AUTHOR'S PREFACE:

Dear Reader,

Out of respect for your interests, I'd like to take a moment of your time to briefly explain what to expect from "Birth of Angel". That way, you can better decide if this story is one in which you'd like to invest your precious time.

First of all, "Birth of Angel" is technically a standalone sequel to a previous story of mine: "Animal Instinct". I am releasing this story separately for a few reasons, one of which is that it will work entirely on its own (hence "standalone"). If you decide to skip the original story you may miss out on some references, but the few important developments from "Animal Instinct" will be made clear to new readers. As long as you are fine with blindly accepting the starting positions of the characters, you can begin here if you so choose.

Secondly, "Animal Instinct" was originally rated "M" (following this website's guidelines) due to some sexual material. It was NOT explicit/graphic, but was fairly suggestive at moments. When beginning to release "Birth of Angel", I wanted to make it "T". ("Animal Instinct" has since been toned-down on this site. The original version will be posted to AO3 once I have an account set up.)

Third, "Birth of Angel" will have a much greater impact on the world of Zootopia. As such, it will have a slightly different tone than its predecessor. Further, it includes more world-building than the original, as well as some slightly experimental narrative choices. This story will again be a mix of Drama and Romance between a now-established WildeHopps.

As with last time, I will mark the ending with an Author's Note once the story is complete. Otherwise, expect an update sometime in the future.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my muse for this sequel! After completing "Animal Instinct", I wasn't sure I had another story to tell. However, this plot came to me when I was listening to "Dangerous" by "Two Steps From Hell" (my favorite composers). They don't often write stuff with lyrics, but I highly recommend checking out the song. The intro/climax was heavily inspired by it.

As always, thanks to my readers and reviewers for the support! You make this worth it.

-TheWaywardKid


CHAPTER ONE:

"THE LAW OF NATURE"


Blaring.

Incessant.

Shrill.

These were all words her precious creations might use to describe the cacophony echoing throughout the pristine halls of the hospital wherein Mother Nature currently sat, the noise being accompanied by bright flashes of light. It was yet another of their ingenious little creations, this "fire alarm". If she were mortal, Nature would have to agree that it did indeed suggest a sense of urgency! But as it always was, she had nothing to fear. She sighed and watched the droplets of water trickle across the display of the clock in front of her, the sprinklers above dousing the hallway with a slick layer of water. The time was 7:32am – the dawn of a new winter day.

Any minute now, she thought as she looked down the hallway. The stage is set.

She felt a little guilty peeking ahead in the story like this, but... As caretaker of her little world, there were times she simply needed to make sure things would turn out the way she planned. This was certainly one of those times. As though conducting an orchestra, Nature gave an authoritative wave to the end of the hallway; at that very moment a gray rabbit came barreling around the corner with a roll of cloth in her arms. Two small and rounded ears were draping out of the bundle.

"No! Stay away from her!"

The rabbit sprinted down the hallway toward Mother Nature, its mortal eyes unable to notice her. She saw a deep, determined fear within the purple of those eyes. She could empathize with the creature – it was a maternal fear. This rabbit was a mother, just like her...

With another wave, a pawful of angry mammals rounded the corner behind the bunny, chasing the mother down. They had little chance against their target, the panicked doe easily faster than any of the pursuers behind. Nature gave a wistful smile, knowing what these mortals did not – the dizzying screams of the fire alarm drowned out the sounds that might have warned the mother of the danger approaching ahead. With a third wave aimed in the direction the rabbit was running, another threat made its appearance and cut her off. This one held a gun.

The rabbit planted her feet into the ground – attempting to halt her sprint and bolt into a nearby room – but the floor was slippery from the water. One second the mother was waving her arms in a futile effort to keep her balance, and the next she was on the ground. The gun raised. It fired, the doe's body lurching with a pitiful squeal. Her blood quickly mixed with the water beneath her, and again the gun was aimed...

That's enough.

Mother Nature stood up, the scene stopping in time as she did so. Water droplets hung in the air like hundreds of jewels, glistening in the frozen flash of light within the hallway.

Such beauty amidst such pain...

She did not need to see more of this. The performance had played out as expected; that would be enough. It was clear the equation would work, despite some unfortunate circumstances. What had been that phrase her children tended to use?

You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

She laughed, shaking her head. It always amazed her how creative her children could be in their attempts at understanding an existence far beyond their capacity to comprehend. To them, it would be like watching a blind animal try to describe sight and, somehow, miraculously succeed! These mortal beings touched lightly upon the truth, yet lacked the ability to truly understand what it was their paws touched. It was a flaw she had designed herself – one of many. Their unexpected aptitude at circumventing that particular flaw always made her very proud.

Truly it is their imperfections which make them perfect... The mammal without a flaw has the greatest flaw of all: Having none.

Nature walked past the gruesome, timeless statues and made her way to a nearby window. A few stories below, motionless tongues of flame licked at the base of the building. Rioting animals of all breeds dotted the ground like figures on a chess board – the cause of the current commotion. This was part of the plan, too; from the ashes of hatred Nature intended to grow a new era for her precious children. The turmoil was not an obstacle, but rather a cog in the wheel of her grand machine: The violent mammals on display before her were attacking the hospital in her name.

Oh how mistaken they are! But every piece has its place...

Mother Nature had watched as her creations had formed their religions across the centuries, each one containing crucial pieces of her universal truths. It was yet one more way these mortal creatures attempted to reach past their limits. But... their revelations were never whole, always tainted by the bias of their transient, singular existences. For every gem of enlightenment there would be a corresponding scar of misunderstanding. They would assume Nature's intent in situations where she had none. It was hilarious, really! What was another of those phrases they liked to use?

Can't see the forest for the trees.

These religions formed lists of tenets which claimed to be the definitive Laws of Nature. Depending on the facets and history of the given culture, these "Laws" were always formed from perspective and tradition (such as from habits relevant to self-preservation in days gone by). These "Laws" persisted under the assumption that what had worked before would continue to work. If acting a certain way had kept these animals alive so far, who was to say it wasn't Nature's intention to continue to do so?

In truth, Mother Nature only had one law: The Law of Evolution.

Nature let her surroundings fade into nothingness, letting herself drift backward into the ebb and flow of the ocean of time. She relaxed as she floated, content with her work so far. Some of her children called her an artist, painting the world for all to enjoy; others called her a scientist or a mathematician, performing cold experiments on reality's denizens; still others called her a ruler, passing judgment on all who lived within her dominion. None of these proclamations were true.

Or, perhaps, they all are, she thought wryly.

If there were one mortal profession that could accurately describe Mother Nature, it would be that of a storyteller. She told the greatest story of all: The story that wrote itself – the story that told its own stories. Life was an infinite web of tales, all weaving together in incomprehensible ways. Every strand was important in some way or another.

I love them all, my precious characters.

A good story needed the wonderful, the ugly... the highs and the lows. It needed grief, and love, and victory, and defeat. It needed champions of the light, and demons of the dark. Like the ocean of time itself, Existence demanded the ability to flow – to calmly rest one day, and crash its waves the next. And so Mother Nature bestowed her one fixed rule upon Existence: The consistent presence of Change. A good story always needed to evolve and grow. A story that did not adapt would grow stagnant and die. A story without change was not a story at all...

And what a story this has been!

Nature proudly peered into the ripples of time. She watched once more as her first creations made their mark upon the world so many thousands of years ago. Each species followed her Law of Evolution from the start, changing and adapting to their environments in new and fascinating ways! Some developed sensitive ears to better survey their surroundings. Others learned to climb so that they might pick the fruit from the trees. One by one, each animal developed their own specialties, filling in the gaps of blank canvas that had been Nature's world... It was a magnificent sight to behold!

But what would a story be without a little drama? she had thought at the time.

And so there were the rare few that developed more... ferocious tactics. These mammals became the first predators, hunting the others around them. Despite their lower numbers they quickly became the kings of their kingdoms, their might unrivaled by those they ate. The world was divided in two: Vicious predator, or meek prey. Fear... treachery... blood-lust... Thousands of years ago, these had been the forces that had ruled that world.

But change was inevitable, and after some time the story turned to a new chapter. Mother Nature's children began to stand and walk on two feet, forming languages and societies. It was a new era, one of advancement and exploitation. Her creations learned to conquer and harness their environments rather than simply live in them. Soon after, the first weapons were invented.

Wow, did that flip the story around!

With the dawn of weapons, prey were now on equal footing with their predator enemies. Predators had lost their advantage and, more importantly, were greatly outnumbered. The hunters became the hunted, despised for their savage history. Nature wouldn't have been surprised had the prey decided to wipe them out, but... This was an age of entrepreneurship. The prey quickly realized that the predators had some useful skills they lacked. Like the raging power of the rivers and the vast expanse of the plains, they decided that this too could be harnessed for their personal gain.

The predators became enslaved.

Keeping the predators was initially quite the task. First and foremost had been the problem regarding how to feed them. Agriculture quickly advanced past the growth of crops – insects and poultry had not evolved into sentience, becoming an easy source of meat for the carnivorous captives. So too were fish a good source of protein for the slaves, leading to the invention of boats and the rise of seafaring.

And soon, the entire world was conquered.

As cultures met and mingled, ideas were shared. Technology quickly advanced, giving rise to faster transport, communication, and electronics. After centuries of time, tensions between predators and prey had waned. The captors saw their slaves as less of a threat; some of them even began to sympathize with the beasts! A great war was fought over the matter, and finally a compromise had been settled upon.

The predators would wear special collars.

These collars were designed to keep their supposedly-savage instincts at bay, giving them harsh electrical shocks whenever any emotion was deemed too intense. It was a needless, painful invention, but it bought the predators their first taste of freedom in hundreds of years. With that freedom blossomed a new relationship with their former sources of food: For the first time in history, predators and prey began to work together.

With all animals now tentatively united in purpose, Mother Nature's children embarked on designing their greatest achievement yet. They poured all of their knowledge and effort into the cause, designing one gigantic city where all mammals could live together. Thus rose the wonder that was Zootopia.

And with it, the promise of the city would be tested.

Her children would have to define what the word "together" really meant. As primal memories of the hunt faded further in their minds, predators began to rebel against the constraints that had been placed upon them. One voice resonated among predator and prey alike like no other before: Martin Leopard King Junior.

...The collars were no more.

With predators and prey finally allowed to live as true equals, all it took was a little nudge to finish the transition. For this purpose, Mother Nature introduced Nicholas Wilde and Judith Hopps. The heroics of the two in bringing down Bellwether began to usher in a new era of peace for the city of Zootopia, the stunning image of the pair serving as a perfect example of how all mammals could live as partners.

Or even more... Nature chuckled. I still have some work to do.

She sank back into the waters of time, appearing on the first day of winter somewhere in the middle of Tundratown – the corner of Aurora Avenue and Borealis Boulevard. At the spot stood a certain sarcastic red fox, holding a bouquet of flowers and a heart-shaped box of chocolates. A sappy gesture, even from him.

He is the key, thought Nature as she stared approvingly at the male. This fox and his rabbit... Together they will be my start to a new chapter.

Yes, she could still see the microscopic specks of blue in his bloodstream (remnants of a prior struggle). Unbeknownst to the fox, the chemicals of the Night Howlers had never fully left his system. Even now they were slowly reshaping his DNA, kicking the hidden, adaptive genes of his ancestors into overdrive. A single drop of blood fell from his nose and stained the white snow at his feet. Nick sniffed his nose and checked the time, oblivious to the changes within. Mother Nature smiled, dipping a pen into the starry ink of history.

This is going to be fun!

Eagerly, she began to write.

...Nature had found a way.