Chapter 4: Little Rabbit in the Big City
“Um, I was here this morning? I just graduated from the ZHA Public Defender Exam?”
A tiny huff of annoyance slipped from her lips. “Judy Hopps.”
“ Full Name.”
“Judith Laverne Hopps.” The words came out as more of a growl.
Not that a cute little bunny growl would impress the terribly dull looking female Capybara staring down her huge snout through a pair of thick bottle bottom glasses. Super Power or not it was difficult to feel intimidated by a rabbit barely a tenth of your weight, especially some country bumpkin in pink flannel.
Said country bumpkin’s padless foot was currently pitter-pattering off the cold tile floor with arms crossed and ears flicking in badly concealed irritation as the large rodent drew up the sworn statement with a painful slowness Judy swore was deliberate.
Her frustration was enough to test her Power’s control sending yellow arcs of electricity jumping between her rigid black tipped ears like an arc ladder.
Turns out when a Super fight breaks out in broad daylight in downtown Zootopia and neither party involved is a Super registered with the ZHA Public Defender program all parties are detained for questioning. Fortunately for Judy, her heroic intervention between the foxes and the three muggers was witnessed by dozens of passersby.
She had been given a ride to the Zootopia Police Department next door and she had to give a statement there before being released to the ZHA for a second statement.
The reason being that though she had fought to save defenceless mammals she had still acted without a Public Defender License and use of Super Powers to do harm without a License was illegal.
Illegal use of Super Powers were grounds for being accused of Vigilantism, a fate even worse than being branded a villain. The only thing more dangerous than a bad guy is a misguided and uncontrollable hero, after all.
If Judy was convicted of Vigilantism, her career as a Hero would end before it could even have the chance to begin.
Thankfully the ZPD supported her actions, violent use of Powers or not, and reassured her that she would be fine.
The bunny glanced over her shoulder towards the massive windows that made up the front reception center of the Zootopian Hero Association headquarters. She noted that night had officially fallen over the City of Heroes and scowled.
I’ve already been stuck here for two hours!
Just that morning Judy had walked through those same very front glass doors practically vibrating with nerves and excitement, along with a couple hundred Hero hopefuls. The bunny remembered this front reception area being packed to the brim with mammals of all shapes, sizes and powers just earlier that day.
Now though, there was hardly a soul in sight in the cavernous expanse of the ZHA’s foyer. A circular front area with over six floors hugging the curved walls with stairs and elevators of every size connecting them. It gave the interior a fluid, natural look not unlike standing inside a canyon. The ZPD building she just came from was very similar in design, though notably smaller and less awe-inspiring.
With how exciting the start of her day had been, Judy was in high spirits. When she stepped off the train and into the City of Heroes for the first time, the little bunny doe was practically bursting at the seams with joy. She was so close to achieving her dream she could practically taste it.
Of course, now all she tasted was the inside of her cheek and the sour frown on her lips.
Nothing kicks a bunny awake from her dream like a mountain of stressful paperwork.
This is not how I imagined ending my first day in Zootopia. The little rabbit internally grumbled. Just goes to show what happens when you stick your neck out for a couple of low-life criminals. Won’t make that mistake again.
The metallic tap from the Capybara setting her pen down had Judy’s head snapping back to face the older mammal behind her desk.
The rodent receptionist looked up from her desk and anticipation welled up in Judy’s chest.
Are we done?
Amethyst eyes zeroed in on the Capybara’s potato-shaped muzzle as her mouth opened with agonizing sloth-like speed, the tension killing the frustrated bunny even as her ears perked up in hope-
“Age?” The bespectacled rodent droned.
-only to find that hope dashed against the impregnable rocks of bureaucracy. Her ears wilted and her shoulder sagged in resignation, a long-suffering sigh escaping her lips.
This is not how I imagined my first day in Zootopia would go at all.
This… This is all that FOX’s fault!
(Earlier that day. Mid-morning.)
Judy Hopps liked to think of herself as a tough bunny, and by many accounts she was. In her mind, not a lot scared her.
Being rated an A-class Super at the tender age of 9 may have had something to do with her un-bunny-like fearlessness, though even before her power had manifested she was an adventurous kit with a bold streak.
She had big dreams after all! Little Judy Hopps didn’t have time to be meek and hesitant. She knew what she wanted and nothing in the world was going to stop her, not even that scary old otter that lived in that creepy cabin down by the river.
What did she want?
“I’m going to be a Superhero!”
The faces her poor parents made was a combination of disbelief and amusement, followed naturally by gentle admonishment.
“Oh, honey…” Her mother had sighed. “You were always our little trier. But there are no bunny superheroes. It’s dangerous.”
“That’s right!” Her father gushed, a thumb hooked in a loop of his overalls and his other wrapped in young Judy’s tiny paw. “Besides, all us bunnies have are weak powers, good for farming! Don’t you want to be safe and sound and stay here to help your family?”
Even then, little 8-year-old Judy Hopps hadn’t been afraid, not even of her parents. She had a goal, and she was prepared to do whatever it took to reach it. A year later, soon after she turned 9, was when it happened.
The day her powers manifested and the terrible incident that followed. It served both as a lesson in restraint for the little bunny doe and the first step in her 13-year-long battle towards her kithood dream.
After enduring 13 years of brutal training under the tutelage of a retired Superhero, Judy thought nothing could scare her. She had toppled rhinos with a flick of her wrist! She could turn a forest into a sea of fire in seconds! She was a virtual demi-goddess among lapines! What could possibly scare her?
… Stairs, apparently.
Or more specifically the steps leading up to the front door of the legendary ZHA headquarters.
An icy, paralyzing jolt of nerves, unlike anything that Judy Hopps had ever experienced or imagined before rippled down her body. She could barely breathe as apprehension grew like a painful tumour against the inside of her spine and squeezed the air from her lungs, leaving her light-headed and woozy.
For the first time in a very long time the all-mighty Judy Hopps was frozen in fear.
I have to do this! I have mammals depending on me!
Despite her inner monologue the little gray bunny’s limbs refused to cooperate, her arms and legs trembled and her long lapine ears pinned against her compact and well-muscled back. Her worn blue duffle bag hanging off her shoulder felt like a sack of bricks, their weight seemed to grow with each quaking step.
Judy found that she wasn’t alone in her dilemma either, for better or worse. Dozens of young mammals of nearly every shape and size were struggling to contain their rising nerves and excitement as they ascended the Zootopian Hero Association’s front steps.
Many were about Judy’s age, and even though she hadn’t seen many of these species before, she guessed that most were fresh out of high school. Bubbling parsnips, there was a good chance they were younger than she was!
Judy didn’t really know how she felt about working with teenagers four or five years her junior. She felt a bit insulted if she was being completely honest. Like she was being upstaged by a bunch of kits playing “superhero”.
Of course, the only reason I didn’t come here when I was 18 was that I didn’t meet the “minimum requirements”. Speciesist pricks.
Her anger flared and burned at the tight bubble of fear in her chest at the INJUSTICE of it all.
Though she wasn’t aware of it arcs of yellow lightning fizzled to life between her fingers as her indignation grew.
I’ll show them what a “cute little bunny” is capable of.
Her fear now firmly squashed her body felt free, her duffle weighed lighter on her shoulder and her chest swelled with pride and righteous anger. She bared her buck teeth in a little snarl and bounded up the stairs, her tiny body humming with power.
Over 200 Superhero hopefuls turned up for the Public Defender Exam, the first in a 2-part series of trials before being recognized by the ZHA as Superheroes. A few of the applicants here had only come for the Public Defender Exam though, either to pursue a career in the Police Department or some other security force, both for government positions and the private sector.
Most, however, were here for the main event: the ZHA’s Hero Trials.
The foyer was massive, the circular room dwarfing any other building Judy had ever seen. She was confident she could easily fit the entire Hopps warren inside its interior with room to spare.
An even greater shock - though in retrospect she didn’t know why she was so surprised - was seeing famous Superheroes pacing the huge building’s floors.
Heroes like the A-Class Elasti-Mare, a beautiful painted mare with the ability to stretch and contort her body much like a rubber band with an elasticity that repelled blades and the strength to stop a speeding bus in its tracks. Something the beautiful horse had actually done on camera, naturally.
Or the B-Class Ripper, a pangolin with razor-sharp plates, as hard as steel and with the strength to match.
Or-or Robin Hood! The A-Class Fox Hero and an Avatar of Order, one of the strongest types of Superpowers in the world! The vulpine Hero could summon an ethereal bow of light; on top of his super speed, enhanced strength, and unmatched accuracy.
It was said Robin Hood had never missed a shot. Ever.
But there was one Super Hero the little bunny looked up to above all others, and she was just moments from seeing him for the first time.
After waiting in line for the cranky and dull Capybara behind the reception desk to sign everyone in and hand out their numbers, Judy and the other Applicants were shepherded by a team of grim-faced ZPD officers to the back of the Hero Association’s HQ; where a set of double doors sat open and waiting for them to enter.
Judy was careful to stick to the outside of the herd of applicants to avoid getting caught underfoot. She did not want to be remembered as the dumb bunny who died walking in to take the Hero Trials. Her former tutor and her parents would never let her live that down, even in the afterlife.
So, clutching the slip of paper with her applicant number on it as if it were made of gold, the little gray bunny trailed after the rest into a large auditorium.
It looked much like the gym back in Bunnyburrow High School only super-sized, and with translucent blast-shielding in front of the bleachers.
I wonder why they need those? Judy wondered as the applicants filed onto the bleachers in an orderly manner.
She heard a set of metal doors thrown open with a loud bang and fought the urge to squirm as a bolt of excitement shot through her chest. She didn’t know what was about to happen but whatever it was she couldn’t wait to get started.
That was when she saw HIM.
The floor quaked with his every hoof-step. The air sizzled with a power that set every mammal’s fur on end. It felt hard to move, to think. Every tiny movement, every twitch became a chore as though gravity had suddenly multiplied by ten.
Judy had read once what it felt like to be in his presence. The suffocating force of his power. She thought she was strong enough. She thought she could measure up, to at least be able to combat his power with her own.
They were both Avatars of Justice, so they should both be on the same wavelength, right?
Judy Hopps had never been more wrong. She had never felt more outmatched.
A Cape buffalo in a blue and white armoured body-suit marched to the center of the gym, his hooves sending ripples of power that shook the walls, the air, and even the most stout-hearted of applicants down to their core.
The tight combat suit strained tightly against the buffalo’s body, showing off his cut musculature. His broad muzzle bore the scars of battles from years past, and his head sported a pair of horns sharpened to a wicked point. His arms were as thick as tree trunks with a torso wrapped in a mountain of powerful muscle. His broad back looked strong enough to hold the entire world on his shoulders, and often that seemed exactly the burden he carried.
After all, he was Adrian Bogo. Known also by his alias: Helios.
His most recognizable title, however, was that of The Strongest Superhero in the World .
The Cape Buffalo stopped in the center of the gym and turned towards the trembling applicants, his muzzle as hard as chiselled stone and his brown eyes as cold as ice. Judy had heard recordings of his voice before, but what the videos she had seen failed to record was his power.
“Welcome to the ZHA.” Bogo rumbled, shaking the dust from the steel rafters and sending Judy bouncing a small distance across the bleachers.
Judy fought the urge to run for her life when the Cape Buffalo zeroed in on her through the crowd and bared his teeth in a vicious smile.
“Try not to die.”
Super Hero Special Incident Report #548730110
Time date: 100004182016Z
Location: Wisconsin, Animalia. Northern Forest Region.
-Helios: SS Class-
Power: Avatar of Justice
Type: Gravity control.
-Cypher: S Class-
Type: Long-range telepath, Telekinetic
Mission: Target Capture
#Super Hero Special Incident Report BEGIN#
#Burst Message BEGIN# Helios and Cypher make landfall via Warp Gate. Dense temperate forest. No hostiles. Approach to target- 15 Klicks. #Burst Message END#
#Burst Message BEGIN# Helios and C@*&1r engaged hostile pa@&^0l. 8 subdued. 2 KIA. AppW*&$ch to \@*?rget- 2 Kli#*&s. #Burst Message END#
#Burst Message BEGIN# Helios and &*39phe+ [Error]. Target identified as *3[Error]^es. Cypher Down. Repeat Cypher Down. Helios Requests immediate Med-evac by Warp Gate. #Burst Message END#
#Burst Message BEGIN# Helios Requests I*&*#)[ERROR]^3e Med-evac by Warp Gate #Burst Message END#
#Burst Message BEGIN# Helios R*$=_ests Immediate Med-evac by W*636p Gate #Burst Message END#
#Burst Message BEGIN# He)[ERROR]\*s Requests Immediate Med-evac by Warp Gate #Burst Message END#
#Burst Message BEGIN# Cypher confirmed KIA. Target E!7-&inated. Helios request retrieve by Warp Gate. #Burst Message END#
#Super Hero Special Incident Report END#
I’m back! I’m alive!
After a good 23 days (yes I counted) of silence, I have a new tasty morsel for your ravenous reading pleasure! Try not to give yourself indigestion, there are plenty of little snippets of details important to the plot. I’m not saying I’m dropping hints like breadcrumbs after Thanksgiving supper but…
On a side note, Not A Hero is Featured on ZNN! Holy crap! Mighty Heck! Jeepers! ZOINKS!
For those that aren’t familiar ZNN it’s an actual fan-run website for Zootopian fans. Since discovering it, I’ve found it’s a great source for fanfictions and other fun stuff. They actually featured Not A Hero just last week! I’m stoked!
It’s wild that others would take an interest in my and Canuck’s work to the point where they write articles on it.
Okay, enough fangirling for today.
Until next time, try not to die.
Ooh boy, I was so excited to edit this chapter. The more times I read through it, the more I thought of how much you folks were going to love it!
I hope I got it polished nicely enough to do it justice , though you might have to ask Judy or Bogo to be sure.