Chapter 9

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"So," Fenneko began. "From my research, I'm presuming that DA Kurt Wassermaim's not one to easily cave into public pressure."

Nick nodded. "If he were, he'd have resigned years ago. He's calling the shots here, and he wants this to happen." There was a pause as his teeth bared. "He's enjoying this, I saw it, and there's nothing we can do as he's still got a term left to finish. There's no way City Hall will renew him for another term and he knows it, so he's got nothing to lose. Unless we can get a bunch of evidence to prove Kris didn't do it, there's not much we can do other than wait these four weeks out and hope they've got so little they're forced to drop it when filing charges. Heck, even if we do have a bunch of stuff he may ignore it and try and bring Kris to trial anyway!"

Judy looked on gravely. "In which case we wait the seven months before making certain he's freed at his trial. -But surely there is a way we can pressure him? Isn't there a way we can force him out?"

"There's that thing I suggested a while ago," Mr Fox reminded everyone. "Break in, get sensitive stuff, blackmail?"

Before his wife could protest, Fenneko spoke. "An idea with merit, certainly. It could play well with my plan: working with some EweTubers who really don't like him. Though to create real pressure we'll need the non-alternative media on our side."

"And that leads onto something I know," Mr Fox said. "After all, I write for a newspaper. I'm also the oldest long term resident of the city living here and I happen to remember a few things."

"Such as?" his brother in law asked.

"Such as a case ages ago where a DA was suspended by the Mayor on the claim that they were unfit to do their duty. However, it's worth noting that said DA then took the case to a judge who ruled in his favour, and he stayed in place."

Judy's eyes widened. "So, if we can absolutely prove that what the DA did was wrong… Which it was, I mean we can just call the Mayor up and get him out pronto!"

"Except," Nick pointed out, "the fact that a judge previously cleared what he did as legally valid. And I mean it's been an open secret that Wassermaim's part of Bellwether's old crew, but the Mayor hasn't tried to fire him yet 'cause there's never been anything to prove it."

"Yes, but surely with what he's just done…" Judy began, only for Fenneko to cut her off.

"-He's actually gained support," she said, opening up preddit and scrolling through the comments. "As far as the common internet user knows, some school kit came in with these things that terrify them and was taken away, looking calm if not smug as he went." There was a long pause as she scrolled down, the group giving each other worried looks as they read the comments. "Even if the truth about his holding situation becomes apparent, it's unlikely to change public opinion. After all, while Zootopia has very strong youth justice laws, things like this are quite similar to what might happen in the States and even Canidea for really serious crimes. Given the particular notoriety of what he was caught with, I'm not sure if we can receive much sympathy from the general public."

"Well," Retusko began. "Why don't we start our own story? The way I saw it, the police believed that a mammal wasn't responsible for these things, was happy with the arrangement they were giving him, but then he barged in and overruled them all. From what I gather, there's a bit of a sob story you could play up too, given that he only just got his father back."

"Yeah," Judy agreed. "We can scream out that he's an antivulpite and make him so unpopular that the mayor is itching to drop him."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Haida said. "Listen, I don't doubt that he doesn't like preds and stuff after seeing him. But do you know what I'd think if I was just working in an office, hear that that a fox was arrested for handling nighthowlers, then tried to plead the whole fox discrimination thing? I'd be mad at that fox! I had to struggle and suffer through the first Nighthowler plot, scared I'd turn and hurt others, all while getting shouted at or being given dodgy looks, especially at the end. To hear that a fellow pred was caught with them fair and square, then to hear him claiming that it's all speciesism against him. Well, I'd hope he was sent away for even longer, all while feeling sorry for all the other foxes who he was giving a bad name to. Unless you have some direct proof, and I would be happy to say what I saw just for the record, playing the fox card is really going to backfire on you."

"I'm a fox," Skye said, "and I'm afraid I pretty much agree with you too."

Nick nodded. "Yeah, and just remember who we're fighting against here," he said, rubbing his temple. "If you take him at face value, what he's arguing for isn't bad and does make sense. Treat the criminal like a criminal, I'm putting my foot down given how much this stuff made the city suffer before; I'm not a speciesist, I'm just enforcing the laws and would do it to anyone equally. The trouble for us is that he reframes our argument, suddenly questioning us on something we didn't even consider was up for debate and considered a given, making us stumble. 'Oh, you're not happy about enforcing those laws? So, you're happy to let a terrorist go? You're happy to put other preds at risk? You're saying that because he's a fox, any attempt to treat him to the same standards means I'm an antivulpite? You're saying that the law should treat some mammals differently to others?' Objectively those are all perfectly fair points. Objectively he's actually correct, and that makes him very hard to beat."

"Yeah," Finnick said. "It's like when you asked me whether I was willing to completely change myself and all for my vix. You expected me to answer that straight. Instead, I asked why it was us boys who had to change for the girlies, something you was certain was the way things were always done. What did you say back," he said, chuckling a little. "Finn, you're doin' it wrong. Finn, stawp… Finn, you know what I mean. Finn, hawlp plz..."

Nick grumbled. "Yes, point taken."

Haida nodded. "Yeah. To be fair Nick, that whole change talk of yours may have come across with a tone of internalised misandry."

"Really…?" Judy asked, an eyebrow rising.

"Hey," he pointed out, frowning. "First off, serious thing with hyenas. Secondly, you're saying that girls can't have unrealistic expectations and unfair biases against boys, which said boys then feel they have to meet?"

"No," Judy said. "I mean…" She paused, slapping her face with her paws. "Dammit. It does work."

"Yeah," Haida noted. "I wasn't even trying then."

"Unlike Wassermaim, who's pretty much made it into an art form," Nick said. "We need the perfect answers or he'll flip us into a corner where we're the ones in the wrong. Then he can just shrug us away, call us stupid, and a lot of people would believe him as he objectively makes perfect sense. Heck, I'm pretty sure that a perfectly fair mammal could easily act the same way, raising all the same points. The only reason I know that's not what he is is because I saw him enjoy it. It wasn't just doing his duty, it was that he was getting to hurt Kris, a fox. But we have to make others believe that."

Judy sighed, while Fenneko nodded. "If you're going to start a scheme to turn the public against him and win public support for our cause, you're going to have to have some pretty big evidence."

Retsuko nodded, bringing up her phone. "Like a video of the whole argument that I recorded?"

Fenneko smiled. "That's some pretty big evidence," she said, as Judy did a binky from excitement.

"YES!" she said, jumping over and glomping Retsuko.

"Woah… Thanks there."

"No," came a new voice, as Dr Silverfox walked over. "Thank you," he said, a smile growing on his face. She smiled, before handing her phone to Fenneko, the vixen watching the exchange through and through.

"A little bit of editing, and we can have an excellent bit of propaganda to start moving out with. Naturally though we will have to capitalise on this. Getting a public protest going will be an interesting challenge, but one that I sort of relish. I can get in contact with the regular crowd who always turns up to any type of protest, plus a bunch who would be eager to campaign against the current DA in general or this set of affairs in particular. I believe a certain EweTuber called Anton Pounceheart has had a long feud with our DA, and a strong reputation after calling out the nighthowler conspiracy itself."

Judy nodded. "He's quite well known in Bunnyburrow, though not exactly for the right reasons. He's been organising full on boycotts of our regions' produce and businesses, trying to force the council to ban the Fox-Away brand; we're one of the few places that lets them set up and manufacture, and where their corporate HQ is." She looked down and frowned. "You hear other farmers grumbling about lower prices for berry crops and stuff, blaming him. -I can't really misgive him for it, but it shows he has influence."

Fenneko nodded. "We get the alternative media on our side, though I've also got my sights on the regular media too. Pounceheart isn't the only pred that doesn't like him, there's also a certain bank CEO with some major ties to ZNN who he's had a thing against. If we can get the ball rolling, get our edited video trending, if not going viral, we can egg on the Mayor to kick that hippo out. But, according to Mr Fox there, opinions count for nothing if we don't have anything solid on him."

Nick nodded. "So, rock-solid proof that he was connected with Dawn Bellwether. Everything so far was circumstantial." He paused, before looking down glumly. "The ZPD didn't get anything on him for that, so I don't know what we can do."

Finnick put his paw up.

"-Without resorting to physical violence."

Finnick put his paw down.

"Any other, legal, ideas?"

Mr Fox and Fenneko grumbled.

"Other than getting Dawn herself to confess," Judy said, "no. That's probably a bust from the start."

"Again, about my previous idea," Mr Fox began, "which involved the retrieval of incriminating items from his possession in a high stakes all or nothing mission… What about tricking him into confessing something?"

"So, what," Haida began. "Getting him drunk? You need to get him drunk first."

"Well," Mr Fox said, "maybe a devious set-up involving pipes, switcharoos and other cunning tricks and hustles could get him drunk and me not drunk. Then, I press further, and he begins to spill his secrets. All while one of us records it from afar."

Fenneko nodded. "An interesting proposal, with only one minor flaw."

"Which is?"

"I find it unlikely he'd get into a heavy drinking contest against a fox, especially as he gets more tipsy and you don't."

"Well, maybe not any fox… but this fox!"

"The fox that was right there arguing with him," Nick pointed out. "I don't think any of us can handle this. So unless any of you have a heavyweight prey friend who could be seen in a social place like this, then we're out of luck."

"So, anti-Wassermaim public opinion push. Yea or nea?" Fenneko asked.

Nick paused and huffed. "Yes, no, I don't know! I mean, now I want to focus back on getting Weaselton, but we only think he's the prime suspect because of an anonymous tip we can't prove happened."

"So," Skye said, "why don't us civilians just go to the Head, en-masse, explain what we're doing and ask for her to confirm it? Then, hopefully, we'll have something firm to go on."

Judy shook her head. "Skye, the Youth Justice laws probably mean that she could lose her job if she tells us. We're basically going up there and asking her to risk sacrificing her entire career, one she's put decades of work into, all to confirm a hunch. It could destroy her. I mean, I might be willing to risk my badge, but I can't ask her to do that."

"Oh," the swift fox noted. "These must be tough laws."

"They're youth protection laws and she's a teacher," Judy said.

"Yes," Dr Silverfox hissed bitterly, cutting in. "'Youth protection' laws which you keep on saying are there for protecting kids, but are not helping us protect mine! If you're not going to ask her about it, why don't I just go and ask her about it?"

Judy frowned. "I don't think those laws were made with this sort of situation in mind. I… I'm not going to say that I understand what you're going through. But she's scared that she can't tell anyone, due to facing a law that, if she does, could take everything from her." She paused and sighed. "She's probably worried out of her mind by all of this, not able to tell anyone or get any help what-so-ever."

"-What about a physiatrist?"

All eyes slowly turned to one mammal in the room. Jack Savage. He shrugged. "I mean, those guys or lawyers are supposed to be confidential. She could talk to them about it fairly safely, couldn't she?"

Nick nodded. "Yeah. Client and patient confidentiality. In cases where someone is legally required to keep something a secret, they can still talk to professionals like that. But Jack, that means that they can't tell us."

"What happens if we just listen in?"

"That's a breach of trust on our end, Jack," Judy pointed out. "For a start, as no parties know that they are being recorded, we can't use this as evidence. Secondly, we'd utterly betray the trust of Ash's and Nick's therapist or Mr Fox's lawyer."

"...Oh, right then."

"-Hang on," Retsuko asked, putting her paw up. "This isn't like the stuff to get Wassermaim out. We don't need this to stand up in court, do we? We just want it to confirm that the original call was against Ash."

"That's actually correct, but there's still the second point," Judy said. "I mean, unless one of us is a therapist or a lawyer and is willing to betray our profession…"

"-Or pretends to be a therapist or a lawyer," Jack pointed out.

"Jack…" Skye began. "Is this going somewhere?"

He looked back and stood tall, walking out into the crowd. "Ahem, Skye, I think you'll find that it is. Listen, I've been trying to do more, be more, for a while now. This is going to be a complication investigation, under the radar, and potentially involving a bunch of strange and dangerous mammals. We might need someone to go undercover, to get in close, and to really dig up the dirt on them. For that, someone who is able to take on various different roles and roll with them whatever may happen. Someone adept at improv, happy to wear the skin of someone else, someone who can be your secret undercover agent! Judy Hopps, Dr Silverfox, Agent Jack Savage is at your service."

"Jack," Nick said, a paw and finger coming up. "Isn't that the plot of Team America: World Police?"

He leant over, pinched Finnick's shades from his head and slipped them on, his face oozing cool as he did so. "America? Cuss yeah!"

.

.

"Skye," Judy began, looking over at the vixen. "Seriously. What have you done with him?"

She just looked confused, holding her paws out. "I don't know. But, I mean, he's volunteering. That's good right?"

"Not if it's for something illegal."

"Well, maybe there's a sweet spot," he suggested. "A profession it isn't that illegal to interpret, who I can act as, and in doing so safely exude confirmation from her on this matter."

Judy looked at him skeptically. "That's still pretty dodgy."

"Maybe it is," Dr Silverfox noted, his voice tired. "But my son is on the way to prison right now so you know what? Honestly, I don't give a damn."

"I…" Judy began, before sighing. "Right. Of course, it's just that it's other people and not me that I'm risking. And that's even if there is a profession that fits all these roles."

Jack smiled. "I think there is," he said, bringing his paws together and chuckling evilly. Everyone looked at him, not sure if this was good or bad, but he eventually cut himself off. "Ahem. Also, I could act in a fashion that could draw out Wassermaim's confession as well."

"But won't he remember you?" Skye asked, looking down at him.

"Well, here's the thing about your memory," Jack explained. "It's usually pretty cuss. That's something I know from writing plays. Say you want to sneak in something that flies under the audience's radar, but points towards a big twist or reveal at the end. Now usually you can't spell it out because that makes it too obvious. However, if you place it as a random little mention in a spoken line or in the background, the audience is likely to forget it. As a result, you have to flag it, and I tend to use two options to do that. You either open a mystery or create something that's odd and stands out from the start, that hangs on people's minds or brings them a laugh but who's meaning can only become clear at the reveal…

"-Oooh," she said. "Like how Nick laughed on first seeing Haida, we all figured that something was up, and it turned out to be that he knew why there's a load of oddly familiar hyena dolls out there."

Jack couldn't help but binky in joy. "Yes! Got it in one, Skye. If, of course, all those events were set up in a play or performance or stuff. You could say the same about Fenneko telling Finnick to remember that thing about the Kits for Cash scandal. And given that I've just repeated that, if anyone were watching us they'd double remember that."

"Question?" Fenneko asked.

"Yup."

"No, not for you," she said, looking over to Haida as he facepawed. He brought out a carrot pen, played his recording, Fenneko laughed, he said it was not funny, she kept on laughing, then they all turned back to Jack.

"Now, the other method is the story method. You make a story or notable thing out of it. This doesn't create an initial mystery; most of the time it comes across as nice worldbuilding. Take the carving of the chess pieces with the rock hammers over the ages, then the talk of the blue waters off the coast of Zihuatanjo and the stone under the oak tree in Buxton… Or, as a counter example, the talk of Pai Mei and the five point paw exploding heart technique. Or maybe even the cutaway to the fourteen fists of McClusky where you see the first use of that flamethrower. Anyway, you remember that story, in doing so remembering the bits in it, and when one of those bits pops back into reality you know exactly where it came from."

"Right," she said, "so logically one of those two… -Ah! Let me guess, he was focussed on arguing with Bogo, against Kris and his father, and against Nick, picking on Judy at the end. So, he wouldn't be that clear about who the others are. He'd likely remember that there were some foxes, a red panda, a hyena with a notable underbite and a large, striped, bunny! Your size and stripes would be the flag!"

Jack looked back at her like a father looking on at his kits first steps. "Yes. And, if I dye out my stripes…"

"There's no way he'd connect you with all the others!"

Judy stepped forward. "Okay, secret agent Jack…" she said, still a bit sceptical. "So, you're saying that you'll somehow confirm whether the call was against Ash or not. You'll also, somehow, convincingly, outdrink a hippo."

"Via the magic of acting!"

"Actually," Haida spoke. "I think I do know someone who can out drink that hippo and would really want to help us out."

"Me too!" Retsuko realised.

"And so do I," Fenneko said. "It's quite obvious when you think about it."

Jack paused, mouth agape, before shaking it off. "No worries then, it means that secret agent Jack can be reserved for other occasions or actions against our heinously horrendous hippopotamus. I could also go up against that weasel's roommate, if you want. Heck, give me these roles!"

"I…" Judy began, before pausing. "Okay, it means that you can do stuff that Nick and I can't do; not without jeopardizing our careers at least. But still, how will you stay safe? Heck, how will we keep in contact with you?"

"Well," Skye said, putting her paw up. "I do have a lot of skills with mechanics and electronics." There was a pause, then a smile. "You can call me 'S'"

"I like it," Jack said. "Also, I GET SPY GADGETS!"

"Cuss yeah you do," she said, looking up to Judy. "I can do a lot of the work myself, though time is limited. I mean, if it wasn't I'm sure I could call up my sister and get some military grade stuff in. That or there's this weapons specialist, another swift fox who she briefly set me up with once, who she freed from a sort of similar situation to this; even if he didn't owe her or have some lingering feelings about me, he'd most likely help Kris out anyway. But he might be stuck miles away and it could take him days or months to come over, if he can. Thankfully, I do happen to know a different mammal who lives in the city and could start to help us from day one. I did some build-offs with her a year back or so. Heck, she probably has most of the stuff we need just lying around the place! We all go to her place and together we can get Jack kitted up for whatever mission we need."

Judy looked on. She still felt a bit unsure, but she couldn't help but let a little grin begin to grow on her face. "You know, we might have a plan out of all of this!"

"You know what," Mr Fox said, as he walked over. "I think we do! What we have here is a multi-fronted, multi-mammaled, highly complex plan designed to do everything it can to get my nephew out of his current predicament. Along the way, it makes in a variety of mammals and makes the best use of all their talents and skills! Judy Hopps, Oryctolagus cuniculus, the queen on our chessboard and the heavy police hitter and driving force in this crusade for justice. Not to belittle Nick Wilde, Vulpes vulpes, either. Talented, sly, and cunning as a fox, he and his police partner are the perfect mammals to navigate the upcoming legal and investigative minefield!"

The pair nodded confidently, as Mr Fox moved on. "The other great front of this battle is the social media squabble for the soul of this city. Fenneko and Finnick, Vulpes zerda and Vulpes zerda, social media scanner and manipulator and her trusty heavy hitting backup. They can turn everyone they can against the corrupt mammal who's most responsible for this current mess."

The two fennecs nodded their heads, Fenneko speaking. "I'll begin our social media campaign in earnest, while also looking out for any more clues on the whereabouts of our weasel. Moreover, I can study the movements of both our school principal and our horrendous hippopotamus, finding places in which to intercept them and extract our information."

Mr Fox smiled, then stepped over to the next pair. "Assisting both sides will be the method acting and mechanics of Jack and Skye, Lepus flavigularis and Vulpes velox. Both are some of the best at what they can do, and they will be there for when they're needed, helping to gather up the incriminating intel from the other side."

"What about us?" Retsuko asked.

"-Haida and Retsuko. Crocuta crocuta and Ailurus fulgens fulgens…"

"-Ailurus fulgens styani," she corrected, grumbling.

"My apologies," Mr Fox said. "You have… -Excellent connections, which will aid in supplying the team with the talent you need. After all, you'll provide the mammal who will aid in the first strike against our Hippo. A strike that we can only make thanks to your connection to Fenneko. Apart from that, you'll be there to assist and support the rest of them along the way with your unique insights and perspectives. Maybe you don't get the star billing, but you're the mortar that holds the bricks of this investigation together!""

"And what about me?" Ash asked.

Mr Fox paused, sighing, before resting his paw on his son's shoulder. "Listen, if someone out there is after you, I want to keep you safe."

"I… I want to be safe too," he said. "After all, what if they try and put nighthowlers in my locker again?"

"Don't worry about that," Nick said.

"Yeah," Skye agreed. "I think I can work out something to help you there."

Ash nodded. "Thanks. But I still want to fight. Kris helped me when I was a jerk to him, then we became friends. I can't not help him back."

Mr Fox paused, thinking, before smiling. "We'll find a space for you," he said.

His mother looked worried but sighed, walking up to him. "And maybe you can help him on the school front. When you go back, get your friends on board, maybe see if they heard anything. And, sometimes, just being there for the mammal in trouble is the best thing you can be."

"Ash," Dr Silverfox said, stepping forward. His nephew turned to face him. "Let's be there for him, make sure he knows we're there for him. He…" he paused, sniffing a bit. "I dread to think about what he's going through. But let's make sure he knows that we're there for him, every step of the way."

Ash nodded and stepped forward, holding onto his uncle, only to pause. He let go slightly and looked over to one of the new mammals. "Hey, you said you spent time in Juvie, didn't you?"

Finnick's ears twitched a bit, before he nodded. "Yup," he said, shrugging. "Whole second half of my second decade."

"What…" Dr Silverfox began, "-what was it like?"

There was a long pause, before the fennec sighed. "I mean, this ain't like that, you understand? I was put away, what… Two decades ago? Yeah, and a lot has changed since then. I was thrown into a smelly city pen on the border between Sahara and Central. That place was old, and I mean old. Ever seen Clawshank? 'Cause that's the kind of place my pen used to look like." He went quiet as one of his ears flicked, and he brought up a paw to rub between his eyes before stiffening his lip.

"Being a smaller mammal, I had a little cell right on the bottom floor by the tables and stuff, which meant no peace and quiet whatsoever. I mean, bar the dead of night a jail like that is always loud, like livin' next to a freeway loud, and I have giant ears and a sleep schedule that means I tend to have a reverse siesta in the small hours. They didn't care 'bout that, and with all those other inmates on rec time on the ground floor right by me I couldn't get an earlier night even if I was dumb enough to try. So I was tired all the time, I had a wire mesh door locking me in with nothing but a rusty bunk, a metal toilet-sink thingy and a tiny shelf with what little I had to my name. Every morning I was woken up, and I'd remember just how much it stank there with all those musky mammals, and then we'd march off to breakfast which for me would be some porridg-bleuaaahhh..."

His words morphed into a gag and he broke off a little before shaking his head. "Cuss me, just the thought of that crap makes me wanna chuck. I didn't like it when I got in, never wanted to eat it again when I got out, and time don't heal all wounds. But anyways then we'd go to school, which was still boring but the most interesting thing there, 'part from when some fight might kick off. They weren't that common though. We'd have lunch, then an hour of outdoor rec, then some more school. Some time in there they might fit in a meeting with a councillor once a week. Then you had chores to do or hygiene stuff, then finally dinner and rec time. I mean, I paid attention in that school cuz' it might get you into the TV club during rec, let you borrow more books, getting good grades gave you a little tip in your dispensary which I needed as my family didn't want cuss to do with me after I 'tarnished their honour'. Heck, after my first six months I even got myself a little radio. Mam, did I love that thing. But yeah, that was my life all that time. It was boring, sometimes it was scary, the food was crap, everything was uncomfortable, I hated every part of it. But, even as I was getting out, things were changing, you understand?"

"Understand," Dr Silverfox, his whole body trembling and his lips wavering, said, before bursting into tears. "Please! Tell me that things have changed!" Finnick's eyes widened as the older tod collapsed on his knees in front of him and gripped him by his shoulders. "My son can't be going there! Please tell me that! It can't be like that anymore… It can't be!"

"HEY," Finnick shouted, shoving him off. "Keep it together old Mam! I said things ain't like that anymore."

"Go gentle on him," someone scolded from the side, and he turned to see a red panda looking at him. "Maybe you didn't need to go so detailed before?"

The hyena sitting next to her nodded his head in agreement. "You kind of did go over-the-top. I mean, I was getting the moving feels and stuff, and I'm the one who doesn't have a kit going there."

"Hey, he asked me to give the details. 'Sides, that kit ain't going there, you hear?" Finnick huffed.

"He isn't?" Dr Silverfox asked weakly.

"They closed that place not long after I left, what with all the new youth justice laws and stuff. Now, back then, you had the long cons like me but most cons there were in for a number of months that you could count on your paws. I'd say two out of three were in for a year or less, and it included all the petty thieves and first time bullies and trespassers and all sorts. The city chose to stop sending them there and built a brand new place outta town for all the long timers like me… Now I've never seen it, I met a guy a while back who went to both and said the new place was miles better. Cleaner, quieter, just much nicer. He said it was like night and day…"

"Oh thank god…"

"Yeah, but it's still a prison, and you don't have all the wobbly kneed first timers padding out the ranks. It's long termers like me. Now, I won't lie, that means you bump into the nasty thugs and stuff a lot more. But I mean you'd have crazy new fish and chill longer termers, cuss I was one of the latter. Listen, I said it had changed and I meant it. It's not hell he's going to, it's prison. But I guess if he does what they tell him to, he'll survive."

Dr Silverfox trembled, but nodded. "He… He's clever… He's sensible…"

Finnick nodded. "Believe me, that'll go a long way," he said. He backed off, pausing as he noticed Fenneko walking up to him. He showed her the palm of his paw and she stopped, backing off a bit as he took a breath in and out. He paused though, then looked past her to the computer setup, a certain mammal at it. "Hey, kit! What you up to?"

Ash looked up, then down again. "I wanted to see," he said, as he typed something into the browser. "After all, it was supposed to be my home for the next six months, wasn't it?" He changed the tab and the projector showed a Zoogle Maps image, Ash entering a search. The crowd watched as they zoomed away from the city, up beyond the edges of the climate districts, over the meadowlands, past the Kula Reservoir and Cliffside Asylum and even past the small city of Haverholt before finally focussing on a flat piece of green land. The outsides were marked with concentric squares going in, the lines of the patrol routes between them visible, while penned inside were identical barren grey buildings, each with their own small yards.

Ash looked on with a nervous expression on his face, ever changing and tweaking with his thoughts. Dr Silverfox shied away, wincing in pain. The rest of the crowd just looked on with a sombre expression.

Above it all, a simple title spelled out three stark words.

Zootopia Youth Penitentiary.

Meanwhile, not far away from them all, a worried silver fox paced back and forth in his cell. He'd meditated for a while and it had helped, most of this long time slowly drifting away. But everything had its limits and he'd reached them not long before. He wasn't sure what the time was or how much longer he had to wait. The rational part of him told him that it would happen when it would happen. It was the side that he wanted to win, but the other sides were slowly beating it.

It all faded into irrelevance though as a set of cold hard knocks rang out on his cell door. "Get ready," a cold stranger's voice spoke. "It's time."