DISCLAIMER: I had my bid to own Zootopia ready when Lotso Hugs Bear and his goons swarmed my desk and made me hand it over by threatening me with a pair of scissors. So I still don't own Zootopia, and now have an eternal fear of pink teddy bears
Thanks to TheoreticallyEva for editing this chapter and making it readable!
Sergeant Higgins stared at the pile of rubble in front of him. The fire department had finally declared the area safe, and the bomb squad had assured him that there were no more booby traps. Even with those reassurances, it was with a great amount of trepidation that the hippo moved towards the former warehouse that he'd been set to raid the day before.
Three of his officers were still in the hospital from the blast, one having had to go through surgery to repair a nicked femoral artery caused by flying debris. Most of the rest had been treated and released for various other injuries. All in all, he was one of only three of the twelve who made it out completely unhurt.
With the remaining hotspots out, the fire department's captain, a much smaller female jaguar, made her way over to the ZPD hippo.
"Sorry we couldn't get this done sooner, Higgins. Whatever the bloody hell they used as an accelerant made things a right mess." The jaguar's British accent was obvious as she turned back to look at the heap.
"Any idea what the trigger was? That was a massive blast." Higgins shook his head, remembering the concussion wave that hit him and the rest of his team.
"Haven't the foggiest right now. Your bomb squad's still got mammals searching the pile for the detonator. They figured out, though, that the whole yard was rigged with laser traps set to go off if someone got too close."
Higgins groaned. "I guess I should count myself lucky they put the traps so far out."
"Oh, yeah. You wouldn't be standing here yakking to me, that's for sure."
The feline's face fell. "A lot of parts…but nothing whole. Coroner's on their way, so it's gonna get even more crowded here."
The hippo let out a deep sigh. It'd be almost impossible to get an accurate body count in any decent length of time. He knew they'd have to go through DNA for identification. That could take weeks or months, more than likely the latter, considering how overwhelmed the coroner's office and police labs were, thanks to the attack on Friday.
The coroner's van showed up at that moment. Together, the two mammals from the coroner's office, the fire captain, and the ZPD sergeant began sifting through the rubble, searching for the remains and marking them, along with any evidence that might possibly lead to information on the composition, construction, origin, and builder of the explosive device that had nearly taken Higgins and his squad out.
Standing at the podium hastily set up in the lobby of city hall, Chief Bogo mentally prepared himself. This was the first press conference he'd held since the one in which the city had been locked down in the hours following the attack on the Rainforest District. He was not laboring under the illusion that what he had to say would be taken entirely well, and he knew that there would be some hard questions for him to answer. He took a breath and nodded to the fire chief and city mayor on either side of him.
"Ladies and gentlemammals. Yesterday, starting at eight a.m., the ZPD executed a series of raids on several locations throughout the city, including almost fifty private homes." The reporters immediately started clamouring, each raising their voices to be heard over the others. He raised his hoof for silence. "I'm sorry, please hold your questions until I'm finished. As I said, yesterday, starting at eight a.m., the ZPD executed a series of raids on several locations throughout the city. The locations targeted were used as bases of operations, as well as the private homes of known members of the terrorist group that was responsible for the attack on the Grand Palm Hotel and the Rainforest and Canal Districts."
"While most suspects were taken into custody, some elected to avoid arrest by attempting to flee and, in the case of one building in Savannah Central, use explosives. Our teams are actively searching for survivors there.
"As of now, all suspects are charged with domestic terrorism and money laundering, with individual charges for some members. However, we will not be releasing a full list of the arrested mammals until such a time as we can be absolutely certain that all members of the group are accounted for.
"At this time, the city remains on lockdown for an indeterminate period of time for all non-essential travel, and essential travel is permitted only through public transit. Any protest gatherings henceforth will be considered in violation of this lockdown and will be dismantled. All non-essential public facilities will also remain closed, and travel into and out of the city is prohibited."
There was a lot of murmuring of discontent in the ranks of reporters.
Bogo continued. "At this time, I would like to ask that all residents remain vigilant and continue to report any missing or savage mammals or suspicious activity to emergency services. Do not attempt to subdue or engage savage mammals on your own. I have time for a few questions now."
The throng of reporters started clamouring over each other, their voices shouting to be heard. Bogo pointed to one. "Yes, you there."
"Howard Beaverton, County Advocate," said the reporter, a beaver. "How do you respond to the claims that you, the chief of police, have effectively placed the entire city under house arrest?"
Bogo nodded. "A fair question, Mr. Beaverton. We—that is, Chief Pawrell and I—felt at the time, and still do, that the quickest way to get the situation under control is to ensure that we had as little extra to deal with as possible. An officer that has to stop to enforce traffic laws or cover the scene of an accident is an officer that's not searching for a lost loved one or making sure a mammal is taken to the hospital for treatment."
The beaver seemed placated by that response, and Bogo chose another from the mob, a capybara near the back.
"How long until commercial travel and trade is allowed to resume?" the capybara asked.
The chief thought for a moment. "Limited shipping should be able to resume in a few days, once we are certain we have protocols in place to counter any attempts to smuggle illicit goods or mammals into or out of the ports. You can expect the ZPD and customs to be very strict and thorough about who and what is allowed through at this time, and no personnel will be allowed off any ships, while only verified port personnel will be allowed to board said ship. The airport will remain closed at this time." Bogo looked at his watch. "I have to turn things over to my fire services colleague for now."
The large bear nodded his thanks to his ZPD counterpart. "I only have a statement to make and will not be taking any questions. The Zootopia Fire Department responded to a total of forty-eight structural fires on Friday during and after the attack on the Rainforest District. Many of these started around the same time and in the same manner. Of these fires, twelve were large multi-unit complexes, eight were restaurants, five were various other businesses, and the remaining twenty-three were single homes and duplexes. Seventeen additional buildings, mostly single houses, were also lost as a result of these initial fires. A further fifty-eight structures received varying degrees of damage, some of which were deemed uninhabitable as a result."
Chief Pawrell took a breath. "At this time, we are instituting a ban on all outdoor open-flame activities, including outdoor cooking. If you smoke, you may do so within the confines of your own home, but only there. Remember, due to this crisis, our response times are up, so if there is a fire of any kind, we may not be able to get to you in the time we'd like to, and water to fight fires is in short supply at the moment."
"That's all I have to say at this time." The fire chief left the podium and stage, heading out the back of the building despite the cacophony of reporters yelling inquiries.
In the fire chief's absence, the mayor stepped up and called for quiet. "I'm sure many of you have further questions, and I can assure you that any that we can't or don't answer today may be directed to the press office at city hall or the ZPD press corps following this conference. There are a lot of you, and unfortunately, we won't have time to get to everyone."
Mayor Peter Clawheed looked down at his notes. "These are uncertain and scary times for everyone here, so we would like to emphasize that the city of Zootopia is here for you. Today, I will be having a meeting with the rest of city council in an effort to continue formulating two plans of action—one for immediate relief for individuals and businesses affected by this lockdown, and one for long-term economic recovery.
"Make no mistake, we are in for some difficult times ahead, a long road of recovery, and it'll take all of us pulling together to come out the other side. We want to put something in place that works for as many mammals as possible. Citizens displaced from the Rainforest and Canals Districts will be taken care of first, followed by mammals and small businesses laid off or forced to close as a result.
"What we need to do now is recognize that every one of us will go through hardships in the coming months. This is the time to reach out to lend a helping paw to your neighbor, whoever they may be."
He looked up at the assembled reporters. "I'll take your questions now."
The lobby of the ZPD exploded with shouted questions and statements. "Yes, you, the wallaby."
"Thanks, Mayor. Joey Williams, ZBC. What sort of relief will we be looking at? What's the criteria?"
The mayor nodded. "A fair question. We're looking into many possibilities. A monthly check for example, for those who have lost jobs. Compensation for businesses that lose revenue as a result of being unable to receive product in a timely manner, or can't ship it out on time, or are forced to pay overtime where they wouldn't normally have to in the coming weeks."
Another reporter was called on. "What sort of consequences will we be seeing for Chief Bogo and the ZPD? Arrests were made without warrants. Do they have probable cause, and if so, are the alleged suspects being furnished with lawyers?"
Chief Bogo, silent since he'd stepped back from the podium, eyed the mammal intently. He was a raccoon, a species well-known for being omnivorous and from the carnivore order, so he didn't fit the bill as a member of the anti-predator terrorist group. It might be just a case of a tabloid reporter looking for dirt to write his 'shocking' story. Either way, the mammal had the police chief's attention.
The mayor looked the raccoon square in the face. "Chief Bogo and Chief Pawrell are operating the city under martial law. Once the chiefs and the council agree it's time to do so, the normal word of law will resume, and investigations will be made into all of the ZPD's and ZFD's actions during this time. If any such discrepancies or abuses of power are found, appropriate action will be decided and acted upon at that time."
Clawheed glanced at his watch. "I have time for one more question." He scanned the crowd of desperate mammals. "Yes, you, Trent Hoofson."
The ZNN representative nodded his thanks. "How would you like to address the divide between predators and prey, and would you like to say anything to those who are offering a helping hoof to members of the opposite order, or the first responders that have to deal with the fallout?"
The mayor stared out at the representatives of the media, meeting each gaze, unflinching. "There is no place in Zootopia for divisiveness like this. Our founders wanted a place where everyone, whether you eat plants, meat, or some combination of both, to come together in harmony and enjoy the very best that life has to offer, without fear of judgement or retribution. When I became mayor, I swore an oath to protect and guard these freedoms.
"This divide is against everything our founders wanted for Zootopia. Worse, it's a divide caused by mammals spreading lies and misinformation. I would encourage all of you to research the exact properties of Night Howler and how many of its attributes parallel those of street drugs out there today.
"This divide does nothing for anyone. It benefits none of us in the long run, and the principles that one uses to separate 'us' from 'them' can easily be applied to one in the same order or even within the same species. It has no place in Zootopia. Zootopia is a place of equality for ALL mammals, and I am sworn to use my office to defend that.
"Regarding the mammals that are reaching a helping paw out to members of the order, they represent some of the best of us, offering a ray of hope to those most affected by this attack. Our first responders, doctors, nurses, and volunteers, and support staff, too. Many of them haven't slept at all since the attacks began on Friday. Some have only been able to catch an hour of rest in a hospital break room here and there. And still others have been hospitalized themselves, only to jump right back into the thick of things. Many have been injured, and many will have trouble coping with this. So, I hope that you can give a word of thanks for all of these mammals for all that they do, whatever you believe."
"Thank you, everyone, for your time. Any further questions or comments can be directed to the city hall press office or the ZPD press corps."
The huge bear gathered his papers and moved off the podium, despite the continually shouted questions from the assembled media.
Across the square, at the ZPD headquarters, Rivers switched off the breakroom television. "I never thought I'd say this about a politician, but I like him."
Next to him, seated at the table with a coffee in her paw, Nolwazi Longtooth nodded. "Lionheart was all sorts of twisted, even if some of his policies were actually decent. Like he was playin' both sides of the coin. You hear how he didn't let the previous class's valedictorian speak at Judy's graduation and instead stood up there himself and used most of his time on stage to brag about 'his Mammal Inclusion Initiative'? If you ask Major Friedkin, though, her success had nothin' to do with the MII. I know Bogo wasn't happy about Lionheart assignin' her to city center, either. It worked out, obviously, but still, you know Bogo doesn't like that kinda political meddlin'."
Her elk partner laughed. "You see the footage of the night Lionheart got arrested? Hopps's recorded conversation of him with that badger doctor made it sound like he mostly cared about his job, but when he was arrested, he was more concerned about Zootopia as a whole."
Longtooth nodded. "Jekyll and Hyde."
Shawn Dancing Rivers thought for a moment. "I'd like to know how Bellwether justified her actions, since she would have taken the same oath Lionheart and Clawheed did."
The lioness stared at her coffee cup. "She probably justified it by rationalizin' that predators weren't mammals or some such nonsense. If she tried to justify it at all."
The two were silent for a bit before Rivers spoke again. "How's your family doing?"
"They're fine. Pa and Ma live in Sahara Square, so they're a bit worried about the water situation over there, and Pa's been on duty with the Strip Precinct for about sixteen hours now. Supermarkets are empty of bottled water over there. My bro lives here in Savannah Central in a nice high-rise apartment. He's an office manager for ZooPetro Oil and Gas. My boyfriend got laid off, though. He works at the ZooWest shippin' container facility."
Rivers' eyebrows went up. "I bet they'll have him back in short order once the ports open up again."
A snort came from the lioness. "Yeah, that's how we see it, too. They'll come back beggin' him to work. He thinks he should use it to get a better paycheck."
The elk shrugged. "Why not? If they're so desperate, he should get a better deal out of it."
Longtooth laughed. "Yeah, that's a good point. Good way to weed out whether they're serious or not about gettin' him back. What about your family?"
The elk shrugged. "Not too bad. My dad's enjoying his retirement and pension. Mom's about a year from retirement, but I doubt the accounting firm she works for could force her out. She'll probably be doing taxes for mammals from the grave if we let her. Everyone else is enjoying the time off."
"That's somethin' a lot of mammals seem to be forgettin'. They need to take this time to be with family, not worryin' about when they can get back to work."
Looking at his watch, the elk nodded. "Agreed. Although we need to get back to work. Bogo wants all the evidence compiled and consolidated for when we get more lawyers in here looking to bust their clients out or at least get them bail. We'll need to get Mrs. Wilde here to get a formal statement from her, though."
"Let's do that first. Bogo's goin' to want us to help keep an eye on the transfer of our guests to their more permanent accommodations."
Shawn Dancing Rivers grunted. "That'll be fun. Can you imagine all the 'I'm innocent's' and the 'for purity' speeches we'll be subject to?" He shuddered. "I do not want a repeat of the broken record deer we got yesterday, either. I had nightmares of 'we did it for the good of all' or some variant being shouted at me endlessly. Along with wading through mountains of bodies." The last sentence was said in a complete monotone, and Rivers' muzzle lost all trace of the forced cheer it had held a moment before.
Longtooth was quiet for a long moment. "I couldn't sleep at all. I just kept seeing images of the open-air market and the sports stadium when I closed my eyes."
Her companion gave her a sympathetic look. "Your boyfriend no help, I take it?"
The lioness snorted. "Nah. He was out like a log after a day of watching TV and playing video games." She frowned. "He's been actin' like a supremacist lately, too. He commented the other day how predators will never achieve their true potential as long as we allow prey to hold the power. I pointed out to him that two of the mammals in the city with the most political power—the mayor and the fire chief—are both bears."
The elk detective cocked his head. "What did he say to that?"
"He said, 'Yeah, but if you look at all the big businesses in the city, almost all of them are headed by male prey mammals'." She shook her head. "Sometimes, I swear, that lion…"
Her elk partner frowned. "Should we be worried?"
She shook her head. "I don't think so. I'll keep an eye on him, but he's mostly lazy and harmless. All talk and no bite." Her tone stated that that was kind of a sore spot for her right now.
Rivers nodded, satisfied, then glanced down at his phone and frowned. "I'll take your word for it. Come on. Bogo just requested us for a prisoner transfer. We're moving some of the high-profile guests to Zootopia Correctional. Won't that be fun."
Nolwazi Longtooth groaned. "I call dibs on the first ride to the mental institute if they start yammering about the greater good again."
The elk nodded in agreement.
In an apartment elsewhere in Savannah Central, two small mammals were just beginning to return to awareness. The two long days with little sleep had done a number on them, and both were extremely happy just to get a full eight-hour rest.
Judy was a little surprised when she realized she had not a stitch of clothing on, but by the same token, she found it didn't bother her at all. She was safe, at home, with her fox. She had nothing to be embarrassed about. Nick had shown her how he felt about her body enough last night.
Judy burrowed a little bit deeper into the fluffy warm fox that surrounded her and couldn't help but grin as her mind played through their little exploration session from the night before. Pop-Pop would be rolling in his grave if he knew what she had done with a so-called spawn of the devil. Her fox stirred around her, and a slight tightening of his arms and tail told her he was starting to come around.
"Good morning, sleepy fox."
Nick's only response was a mumbled "mornin'" as he further tightened his arms around the doe. Unfortunately for Judy, he was squeezing a little too hard, and it made her chest throb. She poked at him.
"As much as I love to cuddle with you, Slick, that's a bit tight, and my chest hurts."
Nick's eyes shot open at that, and he immediately let go, almost like she had the plague or something. Judy couldn't help but giggle a bit at the sleepy-alarmed look on his muzzle. Before he could apologize, she shushed him. "I just need to take some pain killers and I'll be fine." She frowned. "I still don't feel right staying here at home while everyone else is out there. I know, an injured officer is a liability, but still."
Nick pulled the doe closer, gently hugging her to his chest. "You know what Liz said yesterday. Leave some game for them. You can't be SuperBunny all the time. Sometimes, you just gotta be Bruce Pawyne."
Judy slugged Nick's shoulder. "That's Batmammal, genius. Come on, let's get up."
She crawled out of the covers and hopped down to the floor, belatedly remembering she wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing. Glancing back at Nick, she could see him staring, obviously admiring the view. She grinned. "See something you like?"
The fox gave her his signature smirk. "Always."
Judy rolled her eyes and headed out of the room. "Come on, foxy, help me get dressed. We've got a whole day of doing nothing to get started on."
Getting dressed was an uneventful affair, and neither of the two mammals was up for risking life and limb in the kitchen making something fancy for breakfast, so they both elected to pour themselves a bowl of cereal and plop themselves down in front of the TV. At Judy's suggestion, they flipped on a news channel in hopes of catching up on anything they had missed.
"…Jacobs here with ZBC. We're here live at Precinct One of the Zootopia Police Department, where a large convoy of prison transport vehicles has just shown up. The mammals were held here overnight but are now being transferred to Zootopia Correctional for more permanent incarceration. The ZPD so far has declined to comment on the identity of the mammals in question."
Judy frowned. "They just camp out on the ZPD's front door until they get answers. I'm kind of shocked there isn't some sort of law against that."
Nick cocked his head and looked at her, genuinely curious. "There isn't?"
His companion shook her head. "Not really, no. They're outside the building, and the land is public, so they can be there all they want as long as they obey the loitering and smoking bylaws. You know. The only thing they can't do is prevent the ZPD from responding to a call or force their way into the building." Judy looked up at her fox. "Don't tell me you never researched the laws about protests and gatherings and stuff in your hustling days."
Nick shrugged. "No reason to. A hustler doesn't draw too much attention to himself. Wouldn't do much good if I was at a protest, got caught on camera, and a former mark decided to come and rough me up, would it?"
Judy had to concede the point. "Besides the pawpsicles, what other hustles did you do?"
Nick leaned back and put his paws behind his head. "Well, I tried working with cards, but didn't have the sleight of paw to get that right. Also did the disappearing bean trick. You know the one where the bean is hidden under one of three small cups and it gets shuffled around? Yeah, I did that for a while until a rhino got mad at me and threatened to wear me as a horn ornament. I cut my losses then."
Judy frowned. "That could be uttering death threats. You probably didn't report it, did you?"
The doe looked up. "Fox prejudice?"
The vulpine nodded. "That and street performers weren't exactly high on the ZPD's list of problems. This was back before the gang wars I told you about. The boys in blue were struggling just trying to keep a lid on them, never mind the small timers."
The doe frowned but didn't really have anything to say about that. The ZPD of today wasn't the same as the ZPD years ago, and back then, she'd just been barely a teen in Bunnyburrow. She turned her attention back to the TV, where a sharply dressed ram was just exiting the precinct. Her frown deepened. "I don't recognize that mammal."
Nick looked up at the TV screen to see who she'd been referring to, only to have his ears drop. "Oh, shit."
His doe companion looked up at him. "What"
"That, Carrots, is Terence Ramsford. One of the highest priced attorneys in the city. You can bet that he's there for McStripeson." The fox motioned for Judy to turn the volume up just as the ram turned to address the mob of reporters.
"Mr. Ramsford, are you here representing one of the mammals arrested yesterday?" One of the reporters shoved a mic into the ram's muzzle
"I'm here on behalf of James McStripeson."
"What can you tell us about him? What has he been charged with? Is it in any way related to the events on Friday morning?"
"I can only say that my client stands falsely accused of a crime. We're talking about a mammal who donates millions to charity, trying to make life better for the unfortunate. Evidence suggests that he has been framed by his personal assistant, a fox, but instead, the ZPD unjustly arrested my client."
Both Nick and Judy's hearts stopped. Both just stared at the screen for a second, before Nick spoke again. "Mom just got thrown under the bus."
Judy wasted no more time and scrambled across the couch for her phone, swiping away at the lock screen and hitting one of the numbers on her contact list. She gestured to Nick to make sure his video recorder caught it. Luckily, it was equipped with a program memory feature, so the entire newscast was immediately saved to the disk from the moment they'd turned it on.
"Longtooth here, Hopps, can it wait? We're just loadin' the suspects into the prisoner transport."
Judy shook her head as though the lioness could somehow see her. "No, it can't, Nolwazi. Did McStripeson's lawyer visit?"
Longtooth shouted something at someone on the other end. She must have covered the mic, though, because Judy couldn't quite make out what she said. It was a second before she came back on. "Sorry, Judy, a few of these guys are gettin' rowdy. Yes, McStripeson's lawyer was here. No, I don't know what was said. They requested a silent room. Why?"
"That lawyer just went on television claiming that 'evidence suggests' that Marian framed him. Didn't use a name, but he said his 'personal assistant'."
The lioness detective swore loudly. "He just left the building not too long ago."
"His press statement was from outside the front door. He might still be there."
"I'll go check. Thanks for the tip, Judy." The line disconnected.
Back at the precinct, Longtooth swore repeatedly as she hightailed it through the ZPD basement. She might not be able to arrest that lawyer, not yet, but she could warn him about slander. They had his name, so if Marian decided to press charges later, she could. If the public knew someone's species and occupation, it wouldn't take long for someone else to leak a name, or for the press to figure it out themselves.
Reaching the elevator and stairs, the lioness veered left into the stairwell, figuring it would be faster. Up two flights to the main floor she went before bursting into the lobby to a cacophony of noise from outside the doors. 'Fuck, the whole reporter army is out there,' she thought to herself as she ran to the doors, pushing her way through into the mob, only to be bombarded with questions.
"Do you have the identity of the fox that framed James McStripeson?"
"Why has the ZPD not pressed charges against the fox?"
"Can you tell us what the ZPD is covering up about yesterday's unlawful raids and arrests?"
"Would you like to say anything about the claims that the ZPD unjustly arrested mammals yesterday?
Longtooth completely ignored the mob and climbed up onto a buttress on the side of the ZPD building to get a better vantage point. She scanned the shouting mammals, swearing under her breath when she didn't see the lawyer.
With nothing left to do, she climbed back down and pushed her way back to the door. Fortunately for her, Rivers had followed her, and between the two of them, they were able to open the door against the crush of mammals just enough to let her back inside.
"What was that all about?" The elk looked concerned.
The lioness shook her head. "McStripeson's lawyer. He outed Marian Wilde."
The realization on Rivers' muzzle was immediate. "Shit."
Neither one of them was looking forward to breaking the news to Bogo, but it would have to be done. Obviously, since Judy had seen it on television, it was too late for a gag order on the broadcast, but there was still damage control to do.
So. How bad are things going to get for Marian is the question right now...
I am so sorry about how late this chapter is in posting. I literally got home at 10:30 PM after a 14 hour day, and wanted nothing more than to just go to bed. Even my efforts to pre-post the chapter throughout the day were constantly thwarted. And when I finally did get home, my computers refused to work right.
Second, I'm still calling for people to send Qalcove a word of support. Again, I can't post her link here, so I encourage you to Google it
Quite a few peope got the Megamind reference in the last chapter, despite the fact that I made a mistake and initially said there were no references. Can you find any in this chapter?
Coming up on July 10: Damage Control!
Questions? Critiques? Did the Queen of Hearts have her men paint your rosebushes red? Leave a comment