I do not own Zootopia, that belongs to Disney. This a fan work made solely for the sake of amusement.

Interspecies Relationship Support Network- Tri-Burrow Chapter

Chapter Ten: Pursuit

By: Gabriel LaVedier

"She took a terrible beating. Once we got the maid outfit off her midsection was a mess of blunt rakes and severe tenderizing," Dr. Arctos said with a shake of her head. The Tri-Burrow Central Medical Clinic was nothing special, but was one of the more impressive structures in the county. It was reasonably sprawling, with a more Zootopian feel about it, more metal and stone, polished and sweeping. While mostly made of a large intake area with a few examination rooms and a basic but stocked lab, there were a few private rooms of different scales for longer-term patients. Hayma was laid out in one of those private rooms, an EKG beeping softly beside her, an IV drip running into her arm. Dr. Arctos was there in blue scrubs and a lab coat, checking a clipboard. "There was no internal hemorrhaging, thank the moon. She's a tough little doe. She clearly went up against something more or less her size, who worked her middle and raked with claws that lacked sharpness.

"I also did an extremely basic test on the blood on her fangs. It's clearly a different type from hers. She tagged whatever disgusting purist attacked her. If she didn't hit something vital he'll need to bandage up well. As this is the only place for medical attention for something that severe, he'll either be dead or on the run to somewhere with any kind of clinic. I called the Jack Lepus Memorial clinic at least, the only thing comparable. They know to lock him down."

Buck was bent over the bed, gently rubbing the back of Hayma's free hand. "Why's she still out, Doc?"

"The severe trauma was bad enough that the pain and shock put her out. As for why she's still out, I have her sedated because, even if there was no internal injuries of a severe nature, she's been beaten to just a step from that point. If she was awake she'd be off her head on the strongest painkillers I can give her. I know you need to ask her questions... and other things... but for now, she needs rest."

"I know it'll take time, and won't help the investigation, but send that blood to Zootopia. When we get this monster I want his DNA to put the bow on his prison sentence," Beatrix said softly.

"Understood, Sheriff. Deputy... I... I could let you stay here. It won't hurt anything..."

"No. She needs me out there finding the desolation-spawn that did this," Buck said, rising up. His uniform was still stained with blood from holding onto Hayma.

"I never got a chance to say anything in the investigation. I didn't see all that much, but I noticed that we had more heads than were on the list. That tends to happen because, even if we need the donations and dues, there's some nod and smile action going on if they do plan to join later and don't eat anything. First time is free, but that's a registered thing, some mammals need to really look it over before they join. Like... I won't assume anything, Deputy, but like you, perhaps, Sheriff."

Beatrix flicked her ears and looked directly at Dr. Arctos. "I appreciate your kind words, but that was a secret until very recently, and its revelation was an indication that someone's been telling tales, and getting them to very bad folks. How did you hear about it?"

"Oh! Es tut mir Leid, Sheriff! I didn't know. I heard it from Meine Liebchen. Jaguar. He mentioned it while we..." Dr. Arctos' ears grew pink and she looked away. "We talk much when we are very close."

"Well that checks out," Beatrix said with a grin. "We'll go talk to him and see where he heard about it."

Buck squeezed Hayma's hoof and stepped away from the bed. "Take good care of her."

"That's my job, Deputy. You have my word," Dr. Acrtos said.

The pair entered their cruiser and sat for a moment, an unspoken need to let the tension drain from them washing over them. "We know these folks. We might not have been on the best of terms but... I know to trust them. Doctor Arctos in there. Gideon Ovine. Sharla. Ermintrude. Travis Dreyson, even. Why would they even do that? None of them would work with a purist like Seedcache. He's their enemy," Buck said.

"I'm thinking it was a secondary connection. Happy folks talk about happy things and incidental ears hear that. Hiding in plain sight, just like all those terrible mammals at Seedcache's gathering."

"Let's go ruin some lives," Buck mumbled, staring languidly out the window as the cruiser drove off.

A short trip along the back roads from the clinic led back to the main drag of Bunnyburrow, Beatrix and Buck getting off at Dreyson and Manchas and noticing that no one was in the office upon entry but Jaguar Manchas.

He was at his desk by the front window, idly working with a graphing calculator while consulting a folder full of charts and filling in several forms spread out before him. He was in a casual polo shirt that showed off very fresh and obvious gauze wraps around both his forelimbs. A quick glance up led to a short nod. "Sheriff. Deputy. Sorry if my attention wavers but this is a complicated matter."

"Complicated, yeah... things are complicated all right... how much did that purist worm pay you? Was it worth it you filthy son of toxic rot?" Buck spat, tossing his head threateningly, waving his antlers in Jaguar's direction.

Jaguar looked up in shock, his pen sliding along the form as his mind all but failed to process the sudden accusation. "What in the world are you talking about? Purists? Those are a myth. That's crazy campfire talk like the creature of the wastes."

"The accusation's not helping," Beatrix huffed. "You may be unaware, but there's been a bit of a to-do. Dr. Arctos was called into an emergency we found while investigating the fire. Your gauze-bandaged limbs make you look superficially involved. But it's clear you're not. The rakes were shallow and blunted, not at all like what jaguar claws are, and Mr. Manchas is much bigger than Miss Sanda. I have two questions. One, what happened to you? And two, where did you hear about my personal involvement with a wolf?"

Jaguar gave a breathy, sheepish chuckle and rubbed the back of his head. "Ursula is... ferocious, but thankfully satiable. She throws all of her passion into love, and is as physical as anyone could wish for. We're predators in love. Very rarely, when the moon takes us, we need some dabs of hydrogen peroxide and loose gauze. As for that... I heard it from Travis. He mentioned it very casually, speculating about if we might see you once this is all over."

"It was gonna lead to him no matter what, him or Ermintrude," Buck quietly noted. "Mr. Manchas... Jaguar, I'm sorry I said all that. I'm incredibly on edge. I'm furious, and that might be clouding my judgment."

"Your uniform is stained with blood. I'm guessing you have a right. Did someone die?"

"A severe beating. Your lover is caring for her right now. Did you ever hear any talk about Leonard Seedcache?" Beatrix asked.

"Travis grumbled about him now and then. It's a professional thing. He's an arrogant mammal, wants to be bigger and richer than Don Dreyson, but he'll never be that. I also felt like it was something personal. I know his daughter is seeing Travis' brother-in-law. He shared a lot of things but he always hesitated in that area."

"Perhaps for the best..." Beatrix noted. "Where is everyone?"

"Travis and Gideon went to the bank to see Mr. Alces and have a conference call with the Network head and the insurance company. It's all a big mess, and they're quibbling over the details because there was so short a time between the policy purchase and the claim."

"They'd better not try and pull anything. I'll deliver my report right to them if need be. This was a criminal act that has to be covered by any halfway-decent policy. They can send in their own investigators, if they want, but the only arson involved was an act of terror."

Jaguar shook his head and got out a fresh form. "Plata Sagrada... who would want to do that to us?"

"Never you mind, you'll read about it in the paper and feel safer. Worrying now would be counterproductive," Beatrix said, taking another look around. "Well that's him... where's your intern and secretary?"

"Kenneth was here, but Miss Arctica called him to bring her food, like she does even when she's here. Travis let her stay out of work, with pay, because she's still shaken up by the fire. He may be annoyed by her strange Tundratown attitude and moon-tongued glibness, but he does treat her fairly. Kenneth has been out for a while but I expect he's there talking to her. That Sanctuary place has made him quite warm and accommodating. He reminds me of Pepper."

"Did he happen to hear Travis tell you about my relationship?"

"Well, probably. He's always around, always attentive and waiting to hop up and be useful."

"Where can we find Miss Arctica? It would be pointless to wait around here, we might as well go and try to find him there," Beatrix said.

"She lives long-term at the Cozy Cabin Residences, cabin number fifteen. Want me to give her a ring?"

"I think I'd prefer she not know we're coming. Thanks for your help, Mr. Manchas," Beatrix said with a nod of her head.

"Again, sorry. I'm still worried..." Buck added.

Jaguar looked Buck up and slowly shook his head. "You have good reason to act like that. I hope you catch him. I hope there's enough left to put in jail."

The cruiser pulled away from the storefront and moved up the main street back out into the properly rural part of the Burrow. The community was laid out with greater spread but with the same distinctions as the big city, only less overt notice. The cheaper part of the Burrow had warren homes, which were very like subterranean apartments; dreys, tree houses putting on airs; and the compressed cabin park, an enclosed space like a mobile home park, except filled with no-frills cabins. Basic, blocky, mostly unfurnished and cheap, they were small but protected against summer heat and winter cold.

They parked outside the fence and made their way into the park, noting the collection of smaller vehicles including a low-built Lisku Chernabog dual-front-wheel scooter with a swept front-plate useful as a snow plow and heavy winter tires, despite the lack of snow. "Looks like Miss Arctica is still in. She must not have bothered changing over when she came from Zootopia," Beatrix noted.

The park was very regularly ordered, long lines of cabins, sized for average-sized mammals. Each one was a fairly regular block, with a patch of dirt in front of each around the stairs up to the cabin proper. Each one had windows in the main living area and a smaller one marking there the bathroom was for each one. Though bland and plain the occupants had mostly added their own personalization, from small things like potted plants to banners, signs and plastic flowers spinning away.

Cabin fifteen was personalized with a few signs of Tundratown businesses, with their unique alphabet and all, along with a welcome mat in the same language. Beatrix was preparing to knock on the door when a flurry of sounds emerged from within. The bounce of a bed, squeaking springs, the impact of furred flesh, and deep, breathy huffs. The repetitive thumping was broken up with heavy, breathless words that just barely filtered through the door.

"Feel better? Gotta... be kind..." Kenneth still had a chipper lilt as he exerted himself.

"Belly of fish... th-third round... silver glory, Kenny! Thought... foxes didn't stop..." Sylvia yapped and barked in response to most of the impacts, hot and heavy panting coming through clearly.

"He's no purist..." Buck whispered, ears folded back and deeply pink.

"I stopped taking my pills last month," Sylvia grunted out with a plain directness. The revelation didn't change any of the tempo.

"Oh she isn't either..." Beatrix added, finally rapping solidly on the door. "Miss Arctica? Sheriff Nikostytär. I need to ask some questions of Kenneth Hopps. If he's available."

The sounds of intercourse had halted when the knocking started, and low whispers passed between the two within. In time the door opened a crack, Kenny standing just in the crack, holding a sheet against his midsection to let it drape over his personal areas. "Sheriff. I know I should be gracious and accommodating, but sometimes interpersonal conflicts come up when I really want to keep going with something. Excuse me if I get a little short. It's not the Peaceground way."

"I have no desire to interrupt your helping Miss Arctica to assuage her fears and bring her some personal happiness. But I have to ask some very important questions regarding a piece of information you picked up from your boss, Mr. Dreyson," Beatrix said, in as neutral a tone as possible.

"Sounds like the Hopps clan is getting itself a new fox. Good on you," Buck said with an awkward smile.

"Maybe sooner than later, if I'm thinking about how many times I've come to be kind to Sylvia in the last month. Only too glad," Kenny said with a smile. "What kinda information? Do you mean about you and your wolf?"

"Wolves are snobby!" Sylvia called from inside the cabin. "They still care about hierarchy matters and pack cohesion. Not that it's bad but they pay too much attention."

"Rimpssie is very soft and sweet, like a marshmallow. His family only wants to get out of their lowly status. Come to think of it, you may be right, but I find it endearing. Still, that's not the point. You heard about that from Travis, did you mention it to anyone else?"

"It slipped out. Happy news like that gets me all honey-glowing. If at all possible, which means most working days, I have lunch with my family that got jobs in Bunnyburrow proper. It's a little reduced now, there's a bit of back-acre harvesting going on, so the full-timers are still at it, meaning me, Rob and Jake. We were all at the Grease Trap, eating outside. I remember because Rob kept sneaking my fried pickles, and I offered to share but he just kept on denying it. Mammals are funny like that. Anyhow, after lunch we all went off. Jake had borrowed the truck, but left it there because we all had keys if we needed it, and we all just had a short walk to the offices or the store."

"Truck... is it an older Pride Dray? Kind of beat up and banged around?" Buck asked.

"Yup. Reliable little machine. The family has a few of them, and we borrow them as we need. Usually we carpool into town. Pretty citified, huh?" Kenny asked.

"I saw one of those at Seedcache's place. I thought I had just missed it but it must have showed up late. I have the plate but it won't do much good since we know it belongs to the Hopps family," Buck said.

"Are your brothers back at work?" Beatrix asked.

"They should be, I didn't hear about them taking another day off," Kenny said. "Now... I know I owe it to Jaguar to be at work while Mr. Dreyson is arguing with the insurance company, but Sylvia needs me..."

"I don't need you, Kenny," Sylvia called, with a hard edge to her voice.

"Oh, right..." Kenny said, slightly crestfallen.

"No, I want you so bad it hurts. Maybe that adds up to need but whatever. I want you. You're my choice to have, so let me have you some more. Sorry I can't see you off Sheriff, but I'm kind of hammered into a divot here. Kenny may look like a skinny string bean but he's got more power than a polar bear and is way more handsome."

"Can I..?" Kenny started asking.

"Go. Go. You Hoppses and foxes..." Beatrix chuckled with a shake of her head.

"Guess we head back to the main drag and hit up the Real Estate company and Weaselton's place. Hard to believe it could be a Hopps. I mean, sure, they stay with bunnies most of the time but, well, just look at Judy. And now Kenneth," Buck mumbled, playing with his phone after getting back into the cruiser.

"Ahh, you're still thinking a little too narrowly. Just because some big group has a few members that are one thing doesn't mean that the others will be the same way. They could even be the opposite. Stu and Bonnie Hopps may keep a well-run family but it's still something made of individuals. Not every one is going to be the same. Look at Judy, like you said. She broke all the rules. They were better for it, but she still broke the rules. I'm sure Stu is happy now. Maybe we won't find anything. This case has been a twisty little maze, and we could still be very far away from the solution."

Buck went wide-eyed as he finished tapping on his phone. "We're gonna be giving Stu Hopps some bad, bad news..."

"I don't like how firmly you said that. What's the bad news, Buck?"

"Hayma said something before she fell unconscious. She said 'yone'. It took a bit to figure out the spelling on it but I looked it up, trying to find it in her language. It means rabbit. She was saying the attacker was a rabbit."

Beatrix sighed and slowly nodded her head. "I was hoping it wouldn't be someone so close to the community, but that's what happens sometimes. Ears up, eyes open, and heart all full of sorrows..."

Author's Notes

Lisku Chernabog- 'Lisku' is one form of Liška, the Czech (and Slovak) word for Fox. It's actually a common sort of form in Slavic languages. Lisica in Croatian, Belarusian, Serbian, and Bosnian and others, Lisitsa in Bulgarian, and Lisa in Russian. Highly conserved as you can see. Chernabog is an ancient Slavic deity, best known for being part of the Fantasia segment "Night on Bald Mountain."