Chapter 47 Liberation
Edited by BeecroftA
AN: A huge thanks to many, MANY people who have helped this chapter to happen. This is the start to the true finale of The Masked Fox, and as is quite customary in my stories, a lot of friends' OC's will be included in it. So a huge thank you to all of them for trusting me to use them in this story. You guys are the best!
Judy ambled easily across the dusty road leading towards Fort Zootopia. The path well worn from thousands of mammals crossing it daily, though now, all stood behind shuttered windows and locked doors. She spotted a few mammals hiding behind curtains, taking furtive looks outside with fear glazed eyes. Hidden glances and the scents of nervous mammals pervaded the square Judy found herself standing in. The message had gone out last night to all the mammals in the town, spreading like wildfire.
Capitána Hopps had returned.
And she was itching for a fight.
Her foot beat a frantic pace in the dirt. Her scowl, if a physical entity, was hard enough to smash through the walls of Fort Zootopia, of which she stared down now. The adobe fortress which used to be hers, was now the last obstacle seperating her from her objective.
"DAWN BELLWETHER! You lecherous cur! Come out and face the justice that awaits you! ¡Ándale!"
The oaken doors stood silent, the zephyr of a breeze blowing wisps of dust and a lone tumbleweed past its gates. Her eyes flickered to a bolero that appeared above the adobe walls far above her. A flash of fur and the peeping tomcat disappeared beneath the walls, yet the guitar strums Judy heard gave him away in an instant.
"Ensign Sanchez Sandcat! Open these doors immediately!"
The guitar strummed louder as a voice echoed from beyond the wall.
"I cannoooot, open the gaaaaate!"
"So no can dooooo! Our Capitána laaaaate!"
Judy growled as she paced closer to the wall. "Sanchez, if you refuse to open these gates immediately, I will jump over this wall and make you open them yourself."
The sandcat's face poked above the fort walls, quickly glancing down at the impatient bunny. "I, uh...I don't believe you could. And remember, it's Capitán Sanchez..."
His voice was meek, trembling and full of doubt. Judy could see him trembling, his tail raised behind him as he lay on the wall top to look over at her.
"Fine..." Judy huffed, crouching low. "Then we'll have to do this the hard way."
A chorus of "No's!" broke over the wall as several familiar, and some unfamiliar faces, appeared along with two of Bellwether's tiger guards. The pair of striped felines chuckled, rolling their eyes at the bunny below them as another soldier, a capybara, appeared at the wall. "Capitána Hopps, it's a trap!"
"Shut it Adibal Akmar!" one of the tigers bellowed, silencing the massive rodent, who hid once more below the wall. The tiger turned back towards the rabbit and growled. "So, come for your own funeral for being a traitor, vermin? Bellwether was so sad when you fled with your cute, puffy tail between your legs."
Judy ground her teeth, glaring at the feline. Though she quickly squashed the thoughts of jumping upon the wall to deal with him.
It wouldn't help their plan.
"If you wish to surrender now," Judy bellowed, calming the anger within her voice. "Then I won't have to use force."
"You?" the tiger guffawed. "Use...force?" His chuckle was channeled into a full on roaring laugh. "A bunny? What could a bunny possible do? Nibble our tails?" Several others joined in with the laughter, though the troops who had served under Judy looked nervously towards their former commanding officer. Finally, one of the tigers waved a paw at the opening to the fort. "Open the gate so we can mince this delusional bunny."
Judy grinned. Perfect.
A loud thunk, some heavy groans, and the gate slowly opened inwards as a crowd of soldiers loyal to Bellwether marched out in a unsynchronized mob, armed with a variety of weapons. The other two tigers formed at the head of the group as the two others disappeared from the parapets. A loud, bleeting voice cut off all sound and force the mob to a halt.
"Let me through, idiots! I need to see! Let me through!"
Bellwether shoved her way to the front, squeezing past a hippo and nearly falling on her face. As she scrambled to her hooves, Judy could barely restrain a laugh at the sight of her shortened wool, her formerly pink skin burnt red from the sun's harsh gaze upon the city and surrounding land. Judy focused on the ewe, barely holding in her mirth as she spoke. "It appears that I won't have to drag you out of my fort by your hooves for your trial, Magistrate Bellwether."
The ewe giggled, voice slightly slurred as she replied. "Oh, so funny Hoppsy. To think you can take on all these mammals?" She waved her paws at the gathered crowd who chuckled darkly, casting a shadowy pale over the otherwise sunny day. Judy took in all the assembled soldiers, readying herself for what was to come.
Just order them to attack already...
"I mean, gosh...think of the headlines. Idiota Coneja defies Fort and left mangled." The ewe giggled again, her eyes narrowing as she pointed a shaky hoof at the bunny. "Get her!"
It was the moment Judy had been waiting for. Just as the soldiers rushed forward, led by two of Bellwether's tiger guards, Judy turned on her heels and fled down the road. The sudden departure catching most unaware, several stumbling forward in confusion while others halted completely.
"What are you doing? Don't just stop! Get her!"
The soldiers nodded and rushed ahead, leaving Bellwether and only a few soldiers left at the fort entrance while the rest followed after the bunny. The ewe chuckled, rubbing her hooves together. "Oh, this is going to be so good!" Her bracelets jingled as she jumped merrily, completely unaware of Corporal Francine Pennington wrapping her trunk around the mouth of one of her tigers and yanking him back into the fort. Before the other feline could even blink, a rope lassoed around his body, pulling taut and yanking him into the fort with barely a whimper before the stock of a rifle sent him into the land of dreams and slumber.
"I sure hope they bring her back soon, don't you agree...?" the sheep cackled, turning around to her loyal retainers only to find...nothing.
She blinked, confused at where her two guards had disappeared to, yet it only lasted a moment before a shadow covered her and the ground around her. She only had a second to scream before the fox dressed all in black jumped down from atop the wall on top of her. Her muffled cries were cut short as a gag covered her mouth while the sound of scuffling and fighting was heard inside the fort. Nick stood, one foot atop the bound sheep and a paw placed to his lips, he whistled loudly, the sound echoing around the empty streets and byways.
As if the breaching of a dam had occurred, mammals armed with all sorts of devices slammed open doors or hopped over fences, all forming a mammalian flood, flowing towards the nearly empty fort.
Nick couldn't help but laugh as the stream of the angry citizen army stormed inside, the shouts and cries of astonishment and battle competing with his laughter. It was only a few moments before the pudgey form of Sergeant Clawhauser appeared, his face full sporting a full grin. "The fort is ours once more, el Zorro!"
"Good," Nick replied. "Now, make sure your speediest mammals are sent to help Judy. We wouldn't want our favorite doe to be left hanging, no?"
"You mean your favorite doe, Senor Zorro?"
Nick's grin under his mask lowered slightly as he shook his head. Clawhauser's loud laughter echoed down from the wall as the tide reversed, sending a stream of mammals back outside the fort. "You know your duties!" Nick roared, brandishing his sword and holding it high above his head. "You, the mammals of Zootopia have been under the banner of tyranny for far too long. Today! Today we end it! Andale!"
The vibrant, living stream flooded past him as cheetahs, impala and other swift footed mammals raced ahead, disappearing down side roads and routes. Nick watched the group heading forward with a smile. Turning his eyes upwards, he glanced at the glorious blue sky above, then, as if peering through the buildings of the city, he focused on where he knew the ruins of a town smoldered across the bay. Today...today we will all get our revenge.
Judy didn't dare look behind her as she sprinted down alleys and ducked across the empty, dusty roads of Zootopia. She could hear the enemy behind her easily enough, their stomping feet and coarse shouts, alternating between the shot of rifles and echoes of bullets ricocheting off adobe walls were easy enough to hear.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea...she thought as another round shattered a flower pot hanging from a nearby porch, showering the rabbit in dirt as she barely avoided a lump of sod and foliage falling around her. Shaking her head loose of the soil, she deftly leapt off an angled wheelbarrow into a nearby alley, hoping not to lose a single one of her near-rabid followers. As she ran, she jumped and rapped on a shut door, hoping that the mammals inside would do their job well.
As with all the doors, windows and hiding places she'd ran past already, it hadn't sounded like the crowd behind her had diminished at all.
Oh...if she had only looked behind her.
The horde of rogue soldiers stampeded past the door, giving it no heed in comparison to the grey doe now twisting out of view at the edge of the alley. It wasn't until most had passed that the door slid inward and a large mammal emerged from the dark depths of the home itself, blocking the entire alley with his body. Two poor soldiers immediately crashed into the large mammal's barrel chest, bouncing off it and into the grime of the back alley.
"Oi, who are you?" one of the guards, a coati, exclaimed to the figure.
The tall, dark and handsome figure cracked his knuckles, clopping forward on hooved feet before grabbing the two mammals in his paws. He leaned in close, smiling as the mammals finally recognized him.
The coati's stutters were silenced as the behemoth of a fox and horse hybrid slammed their heads together, instantly knocking them out. Shaking his head, he shoved both under his arms before heading towards Fort Zootopia.
"Idiots..." Felix exclaimed, chuckling to himself, his russet mane dancing at the motion while he laughed at how none of the other soldiers even bothered looking behind them as they ran on. Soon enough he met a large group of lean mammals. "Everything's going according to the plan, gentlemammals," Felix stated with a grin. Capitána Hopps is eagerly awaiting your help."
The group rushed on as the two mammals under Felix's arms groaned and moved. Another slamming of their heads together and they were completely out as Felix joined in a procession of mammals leading unconscious renegades and soldiers to the town square.
Judy knocked on another door, down another alley. A broomstick caught the legs of one of her pursuers before they were clubbed atop the head and dragged into the home. A moment later, an alpine marmot emerged holding a massive crowbar while several of Ake'cheta's warriors dragged the unconscious mammal behind them.
"You swing that well, Mr Marmotini," a warrior exclaimed, as he attempted to keep his eyes skyward and away from the marmot. "However, could you possibly decide to shut your bathrobe, please?"
"Oh my!" The rodent gasped and shut his robe, nearly hitting one of the warriors in the kneecap with his crowbar in the process. "I guess I forgot to put something on before I left hom-"
Marty grimaced at the now unconscious mammal being dragged. "Oops, guess I didn't hit him hard enough the first time."
"Your robe is open again…"
At another window further on, the shutters of a bay window flew open while the soldiers ran past, and a blow gun hidden within darted the rear mammal with impeccable aim, the gazelle falling comatose to the earth. From a nearby door, a steel blue wolf appeared and quickly dragged the unconscious ungulate within. "Good shot," the wolf said to his companion as he closed the door. "Now pass me the rope."
"Will do, Sebastian," Delta stated before handing over the asked for object. The gazelle was bound in no time and the two canine's trotted out the door.
"What do you think of this plan?"
The wolf grunted, hefting the prone ungulate over his shoulder. "It isn't like the war I'm used to."
Delta nodded. "You mean the War of the Pinecone up north?"
The steel blue wolf gave his companion a quizzical look.
"Nevermind," Delta stated. "Let's just get back to the fort and Atom before he tries to find the local ice cream parlour.
It was scenes like these that repeated themselves over and over again throughout Zootopia. Mammals who either barely knew each other, or were lifelong friends, banding together to defend the city from tyranny. One by one the guards loyal to Bellwether were picked off, all unbeknownst to the near savage state of Judy's frothing pursuers.
Nearing the port, an amusing scene happened that Judy was able to hear and see for herself. The road widened near the warehouses, the smell of brine and fish heavy in the air meaning the end of the chase was nigh. Judy switched from the road to the raised porches of a saloon, the mammals behind following suit, panting heavily from exertion by this point.
She jumped against the wall of the building, tucking and rolling as she flew over the short fence and came to a stop in the road, her paws kicking up a billowing cloud of dust. A flash of metal in a second story window across the street showed her sniper was ready. As the renegade soldiers passed below the large wooded sign signaling The Feisty Feline, a single bullet snapped the chain holding the large display up. Gravity took hold, and the image of a smiling feline was the last thing a group of four mammals saw before it crashed into them. The window behind them shattered as the four were sent through it, the shouts of screams and more breaking glass finally catching the attention of the remaining soldiers in front of their unfortunate colleagues.
It was also then that they noticed how few in number they had become.
Judy looked up towards the window, spotting a silver fox nodding at her from within. She made a mental note to thank Rektar for his impeccable aim, as well as seeing if he and his group of mercenaries, now appearing from behind overturned wagons and taking shelter behind pre-placed piles of bricks and planks, would consider joining in the new Zootopia army branch after all was said and done.
The last soldiers loyal to Bellwether, about ten in number, formed a circle as the mass of citizen-soldiers grew around them, appearing from behind bushes, walls, from atop the roofs of buildings and even from underneath the porch they had been standing on.
A black and tan wolf holding a large revolver stepped out of the Feisty Feline, his poncho fluttering in the light breeze as he smirked at the group.
One of the soldiers raised his rifle slightly, only to look down the barrel of the massive Skunk and Wesson. "Go ahead," the wolf chuckled. "Make my day."
"Halt, Liam." Ake'cheta appeared like a wisp from behind the wolf, putting a paw upon the gun that dwarfed the coyote's arm. "Remember, no deaths. It is how el Zorro wants it."
Judy smiled, noticing that the soldiers began dropping their weapons. Crossing her arms, she couldn't help but shake her head a little and chuckle. It worked, Nick...just like you said it would.
Fifteen hours earlier
"Are you sure this could work, Nick?"
The fox nodded. "According to the report Clawhauser here gave to Judy before this meeting, I would believe this could work with no casualties."
"Are we certain of this?"
The don turned his attention towards the voice, spotting Weidii leaning against the wall of the cramped room the group found itself in on the outer borders of Zootopia. The cat continued. "As much as I would love to clobber that filthy oveja myself, I agree that this is the better strategy to undertake. Less chance of injuring innocents and her filthy rebellious soldiers."
Nodding, Nick turned to Judy. "So, mi amor, what do you say to leading this diversion? It is the most dangerous job of all."
The bunny smiled. "Absolutely. I will lead them on a merry goose chase, letting Ake'cheta and our group pick them off one by one while you take the fort. I may not know Magistrate Bellwether well...but she seems the type to overextend her resources."
"And her penchant for alcohol," Weidii snickered, leading to a round of guffaws and chortles across the room.
"So it is agreed then," Nick replied. "I suggest we all finalize our plans with our followers before getting some rest. The plan for freeing Zootopia from The Master's paws starts tomorrow!"
Another round of cheers split the room as the group rose in celebration.
The eclectic band of mammals walking down the street was a sight of itself to the citizens of Zootopia. Seeing a band of native warriors, mercenaries, several of their own neighbors and friends, as well as a giant hybrid stallion and fox hybrid, all led by the rabbit Capitána was perplexing enough, let alone the line of bound soldiers loyal to Bellwether being led next to them. The soldiers trudged slowly, each matched in size by the mammal to their left, heads hanging low as they were led back towards Fort Zootopia. With the rounding of the final bend in the road, Judy's calm and focused exterior broke as she spotted her fox lazily lounging atop the adobe walls of the fort.
Her smile stretched further upon spotting the sheep that had disrupted their lives so much, in such a short time, bound and gagged in front of the gate.
"Ah, now that is a sight for a poor mammal's eyes," whispered Eliot. The white wolf held the bindings to a deer soldier in one paw, and a frying pan in the other, the large bump atop the deer's head a testament to how it had been used. "The one in charge of all this mayhem and unwanted death and separation caught at last."
Judy sighed, shaking her head as she did so. If only you knew how far this conspiracy went, Eliot…
The bound soldiers were sat down in the far corner of the fort in rows, awaiting an impromptu trial to decide their loyalties. Bellwether's personal guards were locked inside the jail, while the sheep herself was placed in the center of the fort, all eyes upon her as soldier and citizen alike gazed upon her. The sheep, once full of bravado and levity now appeared a husk of her former self. She cowered in upon herself, timidly glancing from angry glare to snarl.
It was Judy who finally broke the silence. Trading a glance with Nick, she let her gaze travel upon the sheep. "Magistrate Bellwether."
The sheep shrank under the dark tone of Judy's voice. The rabbit stepped forward, her shadow falling upon the sheep. "For your crimes, which at this point are innumerable to count, and are still being witnessed to within the rooms of this fort, a council of mammals will decide your punishment after a trial of your peers." Judy's gaze levelled itself fully upon the cowering ewe before her. "It is much more than you deserve for the least of your crimes."
Without looking back, Judy spun on her heels and snapped her fingers. "Take her to the jail where she will reside until the trial."
Sergeant Clawhauser and Corporal Wolford saluted and marched forward to seize the sheep when a startled cry sounded from outside.
"They've raided the prison! They've freed the rogues!"
All eyes, civilian and soldier, mercenary and native, turned towards the entrance of the fort where an out-of-breath elk leaned against the large door.
The words died in the poor mammal's throat, or what was left of it as a bullet tore through his jugular, silencing him forever. A raspy gurgle echoed from both the hole and his mouth as he slumped to the ground, his lifeblood watering the dusty earth.
The sound of marching footsteps from outside approached, as well as a trumpet sounding, heralding the arrival of an unknown force, yet one already shown to have lethal qualities to anyone in its path. Several soldiers and renegades appeared side by side outside the fort, with more appearing every second until several score of them were lined in a haphazard formation.
The uniforms of the soldiers themselves gave everyone knowledge of who had arrived.
Like the parting of the red sea by Meowses before, the waves of mammals opened as General Bogo stomped forward, hooves held behind his back. He stopped in the doorframe of the fort, glaring around at the mammals gathered within.
"Well isn't it a lovely pleasure to see you today, General Bogo," Nick said with bow and a flourish of his paw. As the fox peered up, his false smile turned to a snarl. "Or should I say, Master of Destruction Senor Bogo."
AN: *whistles innocently at the cliffhanger.
Sanchez Sandcat: Berserker88's sandcat OC.
Liam McIver: ScaraMedn's wolf OC.
Felix: FoxintheHenhouse's dashing fox/horse hybrid
Rektar Argid: DrekkDeina's amazing silver fox OC
Weidii: KungFuFreak07's margay OC
Sebastian: Okamiluver's wolf OC