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A Ray of Hope

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A Ray of Hope: Prologue

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3 months after the arrest of Dawn Bellwether

In a lonely office, a single mammal sat.  Papers all around him, statistics, formulas, and ingredients.  It was way past quitting time, but this mammal didn’t care.  He had to find his answer, and it was hidden somewhere in the computer simulations and chemical data.  If he didn’t find them tonight, he would have to start all over again tomorrow.  The active ingredients of midnicampum holicithias.

The mammal wasn’t assigned to the antidote team.  He shouldn’t have been accessing the material, highly classified as it was.  But the stupid lynx that he’d gotten drunk and high enough to get their computer password from DID have the access he needed.  And so, it was with the lynx’s computer account that this mammal did his research.

The arrest of Dawn Bellwether and the exposure of the Night Howler conspiracy, as the ZPD had termed it, was quite honestly a blow to the community.  However, Bellwether had been wrong.  Preds did not simply need to be controlled and subjugated, or even evicted.  They needed to be eradicated.

The solution had come to him a month ago while the antidote was just beginning to undergo initial trials.  A call had gone out for brave – or stupid, as this mammal preferred – predators, who would voluntarily be afflicted with the Night Howler serum in order to have the antidote tested.  Said predators were offered a very large monetary settlement for their services.  It was all expenditures that the city didn’t need.  Get rid of the predators in the first place, and you wouldn’t have a problem.

The mammal continued his research well into the night, pausing only for the occasional washroom break or trip to the water cooler.  The night watch occasionally checked in, but never questioned what the mammal was doing here.  Managers often worked late, and this one was no exception.

It was nearly 4 AM when the mammal’s efforts finally came to fruition.  Three active ingredients.  One amplified fear and aggression.  Another suppressed higher brain function.  And a compound to assist the others in crossing the blood-brain barrier.

This would be perfect.  With this information, the mammal could eventually synthesize all of the active ingredients, and with a little changing of one component, render it harmless to prey mammals.

The mammal downloaded the information to a flash drive before signing off.  Papers were swept from his desk and deposited into the particle cut shredder nearby.  He would not be needing them.  He would come in to work tomorrow, or rather today, as he always did, to keep up appearances, but this newfound data would be shared with his group.  Together, they would find a way to destroy the predators in Zootopia.  Such savage beasts had no place in civilized society.  It was unfortunate that many prey mammals would be lost in this revolution.  That could not be avoided.  They would be sacrificed for the greater good.

The mammal only hoped that the idiotic rabbit at the ZPD was one of them.  She could have had a place in law enforcement in the new world order if she had just kept to the statements she made six months ago.  Instead, she decided not to leave well enough alone and, she, along with that jumped-up airhead pop singer, had sided with the filthy preds.  And since the arrest of Bellwether, both had been constantly seen in the presence of filth, the singer with her backup dancer tigers, and the rabbit with a wretched fox.

No, the rabbit and the singer would not be spared punishment in the new world order. They, along with any other prey foolish enough to side with the filth would also have justice meted out.  The mammal hoped it would be long, painful, torturous.  Maybe even use their families as an example to others.

The mammal slipped the flash drive into a hidden, shielded pocket in his clothes.  It would not do to have the item discovered.  He would continue his work here for this pharmaceutical company, if only as a front.  Tomorrow evening, the real work would begin.

Slipping out of his office, the mammal navigated his way to the elevators, giving a friendly farewell to the one or two others he passed.

In the elevator, the mammal used his key card to access the parkade.  Others came and went as the car made its slow, steady descent, before finally depositing him on his desired floor.  Keeping a calm face, he got into his car, started it up, and drove out of the underground parking area and up to the security gate.  The cheetah nightshift guard peeked out of his shack, curious as to who was leaving at this hour.

As the mammal pulled up, he rolled down his window.

“Late night Mr. Hornby?” The cheetah asked

With a pleasant smile, the mammal looked at the spotted feline.  “Absolutely.  Higher-ups got to keep the projects goin’ so the money stays flowin’.”

“More work for you, so they can kick back and line their pockets while they do nothing, eh?”

“No kiddin’. Bet they make more money sneezin’ than I do in a day.”

The cheetah shook his head.  “That they do.  Have a great night, Mr. Hornby.”  Finally, the cat opened the gate, and the mammal drove through

Filthy pred. Despite seeing the cheetah nightguard almost every night for 10 years, Damian Hornby held no love for him.  He would be eradicated like all the rest.  There would be no leniency, no quarter, no escape for any filth, if his group had its way.

The drive home was silent, few cars on the road.  Soon, the mammal pulled up to a quiet house on a quiet Savannah Central street.  No one else was around, everyone asleep or close to it.  To add to the atmosphere, a cricket chirped somewhere.  How cliché.

The house too was quiet.  Only one mammal lived here, so Damian did not need to worry about too much noise.  Dropping his keys on the table beside the door, the mammal pulled out his cell phone and dialed.  After a few rings, it was answered.

“You got Doug here.  What?” came the monotone voice of the ram.

“It’s Hornby.  Call a meetin’.  I have our puzzle piece.”

“You know the elders won’t be happy if we call them at four in the morning.”

“Then wait until daybreak, I don’t care.  Just let them know.”

There was no hesitation. “Alright.  Doug out.”  The line went dead.

Such was the conversations with the ram.  Short, to the point, and devoid of emotion.  The ram had gone underground after Bellwether foolishly got herself arrested, and the ZPD had nothing to go on, besides his first name.

Damian Hornby sighed and looked around.  There was once a time when two other mammals had filled this house, but now all that was left was memories.  Pictures of a family of three adorned the walls.  Three chairs at the kitchen table.  All of that ended years ago, when a tiger had decided to take the two things most precious to him away.

“My dear Isabel, I do this for you.  You and Kole.”

The Texas longhorn bull made his way to his bedroom, stopping in his office briefly to deposit the flash drive in his safe, before turning in for the night.