Guardian Blue: Season Three
Episode 10: Hazards
The pair followed the police van that Pennington was driving with Flash still at the wheel. He had loyally waited for Nick and Judy to return from the island. Fortunately, the sloth did not try to inquire about the case, because that would have taken the entire ride back to the station.
Because the wolf in Francine’s van was double-heavy-tranqed, they were moving fast down the highway, sirens blaring. There was the chance of permanent damage if a mammal got too much tranquilizer. It could even paralyze the subject’s diaphragm and prevent them from breathing. Cherry, however, had been snoring when she was dumped in the back of the van, so this did not seem to be an immediate risk. Still, if she’d been taking other drugs or had been drinking before she got tranquilized, it could go bad quickly. They had the wolf under control, but there was still a genuine emergency.
So, Flash got to enjoy driving fast a little bit longer. Mike had been taken in an ambulance to get completely checked out, but had insisted he was okay. He provided Nick with new contact information for him after being reunited with his phone from the penthouse where Nick and Judy had found it. He wanted to be kept informed about how the wolf was doing.
During the transit from the island to the station, Judy took her phone out and made a call to the Bunnyburrow Gazette.
It took a couple of minutes of phone tag between departments, but Judy eventually found herself on hold. During that time, Nick had already confirmed to the station that they needed a medic on standby as they were bringing a hard-tranq case in. That was standard procedure. They would get Cherry in a secure place, then hit her with a diffuser to pull her out of her tranquilized state. Once she was secure, if they needed to administer lighter doses of tranquilizer that could be done by a medical professional more safely.
After being on hold for about five minutes, about half the trip to the station, Judy finally heard a more familiar voice, her intended contact.
“Tandy Brie, how may I help you?” came the sharp little greeting. Nick could hear that, apparently, as his triangular ears perked right up. Judy smiled at that. It was rare that she was the one who had the contact that they needed, and not her well connected Zootopian fox.
“Hey Tandy, it’s Judy Wilde,” returned the bunny.
“Oh, hey Judy!” came the much brighter, happy-sounding reply from the rat. “How’re ya doing?”
“Doing alright. Hard at work, as you can guess,” the bunny laughed.
“Not doing anything dangerous, I hope?” the rodent inquired, her smaller voice easy to hear on the phone because of the higher pitch.
“Not terribly, no,” the doe lied. She wanted to get right to the point and the rat reporter would be dying for the details if she knew Judy had just been in a harrowing altercation with a psychotic and delusional wolf. “I was wondering if I might ask you about any contacts that you might have here in Zootopia who might be able to help my partner and I get some information on a case. It’s… Well, the lead we have is maybe somewhat out of our reach, and we all know how investigating things can be in Little Rodentia.”
“Oh, you sly bunny,” Nick said under his breath with a wide grin, sending a thrill of happiness through his mate. Little Rodentia had its own police force, obviously, but it was easy to get a case quagmired in bureaucracy unless it was a public safety issue. Questions of jurisdiction often made it impossible to work a case in a timely fashion. It’s why Mr. Big’s empire had grown outside of that part of the city. The moment his enterprise became cross-jurisdiction, it became much harder to actually investigate him effectively. He could move entire warehouses and change his whole business model by the time the proper paperwork allowed a direct investigation inside the self-contained small-mammal-friendly part of the city.
Tandy considered that briefly, and then her voice chimed back over the phone, “I have a few contacts there, obviously, but as luck would have it, I’m actually in Little Rodentia myself, reporting on the Hamlin Festival. Maybe I could help you?” Judy dropped her ears back. She had completely forgotten about the Hamlin Festival. It was based on the Pied Piper story. An entire rodent settlement went missing long, long ago, and the spooky legend about it was that a dark stranger arrived one day and played a beautiful music that enticed the rats and mice to leave with the stranger. The legend said that everything was left as if the townsfolk simply blinked out of being. Half-eaten meals were on the table, journals stopped mid-sentence, and gardening implements were left in their yards.
Of course, this had happened more than two centuries before, and most historians suggested a lot of other possible causes for the missing settlement. Doubt was cast on some of the elements of it, like the meals half eaten and the journals stopping suddenly, but one actual journal did exist that spoke of strange music before the population went missing. Referred to as Tabitha’s Journal, that’s what started the legend. In Little Rodentia, they held a music festival in the summer to remember those lost, and stand in solidarity. It was about community and was always a festive event despite it’s dark lore. Scary stories and fantastic costumes were popular, as were little noisemakers that created a snapping sound that the younger festival goers liked to use. Rodents would, during the height of the festival, form a long chain and dance in a sort of conga line from one side of Little Rodentia to the other down the main thoroughfare.
“Oh… Oh I don’t want to impose so much… This might take hours,” she expressed. She knew the Hamlin Festival was a lot of fun for the rodent population mostly because during it, it was hard to find those small enough to attend anywhere in the city outside of that isolated borough.
Brie laughed on her end. “That’s fine, I have most of the material I need, I’ve mostly been taking pictures of the decorations and floats, and taking in all the music. I got an exclusive interview with Nighthawk.” Nick perked up at that.
“Oh, do tell!” he chimed. Nighthawk was a mouse-metal group. Judy listened more to pop, but she knew who they were at least.
“Nick! Hey!” squeaked Tandy.
“Focus, mammals,” Judy groaned.
The rat on the other end laughed, getting called out for the distraction as she was. “Right… so… We can meet up at the High Gate Diner tonight and discuss things if you want?” the lady rat offered. “Name a time that works for you. I’m pretty free. I would love to help. You two helped me more than you realize.”
“Things going well with your ferret friend I take it?” Nick prodded. Judy grinned. She had wondered about that herself.
“Quite!” she replied brightly.
The bunny nudged the conversation back on the rails. “I’m sure Nick knows where the High Gate is, but we’re almost to the precinct so I will need to hop off the phone real quick. Let’s try for seven, if we can?” Nick sometimes needed to be reigned in to keep conversations short. He was a very social mammal.
“That works for me,” Tandy agreed.
“Thank you, see you then!” Judy returned, and disconnected the call.
“Hehehe… Hop off the call,” Nick smugged, getting an elbow to his side since Judy was still in his lap. He flinched hard and whined. Judy whimpered in reply. She had forgotten that he took a hit from that wolf. That was far more painful than intended. He rubbed the spot and Judy leaned up and kissed his jaw.
“Waaaaaaaiiiiitt...” Flash spoke from the front seat, his eyes slowly going very wide. “Waaaaaaaat?”
Judy blushed. Oh. Nick hadn’t had time to tell his sloth friend.
“Long story, bud,” he offered. “I’ll send an email tonight, I promise. Gotta go for now though!” He managed to avoid a very, very long conversation as he and Judy got out behind Pennington’s van.
“Yooouuuu…. Better...” the glaring sloth grumbled, his window going up before he pulled off and returned to Zuber functions.
Francine got out and opened the back door of the van. The wolf inside looked positively wrecked. She’d been perhaps rolling about in the back on turns and such, so her paws, cuffed together, were over her chest and her big feet kind of up in the air against the wheel well. Her tongue was way out, muzzle wide as she provided broken snoring as proof that she was out, but not gone. Nick carefully tested the two pair of pawcuffs, linked together due to how broad the lady wolf was.
“You know, you can tell your friends we got married, Nick,”Judy complained as he did this.
“It’s not the kind of thing you say in a text message, and time’s been a little on the short side of late,” Nick replied as Francine picked up the wolf carefully. “You could watch a whole feature-length film in the time it would take for me to answer all his questions about this.” Judy nodded in understanding to her husband, just wanting to make sure they were not really trying to fly under the radar with it at that point. As she glanced up at the wolf, she noticed some dark patches on the elephant’s trunk coiled around her. That made it clear there was definitely going to be bruising. Still, Francine was very gentle with Cherry as she picked her up. That spoke highly of Pennington’s character. Even to the other officers she was seen as caring and nurturing.
They walked together through the front doors of Precinct One and immediately encountered Daniel, the on duty meerkat medic who was waiting there to administer the diffuser. He cried out at the sight of Cherry being carried in.
“Oh good heavens! You double-heavied a wolf?!” He scrambled over, getting everyone’s attention. “You didn’t say it was a medium!” The huge white lupine drooled contentedly down Pennington’s back. “Down. Put her down!” He desperately hopped around Francine, obviously trying to check on their subject. Daniel Surikata was never a field officer, but as a medic he was still an important member of the ZPD. Clearly alarmed, Clawhauser put down a little spray bottle he had been using to spritz a tiny bonsai tree on a shelf by his desk. Judy inwardly awwed. That had to have been a gift from Tora. It made sense though. It gave him something to do at his desk other than munch on a snack. It was smart.
“Hold up, Surikata, we need to get her to a more secure location,” Nick informed. Daniel looked frantic.
“Every second is a second too long. I’m ordering you, Officer Pennington, down.” The smaller mammal put his paws on his hips and glared. While not an officer, he could give orders to officers where the health of another mammal was concerned. “This is a good way to get yourself suspended, you know that? This defies all rational concept of appropriate escalation of force!”
Nick interjected, “We’re wasting more time arguing, we just need to get her out of the lobby. I’ll explain on the way.” The fox was trying to remain calm as Surikata became increasingly agitated.
Pennington put Cherry down gently and put her gray knuckles to her own hips, gesturing with her trunk. “The report will show this use of force was warranted – hey!” The meerkat was on Cherry in a second, pumping the diffuser right into her neck.
“Oh… Oh no.” Nick groaned. Judy cupped her muzzle, ears pinned back hard. This was not a good place.
“Nnnnhhhh…” The soft groan from Cherry made it clear that the diffuser was working as intended. Fox, elephant, and bunny froze. Maybe she would have come down from her episode, and could be slightly more rational?
The meerkat moved closer and spoke with the large prone canine, literally standing on her chest. “Hey…It’s okay, just relax. I’m Daniel Surikata with the ZPD, are you – GLK!” he was cut off by a huge paw grabbing his upper body tightly. Being in paw-cuffs did not prevent the wolf from grabbing the smaller mammal. Nope. She was not about to be rational.
“Baker 419, we need immediate backup in the precinct lobby!” Nick called loudly on the radio. “Subject is-” Nick was interrupted as Judy called out.
“Nick, she’s crushing him!”
“Ben!” Nick yelled. “Need some help here!”
“Oh gosh!” Clawhauser moved surprisingly quickly from behind the counter. The morning runs with Tora appeared to have been paying off. He got onto his knees and pried Cherry’s paw loose to free the medic, whose eyes had really started to bulge. The lady wolf rolled over suddenly and growled ferociously. Ben held up Surikata who was limp in his paws.
“Oh no. Dan?” he asked fearfully. Judy, being a small mammal herself, knew a compression knockout when she saw it. The sudden pressure on his circulatory system followed by suddenly being released made him faint. It was dangerous to be small sometimes.
“Paws up where I can see them!” called Detective Pawlander who had probably just done a mad dash from the interview rooms upstairs. He had a tranq pistol with yellow medium dart. Things were happening so fast.
“She’s 10-96!” Judy called. This was the code for a mentally disturbed subject. Nick had not gotten to clarify anything after calling for backup.
“Seriously?” called the detective. Unfortunately, Judy’s clarification got Cherry’s attention right on her.
“Kill tha wabbit!” roared the wolf, her speech a bit slurred from being tranquilized so hard. She pulled her arms apart had and a metallic clink and the sound of metal clattering on the floor punctuated the obvious breaking of her paw cuffs. They were not made for mammals larger than a wolf, but they still should have held a wolf. That was not true for this one, however.
“Look out!” cried Clawhauser, as the wolf advanced on Judy. There was a thump as a dart hit the back of the rampaging canid’s shoulder, fired by Pawlander. Judy took a leap up onto Clawhauser’s desk. The dart didn’t make it through the epoxy in the that matted down white fur. Judy bounced off the desk and up to the top of the shelf behind it.
“Get back here, snack!” shouted the wolfess furiously.
“Cherry, you have to stop! This won’t get better until you do! Please trust me!” the doe called from the shelf. The wolf gripped onto the edge of the top of the shelf to pull herself up, but she was having some trouble because she was still shaking off the numbness from the previous darting. There was another thump from a dart in the lady wolf’s lower back as Pawlander fired again, this time a red one.
“Whuh? Huh, No!” cried Surikata, starting to come out of his fainted state due to some vigorous shaking by the concerned cheetah. “Stop, she’s already been tranqed! Don’t tranq her! Clawhauser, put me down!”
“Too late!” shouted Pawlander, moving quickly down the stairs.
“She’s armored!” shouted Nick, loading a medium cartridge. “Epoxy in her fur. You have to shoot her in a joint!”
Nick called out on the radio to update officers on the status of the suspect, but was interrupted again as a small meerkat stomped past him, having to be pulled back by the fox.
“You’ll do no such thing!” shouted the medic.
“Sir, get back, please!” Nick pressed.
“Epoxy in her fur?” responded Pawlander. He head-tilted. “Clever girl...”
The bunny’s heart raced. This was instantly a crisis and it was right there in the ZPD lobby. If they didn’t get things under control soon, there was real risk to other officers, and particularly to Cherry. Judy shouted, “Ben, Francine, hold her still so we can get her sedated again!”
“I’m on it!” Francine trumpeted.
“Careful with her!” the doe called from the top of the shelves.
“Riiiight,” the elephant said, rolling her eyes. She advanced on the wolf. Cherry turned around, paws behind her back as she greeted Francine with a grin. The bright happiness of her smile was absolutely nuts given the situation, and made for a pause even from the pachyderm.
“Well, well, well, Nosy Posy, we meet again, but this time the advantage is mine!” laughed Cherry, wagging her tail. Nosy Posy was the gossipy, larger than life star of a popular elephant children’s show. It was not a flattering comparison.
“I don’t want to do this!” Francine said loudly. “You’re not bad, you’re just not well!” Deescalation was the name of the game in the ZPD and they did everything they could to prevent interactions becoming physical. It seemed like a fools errand with this wolf, however.
“Bring it, big girl!” growled the wolf, verifying that. Francine flicked out her trunk with a very promising right-hook style attack to take the wolf off her feet. Judy barely saw what was an impressively fast block from Cherry, but after the block, something was clearly wrong.
Francine appeared shocked and her trunk just kind of hung there like a windsock on a stagnant summer day. There was a green tuft on the end of it. Cherry grinned, yellow eyes keen and intelligent. Judy cupped her little muzzle. When she put her paws behind her back she must have grabbed the dart.
“Oh dear,” crooned Cherry melodically. “Oh well, hold this.” she took two rapid steps to Officer Pennington and with a quick jab put the red-tufted dart in the elephant’s left side.
“Dang it,” grumbled Francine in a slowing, deepening voice. Slowly, down she went. The other officers watched in horror.
“Now… where was I?” growled the wolf. Judy’s heart skipped a beat as Cherry hopped on her toes a bit, showing she was now more limber. The tranquilizer was absolutely on its way out. The top of the shelf was absolutely not a safe space anymore.
“Ben, get her away from Judy!” Nick shouted. The fox was small enough that a physical confrontation with the wolf was far too risky. Ben did as he was told, sprinting forward and snaring Cherry by her shoulder, jerking her back and sending her sliding on her back across the floor. Pawlander jumped onto her. He was a smaller wolf, but still fast and strong. He managed to get her onto her belly and began pulling her arm back to try to hold her still to allow another officer to help phsycally restrain her.
“Ben, your paw-cuffs!” Pawlander shouted. His were likely on a suspect upstairs. Ben reached for them, but the wolf her paw under her chest to flip herself and Pawlander both over with nearly no effort at all. She was immediately on top of him.
“Don’t make this worse!” cried the detective, but she made it worse. There was a loud crack of heavy paw meeting the detective’s jaw once, then a slap as she backhanded him from the other direction. Nick took a flying leap and put both foot-paws hard into Cherry’s back to knock her off of Pawlander but he might as well have done the same thing to the outside of the building. She didn’t move an inch.
Cherry deftly turned and grabbed the fox before he even could even land. She pushed Nick immediately to the cold tile, putting her full weight on him, paw drawn back to give him the Pawlander treatment right beside the likely unconscious detective. Judy cried out and took a large jump off of her shelf with a heavy dodge ball trophy in her paws. How the hell did Clawhauser even get this?
She brought it down hard just off-center of the base of Nick’s assailant’s neck. She didn’t want to really harm the wolf, but Cherry could quickly do so much damage to the other officers if they didn’t get her under control!
The impact at least dazed the lupine for a second, and Nick managed to move his legs up and wrap them around the upper part of Cherry’s arm. He put all his muscle into it and flipped her off of Pawlander, over himself to the side, onto her back.
“Clawhauser! Heavy dart! Into a joint! Hurry!” cried Judy. She moved to help Nick hold Cherry’s arm secure.
“I don’t have one!” shouted the cheetah.
“Then help hold her down!” Nick shouted. The portly Cheetah jumped onto the prone wolf who snapped out of the stunning blow from Judy and snarled darkly. He put his paws on her arms as she struggled. She was strong, but the cheetah was heavy and had a pretty good angle on her. Better than Pawlander did. Judy and Nick backed off, as either one could just be picked up and thrown by Cherry, or worse.
“You’re goin’ down, spots!” shouted the furious lupine, jerking and thrashing heavily in his tight grip. Judy moved quickly over to Pawlander. He was out cold, no two bones about it. She frisked his belt, finding two more cartridges, though both were medium. They’d have to do. The bunny hopped back over to Clawhauser swiftly and held the darts tightly. Both the cheetahs big paws were busy holding Cherry’s arms.
“Surikata said no!” Ben expressed anxiously. They’d be disobeying a direct medical order. It really was a big deal.
“Changed my mind! Tranq her!” the terrified meerkat shouted from half way up the stairs. Judy nodded and prepared to jump into the fray to re-tranquilize Cherry. At that, the wolf began loudly singing.
“Dun dun DUNNNN, dun dun DUN DUN DUN DUNNN!” It was an epic-style soundtrack that matched the climax of an action movie given with a powerful operatic voice.
“Oh heck,” Ben whined. He couldn’t compensate as much as he needed to for the sudden explosion of strength. Cherry arched up and flipped the very heavy cheetah off of her over her head, ending up on top of him almost as easily as she’d done with Pawlander. She didn’t attack the cheetah, however. She immediately backhanded the approaching bunny.
It reminded the bunny honestly of being hit by a bus. It was sudden and it felt like she didn’t even weigh anything compared to the force used on her. She tumbled a few times and remained still, stunned by the impact, the world having that almost-out-cold echoing sound to it. Her heart hammered and she lay on her side, watching the lady wolf as she slowly stood, a sadistic grin on her face. Judy was too stunned to move, but at least she could fortunately feel her legs and the like. This was also kind of unfortunate too, since she could still feel how much being backhanded full-force by a behemoth wolf hurt.
“Judy!” Nick shouted loudly. It felt almost as if it was in slow motion. The bunny looked over to where the wolf was. Clawhauser had let her go entirely and was scrambling to pick up the two tranq darts. The bunny had dropped them when she got wolf-slapped.
“Leave her alone, you’re gonna kill somebody!” Ben shouted, arching with some pain as he stood back up.
“That’s the idea! Dun DUNN DUN DUN!” Cherry continued singing as she moved slowly but deliberately toward Judy.
“Grab her!” Nick shouted. Judy managed to sit up, trying to get enough control of her limbs to let her get away. Wolfard and Delgato had apparently arrived via the front door, as they stepped into view between the smaller mammal and her attacker. The lion charged in with a roar to distract their suspect, moving to flank her as taught in the academy. Wolfard drew his tranq pistol, eyes wide in shock at seeing all the officers just lying around the lobby. He immediately fired a heavy dart before Nick cold tell him it wouldn’t work. Thinking that he’d just be tackling a soon to be unconscious wolf, Delgato the lion was shocked to find himself snatched by his mane and pulled hard to the side and pushed down onto his knees.
“Oh sh-” He was silence by a red-tufted dart in the side of his neck. Cherry had pulled it out of her chest where Wolfard had fired it. Wolfard was shocked by that turn of events and barely had time to react before Cherry chucked a whole freaking lion at him. The wolfess was still loudly singing that epic tune, obviously considering this to be a movie scene. Timothy Wolfard took a big cat to the face.
“Nooo!” cried Surikata from the second floor lobby. Yeah, this was very much on him.
The unfortunate string of events did allow Judy to move back over to Nick, at least. She ached from the impact but didn’t think she was badly hurt. Nothing felt broken. Both of her elbows stung so she was sure she landed on them in some way.
Cherry turned, growling savagely at Judy, stopping the singing to make it clear that it all came down to this. This evil bunny had prevented her from getting justice for her nonexistent kits. Justice would be a thing of glory.
Clawhauser, however, stepped in the way. He held two tranq pistols, both aimed at Cherry’s face.
“You have my blessing!” shouted the police medic. “Drop her!”
“Just stop! Please stop!” Clawhauser said in an anxious tone. Judy couldn’t believe he hadn’t already fired. He had a clear shot. A face shot was always risky because of possible blindness, but this was a situation where the risk was warranted!
“No,” growled the wolf. She moved over to him. He brought the guns both up, putting them nearly on her throat.
“Clawhauser!” shouted the meerkat again. “Dart her!”
Nick reached down and clutched Judy’s shoulder. “Oh no. No, no, no… He won’t.” Judy glanced up at her suddenly petrified husband.
“What?” she asked, and then looked at the fearful and pained expression in Clawhauser’s eyes.
And the bunny suddenly realized.
He couldn’t. She knew in an instant how the cheetah had become the only other officer to cause the death of another mammal currently working in Precinct One. Someone had reacted badly to a tranq dart. It happened. Drugs involved, some unknown medical condition. It was always a risk, and Clawhauser was off the street, possibly permanently, because he couldn’t bring himself to use a tranq gun again as a result.
There was a loud crack as Cherry simply headbutted the big cheetah, and he went down, falling forward, dropping the two pistols with a clatter at his sides. Judy and Nick both grabbed one before quickly jumping back.
Nick shouted with a tone of command in his voice. “If you go for either of us, you’ll be vulnerable to the other!” The bunny and fox stood on either side of the wolf. The meerkat was outright missing, so she suspected the smaller mammal chose to fall back which was wise, but literally everyone else was down.
Cherry rumbled darkly. “Oh bunny… I put harder stuff than that in my coffee. I can take one of those, I bet, and not even slow down. If you even get a clean shot. So, I’ll make a deal. I get you, or I get both you and your partner. You choose.” Both officers held their weapons aimed. Judy could be hurt far worse in a direct attack by Cherry, but Nick had a better chance of not accidentally hitting her in the eye, so Judy prepared to move toward her to get her attention. They had to act quickly. The pair didn’t even know if any of the officers had been severely injured. Her partner would know what to do.
Before Nick or Judy could follow through with their dangerous plan, there was a horrifying roar from the second floor balcony above Clawhauser’s desk.
Wolf, fox, and bunny all looked up.
...just in time to see Mayumi Tora jump down from the second floor right onto the wolf. Cherry only barely jumped back in time. Tora landed on all fours, then stood tall, moving herself into a martial arts fighting stance.
“Dun dun DUNN, dun dun DUN DUN DUN DUNNN!” the wolf sang at the top of her lungs.
“She’s...” Nick offered.
“I’ve been informed,” Tora cut him off, glaring. She regarded Clawhauser who was still sprawled out on his belly, face down. There was some obvious blood pooling there. It might have been a broken nose or a cut on his head. Tora’s expression soured.
“Careful, she’s got epoxy in her fur,” Judy cautiously stated. “She’s protected from darts.” She wished they had been able to call that useful info out on the radio. It was unclear if that would have helped much in this case, however.
“Noted,” relied the Chief calmly.
Cherry growled in a blistering tone, “After I’m done with you guys, I will find that coyote, and he ain’t gonna have to worry about his next meal.”
Tora appeared to ignore this, stating calmly, “This is the only warning I’m giving, ma’am. On your belly with your paws behind your head, or I am going to apply exactly the force necessary to arrest you... and that will not be pleasant.” The tiger sounded very much in control and professional. Judy couldn’t help but feel slightly awed by that.
“What ve hell…?” The bunny glanced over and saw Pawlander getting up. “My fafe...” he rubbed his muzzle. “Oh God...” He spotted the chief squaring off against the lady lupine and all the fallen officers around him. He scooted over to Wolfard who was winded but not unconscious.
“Welp, I made my choice!” sang Cherry brightly, and she simply rushed Tora.
“Whoa!” cried Pawlander, scrambling to his feet with some effort.
The next few secondswere like a choreographed dance of titans. The wolf took a hard swing with her claws at Tora, and the tiger gave some kind of spinning side-step and brought her paw up under Cherry’s wrist, striking it upward while the other, in the same spinning motion, made easy contact with the back of the lupine’s head. The crack from that was even louder than the impact they heard from Clawhauser getting headbutted. The tiger’s elegant spin only continued with that momentum, the blocking paw coming back and thrusting hard upward and inward into Cherry’s gut. The interim police chief then stepped into the attack, pushing Cherry backward toward the desk with a flurry of impacts so fast they were hard to really follow.
Judy was used to seeing boxing matches where blows came fast. Those blows were, by nature of their speed, generally lighter blows than a full-forced punch, but these sounded like they were as hard as they could be! The back-pedaling wolf made it clear they were at least as hard as they sounded. She ended up pinned backed against the huge front desk, panting, bleeding from her muzzle, holding one of her arms which she had somehow hurt trying to block one of those blows.
“You… demon...” huffed a battered Cherry. “Police… Brutality.”
The chief answered almost casually. “I could be using my claws. I’m in perfect control. This doesn’t need to continue. We can help you, but you have to stop.” The tiger had her paws at her sides, her long tail up and balanced. She seemed ready for anything, and Judy couldn’t take her eyes off of the scene. Even an elephant had trouble dealing with this wolf, and Tora made this fight look like a waste of her time.
“I don’t need help. I need justice!” screamed Cherry before she hurled herself right back at Tora. The objective in her stance wasn’t to punch or kick. It was immediately obvious. She was going for the chief’s throat, muzzle parted, teeth bared in savage fury. Tora flicked a paw out fast and hard to the side of the lady lupine’s muzzle that it spun her slightly to the side before the tiger hooked an arm around the front of her bristling neck. In the same rapid motion, the tiger used her other paw to grip Cherry’s spikey epoxy-laden scruff. With the arm locked Tora gripped the wolf gal’s cemented fur, the near plastic of it crackling audibly under the force of brutal claws. The tiger then put her full force into an upward jump, pulling Cherry high off her feet and flipping her backwards, bringing her down with a heavy crash onto the top of Clawhauser’s desk. The marble shattered and the wood paneling in the middle splintered and collapsed outward under the massive canine’s strong back, the wolf making it nearly all the way back down to the floor through the middle of the desk.
This absolutely stunned the unstable and terrifying lady wolf.
“Now!” Tora shouted over her shoulder at the two smaller officers, still holding Cherry’s scruff to make sure she could not easily get back up. This was their opening!
Nick and Judy both jumped in, each skillfully jabbing a dart into the bend of both of Cherry’s elbows and springing back to safety. Even if it wasn’t enough to knock her out, having her arms numbed would help the chief restrain her and get paw cuffs on. The wolf thrashed just a little more, making it obvious that as terrible as that body slam was, her body still worked fine. The struggle slacked quickly as the two darts came into play, however. She went limp slowly and growled long and low. Tora released her grip and Wolfard stumbled over with some more sturdy paw-cuffs.
“It’s gonna be okay, ma’am. Relax.” Tora continued to kindly manage the paws of the wolf as Cherry tried awkwardly to push at the tiger’s paws to keep her from getting cuffs on her. They were drunken, ineffective motions. Tora got one of the paws in cuffs, and reached for the other. Cherry grabbed an object off the floor. It was the spray bottle that Clawhauser had been using for the bonsai tree on the shelf behind the desk. Cherry put the bottle in Tora’s face, pulling the trigger repeatedly.
“Nuuu, bad kitty...” she grummed weakly, spritzing the tiger. Tora slapped the bottle away and cuffed the other paw.
At that point, three other officers had arrived, including Jackson and Grizzoli. They assisted in removing a very out-of-it Cherry from the scene to put her somewhere much more safe. Nick gave a heavy sigh of relief. Judy continued to check herself, making sure that she wasn’t more than bruised from the impact. She was going to be so sore for the next few days.
“Now then...” Tora glared sternly at the pair of smaller officers.
“She was tranquilized and cuffed before we brought her here,” Nick quickly explained.
Judy rubbed her sides, still looking for injuries. Sometimes they were not immediately obvious. She was slightly numb, but that was to be expected because of the adrenaline. She spoke up to assist her partner in explaining what happened. “Surikata didn’t let us explain why she needed to be moved to a secure area before he diffused her.”
“Well, who got her under control the first time?” interrogated the tiger in a calm, and measured tone.
“They did,” answered Francine in a sluggish tone. She was sitting up. Surikata had miraculously returned now that the wolf was gone and used another diffuser on the elephant to bring her back into consciousness. Delgato was also trying to shake off the effects, the lion just sitting on the floor rather spaced out. He’d obviously also been diffused.
“They?” asked Tora.
“Sargents Wilde,” the elephant responded, nodding. “They took her down. We had it under control.” she sounded nasally. Her trunk was still limp. It would take a while for the diffuser to work because of her size.
“Sargents… What...” Tora gazed at the wrecked front lobby. She regarded the blood as Wolfard pushed a stack of paper towels to Ben’s nose. He was dazed but he was up. Surikata had moved over to inspect Pawlander’s teeth. There was blood but they appeared to all be there. No one seemed seriously injured at least. Having taken a quick visual stock of the scene, Tora turned and faced Nick and Judy.
“We had it under control,” repeated the elephant, as if to defend her fellow officers.
“Why were you bringing in this suspect, Wildes?” Tora questioned. “You were not on patrol duty today.”
Judy answered quickly, rubbing a stinging elbow. “We were following a lead… a possible key witness for the cheese case,” she explained. “Cherry, the wolf lady you just met… She had kidnapped him. She escaped a mental health facility and was going to starve our witness to death for revenge over an imagined crime.”
“This…” Tora put her paws over her eyes, taking a deep breath. “This… disaster was related to the cheese thing?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes Ma’am,” stated the fox.
“And you... took her down with Pennington?” their chief examined.
Francine was the one who responded. “They took her down on their own, I just helped them get her out of the house,” the elephant added. That wasn’t entirely accurate, Judy considered. Still, Francine had been recovering from a surprise choke attack when the officers tranquilized Cherry, so it wasn’t entirely wrong either.
Tora furrowed her brow. “Wilde and Wilde?” The tiger indicated the pair.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Pennington stated. The chief gazed at the pair with a hard-to-read expression. She was quiet for a while, glancing about the damage to the lobby, blood on the floor, tufts of fur tumbling around under AC vents… It was obvious she was trying to inscribe the scene in her mind for reporting purposes the way a good cop does. She finally spoke again.
“What’s your case looking like?” she pressed the smaller officers.
“We are going to work with a contact to investigate a place which was provided to us by the witness so we may attempt find out the identity of the mammals running the bootleg operation,” announced Judy. It wasn’t much, sure, but it was better than nothing. That’s how cases got solved.
“You feel this is an actionable lead?” asked the tiger.
“Yes,” Nick replied.
“Surikata?” Tora finally interjected.
“Y-yes ma’am?” his voice sounded so meek. Judy’s aching body made it hard to feel sorry for him right then.
“Do you recall being told that the suspect needed to be secured before being diffused?” Nick cringed. He knew too.
“Y-yes, Chief Tora. They did say... but I was highly concerned. She was double-heavied. A wolf.” He held out his paws to make it clear that was a big deal.
The tigress narrowed her eyes. “Never, ever disregard the information from our field officers when they bring in a suspect.” She put her paws behind her back, standing tall over the meerkat. “If someone has been tranquilized, it’s not because the officer doesn’t want to listen to them whine. It’s because they are dangerous.” She circled around behind him and he stood, petrified. “The only reason I don’t dismiss you right now is because I now have a lobby full of officers who require medical attention. Also, it is noted, to your benefit, that when things went south you didn’t completely fall apart. You came and got me, and you went and got diffuser to wake up the officers our wolf friend managed to drop.” She circled back around and then leaned down, looming over him. “You will owe me a very detailed report, and you will report to the Academy for the next four Saturdays for a refresher course on crisis management. Pawlander?”
The white-toned lupine stumbled over to the tiger, holding a napkin to his muzzle. “Yeff?”
“Once your face is working again, please pull all video footage of this… encounter… This is going to make an outstanding training video for the academy to illustrate the down-side to poor communication among officers.”
“Yeff Ma’am,” he said rather sullenly. He obviously had other things to do, but video review happened to be his specialty.
Tora finally turned back to Nick and Judy. “As for you two...” The pair tensed up. “That sucked. We should all learn from it. You did outstanding work, but I expect more radio communication from you, even if you are not on patrol duty. I might have come downstairs a lot faster if someone had made another call for backup.”
“We had trouble keeping officers conscious on scene, Chief,” Wolfard stated. This was true.
“This was apparent. Still, communication will be top priority. I doubt I have to tell you how much worse that could have gone. I will be in my office. Bogo left me some medicine for days like this.” She turned to a sad-looking Benjamin Clawhauser.
“I… I’m sorry,” he said, gazing down at his belly.
“Come on, Ben. Let’s get you cleaned up,” the chief half-whispered in a more gentle tone. Judy covered her heart. Poor cheetah. He felt like he let everyone down because he froze up. This was a far worse injury to him than his face. She’d have to talk to him later. As it was, the bunny felt like he was in good paws. The two of them made their way toward the back, where the small and likely now packed infirmary was.
“Well, that went better than I thought it would,” Nick mentioned. It snapped Judy out of her moody speculation on Clawhauser’s dilemma. She considered quickly what happened.
“I am so glad I didn’t try to really go toe to toe with that tiger,” Judy deadpanned.
“Are you… alright?” Nick said, paws cupping her cheeks as he obviously peered into her eyes. He did that a lot, but the bunny knew this time it was to see if her pupils were reacting normally. She took a pretty hard hit.
“I… I think so, yeah,” Judy mentioned, rubbing an elbow. “Probably gonna have a bruise.”
“Good thing your fur’s kind of grey-blue, I guess.” Nick stated. “Are you sure? Insternal stuff isn’t always… obvious.” Her mate stroked her ears back tenderly, gazing into her eyes with so much care that it felt like her very spirit was being picked up and cradled in his arms.
“Oh no, I certainly felt it, but it’s not any lingering pain. I think I’m fine.” The doe was somewhat flustered at the attention. "I guess... let’s go and get ready for out little date at a cafe tonight.” Judy said with a forced brighter tone. She didn’t want to make a scene out of it.
“Right, that,” Nick said, distracted a moment. Judy stiffened up. Was there a problem with the plans they’d made? He didn’t say anything about it before.
“How about you? Are you alright? You got punched pretty hard too,” the doe stated, remembering how he’d winced from her playful jab to his ribs before.
“Huh? Yeah, I’m fine. Hurts to breathe a little, but I think it’s okay. Been beaten up worse sparring in the academy,” he explained. “No, but… our date tonight...” He put his claw tips together, as if pondering a possible complication.
“I mean, to meet Tandy, remember?” she offered. “Did you forget?” she asked. That wasn’t a good sign. They might be going to the infirmary with everyone else.
“Uh, no,” Nick replied. “But maybe you did, Fluff.”
“What?” The doe was confused.
“We need to meet our reporter friend at seven, but… We have something else we needed to do tonight. Can you remember?” Judy looked up at her partner, nose starting to wiggle. Had she been hit so hard? Why couldn’t she remember?
“Nick, just tell me?” she pled, concerned.
“Sam,” the fox stated. “We left him with my mom, remember?”
Judy winced and covered her face.
She forgot about him entirely!