A Ray of Hope Ch. 01 – A Day on the Job

DISCLAIMER: I own a copy of the Zootopia Blu-ray+DVD+DigitalHD version. That gives me some ownership rights… right? No? Ok, well, then, Disney owns Zootopia. Any OCs you see in the fic so far DO belong to me though. If you want to use them, ASK, please!

Special thanks (and a birthday shout-out!) to my friend and editor Daee17 for her help and inspiration in preparing this!

Terminology used in this chapter

*Code 2: Arrived on site
**ESW: Electroshock weapon. Taser is a trademark owned by Axon corporation and is the brand name for their line of electroshock weapons. Though Taser is the most common brand, correct police nomenclature refers to them as ESWs or, less formally, stun guns.


5 months after the arrest of Dawn Bellwether

“Unit Z-237 this is dispatch, do you copy?” Clawhauser’s voice echoed through the radio.

Judy grabbed the mic. “Z-237 here, Clawhauser, what’s up?”

“Hopps, we have reports of a large protest gathering in Savannah Central, corner of Serengeti and Tarangire. Please respond.”

“Z-237 copies, we’re on the way.” Judy hung the mic.

Beside her, her temporary partner, Eric Wolford, turned the cruiser around. “Another one, huh? That’s the third protest call this week.”

Judy nodded. “Another one.”

The protests were getting more common. They’d started back before Judy had quit the force, and had increased in frequency following the arrest of Bellwether. The theme had shifted, however, from predators randomly going savage, or “reverting back to their primitive, savage ways”, to the idea that predators, with the influence of a single, small flower, could be turned into monstrous killing machines. Demands ranged from control, to eviction from Zootopia.

Meanwhile pro-pred groups argued for equal rights for predators, and often included members on both sides of the divide, while anti-prey groups pushed for subjugation of prey species. The ZPD precincts all over the city and in many of the surrounding boroughs had become a revolving door for arrests and releases, as there just wasn’t enough room to hold all those charged. Hate crimes, along with muggings, assault, arson, and vandalism were through the roof.

Judy had been incredibly lucky when she’d returned to Zootopia to solve the night howler conspiracy. Not only was her old apartment still available – She’d only been gone for 2 weeks, and Dharma hadn’t rented the place out, yet, since her lease was still paid up, but Bogo had pulled some strings to get her reinstated with the department effective immediately. Since the only two mammals that knew of her resignation were Bellwether and Bogo himself, and since there was no signed letter of termination or resignation, the official story was that she’d been deep undercover.

Nick had been at the academy for 5 months now. His assistance during the Missing Mammals cases and Nighthowler conspiracy had gotten him fast-tracked into the class that started less than a week after he’d applied. Normally acceptance took several months.

The Chief had assured Judy that Nick would be assigned as her partner – if he graduated in the top 10% of the class. He would not accept anything less. Fortunately, Nick had been keeping well within that 10%, and he only had a month left to go. The rabbit doe was looking forward to when she could spend the day driving around the city fighting crime and making the world a better place with him.

She wondered if he would even be up to spending even more of their off hours together. Maybe a movie night, or some dinner somewhere. She already made the journey to the academy 3 or 4 nights a week to spend time with him.

Nothing’s wrong with that, right?

The protest came in to view and she shoved those thoughts on to the back burner. She would deal with them later. As Wolford parked the cruiser, Judy keyed the radio one last time. “Dispatch, Z-237 we are code 2*.”

The two exited the cruiser and surveyed the scene. The shouting could be heard clear across the plaza. The two groups, one large one composed entirely of prey animals and a smaller one of predators, was an increasingly common site, and so were the insults being hurled.

“Get the hell off our turf, filthy pred!”

“I have just as much a right to be here as you!”

“Fucking savages!”

This had apparently been going on for a while, and before the two officers could get any closer, a shoving match broke out between two of the protestors. Wolford sighed. “Here we go again. Call it in, Hopps. I’ll see if I can break these two clowns up.”

The rabbit doe nodded, and reached for her personal radio.

“Hopps to dispatch, requesting extra units, this is an unruly bunch.”

Wolford had reached the group of protestors, barking orders to back off. The two fighters, a tiger and a hippo, stared at the ZPD wolf, one with utter contempt, and the other with a look of anger.

“Who the hell are you to give me orders, pred?”

Same song different day. “Officer Wolford, ZPD. I need you all to take 5 steps back.”

Tensions were high as Judy rejoined Wolford. The hippo looked at her in amusement.

“This is all the ZPD can muster? A wolf and a rabbit? Wait. I know you. You’re the one who figured out preds were going savage! We could use your help.”

The rabbit shook her head. “Sorry, sir, but we’re just here to keep the peace. We can’t get involved.”

“But you support us, right? You know it’s in their biology to be savage killers! You said so yourself!”

Judy let out an exasperated noise. “I have no comment.”

The hippo went in for the proverbial kill. “They’re savages! They’re barely even mammals!”

The rabbit’s face hardened. “Sir, you’re going to have to tone down that language. I don’t want to charge you with a hate crime.”

The hippo scoffed. “Hate crime? You’d charge me for a hate crime? You’re starting to sound like you’re on their side.”

The rabbit doe was starting to get a headache. She chose to ignore the statement and instead turned her attention to a rhino that was looking at the crowd of predators like they were bowling pins.

“Sir, don’t do anything rash,” she said in a commanding tone as she moved to stand in front of him, all the while surveying her surroundings, looking for objects to use as jump points in case things went south. A sign pole, street lamp, the curb, and a bus stop bench for mid size mammals. Not great, but better than nothing. She’d had a lot less available when she took down the rhino at the academy.

The rhino glared at the rabbit, trying to intimidate her. How was it this puny, little rabbit wasn’t afraid of a mammal a thousand times her weight? Instead of backing away, the rabbit stood her ground and stared right back at him as though daring him to try something.

It was at that moment that a voice from the predator’s side of the break that was starting to form piped up.

“You guys gonna let a little bunny intimidate you? You’re more pathetic than we thought!”

Oh boy. This wouldn’t go over well. Where was that backup? Wolford moved to confront the hyena that had spoken. It was too late. The rhino that Judy had been facing was infuriated. Nostrils flaring, the rhino prepared to fight. Judy drew her ESW (**), and set it to the appropriate setting. For her weapon, that would only give her enough charge to drop the subject once, before the thing went dead. Such was the case for her smaller stature and correspondingly smaller equipment. She had to be smarter than her fellow officers when it came to arrests and use of force.

In the meantime, though, Judy continued to face the angry rhino. “Sir, don’t do anything stupid. I don’t want to have to arrest—WOLFORD!” The rhino charged. Jumping out of the way to avoid being trampled, the rabbit twisted and timed her landing roll so she could bounce back up on her feet facing the scene. The doe aimed her weapon, and with an accuracy borne of her months of training to be the best, fired. Two electrodes sailed across the distance between the two mammals and embedded themselves in the rhino’s back, before delivering an incredibly painful 50,000-volt shock. The rhino tripped and fell, shaking the ground with the impact, before twitching and jerking from the electrical discharge.

The rabbit approached the prone form of the rhino. She was just about to explain to him that he was under arrest and read him his rights when the hippo that seemed to be the groups leader spoke up again.

“You shot him! Did you see that? She shot him! Police brutality!”

Things were starting to descend into chaos. Judy and Wolford couldn’t contain this group on their own. They were just two small cops trying to keep control of a mob of almost 100 mammals. Where was that damn backup?

As if on cue, two cruisers pulled up to the scene, lights on but no sirens, disgorging McHorn, Pennington, Grizzoli and Fangmeyer. Good. Some large mammal muscle would do well to get this mob under control, Judy thought, just as another mammal began lashing out at the predator nearest to her. Things began to descend into an all-out free-for-all brawl. Judy had to resort to bouncing around, using her powerful legs to subdue combatants. It was almost 20 minutes after the larger mammals joined the fray that things began to calm down and the officers were able to start sorting things out.

Once the fighting had been tamed, and the belligerent mammals rendered compliant, the six police officers began the hefty task of issuing citations and arrests. Several transport vans were called in to move the arrested mammals to the precinct one holding cells, or the “sin-bins” as they were informally known.

In all, more than 10 mammals were arrested and 20 more citations pawed out. It took Judy and her colleagues almost four hours to sort the mess out. Eventually, the crowds dispersed, and the six cops were able to clear the scene.

Inwardly Judy sighed, hoping she could get her paperwork done in time to get out of work and on the train to the academy. Her police salary didn’t give her enough income yet to afford her own vehicle, so she was stuck using mass transit, taxis, or the intercity express trains. Normally, this wasn’t an issue. Her apartment was within walking distance of a subway station, and Zootopia Central Station was in Savannah Central, just across the plaza from precinct one and city hall. But the Zootopia Express only ran four times a day, and the next train after the 6:00 PM one was at midnight.

Wolford had just clocked out for the evening when he decided to stop by Judy’s cubicle and let her know he was on his way out. The little rabbit had been assigned a small space of her own since no other mammals came close to her size. The ZPD had also gotten her an appropriate sized computer and furniture for it, so she wasn’t stuck using items that were way too large for her. Her first few weeks she’d been forced to use whatever was available, and that often involved her having to scamper across and jump on elephant-sized keyboards. Not exactly the most efficient way to work, but she’d dealt with it.

“Judy, I’m out of here. Catch you tom…orrow? Judy, what’s wrong?” What he saw when he popped his head in surprised him. Like him, Judy had a lot of paperwork to catch up on with all the citations that had been written that afternoon, so she’d been forced to work overtime. However, quite unlike her usual bubbly self, what he saw was one dejected bunny. Laser focused on what she was doing, and ears almost as low as when he saw her walking out of city hall after turning in her badge.

The only time he’d ever seen her upset was following the missing mammals case.

“I’m fine,” the rabbit doe said, in a tone that made it clear she was ANYTHING but fine. The wolf sighed.

“Hopps, I’ve been married long enough to know that when a female tells you they are fine, they are anything but. What’s on your mind?”

“The time,” she said, not looking anywhere but at the report she was finishing up.

The time? Wolford checked his watch. 6:12 PM. What was so important about the time? He knew they’d worked overtime, but why was she so obsessed with that now? Usually, she’d be one of the first to volunteer for extra work. So why was she so upset with it today? The wolf ran a few scenarios in his head.

The train. The Zootopia Express. She’d mentioned wanting to visit Nick after her shift.

The train that left at 6:00. The train that was now making its way through the city towards the outskirts.

“You were going to go visit Wilde today, weren’t you?”

“Yup.” The rabbit doe continued working on her report.

The timber wolf thought for a moment. There really wasn’t any reason to rush home today. His wife and kids were away, and it was just going to be him and an empty house for the evening. Except maybe now there was a second option.

“Don’t worry about that, Judy. Finish up that report and I’ll drive you to the academy.”

The rabbit’s ears shot up, and she turned to Wolford with a hopeful expression on her face.

“Really? You don’t mind?”

The wolf shook his head, grinning at her sudden change in demeanour. “Don’t worry about it, Judy. Just finish that report and let’s get out of here.”

It was with renewed enthusiasm that Judy set back to work on her report, eager to get out of there.

Nicholas Wilde was exhausted. Between the 3 sessions of the around the house obstacle course, 5 hours of classes, the 5-mile run, and paw to paw combat training, the red fox was physically drained.

This had been par for the course for the last 5 months. They didn’t call it police boot camp for nothing.

Unlike military boot camp, however, cadets were allowed several hours free time in the evenings to do as they pleased. They could have visitors in the common areas (no visitors allowed in the dorms), use their mobile devices on the facility WIFI, heavily censored, of course, chat on the phone, spend time with their fellow cadets, or study. Free time was theirs to do as they pleased.

Free time was Nick’s favourite time of the day. Because free time meant time with Judy, either on the phone or in person. When she visited, they would play cards, study together, watch a movie on the tiny screen of one of their phones, or just chat. The days that she didn’t drop by, she would inevitably call him on MuzzleTime, and they would just chat for an hour, before he called his mother.

Nick had long come to terms with the fact that he had fallen for the little rabbit doe. The mammal that had once belittled him and blackmailed him had saved his life more than once, and given him the tools he’d been missing, and the inspiration, to become the mammal he’d thought had died the night that he’d been muzzled and humiliated at the ranger scout meeting.

What’s more, the change Judy had wrought in the tod’s life had allowed him to patch up his relationship with his mother. They’d been on the outs ever since he was 18, and his mother had found out just how he’d been making money.

“I raised you better than this,” Marian Wilde had said, tears streaming down her face.

Words had been said, and the pain had driven son from mother. Nick’s father had died before he’d been born, killed when he’d been unable to afford proper care for an acute case of pneumonia.

Nick had been shocked when his mother had first MuzzleTimed him months ago, only days after telling Judy what had happened between the two.

The fox suspected that the sly bunny had tracked his mother down and engineered that call, since that was one of the few days Judy didn’t visit or call him. They had talked for hours that night, right up until lights out. Nick had confessed to some of the things he’d been doing, and had told his mother the story of how he’d ended up training to become a cop. Meanwhile, the tod had learned that his mother had quit her old job at the diner she worked at and was now working as an administrative assistant at a pharmaceutical company.

She’d come visit him several times throughout the last few months, and the two had slowly repaired their battered relationship. And Nick couldn’t have been happier.

The fox remembered the first night he’d realized that he was falling in love with Judy. She’d just boarded the train back to Zootopia, and the fox could feel an emptiness in his heart. Like a part of his heart was leaving with her. It had taken a sleepless night for him to realize just what he was feeling. He’d only felt it once before, for a vixen who’d ultimately betrayed him.

How she dominated his thoughts. How he lived to see her beaming smile. How he wanted her to be proud of him. How, as soon as he was out of this boot camp, he wanted to do everything in his power to make her happy, so he could see that smile every day. How he enjoyed spending every moment he could with her. How he loved her. A bit of soul-searching later, and he’d realized that he’d begun bonding with her long before that, back during their quest to find the missing mammals.

But there was a massive problem. He was a fox, and she, simply put, was not. Inter species relationships, while not technically illegal, were highly frowned upon, especially relationships between predator and prey. He would not subject Judy to the social disgrace and prejudice. Besides, he was pretty sure she didn’t feel the same about him. So, the fox had resigned himself to simply love her from afar, and be happy that she was in his life at all.

Today, he was all caught up with his studies, so they’d have some time to do what they felt like. He couldn’t wait for her to get here.

“Thanks again for doing this for me, Eric,” Judy said for probably the fourth time. “I owe you one.”

At the wheel of the wolf-sized sedan, her companion glanced over to her and then back to the road, shaking his head in amusement.

“It’s all good, Judy. The wife and pups are out of town so it would have been just me for the evening anyways.”

“What are they up to?” Wolford didn’t speak of his family much. She knew he had a wife that worked in finance and a litter of 3 pups at home, but it wasn’t the usual topic of conversation while they were on patrol.

The wolf smiled. “Debbie took them to Vancougar to visit her parents. Bogo couldn’t give both me and Delgato the time off, so I was the scapegoat. I stayed home.”

“Well, that sucks. I hope they have a good time, though.”

Wolford smiled. “I’m sure they will. They love the country up there.”

They fell into a comfortable silence for a few minutes, the scenery passing by in the dying light of the day.

“Judy, I’m curious about something. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, though.” Wolford drummed the steering wheel

“Hmm?” The rabbit doe gave the wolf a look.

“What is Nick Wilde to you?”

OK, THAT question wasn’t expected. “What? He’s my best friend.”

Wolford sighed. “You know, when I was at the academy, my friends only visited me once or twice. Period. And they certainly didn’t call me almost every day that they didn’t visit me.”

The doe eyed the wolf. “So, what are you saying?”

Wolford glanced over at her. “The only one who did anything close to that was the mammal who ended up becoming my wife.”

THAT got Judy’s attention. “What?! No! We aren’t… we’re not… we’re just friends…” Some part of her felt like she was lying about her paw being in the cookie jar when she uttered those last words.

“Judy, I’ve seen the way you perk up when anyone mentions or ask about Nick. And he’s often all you talk about the days after you visit him. You’re the only one I know that could turn a two-hour visit with a ‘friend’ into a four-hour conversation about said friend, every day.”

Wait, do I really do that? The rabbit couldn’t help but wonder

“I’m just saying, if there’s something there, don’t keep it bottled up. It won’t do anyone any good. In fact, it’ll probably do more harm than good.”

Judy shook her head. “Even if I did feel that way, and I’m not saying I do, I couldn’t tell him. He’s turning his life around, and interspecies relationships are frowned on, you know that. I’d just be holding him back.”

Wolford looked at Judy, before turning back to the road. “Don’t let what others think stop you from doing what you want, Judy. I seem to recall you saying something similar.”

Silence descended again as the trip dragged onward. In her mind, though, Judy had started a mental war with herself. Her parents had tried to set her up with buck after buck at home, in an effort to subtly sway her from her dreams as a police officer. Most of them went into their date only desiring or wanting one thing: a home run.

Those that didn’t were either sexist assholes that thought that does should just stay in the kitchen pregnant, pumping out litter after litter, little more than second class citizens, or just didn’t care about her own dreams and aspirations.

All of them went home disappointed. None of them ever called her back.

Judy thought then about her relationship with Nick.

At first, they were enemies. He was a lowlife, and only interested in slowing her down. She blackmailed him into helping her out on the same case. But somewhere along the line, something had changed. Tundratown? No, it wasn’t that. She’d engineered the excuse to enter the limo lot and had called him a shifty lowlife.

Mr. Big’s house? No, not really. He seemed to have warmed up a little during and after Fru Fru’s dance with her dad. But she suspected that if he’d had the carrot pen, he’d have walked away with little thought.


That’s when things started to change. First their escape from the savage jaguar. The awe and gratitude in his voice when he’d thanked her for saving his life was there and it was real.

And then the confrontation with Chief Bogo on the sky tram. He could have been done with her right there. No annoying rabbit lording a carrot pen over his head. No threat of arrest or even investigation for tax evasion. He’d be free, and Judy would be out of his fur.

Instead he’d told the Chief off, called him out, stood up for her, saved her job, and escorted her away to a waiting sky tram, all with a few words.

And then he’d opened up to her, and she’d started to see a completely different mammal. He’d told her of his past, and he started working with her as a teammate instead of just tagging along or resisting. She still shuddered to think of some of the things she’d said, even after that.

Junior detective? How much more demeaning can you get? That sounds like something you’d call a kit in a junior cadets program.

Their work at the Cliffside Asylum just built on that. When she’d surfaced after flushing them down the waterfall, she’d seen, for an instant, genuine panic on his face before he spotted and recognized her.

The press conference. He had no reason to forgive her for that. She’d humiliated him. He’d allowed her to see a little of the real Nick Wilde, and she’d turned around and acted, in her own way, exactly like those mammals at the ranger scout meeting. She’d stomped on his heart. But when he forgave her under that bridge, it felt as though her heart was singing.

Things had been pretty hectic until the museum. But she knew the events within had sealed their trust in each other. When she hit that tusk, she’d immediately known it was bad. If Nick could at least get

the case out safely, Bellwether would be stopped. Judy knew she wouldn’t survive. She’d either be killed or she’d disappear, perhaps forever.

Nick had had the idea of switching out the night howler serum with blueberries after he had wrapped her leg up in his pawkerchief and had to dive for a blueberry that was about to roll out of their hiding place. His refusal to leave her to her fate had warmed her heart. She’d almost laughed too, at the shocked expression on his face when she suggested that he might have to bite her neck to really sell the savage fox ruse if it came down to that.

“I don’t know if I can do that!” his eyes had said.

Her response was a simple, whispered, “I trust you, Nick”

Plan A – plain old escape – hadn’t worked after she’d stumbled and fallen into that metal pole. Plan B, which both of them agreed later was the better of the two anyways, went off without a hitch.

That night, she’d replayed the scene in her dreams, though after Nick had bitten her, her dream had taken a decidedly more erotic turn. She hadn’t had time to go back home to retrieve her things from Bunnyburrow, and she’d been mortified the next morning to discover that her then-new sleepwear soaked through. Worse yet, Nick had stayed over in the same hotel room, in the other bed, at her insistence, not wanting him to go back to sleeping under that bridge. His nose had picked up quite quickly that something was different. She’d headed it off as a “rabbit thing” when he’d inquired.

That had been it for a few weeks, but the dreams had started up again after he had gone off to the academy and she had gotten her apartment back. Some of them were of a decidedly erotic nature, while others were simply enjoyable.

Wait. Best friends didn’t dream of each other in THAT way.

Judy replayed the last few months in her mind. Slowly, she’d gotten to the point where she couldn’t stop thinking about Nick, wondering if he was doing OK, worrying about him, wanting him to be happy and to succeed, wanting to spend her work days with him at her side, and her off time having fun and spending time with him, wanting to be happy with him.

She’d felt righteous indignation and sadness when he’d told her stories of his youth, constantly being bullied throughout middle and high school just for being a fox or a predator, wanting to take that pain from him and somehow replace it with happiness.

She’d once joked earlier on in his stint at the academy that when he graduated, vixens wouldn’t be able to keep their paws off of him. He’d given her a funny look and not said anything, so she’d let the joke die a silent death.

Now though, thinking back on her joke, she felt a pang of jealousy at the thought of Nick with a vixen.

As her police officer’s mind started putting the evidence together, she came to the startling conclusion.

Oh my gosh. I’m in love with Nick Wilde.

“So, how was your day, Fluff?” The two were settling down in one of the common areas of the academy’s residential buildings. There were several such areas, one dedicated to table games, one had a study area adjoining a library, there was a chapel for prayer, weddings, and services, and still another had tables and chairs suitable for games, light suppers, or, conveniently, space enough for two small mammals to sit next to each other while queuing up a movie.

Today it would be Jurassic Park.

The rabbit doe shook her head while fishing for her earphones.

“Another protest that went south. Two mammals down, and I had to spend an hour filling out forms and another talking to IA about why I discharged my ESW** at one and knocked the other out. Among the others I ended up in paw to paw combat with.”

Nick gave her a smirk. “ESW? Who’d you shoot?”

Judy grinned as she pulled the earphones out of her pocket, which of course were a tangled mess. She set to work. “A rhino. The one that got knocked out was a warthog.”

The fox laughed. “I can just imagine the look on everyone’s face when you used your bunny-fu on that hog!”

The rabbit doe continued fiddling with the headphone cord. “As much as I want to say that it stopped the brawl cold, it didn’t. Things went out of control real fast, Nick. A lot of bad blood, and a lot of mammals fighting each other.”

Sighing, Nick shook his head. “That’s not surprising, to be honest. Way I am hearing things, it sounds like predator-prey relations are going even more downhill. Are you OK?”

“I’m perfectly fine, Nick. I’m just glad the day is over. You know, I got a ride from Wolford out here, because we went overtime on the reports. We made 10 arrests and more than 20 citations.”

Nick cocked his head. “Think all those charges will stick?”

Judy finally managed to unsnarl the cord and passed one of the earbuds to the fox beside her. “Yeah. The cruiser’s camera was running the whole time, and caught everything. We were two officers in a crowd of more than a hundred, and the backup was slow to arrive.”

As Judy started the movie, they each popped an earbud into an ear. Silence enveloped them as they fell into the world of the movie.

Nick, however, didn’t fail to notice that Judy was sitting a lot closer to him than she normally would. This would be a tough movie night.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Savannah Central

In his home in a quiet section of Savannah Central, Damian Hornby sat in his home office staring at the visual on his phone. A video call with the elders was not common, unless circumstances were exceptional. This was one

“Another of our cells has confirmed that they can procure the new equipment you require,” one of the elders, a buck deer with an impressive antler rack, was saying.

The Texas longhorn nodded, face showing no emotion. “Excellent.”

But the deer wasn’t finished. “You will continue to develop and test the new formula until such a time as we deem it ready for…distribution. Are we clear?”


The deer leaned back. “Very good. Now, give us your report.”

Hornby sighed. This part wasn’t as positive as he’d want, but he forged ahead. “We’ve synthesized the first batch and begun mammal testin’. Results have been… less than positive. The second batch will be tested today. We’ll need more fundin’ soon to continue this work beyond this second batch, though.”

Another elder, a sow, spoke up. “And you will have it. But be warned, if our benefactor does not see results soon, he will be less than pleased. It’s been two months now, and we are falling behind schedule.”

The Texas longhorn nodded his head slightly. “It will be done.”

The first elder acknowledged him. “Very well. If that is all, then our business is concluded. For purity.”

Damian Hornby gave the customary farewell, and signed off. “Purity we shall have.”

Rising from the desk, he made his way downstairs and in to the basement. A makeshift lab was set up there, and it what there that two of his colleagues, Doug Ramses and a mustang named Felicity, were stationed.

Plexiglas walls separated a portion of the room into two test chambers, the occupants of which stared out at them in hatred and no small amount of fear, one of them a caracal and the other a ground squirrel. Both mammals were strapped to their respective beds, ECGs and EEGs displayed a myriad of data that would be necessary to determine the test success rate.

“Are we ready for the second test?” The bull ignored the pleading cries of the two captives. Both were homeless mammals they’d picked up early that morning. The two had, as far as they could tell, no family to speak of. Perfect for this kind of test. There could never be any witnesses.

“We are. Commencing now.” Always monotone, Doug turned a valve that opened a water pipe. After a moment, a purple-blue mist began filtering into the two sealed chambers. All eyes turned toward the EEG and ECG monitors.

“Spike in both heart rates. Probably just the fear of the unknown.” Felicity began comparing the data to their previous attempt.

As the chambers filled, the heart rates of both mammals rose dramatically. This was to be expected on the filth, but not on the squirrel.

“Spike in Beta brain waves on the predator. Some areas anyways. This is good. He’s feeling aggressive. Also seeing a bit of a slowdown on the same elsewhere. I’m guessing he’s losing higher brain function.

This would be a lot easier if we had an fMRI.” Loud growling and hissing could be heard from the caracal’s chamber

“We don’t have the money for that yet. Hopefully we will, soon. But not here. ZooPower would probably flag a spike in power usage.” The bull said as he and the mustang turned to the other mammal.

“Hmmm. That’s strange. We have an increase in beta over on the prey test subject, but no associated decrease elsewhere. So, he’s still cognitive but feeling angry or scared.”

The test dragged on. The caracal had lost all higher brain function, and wanted nothing more than to fillet and devour his captors. On the flip side, the squirrel had started screaming in terror and didn’t stop.

“His heartrate just keeps climbing,” the mustang remarked as she eyed the squirrel’s readings. Indeed, the heartrate of the squirrel had more than doubled since the beginning of the test, and it was still going up. “He’s not going to last much longer.”

As if in response to her words, all activity on the monitor ceased as the squirrel’s heart gave up, the heart rate monitor emitting a long continuous tone that was swiftly silenced.

“Looks like we lost another one. I’ll call Woolter and Jesse. We’ll sink them in the Rainforest District waterway,” Doug remarked as he moved for his phone.

Hornby sighed. Another failure. The elders would not be pleased to hear this. Sinking the bodies in the rainforest waterway meant that the relative heat and the river fish would make short work of any evidence on the bodies. Their lack of jobs, family, or any other close ties would mean that even if they were reported missing, it wouldn’t be in time to salvage the evidence.

Moving back upstairs, the bull returned to his office. He had some work to do on one of the components of the formula.

The academy training schedule I used for reference is the RCMP Academy, Depot Division, which is 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 26 weeks, not including lunch hour. Cadets have all non-training hours to themselves, though they are expected to devote time after hours to further their training (studying, “homework”, physical activity, additional training, and advanced courses)

Also, I envision the train station in Savannah Central, Zootopia Central Station – the same station that Judy arrived in Zootopia at in the movie – to be similar in nature to Pennsylvania Station in New York City and Union Station in Toronto, Canada. In both cases, the stations serve or have access to the city subway, intercity commuter trains, and long-distance passenger trains.

Did anyone catch the pop culture references in this chapter? Call them out in the comments!

Coming up, on January 12: Graduation Day!

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