"All good things must come to an end." - Geoffrey Chaucer
1:30 PM ; The next day, Savanna-Central...
A new day was supposed to be an opportunity for second chances. For anything the previous day had not allowed.
Nick Wilde of all mammals was no stranger to second chances. His entire life practically consisted of a string of them - one after the other, trailed behind him with familiarity akin to his own tail. From one life path to the next, he'd hopped his way from criminal to cop. This time, however, the fox was afraid that he had finally reached the end of his string. Despite all his hopes for new opportunities on account of his injury, glum thoughts of his physical condition couldn't help but swirl in his mind, taunting him with the bitter truth that second chances could only be achieved so many times before their very definition was lost.
He never wanted to leave the ZPD. But with his leg as damaged as it was, he was left with little choice. Perhaps one day, he hoped, it would heal enough for him to be able to rejoin, but for the moment, all that mattered was the recovery, and what came after. Nick was a master at rolling with life's punches, but even he couldn't deny that this was a hardship he couldn't handle alone.
Thankfully, he was anything but. Following the graduation ceremony, the reception at Precinct One had been filled with laughs and goodbyes - A bittersweet sendoff from the building, the coworkers, and the purpose that had formed Nick's life for the past four years, ever since that day Judy had pinned his badge to his chest. The fox failed to let any somberness interfere with his fun, though, and made the most of the evening, shaking paws and cracking jokes like there was no tomorrow, and even managing to stand on his own two legs without assistance here and there. He figured the least he could do was smile and enjoy the night. And that he did without question.
The following morning, Chief Bogo had followed through on his promise, personally helping Nick and Judy move their belongings into their brand new apartment, along with a gaggle of burly volunteers from Precinct One to aid the heavy lifting. Larger and nicer than their previous home, it was a welcome first step into their new beginning. After the chief and his band of helpers departed, Nick and Judy were left to themselves, and a blanket of peace settled over the flat.
After over three months of challenges, from the case with Al to Nick's newly initiated physical therapy, bunny and fox alike were pleased to be able to resettle. Now, Nick sat on the couch, his still mending leg propped up on the cushion as he watched Judy putter about, opening boxes and putting things into their new places. The fox had tried helping at first, but after consistent insistence from Judy, decided to give in and take it easy. He didn't like it, but decided that arguing with his wife was worse.
Judy had been at this work for nearly half an hour when she suddenly stopped. Something felt strange. What was it? Leaning back from the box she'd nearly emptied, the bunny cocked an ear. She didn't hear anything. What was wrong with that? It took her a moment to realize what the problem truly was: Nick.
Nick should have been talking - Making quips, joking about how this picture frame or that bit of furniture was crooked, teasing her sense of interior design, or even making suggestive comments about her tail whenever she happened to bend over. Normal, classic Nick Wilde behavior.
But the apartment was silent.
Was the fox asleep? She didn't hear snores. Taking a few quick steps, she popped her head out of the kitchen to glance into the living room. There was Nick on the couch, right where she'd left him. The fox was stretched out across the cushions, paws folded on his chest, right above his purple tie and green floral shirt. He wasn't asleep, though. Head against the arm rest, he was staring at the ceiling, green eyes crinkled in a slight glare, like there was some difficult puzzle printed up there that Judy couldn't see.
Judy put her paw to her chest, worrying the buttons of her plaid shirt. It wasn't like her husband to be this quiet for this long. The few times he had been in the past, trouble had followed. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore.
"Nick? Sweety?" When the fox turned his head to look at her questioningly, Judy realized her mouth had gone dry. Clearing her throat, she forced herself to continue. "You okay?"
"Hm?" Nick hummed quizzically, a slightly confused look on his face, evidently drawn from some deep thought he'd been having. Once he'd managed to parse the meaning of the words, he smiled in reply. "Oh, yeah. I'm fine, Carrots. I was just thinking, is all."
"Oof!" Judy quipped, trying to lighten the mood. "Now I know we're in trouble."
"Oh, har, har," the fox grumbled as he craned his neck back to its previous position.
When all he did was stare at the ceiling some more, Judy began to really worry. She walked forward, stopping at his side. The fox didn't move, but his eyes lowered from the ceiling to meet her own. They communicated in that way that only truly close partners could, questions and answers passing between them without a word spoken.
Judy's brow crinkled in worry, and she frowned. Nick could hear the words in his head like she'd spoken them: Are you really okay?
Nick responded with a little shrug and the faintest smile. No, but don't worry. I will be, he assured.
Judy laid a paw on his shoulder, squeezing gently, and asked with her eyes. Let me help?
With a heavy sigh, Nick looked away, breaking the connection, but before Judy could mistake it for a rejection, he covered her paw with his own. "I've been thinking about the future," he confessed.
Judy didn't respond with words. She took his paw in both of hers and squeezed, letting him know she was there, and that she was listening.
"About what I'm going to do next," Nick continued. "I can't just sit on my tail, living off disability checks for the rest of my life. I'd go crazy, and I'd drive you crazy with me. Can't have that. But, what else can I do? Get a desk job? Need some kind of degree for most of those. Don't have one. I doubt I could stomach it for long, anyways. Start a small business? Don't think I could without slipping into old habits. I don't want to be a hustler again. I... Want something more."
"You could go back to school," Judy offered softly.
"Pfft, right," Nick snorted. "I'm pushing forty. Awfully old to be starting a new career."
"You could do it," Judy insisted. "It's never too late to start over. Never too late to try something new!"
"It's not just about trying something new," Nick clarified. "It's about doing something that matters."
Judy tilted her head, not sure what he meant. That was all Nick needed to let months of inner thoughts erupt from him at last.
"Carrots, what we did together, it mattered!" Nick sat up as he spoke, green eyes bright for the first time in days. "We actually made a difference! I know it's as cliche as a motivational bumper sticker, but we really did make the world a better place. You especially. And now I… I-I don't-" Nick stuttered to a stop, biting his lip as he carefully considered his next words. "I know something like this," Nick waved at his leg and the cast, "would never stop you from trying to make the world a better place, and Carrots - Judy - I want to be like you. It's the truth. You're… You're my biggest inspiration. You changed me. Taught me the purpose of an honest life. Proved to me that I could be more than just another shifty, untrustworthy fox." He briefly sighed through his nostrils, eyes staring deep and unflinching into Judy's own. "I want to be like you. I... Want to keep trying."
"Oh, Nick," Judy cried, overcome to the point of tears. Jumping forward, she threw her arms around her mate's neck and buried her face in the thick fur.
"Hey, okay, okay," Nick soothed, rubbing her back. When he was certain it was a happy cry, he allowed himself a chuckle. "You rabbits. So emotional."
Judy's responding laugh was watery. "Do you have to say that every time?"
"Yes, one hundred percent."
Judy laughed again and punched him on the shoulder. They lay like that for some time, Judy sprawled across Nick's chest, her arms around his neck while he rubbed her back with one paw. Silence descended again, but it wasn't strange this time. Comfortable described it better. Enjoying the moment was all either of them could ask for.
"What was it Harlan said?" Nick eventually asked, breaking the quietude. "Back at the graduation ceremony? Something about me having a sharp tongue."
"Don't remember exactly," Judy confessed, "but the gist of it was that you'd make a good politician."
"Huh." Nick grunted thoughtfully, eyes trailing to the side.
Judy slid her arms down from around his neck so she could push herself up on his chest. She looked down into his eyes, searchingly, and she couldn't find any sign that he was anything but serious.
"Nick? For real?"
"Why not?" A grin began to stretch across his muzzle. "How much of what's wrong with Zootopia can be dropped right at City-Hall's doormat? Think about all the good I could do, coming in as an outsider, knowing what needs to be fixed. And hey, just picture it: a former semi-famous cop retiring after an injury to pursue a career in public policy. Can't get much better of a platform than that!"
Judy didn't want to rain on his parade, but it was Nick himself who'd taught her the most about setting realistic expectations. "Your history, though…"
Nick's smile dimmed for an instant, but brightened again as he waved the thought away. "Bah, every politician is at least a little criminal, right? I'm just ahead of the curve!" He glared a little when she snorted. "Alright, let's not get too high-and-mighty, miss godmother to a literal mafia princess."
"Don't bring Little Judy into this!"
"Anyway," Nick brought the conversation back on track. "Why not give it a shot? Don't you wanna try? I think it'd be fun!" He smiled slyly. "In fact, if I recall correctly, you said that you thought I'd make a good politician on the way to the raid that brought down Al, didn't you?"
Judy sighed. "Yeah, but… This isn't a joke, Nick. Are you sure about this? I think you'd do great with public service - I mean, you're the most charming mammal I've ever met - but you could always go the detective route, once your leg gets better. It's not as physical as being a cop. It's a stable, honest job, and you'd make an amazing detective!"
"I don't doubt it. But… I want to do something more meaningful. I've been putting a lot of thought into it, and after everything with Al, I just… Feel compelled to try to make real change, for the better. And I don't just have that crazy kitten to thank for that - You've really shown me what it means to make a difference. I want to make the world a better place, and what better way than to represent the mammals that need it most? What better way to really enact the change we've fought so hard for-" he gently tapped his cast with one of his knuckles. "-than to warm a seat at City-Hall?"
Judy hummed with thought, flopping down on Nick's chest and causing her ears to drape over his shoulders. She had to admit that he had a point. If Nick really did manage to make it to City-Hall, he could have a serious influence on Zootopia's public policy. It'd give him the perfect foundation to build the laws - the society - that the both of them worked so hard to change for the better, yet always seemed one too many steps away from. Zootopia had made so much progress over recent years, especially with predator rights, in no small part due to Nick and Judy's efforts, but there was still so much more to be done. The two of them knew that better than anyone, having witnessed one problem after another on their adventures, from powerful organized crime and deep-rooted corruption across the city, to anti inter-species sentiments and the government's loathsome prioritization policy that left so many beautiful districts underfunded and underdeveloped. Someone like Nick had the potential to fix at all.
How could she possibly discourage such an opportunity?
She wiped a paw over her eyes, nose twitching as she considered the enormity of the task before them. After a moment's intense consideration, her expression cleared. "Okay. I'll have your back for this. I'm sure the ZPD will too. But if it doesn't work out, I want you to consider looking into the detective option, okay?"
"Good to have backup plans." The fox gave a teasing salute. "Will do. That's a promise."
The rabbit allowed herself a slight smile. "So… Where do we start?"
"At the beginning," Nick answered teasingly. In truth, he had a few ideas - old connections he could dig up - but those were worries for later. "Then, we'll figure it from there."
Judy popped up on her arms again just so she could glare down at him. "You're such a pain, you know that, right?"
Nick shrugged. "You know you love me." He said with a smile.
Judy paused as she looked into his eyes. For the first time in weeks, hope was there. True hope.
"Do I know that?"
She answered her own question by leaning over and pressing her lips to his in a deep, loving kiss. The fox's tail puffed up like a duster as a satisfying shiver worked its way down his spine, and Judy stroked at his shoulder with as much affection as her paw could carry, happy that despite everything that had happened, they could still enjoy a simple kiss together not just as friends, partners, or mates, but as husband and wife, until the end.
When they parted for air, Nick smiled down at her. "Don't need to answer that." Was all he said before diving back in. He figured they'd both earned it.
As they kissed, a spark grew between them, vivid and warm, and both knew the future would be just as bright. No matter how hard the lessons of the past were, they would have each other, as they had for so long, and fox and bunny alike recognized that that was all they truly needed. The team they made was something special. If they could overcome the barriers that society had placed around the idea of their very relationship, survive the wrath of a vampire bat mob boss in the plumbless depths of the Nocturnal-District, and take down a malicious web of fraud plaguing the Downtown financial sector, then they could make it through this medical recovery together. If they could uncover a shocking conspiracy of injustice buried from the Nighthowler Crisis, aid a rural woodland precinct in fighting off an encroaching criminal enterprise, and save Zootopia itself from grave insurrection, then there was nothing that neither Nick Wilde nor Judy Hopps knew they couldn't accomplish if they simply worked together.
Perhaps they had just been lucky, surviving one challenge after another. They certainly hadn't escaped any of them without the proper sacrifices. After all, how could two natural enemies make such an accomplished team? But deep down, when their instincts fell away like a curtain to reveal the window through which their bond was made clear, the answer was quite simple: no amount of primal predispositions could hinder their trust in one another.
And that trust was all they needed to make the world a better place.
Meanwhile, in Zootopia County Prison...
The bars closed behind Al Catpone with a metallic thud, reverberating through his head with all the finality of death itself.
He stared around his cell. The only traits that made it different from any other were the patchy discolorations of long forgotten stains across the concrete floor, and the occasional crack in the wall. Behind him, the pig guard chuckled, coaxing him to turn around and glare at her through the bars, gripping them between his meaty fingers.
"Enjoy your new home, kitty-cat," she taunted as she walked off, twirling a key around one hoof. "Better get used to it quick! You're gonna be here a long time."
Al didn't respond. He didn't even muster a snarl. Instead, the jaguar just exhaled through his nostrils before slipping his forearms through the food opening and leaning over the bars, gaze lowering dejectedly toward the floor. His green eyes traced over the cast around his right leg. That vat had completely snapped his femur in two. Al felt tempted to be angry, or even bitter because of his injury, but he couldn't find himself to create either emotion within him. Instead, he just felt an odd sense of contentment. It was the price to pay for his ambitions, and he knew it. A dry chuckle pulled at Al's lips. What had officer Hopps called it? Karmic justice? Perhaps this truly was what he deserved.
A new sound derailed his train of thought. Someone was rustling around in the cell to his left. Al heard the slight rattle of bars being grasped.
"She thinks she's clever, but she said the same exact thing to me when I first got here," A whimsical voice with an Outbacker accent claimed. "Talk about unoriginal."
Al recognized the voice instantly. He smirked, glancing to his left even though he was unable to see his neighbor. "Iluka. Been a while. Thought I might see you here."
In his own cell, the tasmanian-devil scratched at the back of his neck with embarrassment. "Yeah, well, I didn't think I'd see you here, mate. I thought for sure that you'd make it work. You always were the smartest of us." A toothy grin spread across his muzzle. "Yet 'ere you are, right alongside me and Shahaz, just like old times! Turns out you're just as big a dipstick as the rest of us, goin' after the city government like that. Yeah, I heard about your plan! Doesn't look like it worked out, didenit? Some crime-lord you are."
The jaguar waved one of his paws with exasperation. "Yeah, well you shoulda seen me. I went out like a champ! Took half the ZPD to take me down. Beat that, pint-sized." A scoff broke through his teeth. "You and your stupidly difficult to pronounce name - Never much for respect."
"Oh, put a sock in it," Iluka grumbled, glancing to the side and crossing his muscular arms. "There's nothin' worth braggin' about gettin' so many blue-heelers on your back. You should have lain low and kept business steady. You might 'ave even been able to bust me outta here, eventually! But instead we're all stuck 'ere now. Probably permanently, this time! They put a metal sheet beneath my cell on account o' me diggin' out last time." He allowed himself a brief, hearty cackle. "Moles are ripper lil' things." A frown then drooped his countenance. "And for your information, my name is a traditional one in marsupial culture! It's perfectly normal!"
Al shrugged his broad shoulders. "Whatever. Maybe it would've been better to play it safe, but I had a dream to make real change in this city. And it was a dream worth every sacrifice... Even this one."
"Are you barmy? Sure, prison ain't all that bad for us - being a crime-lord comes with its perks on the inside - but what could possibly make all this worth it?"
Al just laughed. "I did what I could for what I believed in, but startin' a movement isn't about the start, it's about the movement! Somethin' tells me change will come... Positive change, for all predators. I've wanted this city to treat our kind better for as long as I can remember, and I've cared about makin' that a reality more than anything - More than my work, more than myself... More than my family." He trailed off for a moment before his expression hardened with resolve. "When that happens, it will all be worth it."
Iluka sighed. "What makes ya so sure it will, mate? Zootopia's been rubbin' heels into the backs of predator's necks for as long as I can remember."
The jaguar thought back to all the protests he'd seen develop throughout Happytown in the hours leading up to his arrest. He thought to the fleet of news vans that had filmed the whole thing, giving every pair of eyes in Zootopia a glimpse at his ideologies and the ambitions of his plan. But most of all, he thought back to the words Nick Wilde had shouted upon cornering him in the upper floors of that brewery: Zootopia should be a paradise for all mammals, but we, as a society, will create it, not you! Al smiled knowingly.
"I dunno. Just a feeling." He replied.
That fox had the same fire in his eyes as me - that same desire for change. Maybe change can come from peace after all. Maybe... I was wrong, the jaguar pondered. So much for my initial instincts.
Iluka's coarse scoff snapped Al from his inner thoughts. "Oh, is that all? A feeling?" The devil grumbled. "I'll believe it when I see it."
"There's hope out there. Maybe not for us anymore, but it's out there for everyone else. That's what matters." Al's whiskers twitched. "Oh, that reminds me. Take a look at this."
The jaguar reached into a pocket on his orange prison jumpsuit, retracting one of the few possessions he had left - a photograph that the guards had allowed him to keep as a decoration for his cell - and stuck it through the iron bars, flaunting it into the hallway for Iluka to see. The tasmanian-devil lumbered closer to his door for a better look.
Iluka gasped with joy. "I-Is that-" he stammered, pointing to the picture. "He's still-? A-And they-?"
"Yeah, it's them. Ol' bo sent it to me the other week, during my trial. Came with a letter. Thought he'd send his regards. Let us know he's doin' okay."
"How precious!" Iluka fawned, snatching the picture from Al's fingers.
Staring down at the photo, Iluka made out the form of Vladzotz Fangpyre, dressed regally as always with his black vest and slacks, vampiric collar popped around his neck, standing beside Lucy Sang as they both grinned fangs at the camera. Lucy was noticeably missing one of her pointed fangs, but she still smiled wide with pride. One of her wings was placed tenderly over her stomach, which looked a bit more swollen than normal, bulging against the fabric of a wine red dress. Both bats had shiny golden bands around the tips of their elongated ring fingers.
"You never told me they got married!" Iluka snapped. "Far less that they were having children!"
Al's left eye twitched. "I was in the hospital waitin' for my court date. And you were in prison."
The tasmanian-devil cackled. "Well, now you are too, so even-steven!" He teased quickly before handing the photo back to Al. "Nice to see those two so happy."
"Yeah," Al agreed. "They both have been through a lot. I think the least they deserve is a bit of peace."
"Sure. What about Mr. Big? Have ya gotten any updates from him? I'm curious how that little shrew is handling himself."
"I did. He sent a burner phone with a message on it. Wished me luck in the slammer, and told me that his granddaughter was in good health. He also said that business is booming. No surprise there. While the whole city was focused on me, Big-B and Vladzotz's operations have grown exponentially. They're more powerful than ever."
"Ace, mate! Good for them!" Iluka exclaimed before leaning against the wall that separated their cells and stroking at his chin. "Hmm. They're all that's left, aren't they?"
"What do you mean?" Al inquired as he pinned the photo above his bunk.
"Mr. Big and Vladzotz! They're the only two crime-lords left!" Iluka remarked, throwing his paws in the air. "You, me, Shahaz - we're all locked up! Those two have got a lot of territory to play around with. I have to wonder if they'll play nicely. You know how power can-" he pressed a clawtip to his temple and blew a raspberry. "-Mess a mammal up."
Al flumped to his bed, lacing his paws behind his head and staring thoughtfully at the drab gray ceiling. "I'm sure they'll keep things under control. We've always had the non-aggression pact, right? Somethin' stupid huge would have to happen to make 'em break that. Besides, they're friends. They know how to get along. War is bad for business."
"Unless it's won," Iluka pointed out. "And what could be a bigger prize than Zootopia's entire criminal underworld?"
Al hummed with annoyance. "Your turn to put a sock in it. Don't be talkin' like that. They'll be fine." He claimed, closing his eyes.
"Probably." The tasmanian-devil relented with a shrug. "Hey, uh, this may be a bad time, but you don't mind if I borrow your toothbrush, do ya? I lost mine in a shivving."
"No." Al said without hesitation.
"Aw, bugger," Iluka whined before straightening out with a wide grin and clapping his palms together like nothing was wrong. "Whelp, I'm gonna get me some shuteye! Prison naps are the best! No one bothers ya, and ya get to sleep in as much as you want! It was ripper catchin' up with ya, Al. Let's talk later! I wanna hear some more stories!"
Al smirked. "Sure thing, pal. I'll tell ya all about what you've been missin' out on stuck in here." He promised as he purred with comfort, stretching in his bed. "I'm ready to rest, myself. I'm honestly tired of barkin' orders, and dealin' with meetings. I'll consider this my early retirement."
The jaguar was just about to nod off for good when he felt something poke against his thigh. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a second photograph. There was his son Albert, in all his innocence, playing the piano at his mother's wedding, just as he had promised. Al sighed, wishing he could have been there to see it himself, but ultimately deciding that even this was good enough for him. He leaned over and pinned the picture on the wall above his bunk, right next to the photograph of Vladzotz and Lucy.
A smile found its way to the jaguar's face. He could live with this.
And here we are, over four years since the release of the astounding movie that inspired this story and so many others, When Instinct Falls finally is at its end. A part of me doesn't think there's much to say, but the truth is, there's a lot, so gear up for a fairly sizable Author's Note. Information about the sequel, When Night Falls, and my other plans for the future will be detailed farther below. I'd encourage you all to at least read that!
To start off, I just want to say thank you - thank you all, so incredibly much, for your interest and support toward me and my work. I never could have gotten this far were it not for the kindness and motivation you have provided me. There have been multiple times where I have strongly considered dropping this story and even leaving the community, but my desire to finish what I started, fueled by your support, has kept me going all this time. I tell myself that with this story, I have created something that other people have enjoyed and will remember, and that I've enjoyed and will remember, and that's good enough for me. I have met some remarkable people on my journey that have taught me many things about myself, others, and the world, and I've gained a lot of valuable experience that I'll not only cherish but will make use of in the future. I want to thank this community for all it has taught and gifted me. I only hope that my contributions are enough to pay it and its members back.
When Instinct Falls started out as just three short chapters spun together in a heat-of-the-moment experiment, and look how far we've come. Over 700,000 words spread throughout 100+ chapters. Thousands of reviews, Favorites and Follows. Incredible fanart, a comic adaptation, a successful original character ship, and even a ZNN Interview. From such simple origins, we've accomplished a lot. And I do mean we - Like I said, none of this could have been done without you. I never imagined this story would ever get to where it is now. I've always thought of myself as just another person writing out their silly ideas. I'm simply grateful that people have enjoyed them.
But those accomplishments have come at a cost to me. I've lost many hours and opportunities writing this story. It has not come without stress and frustration. So, I'm going to take a short break to focus on my real life now that it is complete. If I write my sequel, it will come either at the end of this year, or early next year - so long as it is a few months from now at least, to give me time to rest. I just want some time to go about my life not thinking about the next chapter on the list. This isn't to say I'll be completely inactive, though. You can still contact me here, on my various art galleries, and on Discord. And if I do return with my sequel, I'll be well-rested, with enough of it planned to come not only quickly, but easily, unlike WIF has for me in a lot of ways. There is a LOT I would do different with WIF if I had the ability to turn back time - cutting out massive swathes of the story (looking at you, fifth arc), rewriting and adding scenes, omitting some characters while fleshing out others, etc. This is partly why I've devoted so much time to revising the older chapters, as I recognize (or at the very least believe) that my work has a lot that could be improved upon, and that there are at least some ways I can go back and improve it. I'll be the first to admit that, and I'm unashamed of it. Heck, the only reason I haven't deleted vast swathes of the story for total rewriting is out of respect for those who have enjoyed them, and because many people have advised me against it despite my grievances with the older chapters. But I have grown a lot as a writer and person, over the years. If I write anything else, it will be handled much better than WIF ever was, I can promise you that much.
On that note, I think it's time I spill the beans on my future plans. Here is everything you need to know about the sequel, When Night Falls, and more projects in the making, without spoilers of course.
Assuming I create it, When Night Falls will be a linear narrative with an overarching plot (in other words, no story arcs, like in this story) separated into three acts of (potentially less than) 10 chapters each, making for a (predicted) total of 30 chapters. This number may fluctuate, but I'm putting a hard cap at 35. WNF is going to be much more organized and structured than WIF ever was, with so much more planning put into the entire story even before its release. I already have the first two acts more or less fully outlined, as a matter of fact. The plot itself will pick up about a year or two after the events of WIF, and will have two sections: An A-plot, and a B-plot, both of which will interact here and there before fully converging together for the third and final act.
The A-plot will focus on Nick's foray into Zootopian politics in the wake of his injury. No longer able to perform police work with Judy, Nick quickly becomes interested in politics, seeking to fulfill his ambitions to make the world a better place for predators and prey alike. Judy supports him, and helps him accomplish his goals by cleaning up the city's crime as the brawn to his brain. The story continues from there as he races against other candidates, discovers the intricacies of politics, battles corruption, and discovers a formidable source of injustice that has been manipulating the bigger picture from the shadows. All the while, he does his best to run from his shady past to keep it from ruining his new life. Despite the focus on politics, I can assure you the A-plot will be anything but boring, with Judy still maintaining the heavy police action that's so present in WIF, and plenty of mind games afoot! And not to worry, despite their branching careers, Nick and Judy will be closer than ever before. They may not be going on as many action-adventures together as they used to, but their teamwork (and relationship) will continue to even grander heights in both ways you might and might not expect. You'll see! Alongside that, if it wasn't evident from the finale, Harlan and Mary will be playing a larger role in the sequel's A-plot as well, working with Judy at Precinct One while their backstories and impact on the plot are given some more attention. I'd also like to note that the reason I had Nick injured like this was so that I could develop his character more, and give some real change to the sequel. But you needn't worry: despite the changes to spice things up, much of what makes this story what it is - the Wildehopps, the action, the police work, the adventure, etc - won't be going anywhere in the sequel. I'd like to assure you of that.
As for the B-plot, it will give a perspective to the villains encountered in WIF: Vladzotz and Lucy's retirement from crime is put on hold as Vladzotz uncovers the truth about his old family's death, incidentally launching the criminal underworld into a full-scale war between the Nocturnal-Mob and the Tundratown Mafia, and their leaders, Vladzotz and Mr. Big - the last two crime-lords in Zootopia. While Mr. Big seeks to protect his business and family, Vladzotz and Lucy work together to survive the conflict, alongside protecting their recently born children from a war they weren't expecting to happen. As mentioned before, this B-plot would gradually tie into the A-plot as the ripples from the conflict affect civilian life across the city, and eventually affect Nick and Judy, forcing them to do their best to keep things under control while balancing their own problems. As you might expect, this B-plot has some heavy focus on not just our two favorite bats, but also Mr. Big, who ironically didn't have that big of a role in WIF. This sequel will change that, giving him some much needed development as it explores his motivations, family, backstory, and relationship with the other crime-lords. Vladzotz and Lucy will also receive some more development to their backstories, motivations, and relationship together as they try to start a family and keep it safe in the middle of this untimely crime war. Although this B-plot will involve the villains of WIF, I can assure you that things won't be so clear cut in the sequel - the villains you know might not be the biggest threat! Be on the lookout for lots of twists and turns! You can also expect fresh settings (Marshlands, Meadowlands, Canal-District, and more!), changing stakes, subverted expectations, and characters new and old for both the A and B plots.
As you may have noticed, the two scenes present in this epilogue both hinted at the A and B plots for the sequel, respectively, with Nick confirming his interest in politics, and Iluka hinting at the possibility of a war between Vladzotz and Mr. Big. They were designed that way so that if I for whatever reason never write the sequel, readers could still get a basic idea of how I imagine the story would continue from here. And that is something I'd like to emphasize again: I'm still not 100% certain if want to write the sequel due to time and energy problems, even despite the shorter story length, so although the outlined plot above is how I might view how this story could continue, don't chalk it up to being canon just yet. But I'd like to pose a question: would you like to see a sequel to begin with? What do you think of the sound of the overall plot? Please feel free to let me know in a review or PM what you think! I believe that feedback on what the community wants from me on this regard will help me make a better decision. Regardless, I can tell you any potential sequel I might make would be leagues more organized, compact, and well-edited than WIF. I don't want to make the same mistakes that I made with WIF, so if I do make something new, I can promise you it will be to the best quality I can muster!
Anyways, that's pretty much what I have planned for the sequel. I may also release a short "When Instinct Falls Drabbles" series exploring some various fun ideas that didn't make it into the main story, such as Nick and Judy's first date/dealing with Chief Bogo's initial desire to keep them apart due to fraternization concerns, how Vladzotz and Lucy got married in the time between the finale and epilogue, and what the boisterous walrus/narwhal dynamic of Ivar Obdenberg and John Haddock have been up to since their last appearance. Just some quick, fun, but not altogether plot-pivotal ideas compiled into one story. How does that sound? Just like the sequel, please feel free to let me know if you'd be interested in seeing something like that in a review and/or PM. Oh, and Bloodlines, the backstory for Lucy that I'm helping write that can be found on my friend MindJack's profile, will still be continuing too, for those interested in keeping up with it.
Given that this is the last chapter, and subsequently the last Author's Note, I wanted to try to cover everything that needed to be said. I think I've done that. I don't have much else to add. I did get in a bad accident recently, bad enough to warrant a GoFundMe, so if anyone wants the link to that, just send me a PM, I suppose, and I'll provide. Do please feel free to let me know what you think of this epilogue and this story, now that it's over, in the form of a review, if you'd like! What do you think of the ending, and how the characters have adapted to it, be it Nick and Judy, or Al and Iluka, or Vladzotz and Lucy? I want to know that people have found enjoyment from my work, if only to assure me that all the time and frustration I've been through has been worth it. Because knowing that my efforts lead to the enjoyment of others is worthwhile to me.
Again, thank you all so much for this incredible journey you've taken with me. It's been a wild ride, but I'm glad it's over. Nothing lasts forever, after all, and I'm pleased with how I've wrapped things up. I hope you are too! This may be the end for WIF, but if you'd like to stay updated on any future releases, feel free to Follow my profile, and you'll be able to stay informed! Not a requirement, though - Just letting you know your options, for those who'd like to stay informed. Regardless, don't be afraid to keep an eye out for what's to come! The comic adaptation of WIF will be continuing, and I'll keep posting more fanart as it comes, and as I burn through my backlog of posts, so you can expect plenty more of all that on my art accounts on tumblr and DeviantArt and the like. And WIF may be over, but this is by no means necessarily the end of my writing career. All I ask is that you give me the time I need to recover, and if I return with a sequel and/or Drabble series, we can rest easy knowing it'll be of the best quality possible. And if I do return with something new, as I said, you can expect it later this year. That's a promise. I know I haven't been that good with meeting my update deadline promises, as of late, due to real-life setbacks, and I sincerely apologize for that, but I truly have much progress done for the sequel already, and with my passions and energy renewed after a short break, I'm sure it will come smoothly. But that's assuming you'd like a sequel to begin with, so please don't be afraid let me know what you think of everything I mentioned! It would be a huge help for my decision.
Whelp, this is it everyone. Thank you for everything! Truly. I hope you have enjoyed this final chapter, and When Instinct Falls!
'Till next time...