Written by OptimusPower92 and servant1999
Nature built everything for us. The trees that give us air, the grass we walk on, the sun that gives us warmth, the water that gives us life. Nature made it all so we could thrive and prosper.
But Nature also takes… Nature chooses which trees multiply and which ones wither away. Nature determines if the salmon make it up the river in order to reproduce. Nature decides whether to grant power or weakness,
Vitality or Impairment,
Perfection or Pain,
Life or Death,
It's all left up to random chance, a flip of a coin…
I'm sick of it. I want to fix where Nature is flawed. I have suffered for too long after being dealt a bad hand. I won't let anyone else go through what I went through…
I want to change the world for the better. They'll see…
Chapter 1 – More Missing Mammals
The cool, morning air drifted through Nick's window as the world began to ignite. The city was already beginning the morning; with many mammals already out to start the day. Nick, however, was not one of them. He instead decided to sleep in, despite the fact that he was going to make today special for Judy. The gentle breeze that caressed his fur reminded him that morning had come and the day was starting. He let out a small moan and opened his eye just enough to read the clock.
"Mmm… few more minutes…" he muttered as he shut his eye and tried to slumber for just a little longer. It didn't feel too long before he checked the clock again to make sure he wasn't gonna be late.
"Ah, damn it!" Nick grunted as struggled to get out of the bed. Somehow, the sly fox was all tangled up in the bed coverings. "Come on!" he nearly shouted as he frantically kicked at the sheets and blankets. He groaned again as he crawled out of the bed with the covers still wrapped around him. He managed to free himself from them near his closet. Opening the door, he was met with one item: his police uniform. He washed it yesterday, something he didn't do often enough. Today, he wanted to make the day extra special for Judy. Clean outfit, brushed fur, and perhaps some cologne to impress Judy, followed up by a nice dinner. It had taken him a while to muster up the strength to do this. Without wasting another second, he threw on his uniform, brushed most of the visible fur, and used the blueberry-scented cologne before grabbing the keys and rushing out the door of his apartment to the car they shared. Bogo let them only have one vehicle for the both of them so Nick kept the car at his apartment since Judy's place was closer to the precinct.
"Isn't this a great way to start the day?" he sarcastically mutter to himself as he tried to drive fast and careful at the same time
Judy was getting ready for her day as she always was. Got up at six o'clock, watched the news as she ate breakfast, put her uniform on, applied a bit of carrot-scented perfume, and was ready to go by the time Nick came, or at least when he was supposed to be there.
Nick was supposed to pick up Judy at nine, and their shift started at nine-thirty. The clock read eight minutes after on Judy's phone, and Nick still wasn't there yet. She was hesitant to text because he could be driving, but she was thinking about it for the past fifteen minutes, more time than it takes to drive from Nick's place to hers. She looked out her window and identified the patrol car driving down the road towards the entrance to her apartment complex.
"About time." Judy muttered as she tucked her phone back into her pocket and rushed down the stairs to the outside of the building.
The car rolled up to the side of the road and slowed to a stop. Judy quickly jumped in the car, and Nick started driving forward again in an instant, the engine roaring until it made the speed limit. Judy noticed he was a little different. His outfit was cleaner, his distinct scent was covered, his fur texture was smoother, and she could smell something else. Something that smelled like blueberries.
And here it was, the moment of truth. "Sorry for being late, Carrots." Nick said, sounding nervous. "Woke up a little early, thought I could stay in for a little bit."
"It's alright, Nick." Judy replied with her same positive demeanor.
Nick was relieved that she was still as optimistic as she always was. He tried to swallow his nerves before speaking, but that only made him choke. "Thanks, Judy." he said in an off voice. Blushing under his fur, his heart pounding under his clean uniform, he cleared his throat before spitting it out. "You know, I was thinking - after our shift today - we could go out… you know… to dinner tonight."
Judy's ears perked up in interest. Was Nick finally asking her out? She had wanted him to for a while and was thinking of asking him soon, but this was it! "Like, a date?" She asked slowly, wanting to make sure she understood and not embarrass herself.
Nick's heart was really racing now, and his paws were sweating on the steering wheel a little. "Sure." He finally answered as normal as possible. "A date. Yeah."
"That would explain the fancy getup today." Judy teased to lighten the tension. It worked; Nick chuckled, and his heart seemed to be calming down. "Sounds great!"
"So, it's a date then?" Nick asked, feeling boundless.
"A date." She replied; finding some sort of satisfaction with the word. A date. Judy was very excited to go out with Nick. It had been a while since they had done something remotely like it. "Where are we going tonight?" The bunny asked.
"It's a surprise. You'll have to wait and see." Nick said with that classic con-man smirk. It felt good to be his usual "sly-fox" self, rather a nervous mess.
"Sly Fox." Judy said, almost as if she could read Nick's mind.
"That I am." The fox said smugly, making his partner-in-crime laugh as they pulled into their reserved parking spot.
Nick felt like he could do no wrong. He had just asked out Judy Hopps! If he can do that, he can do anything.
As they were approaching the door, Judy decided to start the game they always played when they got to the precinct in the morning.
"Left." She said.
"Right." Nick replied.
Clawhauser almost always had a donut under his cheek, and Nick and Judy made a game out of it. But this time the donut was… on his head, right in the middle.
"Hey, guys!" Benjamin Clawhauser exclaimed, completely unaware of the delectable sweet atop his head. "How was your weekend?"
"Good." Judy replied, climbing the desk, and then Ben's chair. "Hey, Ben, I need you to hold still for a sec."
"Uh, ok." He replied with a nervous tone.
Judy pulled out a measuring tape, and measured from the hole of the donut to Ben's left ear and then his right ear. Nick watched with a smug look, seeming as if he knew he'd win the game today.
"Mm-hm. It's about two centimeters closer to his right ear." Judy said as she descended to the floor. "You win. And that makes the tally… one-thirty-four to one-forty. Seems you're sly AND lucky."
"Lucky to have you as my partner." Nick said, rolling his eyebrows at her.
"Nick, stop it!" Judy replied, feeling embarrassed at his remark.
"Fine, I'll save it for our date tonight."
"You better." she said with a smirk.
"You guys have a great day!" Clawhauser said to the fox and rabbit.
"You too, Benji!" The vulpine replied.
They continued into the bullpen, and the rest of their squad was already there. *9:34* was on the analog clock on the wall. Bogo had a folder in his hand, and his glasses were on. He was pacing down the left of the room, studying the folder. He looked toward the entrance as his last two units entered the room.
"You're late." Bogo said, sounding almost amused.
"You won't want to hear my excuse as to why we're late. So I won't say." Nick replied as he and Judy climbed up the seat far too big for them. They could've gotten smaller ones for them, but they liked the oversized chair as it was.
"You got that right, Wilde." Bogo put the folder on the desk. "Now, we have some missing mammals. Again. Lionheart is clean, Dawn Bellwether has no method of communication, and there's no trace of Nighthowler serum or any chemicals involved in the manufacturing process near the last known sightings or living spaces. We have no reason to believe it is connected to the incident that happened a year ago. Your assignments are to find these missing mammals. Higgins and Wolford, you'll be on patrol for today. Hopps and Wilde." Bogo handed them their case file for the week. "Snarlov and Grizzoli."
As Bogo went around the room announcing teams and handing off case files, Nick and Judy studied theirs. Ridley Mark, a male ferret, disappeared after going into an alleyway. Witnesses say he was as calm as anyone could be when he went down there. So calm, it was as if he always went down that alley. The location was between the movie theater and the electronics store on East Lincolnway. Ridley was three feet and four inches, had two brothers (one in Zootopia), a mother and deceased father, no spouse, current or former, no children, and worked as an engineer in the biology and tech department. His previous employment was a military weapons supervisor, and he was let go for reasons unknown.
"You now have your assignments." Bogo declared. "Get them done. Dismissed." Nick and Judy descended from their chair with the case file, and headed out the bullpen door.
"So, we take the patrol car to the last known sighting of Ridley?" Judy asked Nick.
"Sounds good to me." He replied.
"All right, then. Let's get going, Slick. The site's not far from here." Judy and Nick rushed through the station, out to the car, eager to solve this case. Judy got to drive when they were on duty to make up for Nick keeping the car and driving to and from work. Nick studied the file while Judy drove to the site, and noticed something peculiar. He didn't recognize this guy.
"So, since you know everybody, do you know this guy?" The doe asked.
"I… can't say. I haven't seen him before." he replied. "And that's saying a lot."
"We'll figure it out." Judy replied. It didn't take much longer for them to make it there. Judy parked the car on the curb about a block away from the alley entrance, where the ferret went missing. "Let me see that." Judy said to Nick, pointing at the file.
He handed it to her, and they got out of their vehicle and proceeded to the alley. This was the downtown part of Savannah Central, filled with buildings that are all connected in some way. The newer parts of Zootopia had individual buildings that had no direct links, save for a few bridges between certain structures here and there. The theater was one of the oldest there; so old, it was originally a live theater where they did plays like 'The Tempted' by William Snakespeare. The store next to the theater was about as old, but has been updated more recently, and with many different owners since the day it was built.
"So, this is it." Judy said. "The last place anyone's seen Ridley since five days ago."
"Let's investigate." Nick replied.
Judy took out her phone to use as a light and to take notes, while Nick looked for clues on the surface. No blood, no wallet, no weapon, nothing. The walls were dull, dirty, and made of brick, the ground's asphalt covered with dirt, and it was dark and cold. The sound of cars driving by created a haunting echo through the alley, and the smell of stale popcorn and moldy butter filled this dark area of Zootopia. Many crimes are committed here, but they're usually robbery or physical violence, not kidnapping, especially the silent kind. Neither Judy, nor Nick wanted to be there. It was both parts depressing and unsettling.
Nick then remembered that some evidence cannot be seen with the naked eye; sometimes you need tools. "Judy, you got a UV light on you?" Nick asked.
"Yeah, you find something?" Judy asked as she tossed Nick the shiny black stick.
"Maybe." Nick pressed the button on the side of the device, and it projected a purple light over the brick. It was near the shade of amethyst, just like Judy's eyes. He took a glance at her, observing her beautiful eyes, her small, twitching nose. "Too bad she won't let me call her cute." Nick thought to himself. He continued to search the alley with the UV light, coming up empty. He then saw, a little bright spot, like a drop of liquid.
"Carrots, I have something!" Nick called to Judy.
"What'd you find?" She replied, rushing over to her partner.
"See this?" Nick said as he pointed at the splash.
"Wouldn't doubt it."
"We'll have the CSI guys have a look at it." Judy called the precinct with her radio. "Officer Hopps to Dispatch, we have a stain that shows up under UV light. Possibly blood, over."
"Copy that, Hopps. CSI unit is on its way, over." Clawhauser replied.
"Thanks, Ben." Judy put the radio back on her belt as Ben replied "Anytime."
"You have the tape?" She asked Nick.
"Yup." He replied, handing her the tape. She closed off the area with 'crime scene' tape. "You think there's a body in the dumpsters?"
"I hope not, but check anyway." Judy said. She checked the one on the theater wall near the exit to the alley, Nick checked the only other one near the back door of the electronics store. When he opened the lid, he got a slap to the face with smell of rotting garbage. "Aagh, I think that just killed a nostril!" Nick exclaimed as he covered his nose. "Gross!" He unsteadily walked over the other dumpster to check it as well.
"Nothing here either." Judy called out after checking the second dumpster.
The third dumpster was just as useless to them as the others. "This one's empty, too." Nick called. Just then, the CSI unit came in. There were three mammals, a badger, a deer, and a caribou. All were wearing white lab coats and black protective boots.
"You found something we could use?" the deer asked Judy.
"Yes, we have this spot here." Judy replied "It shows up under UV light, and is a slight red tinge when you shine a regular light on it. Nick?" Nick tossed her the UV light stick. Judy turned it on a pointed at the stain. "We think it's a blood stain."
The caribou took out his own UV light and shined it on the stain. He scraped part of it with his hoof, and some of it changed color. "It's not blood entirely blood, some of it is bleach." The caribou said. "Probably blood they were covering up."
"We could test this sample and see if there's a trace of blood." the badger said to Judy. "Chances are, it's the kidnapper."
"Great!" Judy said with excitement.
"You guys can head out and update the case file now." the deer said to them.
"Awesome." Nick said to them. "Find something good in there, fellas!"
"We'll do our best." The badger replied as Nick and Judy exited the alley and headed to their vehicle. The feeling of being back out in the daylight was a satisfactory feeling. The dark nature of the alley had taken a small toll on both of them.
"Man, that alley does stuff to you." Nick said to Judy.
"Yeah, it does." Judy replied. She got in the driver's seat, and Nick took the passenger.
"I'm guessing now we go to his place of residence, right?" asked Nick.
"Sounds good." she replied, starting up the vehicle. "We're going to need a search warrant, though." She began driving.
"Right. TO THE PRECINCT! DANANANA!" Nick continued to recite the theme song from an old cartoon with a fox dressed up as a bat. Judy covered her mouth with her hand, struggling to not laugh at his goofy demeanor. Nick could tell she was reluctantly amused.
"Ni-ick, you're a goof." She said to him, still heavily entertained.
"My job here is done." He replied. "You smiled at my witticism. My mission is complete."
"All right, fine. You got me with that one."
"Now, let's get that warrant."
After Nick and Judy retrieved their warrant from Bogo, they proceeded to Ridley's apartment, located right next to Tundratown. That was the colder area of Savannah Central. The snow and cold weather create a gentle breeze on the border of the Savannah. Not many mammals live near the border. Most either live in the middle, where it's warm, or deep in Tundratown where it's ice cold.
"The ferret must like it cold." Nick said as they were driving to the apartment. "I once lived near the border. I hated it; too cold for me. The central area suits me just fine."
"You don't like the cold?" Judy asked. "You always had to go there to get the pawpsicles made, didn't you?"
"Okay, I like to have my room nice and warm when I sleep. It doesn't bother me otherwise."
"Mmm. Here we are." Judy drove into the parking lot of the apartment complex the ferret resided in. She parked next to the office. "Let's go." She said again.
They exited their vehicle and went up to the office entrance. The complex was two main buildings with the office in the middle, and up the street and across were more buildings, smaller in size and with their own parking spaces. The color and texture of the buildings made it seem they were designed like sandstone. Inside the office was a brown-furred bunny. She looked like she may have originally been from Bunyburrow.
"Hi, can I help you?" The female landlord asked. She was nice as well.
"Hi, I'm Officer Hopps, and this is Officer Wilde." Judy replied. "We're investigating a missing mammal case for Ridley Mark, and we were hoping we could check his place of residence."
"You have a search warrant?" The landlord asked.
Nick walked up to the window very slowly, looking the landlord in the eye. "My face is my warrant." he said, holding serious face as he glared at the rabbit. She simply raised a bored, unimpressed eyebrow. "Ahh, I'm just kidding! Here you go." He showed her the piece of paper they had received from Bogo.
She observed it for a second, just to make sure it was authentic. "He's in Building D, Room 45." The landlord handed Judy a key to the room.
"Thank you." Judy said. She looked around for building D, and found it was right across the street. The walked over to the building after waiting for another car to drive by. The building was a duplex design, and Ridley's apartment was the right side from the front entrance.
As they entered the room, a breeze drifted through the door, cold as ice. The window was left wide open, letting all the Tundratown air inside.
"Man, he REALLY likes it cold. Jeez." Nick said. He went and closed the window to keep the cold breeze out. "Dammit…" he muttered as he began to rub his paws and arms.
"Just don't tamper with anything else." Judy scolded him. "All right, what can we look for, Nick?" Judy and Nick both looked around for something they may use to find the ferret. It wasn't long before Nick pointed out something.
"Laptop?" Nick said, pointing at a sleek computer on the table, plugged in, but not on. Judy opened the lid, pressed the power button, and waited for it to start up.
"Check the other rooms." she said to him, and Nick continued to look around the halls and rooms.
Nick continued into the bedroom to check in there. The room was awfully clean. Ferrets were not known to be very tidy, much like foxes. He found a piece of paper with a phone number on it. It was a number within Zootopia, including the surrounding suburbs and towns; within the county. Nick took out an evidence bag, and put the note in it without touching it with bare paws.
"I got a little something." Nick said to Judy, showing the note.
"A number!" Judy exclaimed. "Those are always good clues. Nice job, Slick. I got the computer up, but it's locked with a password."
"Our tech guys can hack it, right?"
"Definitely. We gotta leave it here, though."
"We can take this, though?" handing the note to Judy.
"Yeah. Go check the rest of the rooms."
There was nothing of interest in the remainder of the rooms, so they returned to their vehicle with the number. Judy ran the number through the built-in computer in their car.
"Dang, the location is encrypted." Judy said, with a hint of annoyance.
"Fangmeyer can handle it, right?"
"Yeah, let's take it to him." Judy started up the engine and drove back to the precinct.
"A week?!" Judy asked, desperate for Fangmeyer to say anything else.
"At the earliest." Fangmeyer replied. "I've never seen anything this heavily encrypted before. Give me time, and it'll get done."
"Alright, I'll go let Nick know." she said, forcing a smile. "Thank you."
Judy left Fangmeyer's office and returned to the one her and Nick shared. Nick snapped his attention to the door when Judy walked in. "Well, he says it's going to take at least two weeks to get the location for the number decrypted." Judy said to Nick.
"And, it's one thirty-two right now, and our shift ends at four." Nick replied. "Paperwork's probably going to take that long. As soon as we are done, we can get ready for our date tonight."
"Ok, then. Let's get cracking."
After Nick and Judy had finished the paperwork due for that day, Nick took Judy to her apartment, and returned to his to get ready for their date. Nick will get Judy at six, plenty of time for the rabbit to prepare.
But nothing could have prepared either of them mentally for what would happen…