Notes: Massive thanks to AngloFalcon who helped offer suggestions and edit my work. He is fantastic, put his stories on your list of ones to read! No seriously...read his work, he's outstanding!
Integrity, Trust, and Bravery
The First Note
"Car 14, we have a 10-40 en route to your location, Black SUV license plate Bravo, Alpha, Zulu, Whiskey, 1, 4, 3. Please respond and pursue."
Nick, sitting in the passenger seat of the squad car quickly grabbed the radio pawset as Judy began scanning the road looking for the suspect. Nick pressed the switch.
"10-4, old buddy, car 14 responding."
"Hit the lights, Nick" Judy remarked as she spotted the SUV heading towards them.
Nick flipped down his shades with a smirk and hit the lights right as the SUV roared passed their car. Judy stomped on the accelerator and swerved into the street following the black SUV. Nick's heart pounded in his chest with the excitement of the chase. It had been 7 months since the close of the Night Howler case and one month since graduating from the academy and the only other high speed chase he had been involved with was with his old friend Flash. He had stopped shortly after seeing the lights and was let off with a written warning. This however, was different. Nick could already tell that this driver had no intention of stopping and didn't care who got in the way as the SUV drove onto a sidewalk to get by traffic stuck at a red light.
Judy followed closely, slowing slightly to make sure it was clear of cars and civilians before flooring the accelerator again. He turned and looked at Judy, her bright eyes locked on the road with complete concentration ears up and alert and the strain of it all visible in her paws as she gripped the wheel tightly. He admired her composure.
"Carrots, we need to end this chase quick. Give him a little love tap when we get to the freeway ramp. There is nowhere to go so if there is a crash, it'll be contained."
She simply nodded and waited for the right moment. When it happened, she floored it and tapped the right rear side of the offender's vehicle sending it into a spin. Well it would have been a spin if it were not for the concrete of the on ramp stopping it very suddenly. 'Too much speed!' Nick thought to himself as he saw the top heavy SUV tip and roll twice before coming to a stop 50 meters up the ramp sitting sideways blocking it off completely. Nick was already unbuckled and grabbing his door handle as it finally came to rest.
"Call it in Carrots! I'll secure him!"
Judy was in a momentary shock after causing the accident and after only a moment she reached out and grabbed the pawset to call Clawhauser.
"This is car 14; we have intervened and have a code 964. We are at the north bound on ramp to highway 18. Moving to assist Officer Wilde!"
Her heart pounded as she moved in next to Nick a few paces to his left. In the time that they had known each other, they learned a unique body language that allowed them to work in tense situations without any verbal communication. He started to go around the back of the SUV and Judy moved to the front. The SUV could hardly be called that anymore and was a mangled wreck. The roof had all but been torn off completely and on the pavement near some of the debris, they found an otter... he wasn't moving. Nick looked at Judy and she nodded in acknowledgment as he holstered his pistol and moved over to the suspect. He crouched down and slowly rolled the otter over as Judy kept her gun trained on the suspect. The otter let out a moan of pain as Nick checked him for injuries. Judy breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the sirens and saw the ambulance. Nick looked up at her and nodded as she finally let herself truly start breathing again and holstered her pistol as he put handcuffs on the otter, just as Delgato and Wolford arrived on scene to help with processing the suspect.
"How is he?" She asked, not really trying to hide the concern in her voice.
"Oh he's going to wake with a wicked headache, but other than a few bruises and a new pair of shinny bracelets, he'll be fine." He said with a wink to his partner.
Nick was no doctor but he had a knack for being right and soon it was confirmed by the medics that the otter sustained a concussion and a bruised wrist. She shook her head at Nick's unique luck...or skill. One thing she couldn't really get over is how relaxed he looked after something like this, it had been 15 minutes and her paws had only just stopped shaking. Nick was already digging through the wreckage looking for anything that might explain the otter's erratic behavior. She joined him by climbing through the mess of the back seats and avoiding the sharp metal that seemed to protrude form every surface. She had to ask.
"Hmm?" Neither of them stopped their search as they chatted
"How do you do it? How do you remain so calm after something like this?"
He took a moment to think before responding in a thoughtful tone.
"Not really sure. It excites me more than anything. Maybe it reminds me of the thrill of pulling a good hustle. Whatever the reason, my heart pounds and it really gets my blood up."
Judy thought for a moment.
"Do you think it may have something to do with being a pred?"
He chuckled at that.
"I don't think so, can you imagine Clawhauser in a situation like this?"
They both shared a giggle at that. They continued to search for a moment before Nick let out a quiet curse. She didn't quite catch it, but it made her ears perk up and she didn't like the sudden smell of stress from her partner.
"Judy...I think you should look at this."
His tone reminded her of when they found the claw marks inside the limo during the Night Howler case. She didn't like what he found then and when she climbed up front to look into the center console where Nick had his flashlight pointing, she didn't like what she saw now. It was a small blue ball, about the size of a marble, somewhat soft to the touch. She looked into her partner's green eyes and saw worry.
"Carrots, do you think this what I hope it isn't?"
Judy said the only thing that came to her mind, ears starting to droop from fear at what it could mean.
Judy could hear Nick swallow as he pulled a small evidence baggie out of his pocket and bagged the ball and set the bag on the dashboard. They moved some of the papers in the center console and found a small air gun. Just like the one used all those months ago. Nick became agitated as his ears flared in challenge. He climbed out of the car crumbling the papers in his paws as he walked back to their car. Judy could still smell his frustration as she hopped out and flagged down Delgato. The lion jogged over to her with a worried expression as he had seen Nick storm off into the squad car.
"What is it Judy?"
"There is an air gun in the center console and an evidence bag on the dash. It needs to be tested." She took a small moment and breathed in shakily "I think it is Night Howler."
Delgato became very tense and looked to the car where Nick sat. Only the top of his head was slightly visible from where they stood. Judy knew that was because he had his face in his paws. The Night Howler case was the source of so much pain and bad memories. It had almost ended their friendship 9 months ago and everyone on the force knew it. Many of the officers and indeed city council had taken quite strongly to the unlikely pair and would worry on their behalf. Judy sensed his discomfort.
"I'll speak with Nick. Don't worry Delgato, we solved this once and with everyone on board we can do it again."
The lion sighed and nodded.
"Okay Hopps, go check on your partner. Wolford and I will take care of the evidence and get it bagged."
She nodded thanks and jogged over to the car and climbed into the driver's seat. Crumpled paper littered the floor of the car. She found Nick sitting with his face in his paws. His ears limp, tail unmoving.
He sat up and sighed deeply.
"I'm alright Judy, just didn't expect we would ever see this again. It brought me back to the natural history museum. The feeling of hope and worry that our ruse would work. It seems our old case is active again."
"Hey, we solved it once and we can do it again."
He smiled in his unique way, ears perked up.
"You bet Carrots, no worries. Lets get back to the station and give our report."
The drive back was uneventful and fairly quiet. Judy kept sending Nick sideways glances to see him staring aimlessly out the window. At one point he had dozed off. Once they pulled in to the ZPD motor pool she sat watching Nick sleeping for a moment. She hadn't ever been around the fox as he slept and it gave her a moment to watch him more closely. The rise and fall of his chest, sound of slow breath escaping. It was a rare moment and she almost thought of leaving him in the car for a while but decided it would be best to get the report done. Plus she didn't know how to tell the Chief that her partner was crashed out in the car during working hours. She gently shook him until he stirred.
"Huh? Oh! How long was I out?"
"About an hour."
Nick snapped up with a sudden look of terror.
"What? That long?! Chief Bogo is going to kill me!"
Judy couldn't help but laugh hysterically.
"Kidding! It was only a few minutes!"
He sighed and settled down a bit before giving her a sly look.
"Clever bunny, come on, lets go get our reports done then."
The nap had done it; Nick's signature swagger was back in his step as they walked through the lobby. He waved at Clawhauser who was reading a book. Gazelle an autobiography.
"Hey, bud! Thanks for the heads up on the car!"
Clawhauser looked up and smiled as he shoved another frosty doughnut in his mouth and went back to reading. Nick and Judy shared a small office with a pair of computers as they began typing their reports. Judy had gotten coffee on the way in for them and they sat in relative silence sipping the warm beverage. Nick took a moment as he worked to enjoy the small moment of calm after the day they had. The warm coffee, the nearby friend, and they rhythmic sound of typing. Then came the part in the report about the Night Howler. Nick swallowed and continued typing until the details were all written down and the report finished. Nick hit 'Submit' after a quick read through and listened to the quiet 'woosh' that the ZPD computers emanated whenever a report was sent. Despite the heavy details in the reports that he had filed, the sound always made him smile.
He leaned back in his chair, cradling the back of his head with his paws, staring at the ceiling of the office, deep in thought. "Hey, Carrots?"
Her typing continued "Hmm?"
"What do you think is next? I mean, Night Howler is back again."
That got her to stop typing and swivel in her chair to face him. Her ears drooped as she replied. "I don't know, Nick. We will figure it out though, we did once and we will again."
There was a knock on the door. Both mammals turned to see Chief Bogo's massive bulk standing in the doorway. He looked none too pleased.
"Next time you decide to end a high speed pursuit, don't do it on a freeway on ramp. We have traffic backed up for miles as we process the scene. It wont be opened for another hour and Mayor Growlburn is right up my tail about it."
Nick smiled and winked at the Chief.
"Can't make any promises there Chief!"
Bogo sighed as he shook his head at Nick.
"Make sure your car is cleaned up and ready for repairs to the bumper. Then you are dismissed for the day."
Both fox and rabbit replied at the same time.
After he left, Nick looked over at her partner with a smirk.
"I will clean the car since I am finished with my report. No sense in both of us hanging around while I was the one who made the mess in the car in the first place."
"Okay Nick, see you tomorrow."
Nick climbed out of his chair, drained his coffee and sauntered down the hall. He took the time to enjoy his situation. Here he was, a former hustler, an outcast of society and the first fox cop with the first bunny cop as his partner. Over his years of cheating and scamming he found himself quite good at reading people, and when he looked around at the passing officers of the ZPD, he didn't find disdain, or distrust in the eyes of his colleagues. Instead he found respect, and he suspected that they genuinely cared about him. He would never forget the first time Judy told him that he would make a pretty good cop and he responded with a scoff and 'How dare you?'. Now he realized, for the life of him, he couldn't see himself doing anything else.
He reached the police cruiser and opened the door. On the floor were all of the papers scattered from the otter's center console. Nick was exhausted and just wanted to be home to relax. He knew that he couldn't simply throw them out since they were evidence, so instead he collected them up and started to walk back to his office. As he walked he started leafing through the papers. One caught his eye in particular. It was a Zmail to an address he didn't recognize but the IP address, the Zooweb location that had sent it. That one he knew. It came from a private server but was sent from within the ZPD. Nick froze in his tracks, and his blood ran cold. He started reading.
Don't worry so much, no one here suspects anything. Just keep doing what you are told and follow the dead drops. Our mutual benefactor has a stake in this and is paying us well. I will keep the ZPD off any trail that might lead back to you so long as you do your job. If it gets too hot we will shift the blame to someone else. Our benefactor demands that our two resident 'Heroes' eventually take the fall for it anyway.
Do your job and don't make mine any more difficult.
Nick quickly folded the paper up into his breast pocket and brought the rest to the evidence room to be cataloged. He put on his best usual swagger to avoid rousing the suspicions of whoever sent the zmail. Once he was done, he then hailed a cab and went home. That was the longest ride home in his memory. It gave Nick far too long to sit and brood over his findings. His nerve endings were alight and the stress caused his fur to stand on end. He rested his head against the glass of the cab and simply watched the streetlights go by one after another in a consistent interval, as his mind wandered. It never strayed far from the paper in his pocket much to his frustration. The driver must have smelled his stress as Nick kept noticing the zebra stealing looks through his rear view mirror.
Nick smiled at him "Yeah sorry...its...been a busy day."
The driver nodded with a smile as he pulled into Nick's apartment complex. Nick absently paid the animal and stepped out of the cab. He stood for a moment staring at the front door as the light glinted off the number to his room.
914. Nick scoffed quietly, never noticing the significance of it until tonight. "How ironic" He mused to himself as he unlocked the door and stepped in.
Hollow, cold, and lonely. His modest apartment had never had such emotion tied to it before today. He removed his police shirt and hung it up in his closet feeling the weight of more than just a shirt coming off. He stared at the gleaming badge for a while before reaching out and removing the zmail from the breast pocket. This is what caused all the weight. It even felt heavy alone in his paw.
'How am I going to deal with this? Who can I even trust?'
His thoughts instantly went to Judy. She believed in him and saw more than just a fox, and since she was implicated in the zmail "our two resident 'Heros' eventually take the fall for it anyway." he knew she was not one sending it. As always, he could trust her.
'At lunch break. We will go to a small restaurant where I can lay this out for her. Apparently this goes much deeper than we thought.'
Nick finished undressing and slid under his covers staring at the ceiling wishing sleep would weigh down his eyelids, but instead worry filled his mind. He had not felt this uncomfortable since he was betrayed while trying to become a Ranger Scout. He sighed deeply and rolled over staring at his phone, debating if he should call Judy and warn her. He reached out and took the phone in his paw and pulled up her contact number, hovering over the call button.
"No, I shouldn't tip my paw yet, Judy wears her emotions on her sleeve and I'd only be putting her in danger...tomorrow I'll tell her so I can keep her safe."
This is my first story here on the site and I look forward to the words of wisdom that can improve my writing. I am a fiction writer that seeks to better my skills before publishing my first book. This has already been a huge help. I have a back log of 5 chapters and will try to keep posting one every week to keep you guys going. Thanks again for your thoughts, pointers, and wisdom in my endeavors. Please review and comment, and I will try to get back with you! If there are artists you know of or you are one willing to draw/photoshop up a good cover to the story, let me know! Alas, I write not draw :)
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The plot and story are works of my own imagination and any likeness to other stories is purely coincidence, please inform me if I have transgressed on anyone else's work so that I may make amends. Likewise please do not infringe upon my story and make it your own without permission of a reproduction first. Thanks for reading!