This story exists thanks to a number of other authors who have written about Zootopia in time of war. First among these is Selaxes, who set up the whole scenario in the first place. Thanks to; Selaxes, stevegallacci, Tom1380, and winerp who have kept this universe open, and further to Selaxes for inviting me to play in it. I will be checking with them for continuity within the series.

I am a sporadic author, at the best of times, but with an ongoing saga to keep up with, I'll be doing my best. This might actually get my butt in gear to finish stuff I've started. (I'm also to be found over on .)

Characters will seldom be of my own creation, and I will post it in my authors notes when they are not.

That said, Disney owns the rights to the movie Zootopia and the characters therein. They are used here without permission, and I (nor any other author) receive any financial gain.

(See author's notes below)

Chapter One

It was one of those wet spring days in Bunnyburrow, the kind that does despaired of, since, once the chores of the day were done, there was simply no way to amuse the scores of kits and youngsters. A small group, five in number, decided that this would be a good time to do a little searching in the storage rooms down in the lowest levels of the burrow. Many a wonderful toy or forgotten book had been found in previous forays into these dark, dusty rooms. One kit or another would invariably haul out something, and one of the older siblings, or a parent would recount how the item had been such a beloved piece of the Hopps family history. Which always begged the question of how it had languished for so long in a forgotten corner.

After a few hours of rummaging, the bunnies found themselves in a part of the warren that hadn't been upgraded for many octades. Here, the dust was a little thicker, the hinges of the doors squealing in protest. The youngest, Colton, had been tempted to turn around and go back to the library upstairs and see if maybe there might not still be a book that he had not read. Cousin Bailey teased him, so the young grey bunny continued to follow.

By this time, they had reached a portion of the warren that did not even have proper lighting. Colton was going to take this opportunity to suggest that they all turn around. Bailey, a veteran of numerous raids on the Hopps family stores, had thought ahead, and brought a flashlight, not yet being old enough for one of the cell phones that most of the family carried. (It was a standing tradition that no kit under the age of twelve was permitted to own a phone. They tended to get in the way of chores and studying.) He had turned it on as he put his shoulder to a door that had not been opened in previous forays. It eventually took Bailey, Elizabeth and Brian to force the door open, while Trinity was entrusted with the flashlight.

When the dust finally settled, the kits looked about the room, wondering where to start first. As the beam of light traveled, Elizabeth pointed at a rather largish box. It had once been carefully stained and sealed cedar, but now was as dusty and scratched as the rest of the room's contents.

"Hey, look, this one has your name on it!" She went to the box and, using the rag that she had been using to clean one of the upper rooms as her part of the morning chores, began to wipe away the dust and grime.

In stenciled black paint, the name Bailey Hopps was revealed more plainly. It was followed by a date, rather faded, sometime in 1940, as best it could be reckoned. The last line was a series of numbers, four digits, a dash, and then three more.

"It's definitely not mine. Let's see if we can get this thing open." Bailey and Brian, brothers from the same litter, started pulling down the crates that were piled on top of the box. Sitting on the last, Bailey reached to the hasp of the container in question, which had no lock, he lifted it with only the smallest squeak of protest from the old steel. With baited breath, he put his fingers under the edge of the lid, and prepared to pull it open.

"What in the name of Serendipity do you think you're doing in here you little imps!"

All of the kits jumped. The lid, which had lifted only the barest fingertip slapped back down with a rather impressive slam.

Leaning on a walking stick in the doorway was the silhouette of Pop-pop. He was peering into the room, the little light from the hall and the flashlight, now on the floor, having dropped out of the startled paw of young Trinity, caught in his eyes, giving them an almost demonic look. One by one the youngsters put their hands behind their back, ears drooping in shame and noses twitching in fright. At his advanced age, the old buck was most often to be found dozing in the overstuffed chair in the suite of rooms on the first lower level of the warren. When he was up and around, it was like he was patrolling the halls, just looking for idle paws or mischief-makers.

Rabbit genealogy is a rather complex thing. Cousins born at the same time were often considered siblings, which made for confusion when discussing relationships with outsiders. Rather than her father, Pop-pop was the eldest living uncle of Bonnie Hopps, the current matriarch of the Hopps clan. Most warrens in the Savage Times had been led by "queen" does, with the help of her offspring and of her sisters. In the formal tongue, Bonnie would have been granted the title of "Eldest Mother", responsible for raising not only her own kits, but all those within her warren.

Pop-pop slowly marched his way into the room, leaning on his cane but still trying to stand straight with all of the dignity he could muster. He looked from one kit to another. They had instinctively fallen into a line, starting with Bailey (the eldest present) and ending with Colton. As the elder's stare bored into them, each squirmed just the tiniest bit.

"Sir, we were just looking through some of the old stuff that's been here since forever. We meant no harm. Then we found this box with Bailey's name on it." Colton had not managed to last for more than a two-count under the stag's countenance.

"That's not just any box. It belonged to a brave young buck, who risked everything to keep the Hopps family safe." With no small amount of reverence, Pop-pop walked over to the chest in question. "I haven't seen this for a very long time, Bailey. It's owner was one of my older brothers. You carry his name. How old are you now?"

"Ten, sir."

With a slight groan, the old buck sat on a small box next to the chest.

"I think it's time you knew about this then. You have a noble name, and some very big footprints to fill. My brother was a hero, no matter how he felt about some of the things he had done after the war was over."

With a gesture, he gathered the young ones around, and waved young Bailey forward to continue lifting the lid. Once open, the first item was carefully pulled from its hiding place. The black beret was made of felt, without so much as a mote of dust on it. He passed it to the young buck next to him, who passed it on to his younger siblings and cousins. Having seen the care Pop-pop took with the garment, they handled it with a similar caution, each brushing a paw over the soft material. Colton gave it back to the oldster.

"What have they taught you in school about the war against the Predator Axis?"

Bailey was the only one that seemed to understand what he was talking about.

"Not much. It's something that happened a long time ago. The teacher says that we will learn more when we're a little older. Just that between 1938 and 1945, a bunch of predator countries attacked Zootopia, and were going to do bad things to every prey animal."

"Hmph, don't care much for your education then." The old buck put the cap on his lap. "Bad things doesn't begin to describe what the Axis was planning. My oldest brother Virgil and his best friend Ed barely survived with their pelts intact." He looked back into the old box and pulled out a black and white photo, faded but still quite visible. Two bucks were leaning against a bale of straw in the old barn which still stood several hundred yards from the entrance to the warren. Each was in a uniform, and were carefully trying to hide the scars and disfigurement they had endured only weeks before.

"Bailey Hopps decided that he needed to do something."

XX

Bailey Hopps looked up with a start, his amber-gold eyes widening as his nose twitched a bit. Had he not been so concerned at being caught his ears might have snapped down along his back instead of perking straight up to detect possible discovery. When the door to his father's study stayed closed, he clicked the paw held torch back on and returned to his search. It took what subjectively felt like hours before he found the document he wanted, though in reality only a few minutes had passed. When it came to important papers his parents demonstrated that it wasn't just their fields that were kept in almost immaculate order.

Transferring his find to the paw that held the light, Bailey closed the drawer of the filing cabinet, his teeth grinding together at the sound of wood on wood, his imagination making it far louder than it was in truth, but positive that it was enough to wake his parents. If his mother or father learned of what he was doing there would surely be hell to pay. Once he'd covered the signs that he was in his parents' files, the young buck moved to the desk, setting the paper on the surface as he tucked the torch between his shoulder and jaw and looked the page over.

For the whole day certain words that Bailey had overheard kept spinning around the inside of his head.

He knew that eavesdropping was a bad habit, but in all fairness he'd already been in the storage shed working on the rings that hung from a rafter attached to one of the roof beams. He still had Animalympic aspirations, even though the war had caused the games that year to be canceled, there was always hope for the next set of Summer Games. Unless the fight with the Axis still raged. Then again, the way things were going, the next Animalympics might be predator only. But he still worked out much like he did at St. Lapinous School for the Arts, his Uncle Victor having gotten him in, until the bombing of Zootopia closed it. For that alone Bailey would have wanted to give the preds in the Axis what for.

Still, his brother Virgil had only inflamed his anger as he paused at the door to the shed, unable to go in, shaking with a fear that was almost palpable until Ed Sward showed up and the whole story of the older Hopps' came tumbling out. Within minutes Bailey heard the tale of both rabbits as he hid in the loft, tears streaming down his own face at what he listened to.

Words like stammlager, the term for a prison camp, and tierfarm, or animal farm, burned into his brain like a hot brand. He listened with his paw clamped over his muzzle as Virgil talked about the hutch he was locked into without space enough to sit or stand or lay down properly. He fought against the shame for his brother about having to relieve himself through a filthy hole in the floorboards. And when Virgil talked about the black uniformed troopers coming by five or six times a day to force feed him and other prisoners some sort of gruel to fatten them up he felt rage. It explained why Virgil had trouble eating his morning porridge and get a bit panicky and wild-eyed in very tight spaces, a very un-rabbit like fear.

Bailey shuddered when Virgil talked about how the guards would tell him that he would make a fine plate of hasenpfeffer, some sort of roasted rabbit dish and laugh as they poked him to see how fat he was getting.

It was enough so that by the time Ed told his story Bailey lay curled on his side, weeping silently, a knuckle between his teeth to keep them from chattering and from crying aloud.

This was what awaited all of Zootopia if they lost. And the whole of the world...

Then Ed spoke of the re-education camp that he'd seen, the place where preds that stood out against the Axis were taken, and the things that were being done to species traitors. Ed talked of seeing piles of dead pred kits that were part of some sort of experiments on forced selective breeding, their little bodies literally being pitch forked into crematoriums, how predator prisoners were exposed to environmental extremes without clothing or shelter, or were being starved to the point they had to feed on their own dead, and those were just the things that the scarred rabbit had seen from his train car before being taken to Stammlager Tierfarm Zwölf, or Animal Farm Prison Camp Twelve.

By the time they left, Bailey's horror had began to turn into something else, and when his mother called her numerous children in for supper, Bailey was well in the throes of simmering anger. He looked around the supper tables, at his brothers and sisters, easily transposing their faces on the scenes that he'd heard tell of that day. He saw Belle and Dawn and Rose or Calvin and Gerry being force fed for whatever hasenpfeffer was. He saw Daisy and her kits as slaves, or even Barbara and Judy. Then there was her new husband who would be put into re-education…

When he finally turned in for the night, Bailey knew what he had to do. He listened and waited for his brothers in the same room to drift off to sleep, then waited another hour to be sure. He dressed quickly after slipping out of his bed, and then bundled up a couple of shirts, another pair of trousers and some fresh knickers, tying it all in a small blanket that he wrapped in a slightly larger one. Bailey paused as he opened the door, ears straining as he listened for footsteps outside the room. When that also proved to be empty he padded rapidly to his father's study.

With his birth papers in paw, Bailey carefully wrote a note of permission before affixing a very convincing facsimile of Stu Hopps' signature to the note, copied diligently from the older rabbit's farm ledger. He looked at his work carefully before tucking the letter into the breast pocket of his shirt and then looked about to ensure that there was nothing overt out of place, then set the letter that he wrote to tell his parents where he was going in a place where it wouldn't be discovered for a day or so and stood.

Tucking the electric torch into his back pocket the young rabbit went to the door and paused, an ear against the wood, but heard nothing and opened it, stepping out and closing up the study and turning to leave.

It took all of his self control not to scream when he found a very sleepy but curious Belle and Dawn looking up at him as they returned from the privy.

"Bailey?" Belle asked. "Whatcha doin' in dad's study?" the little doe asked as the lamb with her rubbed at eyes that even without her glasses were a bit large.

"Never you mind, Belle," he said with a gentle smile as his heart rate returned to something almost normal. "Get on to bed with you two, all right?"

The bunny nodded as Dawn stifled a yawn. Then both gasped as Bailey pulled the two into an almost fierce embrace, the buck feeling a momentary pang. What he was going to do was going to be for them as much as anybody, and as he held them, the lamb having easily integrated into the Hopps household. She might as well have been born in the warren as readily as she fit in with the rabbit family.

"Bailey?" Belle asked in confusion as she heard her older brother sniffle and a slight tremor run through him. "Is something the matter?"

The rabbit shook his head and pulled back enough to smile at the pair. "Nothing, Belle. Get to bed now. Oh, and remember that I love you, okay?"

The little doe nodded, her expression still quizzical, but did as she was told while leading the ewe back to the room they shared with several sisters.

With a sigh Bailey stood and picked up his small bundle. He had a few shillings in his pocket for potential expenses and a short detour the kitchen would give him ample nibbles for the trip. His feet were silent as he made his way to the Hopps' larder and storage bins and he filled a small cloth sack with all manner of vegetables that could be eaten raw and traveled well. Carrots and a couple of lovely turnips with their white and purple bulbs, a couple of pawfuls of greens from the same, some apples that the Swards had given them and a yam or two would tide him over on his trip, even if it took a couple of days. It was a pity that he wouldn't be able to take some of the other fruits from the season, though he did snag two perfect peaches to eat on his walk into town.

The moon and stars were out, though the pearly orb was close to the western horizon and wouldn't provide light for much longer, though once his feet found the lane, the pale dusty track was easily seen, even in the gloom to rabbit eyes that functioned better in daylight. Bailey did turn at one point to look back at the house one last time and felt his throat tighten before turning away and resolutely began walking.

If mammals could leave school at fourteen to work, Bailey saw no reason why he couldn't join the Army, even though he was only sixteen. Even if there was resistance, he had the note, albeit forged, and his birth documents. He might not be like his brother, or a tank ace like Ed, not even remotely pilot material like Johnny and Judy or a sailor like Danny, but he wanted to help because there was just too much at stake. Even if he wound up as a field cook it would be something, and that was what mattered. Just doing his part to make sure others that could fight had the necessary support.

In spite of the pang of leaving home, Bailey couldn't help but stand a little taller, his shoulders back and his head high as he felt in his heart that this was the right thing to do.

Virgil walked in from the weather that was starting to turn sour with clouds of leaden grey piling up from the east and wondered if it would be enough to keep the Axis out of the skies of Zootopia. It had been a good morning so far, tinkering on his motorcycle with Maggie who was walking alongside him, her paw in his. He'd felt better after talking about his time in the stammlager with Ed, almost as if a weight had been lifted from both shoulders and heart.

Until he walked into the upper kitchen of the Hopps farmhouse and found his parents distraught and the weight seemed to settle back. He wondered if something else had happened, like the loss of Barty, or possibly worse. Judging from the look on his mother's face, it was just as bad.

"What's going on, Mom?"

Bonnie simply let her head fall forward onto her crossed arms and shook with tears while a despondent Stu held a piece of stenographer's paper to the younger rabbit. With a feeling of dread Virgil took the page and read it twice as the import of the words sank in.

"That stupid, brave, idiotic little git!" Virgil spat under his breath, his fingers tightening on the paw that he held as he turned to look at Maggie. "The little shit's one of the smartest rabbits out of our family, and he's done about the stupidest thing possible!"

It was a testament to the moment that neither Bonnie nor Stu called their older son down for his language. Maggie simply peeked down at the paper before gasping and her free paw went to her muzzle. "He ran off? To join the Army? Oh, no…"

Virgil shook his head as he dropped the note on the table. "I'll head into town and see if I can catch him. I'll haul him back if I can."

Stu simply nodded as he tried to console his wife while keeping his own emotions in check.

"You go on ahead," Maggie said with a partially self conscious nuzzle to the rabbit buck's cheek fur, the doe still acclimating to being in a relationship where she didn't have to pretend to be a 'proper doe' and could be herself in flannel shirt and dungarees. "I'll let Ed and Daisy know."

Virgil nodded, gracing the rabbit with muted brown fur a kiss before running to the barn where his bike was. At least he didn't have to worry about a stall like had happened the other evening while he and Maggie had been out riding, the carburetor was properly cleaned, the tank and fuel lines had been flushed and cleaned and the filters replaced while there was also a batch of fresh oil in it. It fired up on a single kick and Virgil slipped his old aviator's goggles down over his eyes as he shot towards the lane. As he turned the back wheel slipped a touch and the rabbit expertly wrestled the machine back on track and twisted the throttle with a vengeance.

The local guard was comprised of a few grey-muzzles; mammals that had served years before in the Great War, and stayed on as defense auxiliaries as part of the Home Guard. It was up to them to ensure potential recruits were sent on to the proper stations to be evaluated. The senior officer of the Bunnyburrow Home Guard was one Captain Clayton Oliver Bracefoot. As an artillery officer in the previous war he considered himself an experienced veteran though the prospect of being too old for service in the present conflict did rankle a bit.

Instead he was relegated to his home town, the only subordinates a few aged reprobates that would have found a difficult time in his company back in the Great War. They were slovenly, mostly pensioners and between the lot of them only the Captain himself had anything remotely resembling a proper firearm and uniform. At least when they drilled each morning he looked professional despite most of his subordinates showing up in their church best and various farm implements or, if they had them, perhaps a shotgun or two.

The morning hadn't been too trying, and reports on the wireless from ZBC had reports of potential weather rolling in, which Captain Bracefoot thought would be good. Might keep those Axis savages out of the skies. Heavens knew their lads in the air were carrying their fair share. If during the Great War someone had said aeroplanes would be such a vital tool Clayton would have laughed at them. Soldiers and ships were the keys to winning a war, though with what had been going on this past year even the aged mountain hare had to admit that some of these new fangled contraptions had their uses. Though it by no means excused the lack of fighting spirit from some of these boys that he'd been seeing as of late. Then again, the new military was even letting females take over various roles such as flying. What was the world coming to when females were allowed to function in a job that they were obviously unsuited for?

Just as the mountain hare lifted his tea, properly strong, the right amount of milk and sugar, the door to the Home Guard office slammed rudely open, a disheveled rabbit standing in the doorway with a slightly wild eyed expression.

"I beg your pardon!" Clayton Oliver Bracefoot roared indignantly, more upset about the sudden noise almost causing him to slosh tea on his well kept uniform.

The military portion in Virgil Hopps makeup caused him to flinch for a fraction of a second before noting the HG armband. Too many of the older generation of veterans were more than happy to give their opinions on what the most recent generations were doing wrong in facing the Huns. The concept of Blitzkrieg was lost on them or the way that modern mechanized and airborne forces could move rapidly across distances that used to take weeks in a matter of days.

And they were damn quick to point out that, 'Back in their day…'

"Sorry for the interruption, Captain," Virgil said as he rode down the urge to haul the stocky mountain hare to his feet and shake him as the direct recruitment officer for the valley. "Did you have a young rabbit come through this morning, a Bailey Hopps?"

The hare set his tea down, the cup clinking sharply on the saucer. Clayton sat up, leaning forward as his muddy brown eyes narrowed. "You're that Virgil Hopps fellow, aren't you?" the Home Guard officer inquired with another curl to his lip. "Should think after the way your lot fared at Bullkirk you'd be appreciative of any helping paw you all could get."

Virgil couldn't help the surge of rage that took him at those words. His paws balled up so tightly that the joints of his knuckles popped even as the rabbit ground his teeth fighting back the impulse to tell the pompous Home Guard officer that it was a different conflict than the Great War. It wasn't just conflicting ideologies but a literal struggle against those that were almost religiously bent on subjugating all prey the world over. His nostrils flaring as his nose twitched in anger, Virgil drew in a deep breath, held it and let it out slowly before speaking. As it was, his voice was flat and cold as winter ice.

"All I want to know was if my brother came through," Virgil said. "Did you send him to the recruitment processing office?"

"Of course I did," Clayton said as he plucked half a scone out of the wax paper it had been wrapped in. "He and a few other lads left on the first train yesterday morning." The hare nibbled a little bit of one corner and nodded. "Looked to be in high spirits. If things go well I see them making a good show of it against those ruffians on the continent. Reminds me of some of the mammals in my first unit. Decent, respectable lads, each and everyone. Far from officer material, of course, but good solid mammals. In fact I recall one rabbit, from Lapinmoore I believe, quiet fellow that-"

The sound of the door slamming yanked the Home Guard Captain out of his recollections and he frowned at the retreating rabbit through the glass.

"Rude blaggards, those Hopps. Wouldn't have made it back in our unit, would they Earburton?" Bracefoot inquired with a petulant tone at the Home Guard rabbit that was his orderly for the day. "Right arrogant gits, don't you think?"

The elderly buck snorted as he was roused from his doze and automatically reached for the pot of tea mumbling incoherently as he tipped the spout over the Captain's cup.

"Yes, sir," Clayton confirmed with a nod. "No discipline whatsoever. No backbone, either. Need some good officers to show them how to act in a proper military manner. Of course those Swards and Clays aren't much better, but the Hopps." Clayton picked up his swagger stick and pointed it out the glass of the door where Virgil was mounting his motorcycle. "Not a proper family at all. That one a trouble maker, that one doe of theirs…why I heard that she was gallivanting with a fox. A fox, Earburton! Of all things…" He picked up the freshened tea. "Something about her adopting a lamb or some such instead of finding herself a proper rabbit husband."

The aged buck muttered something that was once again unintelligible before sitting back down and leaning on one paw, his muddy brown eyes fluttering closed.

"World's absolutely mad, I tell you, Earburton. And these youngsters…no respect for their elders, eh?"

"Yesterday?" Bonnie Hopps said as she looked at her son, one paw grasping the fingers of her husband where he rested his own on her shoulder. "But he's not old enough!"

Virgil looked from his parents to Ed who stood with Daisy, a knowing and sad look in his eyes. "They won't check too hard about his age, mom. The way things are going they'll take anyone that looks able bodied and won't think twice about it."

"But he's sixteen!" Bonnie wailed while shaking her head.

Virgil slid his paws across the table and took his mother's, wrapping them with a gentle firmness. "It doesn't matter. He's healthy and willing, and he'll get some preferential treatment for being a volunteer instead of a conscript." He sighed. "I'll see who I can talk to, but we don't even know if he gave his real name. The thing is, there won't be a lot that we can do."

XX

Bella Hopps heard the voice coming from an open room down the hall on one of the lowest levels. She had gone to her uncle's suite of rooms to check on him and let him know that supper was on the stove and ask if he would be eating at the main table or from the tray on his own. She crossed the threshold of the door just as he finished speaking.

"There you are. What are you lot doing down here?"

Pop-pop put the photo back into the box along with the black beret, giving it an absent brush. He carefully closed the lid and laid a paw on top of it.

"I was just telling these kits a bit of a story, but it's going to take longer than I thought. Would you get a couple of the older lads to bring this to my room?"

Bella looked at him with a strange quirk to her muzzle, her eyes brimming with a few tears. She brushed her paws on her apron and nodded.

"You kits get on upstairs and wash up for supper. My bones tell me the rain is going to hold all weekend, so you just come to my sitting room after the chores are done tomorrow and I'll tell you more about what you've found." The old buck slowly rose to his feet and shooed the young bunnies out with his stick.

"Are you sure it's a good idea to tell them about... you know?" Bella looked pointedly at the old footlocker.

"Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." the older rabbit quoted. "Don't worry. I won't give them the really ugly details. I just want them to know how close we could get again, if some have their way." The papers had been raging about the Night Howler incident for weeks still.

"And what have you told them so far? Do they know just whose past they've uncovered?"

"Just that it was my older brother's."

"Still lying about your age, Uncle Bailey?"

Author's Notes

So the story goes. It will follow this format in the future. Pop-pop will sit with a few of the kits, or perhaps others, and recount parts of the tale. Sometimes there will be a direct reason for the particular story, other times it will just be an old buck remembering.

Everything in the past here was written as a chapter of "Red Tails and Wilde Skies" and is used with permission.