Chapter 1

He should have known right away from the cadence of the knock at his door that trouble was about to enter, but Police Chief Idris Bogo never was one to allow a little trouble to get the better of him.

Of course, it wasn't a little trouble that ducked into his office at his invitation. Bogo was not a small mammal by any means, but the bull elk standing now just within the threshold looked like he could meet both the chief's eyes and his horns without any discernible effort. His ears swept low while his chest puffed up and out.

"Tony," he said plainly as he stood from his desk. "What a surprise. To what do I owe the pleasure today?"

His solid, muscular torso filled in the dark, crisp tailored suit that he wore. A peppering of gray about his temples alluded to age and experience, both of which he certainly had in spades. The broad rack of twelve points on his crown were polished and somewhat whetted at the prongs. A bit sharper tips than natural. But that was Antonio Staggno. Sharp. Precise. A cut above.

And he knew it.

Antonio closed the door and pulled his lips into a thin sort of smile that didn't contain even a hint of humor in it. "Just stumping for last minute support among my friends."

Bogo snorted at the obvious ego stroking. "The polls have you in the lead by a furlong, so you hardly need any additional support from me."

"Nonsense, Idris!" In two long, quick strides the bull elk was at the desk and thrust a hoof out to the chief. Antonio's smile turned almost predatory when Bogo took the proffered limb. "One can never have too many friends, especially in positions like ours."

Bogo indicated the seat across from his desk and began to again take his own, but Antonio didn't sit as he was offered. He cast cool, storm-gray eyes around Bogo's workspace. Eyes that observed, assessed… judged. Bogo straightened himself up and instead took a step around the side of his desk.

Antonio tilted his head in what only slightly might pass for amusement as he considered the display of accolades on the wall to the left of the door. "I wonder if you've thought about what we discussed at dinner last week at all," he said before turning to face the chief fully.

Bogo stifled the snort that threatened to escape his nose. "We didn't discuss anything; you dropped a bombshell proposal on me during dessert without giving me a chance to talk. You seem to forget I was the ringer on your debate team before I graduated. I know a rhetorical tactic when I see one."

The elk chuckled. "Guilty as charged." He turned his back to Bogo's desk and leaned against it casually. "You'll forgive me, I'm sure… I'm so used to fighting the City Council's dogmatic attitudes that I sometimes forget that not every mammal is my opponent." He crossed his arms over his chest and looked Bogo dead in the eyes. "It doesn't change my question, though."

The chief settled into an easy parade rest and met Staggno's challenging gaze. "You can't seriously expect me to turn on my officers as you're suggesting I do."

Antonio rolled his eyes. "Please, Idris, they're hardly your officers, are they? They're just the beneficiaries of Lionheart's MII publicity stunt. A publicity stunt, I might add, that has worn out its novelty. Realistically, what has it gotten us? If you need to be reminded, I'll tell you." He stood away from the desk and threw his arms wide in unusually dramatic fashion. "A country bunny that nearly started a race war and a fox in uniform."

"Careful." Bogo's voice took on a low tone, the singular word wrapped in warning as he tipped his horns towards the elk instinctively.

Antonio seemed unconcerned with the change in the chief's stance and continued, pointing a hoof at the great cape buffalo as he did so. "I have taken particular care on this, I assure you. The only other mammal to even apply under the MII was a raccoon sponsored by Officer Wilde. Nearly every focus group and poll I've consulted indicates the public thinks the ZPD is being handed over to criminals."

He brought his hoof to the burgundy silk tie at his throat and worried the Windsor knot for a moment. A long breath drew in through flared nostrils.

"We need a change," Antonio said as he smoothed the tie down and then slipped his hooves into his pockets. "We need to shed the dead-weight of Lionheart and Bellwether's misbegotten ideologies."

"I wouldn't include the MII amongst their misbegotten ideologies." Chief Bogo crossed his arms over his barrel chest, feet planted as solidly as if they were rooted in the carpet. "Hopps and Wilde have both more than demonstrated their merit to the only mammals whose opinions I care about."

Antonio blinked, although his perfectly neutral expression didn't change at all. "It doesn't sound like you're including me amongst those mammals."

If he was fishing for Bogo to reverse or amend his prior statement, the stalwart old bull seemed unwilling to take the bait. The elk sighed.

"Stubborn, as always." Antonio smiled a sort of sad smile. "I want to work with you, Idris. I want you to work with me. We did work so well as a team, after all." He took a step toward Bogo with one insistent hoof turned out toward him, a gesture of solidarity. "Just ditch the small fries and let's get back to fixing this city. Together."

"We can't 'get back to fixing this city' by backsliding on issues like equality, Tony." Bogo ignored the offered hoof and allowed a harsh snort to escape his nose. "And that's the final word I care to have with you about this subject. You have my answer."

Antonio held his stance for a moment before he clenched his fist and lowered it to his side. He shook his head slightly. "It would be unwise to oppose me on this. Wallace and I are shoe-ins for Mayor and Assistant Mayor, but to make any headway in cleaning out the entrenched old-guard we have to discredit and repeal any policies the lion and lamb backed. That includes the MII, and also," he added with a significant look, "your appointment as Chief of Police, if that's what it takes."

Bogo's eyes hardened at the implicit threat. "I'll keep that in mind." He turned his back on the elk and walked behind his desk. "Now, if you'll please excuse me," he said as he settled into his chair and gestured at the multiple documents scattered about the desktop. "As you can see, I have a lot of work to do."

Antonio stiffened, his face darkening a shade at the dismissal before resuming its cool, composed expression once more.

"Yes, it seems so." He turned his back and commented without looking at the chief, "Very important work, no doubt." He threw a half wave over his shoulder as he opened the door and stepped into the atrium. "Be seeing you again soon."


… this office took a mammoth-sized step back from greatness recently, but as your mayor I assure you that I am committed to moving our great city forward to a brighter future. Fraud and deceit will no longer have any refuge in City Hall. The time has come for transparency, to set a floodlight on all the dark corners where treachery has been hidden away. Any remaining corruption left from the prior administration will be rooted out. Justice will be swift. It will be certain. And that, my friends, is a promise.

The tinny breakroom television's speakers blared with the sounds of raucous, though indistinct, jubilation as Mayor Elect Antonio Staggno finished his acceptance speech. The election was almost a formality considering his landslide victory. The ZPD officers assembled around the circular table were only partially paying attention to the elk's display of political showmamship, with the exception of Officer Judy Hopps. She was standing up on the seat of her oversized chair, paws grasping the chair back and fluffy cotton tail twitching periodically throughout the speech. Her expression was one of barely contained excitement.

Nick flicked his partner's tail and gave her an indulgent huff. "You grin any wider and you're gonna sprain something."

"Oh, come on, Nick." Judy's exultant smile took a short respite, and she wrinkled her nose as she turned to face him. "You can't say this isn't good for the city. Mammals have been on edge ever since Councilmammal Canidae stepped in as Interim Mayor. She's good enough at the job, but the citizens didn't elect her to the office and knew she was a stand-in until the general elections. Now we have a properly elected Mayor. You've already felt it out there." She gestured to the front of the building and the city beyond. "You said so yourself last week: the people didn't have a sense of permanence about the office. Well, now they do." She turned back to the television and her tail twitched again. "It's also nice to hear he's going after corruption in City Hall."

Nick shrugged. "That's not really surprising." Judy grinned at his almost non-pessimistic comment. "There isn't a politician alive that doesn't promise to 'crack down on corruption' or 'drain the swamp' at one point or another." He made air quotes with his paws as he spoke. "Only the truly corrupt mammals would be upset by that kind of talk."

Judy slumped in frustration. "Are you incapable of seeing the positive in this? We have a new mayor; that's a good thing!"

Nick nodded while looking at the television. "Too true, too true. If we didn't have a new mayor for you to depose for corruption or collusion, you'd have a conniption. Plus, what would I do with the scrapbook I'm making for you?" He smirked at his partner's confounded expression. "Yeah, it's gonna have big pages so you can have the candidates' campaign bumper stickers and buttons and whatnot, and then on the facing page will be their mugshots and arrest reports. It'll be a great keepsake for your family to pass down to future generations."

Judy sputtered for a moment. "You aren't making that scrapbook." She frowned as the smirk on his muzzle deepened. "Let me rephrase: you'd better not be making that scrapbook or I'll open it to Dawn and bludgeon you senseless with her face." Nearly the entire breakroom started choking on their coffee while laughing. "I bet you're just annoyed all your contacts in City Hall are going to vanish once Mayor Staggno roots them out."

Nick visibly shivered. "Deals with City Hall? No thanks; the things they want in exchange for favors, blech. A loveable scamp I may have been, but I'm no villain."


The harsh, grating sound Officer Fangmeyer made caused the two bickering partners' ears to lay flat back in a hurry as they turned their attention to her. Her expression remained neutral but her eyes were so stony serious that there was no possibility of looking away from them.

"Questionable conversation topic aside," she said as she raised her coffee mug up, "you should take the changes in the political landscape a bit more seriously, Probie."

Nick's ear flicked. It was a less than gentle reminder that he was still within the probation period, and would be for a while yet.

"Shifts in City Hall trickle down to the ZPD," Nadine continued. "Maybe it won't mean anything for your status with the force, but maybe it will. You'd do well to pay attention to how the wind is blowing."

Nick looked meaningfully at the television. "What's one of those folksy sayings of yours, Hopps? 'Ain't no stopping a tornado'?" He looked back at his coworkers. "I'm fully aware of how vulnerable my position is right now. I'm equally aware that the only thing I can do at this point is to keep my head down and my snout clean, if for no other reason than I don't want any political backsplash landing on Billy; he's only got a few more months in the academy, and he can't afford any distractions."

The news program moved on to an abbreviated biography showcasing Antonio Staggno's political accomplishments and history within Zootopia's government since his graduation from Barkley Law. Judy's ears sprung up.

"Barkley Law? Didn't Chief Bogo graduate from there, too?"

"Sure did." Lieutenant Higgins said, and ran his hoof around the rim of his mug. "They were in the same class, also. Thick as thieves back then, the two of them."

Judy leaned over and backpawed Nick in the shoulder. "There, see? I bet Chief is thrilled to have someone he's on friendly terms with in City Hall. They'll really get things back on track working together, for sure."

Higgins drained the last of the dregs from his cup and set it back on the table. "Having the Mayor's ear can only be a good thing for the ZPD. At the very least, Chief should see less resistance from the Council on matters that affect the force."

The rest of the veteran officers nodded in agreement as they rose to leave, break now officially done with. It certainly seemed that with this new addition to City Hall there were better days ahead for the city of Zootopia in general, and their own little corner of it specifically. Change was coming and they hoped, with cautious and fragile optimism, that it would be a change for the better, as all mammals do in trying times.


...Any remaining corruption left from the prior administration will be rooted out. Justice will be swift.

The cell phone speakers weren't turned up terribly high, but Chief Bogo felt his ears ringing from the words that emanated from them. Antonio Staggno's voice was bolstered by the sound system surrounding the stage, but he imagined it would have carried even without the additional aid.

It will be certain.

The elk's eyes had been moving about the crowd-a standard public speaking tactic-but at that moment he leveled his gaze straight ahead, as though looking right through the camera, through the screen, and meeting Bogo's head on. His nose dipped, and prongs tilted forward.

And that, my friends, is a promise.

Chief Bogo snorted and turned his cell phone off once more.

Ready when you are.