Oh my gosh! An update? I haven't forgotten this story! Don't worry! School has just been really busy and I've been doing some community service stuff on the side. Please enjoy this installment! This chapter's theme was inspired by the organization that I have been working with in the aforementioned community service.
Also, I am making a note to include more minor characters and characters cut from the film in addition to my OCs to liven up the story more.
Chapter 15: Mammals Are Mammals
Finally, Lucas was going to take some time to catch up with his foster sister, Ewelina. To him, an opportunity like this was a dream come true. He was standing before a large, green house that had been converted into a series of apartments, Judy standing beside him with her usual grin of radiant positivity plastered on her face. Glancing at his adoptive mother for a surge of reassurance, Lucas couldn't help but find Judy's confidence contagious.
Gently elbowing Lucas, Judy urged, "Go on. I'll be right by your side."
"Right," Lucas affirmed as the duo approached the house. Making note of the handicap ramp attached to the stairway, he took a scrap of paper that he wrote Ewelina's address on from his pocket and examined his writing. "She's in apartment B… Hey, Mom, how do you do it?"
"How do I do what?" Judy asked as she examined the ramp, finding it to be at roughly the appropriate angle for a mammal in a wheelchair.
"How do you get up every morning and tell yourself, 'Let's get out there and change the world'? I wake up and immediately get anxious for what the day holds for me," Lucas clarified, ears slapping back against his head. It was true. Sometimes, it was difficult for him to calm down. Some ghost of his past could rear its head any day, wearing a new face and ready to haunt him once more. It was a prominent possibility that he dreaded. That was why Nick and Judy being close to a house fire or apartment fire made him physically ill.
Was Judy so determined to make the world a better place out of sheer passion? Was it her sense of justice that drove her, or was it naivete? Curiosity about the matter had always burned in the back of Lucas's mind. Now that he stood before the current residence of his once-foster sibling, he had to know. Anything that could give him strength to move forward, to override the weakness in his knees and the heaviness in his chest, he would gladly accept.
"Honestly? Because I tell myself that I have to. Making the world a better place, making the future brighter for everyone; all of it can seem so overwhelming," Judy explained, "but it isn't because there are mammals alongside me and within the mayor's office who are devoted to the same cause. Not just there, either. Everyone is putting their paws, hooves, flippers or whatever other appendages they can spare to give to society in their own way. Mammals are mammals, Lucas, and there's strength in a pack. That is a pack I will gladly devote my strength to. If we work alongside each other, we can all bring each other to the lives we all deserve. That's the belief that gets me up in the morning."
Incredible! Lucas had been isolated for so long that he never really saw individuals as parts of a greater whole before. Now that he had been thinking about it, Zootopia was founded on a philosophy very similar to what Judy had just described. Awestruck, Lucas almost forgot to ring the doorbell. He quickly eyed the five doorbells on the apartment complex before pressing the one labeled "B". He took a step back and cleared his throat. A moment passed, and then another. Then, the door opened, having been answered by Mrs. Ramsey. The sheep smiled graciously at the teen fox and adult rabbit and invited them in.
They were brought to a small living room that was connected to a kitchen area. Ewelina, having been patiently waiting, excitedly wheeled over to Lucas and gave him a tight hug. He patted her head and greeted, "Hey there, Ewelina!"
"You're here! You're really here!" Ewelina exclaimed giddily. "It's like a dream come true!"
"Yeah, it sure is!" Lucas readily agreed. When complications shrouded his days black, this was one of those momentous occasions that truly shined.
"I wish my brother was here to meet you! Come to think of it, he's in your grade," Ewelina informed Lucas.
"You have a brother?" Lucas asked. Ewelina nodded excitedly.
"He's out with his dad today," Mrs. Ramsey chimed in. She turned to Judy and asked, "Would you like coffee?"
"Yes, please! That would be great!" Judy exclaimed gratefully.
Meanwhile, Nick was on duty with Officer Brie, the force's first mouse and a member of his graduating class at the academy, patrolling the city. He preferred being with Judy, but at least he got to drive when he was with Brie. Taking a deep breath, Nick let out a sigh and said, "Beautiful day for a scenic drive through the city, eh?"
"How's the kid?" Brie asked, glossing over Nick's pleasantry.
Astounded by the directness and appreciative of the topic, Nick reported, "He's doing okay. Judy took him to meet with one of his old foster siblings. They were both really happy about each other getting adopted. He seems especially good after confronting Bellwether."
"Bellwether? Why? Because she's prejudice against predators?" Brie asked, not knowing the full story.
"She was behind Lucas's old house burning down," Nick reported. "Apparently her segregationist actions date back further than we thought. I really have to thank Elias next time I see him."
"Elias? As in Elias Badgerton, the info broker?" Brie asked, a mix of intrigue and concern in her voice.
"Yeah, that's right. He's a buddy of mine. I have a habit of making friends," Nick replied slyly, really taking the time to enjoy being behind the wheel.
"He's smart and charming, but he's also got a screw loose. And I don't get why he and Spencer Dewclaw are always trying to kill each other. What is up with that dangerous rivalry?" Brie asked, seeming to put faith in Nick's knowledge of the city's people.
"Honestly," Nick sighed, stopping at a red light, "I don't think they have anything better to do. There's really no other way to describe it."
"That is profoundly stupid," Brie said bluntly.
Nick gave a small nod of agreement as the light turned green. He drove forward and as he did, he spotted a street lamp flying through the air. The fox remarked, "Speak of the devil…"
"What in the—" Brie gasped, jaw dropping.
"Spence doesn't know how to hold back," Nick explained simply. "Doctors think he's physically incapable of it. His strength is incredible."
"A single big cat uprooted a street lamp…and chucked it across several city blocks…" Brie said conclusively.
"Yeah," Nick confirmed. "Let's go check it out." Estimating where Spencer and Elias would be, Nick knew he hit the mark when he saw a big crowd of mammals pouring over the side of the sidewalk. He got out and projected his voice. "Alright, everybody, nothing to see here! Just two dudes having a fight; nothing special!"
Spencer was swinging a street sign he had uprooted at his badger rival, unbridled rage being his predominant expression. Elias, on the other hand, wore a sly and smug grin as he would narrowly dodge and attempt to lunge at the feline with his sharp, outstretched claws. Nick had to be swift and watchful. With little exaggeration, one misstep could mean death. In an instance when the two rivals backed off a bit in preparation for a grandstand play, Nick dove between them, causing them, his temporary partner and all the onlookers to completely freeze in shock. There was silence, save for the white noise of the bustling city activities.
Nick looked at Spencer, then Elias, and then back at Spencer. Nick pointed to the stop sign in Spencer's grip and informed him, "That's city property." Brie looked on, dumbfounded. There truly was never a dull moment with Nick Wilde. The notion made her wonder how Judy felt about their home life and what that was like.
"Yeah, yeah, I'll desist. Send the ticket to my work, will ya?" Spencer requested and set the sign down before taking out a cigarette from his pocket and then pulling out a lighter. Placing the cigarette in his mouth, he asked, "Want one?"
"You know I quit," Nick reminded the jaguar. Spencer shrugged in response and lit the cigarette. By now, the crowd had started to dissipate. Turning to Elias, Nick said, "Thanks for everything you did to help with Lucas. Hopefully, his mental health will get better with this closure."
"You don't have to thank me, Nick. In fact, I don't think you should," Elias replied, the slyness of his grin static as it was. His tone and overall demeanor was a strange, yet fairly common mix of amused and informative. "Sadly, you're not out of the woods yet. None of us are. Not everyone shares my universal love of mammalian kind. Discrimination's a stand alone complex. Bellwether wasn't the first to play the species card. She won't be the last. Her actions were just concerted by the unrest she uprooted, much like that sign that Spencer tore out of the concrete."
"Can you do me a favor and not smile like it's your birthday when you're sounding this eerie?" Nick requested, being blunt since Elias was a friend. Albeit, one of his shadier friends, but a dear friend and confidant nonetheless.
"I'm just saying that he may have to deal with someone whose cognitions are akin to Bellwether's, Nick, and you need to be ready to react when the chips fall. Then again, you never know when or even if it will happen. It's kind of poetic, really. Strangers linked only by virtue can bring about revolutionary change together. Now don't you see why I find mammals so fascinating?" Elias's facial expression was borderline psychotic now.
After a really long drag of his cigarette, Spencer picked up his dark blue sunglasses, which had been knocked off during the skirmish, and puffed, "I'm getting really sick of listening to you. The only reason your organs ain't pudding yet is because I'm curious about Lucas…and how you got the info about Bellwether being behind the arson."
"Tricks of the trade. You wouldn't get it, but Nick might," Elias hissed, dusting himself off. To a lesser extent, Nick did get it. He felt that Elias would have made a great detective if he hadn't found the job 'too restrictive'.
Information spread between mammals was what fueled individuals and collectives alike. They responded to complex problems the way their ancient ancestors responded to basic stimuli. Information was a tool often taken for granted by all but those who took the time to put the pieces together. That was why Nick knew that Elias Badgerton was a powerful info broker; one to respect and fear.