Five things happened to Judy Hopps and the other officers of Precinct One in rapid succession. First, ZBI agent Jack Savage called her to report that Nick Wilde and his friend Finnick Courroux had been spotted near the small mountain range separation the Rainforest District and Tundratown. He'd warned her against taking him straight back to the Precinct, advising her instead to keep him confined in her car until she could get in contact with someone she could one hundred percent trust with the foxes' lives. Even with Commander Cunninghorn's treachery still weighing on her mind, Judy had protested this, but eventually agreed that she would only contact Captain Bogo once Nick and Finnick were found.
Second, Captain Bogo and Commissioner Elba stormed into Precinct One to report that the wayward Cunninghorn had kidnapped Benjamin Clawhauser. More accurately Elba reported the abduction while Bogo switched between cursing Cunninghorn and blaming himself for forcing Elba to take him to Benjamin's safe house and unwittingly leading the rhino right to the cheetah. A furious Chief Trunchbull threw the remnants of his espresso into a trashcan and summoned twenty of his best men to the Bullpen to form a plan of action. Judy was sitting among them in the pen, listening intently to Elba's statement, when the third incident shook the entire Precinct.
The building was left in darkness after the lights failed. The fifteen seconds that passed after the explosion felt like an eternity before their radios went crazy; a small explosion had just obliterated the interior of the Precinct's armory. Trunchbull ordered half the mammals in the room to follow him to the scene, but when he went to shove open the doors they didn't open. Judy tried the side door primarily used by the chief, and found that locked as well. Trunchbull had been about to call for assistance when the fourth thing happened.
The glass of the large windows that lined one side of the Bullpen imploded, followed by several small canisters. Judy recognized them as flash bangs in the split second before a massive sound struck her ears and a brilliant white filled her vision. Her ears were still ringing when her vision returned to normal and she saw a dozen tranq rifles stabbing into the Bullpen, felling officers left and right. Bogo took a chair with him as he went down, having been struck before he could pull out his weapon. Judy gaped when she recognized the red feathers of the dart protruding from his shoulder. She'd seen them before, being utilized by Sedor's gas-masked partner against the gangsters at the Artic House. Then she'd felt the sting of another dart and everything went black.
The fifth thing occurred in the twenty minutes before Judy awoke, having been administered a drug to counteract the tranquilizer. Judy's head was pounding as she opened her eyes to see an EMT standing over her. The mouse made sure she was suffering no other side effects before moving on to revive another of the fallen officers. A beaver was kneeling beside a sedated Bogo, carefully injecting a larger dose of the same antidote. Judy rubbed her temple, sat up and looked around, her ears swiveling left and right as she heard voices all around. More than half of the officers had been brought round, most of them groggy but okay. She saw tiny green lights attacked to several necks. She looked to Bogo, who by now had come round and was propping himself up on one elbow. He looked at his left wrist and frowned. Judy spotted Trunchbull and Elba in heated discussion close to the doors, which had been smashed open from the outside. Trunchbull had an amber light beneath one large ear.
As her mind gradually cleared, Judy realized with horror what the lights were. TAME Collars. Whoever had raided the bullpen had put collars on more than half the mammals in this room. She heard a beep, and her gut lurched. Her paws flew up to her own neck, and then she gasped in relief. No collar.
"Sir, we have a problem!" The beaver EMT called out, his paw hovering a collar scanner over the collar worn by a still sedated Officer Reinhart.
"What?" Trunchbull and Elba snorted simultaneously.
"The scanners won't work." The beaver gestured with the scanner to the collar. Judy realized that these collars were different. The predator issued collars were charcoal grey. These ones were pure black.
Bogo stood up, using a table to push himself up. "This is getting better by the minute. Hopps, are you alright?'
"Yes, sir." Judy said meekly. "Do you have any idea what the heck just happened?"
"Wish I could tell you." Bogo sat down. "At least you don't have one of those things on you."
"Where're McHorn and Higgins?" Judy asked.
"I think they're still dealing with the bombing that occurred just now. The entire armory is gone." Bogo looked like he'd eaten a rotten lemon as he spoke.
The look on Higgins' face was even worse as he ran into the room, immediately locking eyes with Trunchbull. "Sir, you're not going to believe what's been-" He froze when he saw the smashed windows and collared officers still being tended to. "What the hell happened here?"
"We were attacked." Trunchbull did not sound happy at having to state the obvious. "The bombing must have been a distraction of some sort. What of the armory?"
"Obliterated, sir." Higgins's eyes widened when he spotted Bogo and Judy. "No-one was in there when it happened, thank God, but… there's more. Way more."
"Go on." Elba sounded full of dread.
"There're reports of attacks all over the city. Small-scale bombings. Arson. Raids."
Trunchbull and Elba both looked nauseated. "In every district?"
"Yes, sir. ZNN was hit, too." Higgins said. "No-one's been killed, but the officers at the scene say that more than half of the mammals in the building have woke up with a collar around their necks."
Judy and Bogo traded stunned glances.
"What of the Mayor?" Trunchbull insisted.
Higgins nodded. "She's okay. That's all we know for sure."
After that, the ZPD gradually got their stuff back in gear. The collared officers were herded to the break-room for their own safety until a method for removing the collars could be found; it was decided early one that it was too risky to try and simply cut the collars off. For all they knew the collars could be set to explode if they did. Soft drinks were provided, but coffee and anything else that could affect the heart rate was forbidden. Trunchbull even had two hostage negotiators join them so they could use their skills to ensure the officers remained calm. The Chief decided to confine himself to his office, where he could continue to command Precinct One with the assistance of his captains and Assistant Chief.
As for those officers still fit for duty, Judy included, they all gathered in the atrium and watched as Trunchbull stood atop the stage used for press conferences. The elephant tugged at his collar as he gave the full details of the crisis.
In the span of thirty minutes, all twelve districts in Zootopia had been attacked by an unidentified group of mammals. The circumstances of each attack were relatively the same. A bombing or arson attacked occurred in an unoccupied part of the district, diverting the Precinct of the district from the true attack. A group of mammals raided a heavily populated area such as the Palm Hotel in Sahara Square and the train station in Tundratown. All mammals given the unusual collars were prey. Their attackers had been clothed in black and worn no sigil. They'd used a combination of unmarked vans and helicopters to commence their attacks quickly and without warning, before vanishing with no trace other than the red-feathered darts and the collars.
Savanna Central was the only district to be attacked in two areas; Precinct One and ZNN HQ. By now it had been confirmed that Llamadeus, Bellwether and the majority of her party had been collared, but Swinton had been spared. The Mayor was currently on her way back to City Hall where she could better watch over the situation.
By the time Trunchbull was done, the atmosphere in the atrium was intense. Judy could feel the anger and fear all around her, almost physically flattening her ears behind her head. Zootopia had had its fair share of lunatics, fanatics and terrorists in the past, but none of them had ever struck such a blow as this. "As this is clearly an act of terrorism, the ZBI has already been contacted. They will be here within fifty minutes." Trunchbull said. "In the meantime, we will all do our part to restore stability to this city and protect those mammals afflicted by these collars until such a time they can be removed." He paused and looked over the silent crowd. "The perpetrators of this despicable act will be brought to justice, I assure you, but for now the safety of our citizens is what is important now. If we let them fall into a panic in the wake of these attacks, the terrorists still win!'
His collar beeped in warning. Judy froze, expecting her superior to be shocked. Fortunately the collar fell silent after that. Elba stepped onto the stage and patted Trunchbull's arm. Judy heard his whispers better than most of the officers present. "You should return to your office until you get that espresso out of your system. I'll handle the assignments."
Trunchbull reluctantly nodded and stepped down from the stage, and Elba took his place behind the podium. "Assignments. Pennington, your team will assist at ZNN. Greystoke, your team will guard the collared officers and keep them safe. Moonstone, you're being assigned to…" This went on for several minutes, the crowd dwindling with each assignment, until Elba spoke the name of the new commander of Precinct One's TUSK unit. "Tuskov, your unit will be…" He grimaced at the file on the podium. Judy was sure she heard him mutter, "To hell with that." Before continuing. "Tuskov, your unit will be assigned to Tundratown to make sure Big and Koslov don't try to take advantage of this situation." Tuskov took off in the direction of the TUSK officer while Elba turned to Bogo, who stood behind Judy with McHorn and Higgins. "Bogo, your team will pursue Cunninghorn and retrieve the key witness he abducted."
"Come on, Hopps!" Bogo barked. Judy had to run to keep up with him and the other mega fauna as they strode to the elevator and took it up to their floor. Judy sat at her desk minutes later, brooding over her gun as she checked and assembled it piece by piece, debating whether or not Bogo would accept the request she was about to make. She cared about Benjamin Clawhauser. Even if he hadn't saved her captain's life, he was an innocent predator caught up in something horrible. How could she not care about him, especially after she almost killed him at Wild Times? Yet he wasn't the only predator in peril.
She holstered her weapon and checked out her coworkers. At his desk, McHorn was sitting silently, clenching and unclenching his fists as he waited for the others to finish preparing. Higgins had already assembled his Desert Eagle. Bogo was still in his office, going through a cardboard box sitting on his desk. Judy sucked in a breath and entered the office.
"Sir." She said softly.
"Hopps." Bogo said irritably. His arms moved quickly, almost fitfully, as he continued to rummage through the box.
"What is that, sir?"
"All the stuff I had on my person when I was taken to the ER. The hospital held onto it until I regained consciousness." He pulled out what looked like a spare magazine for his gun and pocketed it. He paused, then pulled out something else; a dirty Gazelle CD. "What the hell is this doing in… wait, I remember now."
"Sir?" Judy asked.
"I found this near the Arctic House crime scene the night Cunninghorn slit my throat." Bogo said. "It's just a pirated CD. Nothing special."
"I see, sir." Judy cleared her throat. "Sir, I have a request."
"Make it quick." Bogo said.
"Just before this all started, I received a… an anonymous tip that Wilde has been spotted on the border between the Rainforest District and Tundratown. I would like to follow up on this tip."
That was the last thing Judy expected to hear from the buffalo. Bogo froze, both hooves propped on his desk, as something flashed beneath the cuff of his left sleeve. Judy frowned.
"Sir, what was that?" Higgins stood framed in the doorway, Desert Eagle in his holster.
"Not now, Higgins. Wait for me outside." Bogo closed the door and turned back to Judy. He had the same look on his face he had when Judy had returned from the disastrous pursuit in Little Rodentia. The bunny tried not to wilt. "Hopps… My dear Officer Hopps.. As much as I'd love to settle this Wilde business once and for all, that insufferable fox is the least of our problems."
Judy steeled her own gaze, feeling like she was her younger self about to step onto the thin ice of the pond near her family's farm. "I know you're desperate to get Clawhauser back. You owe him your life. It's more or less the same reason why I need to find Wilde. For three weeks everyone from you to my parents has been telling me that what happened to you wasn't my fault. That Cunninghorn would have attacked you whether I believed Wilde about the wolf or not." Judy tried to keep her nose from twitching as her emotions starting bubbling up. "But no matter what anyone says, I feel like I failed him. Failed you. Sir, I think you feel that you failed Clawhauser. You're so determined to get him back that you didn't tell anyone you got collared yourself."
Bogo pulled down his sleeve, exposing the collar on his wrist. "I suppose they didn't think the collar would work through a bandage. I hope for your sake that you're not about to blackmail me, Hopps."
"Of course not, sir!" Judy balled her fists. "But just like you, I made a mistake and I need to fix it. Please, let me go after Wilde. I have to find him before it's too late."
Bogo sighed and pulled his sleeve back over the collar before opening the door. "Higgins!"
"Captain?" Higgins called.
"Change of plans! You're going with Hopps to follow up on a tip!"
"What sort of tip?" Higgins asked in confusion.
"She'll explain on the way." Bogo turned back to Judy. "You have three hours. Return here whether you find him or not."
Judy's heart leapt. "And if I find him, sir?"
"The rest of us are going to City Hall to ask Mayor Swinton some questions. Call us if anything comes of this tip."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." Judy saluted him, grateful for his trust in her. "Are you sure you'll be alright with that collar, uh, bracelet, sir?"
"I'm sure, Hopps." Bogo tapped his watch. "Your three hours are counting down. Now get moving."
While Judy gave her explanation to Higgins on their way down to the Precinct's parking lot, she left out the part where it was Jack Savage who tipped her off. She stopped speaking when they entered the atrium and saw the horde of reporters lying in wait through the glass entrance. There was a line of officers separating them from the windows and rotating door, making sure they couldn't get any near their collared coworkers.
"Cottonballs, those jerks must live in their vans." Judy muttered.
"I hear the other affected buildings have been put under lockdown. Commissioner's orders." Higgins' large hand steered Judy towards the elevator. "We should get moving before he decides to lock this place down too."
Judy followed the hippo inside, the doors shutting behind her cutting off the ruckus from the reporters. The sudden jerk as the elevator began its descent exacerbated the sick feeling in her gut, not helped by the selfish, cowardly relief she felt at being distanced from this disaster, even for a mere three hours. Thieving weasels she could handle. Warring gangsters she could assist. One terrorist attack on one building she could cope with. But two terrorist attacks in every district in the city, topped off with an ongoing bloody gang war between city's two most infamous gangs…
"Hopps?" Judy blinked and realized that the elevator had stopped and opened. Higgins was looking down at her and holding the door open.
"I need to make a couple of calls." She said weakly. Higgins nodded and went ahead. The elevator doors slid shut, sealing the bunny inside. Judy's paw was shaky as she pulled out her phone, and saw that because she'd had it on silent she'd missed forty hundred text messages and one hundred and twelve calls from her parents and assorted siblings. She dialed her mother's number. She made sure she hadn't accidentally activated Muzzletime again before she held the phone to her ear. "Mom?"
"Judy?!" Bonnie's reply came as a shriek. "Stu, put down that phone, it's her!"
"Mom…" Judy said.
"Judy, we saw the news! We're so happy you're okay!" Bonnie sounded nearly in tears, if she wasn't already. Judy wished she was here so she could hug her and tell her she was sorry.
"I'm okay." She chose not to mention that she'd been darted. She would not tell them how helpless she'd felt in the minutes after waking up from that tranquilizer. "I saw all the messages. I would have called sooner, but you have to keep your phone silent in the bullpen."
"Okay, I understand that, sweetheart." Bonnie said. Judy thought she heard her frantic father in the background. "What in Heaven is going on over there?"
"Mom, how much did the news tell you?" Judy began to pace around the elevator to work off her nerves. With how tightly strung those nerves were right now, if her parents started demanding that she come home again she didn't think she could stop herself from shouting at them.
"Only that there's been a bombing in every district in the city, even the place you work!"
"Small bombings." Judy pressed. "Our armory was destroyed, but fortunately we're not exactly short on weapons."
"Judy, who did this? Those gangs? IBIS?"
Judy recalled how distressed her parents had been at the thought that Judy would be taking up arms against those giant predators, and decided to nip that part of the conversation in the bud. "We don't know yet, but that's the ZBI's jurisdiction. I won't be going up against any terrorists, I promise."
"No, Stuart! Remember the agreement! You're not to talk to her while you're in a tizzy!" Bonnie snapped at her husband. "You promise, Judy?"
"I promise. Right now I'm on a different assignment. I can't tell you what exactly, but it's got nothing to do with those attacks."
"So it's safe?"
"Would you like us to meet you at the station?"
"That won't be necessary."
"Stu says you can borrow his shotgun if you want."
"That really won't be necessary. Just stay at home and I'll call you later." Judy said. "Mom, what was that awkward chuckle for?"
Bonnie sounded like one of the kits she'd scold for staying out past curfew. "It's, ah, a little too late for staying at home, sweetheart. We're kind of already on our way."
Judy's paw flexed around her phone and her foot thumped the floor with the speed of a jackhammer. "Mom, tell dad to turn the truck around and go home."
"I would, but with Georgie borrowing the truck for a few days, we're taking the train to get there…"
"What?" Judy half-growled into the receiver.
"I'm sorry, I promise we won't interfere!" Bonnie insisted. "We'll call you when we get there, then after that we'll find a hotel and wait until you're off duty."
Judy was surprised at how reasonable that sounded. "And we'll talk then?"
"Of course. Hopefully your father will have gotten out of his tizzy by then."
Judy sighed deeply into the receiver. "Okay, but fair warning, one of the stations was attacked. You might find yourselves stuck on the train when you get here."
"Oh, pish posh. We'll be fine. We'll call you if that does happen."
"Good. I've got to make another call, so I gotta go. Love you, guys."
Judy hung up, stomped her foot, and let loose with a groan that seemed to fill the massive elevator.
"Hopps?" Higgins called from outside.
"One minute!" Judy called back and started scrolling through the phone screen for Jack Savage's number. Her search was interrupted when the radio fixed to her belt crackled.
"If you don't know where you are going, any road can take you there."
Judy grabbed the radio and held it to her face. The voice was female and familiar to the bunny's ears, but not by any officer she'd met. "Who is this? Whoever you are, come in."
"The time has come to talk of many things:" The female went on with a calmness that unnerved the bunny listening. "Of predators and prey- and Twilight- of Night Howlers and queens."
Judy stared at the radio. "Is this some kind of joke? How did you get on this frequency?"
"Begin at the beginning." The voice's tone took on the tune-like quality of a poet. "And go on till you reach Glacier Heights, then stop."
"Glacier Heights?" Judy's mind raced through the case file on Sedor Valentino; Glacier Heights was the apartment building where he'd lived.
"The castle of the Red Knight. In Room 302 you will find your fox, trapped within the Walrus's lair."
Judy stopped pacing and stood in the middle of the elevator. The doors opened to reveal an irritated Higgins. Judy held up a paw to stop him from speaking and pointed to the radio. "You mean Wilde?"
"The one and only Wilde in Zootopia. The Walrus is hungry, my little White Knight. Hungry and angry. You don't have long."
Higgins's eyes widened at the mention of the fox. Judy felt her fur stand up on end and applied some bravado to her voice. "How do I know this isn't some kind of prank?"
"If you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"
Judy looked to Higgins. He nodded, which was what she had been hoping for. Feeling confident with his support, Judy turned her face back to the radio. "It's a bargain."
The radio fell silent. Higgins knelt down before Judy. "Who the frack is referencing Wonderland?"
"I, I don't have a clue." Judy said. "Should we really trust her?"
"Hell, no. For all we know it could be those terrorists playing games with us." Higgins said. "Until we figure out more about what the hell is going on, we'd better play along for now. I'm gonna call the Captain about this."
Judy nodded. "Please hurry. I'm worried about Wilde."
Higgins looked at her out the corner of his eye as he waited for Bogo to answer the phone. "Just don't get your hopes up, Hopps. If that woman was telling the truth, then the chances are he's already dead."