Author's Note and Summary:
One year after the series of crimes that had Nicholas Wilde imprisoned for cold blooded murder, Zootopia is once again plagued with severe Predator Attacks. The ZPD is lost on the case, and Judy Hopps, a bunny officer that still has had no chance to distinguish herself, is sent to interrogate the notorious killer whom she had brief contact with one year prior.
This story is inspired by the old plot of Zootopia, but is set in an alternative storyline focusing on Judy and Nick getting to know each other when Nick has a far worse reputation.
It's my first fanfic, and I am kinda just writing it to get back into writing casually. Hope you enjoy nonetheless, and if you guys like it, I'll write more.
There was a crack in the wall.
It was the only unevenness in an ocean of mind numbing grey. Its length measured perhaps three inches, and it curved and twisted like the dying twigs of a veiny tree.
Nick Wilde kept his gaze focused on that crack as the world around him blurred and snapped back into focus. He had nothing else to look at in his cell. The crack was the only thing of interest to him, the only thing suggesting that perhaps this building smelling of rust and cold stone was not eternal, was not indestructible. He sat on his hard prison cot and imagined the crack expanding. In his mind it drew a dark line all across the wall, until it split the grey ocean in half lose Mooses had once done. Behind it, there were swirls of colour that slowly took shape in his imagination. He thought of the rainforest district, with its green light. The smell of wet asphalt in a summer night, drops of rain running down the surface of a curved leaf. When he closed his eyes, he could still picture it all so clearly. His imagination was one of the two things keeping him sane in prison.
The other was spite.
Nick had no intention of letting this place break him. He had been known as a mammal that did not lose his cool, and it was a reputation he would not let anyone take away from him. It mattered not that the tame collar around his neck was set to a higher sensitivity and an even higher voltage should he in fact trespass into moods of passion.
He had succeeded.
365 Days of grey nothingness, narrow rooms and clinical white light.
365 Days of unwashed, always agitated bodies pressing against each other in the line to what could barely be identified as a prison cafeteria.
365 Days of the same spiel, every day, of being confined in the role of a notorious criminal.
365 Days in which he had not once activated his Tame collar and shocked himself.
Wilde folded his arms behind his back and opened his eyes to return his mind to the crack.
One day he would find a crack in the system.
And then he would escape the hell his life had become, clear his name, somehow, and return to the lesser evil. One day he'd return to Zootopia, a free Fox – and he would find a way to rid himself of that damned collar, even if it meant he'd be a fugitive, even if it'd kill him.
There were footsteps in the hall.
Nick, ripped out of his bitter, daily musings, looked up.
"Visitor for you, Wilde.", the guard on the other side of the bars growled. Nick eyed the Rhino in disbelief, but the guard wasn't kidding. He had handcuffs and shackles in one hand, and was fiddling at his belt for the key to the cell.
"A visitor, for me?" Nick stood, pressing his paws against his chest. His thoughts were racing behind the lopsided, smug smile. Who was here for him? Why? There was no one. "Truly, I am honoured."
The guard had unlocked the door and was aiming a tranquilizer gun at the fox. "Paws." He demanded. Nick held them out compliantly and watched them be shackled.
"Hey, Ryan, did you know that today is the anniversary of my imprisonment?" he asked sweetly. "You know, I never thought an innocent Fox like me could survive in prison. But boy, oh boy, what a run it has been, hm? You've been great, Ryan."
The guard made him turn his back and bent to shackle his feet also. "Shut up, Wilde."
"That's exactly what I mean, Ryan. You always tell me what you think. I appreciate that. I feel like we've got a real good thing going on here. A special connection."
Ryan turned Nick by the shoulder and pushed him towards the cell door.
"Speaking about a special connection, how is Mary? Did she go through with the Divorce?"
Nick could almost hear the Rhino grind his teeth. He was well aware that the couple had broken up a while back. He had overheard Ryan crying about it like the secretly sentimental Rhino he was.
"That sucks, buddy. I feel ya. And the custody fight over the children?"
Silence, still. Nick's smile grew as the wandered down the narrow hallway and towards the interrogation room. "Oh. Well. Ever so sorry to hear it. Knowing you on the job, you must have been one hell of a dad."
He turned over his shoulder to give a half-lidded, content stare towards the Rhino.
"So. Who's here to see me?"
Earlier the same day – ZPD
"If any of you are squeamish despite your choice of profession, I advise you to look away now or distract yourself", grumbled Chief Bogo. It was not his usual grumpiness or mild annoyance that lowered his voice, Judy realized. The chief himself was unnerved, his grasp on the projector remote tight, his face set hard.
The bunny officer swallowed hard and sat in her chair straighter.
Click. The first slide flickered up in the dimly lit conference room. Gasps and whispers travelled like a quietly rushing wave through the audience of cops. Judy's ears drooped.
"One Elk, Henry Andler. Two Donkeys. Bella Hove and Isaac Ior." Chief Bogo announced. The photograph on the slide was greyscale, but there was no denying that the pattern on the floor was blood, spattered into every possible direction, dragged and treaded through. In the centre of each puddle lay pieces of bodies – some barely recognizable. The elk's antlers, and a few scarps of his suit, were the only thing left of him. Judy saw from the corner of her amethyst eyes how some of the other officers turned their heads away from the sight.
"I realize that they are hard, nearly impossible, to recognize in this picture." The chief continued. "But these victims were working, living, breathing mammals not 10 hours ago. They were discovered at 6 AM this morning, when the Downtown Centre Mammal Bank opened its doors for the day. The three bank assistants had been the last members of staff left in the building around closing time. They never closed the bank."
The next slide. Portraits of the mammals, alive, as they had been before last night. Judy's nose was twitching violently.
"We owe it to these upstanding Citizens to find their killer. Here's what we know so far. Their death happened around 11:30 o'clock last night. Mr. Andler has been…devoured…mostly. We can assume that the culprit was no longer hungry when he had his turn with the other two. Given the nature of claw marks and…teeth marks…the culprit is undeniable Predator."
"W-what about security footage, sir?", Judy chimed in. Bogo gave her a long, hard look.
"If only our job was that easy. The tape for the night is missing from the security room."
Officer McHorn raised his hand. "Sir, a Predator should have been shocked by their collar long before they could do something like this. The voltage has been raised enough to knock fair sized Predators out in situations like this. If they went savage…"
"Well then", Bogo said, his sarcasm a reaction of bare nerves. "We have a safety violation on our hands. "That, or…" his gaze travelled towards Judy, who didn't understand the meaning of his expression. "Or we are dealing with another Nick Wilde."
The silence was deafening. Judy felt as though she could have wacked her ears and cut the tension. She shifted uncomfortably, holding her paws clenched tightly around the edge of the table in front of her. The name Nick Wilde summoned unpleasant memories. He had seemed like the typical shifty, clever, sly type of fox at first. A nuisance, and certainly untrustworthy. She hadn't doubted during their brief encounter a year ago that he was a criminal – but she had never imagined him to be the frightening killer he turned out to be.
When Zootopia had been riddled by savage Predator attacks a year ago, the town had been thrown into a disarray of fear and chaos. The mayor had been called into question, and Bellwether had been elected in the tiger's stead. She had enforced that stronger tame collars would be prescribed to every Predator, and that Predators currently living within prey communities would be moved to Predator only areas. The Predator Neighbourhoods existed now in all districts of Zootopia, and had the general qualities of Slums about them. These changes had managed to control the Predator attacks, but it had split the mammals further apart. It was uncommon, unthinkable even, for a Predator to enter a Prey bank without getting taken in by the local police.
Nick Wilde however prove during the peak of the prior attacks that there was a way still for murder. His collar had not been able to stop him when he mauled a sheep to death, because his collar had not gone off. It was not broken, nor out of charge, yet it had not activated during the entire time in which the Fox had dragged his claws and teeth through sheep flesh.
Judy shuddered at the thought.
It had not worked, because Nick Wilde had not felt a single spark of passion or anger when he had killed the sheep. He had been calm and collected all the way through – a cold blooded murder without the slightest hint of remorse.
Judy had been startled and frightened when she had heard about Wilde's arrest and life sentence to high security prison on Outback Island. She had not been able to grasp how the quick witted, content, relaxed, almost charming Fox she had written a traffic ticket, had been capable of such a thing.
The name of the notorious killer had made her fade out of the conversation. She perceived the clicking of the slides distantly, and only snapped back into focus when chairs moved behind her and officers stood and left the room. Bogo looked at her, and called, for what appeared to be the second time "Officer Hopps."
She stood straight. "Yes, Sir!" and her mind almost trailed off again with even a hint of relief at the knowledge that she would probably be tasked with parking duty, or paper work, or Down Town patrol. In all her year, Chief Bogo had not trusted her with dangerous work, and since she had misjudged the character of one Fox so drastically, she had not fully trusted herself either.
The thought that he could have killed her, pushed his sharp fangs into her fur and flesh, without a second thought….and she had not noticed.
Bogo took a step towards her and leaned his fists on her table.
"This is not the first attack we've had in the past month." Bogo clarified.
Judy nodded sadly. "Yes, I…I know. Two super market cashiers, killed in Sahara Square. One Prey Doctor, murdered in his apartment in Tundra Town."
"Hopps, as you have surely noticed, these recent attacks have seemed almost premeditated. It's different from back then. These aren't just savage animals. Which leads me to believe that perhaps we are closer to having another Nick Wilde than we think."
"N-no way, Sir! With all due respect, as untrustworthy and dangerous Predators may be, they still feel something when they want to kill!"
"Hopps, you are the only officer we have that spoke to Wilde back in the day and got him to utter even a sentence.", Bogo pressed on. His gaze had something akin to pity in it. He looked softer than usual, as though he expected his next words to hit her hard.
"I am assigning you to his interrogation."
"His – his what, Sir?"
"Go speak to Wilde. Get him to talk. He claimed back then that he knew something, well, maybe we should listen. Let me be clear here, Hopps. You are not to make any deals with the bastard. That monster is staying in prison until he rots for all I care, but we can't overlook any lose ends."
Judy felt the all too familiar fear boiling in her stomach and making its way up into her throat. Her heart was beating heavily within her little chest.
"I don't know, Sir. He tricked me before…"
"So you know not to believe him this time.", Bogo retorted, and added, softer: "You'll be safe, Hopps. He will be cuffed and guards will be present the entire time. Get him to talk. You are our best shot at getting to him. If he underestimates you, all the better for us."
Underestimate her? Did that mean Chief Bogo thought higher of her as a cop than the fox would? She felt her chest swell with pride, her original iron will returning. She was a real cop! Of course she could handle danger! She could handle criminals! Even the sly fox.
"Understood, Sir. Please leave it to me."
"That's what I wanted to hear.", Bogo nodded. "You're going over there this afternoon."
With those words, the chief left the room. Judy stood alone, stiffly, with the flickering projector in the background. She willed her nose to stop twitching in fright. She could do this, she told herself.
She could interrogate Nick Wilde.SheSS