Hill Street Zoos

This idea kind of came to me while going through all of the tales of Nick Wilde, reformed con-mammal, and Judy Hopps, over achieving fluff butt. There have been great stories about their work and personal lives. Minor characters have been expanded upon, and original characters developed to the point that it's hard to imagine the world of Zootopia without them somewhere in the back ground.

I've decided to write a story, based very loosely, on the 1980's show "Hill Street Blues". It was one of the first ensemble cast cop shows. It paved the way for "Law and Order", the various incarnations of "CSI" and other popular police procedurals. It was produced by NBC from 1981 to 1987. I haven't got it all planned out yet. Fellow writer and literary friend, King in Yellow, suggested that I should at least give a summary and opening now, so as to "reserve the title", as it hadn't been conceived yet.

So, be patient, and the story will unfold. Note: Original Characters will probably wind up being named for the corresponding characters from the television series (A mix of character and actor) or will be mildly amusing puns. Be warned, you may want to prepare to face-palm yourself and groan now. (Anybody who has read my Kim Possible stuff knows what I mean.)

XX

8:00 am: Briefing and Assignments

The bullpen was its usual noisy, raucous environment. Mammals were standing in groups, sipping at mugs of coffee from the break room, or sitting at the large tables. Discussions about the weekend activities of off duty cops mingled with under the table wagering on, well, just about everything. The officers of Precinct One tended to be a very close knit group. They were picked from the cream of the academy crop, or by having shown some special merit.

The door was pushed open, and two mammals came in. At first, to a casual observer, it appeared that the door had just been blown open. That is, until the black tips of red furred canine ears could be seen over the edges of tables. These were closely followed by the black tipped gray of long lapin appendages following behind.

Nick Wilde calmly made his way through the chaos of the bullpen, coffee mug in paw. He tipped the aviator sunglasses he wore down, exposing green eyes. Anyone looking at them could almost see the mischief lurking somewhere behind them. While he wasn't trying to part mammals from their money anymore, he wasn't above running a hustle, usually in the form of a prank or sarcastic joke. After almost a year in the ZPD, the entire shift had been victim to something or other. Only a few weeks ago, Francine Trunkaby had received a lovely bag of roasted peanuts for her birthday. To add insult to the already cliché injury, Nick had hired a mouse singing telegram to jump out of the bag to serenade her with the traditional ditty.

Judy Hopps bounced in his wake. The very definition of a morning animal, she cheerfully greeted her co-workers. While initially she had been looked down upon by the others (for more reasons than just her small stature), she had quickly earned her own place in the department. She had partnered up with just about everyone on the day shift at one time or another while Nick was still at the academy. Most had barely kept up with her as she spent her days enforcing the law. It seemed like she was everywhere at once sometimes, working to "make the world a better place".

Nick glanced up at the seat he shared with his partner. Holding up his mug, he cleared his voice, and got the attention of the officer in the chair next to it. "Hey, George, a little help here?"

The rhino, George McHorn, glanced down and a nearly invisible grin came to his face. Reaching a big hoof down, he took the mug and placed it on the table in front of the empty chair. This was yet another morning routine. When Nick had first been assigned to the precinct, he had tried making the jump to the seat with coffee in paw. One nasty stain on George's uniform had been enough to ensure that none of the precious liquid would be wasted in future.

Nick turned to Judy, who had just finished swapping gossip with Terry Fangmeyer. He gave her his right paw and assisted her in jumping up. She shifted over, and the fox scrambled up beside her, taking the offered paw in return. Fangmeyer just watched from her place in the row behind them. It always seemed funny to her, how he helped up a mammal that could just as easily have hopped to the surface of the table unassisted, never mind the seat of the chair. She looked over her left shoulder, and noticed several other officers observing the scene. A few whispers were exchanged, further back in the room.

One of the current wagers going around was about the relationship status of the ZPD's poster officers.

It was well known that they were close. The Night Howler case had thrown the pair together out of necessity. When Wilde had gone on to the academy, it was noticed that Hopps always seemed to know how things were going. Fangmeyer and Trunkaby had both caught her texting him at the end of shift, or over lunch. When they had casually mentioned it to Ben, out at the front desk, he had given a squeal that actually caused John Wolford (sitting in the break room) to drop his breakfast burrito and cover his ears. That afternoon, Clawhauser had put together a betting chart.

Chief Bogo had officially "not become aware" of the gambling going on in his precinct. Off the record, he had his sergeant place a small wager on his behalf. He was sure that, while the fox was extremely protective and supportive of the first rabbit officer, it wasn't going to go anywhere. For her part, Hopps was quick to nag her partner about his work habits or push him to do things outside of his comfort zone. He'd seen enough co-workers pair off before, and this just didn't feel the same.

What the rest of the department saw was Nick teasing Judy and making sly innuendos. In return, Judy led him around by his tie or a convenient paw. They didn't seem to have any hesitation about being in physical contact with one another. To most of the mammals who saw them together, it wasn't a question of if, but when. So far, half of the bets had been lost, placed by optimists who figured that romance was just boiling under the surface.

The hippo who had been leaning against the wall at the front of the room snapped to attention, having looked at the clock next to the door to his left. He could hear the footsteps approaching down the corridor, and the rustling of papers. "Ten hut!", he shouted, opening the door.

Chief Akuna Bogo lumbered through the door, angling his body slightly so that neither his broad shoulders nor his horns caught on the frame. His eyes never left the pages he held in his hooves as he made his way to the lectern at the front, backed by the white/cork board on his left and a monitor showing a montage of images from the city's cctv cameras. The chief put the folders down on the table next to him, and finally brought his eyes up, taking off the reading glasses perched on his snout.

"Alright, shut it and sit down!" All activity ceased at the thundered command. Seats were quickly taken and all eyes focused on the cape buffalo as he prepared to brief the shift and hand out assignments for the day.

"First thing, I want to inform you all, that if I get the evidence against the perpetrator who posted this..." he held up a photo of pop star Gazelle standing next to one of her buff tiger dancers. The head of said tiger had been replaced with that of Bogo. It was photoshopped with care, and the picture had them in a very intimate pose. "on the bulletin board in the break room, there is a month of parking duty headed his way." While the threat was clear through the whole room (and possibly three more in each direction), the glare was most definitely aimed at the fox who grinned smugly over his cup of coffee.

"Why, Chief, you can't possibly imagine that I would..."

"Let's just say, you are my number one suspect. This..." and he waved the photo expressively, "is going down to forensics. If they find your prints, you're going to be very, very sorry."

Through this exchange, Judy had a palm firmly planted over her muzzle, and was groaning to herself. It wasn't evidence, certainly, but it did firm up Bogo's case.

"Moving on. It's been pretty quiet on the streets the last few months. The rate of violent crimes is next to nil. Nobody is under any delusion that it will stay that way, especially once the Bellwether trial gets under way. Fangmeyer, Wolford, Delgato and McHorn; you will be providing security for the transport to the court house tomorrow. Report to tactical for briefing." He set a folder aside for the officers to pick up on their way out. "Trunkaby, Addison; you're being assigned to detective Bruin to assist with the break-ins down in Sahara Square. Remember to take lots of water," Francine nodded at the polar bear two tables over.

The chief had been jostling partners a bit, to get the "rookies" comfortable with the others. "Everyone else will be doing routine patrols until further notice. Hopps, Wilde, pick up your briefing about the trial from Clawhauser. I want you fully prepared before you walk into that courtroom."

The hippo, Sergeant Higgins, drew himself up to full height, taking the place of his boss, who was marching out of the room. "You heard the chief mammals. Get to work. And remember, be careful out there. Dismissed!"

The room began to clear of animals. In teams of twos and fours, they collected their mission paperwork and moved to either get more coffee, or to otherwise prepare to roll out.

XX

The public entrance to the ZPD was a glass and steel facade that towered over the city's central plaza. The multiple revolving doors allowed access to mammals of all sizes, from the tallest giraffe to the smallest mouse. The grand lobby was a gleaming place, with Ben Clawhauser in his kiosk, beaming his smile (when not munching on Lucky Chomps or donuts) waiting to assist the public in finding what they needed. Awards lined the walls, and commemorative plaques honoring officers of the past. Behind the public rooms, a corridor housing pictures of chiefs of police from 100 years ago, to the brooding Chief Bogo, led to several offices, the bullpen, and a set of stairs going down.

What the public never saw, was the line of three garage doors at the rear of the building. Under the tower of headquarters was the garage that held most of the departments black and white patrol units. Two of the doors swung up and a number of the cars rolled out. At the gate, they split up and moved out across the precinct.

"I can't believe you actually put that stupid picture up on the board!" Judy Hopps gripped the steering wheel of her specially modified cruiser in white knuckled paws. "You realize that if you get stuck on parking duty, I'll likely wind up drawing paperwork?" She glanced over at her partner with a scowl, only to be met by his usual sly grin and her own reflection in his sunglasses. He was leaning back in his seat, his cup of coffee halfway to his snout.

"Relax, Carrots. There's no way he can prove it was me. I stayed out of sight of the cameras, wiped my prints off of the picture and used gloves the whole time I was handling it." The fox chuckled to himself, and took a sip of the black liquid in his paw, savoring the blueberry flavor shot that he always put into it. "He will likely have my computer checked while we're out, just to see if he can catch me that way. What Buffalo Butt doesn't know is that I farmed out the actual photoshopping to one of the guys down in forensics that owes me a favor. IF he ever traces the source, he'll be told it actually came from HIS OWN computer partition on the server." Nick was all but patting himself on the back.

"I just don't see why you feel the need to antagonize him. I wasn't sure he was even going to let you into the precinct, after the way you dressed him down back during the Night Howler case. If you'd been an officer then, we'd both be looking for jobs." Judy shook her head. She remembered the look on Bogo's face when Nick had walked between the cape buffalo's outstretched hoof and herself in the Rain Forest District. Sometimes it seemed like her partner could talk his way into, and out of, just about anything.

"It's called a hustle, sweetheart. Just because I wear this badge doesn't mean I want to loose my edge. It was my life from the time I was twelve. Besides, it was just a harmless prank." He looked down into his travel mug. "Look, if it means that much to you, I promise I'll try to straighten up and fly right for a while." He raised his right paw and put on his most sincere grin. He hated it when his fluff was angry with him. "I swear, no more jokes, pranks or capers." There was a slight pause. "For at least a week."

Judy laughed at her partner. As much as he annoyed her sometimes, he was a big part of what made working for the ZPD so much fun. "Okay. But if you get caught, I'm gonna post pictures of you in the clown car all over Fuzzbook."

"You know you love me." It was a joke that started with that first patrol. Now, it was just part of who the fox and rabbit were.

"Do I know that?" Judy leaned over and kissed the fox on the cheek. "Yes, yes I do."