(AN: We'll be looking at Larry's family tree this chapter, and I made a version which is up on the A03 copy of this fic. If you want to look at that (it may help you to make sense of it all) go there. Otherwise, if don't mind or enjoy getting a pencil and pen out, go to the fanfic version.)

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AN: After the last chapter, I want to talk about WildeHopps for just a sec. I LOVE WildeHopps. In the main canon, the pair don't just interact and get on brilliantly, both complement each other and having a great chemistry. On top of that, there's a great amount of underlying symbolism. Both had the world test them at similar times, one hardened and one broke, though both had damage from it. Damage that they helped each other heal. Make better. Again, I love WildeHopps, because of how much there is behind it.

Now, I don't like the idea of destiny in stories. I do like rhymes though. That means in tons and tons of AU, Nick can come together for those same brilliant reasons. But, I'm not a solid adherent to that ship and, if I feel things are different, I'll have a different outcome.

This fic was originally based around Brittany reforming the ZED, and Bogo's fall from grace was included from the start. I felt that Skye would be the one to do that and, thinking what would happen next, I realised that she and Nick would be drawn to each other. I knew very early on that this fic would be a WildeSkye one, and I built towards that. Just like how Nick and Judy have such a strong bond in the film, I realised that (unwittingly), Nick and Skye had been set up with one in this fic. I felt that WildeSkye was a natural, inevitable, progression of these characters in this setting… and, unlike a certain famous tv series recently, I'm not one to have characters snap out of character for the sake of plot point checklists.

As for Judy developing her feelings towards him? Well, I wanted to show that there's still an element of the WildeHopps chemistry there. It's handicapped due to their unfortunate past, but in my view they could work it out. The beach scene was one of the most vivid ones in my mind, existing from the first outline, and I wanted to create something beautiful, bittersweet, incredible, etc…

Our Bunny is a little hurt, yes. But I wanted to show that she was a mature adult who, while acknowledging her feelings, can manage with this just fine. She can get over it. She's happy for the pair (and note, Nick's 'Javert' joke wasn't intended to be made in spite or anything. If said normally, Judy would find it slightly amusing.) I was going to have her like this to the end, strong and independent and happy for both herself and them, until none other than Cimar (WildeHopps) suggested something better. That amazing roo came up with a way to make everyone here happy. Judy will get someone (already met in this fic, who you may already know pretty well), who'll make her equally as happy as Nick could (don't take my word for this, it's Cimar approved).

Anyway, yeah. I didn't put this at the end of the last chapter as I wanted to leave it at the end, letting it sink in. I was maybe hoping for a few more comments, but I'm totally not salty about that (totally am). Anyway, enough of me talking, on with the next chapter.

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Chapter 29

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The door to Brittany's room opened up swiftly, letting her walk inside, Kinsey following behind her, still hopping and slipping slightly from the excitement of it all. Carrying a sleeping bag and a little rucksack, she dropped them down, giggling and laughing as she ran and pounced onto the bed. She jumped up and down and screamed out. "SLEEPOVER!"

"YEAH!" Brittany replied, an excited look on her face. She paused on hearing a tired little snort coming from behind her and, looking over, she spotted Larry resting in Ben's arms.

"I'll tuck him in," the cheetah said dotingly, looking down at the tiny kit he held.

"You do that," Brittany replied, walking over and looking down at the tiny squirrel. "You rest well, little one," she said, before pausing.

Thinking...

Doubting…

She brushed it aside and leant in, giving him a quick kiss. "Love you, and we'll have you back to your mother soon." He stirred a bit, wiggling about, only to wrap in on himself tightly.

"Night you two," Ben said, giving them a wave. And, with that, off he went, Brittany closing the door behind her and turning back to her sister. Kinsey was on her tip-toes, peeking out of the big round window at the campus and city beyond. Her tail was wagging rapidly, and she turned back, dumping her coat on the bed as she leapt off onto the floor.

"What are we gonna do?" she asked excitedly.

Brittany looked on and smiled. "Let's unpack your stuff first," she said, her sister nodding eagerly in response. She'd only brought a single spare change of clothes, alongside her 'Luna the Moon Princess' pyjamas, so that stuff was staying in her bag. As was the little toiletries bag and the book she'd brought to read.

"Pig of the dump?" the elder sister asked, looking at the cover. A young modern pink skinned pig boy was in a cave with a boar next to him. The latter was a lot more animalistic than the average boar and had a prehistoric look to him, helped by the fact that he wore shaggy pelts of wool and furs.

"It's about a boy who finds a cave mammal living in a quarry," she said happily. "I think he got lost in time… -He still calls himself pig, so he came from before name's were invented."

"You enjoying it?"

"It's okay," Kinsey said, speaking in that sincere but brutally honest way that kids could. "I find it's a bit tough to read, and I forget bits and get confused here and there."

Brittany nodded, before peeking into the bag some more. There was some microwave popcorn for them to have, as well as a… "Is that what I think it is?!" She asked, leaning in to pick it out. "It is!" Out came a little green duck plush, the one that Brittany had given Kinsey back when they were still getting to know each other. She hugged it up against her, even rubbing him against the side of her cheek a little. "Welcome back little guy!"

There was a giggle from Kinsey. "He gets to see all his friends again!"

With a nod, Brittany placed him up on the shelf with the rest of her collection, before turning back down. "Anything else?"

"I have some fur clips and ties, and a makeup kit, so we can go groom ourselves really good. I have some other snacks… And then just my sleeping bag," she said, going over to its bag and pulling it out. Brittany couldn't help but smile as she saw the face of….

"-The princesses from Floatzen."

There was a giggle. "You thought it'd be Luna?"

"Did I? Well, yes I did."

"FOOLED YOU!" she said, giggling, before her tail dipped down. "Also… We couldn't find a Luna one," she said, sadly. "I wanted a Luna one."

"Awww. There there," Brittany replied, walking over. Her sister walked over and hugged her, an act returned, before they sat down. "Are you hungry?"

"Nu-uh."

"Well, after your practice session with Karen, we can get some late snacks if you are," Brittany said, thinking. "She said she'd be here soon."

"Could we watch some funny videos?"

"For a little bit," Brittany said, as she went over to her laptop and opened it up. In a flash it was booted up, and she was about to click on the browser when she saw the notifications for new mail. "Hang on just a sec," she said, as she went over to it and opened it up. There was the DNA test from earlier but also two new emails. One from Skye and one from Dr. Honey Badger. Brittany opened the first one up, and her eyes widened when she saw the pictures.

"Woah!" Kinsey gasped. "What's that?"

"Treasure," Brittany said. "Silver that was on a boat. But the boat caught fire, and it all melted together, and then it got lost and buried. Until now."

"It looks like it comes from outer space."

There was a chuckle. "It does a bit." Brittany was about to go back to the Internet browser, when there was a knock on her door.

"I believe we have a new arrival to look at," Karen spoke out. "May I come in?"

"Sure," Brittany replied, walking over to open the door. The arctic hare walked in, her eyes level with Kinsey's, and she gave a little smile.

"I'm Karen Skippel. We've got a few little practice tests and stuff lined up for you down in the lab. Are you all ready?"

Kinsey puffed herself all up, looking pompous and proud, before throwing an arm out behind her and narrowing her eyes.

Brittany looked over to where she was pointing and saw her coat, slowly but surely getting dragged over her bed. The first corner slowly slipped off the end, and then a sleeve went and, eventually, the whole thing just fell off. There was a slight growl, and Brittany saw Kinsey focussing with two arms, a predatory looking scowl on her face. There were even a few pants from the concentration, the little vixen's mouth opening and her tongue peeking in and out, yet it did nothing to speed up the pull. A few seconds more, though, and the coat finally reached her feet. Giving up, she bent down and put it on roughly, before turning to Karen. "Born ready!"

"Well, off we go," she said, turning around.

Kinsey followed her, only to pause as she looked at Brittany. "Are you coming?"

"We'll be taking about half an hour to get everything sorted," Karen said. "So she won't be missing much to start with.

Brittany looked on and paused. She could go down with her or learn about Larry. "If you don't mind," she said, "What Karen said sounds nice. I have some important things I need to quickly look through. Though if you want me to come, I will."

Kinsey paused, thinking, before speaking. "Promise you'll come down soon."

"I promise."

She smiled and gave her older sister a wave.

"See you soon!"

"You too. Enjoy yourself."

And, with that, off her sister went. Closing the door, Brittany chuckled a little, before returning to her computer. She might as well use this time to learn about where Larry came from. She took a steadying breath, before opening up the email from the testing service and reading through.

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Species: Common/ Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus Carolinensis).

Past hybridisation: No traces of past hybridisation for up to twenty generations (species considered unable to produce hybrids).

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Brittany nodded. It was what they'd thought before. Still, it left the question of the flying squirrel hanging.

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General history:

Majority of DNA present links back to the southern populations of the species, rather than those that existed further north. More genes for shorter body fur are present, while those that tend to induce tiredness and hibernation-related feelings during shorter and colder months are less pronounced. While it is less clear, it is likely that the ancestors of this mammal migrated to Zootopia and its environs roughly 50-100 years ago, in the third 'Post Empowerment' wave. There are genes though that suggest some ancestors were 'pioneers' to the area. Migrating and settling before the founding of the city proper.

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It was only a summary page, and there was a whole lot more that went into the detail of it all. Maps and charts, along with diagrams of Larry's chromosome makeup. Brittany scrolled quickly through it all, given that it wasn't really going to answer her questions.

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Notable ancestors:

The only notable ancestor who we have detected a (potential) link to is that of Lt. Arrilouse Morrivaun, Officer in the Furrench army's first large rodent battalion (created after the development of correctly sized recoilless rifles for use by such mammals in combat). Saw limited action in the First World War, notable for receiving the Légion d'honneur for leading multiple sapping attacks on machine gun nests. Later served in the Furrench resistance and was granted the title of 'Righteous among Nations' for his heroic deeds.

Due to a lack of ancestors inputted, tracing the true relationship is unavailable. This could be a direct ancestor, or a shared common ancestor.

Our ancestor tracker relies on multiple mammals inputting the connections, using historic records and our findings. The more mammals who input data, the easier it becomes for all.

To access your family tree. [CLICK HERE]

For access to the Zootopia census and data records. [CLICK HERE]

If you are a subscribed customer, we provide free access to the UMS records. [CLICK HERE]

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"So," Brittany replied, taking it in. "You do have some soldier in you after all Larry." She smiled, given that it would likely be a nice surprise for him. When she got the time, she'd make sure to work out just how related he was to Lt. Morrivaun and what that squirrel had gotten up to. However, for now, there were bigger fish to fry. She pressed the button to access the family tree, pausing as a 'create your account' page came up. There was some fiddling for a little bit, including the sending and receiving of a verification email, but soon she was in.

The web portal popped up with a few instructions that she scanned through before closing. Then, she watched as the whole thing populated. There were horizontal lines that went upwards, designed to denote the different generations. Up near the top, she saw Arrilouse, a picture of a squirrel in combat gear peaking out. He looked distinguished, and around him was a box that gave him a name and a brief summary. It was orange, which meant that a lot of the details were left unknown. The idea was that you'd adjust boxes, adding and taking away, and then confirm and fix them in place when you were certain. For instance, he was placed in the 4th Generation back, based on an estimate. He might have been further back or closer, depending on his relationship to Larry. In addition, around him were a variety of grey boxes, added in and confirmed by other users. Clicking on one of the ones for his children, her eyes widened.

'Agnes Curlyque (MN: Morrivaun) (B:1919, D:1994)'

Agnes and Rubin Curlyque had five kits, three boys and two girls. All of them had at least one child inputted, and one of the girls (Susan Bushtail (MN: Curlyque) (B: 1950. D:-)) had a tree that grew out below her. Her children, and their children, and recently the newest generation.

She guessed that that family had chosen to fill it all in and, as she looked at the faces, from the older matriarch that was Susan Bushtail to one of the baby kits at the base, she couldn't help but feel a warm sense of happiness.

She paused though, as she noticed something.

This whole thing had been set up on the mother's side. Was the Curlyque name just a coincidence?

Going up, she saw that the percentage of common DNA increased, from Arrilouse (who it said had a DNA sample donated) to Susan, who Brittany guessed had entered this thing herself.

Shaking her head, Brittany chose to refocus the whole thing. It had zoomed onto Arrilouse at the start, she guessed because he was assumed to be the star of the show, and paid little mind to the closer relatives. The real focal point was Larry though, so she moved down to find him.

And there, she froze.

On his mother's side were two squirrels that shared a quarter of his DNA. An aunt and an uncle. Lillian Rowanwood (MN: Curlyque) and Michael Curlyque. On both of them, it stated that they gave their samples as part of a public outreach event. They were likely the grandchild of one of Susan's brothers.

On the father's side was a grandmother who'd done the same thing. Alicia Bushel (MN: Grover). The name sounded familiar to her, but she couldn't say why. Regardless, Alicia had also entered the names of her direct family, who existed as a disconnected little tree, no other connections given. Below her were two children, one being an uncle, Nathaniel, and the other one residing in a box surrounded by a gold trim.

Lucas Bushel.

Who it said gave Larry half his DNA.

His father.

Looking at him, Brittany's paw trembled, and she glanced up at the info tab in the corner of his box. It said that his DNA was on public record, whatever that meant. Still, if she could find him and…

She stopped what she was doing, barely managing to choke back a pained sob. Icy tips grew on her fingers, and she sniffed as a hoarfrost coated her body. Her eyes just remained fixed on a single, horrible, taunting, figure.

Lucas Bushel (B:1981. D:2016)

"Oh Larry," she said, sniffing. That was two years ago. Had that been why the squirrel had been taken into care? No, she thought. Not once had he mentioned his father, had he? Still, it pained her to see that one of his parents was gone. At least he might have an uncle and likely a grandmother on his father's side.

Looking back at the mother's side, she peered in closer. Michael had provided his parents' names and grandparents' names, which grew out in a tree above him. His paternal grandfather was called Thomas. Scrolling up, she saw that one of Susan's brothers was called Thomas, born nineteen-forty-six and dead too. He had been Lillian, Michael and Larry's-mother's grandfather, and Larry's great grandfather.

She clicked the two Thomas's and linked them together, the little tree above Larry shifting up as it connected to the larger Curlyque group. Arrilouse to Agnes to Thomas to Peter and then to Michael, Lillian and Larry's mother, and below that Larry himself. She smiled as she saw that he likely still had maternal grandparents who were still alive, on top of his aunt and uncle. His great grandfather on that side might have passed away, maybe not? He had a great-great aunt Susan who was possibly still alive and a long list of family on that side.

On top of that, there were those on his maternal grandmother's side. And, of course, all those on his father's side. His uncle, his grandparents. There might be cousins too.

Sliding back in her chair, Brittany let out a sigh of relief. "We've found you, Larry," she said, sniffing a bit. It was all a bit emotional, but she'd done it.

"But what about your flying mother?" she asked, wondering. Maybe it was an old foster carer he'd been put with. That made sense, though she felt a bit sad that, if he were to be reunited with his mother, it wouldn't be the one he remembered.

She was about to step away, thinking of sneaking in on Kinsey's practice, when she paused. Going back up to her email, she opened the email from Dr. Badger. Wondering what she'd found out.

The first bit of text was a simple one from the vet herself.

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Please do not ask me where I got this from, or who is sending this. It isn't anything bad or wrong, just something I don't want to talk about. Something that is quite emotionally taxing. There may be a lot of nonsense in what you're about to receive, or the rare tit-bit of brilliance. Suffice to say, I used to receive the latter a lot, and it broke both my heart and those of others to see the former grow and consume everything. I wouldn't normally encourage this kind of action from my source, but given that it's for a good cause, I chose to make a rare exception. I haven't viewed anything below, bar giving it a good scan for viruses and malicious software. I will not let myself be the cause of a security breach. I hope you the best of luck in finding what you're looking for.

Sincerely,

Madge Honey-badger (MV)

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"Bet you it's that sister of yours," Brittany said, smiling slightly as she scrolled down.

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MARSHMALLOW!

I GOT SOMETHING BIG AND IT STINKS OF SHEEP! GET A WHOLE LOAD OF THIS! QUEEN OF THE HIVE, BIG S, YOUR LITTLE FRIEND STUMBLED ONTO SOMETHING BIG!

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Brittany couldn't help but fist pump, before looking at it curiously. Stinking of Sheep? Did she mean Bellwether? Shaking her head, she looked down, finding a list of links and opening the first one up. Her eyes widened in shock as she saw the first article.

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Teacher arrested for having sex with student. Claims hypnosis.

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Vine Lane school, in the Rainforest District, has been cast into the media spotlight after a teacher had sexual relations with a fifteen-year-old student. Both being squirrels, it is reported that, due to the short time span of the species' pregnancy, any children that might be conceived will have to be carried to term. English teacher Lucas Bushel, aged 32, handed himself over to the ZPD, claiming that he wasn't acting of his free will during the event. In a statement, Chief Wingruff of the ZPD has stated that he'll be liaising with the ZED in order to assess whether or not an empowered with hypnotic powers was involved. The student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was unable to comment.….

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Tabbing out, Brittany clicked on the next link, finding another news article. At the top, there was a picture of a teenage squirrel, paws up in the air, on some steps.

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'Forced sex' hypnotist student found not guilty.

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Sandra Steepler (Northern flying squirrel), was found not guilty over using her suggestive empowerment to force a fellow student and teacher to sleep together. Her accuser, who can't be named for legal reasons, was in Steepler's class and claims that the student used her powers to 'help her out' after she expressed an attraction towards her English teacher. The teacher in question, Lucas Bushel, was found not guilty of statutory rape after both her and the student claimed that they were robbed of their free will using hypnotic powers. In her testimony, the latter stated. "It was like she told you to do something, and you went and did it, too happy to question why. It was only after that you realised with horror what had happened."

While the doubt this created saved Mr Bushel from a conviction, the doubt that Sandra didn't do this, and was being used as a scapegoat for a teacher-student affair, resulted in a not guilty verdict being returned. In a statement, Steepler claims "I did nothing wrong. I didn't use my powers, which require a special phrase being added to the start of a request, to encourage these two to screw like rabbits. They just saw me and thought, like, they could point the finger at me."

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A third link was opened, and Brittany's eyes went wide. It showed a grainy camera recording of the same squirrel from the picture above, albeit with a pushchair in front of her. There was a squirrel kit inside in and, though he was much younger, she recognised his instantly. "Larry," she whispered, before she suddenly remembered something. He'd talked about how his mother had asked him to do things, and how he'd be happy to do that. "She used her powers to raise you," she said, scrolling up again. Did Sandra use her powers to make his real mother give him up to her? Was it some taunt or middle finger? Was it her rejecting the child and demanding Sandra take him, after being the cause of her pregnancy in the first place?

Another link opened, and the vixen grit her teeth.

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Anti-empowered councillor fails in attempt to reinstate 'hypnotised' teachers ban.

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The Zootopia high court rejected a claim of unfair treatment today, which had been brought by notably outspoken 'Non-empowered rights campaigner' and city council mammal Dawn Bellwether. The Ewe, who has made a name for herself in legal cases against empowered who have misused their abilities, was representing former teacher Lucas Bushel, who was permanently banned after getting a student pregnant. In the pro-bono case, Bellwether claimed that Bushel, who was found not-guilty due to presence of a hypnotist in his class (both he and the pregnant girl stating that she forced them to have sex), should have his ban overturned due to him being a victim. In her closing statement, she argued: "My client was robbed of his free will by an empowered mammal who was simply 'bored' and wanted to cause some drama. In doing so, both he and the other victim were raped, yet his torture has carried on since then. First treated as a sex offender, provisionally placed on the register. Then put through an emotional public trial. Then, after his name was cleared, he is still barred from teaching. He is unemployed, unable to make a living or answer his call in life. Injustice after injustice has been done to him, and it's time for it to stop."

The panel of judges disagreed. They argue that the Zootopia Teachers Association is not bound by the 'beyond reasonable doubt' statute, and hence they are within their rights to continue to bar Mr Bushel. They say that the stance is understandable, given the potential that the hypnotist was merely a scapegoat for a real-life student/ teacher affair, and that a not-guilty ruling was not an innocent one. Were the hypnotist to have been convicted of misuse of powers, instead of being found not guilty, then such a teaching ban would be unreasonable.

In a statement, Mr Bushel said the following. "It's what I've come to expect. I was put through hell, and after my name was cleared, I thought it'd get better. It hasn't. I don't know what I did wrong, or why that student decided to ruin my life, but that's what she's done. Every day is hopeless. Every day it seems like the world is saying, 'we don't trust you'. They said it just now when they stopped me from teaching again, stopped me from getting a job. They said it when my wife left me, taking my kids and getting a court order to bar me seeing them. I miss them every day, just like I miss teaching. And yet I still have to pay a ton of kit support. Were it not for charity, I'd be starving and unable to pay, and then get hauled to jail for that! I'd tell them that they're the ones who decided to make me pay this, then take away my means to do so. It wouldn't do much good though. Nothing does. Nothing. I used to think, why me? Then, why is life so unfair? Now, I just ask myself, why the hell should I go on? My only hope is that someone will see some sense. That, or they learn what this hell is like for themselves."

His lawyer, Dawn Bellwether, states that she intends to charge the apparent hypnotist in a civil suit for damages.

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Brittany felt her fingers shake with worry as she clicked on the next link and couldn't help but choke back a sob. It was Bushel's death certificate. Signed just a week later, suicide was written in as the cause. "I'm sorry," she croaked, a tear going down her frosty face. It was all so horrible, what had happened to everyone. No-one deserves any of it, especially poor Larry, the happy little kit in the whole sea of misery and completely oblivious to it. Until she told him, of course. Because she had to do that, even if it would break his tiny little heart.

Looking further down, she saw a little bit of text had been added into the email. 'Her name is Emily'.

"Emily Curlyque?" she asked, before pausing. Nodding. That made sense. That was the name of Larry's mother.

She pressed on the final link and couldn't help but let her head tilt in confusion as a niche agricultural paper from the states came up.

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Bankrupt acorn orchard gets new lease of life.

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Two local acorn orchards are to be merged and giving them a new lease of life, according to a range of new investors. The Redtail orchard and Cheek's orchard used to be one of the premier producers of food acorns, but ageing trees and pest problems resulted in their produce degrading in quality over the years. For the last fifteen years, the only buyers have been flour mills, producing acorn flour, a common staple in squirrel cuisines. The reduced revenue hit the farms hard, however, and the owners of both had entered bankruptcy protection. Today, though, a new dawn arises. Backed by international and local investors and co-ordinated by Zootopian politician Dawn Bellwether, the new enterprise will see another Zootopian, grey squirrel Nathaniel Bushel, take over both farms. He has promised a new business plan, intends to provide major investment, and to bring in a poultry or ratite farmer to share the land with, though this is 'a number of years off'. "We intend to give this proud land a new lease of life. New trees, new equipment and new economics. In the longer term, we'll also see livestock living between the trees, getting more bang for our buck. I don't know why more orchards let some geese wander about between the trunks, just mowing the grass."

The move has been welcomed by local agricultural workers, who feared job losses should the farm go under.

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Up in the top was a picture, showing Dawn with her fellow investors and that fellow squirrel. Brittany peered into it. Something didn't seem right. Something…

She froze, both literally and figuratively.

At the back of the picture were two megafauna investors, who towered over the rest. One was a rhino. The other a wildebeest. A familiar wildebeest. A grim looking wildebeest, with eyes and a face the she couldn't forget. That she'd never forget. How could she? She's seen them through the visor of that suit, when he'd tried to burn her alive in that restaurant. Looking at his sleeve, she gulped as she saw a tag sewed in. The same she'd seen on that night.

"What's going on…" she whispered hoarsely as her head dropped into her paws, which she then ran back through her long hair. Shocked out or spaced out, she didn't know. She didn't understand what was going on, it made no sense.

"Okay," she told herself. "Focus." Standing up, closing her eyes, she recounted everything she knew. "Larry's father was a teacher, who had sex with a student after being hypnotised. Despite being found not guilty, his career was destroyed, and he took his life. Dawn Bellwether represented him and, afterwards, helped his brother buy an acorn orchard. One of her partners in this then tried to kill me and others, including Larry, who somehow ended up in the paws of the hypnotist before she died or abandoned him or whatever!"

She breathed out, everything still not making sense. Yes, the mayor didn't like the empowered for some reason. Cases like Lucas' probably explained why. She then associated with a murderous empowered hater, as well as Lucas' brother, who they helped set up a farm. But why a farm? Some sort of penance? His dream… And why was there a ringing at the back of her mind? Something that seemed so familiar, yet taunted her. That…

That…

"Oh no," she whispered, ice covering her again. She ran back to her computer and opened it up, desperately begging for it not to be true. Not to be the case. "No-no-no-no-no…."

Opening up an earlier email from Skye, Brittany shrieked in horror as she saw the little sign off at the bottom.

'Best wishes from Bushel farms'.

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Like lighting, her arm went out and grabbed her phone, as she desperately opened it open and called Skye.

The ice all over her vanished in a wave of heat, as she heard it fail to connect. She tried Judy next, but no response. "They told me the signal…" she said, before shaking her head. Was this all part of whatever plan was going on? The same as burying that fake treasure or something? She didn't know, but she had to warn them. Up she went, tearing her laptop from her charger and racing down the stairs and corridors. Up to Fangmeyer's office, which she almost jumped at, pounding the door hard. "WE NEED TO TALK! WE NEED TO…"

The door opened with a jolt, and an unimpressed Fangmeyer looked down at her, glowering. "This better be a matter of life or death," she said, as Brittany raced in. The vixen looked at her gravely. "It is," she said, before opening up the emails and explaining it all.

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"-and I tried to call them. Both Judy and Skye! But the phones wouldn't connect. They wouldn't! The signal is bad there. Maybe she planned it. Maybe it all was…" Brittany cut herself off and doubled over, breathing hard and panting. Looking up, she saw the office water cooler and walked over to it, grabbing a drink which she emptied into her. Still panting, she looked back, spotting Fangmeyer examining the laptop. The vixen gulped as she spotted the unconvinced look on her face.

"This is an awful lot of work to get some empowered together in one place," she noted, Brittany cringing slightly. "-All horribly contrived."

"-Listen, Commander, I…" Brittany began, only to be cut back so suddenly she jolted.

"Well done."

"…Huh?"

"I'm saying well done," Fangmeyer replied, looking down at the laptop. "I don't know what's going on, and I can't help but think we're missing something, but these are too many coincidences. Any theories?"

"I…" Brittany began, before shaking her head. "Just that Bellwether's friend, or maybe the Ewe of Doom herself, want to kill empowered?"

Fangmeyer nodded. "They have two of the world's most powerful empowered, and two of its richest, in one place. That treasure was honey, and like flies we've all fallen into the trap. We have to warn them."

Brittany nodded. "Yes. But the phone's…"

"You'll have to fly," Fangmeyer sternly interrupted.

"Huh?"

"Wolfard's 'flight' is exhausting, he'd never get that far. I know the correct protocols to run this place, getting in contact with those we'd need in case something goes wrong. I'll also continue to try and phone them. A chopper could be heard, making them act. You can use a GPS to navigate there, and then sneak in to warn them, getting them out. You're our only option."

Brittany gulped. "It's a hundred miles. More than that, I… That's far more than I've ever…"

She trailed off as she saw the faintest of grins on Fangmeyer's muzzle. "Fortunately, Karen recently finished a modification to your old wand. I don't deny it'll be tough, but do you have any better suggestions?"

"No," Brittany said, before looking up again. She breathed in and out, trying to keep a stiff upper lip. She was scared. For her friends. For herself. For everyone. Less than an hour ago, she'd been enjoying a sleepover with her sister, and now she'd uncovered a conspiracy and had to save her friends. She didn't want to have to do this, but she knew she had to. "I'm ready…" she said, her voice faltering slightly.

"Go down to the labs. Karen will have it ready for you. You can say goodbye to her sister before you leave. Ben will look after her for tonight."

Giving a nod, and a quick and unnecessary salute, Brittany turned and ran fast. Down the corridors, down one of the staircases and into the test labs. There was a jumbling sound and, as she arrived, she saw Karen bring out her old Mark 3 Wand. It seemed completely different, fixed at maximum length and with multiple fixtures on the side. The burning flame was hidden in a long tube, which ended with a rocket nozzle. "You'll want these," Karen said, grabbing a pair of aviator goggles. "I estimated that you'd be able to keep up speeds of sixty miles per hour for four hours, though speed and range can vary. You'll be shifting your weight the adjust your pitch, having to lean further back at lower speeds." She paused, taking Brittany in. "I advise you also change into your ZED gear, and don't forget your Mark IV."

Brittany slapped her paw into her forehead, before reaching out and grabbing her flying wand. "Yes. Stupid. Thanks. Brilliant!"

She turned to leave, only to freeze as a worried voice spoke up. "Brittany? What's happening?" Looking back, the tips of her fingers went all frosty as she saw a confused Kinsey just standing there, her lips wobbling with worry. "We were having fun, and then she got a call and was ignoring me, and now you're here but going…"

"There's a big fire…" Brittany began, before pausing. She closed her eyes, gritting her teeth at what she was about to do just then.

"Brittany?"

"There isn't a big fire. But I think some friends of mine are in a lot of danger," she said, leaning down and resting her paws on Kinsey's shoulders. "I'm the only one who can fly out and warn them. So I have to do that, okay?"

The little vixen backed off slightly, shaking her head. "But… but… -I don't want to lose you, I…"

She was cut off as Brittany pulled her into a tight hug, embracing her. Backing off a little, she looked into her sister's eyes and gave a few comforting tongue grooms to the bridge of her muzzle. "I'll be back, I promise. Now, you promise to be a good girl and behave for Ben while I do this important job, okay?"

"…Okay…"

"You promise?"

"I… I promise."

Brittany pulled her back into one last hug, giving a peck on her cheek as she did so, before letting go and standing up. "See you soon," she cried, as she raced off back to her room. It took her a few minutes to get there, and a few more to tear off her casual clothes and slip on her assistor's uniform. That was what she was going to do. Assist. Warn them. Get them out, and everyone would be safe and alive and happy.

Clipping her Mark IV wand onto her belt and putting on the goggles, Brittany ran out with her new wand, into the courtyard where she extended it out. It was more like a boogieboard with bat-like wings. Extended out, they curved up and around for stability, with paw grips on them. There were knee rests and foot rests as well, and a GPS mounted at the front, already telling her the way to go.

Taking a deep breath in and a deep breath out, Brittany placed it on the ground and leant forwards, both paws gripping the handles and one foot on its own. She focussed her anger down, grabbing the little flame and magnifying it a thousand times. It roared and, holding on, she and the wand flew up into the air. Leaning forwards, balancing her weight, she felt herself fly faster than she'd ever done before, cutting through the air effortlessly. There was nothing like the physical strain, or the effort to keep balance, that her usual wand flying required. She just slid herself into the right position so that the flight remained level and the horizon a level bar up ahead, and she flew through the twilight.

She hoped she'd get to her friends before it was too late.

She hoped no-one would get hurt.

She hoped that Fangmeyer was right, and that there wasn't something big that they were missing.

This whole plot had blindsided her.

She didn't think she could cope with another one.