Chapter 3: Equality
"The Equality Act has passed with minimal opposition," Lionheart said. "Every predator who's in love with prey will wear a shock collar controlled by their partner. Prey are incapable of genuinely expressing their negative emotions towards us and thus will be free of any wrongdoing should any accidents occur from collar use. If they seize the moment, you've messed up badly. Remember to give them a potential outlet every day."
Nick watched the announcement on television. It was his idea since he discovered that a shock collar allowed Judy to express emotions even if only briefly before all this began. He wasn't sure if Judy remembered any of these sessions, but with some experiments, he only received shocks on the days he messed up badly, and sometimes not even then.
Lucy marched loudly up the stairs, thumping every step of the way. "Would you care to explain yourself?"
"Hm?" Nick placed his paw on his chin, thinking.
"Why haven't you ever told me?"
"You aren't old enough."
"But I am, and you will explain to Judy everything about the announcement in detail until she retains memories of it."
"She watched the broadcast, and you're only ten."
"Have it your way."
His daughter left his room while he continued to watch television. He tried multiple times to get Judy back to her old self and none of it ever worked. None of it ever will. It wasn't long before she returned with Judy. Judy held his shock collar in her paws.
"It's not time yet," Nick said. The law was his idea. It was a ritual he developed since that incident. She never initiated the ritual, yet he constantly told her where the collar was.
"You're going to look pretty with this collar on," Judy said.
"I want to take some photographs."
"Is there something wrong?" He was at a complete loss of what was going on. She didn't seem angry at all, yet she wanted to put his shock collar on him before the time of the ritual. It was just like she said, she took photographs. Lucy watched silently as everything went on.
As soon as Judy had her fill. Lucy brandished the remote. "Now, you will explain to mother everything."
"Why do you have that?"
"She approved it, and as part prey, I think I can argue that the wrongdoing clause doesn't apply to me."
"That's not how the law works."
"It wouldn't hurt to find out." This was a drastic turn of events. His own daughter held a remote in her paws threatening him with death. "Now, start explaining the broadcast to Judy."
"But she just watched it!"
"What broadcast?" Judy said.
"And she forgot again." Nick sighed. Memory was indeed fleeting for everything with a slightly negative connotation.
"Explain everything to her," Lucy said.
He was considering whether to or not to, but Lucy shocked him. "You actually shocked me."
"Why else would I have the remote? Now, explain it to her."
"You're going to be punished for this."
"Only if mother chooses to."
"Aren't you going to stop this?" Nick asked. Judy was in the room with them.
"She doesn't seem to be doing anything wrong." Judy was nonchalant about this issue as if it didn't even matter.
With little choice in the matter, Nick explained everything to Judy else his own daughter would shock him. His daughter made him explain the minute legal details that he wanted to gloss over. At the end of his explanation, he asked, "Do you understand now?"
"I think so, they're allowing prey to get away with murder."
"That includes you." He loved Judy but still felt uncomfortable with how things became. At least, she should forget soon enough. The parasite forced prey to love predators no matter how abusive some relationships may be. Without any complaints by prey, and even defiance against their would-be rescuers, the world came to this.
"I'm happy you told me everything." She kissed him as if nothing was wrong.
"That wasn't so hard, was it?" Lucy gave the remote to Nick. "You know your line."
"Press this if you're unhappy with how I acted today." He gave the remote to Judy. It was a ritual they developed. This allowed her to express discontent if only briefly. No shocks came even though earlier she learned she could get away with murder. "You're giving the remote to Lucy?"
"I trust her."
It was absurd for his daughter to control the shock remote. "She's not old enough."
"It'll be fine."
Just like that, his daughter held the shock remote. Nick knew the power the remote held, and the potential for misuse. It wasn't that he distrusted his own daughter, but the possibility of what she could do if she wanted.
"I think hybrids count as prey, does that clause apply to us too?" Lucy grinned.
"Are you threatening me?" Nick asked.
"As long as you treat mother well, there's nothing to worry about. She may not remember, but I will. Don't think that I didn't notice your experiments from time to time. There shall be no more of that."
It seemed absurd for his own daughter to exert such power over him, but he had little choice. The day went on after the session, but he kept glancing at the remote she was holding. "You know, you should trust me more." Lucy embraced him while keeping the remote close at paw.
At least, she had school the next day. He would have the chance to hide the remote from her while she was away. The morning came far too soon, to his dismay, she was packing the remote with her. "You're taking that to school?" he asked.
"Is there a problem?"
"Don't lose it."
There went his plan of hiding the remote from her. It wasn't that he was in any danger, but it unsettled him that his own daughter had the remote. Prey received a license to get away with murder by using collars because of the parasite that made them biologically incapable to do so except in most extreme circumstances and sometimes not even then.
Nick and Judy headed off to work next. They sat in the bullpen waiting for Chief Bogo to dole out assignments. Clawhauser barged into the room. "Bellwether called and said she killed a tiger. We need to find out what happened."
Bogo gave the task to them. "Us?" Judy said.
"Is there a problem? You're a genuine fan of hers."
"How would you know that?"
"Nick complains a lot in his reports about your movie choices."
"I can't believe you did that, Nick."
Without any reply, he motioned for Judy to follow him. On the way to the cruiser, he faked falling as an excuse to scratch her with his claws. He apologized, "Sorry, I tripped. Are you okay?" She wouldn't be able to retaliate outside of their sessions, but he was curious about what would happen since the law passed. Would she use the power the law granted her? It was a dangerous game, but he had to know.
Bellwether was the reason everything began, and now she had a license to kill. It was because of her actions why the predators performed the grand experiment with far-reaching results that no one could've foreseen.
"Well, soon we'll be meeting your favorite actress." Nick smirked.
"I don't trust her. That's why we watch those movies. She isn't playing a trick."
"You buy one every time they're released." Nick felt that this was one quirk that he wished Judy didn't genuinely possess. If he objected to Judy's passion, she would've dropped her hobby without a second thought, but he would be losing more of the Judy he wanted. He had to remind her at times, to maintain her genuine interest.
They arrived at Bellwether's house. She had tons of glistening adult toys scattered about. "I killed him, I killed him," she repeated.
Nick couldn't hear any hint of malice in her voice. She changed from the mastermind of the Night Howler case before.
"You killed your co-star?" Judy inspected the tiger's body. In addition, to burn marks around the neck, there were multiple stab wounds inflicted while the victim was alive.
"Yes, that's what happened. I don't know what came over me." Bellwether cried into her hooves.
Nick saw another opportunity to inflict a minor wound. He moved to stroke Judy's ears with his claws out, with the intent to leave a minor scratch and to apologize afterward. She accepted the apology without a second thought even as blood trickled from the wound before he licked it clean.
"Why would you kill your co-star?" Judy asked.
"I don't know!" she wailed. "It just happened."
"You certainly stabbed him multiple times when he was alive. Did you enjoy it?"
Another anguished cry came from Bellwether.
"How well do you know her co-star?" Nick asked Judy. Even though they both watched the films, Judy was far more obsessed with them than he ever was. Judy provided a list of movies that Bellwether starred with the tiger. Nick hated the idea that crawled into his mind, but it seemed like the most logical solution. "We should watch them."
Even though Bellwether killed someone, she wasn't a threat. They spent time watching adult movies once more. Nick paid close attention to everything regarding Bellwether and the tiger. "She doesn't seem happy." It was something he never noticed before since he absentmindedly watched them to humor Judy. Bellwether's face was a mask holding back her tears during her depraved performances.
"He was such a good partner always expanding my limits even when I didn't want to." Bellwether watched the movies with them. "I wish he was still here." Even though she was the one that killed him, it seemed like she didn't know the precise details of what happened.
"Do you have any other actors that you praise?" Nick asked.
Sure enough, Bellwether gave them a list of her friends with several lewd details of what they did to her during the movies.
"Do you actually enjoy your line of work?" Judy asked.
"What better way to show harmony between predators and prey. I love them all. There were multiple partners with unique preferences that allowed me to reach an even broader audience. They certainly enjoyed their time."
"But did you?"
"It's a job for a reason. Work isn't always fun, Lionheart saw to that back then."
"Are there going to be any more accidents?"
"I don't know what came over me. It's all a blur."
"And that's why you're not under arrest. We trust you enough for this not to occur without good reason."
Bellwether seemed less hysterical now compared to when they first entered her house. Nick decided to put more of his plans into motion. "Say, you have a lot of toys lying around, may we use them?"
"Why certainly, harmony is very important." Bellwether gave them permission.
He knew this idea was morally reprehensible, but he wanted to see what would happen since the city passed the law. It didn't matter that the toys weren't pristine, that's what Judy's tongue was for. All she needed was some coercion.
"What, no, Nick! I'm not doing that." Judy knocked the toy away from her face.
"Don't you love me?"
"Yes, I do."
"Clean that so we can have fun," Nick noted that subtle emotional manipulation was enough for Judy to proceed despite her clear distaste for the task.
"Where's the sink?"
Bellwether directed them downstairs. Nick noted all the instruments and tools the basement had. Just before Judy opened the tap water. Nick stopped her. "Oh, I meant with your tongue."
It was further than anything he had done with her before, and he relied on the parasite's effects to keep Judy under control. He was taking advantage of her because he wanted to see where it would lead. With some physical force, emotional manipulation and pleading, Judy was indeed cleaning albeit unwillingly.
There were many forms of entertainment scattered throughout Bellwether's home. Nick manipulated Judy into consenting or not refusing each one. It's certainly okay that she had many scratches and cuts on her body. He inflicted each one just to cause her pain for his enjoyment, and she hadn't outright refused him because she was incapable. Bellwether kept relating his acts to one of the many experts she knew in the field.
After several hours of merriment, Nick decided it was time to leave. Judy still never outright refused him much to his disappointment. "We had fun." Nick waved goodbye to Bellwether before driving off to the ZPD to submit his report.
"Did I do well?" Judy looked at him with pleading eyes.
"You could do better."
"Please tell me how."
He never answered that question to keep her questioning herself. Judy kept pleading to ask him how she could improve without him ever giving her any direction. Soon enough, they arrived at the ZPD. Judy's uniform was far from presentable just like herself while Nick's was in the prime condition still.
"What happened to you?" Clawhauser asked.
"I don't know," Judy replied.
"Care to explain?" He glared at Nick.
"I was doing an experiment," Nick replied honestly. "It didn't go as planned." That was a better way to phrase it rather than saying he abused her and she never outright objected. He knew the perils with the law passed, but he wanted to see what Judy would do during tonight.
He busied himself writing the day's report. Bellwether suffered from abuse during her work as an adult film star. With the new law in place, she seized the moment killing her co-star. Prey were unable to continuously object as the parasite's effects forced them to love predators and excuse their worst excesses. What he did to Judy today, Bellwether suffered every single day.
Chief Bogo walked by his office. "Can you explain what happened to Judy?"
"An experiment went wrong."
"Oh, really? I want a full detailed report on her injuries by tomorrow. Leave nothing out."
"It's all over now, and she's not complaining."
"You know that means nothing. Film your session with Judy tonight and a full detailed report by tomorrow."
"Yes, sir." He hadn't foreseen that Chief Bogo would intervene in his plans. At least, he had done enough to satisfy his own curiosity. It wouldn't take much for Judy to corroborate a report that exonerated him.
They picked up their kit from the elementary school before heading home. "What happened to Judy?" Lucy asked.
"It was a rough day," Nick said.
"And how come nothing happened to you?"
"Did you want something to happen to me?"
The rest of the day went off as normal. Judy lacked energy due to the day's activities which she couldn't remember. Nick took care of all household matters while Judy relaxed. After several hours, it was the time for the daily ritual.
He put the shock collar on while Lucy gave the remote to Judy. "Please shock me if I made you unhappy today." Nothing happened, he wasn't sure if he should be disappointed.
"Nothing?" Lucy shouted in disbelief. "How can there be nothing?"
"Were you hoping for something?"
"Something obviously went wrong. Mother has scratches and cuts everywhere."
"Things happen on the job."
"Oh really? Care to specify?"
"You're too young," Nick dissuaded her.
"Your father's right," Judy said.
"Can you just leave the room for a while?" Lucy glared at Nick.
"Okay, okay." Nick walked out of the room.
Lucy opened the door after a minute. "Don't eavesdrop." She had the remote in her paws once more.
Nick walked downstairs to surf the web. He didn't' expect to be unscathed after the ritual. He imagined that Judy would shock him at least after the number of depraved acts he coerced her into, but alas it was not to be.
An angry Lucy stomped down the stairs. "Come upstairs, now!"
"Let me finish this game."
Lucy had the audacity to shut down his computer and drag him upstairs where Judy sat with tear-stricken eyes. "Do you know how much trouble you're in?"
"Don't play dumb."
"Judy's fine with everything that happened today. She didn't shock me."
"Oh really? How do you explain this?"
Lucy took out a carrot pen, reminiscent of the one that tricked him in the past. The recorder played Judy's voice. "I was too afraid to say no. I didn't want to disappoint him so I continued to please him but even then I wasn't good enough. I did everything for him just to see him smile, but he never did, not even a smirk."
"There are lots more, so how many shocks do you think you deserve tonight?"
"That sounds like me," Judy said, "but I enjoyed today, didn't I?" She reached for the remote which made Nick's fur bristle. He wasn't certain what Judy wanted to do if she held it. It was his fault for taking advantage of her vulnerabilities.
Lucy held the remote out of Judy's reach. "You'll do something you'll regret. I'll protect you since he won't." She snuggled with her mother. "Again, how many shocks do you think you deserve tonight?"
His hopes for a reprieve vanished under his daughter's unwavering glare. He didn't know the precise number, but he was certain that his body couldn't survive that many. "One." It was a grossly inadequate number, but he wanted to see what would happen.
"Well, you're clearly not even trying. I'm going to double the number of shocks. You might not even survive."
"What about the law?"
"Funny, you should mention that. We hybrids are part prey; thus, nothing will happen to me should something happen to you. It's quite convenient. I contacted a lawyer during school to verify this."
That meant every hybrid could shock predators to death and not suffer consequences. Lionheart had to know about this. "I need to call Lionheart."
"Not until we settle this, how many shocks do you think you deserve?"
"Sixty." Nick attempted to give a fairer number. It was still beyond his body's limit by his calculation.
"Not even close, care to try again?"
"But… I was trying."
Lucy listed every single one of his offenses today, combined with some multipliers for egregious ones. "And so, the tally comes up to three-hundred."
"There's no way I'm going to survive."
"Oh, I know, but since you're still my father, just know that you deserve to die for what you did today. I won't kill you, just know that I can at any time, the law permits it."
"Judy, aren't you going to stop her?"
"Did you do all that to me?" Judy asked.
"Yes, I wanted to try something. I wanted to see what would happen since the law passed. At least, you never outright refused?"
The newly improved carrot pen was able to hold more than one message. Lucy played another one. "Love me for who I am, not who I was, not who you want me to be." The voice was only a whisper indicating how difficult it must be for Judy to say that.
Lucy stated her demands. "This is what's going to happen, I will shock you for as many times as I think you can handle until your punishment is over. Every single offense you commit will add to your sentence. You will not contact Lionheart about the law since any hybrid that does this must have family issues just like mine or you can leave and never come back."
"That gives hybrids a license to kill."
"Not exactly, we're part predator too."
Nick didn't leave the room after a few minutes. Lucy took that as he was going to stay. She shocked him long enough for him to scream while keeping the remote out of an unstable Judy's paws. He wanted a similar outcome without his daughter's involvement, but he certainly wasn't innocent.
A/N: Nick got what he deserved, I think. Complete for now, once again. Did Bellwether win since every predator now wears a shock collar?