EVEN IF YOU USUALLY SKIP AUTHOR'S NOTES, YOU SHOULD STILL READ THIS:
Going forward, it's REALLY IMPORTANT to know none of these chapters are actually connected to any of the others - each one is an independent story that represents a different version of Zootopia. So if you don't like what's happening, don't worry - next chapter is a totally new ballgame.
A while ago - while suffering a nasty case of writers block - I decided to use an online word generator as a prompt device. I took 40 random words, then wrote a little Zootopia-based blurb based on each one. I had a lot of fun with it (writing a story based of the title can be pretty challenging). After I posted it a lot of people encouraged me to broaden each one out into a larger story, and since September of 2016 that's what I've been doing.
Note: I make no claim of ownership to the characters or settings.
1 / Upsetting
Nick's crusade against the illegal drug trade in Zootopia made his partner's devotion to the law seem like a passing interest. It wasn't until after he beat some low-level punk dealing nip in a schoolyard within an inch of his life that the bunny finally learned why Nick never spoke about his father.
2 / Gut
He ate the donuts and they made him happy – the weight he gained made him depressed – so he ate some donuts and they made him happy – and the weight he gained made him depressed.
3 / Cheer
If there was one thing Nick truly hated, it was when Judy got into one these moods. "C'mon, get up! It's almost six thirty, you can sleep when you're dead."
He burrowed deeper into the comforter, growling at the enthusiastic bunny. "I can sleep when you're dead, you mean."
4 / Code
"Dispatch, this is Wilde - we're 10-23."
"Copy - Advise caution."
"Hopps here - 10-32. Possible armed suspect."
"Understood – directing backup to your location."
"This is dispatch - requesting status updat..."
"Wilde? Hopps? What's your statu..."
"10-33! Officer down! I say again, officer down!"
5 / Sunlight
He might've been nocturnal by nature, but the way her eyes sparkled in the light had him looking forward to every sunrise.
6 / Film
Everyone had a good laugh when Wilde sent Body Cam footage of Clawhauser singing along to the latest Gazelle single to Zootopia's Got Talent!, but as he gawked at the television screen three months later, the fox couldn't help but wonder if the portly cheetah was in need of an agent.
7 / Natural
"So, an anonymous source gave you a tip that the meet is happening at Mystic Springs Oasis."
"And to catch the suspect, you and I have to go undercover in a naturalist club."
"You got it."
"And that this will be the fifth time in two months?"
"Pure coincidence, Carrots. I assure you."
8 / Triangle
The other officers had predicted a little drama when the ZPD hired its second bunny. No one could have imagined that the new doe would take to Nick like she did, or that Judy would end up being the odd one out.
9 / Sheriff
...true that there was some resistance to the proposal, but not as much as you'd think. If anything, the more traditional members of the Bunnyburrow Municipal Council actually voiced greater objections to whether your partner might properly represent their values.
However, we think you'll agree that there's every bit as much a need for law enforcement in the Tri-Burrows as in Zootopia, and that calls for a mammal with a solid track-record when it comes for inter-mammal relations. In the last year, you and your partner have repeatedly proven that predator and prey can not only work together; they can actually be friends! Coupled with your outstanding professional record, I feel that you're the ideal candidate.
Please consider the offer, Mr. Wilde. I'll expect to hear from you soon.
John Q. Thumper - Mayor
Municipality of Bunnyburrow
10 / Team
Whenever he wanted to be alone, he would always return to the same run-down industrial park and sit underneath the bridge. She never commented how easy it was to find him there, and he never asked how, once he was ready to face the world again, she'd always be waiting at the gates to pick him up.
11 / Ideology
The argument between Nick and the Chief over who was the better musician – Gazelle or Dave Growhl – made the Nighthowler Riots seem like a minor disagreement.
12 / Pressure
The knife hadn't gone in very far, thanks both to his ribs and the protection afforded by his issued Kevlar vest, so Nick didn't pay it much attention until suddenly it felt like Francine was sitting on his chest.
13 / Tied
It took more practice that he'd ever admit to, but the look on her face when he matched her obstacle course times exactly made it worth every second.
14 / Hangover
Gently resting her head on the cool surface of her desk and blindly fumbling for the bottle of aspirin she kept in her drawer, Judy resolved to fully appreciate how unbelievably amazing the Gazelle concert had been...just as soon as the room stopped spinning.
15 / Wrapping
He didn't have the heart to point out that carrot-themed wrapping paper kind of defeated the point of exchanging Secret Santa gifts.
16 / Tired
It was the worst thing she could have said to him: "I just… I just don't care anymore…"
17 / Air
They said she was on the third floor… damn this smoke, I can't see a thing! Can't worry about that though, someone's cub is in here… gonna find her… can't let them down… gotta… find her… before-
18 / Epiphiny
It took her a year to realize how he felt about her. It took him two.
19 / Mortal
"Dearly beloved, we gather here today to mourn the passing of a beloved comrade." As the priest addressed the assembled officers, Judy gazed indifferently at the closed casket. Beside her, she heard Nick choke back a sob as he wrung his own tail anxiously. She opened her mouth to offer some words of comfort, but none emerged. As the sounds around her began to fade and her vision was filled by warm and all-encompassing light, her last thought was to hope that her fox would be alright without her.
20 / Vote
"So," said Bogo, "who thinks I should skip assigning parking duty today?" Every paw in the bullpen went up. "Well, it's a shame this isn't a democracy, now isn't it?"
21 / Excitement
The moment he got that look on his face, she knew that trouble couldn't be far behind. But as much as she dreaded the inevitable consequences, oh sweet merciful cheese and crackers did her fox ever know how to apologize.
22 / Entertainment
Like every other species, felines were evolved. As a race and as a culture, they'd long since discarded the shackles of savage instinct. They had chosen to follow the higher path of enlightenment, and carried themselves with the kind of dignity that reflected that philosophy.
Then Wilde had brought that Bastet-damned laser pointer into work and everything descended into chaos.
23 / Bore
It was through sheer force of will that Judy kept her foot from thumping against the floor. The amount of time it took for Flash to tell a joke could be downright excruciating – but his punchlines were always worth the wait.
24 / Analysis
"These," Judy stated, spitting loudly, "are not real vegetables."
Nick cocked his head just slightly to the side. "You had to taste them to know that?
25 / Footnote
"Do you think history will remember us after we're gone?" Judy wondered idly, radar gun in hand as she eyed the passing cars.
"Are you kidding me?" Nick grinned and cast his arms wide. "The History of Zootopia, Volume 4 –WildeHopps!"
26 / Goodness
Some mammals had their doubts about whether Nick had actually left his shady ways behind, but Finnick wasn't one of them. He'd always known that the larger fox had more in store for him than petty hustles, and was happy- and a little bit sad- that he'd finally realized it too.
27 / Rhythm
They lay quietly in the darkness, her ear pressed to his chest, his heartbeat slowly lulling her to sleep.
28 / Assault
For the longest time Judy had wondered how Zootopia managed to maintain its city-wide armistice, and why so few criminals actually shot at ZPD officers. Then she saw what happened when a particularly bold coyote emptied his pistol into Officer McHorn's chest.
She didn't know which had been more alarming; the unexpected sound of gunfire, the sight of the bullets striking a fellow officer, or the mildly annoyed grunt McHorn offered in response.
29 / Encouragement
Larry sat down next to Gary, placing a paw on the other wolf's shoulder. Ever since being tricked into a howl at Cliffside – by a bunny, no less – his partner had been struggling with a minor crisis of confidence.
"Gary, you need to shake this off. Don't let the rabbit get you down, right?"
Gary sighed. "I know. It's just...I feel so stupid."
"Hey, none of that nonsense." Larry place a paw under Gary's muzzle, guiding the white wolf's gaze to meet his own. "Tell me, who's a good boy?"
Gary grumbled quietly. The darker wolf, undiscouraged, gently scratched his partner under the chin. "C'mon now, who's a good boy? Who's my good boy?"
"Me." Gary finally muttered, rolling his eyes slightly. "I'm a good boy."
Grinning, Larry threw an arm around his partner's shoulders. "Yeah you are."
30 / Expert
"I don't know what to do." She whispered. "You know I'm really not great with relationships."
He sighed, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck. "And you actually want my advice?"
"Only if it's my best friend's advice, Nick." She replied, looking up at the fox. "I don't need my ex-husband's."
31 / Complex
Try as she might, she couldn't save everyone. And every time a failure left her feeling a little broken inside, he'd come along to pick up the pieces.
32 / Degree
Nick wasn't remotely surprised that Judy had a BA in Criminal Justice, but she'd been a little nonplussed that he had an MFA in Theatre. "C'mon now, Carrots. Hustling or acting aren't that different. It's all about selling a story."
33 / Remark
"You don't need to worry yourself, Wilde." Aster quipped at the glowering fox sitting next to him. "She's really not my type."
Nick's surprise must have shown in his expression, because the tall hare chuckled lightly and continued. "Don't get me wrong - Hopps is as lovely a doe as I've ever seen. I just prefer a lady that isn't as long in the ear and short in the claw, if you catch my meaning."
34 / Schedule
It only took Clawhouser a few minutes to look up the respective mating seasons for foxes (December to February) and rabbits (February to May), but he still took a small measure of pride in figuring out why Nick and Judy were always so eager to reach the end of their winter shifts.
35 / Highlight
"I'll see you later, Ben!" The lovely caracal smiled as Clawhouser nodded dreamily. Melissa came by every day to drop off a basket of delicious treats from her bakery. She insisted that it was her way of showing appreciation for the ZPD, but the fact that she always lingered by the front desk to talk to Benjamin wasn't lost on anyone. His eyes were helplessly drawn to the hypnotic sway of her tail as he watched her leave, already looking forward to tomorrow morning.
36 / Charge
It was one of the first things Nick was told when he'd been assigned to Precinct One - Keep your cool, set a good example, and never go full mammal.
He hadn't really understood what that meant until he saw a cop killer ruthlessly hunted down by a pack of lupine officers, or an enraged McHorn charging full speed into – and through – a solid brick wall to apprehend a gang trafficking in kidnapped cubs.
As he watches her sullenly throw her cards onto the table, he has to wonder how someone with four rabbit's feet can be so bad at poker.
38 / Collect
When Judy learned that Chief Bogo collected coins she immediately called her parents and asked them to send late Uncle Paul's rare coin collection. She knew it wouldn't be a problem. In families where siblings were counted in the hundreds, any excuse to get rid of the extra clutter was welcome.
She'd giggled slightly at his expression when she'd said the collection was his to keep, and had imparted a piece of wisdom Uncle Paul had given her when she was still a kitten. "The things we're passionate about shouldn't ever be locked away – they deserve to be seen and treasured and one day passed on to someone who can appreciate their value."
Then she'd bounced away, leaving an utterly speechless buffalo in her wake.
39 / Guarding
"I want you all to understand something." The snow leopard paused, thoughtfully observing the mammals that filled the room. "Although Hopps and Wilde have broken no Zootopian laws and violated no ZPD regulations, for obvious reasons, their relationship is...unpopular."
"These are just a small part of what we've managed to collect, and together they paint a very clear picture of what's to come." He gestured to a pile of letters sitting on a nearby table – some written in tidy cursive, some composed of angry scrawls. "There is a mob coming, gentlemen. A collection of Zootopia's most hateful, ignorant and frightened mammals coming to stomp out what they don't understand and can't accept."
The mood began to shift, a rumbling anger stirring just below the surface as the ZPD SWAT Sergeant levelled a hard gaze on the room. "If a conflict exists between your personal beliefs and your sworn oath as ZPD officers, set it aside. Because when that mob comes for them – and they will come – I intend to be standing in their way."
40 / Baby
"If...if this is the end...cough...I just want to say...that I...I lo..." The fox gasped, wincing from the pain as he clutched his bunny's paw. His eyes fluttered closed and his head fell back, tongue dangling from his open muzzle.
The grey bunny - whose paw he held so dearly - rolled her eyes and reached over to flick the tip of his ear. "Quit being such a kit, Nick. It's just a splinter."