Chapter 1: Gravity
'How the hell... am I supposed to get up that...' He thought out loud, staring at the imposing mass of wooden beams that constituted a wall that all fresh recruits must clamber over to even be considered worthy to progress. Standing at nearly 20 feet tall this impressive structure was the most difficult section of the entire course, which to a Coyote standing at a mere 4 foot 3 inches tall seemed an almost impossible mission to conquer. The obstacle course consisted of a number of rather tricky challenges that mammals must overcome to advance in the training program, some of which had already proven to be too much for some of the smaller and less committed members of the group.
'Just like everyone else around here, put a little effort in for a change' a voice said as it shot past him at break neck speed before mounting the wall, using claws to effectively and effortlessly scale the monstrous structure.
'Easy for you felines to say, least if you fall... or get pushed... you land on all fours, unlike me...' he muttered to himself as he desperately tried to find an alternative route to the top without plummeting to a very painful and embarrassing heap on the ground.
'SIXTY SECONDS, ALL MUST PASS OR ELSE YOU ALL RE-RUN THE COURSE' shouted a very tall female polar bear in a rather commanding voice not unlike an army drill instructor, certainly more fearsome at least, this is one bear you deffinatly do not want to get on the wrong side of. 'COME ON SNOWFLAKE, YOUR GETTING UP THAT WALL IF I HAVE TO PERSONALLY KICK YOUR SCRAWNY ASS UP IT MYSELF YA HEAR'
There was a slight twinge of fear slowly creeping up the Coyotes neck as he stood fixed in place, trying in vein to locate a safe and easy way up the obstacle. By this point there had already been several mammals that have successfully scaled the daunting woodwork and landed, albeit painfully, on the other side.
Sitting playfully on top of the wall however was a light gray Lynx with black markings, short silver hair and bright emerald eyes. 'Come on snowflake, its only a little wall, surely you aren't gonna let this little thing stop ya? Would be dreadfully embarrassing for you to fail or give up now, not after you have come all this way' she said with a somewhat sadistic grin on her face.
Lucy Benson, 20 years old, top of this years Zootopia Police Academy class, incredibly intelligent for her young age yet not afraid to tell people exactly what she is thinking even if it is meant in a demeaning or generally rude fashion. This feline excels in physical fitness and intellectual prowess, coming out on top of each and every written assignment she is handed and besting opponents 3 times her size with her ability to react quickly in any given situation.
For the purpose of scaling a large wooden wall there is nothing like having sharp, retractable claws as a somewhat secret weapon and the stamina to match her strength, this lynx was assured to pass this years final exam with ease yet why stick around on top of the wall. What possible reason would someone so gifted possibly have to run the risk of failing for?
'Come on already, don’t think about it and just do it' she shouted down to the young coyote, in the process of steeling his nerves.
'TWENTY SECONDS' yelled the imposing polar bear from the sidelines, carefully clutching a bear sized stopwatch so as not to crush it in her vice like grip.
With a clenched fist and a determined look in his eye the coyote who was barely out of his teen years himself took one final look at the wall. 'Don’t call me snowflake!' He yelled before launching himself towards the massive wood wall with every ounce of power his hind legs could muster.
'About damn time' Benson muttered under her breath before preparing to slip down the back face of the wall and to the finish line, assuring her passing grade and admittance to Precinct 1 on the ZPD. All she had to do was let go of the wall, so why was she hesitating. She looked back to see the young coyote make his initial jump, claws immediately digging into the wooden wall as he scrambled up the wall until...crack. The wooden beam splintered under his claw. It was at this point he knew that his dream of making it into Precinct 1 and making his uncle Rockford proud... was over...
His eyes closed and his heart heavy, trying to find the correct words to tell his uncle, Detective Rockford, that he didn't make it, that all his hard work and education had been for nothing. The fall felt like an eternity, darkness surrounded him and in this moment he though of a few possible futures, perhaps a pizza delivery guy or perhaps stripper. He already has the policeman's uniform. Whatever was in store for him it sure looked bleak, as if his future had just been ripped from him when...
The canine opened his eyes in utter disbelief. Benson, instead of jumping down and finishing the course had leaned backwards, hung herself upside down from the top of the wall and managed to grab the coyote by the paw. The female that cared little for anyone else had momentarily given him his future back and like hell was he about to squander this second chance.
He sunk his claws on his free paw into the wood and hoisted himself up onto the top on the wall and pulled Benson back upright. The two mammals sat side by side on the wall as the polar bear watched on and nodded in approval.
'Here comes the easy part, just let gravity do the work' said Benson as she pushed herself off the wall, closely followed by the coyote.
Both landed on their feet in the soft sand accumulated at the bottom of the wall, the finish line was less that 20 meters away. The future that both had been fighting for was within their sights.
Using the last of their energy the both of them made a last ditch sprint to the finish line, knowing that time was almost up.
'3.......2.......1.......' Shouted the bear, grasping her stopwatch to the point of it developing stressmarks as she watched with pride as 2 future officers passed the finish line together within the allotted time.
'Congratulations, you pass' she said with a grin from ear to ear, 'you can rest assured that all 12 of you new recruits can call yourselves officers of the ZPD, I am proud of you all' she said in a more humble tone than that of her coach persona.
'Well snowflake, looks like we will be seeing a lot more of each other in the future' said Benson as she collapsed to the ground, nearly unable to catch her breath.
'I said stop calling me that' the coy said as he collapsed next to her in worse state than she was. He looked over towards the feline and smiled 'The names Alexander Hunter, ZPD, and don’t you forget it!'
Chapter 2: The Devil Drink
It was 5pm, June 28th, the day after the final exam and all 12 of the fresh ZPD officers were feeling both the physical and mental drain of the previous day. Today however was a balmy 25o, sun beating down upon the academy lawn and a gentle breeze flowing through the fur of the mammals laying upon it.
"Whew, hot out today huh" said the polar bear instructor "shouldn't you guys be planning something, some kind of leaving do... after all these past 6 months have been rough for all of you and who knows what the future holds"
"she's right you know" commented a black fox by the name of Niles. "We all have our preferences handed in, we all have where we want to be placed and our specialty but I dare say no matter what happens after this... there's no reason we cant all stay in touch right"
"I agree!" Shouted a young river otter girl called Amelia "But yeah we gotta do something, how about tonight?"
Alex was sitting just a few feet away beside a rather shy Gray Hare that goes by the name of Bixby. At just 3 feet tall he is of average height for his species but a little on the frail side, having managed to pass his exams using his intellect and agility much like Benson did.
Alex nudged him and asked "Pub night?". Bix answered with a simple nod, a smile and a thumbs up towards Amelia.
"Okay then settled, drinking sesh tonight then huh?" Amelia motioned towards the 12 rookies to which the answer is a simultaneous nod in agreement from everyone.
Benson however couldn’t help but stare in Hunter's direction, careful not to meet his gaze for the previous night, as everyone else was asleep she caught him doing something rather curious. Something she had never seen before.
--- 3:15am The Night Before ----------
The night was calm and clear, no traffic at this time and nothing but crickets were stirring in the undergrowth. Light, wispy clouds partially obstructed the only major source of light, the moon.
Benson, the star of this years cadets, was struggling to get any kind of sleep tonight. Tossing and turning in her single bed, kicking the sheets off and even switching sides in the bed did nothing to overcome this feeling she had deep down inside. There was something that really bugged her about the finals exam the previous day, a feeling that she couldn’t shake off. Why didn’t she just finish the exam. Why did she help Hunter up the wall. Why did.... "The hell is that?" She thought out loud.
She rose out of bed and peeked out the window of her second floor dorm room to see someone out on the baseball field moving some equipment around. The faint sound of metal scraping along the ground got her intrigued, she wondered what someone would be doing up at this hour and what the hell they were up to.
Benson jumped out of bed and slipped on a pair of jogging bottoms and a vest thinking that it wasn’t too chilly out tonight and with her dark marking it would make her harder to see in the shadows. Slipping on her trainers she thought it might be good practice for her to go out the window instead of disturbing the other patrons of the building.
Carefully opening the wood frame window and propping it open with a few books she skillfully slid out feet first and gripped onto the wooden sill with her claws. "Dammit they moved the boxes..." She whispered to herself, her escape plan foiled by the janitor. "This is gonna hurt" she said as she let go of the ledge and gracefully landed on the pebble stone walkway 10 feet below. The sharp pebbles pressed into the soft pads on the underside of her paws. It hurt, but curiosity got the better of this cat as she got up, brushed herself off and made her way stealthily to the playing fields.
She crouched down as she got close to the bleachers, sticking to the shadows as much as possible. As she got underneath the steps she got as low as possible, resting on her stomach and peeking through the seats to see Hunter standing in the middle of 4 automatic baseball throwing machines.
Alex was dressed in all black, hoodie, jogging bottoms and black trainers, clutching onto a single length of pipe approximately 2 feet long. Almost half as tall as he was but that didn’t deter him from swinging it around, warming up it would seem. He paced back and forth between them, checking the settings on the machines and that each of them were full.
Giving everything a final once over he took a length of thick, black cloth from his hoodie pocket and tied it around his eyes, making sure there was no folds or creases and pulled it tight. Finally he pulled his hood up and raised his pipe in both hands as if it were a katana.
"Snowflake?...wha" she thought but before she could finish Alex tugged on a small piece of string that simultaneously triggered all 4 of the machines, all running on a randomized timer.
The first ball shot out of the machine facing towards his back. Alex's ears perked up and he blocked it with the make shift bat by reaching it over his head and deflecting the path of the ball.
"Snowflake your gonna get yourself hurt" she though, and with each ball that flew towards him, with every perfect deflection Benson's back arched a little more, each time she almost readies herself to jump out and switch them off. If she had the time.
After a few minutes more of precision combat against the vicious baseballs the machines ran empty. With a small sniff of the air Hunter knew he wasn’t alone. Without a moments hesitation he slid his blindfold off and turned towards the bleachers where the feline was still lurking, laying prone and watching him with curiosity. He knew that she was there but pretended to be blissfully unaware and decided to tease her a little. He walked over to the opposing set of seats on the other corner of the square and picked up a water bottle. Before he took a drink from the bottle he took off his hoodie.
He walked back into the center of the square, taking a swig from his bottle very few steps to stay hydrated. A small grin appeared on his face as he looked over the field at all the baseballs on the ground and then a small, quick glance towards the bleachers where the kitten was hiding.
"Hope your enjoying the show, officer" he laughed to himself before walking back to his own dorm room.
Benson was still laying prone spying on the Coyote as she noticed she was blushing. "What the hell Lu... catch a grip" she repeated, confirming to herself that he meant nothing to her but as a workmate yet there it is again... what is this feeling deep down, in the pit of her stomach.
--- The Next Day ----------
"Hey Lucy, were going for some drinks soon, you up for it?" Niles shouted over to her "think of it as the going away party, before were all split up for different precincts"
Benson snapped out of her daydream with a pop. "Huh, sorry... uh yeah that sounds great, long as I'm not the one carrying you guys home haha" she replied somewhat nervously, knowing that this feeling she has regarding Hunter may surface again if she isn't careful.
Alex crept over to Lucy without her noticing and whispered gently in her ear "Perhaps we'll be carrying you". These words and his proximity to her caused the fur on the back of her neck along with her tail to fluff up.
Alex noticed this and decided to have a little fun with it. "What's up buttercup? Didn’t frighten you did I?" He said with the biggest and most obvious grin on his face that he could pull.
"I..I..uh...yeah right... as if you could scare me" she said stumbling over each word, trying desperately in vain to his her embarrassment. "A...Alright then... s.shall we go get ready for tonight?" Muttered the hard blushing feline before she stormed off in the direction of her dorm.
"Funny as it was dude... maybe you took it a bit too far, perhaps you should apologize huh?" Bixby chimed in as he walked over to Hunter who was at this point looking a bit remorseful himself.
"Yeah, I think your right, il talk to her tonight".
--- 8pm That Night ----------
"D'ya think im a little overdressed Al?" Bixby asked feeling a little anxious looking around the imitation British pub apply named 'The Tower Tavern', then down to his professionally tailored charcoal gray suit that made his baby blue eyes stand out from across a crowded room.
"No more so than me dude, don't worry everything will be fine. Besides you guys certainly know how to be stylish huh" Alex said, reassuring his childhood best friend and bestowing a sense of confidence in himself aswell. Hunter was wearing what he himself would describe as his 'usual attire' consisting of a plain white shirt, dark gray waistcoat with a blood red tie and a golden tie clip. Unusually tho he was wearing a pair of dark colour combat pants and a pair of hiking boots that oddly fit in perfectly with his top end.
"You guys? Whadda ya mean you guys? And buttering me up with compliments isn't gonna get you anywhere, already have a boyfriend and you know it" Bixby chuckled to himself knowing full well that Hunter fully supported him. "Speaking of which I believe he is coming to the graduation, id very much like for you to meet him, I think you would get on like a house on fire!"
Both mammals made their way into the back corner of the pub where the rest of their classmate with the exception of one were sitting, already 3 pints into what can only be described as a long night.
The walls of the bar were lined with newspaper clippings on influential headlines from the past several decades, all framed with golden furniture, almost tacky in appearance. The bar itself was solid mahogany imported straight from England, where the sister building stood right in the heart of London. The owner of this establishment was infact the owner of both bars, leaving her brother to run the busier of the two back home.
Above the bar was all manner of alcoholic beverages ranging from vodka to absinthe, 3 beer taps at each end of the bar with a single center piece reserved specifically for ale. Behind the bottles on the wall was a long and very old mirror which looked to be older than the bar, maybe even Zootopia itself.
"Another please" said a voice coming from the corner of the bar closest to the table of graduates, a voice that sounded happy to be included but at the same time bored of the proceedings and as if they were about to leave after one final drink, a voice that was close enough to the group to not look like an outsides yet far enough to keep to themselves.
Alex let out a sigh "well... guess I gotta bite the bullet and apologize before we find her name off the register in the morning..."
"For the best dude, il keep the crowd riled up for ya!" Bixby said excitedly as he rushed off to order a fresh round for the table.
The Coyote slowly made his way over to the feline in a beautiful red dress, drinking by herself. "Hey Lu.. Listen im sor..."
"Don't" Benson said immediately as she heard his voice and put her finger on his lips. "Don't wanna hear it, just let me finish this and im gonna go get some sleep..." She said in a defeatist tone of voice.
Alex felt even worse now for what he said, firmly believing that there wasn’t anything he could do... unless...
"Fine, I wont apologize... but how about a game instead" he said, starting to cheer up a little and feeling confident that if this work it will be better than a simple sorry.
"What are you cooking up Snowflake?" She said, more curious now than depressed.
"Don't call me Snowflake. I figure that since you and I have chosen Precinct 1 as our preference, odds are we will be partnered up, soooo dontcha think we should get to know each other a bit better...or... at all... lets face it i know nothing about you and I genuinely would like to"
Benson took a few seconds to think the proposition through, adding a few ideas of her own to make it a little more interesting. "Okay Snowball, on one condition... every interesting thing that we learn about the other, the asker must take a shot... deal?" She said, now with a warm hearted smile upon her well groomed muzzle.
Before Alex could process what exactly the new rules entailed he agreed with a strong handshake. "You're on!, you first, what would you like to know?"
The bare skin on Benson's long Lynx ears went a bright pink as she looked around to see if no one was looking their direction before looking Alex deep into his ice blue eyes and asking exactly what he was expecting. "How in hell did you hit all the balls last night blindfolded?"
"Mad skills?" He said jokingly "Or if you don’t believe that... it partially cheated on that front to be honest... I dipped the tips of the barrels in citrus juice so the balls would come out with a hint of orange"
Benson looked genuinely confused by this revelation, as if it explained it but failed to explain it at all. "What the hell are you talking about?... oranges?... That’s how you seen the balls?"
"I didn’t see the balls at all, i smelled them." He said, a little proud of his unique ability. " When I was 4 I was in a car crash, broke my nose in several places and ironically after that my sense of smell was dialed up to 11. Its my greatest asset, its how I passed sensory training top of the class, the instructor just thought it was my canine senses but its more."
"Huh, that is interesting..." She said realizing that meant she needed to do a shot.
Hunter motioned the bartender, a large Canadian Moose dressed in a smart but casual suit not unlike Alex's own. He brought over a new, unopened bottle of tequila, cracked the seal and poured a measure of the liquid into a shot glass that seemed to be much larger than a usual glass Benson seen the size of the shot glass and looked to the bartender who merely looked at her a shrugged "Irish".
Lucy looked at the full glass with a face of regret, realizing the size of the glasses and that she had made a huge mistake. She held her nose and necked the shot. The fur on her back stood straight up and a shiver engulfed her from her toes right to the tips of her ears before starting to cough violently. "I hate you Hunter!"
"Heh good girl, okay I guess its my turn huh?" Alex said while pondering exactly what he needed to ask, realizing that there wasn’t many of these shots he could take before getting drunk himself. "Okay, I need to ask... I was done for yesterday, why did you save me?"
Benson tensed up, knowing the feeling she had earlier that day was coming and with a alcohol fueled vengeance. Her ears went red once more knowing full well that it was some kind of attraction but she couldn't full well tell him that. "I...I honestly don't know. I mean I would have done it f-for any of the mammals on the c-course had they of needed help, yeah, I care about all of you g-guys and don't want to see any of you getting hurt" she said, stammering and tripping over her words while trying to find a way out of the situation without wimping out.
Alex raised his paw, "Lu, if you don’t want to talk about it we can move on, that cool with you?" He asked with honest concern in his voice to which she nodded in agreement, thankful of the stay of execution.
"T-thank you... Im sorry" she said, blushing hard, enough for Alex to take notice.
"Its okay Kitten, but I still drink" he said as he eyed up his ominously overflowing glass of tequila. He took a deep breath and chugged it all down in 2 gulps, wiped away any excess from his muzz and smiled "Piece of cake" he said, his eye twitching a little.
"Bull... your feeling that big time and I know it!" She said playfully, really starting to come out of her shell. "You'll be spitting fire in a moment"
"Phew... your turn" he said, beginning to sweat under his thick fur.
Without even thinking Lucy jumped in "What about family?"
Alex's expression sobered up slightly. "Remember I said I was in an accident when I was 4? I was in the car with my mom and older brother, I broke my nose and wrist, he broke his arm... mom lost her life..." He said, a hint of a tear started to form in his eye.
Benson noticed this and wiped it away. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to.." She began to say before being interrupted.
"Its cool!, these things happen, its not like were the first to be orphaned so young. After the funeral Uncle Rockford came to take us in... we called him uncle, he's our Godfather."
"Rockford....Rockford..... it can't be Chief Rockford of Precinct 5?" Lucy asked in astonishment before being greeted with a smile and a finger to her lips.
"Shhhhh, I don’t want people to know, I'm doing this for him, to thank him for all he's taught me and my brother, I promised to become a detective in Precinct 1" he smiled, feeling a weight lifted from him.
Benson grabbed the bottle and pressed it to her lips before taking a huge swig from the Mexican forget-me-juice. Her face contorted into a few unusual positions before slamming the bottle down, damn near cracking it. Alex could tell from this that she had perhaps a lower tolerance than he did, which he was happy about as it meant he didn’t look weak in front of her.
"Okay Snowfluff, you... me... now" she said to him with a deadly straight face.
Alex blushed slightly, taking the wrong meaning out of the sentence for a second before asking "Why do you call me Snowflake or Snowball or whatever you feel like in the moment?"
"Simple, the tips of white in your fur, reminds me of an Arctic Fox or Hare or somethin" she said before taking another drink from the bottle, not realizing the rules, or not caring.
Hunter giggled to himself a little, enjoying the sight of the usually calm and collected Lynx now starting to lose her sharp edge. He decided that if she was going to break the rules then he should a little as well as he too took a long gulp directly from the bottle. It was at this point he knew that tonight was going to be interesting.
--- 2:15am the next morning ----------
"Okay Kitten, careful now" Alex said as he tried in vain to direct the heavily intoxicated feline in the direction of her dorm room. It was like the blind leading the blind as Alex himself could barely walk in a line even if he wanted to.
"Uh... Lu.... please tell me you hav *Hic* have your keys?" He asked as the feline broke free from his grip and leaned against a nearby wall.
"Il never tell, Officer. You're gonna have to *Hic* search me" she said playfully as she spread her legs and pressed against the brickwork.
Alex sighed before saying "you lost them haven't you?"
"Y *Hic* yeah I lost em..." She said looking somewhat ashamed of herself. "Can I stay with you?" She followed up, becoming instantly happier, going from one end of the spectrum to the other in a matter of seconds.
"There's nothing else for it, il make you up the *Hic* sofa bed" he said before motioning her towards the male dorm rooms.
After a few minutes of careful navigation of the staircase that almost seemed like an adventure they arrived at Alex's Room that he shared with Bixby to cut costs. It took a few attempts for the inebriated canine to find the right key for the lock, and even more tries to get it in the hole to which Lucy noticed.
"Does it take you this long every time to find the hole?" She said without missing a beat, giggling like a school girl to herself.
Alex sighed, although he did see the funny side of the joke and with a click, the door opened and he stumbled into the living room.
Within a few minutes Alex had the sofa bed set up and a few blankets and pillows set upon it for the feline to do with whatever she wanted. He stumbled over to the door to make sure it was locked before he himself went to be but as he turned around he noticed Benson had stripped down to her underwear and was standing next to him.
Before he had any time to react she hugged him, forcing him against the door. The canine blushed hard, feeling as if he was going to melt from the heat his own body was producing over the intimate situation.
"Uhhhh, Benson, w-what are you doing?" He asked, knowing full well that he wasn’t going to get a good answer. "Come on, we should get you into bed" he said innocently enough.
"Bet you'd *Hic* like that wouldn't ya" she replied while nibbling on his tie. "Alex... I'm sorry about your mom... honestly *Hic* I didn't mean to bring up any bad things... memories..."
"Before tonight you never called me by my name... It's okay Lucy, honestly... now..." He said before picking her up and carrying her onto the sofa bed, pulled the sheets over her and rested her head on a mountain of pillows. "I want you to get a good nights sleep, il leave you a glass of water for you in the morning"
"Mmm, night night Snow... Alex" she said just before she drifted off to an alcohol induces slumber.
Alex couldn't help but be happy that he finally managed to bond with his future partner, even if it descended into a drinking game with no clear winners. He couldn't help but wonder how the others were getting on as he walked over to his own room and began to undress and pull on a pair of jogging bottoms. He couldn't help but wonder if Lucy was warm enough with those blankets but those thoughts soon passed as he drifted off to sleep himself.
--- 9:12 AM ----------
Sunlight just about managed to creep through the cracks in the wooden Venetian blinds. 150,000 kilometers away and yet was a perfect shot to hit Benson right in the eyes.
"Ugh... someone turn off the sun please...." She mumbled as she slowly started to come around, head pounding from can only be described as 'alcohol abuse' the previous night. The past 12 hours were a complete blur to her, she had no idea what happened past the conversation between her and Hunter.
She pulled the blanket from over her head, the moment the sun hit her head she winced in agony and blocked it out with her paws. In doing this she realized that the bed was not her own. The smell of the entire apartment she knew was eerily familiar to Alex's scent.
Further inspection caused her to freeze perfectly motionless, her eyes widened and a cold sweat broke on her brow. This wasn't the feeling of her own bed, nor was it the lumpy feeling of a sofa bed. A quick glance under the bed covers and she noticed that she was in nothing but her underwear.
Using her keen detective skills that the police academy had provided her with she deduced that she was naked, in bed, with Alex asleep beside her in nothing but a pair of jogging bottoms. The exposed flesh on her ears turned a bright pink, her paws began to shake a little with embarrassment as she realized what this may imply.
"Oh sweet cheese and crackers..."
Chapter 3: Blood And Thunder
--- 3:00am, June 29th ----------
When most would be in bed asleep, or the wildcats party it up to the small hours, there are those that make the most of the darkness. Criminals. Thieves. Prostitutes. Murderers... When most would be safe at home there are those that satisfy their obsessions... their passions... their bloodlust in the dead of night.
The night was cold, the wind choppy as if there was a storm approaching and the Central Train Terminal of Zootopia deserted with the exception of the Police Academy drop outs that now call themselves security guards and 2 golden jackals , bundled up in thermal coats to stave off the elements this time of night.
"The damn train is late, the Boss won't like this... you know what he did to Eric right". Niki was small in stature compared to the average jackal. He spoke in a soft and caring tone of voice, the kind of voice that would sound good as a backing singer for some popstar.
"Would you stop with Eric already... every time something like this happens its always Eric Eric Eric, you needa think about something else before i drop you onto the tracks myself". The other jackal, Addison, was taller, about average for the species and had a more stern way of speaking, with authority and confidence.
"I know, i know, it's just the Boss gets mad easily... I'm scared Addy" said the smaller jackal, with a slight tremble in both his paws and his words.
"Niki... you need to chill, it only just turned 3... think about something el..." Addy started just as he heard the unmistakable sound of the locomotive pulling into the far end of the station.
"See, good ol reliable Zootopia train service... runs like a swiss watch... now he is to be in the front most cabin" Addy said as he motioned to move further down the station to line up with the front carriages of the train.
The pitiful excuse of a security guard, a moderately overweight tiger with what can only be described as yesterday's lunch smeared on his uniform, briefly awoke if only to acknowledge the arrival of the last train of the night before his shift ended.
The roaring train came to a sudden stop as it entered the arrivals section of the platform. With a click the doors of the carriage unlocked and began to slowly slide open and out of the darkness came a small figure with 2 large bags being dragged behind.
The mammal stepped forward into the light of the station and set his bags down in front of him. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly as if to take in the essence of the city. the mammal was wearing a black hoodie that was a size too big for him, dark coloured cargo pants and a pair of think military style black gloves. But most curious of all, a perculiarity that both Niki and Addy picked up on almost instantly as they made their way towards him... he was wearing a pure white, expressionless facemask.
The mask itself was blank. No mouth, no nose and just the right contours to make out it was designed specifically for a rabbit. The straps were thick and had a solid backplate fixing it to the arctic rabbits face tightly.
"G-Good evening sir, may we take your bags? Master War has been expecting you, o-our car is outside" said Addy with a visible tremble in his voice, the emotionless expression combined with the stories he had heard about this rabbit instilled an almost petrifying fear in the predator.
The arctic rabbit looked right towards the jackal with piercing blue eyes through the only distinguishable features on the mask which were no more than 2 holes about an inch and a half wide. His eyes fixed on Addison as if he were mentally trying to choke the life out of his body before the rabbit broke the stare and shook his head.
After regaining consciousness one more time, the security guard decided it was time for his end of night walk around the station, which was clearly not his favourite part of the job. He picked up his torch, keychain and tranq pistol before unlocking the door to his booth and stepping outside to the fresh night air.
"We had best get going before butterball over there looks this direction" said Niki who was standing behind Addy, with a submissive look on his face and a sense of fear that was one step away from making him urinate right there and then on the platform.
The arctic rabbit put his finger to where his lips would be as if to imply silence before slowly and quietly unzipping one of his bags. This bag turned out to be a gun carrier for a high power, scoped rifle. The rifle was a highly modified Remington 700 model chambered to a custom .338 lapua magnum with a tungsten core.
The tiger made it only 3 steps away from his booth before he turned towards the newly arrived train and found its only passenger staring at him from 50 meters. Despite the distance the tiger felt the cold, dead eyes of the rabbit burrow into him, enough to make the fur on the back of his neck stand on end. The guard dropped his torch, ran as fast as his little legs could carry him back into the guard booth in the belief that the reinforced ballistic glass would keep him safe until the police showed up. How wrong he was.
The rabbit lifted the rifle, chambered a single .338 round and gently locked the bolt back into place. Placing it to his shoulder and taking aim at the feline down range.
The tiger frantically tried to find his cell phone buried under a mountain of empty chip packets and soda cans until "AHA... FOUND IT" he screamed, but alas the last spec of hope he had left shattered along with the ballistic window.
The deafening sound of the rifle being fired echoed around the station, shaking the windows on the upper level and had the jackal henchmen flinch in surprise. The inch thick ballistic glass buckled as the round sliced through it as if it were paper. The fattened feline was dead before he heard the shot. A small hole appeared in the center of his forehead and a trickle of blood slide down the tigers face as his lifeless body crumpled under the weight of itself as the tungsten cored round continued through the skull and through the concrete wall behind before finally coming to a stop 2 inches deep into a wall on the next platform.
The arctic rabbit held position for a further 15 seconds after the shot like a trained sniper wanting to confirm the kill before he relinquished his hold on the rifle and placed it back into his carrying case.
Addy stood in disbelief that the 3 foot rabbit would simply murder an innocent just because he looked this way. He stood in front of Niki so he wouldn’t have to see the blood spatter on the wall of the station. Niki himself has his eyes tightly closed and held his paws to his ears, he made no noise but it was visible that he was just about to cry. Addison reached his paw around behind himself and took hold of Niki's paw, squeezing it a little trying to tell him to stop crying.
The masked rabbit took his gaze off the guard station and slipped his rifle back into its carrying case, put the hood of his hoodie up around his head and handed the rifle case to Addy, giving Niki the lighter duffle bag and motioned with his finger to get moving.
Addy walked behind the rabbit, keeping pace while Niki was glued in the spot, unable to take his eyes off the guard station... Unable to comprehend what had just happened... Unable to fathom why this masked rabbit would do what he just did...
"NIK!" Shouted Addison as he started to walk up the stairs of the station towards the carpark, wondering whether or not this rabbit was as sadistic as his own boss. Wondering if disobedience meant punishment.
Niki snapped out of his daze in time to see Addy motion with his paw to follow him up the stairs. The petite jackal obeyed and bounced along as fast as he could to catch up. The duffle bag was small and light, allowing him to be on Addy's tail in a matter of seconds.
"Niki focus, run ahead and bring the car around" Addy whispered before handing him a set of keys.
"Okay..." the young jackal replied, still clearly distressed by the nights events. As he moved to pass Addison, the other jackal grabbed onto Niki's tail and stroked it gently. Niki looked back to see Addy smiling softly back at him. This simple gesture completely flipped his grief on its head, his tail had its wag back and the night seemed much brighter.
After 3 more floors of silence both Addison and the masked rabbit reached the parking structure, greeted by the young jackal chauffer who quickly got out of the driver seat of the large black SUV with tinted out windows and opened the rear driver side door, allowing the dangerous lapin to enter.
Addison climbed into the driver seat, adjusted his seat to accommodate his larger build while Niki sank into the large seat on the passenger side. With all on board Addy set off out of the parking facility and onto the main strip of downtown Zootopia.
As the SUV drove down the main street Addison decided it would be best to give the rabbit his privacy and raised the separating wall between front and back, turning off the microphone. Upon doing this Niki looked over to Addy with a half-hearted smile, unsure of how much more of this life he could take.
"It's okay Nik, only a few more months then we disappear, only need a few thousand more Zollars and we start a new life... together" Addy smiled back at Niki, changing up gears as he did. In that moment Niki put his paw ontop of his on the gearstick and blushed a little.
"You promise?" Niki asked, on the brink of tears.
"Promise" replied Addy.
In the back seat, the lights were off, the rabbit sat in almost complete darkness. The only light filtering in was the bright show lights of the high rise Zootopia buildings they passed. The lapin did nothing but stare out of the window, through the tinted glass as the late shift workers or the romantic couples out for a late night stroll, bathing in the lights of the city. He caught the reflection of his own piercing blue eyes as he looked up to the sky just in time for the first lightning surge of the night.
--- 4:22am, June 29th, Central Train Terminal ----------
"GET THOSE REPORTERS OUT OF HERE... NOW!" Shouted the hulking tower of a mammal that answers to the name Bogo. The chief had responded to a fatal shooting in the central train station. Upon arriving at the scene he was immediately hit with the unmistakable scent of blood in the air, a strong iron sting in the nostrils. As he made his way down the stairs to the main platform, making his way past the forensic teams scouring the area for evidence that could help identify the murderer, the smell only got stronger until...
"Oh no... no don’t let it be him" he said with a feeling of dread creeping upon him. The buffalo had another careful look around as he moved closer to the security booth, taking note of the entry path of the bullet in the ballistic glass. He noticed that the bullet had passed through... through the victim... and into the wall... actually through the wall. This fact added to his anxiety, knowing that a high caliber weapon has been used, the low angle of the bullet's entrance and exit of the booth. The only thing that could make this situation worse is...
"SIR, WE FOUND SOMETHING" shouted a female clouded leopard dressed in forensic scrubs standing by the train. She motioned him over as she took a photo of a spent casing laying by the tracks, slowly and carefully picked up the bullet casing and slipped it into an evidence bag.
Bogo sprinted as fast as he could over to the CSI. The leopard actually flinched as she seen the freight train with legs charging her before coming to a halt just before knocking her into next week.
Bogo took a few seconds to catch his breath back before asking "Please... please do not tell me that it’s a .338...".
The leopard girl looked away "Sorry sir, is there a problem?"
The Chief took out his cell phone and called officer Clawhauser. "Come on, pick up pick up"
"Sir? It's like 4 in the morning, What's up?" Clawhauser replied with a light yawn rounding off the question.
"Clawhauser, call Animalia Police Department, precinct 1 and ask for Detective Jenson Howlett... tell him he's here... you tell him the ghost is here... I need him here, immediately!"
--- 9:12am, June 29th, Alex/Bixby's Apartment ----------
"Okay, okay, somehow you got yourself into this mess and somehow you will get yourself out of it... oh crap what did I do last night?" Lucy thought to herself as she tried to rub away the onset of a vicious hangover. The room was spinning slightly as if she was still a little buzzed from the copious amounts of tequila (and probably other beverages) she had consumed just a few hours before.
"Easy does it" she whispered to herself, slithering out of the blankets trying desperately not to wake the sleeping canine next to her. "Piece of cake!" She spoke up a little more confident in her escapology talents.
"Pfft, almost Kitten" Alex spoke up, smiling a little as he winks back at her.
"EEEAAAAAHHHH..." Screams the kitten, her fur and tail puffs up as she instinctively throws herself out of the bed, landing hard on the floor.
"Ouch... you okay Fluffbutt?" Alex asked with genuine concern in his voice. Peering over the edge of the bed to see if his future partner didn’t split her head open on something he had noticed that the female lynx wasn't leaving a lot to the imagination. Being the gentlemammal that he is, Alex threw the stunned lynx the blanket so she could cover herself up, preserving some dignity.
"So... do you want to explain exactly why I'm in your bed?.... without clothes?...." The young kitten asked while rubbing her head to check for blood, blushing real hard and trying to adjust the covers so that nothing was on show for the dirty minded canine to pick up on.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to stare..." Alex said, rubbing his head bashfully while pretending he didn't enjoy the peep show.
"Bullshit, what happened" Lucy demanded to know, getting more upset that embarressed now. At this point she was becoming more and more concerned incase Alex wasn't the mammal she thought he was, that he could possibly have taken advantage of her vulnerable state. The though grew and grew in the back of her mind and began to manifest as she stood up, holding onto the blankets and stared at Alex with a furious expression.
"Honestly.... I tucked you into the sofa bed, you can check the lounge if you don’t believe me. It must have been 5am or round about that I woke up to you scrambling into the bedsheets, cuddling up to me mumbling something about... and I quote...'Cute Canines".
Lucy began to blush again, the feeling of anger depleting, eyeing up the exit for a quick escape. She knew that her sleepwalking state might give away long hidden secrets that under no circumstance Alex should know about. Before she could make a break for it she felt a warm paw on her shoulder. She looked up to see Alex just a few inches away from her muzzle. The hot flushes she was experience peaked at that exact moment, surely Alex would have noticed at this distance. The thin skin not covered by fur began to turn a crimson red and her heartrate picked up, almost bursting out of her chest. Her breathing became more noticeable, heavier and heated.
"Lu I know... I know that there's something you want to talk about with me, I want you to know that I am here whenever you want to talk about it, I will always be there for you, you can count on me" Alex spoke softly to her, his breath warm and enticing, his eyes staring deeply into her soul, the grip on her shoulder making the young lynx perspire under her fur.
"Whenever you want to talk just let me k..." Alex began but couldn’t finish as the now frisky feline grabbed the fur on the back of his neck and dragged him into a deep and meaningful kiss.
Alex could hardly believe what was going on as his eyes grew large and he too began to heat up under his fur, truly was not expecting what had just transpired. Not that he was complaining, he was loving every second of it. After a few more sensual seconds he grew more confident and began to lean into her, becoming more forceful, more dominant... more alpha.
After a good 30 seconds of solid kiss the 2 young mammals broke apart, both breathing heavily, starting to sweat. Lucy didn't seem to care that her blankets began to slip. Alex seen his opportunity, lifted the lynx up onto the bed and onto his lap, wrapping his legs around her hips before the 2 decided to give the kiss one more go.
After a few minutes of passionate making out Lucy suddenly came to her senses and broke free from the embrace yet remaining close to the canines muzzle.
"I...I'm s-sorry Snowflake... I didn't mean for that to h-happen..." Lucy said, stumbling over her words, afraid of how Alex would react over this revelation but surprisingly he just looked deep into her perfect emerald eyes and reassured her "Lucy, it's okay, I suspected for a while and truth be told... I've had a crush on you for so long now, I honestly never thought this would happen" the bashful canine admitted proudly.
Lucy threw her arms around him and leaned into his chest, the blankets at this point had slid down to waist level and did absolutely nothing to hide her upper body.
"Alex... I need to admit something...I'm scared. I know there are a lot of people in this city that have mates of a different species, to them it doesn’t matter. I'm scared... because I'm not one of those mammals, I have only ever dates other lynx. But I have feelings for you, I don't know why I feel this way, I'm scared of my own feelings".
Alex immediately comforted her, held her tighter and whispered into her ear "Don't worry, I won't press the matter, if this was just curiosity then that’s okay. Like I said I'm here for you, any time you need someone to talk to, someone to cuddle into... someone to make out with perhaps... or just if you need a chat. I am here if anything pops up and you need a friendly ear" he said firmly, installing a sense of confidence into his partner.
The lynx felt safe in the canines arms but... a little uncomfortable.
"Uhh....Alex... shall we talk about THAT popping up first?" She said as she pointed down under the covers between them.
Alex immediately went bright red, this was one of those moments he wished that he could just spontaneously combust... and judging by the hot flush he just received that possibility may become reality.
"Lucy.....um" he said, attempting to shimmy her off and away from his arousal.
"it's okay Snowflake, I take it as a compliment, now can you pass me my hoodie, it’s a little cold..." She said, trying to move the awkward situation on slightly.
Alex reached over the edge of the bed and grabbed his own hoodie which was a few sizes too large for the small framed feline but due to her revealing situation this would be the best scenario. The lynx slide the hoodie on and gently broke the embrace they had under the blankets and went over to the window.
"Seems to be a nice day outside, I wonder how the others got on last night. I honestly don’t remember much of what happened". Small talk seemed to be working as the 'feeling down under' Alex was experiencing was subsiding.
"Nor do I, I remember taking you back here because you didn't have your keys" Alex said as he reached over for his jeans and a t-shirt that was spread on the floor. "Sorry for the mess by the way... I wasn’t expecting female company" he smiled as he tried in vain to tidy up other clothes strewn about the room.
"Um... Snowflake..." Lucy turned to Alex holding a set of dorm keys with the name 'Benson' on the nametag. "Apparently my drunken self refused to go home heh..."
"Haha, you devil" Alex replied playfully. "Come on, il fix us up some breakfast" he said as he opened his bedroom door to reveal Bixby was asleep in the hallway, half naked clutching an empty bottle of wine. The door to the apartment was fully open and the young rabbit was lightly snoring. Seems like he had a damn good time.
Both Alex and Lucy stood in the hallway, trying their best to hold in their laughter, the situation was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. Alex slowly made his way into the kitchen, went over to the drawer that they kept their paper bags. Lucy immediately knew what was about to happen, she brought out her phone and started to record the following events.
Creeping over to the sleeping lapin Alex blew up the paper bag as big as it would go and tied off the end. He looked over to Lucy and nodded to say 'Ready'.
Lucy nodded back at him as he lowered the paper bag down to ear level with the passed out bunny and with his other paw burst the bag with a bang that could have woken the dead.
Chapter 4: The Wolf And The Ghost
--- 9:20am ----------
"When you are asleep... I will shave a dick into your cheek... I want you to know this... to fear me... to know I will get my revenge..." Bixby threatened, hunched over a cup of coffee with the grumpiest face he could possibly pull. His eyes were barely open, only getting a few hours of sleep the night before with this fact very visible on the young hare's face. His ears were nearly drooping into his coffee, surely that would waken him up a little.
"Hahaha oh come on bunny boy, it was hilarious and you know it!" Alex retorted with a smug look across his face. "Come this time tomorrow you will be more famous than Gazelle!"
"You're fans on fluffbook seem to think so hehe" added Lucy as she brought 3 bowls and a box of cereal over to the kitchen table and handed out the bowls.
"You're entrails will become your extrails... I will wear your fur to the graduation ceremony" Said the clearly annoyed hare. He sighed before pouring the cereal into a bowl followed by milk. "Say... why are you here anyway Lucy? I didn't think you and Alex were that close haha".
Lucy blushed a little as she stumbled for a decent answer. "Uhh, lost my keys, slept on the couch..." She said, knowing she couldn't exactly tell the buck what transpired both last night and this morning, not yet at least she thought. The young kitten still felt very unsure of her own feelings on the matter.
"A likely story indeed" replied Bixby, he was no dumb bunny, he knew full well he was out of the loop on something but decided not to press the matter any. "Well... if yall don't mind, I'm going to head for the shower and prepare my uniform for graduation tomorrow... I'm so excited" he said, giddy as a schoolgirl before rushing off towards the bathroom, leaving a half finished bowl of cereal in his wake.
Alex and Lucy couldn't help but just laugh to themselves as they watched the lapin get whisked away by his own two feet. The two officers then looked over towards each other, meeting the others gaze as if this were some soppy romance movie.
Alex noticed the lingering feeling of anxiety emanating from the feline which prompted him to attempt to break the tension.
"So, you had a lot of boyfriends before?" He asked curiously while throwing a gentle smile towards the kitten sitting opposite.
"A few" she replied. "Nothing particularly serious, a little kissing, maybe some caressing and why the hell am I telling you this?!.....wait.... what exactly do you mean before?... before what?" She asked, a little heated and bewildered by the canines odd question and way of wording it.
"Nothing, didn't mean anything by it heh... I personally have never had anyone like that before, perhaps that'll change now" he replied, his smile growing larger as he finished his sentence still staring into Lucys big, bright emerald eyes.
"Change n..." Lucy started but couldn't finish her sentence before spitting out a mouthful of cereal and nearly choking on a few grains of it that had slipped down her throat.
"Shit are you okay?!" Alex asked, alarmed as he stood up and prepared to perform the Heimlich.
Lucy raised her paw as if to say she was okay while trying to catch her breath.
"Hold up... you don't think that were together do you?!" She asked after a good few deep breaths
Alex sat back down, relieved that she was okay before saying "No no, I was just messing with you, I'm sorry".
"Coyotes mate for life don't they?... Even if I was okay with having an inter-species boyfriend, I honestly don't think I'm ready for a commitment as big as that" she said, looking away from the canine's perfect blue eyes, afraid that she had just irreversibly offended or hurt his feelings. "Please don't think any differently of me, I.... Like I said earlier I'm just not sure what I want yet. There is a part of me that wants to jump your bones right here on the kitchen table but another part wants a feline husband and a few kittens in the future..."
Alex stood up and walked around the table and over to Lucy who was nearly in tears thinking the worst. The canine placed his paws on her shoulders and convinced her to look into his eyes before saying "Look... Yes we mate for life... No I am not forcing you into this position... I want you to make the decision for yourself... I feel for you and I know you feel the same way just deep down but in no way will I force myself upon you from now on. I promised you an ear for any of your problems... And if you think there is something in our futures... I will wait patiently for you"
This speech, almost sounding like a vow, came from deep down. Alex truly meant what he said and Lucy noticed. Her heart rate started to pick up as the 'pro-Alex' part of her began to long for the canine.
Alex's keen sense of smell picked up on the subtle change in the felines scent, an ability that he kept hidden from the majority of mammals, and determined that his words left a lasting impression.
"T-Thank you Snowflake..." She said as she smiled back at him with tears of joy in her eyes.
Alex didn't try to correct the nickname, he simple smiled back.
"Hmm? What was that?" Lucy asked as she broke the gaze, looking around the room for the origin of the sound.
"It's just the News alarm, it gives a notification to breaking news articles on the radio" he said as he reached over to the kitchen work bench and pressed the 'ON' button on the radio.
The small digital radio burst into life, adjusting itself automatically to the ZNN News Channel where the voice of Fabienne Growley, one of ZNN's main anchors, spoke softly through the speakers.
"Police have issued a warning to all individuals traveling at night in the heart of Zootopia to be extra vigilant. This comes just hours after a brutal shooting occurred on Zootopia's Central Rail terminal. The victim, whom has not yet been identified until next of kin have been notified, was pronounced dead at the scene. No further details have been released at this time, stay tuned for updates. Thank you"
"What do you make of that?" asked Alex, wondering what implications this would have on Precinct 1 where the 3 friends would be attending within the next week.
"No idea, but I feel sorry for the mammals family and I hope they catch the person that did it" Lucy replied as the bathroom door slammed opened, steam emanating from the room and the silhouette of a half-naked hare with a towel wrapped around his mid-section, talking on the phone.
"Yes sir....Yes sir... Of course... Yes I will inform Officers Benson and Hunter... Yes sir, we will be there, thank you" Bixby ended his phone call abruptly, looking a little distraught.
"Uh Bix? You okay there bud?" Asked Alex, wondering who was on the phone and what was their need for the three of them so urgently.
"That was Chief Bogo of Precinct 1, he requested our presence immediately at the Precinct 1 HQ along with.... literally every police officer in the entire city... Just what is going on?" Bixby answered with a hint of anxiety and confusion in his voice. "Im sorry if this sounds bad but Lucy you need to leave now, go get into your uniform and meet us back here in half an hour, we will make our way to the meeting together. Alex get a shower quickly and get dressed, your uniform is in the wardrobe."
Lucy sensed the urgency in Bixby's voice, a little amused that the lapin was being so forceful, something that was seriously out of character for him. She thanked them for the cereal, went back into Alex's room to get her dress back on before making for the door back to her apartment.
"Oh and Lucy..." Bixby said, just catching the felines ear as she turned in the doorway to see the hare staring back at her with a cheeky smile on his face. "Next time you and Alex are banging, put some pants on before coming out of the bedroom hahahaha"
The feline turned bright red, looking as if she was about to keel over right then and there. Instead she just laughed rather awkwardly, turned around and started to walk back to her dorm room.
"Bix... you know your gonna have to apologies to her right... and we didn't have sex" Alex protested, however futile his answer may be.
"You want to tho, ive seen how you look at her. Coming from a mammal in love, I know the look"
The canine didn't see the need for further arguments and decided to let Bixby win the argument. He retreated to the bathroom to get washed up and get dressed for what would be the Beginning of the End.
--- 11:50AM, Precinct 1 HQ ----------
"This thing in chaffing like hell" Bixby said as he tried desperately to prevent his ass eating his pants without it looking sketchy surrounded by hundreds of ZPD Officers. The trio of mammals arrived at the Precinct 10 minutes before the conference was due to begin. The large hall that was to be used was big enough to accommodate four hundred seated officers comfortably, which may still be too small for the massive influx of mammals that were currently making their way into the hall and taking their seats.
The 12 new recruits were told to be seated in the front row in specially reserved seats. This seemed highly unusual at the time but as Bixby thought more about it he came to a saddening realization. The Graduation ceremony was cancelled. There was no other conclusion.
Alex and Lucy were seated next to each other but unfortunately Bixby was assigned a seat 3 spaces down.
"Man I'm sorry Bix, maybe I could switch with you?" Alex offered, trying to cheer the hare up a little.
"Haha no that's okay, this shouldn't take that long anyway!" Bixby responded with a skip to his step. Even if the Ceremony was cancelled he still took comfort that his boyfriend would be arriving just a little later in the evening. Bixby skipped over to his seat, planted his ass and waited patiently for the assembly to start.
--- 12:00PM ----------
The mammoth of a mammal that was Chief Bogo stepped onto the stage at the front of the hall, walked over to the platform in the center surrounded by the chiefs of all 9 districts, including Chief Rockford of Precinct 5, Alex's legal guardian.
"All right SHUT UP!" Shouted the towering water buffalo which was followed nearly immediately by complete silence throughout the hall.
"Thank you, Ahem, first off I would like to apologize to our newest recruits, due to recent developments the graduation ceremony has been cancelled. Following this meeting our 12 newest members of the ZPD will be assigned to their chosen departments and partnered up, you will be starting official duty beginning next week... now... I'm sure by now that you all have heard about the murder that happened earlier this morning. I can confirm now that this was the work of a foreign serial killer that goes by the codename 'Ghost'. Not much is known about this individual other than he is extremely dangerous and should not be approached."
"Guess that’s what the news report was all about... it must be serious for all the heads of the ZPD to be meeting like this. I don't think uncle Rockford has ever mentioned a time where they were all together" Alex whispered as he leaned over to Lucy's ear.
"Yeah this is really bad..." she replied, looking a little unsure of her career choice after hearing the phrase 'serial killer'.
Bogo continued. "This brings me to my next order of business. Effective immediately all officers will be required to wear both a lethal and non-lethal sidearm. Within the next 3 days all officers will report to weapons lockup to receive their lethal firearm and will be required to wear it at all times, both on and off duty. I'm sorry if this inconveniences any of you. And finally to combat this 'Ghost' I have requested the assistance of a detective that has had prior dealings with this killer. He will be formulating a taskforce and leading the search for this madmammal. All officers are required to assist him to the best of their abilities do I make myself clear?"
Upon hearing the question at the end of the chief's statement the entire hall erupted in a unified "YES SIR!"
From the sidelines a mammal approached the podium where Bogo was standing. The mammal was tall, very tall, just a heads height from being equal to the Buffalo himself. He was dressed in a dark suit, black jacket, waistcoat and dark gray shirt and tie. Unusually though this wolf was wearing one single, thick material glove on his left paw, yet his right was ungloved. On his lower half he wore formal wear pants and combat boots. It was clear to see that this mammal was a hybrid, he had the facial features of a gray wolf but darker fur and piercing red eyes. He was no ordinary wolf, he looked as if he crawled out of hell itself. His blood red eyes hovered over the crowd for a few seconds before fixing briefly on the rookies in the front row.
Bogo closed his speech. "This is Detective Jenson Howlett, homicide Department of the Animalia Police Department. He will be conducting the investigation into this 'Ghost' individual. Detective." He motioned for the Abnormally tall wolf to take the podium and make his presence known.
The wolf turned to chief Bogo and smiled while outstretching his paw. “Thank you old friend for the introduction” he said politely as he took center stage at the podium. The lupus cleared his throat and adjusted the microphone carefully to avoid feedback.
“Thank you Chief Bogo for having me here this afternoon and thank you all for coming down here on such short notice, now, I really should be getting down to business. I have been summoned here to your beautiful city as a favor to my dear friend…” he said as he motioned to the cape buffalo “… to assist in the capture of one aptly named ‘ghost’. I myself have had dealings with this ‘ghost’ in the past, been investigating him for 5 years now but he has never been… predictable. Very little is known about him, and I’m only assuming ‘him’ due to the power of the rifle used in each of his murders, most likely male. We know he is 3’5”, arctic rabbit and extremely fit and strong for his size. His weapon of choice is a remington 700 model customised to chamber a .338 lapua magnum round that he designed himself. This magnum bullet has been engineered for maximum penetration, the tip made from tungsten and resembling a mason drill bit, the core is also tungsten for added penetration.”
As Detective Howlett finished his sentence a paw was raised in the front row, from Officer Bixby no less.
“Do you have a question?” the wolf asked, peering down the aisle to the hare.
“Yes sir, how do you know the rounds were custom? And was there ever an intact bullet found?” the curious hare asked, wondering how exactly ‘very little is known’ suddenly turned into a full speech.
“An excellent question Officer, no, there was never a complete bullet found however at one particular scene, the only scene in fact that multiple shots were fired, there was enough fragments to form what could be classified as an almost intact bullet. Our lab had a mock round crafted for us as use in evidence.” The wolf seemed both pleased and unsteady with his answer, dragging up the past was not what he had expected when giving this statement.
“If there are no further questions I would like to get onto the main purpose of this assembly. I will be forming a specialized taskforce with the goal of taking down this sniper before he causes too much damage. Unfortunately due to recent unrest within the city of Zootopia I have been limited to the number of Officers at my disposal.” Upon concluding his sentence the wolf unpacked 3 small envelopes containing the names and personal details of the Officers he had specifically chosen.
“In no particular order the first Officer I have chosen is Officer Bixby O’hare…” the wolf said clearly into the microphone.
The hall began to stir with whispers of ‘who?!’. Larger mammals in the crowd began to grow restless, anticipating who else would be picked.
Between hearing Detective Howlett pick him and the whispers coming from the older, more experienced mammals Bixby’s paws started to get clammy and shaky. There was a sense of pride at being picked for the team and an element of fear and discouragement at the prospect of dealing with a serial killer and being at the helm of the investigation with such little experience. The young buck started to tap his foot nervously wondering how he would be seen by his friends if he excelled and left them behind. Nervously he took a glance down the row towards Alex and Lucy, stunned to find both of them giving him the thumbs up and smiling. The feeling of dread subsided and a new pride built up within him as he looked back at the wolf with determination, hopped up onto the chair and saluted the Detective.
“SIR…” he shouted with authority. The wolf met his stare and asked “So you are Officer O’Hare then yes?”
“Sir may I speak freely?” Bixby asked with a sharp and powerful tone, nothing was going to stop him getting his point across.
“Very well, what would you like to say?” the wolf asked as he slouched over the podium a little in anticipation.
“It’s Bixby sir… Officer Bixby… I don’t go by O’Hare… its just for official documents…” Bixby said while still in the salute position.
Lucy seemed a little confused. She had only known him by Bixby anyway and hadn’t even known his surname. But why the determination to drop the last name? The lynx gently nudged Alex to get his attention and whispered “Why doesn’t he use his family name?”
“It’s…. Complicated. Bix came out to his parents at 14, he was young but knew what he wanted. His entire family didn’t accept it tho and kicked him out. I knew him for 3 years before that and uncle Rockford took him in. A year later Rockford became his legal guardian.” Alex continued to smile towards the hare with pride.
Lucy felt bad for asking, she knew it must have been a hard time for both of them growing up. “Oh” she said, “Well im glad to have met you both” the lynx said, smiling with glee.
“Officer Bixby huh? Very well, I will try to remember that” the hulking wolf said, grinning as he stood back upright at the podium.
Bixby smiled warmly back at the wolf, knowing that Howlett was a kind heart putting on a hard exterior.
"My next choice..." Howlett started as the whispering from the crowd started up again but much louder, anticipating his next choice. Bogo noticed this and with a loud, vocal grunt coupled with a 1000-yard stare that seemed to creep onto each and every soul in the room, immediately silenced the hall, the respect that the buffalo earned in his years of service along with his immense stature clear for all to see.
"Ahem... my next choice... is Officer Lucille Benson" Howlett motioned down the row towards the young Lynx.
Stunned at hearing her own name being called out, Lucy stood to attention and saluted just as Bixby had.
"Heh... or would you prefer some other name?" The wolf asked playing on the exchange he had just moments before with a determined Hare.
"Huh, oh.. N-no sir....or.....well, just Lucy... never liked Lucille that much" she said, stammering over her words and a little hot under the collar due to all the eyes currently trained on her.
Alex nudged her gently and whispered "Psst, nice going, you seemed to have made quite the impression, congrates!". This little gesture booster her confidence greatly as she smiled back at the detective and took her seat.
"Excellent, the name suites you my dear" the wolf smiled back. "And my final choice..."
The hall erupted once more as one simple word rang out and reverberated around the walls... 'Final'.
"ONLY THREE?!" one voice shouted out followed by "YOU ONLY PICKED ROOKIES IDIOT"
Both Bixby and Lucy drooped in their seats, staying out of the line of sight of the angry officers.
It was at this point one of the nine police chiefs, a large, elderly lion stood up slowly, walked over to the podium assisted by a mahogany walking cane and let out a massive roar. The primal sound echoed around the room immediately silencing the angry Officers and causing everyone to take a seat. Even Detective Howlett was left stunned by the sudden outburst from a senior member of the department.
The lion finished the roar, cleared his throat away from the microphone then faced the crowd in front of the podium, not needing a microphone. "Now... this young Detective has been summoned here to assist in the capture of a serious criminal. He has the full support of all 9 Precincts, and I will be having words with ANY mammal that has a problem with that, do I make myself clear?" the old lion protested to the hall.
This statement was met with murmurs and whispers, the crowd unsure how to feel about this.
The lion slammed the tip on his cane against the stage. "I SAID DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?!" He roared, affirming himself as the dominant force in the entire building.
The hall erupted once more but this time with a unanimous "YES SIR!"
The lion nodded at Detective Howlett and slowly made his way back to his seat.
"Meet Chief Rockford of Precinct 5... he's a charmer isn't he" Alex whispered over to Lucy who was frozen in position due to the ferocious lion's outburst.
"I uh... and he's your Godfather?!" She just about managed to squeak out as she broke her gaze on the awe-inspiring feline.
"Yup, he'll grow on you" Alex replied, accidentally implying she would need to get to know him for whatever reason. "Uhh what I mean is he is an acquired taste".
"You want me to meet your dad huh...moving along quickly aren't we?" Lucy said, blushing a little.
"I-I didn't mean it like that" He concluded, blushing a little himself and giving a cheeky smile back to the feline.
The Hellhound returned to the podium to conclude his team line-up. "Where was I....My final choice, Officer Alexander Hunter"
"Wait what?!" Alex gasped. "I can understand Lucy and Bixby but why me?" Alex stood up and saluted the Wolf with a confused expression on his face.
"Alex then yes?" Howlett nodded towards the Coyote who in turn nodded back. "And so that concludes my selection, would all Officers mentioned previously please report to Chief Bogos office on the upper level, thank you."
--- 12:48pm ----------
It took a solid 15 minutes for all of the mammals present in the assembly to get out of the hall due to the high foot traffic in the corridors of Precinct 1. The workforce of Precinct 1 had returned to their desks in an adjoining room, detectives and patrol cops alike wandering in and out of this space, shuffling papers and making phone calls. One officer in particular, a large bull elephant was being particularly loud about his objections to Detective Howlett's team choices. It was at this point that the 3 rookies entered the room on their way to Bogo's office which was through another door and down the hall a little. The presence of the new mammals caused the room to go silent for just a few seconds before returning to its usual busy routine. Bixby and Lucy passed through the room, pretending not to notice the stares of contempt as they did, but as Alex was almost clear his ears picked up some chatter.
"This is ridiculous, those 3 squibs have no experience in this kind of thing... should be me on that team not some dumb Lynx bitch..." Said the aforementioned elephant in a tone that he thought wouldn't make it to the recruit's ears. "Maybe she will get killed and I can put my name in there, maybe solve the case haha"
Alex's blood boiled as he heard the nasty things this obnoxious mammal was saying about his partner. He reentered the room and walked up to the large beast without a hint of fear in his body. "You wanna run that by me again Detective?" He said to the immovable object before him. In most cases the outcome of a fight would be pretty obvious to see... and elephant versus a coyote is a fairly uneven match up.
"Yeah, I said I hope the bit-…" the elephant attempted to say but couldn't finish his sentence as the young canine rammed his foot into the elephant's right knee, dislocating it to the point that the large mammal crumpled down onto his other knee. Being within reach now Alex grabbed the ele by the tusks, jumped backwards across the detective's own desk and with all the force he could muster slammed his head downwards onto the desk. This sudden and violent impact broke the left tusk completely off at the base while also breaking the detectives jaw in 2 places, rendering him unconscious.
The young Coyote simply looked down at the bleeding mess on the floor then continued to walk towards Bogo's office, unbeknownst to him that both Bixby and Lucy had witnessed the violent act from an otherwise pacifist mammal. Lucy was stunned that someone would defend her honor in such a dramatic way while Bixby looked on as if he had seen an event like this before coming from the reserved canine.
"Shall we get going? Don't want to be late now do we..." Alex said as he motioned towards the Chief's office, a cheeky grin on his face hoping that he had impressed the girl he was longing for.
Chapter 5: Team Howlett
“HUNTERRR!” The sound wave rolled around the office like a thunder clap. “Care to tell me why one of my finest detectives will be eating soup for the foreseeable future?”. Bogo was standing in the doorway to his own office, furious over what the new recruit had done just minutes before. He walked in and slammed the door shut behind him, near breaking the pane of glass in the centre and knocking off a few photos from the walls surrounding.
The three rookie officers were sitting in a row right in front of the Chief's desk, waiting patiently, a look of worry on each of their faces.
“Calm down Bogo, I would chalk it up to self-defence” said Detective Howlett who was sitting patiently in the corner awaiting the arrival of the Chief.
“Calm...CALM....How in the hell do you expect me to be calm about this?! If you didn’t need him i’d make damn sure he sees the inside of a cell for that stunt he pulled” Bogo replied staring at the young coyote, still seeing red.
“Look your detective made some alarming comments about my team, I have witnesses to back this up... in truth you have grounds to suspend the elephant, not the coy” Howlett shot back, making a perfect argument that Bogo could not challenge.
Bogo walked over to his desk and sat down behind a mountain of paperwork built up in just a few weeks. “I’m sorry Jay, this month has been... stressful... and now this ‘ghost’ turned up and started his own killing spree... This city needs help now more than ever.”
“Zootopia hasn’t fully recovered from the Night Howler case, I get it, there's still violence on the streets... that's why I'm building you this team, so that when i go back to Animalia you have some fine young detectives to support you” Howlett spoke up as he stood from the chair in the corner and moved into the light.
Alex raised his paw to insert his own statement. “Sir, if I may... I apologize for my misconduct earlier and I promise that you will receive my full, undivided loyalty.” The young coyote raised himself from the chair and saluted the chief as his sign of respect. “This team will not let you down, sir!”
“See, can’t say I made the wrong choice now can ya” Howlett turned to Bogo and gave a devilish smile at the mammoth mammal. “Now... down to business... Officer Bixby please stand”
Bixby immediately stood to attention, his underwear still uncomfortably flossing his ass. “Yes sir”
“You were my first choice for this team, I know I said in no particular order but you were always the first choice. The reason I chose you was your test scores.” Howlett announced as he opened one of the envelopes with Bixby’s name on it.
“Sir? I don’t understand...” Bixby claimed, confused why the wolf would bring them up. The majority on his scores were above average but nothing extraordinary.
“Were you holding back? Why are they so low?” asked the wolf trying to elicit the truth from the lapin. “All new recruits are subjected to a basic form of the Mensa Test. It may not be particularly accurate but its close enough... your score was 167... a damn genius that hides his talents... why?”
The young hare knew that he was caught out, he was holding back. “I, uh, d-didn’t want to be put behind a desk or anything... I wanted to be out in the field and was scared that if my superiors knew I had brains that I would be put to work on a computer...”
“Well don’t worry, on this team you will be seeing plenty of field work... hell you’ll be begging me to put you on a desk haha” The Detectives words lifted a huge weight off the hare’s shoulders. The 2 mammals smiled at each other, already forming a close bond.
“But there’s still something else that I wanted from you on my team... I can tell by these results that you have a keen eye for details, how’s your perception?” Howlett asked as he moved closer towards Bixby and leaned against the edge of Bogo’s table.
Bixby looked the wolf up and down for a few seconds nervously.
“Go ahead Bix” Alex whispered loud enough for the lapin to hear.
“I-I can tell you have been injured sir... badly. Not from a war, in the line of duty?” Bixby muttered cautiously, trying to pick his words before he said them.
The Detective gave a content look, sealing the deal that this hare was the right mammal for the job. “Go on...”
“It was the first thing I noticed sir, as you were walking you favoured your left side as if it were heavier than the right, and just wearing one glove as if to hide something... your stride was a little off too, seemed to me like you were still getting used to walking, but the nail in the proverbial coffin was when you shook the Chiefs hoof... it seemed forced sir, like you weren’t used to using your right paw... you are a lefty... but you couldn’t use your left paw because..... you have 2 prosthetic limbs?” Bixby concluded his deduction on the Detective, showing off his remarkable perception.
“Bravo... bravo... Very few would come to the conclusion about my arm... but my leg as well... you truly are a unique individual Officer Bixby, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise” Howlett assured Bixby as the hare sat in his seat, his foot twitching, trying to reach the floor.
“Thank you, sir, I will do my best!” Bixby saluted the Detective and calmed his twitchy thumper down.
Detective Howlett gave the Hare a thumbs up in approval before moving his attention onto the young, innocent looking feline. “Officer Benson, I have read through your file, seems to me that you are also holding back some. You graduated top of the class with a particular emphasis on your hand-to-hand combat skills...but there is a foot note here that convinced me to pick you as my second choice... care to elaborate on what that is?”
“Uh sir I don’t know what your talkin-...” she started but was cut off by Howlett slamming her folder down in front of her, with photos of mammals that had various injuries spilling all over the desk. This sudden aggression caught her off guard as she jumped a little in her seat, taking a second to look through the photos before burying her head in her paws, ashamed of what she seen.
“These... were 5 of the combat instructors of the ZPD Academy charged with training the new recruits on how to deal with different threats... you beat them all bloody... the foot note even gives you a nickname...’Hellcat’...what do you have to say for yourself?” Howlett said as he leaned in closer to the sobbing feline.
Alex couldn’t help but reach over to Lucy and place his paw on her shoulder, trying what little he could do to comfort her.
“I'm sorry, I'm so sorry... I...I don’t know what came over me... when I fight I need to make sure I win...I'm so sorry...” She sobbed, now in tears with her head in her arms hunched over the desk.
“Sorry for what?... you didn’t hear me when I said this is the reason I picked you... This team would be lost without a strong ace in the hole.... and ‘Hellcat’... I love it!” Howlett cheered the young Lynx on, praising her particularly violent streak.
Lucy stopped crying and lifted her head out from her arms. “You... you mean it? You're not gonna fire me?” she said, her fur still matted with tears but with an ecstatic expression on her face.
“Hell yeah I mean it!” Howlett offered his paw for a fist bump to which the young Lynx reciprocated. She wiped away the tears and saluted the Detective as Bixby had done.
“Aaaaand you... Officer Hunter, pleasure to make your acquaintance” the wolf said as he stretched his paw over to shake with Alex.
Alex shook the Detectives paw but before he could release his grip Howlett pulled his arm towards himself. “Odd fur colour for such a young canine... what are you 21? 22? Why do you have silver fur mixed in with your tan? And your eyes... those crystal blue eyes defiantly don’t belong to a coy” the detective asked curiously.
“I don’t know sir, I've had this since I was born... and I am 20 years old sir” Alex corrected the Detective.
“Seems to me like you have a little something else in you huh? Have you ever entertained the thought that you might be a hybrid like myself? My mother was a Grey Wolf and my father was... something more exotic... have you ever heard of a Black Dog? Vicious creatures, violent and powerful and yet my mother fell for one... but that's a story for another time....I digress... your eyes, fur and slightly smaller build remind me of a smaller canine, fox perhaps?” Howlett was trying the coyote, to see what truths he could get out of him.
“No sir, my parents were Coyotes, my mother would have told me otherwise before she....” Alex stopped mid speech and looked down to the floor.
“Did I hit a nerve? I'm sorry Alex” Howlett replied with sympathy this time, scaling down his interrogation tactics.
Lucy repaid Alex’s kindness by resting her paw on his head, ruffling his fur a little.
“No sir, the fact is I have no idea why I look so different to other coyotes, and I wouldn’t like to entertain the thought that my mother was sleeping around...” Alex said as he raised his head with determination, taking a deep breath and noticing some scents in the air he hadn’t noticed before.
“Very well, lets not dwell on the past, its not good for either of us wouldn’t you agree? Now, I have noticed that your results were also average but 2 key points stood out, one of which I was certain and the other you proved to me just 10 minutes ago in the other room. First off it says here that you just barely scraped by in your physical combat examination... from what I hear you did to that elephant I find that extremely hard to digest, we all know that you can fight, perhaps later we will get a demonstration. My second point is that you came top of the class in the sensory category, care for a demonstration now?” asked Howlett, curious to see what Alex could do when he tries.
Alex took a deep sniff of the air and closed his eyes. He decided to get his own back on the detective for the things he said about his family history.
“Your left arm has been replaced from the shoulder down and your left leg from just above the knee... you had the joints oiled just this morning before coming here. You don’t seem to have very good eating habits as there is a dollop of jam on your shirt from what I smell was a hastily eaten sandwich before coming into the assembly hall... when walking from the train this morning to the precinct you stepped in what smells like mint ice-cream, there is still some left on your right shoe and oh... congratulations, I wish you the best of luck” Concluding his statement Alex reopened his eyes to find Bogo staring at him with his mouth wide open and Howlett standing next to him with an equally surprised look.
“That...was pretty good... what exactly did you mean by congratulations?” Howlett asked, a little afraid of the answer.
“I can smell that you and your missus had sex just last night, didn’t ‘pull out’ and you had a shower afterwards. I can’t tell the species but there is just enough of her scent left on you to know. I also smell the distinct lack of latex... you two are trying for a cub... Congratulations” Alex sat back in the chair with a smug look on his face while the wolf was slowly turning a brighter shade of pink in some spots.
“Ahem... yes we are trying.... um... well done Officer Hunter, and well played” Howlett calmed down a little and thanked Alex for a demonstration of his acute sense of smell, and noted his distinct lack of respect for authority figures.
"Thank you sir" Alex saluted, giving a slight cheeky grin as he said it.
Howlett cleared his throat and continued. "Anyway... I'm sure you understand that none of you are ready to be hunting down serial killers. We as a team will be investigating the 'ghost', learning all we can about his activities and affiliates. The ultimate goal is to capture him alive, for him to stand trial for his crimes. In the meantime, while we track him, I will be training you as detectives. This team isn't a one and done deal, like I said, when I return to Animalia you will continue to work as a team to bring Zootopia back on track, do I make myself clear?"
All 3 rookies roared to life with a unanimous "YES SIR"
"Good, now go back to your barracks and pack your things, from tonight we will all be staying in the same apartment. We will eat together, Work together, Sleep together... figuratively speaking..." Howlett added.
The 3 rookies seemed to like the idea of staying together in the same apartment, a true team building experience.
"The ZPD have been kind enough to renovate 2 apartments, merging them into 1 large premise as a work space for us however, the work isn't complete yet so we will be staying in a smaller building until then. I will give you the address before you leave. Oh and I hope none of you mind sharing the apartment with a Wolf" Howlett concluded with a very wolf like smile.
"I'm good with that!" Bixby shouted out before coming to a realisation... His mate was coming to Zootopia tonight and had planned to still be in the barracks dorm room (alone). "Uh...sir... I have a very personal favour to ask... would you mind if... my Boyfriend could come over?... he is coming to Zootopia tonight and I really want to spend the night with him" Bixby asked, putting on the biggest bunny eyes he could pull.
"Bixby...2 things... first off when we aren't on duty, you call me Jay for short. That goes for you two aswell ya here" Howlett stated towards the Lynx and Coy as they stood in the doorway.
"And second, if he truly means that much to you then who am I to deny love, text him the address when you get it yeah?" Jay smiled down at the hare and ushered him out of the office, closing the door behind them.
"I wouldn't get too attached to your little projects Howlett, if the ghost gets wind you are in the city they will be the first ones to die" Claimed Bogo as he raised himself from behind the desk.
"I'm not so sure, they all have skills that will be very valuable to the city but I don't think that they will be much of a target for the ghost... it'll be me he is after" Jay exclaimed. The wolf put the documents back into his satchel and started to massage his left shoulder where the metal met with his flesh. "The bastard will want to finish the job after all... I'm his only survivor, his only mistake... and I will be his downfall"
--- 6:00pm, Howlett's Temporary Apartment ----------
"Ahh, I'm glad your all here!" Jay opened the front door of the apartment to the 3 rooks with their belongings in 6 duffle bags in the corridor. "We were just preparing dinner for you but it'll be a while yet"
"We?" Lucy asked wondering who else would be living with them. It then dawned on her what Alex had said earlier about Jay and his missus. "Ohh, your mate is here too? Can we meet her?"
"Of course you can, she's just in the kitchen down the hall and to the right. HEY RU, THE ROOKIES ARE HERE!" Jay roared across the medium sized living space.
Before the new arrivals regained their hearing, a small mammal burst around the corner and walked down the hall towards them. She was dressed in tight jeans, black shirt and wearing an apron over the top of it all. "Hola, mi nombre es Atreyu Akri! (Hello, my name is Atreyu Akri!) but you can call me Ru, It's very nice to meet you all!" She said. The mammal was an Iberian Lynx, not much different to Lucy except in colour and markings. She had a little light blue fur dye around her golden eyes to make them stand out a little more and 3 piercings on her left ear, to show her more punky side.
Before he could say or do anything all Alex could think about was how such a big wolf like Jay was able to court a small feline like Ru, a part of him wanting to ask him his secrets but another part wanting to avoid the subject, remembering his promise not to push Lucy's decision.
"Woooow your pretty!" Bixby made the first move and walked right up to the lynx, introducing himself in flamboyant fashion, as is his style. Lucy and Alex followed suit soon after, making good first impressions as Jay looked on, glad that everyone is getting along so well.
The group talked at the kitchen counter top while dinner was being prepared, getting to know each other more before Bixby and Lucy went to set the table. A full spread, complete with potatoes, carrots, tofu for the predators and a selection of sushi as a secondary. All 5 mammals sat around the circular table, readies their plates and were about to eat when.
"Hmm? Were we expecting more guests?" Ru asked as she set down her cutlery and started to get up from the table.
"OH" Bixby let out a gasp. "It's him!" he said as he leapt from the table and raced to the door.
Ru tilted her head in confusion. "Him who?".
"Bixby's boyfriend, I invited him here to stay on Bix's behalf" Jay quelled his mates confusion.
After a few tense seconds Bixby made his way back into the kitchen/living area with a Coyote in paw.
Alex's eyes went wide, his pulse started to race and he dropped his cutlery to the table, startling Lucy sitting next to him. He clenched his fist ready to pounce the first chance he got.
"Guys I'd like you to meet Tri-…." Bixby started his introduction but was abruptly interrupted by Alex launching himself off his seat and into the other Coyote.
Both canines landed on the couch, Alex trying desperately to get his paws around the others throat.
"ALEX STOP!" Bixby shouted but to no avail, his words fell on deaf ears as the other mammals raised to their feet ready to pull them apart.
"Grrrr... After all these years you show up here?!" Alex cried before he was kneed in the gut and sent flying across the room. The other coyote got to his feet and rushed over to pin Alex to the wall, using his larger build to his advantage. "It's been 9 damn years and not even a single letter your heartless bastard... I've missed you..." Alex shouted at the larger canine before breaking down into tears and leaning his head into the other's chest. "Tristan... I've missed you"
"I know Brother, I know, I'm sorry" said Tristan, the other Coyote.
Bix let out a relieved sigh as he seen Tristan let go of Alex, nearly in tears himself but holding them back as best he could.
--- 15 Minutes Later ----------
"Sooooo Tristan is Alex's older brother huh? Aaaand also Bixby's mate..... that doesn't make things weird at all haha" Lucy said to try and lighten the mood to no avail. There was no more fighting or crying but an air of tension in the room.
"I'm sorry to all of you, to Miss Atreyu for ruining dinner, to Detective Howlett for fighting in here and to the rest of you for my behaviour" Alex apologized for everything, his ears droopy and head bowed.
"Oh come on, there is nothing to be sorry about" Ru proclaimed with a hint of a Spanish accent shining through. “And were not so formal here, its Ru and Jay” the Lynx said with a giggle.
Bixby and Tristan were out on the balcony overlooking the city’s Downtown District, deep in conversation. The young hare’s paw stroking the back of Tristan’s paw as it rested on the railing. From inside their words were indistinguishable to untrained ears, perhaps best that way, there was alot for them to discuss.
Jay stood up from the table and began to roll up the sleeves on his shirt, revealing the extent of his prosthesis. The rooks still sitting at the table looked away, not wanting to pry into the backstory of it. Jay noticed their apprehension and decided to take off the shirt entirely.
“Lets get past the metaphorical elephant in the room shall we... ask away” the wolf said as he folded the shirt and laid it neatly on the couch.
Lucy was the first one to chime in after a few seconds of uncertainty. “H-how did it happen?” she asked in a timid, shaky voice.
“Courtesy of the ‘ghost’. I joined the APD when I was just 17, did my tour of duty for 3 years and then decided SWAT was my true calling. It was on my 5th year in the department that we were called to a warehouse, in response to a shots fired incident. Our information was wrong however, what my squad and I were told was that the shooter was inside the building so we did what we classed as routine sweep and clear. Bottom floor was clear so we began to ascend to the second. That's when he struck... the ghost was positioned 300 meters away on another building overlooking the north side of the warehouse... he was... testing new rounds. I lead the squad up the stairs and then...” the Wolf hesitated for a few seconds.
“It’s okay dear, it isn’t your fault, no one could have warned you about him” Ru said as she came over to the wolf and hugged him from behind.
Jay took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “At first all I heard was the glass in the window beside me break so I stopped. I hadn’t noticed I had been hit until the loud pop beside my ear followed by a sudden and intense pain enveloped me. The bullets he was testing that night were tipped with an explosive fragmentation element... it went into my shoulder, deep in and detonated. By the time I realised what had happened I was on my knees, my arm hanging off with just little bits of clothing holding it in place. The ghost miscalculated... just that one slip up was the difference between my arm and my head. I am his one mistake”
“I really wanna get this guy now...” Alex proclaimed with his fists clenched tight.
“You may very well get your chance pup, I chose you 3 because you have skills that will hopefully keep you alive.” Jay replied as he sat back at the table. “I fell to the ground helpless as the rest of my squad were picked off one by one... ghost had recalculated for the mass of the round and massacred everyone. One of the shots was just a prediction, he shot into the wall below the window in hopes of hitting me again, just to be sure. The bullet however hit my left knee, shredded it like it was made of jelly. After 15 minutes of silence, all my team members were nothing but stains on the walls... I managed to radio back to the station to send help. Long story short, I alone survived... barely... took a year out to recover where I met my beautiful mate Ru then returned to the Precinct and transferred to the investigation department.”
“Heh you are missing the most important part of the story... the bit about the angelic nurse who nursed you back to health and gave you your mobility back!” Atreyu blew back, flustered that he had left out the part where they met. “This pup would still be in a wheelchair if not for me haha, I met him in St August Hospital just after the shooting, at the time I was still an apprentice prosthetic engineer but I persuaded my teacher to give him his life back. From there we grew closer and closer. And now I cook for him and tune up his parts when they need it.” She concluded with a smile on her face.
“Tune up my parts? No no that’s the ‘after hours’ work we do” the wolf grinned back at the petite feline knowing full well he was about to get a slap. And justice came swiftly, as swift as an elbow to the gut from the surprisingly strong Lynx.
“Guess who isn’t getting any for a while” she replied as the wolf doubled over laughing.
“Don’t need to be a detective for that one” Alex added before letting out a yawn and searching the room for a clock. “Well i think its bed time for me, miss Akri where will we all be sleeping?”
“Oh yes! Um Bixby and Tristan will be using the first room on the left...” Ru pointed down a small hallway on the right side of the apartment. “Jay and I are the in the room on the opposite side of the hall... and you and Lucy can have the room on the other side of the apartment, first door on the left!”. Upon concluding her sentence, the feline had a very mischievous grin on her face, Bixby had filled her in on the awkward exchange just this morning.
Lucy nearly choked once again, this time holding it back. “Say what now?...” she shot back, giving a grimacing look towards the hare still on the balcony. “Bixby, right?”
“Oh yeah!” replied the other Lynx. “In seriousness your room will be the room on the right, opposite Alex, if that’s okay with you two?”
Lucy gave a thumbs up to Ru as she thanked her for dinner and retreated hastily to her room to avoid any further embarrassment at the paws of the crafty Iberian.
It wasn’t long after this that everyone else decided to get an early night's sleep. All residents of the apartment were in bed, either asleep or up to no good, by 8pm. The short summer nights causing difficulty for some to sleep.
--- June 30th, 2:12am ----------
Lucy had been tossing and turning in her new bed, unable to get accustomed to her new surroundings and situation, unable to sleep she decided perhaps a bit if fresh air would calm her nerves, coupled with a cold glass of water. The young feline made her way out of her room and through the living room silently thanks to her feline traits, and made her way out onto the balcony.
She took a deep breath as she closed the sliding glass door behind her and hung her arms over the railing, thankful for the dry night and gentle breeze.
“Can’t sleep?” said a voice emanating from the corner of the balcony in the shadows. This sudden and unexpected question nearly caused Lucy to jump out of her skin, muffling a slight scream with her paws as she turned to see Bixby sitting on top of a low wall peering over to her.
“Gah Bixby I'm gonna kick your a-...” she began but was cut off.
“Beautiful view, isn’t it? If this is just the temporary residence, then what will our office be like?” Bixby butted in as he turned his gaze to the Lynx who was illuminated by the dazzling neon lights of Zootopia at night.
“I dunno, but I think this opportunity is incredible” she said as the hare jumped off the wall and stood next to her. As he approached she could see that all he was wearing was a pair of jogging bottoms. He looked physically exhausted and still shaking a little but not from the cold breeze.
“So, you and Tristan get reacquainted huh?” Lucy asked, glad the shoe was on the other foot this time.
“We got reacquainted 4 times il have you know... we playing the questions game then? Haha” Bixby replied as he looked back out to the City.
“Bix, I am an open book and you know it, ask away” she said, immediately regretting it.
"I think you know exactly what I am gonna ask" the hare said with a smirk as he bumped his hip into hers playfully.
Lucy let out a sigh as she looked towards the street below. "It's complicated..."
"Then un-complicate it. Follow your heart for a change, not your head. Tell you what, go out to dinner with him, or just food, hell a walk along the beaches will do... at the end if it feels good then follow what you think is right, if not then at least you will know... but it's not fair on either of you to have this tension and you know it" Bixby turned to walk back into the apartment but stopped to have one last look at the beautiful night time city lights. "Beautiful night" Bixby muttered as he walked back into the apartment and back to his room.
"Yeah... Beautiful..." Lucy muttered as a tear rolled down her cheek.
--- 10 minutes later ----------
Lucy felt better after spending some time in the fresh night air and decided to try sleeping once again. As she crept her way back to her room she stopped in front of her door. "Bixby is right" she whispered to herself as she peeked over to Alex's room. Resisting the urge to just go back to her own room, instead she decided to give into what she felt to be right and turned around and opened the door to Alex's room carefully to not wake the coyote. Her Emerald eyes glowing in the dark of the small bedroom as she scanned her surroundings, careful not to step on anything while making her way over to the bed. She stood at the side of his bed for a few seconds, building up the courage she needed before slowly and carefully climbing in next to the sleeping canine.
"Okay don't freak out, this is nice" the feline thought to herself, a little hot under the collar but oddly feeling more relaxed now than she was on her own. "Maybe if Alex lets me, I could share the room... nooo bad idea, what would everyone think... I don't care what they think... Bixby is right, I will give Alex a chan-…." She thought just as Alex rolled over and wrapped his arms around her mid-section.
A hot flush rushed around the lynx's body as the Coyote pulled her in closer. She bit her lip to stop her from crying out or gasping. The feeling receded after a minute or so and she felt comfortable enough to pull herself closer into his chest. A low purr began to radiate from the feline as she began to enjoy her situation she found herself in.
"Good night...Snowflake" Lucy whispered as she closed her eyes to get some sleep.
Chapter 6: Happy To See Me?
--- June 30th, 9:30 am, Somewhere in Zootopia ----------
“Niki... Niki... Come on sleeping beauty, time to get up or we will be late”. Addison and Niki slept together in a communal sleeping quarters, their work they do being of the up most secrecy and thus weren’t allowed outside of the building. The two Jackals found it more comforting to sleep together given their work and social circumstances.
“Ugh just 5 more minutes...” Niki pleaded with his mate to no avail. The pair were already late for their duties but they were not strangers to avoiding punishment.
“Hey Addy... Do you really think we can escape this place?... I’m worried Master War will hunt us down and make an example of us...” Niki’s biggest fear above all else was losing Addison because their boss decided he was no longer needed or displeased him.
“Nikola please, stop thinking like that, we will be just fine... and besides you remember what Death said, trust me we will be out of this city before you know it!” Addy comforted Niki as he nuzzled into the taller canine's chest fur.
Niki let out a sigh as he thought over their planned escape. “But how do you know everything will go right... I'm just scared... I love you”
“I love you too Niki... trust me, Death’s plan will work... now, let's get going, the ghost is waiting”
After just 10 minutes the pair were out of bed and dressed, no time for food as they rushed to the room that was assigned to ghost. Niki knocked on the door to no response. A second attempt to alert the occupant was met with the door swinging open slowly to the surprise of the jackals.
“Uhhhh... hello?” Niki said in a timid voice as he slowly set foot into the room followed closely by Addy. “Um, Sir? We have been assigned to bring you to the meeting of the other horsemen, are you here? Hel-...” just as Addison made his intentions clear the rabbit fell from the ceiling with a pair of small, silenced pistols, pinned both of the jackals to the floor and planted the tips of the silencers to the backs of their heads.
The initial shock prevented either of the canines to yelp out or plead for their lives, all they could do was close their eyes, hold paws and wait for the gentle whisper of the suppressed pistols. However, this sound did not come. Instead the rabbit simple got up off of them, walked over to the bed and placed his pistols back in their holsters. Nikola was the first to look up and check what the situation was, surprised to see the lapin sitting on the bed staring at them with his dead blue eyes, waiting for instruction. The rabbit was wearing only a pair of black cargo pants and his signature white mask, as if the pair had interrupted him while he was getting changed.
“This rabbit is seriously creepy...” Addy whispered to himself as he raised himself from the floor and rushed over to assist Niki. “Sir we have been...” Addison tried again as he was cut off by the ghost raising his paw as if to tell him to be quiet.
Ghost raised himself from the bed and slipped on a black shirt from the duffle bag at his feet before making his way over to the pair. The rabbit brought out a small note pad and pen, scribbled something down and handed the pad to Addison.
“I heard you the first time” was what was written on the small bunny sized paper. Addy felt insulted by the manner in which the sentence was written. Ghost took the pad back and motioned his paw out the door as if to say lead the way.
“Yes sir” Niki answered as he took an enraged Addison by the paw and walked out of the small guest room. “Hun don’t do anything stupid, let's just get on with it please”
Reluctantly Addy and his mate lead the way out of the room followed by the lethal lapin as he strapped on his twin pistol holster.
--- 10:00am, Main Complex ----------
The main building the jackals were working out of was vast, a large warehouse with massive shipping containers spread everywhere and wooden containers opened and their contents neatly stacked beside them. This warehouse was the central hub for one of the biggest smuggling rings in not only Zootopia but the entire country. Everything from drugs, weapons, priceless antiques and even mammal trafficking, something that Master War was particularly fond of.
War was the stuff nightmares were made from. He is a well-built Rhino sporting a very robust suit of armour very reminiscent of a samurai armour, lightweight yet bullet proof. Much like Ghost, War also wore a Japanese hannya mask on the bottom half of his face but for more than one reason.
Mainly simply to hide his identity during his job as an assassin. This hulk of a mammal stood 14-foot-tall, much taller than others of his species. He was at the peak of his physical capabilities, which played perfectly into his preferred way of killing his target. War’s method of assassination was two massive battle-axes, hand forged especially for him and damn near as indestructible as he was. War wasn’t particularly intelligent but what he lacked in brains he made up for in combat prowess, easily able to best the vast majority of opponents even larger than himself.
Addison, Nikola and Ghost eventually found themselves at the base of a moderately sized office elevated on stilts, allowing the occupants a complete 360-degree view of the vast storage space.
“Sir, Master War is just up those stairs, he is expecting you” Niki said humbly, motioning towards the stairs ascending to the office.
As Ghost made his way past the two canines he slipped Niki a small note that simply said "Wait here". He climbed the stairs and entered the almost pitch-black room. All of the windows were shut out with blackout curtains, the lightbulbs removed... the perfect den for a master killer. The only furniture in the room was a filing cabinet in the far corner and a desk and chair in the centre. From this chair slowly rose a massive figure, barely visible in the darkness. Ghost was naturally apprehensive about the much taller mammal, his paw fixed on his pistol ready to drop whatever threat stood before him.
"So... you are the famous Ghost we have been hearing about. Your stories have been plastered all over the news lately, and nice shot in the train station, haven't seen a snap shot like that since my deployment. I bet you have many questions as to why we summoned you here, to put it short... you are the only candidate that could possibly take the place of our recently departed 4th member. We are the Four Horsemen, I myself am the embodiment of War. You will meet Famine and Pestilence when they arrive in the city and you... you... our Master has selected you as the replacement for Death...I think it's fitting, don't you?"
War moved from behind the desk to flick on a small lamp on the end of his desk, moving closer to the rabbit, revealing his armoured figure and kneeling down in front of him.
"I understand you are a mute yes? Unable to speak?" War muttered through his mask, the light helping Ghost to become accustomed to his surroundings. The first thing he noticed however was the War wore the mask because of a particularly nasty facial wound extending from his neck all the way up behind the mask and out of the top, ending just past his right eye. His horn was also missing, snapped right at the base. All Ghost could think was this must have been a very violent encounter.
Ghost caught onto what War was saying and nodded as to not seem rude. He took out his notepad and began to write some notes down.
"So, what do you think? We summoned you here to be a part of this team, you have shown your skills and you certainly have my approval, we can provide you with anything you need for your tasks.
Ghost tore off a single piece of paper from the notepad and handed it to the monstrous mammal, barely being able to hold it properly the Rhino read out loud “My only condition, I want the two Jackals that met me at the train”
“I don’t particularly like sharing my toys... but I will make an exception this time... there is still some tasks for them to do for me but otherwise... do what you will with them” War seemed displeased having to give up 2 of his slaves but for the services of arguably the best sniper on the face of the planet... he obliged.
War turned back around to his desk, flicked off the lamp and sat back down in his chair in the pitch black of the room. “Welcome... Death”
Before Ghost left the office, he took one final look back at his new partner in crime, his cold blue eyes piercing the darkness as he met the shining amber eyes of the most sadistic and unforgiving killer he had ever met. Ghost opened the door, allowing his eyes to readjust fully to the brightly lit before he attempted the stairs down to his new assistants.
The rabbit began his decent down to the two Jackals who were patiently waiting for him at the base, afraid to move, following orders down to the letter after years of physical abuse and conditioning by the dozens of other Jackals under War’s control.
Both Addy and Niki had worked their way up the ranks of Wars personal slaves to become 2 of his 10 assistants but despite this they still feared him. War was an individual that took great pleasure in disciplining his followers, in some cases even killing them to ensure the rest of his toys stayed in line. His greatest weapon was fear, the thought of the giant swinging his axe in anger kept most of the Jackals in line, the disobedient ones were quickly culled and replaced by new freshly kidnapped cubs from various countries. Each and every one of Wars followers were once trafficked cubs that he bought to be his work force. Addison and Niki were no exception.
Addison was abducted from his hometown in England when he was just 6 and Nikola when he was 4 from Germany. Both sold into slavery where they made their way to Zootopia in which they were snapped up real fast. War has a particular fondness for Jackals, being that they can be vicious when provoked, can infiltrate very easily and their canine loyalty an added bonus.
Addison had been working for War since he was just 10 years old, going on various infiltration assignments on behalf of the Rhino. Niki on the other paw has only had to endure the wrath of War for 6 years. He was 16 when War spotted him on the ‘market’, a little older than what he would usually go for but decided to recruit him anyway. For 6 years Addison had been protecting the younger canine, eventually developing feelings for each other and learning secrets about each other, one secret in particular that set Nikola apart from the rest of the other Jackals.
Ghost arrived at the bottom, greeted by 2 patiently waiting canines, tense, anticipating the rabbits next move. Ghost simply took out his notepad again and began to write once more. The pair glanced across at each other, sharing a nervous shrug before the lapin handed a small note over to Addison stating “You two will be working for me from now on, don’t disappoint.”
This moderately unsettling closure to a sentence put them in edge but dared not speak up. Ghost took one more look around the warehouse, gave the two lovers a paw gesture to ‘follow’ and began walking back to his accommodation in silence.
--- 9:20 am, Howlett Temporary Apartment ---------
Much to Lucy’s surprise... Alex didn’t have a functioning alarm clock. The natural light of a new day trickled into the dimly lit bedroom, gently waking the slumbering kitten from a pleasant dream and with a content smile creeping upon her face her first thoughts were of her first day on the ZPD Taskforce... followed by... “OH SHIT...”
9:20 am... she slept in... everyone else will be up and ready to go... missed breakfast... how do i get out of this room and into mine... but all those thoughts faded into nothingness as the slender yet toned canine tightened his grip around the slim felines waist, dangerously close to her mid-section. This however didn’t seem to phase her too much, instead deciding to nestle her way closer into him as he spooned her.
Alex briefly opened his eyes, somewhat awake but still very tired. “Morning kitten...” he whispered into her ear as he pulled his grip tighter, noticing the feline didn’t resist at all.
There it was... the hot flush... the feeling of heat flooded her body the very moment she felt his breath on the base of her ear. “Good morning snowflake, we are late for work” she replied, trying to repress the urges she was experiencing. Failing miserably.
“May I ask... this is the second morning in a row I have woken up to find you cuddled into me” Alex asked as he felt a small paw take hold of his own and slowly started to tug on it.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, it just... didn’t feel right to me so i went to get some air... ran into Bixby who... kinda gave me the boot up the backside I deserved... this is me, following my heart for once so please... don’t lead it astray” the kitten began to purr as she moved his paw upwards, under her tank top.
“Lucy what are yo-...” the coyote began as his nose kicked into overdrive, a scent that even he couldn’t ignore for long. A scent that now made sense to him, to why the kitten was so brazen in her advances, why she didn’t try to get out of bed but instead unbeknownst to her began to move Alex’s paw to a very compromising location. The young Lynx had begun her first heat cycle of the season.
“Lucy stop... before you do something you regret” Alex whispered unto deaf ears as the feline continued to purr. Despite this exact exchange being what Alex dreamed of for months he couldn’t bring himself to ruin their relationship this early on.
Lucy continued her playful exchange, noticing a distinct pressure nudging against her back. “I can tell your enjoying yourself, is that your phone or are you happy to see me?” she quipped as her other paw began to slowly move around to the solid object pressing against her lower back.
The larger coyote forcibly stopped his paw from ascending Lucy’s chest. “Please... Stop...”
These words finally sunk in as Lucy snapped out of her lust filled confusion and apologised. “Alex... oh no... I'm so sorry, I don’t know what came over me..I..I...”
“Shhh, it’s okay, believe me it took all I had to resist... but seriously tho, I do really like you but I don’t feel comfortable with casual sex, it's just... not what I want, especially from you... your too important to ruin whatever it is we have... please. I know I said that I wouldn’t push you to make a choice but... would you..uh... would you like to go get something to eat sometime?” the canine began to fell hot under the collar as he finally got to ask her out properly on his terms. His heart was in his mouth anticipating what Lucy’s response would be. Planning his exit in the likely event she would say no. His mind racing with ‘what if’ questions. What if she rejects me totally and the team suffers. What if she quits the ZPD because of me. What if-
“I would love to...” Lucy spoke up, stunning Alex in the process. “But... I don’t want you spending too much on me... no gifts... just some good food from your favourite burger cart, do we have an agreement?”
“I..uh...y-yes, hell yes” Alex pulled the kitten into his chest tight and nuzzled his chin on the top of her head. “I will not disappoint!”
“Shhhh... they might hear you” Lucy said playfully as she looked over towards the door. “Hey can I ask something...” she said as she slipped out if Alex’s grip and hopped out of bed, standing beside the mattress and facing towards the canine in nothing but her underwear and a tank top. The lynx thankful that this time she wore a top, unlike yesterday morning. “Would you mind if I slept in here with you more often? I... I’m kinda scared of being alone in a strange place...”
Without even hesitating the cunning coyote looked the Lynx up and down and said “As long as I still get this stunning view”
Lucy caught onto this little quip and walked over to the window of the bedroom that was directly facing the bed. “This view?” she started as the blinds snapped up, unexpectedly showering the dimly lit room in sunshine. Poor coyote...
--- 12 Blind Minutes Later ----------
“Quietly now...” Alex whispered as Lucy slipped through the barely open door of the bedroom and into the hallway. She leaned on the wall beside Alex’s room to wait on him when she noticed something unsettling and halted.
Alex opened the door slightly wider, trying to prevent the door from creaking too badly then gently closed the door behind him, making as little noise as possible. He glanced over to Lucy to find her stuck in place, unable to move and staring into the kitchen area. “Lu? You okay?” he began as he too glanced over to the communal table in the centre of the room. All residents of the apartment gathered around it, toast in paws discussing a new case. All eyes upon the half-naked officers as they finally emerged from their slumbers.
Bixby was the first to break the silence and tension of the room. “Good to see you took my advice”
I suppose the only word that correctly describes how both Alex and Lucy were feeling right now would be ‘Mortified’.
“Well... I'm just gonna crawl into my room and die...yep” Lucy said as she made a break for her own room before being stopped by Alex, who instead went back to his room, grabbed a large hoodie and slipped it over the moderately exposed Lynx.
Lucy looked up at the taller canine and smiled at him. This small gesture of stopping her from retreating like she always did and instead dressed her in his own clothes actually filled her with a feeling of confidence, something she wasn’t expecting. The pair made their way across the living space towards the kitchen for some toast.
“So, what's the deal? We forget this and move on or gush over the newlyweds?” Jenson quipped from the other side of the large table.
“Oh, leave them be dear, i think its adorable!” Ru replied, shooting down Jay’s joke immediately before anyone else could chime in.
“Well then, pull up a chair, we as a team have our first assignment. There was a bank robbery this morning, Sahara Square Central Bank, Bogo as asked us personally to look into it... and I aim to please. As he is famous for doing we have 48 hours to close the case, so I told him to make it 12” Jay gave a devilish smile, not to everyone’s liking however.
“How do you plan to close this in just 12 hours?!” Bixby queried, not liking the sound of this wager.
“Simple, Lucy and I will follow up witness reports while you and Alex Investigate the bank, it'll be a fun little game indeed” Jay was dead set on turning this high-profile theft into a game of cat and mouse (no pun intended... well a little). “Oh, and Alex, I called in a favour in Zootopia’s Police Academy, had your sensory test scores amended to what I believe they really represent. In doing this I've had your name added to the database for ZPD Officers that can track Criminals by scent. Means whatever you find on a crime scene can be used in court as tangible evidence. So, don’t get a cold ya hear!”
“That's.... incredible, thank you sir...er... Jay!” Alex proclaimed, the mention of his senses inadvertently caused him to smell the faint sting of gunpowder emanating from 3 boxes on the coffee table in the lounge. His curiosity getting the better of him. “Jay what’s in those?”
“Oh yes, as per Bogo’s orders, all Officers must carry a lethal firearm at all times, both on and off duty for their own protection.” Jenson walked over to the 3 small wooden boxes, decorated in mahogany with brass embellishments. Upon each box was the full name and officer number of the 3 rookies, again etched in a highly polished bronze plate. “So i took it upon myself to collect a few items for you three, Bixby yours first”
Bix hopped over to his box, as excited as a kit on Christmas morning. Slowly he opened his box to reveal a nicely polished, chrome revolver with his name and number engraved along the barrel. “It’s... It’s... beautiful...” Bixby was stunned by the perfect condition of the gun, the vast majority of his mind focusing on all the small details while a piece of him wished he would never have to use it. Not for moral reasons, simply because he didn’t want to ruin the finish.
“It’s small, designed for a mammal your size but unfortunately that limits the calibre size to a .22 Super Hornet. It's a small projectile but it travels very fast.
Bix lifted the revolver out of the box very gently to reveal a leather holster and his Official ZPD badge strapped onto the belt. “This is incredible, how can I ever repay you!”
“Don’t use it on me and we have a deal!” Jay joked as he slid the second box closer to the edge of the coffee table. “Lucille my dear, your turn”
Lucy didn’t particularly like guns, preferring to use her own claws in a fight instead but looking at the splendour of Bixby’s Super Hornet, she began to feel a little giddy. The lynx made her way over to the table and rolled the sleeves of the massive hoodie up above her elbows.
As the box was slowly unlocked and opened, Lucy found herself stunned, shocked that something so deadly would be so beautiful. The box opened to reveal a gloss black Sig Sauer P226 with a polished silver slide, again engraved with her name and officer number. “This is amazing... I don’t know what to say but.... wow”
“There’s no need to say anything my dear, you need protection and that thing can bring down some hefty beasts if needed. Its chambered for 9x19 Parabellum, so it has some kick you may need to get used to... bit I feel the size and versatility suits you very well” Jay patted the purring kitten on the top of the head as he lifted it out for her followed by her badge and holster.
“Ahhh! this is so cool!” she proclaimed as she began to fit the belt onto herself before realising.... “Aaaand still not wearing any pants...”
Jay let out a small laugh as he brought the 3rd and final box over to the edge. “Alexander, if you please”
“Let me guess, is it a Derringer or something?” Alex asked jokingly.
“Aww man that would have been an awesome gag... why didn’t i think of that... dammit” Jay sat back up onto the sofa and let the young canine discover his service weapon on his own.
Alex unlocked the beautifully crafted box and pried open the lid. To his amazement it wasn’t a comically small weapon but a Wartime Era Colt M1911. This gun wasn’t perfectly finished in a high gloss coat, nor did it have his name engraved upon the slide. Instead it was worn, the paint has started to fade and the wooden grip began to lose its pristine colour. This gun was positively not from the ZPD Armoury. To Alex however this gun was special, he knew exactly where this gun came from...
“Chief Rockford asked me to give you this, said it was his during the war. It's a beautiful piece, maybe a little upkeep is required but altogether... it has a history...” Jay responded, unbeknownst to him Alex was nearly in tears at his Godfathers gesture. Alex had grown up around guns, learning to use them from a young age. This one in particular always caught his eye. It was the centre piece on the fireplace of Rockford’s home back in West Woodlands. The coyote had used it a number of times with Rockford’s permission and always wanted one of his own.
Alex set the gun very carefully on the table, retrieved his holster and badge and closed the box. “I swear... I will not let you down Uncle...” he said as tears began to run down his cheek.
Lucy seen the emotional look on his face and instinctively wrapped her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.
This sudden affection caught Alex off guard. “Moving along quickly, aren’t we?” he joked, playing on what she had said to him during the meeting yesterday.
“Oh Alex, don’t make it weird” the lynx retorted as she wiped the tears from his cheek and kissed him once again, this time briefly on the lips. She leaned into his ear and gently whispered “I never did get what I wanted this morning...”
This small sentence caused the composed Coyote to crumble, his paws started to tremble and his exposed skin turned a bright red. “I uhh...”
“Just something for you to think about” Lucy smiled playfully as she made her way to her own room and locked the door behind her.
Chapter 7: Fear The Reaper
Most would have different opinions as to where in the city sells the best coffee, others don't really care because... Coffee... But to the keen taste buds of a veteran Police chief, the best place for coffee was Mallory's Coffee Cart, two blocks away from Precinct 5. Each and every morning Chief Rockford would stop by for his usual black coffee, 2 sugars and a blueberry muffin to go, today however he ordered two of each. This routine was a ritual for him, practiced since the opening of the cart 9 years ago, like clockwork. The final 5-minute casual stroll to the Precinct usually allowed him to arrive precisely at 9am, give or take a few minutes for friendly chat.
The presence of the large cat demanded respect amongst his fellow officers, with a number of early birds sorting out their morning duties before reporting to the bullpen. These officers included the receptionist, a female clouded leopard by the name of Kimberly Tucker. Miss Tucker was always in sharp at 8:30am to have her paperwork sorted and ready for the chief to arrive, knowing his routine like the back of her paw.
"Good morning Miss Tucker, another fine day today isn't it!" Rockford spoke as he walked over to the front desk with a second paper cup filled with coffee and plonked it down in front of the young feline officer. "Today especially, it isn't everyday a beauty such as yourself turns 25, Happy Birthday Kim" the old lion remembers the birthdays of each and every one of his officers, along with their names and even the very date they came to the Precinct.
"Good morning sir, and thank you, blueberry muffins are my favorite!" The feline replied, noticing the single, lit birthday candle in the center of it. "Oh, that is adorable!" She said as she blew the candle out and placed it to the side of her desk. "Thank you so much sir"
"You are most welcome Miss Tucker, and please, call me Martin" the old lion picked up his mail and began his long journey upstairs and to his office. When he arrived outside his workspace he paused for a second with an uneasy feeling in his gut, perhaps something was amiss, or perhaps his meal last night was a little dodgy. After a few seconds of hesitation, he unlocked his door and walked into the dark room. The aging officer could not remember if he closed his blinds or not before he left for home last night, unfortunately this forgetful streak seemed to be becoming more frequent lately, prompting him to make an appointment with a doctor a little later in the afternoon. That much he remembered.
Rockford laid his cane upon his desk and walked over to the window, carefully feeling his way around the room as he went. Just as he was about to open the blinds, he heard a sudden and unsettling voice that made the fur on the back of his neck stand on end.
"Good morning, Chief Rockford, you are looking well" said a voice coming from the shadows of the room. The voice seemed to resonate around the room before making its way to Rockford's ears, causing the Chief to freeze momentarily.
"Who is there? Show yourself!" He shouted as he swung round, forgetting to open the blind and instead made a dash for his desk where he kept his service weapon fully loaded for times such as this.
"Oh please, after all these years you should know me better than to let you have a loaded gun to point this way" the voice said as a figure emerged from the shadows and approached the desk, what little light filtering in just barely making the mysterious mammal's figure visible.
The chief stopped in his retrieval of his pistol, realizing the voice was right after feeling the weight of it without bringing it out.
"Do you not remember me? I'm disappointed old friend" the figure walked slowly over to the side table that contained Rockford's personal stash of alcohol, mainly whiskey, and proceeded to pour just 1 glass for the chief.
"I know you don't drink, and I don't want any so don't bother pouring it" the old lion spoke up as he sat down in his chair and flicked on a small desk lamp beside his computer.
The dark figure shied away from the light briefly as to not blind himself and leave him open for an attack. He slowly looked back at Rockford sitting behind the desk, picked up the single whiskey glass and brought it over to the desk.
The mysterious mammal was clad entirely in a dark coat, eerily similar to the grim reapers cloak but only around his upper body. Black combat pants with a utility holster strapped to his right leg. This mammal favored close and personal engagements, refusing to carry a pistol of any kind, instead wielding a moderately sized sword strapped to a sheath on his back. On his paws were thick tactical gloves with a pattern resembling carbon fiber on the knuckles. But most troubling of all was his choice of apparel to conceal his identity. Ghost was not the only mammal that chose to wear a mask to instill fear in his targets as this mammal wore what appeared to all intents and purposes to be the skull of a canine. This mask was the exact shape and size of a Wolf's skull, made from a mesh of carbon fiber and Kevlar fixed with 3 straps on the sides and top. Half of the mask was bone white while the right half was charred and cracked, fire damage of some kind. The eye holes glowing with red LED lights to prevent anyone from discerning details about the mysterious mammal.
"Charon, the infamous serial killer, come to collect an old lion's soul, have we?" The white furred feline asked with pride, knowing his time must be close at hand due to his age and failing health but wasn't expecting the harbinger of death to come quite so abruptly, and with the face... er... mask of someone from his past. Someone so dangerous.
"No, Martin, not this day. I have come to ask you a favor... don't come after me" Charon asked politely as he slipped the glass over to the aged lion. "I am not here for you, or any of your Officers... I am here for the Ghost"
"Ah yes, the Ghost has made quite the entrance a few days ago. Bogo of Precinct 1 has formed a taskforce to track him down and bring him in but alas, I fear he is too much for them alone..." Rockford took the glass and peered deep into the strong-smelling liquid in the container. The aging Chief took a few seconds to collect his thoughts before he proceeded, his next sentence setting future events into motion. "I will make a deal with you... protect my sons, protect the officers in their assignment... and protect my city. Do this and my officers will not pursue you, nor will I, will you do this for me?"
Charon thought about this for a few seconds, letting the logistics of this request sink in. “Judging from what I hear, they don’t need much protection… I mean just look who is leading them… I've had my fair share of run ins with the Hellhound of the APD. That wolf nearly cost me a target... Nearly” Charon exclaimed as he glanced over to the Police Chief giving him a disappointed stare. “Sorry, past habits and all that”
“Look, I get that you are trying to redeem yourself for your life of killing for money, I understand if this request puts your identity at risk or even your life… but my sons are in way over their heads with this investigation. I am offering you the first brick in your path to salvation. Please.” Rockford set the glass back down onto the table, completely uninterested in it. “I don’t know who you are, but I know deep down there is a light inside of you”.
“Martin… Fine, I will do what I can to assist in the capture of Ghost, to the best of my abilities I mean. I guess I should introduce myself to them huh” Charon said as he walked over to the front door of the office, peering through the glass to see if the coast was clear. “But first I must pay a visit to a late friend, and strike a deal with his daughter.” He opened the door and began to exit the room.
“Good luck” Rockford whispered under his breath as the door closed behind the mammal and his silhouette vanished from view. The elderly feline couldn’t help but feel disgusted with himself for making a bargain with who he would consider the devil himself. The two mammals had a long history between them, Charon the hitmammal with a heart and Rockford the stern, no nonsense law enforcer. Even Rockford being in his late 60’s would be more than a match for most mammals of Charon’s smaller size but there was something about the killer that Rockford couldn’t place, a sort of familiarity about his choice of words and upkeep.
But finally, the deal with the devil was done, Charon was gone and Rockford was left alone with his thoughts. His day had began bright and full of life but he feared this meeting would culminate in a large body count. The anger began to rise inside of him the more he thought about it, how easily he pleaded with a killer for help, how easily he managed to infiltrate his office in the middle of the Precinct… how easily this glass of whiskey would go down. Without a moments hesitation the lion threw the glass of whiskey against the wall of his office, shattering the fine crystal into pieces. He held his head in his massive paws as he contemplated what he had done.
--- 10:22 am, Sahara Square Central Bank ----------
"Lucy, I'm sorry about what I said last night." Bixby and Lucy were standing on the street outside of Sahara Square's biggest banking building as the hare was tampering with the cities CCTV system, plugging his own custom Tablet PC into the system. "I was... for lack of a better phrase... on a sexual high... when I said you should consider Alex I honestly didn't mean you should sleep with him" Bixby said as he fidgeted with the wires inside the camera pole, somewhat shamed of how he handled himself last night. His tiny paws reached deep into the darkness inside the pole and pulled out a bundle of cables, digging through the mess for one specific green cable, finding the correct one within seconds. "Cut please"
"Dude, it's okay... honestly it really was what I needed to hear... and we didn't 'sleep' together, just slept together" Lucy responded as she extended one of her razor-sharp claws and cut the wire effortlessly, as if it was paper. "But I have talked to him and we are going for food a little later tonight, just a little chat"
Bixby took apart a USB pen and twisted the wires into the circuit board before wrapping it in electrical tape and finally plugging the Stick into his Tablet. As you can tell this hare had done this before. "Well... Glad I could help then! Heh and I thought he didn't have the balls". Suddenly the screen of the Tablet kicked into life and brought up the security feed for not only the main street and its adjoining alleyways but the view from inside the building itself. "Were in! now let's see what's on here"
Meanwhile inside the building, Alex and Jay were talking with the head of security in the bank and the manager, both shaken from the recent incident. The manager, a warthog by the name of Mr. Graves, had been attacked by the masked criminals and as such was being attended by a paramedic on scene for a head wound. Despite this he was willing to give his statement.
"They came out of nowhere, one minute it was business as usual and the next there was 3 of them, all wearing masks pointing guns at the customers and cashiers. One of them shot the ceiling and told everyone to get on the floor. Once everyone was down the big one, I think he was a tiger, grabbed me and took me to the vault. Before I lead him down though I heard the other two shooting out the cameras, I don't understand why, they were wearing masks."
"It's okay sir, please take your time" Alex chimed in, comforting the older warthog. Alex's nose was on full alert because of the strong smell of gun smoke mixed with a little blood. "Do you mind if I have a look at the tapes, or what they recorded before being destroyed?"
"Timothy, would you mind showing the Detective the security footage?" The manager asked of the larger head of security, a lion in his mid-forties who was built like a tank yet visibly distressed by the events.
"Of course, sir, right this way detective" the hulk of a lion motioned his massive paw over to the security booth housing a number of CCTV monitors.
"Sorry, I'm not a detective just yet, but thank you nonetheless" Alex smiled at the warthog as he followed the Lion over to the booth just barely big enough for him but perfect for the small Coyote.
"What happened next?" Howlett asked, being particularly careful with his tone of voice so he wouldn't scare the shaken mammal. Howlett's stature was actually a hindrance for him during an investigation, the sight of a 6'10" Wolf Hybrid wasn't a comforting sight for a victim, especially in Zootopia where the violent crime rate was much lower than in Animalia.
"Once in the vault room he had me open the door, which I couldn't do myself so he hit me with his gun and proceeded to open the door himself. His strength was crazy. I pretended to be knocked out on the floor but I could hear him rummaging around for something inside, I don't know what exactly until we take inventory im afraid" the warthog had to take a short break for a second to collect his thoughts while the paramedic finished treating his wound.
"After about 30 seconds I seen him sprint out of the vault room like there was something chasing him. Never in my life have I seen a lion run that fast. By the time I got back up to the main floor they had all gone, ran out of the fire exit on the south side of the building" Mr. Graves pointed towards a small door almost hidden away in a corner.
Howlett looked over towards the door. "Thank you, sir, for your time, I have all I need, you should go to the hospital and get checked for a concussion" he said as he put away his small note pad where he kept his case notes.
"Detective! I think I found something" Alex shouted over as he was fidgeting around with the security feeds. Howlett made his way over to the small room, ducking as he walked through the door. "Watch this" Alex said as he pressed the play button.
The camera showed 2 medium sized canines stalking around the floor, everyone else on the floor cowering for their lives. One of them pointed towards the crowd and shouted what was presumably instructions to stay on the floor. Just a few seconds later the 2 canines in unison looked at the cameras and began shooting them out systematically.
"They shot them all of a sudden... it's as if they were told to do it at the same time... you think there's a fourth member?" Howlett asked.
"I think there may have been but that isn't what I noticed, its small, almost missable unless you pay attention" Alex said as he started to rewind the tape to 30 seconds before the shooting. "Very closely on the second canine"
Howlett watched the screen as close as his snout would let him get. The second canine was walking past a wooden desk, watching the hostages while the other was shouting threats when all of a sudden... he sneezed. It was a small sneeze but it was there.
"Son of a bitch... how did you spot that?" Howlett asked, pleased with his rookie on picking up this minor yet vital detail.
"When my nose is my best asset then I look for any possible angle to get their scent... he can wear a thousand layers of clothes but he just sneezed his identity all over those stacks of papers" Alex said smugly as he pointed at the exact desk the canine walked past and proceeded to it with haste.
Alex picked up the top page that was most exposed to the saliva of the canine with a pair of tongs and slipped it into an evidence bag. "At the very least we have his DNA but..." He began as he took a sniff at the open bag. "...He is a Jackal... that's odd, Jackals are usually outsiders, why would one commit a crime on such a scale?"
"No idea but the Bank manager told me that the three of them left the building using the fire exit in the corner, which leads to an alley way if I'm not mistaken. Think a getaway driver was waiting for them?" Howlett asked as he and Alex walked over to the fire exit and carefully opened the door, paws on pistols just in case.
In the alley were a set of tracks, looking to belong to a long wheel base panel van and a long scrape running along the length of a dumpster towards the end of the alley. Light blue paint had flaked off of the vehicle and transferred onto the green trash receptacle.
"Looks like they headed north at least" Alex said as he approached the dumpster and with a steady paw scooped the blue paint into an evidence bag. "Large vehicle, blue in color with 2 Jackals, a Tiger and an unknown driver. Shouldn't be too hard to track down, right? Still doesn't explain why there was 2 Jackals, there rare in the heart of the city."
"Why don't we ask them?" Said a female voice from behind the 2 investigators. Lucy and Bixby had managed to track the movements of the van right from the alley out into the industrial district. "We couldn't track them the whole way I'm afraid but we have a good start!"
--- 2 Hours Later, Industrial District ----------
The team decided it was best to split up to search the vast area for the van. Bixby and Lucy had requested the use of a police cruiser while Howlett and Alex used the Detective's personal SUV.
Lucy was the driver in the cruiser, providing a perfect excuse to get to know Bixby a little better as neither of them spent a significant amount of time together.
Lucy was the first to break the silence. "So... you don't like your family?" She asked, almost immediately regretting the question. "Shit wait, sorry I didn't mean it like that"
"S'okay, I don't mind" he replied with a smile, knowing how awkward Lucy was around him see as how Bix and Alex have known each other since they were young teens and she was essentially the newcomer to the group. "Yes, it's true, my family are assholes of the highest order"
"Because your gay?" Lucy asked, trying not to offend and to keep the cruiser on the road, multitasking at its finest.
"No...is that what Alex has you thinking? I told him that because it was easier to explain..." Bixby said as he stared out of the window, looking for the light blue van in amongst the buildings. "Ya see, me and my 2 sisters are the product of my mother having an affair and trying to cover it up."
"Oh, oh Bixby I'm sorry for asking" Lucy felt like an ass for bringing it up even if the young hare didn't mind talking about it. "Want to change the subject?"
"Nah its cool. When I was 14 I discovered my mother had an affair with a neighbor, a difference sub species of Hare from the rest of my family, which resulted in my sisters and myself, i guess that makes us Hybrids huh... that's why i'm tall for a Hare. For years she hid it but I managed to piece it together and confronted her about it, which at first, she adamantly denied but then couldn't hide from the genetic differences between me and the rest of my brothers and sisters. I came out a few weeks later and she decided to use that as the catalyst to rid herself of the guilt. I was tossed out of the family right there and then, with Alex and Chief Rockford taking me in. I'm grateful for both of them."
"Seems it's difficult to find someone in this city with a happy childhood..." Lucy said as she focused on the road, the deeper she went into the district the more unsteady and dangerous the roads became. Large vehicles passed through here regularly and so the area was littered with debris and potholes you could bathe an adult in.
"How'd you mean Lu? I deduced you didn't exactly grow up in privilege but I wouldn't have guessed anything dark? Or am I wrong?" Bixby looked to Lucy, wondering if his abilities were getting rusty.
"I uh... well..." Lucy began to waiver a little, unsure if she actually wanted this conversation to continue, wanting to get her past off her chest so badly but it would bring back too many painful memories.
"Lu, if you feel uncomf-…" Bixby began but was interrupted.
"No, I've hidden from my past for years... just promise you won't see me differently if I tell you?"
"Of course, my dear" Bix said as he placed his paw on top of hers, this small gesture really providing a boost to her confidence.
"My... my father was... abusive, mother just stood back and watched. My brothers and I would get punished on a regular occurrence, me worst of all because i was a girl, that part you can use your imagination for... as we grew up my brothers got less and less punishments and began to take traits from my father, becoming increasingly violent so I had to do the only thing I could.... I learned to defend myself. When I fight someone, I have to make sure I win, it all stems from my childhood... I had to win or else get beaten. When I finally saved enough money, I jumped the first train I could and enrolled in the Academy. I am truly grateful for you, for Alex and for the other rooks. You all took me in without eve-..."
As Lucy was about to finish her sentence she slammed on the brakes, much to Bixby's surprise. Poor Hare's eyes nearly popped out and went through the window. "The hell was that?!" He shouted, checking himself for whiplash.
"Bix, get low and look out your side..." She said as she slunk down into her seat.
Bixby did the same as he peeked out over the door. "What am I looking at here?"
"The warehouse with the red doors, check out the left side of the building, just around the corner"
Bixby took a closer look and to his amazement there it was, a blue panel van with a large scratch running along the outside of it with little flakes of green paint, the same color as the dumpster. The pair couldn't believe their luck, not only did they duo find the suspect's van but they found it before a trained detective and the envy of all bloodhounds.
Bixby gave a devilish smile as he looked around the building then over to Lucy. "Heh heh, Jackpot!"
Chapter 8: Drown Your Demons
“I mean what is a Black Dog anyway, I think you just made that up!” Alexander Hunter was in the passenger seat of Detective Howlett's personal Vehicle, arms folded behind his head and daydreaming out the window to his right.
"Well pup, if I made it up please explain how I'm a 6-foot 10 wolf with red eyes. I'm just saying you should keep your mind open, I'm not saying you are a hybrid, simply that there are unusual elements in your anatomy" Howlett retorted with a content grin on his face, his signature expression it seems.
"You leave my anatomy outta this, Detective”
“Ha little on the short side of a Coy, Icy eyes and a white tint to your fur and you've never been curious? And to answer your question, a Black Dog is the thing nightmares are made of. Averaging 8 feet tall, jet black fur, red eyes and a temper to make the most hardened criminals piss themselves. Luckily I'm only a half breed so I have a nice side." Jay laughed to himself as he turned down yet another side street in vein, searching for their missing suspect's van, wondering if they had dumped it instead of escaping with it.
“My mother was a detective in the APD, damn good at her job too for a grey wolf. To bring down a drug kingpin she had to go undercover and work her way up the gangs ranks. What she didn’t expect however was to fall for the head of the organisation... my father... Emery Howlett. Howlett was violent, ruthless... no mercy for his victims but somehow... she tamed him, this young undercover wolf tamed the legendary Black Dog Drug Lord.”
At the conclusion of his family history, the police radio in the vehicle sprung to life., somewhat startling Alex as he was too engrossed in the Detective's story to anticipate the sudden noise.
“Bixby to Howlett, do you copy, over”
Jay lifted the small microphone meant for smaller paws and replied “Howlett here, over”
“Sir, we have the vehicle, south side of the district, Penton street, warehouse 8, over”
“Damn they beat us to it” Howlett said as he turned to Alex in the passenger seat “Copy, we will be there in 10, sit tight, over”
Alex couldn’t contain his joy, fantastic detective work from two rookies on their own with their first assignment. Not only did they manage to track the suspects down to the district but the very building! “Well done Lu, nice one Bix” Alex muttered under his breath.
--- Penton Street ----------
“I say we go in...” Bixby suggested to his partner as they parked their cruiser in a warehouse just 100m down the street. “I bet we could sneak in through the back and up to the higher levels”
“That's a horrible idea... it could get us killed or worse... suspended” Lucy voiced her concerns as she exited the vehicle and locked the doors.
The two officers made their way to the warehouse all the while bickering on what the best option would be. Do they wait and risk the suspects getting organised or do they go in and scope out the situation? Ultimately Lucy gave in to Bixby’s hare-brained idea (apologies for the puns...)
“Hey, something has been bugging me since this morning... I didn’t see Tristan at the breakfast table, is he okay?” Lucy asked as they approached the back entrance of the warehouse.
“Oh yeah he's fine, he had an early interview with a law firm here in Zootopia, with a high chance of getting it! I'm so excited that he might be staying in the city from now on!” Bixby had to muffle himself so he wouldn’t give themselves away to the suspects inside. The little Hare couldn’t contain his excitement any longer, his mate might not have to go back to Animalia.
“That's fantastic news! Aww i really hope he gets it, you two are so cute together!” Lucy beemed with glee.
“Woow wooow... only other hares can call hares cute...” Bixby said with a stern, no nonsense tone of voice.
“Oh.. I'm so sorry... I-“
“Hahaha gotcha, I don’t mind one bit, but there are a few that do” Bixby smiled at Lucy before returning his attention to the task at hand... how to get into the building without alerting the thieves.
Lucy too began to map out the exterior of the warehouse, looking for unusual entry points that maybe a feline or lapin could squeeze into before... there... a small window with a broken pane of glass. Problem is, that window is 20 feet in the air.
“I can do it....” Lucy whispered to herself just enough for Bixby to overhear. She took a few steps back all the while eyeing up the target. Without warning the young feline sprang into action, the retractable claws on her feet digging into the ground below as she propelled herself up the wall and with one final stretch of her feline paws, he claws grabbed onto the wooden window frame.
Bixby seen his opportunity, he knew exactly what Lucy wanted to do and knew that she didn’t have the height to pull it off. The Hare prepared himself for a high jump, shimmying down as low as he could go before using all the power his hind legs could generate and launched himself up in the air. At the peak of his ascension Bixby reached out and grabbed onto Lucy’s shirt, preventing himself from dropping. From here his light weight body proved little difference to the felines ability to hold onto the ledge. With his other paw Bixby reached through the broken glass and opened the latch holding the window shut.
From there Bix dragged himself through the open window before grabbing onto the dangling feline outside and helping her through the small opening.
Both mammals were out of breath, taking a few seconds to catch their breath on the higher tier walkway of the warehouse.
“Holy shit we did it...” Lucy managed to squeak out as she massaged her paws to prevent them cramping up later.
“Hell yeah!” Bixby wasn’t quite as out of breath as Lucy was but defiantly felt the strain in his legs. The hare crept over to the ledge of the walkway and peered down into the dimly lit warehouse.
The building was full of used wooden crates, as if the space was used exclusively as storage for the storage boxes themselves. There were hundreds of them, and the young lapin knew there would be plenty of evidence here to bring all the crooks to justice. Somewhere... in one of the many, many boxes...
Lucy joined Bix in checking out the area, getting a good reading of the building, looking for escape points, defendable locations and possibly hidden weapons.
“Check out the size if this place B, its huge” Lucy exclaimed as she finally got her bearings and breath back.
After a few seconds had passed a voice could be heard from the depths of the building, followed by three other, quieter voices following suit.
“DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT DO WITH MY MONEY!” the larger voice shouted, almost roared as the distinct figure of a tiger emerged and settled in the opening at the centre of the warehouse, followed by what appeared to be 3 smaller canines, most likely jackals.
“Bill calm down, it's yours to do with what you will just... if a tiger suddenly comes into a vast amount of money then alarm bells will ring, the fuzz will be onto you in a flash and I for one won't be going to prison!” one of the Jackals spoke up in open defiance to the much larger feline.
“After this has been fenced we are going our separate ways, ya hear?! I'm done with you three, been nothing but a pain in my tail since we started together!” Bill the tiger claimed, visibly enraged by the mere presence of the canines.
“Whatever, the antique will fetch a cool mill all day long so you can have your split whenever you wish!” another of the Jackals bit back, just as annoyed by the situation as the feline was.
Watching on from above the two rookie officers hadn’t noticed a small mammal creeping up behind them, lethal weapon drawn and ready to use it if the need arose.
Bixby managed to pull himself away from the events below enough to hear the tiny footsteps coming from behind. His heart racing as he only had a second to get his pistol and react, Lucy still oblivious to the assailant behind. The Hare swiftly reached for his pistol but was intercepted by the mystery mammal who grabbed it just before he has the opportunity to even touch it.
Lucy noticed this and instantly realised there was a gun pointed right at them. Both of the rookies knew they had messed up royally before a small voice broke the silence. “Who are you, and why are you here?”
“Z-Z-ZPD, y-your under a-arrest!” Bixby couldn’t help but say the first thing that came to his head, a sentence he had been hoping to use for the first time under better and more favourable circumstances.
“ZPD you say? Both of you? Ah you must be rookies” the voice said in a more upbeat tone than what was expected. Bixby homed in on this and slowly turned around whilst still on the floor.
“No way...” Bixby recognized immediately who the mysterious gunmammal was.
“Officer Judy Hopps, ZPD! Now, why are you in this warehouse?” Judy asked as she handed the hate’s pistol back to him.
“I...I can’t believe it's you...It’s really you! You are my hero Miss Hopps!” Bixby said as Judy placed a finger on his lips to prevent giving away their location.
Lucy let out a sigh when she realised the assailant was actually one of the ZPD’s finest... but... why was she here, never mind them.
“Officer Hopps, why are you here? Are you here of a case?” Lucy asked, not knowing the bunny quite as well as Bixby obviously did and not wanting to cause tension between them and an experienced officer.
“My partner and I have been tracking a burglar for a few days now, a tiger, he broke into a convenience store in Sahara square and made off with the cash register. I didn’t realise until just before you got here that he was a person of interest in another case”
Lucy interjected just after the bunny had finished. “I'm sorry, your partner?”
Just as Lucy asked her question, Hopps pointed down to the clearing below where the voices had become hushed. “We should get down there, he may need some help” Hopps said as she stood up and made her way to the small set of metal stairs leading to the ground below.
The bank robbers in the meantime had gotten out a small antique vase from one of the various wooden containers and set it atop a table that had been placed out by one of the jackals. The gang had gathered around the table, still bickering between themselves as a second mysterious figure approached from behind one of the containers, unbeknownst to them.
The small mammal, a red fox wielding a shotgun slid around the edge of the box and took aim at the criminals.
“Okay fellas, everyone stand up and put your paws on your heads, this is the ZPD!” the fox demanded as the 4 thieves complied with the officers demands with exception on the tiger.
“Well, Well, if it isn’t Nicholas Wilde! Didn’t know you had swapped sides. Tell me, would you drop that gun if we offered you a cut of the pie, so to speak?” Bill asked as the tiger slowly turned around, recognising Nick’s unmistakable voice anywhere.
“No dice Bill, I figured you would be behind the robbery, just couldn’t stay clean, now could you?” Nick said as he moved in on the 4 mammals, moving to within a few feet of them.
"What can I say, once a thief, always a thief... You should know that, ay Nicky?" The tiger spoke up as he lowered his paws down to his waist.
"I said paws up!" Nick demanded. It was at this point that Judy, Bixby and Lucy had arrived to the flank of the fox, weapons drawn and pointed towards the gang.
"Oh how cute, you brought backup, but I think you'll need something a little bigger than those pea shooters to bring me in" Bill approached the officers, showing that there was nothing in his paws and making no threatening movements.
"Don't call my Rabbit cute!" Nick barked back at the feline, evidently hitting a nerve.
"Your Rabbit? Aww Nicky I wouldn't have taken you for an Inter-species type"
As the two mammals spoke, the 3 Jackals began to slowly spread out, unnoticed by the Officers.
Outside of the building stood a lone Coyote, gun in paw trying to open the front door of the warehouse without drawing any attention to himself. To his surprise there was no guards by the door, unusual but expected. He slipped through the narrow crack and into the structure, moving around the boxes like a ninja, pistol at the ready.
In just 30 seconds Alex had positioned himself right behind two of the Jackals, recognising one of their scents from the bank as the sneezer. He moved in close, holstered his 1911 and removed a dart from his belt with his right paw, readying the tranq gun in his other. When he felt the time was right he struck, stabbing the dart into the neck of one of the Jackals while at the same time firing another into the second. When both of the canines were out for the count he drew his lethal pistol and took aim at the third Jackal.
"Alex!" Lucy shouted in surprise, not knowing the Coy was even in the building at the time, but also wondering where the fourth member of their team was.
Playing on the sudden confusion of the situation, Bill grabbed the shotgun out of Nick’s paws and threw it to one side, lifting the fox with one arm and holding his claws to his throat.
“NO!” Screamed Judy upon seeing her partner being held hostage, prompting her to take a few steps forward for a better shot on the perp.
“Judy wait, think about this” Bixby grabbed her paw and brought her back to reality. “We need a plan...”
“I have one... let the fox go and you get to live, sound good to you?” Alex spoke up with authority, knowing something that no one else in the building was in on. “My partner has a shot on you and will take it when I give the signal so last chance... Let the Officer go...”
The tiger backed himself against a large storage crate to protect his flank. His eyes widening upon hearing this new piece of information, cementing the fact that he and the lone Jackal were heavily outgunned. His only play was his hostage. All exits were blocked by ZPD and this unknown 5th officer had a clear line of sight on him. He’s screwed... The feline began scanning the rafters looking for any signs of a mammal with a gun but no... nothing...
“Last chance” Alex shouted at the tiger, his pistol steady and his nerves calm, he knew this would end one way or the other.
“Fuck you...” Bill scoffed back at the officers. No later had he spouted his profanity when a single pane of glass in an upstairs window shattered and fell to the floor... along with the tiger. Bill had been shot in the shoulder which caused him to release his grip on Nick. Wilde scuttled across the floor to his weapon and trained it on the wounded tiger.
Judy ran over to her partner who was no worse for wear, wrapping him in a hug, to hell with the case, her partner was more important.
Lucy and Bixby holstered their weapons while Alex trained his on the tiger, the main threat. The feline and lapin cuffed the unconscious Jackals, then the third, finishing up with the tiger, needing larger cuffs.
After a few minutes of everyone reaffirming themselves, the 5 officers had lined the suspects up against a large wooden box, awaiting the arrival of a ZPD Transport Vehicle.
“Alex, who shot the tiger? W-was it the Ghost?“ Lucy asked, still confused by the situation but calmly reviewing the events in her head.
“That would be me, Officer Benson” a stern voice coming from behind the feline shortly followed by a large paw rested upon her shoulder sending chills up her spine. Detective Howlett stood behind the rookie, holding his custom Arctic Warfare Longrifle. “Explain to me what the definition of ‘sit tight’ means to you exactly”
“Sir, I'm sorry, I...” Lucy tried to defend herself but she knew her actions were clearly in the wrong.
“It was me sir... I provoked her into infiltrating the warehouse before you arrived, to search the area for hidden threats, sir” Bixby spoke up, defending his team mate, knowing it was his actions to call into question not hers. Lucy was innocent.
"Nobel, sticking up for your friends like that, admitting your mistakes. I'm not angry or disappointed, I just want you to think how this may have gone down if Alex didn't make it in time... If I wasn't a trained SWAT Sniper... If Officers Hopps and Wilde weren't here for back-up, do you understand?"
The Wolf Began to break down his rifle into smaller, more manageable pieces to transport. "When the transport for these guys arrives, we should head back to the station. No doubt there will be a mountain of paperwork for all involved. Ha paperwork... Welcome to the Police Department! Get used to it!" Jay let out a very vocal laugh, realising the Rookies were painfully unaware of the mountains of paper awaiting them back at Precinct 1.
All 3 rooks let out a sigh, wishing that the tiger had a chance to shoot them instead. Their first case on the ZPD, a Bank robbery involving 4 mammals solved in just a few hours and a chance meeting with 2 of the ZPD's more famous names. An eventful day indeed. But the day was not finished for one mammal in particular. For him it was about to get much more interesting.
--- 11:00pm, June 30th ----------
The night was still, just a few street lights illuminated the huge mansion owned and maintained by the Big Family for many generations. Outside were 4 guards, a step up from the usual 2 due to the new uninvited guest in the city, Ghost. These 4 polar bear guard had been on duty since 9am that same morning and thus weren’t quite as alert as they should have been, protecting one of the biggest (no pun intended) names in the criminal underworld. 11pm was the perfect time to strike as the changing of the guards was due to take place any second now.
Just outside of the property lurked a shadow in the treeline opposite the main gates. This shadow was clad entirely in black to hide in the darkness, his realm. His mask’s eyes normally glowing with a red hue were dim, masking his presence further. No weapons tonight, he was going in naked, so to speak. “Just a few words” he thought to himself, “Just words...”
When the coast was clear, Charon emerged from the treeline, staying low to the ground, and made his way over to the eastern wall, just a few feet from the gate. This time there were 8 guards standing by the small opening just big enough for a car to get through, this however did not faze him, not one bit. The guard chatted amongst themselves for a few minutes before half of them made their way back into the mansion ground, presumably to their checking out point to clock out and head home to their families. Charon slowly slid around the corner just as the 4 guards had their backs turned in the opposing direction, allowing him to slip past them and onto the property, still sticking to the shadows like a moth to flame.
Breaking into the building itself was a piece of cake to a master of infiltration such as himself. Charon took pride in his previous life of crime, his signature ability was his skill of breaking into places most would have thought impenetrable. And for an assassin of his calibre the Big Mansion was like breaking into a corner store, Childs play.
11pm, right now Fru Fru Big would be in her private office, reviewing the days business dealings, making sure money hadn’t gone missing and in the process counting up payment for her staff that helped maintain the mansion all these years. Mrs Big had inherited the family business and the mansion after the passing of her father, Mr Big. Since then Fru had tried to convert her family’s business in the criminal underworld into a more sustainable and legal alternative in the property development and construction industry. Her work with the city created countless new jobs for Zootopia and helped re-establish the city as a dominant force in the global economy, gaining construction contracts in a number of other cities.
In just a few minutes Charon had traversed the central staircase and slipped past a number of guards unnoticed until he found himself outside of Fru’s private office. The killer knew the mansions layout like the back of his paw, having done a few...contracts... for Mr Big himself. The office contained a large majority of business documents and cash so it was well defended against common intruders, if only Charon was common. The main door into the room was blocked by large wooden doors with a blast resistant core inside them, the lock was a key code entry system and opened with pneumatic hinges.
“Oh Mr Big I sure hope you haven’t changed your ways” Charon muttered to himself as he typed 20140525 into the key pad next to the huge doors, crossing his fingers as he pressed enter. The pad flashed green and the doors unlocked themselves followed soon after by the hinges pulling the doors open. “Thank you, old friend” he thought to himself as the doors opened fully and the mammal stepped inside.
The room was decorated beautifully in old fashioned mahogany furniture, obviously passed down through generations of the family. A portrait of the late, great Mr Big was hanging prominently above the fireplace almost as if he was staring at everyone who entered the room. This room however was not the office but rather a sort of reception room before you entered the main office, separated by a large door that a polar bear would have no problem getting through.
Charon approached the door with apprehension, peeking through the glass to find Fru Fru sitting at a desk, on top of another desk designed for a larger mammal as she was sifting through an endless pile of paperwork. He switched the lights of his mask back on and slowly, carefully he turned the door knob and slid open the door.
Fru was too busy buried deep in the pages to notice the mammal enter the door and close the door behind himself. He briskly walked over to the desk, knowing full well she had no idea he was even there.
“My my, Miss Fru Fru Big, time has been on your side I see” Charon said in the loudest voice he could muster without alerting the guards, much to the shrew's surprise.
Mrs Big screamed at the top of her lungs as the papers went flying across the desk. She stumbled back before diving for her desk and retrieving a small, mouse sized blade from the second drawer down and pointed it towards the intruder. “NOT ANOTHER STEP!” she shouted, a cold chill running down her spine as she finally got a chance to look at her intruder more carefully. The skull mask with glowing red eyes and the cloak that must have been stolen from the reaper itself, all of it was designed to generate the maximum amount of fear in a target. However, she was no target.
“Relax, milady, you probably don't remember me. It has been a number of years after all” Charon reassured the small mammal as he raised his paws in the air to show no weapons.
The shrew calmed down a little but maintained a grip on the knife. “Oh, I know exactly who you are, I know you and my father were good friends and I know you have killed more mammals than the war itself! What are you doing in my house?”
“To be blunt Miss Big, I have come to ask 2 favours of you, if you see fit to allow it” Charon said as he slowly lowered his arms in a show of submission, he knew whose house he was in and didn’t want any trouble. Despite being unarmed however he would still be a match for her bear guards.
Fru became less defensive, lowering her knife but still maintaining a firm grasp on it, should the need for it arise. “What do you mean favours?”
Charon pulled up a chair to the desk and asked “May I sit?” to which the small mammal nodded. The killer took a seat just a foot away from her.
“Charon, what could I have that you possibly need?” Fru asked as she too took a seat at her desk.
“First off, I've come to pay my respects to your father, he was a dear friend” Charon said as he lowered his head in respect to his departed friend. “He helped me out of a great many sticky situations”
“He used to tell me stories of your accomplishments, how you could get to anyone no matter the situation, how no one was safe if you had their contract. To me you were just a legend. To him you were a scary story” Fru said as she picked up a small portrait of her father that had fallen from her desk as she was startled.
“We were good friends, truly” Charon spoke as he looked at the small portrait of Mr Big sitting proudly upon the mouse-sized work space.
“Charon, can you do something for me first? Please, if you truly have respect for my father, for me and for my family... remove your mask when you speak to me” Fru made her demand, unsure of how the notorious criminal would react to such a personal request, regardless of family history.
This request took the normally calm Charon by surprise. Many had asked him to remove his mask but very few got the privilege of him honouring their request. Mrs Big on the other paw was an exception. He let down the hood of his cloak, revealing his ears and fur colour before unclipping the straps on the back of his mask. The ballistic mask was easily removed and placed on the table, the glowing red eyes staring right at Mrs Big.
“Oh...I wasn’t expecting...” Fru started but couldn’t finish her thought before Charon cut in.
“Expecting what? That I wasn’t hideously deformed? That I'm not some kind of monster? Not many do. Because of who you are I feel I can trust you with my face, can I trust you?”
Mrs Big stared at Charon’s face for a good few seconds before firmly saying “Of course you can trust me, I keep my word”. At this point the knife had completely disappeared from the small mammal's paw, feeling completely at ease being in Charon’s presence.
“Thank you Miss Big, you are a kind heart and a true friend” Charon replied, a comforting smile appearing on his muzzle.
“Please, it’s Mrs now, I have a family to provide for. Now, about those 2 favours you mentioned before” Fru corrected him before asking, still wondering how she can help.
“Actually its... more of a favour and a half” Charon said with a smirk, knowing exactly what he wanted. “A year ago, I left something here with your father for safe keeping, asked if he could keep it in his vault. I need it back”
“I haven’t been in that vault since he passed away, most likely whatever it is, it's probably still in there. And what is the second favour?” Fru asked curiously.
“My second favour... if any of your mammals have a run in or know the whereabouts of the Ghost, I need you to contact me immediately, please. It is very important.”
Fru listened to the mammal's request and thought it over, an easy decision to make. “Of course, that will not be a problem... but... I may need you to do something for me... call it an apology for breaking into my home unannounced.”
Charon leaned back in his chair, knowing something like this could happen and hoping that the request wasn’t something that put his new ideals in peril. “And what would that be, Milady”
“I need you to kill someone for me...”
Charon hung his head, he knew his particular service would be called upon. “Oh, Fru Fru, please don’t ask this of me”
“Charon please hear me out. This... vile mammal is responsible for a number of disappearances, drug trafficking, mammal trafficking and other illicit activities. The police know about him but can do nothing...please” Mrs Big pleaded with Charon.
The masked mammal rose from his seat and walked to a window overlooking the garden. Even in the dead of night the Big Estate’s garden was a thing of beauty. A multitude of species brightening up the surrounding space, making the mansions grounds one of Zootopia’s best kept secrets. Charon could smell the sultry scents of the flowers even from behind the glass, mixed perfectly with the rich scents of the hard wood furniture. A moment of peace, tranquility for the cautious mammal. But only a moment.
“378...” Charon sighed, his breath steaming up the window, leaning against the window sill contemplating the number... 378...
“I beg your pardon?” Fru knew she had hit a nerve of some kind. Fearful that her request may have taken it a touch too far but remained adamant in her convictions.
Charon raised his head and looked at the shrew in the window’s reflection. “I have been trying to turn my life around... to seek redemption for my past. For over a year now I have been trying to fit into society, to make the most of my skills for the greater good... and so far, I have managed to drown my demons, but some remain.” Charon took a deep breath and turned to face the smaller mammal with tears streaming down his face. A genuine look of guilt etched into his expression as he reminisced of his history. Fearing for the future. “I guess what I mean to say is... Hi, my name is Charon, and I am an addict... It’s been 378 days since I last took someone’s life and it looks like that will be coming to a close.”
Fru looked mortified. This admission from the legendary assassin chilled her to the bone. “I'm sorry, truly I am, but if I had any other means of cleaning up this city... I need your help...”
“I understand, the city will be rid of this plague, just give me time.” Charon approached the table once more, clearing the tears from his eyes and cheek and took a deep breath to catch his bearings once more. “I’m a little rusty so can you give me a month, maybe two?”
The shrew nodded. “So be it, and thank you” she said as she held out her family ring.
Without a second thought Charon bent down and gently kissed the outstretched paw of Mrs Big while grabbing his mask on the far side of the desk. The second deal was complete, all but guaranteeing zero interference from the criminal underworld or the ZPD. Only one group was left that needed convincing. One group that had him more on edge than anything he had ever come up against. He had to convince the hellhound of the APD to help him bring down the Ghost. No mean feat...
“I wish I could stay and chat but I have some things I must attend do milady, I bid you farewell and goodnight”. Charon slipped his mask over his head and made for the exit, his tail visibly swishing side to side underneath his cloak. He paused at the door, his tail drooping downwards, hesitating opening the door, knowing what comes next.
"Charon..." Shouted Mrs Big after the larger mammal just before he leaves the office and out of ear shot. "What's your name?... how will we contact you?..."
The Killer took a few seconds to think about his answer, wondering just how much he could trust the daughter of his former best ally.
"My name...." He said as he turned to face her, partially removing his mask and staring deep into her soul with his shining, golden eyes, brandishing a very devil-like grin on his muzzle.
"My name is-…"
Chapter 9: The Ghost Of You
--- 3:14am, June 30th, Precinct 1 ----------
"Ughhh, kill me now!" Bixby slammed his forehead down onto the desk in front of him as the mountain of paperwork kept piling up before him. Apparently, there is a lot of legal documentation involved when one mammals case becomes directly involved with another individual's case. Because Team Howlett and Officers Wilde and Hopps both met abruptly while investigating essentially the same criminal then each member had to file their own paperwork on the matter.
Judy and Nick were well versed by now in how to handle these matters, having their work finished well over 3 hours ago. That included the interrogation of one Mr Bill Clause, master criminal of the grocery store variety, not so much in the bank robbery variety.
Thankfully for the Team they didn't need to go through the motions of interrogation as the evidence was enough to convict all 4 members of the gang. Although this was the first incident report any of them, bar Howlett, ever had to write so for hours, Bixby, Hunter and Benson were left scratching their heads on the proper procedure in filing the case.
"I've been done for about 20 minutes now, feels great to be free from that chair!" Lucy claimed as she sat atop Alex's desk eating an apple and playfully flicking stationary at him to distract the young canine.
"Would you quit it... trying to finish up this statement so we can go home..." Alex was understandably a little peeved, Howlett had finished his work hours before and decided to head home for some 'quality time' with his wife, leaving the rookies to fend for themselves.
"Finished!!!" Bixby shouted as his voice echoed around the room and down the corridor, alerting a certain Buffalo who just so happened to be walking around the station for a little exercise.
"What are you three still doing here? It's 2 in the morning!" Bogo shouted as he peeked his head around the door frame, a little bleary eyed himself.
"Chief? I didn't know you were still here... were just finishing up out statements then heading home" Benson replied as she let out a yawn and stretched over Alex's desk, further annoying the Coy.
"Lucy..." Was just about all Alex could say as he focused nearly exclusively on his last sentence, making sure there was no mistakes as he didn't plan on rewriting any of it.
"My apologies" she said as she lifted herself off his notes.
Bogo grunted and simply walked away without any further acknowledgment, Much to the rookie's relief.
"Finally done, now we can go home!" Alex said as he raised himself from his seat and began to put his waistcoat back on. Alex's dress sense was actually something of a turn on for the young Lynx who watched him slip the coat on and neatly fix his tie under it. Lucy really appreciated a well-dressed mammal.
From their Precinct to the apartment was only a 15-minute walk, made even quicker with the little amount of traffic on the roads. The night was cool, a slight breeze coming from the water to the south-west and not a single could in the night skies. Perfect night for a walk.
It had not taken the trio long to stumble their way into the complex in their sleep-deprived state. The prospect of a warm, cozy bed and someone to cuddle up to was a strong motivation for Bixby, and to an extent Alex and Lucy also. By the time Lucy had locked the front door behind her Bixby and Alex had already made their way to the bedrooms.
"Sure... leave me to lock up why don't ya..." Lucy mumbled, placing the keys in a bowl by the door. She then went over to the kitchen area and retrieved a bottle of water from the fridge, cracking open the cap and taking a few gulps from it. However, something was off... she couldn't place what it was but there was something wrong, as if someone had been in the apartment... or still is.
Without hesitation she finished the water bottle, placed it back onto the counter-top and retrieved her pistol from its holster. "Who is there?" She asked loud enough for anyone in the immediate area to hear but unfortunately not loud enough to travel to the rooms. "Show yourself!"
Upon hearing the words 'show yourself', a dark figure raced towards the young officer, startling her and causing her to pull the trigger in its general direction. There however was no bang, no flash, and no bullet traveling down range. The figure had managed to slip a knife between the firing pin and the hammer of the pistol before it was discharged.
"Shhh, we can't be waking the others now can we..." A voice said, an unfamiliar voice to the Lynx but something oddly soothing about its delivery, despite its message. "I just want to convey a message, one I am hoping you can deliver to Detective Howlett under more..." He looked down at the pistol, "...Suitable circumstances"
"Who are you and what do you want" Lucy asked, trying to find the best way to deal with the situation but however she thought about it, it was always her that would end up injured. she needed the knife away from her gun.
"My name is Charon, you may know me as a criminal but right now I have come with an offer of friendship, to you and your team mates. As you could probably tell I'm not exactly in Jay's good books, hence why I have come to you with this message. He may try to shoot me...". Charon removed his knife and with a great amount of skill, stemming from years of close quarters fighting, he removed the magazine from her pistol and emptied the chamber of its single round before setting them on the bench beside her. "Friendly... truce?"
"Fine, what is the message?" She said, arms folded with her gun still in paw.
"Simple, both mine and Jay's paths have aligned. He wants to rid the world of the Ghost... as do I. I propose a mutual understanding, at least until the world it rid of this menace... and any associates he may have."
"You're not asking much... just a wanted criminal and the top detective from Animalia working side by side.... is that all?" Lucy asked with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"No I think that’s... oh no wait, one more thing... tell him to not pursue me, it'll end badly for him" Charon threatened. "You have a nice evening now!" he said as he turned towards the front door, took the keys and unlocked the door.
By this time Lucy had managed to slip the single bullet into the chamber and point it at Charon's back, from this distance it would certainly hit its mark. "Give me a reason not to pull this trigger" she asked.
Charon froze briefly before turning to the Lynx, his glowing red eyes intimidating but not scaring her. "Because Ghost is one deadly little bunny, he will not hesitate to plant a bullet between your eyes if he knows that you are onto him... and I don't want that..." He said, somewhat mournfully. "Oh, and I'm bullet-proof, you are not" he said as he exited, closing the door slowly and lightly behind him.
Lucy rushed over to the door, gun at the ready while she slowly opened it again. She knew exactly what to expect when peeking out and down the corridor, just as she though, he was gone, not a single trace of him ever being here.
She admitted defeat and retreated back into the residence and locked the door behind her. The Lynx’s heart was racing , a million questions raging through her mind like a wildfire, she couldn’t focus on anything else at that time but the stern warning about the Ghost and the offer of an alliance. Probably the only option the team has if they stand a chance against a hardened assassin. Fight fire with fire.
After a few minutes slumped in the hallway against the front door, battling her thoughts she heard a familiar and comforting voice coming from the kitchen.
“Lucy? You coming to bed or what?” It was Alex’s voice. The only voice right now that she could take comfort in. The only voice that mattered. “Come on its way past your bedtime kitten!” he whispered jokingly in her direction.
Lucy picked herself up off the floor, put on a brave face and proceeded towards Alex’s room. “Coming, Coming... geez your so needy” she joked, trying to play off what had just happened. Not wanting to talk about it, at least not till the morning when she could convey the message to Howlett.
“Oh im needy am I? I do recall you wanted to sleep in next to me!” he jested back to the Lynx as she passed him in the hallway and into his bedroom, stripping down to her underwear and proceeded to steal one of his shirts as nightwear.
“Yes, you are needy, and yes, so am I... and right now I needy a cuddle so, let's get crackin!” Lu said playfully as she clambered into bed all the while motioning him with just a finger.
“Yes mam!” he replied stripping down to his underwear and climbing into the double bed beside her, maintaining a little distance... just in case...
--- 10:00am, July 1st, War’s Warehouse ----------
The peak of Zootopian summertime. The first day if July, where temperatures reached high 90s and most mammals with a spot of free time headed right for the beaches. Those without backyard pools that is. The children of the vast city excited that school was out for 2 months. 2 months for them to explore, play games outside with their friends or for some to help their parents with odd jobs that required attention.
For others it was the start of their holidays, some jetting off to distant lands or perhaps just a few cities or states over to visit family. Niki in particular loved the summer months, he loved working outside in the warm summer air, loved venturing into the city albeit for nefarious activities but nonetheless.
Addison preferred Winter however, he would much rather have it too cold than too warm. If its too cold, simply put on some extra layers... if its too warm however there was no helping it, short of shaving himself bald. This opposition was practically the only thing that the two lovers would ever come to blows about. Their favourite seasons wouldn’t exactly be much of an argument in the grand scheme of things.
One mammal in the ‘employment’ of War was fond of the summer months just as much as he loved the snow. Ghost was laying on top of the vast warehouse, soaking up the heat of the sun as the hustle and bustle of the jackal workforce could be heard below. The rabbit was naked from the waist up, resting upon his thin ballistic vest to prevent his back from getting burnt on the hot corrugated iron roofing. His suppressed pistol resting beside him for quick access if needed and most unusual of all, his mask was removed. The mostly solitary and particularly paranoid mammal felt at ease on warm summer days where he would find a spot where he could be himself. Out of view of prying eyes where he could remove his mask without compromising his identity. The roof was the perfect place. This particular spot was obstructed from the ground and sides, only those who knew he was there, such as Niki and Addison, would be able to find him. Ghost's spot had however a terrific view of downtown Zootopia, the massive tower blocks in the business district glistening in the sunlight.
The day was perfect. The sun beat down hard on the city. Not a single cloud in sight. Perfect.
"Niki, don't go up there!" Addison and Niki had essentially become Ghost's personal assistants, confidants and to an extent... friends. Or at least Ghost wanted to make friends with them.
"Oh Addy, don't be a wuss" The Jackal said as he climbed a small ladder leading to a skylight, the only entrance to the roof. He peeked over the edge, not getting a particularly good view on the rabbit's face but rather the underside of his boots. Deciding to get a better view, and hoping not to get caught out, he ventured further up the ladder, until his entire head and upper body was visible from the rooftop.
The rabbit heard this and promptly grabbed his mask and pistol, placing his disguise over his face without fastening it to his head and pointed the 9mm square at Niki's forehead. Ghost's brilliant blue eyes fixated on the stunned Jackal with a similar feeling washing over the canine's body as the previous day when he was held at gun point.
Speechless, the young canine let go of the ladder to raise his paws in the air, surrendering to the rabbit. In doing this however he inadvertently lost his footing on the ladder and began to tumble backwards. Luckily his mate followed him up the ladder and managed to catch him before he could do some real damage.
"Augh, Niki get your fat ass up there, I can't hold you all day!" Addy shouted from below, with Niki's ass pressed up against his face... not that he was complaining... not really... and with a gentle push Niki got his footing back and ascended to the roof, closely followed by Addison.
Ghost, his pistol still trained on the couple, glared at them with discontent. The young arctic rabbit had kept his identity secret for many years, silencing anyone who had seen his face. These actions however created a loneliness within him, unable to connect with others, distancing himself from everyone, eventually leading to a form of paranoia that all but consumed him.
His only way of dealing with it was to shut everything out, focus on the mission, no friends or relationships. Unfortunately, this lifestyle was taking its toll on him and he longed for someone to talk to, someone to connect with, someone to befriend. Ghost was hoping that taking on Addison and Niki he would be able to fill the void, that he could finally make some friends.
Although he was only in his mid-twenties, the assassin gained quite the reputation for completing exceptionally difficult contracts. His preferred method of killing, if you hadn't guessed, was long range. He only felt comfortable on a job if the target was far enough away that they could be killed without even hearing the shot. Far enough that any security or hidden threats wouldn't have any time to react as the bullet flew through the air and hit its mark, each and every time. Ghost was classified as the deadliest, most effective long-distance shooter on the planet. Rarely did he ever have to take a second shot on a target, even to judge distance. The rabbit had fired his custom R700 enough times to know the kick back intimately, to know the flight time of the bullet accurately and to gauge the distance perfectly. One shot on anyone was all the rabbit needed.
And from just 20 feet away, Niki was about to find out just how deadly his accuracy was... or so he thought...
Ghost lowered his pistol and motioned with it to join him on the roof. By this time Niki had clambered onto the edge of the roof, just beside the opening for the skylight with Addy following just behind. the pair looked at each other with a hint of fear in their eyes. This lapin was unpredictable, one minute he could be holding you at gunpoint and the next he could be staring at you complacently as if waiting for his orders.
Not wanting to anger him, the jackals slowly made their way over to him, paws raised to show no sign of threat to the smaller mammal. Within just a few seconds they had closed the distance and were standing in front of the half nude rabbit, Niki blushing a little.
"I-Is everything okay s-sir?" He muttered, scared of his own words as if he was speaking out of place.
Ghost placed his pistol on the roof beside him and patted the metal next to him as if to say sit down. It was time he made some friends. Time to do something that went against what his instincts were telling him. He lowered his mask and set it on the roof just beside his gun. The arctic rabbit was, for want of a better description, unremarkable. His fur was brilliant white as was typical with his breed, with no discernible markings on his face or ears. His nose however was more reminiscent of a hare, larger and more pronounced on his face than a rabbit would be. His perfect crystal blue eyes were a focal point for the mammal, not many having such strikingly powerful colours.
One feature that would set him apart from any other arctic rabbit would be a large, long scar that stretched from his upper lip on the left side, running down his mouth and continuing on down his neck. From the end of the scar was yet another, even more gruesome looking wound. It was understandable now why the small mammal couldn't speak, his throat at one point in his past had been cut... cut being the mild term... in truth it looked more like someone had tried to remove his head. The rest of his body was covered in other wounds, a kind of connect the dots of past injuries ranging from scrapes to knife wounds and bullet holes. This rabbit, for being so young had seen his fair share of violent chapters.
The jackals were stunned. Hearing all the tales of the infamous Ghost, that the lapin never removed his mask for anyone, that no one knew his identity nor anything else about him. They felt honoured.
He took out his small notepad and pen from his combat pants and began to write in it. When finished he handed it to Addison and pointed to it, wanting his to read out oud for Niki to hear also.
"My name is Ghost, pleased to meet you... What the hell? We already know who you are, what is this?" Addison asked, a hint of confusion and anger in his voice. Upon finishing his reading of the note, he was offered another. "I would like to start fresh"
"Aww Addy, he wants to make peace! Hello, my name is Nikola and this is my mate, Addison! Do we just call you ghost?" Niki said, to which Ghost nodded and began to write some more. Giddy with anticipation Niki was eagerly awaiting Ghost's next note. "Ohhh Addy, the bunny is opening up! I bet he has all kinds of neat stories to tell!"
"Yeah can't wait..." Addison said with annoyance. Ghost picked up on this and before handing over another note he wrote a little side note on the paper especially for Addy and handed it to Niki.
"Problems trusting people, no friends, want to make new start, want to apologise to you and Addy for my actions. P.s. Addison I'm sorry to you in particular, I did not mean to be so rude, it's how I cope" Niki read out, a little confused by 'cope'. "What exactly do you mean by cope? If i may ask?
Ghost began once again to write in his notepad, this time take a little longer than usual, making sure to get every detail of how he wanted his words to come across correct. He passed it once more to Niki.
"Cope with other mammals, to block them out. Last time I trusted someone intimately, she slit my throat with her own claws. My own mate tried to murder me... Oh Ghost... I'm so sorry, if you want to change the subject, lets" Niki asked, trying to comprehend how someone could do that to their one true love.
This revelation tugged on Addison's heart strings. He may be cold on the outside but deep down he didn't really have a grudge against the lapin. Being dropped by him the previous day and held at gunpoint mildly annoyed him but otherwise he knew that the Ghost was in a similar situation than he and Niki were in. Forced to do unspeakable things, not being treated like equals and being isolated from everyone else. "Ghost... may I ask something?"
The rabbit turned to face Addy, their eyes locked in an intense stare-off.
"What does War have on you that makes you his puppet?" Addison asked with a slight hesitation, unsure of if it was his place to ask or not. War would usually have others outside of his jackal subordinates that completed various other odds and ends for him, most of them being forced to usually through blackmail or threat of violence. Violence however could be ruled out in Ghost's case, Addy being all but sure that Ghost could take him in a battle.
Ghost hesitated, briefly looking towards the city and taking a deep breath before clicking his pen and beginning to note down his thoughts. When completed he passed the paper to Addy who proceeded to read its contents to himself at first.
"Uhu... so... Master War knows your real name? I understand how to an assassin that could be a major problem but I don’t understand how that would be significant enough for you not to take a shot at him from a long way off..."
"Addison... War sent that Wolf 'Abernine' to bunny burrow 2 weeks ago... remember? It stands to reason that if he knows Ghost's name then he knows his family..." Niki spoke up with concern in his voice. Concern for the young rabbit who at this point had risen to his feet and began to slip his mask back on, gun in paw and looking towards the skylight. "Huh? What's wrong?"
"Well, it didn't take you very long to piece that one together now did it?... and here I always thought you were a little touched in the head!" An unknown voice said, the voice coming from the skylight coupled with the faint clicking of claws ascending the metal ladder to the roof. When the mystery mammal revealed himself, he was met with the barrel of Ghost's 9mm pointed his direction.
"Woooow big guy, I'm just here to deliver a message. Wouldn't want to shoot the messenger, so to speak hahaha". This new Jackal on the rooftop revealed with a wicked grin upon his muzzle. The pupils of his golden coloured eyes were small, crazed in appearance. He was tall for a jackal, well rounded and muscular. His clothes were dark and old, as if he only had the one set comprised of navy jeans, a black jacket, and hiking boots. The overall appearance of him was that of a mental patient, deranged and psychotic. For that he was.
"Cerberus... fuck do you want?" Niki spat at the other Jackal as he approached. Addison positioned himself in front of his mate to protect him from anything... unexpected.
"Relax, pillow-biter, I'm not here for you... just a little job War wants his token bunny to do for him, it's your specialty after all isn't it?" Cerberus laughed as he pushed his way past Addison, knocking him to the ground and stood in front of Niki with a disgusted look on his face as he stared at the younger, smaller mammal before him. "Yaknow, I have no idea why War bought you. You are tiny, weak, dumb and fit for fuck all... you disgust me"
Niki had heard all of these insults before. Being on of War's personal assistants didn't affect how the other jackals seen his and Addison's relationship. Most found it unusual and unnatural. Cerberus' words hurt, but it was pretty tame compared to other times...
Ghost had heard enough and forced his way between the two Jackals to separate them, holstering his pistol and snatching at the letter in Cerberus' paw.
"Fine, whatever, hope you fags enjoy your party up here, I'm out!" Cerberus said as he turned towards the skylight, flicking Addison on the forehead on his way past.
Niki let out a suppressed sigh, his pent-up anger boiling down to a simple exhale. He knew that he couldn't touch that asshole in any way because he was War's favourite. That jackal was essentially untouchable. "I'm sorry you had to see that. He's had it out for us for years..."
Ghost helped Addison to his feet and gave an 'Okay' symbol using his paw.
"Yeah, I'm fine, Niki?" Addy said as he walked over to his mate to inspect him for injury.
Niki was just inches away from bursting into tears himself but held strong for Addy's sake. "W-what does the note say?"
Ghost opened the envelope and read its contents to himself, skimming over its words carefully before folding the page back up and slipping it back where it came.
"Is there a problem?" Addison asked carefully, grabbing onto Niki's paw for additional support.
The ghost didn't reply. He simply looked up at the two jackals, his cold, crystal eyes staring aimlessly at them. There was hint of a slight tremble in his paw, as if something had got his heart racing, something got him excited for a job. At last, a chance to prove his worth, his skills. A true test of his murderous capabilities. A chance to prove he was indeed Death.
Chapter 10: BlackHeart
--- 11:45am, July 1st, Howlett Residence ----------
“He was in our home and you DIDN’T SHOOT HIM?!” Understandably Howlett was pissed, having a serial killer in his home, just feet away from his mate and threatening both him and his team merely with his presence was enough to set his emotions in a spin.
The team was sitting around the table in the dining area of the complex, discussing the events of the previous night with Lucy at the helm. The feline had explained all that transpired when everyone else was in their rooms, right down to the finest of details. A particular skill that she took pride in was her ability to think under pressure such as that.
“Initially I was ready to drop him but... the more he talked... the more I.. I believed him” she said. Lucy hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, as to be expected after coming face to face with an assassin. “Sir, believe me I don’t want to work with him but... I think he could be useful.”
Jay slammed his fists down on the table, the bowls of cereal and cutlery jumping a few inches from the table top. “I DON’T GIVE A DAMN IF HE WANTS TO, NOT HAPPENING!”
“Hun, calm down... we will figure this out as a team” Atreyu butted in, stroking the Wolf’s paw to ease his heightened emotions. “It didn’t seem like he meant us any harm right?”
“I suppose so but still... he is a murderer” the wolf said in a calmer voice. Ru’s words have a soothing effect on her mate.
“Mrs Benson is correct, from what I've heard Charon seems willing to come to an agreement and from my knowledge of the Ghost... he may be of service to us” Tristan emerged from Bixby’s room dressed in his best suit, dark navy in colour with a black tie.
“Well don’t you look handsome!” Bixby immediately spoke up, his heart aflutter at the well dressed coyote, even more spiffing than Alex.
“Shh babe, I know it” Tristan winked at the Hare, sending shivers up the Hare’s spine and dirty thoughts rushing through his head. “Now, Detective Howlett if I may interject, I myself have had dealings with individuals in my career that have been associated with Charon, if you would have me I may be helpful to your investigation.”
“And what exactly do you mean dealings?” the wolf asked. He knew that Tristan was working in Animalia around the same time as himself but their paths never crossed.
“Well you see, back in Animalia I was a criminal prosecutor for the city. There have been a few occasions that the name has came up during a case. Mostly psychopaths trying to pin the blame on another well known killer just because a knife wound vaguely looked similar. I haven’t exactly built up a case against Charon but I know enough about him to be useful based on third party accounts. Lucy darling, I believe you have written down all that transpired between the both of you this morning, may I have a look at your notes?”
“Hmm? Ohh of course!” the Lynx was a little set back from Tristan’s grasp on the English language, how he embellished his words, choosing them carefully. She knew he was well educated, not dissimilar to Alex. When she woke up this morning she immediately wrote down their conversation, word for word, carefully detailing his actions along with any peculiarities in his mannerisms. Lucy passed her notes on Charon over to Tristan, watching anxiously as the taller Coyote ran his claw along the lines of the paper, taking note of every detail.
“And this is 100% accurate yes?” he asked as he looked up from behind the pages. Lucy hadn’t noticed the canine had slipped on a small pair of reading glasses that perfectly framed his glowing golden-hazel eyes.
“Yes, sir” she said, the sir part accidentally slipping out as if she was speaking to a superior.
“Heh, sir... Okay my dear, there are a few things that seem a little odd in my personal opinion, i will highlight them in red pen if you wish?” Tristan reached into his satchel that was hung around another one of the dining room table chairs and grabbed a few highlighters and a red marker.
“Sure, what have you got?” Lucy asked inquisitively.
“First off, you are all rookie officers, with the exception of Howlett of course, and thus aren’t on the system yet... so how did he know about this apartment? He couldn’t have followed you as he was already here and waiting and Detective Howlett would have made sure to keep the location of this place off the books so again, he is resourceful. On that same page we can rest assured that we are completely safe, if he knows where we live then he could kill us all in our sleep, as he hasn’t done that then its reasonable to assume this partnership is legit.”
Jenson spat at the prospect of a team up, despite it being the logical choice. “This is ridiculous. He is a killer, we should be out chasing him not entertaining the thought of recruiting him!” Understandably Howlett was annoyed. This killer was within feet of not only him but the one thing in the world he cares for, Atreyu. “No, I wont work with that bastard...”
“You may not have the choice, Detective...” Tristan said as he continued to outline certain phrases and mannerisms in red marker. “Another thing that stood out is when he said ‘associates’... the Ghost exclusively works alone. A study conducted on the Ghost revealed that he most likely has deep rooted paranoia, there is no way he would willingly be working with someone else. And further more Ghost has been around for a number of years, as has Charon... so why all of a sudden is Charon gunning for the rabbit? It doesn’t make much sense”
All members of the party gathered around the table shrugged their shoulders in unison. Tristan’s theories proved sound, it didn’t make much sense for Charon to be in Zootopia, never mind trying to complete a contract hit on another assassin.
Tristan stopped in the middle of outlining a point. “Bixby what do you make of this?” he said as he slid the final page over to his mate.
The hare studied the phrase for a few seconds, taking note of various points and possible subliminal messages.
“I...I think I know what your getting at hun...” Bixby said, looking across the table at his mate. “It makes sense in a way, but it's an out-there theory...”
“Lucy dear, how many of your romantic partners currently reside within the city? And have you been keeping in contact with any of them as of late?” Tristan asked the feline, much to her surprise.
Lucy’s romantic life seems to be the subject of conversation a lot lately, between having feelings for Alex and now this...
“What exactly does that have to do with this Charon character?” she asked, a little hot under the collar, not expecting to bring up her sexual history.
“I merely ask as there is a possibility that one of your previous partners may have some information that could help in the investigation... at the end of your conversation he said he doesn’t want to see you killed... in one aspect that implies that he has a personal connection to you. Most likely not the case however we cannot rule out the possibility that Charon could be a former lover of yours, it explains why he talked to you personally and not Alex or Bixby or even Mrs Akri...”
“Tris, please, call me Ru”
“Sorry ma’am..er... Ru. Anyway, would you mind providing the names and have the Detective run a background check on them, maybe a follow up interview on their location this morning?” Tristan asked as he stood from the table and grabbed his satchel.
“Uh... sure i guess, if it helps” Lucy reached for a pen and some paper but before she could write anything down the loud and obnoxious sound of Howlett’s phone kicked into life.
The wolf noticed the caller ID of Chief Bogo and answered immediately. “Yes sir?... we are at home discussing the case... yes sir... no... no that's... that's impossible... we will be right there...” and with a click Jay shut off his phone.
All ears were pointed in the wolfs direction. Something was amiss, from what little the team actually knew of the detective there was one thing that stood out. The wolf rarely stumbled with his words. Whatever the Chief told him, they all knew that it was going to be a long day.
Bixby was the first to break the silence. “Jay? What’s up?”
Howlett was getting more furious by the second. “That bastard Rabbit... that... fuck!”
“Sir please calm down and tell us, we can’t help, we can’t be a team if you keep us in the dark...” Lucy chimed in, at this stage very concerned for the team’s leader.
“Ugh... that fucking Rabbit shot and killed Bill Clause...” Jay revealed. Within the hour Ghost had managed to kill the team’s first criminal suspect.
“And you think its a message?” Alex thought out loud, unintentionally making his theory sound more like a question than an observation.
“I don’t know, but we have to attend a meeting at the Precinct immediately” Howlett said, his paws still shaking from the news...
--- 12:30pm, July 1st, Precinct 1 ----------
“So tell me, when will you be bringing in the Ghost? Will it be this afternoon? Or perhaps tomorrow? Come on Detective speak up, no need to be shy” Bogo was pacing up and down his office. Slightly peeved would be a severe underestimate. Not only had an assassin made a mockery of his Precinct but made his officers and his facilities look inadequate.
“I don’t know” Howlett muttered, he emotions betraying him.
Bogo made eye contact with the wolf for the first time since he arrived at the station. “Mr Clause was released into our custody just this morning and now he is dead. Laying upstairs in a pool of his own blood and grey matter and I have no physical evidence to go on. From your reputation in the APD I was expecting a bit more... capabilities when i brought you in and-...”
“JUST REMEMBER YOU BROUGHT ME HERE! YOU NEEDED MY HELP!” Howlett snapped at the Buffalo, the Black Dog in him rearing its ugly head in a vicious and threatening way. Threatening not for the chief, but for Howlett... for his job and his team.
“Calm down Detective or ill have you send back to where you came from... I put you on the bank robbery as a trial and you did splendidly, however, i also expected YOU of all mammals to be using your time wisely in finding this Rabbit... and you have nothing to show for it?
"With all due respect, I have a team of rookies helping me go after an assas-…"
“Just remember that YOU were the one to choose these newbies, not I!... I had hope you knew what you were doing!" Bogo shouted, slamming his over-sized hooves down on the desk, leaving behind a noticeable divot in the wood.
“I need time to train them up. Lucy is the one mammal in this precinct that has a hope in hell to fight him in close-quarters... Bixby’s intelligence is a major asset to tracking him down, and once I get some fur or a drop of blood, there is no escape from Alex’s nose... but I still need time to train them...”
"You need more than time Jenson, you need a miracle... That's why I made a call to the Major Crimes Division in Huntington... there sending over an agent once he becomes available." Bogo sat down in his chair, appearing to calm down a little. Much to Howlett's confusion.
“Sending who?" Jay asked. There were very few individuals that could match the Ghost in combat or intellect... and even less that he was willing to work with.
“Agent Savage... he is currently on an undercover assignment in the middle east but when he returns, he will be the newest member of your team. Do I make myself clear?" The chief made his demands clear. The team was to have a fifth member, much to Jay's distaste.
“That jumped up little furball? He’s a kiss-ass, a mediocre sniper and barely worth anyone’s time!" He spat back at the Chief. Savage was at the bottom of said list of mammals to work with, but unfortunately the choice was out of his paws. Perhaps this addition would prove useful?... perhaps as cannon fodder.
“I said... Do. I. Make. Myself. Clear?” Bogo said in the calmest manner he could muster.
“Ugh... yes sir...” Jay said, rolling his eyes and cursing the name 'savage' under his breath.
“Good... oh and Detective Howlett just remember... I’m a lover, not a fighter but if you fail me I will happily use my hoof to fuck you up and down this Precinct... am I understood?”
“Yes. Sir” Howlett saluted, trying to hold back his laughter at the Chief's well-prepared threat.
“Good... you have until October 18th to capture the Ghost, by any means necessary. Should you fail you will be sent back to the APD, and your precious team will be fired. Now leave”
--- 10:30pm, War’s Warehouse Roof ----------
A lone figure sat atop the empty roof space, admiring the lights of the city as the sun began to set behind the monstrously tall buildings at its core.
Ghost was still on a high after completing his first assassination assignment under War’s orders. Orders... something the Ghost will have to get used to.
The Lapin was eager to prove himself as a valuable asset to the mammoth Rhino that held the keys to his family’s safe release. He knew that once his usefulness ended, so too would his family’s lives.
One bullet. One life. One more day Ghost’s father would remain in the world of the living.
One bullet. One life. One more day his sisters could go outside and pick the summer flowers.
One bullet. One life. One more day his mother could bake her famous wild berry pie.
Ghost had placed his mask on the tin roof in front of him. He knew there was no one around, not at this time of the evening. Most would be going to sleep. Addy and Niki were told to get some rest by the rabbit, both of them looked particularly drained so out of the kindness of his black heart he gave them the night off.
The rabbit wasn’t wearing his sidearm, nor his ballistic vest... hell he wasn’t even wearing a shirt. He enjoyed the sun’s dying rays basking his body during sunset. He was almost meditation to him, or what form of relaxation a highly strung, paranoid assassin could attain. No the only other item he had was a cell phone. With only 1 number saved in the contacts, this was all he needed.
He hovered his paw over the ‘call’ symbol for the past 15 minutes, every fiber in his body wanted him to press it but his mind kept telling him no. No, this could be dangerous for them... he couldn’t tell them anything, even if he wanted to.
Tears began to form in the corners of his eyes, his paw began to shake. Never before had he conjured the courage to press the button. But tonight, he thought to himself, tonight was the night. He closed his eyes and pressed the flashing green button.
Ghost’s heart was pounding. This decision gave a stout chill up his spine. A tingle in his paws. A much bigger thrill than an assassinati-...
“Hello?...hello?... who is this?...”
Ghost’s eyes erupted into waterfalls of salty tears. The voice on the other end of the phone was a voice that he hadn’t heard in 10 years. The voice that filled him with both feelings of pure joy and profound sadness.
The voice of his father.
“Hello?... If you kids don’t stop crank-calling ill be forced ta call the police, ya hear?...HELLOOO?...”
Ghost could die a happy bunny, knowing that they were all safe for the time being. Just the knowledge that his father hadn’t changed one bit convinced him that everything was okay, even just for that second... that second was enough. The tears running down his face coupled with his sadness and joy caused his nose to stuff up a little. He sniffed to help clear it.
“Someone there?... Is that?.... Son?... my Little Snowflake... is that you?...”
With a click, Ghost hung up the phone, throwing it to the side causing the battery to break free from the main body of the cell. By this point the once fearless Rabbit was a sniveling mess. He lay back on the tin roof and gazed up towards the sky just as the stars were beginning to break through the orange and blue haze.
The fearless assassin at this moment in time was a 12 year old bunny, a mess of emotions and tears. desperately missing his family but unable to return to them. To keep them safe.
The act of hearing his father’s voice and the subsequent flood of emotions had taken its toll on the bunny. He was exhausted after his day of planning a kill and the escape that ensued.
The bunny closed his eyes, the last thing he seen was the north star, burning brightly above as he drifted off to sleep.
--- 1:34am, July 2nd, Howlett Residence ----------
Not a single sound could be heard from the apartment, the snores and uh... other noises... were confined to each individuals private quarters. The majority of the buildings occupants, along with most of the city, were asleep after a long hard day in their jobs, taking care of their kids or in some cases... shooting a criminal from 600m through solid concrete... The city now however fell silent.
For one rookie detective however, this was not the case... there was meetings to attend.
Lucy Benson, the Hellcat of Team Howlett was standing outside on the balcony, overlooking the city and reading through her phone, chilling in the night breeze. Well, not so much chilling exactly. The lynx was waiting for someone in particular. Someone who could be an valuable ally, or a deadly foe.
She didn’t have to wait long however. A tingling sensation sprouted on the nape of her neck, not from a cold wind but from something much more sinister. The feline resisted against all her instincts to reach for her Sig, this conversation would be a peaceful one, until she got answers at least.
“Beautiful night, wouldn’t you agree Officer Benson?” said a voice, standing on the ledge of the balcony, out of her line of sight and striking distance. She wondered tho, could this phantom survive a fall from such height...
“It’s dark... and cold... merciless” Lucy replied, biting her tongue from lashing out at him.
“Are we still talking about the night... or have you done some research?” the voice asked, already knowing the answer but seeking a way into a stable conversation with the young future detective.
Lucy didn’t reply but instead, gave a half cocked smirk in the killers general direction. “You hacked my phone and sent a text from me to myself... wanting to meet me here... untraceable... smart”
“I'm afraid my dear I haven’t requested an audience here with you to compare intellect...” Charon started but was interrupted by the Lynx.
“...Jay is fixated on hunting the Ghost, mostly without the help of scum such as yourself...” Lucy spat back at the masked murderer. Turning to meet his demonic gaze. His ferocious crimson eyes burning in the dead of night but alas, Lucy had experienced horrors much worse than what Charon processed. Horrors that haunted her to the core.
“Ouch... Detective... words hurt...” Charon jested.
“I am serious, Charon, stay out of our way. Don’t think for one second that if you get in our way we will spare you prosecution because you showed restraint here, now... You could be the mayor of Zootopia for all i know but that doesn’t mean Jay wont put a bullet in you... so please...”
Charon stepped over the balcony railing and rested his feet on the stable ground of the tiled floor. Stepping into the light gave Lucy a more comprehensive view of her target.
Charon wasn’t wearing his usual cloak, instead he looked more like a comic book supervillain than anything else. Even his mask had changed. No longer was one side of the mask charred and cracked but was now made whole, finished in bone white and looked slightly thicker than the previous. He still wore a hood to conceal the rest of his head that was fastened to a ballistic vest on his chest and abdomen, coupled with a small backpack strapped to the rear. Below that he wore a black, skin tight fabric shirt, long sleeve of course, that stretched down and met with his usual gloves. His lower body still consisted of dark coloured cargo/military pants, sporting plenty of pockets and pouches. Holding them up was a belt, a few additional pouches built into it with a drop leg holster fitted to the right side. This holster however did not hold a pistol, instead were an assortment of throwing knives and sleeper darts.
“Well check you out... Halloween come early?” Lucy joked, trying to make light of the situation but failing miserably.
“Officer Bens-...” Charon began but was rudely cut off by the Lynx.
“Lets skip the official titles huh? Call me Lucy. So what do they call you?” she asked, attempting to trick him.
“...Charon... but nice try tho... and no, this get up is the only thing keeping me from having an unfriendly encounter with a speeding bullet... the vest is DragonSkin, the shirt and pants are Kevlar with an Underarmour coating and the mask is ballistic... will stop up to a .44 Magnum. So you see Miss Bens... Lucy... make no mistake, I am hunting the Ghost with or without your help. Without will be harder but ill manage. And I could really use your help...” Charon moved in closer to Lucy, both still looking out at the city lights. The killers movements were slow and methodical but reminiscent of a school kit moving in on his crush. “Lucy? May I ask you something personal?”
Lucy was taken aback by Charon’s forwardness. It almost seemed as if the two had been friends for a very long time. “What is it?”
“What happened to you that broke you so badly?...”
Lucy was shocked. This phantom had seen right through her, to the deepest corners of her soul. He knew she was hurting. “And why in the hell should I tell you something like that? We are not friends... we are not ally's... and I wouldn’t even class you as an innocent bystander...”
“Because right now I am the closest thing you have to a willing ear... I will listen in confidence” Charon confided, meaning every word... there would be no one to tell anyway. Charon leaned in closer, within a foot of each other now still bedazzled by the neon of Zootopia. The Assassin placed his paw on top of Lucy's, comforting her on this cold, unforgiving night.
“A willing ear huh...” she said as she looked down at the larger mammals paw resting upon her own. “My father was a drunk... a cheat... a substance abuser... a... an abuser...he took delight in coming home from work, drunk already, wanting to pick a fight with anyone and everyone... my mom took a beating just as much as the rest of us. My brothers tho... they soon learned that this kind of treatment seemed to be normal. They became physical... with me... with my mom... coupled with my dad beating us left and right... then when his fists got tired... he retired to... to my bedroom...”
“Oh Lucy...” Charon muttered, his concern genuine as he looked into the Lynx’s tear filled eyes and finally he could see all her pain and anger coming to the surface. “If you wish we can stop...”
“I don’t know why im telling you this... it just feels... right” Lucy revealed as she used her free paw to wipe away some tears but the torrent kept coming. “I finally decided to join the ZPD...to make a difference to young girls like me... to save them... but that dream almost came crumbling down... The night before I was due to leave my father found my diary and my savings... he knew what I was up to and tried to stop me... that's when... that's when it happened... I became the Hellcat... Charon I... I killed my father... I tore him apart... My claws slashed and slashed and... and then I just ran... to the train station.”
“Lucy, you shouldn’t feel guilty for what you did. That bastard had it coming. He deserved it, unlike you... you my dear need to let go of this burden. Trust me it will consume you. And for what its worth... you may have saved your mothers life down the line... or your brothers...” Charon’s words hit home. With that, a smile emerged from the sadness upon Lucy’s face. Getting a secret as big as this off her chest felt indescribable. The weight lifted from her shoulders and the immeasurable guilt that went along with it faded into nothing.
“T...thank you...Charon” the young kitten muttered as she placed her other paw on top of his.
Lucy couldn’t see the mammals face but she knew he was smiling just as much as she was... and crying.
“I must go now, Lucy... please remember that you are in control of your future... your past transgressions do not determine your path in life.” And with those wise words of wisdom Charon hoisted himself back over the balcony and onto the stone outcrop of the building. Before he disappeared completely from view he took one final looks back at his new friend, hoping that she took his words seriously. His crimson eyes glowing in the backdrop of the shadowy city.
Lucy took one final look back at him also before retreating back into the safety of the apartment. Back into the soft, warm bed beside the mammal that made her heart flutter for no reason. She lay beside the peacefully sleeping Coyote for a few minutes, playing back her rendezvous with the mystery mammal one more time...
“I hope I’m wrong about you... for everyone’s sake...”
Chapter 11: Savage
--- 1:15pm, July 28th, Downtown Court House ----------
Three full weeks had passed in the city of Zootopia since the assassination of one William Clause. The team of rookies weren’t so much rookies any longer. In such a short time they had captured 3 killers, 2 arsonists, 8 thieves and a very skittish rapist that received the end of Lucy’s claws more times than anyone was counting. She had a bad morning...
Crime rate had taken a noticeable dip in the month that Team Howlett was active in the ZPD. Unfortunately however, much like his namesake, Ghost was as elusive as ever. Not since his taunt had the Ghost reappeared in the city, perhaps for the best, but that didn’t stop Jenson from compiling a very thorough file on the bunny.
The Team’s new complex was nearing completion, with only the finishing touches to be added to give it a more... homely atmosphere. Sleeping arrangements had remained the same, Alex and Lucy becoming a little more intimate than before. Alex had promised to take Lucy out on a few dates, to which he kept his word. As Lucy’s request they ate from Alex’s favourite fast food stand by the waterfront, the night was calm, not a cloud in sight and the wind was non-existent. A perfect first date in their eyes. Second date was a little more active. The couple going bowling and go-karting before ending the night with some ice skating in Tundra town Square. And for tonight, what would be their third date, they decided to try a new high-class restaurant that had just opened up a few blocks from their old apartment. But first, the team had to conclude their assignments.
“WOOOO FINALLY FREE!” Bixby let a yell out standing atop the steps of the Central Courthouse building in the heart of Downtown. The team had been part of a trial involving a serial killer that had been plaguing the ZPD for a few years. This case was special for the team tho, it was the first case to directly involve Tristan as the lead prosecutor.
“Try not to sound too excited my love, this WAS a murder case after all...” Tristan said as he walked past the smaller hare. As always, the Coyote was well dressed in a navy-blue suit, white shirt and black tie coupled with his thin rimmed glasses.
“Oh yeah... sorry!” Bixby replied in a hushed voice, making a complete fool of himself in front of his superiors. “Buttttt... now that that is concluded we get the rest of the day off! We don’t have to report in again until 8am tomorrow!”
Lucy walked past the bunny and patted him gently on his buns. “And I bet I know what your evening is going to consist of”
“Same as yours Lucy dear, same as yours, with maybe a little less boinking... but only a little less!” Bixby retorted as he noticed Lucy starting to blush under her fur.
“I..I don’t...We do-...” Lucy was cut off as Alex exited the building behind them and stood just a few steps behind her.
“What don’t you do?” he asked, his sensitive ears having already picked up the conversation but decided to have a little fun at his crush’s expense.
“Alex, would you kindly tell them that we are not boinking!” she said, flustered that the two team mates were ganging up on her.
“Now now... you three are the finest detective team the city has right now, try to show a little professionalism while you still wear that badge” a booming voice from behind Alex caught them all off guard. As the 4 mammals turned to face the mammoth that produced the voice they were greeted by a familiar face.
A tall Lion stood before them, walking stick in paw and a grin from ear to ear. The voice that could strike terror into the hearts of many was none other than Martin Rockford, Chief of the 5th Precinct of Zootopia and guardian to Alex, Bixby and Tristan.
“Well aren’t you a sight for sore ears, remember sir, inside voice while your outside...” Bixby lead with a few jokes, his sense of humour was something that Rockford particularly favoured in the young Hare.
“Ha ha it’s good to see you too Bix, and Alex it’s been a while hasn’t it. We are in the same city and not once have you paid a visit to a crippled, elderly Lion” Martin said, trying to play the guilt card but alas, it failed.
“Heh sorry ya old Goat, been busy putting bad guys away. Seems Precinct 5 isn’t pulling their weight these days, they have to send rookies like us to clean up your streets!” Alex retorted, knowing his words were empty of ill will.
"Pulling our weight huh? Interesting, guess I'll have to make a few changes to my roster, wouldn't you say?" The old Lion said. Just as he finished his sentence however his gaze met that of his eldest ward, Tristan. The pair hadn't exchanged so much as a letter in almost 15 years. Needless to say, there was an air of tension between them, enough for the Officers to feel. "Tristan? Is that you? My how you've grown..."
"Save it Martin, we both know our particular relationship cannot be salvaged with pleasantries, so please don't embarrass yourself further." Tristan said as he turned his back on the Police Chief and began to walk away. This cold reception did not go unnoticed by Bixby in particular, who proceeded to chase after the Coy.
Rockford was left speechless at the exchange but deep down he knew he deserved what he got. He had hurt Tristan at a time when the pup needed a father figure the most.
Lucy broke the awkward silence. "Uh, sir? Is everything okay?"
"I deserved that. And he is right, I messed up big time with him. When he was just 9 years old I sent him to a Military school to finish out his education, I just couldn't handle what he was..."
"What do you mean 'couldn't handle him' exactly?" The Lynx pushed further before noticing Alex's fist beginning to tighten up. She knew this was painful for all involved but wanted to better understand Alex and the Chief, reasoning to herself that it was part of the healing process to bring all emotions to the table.
"Tristan was... Prone to violence, aggressive mood swings and a particularly gifted mind. None of which was a particularly good combination in an impressionable pup. I was left with no choice but to send him somewhere that could not only handle his violence but could re-direct it towards something good. Who would have guessed his aggression reformed itself into a strong moral code... Young Tris became a brilliant Attorney that takes no prisoners..." Martin tried a half-cocked smile but he knew this was no time to be praising.
"...And look who he turned out to be. Like you said he is an amazing Attorney and the perfect mate to Bixby. You should be proud that your decision turned him into the Coyote he is today!" Lucy Interjected before Rockford could belittle himself any further.
"She's right Martin. At first, I hated you for sending my brother away but eventually I seen why you did it. I forgave you a long time ago so why don't you do the same?" Alex added, his fist unclenched but his heart still beating fast and strong.
"I do, I just wish Tristan could forgive me..." The elderly lion concluded. "Maybe you should all come out to the cabin some day? Pave the first step in the healing process now that my boys are all together?"
"That would be lovely, sir" Lucy added, smiling at the lion who was smiling back at them.
"… Hold the phone.... Tristan and Bixby are mates?... as in... Mates mates? Hahaha I didn't see that coming!" Martin spoke softly, joyfully laughing to himself.
"Tristan wait up!" Bixby shouted after the canine as he walked off, his strides double the pace of the Hare.
"Bixby... Now isn't the best time, I don't want you to see me like this..." Tristan shouted back, still walking away from the scene.
Bixby stopped in his tracks, started thumping his large foot on the ground and shouted "TRISTAN ARTIMIS HUNTER, YOU STOP RIGHT THERE!"
Tristan stopped dead in his tracks, the words of his mate seemed to have a paralyzing effect on his feet.
"Bixby please... let it go"
The Hare walked over to the canine and encircled him before standing face to face with Tristan. Or... face to stomach would be more accurate. Bixby looked into his golden-hazel eyes, that were slowly filling with tears.
"Listen, I know what happened between you and Rockford, it doesn't take a genius, but you can't let your emotions cloud your judgement. Talk to him, re-connect, or at the very least act civil for our sake... he is both mine and Alex's Dad after all..." With that Bixby leapt up into Tristan's arms and wrapped his Legs around the Canines waist, nuzzling into his shirt while doing so.
"Oh Bixby..." Tristan grabbed him by the bottom to stop him slipping down. The canines tall, muscular frame allowing him to hold the Hare with little effort in a comfortable manner.
"Please my love, if not for him or yourself, then for us..." Bixby said as he gazed into Tristan's eyes again, using his free paw to wipe away the tears from his golden pools.
"Bixby, I love you... Okay, i will at least talk to him... For you" Tristan admitted as he kissed the hare on the lips and grabbing him in closer to his body. After a good few seconds their embrace ended with smiles all round.
"I love you too... Always"
--- 2:04pm, Sahara Square Train Station ----------
"Yes, I have arrived safely... Yes, I have packed enough underwear, geez... Yes, yes of course I have, stop asking... Okay I have to leave now, I will call you again tonight... I love you too, bye" Click.
Train #25 departing from Huntington to Zootopia had arrived on Platform 12, a few minutes late but that couldn't have been avoided, debris on the track causing slight delays but nonetheless making good time. Aboard was a particularly well-spoken Jackrabbit with a very thick English accent, getting an earful from his girlfriend from the sounds of it. He was wearing his best attire, consisting of a jet-black suit and red tie that contrasted with his ice-blue eyes and light grey fur. his face was marked with black fur, 3 streaks on each cheek and 2 on the tips of each ear.
"Geez, that Vixen does not let up..." The rabbit stepped out of the carriage, rubbing his ears from the chewing he received on the phone. He looked up through the glass skylight at the beautiful city of Zootopia, gazing at its infinite beauty. "Hello old friend, good to be back..."
The bunny took his cases from the bottom deck of the train carriage, one long case and larger suitcase, presumably full of clothing... and underwear. He took a deep breath and proceeded to the exit of the station. When he emerged from the platform and onto the streets of the city he looked up again at its splendour and whispered to himself "Jacks back!"
Agent Jack Savage was not the only mammal of interest on the train however...
The very last two mammals to emerge from the train before the doors closed were a pair of felines, Ocelots to be exact.
"Hey sis, we made it! Put your mask on and hurry before you get locked in again!" One of the felines shouted as the other slowly staggered down the thin stairway and onto the platform. "Fam? I'm guessing you're not feeling too hot this afternoon huh?"
"You would guess correctly, Q, threw up like 5 times on the way here..." Fam said, her voice slightly muffled through a thin cotton mask, very reminiscent of a hospital mask.
"Don't worry Fam, War said he had our quarters sterilised for us, no germs!" Q reassured her sister.
Fam was a very sickly Ocelot. Disease had taken hold of her early in life and left her in very poor condition. Her body was thin from malnutrition, her clothes barely hanging onto her frail frame. The feline was wearing plain, light green shirt and a pair of skinny jeans that even on her looked baggy.
Q on the otherpaw was healthy, the appropriate height and weight for an individual her age and stature. she was dressed in a very punky attire, a black shirt with some kind of unreadable band logo printed on the front, skinny jeans ripped all over and an uncountable number of piercings all over her body, a stark contrast to her sister. Q picked up her sister's baggage coupled with her own to help move them along.
The twins reached the exit to the train station, set their bags down and took a short break while they waited for their ride to arrive. In the few seconds they were already there for Q had noticed a grey rabbit standing by the roadside, presumably waiting for a taxi to pick him up.
"Damn rabbits..." Q said as she ground on her teeth and reached behind her to a small sheathed blade on her lower back underneath her shirt.
Fam noticed this and took hold of her paw. "No Q, not today, remember War wants us to lay low until his plan reaches Phase two... Just a few more days"
Q let go of the blade and pulled her shirt back down, covering the weapon and spitting in Savage's direction. "I fucking hate rabbits..."
Jack finally managed to hail a cab. He packed his cases into the trunk carefully and climbed into the back seat as the cab made its getaway from the station.
"You're lucky, cottontail..." Q muttered under her breath.
No longer had the taxi disappeared from sight had a black SUV pulled up alongside the twins. The door of the driver side burst open and a Tall, scruffy Jackal stepped out.
"Sup, bitches" Cerberus shouted, loud enough for passers-by to take notice and show their disgust with a few scrunched-up expressions.
"Well hello you... oh my..." Q voiced out loud her desires as she pressed a finger to her lip and gazed in the Jackals direction.
"Can you not be a slut for 1 day?" Fam asked, giving a rather disgraced look towards her very 'out there' sister.
"Can't help it, haven't got laid in dayyyys"
"It's been legit 2 days..."
"Don't give a fuuuuck, he's mine tonight!"
"WHAT YOU LOOKING AT?! AAAHAHAHA" he shouted at the pedestrians as the sisters grabbed their belongings and bungled them into the vehicle, followed by themselves for what can only be the weirdest car journey in Zootopian history.
--- 3:30pm, War's Warehouse ----------
Ghost, Addy, Niki and War were waiting patiently for the arrival of the twins, Conquest and Famine.
"Death? I don't suppose you have ever met the twins before? Perhaps crossed paths on a contract ha... they are really something. Conquest is a genius when it comes to various types of poisons. she likes to coat her blades in them for maximum damage. And her sister Famine is a tech phenomenon, amazingly gifted individual." War tried to make small talk, forgetting for a moment that the rabbit was a mute, but that didn't stop him. The Rhino considered the twins good friends and was excited to have them back in the city.
Ghost however, was far from excited. The rabbit still had his family on his mind, his father's thick Bunny Burrow accent still fresh in his mind, along with a twinge in his back from sleeping rough on the metal roof, which seemed to be becoming a weekly tradition.
"Psst, hey Addy, do you remember the last time Q and Fam were in the city? I don't, it's been years" Niki whispered over to his mate, puzzled by the sudden meeting called forth by War.
"Me neither Niki, and yeah it must be years." Addison agreed with his mate.
The party didn't have to wait long. From just outside came the unmistakable sound of tyres screeching on the concrete. The SUV had arrived with its special package. The Twins and Cerberus slammed the doors, reiterating their presence in the complex. Deciding not to keep War waiting they entered the warehouse immediately, leaving their gear in the vehicle to be retrieved later.
"OHHH WAAAARRRR! Were home!" Q shouted across the warehouse, around the various corridors. Tact wasn't her strong suit, she preferred to let everyone know of her presence.
The voice was familiar to Ghost... Familiar enough to make him reach for his pistol out of instinct, something that Niki noticed, making him feel on edge.
Cerberus was the first to walk around the corner and into the meeting room, raising his middle finger to all in the room. The Jackal wasn't didn't care much for offending the wrong people, War's punishments didn't have the desired effect on this canine.
Following closely behind was the sickly Fam, bashful and not making eye contact with anyone in the room, instead just walking over to the table, pulling up a chair and setting her head down on the table. "Imma throw up" she mumbled.
"Oh, come on now, his driving wasn't that bad... Was only what... 4 red lights?" Q said smugly as she walked around the corner and into the room. Scanning the participants of the meeting, she met with a few familiar faces, some of which had grown up a lot since their last meeting. "My, my Niki and Addison, haven't you two grown HA, last time I seen either of you, you weren't at legal age..."
"Q! Stop thinking of fucking for 5 minutes!" Fam lifted her head enough to meet Q's eyes with disgust.
It was at that moment... as soon as Fam mentioned the Letter Q... coupled with the familiar voice... it clicked with Ghost. The Rabbit produced his pistol and pointed directly between Q's eyes, squeezing the trigger as he did.
In a split-second Niki knocked the pistol out of line and a shot rang out around the room. Despite the gun being suppressed the shot was loud enough for the participants, with the exception of War, to be startled by the sudden sound. The bullet ricocheted around the room a few times, harmlessly embedding itself in a wooden pallet just out of sight.
"The hell?!" Niki said as he let go of Ghost's pistol. "What was that about?" he asked the Rabbit.
Ghost didn't reply in any way, instead opting to stare intensly at the Ocelot.
Q's Playful attitude changed in an instant. She was pissed. "Fucking rabbits..." She mumbled to herself as she produced her curved knife from her lower back.
"SILENCE!... everyone calm the fuck down or you will be answering to me!" War spoke up, causing all participants to immediately drop their attitudes and pay attention. Ghost lowered his pistol while Q stabbed her knife into the table. "One of these days, bunny, you won't wake up!"
Ghost took out his notepad and jotted down a few words before handing it over to Addison to his immediate left.
Addy read out the note. "QUINN HENDRICKS, 26, HUNTINGTON"
Q froze at the sound of her full name. "Who the fuck told you?... WHO!"
Ghost passed another note to Addy. "We were mates... I loved you... You betrayed me..."
Niki knew immediately from a past conversation with the Rabbit that he was referring to the female that cut his throat out with her own claws. It all made sense now. Only Q was that psychotic.
"MATES?! Oh please, as if I would ever let a Rabbit inside me... you make me sick..." Q spat at Ghost.
"Enough! I care little for past indiscretions you three may have. So long as you are working for me you will remain civil with each other. There will be no backstabbing in here. And whenever my plans come to fruition then you have my permission to murder each other but until then you will follow my every order!" War stood from his chair, almost hitting his head on the ceiling, and walked over to a corkboard wall plastered with information about Team Howlett. "Now... at first I didn't think much of these 4 individuals but as of recently their leader, one Jensen Howlett..."
The name made the fur on the back of Ghost's neck stand on end, catching his undivided attention as he sat back into his seat.
"… has been making progress on finding this location. Three of my Jackals were involved in one of his cases but fortunately their loyalty prevented this complex being compromised. Their commitment to their cause has been rewarded with a quick assassination in prison. Now as for the Officers, I will be sending teams to kill them before our plans become public knowledge."
"OH, Oh, OH SEND ME SIR!" Cerberus shouted from the corner of the room.
"Of course, I will be sending you, you are one of the few that haven't failed me. Obviously, we cannot simply kill the entire team however, that would look particularly suspicious as they are investigating out resident Rabbit. No. You Cerberus will kill the team and I will be sending others to assassinate all of the rookies that the Academy has produced this year. That way it will look like an attack on the police instead of a personal vendetta."
This plan didn't sit right with either Addison or Niki, both Jackals had a gut feeling something wasn't right but hadn't the courage to voice their opinions in fear of punishment.
"Cerberus, assemble your best and form 10 teams, locate your targets and strike. For tonight is Team Howlett's last night in the world of the living!"
Chapter 12: Hellcat
--- 7:54pm, July 28th, Howlett Temporary Apartment ----------
"Shit, shit, shit, running late, oh so late" Bixby shouted to himself as he ran down the corridor of their building's top floor. Bixby was wearing a dark grey formal outfit, minus the jacket, with a tight fit waistcoat and amber coloured tie to match his mate's eyes. "Damn pocket watch running slowly! Why did I buy this piece of crap?!"
Alex, Lucy, Jay, Ru and Tristan were already in the elevator at the end of the hallway waiting for the young Hare.
"Chill dude, its only just 5 minutes away, we will be fine!" Alex tried to reason with the rushed buck to no avail. Bixby was in a flap to catch the elevator before it left his sorry ass behind.
"Thanks again, for inviting us, it was very nice of you!" Atreyu Wore a stunning azure dress, slit open at the side to reveal a little leg. Her hair was swept to the right side of her head, held with a little fur spray. Around her eyes was the same shade of azure blue in highlights as her dress.
"Oh Ru, I told you it's cool!" Lucy said as she pressed the 'hold' button once more. The younger Lynx took a page from Ru's fashion book and wore a crimson dress with matching highlights around her eyes and 2 bangles on her wrists. One major difference however was the rule about firearms. Under the slick scarlet number, she carried her Sig in a thin holster strapped to her upper thigh.
Both Alex and Tristan wore strikingly similar suits, with the exception of Alex's tie matching his frozen crystal eyes and Tristan's matched to his golden amber pools. Alex wore his badge and pistol with pride, as he did every time he left the building with his highly polished badge of honor. Tristan however was not allowed to carry a pistol but opted for a concealed knife connecting to his belt on his back.
Jay wore his traditional black waistcoat and red tie combo that never seemed to fail in emphasizing his more sinister features, notably his blood red eyes. The wolf hybrid also carried his sidearm, a modified Smith and Wesson M500, strapped to his belt. His preferred handgun, more like hand cannon, as it sat perfectly in his larger paws while the kick was something very few under 10 foot tall could handle comfortably.
"HOLD THE ELEVATOR!" Bixby shouted, just 20 feet from making it in time. The doors began to close, Lucy cheekily let go of the 'hold' button while smiling devilishly at the blustered lapin. "LUCYYY!" He shouted as he just about managed to squeeze through the doors before they closed and stranded him 8 floors up. Panting, trying to catch his breath, Bixby poked Lucy in the stomach. "Damn you felines and your...*Pant*… Mischievous ways..."
"Next time you won't forget your gun then huh?" Jay spoke up, motioning to Bixby's pristine Hornet as he strapped it to his belt on the right side.
--- 7 minutes later, Le Trou D'arrosage ----------
Alex opened the door and politely allowed the ladies to enter the restaurant first followed closely by the rest of the party.
A buck deer stood resolute as the front desk, awaiting their arrival. "Bonjour, and welcome, Hunter party, oui?" He spoke with a mixture of French and English.
"Yes, sir, party of 6" Alex spoke up, as it was himself that made the reservations. "Heh, Hunter party, makes it sound like we are going to war" He tried to joke, to not even a chuckle. "Well fine then, ya'll have a dry sense of humor anyway"
"Right this way, sir" The deer walked off, motioning them to follow him into the main room. The Restaurant was massive, easily able to comfortably seat at least 100 guests and still have room for the waiting staff to move between the tables. The walls were a mixture of red and gold ornate decorations with stone pillars holding up the vast structure. 3 large windows on one wall allowed a view of the street while another that separated the kitchen and eating area was decorated with various paintings, mostly reproductions of other famous works. The tables were laid out in random locations, allowing room for the table's occupants to move freely without bumping into anyone else. Hunter's table however was slap bang in the center of the room. A table prepared for a party of 6, with plates and cutlery already out and waiting.
"Sorry we were late, we ran into a little problem heh..." Alex apologized to the waiter as he arrived at the table and began to pull out seats for everyone to sit.
"Think nothing of it, sir, we allow a grace period of about 15 minutes per guest" The Deer spoke softly with a thick French accent.
When the party was all seated the deer handed each mammal a menu and allowed them a few minutes to read over its contents before bothering them about their orders.
"Daaamn, it all looks good!" Bixby drooled all over the menu, the seafood dishes, salads and soups. Just the appetizers to the lapin sounded phenomenal.
"Ha, not as good as this..." Tristan said as he snapped a shot of Bixby litterally drooling onto the table cloth. "Yup, that's going on my wallpaper!"
"HEY NO FAIR!" Bixby protested as he used a napkin to clean his muzzle of saliva.
"Alls fair, my love. Besides, you'd do it to me too!" Tristan batted back, making a perfect argument that Bix couldn't even deny. The Hare simply nodded in defeat.
"You two are so cute together! How exactly did you guys meet anyway?" Atreyu asked, realizing that she hadn't actually spent as much time around them as she would have liked in the month of living with the lovebirds.
Bixby spoke up. "Jobs fair actually, I was doing research on the ZPD to see what I would like to specialize in if and when I passed the Academy. I happened across a lonely Coyote, standing by himself at a stall that was advertising Public Defense teams. Boring stuff, I know. So, I decided to introduce myself... The moment he turned around and our eyes met, I needed him in my life. Just got lucky that he was not only an Inter, but also liked dudes!"
"Yeah and since then I haven't managed to shake him off me" Tristan joked as he took Bixby's paw in his own.
"And you never will! Dude if I die before you I promise to haunt the shit outta you!" Bixby laughed as he nuzzled into his mate sitting next to him.
"Just needa make sure the walls in the new complex is sound proofed!" Alex added, winking at Bixby
"Why? You and Lucy loud?" Tristan shot back without a moment's hesitation.
Lucy immediately started to blush under her fur. Any more and the skin on her ears would match her dress. "For the last time, w-we aren't having sex!"
"You two are awfully giggly at 1 in the morning for 'just friends', care to elaborate?" Jay piped up, joining the conversation in style.
"Sometimes we find it difficult to sleep, it's a little warm during the summer and were usually too fired up from work so we play a few boardgames to calm us down and help us sleep. You all needa get your minds outta the gutter, its dirty in there!" Alex defended their honor, much to Lucy's relief. Any more accusations and she may consider moving out.
"Whatever, just wear protection kids!" Jay jested as he stroked Atreyu's leg underneath the table.
"Mrs Akri, you have asked about all of us but we know little of you. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself?" Tristan asked as politely as he could, not wanting to pry too deeply incase its too personal for not knowing her long enough.
"Not at all dear, where should I begin? I was born in the Iberian Peninsula in Spain, grew up there and moved to the States when I was 10. My parents both got jobs over here really easy, it was back when Animalia wasn't quite so... Mafia ruled as it is now. Back when the city was just as beautiful as Zootopia. Unfortunately, I grew up pretty quickly there. After I left school I applied for a job at the St August Hospital as an Apprentice Prosthetic Engineer and luckily because I studied Mechanics in my education I got accepted for the job. I started my training at 18 and by 24 I stumbled upon a 7-foot Wolf, laying helpless in a room, all alone. Not that I felt pity on him or anything..." Ru said as she winked at her mate.
Jay gave a devilish smile back at her coupled with a reciprocating wink.
The Lynx giggled a little before continuing with her story. "...I seen his injuries and knew that I could help him. I knew that I could give him his life back. Just didn't realize that the more I looked at him, the more metal I added to his body, the more I caressed his chest... The more I fell in love with him. After a few months of reconstruction and rehabilitation, he popped the date question and boom, from there we got married, are looking to start a family together and live out the rest of our lives in peace together! Unfortunately, with the Ghost out there, we may not get that..."
"You knew from the get go that connecting yourself with Jay, you were putting your own life at risk... and yet... you still stood by his side. That right there is true love!" Bixby saluted Howlett, all the while holding onto Tristan's paw tighter than ever before.
Tristan blew a kiss to his mate, shedding a slight tear at the sappy story Atreyu had to offer.
Alex couldn't help but look over towards Lucy after hearing such a strong love story. After all, the Lynx was the only girl that truly had a place in the Coyotes heart.
Lucy noticed out of the corner of her eye that Alex was blushing, staring towards her. This elicited the same reaction out of her, involuntarily of course. For weeks now, Lucy had managed to keep her feelings in check, able to control to a certain degree how she felt around the canine. Deep down she knew she had feelings for him but was scared to act upon them for fear of something negative happening. Her demented past prevented her from wanting anything sexual but her body inadvertently made it more and more difficult for her to hide it. "Uhh, may I be excused, I require the bathroom"
"Ohh dammit, I forgot my pills at the apartment..." Atreyu spoke up just after Lucy finished her sentence.
"Ohh! Perfect, I can run back and get them for you!" Lucy said as she slowly stood from the table, gracefully pulling her dress down to prevent the Bear from Table 14 from receiving an early 'full moon'.
"Il tag along! I could use some air before we order anyway" Ru said as she too stood and adjusted herself. Both women convened at the side of the table closest the main entrance and linked arms. "Shouldn't be too long dear, only a 10-minute walk!" Ru spoke as she and Lucy made for the exit.
"Well that was weird...." Bixby whispered over to Tristan, to which the canine simply nodded in agreement.
--- Outside The Restaurant ----------
After a short and rather awkward silence, Lucy broke the atmosphere. "Thank you, Ru"
"Hm? Thanks for what dear?" She asked, knowing full well what the gratitude was for.
"For getting me out of there, I have been trying sooo hard to get Alex out of my head..." Lucy replied, bashfully rubbing her left elbow and not wanting to make eye contact with the other, more experienced Lynx.
"May I ask something?... Why must you stop thinking about him?" Ru asked
"...Simply put, if I acted upon how I truly felt about him, I'm worried I would come on too strong... sure I want a relationship with him but... I think we are very different... for one, I am not an inter and... and..."
"And I don't think you are being honest with yourself. You should really be asking yourself what you want deep down. Would you be truly be happy with a Lynx, or would you want something more exotic like canine... "Atreyu reasoned, the moment she mentioned 'canine' however, she began fantisizing about her own canine.
"… Perhaps you are right, I know that I have been beating around the bush, so to speak..."
"I'm sure, you have... heh...." Atreyu added, giggling to herself at making a dirty joke.
"...Atri... that's nasty..."
"You denying it?" Ru asked as she took hold of Lucy's paw.
"… Maybe once" Lucy giggled to herself while blushing. the skin on her ears brightening up like the neon signs above.
After a few minutes the two felines finally turned the corner onto their street, eyeing up their apartment from ground level. Atreyu lead the charge towards the establishment. The pills may have been a good excuse to get Lucy out of there but obtaining them was in fact a genuine concern for Ru.
The two felines found themselves at the front entrance of the complex within a few seconds. the main hall was fairly spacious with a few couches spread out around 2 coffee tables and a main desk at the far end of the room to serve the public. Usually there was a lobbyist on duty at this time of night, a wolf named Marco. A very timid young lad and very friendly to boot. He was on duty when the party left not 15, 20 minutes ago. all the lights in the lobby were off, which was very unusual as they shouldn't be turned off until Marco went home at 11:30. Something was off...
Atreyu was just about to turn the door knob on the entrance before Lucy stopped her. "Hold up... something's not right... I want you to wait out here for me, I won't be long"
Lucy produced her pistol from the leg holster around her thigh and flicked the safety off. the fearless feline entered the building, slowly as to not alert any remaining suspects, if any. Carefully, Lucy made her way over to the front desk, making use of her keen feline night vision. She scanned every inch of the front room for movement, ready to react should the need arise.
Having not found any sign of Marco or anyone else for the matter she made her way around the corner towards the elevator. After many late nights getting home from the Precinct in the darkness she was fairly adept at navigating her way around the building in low light. Eventually she found the elevator and proceeded to press the 'call' button. It did not take long for the mechanical lift to arrive on the ground floor, and with a ding the doors flew open.
The following sight nearly made Lucy gag... Lying face down on the Elevator floor was the teenage Wolf Marco, eyes wide open and a pool of blood still forming around his head. The poor boy had been executed at close range, with a perfect circle clearly visible in the center of his forehead. The blood was still pouring from the wound fairly freely, meaning it could only have happened within 10 minutes... the perps may still be in the building. Lucy reached down to the canine and closed his eyes. "I'm so sorry..."
Lucy pressed the button for her floor and the elevator doors slid shut. Patiently she waited, standing next to the body of the young wolf until finally... ding... her floor.
The Officer edged around the corner very slowly, keeping a sharp eye out for any form of movement. The main lights of the floor were out but there were 3 lamps in the hallway that produced a fair amount of light in their own right. As she peeked around the corner leading to her apartment she noticed the distinct outlines of 5 larger mammals, standing outside of their room. From what she could tell these mammals were most likely canine, the musk coming from them made it a little clearer.
"COME ONNNN WE DON'T HAVE ALL NIGHT YA'KNOW!!" one of them shouted as he slapped the back of another's head. The 'slappee' was kneeled down by the door knob, with what appeared to be a set of lockpicks. "Get the door lock, quickly, I wanna see the show from outside! HAHAHAH"
"5... I can take em..." Lucy said out loud to herself, confident in her abilities. the look of hesitation in her face disappeared the moment she seen 2 of the criminals holding handguns. This revelation actually excited the feline. "Bastards picked the wrong building..." she said, her teeth bare, her pupils narrowing into slits and her emerald eyes glowing in the darkness... This wasn't Lucy any longer... This was the Hellcat. She quietly tore the side of her dress up to her waist for better maneuverability.
Her nimble feline feet made no noise as she slithered around the corner and slowly moved forward towards the group, clinging to the walls as tight as she could. Her Sig in paw and her claws on all 4 limbs extended and sharp as razors. When she was within sprinting distance she raised her sidearm, still unbeknownst to the intruders, and aimed a shot at the kneeling canine. From this distance she could recognize the species of the invaders as Jackals, not dissimilar to those in her first case.
With her pistol raised she fired a round into the shoulder of the kneeling jackal. A scream of agony mixed with the shock and pain sent him tumbling through the door, into the apartment, clutching at the open wound as blood poured from between his fingers. The noise and suddenness of the attack caused the Jackals to flinch, disorientated and frantically trying to find where the shot came from.
All the while Lucy had closed the distance, using her lightweight frame and powerful legs she propelled herself into the air using a small side table. Claws extended she came down on one Jackal like the wrath of God. Her claws tearing down the canines face, removing large chunks of meat. This target was strategically eliminated first as he was one of two holding a pistol. He needed to go first. As she landed, the Lynx positioned herself perfectly to fall right onto the foot of the second gun-mammal, causing him to yelp in pain and loosening his grip on his weapon. Lucy picked up on this and fired a second shot into the wrist of the canine, causing him to drop it entirely.
The feline then sank her claws into the back of the maimed Jackals leg and tore out ligaments from the back of his knee, causing him to topple like a house of cards. Three down, Two left.
The leader of the Jackal intruders, Cerberus himself, had adjusted to the assault, produced a knife from his jacket and lunged towards the feline. With a swift slice, Cerberus came within millimeters of making contact with the Hellcat, Lucy having dodged the knife at the last second. She waited until he was in close as the size difference put her at a disadvantage. On the rebound, Lucy pushed Cerberus’ elbow away from herself, knocking him off balance. This was quickly followed by the feline’s claws making deadly contact with the jackal’s abdomen, cutting him right down to the rib bone. The leader doubled over in pain but kept a firm grasp on his knife.
Having no time to spare, the Hellcat rushed the fifth canine, narrowly dodging to the right to avoid the canines claws coming into contact with her. Then something unexpected happened. 4 loud pops from behind her. Bullets whizzed past her as she kicked the leg out from underneath the final assailant, grabbing his arm and twisting it behind him. Effectively using him as a fleshy shield.
The gun-mammal that Lucy had previously crippled had found his pistol and had no objection to firing round after round into his comrade in an effort to hit Lucy who was standing behind the jackal. After a few more loud bangs the hallway was met with a click. And another… his pistol was dry. Lucy seized her opportunity to fire shots off from her own Sig. First shot hitting him in the chest and the second in the neck. Normally Lucy was a lot more accurate but when under fire, this will do.
The Lynx let go of the body as it crumpled in on itself to the floor. Two dead, three if the tall one doesn’t get his face put back on very soon. By the time the gunfire had stopped, Cerberus had regained his footing and charged the feline one more time. This time he anticipated her deflection and faked a left swing, catching the petite pussycat off guard. The blow made contact with her cheek, sending her tumbling back but within a few seconds she had regained her balance and began to fight back. She launched herself towards him with all the power she could muster. Her razor sharp claws met with his extended arm in an effort to block her. Lucy’s hidden weapons damn near sliced through the jackals arm length ways, cutting him down to the bone. The sudden pain threw him off, Cerberus started thrashing around aimlessly in a desperate attempt to strike the Hellcat down. Lucy however was far more calm and collected. She waited until her opening appeared and as graceful as a ballet dancer she moved between Cerberus’ flailing arms, up his body and slashed at his throat.
It was the end. The end for the Jackal leader, War’s second in command had fallen. He dropped to the floor and fell back against the concrete wall, blood oozing from his mouth and neck.
Lucy too had, by now, landed on her feet. She was visibly exhausted, panting heavily as she scanned around herself looking for anything she missed. To her surprise she had made a mistake. Standing at the end of the hallway was another Jackal, one that was unfamiliar to her. He must be with the attackers…
The Jackal standing at the end of the hallway was none other than Niki. He had been ordered into the stairwell to watch for anyone coming up the stairs, not knowing that the elevator was still operational.
Niki took one look at the blood soaked Lynx, the devilish smile, the emerald pools with demonic slit pupils. She was a true demon. Without a seconds hesitation, Niki took off running for the stairs, moving as fast as his legs could carry him away from the devil herself.
Lucy was about to take off after him when she heard one of her victims gargling on his own blood.
“Pathetic coward…” Cerberus managed to just about spit out his words from his torn vocal cords.
“Who sent you?...” Hellcat asked nicely, for if she had to ask a second time it wouldn’t be quite so polite.
“Ha… you wont live long enough to need that information…” he spat back at her. “But War sends his regards…” his final words trailing off into whispers as his life faded away with the blood exiting his neck.
Lucy took a few seconds to catch her breath, to compose herself before she attempted to track down the sixth and final assailant. As the adrenaline began to leave her system she felt a sharp, stinging pain in her left side, just below her ribs. She felt down her scarlet dress and detected a wet spot, coupled with a small hole. A stray bullet from one of the attackers had somehow found its mark. Lucy had been shot, through and through, in the side. The feline applied a little pressure to the area to calm the bleeding but to her surprise there wasn’t much of it. Perhaps the bullet missed anything vital and only hit meat. No time to worry about it though... In the silence of the corridor she heard a faint noise. Curiosity got the better of her as she craned her neck to locate the source.
From inside the apartment she noticed a duffle bag that had no business being where it was. Upon closer inspection the noise she had heard turned out to be a low key ticking sound… emanating from the bag.
Looking closer towards the bag, Lucy noticed a timer built into the side with a few wires protruding from it. The timer read 00:04… and was counting down in seconds. That bastard that Lucy shot first had activated the timing sequence when he fell to the floor…
--- Outside the complex ----------
Atreyu was standing waiting patiently for the Lynx to pop her head around the corner with a smile on her face saying “Nothing to worry about!”
Unfortunately that was not the case. Ru knew what the sound of a gunshot was like from inside a building. She knew that there was trouble, and she knew that if anyone was to escape the situation, it was Lucy.
“Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay” she pleaded with herself out loud for the world to hear. Knowing full well that so many gunshots couldn’t be a good thing in any instance.
“Ohhh… please be o-…” before she could even finish her sentence, the unthinkable happened. A huge explosion tore through the building’s top floor, throwing glass and debris all over the street below, all over Ru.
The Lynx took cover as best she could but inevitably the glass cut her up. Her wounds however weren’t life threatening…
A few seconds later Atreyu emerged from her cover, in shock at what had happened. Onlookers had began to gather on the street and mammals of all shapes and sizes emerged from their houses along the street. Nothing this scale had happened in Zootopia for a very long time.
Atreyu took some time to collect herself, the medical professional in her tending to her own wounds as best she could before it dawned on her…
--- Le Trou D'arrosage ----------
“…And the idiot charged at me with a spoon!! A FUCKING SPOON!!” Jenson and the rest of the gang were still in the restaurant, swapping stories with each other to pass the time. Their waiter had passed by twice already asking if they were ready, both times he was met with a resounding no.
“Ha, what did you do?” Tristan asked, nearly in tears by the conclusion of the tale.
“I did what was necessary, shot him in the kneecap HA!” Jenson, laughing like a Hyena, couldn’t help but tell jokes to break tension. Mainly directed towards Tristan, as the wolf and the Coyote hadn’t spent much time alone together due to their work rotas.
It was Alex however to break the tension… but only to voice his fears a little more clearly.
“Yeah Alex, I noticed…” Bixby whispered back to him…
Jenson overheard the two friend conversing and noted a distastful expression coming over their faces “Noticed what?” he asked, trying to remain hushed also.
“Remember when I said Jackals were rare within the city limits… I was being generous… there almost non-existent and yet…” Alex started before being interrupted by his brother.
“There are 4 waiters, 2 chefs and 2 janitors… I count 8…” Tristan chimed in, followed by Bixby…
“10…” The young Hare noticed 2 more carrying in crates of what appeared to be food.
“12… There are 2 more In a car outside… I can smell them…” Alex corrected. “Maybe it’s a coincidence…”
“Alex, what have I told you about coincidences?” Howlett replied as he released the catch on his holster.
“So far 5 of them have made eye contact on more than one occasion… that indicates they are keeping an eye on us…” Tristan deduced. And correct he was…
Alex closed his eyes and took a long, deep breath in through his nose… “Oil, Lead, Gunpowder… most of not all of them are packing…”
“So its settled then… Tristan, when the bullets start flying can I count on you to get as many innocents out through the back door as you can?” Howlett requested of the Coyote, which was met with a confident nod back in his direction. “Okay on the count of three, we make our move… get as many out as possible then fall back to the street!”
Bixby started. “One”
Followed by Tristan. “Two”
Howlett stood, unholstered his Magnum and held it in the direction of one of the Jackals. It was then that he realized three of them had already made a move for their weapons hidden under their shirts. The Wolf, confident who was an attacker and who was an innocent, fired two shots. Being the Sharpshooter that he was, the first shot found its mark in the left eye socket of a Jackal. The second hit another directly in the chest with enough force to knock him back several feet.
Bixby followed suit, joined by Alex not moments later. The rookie pair located their targets easily, most of them hiding behind over turned tables or the bar. Bixby fired first, lodging a few bullets in the hardwood furniture right in front of the attackers.
The Jackals retaliated, a hail of lead flew towards the Officers but luckily found nothing but air as they zing on past the mammals.
Tristan, in the few seconds that had elapsed had managed to navigate the floor, picking up children and smaller mammals that he could easily carry while ushering others towards the back door through the kitchen. The Coy, along with 13 other smaller mammals had lined up against the back wall, just out of sight from the gun-mammals but still in danger. He was about to open the door to the kitchen when he heard the unmistakable sound of a safety latch being messed with. Tris immediately withdrew his large knife from its sheath and waited patiently for the intruder to emerge.
It didn’t take long however. Within just seconds the door swung open and two Jackals had emerged holding automatic rifles. Luckily they had tunnel vision and hadn’t noticed Tristan or the others lined up just behind them, something the Lawyer used to his advantage. Tris slid up behind the first one and with a quick and fluid motion snapped the canines neck, sending him to the floor instantly. The second however wasn’t allowed a quick death. The Coy plunged his knife into the Jackals lower back, with the tip protruding from his stomach. The edge of the blade did not cut the fabric of his shirt at the front but was visible as a crimson pool started to form around his belly button.
“You ruined my evening…” Tristan whispered coldly into the dying canine’s ear as he slowly twisted the knife and finally, after the assailant took his final breath, he withdrew his blade.
“Come on, follow me…” he motioned towards his group as he lead them through the kitchen and out the back catering entrance.
Back at the gun fight, Alex dispatched 2 of the attackers as they made silly mistakes, most notably peeking out to see if he had hit anything… which was met with a piece of copper hurtling towards him at 1200 feet per second.
Bixby had managed to eliminate 3 of the Jackals. Two of which had emerged from the car parked outside and burst in through the front door, only to be met with the Hare and his .22 Hornet.
The fire fight continued on until one of the Jackals, a tall and skinny, dark coated canine, yelled the one word that gave the team a sigh of relief. “RETREAT!”
With that the attackers ducked out the back door through the kitchen, avoiding fire from Alex’s .45 and Howlett’s .500.
“ALEX, BIXBY, HEAD OUTSIDE, WERE TRAPPED IN HERE!” shouted the terrifying Wolf Hybrid as he used his enormous pistol to motion towards the front door. It didn’t take mich convincing at all to get the two rookies outside and taking cover behind a parked car just across the street.
“Everyone here? Anyone hurt?” Jenson asked around his two teammates, having spotted a little blood on Bixby’s shirt.
“Just a graze, sir” the Hare reasoned with him.
“HEY!” came a cry from down the street. This sudden noise coupled with their heightened adrenaline levels caused the three Officers to draw their weapons on the source. Luckily it was Tristan who had just finished tending to the escapees.
The Coyote noticed the three suspects making a run for the door and decided to intercept them. One was unconscious and bleeding while the other two were whimpering and crying, being held down by the previous patrons of the establishment. “Seems you missed a few…”
At the conclusion of his sentence came a sound off in the distance that was unmistakable to even an untrained ear… a sound that, judging by the direction, made the hair on the back of Alex and Jenson’s necks stand on end…
“Was that…” Bixby couldn’t finish his sentence before his gifted mind jumped to the conclusion and sudden realization that the sound came directly from the apartment block… from where Lucy and Atreyu were currently at… He ran as fast as his legs could carry him all the while shouting at Alex “COME ON, THEY ARE IN TROUBLE!”
Alex followed suit and began to run after his friend and partner. It wasn’t until just then that he realised that Lucy, the girl of his dreams, was in real dang… hold on… that smell…
Alex was halted in his tracks… he took a deep sniff… and his eyes widened in fear. The Coy’s keen sense of smell detected the distinct smell of semtex... coming from…
The Hare was passing by a silver city car, around 15 feet away from both of them when it suddenly and devastatingly detonated. Bixby didn’t have any time to react. The blast caught him and sent his small frame flying, careering directly into Alex, who was also just milliseconds away from being thrown by the explosion.
The two mammals landed hard, luckily Bixby landed on top of Alex which cushioned his landing but Alex caught the most of the impact. The Canines head met the concrete violently and his body rag dolled unconsciously along the road before coming to a more permanent stop against the sidewalk.
Bixby too crashed into the pavement to a lesser extent but attained some deep wounds in the process.
Three mammal's lives were in the paws of a few right now. Their fates are unclear.
What started as a lovely night out with friends suddenly and dramatically took a turn for the worse.
To all intents and purposes, War got what he wanted…