The day started like any other for Judy Hopps. Wake up at 5:30. Perform some light calisthenics. Take a quick shower. Get dressed. Ride the train to work. Meet Nick. Let him rib her about how perky she looked in the morning. Rib him right back about how his shades and coffee wouldn't make up for being a terrible morning animal. Get patrol assignment. Head out. Make the world a better place.
She couldn't have imagined just how quickly it would all go to hell.
There weren't any big cases that didn't already have solid teams on them, so they were assigned to the tunnels and bridges connecting Tundratown to Downtown. They were very busy, especially so during rush hour. No arrests. Only two speeding violations. Would have been three, but Nick talked her into just issuing a warning to an exceedingly polite jaguar driving a beat up old junker of a car. She rolled her eyes as he explained some good-will from the citizens would be a good thing to have. Though, as she recalled how people treated her when she had the unenviable position of "Meter-Maid," she admitted, even if only to herself, that he was probably right.
Rush hour passed and traffic died down. Nick had taken the chance to grab something to drink. He got his usual coffee and she turned down his usual offer to get her something. The day progressed and traffic picked up as lunch approached. So there they were, just before noon, sitting in the slightly oversized (for a fox and a rabbit, anyway) police interceptor parked behind a roadsign waiting for some unsuspecting sap to go speeding by.
"Then I say, 'The giraffe. He's still in the fridge!'", Nick slapped his knee and laughed at his own joke. Judy rolled her eyes and shook her head. While usually very cool and well spoken, Judy had found that Nick was prone to telling very stupid jokes and anecdotes to pass time. Just when it was the two of them, of course. Pretending to wipe away a tear, Nick eyed Judy from the corner of his eye and spotted the put upon look on her face. His smile died down and became a little frown.
"Hey, don't pretend that wasn't funny. I can see that little smile," Nick snarked. And it was true. Judy was biting her lip, trying to hide the fact that the corners of her mouth were turned up, just the tiniest bit. Judy shook her head a little to rid herself of the smile.
"That doesn't mean it wasn't a stupid joke Nick!" she said.
"So you did think it was funny," Nick's smile returned.
Judy raised a paw and shook it in the air, a response on her lips when Clawhauser's voice exploded out of the radio.
"ATTENTION ALL UNITS! EMERGENCY! AN EXPLOSION! All units to Downtown Central Rail Station! Begin emergency protocols!"
Nick's paw snatched the the receiver as Judy hit the ignition. The interceptor roared to life as Nick barked their response.
"Dispatch, this is Unit D-406, Officers Hopps and Wilde en route to Downtown Central Rail Station. Over." They were speeding down the road with sirens blaring by the time Nick was finished.
"Copy that Unit D-406! Um, further instructions will be given soon!" The radio went silent.
Judy glanced at the radio, then back at the road.
"Clawhauser sounded pretty panicked. How bad do you think it is?" Nick shook his head.
"I don't know. It's been a long time since anything like this happened. Not since I was a teenager." Judy refrained from asking about the old explosion. Now was not the time.
The next few minutes passed in tense silence. They closed in on the station and it was evident something had happened. Animals of every sort were fleeing in every direction. Judy stopped as the road became blocked with some abandoned vehicles. Just before Nick could call in the radio exploded again.
"ATTENTION ALL UNITS! A RIOT! MULTIPLE ANIMALS ARE ATTACKING CITIZENS AND FIRST RESPONDERS! NIGHT HOWLERS ARE SUSPECTED! Be on the lookout for dark blue powder covering animals!" Nick and Judy watched, astonished, as a cheetah, whose face and shoulders were covered in a thick layer of blue dust, sprinted down the sidewalk on all fours. The apparently savage cheetah scattered animals in it wake. It then jumped on an unfortunate giraffe in a light purple dress that had not gotten out of its way fast enough.
Judy had already thrown the car into park and leapt from the vehicle. She sprinted toward the cheetah and distressed giraffe. She stopped when she noticed Nick wasn't behind her. She turned and saw him digging in the trunk.
"Wilde!" Judy didn't call him Nick while on the job, unless they were alone.
"Tase the cheetah!" Nick called back, "I'll be right behind you!"
Judy turned without replying and ran to the cheetah mauling the badly frightened giraffe. The taser gun came out of her holster easily. With a running leap she became airborne. Pivoting she landed both feet in the cheetah's side, knocking him clear of the giraffe. A quick flip reoriented her and Judy took aim and fired the taser before she hit the ground. Both barbed hooks planted themselves squarely in the cheetah's side. He was seizing before he hit the ground.
Once she was sure the cheetah was taken care of Judy turned to the victimized giraffe. Judy was shocked when the giraffe also began to seize. Nick's paw clamped the back of her police vest and pulled her clear just as one of the giraffes powerful limbs would have bowled her over. There were two muffled thwips! The giraffe writhed for a few seconds and then fell still.
Judy's wide eyes turned to Nick, then then down to the gun in his still outstretched paw, then to the giraffe's neck where she spied a shiny metal cylinder topped with red fluff. Then her eyes moved to the still downed cheetah, who had an identical dart sticking out of his shoulder. Then she spun to bodily face her partner.
"NICK!" Said red fox winced powerfully, as she had never used his first name out on the street like that before. Not in uniform. He could tell she was winding up for a doozy of a tirade. It was better to explain before she go too much steam built up.
"The giraffe was infected too!" Seeing his partner pause with confusion, but still plainly furious, Nick grabbed her shoulder and turned her to look at the giraffe. He then pointed at the base of the giraffe's neck. There were many bloody scratches and gashes where the cheetah had attempted to get a hold with his powerful jaws. There was also that familiar blue powder smeared all around and in the wounds. Judy noticed this quickly, then glanced to the cheetah. The powder around his face was greatly disturbed, smeared where he had obviously made physical contact with the giraffe.
She looked back to the giraffe, just to make sure the powder was really there. It was. She turned to Nick and crossed her arms, cocked a hip, and began to tap her foot.
"Was it really necessary to tranquilize her?" Nick sighed in relief, but only on the inside. It wouldn't do to let his partner know how relieved he was to head off her tantrum. Then he shrugged and used the tranquilizer gun in his paw to gesture vaguely at the animals that were still fleeing around them, barrel pointed straight down.
"Things are bad enough without adding more savages. And now we can call them both in without trouble. Now, we-," Judy interrupted.
"Fine, you're right. Call it in and give me that tranq-gun. I'm going ahead to help the others. You need to guard these two until someone picks them up. Make sure they don't get trampled." The hackles on Nick's neck rose ever so slightly at the thought of his partner going alone.
"Are you sure that's a good idea, Carrots? Going alone? Clawhauser said 'riot', remember? How are you going to deal with that by yourself?" Now it was Judy's hackle's turn to rise. She did not want anyone to question her ability, least of all her partner!
"Wilde, I can handle myself and other officers probably need my help. Now give me that tranq-gun!" She made to grab the gun from his paw but he pulled it back out of reach. The look she gave him could have peeled paint off a wall. But Nick stood firm in the face of her fierce disapproval.
"No. You can't have this gun. But," Nick sighed and slumped a little, then resignedly reached behind his back, "You can have this one." He pulled out another gun, identical to the first. "This one has two more rounds than mine. Here." He held the gun by the barrel and presented it to her handle first. Judy's furious expression turned to surprise, then something like solemn gratitude.
"Thanks." Taking the gun's grip in both paws she pointed it away from Nick and the two animals lying at their feet. She gave a quick look down the sights to familiarize herself, then lowered it.
"Be safe Judy." Nick had what could have been the most serious face she had ever seen on any body. His intense green eyes bore into her violet ones, trying to impress a whole world of meaning.
"You too Nick." Then Judy turned and bound up the street without another word.
As she ran, Judy took a moment to study the weapon Nick had gifted her. It was all black, except the white dot showing the safety was on. It looked for all the world like a standard police issue GLOCK with a larger barrel. She quickly released the catch on the ammo clip and caught the clip in her off paw. With a quick glance she counted six rounds of ammunition. She frowned a little, hoping for more darts. She slammed the clip back in and continued to run.
I'll have to make do. I can save the rounds for the bigger animals. Except…
How was she going to handle the smaller animals? If they were covered in the blue powder, she couldn't wrestle them down without severe risk of getting the blue powder on herself. Then she would just be another problem. So, she had to think of ways to subdue these animals without touching them. Or, just touching them where they had no powder. Maybe she could wash them? A firetruck or anti-riot water cannon could do the trick. She glanced at the street congested with abandoned vehicles of every size and shape imaginable and ruled out that idea. Such a thing would have to be very mobile to be of any effect and one large enough -!
Judy's train of thought was abruptly ended when she heard a vicious growl from just ahead of her. She skid to a halt just in time to avoid a slender brown blur that streaked out from an alley just ahead of her. The streak of brown shot across the sidewalk and blurred up a nearby lamp post where it finally resolved into a small brown weasel wearing a white singlet and red shorts. It snarled at her from its perch halfway up the pole then leapt straight at her with surprising speed considering his seemingly precarious perch.
Judy was faster. She waited until the last second, leaping away once she got a good look at the weasel. There was only a small smear of blue just above his right eye. She nodded to herself. She could do this. She held perfectly still as the weasel charged at her, seeming more fluid than solid. At the last possible moment she twitched left, then threw herself right as the weasel's claws and teeth seemed to just barely scrape by. Judy's powerful leg shot up and slammed into the weasel's side, just below the shoulder. Judy's kick and the weasel's own momentum carried it toward the street at an angle, until it crashed into the base of a large yellow newspaper vending machine. The device actually shook from the blow.
Judy tucked the gun into the back of her pants as she rushed the weasel. Before it could recover Judy grabbed it's scruff and drug it to a nearby trash bin. It was the kind that was made from weaved strands of metal and mounted to the sidewalk. With quick, efficient movements Judy pushed the weasel's paws through two holes in the weave, then, having already retrieved a zip tie from a pouch on her hip, she applied the zip tie to the weasel's wrists.
Judy leapt clear just as the weasel came to. It snapped at her, and tried to rush her. It jerked to a stop, then looked back to its arms trapped in the trash can. It whipped its head back to Judy and snarled, tugging futilely at its arms. Then it's head whipped back around and it spied the white plastic zip tie holding its wrists bound. It threw its head against the metal weave, trying to shove its snout through a hole and bite through the plastic strip holding it prisoner. Failing that, it began to attack the metal weave, biting at in a desperate, if pointless, attempt at escape.
Judy watched all of this carefully, wanting to make sure the weasel was truly contained. While small, weasels could be truly vicious. It wouldn't do to have one attack her from behind because she hadn't made sure it couldn't escape. After about twenty seconds of watching it bite uselessly at the metal weave she thought she was as sure as she could be and turned to leave.
After ten strides down the sidewalk she recalled old stories of what any truly desperate animal, but especially a weasel, could do. With a terrible feeling in her gut she stopped and turned back to spy that, yes, the weasel was gnawing on its arm. Her ears folding back in dismay, Judy rushed back to stop the weasel from mutilating itself. As soon as she got close, however, it went right back to snapping and snarling at her.
Judy skidded to a halt a few feet outside of it range. She thought hard on this new development. She couldn't leave the weasel like this. It would hurt itself badly if left alone and trapped. But even a few blocks away from the train station her sensitive ears could pick up on a terrible racket. Probably dozens of infected animals driving hundreds of others into a panic. Her fellow police officers putting their lives on the line trying to control the chaos.
Judy reached for the tranq-gun tucked into her belt, but paused. If these tranquilizer darts were powerful enough to down a giraffe after an attack, while it was full of panic and adrenaline (not to mention turning savage from the effects of the powder!), the dose was way too high for a comparatively tiny weasel to survive. Judy stood frozen, completely unsure of what to do. She couldn't go. She couldn't stay. What to do?
The solution that came to her left her feeling queasy, but it was the only one she thought might work. Her arm, previously paused on its way to grab the pistol, continued on its way and she gripped the handle. Pulling the gun out, rather than thumbing off the safety, she raised it high. Then, careful of the blue powder, she brought the butt of the gun down on the weasel's head. The strike hit true and the weasel was out like a light.
Sighing, and feeling like a terrible animal, Judy crouched in front the unconscious weasel and reached out to check its pulse. It was strong and steady, if a little elevated, even for a weasel. Now that she was looking at him up close (she was sure he was male now) and he wasn't snapping and snarling Judy noticed that he wasn't completely brown. He had tan fur around his mouth and down his front. Now that she was looking at him closely, she was sure she recognized him.
Is this… Duke Weaselton? What are you doing here?
Thinking about it, she realized if he was at the train station he was probably trying to sell his bootleg movies to tourists, or some other scam. Judy shook her head and sighed. She new his scams would bring him nothing but trouble, but this? It was too much.
Satisfied Duke was as safe as could be in this situation Judy pulled back her paw. Before she could stand her ears twitched, picking up an unusually loud set of screams. She turned, still crouched, to see what was causing the commotion. Her ears fell to the side and her face sank into horrified dismay. A huge African bush elephant, down on all fours, covered in a thick layer of the awful blue powder, was charging up the sidewalk. Animals of all types were bodily throwing themselves into alleys, doors, and windows, and between, over, and under cars to get out out of the seemingly unstoppable beast's path. Then Judy spotted a white cat, wearing a red and black striped jogging suit, a little overweight, bent over and panting, paw stretched out and holding the corner of a building to support its weight while it rested. Judy knew immediately that she would never reach him before the elephant did. She jumped to her feet, waving her arms frantically, and yelled as loudly as her small body would allow.
"SIR!" Judy screamed, "YOU HAVE TO MOVE! YOU, THE WHITE CAT, GET OUT OF THERE!"
If the cat heard her, he gave no sign. He stood from where he was bent over, apparently having caught his breath. He wasn't as panicked as he could have been, his brief rest allowing him some semblance of calm. He raised his red eyes from the sidewalk and spotted the frantically waving grey rabbit in the officer's uniform. Feeling somewhat detached from this surreal situation, all he could really notice was how unusual a rabbit police officer was.
Is that Judy Hopps? He had time for this one thought, then fourteen thousand pounds of elephant smashed him into, then around, then through the corner of the building he had been resting against.
The elephant was barely phased by smashing through the corner of the stone building, even though it had opened a gash from the top of its shoulder to its elbow from hitting the stone edge. It continued to charge down the sidewalk, now devoid of all other animals. Except Judy Hopps.
Judy's body had frozen as she witnessed the cat disappear in a cloud of red streaks and mortar shards. She couldn't move. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't even think. All she could do was look at the awful purple splotch running down the elephant's side where so much blood had mixed with blue powder.
The elephant was bearing down on Judy now. Forty feet. Twenty. Ten. Five. Something crashed into her. It wasn't the elephant. This had come from the side. Something red and blue.