour. Something changed in Zootopia. I didn't know what it was, but the effect soon became fairly obvious," Jack explained still at his desk, seeming as if he was reminiscing about times long gone by.
"For me to continue, you'll have to believe me when I say this; there are other beings out there that change the face of the world by their mere existence. I was on the team to investigate these known supernatural beings," Jack said.
"Dungbeetles!" Judy said, her paw turning the safety off. Dealing with Chaos was one thing, but the supernatural too? No matter how much Miles would say she shouldn't be prejudiced, there are some things that are too hard to take.
"Right, shouldn't have used that word. Chaotic, then? The Chaos Theory that came out a few years ago explained much of it, so instead of a 'Supernatural' element it was called a 'Chaotic' element. I'm still used to the old terms, comes from working there for years."
Seeing that neither Judy nor Nick made any move to try and ask, Jack continued, "A recent investigation of a known massive community suddenly turned up nothing. See, the Chaotics, certain non-Chaos-Touched mammals, rely on the energy for survival. I've heard plenty of rumors why, but nothing ever concrete. After a few months, ending about four months ago, we tracked them here. To Zootopia. Which didn't make sense, because there were no Chaotic leylines within the area, or at least there weren't...until six months ago.
"Six months ago, there was a massive fluctuation in Chaos energy levels nearby, which must have created its own leyline in the city. What that means for normal folks, like you or me, is nothing. What it meant for the Chaotics...everything."
"How do we know you're not lying about these 'Chaotics'? I've never heard of them," Nick said flatly.
"You probably have, just didn't know it. Have you seen Inu Wasahara on ZNN? He's a Tanuki, a Chaotic. Shapeshifters, although they need a lot of energy for that, and Inu doesn't have that much. Tanuki's don't need much to survive, that's why they could live here even before the leyline creation."
"I've seen him once or twice. Seems like a normal raccoon to me, albeit a well-dressed one," Judy said, thinking about to the times when she watched the news channel. She never did watch much.
"Should I be taking offense to that, Carrots...?" Nick asked slyly. The glare from Judy simply making him grin. He always did enjoy pushing her buttons when it mattered. And he had a feeling that Jack was, somehow, telling the truth, however crazy it may be. He definitely seemed like he had no intention of hurting them.
"Possibly. However, other Chaotics, like jackalopes or kitsune, require much more energy, and can only live near a leyline. Now that one's popped up here, an extremely large one as far as my research indicates, several thousand of them have moved here within the past few months."
"I think the ZPD would notice if there suddenly a few thousand more mammals living here."
"They would, yes...which is why they don't. The Chaotics don't like bringing attention to themselves, so they hire out a few people, like myself, to host the path to their community. Some are built in the clouds, some inside the city, just well hidden..."
Jack went over to the desk and pushed a single button on the bottom of the desk, near the floor. Judy's gun followed him the entire way, ready to fire at a moments notice. A small picture of the moon on the wall suddenly flipped and the entire section of the wall rotated.
Now instead of a picture it had a set of two buttons, similar to an elevator. Up, the one that was pressed in, and down. "So this is going to surprise all of you, considering how secretive all this is. Although they forced my hand, so they shouldn't be surprised by these things," Jack said, moving over and pressing the down button. Nothing seemed to happen for a while. "Maybe you guys need to come closer? It's a four by six elevator, so we should all be within reach..." Jack muttered. They were well within the designated area.
Just as he was about to give up and kick the wall, suddenly the floor was no longer beneath him. Skye, who had a feeling something was about to happen, suddenly leaped to the floor. Nick stilled himself, ready for an attack of some kind.
Judy on the other hand...was screaming her exuberance.
They got used to the ride fairly quick, and it seemed to be heading down to the depths of the Earth far too rapidly than it had any right to, considering how long it took for it to get started. "It should be any moment now..." Jack said to himself, steeling himself for what was about to happen.
They broke through the veil of rock, and finally saw a magnificent cavern, far bigger than they thought. It had to be the size of Zootopia itself, spreading wider and taller than they thought possible. Stalactites taller than some of the skyscrapers held on, pointing downwards with a scale that no one was sure how big they were.
Tall pillars of metal seemed to be holding some parts of it up, and Nick and Judy realized that they were riding one of those pillars down to the ground. Buildings made out of carved red rock blanketed the surface, and there were even some made into the sides of the cavern.
"Welcome...to the Underground," Jack announced, arms held wide.
From: Judy Hopps
To: Miles Prower; Adrian Bogo
I...what. How is this even possible? Chief, Miles, do either of you know anything about what 'Chaotic's' are? By the way, Miles, did you send a chameleon named Espio to spy on us?
Signed, and kind of freaked out,
From: Miles Prower
To: Judy Hopps; Adrian Bogo
Subject: That's Incredible!
No seriously, that's amazing. I want to know how they did that. I want to know. Please tell me that you can tell me how. It always takes me weeks to do that kind of cave work! It looks semi-natural, but it also large portions of it seem like it was built that way.
Geez I wish I could do things like that...and uh...just ignore Espio. There's kind of a story to that. So I was talking with his boss, Vector (a crocodile, if it's important) and I mentioned how I wished I could keep an eye on you guys out there, considering how busy we are all over the place (seriously, I'm sending this from the only internet-accessible place in Holoska, because Sonic and I are heading to Chun-Nan next and that's twelve hours away) and uh...he must've mentioned that to Espio.
They're detectives. And harmless. Really. Just don't let him sing to you.
From: Adrian Bogo
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
Subject: RE: What...The...
The next time you two decide to break reality, do it outside jurisdiction.
I really think that Bogo sums up the entire point to this story in that one line.
Until Next Time!
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
And now we finally get to the second piece of world building.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"The...Underground?" Judy asked softly, her eyes and ears taking in everything she could. The air was slightly damp, as what one would expect from a giant cave, but it wasn't cold. It was quite warm, actually. The cavern walls were a bright red, closer to what they'd expect to find in a desert area than in Zootopia. It was actually warmer here than it was above ground, although why that was Judy wasn't entirely sure.
"The Underground. A community of Chaotics, built within a couple of months," Jack responded. He looked down, making sure to keep his paws away from the edge, "and we should be stopping within the next minute or two. These elevators take a long time."
"This doesn't seem possible. How could a giant underground cavern like this be underneath Zootopia with no one noticing?"
"It wasn't, originally. I said it was built."
"Wouldn't mammals notice if all of a sudden Zootopia had a massive cavern directly underneath it!?"
"Well, yes. But if you think that's the weirdest part, this next part is going to blow your mind. This cavern doesn't exist," Jack said, grinning savagely, as if he knew that his statement was impossible, yet he believed every word of it.
"Of course it exists, we're standing in it," Skye said. She looked at Jack like he was crazy, and judging from his smile it was obvious that he was used to it.
Another loud voice rang out from near their landing. "Technically he's right, but he's wrong too. Don't give them the wrong idea Savage. Also don't think too hard on it," it said, deep and menacing yet warm at the same time.
Judy looked over the edge. The bottom was the same color as the cavern walls outlining where the elevator would eventually stop. There were a few of the small grey buildings, built wall to wall almost as if to keep mammals in, or out. Away from them sat what looked like a guard outpost, complete with stop signs and lights.
She stared in incomprehension at the guard. He looked vaguely humanoid, but with brown fur literally everywhere. Or hair, she couldn't tell. She could barely see the face, which resembled a lot closer that of a human, even as he was staring up at them.
"Yeah, yeah. Sure thing Bill. How're things down here?" Jack asked to the...thing.
"Not boring anymore. What brings the fake jackalope from up above? You aren't supposed to check in for another few days," he said clearly.
Nick turned to Judy, and they mouthed to each other, 'Fake jackalope?'. The elevator gave a small hitch, as if something jumped off of it, before reaching the bottom and touching down lightly. Jack stepped off first, proving that it was safe. The two officers stepped off at the same time warily.
"Everyone, this is Bill. He's a sasquatch, in case it isn't obvious yet," Jack announced. 'Bill' walked out of his outpost, showing that he was nearly twice even Nick and Skye's height. He grinned at them, and made a large show of bowing to them.
"Welcome to the Zootopian Underground. Now I assume from your shocked faces that you have no idea what's going on, and that Savage over here just played a prank to get out of answering some questions, judging by the fact that he ran away," Bill said, pointing to the running rabbit. Barely thinking about it, Judy raised her tranquilizer gun and shot him straight in the back. She turned to Bill, as if saying to continue on.
"That was...impressive. You'd think for an old government agent he would know not to do that. Or maybe he would. I don't know, I think he was a desk jockey. In any case, the Underground has some strict rules that I have to tell you now. One. You cannot tell anyone about the Underground unless they already know something that would lead them to the Underground. Then you should show them, and tell the guard to give them the spiel. Two. The rules up there do not always apply to the rules down here. We have our own police force, don't get on their bad side, and we don't need ZPD breathing down her backs."
Nick and Judy raised their hands, and Bill raised an eyebrow to let them know to ask their question, "We are ZPD."
"Oh. Well shit." Bill said softly, walking back and forth on his, now that they could see them properly, extremely large feet. "Uh...ok then. Technically we, the Underground, are outside your jurisdiction..."
"So next time we break reality we'll do it here, we get it."
Bill stared at them blankly. "Break...you know what, it's not my job to deal with you. That's what the Nines are for. I only tell you the rules. Here, follow me, I'll show you to them. You can ask them any questions you come up with. In case I need to tell you, which I don't think I do but I will anyways, no one down here will harm you. We may look threatening, I've been told many times we do, but we're harmless. Really."
Nick and Judy shrugged at each other, and started to follow the giant. Nick paused for only a moment to grab Jack's still out of it body, and to look behind him to make sure that Skye was following. She was, although her eyes weren't anywhere near them but looking all over the place. Nick didn't blame her. The Underground was unlike any that he had ever seen before. Sure, he had ridden the subway before, and on the overhead trains plenty of times, but a literal cave carved into the earth itself? How different was that?
Worst part is that he felt he should have seen this coming. This was not nearly the weirdest thing he had put up with.
"Bill, right? Do you always take people to see the...Nines? When they come down here for the first time?" Nick asked, sidling up to him warily.
"Most of the time. The Nines always want to meet people from up above. I think the only time we don't is when we're the ones that go above."
"And how often is that? Have you?"
"Not too often, and no. Oh hold on, we're near the wargs. They'll smell the fresh air on you, so they might want to ask questions," Bill said, even as a large howl met their ears. The three outsiders froze as they all heard the sudden stampede of paws on the dirt. And they saw the flood of grey. Each one looked like a wolf...except bigger. Much bigger. About Bill's size, which was nearly double or triple their own size. Innumerable and uncountable, they almost shook the ground in their running.
"Bill! Come to escort the newcomers?" one of them shouted. The sasquatch nodded, and smiled softly.
"Yep. Can we please get through, we need to go see the Nines," he said. There was a loud boo as the giant wolf things stretched out and made a path. Nick smirked as he saw some of them make good natured frown faces, as if they were expecting this but wanted to show they didn't like it.
"Hey wait a second, aren't two of them foxes? Why aren't they taking the trains?" one of them called out from behind the party. Bill stopped, and turned around slowly before looking closely at Nick and Skye.
"Hmm...no, pretty sure they aren't. Raccoons maybe?" he asked. There was a light murmur as most of the wargs sniffed the air again, shrugged, and went back to doing whatever they were doing beforehand. A few of them still looked back, looking at the new visitors with a knowing calculated look, but most of them left them alone.
"Uh...was that normal? That doesn't seem normal," Skye asked aloud. Bill shrugged.
"No, that's pretty normal for them. By the way, you're lucky that most of them have never seen a fox or a raccoon before. Tanuki's close enough, what with raccoon-dogs and all."
"Why? Are foxes..." Nick trailed off, waiting for Bill to pick up on what he was saying. If foxes were treated poorly down here too, then wow, he must have really pissed someone else off in a past life. Same with Skye and every other fox.
Suddenly his vision blurred, and between the grey buildings he saw something else. White lines faded in from the edges of his eyes, and what looked like Judy and...himself...running through the grey buildings of the Underground. Searching for something, or running away.
The vision canceled itself out as quick as it came, and left Nick blinking it out of his eyes. "Nah, foxes are treated like royalty down here, due to their connection with the Nines and all that," Bill said.
"What are the Nines? You've mentioned them a lot, I'm guessing they're your leaders?" Judy asked.
"Yep. They are. They're Nine-Tailed foxes, the lot of them. There's an entire area devoted strictly to the Kitsune. Once they become a Nine-Tailed, they're eligible to be put on the Body of Nine."
"Wait, so all of your leaders are kitsune? But...what about everyone else? Don't they have some kind of representation?" Judy asked, suddenly looking closely at Nick's face.
She remembered, six months ago, just a quick throwaway line that seemed like it didn't have any importance. Nick had heard Bogo say something about kitsune, and although Judy was there she didn't hear a thing, and they both later agreed that he couldn't have said a word. They both chalked it up to the Chaos Effect and left it at that...but could it actually be referencing something here?
"Ha! I like you bunny. We do, actually. Each district votes for their own Nine-Tailed. One of the requirements actually is to live in that district for about five or six years before they're even eligible to be put on the vote."
"So there's nine districts? Why so many things about nine?"
"Don't ask me, I wouldn't know. I just chalk it up to it being a holy number for kitsune, and leave it at that."
Skye was having the time of her life. She got to make fun of Kevin, always a fun thing to do, meet up with Nick and Judy, experience something that nobody like her had any right to do, and now suddenly she found out that they were governed by foxes.
That said, she could do without the smell. It smelt like a cross between bad eggs and a non-sapient cow farm. She had only been to one once, but boy that smell did not leave her.
Bill had led them to what looked like a large white almost church-esque building. It stood tall, towering over the smaller buildings, but while being towered over by the skyscrapers nearby. Or would those be called ceilingscrapers here?
There were surprisingly few mammals out on the streets. But the ones she did see were...different. Rabbits with horns out of their heads. Tigers with a lion's mane. Lions with a tiger's stripes (yes, she knew that those were Liger's. How they came down here, she had no idea, but they seemed much more common here. Although she had seen several up above even normally.) Raccoon's with small leaves on the top of their head (Inu Wasahara, being one of these guys. Really?)
The sasquatch knocked on the door lightly, and waited for a moment before he opened it, leading the three in. Jack was still knocked out. 'What was in those tranqs?' Skye thought.
The floor was tiled with solid white, with the sides holding mural upon mural, each one flowing into the others. Stained glass lay at the top of the other end. And in the middle of the floor lay three triquetras interlaced with each other, and in each corner of one stood a fox, not much taller than Nick. Each one had nine long flowing tails fanned out behind them.
"Thank you Bill. You may choose to remain or go back to your post," one of them said, their voice seemingly echoing to the point of being impossible to tell who spoke, yet the words seemed clear.
"Nah, I'll stay. Got a seat for me?" the giant asked, already making to sit down as a large bench showed up just as he was about to fall over.
"Certainly. Now then, newcomers, how may the Nines be of assistance?" one, or all, or a few, asked. Skye couldn't tell, and she knew that all of this was driving the other two crazy as well.
"Who are all of you?" Nick asked. The Nines turned as one to stare at him, and he suddenly realized that they all looked almost exactly the same. He looked at Judy as he got an idea as to what was going on. "Rephrasing, who are you?" he asked again.
A laugh came from all over as the whole church motif suddenly vanished, replaced by a simple office space. Bill's bench was still there, and he smiled at them. In front of them was a single fox, smaller than Nick, with grey all over his back and tail. His blue eyes stood out, shining like a beacon in the dark. "Ha, you're the first one to get that. World of firsts, aren't you two? Shouldn't be too surprised, even we in the underground have heard of you two. Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, am I right?" he said, smiling at them.
Judy didn't look too fazed by everything going on, although she did find fascination in Bill's bench. "You appear to have the advantage on us," she said lightly.
"Not too surprised by that. Name's Ray. Ray Kalk. If you need to talk about me to anyone else, they'll probably refer to me by 'Nine Kalk'," Ray said easily, sitting on a chair that just seemed to pop into existence.
"So, again, I ask of you all newcomers, how may the Nines be of assistance?"
Judy stared for a bit, having her Gemfield sense pound against her head quite literally the entire time she had been down here in the Zootopian Underground. She got a strangely large amount from Bill, but with some slight checking knew that he didn't have any Gemfield on him at all.
Same thing happened with the wargs. They appeared suddenly, and the sense got stronger, only dimming as they went away. Admittedly, that one is more probable, considering there were so many of them. Even the ones that she met just on the street, like the jackalopes (they were stars in their own children stories for bunnies, so to her it was kind of a shock they actually existed), but again, nothing.
And finally when Bill had put them into the office space, both Nick and Skye seemed taken with something that she couldn't see, like they had just entered a giant mansion or something. It was a small space, not a giant one, and it was kind of stuffy. The fox in front of her was smaller than Nick, and just smiled at her lightly, before realizing something and looking much more impressed.
Then Bill sat on nothing and suddenly Judy was sure that she needed to get her eyes checked.
"What...what's going on?" Judy asked. Nick and Skye were both staring around, and although Nick moved his mouth it didn't seem as if he said anything.
"Oh, that, don't worry about it. Just a simple illusion. It's what we Nines do when we're bored with newcomers. You're the first one that's seen right through it instantly. I'll bring them out of it shortly. No idea why it didn't effect you though..." the fox said.
He suddenly turned to Nick, ""Ha, you're the first one to get that. World of firsts, aren't you two? Shouldn't be too surprised, even we in the underground have heard of you two. Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, am I right?" he said, smiling at them.
Judy stared at where Bill was now practically floating in midair, before shaking her head and staring back up at the fox. "You appear to have the advantage on us," she said softly.
"Not too surprised by that. Name's Ray. Ray Kalk. If you need to talk about me to anyone else, they'll probably refer to me by 'Nine Kalk'," Ray said easily, sitting on a chair that just seemed to pop into existence.
"So, again, I ask of you all newcomers, how may the Nines be of assistance?"
"Yeah, what was that?" Nick asked. Judy sighed as she saw saw his mouth move, and actually heard him that time.
"Oh, that? That was an illusion. One of mine actually, although Hopps here seemed to see through it instantly. Like I said, world of firsts you two be. First one to see through it while in it, and first one to see through it beforehand too."
"That...that was an illusion?" Skye said, looking on in wonder. If illusions could do that, be real enough to almost change anyone's perception of reality...how much of their world was real? What was real and what was fake? And suddenly a chill shot down her spine. What was real...and what was fake.
"Mr. Kalk-" Judy started, only to get a stern look from Ray.
"Please, Mr. Kalk is my father. Just call me Ray."
"Ray then. What exactly is this place?" Judy finished asking.
"You don't start with the simple questions do you? Hard to describe this place, really. Think of it as a bunker for those of us that can't live anywhere else in peace."
"A bunker? You sound like there'd be wars to try and hurt you," Nick said, slightly accusatory.
Ray shrugged, "There's more truth to that than you know. After all, if you knew reality-bending foxes actually existed and could change the world at a whim, surely you'd want them in a place you could keep an eye on."
"We wouldn't lock them up!" Judy exclaimed hotly.
"Wouldn't you? Mammals fear what they don't understand, even now I can see it in your eyes. Fear leads to anger, and anger leads to violence. By staying unknown, we don't have anyone to fear us."
"Except all of us!" Bill said, smirking as he relaxed on the bench. Ray frowned at him, the tips of his mouth curled up in a smile, as the bench suddenly disappeared sending the sasquatch to the ground in a jumbled heap. "Not helping your case!"
"And besides, we send a few mammals up top every once in a while. Last group we sent spoke about massive riots on the street, about predators and prey. If you're that backwards, how can you even try to justify us going up there?"
Nick, Skye, and Judy looked at each other for a moment, each one racking their brains for what Ray was talking about. Then they got it, almost at the same time. "You haven't sent a group up in nearly a year and a half?" Judy asked shocked. "But you've only been here four to six months!"
Ray looked at them for a moment, raising an eyebrow, before realizing that Jack was still on Nick's back. "Oh, he must've said something. Damn desk jockey. No, this was only a few days ago."
Judy and Nick looked at each other for a moment. "But...there hasn't been a riot about that for a year and a half."
Ray Kalk looked down, before looking back up and straight into their eyes. For Nick and Skye he had to look up to do it, but he managed. "Huh. Guess we've been lied to then..."
From: Judy Hopps
To: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Zootopian Underground
What would you do if you suddenly found a massive city underground the size of Zootopia with its own government and had a slight tingling in the back of your head that its responsible for a lot more than it looks like?
Also, how are you?
From: Adrian Bogo
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
Subject: RE: Zootopian Underground
I would stay out of it unless I know that it's pertinent to my investigation. And unfortunately, I know you two and your luck, and it's going to be pertinent.
Also I'm fine.
For some reason this story is much harder to write than Chaos Theory. Whether that because it's a sequel or because I can't change POV's enough, I'm not too sure. Sorry if it's so dry. It's hard to world build if you're not entirely sure what it is exactly that you need to build! If anyone wants to use Kitsune society as how I put it here, feel free but please let me know. I want to see the kind of stuff others can come up with! (It was taken out of a book I wrote years ago; not quite the same but similar enough)
Until Next Time!
"What do you mean, 'lied to'!?" Judy said loudly. This was one of the Zootopian Underground's leaders, why wasn't he more concerned? If Chief Bogo had found out that he'd been lied to, he'd be on a roaring rampage trying to find the mammal that thought it was a good idea. That said, she never did find out what Nick put in some of his reports...
"It happens from time to time. No biggie. I'll just send out another team from me and get the answers from them. Usually we just send out one team, and get the answers from their Nine," Ray explained patiently, shrugging.
"Who's team was it?" Nick asked suddenly.
Ray looked thoughtful for a few moments, his eyes glazing over as he searched his memory. "Not sure...hold on, I have the reports around here somewhere..." Ray said, suddenly diving behind the office desk quicker than they thought someone of his size to be able to. They heard desk's drawers open, and quickly ran over as they heard him curse loudly.
They found him nursing a bump on his head. "Damn things. I forgot I already opened the top one..." he murmured, quickly skimming over manila folders. Eventually he found one, labeled 'Outing Reports', and brought it out even as he hit his head again.
He growled lightly as he plopped the folder down. To Skye, the folder looked like any other professional folder she had ever seen. To Nick and Judy, however, they saw a few things that stood out to them. One, it wasn't dusty. This alone meant that it had been opened and used quite frequently, especially as dusty as some of the other ones were. Two, it was folded in such a way to allow easy access at all times, even if closed.
Ray opened it quickly, revealing simple typed up documents. He looked only for one thing; the date, judging by his constant murmuring of the date a few days ago, as he flipped through them. Eventually he picked out one, and raised it up as if it was the Chosen Paper of the Gods.
"Here we go. September 18th, 3026. 'Under received orders from Nine Astra, the group was of the proceeding: Reporter Hardnut, Investigator Kellin, Investigator Wrex, and Specialist Isan. The group proceeded as followed; raised up in the area known as "Savannah Central", we encountered a riot early on. Investigator Kellin suggested to go ask what was going on. In doing so, he was punched out by a boar. Investigator Wrex laughed, and gave the boar five dollars. Reporter Hardnut suggests to demote Wrex and Kellin.' Huh. In tiny little writing here it even says simply 'Denied, dirtbags!'.
"It continues on to say they eventually found out it was about predator vs prey feelings, and then decided to come back down to the Underground. Does that sound about right?" Ray asked, holding the paper down so Nick and Judy could read it.
"It does, but that was also a year and a half ago, maybe a bit more...something isn't right," Nick said. Judy continued to stare at the paper for a minute, before she pointed at something.
"Hold on a second, what does this asterisk mean?" she asked, pointing to a tiny dot next to the date. Ray squinted, and looked closer at it. He looked confused for a moment, right before his eyes started to glow with an eerie light. Judy's Gemfield sense, which had been going full blast since entering the Underground, suddenly screamed at her.
"Huh. Well what do you know. I didn't see that. Someone put an illusion over it, tied to that asterisk, which you wouldn't notice unless you actively tried to see past it. Wonder how long that's been going on..." Ray said aloud, as he quickly made another chair for himself and read the report again.
"Well, it says pretty much the same thing, but the fact there was an illusion tied to it says something. I know that Nine Astra wouldn't do that though, she has my full confidence."
"Is that because she has your full confidence, or that you still try to hit on her?" Bill said, leaning against the wall now. Skye looked up in shock, as she had forgotten the large...primate? What was he anyways...was there. He was surprisingly quiet.
"Shut up Bill. Hand me the phone would you?" Ray asked, holding out his paw. Bill grabbed something from behind him attached to the wall, and sent the cordless phone soaring over the small gap with ease. Ray snatched it and dialed four numbers quickly, as if he knew these numbers by heart.
He waited only a few scant seconds before a voice picked up. Judy and Nick both turned their ears towards the phone, although they noticed that they didn't even have to be able to hear the conversation. Bill had apparently turned it up extremely loudly, based on how far Ray flinched.
"This is Beta."
"Beta! This is Ray, how're you doing beautiful?" Ray asked as he quickly turned it down. He was grateful for that, because it probably saved his ears as the vixen started to yell at him.
"Kalk! I don't care if you are a Nine now or not I will head over there and -"
"No need for that Astra! Yeesh. Just a question," Ray said simply as he covered up the mouthpiece and whispered, "Vixens." He turned back towards the phone as he finished his statement, "Look Astra, take a look at your outing report from September 18th, 3026. Mine had an illusion on it tied to an asterisk; I had to pierce it to see through it. Is it on yours too?"
"Give me a second Kalk." They heard the rummaging through papers as Astra looked over something. "Yeah I have it too, but I don't see a difference. Kind of weird though. I don't remember authorizing my team to do it, did you?"
"No. I'll look into it from my side, send out another scouting team. Think Nine Rian's responsible? It's his type."
"It is his type yeah. Good catch Kalk. I'll look into it," Astra finished as she hung up abruptly. Ray looked at his phone.
"And somehow, every time, she forgets to tell me she loves me. Oh well, just a matter of time!" Ray said, smiling as he tossed the phone over to Bill.
"Matter of time, sure. If you're waiting until the end of it."
"Ouch. Anyways, thanks for bringing this up. We'll take care of it from here on out. Any other questions to add to this infodump?"
"Do you know anything about Gemfield?" Judy asked.
"Gemfield? Never heard of it. What is it?"
"It's a type of drug. Looks like a small crystal, changes a lot-"
"Oh, you mean Chaos Crystal? This kind of stuff?" Ray asked, reaching into the middle drawer as he pulled out a small translucent crystal, only a bit bigger than his fist. It sparkled with an internal energy not unlike the Chaos Emeralds.
Judy's Gemfield sense went crazy. "Yeah that's exactly it!" she exclaimed, stepping behind Nick but only a small bit. Nick noticed and moved forward just a bit more protectively.
"Yeah, I know plenty about Chaos Crystal. Or...Gemfield, I think you called it? Sorry, is this making you uncomfortable, Miss Hopps?" Ray asked, suddenly moving to put the glowing crystal away. She didn't nod or shake her head, but she also didn't move until it was put away. To her, something screamed 'not right' about that crystal, and it wasn't that a sample had suddenly exploded on her earlier.
"What is...Chaos Crystal, exactly?" she asked.
"Chaos Crystal is just that, crystallized Chaos energy. We, we being the Chaotics, tend to use it for a lot of random stuff. It's layered within the buildings around here, as they can absorb Chaos energy easily, which proves useful for us Nine-Tailed. Some of us also use it recreationally, assuming we're not dumb donkeys about it and think before we smoke it."
"Smoke? You don't...grind it to a powder?"
"Powder...ize it? That seems excessive. No, if you do that you can't control the side-effects, and it being Chaos energy and all..."
"Can do just about anything," Nick finished. Ray nodded.
"Yep. Most of us Chaotics that do crystals tend to do it only with trusted friends. It makes us feel...relaxed, I guess. Kind of hungry. It does kind of fry the brain, although some researchers are looking for medical benefits because they like doing it so much."
"So it's marijuana."
"For Chaotics, yeah. For you guys though...I think a more apt base description would be ecstasy, or LSD."
"Where does it come from?" Judy asked this time.
"Comes from a lot of places. Most crystal like the one you just saw are waste products from our energy plants. The really pure ones have to be made by a Nine-Tailed, or some other Chaotic with a lot of energy. We can actually use them to give ourselves a recharge, actually."
"Is that how Inu Wasahara lives up top?" Judy continued the 'interrogation'.
Ray stared at them blankly. "Who?"
"He's a tanuki, from the Zootopia News Network. Been there for several years actually."
"Oh, if he's a tanuki probably not. The only Chaotics that have to absolutely live near fountains of chaos energy are kitsune, although some like the wargs or sasquatch find it a lot more comfortable."
"Or jackalopes?" Nick asked.
"Or jackalopes, them too."
"Any idea how this stuff can get on the surface?" Judy intruded before Nick could derail the conversation further. He gave her a faux glare as he realized her tactic.
"Well sure. Has to be brought up from us. The crystals don't last long on their own, they usually degrade if they go too far from a leyline. They're not dangerous...radioactive at least. They just emit a lot of energy, that's all."
"Any way to track it?"
"To track the energy?" Ray asked, looking thoughtful for a few moments. "Not really, considering it's Chaos energy and all that. I suppose if you could track Chaos energy you could try via that, but I've never heard of someone tracking via Chaos."
"Where in the Underground do mammals or Chaotics bring it up to the surface?" Judy asked, thinking out loud. She caught Nick's eye, who merely smirked out of the corner of his mouth. Good, they were on the same page again.
"Usually by Savage's place, or the National Zootopian Bank of the Rainforest District."
"Wait, the bank is in on this?"
"Not sure actually. All I know is they get an order for it, Nine Rian's the one who processes all of them, and then sends it up."
"Who's Nine Rian?" Nick asked. He had gotten out his notepad a while ago and was writing down many of the notes and questions that he was coming up with. He didn't need to check if Judy was recording it; it was obvious she was. She had yet to fail to record any conversation she was a part of.
"Ignar Rian. He's a red Kitsune, much like yourself Nick, who is the third Nine for this district, alongside Astra and myself. He's a piece of work, that guy. Showed up four years ago, and despite having all of the proof that he lived here for years before that no one could remember him. Not entirely unheard of, really-it's a popular prank on certain people- but an entire population? I doubt even a Nine-Tailed could do that."
"What does he get out of the drug deals?"
"Same thing as many others, I'd guess. Vixens, money...there's no short supply of either already, as a Nine, but I'm guessing Rian just wants more for some reason."
"You seem remarkably well-informed."
Ray stared blankly for a moment, before breaking out into a nervous grin. "I plead no self-condemnation?" he asked smiling, laughing softly as Bill chuckled.
"How are you connected to him?"
"I do remind you that the Underground is, in fact, it's own city-state with its own laws," Ray started seriously, "so that means bureaucracy. A lot of it. Rian comes the Nine meeting every two weeks with a report of how his 'side business' is doing. I hate to say it but it brings a lot of revenue to the Underground. We wouldn't be able to do half of what we do without it, or without a Nine-Tailed's direct interference."
"What does that mean?" Nick asked, before Judy shook her head at the fox.
"They can't grow much down here as it is. Plants require natural sunlight. I'm sure if we check the records of a lot of farmers and grocery stores we'd find that around 4 months ago, or whenever the Chaotics got here, we'd find a large jump in the amount of sales," Judy explained. Ray nodded.
"Oh I remember that. It took me ten minutes to get to checkout that day, versus five."
"Not now, Nick."
"Bill, could you show our guests back to the elevator? And Savage, really, you're not asleep. I can tell. I'm sorry to the both of you to suddenly ask you to leave, but I do have a lot of work to do. Once Savage wakes up, feel free to ask him if you wish to come down here at any time," Ray asked politely, motioning the three visitors out the door.
Nick and Judy shared a glance, before nodding and started to head back. Judy grabbed Skye's arm to make sure the arctic vixen went with them, despite a plea of "But wait, I still have more-".
Bill waited only a moment to make sure they were exiting. "Are you sure that's wise, Ray? They're going to come down again. They have all the evidence they need to launch investigations down here."
"No, it probably wasn't. But on the other hand, if Rian thinks that we don't have our own second-lives, then he's got another thing coming. He'd best be prepared for when those two storm down his door."
"Judy, Nick, why'd you do that?" Skye whined as she was pushed out the door. They did have a lot of questions left, but what they had was more than enough to launch of official investigation into the parts of Zootopia that Ray had mentioned.
"Because we have enough. We have proof of the details of the Gemfield case, thanks to you, we know where it comes from, thanks to this, and we know where. Kalk wasn't going to talk much more I think, not unless we had something more," Nick explained. Judy nodded at his rationale.
"It's best that we leave on his good side. Based on your expressions earlier, I don't think we want to be on his bad side," Judy said.
Nick turned to the grey bunny, "Could you actually see through all of his illusions easily?" Judy nodded. "Wish I could do that. I felt like I was so small next to him, like he was a giant or something."
Skye nodded, "I got that feeling too. Especially when he revealed that those were just illusions. If he can control all of that, what's stopping them from simply taking over everything? What's fake and what's real? Is any of this actually real, or is this all just created in the mind? Scary as hell to think about."
A loud voice boomed from behind them, "Because they're good mammals, that's why." They turned to see that Bill was finally coming out, a large grin on his face, "One of the keys to becoming a Nine is to not want the job of Nine, but still be dedicated enough to do it."
"That makes sense," Skye said, looking up at the cavern ceiling. It didn't, really, but she wanted to avoid thinking about the kitsune, or even the Underground as a whole. Just thinking about it made her realize how small she was compared to some of the giants. She idly wondered if this is how mice felt every day.
"Now come, we have to make the return trip, and it is not a quick journey," Bill said, motioning them onward as he led them back. The underground city was still just as lacklusterly populated, although now there seemed to be a fair bit more traffic. Nothing that could be considered crowded to a Zootopian mammal, but still a noticeable increase. Some of them stopped and stared for a moment before going on with the rest of their day, whereas others didn't seem to stop at all.
Bill led them a different path, avoiding the Wargs' territory, before they got back to the tall pillar that represented their end step. Judy was sure that Bill had taken a shorter route this time than before. When pressed, he merely grinned and shrugged.
"Alright, come back now. When will Savage wake up?" Bill asked as he started the elevator to go back up. Judy thought about it as Nick pounced on the opportunity.
"Oh, he's been awake for a while now. I just think that he appreciated that I was carrying him this entire time, so he hasn't complained or said anything. Quite mature of him, I'd say," Nick said, smirking as he got a 'hey!' from the rabbit. The sasquatch chuckled as he waved them along.
"So how much have you heard, Savage?" Nick asked as he dumped the rabbit unceremoniously on the elevator. He ignored the quick 'ow' from him as he whipped out his notebook again.
"A bit. Ray must like you guys, he was never that talkative with me," Jack said, getting up and brushing himself off.
"Well also we're cops, so that probably had more to do with it."
"How is a beat cop more than a federal agent?"
"You mean a desk bunny right Jack? I knew where you worked in GUN, and it definitely wasn't field work," Skye cut in. Jack growled at her. "Oh no, a killer bunny. Whatever shall I do? Save me brave hero!" she mocked, diving behind Judy.
The rabbit looked at her oddly before shrugging. "You do know that now we have plenty of evidence of you trafficking a class 3 controlled substance. Which is to say, Jack Savage, you are under arrest," Judy said.
"You need me, you know. To get you back there. I'm the only one that knows how to operate this elevator on topside," Jack reasoned.
"You mean by pushing the button underneath your desk? Sorry Jack, you just got out savage'd. By a bunny, of all things," Nick said while shaking his head. Jack stared at him for a moment before realizing that yes, it appears the fox had been paying attention.
He sighed and held out his hands in annoyance. It wouldn't get too far, both Nick and Judy knew, but the case was just getting started, and there was still a long time to go.
To: Miles Prower
From: Judy Hopps
Subject: Chaos Tracking
Is it possible to track Chaos energy? In the Underground we found the mammals responsible for it, but as they technically aren't a part of Zootopia we can't really do too much about it yet until they come topside. We'll be waiting for them, but in the meantime it was revealed that Gemfield can be tracked using the Chaos radiation it emits. The mammal we spoke to had no idea if it was possible or not, so I thought we should ask the Chaos expert.
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
BCC: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Re: Chaos Tracking
Attch: Chaos Tracking
Yeah it should be possible. The trick is to find the right signature. It's chaotic, so it changes, but once you have the signature you can just keep tracking its changes.
I whipped up a quick program which should help out. Just install it, turn on your wireless adapter, and put in the right coordinates. It should keep tracking until you turn the program off as long as you stay in range. The problem is, of course, right now you need to enter the coordinates manually, so you'll have to know where it is ahead of time. I'll keep trying to improve it, but I'm not sure how much help I can be considering I can't be there myself.
By the way, watch out for Espio. I haven't heard from him in a while, which almost always means he's up to something. Be wary of guitar places.
And yet more of an infodump. Eventually, this story will have a plot. I swear. It's just a bad one.
Until Next Time.
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Halfway there. For those concerned, this story will have 19 chapters, with a post-mortem at the end.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Let's see. Name is Jack Savage...j, a, c, k...ok. He's back in the system now, along with a note to Records about his presumed death by Gemfield exposure, which didn't exist," Clawhauser said, looking far too cheery to be talking about such a depressing topic.
Nick and Judy dropped off Skye at her shop, only pausing to note that it seemed far too dusty to be a place where she still worked often. What she was doing was a question they wanted to ask, but would probably not get anything but more questions, so they left it alone with a mental note to discuss it with her later. Afterwards, they brought Jack into the ZPD, still cuffed, and let Clawhauser take it from there. They turned to start walking back to their still-shared cubicle.
"So Carrots, what's our next step? I'm thinking-" Nick started, only to get interrupted by Judy.
He continued anyways, and their voices overlapped each other near perfectly, "Go down to the lab techs with Miles' program, then sit around the bank and see if we can't catch anyone shifty looking."
"Yep, sounds about right," Nick said, smirking as Judy glared her displeasure, even while smiling broadly.
"Hopps, Wilde, my office," a voice called out suddenly as Chief Bogo walked past them briskly. They stared at him for a while, watching him walk quickly out of sight, before sighing in unison and heading down into his office. It wasn't that they didn't like their Chief, although Nick wasn't too fond of him but Judy often said he was the best boss ever, but their methods didn't often agree with the head officer. What this meant is that they had to go see him more than any other paired officer in the precinct, bar none. In the first three months.
They had since learned that it was something that was going to happen, and it was unlikely they were ever going to be fired for it. If they were, they'd probably have it happen during the morning meeting, because Bogo didn't particularly cut anybody any kind of slack. Except Clawhauser, for some reason. As they moved closer to the office, they realized the door was still open. Ordinarily, not a big deal, but in most meetings the Chief closed it previously in order to maintain privacy. Either this wasn't about a case so no worries about privacy, or everyone already knew everything about it so no worries about privacy.
"You called us, Chief?" Judy asked upon walking in. There at his desk sat the water buffalo, glasses staring over his computer at them. On the other side of the desk sat a grey wolf, who neither Judy nor Nick had ever met in real life but knew previously. The white tips of his fur only clued them in further. Mayor Reich.
"Excellent! Ms. Hopps and Mr. Wilde, how very nice to meet you. I am Adam Reich, the current Mayor for Zootopia. How are the both of you doing?" the mayor asked politely from his spot next to the Chief's desk. He was only about the size of the desk, a little more than half Bogo's size, but he seemed to emit a kind of charisma that made Judy and Nick both want to like him.
This put them on guard very quickly.
"Hopps, Wilde, get in and shut the door. Our guest has a few questions regarding this 'Underground'," Bogo explained. He turned the computer's screen over to them, and they could see their own large list of emails that they had sent. Even a few replies of Miles' -why was he sending them to Bogo too?- were there as well.
"Yes sir." Judy and Nick intoned as they walked over and jumped onto the squishy seats. They each dropped a few inches as their bodies sank into the plush cushioning.
"Yes, sorry for the pleasantries going away. What exactly is this 'Underground'?" Reich asked, heading to the point immediately. Bogo let out a quick groan, having explained it several times already. "Yes, I know that I know already, but I want to know what their version is seeing as how they went through it!"
"It's a community built underneath Zootopia to host Chaotics," Judy said. Reich nodded, before sending a questioning glance at her words.
"Chaotics?" he asked shortly afterwards, as if he had to think about it a second.
"Beings who are reliant on Chaos energy. That's what they call themselves, Chaotics."
"And these Chaotics, they're not simply Chaos-Touched?" the wolf asked. Judy and Nick shook their head.
"I see. And what do they want? Did you find out?"
"Sir, I think they're just like you or me. They just want to live out their lives in peace," Judy said.
"That's all well and good Hopps, but the fact remains they built a massive cavern underneath the entire city of Zootopia. That takes resources. If they could do that, what's to say they won't hurt us?" Bogo said.
"They did get some permits for it, I remember seeing the paperwork not long ago. Not as much as what they obviously did, if the pictures are true, but there is some legality to it. No, what I'm worried about is the sudden influx of mammals with no control," Reich stated, flipping through a manila folder. He showed a few papers to Bogo, who simply nodded.
"Sir, with all due respect, we have Bunnyburrow. I think we can handle a few thousand mammals," Judy said, smirking inwardly at the mention of her home. She made a mental note to go home sometime, it had been a while since she last saw her family. Nick snorted softly.
Reich paused for a second, "True. If Zootopia can handle the Bunnyburrows I think we can handle anything. Right, so how do we get down there?"
"Elevator. The entire cavern is held up by massive pillars which go from floor to ceiling. Most of the ones we saw had massive railing which could go up or down, so I think most of those are the elevators. We know of at least two, one in Jack Savage's place and another in the Rainforest bank," Nick cut in.
"And finally the elusive Mr. Wilde talks. Elevators hm? Fascinating. Well, grateful as I am for that information, I need to ask a favor from the both of you. I'm going to be sending a diplomatic party in a few days, and they're going to have to need to know how to get down there. Could you show them?" Reich asked.
"They will, yes. Go back to work Mayor, I'll let you know of any further developments. It's five," Bogo interrupted suddenly. Reich startled before looking down to his watch.
"Oh shoot! Thank you Chief for reminding me! Pleasure meeting you all!" he yelled as he ran out the door. As he passed her, Judy noticed suddenly that her Gemfield sense had gone off again, but the wolf vanished before she could say anything.
Bogo turned to the other two, still sitting down and still slowly sinking into the cushions. "Now then. For you two. Give me a summary on what you found down there, take the day off tomorrow for the reports. I expect all details."
Nick turned to Judy, mentally giving her the floor. She sighed. She should've expected that. "After we got into the Underground, we found a sasquatch named Bill. Or at least, he called himself a sasquatch. He apparently knew Savage, who tried to escape. I shot him with a tranquilizer to prevent him from getting away.
"Afterwards, Bill led us to one of their leaders, who they refer to as a 'Nine'. Ray Kalk. We asked him a lot of those same questions, and that's how he answered them. He called himself a kitsune."
"Stop. Kitsune? Wilde, wasn't that word in your report about the Robotnik incident a few months ago?" Bogo asked suddenly. Nick nodded. He remembered it. It had come out of the blue, from Chief Bogo's own mouth, despite him not saying anything at all. Until now, the word had never come up again. "I see. Continue, Hopps."
"He pushed Nick and Skye-"
"Skye? The arctic fox from the Robotnik incident? What was she doing with you?" Bogo cut in again.
"Yes. She came with us because..." Judy paused for a moment, looking over to Nick for some help.
"She was with us because she was around, and got dragged into the mess because she wanted to talk for a bit. She came into Savage's place shortly after we did, and we all got on the same elevator heading down," Nick finished. Judy shot him a relieved glance. She never liked lying to the Chief, which was good because apparently, according to Nick, she had no poker face. Nick, on the other paw, could lie with the best of them. Best of all, he was one of the few that could lie without lying. Or as he called it, 'The art of telling half the truth'.
"I see. Looks like you two have a simple day tomorrow instead of no day. I want to talk to this Skye, and it's obvious she trusts you two. Bring her in for an informal questioning. I also want her to help you two write the Underground reports. Three point of views is better than two. Continue, Hopps."
"He put Nick and Skye into an illusion of something. Nick?" Judy said, looking over at her partner.
"Right. When we first got there, it looked like a giant church, complete with stained glass windows, the works. Inside there was a nine pointed star, with a nine tailed fox in each point."
"A nine tailed fox? Describe them, Wilde."
"Each one was a copy of the other. They stood there, wearing black cloaks but fanning out their tails to show them off. They spoke in unison, and it wasn't until I realized that what was effecting one was effecting them all did I think they were the same being. When I called them out on it, everything shifted to the inside of an office, kind of like this one."
"That's what he called it."
"And you Hopps? What did you see?"
"I only saw the office, with Kalk sitting at the desk. He told me that he was impressed with me, as I managed to pierce his illusion without realizing it. He asked me to wait as he brought Nick and Skye out of it," Judy explained.
"And then just questions?" At their nod he continued, "Go down to the lab techs to check if you've picked up any viruses or something that they may have that we don't. Any other immediate important information?"
"Gemfield comes from them," Nick pointed out.
"...That would count, yes. Never mind then, if they deal Gemfield up here then we don't have to worry. Go home you two, get some sleep, and get Skye in here in the morning," Bogo said, turning back to his computer.
As the two exited the room, they both heard him mumble under his breath, "It's like I'm in a bad fantasy novel..." Nick turned to Judy, who nodded that she heard it too. They held their chuckling in until after they got to their cubicle to get ready to leave.
Judy wasn't too shocked by the light rain that coated the streets. She had seen it coming that morning, and from the weather report in the middle of the day. To her it just seemed like the day stretched on for much longer than it should have, which is why she was kind of glad for the free shower.
Rain in Zootopia wasn't rare, but it was slightly uncommon. There was a need to keep the climate controlled areas a certain way, but every once in a while the Zootopians just let it rain. Some parts of Sahara Square were known for flooding, and Tundra Town had tons of ice. Massive storms, like this was one probably going to become, were fortunately much rarer. There was little the mammals could do about it besides keep the heat into the desert and keep the cold in the tundra.
Many Zootopians also didn't care much for the rain, in any one way or another. Some liked it and didn't mind wandering around without an umbrella, and others hated it. Judy was part of the former, as she was used to a large amount of rain and storming from her home, whereas Nick...wasn't. He always claimed the rain made him smell weird (Judy could attest to that easily enough.)
Her fur was just starting to get past the damp point when she wandered in to her apartment complex. All of the apartments were in a single building with a central hallway, which meant that she got out of the rain just a bit sooner, although she was slightly dripping onto the carpet.
She unlocked her door, pausing for a moment to listen to the telltale 'crack' of the lock and to see if her neighbors were around. If they weren't, that was good, as it meant a quiet night for her. If they were, well, she bought earplugs for exactly that reason.
What she wasn't expecting though was to see a Chaos-Touched purple chameleon meditating next to her bed. "What are you doing here?" Judy asked wildly. The lock was in place, and there weren't any scuff marks on the doorknob that she saw. How did Espio get in here?
"Waiting for you. Good, you're here. I have explored much of Zootopia, both the above ground and Underground, and understand that soon you will need to fight. Do you know how to defend yourself?" Espio asked, standing upright easily. It was always a shock to Judy how tall the Chaos-Touched really were. She had met Cream's mother, Vanilla, only once, and was surprised to find the rabbit was only barely shorter than Chief Bogo!
"You're breaking and entering Espio. Don't add assault to that list," Judy warned, steadily coming closer. The chameleon looked at her out of one of his eyes, a smile warming up to his face.
"Oh, are you trying to arrest me? Come then, Judith Hopps. Let's see if your hand to hand is up to par," Espio said mockingly, not even attempting to get into a ready position.
Judy grabbed her phone and took a step back, attempting to dial nine one one. Suddenly pain erupted from her hand as it opened to drop the phone onto the ground with a loud clack. A small metal star, dulled on the edges, seemed to bounce off her skin.
"No cutting the Gordian Knot yet Judith. First, you must be prepared," Espio said, smile dropping off as his face became serious. Judy only had a moment to prepare as suddenly the chameleon charged at her, suddenly flaring to a bright red. Her lessons back at the Police Academy suddenly came back to her, and her mind whirred at two hundred thoughts per second. First, she had to measure Espio up. He was thin, but tall. Strikes at the legs would be the easiest way to incapacitate him.
She saw his first...slap?...easily, and tried to grab his hand as it passed by, only to suddenly be on her back at the center of her room. He tripped her...within the same time frame as she could even attempt to grab his arm.
"Not bad for a first attempt. Your analytical skills are exactly as Tails said. But not good enough yet," Espio said monotone, as if simply stating facts. Judy growled and hopped up, only to suddenly be face first to the ground as she charged forward.
Espio sighed. "Well...it seems that we'll be doing this for a while. Rule number one; always be aware of your surroundings. Including the carpet."
"I don't have any carpet!" Judy said, getting up and shaking out her head. It was obvious to her now that Espio simply thought of this as 'training', regardless of the fact that she neither wanted nor signed up for this at all.
"Exactly my point," Espio said, pointing down to the wood-colored carpet that the chameleon had put on the floor.
Judy wasn't sure how much time had passed. She got back from the precinct, found Espio in her apartment, who then went forward and antagonized and mocked her for at least an hour or two, encouraging her to try and hit him. Each time she failed, although by the end of the first hour she could at least get close, and by the end of the second she realized what Espio was talking about.
As a police officer, she was required to know how to take someone down without having to resort to a tranquilizer. The guns just made it easier. It had been about a year and a half since she had to truly fight hand to hand, and it wasn't that her skills had rusted away. She just never had to truly fight against a superior opponent. She always fought on equal or lesser grounds, she never once had to try and take down a black belt or someone that actually knew what they were doing. Espio was certain of the fact that she would have to in the near future, and rather than leaving her wanting then, decided he would train her now.
As the chameleon disappeared, leaving an almost cheshire grin just hanging in the air before that too disappeared, Judy could only say "I hope I'm not the only one that has to deal with this. I'll report him tomorrow..." as she fell onto her bed, sleeping immediately.
"Carrots? You in?" Nick's voice cut in to Judy's sleep-addled mind. She woke up quickly after that, realizing that she was late to meet Nick, and she was still wearing the same clothes she came in from last night. She bolted up as Nick unlocked the door and let himself in, dressed immaculately in his uniform. "You alright Carrots? You're usually-" he paused to take in Judy's current bedraggled look. He blinked. "Are those the same clothes you were wearing yesterday? Are you alright?"
"Y-Yeah, I'm fine! Come on, let's go make the world a better place!" she said, feigning optimism as she attempted to take a step, only to trip on the carpet.
"You know what, Fluff? I'll drive today. Take it easy," Nick said, lifting up the small grey bunny easily. "And when did you get a carpet?" he asked.
Judy turned her head into his fur and growled out, "Don't. Ask."
Naturally, Nick didn't ask, but his worry slowly turned something more akin to sarcasm. "Have fun last night then?" he asked, grinning as he waited for the sleep-drunk rabbit to get it. They were walking down the stairs and he already had the perfect terrible plan to embarrass her.
"What? No, it was...Nick."
"I'm just asking. Must've tuckered you out plenty."
"Just saying. I mean, I know I've said in the past that you need to relax but I didn't mean-"
"Nick! I didn't have sex last night!" Judy yelled as she was exiting the apartment complex. Many of the other patrons froze to stare at her, with what looked like an old goat going 'You should try it sometime!', causing the young bunny to blush profusely. "Nick..." she mumbled.
"I'm going to get you back. Just you wait."
"I wait with baited breath."
From: Judy Hopps
To: Miles Prower
Is there a way you can call Espio off? He seems to have gotten it into his head that something bad is going to happen so he has to 'train' us. He snuck into my apartment somehow, where he proceeded to give me a beat down unlike any.
Also as soon as I get to the precinct I'm calling him in for breaking and entering and assault.
Sincerely, Judy Hopps
From: Vector the Crocodile
To: Judy Hopps
BCC: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Re: Re: Espio
Good question. Unfortunately, Espio is the kind of ninja (read: nerd) who prefers to do his own thing all the time. Next time you see him, which will probably be tonight, tell him Vector says to stop torturing the poor little bunny girl. Also, make sure to tell that to him exactly like that, because otherwise he won't listen.
Also go for it. Maybe some time in the slammer will make him tone it down a bit.
From: Miles Prower
To: Vector the Crocodile
Subject: Re: Espio
Hey Vector, could you do something about Espio? Seems he's annoying/attacking a friend of mine under the guise of mentoring. He isn't going to listen to me unless I annoy him, and seeing as how I owe him for help with the Chaos Theory I can't do it. Besides, consider this one less favor owed for the amount of times you've needed my help.
Not everything is always serious all the time. Unfortunately I have a habit of not being able to juggle that.
Until Next Time, with hopefully less worldbuilding and boredom!
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Short chapter today. After this chapter it begins to pick up a bit. I hope.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Nick's worry came back as Judy explained what happened. He felt kind of bad for teasing her the way he did, but he knew she'd get him back at some point. Probably at a very inopportune time as well. That all said, he kind of had the same feeling Espio claimed he did. The feeling that they were just on the edge of something big, that something even bigger was on its way, something that would change their lives forever.
"And it's not the stupid rain," Nick finished as his eye twitched subtly. It had been raining since they got off the previous night, and it didn't look like it was going to be letting up anytime soon. Fortunately it was only a light rain, but even still, it was getting to the parts of Nick's fur that he didn't even want to think of.
"Nick! Judy! Still wet out there?" Clawhauser asked as they walked past him, their uniforms dropping wet. They nodded, Judy a bit more exuberantly than Nick. "Oh right, Chief asked me to tell you guys that you don't need to go to the bullpen. Nick, just check in with CIIT before you guys leave to pick up Skye...Lanmarck I think her name was?"
"Thanks Clawhauser," Judy nodded, walking towards the parking garage. She motioned to Nick to handle whatever CIIT stuff he needed to as she walked down the stairs, leaving Nick alone to handle the wrath and loneliness of the elevators. It seemed to take twenty minutes for it to get down to the first floor, and another twenty minutes to get back up, although Nick knew that it was only about twenty seconds total. He cautiously walked down the hallway, silent as it was, making sure to not create too much noise.
He pushed open the CIIT door quietly, only to let it drop itself closed loudly. In the center were Delgato and Fangmeyer, looking over some spreadsheets that Nick was only mostly sure wasn't the Chaos Theory. "Hi guys, Whatcha look at? Oh! Are these the betting records for the ZPD!?" Nick overacted his surprise. Fangmeyer barely took a look back before focusing on the records again.
"Hiya Wilde. Say, care to help us update these? See, Bogo doesn't want us to even be betting at all, and Logan doesn't care, so we figured that now would be a perfect time!" the tiger said. Delgato nodded absentmindedly, as he circled another one. "Oh good find," Fangmeyer said once he noticed the new circle.
"Can't, although I'd love to. Any updates on...well, anything really."
"Not that we've noticed. Check the case files by the door, maybe something came up," Fangmeyer said, pointing out another one. Delgato 'ooh'ed and lifted his fist. Fangmeyer hit it lightly.
Nick looked through the two folders, one which was on the bone mummy, declared in proud lettering as "The Bone Mummy", and the other was simply titled "Gemfield management". Curious, Nick opened the Bone mummy one first, just to get an idea as to how all of this was organized.
Date, name, followed by the initial call report. Done by Nightclaw, incidentally. Simple, concise, and normal for most called in cases. The landlady, the tiny hedgehog, had called it in. No wonder she hadn't wanted to go into the room. He looked down to the sections that he would add to, most of them blank. And as the other two cops on the case, Delgato and Fangmeyer, were busy with the betting pool and weren't looking to get anything done for a long time...
He slipped open the Gemfield management folder, hiding it behind his own case. He looked at the date - a few days ago - and the names - Hooferton and Hammerhorn - were blazed near the top. The initial call report seemed simple; someone wanted to report a drug deal. In fact, it seemed oddly similar to the same report that Judy had read that led to Officer Trumpent being out that night. As Nick looked closer, that's because it wasn't just similar. It was in fact the exact same call.
That wasn't strange, in Nick's mind. Sometimes multiple cases to pop up from the same call, although in general they did try to avoid that. But what stood out in Nick's mind wasn't the thing that prompted the case, but rather the reports made by Hooferton and Hammerhorn afterwards.
They went to the same area, on the same night, and found nothing. Literally, nothing. They drove through a fog bank before coming out in complete darkness, without any stars or lights or anything. It was as if the road had just ceased to exist. Freaked, the two drove away, driving again through a fog bank that seemed to appear unnaturally out of thin air before coming back to the normal world.
A small note popped out to Nick's eyes, 'Dispatch's report: The two seemed fine for a while, then suddenly got freaked out over something. It was difficult to hear, as radio suddenly seemed intermittent and blared with static every other moment. Personally, I suggested to the two to take a few days off, and I'm going to check through my equipment.'
Intrigued, but not seeing any more to the report, Nick slyly put it back in it's proper folder, 'Gemfield Creation' and put it and his own bone mummy bare report back on the shelf. He blinked for a moment. 'Gemfield...Creation? Wasn't it just Gemfield management less than a minute ago?' Nick thought. He looked over to Fangmeyer and Delgato. The two tigers were still there, going over the ZPD betting pool.
"I hate Chaos. I hate Chaos so much right now," Nick said, taking out his phone and snapping two pictures, one of the two tigers and one of the Gemfield Creation report, angled to look like he was taking a picture of his own.
"Yeah, it's pretty chaotic alright," Fangmeyer said, grinning at the lion next to him. Nick rubbed his eyes. Sure enough, there was now a lion and a tiger there.
"...I'm done," he said, wandering outside the room. Fangmeyer and Delgato looked at each other for a moment, before shrugging and going back to what they were doing.
Judy always hated waiting for Nick. She just hated waiting in general. She was a rabbit of action, of excitement. Sitting in the car, listening to the weather go on and on about the 'rainstorm' - because a light rain counts as a rain storm apparently- did not count to Judy's mind as excitement. She sent a quick text to Skye, 'Hey Skye, Judy Hopps. Nick and I have a few questions so do you mind if Nick and I come around here pretty soon to pick you up? Chief wants to talk to you too.'
Message sent, Judy turned up the heater. Not because she was cold, but because it was something to do. She turned up the fan and put her paw next to it, checking the clock on her phone again. Barely a minute after she had just put it down. She was restless, and she knew it. It wasn't because she was waiting for Nick, but rather because she got an update from the lab techs. She had just gotten into the car when her phone rang with a new police email. Wondering, she opened it as soon as she got in.
'Hiya Hoppity Hopps!
Ok, no more of that. So over the last day or so we figured out what was causing all of that really weird crap, like it suddenly exploding on us. Turns out that when you drain energy from Gemfield, it turns into something a bit...explosive. No, I'm not sure how that works either. We're trying to figure it out! Any case, Bogo told us a quick recap of your adventures in the Underground yesterday, so when you go back in a few days can you bring up a sample?
And if anyone asks, I didn't ask for it and you were planning to deal it to the poor unsuspecting lab techies.'
It wasn't as though the lab techs tone was infuriating, in fact that was rather light for them, and Judy knew that all of them had had a hand in writing it, but rather the line about draining energy.
When it becomes drained, it becomes explosive. Use it, you get encased in bone. Just what was Gemfield?
Her mind was taken off-guard as she got a response from Skye, which didn't help her already overworked mind, 'Sure thing Judy. But could you wait about ten, fifteen minutes? Big wants a report too.'
'Ok. It'll be a while anyways, we haven't left the precinct yet.' Judy typed back. After sending, she pushed her head back against the headrest of their cruiser, wondering when the heck Nick would arrive.
Only a moment later, the devil himself opened the door and hopped in. Judy was about to counter with her usual sarcastic comment, but the look on his face said something differently and shut her down. "What's wrong?" she asked.
Nick turned to her after he buckled in, "Delgato and Fangmeyer. What species are they?"
"Lion and tiger," Judy answered quickly, and without hesitation. Nick pulled out her phone and showed her a picture of two tigers, standing over the table looking at something. "Ok. What am I seeing?"
"Delgato and Fangmeyer."
Truthfully, Judy thought to herself later on, this was not the weirdest thing she had come across.
Skye Lanmarck hated her phone at the moment. She was currently dressed in her overalls, no longer blue but a collection of black and various rainbow colors from the various fluids on it, and underneath a long limo with a blown out fuel injector. "Stupid...thing..." she said, keeping her mouth as shut as possible as she whacked away with her wrench to dislodge it. Somehow, and she had no idea how, the part had combusted while inside the fuel tank, turning into slag, which then injected itself into the fuel line.
The first thing she did was drain the fuel line and the tank. The second thing was try to figure out how the hell was this even possible. And then her phone rang with a text. She ignored it. The phone rang again after a few moments. Skye ignored it again, and got rewarded for her effort with the slag moving...inwards. She cursed again before getting fed up with her phone going off. Grumbling, she rolled the dolly she had been laying on out from underneath the car, and cautiously removed the safety goggles she had on. She looked on with disgust at her gloves, covered in the ash and dust of a vehicle's inner workings.
She looked at her phone, barely taking a moment to unglove first, as she looked at Judy's text. "Huh. Sure." she said aloud as she typed the message, then looked at the calendar over her work place. She had today circled, complete with 'Big report' written.
"It's a good thing I don't go to school, otherwise that might've been dangerous..." Skye chuckled to herself as she re-gloved and went back under, waiting for the giant polar bears -the ones who somehow managed this slag-ified mess- to show up.
"Skye. We are here. You make report quickly," a loud voice boomed over the empty and cold air. Skye took only a moment to identify the voice. Kevin, her least favorite polar bear.
"Kevin! I'm in here, trying to figure this dung out," she called out, grabbing what looked like a crowbar out from her toolbox.
"Skye. You make report face-to-face, Big's orders."
"Can't big guy. Big wanted me to fix this first, seeing as someone somehow managed to get this rutted up."
"I see. Very well then Lanmarck. Report to me. I shall know if you leave anything out."
"Yeah, yeah I know the routine. Well let's see, I was tailing Judy and Nick, which is a lot easier now that they're on the same team again-"
"I don't care. Just the Underground."
Skye grunted her acknowledgement as she broke off a piece of the injector, sending it back down towards her. She 'eep'ed, and scooted out of the way as it landed harmlessly. She saw Kevin's large feet at the end of the car. "Skye." he said again, his patience wearing thin.
"Gimme a sec, if you want this fixed sometime within the next week. Right, so Jack put us on the elevator-" Skye said.
"Jack being Savage, yes?" she got interrupted by Kevin again. She growled lightly.
"Yes, Jack being Savage. Before you ask, that is his name. So he led us to the Underground, then we got led through-"
"Interrupting again. Who led you, and what was he? Did you go anywhere, see anyone else?"
"Did you even read the report I sent in!?"
"No. Big did not let me."
Skye rolled her eyes and sighed exasperatedly, "That...makes way too much sense. So a sasquatch-" she stopped immediately, waiting to see if the polar bear would interrupt. He didn't, and stooped down to peer under the car questioningly after a moment. "I was thinking you were going to say something. A sasquatch led us through the Underground, we found a horde of wargs, basically giant wolves, before heading towards the Nine, which was essentially one of the leaders."
"I see. Anything else of note?"
Skye continued whacking away at the injector. "Kind of. See, when we first entered the Nine's domain, his name is Ray by the way, Ray Kalk, we saw it as a giant church. Turned out to be a simple office."
"You saw something that was not there?"
"Yeah. Like some kind of illusion or something. I've been researching kitsune and all I've seen so far are just rumors and legends from the Chun-Nan area, but some of them do mention their impressive illusion abilities."
"All you have are rumors and legends?"
"Do you have any idea how hard it to research mammals that have no actual evidence of their existence prior to me seeing them yesterday!?"
"Big will not be happy about this."
Skye sighed as Kevin's statement washed over her. She knew that Big wouldn't be happy with her, but Big was almost never happy with her. What else was new? She took a deep breath, centering herself for a moment as she hit the injector one last time. She heard it shudder, and grinned internally. She grabbed a hooked wrench and shoved it into the fuel line.
"Kevin? Might want to move..." she called out as she yanked the fuel injector out as hard as she could. Kevin peered out to see the slagged part fire out of the line and shoot out at high speed. He jumped back, expecting it stop on the floor. It bounced and instead slammed against his shin. The polar bear yelped and cursed her aloud. "You alright out there? If you are, can you hand me that part next to the window? Just toss it underneath!" Skye called out from underneath the car. Kevin growled and made no attempt to hide his faux limp as he tossed the part without a care underneath the vehicle.
"Careful Kev. I don't want to explain to Big why I have to get another part for this," Skye said as she installed the part in silence. She could still hear Kevin sitting down, checking his leg. He was still cursing but it didn't seem to like it was directed much at her this time. Polar bears were strong, it may have hurt but it wasn't going to affect him for too much.
"I take report back to Big," Kevin said abruptly after a few minutes. Skye simply grunted in agreement as she heard him get up and leave. She smirked as she waited for another moment only to hear him come back, grab a few papers and then leave again in silence. She rolled out from underneath the black car, shaking her head with a smile. "Eventually Kevin, you'll learn to grab what you need before you go," she said to no one in particular.
She grabbed her phone and texted a quick message to Big, 'Kev's on his way back. He has the report. Targets are on their way here to talk about yesterday. Will rendezvous with them and attempt to extract mission info'. She didn't need to wait even a few moments before Big's response came back in. She sighed internally; she hated doing all this spy non-sense. If only she had a way out!
She saw the police cruiser pull up on the side of the street before slowing down. She made sure that she had all the important bits; her phone, her ID, her wallet. Nodding to herself, she breached the doorway, putting a smile on her face that didn't need to be faked.
Checking one last time to make sure the door was locked, she grinned at the grey bunny and red fox waving at her from inside the car.
To: Adrian Bogo
From: Judy Hopps
Subject: Questions to ask Skye
Just wanted to check and see if you had any questions you wanted us to ask Skye before we delivered her unto you. After all, you're so busy most of the time and we don't to waste anything now do we? We have all the basics here already.
Nick Wilde (Your bestie!)
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
From: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Re: Questions to ask Skye
Wilde, listen to me when I say do not send emails from your partner's account. I do not care that she is not officially your partner. Do not do it.
Also no, I don't.
This is the part where Skye's character suddenly does a 180. It's kind of impressive, considering she isn't doing anything sporty. Also, I apologize, but I just love Nick's "I'm done." It fits me, as I was writing this, far too well for me to think that it was actually Nick saying it.
Until Next Time!
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Insert witty remark here. Also insert witty remark regarding short chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Don't get angry, you said. It might make her worse, you said. Well tell me Clawhauser, what part of that is supposed to make me not angry?" Nick asked angrily into the radio. Judy tried to stifle her laugh. To anyone who could see the red fox, he seemed to be having a good time pulling one over on the unlucky dispatch. There was little in his voice signaling his acting.
"It wasn't her fault Nick! It was just something that happened, and she still feels really bad for it!" Benjamin tried to explain. Nick waved his paw around, as if the cheetah could see him. 'Helps to get into character', Nick had explained previously. Especially when trying something like this.
"It was obvious Benji! Besides, I doubt she feels bad for it. Carrots, would rabbits feel bad about that?" Nick asked with a grin. He turned to his partner, fully expecting to her to know exactly what to say, despite never saying a thing previously.
Judy rolled her eyes but played along, "Depends on the bunny. A bunny like me? No. Not one bit. You deserve what happened and worse."
"Ouch Carrots, why are you so mean? Benji, she's mean isn't she? Did you do something?"
"Alright, I'm calling it here. Thanks you two! Think we would've fooled him enough?" Benjamin asked suddenly, his voice quieting down to a whisper. It was quiet enough that Nick had to increase the volume on the radio, which made it still harder to hear the cheetah through the incessant crackling.
"Nah, we'll have to run through it again here soon. It wouldn't fool me in the slightest, and Wolford's only slightly less socially knowledgeable," Nick said. He pointed out the repair shop and Judy simply nodded, pulling over easily.
"Ok. Thanks you two!" Clawhauser said as he hung up the radio with a loud 'bzzt'.
"Hey look, here she comes," Judy pointed out, waving at the arctic vixen, who waved back with a smile. She was still wearing her shop clothes, almost completely covered with a myriad of colors to the point it was almost impossible to see the blue denim underneath. "So really Nick, are you going to tell me what that was all about?" Judy asked, waiting for Skye to finish locking up. Nick shiftily looked around and took a sip on his coffee to avoid answering. "Nick..." Judy started.
"It was something that Clawhauser asked me to help with. Whenever Wolford or someone else gets a bit close to asking certain questions he asked me to stage an 'argument' that he could use. That was a practice run," Nick responded.
"Ah. What was it about?" Judy asked, but she didn't get an answer as Skye opened up the back door and jumped in. "Hey Skye!"
"Hey yourselves you two. How've you been?" she asked politely, buckling up immediately. She had been a passenger when Nick was driving six months ago, and although the fox was a good driver his conversations with Judy implied that she was a bit more...reckless.
"Could be better," Judy hinted with only a slight grimace. Nick simply nodded and said nothing.
Skye quickly realized that it was a good idea to buckle up, because her initial judgement told her that Judy was a bit of a crazy driver. She had to revise it; Judy wasn't just a bit crazy, she most definitely was crazy. How Nick managed to never go sliding side to side like she was doing she would never know.
"So what exactly is all this about? I mean, it's not like I can give information that you couldn't, you were both there," Skye asked, leaning to the middle of the seats. Judy motioned with her head to Nick, who sighed animatedly.
"We just want to ask you a few questions, make sure that we know what happened because it's kind of crazy, that kind of thing," Nick said, trying to not go into too much detail. Skye nodded blankly.
They traveled in silence, Nick and Judy swaying with the car with an almost practiced ease. "It's funny, the last time I was in this seat we were screaming at each other because there was a giant robot loose. Now there's no giant robot, but there's not really a whole lot going on either," Skye said abruptly after a few minutes.
"I think I prefer the silence. You know, the roar of the engine, the wind howling outside the windows, the sound of the rain hitting the windshield..." Nick said. Judy rolled her eyes.
"That's what earplugs are for, Nick."
"Earplugs are for when you don't want to hear anything at all, Carrots."
"I know, that's why I wear some when I'm with you," Judy laughed. Nick looked put out for a moment, before eventually chuckling as well. Skye rolled her eyes and laughed alongside.
"Welcome to our humble cubee. We have anything and everything you might need, except chairs, a table, something interesting to look at, and coffee," Nick said, steering Skye into his and Judy's shared space. It was a small cubicle, barely six by five, but it was large enough to host two desks and a few chairs, as well as the fox and bunny themselves. Judy sat down and dutifully pulled out her notebook. She hadn't had much use for it lately, exception being yesterday. She missed when she could trust everything in it.
"I know that you know most of this already, Nick you're typing this up-" Judy said, ignoring the groan from the fox next to her- "but this is mostly just an informal thing. So in your own words, what happened to you yesterday?"
"Same thing that happened to you," Skye said slyly. Nick looked as if he was about to say something along the lines of 'told you so' but refrained as he saw the smirk on Judy's face.
"Now pretend that we weren't there. What happened to you yesterday?"
"Well, I was following two of my friends around, they called me over to see what was going on, I followed them inside Jack Savage's place, and he...tricked?...we didn't exactly get much time to get off...we found ourselves heading towards a place he simply called 'The Underground'.
"A sasquatch led us to the Nine, where he explained where Gemfield came from, etc, and the same guy as before, I think he was named Bill? Yeah, Bill, escorted us back out."
"It's amazing how slow this story gets sometimes," Nick said idly, typing it all down. Judy tossed what looked like a small cloth ball at his head, bouncing it off the walls of cubicle in front of him. "Ow, Carrots, that hurts..."
"No it doesn't. Thanks Skye. Also, our Chief wanted to talk to you about something," Judy said, grabbing Skye's arm and pulling her along. She barely had the time to process what it was exactly that the grey rabbit had said before she found herself in Chief Bogo's office, being pulled along by Judy.
"Here you are sir. Both Nick and I are writing up the reports now," Judy said, pushing Skye in just slightly as she closed the door. Skye didn't even get a bare moment in which to voice her objection.
"Hopps, don't you," Bogo yelled before noticing, "oh she already left. Darn it Hopps, follow procedure sometimes, please..." he followed with a whisper. He turned to the arctic vixen, "And you are Ms. Skye Lanmarck, correct? Please have a seat."
Skye looked at the massive cape buffalo, muscles practically showing from every inch from his uniform. He looked particularly surly, and Skye gulped. She had a feeling that this is what being sent to the Principal's office felt like in school. She simply nodded her head, and made to jump on to one of the two chairs. And promptly sank another six inches. She moved around uselessly, trying to get a better or at least more comfortable seating, but everywhere she moved she just sunk in more.
"Now then, Ms. Lanmarck, I'm going to be upfront with you. We have plenty of evidence against you, but I'm not going to use it," Bogo said simply, staring at her over his simple glasses. Somehow they made every word he said sound much more threatening. "Instead, you are going to become an informant."
"Informant? Informant for what? I don't know anything of value!" Skye responded. Bogo sat up a bit more, letting his own towering height cow the fox easier. Instinctively Skye shrunk, as if to make herself less of a visible target.
"I'm afriad you know plenty of things of value, Ms. Lanmarck. It goes like this; I know you work for Mr. Big. How I know isn't important. Instead, you're going to tell me who you've been spying on."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Hopps and Wilde then. Very well, not exactly uncommon. We received an email a few days ago, from someone claiming to be you, about the gang 'The Zootopian Zenomites', which came with a shockingly high amount of detail in it. Did you or did you not send that email to Hopps or Wilde?"
"Yes, I did do that one," Skye said quietly. How much did Bogo know of her activities? Without any more information, Skye could quite easily say that Bogo was at least as informed as Big was. If she assumed as such, then she could only imply anything else, meaning that should Big try to find out what she said, he'd hopefully let her off the hook. If not, well, it was a good thing she can swim.
"Excellent. Precedence. We have enough information on you, Ms. Lanmarck, to put you away for a very long time. Fortunately, I do not believe in wasting possible talent. Wilde would have gotten this same lecture had he not run with Hopps."
"So you're...what, blackmailing me to help?" Skye said, disgusted with the buffalo. This was the chief of police, acting like a common mafia boss!
"Not blackmailing, no. Consider this a warning. In a day or so, Jack Savage is going to escape. He is going to go to you for help, in your shop. You are to keep him safe until Precinct Four stops looking for him, while acting as a liason between Big and myself. Anything more and we will have you arrested. Do I make myself clear?"
Skye sneered back, "Perfectly. And here I thought you were supposed to be the law."
Chief Bogo relaxed, and looked Skye dead in the eye, "Trust me, Ms. Lanmarck. No one is the law, and no one is above it. Least of all me. Ordinarily there would be checks and balances. I can tell you aren't a bad mammal. I can ensure that you'll get paid for it as well. Do you understand?"
Skye nodded, glaring at the chief as she did so. He had her by the tail, and she knew it. But on the other hand, something about this situation just screamed unnaturalness to her. Something was wrong about this. There was more to what was going on that just what was in front of them. It sparked an idea in her head, that she couldn't trust the scenario in front of her. She couldn't trust what her senses were telling her. She had to make sure that this was real.
"Good. Head back to WildeHopps' cubicle. Savage will present the papers to you tomorrow or whenever he shows up."
"You're just letting him loose?"
"No," Bogo said simply. "Out." Skye looked questioningly at him before following his order. As she left, she closed the door with a quiet lock.
Bogo took a deep breath and turned back to his work. In the far corner, invisible to all eyes, stood a fox. He was tall, for a fox, and had a large scar across his nose. His most unique characteristics were his light blue fur, similar to an arctic fox, and his long flowing nine tails.
Nick and Judy were bored. Very bored. They had been instructed to take most of the day to write the report about the previous day, and they did. It didn't even take them long, barely thirty minutes due to their combined notes. Even if most of those notes were mental, each and every one of them was useful in its own way. They took turns describing what each of them saw during the illusion period, and although they had finished that there were still some parts of the report, as honest as it was, that seemed a bit more wild than even they could believe.
They had since decided to look up some of the species that they had found. Nick had already done a bunch of research on what a kitsune was, and was already familiar with most of the legends and myths that surrounded them. He considered it a bonus from the time when Miles was running rampant, right before the Chaos Effect.
"Listen to this, Nick. Wargs are a canid myth. Apparently when a wolf had giantism or was born almost unnaturally large and strong they called them a warg. Mostly they were found in the Berserker territories up north," Judy said, scrolling down another webpage.
"Huh. A canid myth huh? So we have the sasquatch, the human myth of essentially Bigfoot, a mysterious entity that walked bipedally and was almost never seen, the wargs, the canid myth of really big wolves...what's the lupine myth of jackalopes?" Nick asked, scrolling down his own page on kitsune.
"Uh...I don't know much. I'll call Mom and Dad later tonight, maybe they'll know more. Something about horned hares though, being fast and having deer antlers," Judy answered. "What do you got on the foxes? Anything new?"
"Nothing new. I just keep getting the same thing. Vulpine myth, gets nine tails, and gets ridiculous afterwards. Illusions, flight, you name it. If even half of this is true, it's no wonder they're the leaders."
"Oh here's something on jackalopes. 'Jackalopes, or an antlered hare, were a...'" Judy sighed as she finished reading it, "distraction made up by some mammals who thought they'd have some fun years ago. They aren't real, apparently."
"Well could you believe that a bunny with antlers would exist in the wild?"
"Hare, not bunny."
"What's the difference? I don't know if you've noticed, but there aren't exactly a lot of bunnies in Zootopia."
"Hares are bigger. Generally. About half of Bunny Burrows is part hare in some manner. Apparently they were popular about fifty years ago and the population got a big boom."
Skye cut off all further thought as she raged in. "You two work for that ass!?" she yelled in. One of the other officers looked down into their cubicle to see what the noise was. When he saw who's it was coming from he simply shrugged and went on his way.
"Buffalo-Butt? Yeah, why? Well, she does, I don't. Anymore. What'd he do?" Nick asked.
"Your boss then, Judy, just blackmailed me into becoming an informant against Big," she said, practically whispering now. Nick's eyes widened. He looked over at Judy, who quickly nodded her agreement about their unspoken plan. They knew, very quickly, that was definitely was not the Chief Bogo they knew, and that something had to be up.
"Don't believe anything he said about Gazelle at all Skye!" Nick shouted suddenly. Judy followed suit, telling Skye to keep it down.
"He knows more about Gazelle than Clawhauser does, Nick!" Judy also yelled. They heard gasps come from various cubicles as some other officers ran off.
"What was...what was that all about?" Skye asked.
"Come on, we'll tell you in a bit. We're heading for the fourth floor," Judy said, grabbing Nick and Skye and urging them forwards, towards the elevator. Skye looked at her two 'friends' wondering what on earth she had just gotten herself into.
The elevator was swiftly silenced as they practically marched towards the fourth floor. Judy went in first to one of the empty rooms, which only had a table and five chairs. It was mostly unclear glass; almost impossible to see anything more than a vague silhouette.
She looked around for cameras before motioning Nick and Skye in. Skye looked even more confused than before. What was going on with these two all of a sudden? "Sorry about that Skye. What do you mean he's blackmailing you to become an informant!?" Judy said, not even bothering to sit down.
"Just that! He said that he 'doesn't like to waste talent', and that he had plenty of evidence to lock me away for a long time."
"That doesn't sound like him," Judy said, looking confused for only a moment. Nick nodded his agreement.
"I agree with her, that doesn't sound like him. What else did he say?"
"Huh, Jack Savage is going to break out in a day or so, and I have to house him for a bit until Precinct Four stops looking."
Judy blinked for a moment. She looked at over at Nick, who was also confused, "That's...weird. Jack can't break out because he was never charged. He's a GUN agent. As long as we don't have any actual proof against him the most we can do is bring him in for a day. He's already out."
Skye looked at him for a moment. "Then why did..."
"Don't know. Bogo, as much of a pain as he is, would already know that. Whoever you talked with wasn't Bogo," Nick said.
"I put her there though Nick. I saw him, and he was there. He even yelled at me as I closed the door, as he always does."
"Carrots, we're dealing with something new. Remember the Chaos Effect? Wait, did you notice anything out of the ordinary?"
"Me?" Judy asked. When Nick nodded she continued, "Not really. I kind of got a flare from the Gemfield sense thing, but that's been going off around Bogo for nearly...three...months..." she trailed off.
Nick, Skye, and Judy all exchanged glances, having come up with the same line of thought. Three months ago was when the Underground had been finished. Three months ago was when it was populated with kitsune, wargs, sasquatch, jackalopes, and a variety of other Chaotics.
Nick smiled with uncertainty, "Well, he did want us to go back down. So let's go back down." Judy nodded, and gave a quick glance to Skye, who agreed.
They were heading back to the Underground.
To: Adrian Bogo
From: Judy Hopps
BCC: Miles Prower
Subject: Don't read this aloud
Have you noticed anything odd from about three months ago onwards? Something strange is going on in the ZPD. Skye just told us that you blackmailed her into becoming an informant against Mr. Big. Also you know that Gemfield sense that I've slowly been getting better at using? It keeps going off around you, and I know that you don't use it at all. Have you been spending time down in the labs?
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
From: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Re: Don't read this aloud
If you have anything to say to me say it to me directly.
Also I will point out that I have not seen Ms. Lanmarck yet. I do have a meeting on the second floor in two hours. I will be getting there shortly.
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
From: Miles Prower
Subject: Re: Don't read this aloud
Should I be getting this one too? I mean, yeah that doesn't sound like Bogo but uh...I don't see what this has to do with me.
To: Miles Prower
From: Judy Hopps
Subject: Re: Re: Don't read this aloud
Oops. Sorry Miles! Thanks for all your help though!
Also yes, accidents where an email is sent to multiple people happen a lot. It was especially funny at my old workplace, because there was a distribution list with every employee on it. Many of them asked to be taken off an email chain by hitting "reply all". This went on for nearly five hours. Most hysterical day I've had.
Until Next Time!
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
So we are approximately 70% of the way through the story. Eventually I'll update faster. Eventually.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"He responded yet, Carrots?" Nick asked. Judy looked down at her phone and shook her head. She absentmindedly noticed that she would need to charge her phone soon, it was barely over sixty percent. And the day had just started!
"Not yet. He will. He always does."
The three of them, Nick, Judy, and Skye, had been sitting around one of the other meeting tables for around ten minutes. And although they were going to head back into the Underground, there were still quite a few loose ends that needed tying up. Specifically, one of the major ones that was extremely uncharacteristic; Why would Chief Bogo try to blackmail Skye? They had sent him a quick email, urging him to not read it aloud in case whatever had happened included something like an audio bug. If it was an email bug, then they'd know the gig was up, but that was a chance they would have to take.
Seconds passed but seemed like minutes before Judy's phone vibrated, showing that she got an email. "It's him. He's meeting someone on the second floor, so he'll be up here shortly," Judy said.
Skye looked over her shoulder, "Uh...how can you tell? This is the fourth, not the second."
"Because we know Chief Bogo," Judy said at the same time as Nick. They smiled at each other and gave a quick high five. Skye just blinked in confusion before shaking her head. She trusted these two, enough to go with the flow. Although she did start making plans in case something happened. She looked out the window to see the silhouette of the cape buffalo heading towards the door quickly.
"Hopps, Wilde. What's this about?" Bogo asked, gunning into the room. He lowered the shades quickly, making the room impossible to see into or hear out of. He quickly saw the other arctic fox in the room, "And you must be Ms. Lanmarck." She nodded. This one gave off the same feeling as he did previously, the same kind of feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. That was at least one thing that was the same.
Nick motioned for Skye to take the lead. Bogo turned to stare her down, his eyes showing as much larger than usual through his glasses. Odd, she hadn't seen that before.
"I just came out of a meeting with you-"
"Impossible. I would've known had I seen to you. But continue."
"You threatened to lock me up for a long time if I didn't report certain pieces of what Mr. Big is doing, and act as a liason. Also apparently Jack Savage is going to escape in the next few days. You threatened me to make sure that I took him in too."
Bogo looked worried for a moment, before turning to Judy and Nick, "Does this kind of thing always happen to you two? Don't answer that, I already know." He took a deep breath before continuing, "Ms. Lanmarck, I can assure you that I already have eyes on Mr. Big. Quite a few of them actually."
"I would never have threatened you with something like that, and while I won't apologize as I don't remember ever doing it, it is my duty to ensure that you feel safe while in Zootopia. Even from the police themselves, if necessary."
"You have spies in Mr. Big's ranks?"
Bogo looked at her for a moment, as if appraising her. "Of course not. Big wouldn't allow that. I have other ways of gathering information on him. Although he hasn't been as much of a thorn in my side lately, I think his daughter and grandkids are doing him some good."
"Not as much as you might think..." Skye said, trailing off near the end. Big was still a major player in the gang wars. He'd done nothing overtly since the Zenomites entered the fray with Gemfield, but she knew that he was planning something. And he wanted the ZPD there to help.
"I am aware. Thank you for your assistance however in bringing it to me. If you'd like, I can put you to the Witness Protection Program. That was the reason behind me calling you here earlier. As a whistleblower, I have no doubt that Big has put a target on you. If you'd like, we can keep you safe." Bogo turned to Judy and Nick, "Hopps, Wilde. Good work on bringing this to my attention. I don't know how long I've been compromised, so I've had Records been checking the tapes."
Judy piped up, "We suspect about three months sir."
"Three months. That narrows down their workload significantly. They should send you a thank you note. What are your plans now?"
Nick and Judy looked at each other a moment, "Heading back to the Underground. We have some more questions for Kalk."
"Good. Do so," Bogo said, pulling out a piece of paper from one of the pockets on his uniform, "Call this number from any phone anywhere if you find anything of importance. It leads directly to me should I be in my office."
Judy looked at it for a moment. It was a twenty digit number, well beyond the normal limit for phones. "Sir? What is this?" she couldn't stop herself from asking.
Bogo smirked at her as he left, "Another present from Miles. It's a Chaos phone that blocks out other sources of Chaos radiation. I've done my research too Hopps. It should be able to pierce the Underground just fine." The door closed quickly behind him as he walked off.
Judy, Nick, and Skye looked at each other for a moment, before Nick blurted out, "How come Chief gets all the cool toys and we don't!?"
It didn't take very long, barely five minutes, to get everything they needed to filed away and back in their police vehicle. Judy was driving, as is their normal. Skye was holding on and wondering why that was their normal.
"Are you going to go through with it Skye?" Nick asked, turning around in the seat. Judy looked up at her through the rear-view mirror.
"Go through with what?" she asked back.
"The witness protection program. Are you going to go for it?"
Skye took a moment to answer, "I'm not sure. It certainly would mean that I couldn't go back to my normal job. Not sure what else I'd do. I'm a tradesvixen, I'm good at what I do."
"You're a mechanic, right? Why don't you try working for the ZPD? I know the garage keeps complaining of mammals trashing vehicles left and right," Judy said.
"Don't the police only hire police? I mean, if they hired laymammals like myself then there's an opportunity for something to happen, like a car bomb or something. I know the gang bosses would love for that to happen."
"They do a pretty thorough background check. I had to explain myself dozens of times when I applied," Nick said. Judy looked over at him. He continued after he noticed Judy looking at him in disbelief, "To Bogo, mostly. Might've just been because of the Nighthowler case and all, but he had to sign off on a bunch of documents stating that the inconsistencies were fine."
"How many of these 'inconsistencies' were there?" Judy asked.
Nick's ears popped up, and he slyly looked over, "Plenty. Gonna have to try harder than that, Carrots."
"I think then it'd take longer for me to even try. Maybe I could try freelancing. I could see the 'work wanted' ad now: 'Lonely vixen seeks work for money. Mechanic work, perverts!'"
"Good think you caught that, otherwise I would've pointed it out," Nick said, smirking at the back passenger. "Although..." he said quietly, slipping into a tone that Skye recognized...even if it was one she didn't want to.
"If you say what I think you're about to say, Wilde, I will ensure that you will never procreate. Ever. I'm not that kind of fox."
"What!? No, I was thinking why don't you just try hiding in the Underground?" Nick finished.
"Oh. Uh...sorry," Skye said simply, letting the blush tell its story for what it was. Some mammals were hard to tell when they were embarrassed, foxes like Nick that had red fur were the hardest. But some, like the brilliant white of Skye, were all too easy. Even Judy's grey didn't completely hide it sometimes.
"Maybe. There's still some time left before I answer, and Big's not going to be coming after me for a while now that he has his report," Skye mentioned offhanded.
"You wrote a report for him about it already?" Judy asked. That was a quick turnaround time. Maybe it was just because Skye legitimately, and with good reason, feared for her life. Especially now because all three knew that Big would've known about Skye coming out from the ZPD. If he suspected her of anything, not even Big's 'niceness' would keep her from disappearing.
"Yeah, he sent Kevin, the really big polar bear to go grab it."
"Big always does trust Kev," Nick supplied. Skye nodded her agreement. It took her for a second to realize that Nick said that as if he knew exactly who Kevin was, and had dealt with him many, many times than just once or twice.
Judy stared at Nick with a small smile. "One of these days Nick, I will know."
"Good luck with that Carrots."
Jack Savage's place seemed far closer than it had the previous day. In reality, and they all knew it, it took only twenty minutes, but it felt like seconds. They piled out and walked in with their heads held high, keeping their eyes out for any sign of anything particularly noteworthy or wrong. It took Nick only a few seconds to find the hidden button for the elevator underneath Jack's desk, and soon they were back on their way heading to the Underground.
"I think they do this because it's supposed to give an impact," Judy noted as it the underground cavern displayed itself in all its glory and hollowness. The same feeling of pressure occurred to all three of them at the same time. Nick took the moment to look down, and seeing only a few hundred feet left. He thought he saw the guard, but it wasn't a sasquatch like it was previously. As they got closer, it became easier and easier to make the guard out, and there was a guard there. They were a lot more equine in nature, and Nick struggled to come up with a Chaotic equine.
It came to him quickly, and he couldn't help but blurt it out, "There's a unicorn for a gate guard!" Judy and Skye looked over. Sure enough, now that there were much closer, they could see the unique horn shape of what appeared to be a traditional unicorn.
"There's probably going to be pegasi next or something," Nick mumbled, stepping off the elevator once it fully stopped. The unicorn took a quick look out before stepping outside the outpost. They were tall, like most horses were, with a brilliantly light gold fur. Nick, Judy, and Skye had only seen that fur color on one other being; Ray Kalk.
"Hiya folks. Welcome to the Underground. How may I be of assistance?" she asked, her voice a lot lighter than would've seemed. Most horses had fairly deep voices, as their voices echoed a lot within the voice box. This one had more of a lighter tone, a more...traditional fantasy tone...
Judy and Nick caught it at the same time. "Alright, who're you?" Judy asked, already absentmindedly noting the Gemfield response. It was there, a bit bigger than it was when Ray did it only a few short hours ago.
"Because you're not a unicorn," Nick finished. The guard looked at them in shock for a moment before a brilliant smile erupted. The silhouette of the guard seemed to light up for a second, before it fell apart into thousands of tiny light particles.
In it's place was a fox with seven tails fanned out behind him. He seemed young, with Nick's estimate being barely fourteen. Way too young to be a gate guard.
"Wow, you guys are good. I'm David. Nice to meet you!" he said grinning. Nick took the opportunity to get another good look at the kid. He was shorter than Nick, and only about a foot taller than Finnick including the ears, with...green...fur. Probably dyed, although Nick wasn't going to let any of this weird Chaotic thing get to him. He wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't.
"Nice to meet you too David. What are you doing here?" Judy asked politely. It was the same tone that she gave when she had different or other questions on her mind. Nick and Skye could give a good guess as to what those would be.
"Aurora asked me to keep watch here to see if you three showed up. Although where's the fourth guy? Rabbit, about my size, weird marks on his cheeks? What happened to him?" David asked, still smiling.
"Ah...Jack couldn't come with us this time. Do you mind if we head off to talk with Nine Kalk?" Judy answered.
"To the Nine? I got no problem with it although Kalk's not working at the moment. He took the day off to rest from something or other. If you'd like I can take you to Aurora!" David said.
"Um...Sure. Who are all the Nines, exactly?" Judy asked. David smiled and led them onwards. Whereas Bill took them directly forwards, David seemed to take an almost random route, going left or right at seemingly every pass. It would only take minutes before they were lost.
"Well, you know who Ray Kalk is, then Ignar Rian, and Beta Astra. Those three are the Nines for this entire area, but Rian's out at the moment, Kalk is on break, and Astra is doing an investigation into something. Big hubbub about it really, it was really sudden," David said, his hands animating excitedly. Judy and Nick glanced at each other. They had a feeling they knew exactly what it was that Astra was investigating.
"And then there's the Nines over here in this section, Aurora Eira, Rash Herason, and Violet Polkiss. Most of them are pretty fair and decent in my humble opinion. Aurora's the closest and best, she lets all of the kitsune in her section call her by her first name, she's awesome. Rash is kind of crazy, but everything he does deep down is a good thing. And Violet tries to keep everything from accelerating too quickly," David explained.
"Which section is this again? And how are the sections divided up?" Nick asked.
"This is the northwest section. The one we're heading to is the south section, and the last is northeast. I think we used to have names for 'em but I forgot 'em. Don't put much stock in them, mostly. Sections are made by basically the Nines arguing over who should get what, where. It's really silly. Three sections per city, and each section has three divisions. Like I said, really silly."
"Does this area seem more open to you two than the other one did? Kalk's section?" Skye asked. Nick and Judy looked around. There wasn't much difference in the grey buildings around, although they did seem to be slightly farther apart than before. They weren't sure if it just felt as such or if there was actually something to it.
"Probably because it is. Aurora's always been more of a progressive Nine, in that she thinks the lives of those under her should be as good as she can make them. Runs herself ragged, but she's awesome anyways."
"How old are you exactly, David? You seem pretty young."
"Twenty two," he said. Judy looked at him in shock mirrored by the other two. He laughed as he saw their faces, "Yeah it shocks a lot of the mammals that come down from above. I mean, I'm no Legend, but seven tails at twenty two isn't bad."
"Yeah, the Kitsune Legends. They're a popular myth around here. There's nine of 'em, and all nine had the title just kind of forced onto them due to a bunch of prophecies. They don't like it, so they try to fight fate while still trying to be good souls. It's a story about not accepting fate as it is and just taking it. Fight for what you believe in, and as long as you don't hurt anyone you can still have a good soul."
"Sounds like a good moral to learn."
"It is. One of the reasons it's so popular. Anyways, we're here!" David announced. Unlike Kalk's church office, the building they'd stopped at seemed like almost any other. The only difference is that this one had a small sign on the outside. A picture of a fox, a one tailed this time, with a small aurora on it dotted it's facing.
David led them up a small stairs to the second floor, where he knocked politely and tried to make his head fur lay flat. "Who is it?" came a voice from inside.
"It's David, from the Gatewatch! The three you wanted are here!" David called out. There was silence for a moment before the door unlocked, and seemingly disappeared. He smiled and motioned Nick, Judy, and Skye through.
Similar to Kalk's office, this one had a few dozen chairs spread throughout it, a desk with only a few windows. All in all, a rather boring office space. It seemed rather chilly to Judy, although she noticed that Skye was completely fine.
And that was mostly because Aurora was a brilliant white. She looked at them with a small smile, and motioned for them to sit down. "I apologize for making you wait, I have to finish this first. David, please go get our guests some water or a snack, if you could?" she asked politely. Judy's opinion of her was already higher than her opinion of Kalk, seeing as how Kalk was a bit lax in his duties. It was obvious that Aurora wasn't.
"Sure thing! Be back in a second!" David called out, running outside. The door re-appeared and locked itself again with barely a wave of Aurora's paw.
Nick tried to get a good look at the papers that she was reading, but it seemed almost impossible to. The letters kept changing on him, suddenly a completely different shape than what was there before. Judy however saw something just a bit different. While she saw the same kind of shapes that Nick did, for her eyes somehow they didn't shift, or change. In fact they seemed to almost...stand up. Like someone had a put old 3D glasses on her face and told her to stare at a movie. She had to blink her eyes to make sure she wasn't seeing things.
Time passed by quickly, and what seemed like only a few seconds later Aurora looked up, quickly putting the paper into a folder. "My apologies for that. How may the Nines be of assistance?"
"Originally we had asked to go see Nine Kalk, but-" Judy started.
"Yes, he's not available at the moment. I've been hearing different rumors, and I have no idea what's true or not. Anything you wanted to ask him, you can ask me, and I will answer it to the best of my ability."
"How does a mammal see through an illusion?" Judy asked suddenly.
Aurora stared at her a moment, waving her paw absentmindedly as David bungled his way back in with a pitcher of water that he obviously should not have been carrying. "Seeing through illusions...I assume you mean piercing? To pierce through an illusion is to see the truth behind it," Aurora said slowly. Judy nodded.
The nine tailed fox seemed to perk up a bit, and almost turned into what could have been said was a teacher, "Illusions are rather tricky things. To pierce just one is not enough to see truth as it is, and seeing the truth can sometimes be not a good idea. However, if you wish to learn how I can teach you, although it will take some time. It is not easy."
Judy was about to agree but got stopped by Nick. "Hold up Carrots, I got a few things of my own before we agree to this." Judy looked at him in confusion but nodded her assent. Nick turned to Aurora, "Just how powerful exactly are these illusions? I was in one of Kalk's the other day, and there were some...oddities."
"That's actually exactly how you pierce the illusions. You find the oddities, and you focus on them. Illusions can be of varying strengths, depending on who cast them and how many times they layered them. A nine tailed for example could cast one that influences reality itself; it's those that we used, with about fifty or sixty layers, to carve out this cavern actually. Everyone under nine can cast smaller and simpler illusions. David, for example, can make himself look like something smaller or bigger but he'd still have the same mass. Whereas if I did that, I could change my own mass as well."
"You carved this cavern out with illusions?" Judy asked, suddenly starting to panic.
"Yes," Aurora nodded, "but there's thirty checks and balances and dozens of alarms set up. Not to mention that top layer was layered with nearly fifty others of similar strength. There's a reason it took us about a month to build this."
"But we're not actually underground right now."
"Technically you are. It's just that there is no actual cavern; it doesn't exist. Your mind says it exists, in every way, shape, and form. Have you heard of quantum mechanics?" Nick, Judy, and Skye stared blankly at her.
"I'll take that as a no. Well, the quantum world acts a lot differently than the bigger world, the macro. One of the biggest breakthroughs in quantum mechanics is the understanding of quantum superposition. That is, that something both exists and doesn't exist at the same time, until it's observed. A nine tailed illusion reverses that, making things that would ordinarily exist, suddenly not exist...but only to those under the illusion."
"That...makes no sense."
"Of course it doesn't. But it doesn't need to, because even we aren't sure how exactly it works. That's the leading theory. What we do know is that although this cavern doesn't exist in true reality, we aren't in true reality anymore. Live with the concept for a while and it becomes much easier to accept."
"I...wish that would come sooner," Nick, Judy, and Skye said at around the same time. Aurora chuckled lightly.
To: Miles Prower; Adrian Bogo
From: Nick Wilde
Subject: I think my head just exploded
We're at the Underground again. Stuff's going on. But apparently the cavern we're in doesn't actually exist, and we only think it does, but because we think it does it does. I am so confused at the moment.
Any particular questions you want me to ask while we're here and able to ask questions and not suffocating like we should be?
To: Nick Wilde
From: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Re: I think my head just exploded
Live with it Wilde. I deal with that kind of confusion every day looking after some of your cases.
Also yes, ask them what the likelihood is of them affecting Zootopia. Positively or negatively.
To: Nick Wilde
From: Miles Prower
Subject: Re: I think my head just exploded
Sounds kind of like Chaos really. What is there both is and isn't there? I figured that quantum physics explained some parts of Chaos Theory but Chaos is in a world all of its own. On the other hand, what if it actually is just pure Chaos?
Think about it like this: Our minds say something is one thing, but reality says it's another. Sounds Chaotic, and it also sounds exactly like these illusions of yours.
Also, Gemfield is also known as Chaos Crystal right, due to the seemingly random effects? They call themselves Chaotics. It only makes sense that they're as Chaotic as the energy they rely upon. Just shove it under a mental note of 'Chaos'. I mean, Chaos created Sonic and myself, so there's precedence for weirdness.
Before anyone says anything, I am perfectly aware what quantum superposition is, and why it definitely is not as simple as this chapter says it is. There's a hell of a lot more nuance to that then what I could put here, so I didn't. If anything, Tails is completely correct on his assessment.
Until Next Time
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Finally this story starts picking up the pace. If thirteen didn't make much sense, then don't worry, fourteen won't either.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Understanding comes with time. You've already learned that, I think. Don't worry about the rest, it will come. Now please don't mind me, I need to grab a drink," Aurora said, getting up near silently and exiting the room the same way David did earlier, her nine tails swishing ominously. The seven tailed fox followed shortly afterwards, a small smirk on his face, as if he knew something they didn't and would never know.
Alone now, Nick and Judy pulled out their phones. "I'm sending an email to the Chief. I think he'd want to know about this," Nick said, quietly checking to make sure he still had reception. He did, a full two bars.
"Ok. I'm going to..." Judy looked down at her own phone, before sighing, "well I was going to check on quantum superposition but I don't think I can. I get no reception down here," Judy said, quietly shrugging. Nick looked at her before he looked down to his own phone. He still had fine reception.
"I think she was thinking of the Quantum Uncertainty Principle, not superposition," Skye said. Judy and Nick both turned to look at her, Nick having already sent his message. "At least I think it's the quantum uncertainty principle. I don't know, I deal with machines, not physics."
"Aren't machines just users of physics?" Judy asked.
"Yeah, but machines actually work," Skye grumbled.
A low buzz got sent through the room as Nick's phone got a message. "It's from Miles. He says that he thinks that it's not anything involving physics but rather just Chaos. Can you control Chaos like that?" Nick said, checking quickly.
"I'm not sure. Reply and ask him," Judy suggested. Nick quickly typed it out. Miles' response was even quicker; last time it took a few seconds but this time it was almost instantaneous.
"He says of course it's possible, just chaotic. Chaos Control is actually what allows Shadow to teleport around, apparently. So it can be done, but he isn't sure how, although he says that Sonic can do it too, he just doesn't," Nick read aloud. "He'll ask Sonic once he gets back in."
"Did Chief Bogo say anything yet? Also I'm sorry I didn't get to ask first if you two wanted to try and see through these illusions. I didn't know-" Judy said.
She got interrupted by Skye, "Judy, it's fine. I think it's a good thing, something that we should all learn how to do. If Zootopia is going to be dealing with a lot of these Chaotics from now on then it definitely isn't a bad skill to have. It might even become necessary depending on how often we get visited by kitsune."
"Or any of the others. I haven't noticed too many wargs or jackalopes today, but plenty of unicorns and pegasi," Nick said, looking out the window. Judy and Skye ran up to see a group of horses walking down the street as normal, until they looked at their heads. Many of them had a similar horn to what David had shown previously. One of them had a large set of wings set into the sides of its back.
"So we have confirmed sightings of kitsune, jackalopes, wargs, sasquatch, unicorns, and pegasi. Are we missing any?" Judy said, listening them all off one by one.
"Tanuki. We haven't seen any yet, but we know they're here," Nick said. Judy 'ahh'ed and added it to her list. The bunny looked at the other two, who couldn't think of anything else. The door opened before they could say anything else.
"My apologies for stepping out. Do you have any other questions?" Aurora asked as she stepped in. She kicked the door behind her smoothly, letting it shut with a sudden 'click'.
Nick looked down at his phone. "What are the chances of the illusions all of you down here do affecting Zootopia and above?" he quoted.
"Not likely. The biggest enclave is actually underneath Central City, with the second right behind underneath Westopolis."
"Central City is a long way away from here. How do you move mammals and food around? How do you trade with others? Do you trade?" Judy asked.
"We have our ways. One of the jobs that the Nine have to do is more than just governing a district, but also to ensure survival of everyone. We have a transport, once per week, that goes up top using a special elevator specifically for that. It then drives to the other city, and takes the delivery elevator. One of the Nines on that side handles it from there."
"So you do trade then. You buy and sell goods and services?"
"Not so much services, but definitely goods. They just have to be ordered in advance. Coins and other money use the same lift, along with a list of who gets how much."
"And you trust them with that?" Judy asked, suddenly curious about how they stopped things like corruption and extortion. A single lift would be prime candidacy for even just a few disgruntled mammals. A single point of failure.
Aurora smirked at Judy, "Not as much as you think. We send out three transports. All three have something, but they aren't allowed to know which transport has what. In fact, there's only two Nines that do; the two transportation managers of both cities. I'm sure that if you look up the statistics you'll see a rise of trucking traffic in and out of Zootopia."
"Nick-" Judy started. She didn't even have to finish the statement, "Already taken it down Carrots."
"Any other questions before we start? Unless you no longer wish to learn how to pierce through illusions?" Aurora asked patiently. Nick had to give her props for that. It must be difficult to be a top governing body and yet have to deal with these...low level beat cops. Despite two of them being Chaos-Touched, they weren't all that high on the ZPD ladder. They had influence, but not nearly as much as everyone seemed to think they did.
"No, we still want to. I don't have anything, do either of you?" Judy said, looking to Nick and Skye shake their heads. "We're good for now."
"Good word usage, 'for now'. Not a lie, and never could be. Kitsune love using words like that. It's one of the things we do. But in order to prepare you to pierce, you need to see the kind of things we can do," Aurora said, waving her paw around almost absentmindedly.
Nick saw the world suddenly expand, or vanish without him, he wasn't sure which. He found himself floating in space, the stars above him gleaming almost madly. The sun itself was nowhere to be found, but he didn't feel any colder, and he could still breathe easily. Definitely an illusion, he thought. He blinked, and suddenly Aurora was there, looking for all the world that she had always been there. "You've already gone through step one; see the illusion, and know that it is an illusion. For some, this is the hardest step. For others, the easiest. Where will you stand?" she asked, her voice echoing ominously into the eternal darkness.
"Step two is also the easiest. Or potentially the hardest. Remember the truth. Know that what you are seeing, hearing, or feeling is not real, and picture the way that things should be inside your mind."
Nick started trying to, picturing the office that he was in. Suddenly he remembered the cavern didn't exist either, so would that just be a big chunk of rock? By doing this, would he be killing himself!? "Relax. Even if you pierce one illusion, I have multiple layers up, and unless you suddenly become a genius in piercing in two minutes, you will not get hurt," Aurora answered, as if reading his mind.
He tried to relax, and found a good picture in his mind of Aurora's office. "What am I supposed to do with it?" he asked. His voice seemed to carry only a few feet, but Aurora answered just the same.
"If you have it, that's good. Now take that picture, and push it forward. Match your will with mine, and demand to see what you picture."
Nick did it in less than a few seconds. He looked around the office, trying to see if he got it right. Aurora looked at him with a large smile on her face, "Perfect! Excellent for a first try. Kitsune have come up with these steps. We call it 'Reach Out for the Truth', as eventually, in the later steps, you must reach out for something that is or isn't there."
"Now then," she continued, starting deeply into his eyes, "are you ready to try again?" she asked as she waved her paw and Nick once again found himself lost in space before he even had the chance to nod.
Skye found herself standing in the middle of a street in Zootopia. She recognized it at once; her shop. But she wasn't there, she was in the Underground, with Judy and Nick. Was this an illusion? What else could it be? "Good. You've identified that you're in an illusion. What was the second step?" Aurora asked, her voice booming across the Zootopian cityscape. Skye struggled to remember. She was definitely still in the Underground, being taught by Aurora, one of the Nine, on how to pierce through illusions.
"Picture the truth as you want it," Skye said, her voice seemingly and somehow much louder than it should have been. She found another mistake in the illusion; in the real Zootopia, it was raining. Would be for quite a while, according to the weather reports. She threw that thought out and focused on the picture of Aurora's office.
"Excellent. Once you have it, push it to the front. I've made my will slightly stronger this time."
After a minute of trying, Skye found herself back in Aurora's office. But the Nine wasn't there, and neither was Nick and Judy. She knew that they wouldn't have left without her, and continued trying to push her will forward.
Judy looked around and saw nothing had changed.
Aurora stared at her for a moment, before reaching down and checking her notes. Judy could lip-read the kitsune as she read down the paper, "Did that, did that, definitely did that...alright, I'm lost," she eventually said aloud throwing the paper up in a giant shrug. "I can tell you're not in it, but I have no idea how."
Judy shrugged noncommittally. "I don't know. Nine Kalk said something similar yesterday. Something about it being easier for me to pierce?"
"Huh. He did? Stupid tod could've mentioned that. Alright, I'm going to double layer you. The others are still in a single, and should be breaking out here pretty soon," Aurora said, waiting for Judy's nod as she waved her paw around again.
Judy blinked and found herself underneath Snowpeak mountain. It was the tallest mountain in the range just a bit north of Tundratown, with what used to be a giant mine going through the bottom. Used to be, because long before Judy had arrived to Zootopia the mine had closed down. Since then, it's only been used by the 'flea markets', essentially the black market, and Robotnik.
Judy didn't wait for instructions, as Nick and Skye did. She focused, demanding to see through the illusion, and it slowly wavered and died. Aurora stared at her in shock. "I think...that you might be my new favorite mammal. Did you have to concentrate at all to break it?" the vixen asked with a large smile. It was rare that any non-kitsune learned to pierce. Let alone learn how to do it so quickly, and so accurately. Oh yes, Aurora was definitely learning to like Judy Hopps.
"Only a bit. Once I realized what it was, it just came naturally."
"Definitely my new favorite mammal. Let's try three."
And thus Judy found that as long as she knew that she was in an illusion, as long as it was one only five layers or less, she could pierce it with ease. Ten was slightly difficult, and fifteen was out. At each one, Aurora's grin got bigger and bigger.
It was also by accident that she learned how to pierce illusions that she was not in. By finding something wrong about where it was, she could see through illusions such as illusory walls, or even chairs and desks that didn't exist but did. She found that once she did, it was easy to also not do it, and to stop seeing through it. At the end of the third hour, Aurora congratulated her and told her that that was the best performance she had ever seen. And she was a nine tailed fox that specialized in piercing!
Nick wasn't sure how long he had spent down in the Underground. He suspected hours, and the glances that he gave down to his phone every once in a while agreed with him. Every so often Aurora would give him a break and hand him some water, telling him to drink it quickly.
His 'outside the illusion' moments only once crossed paths with Judy. Apparently she was already seeing through eight layers while he was struggling with a mere three. Once again, his already high opinion of the grey bunny rose. If it was possible, Judy could, and would, do it.
He didn't get envious. He didn't get angry. Instead, he merely focused more, and by focusing almost exclusively on his partner he found that it was much easier than before. When he told Aurora, she merely gave him a knowing smile. Eventually Aurora stopping him under the illusions, and merely smiled at him once he broke out again. "Good job Nicholas. I think you're good now; you can at least defend yourself from an illusion," Aurora said.
"I get the feeling that's not all there is to this."
"You're right. There's also seeing through illusions that you are not a part of, which is much harder. I think it's best if you rest now though, you've been under nearly a hundred illusions for multiple hours. You must be tired."
"Kind of, but it's not bad. I can keep going."
"You probably could, but your arctic friend back there can't. She's nearly falling asleep in the illusions," Aurora said. Nick turned to see Skye, her eyes completely glazed over and slightly wobbling in place. As she broke out- Nick could tell by the way her eyes suddenly focused again- she fell onto her hands and knees. He immediately went to try and pick her up, and was surprised by both how light she was and how wet she was. She was sweating up a storm!
Judy broke out of whatever illusion she had been seeing and grinned at Aurora. She nodded that she was done, and Judy turned to tell Nick about her experience. Her jubilance went away however as she saw Nick holding Skye up, the vixen barely able to hold on. She went to help, holding up the other vixen's arm over her shoulder.
"Congratulations, all three of you. Breaking through illusions is not easy, as you can tell. It requires force of mind, and a force of spirit and will that is difficult to come across. You two, as police officers, may have more of those three factors than usual," Aurora stated, going back to her teaching mindset.
"How long does this last? She's sweating up a storm!" Nick asked roughly. He had no idea what Aurora had made her see, but if it was anything similar to what she had made him see, he could understand why.
"The fatigue is only mental. Physical debilitation is solely a physiological effect, caused by extreme stress on the brain. She should be fine in about an hour or so."
Judy narrowed her eyes. The way that Aurora had said 'physical debilitation' made her think that there was a lot more to it than just that, and 'extreme stress'...didn't make things sound any better. "Alright, let's go Nick. We'll carry Skye, let her rest a bit," Judy said. Nick nodded, keeping his head down low so as to not disturb the arctic vixen. Aurora smiled at them as they left.
As soon as they left Judy made a quick hand sign using one of her free hands. Nick smirked and started to make sounds as if they were leaving. Immediately they quieted and pushed their ears against the door.
"That went well, in my opinion," they heard Aurora's voice say.
"I'd say. All three managed to break through. I've never seen what happened to the arctic though, at least with breaking illusions," David's voice replied.
"All three managed to break through at least five layers. But yes, Skye was...an interesting case. She knows less about her background than I would have thought."
"She's a one-tailed. You can't expect a one-tailed to know all that much."
"You'd be surprised. Her knowledge of machines is staggering, and she may yet grow another tail. If she does, she'll know who to turn to."
"Is that truly wise, Aurora?"
"It will always help to have those from above know the arts. It may yet help her."
Nick's phone started vibrating, signaling an incoming call. "Huh. It appears they're still outside," they heard David say, as Nick and Judy started hauling down the stairs. They didn't want to imagine what an angry seven-tailed fox would do, let alone a nine-tailed.
They panicked when they made it to the ground when nothing happened. They continued to look over their shoulder, expecting to see something, anything that they would normally expect to see. Judy had an idea and put to use what she had been learning, pushing forth the idea of 'truth'. It would be kind of dangerous in the Underground, she thought, but she wouldn't push that far, just enough to see past a single illusion.
Sure enough, in the middle of the street stood a white nine-tailed fox, staring at them with a simple smile on her face. As Judy's eyes widened, Aurora merely held up her hands in a sign of peace. The two officers continued going, even after Judy alerted Nick to the fact that Aurora was right behind them. She watched them go with a calculating smile, as if she knew something they didn't.
Judy pushed her 'truth' harder than before, only to find that Aurora disappeared again, as if she hadn't just stood there a minute ago. Judy shook her head to get rid of the idea that a Nine could make an illusion of themselves that could react to their surroundings. If they could do that, what couldn't they do?
"Check your phone Nick...I think we're safe," Judy said a few minutes later. They were getting closer to Savage's elevator, only a minute or two away.
"Alright, hold on to Skye for me. After this, you'll tell me what freaked you out alright?" Nick said, passing over Skye to rest completely on the bunny. He fished his phone out of his pocket, and simply looked at the message in a simple kind of shock. He looked over to the closest other elevator, seeing the small lift slowly rise into the ceiling.
"The drug bust, at the bank. They're doing it now," Nick said with a simple finality. Judy cursed their timing.
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
From: Ramsey Kaplin
Subject: Bank Bust
I'm the captain of the SWAT team of Precinct 1. You may already be aware of this, but it is traditional in the ZPD that the person on the case that lead to the bust is one of the officers in it. We do this to ensure that officers that may not even be able to go into SWAT missions can still be a part of them, IF THEY WISH. This is by no means obligatory. However, you are one of the most accurate shots in the ZPD, so I want to make my intention clear; I want you on that field.
Even as crazy as your career is right now (Bogo's let me look at the files. My only statement: What. The. Hell.) I figured you could use a bit of normalcy. As much as taking part of a drug bust can be considered normalcy.
If you wish to accept, either be at Precinct 1 or Precinct 3 (Rainforest District, in case you've forgotten somehow.) by 1300. This will be a joint-precinct operation. More information will be given at mission site.
To: Ramsey Kaplin
From: Nick Wilde
Subject: Re: Bank Bust
How nice to hear from you again Captain! I see you've also been promoted too. Good job! I could've sworn they would've fired you after what happened last time you ran an operation.
Judy and I have some things to do, but if we have any spare time we'll swing by and see how things are doing.
To: Ramsey Kaplin
From: Judy Hopps
Subject: Re: Bank Bust
Of course we'd accept! We do need to make sure that one of our friends is alright though. We're in the Underground at the moment (I'm sending this from Nick's phone. How he has reception down here, I don't know.) I've never been a part of this big of an operation before...just tell me where you need me!
To: Judy Hopps; Nick Wilde
From: Ramsey Kaplin
Subject: Re: Re: Bank Bust
Oh god it really is you Wilde. I thought the boys were making a joke.
If Big hears of this operation somehow, and I get word that you were the one to leak it, then you and I are going to have a lot of trouble.
Also thank you Judy. Just be at the Precinct ASAP, or if you can't, meet us at the National Zootopian Bank in the Rainforest. Also, make sure your have plenty of tranqs, I don't want these fools getting away.
Also if you keep a certain red fox from messing with us, there might be a pay raise in there...
And that's chapter 14. Like I said, the pace finally picks up after fourteen chapters of agonizing slowness and worldbuilding. Never doing that much worldbuilding again. No, it's much better to have smaller chunks that slowly link into a better picture...one of the reasons I don't like having competent characters...they ask questions. Also yes, Skye is wrong. Quantum Superposition (AKA Schrodinger's cat) is what Aurora was supposed to be referencing. The quantum uncertainty principle...just look it up. It's confusing.
Also it seems that I've hit a rather large snag currently in life atm, which is slowing further work. I'll finish up Storm Front just fine, but then it appears there's going to be more of a delay then I would hope for the next story I publish. My apologies to anybody who actually likes this story.
Until next time!
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
It only took way too long to get to this point.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"What do you mean they're starting the bust right now!?" Judy said, turning around promptly. Skye let out a loud groan, and Judy quickly apologized, but still stared at Nick, demanding an answer.
"Not now no, but we have only a bit more than an hour," Nick said, pushing up on the elevator button. He impatiently waited for it to start moving up at its usual sluggish pace.
"A bit more than an hour!? Come on, why can't this thing go any faster!?" Judy said, tapping her foot impatiently. Skye groaned one final time before her eyes opened up again.
"What's going on?" she asked sleepily, her eyes heavy with drowsiness. It was obvious that being under Aurora's illusions was not kind on the fox, let alone any 'extreme stress'. If it wasn't for Skye deliberately volunteering her assistance, it would be likely that both Nick and Judy would spend some time in Bogo's office getting another dressing-down for letting harm, physical or mental, come to a civilian.
"Nothing, nothing. Just lay down Skye," Nick said looking up, "because we still have another five minutes before we're anywhere near the top." Judy groaned her impatience again, queuing yet another sly smirk from the fox.
"Leaving already? Cool, cool..." Skye mumbled, sitting down on the ground of the elevator. She closed her eyes for what should have only seemed to be a moment before her breathing became steady.
"Wow, she fell asleep. Hey Carrots, Skye's as bad as you when it comes to staying awake."
"Really, Nick? Not the time."
"Ah, but it's always the time."
"So where exactly do we need to show up? Do we have enough time to bring Skye back to her shop?" Judy asked as they stepped off the elevator. The remaining part of the ride had been riddled with glares, snarky remarks, and various other comments that are best left unread.
Skye's eyes opened up, and after a few moments of adjusting to the light she shakily said, "Sorry, but I'm not going back into that shop alone. If you two are going somewhere, then I'm going with. End of story." She attempted to sound demanding, but ended up just sounding a bit more pleading then anything. Judy turned to stare at Nick, who whistled innocently.
"Skye, you can't come with us. We're going into a dangerous situation with unknowns. Bringing you there is...stupid!" Judy said, unlocking their cruiser for everyone to get in. The radio crackled ominously.
"Cruiser 247, this is Dispatch. Do you read us?" Nightclaw's voice called out. Nick and Judy shared a glance before Nick picked it up hesitantly.
"This is Wilde," Nick said into the radio. "We read you."
"Excellent. Hopps, Wilde, Savage has gone missing. We're putting out an APB for him, as he may have more information relating to Gemfield and its effects. Keep an eye out in case you see him. Also, Wilde, Logan asked me to tell you to ask Hopps if once whatever she's done with is done with if she wants to join CIIT," Nightclaw said.
"10-4 Nightclaw, we'll keep our eyes peeled. Also tell Logan message delivered, she's driving. Also is Precinct 3 expecting us?"
"3? Why would the rainforest district be expecting you? Hold on a sec, let me call and ask," Nightclaw said, hanging up abruptly.
"I didn't just say something accidentally confidential did I?" Nick asked wildly. Judy stared at the radio in confusion as well. Nightclaw was essentially the night version of Clawhauser, usually joking around unless something serious happened. 'Although she has been acting oddly ever since she had been moved over to CIIT,' Nick thought silently.
"Cruiser 247, this is Cruiser 293 of Precinct 3. Captain Ramsey has asked us to escort you and your passenger to the department in quiet fashion," another voice crackled through the radio. Judy looked around and saw another police vehicle ahead, weaving through traffic, as if waving for attention.
"Copy 293. We'll follow to precinct 3. I'm guessing you're the crazy one up ahead?" Nick said, slyly smirking over at Judy, who shook her head with a smile. She knew exactly what he was attempting to do.
They heard another voice, much quieter, practically yelling, "Crazy!? Does he know how hard it is to drive in this constant rain? Seriously, I have had to set up towels on these seats because of it!"
"I know Cody, I know. He just doesn't know, so let it go," came the original voice, seemingly soothing 'Cody's ego. Nick let a small chuckle out. "Yeah, we're the ones weaving around. Catch you at 3. 293 out," he continued, the radio finishing with a startling crackle.
"That was mean, Nick," Judy said, looking over at Nick.
"Mean, no. Funny, yes," Nick replied, watching as the police in front of them continue to weave in and around traffic, seemingly going in completely random directions.
"I have to agree with Nick on that one. Given the way that guys' driving, how much you want to bet he's a cheetah?" Skye said from the back, leaning forward again.
"No bet on that Skye, I know better than to take those kinds," Judy said, following the crazy car much better than anyone else could have hoped to. Including through all the crazy turns. There was a single turn in there that was almost three quarters of a circle, expertly done but 293, and mirrored afterwards. It almost seemed to Nick and Skye that Judy and the driver of the other one were starting to compete for silliest tricks and turns.
"Yeah, no bet on that either. At this rate it has to be a rabb-" Nick said, only to cut himself off as Judy glared at him again. Nick met her stare with a worried smile that turned into a grin, "I didn't say anything."
"Of course not."
Precinct 3 was not all that different from Precinct 1. It was well-covered and had plenty of spaces to cover mammals from the rain. It was a simple dark green, almost blending into the foliage, as compared to Precinct 1's dark blue. The outside had a few roads that ran around it, filled to the brim with parking and parked vehicles. Shortly down the street they could see a SkyTram stop.
It took a lot less time to drive the distance between Savage's place and Precinct 3 than they had thought. Judy had estimated around twenty minutes, and Nick fifteen. It had taken them ten following the crazy car.
Speaking of the crazy car, after it led them there it parked out in the front lot with at least ten other cruisers. An ocelot and a capybara came out and waved Judy over. Nick rolled down the window, his fur getting damp from the rain. "Hey, glad you could follow us through this! It's worse than usual; Ramsey's right inside. Just park anywhere!" the ocelot said, gesturing to the empty spots besides the other cruisers.
Judy said her thanks and parked near silently. "Come on Skye, let's get somewhere dry," Nick said as he hopped out. Judy rolled her eyes.
"Yes, dry. In a rainforest," she said. The rain wasn't all that heavy, but it wasn't the usual rainforest district fare. The usual rainforest rain from the sprinklers came in a set pattern, and she had seen a few kids games where the goal was to not get wet. And it was actually possible. But this current rain was a true storm rain.
"I don't mind a little rain. A bit colder than usual for the rainforest though isn't it?" Skye said, hopping out of the vehicle last. The ocelot, who must've been the radio operator, piped up.
"A bit. The trees don't mind it so much though, and there's nothing that we can really do about rainstorms. This one's a big one though. Rumor's are flying that this thing's actually getting bigger too!" he said jovially.
Judy looked at him for a moment in confusion. "How can it be getting bigger? There's no sun for it to keep going," she said. The ocelot shrugged, and just mentioned that it had been rumors, and rumors were known for being wrong.
The inside of the precinct was a fairly large straight hallway, with the front desk being obvious but off to the side a bit. Nick saw down at the further ends where the security room was, and he could kind of guess where the bullpen and captain usually were. It was a smaller building, only about two stories, but it seems they used the space much better than Precinct 1 did. Which made sense, to Nick, as Precinct 1 was the headquarters, so of course they had to have the most room.
The capybara looked at them and stood on a dryer built into the floor. "Feel free to stand on one of those for a bit. Follow me, I'll show you where Captain Ramsey is beginning to gather," he said, standing off with his fur thrown around. Judy didn't bother but both Nick and Skye did, sighing with relief as their bodies were forcefully dried. It made them stand out like they had been struck by lightning and were giant fuzzballs, but at least they were dry.
The front desk mammal, a honey badger, stared at them and followed them with her eyes as they walked along. Nick suddenly got the feeling that something was very wrong with Precinct 3, as usually there would be tiny bits of gossip going around, or just chatter in general.
Precinct 3 was completely silent.
The capybara led them along before putting them in front of some double doors. "Here we are. Ramsey's broadcasting the plans from Precinct 1," he said simply, before heading in.
Judy turned to Skye, "I think you should stay out here. If we go on this thing than we aren't going to be allowed to take you on it too, you know that right?" she asked abruptly.
Skye nodded, "I know. Kind of hoped that wasn't the case, but I know some basic police rules. I'll just...sit by the front desk and wait then?"
"Sorry Skye. If we had a choice we'd at least think about taking you along," Nick said simply. "Then probably decide against it. Oof!" he said as Judy lightly elbowed him. He grinned at the bunny.
"Yeah yeah, I know what you mean. Fine then, go quickly. This place gives me the creeps," Skye said, waving the other two to the doors. As they passed through, she simply sighed and wandered over to the front desk. Time to see how much her social engineering had improved from the tips that Miles gave her so long ago.
"Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde reporting sir!" Judy said as they entered into the silence of the meeting room. It was simple, a bunch of desks and a projector. On the projector was a large ram, spiral horns making him an intimidating figure.
"Hopps and Wilde, glad you could make it. Sit down anywhere there's an open spot in Precinct 3. So far we have half of three on this operation and about a quarter of one. That's nearly fifty mammals in all. Should be quite sufficient for what we're planning to do," the ram said, his voice old and kind of croaky.
"We're going by the old team-up system. Most of you know your designation, if not simply join an open team. Team's are six, which means that two are left out to dry. Normally that would mean we wouldn't take you two, Hopps, Wilde, but Bogo for some reason wants you two there. So you're going, even if you have to be on a team of your own. I've heard good things about you two working together, so just consider this an extension of that."
"That means that yes, for those of you who can do math, there will be eight teams! Teams one, two, and three are from Precinct 1, whereas the others will be from Precinct 3! The Three teams know the area better, so divide up your roles among yourselves. Precinct One teams will go in and enter the building from the front! Tranquilizers only people, we want to capture these mammals, not kill them!" he shouted.
"Wow, Carrots. Seem like much of a hard donkey doesn't he?" Nick whispered to the bunny next to him, who let out an inappropriate snigger.
"Three teams will enter the building from the back! We don't know where the supposed 'elevator' is, and though the lab techies have been cracking down on things the only thing they can think of, without the additional data provided a few hours ago, is that it leads to the bank! Teams Six, Seven, and Eight will circle the building, giving these junkies only way to go; down!"
"Hopps, Wilde. You two will stay out front, with me. If any mammal comes out that is not police, and we have not given the all-clear yet, you are to ensure they stay down! Do you all understand me!?" Ramsey yelled, his voice echoing inside the simple meeting room.
"Sir, yes sir!" the other officers chorused, Judy among their number. Nick merely smirked at her enthusiasm. Even after being on the beat for nearly a year and a half, nothing has gotten in the way of her determination. If Nick had to be honest with himself, he liked her for that. One of many reasons he liked her. One of many reasons they were good partners, to him.
The lights came back on as Ramsey finished, "Good! Meet at the bank in twenty!" the projector flashed and suddenly Ramsey's face was cut, leaving just the wall where he had been shortly before, and Judy finally got a good chance to look around. There were a lot of heavyweights, she noticed immediately. Bears, tigers, lions, elephants, rams, hippos, rhinos...the list was endless and exhaustive. There were only a few of the smaller wolves, but no one was nearly the size of Judy and Nick.
"Alright everyone! Into your teams and move out. Hopps, Wilde, good to meet you. I'm Kozilek," one of the bears yelled out, before holding out his paw for Nick and Judy to shake. Before they had the chance to, he pulled back, "You better head to the bank, twenty minutes is not a long time."
"But wait, we saw them start to leave the Underground nearly ten minutes ago. After thirty, they have to be gone by now!" Judy said. Kozilek, a giant brown bear, stared down at them. Nick felt kind of wary about his gaze, but he had stared Bogo down before, and Judy never even flinched.
"It takes them at least two hours to unload. We'll catch them in the middle of it. Thanks to the info your supplier gave, we've been watching the operation. It's a smooth one, that's for sure. They're usually in and out in under two and a half hours. They unload it to unmarked vehicles, which then speed away looking like bank vehicles somehow," Kozilek said, his voice deep and almost growling.
"Probably through some kind of illusion or something," Nick said. "We've been seeing a lot of that kind of thing recently."
Kozilek nodded absentmindedly before looking at Nick in a new light. He narrowed his eyes, as if he just had figured something out. "You two best hurry. The Rainforest is tricky to navigate, and it wouldn't do to get lost," he growled out.
"Oh don't worry big guy, we're not getting lost any time soon. We have a fox's intuition!" Nick chuckled out as he and Judy started to leave the meeting room.
"Fox's intuition. Didn't seem to help Miles much," Judy had to get one last sarcastic remark in before she turned to the front desk to talk to Skye.
"Ouch. Low blow Carrots. Low blow."
Skye had to wonder what she was doing wrong. The badger was staring straight at her, similar to how she had been when they first walked in. But she wasn't talking, the radio wasn't going, the badger just sat there and stared at her. She tried using normal conversation. That didn't get anywhere. She tried dispatch talk using what she had overheard from Clawhauser and Nightclaw, and got nowhere again. She tried asking about the weather even, and got nothing more than a blank stare. Then she tried to ask if the badger knew about the Underground.
Blank stare. Again. It took all of Skye's willpower to not tear out her headfur in aggravation. "What will it take for you to talk to me!?" Skye said exasperated.
The badger stared at her, silently.
Then Skye sat down, and decided to practice piercing because it was something to do, and she could do it without moving. And if the badger tried to say something about it, well now it was just too late, and they should've spoken up sooner, when Skye was trying to talk instead of sit there and do nothing.
Then Skye discovered that the badger wasn't real.
The arctic vixen turned around and looked all over. It seemed as if everything else was perfectly normal, but the front desk mammal simply wasn't there. In fact the seat was turned as if they had simply gotten up for a cup of water. 'Have I been making a fool of myself this entire time!?' Skye thought, as she took another look around, before sneaking to the back of the desk. She had an idea, and it was probably definitely going to get her into trouble, but that's what she was good at.
The computer was logged out, of course, but Skye remembered the number one rule of hacking, 'If you have unlimited physical access, there is nothing that can be done to stop you.' She had to assume that the security cameras were watching her, and it wasn't like she had planned for a hack. But she could at least get some decent data, and make it look like she was just a snooper who's curiosity finally got the better of her. Nothing wrong with that, so long as she didn't go into any classified files, and she assumed a front desk mammal wouldn't have classified access.
She typed in a few of the basics. 'Password' was a no go, as was 'policeprecinct3'. Then she tried '1234' and got nothing again, but didn't expect to. Then she got the right one, and had to facepalm at the sheer lack of electric security. 'Password1234'.
"And here I thought Miles was joking when he told me to always try those first..." Skye muttered, now having full access to the ZPD's interface. She wasn't going to do anything big, not enough to get her convicted of anything more than a simple misdemeanor, but she did have an idea. Before she could even begin to implement it, voices started echoing down the hallway. 'The meeting must've just let up. Well, always time for this later,' Skye thought, locking the computer again and jumping over to the chairs in the hallway. No one said anything to her on their way out, so Skye could only assume that she had gotten away with it.
Then the real badger came back, and hopped onto the chair. She fished around the bottom of the chair, Skye could see, and pushed it up gently before logging in again. Skye had to mutter to herself, "seriously, what kind of password was that..."
To: Adrian Bogo
From: Skye Lanmarck
Subject: ZPD's online security
I got your email address from Nick and Judy, I hope you don't mind. I wanted to send you this because I'm in Precinct 3 right now (no, no one knows who I am, and I'm keeping it that way!). It's kind of creepy here to be honest, but you should really check your computer security.
I logged onto the front desk person's computer when they were gone as a, you know, see if I could kind of thing. And uh...the password was 'Password1234'. Seriously. The automatic retry thing that gives a hint literally spelled it out for me.
Just wanted to let you know so you could do something about it.
To: Skye Lanmarck
From: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Re: ZPD's online security
I'm not going to ask what you're doing in Precinct 3, or what gave you the thought that it was a good idea to try to log in on an unsupervised computer. Just because you may be going into the WPP, does not mean you get free reign. In fact, it means that we'll watch you even closer.
Don't. Mess. Up.
But by all means, keep trying. What other weaknesses does the ZPD system have that you can find? No, that does not mean try. If we wanted you to try we'd hire you as a consultant.
From: Adrian Bogo
Subject: Change your passwords!
Just got news from a reliable source that some passwords within ZPD are weak and easy to guess. Everyone, change passwords immediately. I don't care that you have to do it four other times a year.
Sorry about harping on about passwords the last couple paragraphs. Kind of something that's been on my mind. (Also, especially don't put the very password that the hint is supposed to be protecting as the hint. I've seen that done before, and it almost physically hurt.) Also, two chapters for AO3 this week because I forgot last week's. Somehow, that's not surprising.
Skye was knocked out of her reverie by Nick and Judy coming out of the large meeting room. "Hey Skye," Judy started hesitantly, which immediately let Skye know that she was not going to enjoy this news. "Nick and I were both called out to help with the bust, so stay here for just a little bit alright? We have to make sure you're safe," the bunny continued.
Skye nodded. She understood, although she didn't like it. She said as much, and got an agonized nod of understanding from the two officers. They knew that she would have wanted to come along, but simply wasn't allowed to, and they weren't going to bend the rules that far. Although she did have some dirt on them...nah. It wasn't worth it. It was one thing to be brought away from a dangerous situation, ala six months ago when Robotnik rampaged across Zootopia. It was entirely another to be brought into something that could prove...disastrous.
Nick and Judy apologized again, before rushing out into the rain. It was coming down slightly heavier now, the rain making it difficult to see out the glass, splattered with water as it was. Skye waved them off, watching them pull their car out.
The arctic fox sat back down in the chair, and practiced piercing some more, as it was something that she could easily do alone. She thought about badgering the badger, but decided against it.
Badgers can be rather scary mammals, after all.
"Poor Skye, she has to sit there by herself for however long it takes us," Judy said, keeping the windshield wipers going full blast. They made a loud squeaking sound every time, and although it bothered them both they appreciated the sound.
"Not quite alone, Carrots. Badgoom's there too," Nick pointed out. Judy looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "The front desk lady? Linda Badgoom. She'll believe almost anything anyone says. Never liked me much though."
"Couldn't imagine why. How much did you hustle her out of?"
"More than you'd think."
"I can think of quite a bit. Got a number for me?"
"Think of two numbers between three thousand and six thousand, take the higher one and multiply by two. What'd you get?"
"Ten thousand sixty two."
"Geez Carrots. Way to underestimate my hustling skills. I almost think I should be hurt by that."
"What'd you get, her life savings!?" Judy asked, shocked. There was a difference between merely hearing the 'two hundred dollars a day' speech and actually realizing how much her partner had managed to get out of innocent mammals.
"Actually yes. Both Finnick and I tried to haggle it down once we learned that but she wanted it too badly," Nick said, staring out the window, his eyes following the raindrops. To Judy it seemed like he almost regretted it, but she knew better. He was just thinking about the times with Finnick now.
"What was it that you sold her?" Judy asked, hesitantly. She wasn't sure she wanted to know, but on the other hand she actually managed to get something out of Nick about his previous activities! She'd been trying something like this for so long that she was surprised it worked actually. A small niggling thought entered her mind, but she brushed it away.
"Some roadkill from Sahara Square. Usually Precinct 5 would have picked it up but when it went by for over two days in the heat no one came by. I don't know what happened afterwards when Badgoom went to pick it up, we just sold her the information."
"She gave you her life savings, all for some information about some roadkill? Nick, that's disgusting."
"I know! I almost can't believe you fell for it!" Nick suddenly laughed. Judy blinked, before recognizing that she'd been had. She glared at the still chuckling fox, who had been looking away not because he was thinking about past times, but because he was hiding the ever growing smirk. That small niggling thought simply yelled 'Called it!'.
"One of these days, Nick. One of these days."
"Still not getting anything out of me."
The Zootopian National Bank of the Rainforest, often shortened to ZNBR, or Zunbar, was one of the largest buildings in the Rainforest District. It was made out of the same type of wood as most of the SkyTram stations, and seemingly fit in extremely well with it's dark brown coloring. At least until Nick told Judy that it was made out of redwood, and the brown coloring was simply because it was wet all the time. There were some parts that, Nick pointed out, that were still a dark orange-ish color that she guessed could be confused for red at a distance. At night. While it was raining.
By the time that they had got there, there were several police vehicles surrounding the front entrance, and several in the back as well. A tall ram was shouting into a megaphone from behind one of the closest vehicle's door. It was obvious that they had gotten here only a few moments before. "No one will get hurt if you give yourselves up! All civilians should stay on the ground and freeze! We are only here for one thing, and that's the arrest of the Zenomites!" he was yelling. It was amplified to be easily heard almost everywhere in the bank.
"Does that work?" Judy asked one of the other officers, one of the much larger rhinos. He was fitted out with massive armor, and had a surprisingly large amount of non-lethal weaponry.
"Oh yeah it works. Intimidation is a must against these kinds of guys. Ramsey wanted us to be on the lookout for you two. He wanted to know when you two showed up, go see him for more info," the rhino grunted out. He pointed out an easy way to get to the ram, almost weaving through the vehicles.
Judy presented herself behind the captain, and saluted him as she said, "Captain Ramsey! Officer Hopps reporting as requested!"
Nick barely waved his own paw.
Ramsey turned around, "Oh good you're both here," he said. He waited a moment for Judy to stop saluting, before sighing, "At ease, Hopps." She stopped. "So Bogo's been telling me about the kind of crazy you guys have been dealing with, so I thought that seeing some normalcy would be a good thing for the both of you."
"Take positions behind Cruiser 22, that one over there. If you see anyone coming out of the bank that isn't a friendly and isn't a civvie, tranq them," he commanded. The bunny and fox nodded in acknowledgement, and cut over to the designated cruiser. The first challenge for the two was that the vehicle was about twice as tall as their own. Nick fixed this by holding Judy up with his back, in an almost sort of piggy back. This allowed her to see over the door easy enough, and Nick just rolled the window down to the point he could fire out if necessary.
Judy was the crackshot. Not Nick.
For the first five minutes nothing happened. Messages were screamed out by Ramsey telling them all to surrender, and although there was plenty of radio traffic, mostly containing 'all-clears', Nick and Judy weren't sure what was happening.
Then Judy got the idea to try to pierce. She hadn't yet tried it outside of the illusions in the Underground, and wondered if it was easier up here, or if it was harder. She pushed the entire meaning of 'truth' and what it meant to her foremost to her mind, and that's when she saw it.
Kitsune. Dozens of them, all mostly two or three tailed, simply walking out of the bank with bags of something fairly heavy. Her Gemfield sense wasn't going off, so either they were walking out with cash or their bags, simple brown sacks, could somehow contain the energy signature. She kicked down lightly to Nick. "Nick, try to pierce. Something weird is going on!" she whispered, her voice barely able to be heard over the rain.
It took a few moments for Nick to get it; he wasn't nearly as good with piercing as Judy was, but sure enough he saw them too. "It looks like seven...no eight of them," he whispered back. He noted absentmindedly that it seemed almost easier with Judy around than when he was on his own.
"Yeah that's all I see too. Should I fire?" Judy asked. They were bringing out the sacks to what looked like a normal car, almost as big as a van. They dumped it into the back, and walked back in to come out with more. It seemed that whatever they were loading, either Gemfield or money, there was a lot of it.
"Yeah, fire at the ones closest to the car, I'll take the ones toward the bank," Nick said. "On my mark..." he started, only to wince his head as Judy had already started firing. He quickly targeted one of the ones closest to the bank, and fired his own shot. He was lucky they were foxes. Any smaller and he probably would've missed. It took only a few moments for the kitsune to start getting drowsy, dropping the bags and almost curling up asleep.
Nick was surprised. Usually most mammals go down quicker than that and barely have enough time to get to the ground. The ones nearest the van were already asleep, Judy taking out two for every one that Nick took out. They managed to take out six before Ramsey yelled at them.
"Hopps, Wilde! What are you two shooting at!?"
Nick had to silently applaud Ramsey. He wasn't asking them to stop shooting, but rather to continue and simply tell him what they're aiming at. He knew that Judy caught it too, especially as she took down another one. "Kitsune, sir! They're invisible to most people, but Nick and I know how to see them!" she yelled back.
"Are you saying your crazy insanity has followed us up here!?"
Nick couldn't help himself but let out a loud barking laugh. Their 'crazy insanity'. That's a good definition for it. Of course, he could hardly believe any of the stuff that happened recently. And to think, it all started on a seemingly normal day until he got moved to CIIT.
"I think we got them," Judy said, keeping her eyes out and her ears sharp. Nick shrugged, just gently to not destabilize the bunny on his shoulders. The last one Judy had gotten, and was just now starting to fall asleep. He had panicked, which made the tranquilizer go through his system just that much faster. As he went into dreamland, the whole crew became visible as their illusion dropped. The van, although it was closer to an SUV than it was an actual van like Finnick's, was piled high with the brown sacks, and every few steps lay another sleeping fox.
"Wow. Good work you two. Go around the back and see if there are any others. Any tricks to see them? Round 'em up and pull 'em in!" Ramsey yelled the last sentence. The officers nearby grumbled good naturedly as they pulled the sleeping kitsune to the vehicles. Nick heard a few mutterings of 'show-offs'.
"Sure. Come on Nick, we'll take the right side first," Judy said, casually hopping off Nick's shoulders. Nick smiled at the bunny's exuberance, once more eclipsing his own. Sometimes he had to wonder where she got all her energy from. Couldn't have been from the coffee; he made sure to get caffeine-free earlier.
"Alright," Nick drawled. Judy looked at him out from the side, before she rolled her eyes and focused again. The side of the bank was much simpler, pretty much a bare wall. A few windows up on the second floor, and only a few towards the front.
Not seeing anything, they worked towards the back. The back was a lot bigger and a lot more like the front in terms of complexity. There was a small parking lot, only about halfway filled. There was a loading dock with two truck trailers, but no actual engines. There were no police cars to be found.
"I'm gonna check the other side. Where are the other cruisers? They did come this way right?" Nick asked. Judy nodded, and narrowed her eyes. She was still seeing the truth, but she didn't see anything. Nick gave an all-clear as he peeked around the corner, seeing seven or eight police vehicles, lights still flashing, in an ordered disarray.
"We'll go in through the loading dock, take a closer look inside," Judy said. Nick gave her an odd look.
"Weren't we supposed to just take a look, not actually go in? There's only two of us Carrots."
"We've done things like this before. The Precinct 3 teams might appreciate the help. Come on," she said, hopping up onto the dock. Nick gave an exasperated sigh but dutifully went along with it. There was an open door, much larger than a normal door and closer to that of a garage. The insides seemed fairly normal. Boxes were all over the place, some labeled and some not. They could easily see the signs that the other teams had been through here, as wet footprints led almost everywhere. There was a single double door that led to the front area of the back of the bank, and Judy bet that that's where they'd be.
She opened the door slowly, only to have her phone vibrate with a new message.
Skye was almost tired of waiting. It had been nearly thirty minutes ago when Nick and Judy had left. She of course understood why but that didn't mean she appreciated it. Especially because now Bogo was on her tail too, based on what he said in his emails.
Her grumbling at the situation swiftly ended however when the front desk badger got up and quickly went much deeper into the department. Skye looked around again, expecting to see someone, anyone. Not a single soul. She raised her ears, trying to hear any sound coming from just about anywhere. Not a thing. Not even from the room that the badger had gone into. It was as if the entire department had gone silent. Intrigued, Skye checked around, going into the restroom and various other rooms. Not a single person was in the department's first floor.
"What on earth..." Skye whispered aloud. The sound, quiet as it was, seemed to echo into the un-endearing abyss. She looked towards the computer again, knowing that she would hear someone long before they came in. It had taken nearly twenty seconds last time for the double doors to open before the badger came back.
Twenty seconds at least. She could hide her tracks in twenty seconds.
Grinning, she shot over to the desk and quickly typed the password. Just as last time, the screen logged in. She wasn't exactly sure she would do at this point, other than to see if she could. She saw the 'Wanted Persons' database icon, and gleefully clicked it.
She thought for a moment before checking the 'Most Wanted'. There actually weren't as many criminals in Zootopia as one would think, given that it's a relatively large sized city-state. The police did pretty good work all around. Although she did know Precinct 1's Most Wanted, as they published that list every week. She assumed the Rainforest would be the same. And they were, for the most part. Precinct 3 had a few more Rainforest-only criminals, which made sense to Skye that each department would have their own list. Bogo couldn't control everything.
She tried typing in a few names to see what would come up. 'Skye Lanmarck' came up with a single charge of squatting, which although she got slightly mad about couldn't really do anything about. The officers of Precinct 4 had told her they'd get rid of it. After all, you couldn't be squatting illegally if you were paying rent to be there.
'Nick Wilde' had zero charges, but had a laundry list of accusations, most of which were labeled 'Dismissed'. Skye got a good kick out of that, knowing that most of them were actually true. She then searched Judy's name, because why not. It came up with zero charges, as expected. She then tried the ZPD police database, the thing that showed them just about every mammal in Zootopia. She again, first tried herself. Her name, face, occupation, address, the whole shebang. Skye had to give them some credit; they at least got that much right.
Nick's profile was amazingly stark. It had his name, and his address. That was it. There was an edit a few hours ago, putting in his officer ID number. 'Of course it took them a little over a year...' Skye muttered to herself.
Judy's profile was completely the opposite. Everything she had done in the ZPD was tracked and recorded. And, Skye had to shudder to herself when she saw this, argued over. There were some Precinct 3-only comments, such as 'Is this real?' 'ZPD let a bunny in. How appropriate.' 'Can we use her'.
Skye's breath hitched as she saw some of the darker comments. She clicked on a few of them, not expecting to go anywhere. It led to another profile page, one for 'Ignar Rian'. The page was much like Nick's, and completely empty. Except at the bottom lay a simple message, 'Don't believe everything you see.' Rian's picture, that of a red fox, lay embedded next to it. His blue, almost unreal sapphire, seemed to stare straight at her. And follow her around.
The arctic vixen quickly exited out of the database, chilled as she was. Being alone in this place would drive anyone crazy, and with all the insanity going on no wonder it was taking its toll on her. At least, that's what she told herself. She shook herself out of it and went back to clicking randomly on files on the desktop.
"Financial Records for this year...wonder what this is all about," Skye said aloud, clicking on the simple file. It was a simple budget, containing how much money the Precinct got from various sources. The biggest one was the mayor's office, with Bogo's being the second largest. It even listed the main reason why.
Then her breathing froze, and her heart followed suit. 'Dringal - 34,000. Big - 56,000. Aku - 45,000'. She knew the three big names of the crime syndicate better than most. Dringal, the leader of the Zootopian Zenomites, was supposedly heartlessly cruel. Skye had seen the kind of things he had done with her own eyes, and knew that the rumors were nothing to the real thing.
"Precinct 3 is in on it. Oh god...they're all in on it," Skye said. The triumvirate of organized crime were all paying off precinct 3. And she could see some of the reasons down below. 'Gemfield Sale, Gemfield Sale, Gemfield Sale...'
Big didn't want her to keep an eye on the Zenomites to stop the Gemfield. He wanted her to keep an eye on them to make sure they didn't sell too much and outbid him!
"Oh holy dung," Skye muttered, quickly texting a warning to Judy and Nick. After thinking a moment, she made to text Bogo too only to have her paw snapped back. Surprised, she dropped her phone only to hear the deep sound of a 'crack'.
The front desk badger, Skye could now see the nametag, 'Linda Badgoom', was right there, with a large brown bear right next to her. The badger smirked as the bear boomed out, "Oh holy dung indeed. You are in quite a bit of trouble, Miss Lanmarck."
Holy dung you two have to get out of there. Precinct 3 is in on it, as is the entirety of the organized crime syndicate. Get out of there!
What? What do you mean? What are they in on?
Message Not Delivered
Yeah. Yet again, another cliffhanger ending. I'll stop doing these, I swear. It's mostly for my sake anyways, as it gets easier to write the next chapter if I have a really good break point.
Until Next Time.
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
Finally...things start to happen! Not all things are good though; a word of warning for this chapter: there is some graphic violence depicted at the end of the chapter. I feel that it's fairly tame (although the original version wasn't) but my own thoughts are not necessarily the same as everyone else's. Let me know if I went too far.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Shoot!" Judy whispered as she quickly swirled around, her phone vibrating loudly. At least there hadn't been anyone that she could see in the other room, so maybe it hadn't attracted everyone's attention. It certainly seemed to echo ominously in the empty bank.
"Carrots, turn off your phone! This is the exact same thing that led to us getting flushed down a toilet!" Nick whispered aggressively. He remembered that particular experience well, as it was one of his least favorites. Who honestly likes being flushed down a toilet, really?
"I turned it to silent, only letting Bogo's, Ramsey's, or Skye's messages through! I thought that'd be enough!"
"Why would Bogo or Ramsey call us? They have radios for that. Any case, the next room's clear. What'd Skye say? Is she just bored? I bet she's bored," Nick asked, his voice still quiet but more amused now that he knew Judy's reasoning. It was fairly sound, if he had to be fair.
"They have in the past, so I thought I'd be prepared...um...Nick?" Judy said as she stared into the screen. Her ears were rotating around, carefully logging every sound she heard.
"Skye says 'they're all in on it'. Any idea what that means? Besides the obvious, I mean."
Nick froze. He blinked for a moment, before he looked over at Judy's phone. He saw her response, and if he didn't know any better, it would've been a fair one. What he didn't like, however, was that it couldn't be delivered.
"A...fair idea...yes. Come on, I'll explain on the way. I could be wrong!" Nick said, dragging the bunny with him.
The warmed air, escaping as it was through the door to the garage, was relief for the both of them. There were several desks, organized to face each other. There were small panes of disturbed glass between them, just fuzzy enough that it was difficult to make out any details, although it was obvious that there was no one in here. Or if there was, they were hiding.
"What is it then? What are they all in on? The drug bust? Or...no, you seriously don't think...?" Judy asked lightly, her mind coming up to the same answer as Nick's. He nodded solemnly. "Sweet cheese and crackers...if they're all in on it, then...Nick, we have to let Ramsey and Bogo know!" Judy said, immediately reaching for her radio.
"Captain, this is officers Hopps and Wilde! Captain, come in!" Judy said, her voice carrying seemingly too far in the empty and quiet room. Nick took his place next to the door that lead further in, his ears placed against the crack on the sides. He motioned her to try to keep it down, as he managed to hear some light shuffling sounds on the other side.
"He's not picking up. And my phone...has no service. Of course it doesn't. How does that even work?"
"They probably have a jammer of some sort. Here, Carrots, use mine," Nick said, pulling out his own phone. She was happy, and yet even more confused to see that Nick had full service. Similar phone varieties, yet completely different...she shoved that thought aside. She quickly dialed Bogo's direct line.
"Bogo," the buffalo answered on the other side instantly, with only letting it ring for barely a second. Judy had never been so happy to hear the Chief's voice than at that instant. Maybe when they had arrested Robotnik or Bellweather. Maybe.
"Chief, this is Hopps, we have a situation."
She could almost hear Bogo straighten up. He knew that Judy would only act on information if she had no doubts or if it was the only thing available to her. "What's going on? Why are you calling me, and where's Ramsey?"
"Radio's jammed-" Judy said, only to get a non-delicate 'of course' from the Chief, "- and we just got a text from Skye claiming that Precinct 3 and the entirety of the organized crime in Zootopia are working together."
"Hopps, that's ridiculous. Precinct 3 is the hardest hitting when it comes to drug charges."
"Skye is also working with Big. And she's also a fox. Don't trust her."
"Do your duty Hopps! Ramsey's giving me updates every ten. I'll warn him to be on the lookout if the gangs really are working together, but it would more dangerous to everyone now to remove them from this than it would be to keep going if it is as you say."
"But then when Big-"
"Then just stir them up, Hopps," Bogo said with finality as he hung up. Judy stood there, looking at the phone with a thoughtful look on her face. She looked at Nick, who nodded solemnly. He had the same idea. Judy sighed, and almost had to roll her eyes. For beings known as Chaotics, they sure were predictable.
"Don't suppose you know Ramsey's number, do you Carrots?" Nick asked, his easygoing attitude lying easily. Judy knew that he was probably terrified right now, and she couldn't blame him. It was easier to make jokes than it was to worry.
"No, I do not, unfortunately. So what's the plan, Slick?"
"Slick?" Nick looked at her questioningly despite the smirk still firmly in place. Judy nodded with an answering smile of her own. The fox shrugged, "suppose it fits. We go in there, we pretend we're on their side, and we try to make sure everyone walks away."
"Then take it away, Nick," Judy said as she reached for the door.
Officer Barry Boobam hated working with the Chaotics. Sure, he got a nice bonus at the end of the day, which was always nice, but the way the Chaotics always just looked at him, despite almost all of them being his size or smaller, just didn't ring at him. And he was a freaking panda bear, one of the bigger mammals. Oh sure, he was no rhino or elephant, or grizzly, but he definitely didn't just skate his way through the police academy.
He wasn't even too sure what he was doing here either. And he didn't mean at the bank, he knew that. But why he was just standing out, watching some jackalopes (he was surprised when he found they actually existed. His neighbors were hares and he couldn't keep the smirk off his face for weeks!) just take boxes off of the elevator.
After they were taken off, it was up to Precinct Three in the back, and that's where the majority of the teams were. He waved as the elevator, and the four jackalopes on it, slowly went down back into the bowels of the earth. He had never seen the Underground, but considering the horror stories from the citizens (run by foxes. Foxes of all mammals!) he was pretty sure he didn't want to.
"Alright team, it's clear from this side," Barry said into the radio. They were using a special frequency that most of the ZPD never used, although the dispatchers still paid attention to it. But Precinct Three was supposed to be on this drug bust, so it only made sense. They just had to talk in code for a bit. Nothing new.
"Clear from this one. Heading over," the radio squeaked. Barry nodded, and took a quick look at the door to the main offices. He had it locked and barred from this side to prevent anyone getting in, although he was mostly sure that the Zenomites were taking care of the distraction. He hated working with the Zenomites. Not because of who or what they were, but just the way they acted, as if everyone and everything in the world was theirs for the taking, and they had special permission from the Gods to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
'Hell', Barry thought as he moved crates closer to the side-door where most of the team was, 'I don't even think all of the ZPD could take down the Zenomites even if they wanted to.'
Precinct Three didn't have the best of working relations with the gangs. They had to exist, because they stopped other gangs from making things worse (and Barry knew quite well that it could get much worse. He remembered the Breaking Riots and knew that it could get much, much worse.), but at the same time if they went too far there was little the ZPD could do about it.
They tried, of course. They kept the majority of the gang from doing anything to overt, and anyone that got caught would get a massive chewing out from their superiors...if they weren't dead. And that was where Barry started to dislike the Zenomites.
Too many of his friends and other mammals seemed to disappear around the Zenomites. They'd be fine, and the next day gone. And unlike Big, who left a decent trail that he was the one responsible (at which point Precinct Four would just put it down to 'accident', if the rumors were true) the Zenomites just didn't care. Nothing left, no sign of anything. It honestly did bother Barry, who whenever he tried to bring it up, was just told to bring it to the top.
Unfortunately, that was the problem. Who was the top? 'Freaking Zenomites', Barry thought, as he watched his comrades-in-blue take the boxes and load them onto the police cruisers. 'Why do they have to be so good at what they do?'
He was interrupted by a knock on the door from the office side. Immediately wary, he quickly radioed in, "I got something over here. May need backup." He didn't bother to wait for the affirmative. "Who is it?" he called out. The door was still barred, and there were no entrances that he could see between this set of offices and the other one. He always did hate coming to this bank. It was always so confusing, and the layout just seemed to constantly change.
"It's just us. You find anything?" called another voice. Barry struggled to put it to a face. It was a male, he could tell, but he couldn't quite put a name to it.
"Us being who exactly?" he decided to call back.
"C'mon Barry, you remember me right? Come on, we were friends back in school! You know, before you got pulled out," the voice said again.
Barry blinked. He still couldn't put it to a name, but if the voice knew him by name, and knew that he got pulled out of school years and years ago (he was home schooled for a couple of years after that. His parents thought he'd be too bored at normal public schools) then it must've been someone he knew well. He didn't give that information out often.
Reluctantly, he undid the lock and unbarred it. The handle opened easily, even as the door then came swinging wide, bouncing off his hide. "Oh what the he-!" was all he got out before he felt the pinprick of a tranquilizer. Did someone on Precinct Three decide that he wasn't worth keeping around?
He barely got a look at his attackers, but his mind went much more sour as he saw the grey and red of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde. 'Oh,' he thought, 'That's how they knew me. Cursed Wilde and his memory,' was all he managed as he went into unconsciousness.
"That's your idea of talking things out?" Judy asked as she looked at the unconscious panda. "By shooting them with a tranq before they could say anything?"
Nick shrugged, reloading another dart. "Yeah, kinda. Barry was always a fall guy. He was good at it too, his cute chubby little face always made everyone underestimate him. I'm guessing that's how he got into being an officer."
"Nick, that's rude. You wouldn't like it if he called you cute now would you?"
"Carrots, he's unconscious and can't take offense. I don't think he cares right now."
"It's still rude," Judy said, looking around. She saw a few boxes off by a wall, a stark contrast to the office desks scattered around. It looked almost like a mirror of the previous room. Chairs were scattered around, and there was only a slight opening where she thought the elevator might've been. Her Gemfield sense wasn't going off like a giant klaxon, but it was there. Almost as if she was in the Underground, incidentally. It got only slightly stronger the closer she went to the boxes, so the boxes must contain the drug.
"See if you can't find the elevator down to the Underground. Those boxes over there have the Gemfield. I'm going to keep an eye out and see if there's anyone around," Judy said, stepping easily into officer mode.
They were stopped as they heard Barry's radio crackle to life, "Barry, any sign of anything? I suggest you be careful, they could be in the next room."
Judy looked to her own radio, useless as it was, and compared it to Barry's. "Frequency 1110 Nick. That's what Precinct Three is operating on," Judy answered the unasked question. Nick looked up for only a few moments as he switched his radio over. "Precinct Three wasn't supposed to change their radios, were they?"
"I don't think so Carrots. That's not something that they forgot about telling us beat cops. Wait, I think I found...no I didn't, just some gum. Oh gods that's gross," Nick complained, wiping the slimy and sticky substance on one of the closest chairs.
A loud fan-like machine noise made itself known as the floor opened up next to the wall. "Guess you did find it after all," Judy said. She immediately readied herself when Nick signaled her to hide. 'Guess he hadn't.'
Four jackalopes, ones that neither Nick nor Judy had seen the previous day or earlier, rode up. They were surrounded by box after box, stacked nearly as tall as the antlered rabbits themselves. Immediately they looked around and didn't see what they were looking for.
"PD's gone. Spread out, we have a situation," one of them commanded. The four of them walked off the elevator, their eyes and ears surveying everywhere. Nick quieted his breathing, hoping that Judy would have the same idea. It became apparent that she did, as the jackalopes wandered around. Nick had chosen to hide underneath a desk, trying to assess the situation first. He wasn't sure where Judy was hiding, although he thought he might've seen her leap behind a chair.
"Hey, if anyone's out there, we ain't gonna hurt ya. Not us wittle wabbits, no," one of them called out. Another chuckled before getting shushed by the first one, presumably their leader.
Nick made a decision. "You sure?" he called out, quickly exiting the desk. He could almost hear Judy's 'are you insane!' but ignored it. Might've just been her voice in his head, really.
"Oh, so what do we have here? A little foxy. A little tricksy foxy," the mocking one said as he came closer. Nick noticed that he didn't appear to have antlers on his head anymore, and the only thing stopping him from saying it was a bunny was the rather large size.
"What are you doing here? What happened to the other guy?" the leader asked. They weren't carrying weapons, but they certainly seemed threatening.
"I don't know. I just found him like that a few moments ago. He called in for some backup on the radio, and when I came in the door was open and there he was," Nick lied smoothly.
"Huh. You see anyone else, fox?" the leader asked, looking less likely to charge and skewer him now.
"Not a soul until you four."
"Hmm...you smell familiar, fox. Have you been to the Underground?" the leader asked, suddenly curious as he smelled the air. Nick cursed inwardly. He had just spent an inordinate amount of time there, of course it'd still be on him.
"No, why would I be? You know I'm not allowed in," Nick lied again, hiding his nervousness with an award-winning smirk. Oh he was getting good at this again.
"Of course not...get him boys! He's one of Aurora's!" the leader yelled, finally able to place the scent. Two of the jackalopes quickly went down as Judy appeared from behind one of the glass windows.
"Another! Split up one to one!" the leader yelled, charging at Nick. The lessons from the police academy suddenly took over, as he tried to remember how to fight against a creature with antlers. He remembered to dodge, but it was a lot harder when it wasn't a deer or elk, but something as small as a rabbit. And just as quick as one. The jack seemed to jump everywhere, higher than Nick would've thought possible, before flying in with a kick.
He ducked and threw his weight towards the ground, near where the desk and chairs were. The jack didn't spend much time trying to get another bead, instead just charging him head on. Nick threw a chair in the way, its cushions getting ripped to shreds by the sharp pointed bones.
It only took a few moments for the jackalope to get it off, shaking his head violently as the chair was shredded. "I hope they had insurance for that, that looked like a nice one," Nick quipped.
The leader took a moment to stare at him, "It's a bank. Of course they don't," he answered as he jumped to the side, bouncing off the glass. Nick quickly jumped onto the desk to get out of the way, only for one of his pant legs to get caught by the rabbit. Immediately he grunted as pain shot up his leg, being sliced open by the sharp horns. Nick kicked him with his other foot, and rolled the other way. He winced as he saw the blood trail.
The jackalope was getting up, massaging his jaw where Nick had kicked him. "Pah, you fight like a loser. Don't even use the gifts nature gave you; you're pathetic! Glad I don't have to deal with you for much longer," he said.
Nick only smirked. "Or maybe I did. After all, foxes are known for being cunning, aren't they?" he said, as Judy came down from above and smashed into the jackalope, effectively pinning him. Before he could escape, Nick pulled out a dart and shoved it into him, letting the serum do it's work.
"Thanks Carrots," Nick said simply, getting a smile from the grey bunny.
"That's what partners are for, aren't they? That's four for four. Oh shoot, Nick, you're hurt!" she said, suddenly looking more worried as she spotted the blood trail.
"It's not bad, Carrots. It looks worse than it is. Come on, we need to get going. Who knows when more are going to show up," Nick said, ignoring the tingle down his back. He always got that feeling whenever Judy tried to care for him.
"I don't think we need to expect that for a while. The one that tried to get me was really talkative. Kept saying how he has to kill us fast, because there's still another shipment coming. I get the feeling he wasn't very smart."
"Carrots, that's kind of rude. I mean, imagine if he was saying that about you?"
"He was saying that about me. Then I kicked him, and he shut up."
"Wow Fluff. Violent."
Judy rolled her eyes. "Come and help me signal Ramsey already," she said, grabbing one of the boxes near the wall rather the already stacked up stuff.
Skye felt them push her into the interrogation room, and knew immediately that whatever was about to happen wasn't good. She could smell the blood, the sweat, and the scent of 'pain' lined every inch of the walls. She noticed quickly there were no cameras, so whatever was done in here wasn't recorded. She cursed to herself; how could she let herself be put into this situation, and how was she going to get herself out?
She grunted as the bear suddenly turned on her, punching her in the gut. She was allowed to fall onto the ground, where she was brutally kicked away, hitting the wall with a loud 'smack'. She had to fight to keep the grin off her face. These guys were amateurs, obviously. She focused on her intent, and calmly got up to wait in the corner. She had to focus hard on this, and tried to ignore the various pains her body was telling her she had. Her back was hurting, and her stomach felt like she wanted to puke, but she had to fight off the urge.
For minutes, she watched as the badger and bear continued to beat up on what was practically a lifeless doll of her own. Stomping on her tail, breaking the vast majority of the bones back there, beating her face and her body. "Tell us what you found. We know who you are, Skye Lanmarck. We will ensure that if you do not tell us, you will die a most painful death," the bear said, grinning at seemingly nothing. The badger simply sat on the far side of the table, with a peaceful smile on her face as if she had done this too many times already.
Skye stood in the corner, hidden to all of them. She felt small tears prick at her eyes, and as the adrenaline in her body switched off she knew that if she was discovered she'd probably be killed, and watched as the two interrogators continued their devastating work on a body that looked like hers.
To: Miles Prower
From: Espio the Chameleon
Subject: Skye Lanmarck
I usually report to Vector, so I apologize if my reports are not up to the par you require. However, it seems that Skye Lanmarck, the arctic vixen you've mentioned having relations with in Zootopia has been captured and in the middle of an interrogation session. I do believe that your words were to 'stay out of sight' as much as possible, but this is a case where I think it would be best if I intervene. May I?
-Espio the Chameleon
From: Miles Prower
Subject: Re: Skye Lanmarck
Oh for the gods' sake Espio of course!
From: Miles Prower
Subject: Re: Re: Skye Lanmarck
And I didn't have relations with her, she was a friend!
To: Miles Prower
From: Cream Rabbit
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Skye Lanmarck
I'm glad you cleared that up Tails. I didn't even know you were friends with her, otherwise I would've invited her over. You know, talked about all the people we've met, the mammals we don't talk to very often anymore, the complete insanity of this storm...any ideas on that storm yet? Oh, and Espio; feel free to direct Skye to my place if she needs a place to crash.
I would say sorry for the complete sudden tone shift of what happened to Skye. But I'm not, mostly for its connotations. The original version had the reveal be a single line at the end, but I thought that might cause some confusion. Also because yes, Espio is still in this story. Also Cream is still kind of vindictive.
Until next time!
Chapter 18: Chapter 18
Well after the complete tone shift that was the end of chapter 17, let's have a bit more of a light-hearted chapter! Wait, this one is even darker? Crap. Freaking storm...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Ok, I think we got their attention," Nick yelled as he fired another round. It plinked harmlessly off the wall as the other officer, a jaguar, ducked. He himself had to dodge another few as more and more officers came in from the hidden secret passage on the side of the building.
"Gee, how can you tell!?" Judy yelled back, ducking behind a pin cushioned chair. She had to be careful not to get to close, as if any of those needles came anywhere near her they could make her fall asleep. Which in this warzone, she guessed, wasn't that bad of a thing. Except it would mean leaving Nick alone to deal with this mess, and she couldn't have that. He'd tease her for that for weeks.
She wondered when exactly is went so wrong. Maybe it was when she moved the boxes of Gemfield, which somehow triggered an internal alarm system. Or maybe it was when they broke in through the door and shot Barry Boobam, a simple panda working for Precinct Three. Or maybe it was because they were dragging around four asleep jackalopes and one of the Precinct Three officers saw them...somehow. Or maybe the fake Bogo from earlier called them in. Actually, now that Judy thought about it, that one was the most likely.
Whatever the cause, the fact was that as that as they were attempting to get their captain's attention, a hidden passageway on the wall closest to the leftover boxes, the ones not on the elevator, had opened up. And mammals of all shapes and sizes streamed out, suddenly able and willing to try and capture Nick and Judy. Or at least, the two Precinct One officers hoped they were trying to capture. "I hope you have a plan Carrots, because I only got a few shots left!" Nick yelled, flinching as the glass above him shattered finally and rained around him.
"I was kind of hoping you would have one!" Judy yelled back, reloading her gun as she danced around a grizzly bear's paws. She finished, which she noticed her time on reloading had sped up admirably since she got so much practice in the last few minutes, and quickly shot the large target.
"Me? If you had told me that sooner Carrots, maybe I would have come up with one!"
"Sorry, I didn't think you needed to try to come up with a plan!"
"Stop ignoring us!" came the cry from one of the Precinct Three officers. The officer in question, a pig, was downed as Nick managed to get a successful shot in.
"Stop yelling at us, we're talking to each other here!" Nick quipped as he ducked behind another desk, this one still having its glass shield. He and Judy were managing to push the other officers back, somewhat, but it was just a matter of time until something big happened. Immediately Nick cursed his mind as he just knew that Murphy's Law would kick in.
"Hey Slick, having fun?" Judy said as she slid in next to him, slightly out of breath. "I got three shots left, you?" she asked, holding out the three darts in her hand.
Nick checked the pouches where he kept his ammunition. "I got two Carrots. I don't think we have enough, I see at least six out there," the fox answered.
Judy nodded, her body filled with adrenaline. Was she actually excited to be here? To be in a firefight, the first one of her life besides the practice drills, where their lives could very well actually be on the line, and she was excited?
"Right, I have an idea. Cover for me!" she said, slipping away underneath the desks. Nick thought about it for only the moment that he had, before realizing she had already left.
"Fine. Hey, dungbeetles! Ever played Catch the Fox!?" Nick yelled, suddenly coming out of his hiding place. He counted six mammals, and a rhino. Wait a second. Nick counted again. Six mammals...and a rhino. The rhino was new.
"Oh come on!" Nick yelled as he dodged out of the way of the nearly one ton tank of flesh. "That's not even fair!" he cried, keeping up his movement in order to dodge the shots and the large herbivore. He had to stay in sight and give them a chance to get him, otherwise Judy could end up hurt, or worse. Why, exactly, was he the one that had to play distraction again?
He pitched himself in between the rhino and where a few more of the other officers were, hoping that the sudden plan that came to his mind was less 'crazy' and more 'crazy like a fox'. "Alright then you tall ton hornless tail hole, just try to get me," Nick said, loud enough that he knew the rhino could hear him, but not the mammals to his back. He almost had to cheer as he jumped onto the desk and jumped off even higher, his back paws just barely scratching the top of the rhino's head. He resorted to having his chuckle after the rhino had pummeled his way through the office space and almost trampling two of the other officers.
"Fluff, I hope to the gods you're almost done, because I'm getting tired here," Nick said, feeling slightly lightheaded. His heart was pounding, and while the wound in his leg didn't bother him anymore he knew that was only the adrenaline. He hadn't been given enough time yet for it to stop, so he knew that it was a race against time.
He fixated his sight on the four...three remaining mammals. Apparently Judy had taken out another one while he wasn't looking. Funny how that works. "But you guys are gonna have to try a lot harder to catch THIS fox!" Nick smirked.
'Wow,' Judy thought, 'that was an incredibly stupid thing to do, Nick.' She had just seen him leap over the rhino, taking out two others as they nearly got trampled on. That was never a nice way to go. Taking advantage of the momentary confusion, she shot another dart, daring to smile as her target dropped to the ground in a dead sleep.
She remembered her trip to the lab, only a few days ago. Specifically that the scans on Gemfield were almost powdered Chaos. It had even exploded in their face. So she had an idea; what if she could recreate that? A small amount had gotten nearly a quarter of the lab. This amount, nearly five or six hundred times that, had to pack the same amount as a bomb, if she could get it to explode.
She heard Nick's challenge to the officers about the game again. Taking a chance, she looked out to see that no one was guarding the boxes on the elevator. From what she remembered, this side of the building led outside. That is, if the building was actually as it was. From what she had remembered of the layout, there weren't two office spaces next to each other.
She pulled open one of the boxes and immediately flinched back as her Gemfield sense overflowed. Definitely the chaotic crystal, in a powdered form she could guess. Probably spliced with something as a filler, like flour or sugar.
Most mammals that deal drugs don't ever tend to deal pure drugs.
She searched her person for anything that can scan it to determine it's molecular makeup. If she could finalize it on the right one, then maybe she and Nick could get out of here. That's what happened back at the lab, but that required specific equipment. 'Darn it, maybe Nick has something...'
It was thinking about Nick that did it, she would assume later on. She watched him practically dance out of the way, his paws on the ground for barely a moment. But it was in those moments that her senses exploded, again, but this time in two places. One out of Nick, who didn't seem to realize anything was happening, and one in the Gemfield.
And suddenly she got the feeling she should leave. Very, very soon.
"Nick, hide!" she yelled as she ducked behind a few desks. The Precinct Three officers looked around to see where she had hid off to. Nick decided to take her words to heart and quickly went behind another desk, which was mostly toppled by the charging rhino.
The explosion was, to Judy, a piece of glory. The one box shattered, crystallizing in its heat before shattering again, each one causing the next box in the chain to light up. Each piece adding more and more to the chaotic force of an uncontrollable burst of pure energy. Which made its lack of fire only partially disturbing, because it certainly did it's job to blow out the wall. It also blew the other officers, the ones who didn't listen to her, all the way across the room before knocking them unconscious against the wall.
Judy's ears rang out loudly as she barely felt the blast. It seemed to flow around her, purposely missing her as she hid underneath the simple wooden fixtures. She couldn't imagine what it must've been like for Nick. She got an idea for how bad it was all too soon.
"Ow..." Nick said as he wandered out of his hidden area. The entire office space was destroyed, and he had no doubt the elevator was too. Glass from the desks was everywhere, some melted and some not. The rhino was on the other side, still conscious but very much hurt.
Nick barely raised an eyebrow as he raised his tranquilizer gun to shoot him. Once, and then again to make sure. "Carrots...?" he said lightly. His voice was strange, as if the air was water. He saw Judy signal him forward. He saw her mouth move, but didn't hear anything come from it. But he knew who she was, and followed her out through the giant massive hole in the wall they had made.
Hearing returned sooner than he would've expected. It started first with a slight ringing, which gradually increased in volume until it was almost painful. Before it got to the point, it quieted down again, and Nick realized he could hear the soft patter of the rain on the pavement.
"Nick, are you alright?" Judy asked him as she led him out towards the sides. She could tell he was badly hurt, even if his body didn't show it much. The cut on his leg was still bleeding, a small red trail showing where they came from. There was small amounts from his ears, and from a dozen other small cuts that mixed in with his fur color. She almost couldn't tell.
The cruisers and lights of Precinct One had never seemed so easy on Judy's eyes. Captain Ramsey ran out towards them, "Holy nine hells! Are you two alright?" he yelled. Judy looked at Nick.
"I'm out, Carrots. You'd have to do it," he said simply, his eyes started to fade and close.
Judy sighed. Once again, the Chaotics were predictable. She hated this part. She hated the complete and knowing disobedience of a ranked officer, and only knowing that he was fake was the only reason Judy could think of for raising her tranquilizer and shooting the ram. He looked shocked for a moment, before smirking. "Wow...you two are good," he said, before falling asleep. A five tailed fox lay where he was.
Judy ignored the questioning glances as she and Nick stumbled towards their car. "Go into the hole in the side, arrest everyone there! They're the ones responsible for the drug. All of them, including Precinct Three!" Judy yelled.
She drove off as the rest of Precinct One officers slowly checked as she had said. She had propped Nick up on the seat, and tried to bandage his leg as best she could. Ordinarily she would wait for medical, but she didn't think Nick had that much time. Her head was still pounding, even though the blast hadn't really hurt her it certainly hadn't helped.
She radioed in to Clawhauser, the bright cheetah greeting her with earnest. "Clawhauser, alert the hospital that we have an incoming fox officer. I tried to bandage him up best I could, but..."
"Oh no! Is Nick hurt? How badly? Don't worry Judes, I got this!" Clawhauser responded, quickly ending the radio conversation. He was gone for barely a half minute before he came back on, "Alright, so I have lock on your position. Keep going straight and take a left on Sesame, the hospital is two blocks from there. They know he's coming!" Judy had long since turned on the lights and siren, even as tired as she herself was. It was bad practice to drive after a massive moment like what they had just done, but right now she just didn't give an apple's core.
The hospital was big, white, and almost too shiny. Judy blamed the rain, which had seemingly gotten heavier while they had been inside. There was a team of nurses waiting for her vehicle to show up, and as she parked next to them they reached in to take Nick. He said nothing, as he had either fallen asleep or unconscious. Judy hoped asleep. She didn't get long to hope though, as soon that same team of nurses dragged her in too. Tired as she was, she didn't even have a chance to say no before she too fell into the bliss of the sleeping world.
Skye was grateful when the bear stopped, and the badger left. They left the copy of her body unconscious, and as terrified as she was, she knew that it could be much worse than it was. As it is, they still thought they were interrogating her, and if they were willing to do that to her, who knows what else they would do?
She sunk to the corner, shaking and shivering. They hadn't gone to full out atrocities yet, but she knew it was probably only a matter of time. She remembered Aurora's words, "There are some Beings out there that are not nice. They want to hurt you, to express their power over you. Even a one-tailed like yourself have the power to change that, to make them think differently."
With Aurora's help, the few hours that Nick and Judy were practicing to dispel illusions, she was practicing for days on how to cast them. And with Aurora's blessing, figured out how to affect multiple senses at once. She wasn't sure that it was true, actually, that she was a kitsune, and not simply an arctic fox. Aurora had told her so, and that Ray had had an idea as well. A one-tailed kitsune was still kitsune, they had said. And it was often up to other kitsune to protect their own.
The door opened with a small creak, and Skye jumped up, her back hugging the wall. She was expecting the bear and badger again, but instead she saw nothing. There was no one there, and even though the door closed, again almost silently, there was still no one there. It was like a ghost had simply wandered in. Idly she wondered if she had managed to fool the Kindred itself, and that they were coming for the illusory copy. She almost had to snort at her own thinking. Of course not. But she did strengthen the illusion over her again and shrunk into the corner.
Skye had heard of Espio the Chameleon. After finding out that Miles was Tails, she made sure to keep up to date on who the major Chaos-Touched were, and their dealings with Robotnik. (Mostly stopping him, although the Chaotix had a deal one time to break him out of prison. A prison built by another villain, that the document refused to name for some reason.)
But it was still a surprise when the chameleon appeared, shifting colors violently before settling on violet. He took one quick look over at Skye's broken illusory body, before letting out a satisfied grunt. "Decent. It'd pass basics, but decent. You have much to learn, Ms. Lanmarck," he said aloud, his eyes passing over where she was, before settling on a place to her just right. "I have no intention of hurting you. My only intention is to bring freedom to you. Will you come with me?" he said, his voice seemingly deep and mysterious sounding.
"Only if you change to normal," Skye said, her voice coming from where she thought Espio was looking. She could do three senses at once, a fact which Aurora had said was amazingly impressive for the amount of time she had done it.
"Hm. Fine," he said, suddenly smirking as he looked directly at the invisible Skye. His voice lightened up, and with it his color went from a deep purple to a much lighter violet. "Happy now? We have to get going, we don't have much time," he said. "If you can, leave the double. I left the room unlocked for ease of exit. I assume you already tried the door."
"I...haven't actually." She cursed her voice for breaking in the middle. Come on Skye, don't have a breakdown now!
"After seeing monstrosities like those, I'm not surprised. Now come, I have instructions to bring you somewhere safe."
"That's what the officers said," Skye said, keeping as quiet as possible as she thought about rushing to the door. She was already slowly making her way over, even as Espio's eyes calmly locked with hers as she moved.
"I'm aware. If you truly don't trust me that much, that's fine. Trust is earned, not given. Make your way over to 341 Tail Lane, a mutual friend is there."
"They're going to find you, you know. If you stay here."
"They didn't find you."
'Well,' Skye thought, 'that was true.' But she had other abilities to make herself invisible...although wasn't that exactly what Espio could do too? Make himself invisible to almost every form of detection there was? "That mutual friend...it's not Savage is it?" Skye asked. Espio seemed to be getting more tense, as if he knew that time was running out. He probably did.
"No, it isn't. It is a rabbit, however. Speaking of, stay away from him. There's something wrong about him, although I don't care to guess what. These guys will be after you now, you know. Stay silent, stay hidden. And go, you're out of time!" Espio said heatedly, practically pushing her out the door. The door slammed behind her, and who knows what the chameleon was doing now. She took a quick look around, before trying to remember the way she came in. Maybe she should have taken Espio's words...he was supposedly a friend of Miles'.
The entire department was quiet, almost hauntingly so. Her footsteps were quieted on the hard carpet, but almost seemed to echo loudly with every step. They had forced her on the elevator to come up to the second floor where the interrogation room was, but she wasn't going to take the elevator.
Besides, the elevators were too slow.
The stairs were clearly marked, as they should be. She raced down them, taking two at a time. The door at the bottom was a push bar, and had a small little window she could look out of, although she didn't. Something about being able to see in at the same time as her seeing out just creeped her out, especially in this place. She instead pushed it open slightly to get a better look, but there was no one around.
There was a little kitchen area, similar to one of the areas in Precinct One. The bear and badger were there, she noticed as she ran by. They were out cold, their coffee mugs still in their paws. 'Espio must have done that...' she thought as she ran by. She thought about ransacking them, seeing who they actually were, but decided against it. She needed every second she could get.
The front desk was still unmammaled. She thought about breaking in, causing some havoc, eliminating herself from their records, but knew that would only cause trouble. She steeled herself, and ran out into the cold and dark rain.
To: Miles Prower; Cream Rabbit
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Skye Lanmarck
She's free. She actually has quite a bit of talent with illusions actually, were you aware? Not as good as I've seen, but definitely up there. She wasn't hurt at all, although she was frightened quite a bit. And Cream, I thank you for your kind offer to shelter her. I have a feeling she'll need it. Although she is going to be wanted, you know that, correct?
To: Espio; Miles Prower
From: Cream Rabbit
Subject: Re: 5: Skye Lanmarck
Awesome job Espio! And don't worry about her being wanted by Precinct 3, they can't really do much to those of us in Precinct 1's territory. And besides, Mom knows Bogo pretty well, judging by their shouting matches. She's still angry that he gave me a job. Or at least, a 'volunteer position'.
To: Cream Rabbit
From: Miles Prower
Subject: Re: 6: Skye Lanmarck
Is this your way of subtly getting revenge for when I left Zootopia without saying so much as a word? I said I'm sorry! I've just been busy, what with the Chaos Emeralds acting weird and everything else going on, I just haven't been in a position to do a whole lot. Tell you what, when I get the opportunity I'll go back up there to say I'm sorry face to face, alright? We'll go out to get something to eat.
Chapter 18 done and dusted. One left, in case it wasn't obvious. Also for those that don't play League of Legends, Kindred is the name of a champion who is basically their interpretation of the 'Death' based character. Quick little reference that won't mean much.
Until Next Time!
Chapter 19: Chapter 19
So this is it. The end of Storm Front. It's been a ride.
Judy opened her eyes, before shutting them closed again as the bright white light filtered in. It made her head pound, and she shut her eyes harder to keep it out. She struggled to remember what happened, which only made her headache worse. She found herself on an almost uncomfortable bed, machines beeping all around her. Her ears were picking up sounds all to well and easily, all of which pounded into her skull. One of the few curses of being a rabbit. Did she go out and get drunk the previous night?
No, she hasn't had anything to drink for a while. The details came crawling back. The Underground, Aurora, learning how to pierce through illusions, dropping Skye off at Precinct Three, and finally the bank bust gone wrong. She remembered the feel of the explosion of the Gemfield as it washed over her. She made it to the hospital then, if her current condition was anything to say about it. "Slow and steady Hopps," came the deep voice of Chief Bogo. She opened her eyes suddenly before groaning and closing them again.
"I said 'slow' Hopps, not 'open your eyes'," he continued. She could almost hear the slightly sarcastic tone in his voice. Taking care to not look straight up into the light, she pushed her head up to take in the room. It was a hospital room, definitely. It had the same overly clean scent to it, the one that Nick hated, and had the same decor as an abandoned old wooden house. Everything was white, and seemingly sterile. Except for the blue uniform of the cape buffalo in front of her, it was either white or grey. 'Maybe Nick is right. Give a splash of color to these things and they might be somewhat enjoyable,' she thought.
She pushed herself up to rest her head against the headrest, forcing her body to cooperate. "Hiya Chief," she said, stopping as her voice seemed weaker than usual. Her mouth was extremely dry for some reason.
Bogo handed her a small cup of water, and he waited patiently as she drank it thirstily. "Better?" he asked simply.
"I'd hope so. Hopps, I don't make it a point to see my officers in the hospital at any point in time, and suddenly now I have two of you here. What. Happened," Bogo said seriously.
"He's stable. Needed a bit of disinfectant, but generally he only needs rest, as do you. So tell me. What happened."
"Well, we did try to call you," Judy said. She wasn't sure where exactly to begin, so maybe that was a good starting point? It was before everything went belly up.
"I received no such call. Start from the beginning then, after you got to Precinct Three," Bogo said, pulling up a chair. He would record this session, as per procedure, and write up the reports himself. It was something that he did every time one of his officers landed in the hospital. Something to ease their mind, and focus on healing and getting out. He needed good cops on the beat, not the hospital bed.
"Right, ok. So Nick, Skye and I got to Precinct Three. We left Skye at the front desk and listened to Captain Ramsey's speech on how to approach the raid. After getting to the bank, we left Skye there at Precinct Three, because we figured she'd be safer there than with us, we were ordered to watch the entrance," Judy started almost rambling.
Bogo nodded along, his mind making connections easily. "Take it easy. Continue, Hopps."
"Because nothing was happening, I took a chance and started to pierce, and that's when I saw the kitsune walking out of the bank with simple bags to an unmarked van. I told Nick, and in total we shot six of them."
"The captain has told me that part. He said it was 'rather unusual to see the darts suddenly stop in midair before the foxes came into vision'."
"It wasn't strange for us. Ramsey then told us to check the back, and see how the Precinct Three teams were doing. No one was back there, but the loading garage was open so we walked in. Nothing seemed unusual, and when we got the first office I got a message from Skye."
"I see. Do you remember what the message said?"
"It should still be in my phone, but it said something that the organized crime syndicate's were working with Precinct Three and that they were all 'in on it'."
Bogo stared suddenly much harder at the rabbit. It took him only a moment say what he had thought, "I find it unlikely. Single cop corruption is one thing, but an entire precinct? However, I will take it under advisement as Ms. Lanmarck's information has been good in the past. Please continue, Hopps."
"I tried to call you, but I had no service, so I used Nick's phone to call your direct line."
"I see. And you left a message?"
"You picked up."
Bogo blinked for a moment. "Somehow, Hopps, once again you have entered the realm known as 'breaking reality'. You see, during drug raids like that one, I am often out front with Clawhauser, doing as many duties as I can to coordinate everyone. That is most definitely where I was at the time. So what is it, exactly, that I said?"
Judy sniggered, "That we should ignore the message and proceed as planned, and that it's impossible for Precinct Three to be in on anything. Also that it was too late to pull out."
"That doesn't sound much like me."
"We know, sir. That's why Nick and I didn't listen to it. We charged on in using Nick's ability to get mammals to like him, and tranquilized the only officer we could see when he answered the door."
"Smart mammals. I'm assuming then, that it was this 'Barry Boobam'?"
"Yes sir. After we knocked him out, we realized that someone had changed the radio frequencies. After changing it to that one, four jackalopes entered from the Underground with a massive shipment of Gemfield. Nick and I took them out, during which Nick was injured."
"That explains those four. Afterwards?"
"Afterwards the wall opened up before we could get Ramsey's attention, and several officers, I counted ten, came out. There was a firefight of tranquilizers, and Nick and I managed to put several out in the first wave.
"Then the rhino came out, and I told Nick to cover me, as I got an idea to use the Gemfield to cause an explosion, similar to what happened in the lab a few days ago."
Bogo interrupted, "There was an explosion in the lab a few days ago?" Judy couldn't help but nod slowly. "Very well. I'll take it up with them. Then?"
"Then there was a sense of chaos that emanated from Nick, and the Gemfield exploded, and we rushed out. The Captain came up to us, but Nick and I could tell that it wasn't the real one, so we tranquilized him using my last one, and we rushed here."
Bogo stared at her for a moment. "Precinct One arrested exactly eleven mammals. Seven kitsune, four jackalopes, and a panda. When we came in through the hole, the only officer from Precinct Three that was down was the panda."
"Exactly. Where are the others? We don't know. But we'll handle it. Now then, Hopps, as your commanding officer for at least a few more weeks, I suggest you get some rest whenever the hospital lets you out. Don't worry about the report, I'll handle that. Your partner is fine. And I'm not looking forward to that discussion," Bogo said, getting up slowly and walking out of the room, closing the door quietly. Judy stared down at her body.
"But they were there...was there another kitsune there?" Judy asked aloud, her mind working furiously to put together the facts. All too soon, barely a minute later, a familiar wolf entered the room, closing the door just as quietly as Bogo had. "Mayor Reich," Judy said, surprised to see him. He looked up for a moment in surprise, before smiling widely.
"Ah, Judy Hopps. That was impressive, you know. Eleven arrests were made from your little adventure back there. I'm glad to see that you're mostly unharmed," he said, walking around the bed to look directly into Judy's amethyst eyes. To the rabbit, it looked almost as if he was pacing, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting meal.
"Thank you sir, but it wasn't just me. It was everyone who helped," she said, keeping her eyes locked on the incoming predator.
"And humble too. I just wanted to say, Judy Hopps, that I appreciate you and everything you've done for this city. You've done more than many other mammals, and something tells me you're going to end up doing even more."
Judy sat there, silent and wondering what she should say. Reich seemed to pick up on the awkwardness as he suddenly pulled back and laughed. "Well of course you'd do more. You're not one to rest on your laurels, that's for sure!" he said, before starting to walk to the door.
As he was about to walk out, he half turned, letting his mouth point towards the ground. "Also, one last thing, Judith Hopps. Tick. Tock."
The door closed before Judy could say anything in response.
Nick was rather enjoying his stay in the hospital. Not so much the hospital itself, of course, but rather the almost too numerous to be true nurses around. He knew of course, what it was. Ray Kalk was in the corner laughing at him as he smoothly interacted with every single real one while barely blinking an eye to the illusions. "You do realize that this is not making my opinion of you go up, you know that?" Nick asked.
Ray laughed, "Yeah, I know. But I have to do something to entertain myself. Oh hey, your Chief's here. This should be enlightening." He quickly waved his hand and disappeared even from Nick's piercing view.
"Wilde," Bogo said as he entered the room. It was similar enough to Judy's that he didn't pay much attention to much besides the bandages on the fox's leg. "I'm assuming then that it wasn't as bad as it looked?"
"Depends on what you count as bad. Six inch gash, one inch at its deepest. Hit nothing vital, although they do say it's a miracle I didn't get it worse. Gonna need stitches of course, which I'm not looking forward to, but what can you do?"
"You can, of course, not get hit."
"And miss your kind and caring personality? Heavens no!"
"Don't worry about the reports, I got enough from Hopps to know what happened. Anything to add to it however?" Bogo asked, suddenly changing topics. He wasn't going to give the fox any additional ammunition for his sarcastic barbs.
"Nah, I trust Carrots."
"Good. You'll get a week off for rest, then another week of paperwork duty."
"What! Come on, that's practically a punishment!"
"It is a punishment Wilde. Next time don't get hurt!" Bogo said, walking out the door with a smirk. Ray came back into vision, staring at where Bogo had left.
"Seems like a nice guy," he stated simply.
Nick laughed, "You just need to get to know him. That was him being warm and friendly."
"Warm and friendly huh? Remind me to never have to deal with him, if that's warm and friendly. Later Wilde, glad you're not too hurt," Ray said as he walked through the door. Nick only shook his head as the nine-tailed never bothered to even open the door, instead just walking straight through it.
"What I want to know is what it was that you were doing here..." Nick asked aloud. He did a quick piercing view to make sure that he was alone before he stumbled back into remembrance. Every time he had asked the question, in many different forms, it was blocked and evaded expertly by Kalk. Each time, more red flags were raised in the foxes mind.
Then his mind clicked on what exactly had happened. "Oh you sly little fox..." Nick smirked. He'd have to tell Judy once he was back on duty. Maybe they could deal with their little fake-Bogo problem. He'd have to get better first, but the first thing they'd do is ensure the Chaotics presence in the ZPD to be minimized...
Skye wandered through the streets of Savannah Central. Her clothing and fur were soaked through from the rain, and she shivered as she walked. It was a lot better than if she had been walking through Tundratown right now, as otherwise she'd probably be freezing. Constant rain plus a snow biome meant for hail and temperatures reaching thirty below. She checked the address that Espio had given her mentally, and lightly knocked on the door. Supposedly a 'mutual friend' lived here, but she would have no idea who. The only friend she knew that Espio knew was Miles, but he was off doing something. Probably something important to the entire planet.
The door opened quickly to the sight of a rabbit only slightly smaller than she was, but obviously much younger. She had a cream-colored dress on that matched the same color as her fur. Skye didn't get much time to analyze, as she was quickly dragged inside by the bunny. "Oh thank chaos you're here. Come on, we'll have to get you warm, you're freezing! Don't worry about the water, I'll handle any messes. Now, into the shower with you!" the bunny said rapidly. Skye stood there for a moment, enjoying the heated air.
"I'm sorry, but who are you?" she asked. The bunny gasped and hung her head with faux shame.
"And once again, I cannot count on Espio to do anything properly. I'm Cream. I'll explain more after you're dry and warm. I'll throw your clothes in the dryer," Cream said as she pulled Skye towards what seemed to be the bathroom. The house was simple, and covered with maps and charts about the big storm just overhead. Skye stepped into the bathroom and stripped before asking Cream how to turn the shower on. One quick explanation later and she was enjoying the stream of hot water flowing through her fur.
She could hear exactly when Cream opened the door to take her clothes, and when the dryer turned on. She wondered idly just how old Cream was; she had to be nearly as tall as, if not taller than Judy, but she seemed so much younger. Almost Miles' age, really.
Of course her benefactor would be Cream the Rabbit. One of the only rabbit Chaos-Touched, next to her mother, Vanilla. Both of them not well known by the general public, although Miles did tell her about both one time (though he just referred to them as 'Cream and her mother'). Last she read about them they had been living in Central City.
Skye only just waited a few more moments to enjoy the water before turning it off. She looked at the two towels hanging there, inviting their fluffiness. Instead she called out, "Which towel should I use?"
"I knew I forgot something! Hold on a second, dryer's just about done," she heard Creams' voice say as the door opened and a towel was handed in.
"Thanks Cream...for everything."
"That's what friends are for, right? Besides, this way we can both guilt trip Tails when he gets here."
Judy was allowed to leave the hospital later that day. They told her that if she had any lightheadedness, or any sleep problems that were unusual, to come back right away. Nick was being forced to stay another night to make sure the stitches weren't going to get worse. The transit system wasn't as packed as it usually was, at this time of night. There were still a few mammals about; mostly the nocturnal ones that had just woken up a few hours ago. Judy knew that the police department was probably just now switching shifts.
She didn't bother with an umbrella as she walked in the rain. Her fur and coat were getting soaked, but Judy appreciated the wetness, keeping her mind firmly set in the here and now rather than being thrown everywhere. There wasn't much wind, although Judy was completely soaked by the time she had made it back to her apartment building. She hadn't said a word to anyone, her head focusing on the rain rather than the Underground.
So much had happened in the last day, it was difficult for her to put it back together. She needed a way to forget, to tire herself out and to force herself to think and reflect in a way that her body couldn't mirror.
Which was why, when she saw Espio meditating in the middle of her room, a large grin broke out on her face. Espio took only one look at her, before getting into a ready position. 'Found it,' she thought happily, readying her body for the training to follow.
To: Ignar Rian; Ray Kalk
From: Astra Beta
Subject: Underground Discovery by ZPD
We need to get together sometime over the next couple of weeks. The explosion at the bank elevator cut drastically into our ability to trade with the other cities, and with the other districts cutting directly to us, we need another way.
Also on topic; the fact that ZPD, specifically Judith Hopps and Nicolas Wilde, were both in the Underground. Ray, you've had direct interaction with them. What do you think, are they something we need to be wary of? Should we start to order an evacuation of this Underground?
To: Astra Beta; Ray Kalk
From: Ignar Rian
Subject: Re: ZPD
Unless they do something that directly interferes with processes down here, leave them be. They might've been responsible for the ignition of the chaos crystals, but that was also due to faulty manufacturing. I have since found the mammal responsible and will personally ensure that it never happens again.
To: Astra Beta
From: Ray Kalk
Not yet. We still need a bit more. The part of him 'personally ensuring' it is interesting, but bound to lead nowhere. I say we inquire with the ZPD above, they can launch a quieter investigation than we can. I have some strings up there I might be able to pull.
Chapter 20: Post-Mortem
Storm Front was difficult to write.
It's not my style, I've realized. I write as I go, which made planning difficult. Which is what's going to make the next story I go to, whichever it may be, even more so. I have no intention of going completely crazy and attempting to write the kind of story I have in mind without first going completely crazy and attempting to write this one.
As I usually do in these Post-Mortems, I'm going to discuss a few things before I start on the good, bad, and terrible. One: This story, the one that came out of this little experiment, is not the story I had originally envisioned. At all. Under any circumstances.
1) Skye was intended to be a spy. I realized I made her personality completely disagree with how a spy should be, and then I came up with the idea of her being a kitsune. That was all spur of the moment. It fits, in my mind, that she's completely inept as a spy but works great as a kitsune. Which kind of makes sense to me as she's trained as a mechanic. Mechanic's...don't exactly dance with words.
2) Jack Savage was intended to be the Nick to Judy's Skye. Things didn't work out. Instead, I gave Jack Savage a much more interesting role that won't be expanded upon until sometime later. Hopefully.
3) Literally the entire freaking plot. So the plot originally revolved around the gang wars (as you could tell by the earlier chapters) with the next one dealing with the corrupt cops. Yeah. You could see how well that fared. There was too much on the world-building front and way too little of the actual gangs showing up. Hell, I don't even think the Zenomites even showed UP in this fic.
So now that me complaining about my own plots section is done, the good, the bad and the terrible. This is mostly for my own state of mind, as the date that I finished this originally was...some time ago. Back in February, if I wanted to be honest. Then I hit a wall and have been unable to stop hitting for the last several months.
For record purposes, I started Storm Front on 12/11/16, about 21 days after finishing Chaos Theory. 3 months for Storm Front, 2 months for Chaos Theory. Probably 10 years for the next one knowing me. Although that's not entirely fair; I did pause for three weeks for Christmas. (Yes, I was still posting Chaos Theory at the time I was writing this.) My goal is to finish the next one before I ever even post this Post-Mortem. So far I got nearly 6 weeks ahead at one point, and as of 3/1/17 I have finished editing every single chapter, for a total of 12 weeks ahead.
As an update to that last paragraph; I am five chapters into the next one. I got into a large bout of depression and self-hatred that I was hoping would go away by the end of April; it hasn't. I'm still writing, actually, but it's completely different than the one I wanted to write, which gave me an even more interesting idea which is going to be a lot of work. It will be some time before I finish the next story in line (tentatively called "The Eternal Storm"). In the meantime I'm writing more of my own original stuff, which usually gets me out of this kind of funk.
The Good) Overall worldbuilding. There was a lot of it. I'm not going to lie, probably three quarters of this fic was me building the world. Needed, yes, needed right now? Probably not. On the other hand the style that I write makes this chunk necessary, as if I don't write it down I tend to forget about it. These was more easily seen in this story and a bit in Chaos Theory. The world itself is easy for me to make, and I felt that most of my writing came alive when I was describing certain things about how things work or why they'd work in this fashion. Whether that's a personal opinion or a general one, I don't know.
The Bad) The pacing. The pacing was slow, slow, slow, slow, and then finally right at the end massive increase. This is mostly because of said worldbuilding (and I'm not done...) but should be hopefully much better in the next one. Personally I'm a fan of medium pacing, where only some plot-important stuff happens but there's still some lighthearted fluff. Unfortunate thing is that I'm not very good at that yet...
The Terrible) Everything. Else. The descriptions were once again as poor as the ones from Chaos Theory, the characters even less in character (and no one called me out on it. Wtf people?) the scenes much darker and made that much less sense, foreshadowing was negligible. All in all, I would put this attempt at story writing equivalent to a nine year old's effort. Chaos Theory was perhaps a thirteen.
There's only one direction that I can really go from here, but fortunately that's what all the world building is for, as now I can finally have my two teams again (Nick and Judy being one, and Skye/Cream being the other). Also Cream's there and she wasn't supposed to be, and Espio is still hanging around even though I tried to write him out, and...don't get me started everything else. It's the way I write, I was always intending to have two teams eventually, but I wasn't expecting this.
Also yes, if things don't make sense in Storm Front, that's fine. They'll hopefully make more sense in the next one.
For those of you wondering where I got the title of this story from, it's a direct reference to The Dresden Files, which would've referenced a role in which Jack Savage was supposed to play Dresden (with Nick/Judy playing the role of SI, only more competent). You can tell how quickly that one was thrown out the window (about chapter 7, although I was already not feeling it as of Chapter 4.)
All in all, not my best story. I did however, like my return to action-y writing with chapter 17 and onwards. I actually wrote those three chapters in two days. Much faster than my usual two chapters in a week.
In terms of actual quality I think this one turned out to be a lot better than it could have been, but... I'm not a good writer. I'm completely aware of this. On the other hand, if someone wants to take a crack at this world, go for it. Just let me know so I can read it!
Until next time, whenever that may be!