Nicholas eased up off the gas as he approached the stoplight. Its red indicator nearly as red as the Impala he proudly, safely drove. He wouldn't dare try to speed, both knowing that the ZPD patrols the area, and for the sake and safety of his own family.
Though he knew better than to use the main roads for midday traffic, today was easy going. And though this wasn't the premier neighborhood in Zootopia as it was sandwiched between what was usually two almost warring streets, the added measure of the usual construction meant that at least some good was here. Having just finished lunch at the Bug-Burga with his mother and daughter, he would soon return to his family's condo, check for any new messages, call Carrots, and wait for his mother to stop by.
With the windows rolled down, he took in a deep, thoughtful breath, catching whiffs of every nearby citizen. His ear flickered the moment he heard a small squeak and ruffle beside him.
"Daddyyyyy," cooed the 11 year-old raccoon, his adopted daughter. "Can't you tell me what Gramma's getting me?!"
Her wide eyes, so hopeful, glinted with excitement and joy and her tail couldn't be any more of an obvious tell either.
Nick smiled. While his mother didn't say what the surprise was, he knew it would be something that Victory would cherish forever. Certainly not candy or something that Judy would disapprove of - though he wouldn't mind a paw full of gummy worms himself. A half-hearted chuckle bubbled out of the fox at the idea of Bunnyscout cookies; they were certainly getting better as of late.
"Certainly, sweetie," said Nick, drumming his claws on the steering wheel and waiting for the light to change; his green eyes glinting with a hint of mischief. "Gramma's gonna get you..." he paused, adding a little tension and flair to his would-be performance. "A surprise!" he answered with a smile.
The light turned green the same moment he caught the somewhat mortified, albeit excited, look on his daughters face. 'It's called a hustle, sweetheart.' he mused, easing off the brake and turning down Fence street.
He smirked a little at the thought of the gift as he glanced over to the giddy kit. He remembered how his mother always looked out for her 'Little Nicky,' even after he took up life on the streets. Waiting at odd hours of the night, calling him on the phone she managed to scrape enough cash to buy for him. Begging him to come home for dinner. She and Judy and were so much alike, neither giving up on him and stubborn to a fault. His mind slowly began to drift onto the bunny before a short, exasperated sigh drew him back.
"Daaaaaaaaad..." whimpered the raccoon, leaning into her seat and folding her arms.
The fox couldn't stop giggling, "Ah ah," he tutted, "I can't give away Gramma's secret gift." Nick would have picked her up and nuzzled her playfully to get her to laugh, but the bemused smirk on her muzzle and the fact that he was driving told him otherwise. Victory would have to wait for her present like any other kit.
"Whyyyyyyyyy?" she groveled again.
"Because, it's a surprise, silly!"
"But I still wanna knooowwwww!"
"You'll have to wait until Gramma comes over later today, okay?"
Heading down the street, he saw a few construction vehicles fixing up the road, with orange cones lined up perfectly in order to block off traffic from any side. Despite him slowing to a crawl and wanting to turn streets, the sight of his daughter with pleading eyes caused him to inwardly flinch. The look she had was the same Judy had given him so many times when she wanted to drag him along to do something, she even had the acting to boot.
And then... "Pleeeeeeeaaaassseeeee?" There was that little whimper she gave him. Ears pinned, and paws clasped, Victory begged to know such highly secure information. Nick knew she'd be great at interrogations should she ever pursue the path of law enforcement. The look she gave took all of Nick's willpower to not concede to.
With his kit now on the verge of getting the answer to her present, he had to think fast, play it cool. In other words, be the 'Sly Fox' he always was. So without glancing over, he took on the same visage: ears pinned, lip curled and eyes widened in what some would say was sorrow or horror.
The moment he heard her little whimper cease, he answered, "But Vic... What would Gramma say if you knew the surprise already?"
The silence that befell him almost made him drop the act... almost. For when he glanced to his right and saw the stunned look on Victory's face, his own heart melted. He would have responded, said anything - teasing or comforting - but instead, he slowed the vehicle when a flash of orange entered his view.
Coming to a full stop just in front of a suited mammal - a bunny in construction gear - Nick looked around. It was your average, everyday repair. A few animals setting up traffic cones, mixing, and other such things.
With the bunny holding a rotating slow/stop sign in front of him, he would have to wait; though he wouldn't dare look at Victory as he didn't have any fallback plan should she pursue her answer. Instead, he kept his eyes pinned on the bunny just ahead. Ears trapped under his hard hat while he talked into a radio and looked around, Nick could only really think of Judy. 'I wonder if she'd like one for Christmas.' he mused, knowing full well that she had no real use for it, but it would still be funny.
Though after a few minutes stuck deep in thought, Nick became a little anxious himself. He had to call Judy as soon as he got back. And not only that, he had to clean up their apartment a little before Gramma arrived.
A little frustrated that he'd been there for about ten minutes - no cars or motion in sight and certainly no emergency crew - the fox huffed and lightly beeped the horn. It startled the construction bunny a little, causing him to do a short hop and his helmet nearly fell off.
Both thankful to have the attention, and sorry/not sorry to have startled the bunny, Nick leaned his head out the window.
"Hey, buddy, what's the holdup?" he asked impatiently. He had a kit to return home.
Eyeing him, the bunny nervously strode over. "Sorry about that, sir" he apologized, pointing around the traffic cones and onto more of the street. "Go on through, but just take the second left. We're busy trying to get a leaky pipe up."
Nick smiled a toothy smirk and eased off the brakes. He quickly took to weaving around the line of cones as the bunny disappeared behind the mess of construction work.
Doing as he was told, he found it a little odd, but shrugged all the same.
"Second... left." he repeated, whispering while his muscle memory took over.
"Daddyyy, pleeeeeeeaaaaaaasssseeee?" the kit begged yet again.
"You're awfully persistent, you know that?" Nick replied as he looked over at his raccoon with a smirk.
"It worked last time." she replied, with her own devilish smirk that reminded Nick of himself.
He had been to Fence street many, many times, and only then did it really confuse him. Just up ahead, he saw two mammals, a hyena and likely a wolf, wave him down the pathway, a one-way street.
"Huh..." he hummed, raising a brow at why any construction crew would send him anywhere near that when any car going his direction would be considered 'wrong way' to begin with.
That's odd... Maybe they've closed it off?' he guessed, turning down the street and instantly fretting oncoming traffic with his daughter seated quietly beside him.
Much to his surprise, it was empty at the end; he sighed in relief. Driving slowly towards the entrance where he saw the bustle of vehicles going about their daily life, he knew he'd be home in no time. He was nearly a quarter of the way down the old road when a sudden thought occurred to him, a certain absence of something. A terrible gut feeling pierced him and forced him to look around. Within seconds he realized what was missing: construction signs.
There were no 'stop' signs, no 'yield' signs, no 'detours,' or anything of the like. And to that fact, there were no construction mammals anywhere in sight.
As if to warn himself, he stopped the vehicle abruptly. With the lurch of the car and curious look on his muzzle, he saw a vehicle slowly round the corner several hundred yards away.
"Uh..." he whispered, taking a moment to take in the situation. "Is this just bad planning or..."
He saw the vehicle slowly inch towards them as he put his own car in reverse. He felt a little weight placed atop his left paw. Looking down, he saw Victory give him a rather frightened look.
"Daddy?" she asked. "What's going on?
Assuredly, he didn't know, but he'd surely figure out why construction crews sent them this way. Still, he didn't want his little girl to panic. "Probably just some lost mammal, swee-"
He never got to finish his words.
The car that he had seen - indiscernible at this speed, but bearing contrasting blue paint - came barreling towards them.
Flinching at the speed and having his instincts take over, Nick floored the gas to go in full reverse. He barely had time to even blink before his vehicle was going 30 backwards down the street.
A shrill cry and crunch of metal was all he could hear as his car impacted something seconds into their escape. Literally being flown back into his seat by the crash, he forced himself to look over to Victory to see if she was alright. Frightened, and curling in on herself, the little raccoon seemed okay despite the scare.
But what was worse than his daughter being terrified was the current vehicle that they had hit: the tail end of a much larger truck.
In the haze of the crash, Nick knew exactly what was happening.
"NO!" he shouted, struggling to grasp the crying kit while the flash of blue continued its trek towards him. Time seemed to slow to an endless stretch of eternity as the vehicle seemed only meters away. Nick reached his arms out, hoping for nothing more than to comfort the kit and shield her from what he knew was about to happen.
Red paws outstretched in front of him, and glossy blue to his left, he tried, tried to reach her, but the sudden jerk of his body sent him forward along with the scream of glass and force of impact.
As if they were nebulous stars, tiny shards of the windshield covered them both. From the way he lurched forward, he could clearly see the terrified look of his daughter do the same.
Red upon red, Blue upon blue. A breath, a beat, a whisper, a scream... and it all became dark…
Nick felt a throbbing in his head, a sense of asphyxia from the sack on his head, and the aching of his wrists bound by rope. Slowly gaining consciousness, he tried to comprehend what had happened. Last thing he remembered was he had gone for lunch with his mother, Marian, and on their way back, the car was hit by an explosion, leaving him unconscious. And Victory was in there with him.
"Victory…" he mumbled. Then he heard a voice from in front of him.
"Daddy? Daddy!" she cried out to him.
"Victory!" he yelled, thankful to hear her voice, but also scared even more so. He tried to push forward with his legs, but the rope kept his hands tightly secured to the pole. This didn't feel safe. She wasn't safe. "Are you okay?" he asked her.
"I'm not hurt, but I'm really scared, daddy." she replied with an utter distress in her voice.
Nick tried in a failed attempt to shake the bag off his head. "Okay, don't be afraid, okay? I'm gonna get us out of this."
"Good luck with that, partner." a male voice with a slight southern accent said from behind Nick. He could hear the footfalls of the mammal moving around his right side in front of him.
"No… it can't be…" Nick said in disbelief as the sack was ripped off his head and he was met with a bright light, blotted out by the figure before him.
"Oh, but it is." The jackal in front of him spoke with a small, devilish smile on his face.
"Donald..." Nick gasped. Donald was a friend of Nick's from a while back, during his hustling days. The jackal moved away from the fox, letting the blinding light sting his eyes. He saw directly in front of him Victory bound to a support beam about 5 meters from where he was. She had her favorite purple and paint-stained jacket on, a grey tee under it, and blue jeans on. The distressed look on her face sparked an anxiousness within Nick. His little girl… no safer from danger than he was. If only he hadn't taken Victory to lunch that day and went tomorrow as he had planned before. Around the room were a badger and a bunny, likely for extra muscle.
"It's been quite some time, Nicky. How's life been treating ya?" he asked, spinning a razor knife in his paws.
"What do you want?" Nick asked, refusing to play Donald's games.
"Whaaat, we can't chat like old friends for a second time?" he asked again, walking to the left of Nick.
"Daddy, what's going on?" the little raccoon asked.
"Vic, stay out of this." Nick said to her with a stern, yet heartfelt voice.
"No, no, the little one's right. She deserves to know what happened, what YOU did all those years ago. You remember that day?"
"IT WASN'T ME, you know that!" Nick shouted in distress.
"Oh, it wasn't, huh? Let me tell you both the story from MY perspective."
Nick let out a cross between a sigh and a growl as Donald began to tell the tale from long ago.
"Okay, guys, you ready?" Donald asked.
"Ready." replied both Nick and Mike. Mike was a dingo, and he, Nick, and Donald were all best buds. They always pulled scams and hustles together and have been for two years. Nick was twenty-two years old, Donald, twenty-four, and Mike, twenty-six. This time, they had planned their biggest hustle ever. Over 200kg of various drugs ready for the taking. Rare drugs at that. Nick (almost) never did drugs, so this was more of an opportunity to get rich than anything else. Nick would get his share to do whatever, and the other two would probably smoke some before selling it as well. None of them were that big on using such materials for pleasure.
Giving his pals a nod to confirm their plan, the fox took off towards the open garage door to distract the enemy gang's guards while Donald and Mike ran and hid where they would meet as soon as Nick got in. He could very easily talk his way into the warehouse, and let the other two in at the rendezvous point, so he was their only hope at this point.
Nick had snuck around and talked his way out of getting busted by all the sheep bodyguards, and on his way to the door, he caught a glimpse of their target; the stash of drugs. The sheer mass of it all, and with how much of it they were gonna get away with, Nick's share would have him set for quite some time. He let his fellows in through the back door, and led them around to the loading bay. A variety of mammals wandered around the warehouse, many of them armed.
"Wow!" Mike whispered. "And we're taking all of it?"
"Damn right we are." Nick replied. "We're all gonna be set for a while when we do this. No more hustling, no more risking our lives. We can take one long vacation."
"Then let's get started." Donald said, pulling out an M9 Pistol. "You two know what to do, get it done." With that, Mike and Nick spread out while Donald snuck around the loading bay.
The two went around the base to subdue the more dangerous of the thugs hired by the drug lord. A boar by the name of Escobar ran almost all the operations like this. Donald knew that the boar had a driver or two as well, and his part of the mission was to incapacitate the driver and take the truck. He saw a mean-looking hyena with a clipboard going around and checking items off a list. The clothing and his behavior suggested he was the driver. Donald laid low for a moment until he spotted Nick around the corner, giving him the signal. He replied with his own gesture to Nick, and then maneuvered around the warehouse, unseen by the thugs until he got near the driver, conveniently behind a stack of crates.
The jackal made quick work of the hyena, hitting him in the back of the knee to disrupt his balance, then grabbing his neck in a chokehold and holding him until he passed out. The temptation to simply snap his neck was there, but he knew Mike, and certainly not Nick would approve, so he decided against it.
The body slumped to the floor, and Donald noticed his partners were in position for the next step in his master plan… the getaway. He ran towards the truck, but stopped in his tracks right next to the end of the wall. He saw the Escobar the boar himself, with nothing more than a bulletproof vest regarding protection. The jackal checked the magazine in his pistol. 10 bullets. One shot to the head, and he'd be dead. If they killed him, the rest of the smugglers would scatter, taking hundreds of trucks with them, and with lesser security. The trio could pull off more stunts like this, and have an easier time doing so.
'But what would Nick think?' he thought to himself. He looked over at the fox and dingo in the truck, beckoning him to run and get in with them. He looked back at the drug lord. This could be their last chance. Pulling the slide back on his pistol, the jackal rushed into the open, shooting at the boar.
"Don, no!" Nick yelled. Donald fired four shots, and three of them hit the boar in the head and neck. The boar fell to the ground with a heavy thud as the jackal leaped into the passenger seat of the truck. The smuggler's drug lord had just been killed.
"Let's go!" Donald shouted. Mike slammed on the gas, and the truck took off from the warehouse with the sounds of bullets breaching the body of the vehicle. After they leapt into the main road and escaped the gunfire, Nick turned to his friend.
"What are you doing, are you nuts?!" Nick asked Don in a heated voice.
"Setting us up for life." he replied, restoring the magazine to twelve bullets. "I just killed Escobar. Without him, stuff like this will be a lot easier and come a lot more frequently."
"But that's not right! Killing for your own gain? That's crossing a line, man."
"Think about it, Nick, with what we're getting away with today, we'll be set for a year or two, maybe. With the stashes they'll be sending out with flawed security, and to anywhere, we can pull stuff like this until we're set for life."
"But… killing? You can't just go and… do that, Don. Mike, back me up here." Nick turned to the dingo driving the vehicle as another bullet hit the truck.
"I dunno, Nick, I think I'm gonna side with him on this one."
Nick's expression turned to one of shock. "What?" he asked.
"Without Escobar, the streets will be clean of drugs far sooner. I know we're taking them, but… they just shouldn't be available like this. Not to just anyone. I say he did something for the greater good."
"Thank you." Donald said to Mike.
"I can't believe you two." Nick said, crossing his arms. Another bullet struck the window next to Mike. Seeing the car with sheep and wolves climbing out the windows and firing at the truck, the dingo swerved to the side, driving the opposing car into a fire hydrant. Another came from behind and bumped the truck forward, compromising the control Mike had. He could barely keep the vehicle on the road. The right side climbed over a parked taxi cab, and was then hit yet again from behind.
"Woah, woah, woah!" the jackal yelled as the vehicle turned over. Mike finally lost control, and the truck flipped onto its side and slid down the road. It ran head on into the corner of an alleyway, damaging both the building and the truck's cab. All three mammals were still conscious. Nick crawled out and helped his friends through the damaged windshield.
"Go, split up!" Nick yelled to them. "We'll meet up later."
"The drugs…!" Donald said, looking back.
"Forget them, let's save our skins first!"
The jackal let out a small grunt as he ran through the alley, trying to find a way out among the labyrinth of buildings and alleys.
Donald in the alley
The jackal drew his pistol and pulled back the slide as he ran through all the small corridors of the alley. Nick could complain all he wanted, but Donald was not going to be the prey, not with other armed mammals after them. He could hear the thugs in the distant alley shouting commands.
"Find the jackal and bring him to me! He killed the Boss, and I'm gonna make him suffer for it! GO!"
"Not this time." Don whispered, being sure to keep his gun drawn as he moved around.
The buildings that surrounded the alleys were of skyscraper height, leaving little light from the pale blue sky up above, aside from the flickering light bulbs that hung above boarded-up doors. The cold breeze that drifted through, carrying a mashup of scents and loose trash, brought an uncommon eeriness to this desolate area of the city. Fresh air was almost nonexistent, and even rumors suggest hallucinations are a possibility to those who dare wander in there.
As the jackal carefully moved about the bleak, grey backstreets, he could hear the other mammals searching for him, spreading throughout the maze. As he approached a corner, a wolf came around before him, armed with an assault rifle. Before he could even fire, Donald quickly raised up his gun and shot first, hitting the wolf in the neck and throwing him to the ground. He let out a breath, and lowered the pistol a little. His ears picked up more footsteps from behind, and he took cover behind a dumpster as an armored goat fired at him with a semiauto pistol. As soon as he finished, Don fired two of his own, both of them headshots.
He continued to wander through the alley without the sight of another mammal. Until he heard gunfire from his right. Looking over, he saw Nick fire a couple shots from a pistol, then run to down the alley to his left, out of sight. Confused, he ran after him, and he entered the area they started in, and to his left, Nick was kneeling over Mike, seeming to be anxious.
"Nick!" he called out as he ran towards them. "Mike! What happened?"
Nick in the alley
The alley was deathly quiet. The ambient city noise and his own footfalls and breathing were all he could hear as he ran in between the cold, dismal buildings. He soon found himself at a dead end, with nothing more than a door right in front of him, and the exit he came from. He looked up at the blue sky, partially veiled by grey clouds as he took in the stuffy air.
The sounds of the drug lord's thugs echoed from the lane the fox entered from. He was at a dead end with nowhere to go. He ran and hid behind a dumpster as a burly badger and three wolves ran into the corner looking for him. They all carried automatic rifles and wore bulletproof vests.
"Find him!" the badger yelled. The wolves began to spread to search the area. Nick looked under the dumpster and waited until the wolf closest to him looked away. He then picked up a small rock, about the size of his palm, and threw it at a window across from him. His plan worked perfectly, and all the mammals drew the attention to the sound of the broken glass.
Nick climbed in through the open window above the dumpster without making a sound, and ran through the building, unnoticed by the armed wolves and badger. As he made his way to the other end of the abandoned building, another wolf walked around the corner with a pistol in his paw. The fox charged him before he could fire, and shoved him into a work table. Nick moved forward and threw a few jabs to the wolf's face while he stood pinned against the table.
The wolf managed to grab Nick's head and shove him away. He then took a knife from the table and attempted to stab the fox with it, only to be countered by him grabbing the wolf's wrist and throwing another punch to his face, then kicking him down to his knee. Then he took the knife and stabbed into the wolf's shoulder, creating a small spray of blood. The wolf screamed as Nick shoved him back over to the table, followed by another heavy punch to the jaw. This rendered the wolf beaten and unconscious. The fox left no delay, immediately picking up the gun with his blood-stained hands and running out the door back into the alley.
Nick walked back through the alley without a sight of any more of the boar's brutes, still holding the pistol. He made it to the wide pass they started in, and he saw Mike near the end of it.
"Mike!" he called out.
"Nick!" he replied. They both started to run towards each other, when a car drove on to the curb behind Mike. A sheep drew his head out from the rear window with an automatic rifle and fired at both the fox and dingo before driving off. Nick dropped to the ground to avoid the bullets as they struck the ground around him, and started to return fire, acting on instinct.
After the car had driven off, Nick rushed over to Mike, who was on the ground, seeming to be struggling to get up. He saw bullet holes over the dingo's body. He had been shot.
"Nick…" he started, but before he could finish, his paw fell limp and breathed his last. Nick couldn't utter any words from the shock he just witnessed.
He heard a voice from behind call out his name. "Nick!" It was Donald. "Mike! What happened?" he asked as he approached them. He saw the blood stains on Mike's chest, and the gun in the fox's bloody hands. The fox and jackal looked at each other for a moment. Don looked all but confused and slightly angry as well.
"Why…?" the jackal asked. He jumped to the conclusion that Nick shot his friend.
"It's not what you think, Don!" he said, standing up, with the pistol very loose in his paw.
"Why? How could you? I trusted you!" He began to stomp toward the fox.
"No, please, let me explain…" Nick pleaded as he dropped the gun and held up his paws in front of him.
"YOU MURDERER!" he shouted.
"Waste 'em!" the badger yelled from the other side of the alley with two wolves at his side. Nick and Donald ran around the corner, away from the flurry of bullets. Nick led a few steps ahead of Donald.
Now the fox was faced with a tough decision. He knew for a fact that Donald would try to sabotage him and get him killed. He wondered if he should undermine the jackal, or try to fight him off and run. There ain't no way in hell he would take the fall himself. The two kept running as bullets whizzed past them. Nick took a left and headed out towards the open street. Looking behind him, he saw Donald almost within reach, his eyes burning with rage.
"Get back here, you son of a bitch!" he yelled. Nick kept running as fast as he could across the street as heavy traffic rushed by. The skidding of tires and clang of the vehicles bumping into one another was all that the fox heard as he headed into the other alley. He heard the loud grunt of his former friend as he was struck by a vehicle. Nick looked back when he made it to the corner of the three-way alley. He saw the jackal on the ground, staring back at him. The look he saw, was it of desperation? Did he want his help?
Donald screamed in agony and took out his pistol and fired at the fox. Nick ran to the left, away from his enemies, which now included the one he called friend. He heard the jackal cry out, "You can't hide forever, Nick! You will pay for this!" The fox blended with the crowd after exiting the alley, as if nothing happened.
Donald stood over a table with his open palms resting on it. He stared at an old picture of him, Nick, and Mike. Victory could not believe the story she just heard. She looked at her father. He looked beaten, depressed. Like he had just lost something he cared for.
"Daddy?" she asked with no reply.
Nick looked up at Donald. "I did not kill Mike," he said, staring at the jackal. "I picked up the gun after a fistfight with a wolf. A car drove by, they shot at us, and hit him instead of me. The blood was the wolf's, not his."
"You expect me to believe that?" Don asked, turning his head and looking Nick dead in the eyes. "You and I both know you're too damn good at talking your way out of things."
"I didn't do it!" Nick yelled. "You know how close we were, I would never do that to him, or you!"
"Bullshit!" Donald yelled back as he pounded the table and moved towards the fox. "You destroyed my trust, OUR trust! And there is no restitution without the shedding of innocent blood… her blood."
"NO!" Nick cried out. "No, please don't do this, I beg you!" The jackal moved closer to Victory, and every step broke Nick to the core more and more.
"Too late. It must be done, Nick. You brought this on yourself."
"STOP!" he shouted at the top of his lungs with his eyes ready to shed tears.
"Hmm… where should we start?" Donald said as he walked around the raccoon. She wore a look of unmistakable fear; wide eyes, quick breathing, and Nick could only watch in horror. "The face?" The jackal slashed the knife upwards on Victory's left cheek, under her eye and ear.
"Aaahhh!" she cried out in pain as a streak of red began to bleed across her cheek. The sound of the blade slashing flesh, his daughter's cry, it snapped Nick into an unforgiving wrath, and his eyes began to burn with fury.
Without hesitation, Nick roared and bounded forward, tearing the rope and separating the column from the concrete ground. Before Donald could even react, Nick had already taken hold of him, pinned him against the wall and began to beat him down out of unhinged rage, while Victory watched in horror.
After a few heavy blows, the jackal managed to kick the fox away from him. Nick planted himself firm on his four paws, with his muzzle curled back, baring his sharp teeth. He let out a vicious growl as his eyes set on the mammal he once called his friend. He felt ready to kill to protect his little girl.
"Get him!" Donald yelled, and the other two thugs charged after Nick. Nick dodged the hook punch from the badger and the leaping kick from the bunny, and rushed towards his daughter. He tried desperately to use his claws to free her from the rope. The sheer count of strands in the cable made it difficult to cut through.
"Dad!" Victory shrieked as Donald swung a pipe at Nick's head with a loud grunt. Nick and Victoria both ducked, and the metal clang from the impact of the pipe against the steel pillar echoed throughout the building. Nick grabbed the weapon, and punched the jackal in the gut and face a few times until he let go. Don then pulled out a knife and tried to swipe it at the fox with a backhand. Nick grabbed his forearm, slammed the pipe over his hand, and kicked him away. He then picked up the knife and went back over to Victory, cutting the rope around her wrists and ankles. Now she could escape.
"Go, go!" he yelled. "Get out of here!" The badger came from behind and grabbed Nick's neck, holding him tightly. Nick ripped the blade across the badger's upper arm, causing him to groan and loosen his grip. He then slid the pipe between his neck and the badger's arm, pushing it forward and releasing the badger's grip, ducked, and made a baseball swing to the badger's jaw, throwing him to the ground.
While Nick fought off the three mammals with a raging vitality, Victoria scoured the building for an exit, but at the same time, she knew she had to help her dad. She looked back again at her hero fighting off the onslaught of mammals, and she herself was impressed with how well he was holding up. He started to use his claws and teeth as weapons in addition to the pipe, biting Donald in the side. It seemed he could fight off these guys, but it could turn at any moment. He needed help.
She found a table scattered with many different items. Scanning her eyes over it, the raccoon found a radio, Nick's police radio. 'Clawhauser!' she thought, and immediately picked it up and pressed the button on the side. "Victoria Wilde to Dispatch, can you read me?" she said, trying her best to sound official despite the situation. After a couple seconds with no reply, she tried again. "Ben?"
"Victory?" Clawhauser asked through the static with a concerned tone. "Wh-what are you doing? Are you okay?"
The sound of his voice brought a slight feeling of comfort to Victory. "No… me and dad were kidnapped. Dad's fighting three other guys, and he's in trouble. Please, send help Ben, please…" She was on the verge of tears now.
"Okay, okay, Victory, I have cops on the way. Until then, just lay low, alright? Your dad can handle it. Just trust me."
Victory looked back at her father. Nick slid out of the way of the rabbit as it leaped past him again, still trying to kick him. After the rabbit landed, the fox threw the pipe at him, striking him hard in the head and knocking him out cold. Both of them were down, now it was time to take care of his nemesis, who seemed to have vanished. He looked behind him, and there Donald was, clutching a wound on his side, holding a pistol in his paws, and aiming at Nick. As he fired a shot, Nick dove for a pile of crates and boxes, taking cover behind there, still holding the knife in his paw.
"I have to help him…" Victory muttered, dropping the radio and sneaking around the room to her dad's remaining foe.
"Wait! Vic, NO!" Ben screamed over the radio as it fell to the floor.
"You could have been set for YEARS, Nick!" Donald shouted. "No more hustling, no more cheating." He fired another shot at the boxes. "But then you betrayed the both of us. Killed my friend, and WHY? Because I killed the biggest drug lord in the city? You selfish little SHIT!" The boxes creaked and fractured as the jackal unloaded another bullet.
"Truth is, I would've shot you first!" Nick shouted back. "I always liked Mike more than you. I was a bad man back then, but you know I'd never resort to murder. You're too blinded by your anger to think for one second!"
"You can't talk your way out of this! I will avenge him, and You. Will. Die!"
Victory ran up to the jackal and grabbed his arm with the pistol in it. "No, stop!" she cried.
"Vic, NO!" Nick shouted as he stood up from behind the boxes and rushed around them. Victory winced as Donald threw her on the ground with a backhand. He aimed the gun at her. Victory was too fear-stricken to move, and Nick felt his world collapsing.
Without hesitation, Nick threw the knife across the room, and it landed in the jackal's left shoulder, driving a loud growl out of him. The fox charged as fast as he could, while Donald fired at him. He shoved the jackal over and threw jab after jab to his jaw. When his balance was unstable, Nick knelt down, grabbed the pipe again, and struck a heavy blow against the jackal. He flew backwards into the electrical box, and flashes of light and sparks flew all over the place as the jackal screamed in agony.
He then fell to his knees, and looked up at his former friend, who wore a look of disgust and exhaustion. Nick swung the pipe again across his face, and the jackal fell, unable to move.
"Daddy?" Victory said as he stood over his enemy's limp body.
Nick turned and looked her in the eye, while his own were slightly bloodshot and ravaged with fatigue. He dropped the pipe in his right hand, with his left hand clutching his right side and blood running through it. He took a few steps forward, but he fell to his knees, and then on his back.
"Daddy!" she cried as she got up and ran over to him. He began to breathe heavily as the blood spread throughout his shirt. "Daddy, no, please, Dad… Don't go…" she said with tears running from her eyes, mixing with the blood from her cheek as it ran down her face. She didn't know what to do. Her dad was dying, and all she could really do was watch.
"Sweetie…" he said to her with blood dripping from his lip. "Get… the ZPD…"
"They're on their way… Daddy, don't die, please…" She caressed his fur gently while she squeezed his paw.
"Victory…" he said with his fading breath as the blood dripped from his lip. "Did… you know that… your name… and mine… are alike?" Even knowing he was on the edge of his life, Nick could still find something to talk about.
She sniffled and let out a small smile despite the circumstances. "How…?" she asked.
"The root of the name 'Nicholas'… it goes back to the meaning 'victory of the people'…"
"Nick means Victory…" she concluded as the tears continued to run down her face, while grasping his paw in her own.
"Yeah..." He let out a small cough. "You're my Victory…" he said weakly as his eyes closed more and more.
"And you're my Daddy..." she cried as she grasped his neck, praying that each breath he took was not his last, praying in her heart that this was not happening, trying to savor this heartfelt moment in the world of pain…