A/N: A tale about mind control.
Chapter 1: Innocent
It seemed so benign when the experiment was first proposed. Bellwether's actions had caused rampant hatred despite the actions of our brave two heroes. How do you prevent fear or paranoia when education fails? The government couldn't simply imprison everyone that held a certain belief. The city was a ticking bomb and the police could only stem the tide but not halt its course.
Science, it seemed so simple at first. Felines befriended rodents with the aid of a certain parasite. Rodentia stood tall and proud because felines were deployed to serve them if they ever got out of line. Fevers were observed but that was passed off as the symptom of a common cold. These felines would do anything they can to improve relations. The rodents even got away with minor crimes they inflicted on their feline benefactors.
A group of hardworking scientists thought of a solution. Create a similar organism but for a different purpose. The organism would bring harmony to Zootopia. Feline therapy was still an approved method for dealing with ideologically problematic rodents. They requested funding for research to develop a new parasite but for other prey species.
A new way to bring peace in times of strife was proposed. Of course, only predators were subject to the knowledge of the proposal. A small test with Lionheart as the main carrier on the most problematic prey animal: Bellwether.
The proposal loomed in front of Nick Wilde.
"The votes are currently five to five, what do you say, Wilde?" Lionheart asked.
Morality was an issue even though it was standard practice for rodents. Nick had borne the brunt of many protestors remarks and his friendship with a bunny did not help. He knew what life was like for him alone and that was compounded by the fact he was a fox. He was the deciding vote for the predator branch of the government. He voted yes. It was a simple budgetary proposal after all.
Nick returned home after an exhausting day of work.
"More government business," Nick grumbled.
"That bad, huh," Judy said.
"How did it come to this?"
"I don't know."
Predators were ten percent of the population thus they only got ten percent of the funding. The only benefit was that only predators knew where the money was being spent. Prey still had to make their budgets public. Nick was on the predator council in addition to his normal job at the ZPD.
"Any good news?" Judy asked.
Nick thought about what he could reveal. "A new science project."
"Can you tell me more?"
"I'm not allowed to reveal."
Nick and Judy worked together but he was under oath to keep certain secrets lest his position be compromised. Predators had their own branch of government for everything and even military. He shot down some of the more radical ideas predators had.
"You know the city can't keep this up," Nick said.
"What can we do? Bellwether convinced prey to start stealing."
They had locked up at least a thousand prey for various offenses towards predators.
"Enough about work. Why don't we have some fun?"
Nick and Judy were on patrol once more. They had already arrested nine animals for stealing from predators. The situation was getting worse.
"Stop thief!" the tiger cried.
A bunny ran away taking vegetables in broad daylight. They quickly caught up to the offending rabbit. Nick looked at the rabbit's eyes filled with hate. The rabbit was wearing one of those offensive shirts, "Reclaim Zootopia."
"Give these vegetables back," Judy said.
"You're on their side? Traitor," the thief screeched. He seemed to be malnourished, but that wasn't possible due to how the city allocated resources.
"Let's leave," Nick said. "We've done enough."
"Without him?" Judy whispered.
Nick nudged her away. She raged at him as soon as the thief was out of sight. "Why?"
"We can't keep doing this. It only gets worse. That rabbit was pretending. I've done worse when I was young and got away with it. We need a new approach," Nick said.
They returned to the tiger. "I'm sorry, the thief got away," Nick said.
"I won't be able to pay my bills," the tiger said.
"I cannot help you," Judy said. She had no authority to reimburse predators.
"The city can't cover your losses," Nick said. The predator budget was being funneled to science save for the necessities.
"What am I supposed to do?" the tiger asked.
Nick and Judy just walked away.
Thieves were allowed to prosper. It was one of the key components of feline therapy. The discontent rodents were allowed to steal and the feline would simply turn a blind eye. Nick was applying this approach now. For everyone they caught stealing, if it was a prey animal, they let go. Nick hoped it would lessen the hate towards predators while Judy disagreed.
It was wrong to simply turn a blind eye, but they couldn't display public discontent toward each other. The city still looked towards them for unity. Without their example, the city would have crumbled by now.
Another council meeting awaited Nick. He had heard rumors of the test while the subjects came out happy, and the ones who already were didn't change. It felt wrong.
"We've seeing permission for testing the parasite. We believe it will be successful," Marge said. The honey badger was a key conspirator during the nighthowler case.
Lionheart would be the one to be infected. It was supposed to have positive effects on sheep.
"I vote no," Nick said. "It just feels wrong."
"But everyone is happy. You've heard the news. The results," Marge said.
"I didn't know it would turn out like this."
"But you've seen the changes."
Another round of votes, seven to four Nick opposed while others agreed. Lionheart was to try to befriend or serve Bellwether in any way possible.
"Can you believe it?" Judy said. "Lionheart stepped down as mayor. Bellwether will become mayor instead."
"At least, the prey should be happy," Nick said.
"But look at everything she's done. Everything she's caused."
"We can't exactly fight them anymore." For everyone, they've let go. Nick kept track. It was soon better to turn a blind eye to all forms of stealing. Predators stole because they needed to. Prey stole because they wanted to.
"I don't like this," Judy said.
Life under Bellwether was harsh for all predators, but after a few months, restrictions on felines were greatly lessened. She seemed to have developed a liking towards them. Nick lived with Judy so he was free of Bellwether's more draconian demands.
Not every prey liked predators, but they wouldn't separate Zootopia's shining couple. They didn't have the courage to do that. The predator council still existed, and Nick was about to attend yet another meeting.
"Results with Bellwether were promising, we should include everyone now," Marge proposed.
Desperate to improve life for predators, Nick agreed. Bellwether didn't change much, she was still herself, everyone knew that. She and Lionheart seemed to have developed a romance while she still hated every other species of predator.
They expanded their parasite to include all predators for all prey. An organism to bring harmony to Zootopia. Nick was delighted that just by doing outreach every single day towards truly angry prey, they slowly fixed the city. It took a few years, but one day Bellwether announced her plans to become an actress. It seemed like a natural transition.
"We're really going to watch this?" Nick asked.
"Don't you have a membership with Mystic Springs?" Judy retorted.
"Bellwether's in it!"
"That's why we should stay away!"
"I'm watching it with or without you."
They watched the movie. Nick couldn't help but flinch from some of the acts that were depicted.
"Can you believe she once hated predators?" Judy said. "She really seems like a caring and compassionate soul."
"Animals change," Nick said. He knew the truth of what had occurred.
"Two more months for the next one," Judy said.
"You really want to see that?"
"Can't really trust her."
Nick accidentally stepped on Judy's carrot pen.
"How are you?" Nick said as he groomed her. He was afraid of what would happen if she found out.
"Where's my carrot pen?" Judy asked.
"I sold it for money," Nick said. He thought it would be better than her finding out it was destroyed.
"That's nice, I'm glad that I don't need it anymore."
"But you just did."
Judy didn't respond. She just smiled sweetly as if nothing was wrong.
"Shouldn't you be angry?" he asked. He even showed her the debris of what really happened to the carrot pen.
"It doesn't matter at all. You're happy," Judy said.
"When was the last time you were angry?"
"Hmm, it seems like it was just before my fever, at least a year ago. We've never fought since then."
Nick remembered that Judy didn't exactly change right after that, she still held her own opinions but was far less forceful. It just seemed normal. "What do you want to do now?" he asked. It was a long time since he posed this direct question.
She chose another movie starring Bellwether. It occurred to Nick that she missed watching several releases.
"Fine," he grunted. He never liked those movies.
"We could do something else," Judy quickly said.
"I want to watch," Nick said.
Well sure, Bellwether was happy on-screen displaying more harmony than Nick thought was possible. He felt that even though Bellwether didn't win, he had somehow lost. Judy somehow changed and he didn't even know. It was still Judy of course but at the same time it wasn't. It was such a difficult concept to explain.
"I want you to be angry with me," Nick said.
"Why would you want that?" she smiled sweetly.
"It's not normal!" he raged.
"Have I done something wrong?"
"No, but I have." He remembered he was the pivotal vote at the initial stages of the project.
"I won't be mad no matter what it is," Judy said.
"That's what worries me."
Nick told her everything that the predators did in the name of peace.
She smiled. "It's better this way."
"You're under mind control, Carrots!"
"I don't think I am. You just do nothing wrong."
"You can't be angry anymore," Nick said. He slapped her hard as if to prove a point.
Tears flew down her eyes. "Do you want to do it again?" she said.
"What if I do?"
"It feels good."
"You're lying to me!"
"Try it again."
Nick pushed Judy to the extreme, but she tried everything to placate him. Never angry with him regardless of what he tried to do at the height of his rage. It wasn't normal, but the world was happy thanks to their grand experiment. There were no more crimes, no more hatred.
"How can I fix this?" Judy asked. She was bleeding from Nick's experiments.
"Be angry with me! Reject me. Be normal."
"I can never be angry with you."
He told her what he expected her to do. What counted as normal and what was not. It seemed beyond her comprehension. He asked, "Can you at least prank me?"
It was an innocent request. He remembered the days when her pranks left him seething with rage. He never recalled when exactly she stopped. "That wouldn't make you happy."
"But it will."
"I forgot how to."
"Can you learn?"
"Only if you show me how."
Nick tried to fix Judy as best as he could, but it wasn't the same. She tried everything to make him happy, but could never accomplish the goal.
Nick complained about the situation yet again. It was an exchange he tried every single day since he realized what happened.
"This isn't real," Nick said.
"Why not? Animals change. Just think of our ancestors," Judy said. "They killed one another before."
"I don't want this fake peace to stay."
"It's for the best and it's real to someone else."
"It's not for the best."
"But it is and I will do anything to make you happy."
At least, she disagreed if only slightly and that made Nick smile.
A/N: Toxoplasmosis forces mice to like cats. I think it even forces humans to like cats in some cases. What if we applied this concept to all of Zootopia?
Edit: I finally caught all the minor mistakes I hope.