"Good morning and welcome to the start of another fabulous day in Zootopia! I'm Peter Moosebridge."
"-And I'm Catty Snowric. And this is ZNN with the morning news."
"Our top story of the morning. Officials have come to a decision in regards to the cases of of unlawful imprisonment by Leodore Lionheart during the Night Howler incident three months ago. After much debate, officials announced that the former Mayor will serve no extended jail time and further charges will be dropped due to his cooperation and testimony following his initial arrest. Supporters for the former Mayor have already began lobbying to get him reinstated back into office. More information on the matter is planned to be revealed during a press conference with Mr. Lionheart later this afternoon."
"In related news, a new Prey Rights Activist group has petitioned for the release of former Assistant Mayor/Mayor, Dawn Bellwether. The group, calling themselves PAPA, held a peaceful protest rally outside of the Zootopia Central Prison. According to PAPA's leader, Charles Hornsby, Bellwether should be excused of all charges due to-"
There was a 'beep' followed by a short clatter as Nick's paw finally hit the off switch on the radio next to his bed. It was 7AM and the morning news report had served as his alarm for the last three months. With a yawn, the fox sat up in his small bed as he stretched his arms, twisting his back slightly to work out the kinks that had built up over the night. Scratching his stomach, he groggily looked over at the clock as his sleepy mind processed the time. 7:05AM. Even though it had been three months already, he still wasn't fully used to getting up so early. Actually, he usually got up even earlier than this, normally setting his alarm for 6:30 instead. But this morning he had felt like sleeping in just a little bit. Back before he had joined the force he had pretty much gotten up whenever he felt like it. Not to say he lazed around all day, especially when there was money to be made, but as long as he was up and ready to go in time to meet Finnick and catch the lunch rush things were fine. That was the prime time to make money.
But those days were behind him now. He had an actual job now, and it wasn't something he had ever expected to do prior to meeting a certain bunny several months ago. Speaking of which…
Thump, thump, thump!
"Nick? Are you up?"
Even though he was in his room his keen hearing allowed him to pick up on the rapid knocking and familiar voice that came from outside the front door to his apartment. Honestly he wasn't even sure why he had an alarm. His partner was always there to wake him up first thing in the morning anyway. He looked to the bedside stand. Next to his clock sat a police badge that shone in the morning light streaming through the window. A fond smile slowly spread across his snout at the sight of it. And then he saw the time. 7:10AM.
The normally relaxed fox gave a start as he realized he had slept in longer than he had meant to. Normally he got up at 6:30 which gave him enough time to shower and get dressed before meeting Judy outside at 7. It was about a 30 minute drive to the station taking into account the morning traffic. Briefing for the day was at 8AM sharp, and Bogo didn't tolerate anyone being late. He'd have to skip the shower and settle on a quick wash-up instead, but even that was going to be cutting it close. There was another series of knocks at the front door followed by a series of quieter, more rapid thumps. He could already picture his partner thumping her foot impatiently while waiting for him. Of course she could have just on her own. There was no reason for both of them to be late. But there was no way she would ever leave him behind to take the heat alone. That was just the kind of friend Officer Judy Hopps was.
Which just made him feel even more guilty for sleeping in.
"I'll be right there! Just hang on a second!" Nick called out as he scrambled out of bed. He tried to keep his voice as calm and composed as possible despite shouting, not wanting his friend to think she had caught him at a bad time. Even around his friend he had an image to uphold, after all. In short order he made his way to the bathroom, brushing his teeth and smoothing out his fur the best he could in what had to have been a personal record. His clothes were next, but thankfully he had already ironed his uniform and laid it out the night before to save time in the mornings. Hardly ten minutes had passed since he had told Just to hang on, and already he was fully-dressed and looking himself over in a mirror. Everything looked to be in place. Despite being pressed for time, the fox still found a moment to smoothen the fur on his ears and give his reflecting a smug grin. Looking good and ready to go, as always. He glanced at the clock once more as he went to grab his badge and shades from the bedstand. 7:20. They would just barely make it if they left in the next few minutes, though they would have to skip out on stopping for breakfast. Oh well, he'd make it up to her by buying lunch on their break. He doubted she would hold it against him anyway. After double checking to make sure he had everything, Nick walked to the door with his usual swagger and smug expression, already back to his normal composure.
It was time to start the day.
Opening the door he was greeted by the sight of a grey bunny with her paw raised in mid-knock. Upon seeing the door open she lowered it quickly, opting to cross her arms and glare up at him impatiently. "What took you so long? We're going to be late!" She reprimanded him sternly, like a mother scolding a child for not getting up in time to catch the school bus. Nick matched her glare with his usual smile, betraying no signs that he had hastily gotten dressed or had ever been flustered. "Easy, Carrots. Your little bunny heart will give out." Nick grinned with one of his usual jokes, causing Judy's nose wrinkle in slight annoyance. If it had been anyone else she probably would have been a lot more offended, but they had reached the point where they could take jabs like this at each other in private. "I don't want to hear that from a lazy fox." She shot back without missing a beat, expression loosening up slightly. It was admittedly hard to stay upset at the fox over anything, especially when she probably knew him better than anyone else. Feeling a bit of regret for cutting it so close, Nick reached up and scratched at the collar of his uniform, a somewhat apologetic look on his face. "Yeah, my bad. Looks like I accidentally dropped my badge under the bed last night and had a little trouble finding it this morning. Sorry." He quickly whipped up a small lie to explain his lateness, not willing to simply admit he had slept in. Judy stared at him closely with her large, purple eyes, examining him like a suspect she had brought in for interrogation. "Something on my face, Carrots?" Nick asked with a smirk, poker face not faltering for a second. There was no way she was going to be able to pin anything on him, right?
The fox's smile dropped at the sudden command. He had thought he had heard wrong, but Judy quickly repeated the command once more causing him to raise a brow in confusion. "What's this about, Carrots?" He asked a bit cautiously, not sure what his partner had in store for him.
"Just do it already so we can get going!"
Judy said with a bit of exasperation. Realizing she wasn't going to fold until he complied the fox slowly knelt down a bit so the two of them were roughly on an even level. For a moment Just just stared at him silently. Just as he was starting to ask again what she wanted, she interrupted him by reached out and grabbing his collar., causing his eyes to widen slightly.
Nick started to speak, but as he felt Judy's paws rustling around the collar of his uniform he realized what the bunny was doing. There the sound of fabric sliding together followed by a slight tightness around his neck. Judy stepped back with a satisfied smile as she examined her handiwork. Apparently he had forgotten to tighten his tie all the way in his hurry to get ready. Nick smiled back at his partner as he stood up again.
"What would I ever do without you?"
"You'd probably still be in bed."
Nick stiffened as his partner winked knowingly at him. So she had figured it out after all. Instead of teasing him about it more, the bunny turned around quickly before making her way down the hall with a bounce in her step.
"Hurry up! We can't be late!"
She called back, halfway down the hall by the time he started following her. Now that her back was turned, Nick reached a paw up to loosen his tie a bit again.
"I'm coming. Didn't we just talk about slowing down before you give yourself a heart attack?"
As he followed after his partner he moved a little faster than his normal, relaxed gait. But only a little.
"Can you believe Lionheart is really trying to get himself reinstated as Mayor? You'd think he would want to lay low for a while after what he did."
Nick listened to Judy as they cruised down the streets in their patrol car. The window was rolled down and the wind felt good going through his fur as the buildings they passed were reflected off the lens of his shades. He had tried to convince Judy to let him drive on several occasions, but it was something she was surprisingly stubborn about. He figured it must have been some kind of complex even though there wasn't a huge difference in their heights. Oh well, it meant he got to relax as they drove around which was fine by him.
It was almost 9AM and they had left the station about a half hour ago after getting their assignment for the day. They had barely made it with a minute to spare, and although Bogo had given them a stern look for walking into the room at almost the same time he did, there wasn't anything he could do since they technically hadn't been late. They had been handed their assignment and sent off for the day until it was time to report back later in the afternoon. Unfortunately there wasn't much going on so all they had gotten was patrol duty. It was better than being on parking duty at least, and hey, maybe they would run into something interesting. For the moment, however, things had been quiet. Well, relatively quiet anyway. Zootopia was a huge place and there was always something going on. Even now while most animals were at work the streets were still fairly busy and crowded with animals going about their daily business. But they hadn't come across anyone breaking the law or committing any violations. Yet.
Nick's mind went back to the question Judy had asked. Her annoyance had been prompted by the radio which was reporting again on the decision regarding the Lionheart sandal they had exposed several months ago.
"I dunno. He was doing an okay enough job before the whole 'involuntarily imprisonment' thing. And you can't say he didn't have somewhat of a reason for it."
Judy glanced over at her partner, a bit surprised that he was defending the former Mayor.
"He still broke the law. And after everything he put the families of the victims through he deserves to stay in jail a lot longer!"
Nick had to suppress a chuckle at his partner's dedication. She was as straight edge as ever even though they had technically skirted the boundaries of the law several times themselves during the investigation into the missing animals from the Night Howler incident. She had come to open her eyes a bit more and realize Zootopia wasn't the perfect place she had thought it was, but the bunny was an upstanding officer through and through. Again, a few months ago, he never would have thought someone like this would be both his partner and best friend. But back to the matter at hand. He couldn't say he was necessarily defending Lionheart out of the goodness of his heart. In truth, the former Mayor was exactly the type of animal it was the most dangerous to trust; A politician. But if you stopped at thought about things from the lion's point of view, some of it did make sense.
"Well, he did keep some dangerous animals off the streets even if it was just to save his own hide. Imagine how many more animals would have gotten hurt if he just let them run free. And he was trying to find out the cause. Things could have been a lot worse."
Judy frowned at the logic of the fox's words. He was making sense but she wasn't ready to just wave everything away just like that. Mostly, because as Nick said, Lionheart had done it to cover his own tail and interests first and foremost.
She started to say but was cut off as Nick waved his paw.
"Let it go, Carrots. Guys like that have a ton of firepower on their side anyway. I'm actually surprised he wasn't let off the hook earlier. As far as most animal are concerned most of the blame is on Bellwether. No doubt Lionheart's going to play up the victim card during his press conference and make everyone feel sorry for him. Wouldn't surprise me if he's back in office by next week. That's just the way politics are."
Judy gripped the steering wheel tightly, her ears drooping until they lay almost flat on her back. Again she knew what Nick was saying made sense...but she hadn't completely given up on her goal to make the world a better place. It was hard to accept there were certain things you just couldn't change, even if you knew it was true. Nick glanced over at her, eyes hidden behind his shades. Her smile dropped as he saw the dejected look on his friend's face. Reaching a paw up, he raise his shades so they were resting on his forehead, his normally sly and confident eyes filled with warm sympathy for his friend.
"Don't let it get to you, Judy. We can't fix everything."
His gentle words caused one of her ears to swivel up like she had heard wrong. Nick rarely called her by her actual name unless he was really worried. She felt the tension and annoyance leaving her small body, replaced with a sense of gratefulness for her partner's words instead as she allowed herself a small smile.
She said simply. The fox smiled as he let his shades fall over his eyes again before looking back out the window.
"Any time, Carrots."
A brief silence fell between them after that, only to be broken as Nick sat up in his seat suddenly, a wide grin on his face.
"We can't fix everything...But there are some things we can fix."
He motioned for Judy to pull over. They had left the main streets of the city and had been patrolling some of the back roads. The good things about having an ex-confox as a partner meant that he knew the regular haunts where most of the lawbreakers liked to hang out. And it looked like they had just hit the jackpot. A couple of leopards and a tiger had been gathered on a street corner. Upon seeing the police cruiser pull up and park across the street they gave a start before quickly walking off. Because of their size Nick and Judy couldn't see what they had been gathered around at first, but as they dispersed the two were greeted by a familiar face.
"Weaselton, Weaselton, Weaselton. I see you're working hard this morning."
Nick grinned as he and Judy strolled up to the wiry mammal. Upon seeing the two the weasel's face twisted in an expression of fear and disdain, like a naughty child caught writing on the wall.
"Duke Weaselton. Duke."
He corrected the fox with an annoyed growl. He tried to back away only to find that the two officers were quick to stand on either side of him and cut off any quick maneuvers. With a sigh he seemed to be resigned to his fate, letting his shoulders go slack. He knew personally how quick Judy was so trying to outrun her would just be an exercise in futility. He remained still a the two sized him up, though his eyes were darting back and forth frantically looking for any opportunity to make a break for it.
"So what're you up to today, Dukey? Finally decide to start an honest life?"
Nick continued to tease the small time criminal as Judy in the direction the leopards and tiger had went off in.
"That's rich comin' from you. You think you're better than me just because you have that suit?"
"A little bit, yeah. In the looks department, definitely."
The weasel sneered at Nick's smug answer. He looked over as Judy finally approached, eyeing him sternly.
"Why are you two always picking on me?"
He whined in an almost pitiful tone. Things hadn't been going well for him for months, especially not with these two seemingly always breathing down his neck. He didn't know if it was just bad timing or if they really were out to get him, but they always seemed to come across each other at the worst times.
"Because you're always up to something. Who were your friends?"
Judy asked as she nodded in the direction the others had disappeared off in. At the mention of them, Weaselton did a very bad job at trying to look nonchalant.
"Those guys? J-Just some buddies. Anything wrong with hanging out with some buddies?" He tried to play his nervousness off with a smile, but it was so transparent that Nick and Judy couldn't help but exchange a look before looking back at him. He bristled at their accusatory looks, fur raising as he went from being nervous to offended.
"Look, don't you two got a real job to do? Are you gonna' charge with me anything or what?"
The weasel gained a bit of bravado back when he realized they couldn't acoust him just for looking suspicious. He had dealt with the two enough at this point to know that. Nick and Judy both frowned a they exchanged another look. He was right. They hadn't actually caught him doing anything and didn't have enough reasonable cause to search him. So they had no choice but to let him go.
"We just stopped to say hi to our good friend. Is there anything wrong with that?"
Nick asked as his usual smug smile returned. Judy still looked suspicious but they had to back off for now. The small weasel puffed out his chest in triumph as the two stepped aside to let him by, feeling that he had won a great victory.
"Yeah, whatever. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have things to do-!?"
He had been smirking and looking over his shoulder as he walked off. Unfortunately he hadn't been paying attention to where he was going and stepped off the curb unexpectedly. Weaselton gave a small yelp as he fell forward, arms going out to try and catch himself but landing on his face anyway. Something flew out of his shirt and landed a short distance in front of him. With a painful groan he looked up, but upon seeing the object his eyes widened and he frantically tried to pick it up only to have Judy beat him to the punch, gingerly picking up a plastic bag by the edge with her nails so as not to get her prints on it.
"Well now. What's all this?"
Nick raised his shades with interest in his eyes as Judy held up a small, plastic bag. Inside of it was what appeared to be tiny bits of green and brown plants, almost like seasoning. Nick and Just were able to identify it instantly.
"Oh no...Weaselton. You're dealing Nip now? Should've stuck with bootlegs."
Nick 'tsked' with mock disappointment as he reached out to pull the weasel to his feet. Weaselton looked like he had swallowed something particularly nasty as he was busted, eyes narrowing as he watched Judy carefully bag the evidence before reaching for her cuffs.
"Where'd you get it, Weaselton?"
The bunny asked as Nick stepped aside to allow to pull the weasel's arms behind his back and attach the cuffs to them. Weaselton snarled as he spat out a response, turning his snout up like he was offended.
"I ain't tellin' you nothin'!"
His response was expected, and Nick only smiled as Judy began to march him towards the cruiser.
"That's fine. At this point you're under arrest for the illegal distribution and attempted sale of Nip. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you be the city of Zootopia. If for any reason you-"
Nick opened the door to the backseat as Judy read the weasel his rights. Before she could finish, however, there was a sudden crackle from the radios on their belts followed by a frantic voice.
"All units respond. We have a reported 240 on North and Shed Avenue. I repeat, we have a reported 240 on North and Shed Avenue. Any nearby units proceed to the scene immediately and exercise caution! Suspect may be dangerous!"
Nick's smile instantly dropped as he and Judy looked at each other. A 240...that was the code for aggravated assault. But in broad daylight? The incident with the Night Howlers was still fresh in everyone's mind, so depending on the parties involved this could potentially be even worse than it sounded.
"Heh. Sounds like you two have some urgent business to attend to. May as well just go ahead and let me go and I'll be on my-WHOA!"
Weaselton tried to take advantage of the situation only to cut off as Judy quickly pushed him into the backseat. Nick slammed the door before quickly running to the other side and getting into the passenger seat as Judy started the car. Sirens blaring, the cruiser quickly pulled out into the street and raced off to the reported crime scene.
Judy and Nick quickly arrived on the crime scene. A group of animals were standing on the side of the street surrounding someone. Upon hearing the sirens and seeing the two hop out of the car, they quickly parted to make a path so the two officers could get to the victim. The two were greeted by the sight of a female deer who looked to be in her late-20s laying on the ground.
"Back up! Give her space!"
Judy shouted to the ones who were still trying to get a good look in while Nick kneeled down next to the deer and looked her over. There were several gashes on her shoulder obviously caused by the claws of someone else. Blood matted her fur at the sight of the injuries but the wounds themselves didn't look especially deep. She wasn't in any danger of bleeding out in any case.
"Looks like she fainted. We need to call a bus."
Nick said grimly as Judy joined him. The bunny turned to look at the crowd, expression serious as she tried to meet their gaze.
"Did anyone see what happened?"
She asked urgently as Nick used his radio to call in medical assistance. The crowd mumbled amongst themselves for a moment. It had happened while the street was crowded and was over before anyone really knew what was going on. An elderly beaver finally shuffled forward, holding a grocery bag tight to her chest as she approached the officer.
"Ma'am, can you tell me what happened?"
Judy asked the beaver. The beaver thought for a moment before speaking carefully, and Judy could tell she was making a genuine effort not to give any false information.
"I didn't see the whole thing. I was coming out the store and she seemed to be talking with someone. They were waiting for the bus across the street. It was a jackal if I'm not mistaken. Or maybe a coyote? Forgive me, my eyes aren't what they used to be."
The beaver apologized as she tried to describe the suspect. Judy gave her a gentle smile to urge her on and encourage her.
"That's fine, ma'am. Anything you can remember helps. Do you know what they were talking about?"
The beaver thought for a moment before shaking her head sadly.
"I wasn't able to catch anything specifically, but it looked like she was whispering to him about something. I'm not sure what happened after that...it looked he reached for her and she tried to pull away, and then there was a scuffle and too many things happened at once. When things calmed down we saw the poor dear on the ground and someone called 911."
The beaver finished recounting her tale, giving another apologetic nod for not being able to remember things more clearly. Judy reached out and placed a paw on her shoulder with another smile.
"Thank you for your report, ma'am. We may need to question you further when back-up arrives so please stay put."
The beaver nodded as the bunny officer stepped back. She rejoined Nick just as he finished making his report over the radio.
"The ambulance should be here soon. It doesn't look like her life is in danger. Then again, I'm not a doctor."
The fox informed his partner as he looked over to her. Now that it didn't look like the victim was in danger of dying, he was beginning to relax a bit.
"Anyone see anything?"
He asked as he looked to the crowd. Judy nodded but kept her voice low as she answered.
"Yeah...according to an eyewitness it sounds like she got in an argument with someone and things turned violent. The suspect...is a predator."
Nick frowned at her answer. A predator attacking prey. Their worst fear had been confirmed. People still had the Night Howler incident in their minds and something like this was just the thing to flare up fears and tension again. Thankfully the attack wasn't as bad as it could have been, but they would have to find the suspect and apprehend them quickly before this got even more out of control.
"Get a description?"
The fox asked. Judy shook her head slowly as she looked around, ears twitching as she searched for any signs of evidence.
She said slowly as her eyes narrowed. She was looking through the crowd like she was searching for someone. The onlookers were a mixture of curiosity and caution, wanting to see more yet not sure if they should stick around. No one in particular seemed to be out of place. By sheer coincidence she saw caught a flash of movement out of the side of her eye. Turning around fully she was just in time to see a patch of greyish-brown and bushy tail quickly vanish around the side of a building, as if someone had been watching and didn't want to be seen. It was suspicious enough to cause her instincts to kick in.
"We'll just have to wait for back-up and then-Hey! Carrots, where are you going!"
Nick had reached up to straighten his tie a bit when Judy suddenly took off down the street.
"Wait for the others to arrive! I think I saw something!"
The bunny called back before vanishing around the corner of a building apparently in pursuit of something or someone. Nick looked after her with disbelief and frustration. She seemed professional and by the books on the outside, but at the first sign of danger she was always the one to spring into action. It was admirable in a way, but he wished she would be more careful! He grabbed his radio and quickly relayed a message over the police channel.
"This is Officer Wilde of the ZPD at the scene of a reported assault on the corner of North and Shed. Officer Hopps is in pursuit of a suspect. I repeat, we have an officer in pursuit!"
As he waited for a response he looked in the direction his partner had run off in. Part of him wanted to take off after her but he couldn't leave the victim unattended until back-up arrived. Taking a deep breath he looked back to the unconscious deer as his tail flicked back and forth impatiently.
"Dammit, Judy….be careful."
He said under his breath, voice laced with worry for his partner.
Judy ran down the streets as fast as her legs would carry her. Way ahead of her she could make out another figure running at full speed, their tail trailing behind them like a flag. Their was some distance between them but even from where she was she could tell the animal she was pursuing was definitely some species of canine. Whether it was a jackal or a coyote she couldn't tell, but the fact that they had been peeping in on the crime scene and were now fleeing matched up with what the eyewitness had reported. She began to run faster. The suspect had a good headstart on her, but she hadn't graduated at the top of her class for nothing! Thankfully the suspect had taken to the back roads meaning there weren't that many other animals to get in her way. The gap between them was rapidly closing thank to her speed, and it wouldn't be long before she caught up.
"Don't even think about it!"
Judy allowed herself a smile of triumph as she saw the suspect try and duck into a nearby alley. Hah, they were only cornering themselves! She slowed down as she came up on the alley, heart pounding with adrenaline. Before turning the corner she reached to the holster on her side and pulled out her station-issued stun gun. Sliding a dial on the side, she set it to medium. Officers in the ZPD were allowed to carry a stun gun in order to subdue violent suspect. It had several settings on it for animals as small as moles to as big as an ox. For anything bigger than that...well, they would have to call in the big guns. Detectives and special forces were allowed to carry tranquilizer guns potent enough to take down even an elephant in one shot. But right now this was all she had. Hopefully she wouldn't have to actually use it…
Taking a deep breath, Judy held her weapon at the ready before quickly turning the corner and aiming it down the alley.
She commanded, expecting to see the suspect cornered with nowhere to go. Instead her eyes widened in confusion as she was greeted by the sight of the empty alley. Aside from a dumpster and a few pieces of stray trash, there was no one there. A tall fence was at the other end of the alley. She doubted they would have been able to scale it fast enough to get away without injuring themselves. Slowly she walked into the alley, stun gun held cautiously in case she needed to fire a shot. Where'd they go? Her eyes carefully scanned the alley even though it seemed like there was no one else there. Animals didn't just vanish into thin air. They had to be somewhere…
Judy's eye went to the dumpster. The smell of garbage was overpowering so she couldn't pick up on the scent of anything else. But this was the only place they could be. Lifting her gun, she pointed it at the dumpster as she approached it slowly.
"This is an officer of the ZPD. Come out with your paws up!"
The bunny demanded in a commanding tone. There was no answer, but that in itself was telling enough. She took another few cautious steps towards the dumpster, gun still pointed at it.
"I repeat. Come out with your paws up!"
The small officer demanded once more. There was a beat. And then another. Taking a breath despite the order, Judy began to take another step forward.
The lid to the dumpster suddenly burst open. A gasp of surprise left Judy's mouth as something leaped out and landed next to her before she could get a clear shot at it. She was knocked to the down but quickly regained her bearings, springing up in a flash and aiming her weapon in the direction of the suspect. But she watched in surprise as the suspect was halfway up the fence by the time she turned to face them. She watched as they quickly scrambled to the top before pulling themselves over and making their way to the ground. As they landed they turned to face her.
Just as the beaver had reported, it was a male jackal that looked to be in his early 20s. His chest was heaving quickly, probably from a mixture of adrenaline and fear, and his face was scrunched in an expression of panic. Judy raised her gun again even though the fence was in the way. With good enough aim she could probably hit him through the links. Before she could fire, however, their eyes met and she stayed her trigger finger. Something wasn't right.
A voice called out from the entrance of the alleyway. The jackal gave a start before running off. Judy sighed as she returned her gun to its holster. There was no way she'd be able to scale the fence in time and catch up with the suspect now. Turning around she was greeted by the sight of Nick quickly running over to her. The fox looked her over carefully before letting out a sigh.
"Geeze, Carrots. Don't keep running off like that!"
He reprimanded her. Judy couldn't help but give him a teasing smile. Usually it was the other way around.
"Don't give yourself a heart attack. I'm fine."
She said jokingly, expecting Nick to reply back with a quip of his own. But the fox didn't smile.
"Come on. I know you were the top of your class, but still. Don't get me worried like that."
Her smile dropped at Nick's words. She knew her partner wasn't underestimating her and knew what she was capable of, but he was still concerned for her safety. It was just a testament to how much they had come to look out for each other over their time spent together.
"Sorry, but I thought I could catch him."
She apologized, ears drooping slightly. Nick rolled his eyes as he gave a sigh, but it looked like he forgave her.
"Well, you didn't. Oh boy...Bogo's going to love to hear about this."
He flicked one of her ears causing her to wrinkle her nose at him and swat his paw away.
"He sure does love out reports, doesn't he?"
Of course they had been the first officers to arrive on the scene which meant they had the pleasure of reporting to the Chief once they got back to the station. He always seemed tired of dealing with them even though they often produced results.
"Let's get going then. I have a feeling this is going to be a headache…"
Nick said as the two of them began to walk out the alley to rejoin the other officers that had arrived on the scene.
"Seriously, guys. Can't you let me go? You obviously have bigger things on your plate right now."
Weaselton tried to plead one last time as the two led him into the station. They had almost forgotten about the weasel until they had gotten back to their cruiser. Nick gave the weasel a quick clap on the back.
"Oh, don't worry about. Our good friend Officer McHorn will take care of you while we focus on those bigger things!"
The rhino officer snorted as the weasel was handed off to him to take to holding. With that done, Nick and Judy made their way over to the front desk where Clawhauser busy watching something on his phone. Pop music could be heard coming from the little device and it wasn't hard to figure out what he was doing. As they approached he looked away from the screen, a wide smile crossing his tubby face but then faltering slightly as he saw their expressions.
"Judy! Nick! Oh….rough morning?"
The cheetah cooed with pity as he looked at the two.
"It's actually been pretty interesting, all things considered. Drug lords...an assault….Too bad we didn't have time to take down that ring selling knock-off Preyda purses before checking back in. Guess we can look into that after lunch, eh, Carrots?"
Always one to joke, Nick looked over to Judy but the bunny seemed deep in thought. Something she had seen in the alley when she confronted the suspect was still on her mind. Before he could ask her about a loud and familiar voice echoed across the lobby.
"Hopps! Wilde! My office, now!"
They looked up the second floor to see Chief Bogo standing by the railing and glaring down at them.
"Geeze. We didn't even actually do anything wrong this time and he still seems mad. Oh well, let's get this over with, Carrots."
With a sigh the two began to head up to the second floor to give their report to the Chief.
"I just heard from the hospital that the victim isn't in any immediate danger. The wounds weren't deep enough to cause any lasting damage and they doubt the scars will even be visible under the fur. Janet Doe, age 25. She works in a call center downtown and doesn't have any record of ever being in trouble. Doesn't sound like the type of animal to provoke someone into an attack."
Nick and Judy sat across from the Chief as he gave them some more information on the victim. It sounded like she was going to be alright so they had nothing to worry about on that front. Though she hadn't woken up yet so no one had a chance to question her yet. Bogo looked at the two seated across from them with his usual stern expression, as if he were just waiting for a chance to blame something on them.
"Well? Did you get anything from the eye witnesses? They're usually not very reliable but if this was indeed a predator attack we need information we can get."
Nick looked over to Judy to answer the question. She had been the one to talk to the crowd, not him. The bunny nodded as she stood up on her chair so Bogo could better see her from over his desk.
"According to a witness I spoke to on the scene, Miss Vandamme, the two had apparently been engaged in conversation before the suspect allegedly lashed out on her. It's unknown what brought about the attack. She described him as a male jackal in his early twenties. I briefly confronted the suspect and can confirm that indeed seemed to be accurate. Unfortunately I was unable to apprehend him."
Judy reported in crisp order, recounting the details exactly as they happened. When she was finished, Bogo gave a sigh and leaned back in his chair.
"A predator attacking prey...the media is going to have a field day with this. Right after everyone was starting to calm down after the Night Howler fiasco too."
The Chief grumbled.
"You think someone still has access to Doug's formula?"
Nick asked. Bogo snorted as he shook his head.
"I doubt it. I can't say for sure we got all of them, but the entire city has been working to stop Night Howler distribution as much as possible. Even those sold for legally approved reasons require the purchaser to register their name in the system as a certified buyer. Chances of someone trying to cause attacks again is slim."
As Nick and Bogo mulled over it, Judy had gone silent for a moment as she thought back to her confrontation in the alley. Looking up she began to speak again.
"It's not Night Howlers."
Nick and Bogo looked over to her as she spoke, brows raising in interest as they waited for her to go on.
"If the suspect were under the influence of Night Howlers they wouldn't have had enough self-control to flee the scene. Besides, I got a good look at his eyes in the alley. He didn't seem out of his mind. Actually...he looked scared half to death."
The eyes of the jackal hadn't been that of an animal that had gone feral. They were scared and panicked, like someone who didn't know what to do. Nick scratched his chin at the information.
"Being chased by you is a pretty scary experience, Carrots. Can't say I blame the guy."
Judy shot the fox a sideways glare but before they could get into it, Bogo cleared his throat.
"So we can rule out Night Howlers. Until we question the victim further and see if we can find what sparked the attack, we don't have much to go on. Hopps, I'll need to get with the station's sketch artist so you can give a description of the suspect for the other officers to go on. No mention of this to anyone that's not an officer. The last thing we need is for the media to make this a bigger deal than it is."
Before he could dismiss them, there was a quick knock on the officer door before it opened and Clawhauser poked his head in as if on cue.
"Chief Bogo, there's someone here to see you."
The Chief narrowed his eyes at the interruption.
"Not now, Clawhauser. I'm busy. Tell them to wait."
That was usually enough to send the receptionist back, but the tubby cheetah played with his paws nervously as he looked to the side.
"Yeah...I tried to tell them that, but they looked pretty important and threatened to get the entire news crew in here if they didn't get answers from someone, so…"
Clawhauser trailed off, clearly not wanting to have to be the one to deal with whoever was downstairs. Bogo sighed as he rose from his seat.
"Fine. Wilde, Hopps, I expect your written reports before by the end of the day."
The two exchanged reluctant glances. Filling out paperwork was never fun. Hopping out of their seat, they followed Clawhauser and Bogo down to the main lobby, curious to see who this important visitor was.
A sharply dressed elk stood impatiently in the lobby of the ZPD. He lifted his hoof to check an expensive, gold wrist-watch before impatiently looking around again. Upon seeing Chief Bogo approaching with the others in tow, he gave a snort as if to say "finally!" before quickly marching over to the Chief.
"Are in chaaarge of this place?"
The elk demanded, looking up at the Chief fearlessly even though the buffalo had a good several feet on him. Bogo's mouth curved into a frown but he kept his voice level and professional as he answered.
"I'm Chief Bogo, yes. What can I help you with, Sir?"
Nick, Judy, and Clawhauser stood by the front desk, watching the confrontation like it were a particularly interesting television show as the two conversed.
"Who's this guy?"
Nick asked as he looked over to the police receptionist. Clawhauser kept his voice low so the Chief or the visitor wouldn't hear him, but they were too busy talking to each other to notice anyway.
"He said his name is Charles Hornsby. Apparently he's the leader of that Prey Activist group. that's been in the news lately."
Judy and Nick both tilted their heads as they looked at the Cheetah.
"Prey Activist group?"
Judy echoed. Clawhauser nodded quickly, his flabby face jiggling as he pulled out his phone and used it to search for something. He pulled up an article before showing it to the two. Nick raised a brow in amusement as he read it out loud.
"Prey Against Predatory Animals. PAPA."
He stopped for a moment before reading out some of the slogans on the group's web page.
"PAPA is watching. PAPA knows. PAPA is right behind you…."
The fox visibly flinched as a shudder ran up his spine. Judy felt the same way for the same reasons.
"That's the creepiest thing I've heard in awhile."
The bunny said while suppressing a shudder of her own as Clawhauser went on.
"I'm surprised you two haven't heard about them. They've been petitioning to get Bellwether freed from prison for some time now. From what I heard they weren't that big before, but after the whole NIght Howler things they've been gaining a lot of support."
Nick gave a shrug, interest on the subject already waning a bit.
"Can't expect me to know every bunch of crazies in the city."
Judy's nose twitched as she frowned a bit.
"I'm all for equal rights, but they're clearly using the Night Howler incident as a stepping stone for their own agenda. That was clearly all orchestrated by Bellwether no matter how you look at it!
The thought of a group using such a serious incident as a way to further their own goals was despicable, even if they may have had some good intentions in there somewhere. She didn't know exactly what they stood for yet, but listening to to this Mr. Hornsby talking to the Chief, she was starting to get an idea. The three of them turned their attention back to the conversation and listened intently.
"From what I understand, a member belonging to my group was attacked earlier today. Why haaas the dangerous predator responsible not been arrested yet?"
Charles demanded. Despite the size difference between him and Bogo, the elk's tone was condescending. The slight Southern drawl he had only made it seem more like he was talking down to the Chief. Judy and Clawhauser watched with bated breath while Nick smiled in amusement at the spectacle. Bogo's brow twitched but he kept his composure, answering in the same professional manner he reserved for citizens.
"We're looking into it at the moment. We have a suspect, but we're still in the process of tracking him down. I assure you we'll do everything in our power to get him off the streets."
His answer clearly didn't satisfy the elk. Charles raised a hoof and for a moment it looked like he was going to jab the Chief in the chest. But instead he settled for just pointing at him.
"See to it that you do, or I'll let the press know all about how the ZPD isn't taking the safety of prey seriously."
Up until that moment he had ignored everyone else aside from Bogo, but his eyes flicked over to the side where Nick, Judy, and Clawhauser were standing. Particualrly they focused on Nick and Clawhauser before the elk spoke again, purposely raising his voice so they heard him.
"It's your job to keep dangerous predators off the streets, not employ them."
Clawhauser shrank back a bit at the comment and even Nick's smile dropped for a moment. Neither one of them said anything.
"Who does this guy think he is?"
Nick looked over as Judy thumped her foot in anger, ears standing up and nose twitching.
"Let it go, Carrots. Clawhauser and I are big boys. We're not going to cry."
Nick tried to say, but the bunny was already marching over to the pompous elk. Bogo saw her out of the corner of his eye and started to raise his voice to stop her, but the bunny spoke before he could. The Chief gave a sigh as she confronted the elk, rubbing his eyes tiredly as she started to tell him off.
"I'll have you know that my partner here was the one responsible for staying with the victim and making sure she was okay until the ambulance arrived. Everyone in the ZPD takes their job seriously. Predator and prey."
It was this elk's way of thinking that had almost caused a divide between predator and prey during the Night Howler incident. She had come to understand that not everyone animal in Zootopia was tolerant of differences, but it still bothered her. Charles turned his eyes to look down at her, his snout twisting in a dismissive sneer.
"Is that so?"
He asked a she looked over to Nick, eyes narrowing as the fox gave him a smug smile and waved at him. Looking back at Judy, he straightened his tie as he spoke again.
"And which one of you was it that was responsible for letting the suspect get away?"
He asked. Judy deflated a bit, but quickly regained her composure.
"I take full responsibility for that. But as Chief Bogo said, we're doing everything in our power to make sure we find the suspect and bring them to custody. You can count on us."
Her words were confident but the elk was still looking at her dubiously. Finally a look of recognition seemed to dawn in his eyes.
"You're that bunny who was responsible for solving the Night Howler case, riiight?"
He asked. Judy nodded. She was used to people recognizing her even if she wasn't exactly treated like a hero. At her confirmation, the elk didn't even try and hide his look of disgust.
"I bet you think you're some kind of hero or something? I'll have you know the only thing your actions did was set back prey by several years. That's nothing to be proud of, little lady."
Judy bristled with indignation and anger, but before she could say anything in response the elk had turned around and started to walk out.
"I expect an arrest to be made soon, or the media will hear all about how the ZPD isn't doing their job properly."
Checking his watch again, he briskly walked out of the station as the four watched him go. Once he was gone it was if the air in the room was cleared and everyone let out a sigh.
"He was a real ray of sunshine."
Nick mumbled. Clawhauser grabbed his chest as he made his way back behind his desk.
"I thought I was going to pass out! I think I need a snack."
The cheetah said as he pulled out a box of donuts and quickly began to dig in. Judy was still silently fuming as Nick walked over to her, her foot thumping rapidly as she tried to keep her temper in check.
"Deep breaths, Carrot. Remember your heart."
His words made her let out a long sigh. He was always able to calm her down with his easygoing attitude.
"I'm fine. It's just...the nerve of that guy!"
Hornsby had obviously succeeded in getting under her skin, but he was right about one thing. They needed to find the suspect and find out why he had attacked. She remembered the look of fear in his eyes in the alley, almost as if he had regretted the whole thing. Something was telling her he hadn't attacked for no reason.
Bogo's voice caused the two to look over. He was looking at them with a tired expression, but it seemed he was glad Hornsby was gone too.
"I want the two of you to head to the hospital and be ready to question Miss Doe once she's recovered. We need to stay on top of this before that Hornsby guy makes things worse."
The two saluted the Chief before turning around and quickly trying to leave the lobby. Not just because they were eager to get a head start, but because it seemed liked Bogo had forgot about the reports they were supposed to write.
"After you turn in your reports."
The two froze before reluctantly turning around and sulking back to the squad room to write up their reports like two naughty children told to go finish their homework.
They were writing one report, but it looked like this was going to be the start of a long and complicated case.
A/N: Hi. I write words. Hopefully people enjoy them. It's been a while since I've written a serious story but after seeing Zootopia so many possibilities opened up. So here I am taking a shot at it again. I've only seen the movie once and it's too bad I can't go back and watch it again to reference certain scenes at will, so if I've gotten something wrong please let me know so I can correct it.
As for the direction this story will go, I'll try my best to keep everyone as in character as possible while exploring some more of the themes presented in the movie. In regards to Judy and Nick's relationship as partners, my portrayal of them is a bit of my own interpretation on how they would handle cases. I see Judy as the more professional and dedicated of the two, but also the first one to spring into action when the situation calls for it and a bit more 'trigger-happy' than Nick. Nick, on the other hand, is the more street-savvy of the two, but approaches things more logically and cautiously when the going gets dangerous. You'll see more of that in later chapters though.
This is planned to be the first story out of a series of three, but we'll see how things go. I don't have a set update schedule and kind of just write as the mood strikes me. For example, I cranked this entire chapter out in the span of half a day, but other chapters probably won't be as long or else I'll end up burning myself out. Please leave any comments, questions, or complaints in a review! Thank you for reading.